Peace Children 5/8ish:
warnings: ORIGINAL CHARACTER DIES!!!!! Please be warned! Didn't bother
me a bit to knock it off, but if it bothers you, go read something else!
Also has sexual stuff--2x1, 3x4--sympathetic Relena (sort of), non- sympathetic
Solo and Dorothy, language, betrayal, and other Fun Stuff including a
cheap ending (I despise cliffhangers on principle. I'm still trying to
figure out why I keep using them. . . .)
note: I've finally figured out the solution to my little "two big problems/two
parts left" dilemma-- s*e*q*u*e*l. if there are no objections :)
Children + Thursday
The shopkeeper looked up as
several nobles entered his shop. He put on his best smile. "My lords,
my lady, please come in!" He could smell a killing from across the room.
The pretty blond boy with the aqua eyes and the very expensive clothing
ran his hand across a bolt of fabric. "It's so soft!" he exclaimed. "Feel
The boy with the long braid -- the shopkeeper looked at the pair
for a minute and then smirked -- mimicked the boy's movement. "Nice,"
he said. "Hilde, what about this one?"
The girl yawned disdainfully. "I want to impress the man, not scare him
The blond looked back at the bright fabric. "I suppose it is a bit. .
"But it would look lovely with milady's coloring!" the shopkeeper put
"I like it," braid boy said.
The girl relented enough to touch it. "It feels nice," she admitted, "but
the color. Haven't you anything a bit. . . more subtle?"
The boys were peering at various swatches. "It has to be blue," one said.
"But not too dark," the other said.
"And it has to look expensive," Lady Hilde said decisively. "I may be
a merchant's daughter, but all that means is that money is my strength.
I have to make him remember why he's looking my way."
"Yes, because it's better than looking at his pile of debts!" the braid
laughed. "I suppose even your face is better than the tax collector's!"
The girl turned haughtily from him. "Have you any other fabrics?" she
He thought of the shipment he had received only two days before. . . they
had told him to hold off on selling it for a while, but surely. . . .
"As a matter of fact, milady, I have just the thing."
"I hope so," Hilde said acerbically.
"It is. . . rather costly. . . ." he warned.
"Good," she said, and that was that. He went to the back and found the
bolt he was looking for. The blond boy looked at it closely.
"Yes," he said. "This is it."
And the shopkeeper found himself shoved up against the wall with a blade
at his throat. The braided boy wasn't grinning anymore. "Why don't you
tell me where you got this?" he said conversationally. And then he grinned.
The shopkeeper wet his pants. And told.
"Hilde's going to fuss for hours because we didn't take her with us,"
Duo observed, trying to get something out of Quatre. The other boy had
been all but silent since they had finished with their last informant.
"I suppose," Quatre said, not really listening.
"So did that mean anything to you?" Duo asked bluntly. "Those dates --
"Yes," Quatre said. "Those are the days I passed through those towns,
or near them.
Duo took a deep breath. "I see. So where are we heading?"
He looped a sympathetic arm around the boy who, in the space of hours,
he had come to call friend.
Quatre looked at him with miserable eyes. "Back to the palace to talk
to my cousin."
Trowa watched them enter the palace from the now empty music room, arms
around each other. He said nothing, just stepped back from the window.
And slammed his hand into the wall.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize anyone was here," a timid voice said.
He turned to face her. "Well, here I am."
She began to stammer something, to back out, but Hoshiko chose that second
to dig his claws into her arm and she found herself swearing instead.
Trowa took pity and came over to help her disentangle herself from the
cub, and found claws in his arm as well.
"Oh, you brat!" Catherine exclaimed. "I'm so sorry, Try, he just has to
learn better -- you let go now! Now!"
"My name is Trowa," he said.
"Yes," she said, looking up then away, quickly. "I suppose it is." She
held out her hands for the cub but he turned away.
"His claws are in my sleeve," he said. He walked back over to the light.
She followed him, Hanako prancing behind her. Her heart was pounding,
but she wasn't sure what to say. Were they pretending they had never met
before? What game was this and why wouldn't he just look at her?
"He's feisty," Trowa remarked.
"He takes after his mother," Catherine said. "Bunny. She was the first
cub I was given."
