Pairings: 1x2 main, other
Disclaimer: Don't own nothin' but these words
Warnings: Yaoi, lemon, language, gross misuse of powers, reincarnation, evil Duo, cold Heero, Relena bashing (sort of), cruelty
A/N: I'm trying so hard to be better about updating. Really, why the heck do I have so many stories? XD
In the deepest, darkest part of night, Shinigami appeared. Shadow swirled out from the base of his robe, swallowing up every trace of light from the fading stars. His eyes looked like bottomless pits of darkness, not a hint of light reflected on their surfaces. Had any been present to witness it, they very well may have died of fright. He looked awful and terrible, every inch the God of Death. A new religion had sprung up. It would end tonight. A cult that worshiped a pathetic goddess of the sun. He made a derisive sound, looking at the shoddy church that had been built in her honor.
"When will you pitiful mortals learn?" he said softly, holding out one hand. In his slim fingers appeared a scythe. Taller than him by probably a dozen inches or more, the blade was the same sickly green as the Ebbing Pool. An eerie color that gave off faint light but swallowed it as well. The blade was enormous, at its thickest as big around as Shinigami's waist.
"Let darkness swallow the light," he whispered, swinging the scythe down in a graceful arc. "Let shadow consume the sun. Life and death, they are one, the Ebb and Flow trickle into each other. Hiro, when will you make me yours?"
Writhing tendrils of darkness crept up the brick and mortar of the ugly church until every surface was moving black. Grinning the frozen grin for which he was so famous, Shinigami drew up his cowl so the shadow swallowed his face, as well. Turning from the church, it was time to move on to the next one. Now, whoever set foot inside the condemned building would die.
By the end of the night, Shinigami had marked almost one-thousand churches all over the world. He stood at the top of a high bluff and looked out over the sleeping world. Opening his mouth, he laughed. It was a frozen, heartless sound. Hiro, he thought, when will you make me yours?
"Yuy, who is this?"
Heero nudged his three best friends into his room. It made it a touch crowded, even though as a Vale Priest he had one of the largest rooms in the university. He closed and locked the door behind them.
"You're gone for three months, and you come back with this adorable little boy," Quatre said with a small grin.
Heero rolled his eyes. "He's not a little boy. His name is Duo."
Duo himself, still sprawled bonelessly all over Heero's bed, hadn't stirred in over twelve hours. Even Heero had to admit, he looked sort of cute. All unguarded and . . . cute. He winced. Did I really just think that?
Chang Wufei knelt at the head of the bed, peering at Duo's face. "Hm. He's an unusual one, isn't he? Not a human, but he's not a demon either. Some sort of sealing device keeping his identity hidden away."
Quatre stepped up behind him and reached down, touching the gold cross. "This is it. It's almost exactly like a demon Inhibitor."
Trowa joined them in their scrutiny. "It seals his power and his true identity," he murmured, sounding rather like a man who'd been given a puzzle too mysterious to resist.
Unable to help it, Heero smiled. It was a very tiny smile. But these three men, among the most powerful people he'd ever known, puzzling over a boy was just . . . amusing.
Quatre abruptly rose and pushed the other two back. "We'll wake him up. Heero, has he told you anything about himself?"
Sighing, Heero sank into his desk chair. "Everything about him, which isn't much," he replied. "He has no memories."
"Where did you find him?" Wufei asked, moving to lean against the door.
"In the Sacred Mountain."
Quatre reacted first, looking quite startled. "The Sacred Mountain? It deters everyone from setting foot on its slopes."
"He was locked inside it," Heero said. "It looked like a cage made of the mountain itself. He has no idea how long he was locked in there, but according to how many times he counted the sun rising and setting, over thirty years. He thinks it was more like a few hundred years."
"Impossible," Wufei said decisively. "He looks like a little kid."
Heero didn't bother replying. Duo rather acted like a little kid, but he looked at least sixteen.
Quatre hovered over the sleeping conundrum. "He seems . . . I dunno. Familiar, almost. I know I've never seen him before, but . . . there's something about him."
"I agree," Trowa said at once. Not surprising, he almost always backed his lover.
But that they echoed what Heero himself had been thinking all along . . .
Wufei shouldered Quatre aside and reached down. "I want to meet him," he said as he gripped Duo's shoulder and shook.
Duo's reaction amused Heero greatly. His eyes fluttered open, but when he saw the unfamiliar faces he scrambled up and flung himself backward, plastering himself against the wall. He looked like a trapped deer with those big eyes of his all wide and startled. Then he saw Heero and practically threw himself off the bed, glomping Heero as if he were a lifeline.
"Hee-ro! You didn't tell me we'd have company!"
A strange, strange sensation fluttered through Heero's chest at being touched like this. Duo seemed just enough intimidated by him that he didn't touch the Vale Priest often, but each time he did the reaction grew stronger and stronger. He peeled Duo off him and introduced his three friends. Duo's eyes tracked each one in turn, then he broke into a sunny little grin.
