Title: Web of Time 4/?
By Hana-chan
Email: gohana_chan@hotmail.com
Category: AU, yaoi, angst, occasional lemon
Pairings: eventual 1x4, 2x3x2, 5xOC
Ratings: Varies. This part is PG.
Spoiler: Series, EW, and the Episode Zero manga are helpful but not essential
Archive: Mystic Gundam Wing: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/cleft/mysticmain.html , FanFiction.net http://www.fanfiction.net/index.fic?action=directory-authorprofile&UserId=81835
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Gundam Wing. This is for fun, not profit, so don't sue me. The story, and any characters that do not belong to GW belong to me.

thoughts ::telepathy:: ~emphasis~ *** scene change

Web of Time
Chapter 4

Quatre awoke to metal bars and a low throbbing pain in his chest. He blinked his eyes owlishly before pushing himself into a sitting position. Looking around he took in the surroundings that were definitely ~not~ his office at Winner Incorporated, where he had dozed off for a moment behind the stacks of paperwork. There was a long, windowless stone wall behind him that was divided into several barred cages. At the end of the line of cages was a heavy wooden door reinforced with metal strips.

Peering around, he spotted no one other than a single figure in the cage beside his. Crawling over to the bars, he leaned against them. "Hello," he said quietly.

The other figure didn't respond, other than curling tighter into a fetal ball. Quatre gasped as a wave of self-loathing stabbed his heart. Hissing in pain, he clutched the fabric of his shirt, trying to reinforce the mental barrier he kept between himself and outside emotions. Panting, he Felt the sensation lessen, and he slumped against the side of the cage.

Sighing, he watched the other figure sadly. He didn't know the cause of the other man's torment, but it had to be something bad to create such a strong feeling of self-hate. Biting his bottom lip Quatre debated what to do. His instinct was to help, but he'd never Felt anyone's emotions this strongly before, and he was a bit concerned. The normally vague sensation he was familiar with was nowhere near as powerful, distinct, or painful as what he'd just Felt. He wondered if it had something to do with where he was, or with the unknown man beside him.

Shaking his head he looked at the barred door. Escape sounded like a good idea but while he could see the lock, he'd never been that good at picking them, and unlike Duo, he didn't carry picks on him at all times. Absently massaging the aching spot where his neck met his shoulders, he looked around the cage again. There was nothing he could use as a weapon; his belt had been removed, and since he wore dress loafers, he had no laces. There wasn't even somewhere for him to hide to surprise any guards who might bring him food. Other than overpowering the guard and stealing his keys, there was little the blond could do to further his chances at freedom.

Hearing a slight whimper, Quatre turned his attention to the man in the next cage. He was trembling, dark brown hair splayed on the floor under his head. Reaching out instinctively, Quatre stretched his arm between the bars and gently touched the man's head with the tips of his fingers, hoping to offer some comfort.

His mouth opened in a silent scream as emotions flooded into him and clamped hard on his heart. He struggled to breathe as his heart constricted painfully. Whimpering he slid to the floor, unable to pull his hand back from where it tangled in the other man's hair.

Failure, inadequacy, self-loathing, loneliness, confusion, anger, hatred, distrust, despair, Quatre was drowning in negative sensations, losing himself in the maelstrom and pain. Suddenly fear, concern and horror joined the tumult, and there was a sharp spike in the emotions that made the blond cry out in agony.

Then it stopped. A warmth radiated up his extended left arm and into his chest, enveloping his heart in a comforting heat. His muscles relaxed and his breathing slowly returned to normal as the heat spread throughout his body. The chaotic emotions were still there, but the warmth created a buffer between them and Quatre. He was no longer drowning; he was no longer in pain.

Groaning, the Arabian slowly opened his eyes. His arm was still in the other cage, but his wrist was now in the warm grip of the other prisoner. Looking over he found himself caught by a pair of wide Prussian eyes.

"Heero?" he asked faintly, shocked not only that the normally stoic pilot was the source of the chaotic emotions, but that he was also the source of the comforting warmth.

"Quatre? It is you," was the hushed response. A sense relief touched the new buffers, followed quickly by remorse, guilt, and the cycle of negative emotions began again.

