Peace Children + Saturday (cont)

+

The king's spymaster had a knife to Quatre Winner's throat.

"Is he dead?" Catherine asked, her eyes filled with tears.

The boy dangled lifelessly in the general's arms.

"No, lady," the man said. "Merely asleep. I'm afraid I gave him too hard a bump on the head."

Catherine let a delicate tear slip from her eye and blinked furiously -- and fetchingly. "I'll call for a doctor -- oh!"

The knife had drawn blood.

"No, lady," the general said. "You won't."

Catherine reached for a handkerchief, and brought it to dab at her eyes. She considered the knives hidden on her person, but discarded them -- if Noventa dropped Quatre, the boy would fall onto the knife, and gravity would do the work for them. She wondered if Meiran had found help yet; she wondered where Hilde had concealed herself. "But sir," she said, affecting a tremor, "he is hurt!"

"Lady, you will be hurt as well if you do not cease that infernal wailing!" the general snapped. "Now listen to me -- I have demands that will be met. You must take them to that useless king of yours for me."

"Grandfather."

Sylvia Noventa, the Poet, moved into the room. The man looked at her with undisguised fury. "You. My traitorous granddaughter."

She moved slowly and proudly towards him. "I, sir, am no traitor."

He spat at her. "No, but a whore and a thief in any case!"

"I am what I am out of duty to you," she maintained, her eyes glittering. "And love."

"And yet you turn against me now," he hissed.

"What kind of man sends his ten year old granddaughter out onto the streets to be attacked?" Sylvia asked. "What kind of man has his ten year old granddaughter sell herself for a few coins and a few words of information? I don't think that kind of man is the kind of man who should be a king."

Heero moved silently forward to stand beside her. "I agree. You will not be king."

The man sneered. "You won't be able to stand against me when I have the Weapon."

"But you don't have it," Relena said from the other side of the room. The man jerked in surprise, nicking Quatre in the process. Trowa, beside the princess, started forward, but was checked by Zechs. . . and by the movement he almost saw in the shadows behind the Weapon's resting place. "And even if you had it -- the Weapon is the gift of the gods to the rightful ruler of Sanc. You are not that ruler."

"And your father is?" the former spymaster taunted. "I think not! If he were, the Weapon would still be here! What more proof do you need? The gods have withdrawn their favor, princess." He said the title like it was a curse.

"I wouldn't go that far," Duo drawled lazily.

They all started -- Heero, sure that the boy had been behind them, stared at his lover in shock. There was something different about the boy -- a look in his eyes, a casual violence in his movements as he lazily reclined on the Weapon's bed beside the false item. Sylvia gasped, just slightly; only Heero heard her utter the name.

"Shinigami."

And, looking back at the elegantly splayed figure, he understood for the first time why they spoke of Shinigami as a separate person from Duo.

"You," Noventa exclaimed. "You're the one I want -- you're that Solo's plaything, are you not? His pet assassin?"

Duo shrugged; the movement rippled through his body like light on water. "Some call me that." His eyes added what his voice did not: but never more than once.

"Sylvia!" The spymaster didn't take his eyes off of Duo. "You will go to your pimp and tell him that I have his plaything. You'll tell him that if he at all values the boy, he'll come here at once with the Weapon."

"He doesn't have it," Sylvia said.

"Then he knows where it is!" Noventa's eyes gleamed with ambition -- the man, Heero realized, was somewhat mad. "I know he does! I've traced the weapon's movements -- and the day it left was the day he snuck in here to try his hand at robbing the palace. I've got a guard who remembers him -- a seer who places him here -- and a magician who swears I'm right!" He laughed at the look on Relena's face. "You see, princess, the gods are guiding me to the Weapon! I am the rightful king. You, boy," this to Duo, "if you don't want your friend's throat slit, you'll come here. And you, ungrateful whore, run for your whoremonger."

"One thing I've learned, during my time as a human," Duo mused out loud, "is that it's generally unwise to wound those you intend to use. Severely, at least. She couldn't go for Solo if she wanted to -- she's lost too much blood. You really should have thought of that before you stabbed her." His tone was mildly censorious, no more, as he sat up, running a finger over the false Weapon. "In any case it's of no matter. I'm here."

"And what do I want with you?" Noventa jeered. "Useless piece of scum."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Duo said. "I thought you were looking for me. The Weapon, right?"

They all stared; the room was silent.

He threw back his head and laughed. "What? You all know the stories. The Weapon was formed by the gods, and imbued with a spirit. You don't think it gets boring lying in a badly decorated room for hundreds of years? The Weapon can change form, right? So why not a human form?" Aware that he had their attention, he slid the false Weapon along his skin -- much in the same way, Heero realized, that he had slid his face along Heero's body. The thought was the only thing clear to him in the silent room -- the roaring in his ears was drowning out everything else.