He'd named her, too, because he'd wanted a rabbit and when they'd gotten
Bunny he'd taken a few days to come around. And then it had been the three
of them, plus a handful of other animals, running around like wild things
all through the glorious summer. Winter had come too quickly that year,
and with it the sickness that had killed Trowa's mother.
"Don't you mind living with so many animals?" he asked her, his tone bordering
"Better than living with so many people," she said.
She thought he almost smiled at that. "At least people you can fuck."
She shrugged. "You can do that with animals, too, if you're not too particular.
I've got a cousin who seems a little too fond of his cows, if you ask
me. Course, if I had his wife, I might be like that too. And the cows
are right fond of Jand, too, so it seems to work out well all around."
"Not for his wife," he said.
"Oh, Lil takes extra special care of the bulls," she explained, delighted
to see his lips twitch.
"And as for my mother," she added deliberately, "there are those who say
she's overfond of animals herself."
He stiffened, a bit.
"I'm grateful for that, though, because if she wasn't so fond of animals
she never would have married a beast like my father, and then where would
He glanced over. "You're an only child?"
"Yes. . . I've got cousins, though. My mother's brother's children. They're
all young and plentiful -- his wife just spits them out --
and completely out of control. But that's how children should be, I think."
"What do -- what are they called?"
"Oh, there's Jen and there's Ilya and Graj and Hark and Rayve and Brec,
and they run wild all over the place. Just before I left, Ilya and Graj
decided they were going to see what happened when one put clothing on
a lion. Not a cub, mind you -- the cubs will put up with it. With
a full grown lioness, they tried."
"Why do you have so many animals?" he asked her.
She blinked, thought for a minute. "Well, we're a farming clan, and that
has something to do with it. The lions, though, they were my father's.
He traveled with a circus. One day he met my mother, the Heir, and decided
to give them to her as a wedding gift. She took a bit of convincing but
he talked her round right soon enough and before long there was me, and.
. . I took to them. So we started breeding and training them not just
for shows but for guards -- they're not pets, so they tell me,
and it's true they can maul you as soon as purr for you, but I love them.
And all the other animals. We've got all kinds. I feed the squirrels,
every morning," she said, and faltered, aware that she was babbling.
"Does anyone feed them now that you're gone?"
"Ilya said she would, but I made my mother promise to help her, because
otherwise she'd forget."
"So she made it through the experience of dressmaking for a lion?"
"Oh, yes," Catherine said, and launched off into the story. It was followed
by another, and another, and she watched the smile creep onto his face.
It looked real.
She was quite annoyed when a servant burst through the door. "Your highness.
. . my lady. . . the princess. . . commands your presence."
"Do they not teach you to knock in this godsforsaken country?" Trowa asked,
glaring at the man.
"Your highness, forgive me," the man said, trying to catch his breath.
"It is the Lady Faiza, the Raberba."
"Did someone slash her dress again?" Trowa asked cuttingly.
"No, your highness, no. The lady. . . she's been killed."
Heero knelt over the body and shut her eyes. "May your spirit fight forever,"
Relena had retreated in hysterics; Sally Po was calmly questioning the
servants, but, Heero noticed, she took care to look anywhere but at the
dead lady. He wished he could run his hands over her throat and close
the gape there. He stood quickly and turned away.
"No, milady. Last night she left orders. . . not to be disturbed. . .
the first time anyone came in here today was when her highness came. .
. ." The maid was in tears. Faiza had not been loved but nor had she been
hated. She had simply been killed.
Quatre burst into the room. "Fai! Fai! What is this -- oh, gods."
The weeping boy knelt by her body and took her cold hands in his.
"Quatre," Duo said softly, following the boy into the room. "Shh. C'mon."
"No, no," Quatre said.
Heero walked over to Sally. "I don't think that Maisie needs to see this."
The maid, whose name was Millie, shot him a grateful glance. "No," Sally
said, studying him, "of course not. "Come on, Millie, and I'll get you
As soon as the door was shut behind them Heero had his hands around Duo's
"You're a liar."
The braided boy shook his head, then kicked out. Heero grabbed his groin
and bent over. "Easy shot, Heero," Duo said scathingly. "And I'm not.
I run and I hide and I survive but I don't lie."
"You're lying right now," Heero gasped. "Does Quatre know that you're
not really any relation of Hilde's?"
"As a matter of fact, he does," Duo snapped.
"And I should believe you?"