The blond's eyes opened wide, and he gasped, cringing back, trying to escape the torrent, clutching Heero's wrist spastically. The flood wasn't as strong this time, but it still battered at his weakening mental barriers. He whimpered slightly, frantically trying to hold the barriers in place, but he Felt them giving way beneath the onslaught.

Heero's grip on his wrist tightened and the warmth poured into his body once again, wrapping around his heart, stopping the pain. Basking momentarily in the relaxing warmth he opened his eyes again and looked at his friend.

"Thank you," he said softly, squeezing the wrist he was holding. "I don't know what you did, but thank you."

The dark haired pilot looked at the stone floor for a moment before looking up again. "Don't thank me," he said in a low voice, releasing Quatre's wrist. "I ~caused~ the pain - I could tell,"

Taking in Heero's expression, Quatre sighed. He recognized the determined look, and knew that arguing about blame would be pointless right now. Instead he changed the subject.

"Do you know what's going on?" he asked. "The last thing I remember was falling asleep at my desk."

A haunted look appeared briefly on Heero's face before it was quickly masked. Likewise with the quick burst of feeling - hate and anger directed both inward and outward was repressed almost immediately. Quatre gasped, both at the strength of the emotions, and the way his friend dealt with them, or rather, didn't deal with them. They were going to have to have a long conversation in the near future.

Quatre watched Heero take a slow breath before he spoke. "I was using my laptop in the park when I was attacked by these. . . creatures. They were gray skinned, with long red hair and dark red armor. I don't know where they came from, but they attacked me with swords," Heero's eyes were unfocussed as he stared at the bars of the cage. "I disarmed one, but they wouldn't stop. I had to . . . kill . . . half of them which only seemed to enrage the others. They had me cornered. Then this red. . . gate? doorway? . . . opened up behind me and I was dragged through. They beat me then," he said, expression shuttered. "I didn't fight back, not after a while - I had killed, so. . ." trailing off, he went silent.

Chewing on his bottom lip, Quatre stared wide-eyed at his friend. He vaguely remembered Relena telling him about the vow that Heero had made at the end of the battle with Mariemaia and Dakim Barton, but he'd never expected killing, especially in self-defense, to be so damaging to Heero's sense of self. During the war he'd been the quickest to kill for the mission, and now. . .

Looking closer at his friend, the Arabian frowned in puzzlement. There wasn't a mark on him. While he didn't doubt his friend's word, his uchuu no kokoro told him Heero wasn't lying, but unless he'd been here for a long time, he should show signs of a beating. Quatre was opening his mouth to ask about it when the door at the end of the line of cages was slammed open with an echoing crash.

Jumping, startled, Quatre's mouth snapped closed and he turned to watch the six men who came towards them. They looked just as Heero had described them -it was, in fact difficult to tell them apart. They Felt different though. He wasn't exactly sure what it was, but had they looked more human, he'd recognize that they weren't. Something was missing in them.

The creatures stopped before the two cages, and Quatre found himself staring into the sickly yellow gaze of the leader. The eyes weren't the bright yellow of an owl or a wolf, but the dull, mottled color of a healing bruise. Shivering, his hand clutched spastically at Heero's wrist, and he had to force himself not to huddle against the bars.

"Ah, look," said the leader. "The Princelings are awake." Looking between the two prisoners, its gaze settled on Quatre. "You," he said. "Where is the fifth?"

A puzzled frown creased Quatre's brows. He had no idea what he was being asked. Fifth what? Wufei was the fifth pilot, but what did he have to do with this? And how would these creatures know that anyway? He remained silent, as he couldn't answer the question.

"So, you're going to be difficult are you? Fine." He gestured towards one of the creatures who approached Quatre's cage. "Take him for questioning."

The blond stared back wide eyed as the implications of that statement sank in.

"Take me instead." Heero released his hand and moved forward until he was at the door to his own cage.

"Heero, no," Quatre said, reaching out to stop his friend.

The lead creature looked between the two pilots, then looked more closely at Heero. A calculating frown appeared on his face as he studied them. "Bring both of them," he said abruptly. "We'll question one while the other watches. One of them will give in and answer either for his own sake or for his companion's. Let's go."