"Hi! I'm Duo. Are you going to be helping us? Me an' Heero, we have something real important to do."
It distantly annoyed Heero that he wouldn't be able to broach the subject as he'd wanted, but it was pointless to cry over spilt milk. So when his friends gave him questioning looks, he sighed.
"The Head Master gave me the Wisdom of the East. I'm going to gather all five of them and take them to the Heart of the World."
None of them looked surprised. Wufei nodded after a moment. "Yes, any demon with my skill can sense the slow warping of demonic energy. Even I have had to be careful when removing my Inhibitor. I can feel that wrongness, lapping at the edge of my vision. Wanting to drag me down."
Heero nodded. "I believe for the time being, it's best the three of you leave your Inhibitors on, you included Quatre. Humans aren't immune to the wrongness any more than demons."
"When do we leave?" Trowa asked quietly.
"Not for awhile yet," Heero said. "There are a few things I need to see to, and Wufei, I have a favor to ask."
"You're by far the best in combat. I'd like you to find a weapon Duo can wield with ease and train him to use it."
Wufei blinked. "Of course, but are you sure it's safe for little boys to swing sharp objects around?"
Duo drew himself up with an indignant, huffy expression. It was adorable. "I'm not a little boy!"
Heero ignored the outburst. "He's coming with us, and if he can't at least defend himself he'll be dead after our first encounter with resistance."
"Heero!" Duo whined.
Quatre reached over and cupped Duo's chin in his hand. "He's just thinking of you, kitten. As we gather the Wisdoms, demons and humans alike will begin to pursue us, wanting the stones for themselves."
Duo subsided, and Heero made a mental note. He did that easily. I'll have to remember that for use in the future. "I don't like useless things," he said, giving Duo a meaningful look. "Wufei, do you mind beginning now? I'll be back in a few hours."
"Sure," Wufei agreed with a shrug. "You coming, kid?"
Duo looked a little . . . hurt as he followed Wufei from the room.
"I'll go with them, maybe I can help," Trowa offered quietly and followed.
Leaving only Quatre. He gave Heero a disapproving look. "Somehow, I don't think you should be as cold with him as you are with everyone else. It's obvious he thinks the world of you. I'm sure it wouldn't kill you to offer him a little kindness."
Heero gazed after him as the human left, a little surprised. Quatre was the most even-tempered man he'd ever known, even something as mild as those words unlike him. But . . . he wasn't wrong, either. Heero had never been a warm individual, not once as long as he could remember. Calling those three men 'friends' was a stretch, because while he respected and trusted them, liking them was probably not apropos.
He sighed. Really, what was it about Duo? Perhaps somewhere along this journey the answer would be made clear.
Duo stared at the weapons spread out on the velvet blanket in front of him. "I had no idea there were so many," he said at length. Only half of them he could name. The rest . . . completely foreign.
Wufei leaned down and lifted a sword with a long, slender blade and a double edge. "This is a katana," he said, "though I had it specially made. Normally the blade has one sharp edge and one flat. This one has been sharpened on both edges to suit my fighting style. It's my preferred weapon, because it is light and perfectly balanced, but nothing could break the blade. It's a powerful weapon." He took a few steps back and executed a beautiful slash-parry-thrust.
Duo watched, amazed. "You're so good," he murmured. "You made that look really easy."
"One of my gifts as a demon is the ability to fight with any weapon, and do it well," Wufei said. "Most people aren't as good as I. Now, for beginners I'll pair you up with a simple quarterstaff. No sharp edges to cut you." He lifted a black-lacquered staff.
Duo took it with a little pout. "But it's so boring."
Wufei raised an eyebrow. "Don't underestimate its power. It's a multifunctional weapon, versatile and strong." He lifted another one and spun it in a blinding arc. "Many a blade has shattered on this shaft. It has a significant reach, which for you will be perfect. You can attack your opponent from enough of a distance to keep a solid defense."
Duo's stomach growled. "Naa, I'm hungry. Can we eat lunch soon?"
"When you master the first lesson, we will stop for lunch."
Duo blinked, then firmed his hold on the black staff. "All right. What is the first lesson?"
"Form and balance. You will never be a proficient fighter if you cannot find your inner balance."
Though in some ways Wufei was gentle, he was a relentless teacher. Every time Duo whined that his lessons were impossible, Wufei demonstrated with such grace and deadly skill it near blinded Duo. He's so amazing. So strong and capable. With every demonstration, Duo found himself wanting to focus a little harder and learn all the faster so he could make his teacher proud. So when after four hours he mastered Wufei's first lesson to the demon's satisfaction, it felt wonderful to hear the man say,
"Good work, Duo. When you put your mind to it, you're focused and learn very quickly. Most beginners can't master simple balance exercises for weeks."