"Because he has better things to do right now than to answer your stupid
"I know who Duo really is, Heero," Quatre said dully from beside the body.
"You know he's a thief and a killer?"
"You know he's the best suspect?" Heero said.
"Especially since he's the one who slashed all her clothes and her bed
and broke her mirror and so on and so forth," Quatre answered, rising.
Heero had not known that.
"But I know why he did it, too, and who he did it for," Quatre said, turning
away. He looked awful, Heero realized. The boy known for being pretty
looked like hell, not even warmed over. Just cold. And dead.
"I didn't do it for anyone!" Duo said quickly. "Just for myself."
"Nobody's going to do anything to the girl, Duo, don't worry," Quatre
said. "Or to you. I know you didn't kill her."
"How do you know?" Heero asked.
"Yeah," said Duo, "how do you know?"
Quatre looked surprised. "Because you said so. And I'd know if you were
"Everyone's going to be looking for the person who trashed her rooms,"
Duo said. "I should split."
"That would be stupid," Heero said. He felt his neck grow hot as they
turned to look at him. "They'd think you did it," he explained.
"I didn't kill her," Duo said. It was almost a whisper.
"I know," said Heero. And he was surprised to find that he did.
"So who did?"
Relena emerged from the meeting with her father feeling worse than ever.
The stakes had just risen, dramatically. She looked at the Children --
no, no, at the people -- before her.
"I brought you here for peace," she said. "Instead I find that my actions
have brought about death."
"Don't be silly, Relena," Sally said quickly. "You didn't kill her."
"If she'd stayed at home she might still be alive," Relena said.
The door opened and Quatre, Heero, and Duo walked in. The group was complete.
"Quatre, we're all sorry for your loss," Relena said, tossing the words
off easily. "But I must know -- do you have any idea what this
"I uncovered evidence today that seemed to point towards my cousin as
the, well, as the," he sighed again.
Trowa checked himself. He would not comfort him. Not here. Not now.
Duo draped an arm around the blond. "What he's trying to say is that Faiza
was part of the plan to steal the Winner caravans. We have reason to believe
that the Raberba Clan was in some way behind recent troubles plaguing
"Those weren't the first caravans to disappear," Quatre said, "and that
was why my sister was with one. We knew we could find her, even if we
couldn't find the goods. The fact that we cannot reach her in any way
makes it fairly certain that she's dead." His voice broke; he paused and
then went on. "We've also had a lot of bad rumors -- that we've
backed out on deals, that we've double crossed, that we care more for
our Clan than our country. That we're scheming with Winners in other countries
to take over the world." He looked up. "I don't want the world, your highness.
I don't want this country. Right now I don't even want -- " he
"We were waiting for a return message from Quatre's Clan before we confronted
Faiza," Duo said. "And then we heard she was dead." He looked uncomfortable.
"We're also convinced that whoever killed the Lady was not the same person
as whoever destroyed her property," Heero said.
"Why is that?" Sally demanded.
Heero looked at her levelly. "I can't tell you that."
Hilde was silent.
"Besides the fact that her throat was slit with a knife, not with a scythe,"
"How do you know that?" Wufei asked.
Duo shrugged. "I looked. Looks totally different. Scythe, unless it's
two inches tall, has a different shape. It goes into flesh differently.
A knife skims along the surface, usually deeper on one side depending
on which hand was used. A scythe cuts deepest in the middle. Even if you
"I'm going to be sick," Noin said, and left the room hurriedly.
Duo winced. "I'm sorry."
"I think we're all curious about your expertise, Duo," Sally said flatly.
"He's an assassin," Hilde said, staring at the ceiling. "He kills with
Duo shot her a betrayed glance. "Hilde!"
"It was a joke," she said, "for fun. He wanted revenge on her for something.
But he didn't kill her."
"How do you know that?" Relena demanded.
"Because he doesn't kill for fun," Hilde said. "And nobody paid him."
Duo shut his eyes, feeling like he'd been gutted himself.
Hilde was crying. "He didn't kill her."
"I'm glad that you think so, Lady," Relena said coldly.
"No -- I know it!" she wept. "Shinigami doesn't kill like that."
Relena's head swiveled around to look at the braided child in front of
her. "You are the one they call Shinigami?"
Duo's eyes had gone flat. "You could say that. Aye, that's me."