Quatre glanced in Heero's direction. A sense of dread filled him as he thought about what the leader had said. He didn't want to be tortured, especially in front of Heero as it would obviously add to the negative emotional chaos inside him, but at the same time, he didn't want his friend to be tortured either. The worst thing was, that since they didn't have the information that the creatures wanted, they couldn't give it to them. They'd be broken, and no one was there to pick up the pieces.


* * *

Heero watched helplessly as they bound Quatre, locking heavy metal cuffs around his wrists and ankles. He wanted to scream in frustration - Quatre shouldn't be hurt; he didn't deserve it. He allowed himself to be bound as well for escape was pointless; he wouldn't leave his friend.

They were yanked roughly from their cages, and thrust into the center of the circle of creatures. Heero discretely tested the chains by pulling his hands apart. The linking chain was strong, but didn't appear to be as well made as the restraints made by OZ. He didn't think he could break the links without also breaking his wrists however.

The pilots were forced through the door into a stone hallway lit only by flickering and hissing torches, and Heero disliked it intensely. Something about this place, beyond the obvious fact that it was a dungeon, was bothering him intensely. He saw Quatre flinch slightly as an agony filled scream echoed through the corridor, and he suppressed a gasp as searing pain suddenly burned across his chest - it felt as if someone were drawing a red-hot poker over his skin.

By the time the gray-skinned guards stopped, Quatre was whimpering in pain, cuffed hands clutching his shirt, and Heero was trembling from the feeling of hundreds of invisible wounds. He didn't understand it, this inexplicable pain, but seemed almost as if it was second hand - he'd been tortured before so he knew this wasn't quite as intense as the real thing, but it was very painful none the less. He did know that the constricting pain in his heart belonged to Quatre however. He'd experienced it earlier when they were in the cages. Feeling others emotions somehow hurt the blond, and Heero wasn't sure how to make the pain go away.

The dark-haired pilot was distracted from his thoughts as his hands were raised, and the cuffs attached to lengths of chain that hung from the ceiling. Cursing his unusual inattention, he saw Quatre was being similarly handled, except that instead of being chained near the wall, he was chained spread-eagled in the center of the room.

Glaring at their captors, Heero watched as five of the six creatures left the little room. Taking in his surroundings, the brunette wasn't really surprised to find that the room was lit only with lanterns of some sort, and that there was dried blood encrusting the cobbles of the floor. Whips, canes, knives, metal poles, a braiser with red hot coals in it were some of the things that Heero could see, and he knew that he didn't want to know what was in the various boxes on the single table that stood behind and to the left of his friend.

Sadistic grin on its face, the creature began to remove its armor before pulling on an open fronted robe that had probably been brown at one point, but was now a sickly red-black color. Silently, it grabbed a long dagger and placed it in the collar of Quatre's dress shirt.

"You are going to tell us where the fifth is," he stated quietly. "But don't feel you have to do it right away; I'd be rather disappointed if I couldn't play with you for a while first."

Heero watched his friend tense, eyes wide with fear; they had no answers to give.

"What, not speaking?" asked the creature. "Good." With that he jerked the knife downwards cutting the thin fabric. Heero heard Quatre gasp, and felt a light burn down the center of his chest where the knife scored his friend's skin. The brunette had no idea why he could feel this phantom pain, but it had to be worse for Quatre. The same procedure was used on the back of the shirt, leaving it to hang in pieces from the blond's shoulders.

Both Heero and Quatre winced as the knife was used in the same way with Quatre's pants, thankfully with the side seams rather than the front and back ones. A growing sense of fear filled the room and caused the creature to grin, as Quatre tried not to tremble. Heero's eyes widened as he watched their captor reached for the bullwhip on the wall. The crack of it caused Quatre to flinch, though it didn't actually touch him. His eyes met Heero's, and he could tell that his friend was terrified.

The whip snapped nearby several times without actually making contact so when it did both captives were caught off guard. They both hissed in pain, flinching as the whip cracked in the air again. Heero began to pull helplessly against his bonds. He couldn't allow this to happen - not to Quatre. The whip made contact again.