Duo beamed at him, feeling fit to burst. "Thank you!" he sang, not even trying to resist the impulse to throw his arms around the man's neck and hug him. "You're a wonderful teacher."
There was a slight hesitation, then Wufei's arms came up around him to return the hug. "Yes, but you're also a good student. Give yourself a little credit."
Duo pulled back and grinned. "Okay! I'm really hungry. Can we eat now?"
"Of course. Let me take you to the cafeteria."
It was only after he waved to Trowa that Duo realized the quiet demon had followed them and probably watched the entire training session. He bounded over to Trowa and hugged him, too.
"Were you watching? Why didn't you come join in?"
Trowa looked vaguely disgruntled. "A student shouldn't have two teachers," he replied. "We'd get in each others' way."
"Oh," Duo said, nodding. Yes, that did make sense. Then, "Wufei's a wonderful teacher."
That garnered a smile from the ebon-haired man. "Stop gushing, little sahran," he chided in a mild tone.
Linking his arm through both demons', Duo looked up at Wufei. "What does that mean?"
Wufei just looked ahead with a mysterious little smile, so Duo turned pleading eyes on Trowa. Who glanced down at him with something that might have been a smile. For facial expressions, he wasn't a whole lot more versatile than Heero. His countenance in general, however, was gentler.
"It's a fond endearment of a teacher's for his pupil," he explained.
That made Duo feel all warm inside, and he briefly leaned his head against Wufei's arm. In the cafeteria Wufei told him to eat anything he wanted, and Duo happily followed the demon's lead and loaded up his tray with as much as would fit. Wufei and Trowa talked about classes and things, and Duo listened until it was time for seconds . . . then thirds . . . then fourths . . . when he went back a fifth time, a chuckling Wufei pulled him back into his seat.
"Don't go overboard, little baka. You'll make yourself sick."
"But Wufei~!" Duo whined. "In the mountain, I never once got to eat. I was in there for hundreds of years!"
"All right all right. Just pace yourself. You're not going to starve to death."
Duo pouted for a moment, then brightened. "Ne, can you tell me what the Wisdoms are? I mean, Heero told me they're Aligning Stones, capable of correcting the world's energies when they're flowing wrong. But what are they made of? Where did they come from? What gives them their power? Can anyone use them? Do they do anything else? Can they -"
"Easy, kiddo," Wufei interrupted with a soft snort. "How about one at a time, huh?" He sighed. "What are they made of. Well, I don't think anyone knows. It's the generally accepted theory that they came from the heavens, a gift from the gods. History tells us they weren't always around. They first appeared around five hundred years ago or so, and even though they're smooth and hard, no one knows exactly what the material is. Or what gives them their power. Probably it was the gods."
"Who can use them?" Duo asked.
"Vale Priests," Trowa inserted. "They receive training on how to locate and activate them."
Wufei nodded. "They can do a lot more than correct the flow of energy in the world. Individuals can use them if they take them out of their sealing jars. It amplifies the natural abilities of gifted humans and demons by a hundredfold. It's dangerous, however, and can cause burnout or death if used incorrectly."
Duo shuddered. "Heero said only Vale Priests can sense the Wisdom Storm?"
"Yes, that's correct. Vale Priests are capable of viewing the world in a different way. It's difficult to explain, it would be better if you asked Heero."
"When I touched the sealing jar," Duo said after a moment, "I sensed it. I could sense the energies of the world and how off they were."
Blinking, Wufei gave him a surprised look. "You could? Hm. That's extremely unusual. What did it feel like?"
For a moment, Duo just sat still and remembered the sensations. He shivered. "It . . . I didn't like it. It was intense and painful and it felt like a lot of pressure inside my head. I was completely exhausted afterward."
"I'm not surprised," Wufei said. "No one could be unaffected by it. I've only ever heard descriptions, and that's enough to convince me I wouldn't want to experience it."
"Would you use the Wisdom?" Duo asked, tilting his head to the side. "You seem like you're really powerful."
Wufei gave him a grin that exposed his sharp canines. "Yes, I would use it if I could get my hands on it. And I'd specifically use the Wisdom of the East."
"Each Wisdom represents something different," Trowa interjected here, "in addition to the simple direction of its name. The Wisdom of the West, for example, is the Wisdom of Knowledge."
"The Wisdom of the East," Wufei picked up with a savage smile, "is the Wisdom of Power. Also called the Wisdom of the Sword."
Duo nodded. "Mm. It would suit you. Is there a Wisdom that can give you all the food you want? That's the Wisdom I would use."
Wufei snorted. "You're a silly boy. Well, are you done eating? We should begin our next lesson."
As he followed the demon back out to the training grounds, Duo found himself missing Heero. He tried to put it aside and focus on Wufei's teaching. In his way, Wufei was every bit as amazing as Heero.