Disclaimer: I don't own or have any relation to Gundam Wing or any other Gundam series. I'm not making any profit from this, unless you count reviews.

Pairings: 1x2, 3x4 and others upon mass request (I can't choose between 5x6, 5x13, 6x13, 5x6x13, 5xM or 5xS…)

Princes and Thieves

Prologue: One for Sorrow, Two for Joy

Quiet, muffled sobs wracked the small five-year-old body curled up into a ball, alone in a huge four-poster bed. The heavy red velvet curtains that enclosed every side of the mattress dyed red what little moonlight managed to filter in. They formed a little cave, a little hideout in which the boy could hide his weakness.

Suddenly he felt some cold night air waft across his back and sat up, rubbing his eyes hastily. He blinked at the head bobbing in mid-curtain, staring wide-eyed back at him.

"Why're ya cryin'?" the head asked curiously in a loud whisper.

"I'm not!" he hissed. He rubbed at his face again and tried to look scary like his father did. It didn't work, though, since the head just tilted to one side curiously.

"You were cryin'."

"I was not! Who are you, anyway? What are you doing in my room?"

The curtains were pulled back. The head was attached to a thin body dressed in rags, and had hair in a braid that hung over one shoulder. A bright grin showed surprisingly white teeth as the intruder declared, still speaking in a whisper, "I'm Duo! I'm five, just like you!"

"How do you know I'm five?" he asked suspiciously.

"You're Prince Heero, aren't ya?"

"Yes," Heero admitted. Glancing towards the door apprehensively, he moved to one side of the bed, his trusting child's nature not thinking twice about inviting this unexpected visitor to sit with him. "You'd better come in before the guards catch you."

Duo looked at the fine embroidery on the silk sheets and winced. "I'll dirty 'em."

"I don't care."

"Okay, then!" Duo clambered in, the bed dipping under his weight but making no noise. Heero pulled the curtain shut and turned back to face Duo, who had made himself comfortable sitting cross-legged.

"Why were ya cryin'?" Duo asked again, curiosity insatiable.

Heero looked down. "I was beaten by my father because I was friendly to the servants," he said in a small voice. It was nice to talk to someone who didn't tower over him, or bowed every time they saw him.

"What? That's evil!" Duo made a face.

"He said I must not have friends." Heero looked like he was about to cry again. "I just want someone to play with, that's all…"

"Hmph! I'll be your friend, then!"

Heero looked up, shocked. "You will?"

"Yup!" Duo said with all the conviction of a five-year-old. "It'll be our li'l secret, kay? I'll come 'ere at night an' y'can tell me anythin'! An' I'll teach ya lotsa fun things t' play!"

"Really?" Heero looked like he couldn't believe his luck.


Duo looked at the disbelieving expression still on his newfound friend's face and leaned over to give the other boy an impulsive hug. When he pulled back, there was a tentative smile on the young prince's face.

"You'll be my friend? Forever?" Heero asked shyly.

"Forever!" Duo agreed cheerfully.

For a promise made in fickle childhood, it had more sincerity in it than many made in maturity, and it was one that would last for a long time to come.

"Your Majesty, we have caught the rat that's been evading our forces for some time now. Do you want to see him?"

"Send him in."

King J smiled at his ten-year-old charge, sitting straight beside him in the smaller throne to his right. "If this thief is really as good as they say, maybe we can integrate him into our court, hmm?"

"Yes, my Lord," Heero murmured.

The commotion outside, consisting of yelps, curses, and general ruckus, served to make J turn back to face the entrance. Heero stiffened in horror, having recognized one of the voices.

"Bastards, all of ya, motherless suckers who – ow!"

"Shut up!"

The entire court watched, half-amused and half-shocked, as no less than four guards dragged a small, struggling figure into the hall. One of the guards, seeing so many nobles watching, hurriedly gave a resounding whack to the figure's head, which stunned him enough for the guards to tie his hands and feet. Then they shoved him forward to sprawl before the King, and stood to either side, watching.

King J's nasty smile widened. "Impressive, young man. You are male, aren't you? That braid is highly unusual."

The volley of curses served to inform everyone within hearing what the boy thought of the King.

"And creative, too. When my guards told me there was a thief running loose who was particularly hard to capture, I had expected someone… older."

A sullen silence.

"Either you become part of our army, and train under me, or you will be publicly executed. Which is it?"

That prompted a burst of voices, one voice rising above. "But he will betray us if he joins the army, my Lord!"

"Did I ask for your opinions?"

The crowd was silenced by J's silky, menacing tone. The king ruled with fear, and the promise of immediate execution should anyone displease him.

"Good. Now, my boy, which is it?"

The little figure spat on the carpeted ground. "Whaddya think?"

The King's smile froze. "Take him away and behead him."


This time, everyone was silenced, even the thief, as they all stared at the small figure who had shot to his feet. The young Prince turned to the King. "Please, let him go," he pleaded.

"And why should I?"

"He – he's my age! Doesn't he deserve another chance?"

The King glanced towards the thief, whose violet eyes were wide with fear – for the prince? He looked back towards his heir, whom he had tried to train to be the perfect monarch, cold and analytical, but for some reason was failing… he put two and two together, and smiled a slow, cold smile. "The law is the law, exempt for no one."

"I…" Heero saw the expression on J's face and knew that the king knew, and he also knew what the king wanted. Clenching his fists, he lowered his head. "I will… excel in your training," he said softly, fighting to keep the venom from his voice.

J laughed, then, a chill laugh full of victory. "Excellent, my boy. It is agreed. Guards! Knock him out and put him on the next convoy to the most remote village on our borders. Make sure he will not have a chance to escape."

Heero's head shot up. "You said you would let him go!" he cried.

"I didn't say where."

"Heero – don't do it! Don't let him control – " Duo slumped to the ground, then, and the guard who had knocked him out bowed respectfully to the King. "I will take him now, your Majesty."

"Yes, do so."

Heero remained frozen, then turned hate-filled eyes towards his guardian. "This voids our agreement," he hissed.

"In that case, I have no qualms about beheading him."

They stared each other down. Heero was the first to look away. "Damn you," he growled, flinging himself back into his seat.

J nodded at the hovering guards. "Take him away," he snapped.

Heero's eyes were fixed on the limp figure being carried away. "Please," he whispered. "Let no harm come to him.

"Let me see him again."

Review, please? Without reviews I have no inspiration to write.

Heero might seem OOC here, but remember he hasn't succumbed to J's training yet.

First chapter: J is dead and Heero is king. First thing he does, as king, is to tour the country. Even the remote villages on the border…

[Ashen Skies][All that we see or seem]