Heero struggled desperately against his restraints, feeling the metal cuffs digging into his skin. Blood trickled down his arms, but he didn't care; he had to get free, to stop them. He hissed in pain as the whip landed with a crack, leaving a burning trail across his back. There was no blood, though there should have been, as the lash fell, again and again. He felt pain, hot lines across his legs, buttocks, back and shoulders, but his blood didn't spill.

Quatre's did.

The whip snapped again and Heero heard Quatre scream in agony, blood dripping from his naked body. Heero increased his struggles, knowing somehow he was to blame. They should be torturing him, not Quatre. Neither knew what the creatures wanted, but Quatre shouldn't be the one who was hurt. He could feel Quatre's fear - he didn't know why, but he could feel it. Fear, dispair, determination, the emotions chased around in his mind as the lash marks traced along his nerves. He didn't understand it, but it had to stop.

The whip wielding creature, blood-spattered now, threw its weapon down and drew a finger along the bloody welts on Quatre's back as Heero watched helplessly. Locking eyes with the dark-haired man, he licked the blood off, then licked its lips.

"The smell and taste of blood are so. . . stimulating. . . don't you think?" it asked, licking its lips again. Quatre's eyes snapped open and he renewed his struggles frantically. It was useless though, as he was chained, arms above his head, and legs spread wide in the center of the room. Heero was hit with the sharp tang of the blond's terror, as was the bloodied creature, judging by the look of sadistic glee on its features. It's laugh sent shivers down Heero's back, and caused Quatre to whimper and tremble. Watching the gray-skinned torturer begin to toss the last of its clothing aside, Heero realized the implications of the word stimulating.

Something inside of him snapped.

Rage burned through his mind, along his veins. "No more," he said. "NO MORE!" He pulled his arms downward, ignoring his own pain and blood as his body protested. He felt the strain on his wrists, felt the bones beginning to give under the pressure. He didn't care. He was going to stop that sadistic bastard. He glared at it, wanting to crush the life out of it for doing this, for the meaningless torture, for making him want to kill again.

He felt his right wrist snap as he wrenched the chain out of the wall. He didn't care. He imagined that he could feel the creature's heart beating in its chest. He wanted to crush that heart, his hand closing into a fist to mimic his thoughts.

The creature staggered backwards clutching its chest then it gave a wailing scream before collapsing to the bloody floor. Heero ripped his other arm free, wrist snapping like the first, as the door to the torture chamber slammed open.

Reaching out blindly, Heero could see a faint glow surrounding each guard from outside. It pulsated with life, radiating out from each heart. Snarling mindlessly the Japanese man lashed out, crushing the source of each glow. His own heart spasmed painfully with each scream but he ignored it, and soon there were five more bodies on the floor while he gasped painfully for breath.

Going over to the discarded robe for the keys, he retrieved them and carefully unlocked Quatre's ankles and wrists, cradling the bleeding boy against his chest, fiery pain burning through his wrists. Quatre whimpered, and Heero tried to avoid hurting him even more as he lowered his friend to the ground. He could feel Quatre's wounds on his own body and concentrated on making him more comfortable. A feeling of warmth started in his hands, and he felt it spread to the trembling body of his friend, as it had earlier in their cages. He wanted the bleeding to stop, the wounds to close. There was a sudden rush of heat from somewhere inside him, and he gasped dizzily as the pain from his legs to shoulders vanished, leaving behind the simple tenderness of a recently healed injury.

Slumping to a heap on the floor, Heero watched in exhausted confusion as Quatre gaped at him. The blond looked at the backs of his legs, still blood covered, but bearing nothing more than the pinked lines of fresh scar tissue.

"Heero?" he asked. "What. . .?"

Looking at his friend, he opened his mouth to speak, only to feel the last of his strength give out as the blackness of unconsciousness engulfed him.

* * *

Quatre grabbed Heero as he collapsed onto the blood-covered floor in a heap. He checked quickly for a pulse and found it throbbing in a steady rhythm. Frowning in relief and confusion, he took the key from Heero's limp fingers and undid the cuffs from his wrists. Looking at the broken links where the chains had been attached and shook his head in disbelief. He had no idea how Heero had managed to break the links. All he could remember was the overwhelming sense of lust from his torturer then, cutting through his own panic came a rage so extreme he trembled slightly at the memory. That must have been Heero - how else could he have broken the chains, he thought.