"But he's not," Hilde protested. "He's Duo. Shinigami's just. . . the
one who kills."
"Death," Relena said levelly.
"Aye, lady," he said. "Death."
Noin reentered the room, her face white. "Your highness, the people. .
. they say that if the Lady is dead, and killed here, then there's something
wrong with the Weapon. They say we're unprotected. They're filling the
audience rooms, your highness, demanding to be shown the Weapon."
"Is that so?" Relena asked. "Well, we'll show them something, all right.
I want him in chains," she said, gesturing towards Duo. "I want the murderer
"Your highness, he is not the killer," Quatre said, jumping to his feet.
"Yes, well, perhaps we should send you with a violin instead?" the princess
"Your highness, I, too, stand for Duo," Heero said.
"I have declared him guilty," Relena said. "If you stand for him, you
stand against me."
"Then Winner and Odin will stand together," Heero said simply. "He is
"Raberba as well," Quatre added. "For I find that I am now the heir to
that Clan as well, through my mother."
Trowa stood, not entirely sure, but. . . "I stand with them."
"You count for little here, prince," Relena said dismissively.
"He is my cousin and if he stands, the Wanderers stand," Catherine said,
coming to her feet beside him. He looked at her, surprised, and then linked
his arm with hers.
"Maxwell stands for her people, and Duo is ours," Hilde said quietly.
"Five of my nine clans," Relena said, amazed. Hurt. Betrayed. "And the
rest of you?"
Wufei thought of the conversations he had had with them, all of them,
and stood as well. Between them there flashed something -- Heero
-- Duo -- Trowa -- Quatre -- Wufei --
as if they were all part of something. "I stand."
"And what, I pray you, do I tell my people?" Relena asked.
"With all due respect, your highness, that is up to you," Heero said.
Looking at him, Relena felt her heart crumble. "We merely refuse to let
you sacrifice him for your peace of mind."
"He is a killer," she said, pausing at the door. "Perhaps not the Lady
Faiza, but he has killed a countless number."
"That does not mean you can throw him to the people," Heero said.
Relena turned, and, with great dignity, left the room. She was followed
by Sally, Noin, and Zechs.
"I'm never going to see you again, am I?" Hilde asked, her voice a scratchy
"I can't risk it," Duo said.
"You can't risk leaving right now, either," Heero told him. "Relena could
change her mind, with you gone, and you'd endanger whoever you were near.
Whoever you were trying to protect in the first place."
"My sisters," Duo murmured. He placed his head in his hands, then looked
up wildly. "Hil -- Poe -- gods!"
"I think I may faint," Hilde said, looking stronger than ever. "Ring for
Heero rolled his eyes. "Subtlety," he said. "It's a good thing. Try it
sometime." He pointed to Duo. "You don't go off. Anywhere. You need a
reliable alibi with you at all times."
"You volunteering?" Duo said, only a hint of his usual flirtatiousness
in his voice.
Heero studied him. "Wufei and I will take turns."
"You'll wear me out!" Duo protested.
Wufei flushed. Heero ignored him.
Quatre rubbed his head. "And I -- "
"You need a bodyguard, too," Heero told him. "You've got the strongest
connection to her -- you're Heir now that she's gone. You'd do
well to stay in well-populated areas as well."
"I could be his bodyguard," Trowa said, no mockery in his voice for once.
"You're from Oz," Heero said, then reconsidered. "All right. You'll do."
Quatre exhaled. "I need something for this headache, and I need to contact
my father. If you will all excuse me." He left, followed by Trowa.
"So what do we do now?" Hilde asked, her voice small.
"We find the real killer," Meiran said. They looked at her; she flushed.
"I was not sure before. . . I stand with you now."
"Why would anyone want to kill her?" Catherine asked.
"I can think of a few reasons," Duo said, then gulped. "Guess I shouldn't
say stuff like that."
"Maybe not," Wufei said. "Idiot."
"I have another question," Catherine said. "The Weapon. . . it's said
to protect us in the castle. Why didn't it?"
As one they headed for the Chamber of the Weapon. They entered the chamber
slowly, quietly, aware that they were in the presence of a god.
It lay on a velvet cloth, simple and shining. Duo started, fell back.
Heero caught him.
"I didn't know," he whispered. "It. . . I didn't. . . ."
The silver was in the form of a scythe.