"I had my mind almost made up," Duo continued, lowering his voice to a purr, "when the thief came. So. . . lo." He keened the name like a lover might in the depths of passion. "So I shaped myself to be something like him. . . and followed him home. This thing," he shrugged, and flipped the scythe, catching the sharp edge without injury -- but it didn't stop as he caught it -- instead seem to vanish into his body like it belonged there, "was left as a diversion. Worked fairly well, too. Took you a few years to notice, didn't it? And even longer before someone else did, and made you tell the king. In the meantime. . . I've had fun." He sauntered closer to the would-be king -- Heero had the odd thought that his eyes did not look human, and then could have wept. Because they were not.

Quatre was awake, now, and staring at Duo like the rest of them. Duo tapped the man's arm, and he let go, in a daze; Quatre stumbled forward. Trowa caught him. Duo slipped into the man's arms in Quatre's place, and twined his own back around the man's neck, displaying himself provocatively. "You wanted me," he said, the sexual invitation in his voice patently obvious, "now use me."

Heero growled, low in his throat, and took a step forward. Duo's gaze whipped around and shocked him into stillness -- his lover's eyes gleamed like purple glass. They had no pupils, no iris -- just color, so bright it hurt to look at.

Noventa ran his hands gingerly down the boy's body; the look on his face was one of rapture so intense it was almost painful to watch. "The Weapon," he moaned. "How. . . how do I. . . ?"

"Simple," Duo purred invitingly, and in a heartbeat he was around to the man's back, the false Weapon once again in his hands. "You don't." He pressed the scythe to the man's throat and laughed. "I can't believe you fell for that!"

Noventa still seemed as if drugged. "You mean. . . you're not. . . the Weapon?"

"No," Duo said, almost gently. "I'm just Death." With that he slit the man's throat.

The heirs to the Clans of the Sanc Kingdom watched as the older man shook with the agony of death -- and as the boy holding him in his arms shook with the ecstasy of killing.

Finally, he shuddered one last time, his hands bright with blood, and let the man's body drop to the floor. His eyes were still intense with color -- he turned to Heero and held out a bright hand.

"You killed him," Relena whispered.

"He meant to kill you tonight," Sylvia said, staring at her grandfather's body. "You would not both have left this room alive, princess. He would have killed you, and the Winner, and me as well -- he would have killed us all to protect himself."

Relena nodded, her eyes full but no tears falling. She walked towards Duo. "You -- aren't the Weapon?"

The boy was stroking bloody hands along Heero's still form. "Me? No."

"But the scythe. . . ."

The boy spared one hand to pull his shirt tight against himself -- the outline of a scythe could clearly be seen there. "Slight of hand. Useful now and then."

"I see," Relena said, and blinked. "I think that -- "

"Your highness," Sylvia said with a quiet urgency, "Send Shinigami away. Now. There'll be time enough to question Duo later, but until Shinigami's gone the danger isn't over."

Relena stared at her, then at the boy who was ignoring them both. "Yes. Heero, perhaps you'd better take him somewhere else."

The Odin seemed dazed, but managed a nod, and then dragged the other boy from the Chamber.

"I hope he'll be all right," Relena said. "Du -- Shinigami -- he won't hurt him?"

Sylvia was staring after them as well. "Probably nothing fatal." She glanced down at her grandfather's body. "You should know that there's another one dead, in a closet not too far from here. My -- his assistant. We encountered him on the way up."

Relena bit her lip, and then nodded decisively. "Yes." She looked around. Trowa had led Quatre off -- Lucrezia had her face hidden against Zechs' shoulder -- Wufei and Meiran conferred quietly while Hilde looked with a blank face upon the work of her childhood playmate. "Could I prevail upon someone to bring that body here before the guards are summoned?"

+

Heero shut the door --

And found himself slammed up against it. Duo's hands, still slick, were all over his body, tearing at his clothes; Duo's teeth, fast and sharp, were drawing blood from several points on his body. Duo's eyes, when he tilted Heero's head back to kiss him into dizziness, were still bright.

Duo pulled back, and Heero gasped for breath as the other boy slid down his body, denuding him as he went down. He groaned as Duo's mouth slid around him, as Duo's teeth grazed him, as Duo took him firmly by the balls and the god of Death worshipped at his feet. To soon, the other boy was pulling away. "Duo," Heero moaned.

"Sorry," his lover panted, "but no. Maybe later." In one easy movement he hooked his hands under Heero's legs and pulled them up to waist level, leaving Heero with his back against the door and his feet dangling in the air. "Right now. . . there's just me."

Heero managed to bring a hand up, to touch Death's face. To lean forward and kiss him.

Duo laughed, and the sound was like funeral bells. Holding onto Heero, he walked backward until the bed bumped at the back of his knees. He sat, moved his head forward as if to kiss Heero, but at the last minute laughed instead, and turned the other boy so that he could rest his lips against the back of Heero's neck. With an easy movement he guided himself -- lowered Heero -- and seated the boy on his lap. Heero gasped and tried to move his head, but Duo's bit kept him from doing so. One hand, still dark with drying blood, moved to caress him -- the other wrapped itself around his throat.

Duo began to move within him.

Both hands tightened; Duo's mouth butted against his neck in thrusts matching the movements of his hips. "I could kill you," he whispered.

Heero was vaguely aware that he was making sounds that were only barely human.