Moving carefully, he checked his friend's wrists to see the seriousness of the breaks the boy must have received. He felt the bones of Heero's right wrist shift slightly as he examined it, causing Heero to whimper softly. Definitely broken. Checking the other wrist he paused in confusion. It wasn't broken. Fractured perhaps, but not shattered like the first. Taking hold of the right wrist again he gasped in astonishment.

The bones were whole.

Shaking his head in bewilderment, he looked down at the discarded metal cuffs then back at Heero's wrists. The boy in question moaned slightly and opened his eyes.

"Heero, you're awake," Quatre said, helping his friend to sit up. Prussian eyes blinked at him, and Quatre could Feel the disorientation and confusion coming off him in waves. "We have to get out of here before more of those things come back," he said, trying not to think about what would happen if they were caught.

"The blood you. . ."

"I'm fine Heero," he interrupted as a wash of guilt battered his mind and heart. "You healed me,"

His friend blinked in surprise, and Quatre hesitated, then turned so that his bloody back was visable. He shivered at the feather-light touch, and closed his eyes. He knew that Heero wouldn't hurt him, but it was too soon.

"You don't hurt anymore," he said in awe. "But you're afraid, I can tell."

Quatre blinked in surprise, suppressing the feeling. "How?" he blurted.

Heero looked down and shrugged. "I don't know. It's gone now."

The blond opened his mouth to question his friend more, but thought better of it. "We have to get out of here," he said instead.

Nodding silently, Heero pushed himself to his feet and Quatre did the same, blushing as he suddenly remembered his state of undress. It seemed silly to be embarrassed by his nakedness considering what had just happened, but he couldn't help it.

Looking over, he saw that Heero was bending over one of the dead creatures, examining the armor and tunic it wore. Quatre could Feel the chaos of emotions coiled up inside his friend with guilt and self-hate, and rage battling near the surface. He looked at the six dead creatures for a moment, before he realized what was missing.

"What happened to them?" he asked, memory understandably patchy.

Rage and guilt sparked and were suppressed as Heero clenched his fists. "I did," he whispered. "Somehow I killed them - stopped their hearts." Despair crept into his voice, twisting in Quatre's heart as he heard it. He didn't know how Heero could have killed them, but then, he also didn't know how Heero had healed him. There was probably a connection, but he didn't want to think about it right now - they had to get out of here before more of those creatures came back.

A terrified shudder ran through his body and he clenched his fists trying to regain control. There was a soft gasp nearby, and he found himself suddenly enveloped in Heero's arms, a soothing murmur reaching his ears. Relaxing into the embrace he felt the fear leaving him again. A part of his mind wondered at the changes in his friend, but the rest of him simply absorbed the comfort offered.

After a moment, he felt the arms loosen, and he stepped back. "Let's get out of here," he said softly. Heero nodded and pulled the breastplate off of one soldier and removed the tunic, handing it over. Quatre put it on quickly, wincing as it stuck to the blood drying on his back. Ignoring the thought he also pulled on the trousers that Heero handed to him.

He watched as Heero did the same, removing his bloodstained clothing and putting on the tunic and trousers of another soldier. Quatre expected Heero to pick up one of the narrow sabers, then cursed himself for expecting that. For some reason he can't kill anymore, he thought, staring at one of the swords. Well, if he can't, I'll have to.

With that thought firmly in mind, the blond unbuckled the swordbelt from one of the bodies and strapped it around his own waist. The blade was heavier than what he was accustomed to, but he'd used this type of blade before.

A Feeling of revulsion then resolve came from Heero, and Quatre saw him take a sword and strap it around his waist. He opened his mouth to protest, but shut it again at Heero's expression.

"You shouldn't have to kill," was the soft response.

Quatre blinked, a bit startled by Heero's protectiveness, but nodded. I have the feeling that you're the one who shouldn't have to kill, he mused. It's time that I started protecting you. With that thought the two crept out of the cell, trying to find a way to freedom.

TBC