"I could kill you right now," Duo said, his voice growing louder, his breath coming faster, his hips moving harder. "I could bite through your spine," he bit, "I could rip out your throat," he illustrated by dragging fingernails across that region, "I could strangle you," and Heero found his air supply had decreased. "I could kill you right now," Duo breathed, and thrust again. Heero couldn't breathe -- lights were starting to explode in the corners of his eyes. "Duo," he choked, and came, the pressure of his lover's hands too much to bear.

Duo made some noise, something, and moved, throwing himself face down on the bed with Heero beneath him, and began to go faster still, his mouth on Heero's shoulder now, sucking as if he could steal some of the boy's soul that way.

Heero, just before the sensations and unconsciousness claimed him, had the thought that this was what it felt like to die.

+

"This man was attempting to steal the Weapon," Relena said. "We came across him in the event -- my lord Noventa tried his utmost to protect Us and Our Weapon, and was slain in the process." Her tears were quite real, even if the reason for them was not what the listeners would suspect. "Bury him with a hero's honors."

Catherine, watching, wondered why anyone would want to be a monarch, when they had to do things like confer honor among traitors simply to keep the public from panicking. She, herself, was close to that state; the Weapon was gone, they knew not where, and without it Sanc could not stand should any kingdom try to challenge them. They had for too long avoided having an army, choosing instead to rely on the benediction from the gods that they had called the Weapon.

"But your highness," one of the guards asked, looking uncomfortably around, "where is the Weapon?"

Catherine managed to keep her face straight, but inside she was cursing. The false Weapon was still under Duo's shirt.

"I entrusted it to my Clan Heirs for safety," Relena said, her expression not varying. "It will be back in the Chamber shortly -- I simply wanted to make sure it was safe while this traitor ran free." She looked over at the anonymous man's body, then back at the guards. "If you will excuse us -- it is late, and none of us have slept."

The man bowed. "Of course, your highness."

Outside the bells struck three.

+

He blacked out only for a second -- when he came back to himself Duo was lost in the throes of ecstasy, and Heero felt a strange humility, knowing that his body had brought the fearsome killer to this helpless joy. The other boy collapsed on him, and Heero wiggled out from under him, turned over, and got as close as he could to the other boy.

There was a soft knock on the door.

Cursing, Heero rose, and answered it.

Relena's eyes went wide.

He remembered too late that he was naked -- that there was blood on him in streaks, along with other bodily fluids -- that his throat was probably used. In short, he looked like he'd just been well, if violently, used.

He shrugged. It was no more than the truth.

"I simply came to remind you that Duo took with him the Weapon," Relena said, her eyes reminding him that as far as the rest of the world was concerned that was the genuine article. "If you would be so kind as to keep it by you, and return it as soon as you have the chance."

"Of course," Heero said.

"And. . . Heero?" She paused, gathered her courage. "If you would convey to him my thanks, I would be most appreciative." Her eyes, guileless, met his. "He saved my life -- I know that from what Sylvia said. He saved my brother's -- my father was angry enough to order execution. I am forever in his debt." She turned then, and paused. "Though things would have been much easier," she added, "were he truly who he said he was."

Heero narrowed his eyes, not entirely sure if she meant that Duo would better have been the Weapon or the lordling he had introduced himself to them as. "He does all right for what he is," was all he said.

Relena nodded, accepted the rebuke. "Yes," she murmured, and cast an eye over his body. "So I see."

+

Heero was still blushing when he slipped back into bed -- it had been made worse by the glance he'd caught of himself in the mirror. He had immediately washed the worst of it off, and wet a cloth to attend Duo.

The other boy was shaking, balled up in the center of the bed. "Heero," he said, his voice weak.

"I'm here," Heero said, moving closer, wrapping his arms around his lover. "Right here."

Duo looked up at him -- his eyes were back to normal now, save for the uncharacteristic uncertainty that wavered in them. "Did I hurt you?"

Heero pulled one of Duo's hands toward him, and began to clean off the blood. "I've had worse."

The gruff sound of Heero's voice shocked the boy; he moved his now clean hand to gently touch the bruise forming at Heero's throat. "I did hurt you."

Heero began to clean the other hand. "I didn't exactly mind. And I did survive."

At that Duo's face collapsed, and the tremors grew stronger. "He didn't, did he?" Duo asked.

Heero thought of the quantity of blood that Noventa had produced -- who would have thought the old man had such blood in him? "No. You killed him, for which you have the princess' gratitude. And the country's, if it knew well enough. You saved Quatre's life -- and judging from the way that Trowa was holding him, you earned yourself some supporters there, too."

"I wish I were the Weapon," Duo whispered, burrowing into Heero's skin. "Barring that, I wish I hated it. I wish it didn't always leave me buzzing with energy and lust." His eyes against Heero's smooth chest were damp. "Heero. . . why don't I seem to have a soul?"

All Heero could think to do was pull the boy closer, and hold him until the shaking stopped.

There would be time enough in the morning to ask why the false Weapon, ostensibly hidden beneath Duo's clothing, had not been there when he had ripped off Duo's shirt.

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