A/N – Okay! This is something a bit out of the norm for me, but I had way too much fun writing this! This is written for Clara Barton, as she spoils me rotten with her stories (and knows it too, sly woman!) so I wanted to give her something. She wanted a Rapunzel story with Duo and Trowa, so she gets a Rapunzel story with Duo and Trowa! Hope you like it Clara!

Warning: Slash/Yaoi, inappropriate language, suggestive language, suggestive ideas that involve animals, often contradicting speech and/or ideas, silliness, randomness, etc.

The Man With Long Hair


Duo has never stepped outside his tower, not that he could remember anyways. His mother, at least the woman called herself that, had said that the world was an evil place, and that he was safest here in the middle of the forest in a tower that barely topped the trees.

To Duo, it felt much more dangerous being this close to the sky in a place that was well known for lightning storms. The fact that the tip of the spire resembled a lightning rod didn't help his fears any. But mother was always right.

The king and queen of their kingdom were supposedly cruel and harsh people, who loved to torture their citizens for little crimes like breathing funny and walking too swiftly. According to mother, at least. But his mother was slightly off her rocker, in his opinion.

You see, Duo tended to not stay inside the tower too often, because it felt like a deathtrap waiting to happen. His hair, luscious and long in a colourful mixture of brown, gold, and red hues was, like he noted, long. It tended to be washed five times a day, because more of it trailed along the floor than what was considered hygienic, and the thought of what his hair was being dragged through made him shiver.

He quickly took a shower after thinking that.

Dry, and back at his window, he thought back on how he left the tower often. He used his hair to get himself to the ground. You think it would be simple, since his hair was so very long. But he tried to not go out often, because honestly? It hurt like a bitch to have that much force pulling on his scalp.

So, he often sat at the window, reminiscing on what he did outdoors.

He often tried to explore, but after getting his hair tangled, snagged, and caught in so many bushes, trees, and animal traps, he had given up leaving the clearing the tower was built in. He wasn't sure why the tower was here to begin with, but it was, and that was all that really mattered in the end. He had started building a man made from tree branches and leaves. It was his hero. He named it Heero. After a couple years, Heero started looking lonely, so he stole a book his mother had hidden away where she thought he didn't know about. It had a lot of spells inside of it, which was odd. His mother wasn't a witch. At least, she didn't look like one.

He used a spell he found labeled as simply A Bring to Life Spell, rather plain and simple, the next time he wandered out to see his stick-buddy. So now Heero was living, and kind of hot.

His mother had thought so too, apparently enough that she didn't question his sudden appearance. His now-living buddy Heero didn't have much personality, but his mother didn't care much about that at all. She was often distracted, going off to spend 'alone' time with Heero.

It creeped him out on many levels, but it meant he could do more now.

He just wished he knew a way to get out of the forest. There were only so many things to do inside a single tower.

Trowa examined the loot in his hand. It was an imitation watch, he noticed with a depressed sigh. Tossing the cheap fake in the creek, he leaned back and laced his fingers behind his head.

Tilting his head to the side, he grew curious at the sight that met him.

What was a tower doing out in the middle of nowhere? He got up and headed towards the direction the tower was in, his curiosity prodding him along steadily.

He soon reached a clearing where the tower stood tall and menacing, and clearly misplaced. The windows didn't sit above the canopy, which made it useless for a lookout.

A shadow moved across the shutter-less window, and so he gave a call out.


The shadow paused, and then grew larger, revealing the face of a young man. He had long hair, but that was all Trowa could tell from down here. The angle of the tower, Trowa, and the man, blocked a good view of anything else.

"Hello! What'cha doin' down there?"

"I was curious as to what such a useless tower was doing in a part of the forest that has nothing to watch," Trowa answered, and the man smiled brightly.

"I live here! I would let you in, but we don't have a door. At least…" the man trailed off thoughtfully, "I haven't found one. And I've been here my whole life."

"That is rather odd," Trowa said, baffled at the fact. What house didn't have a door?

"Oh! If you promise to be gentle, I'll help you inside," the man said after a long, awkward pause. For Trowa, a rather numerous amount of indecent images flooded his mind at those innocently spoken words, but a quick shake of the head dislodged them.

"What did you have in mind?" Trowa just wanted to make sure the man wasn't saying what he thought he meant.

"Well, ya see, my hair's kinda long… like… really long… long 'nuff to hit the ground from up here…" Trowa blinked. What was wrong with the occupant of this tower? No front door and extremely long hair?

"I guess… that will work…" Trowa finally replied, after seeing the hopeful look. He guessed that the odd occupant didn't get many visitors. The enthusiasm he displayed after hearing an affirmative response changed that thought.

Trowa guessed that he hadn't had any visitors before.

Suddenly, he was eclipsed in a shadow, and quickly backed up before being hit with a large amount of chestnut coloured hair. For several seconds, he stared at it blankly, his mind having stopped working.

The man hadn't been kidding.

That should have surprised him more.

Duo tried to ignore the pain from the pulling on his roots as the unknown man hefted himself up the tower using his braided hair as a rope. He managed to distract himself with the thought that he had a guest, in his home, that hadn't been made of sticks first!

When he saw a hand grasp the window's ledge, he moved over and helped pull the larger man over the sill, both falling to the ground in a tangle of limbs. Their position resembled one he had seen his mother push Heero into many times when spying on them (he'd wanted to make sure she wasn't being mean to his buddy), and it made him flush slightly. The unknown man flushed slightly too, and quickly stood up, clearing his throat and looking around the tower.

His face didn't show much of what he thought, but Duo was used to that. Heero didn't show much of what he thought either… if he did think. The spell hadn't said exactly how alive it made things…

"What is your name?" The man asked, and Duo blinked.

"I'm Duo! And you?"

"Trowa…" he said, eyeing Duo with an unreadable look. Duo got up, excited.

"Lemme show you 'round! Mother is out somewhere with Heero, but if we hurry, she'll never know you were here!" Duo grabbed Trowa's hand, yanking him further across the room, and to a staircase leading up.

"You live here with your mother?"

"Yeah, she keeps me safe here because the world is evil. She doesn't want me to join the evilness of their evility."

"…Is that even a word?"

"It should be. Evility is what evil people do!" Duo said firmly, and pushed open a door. It was his mother's room.

"This is Mother's room. Sometimes it's also Heero's room, when he isn't out sleeping in a tree. He likes trees, but since he was a tree, it makes sense."

"…" Trowa didn't say anything to that, and Duo moved on, pushing open another door, which showed a mass void of darkness beyond the frame. Nothing could be made out from inside it.

"This is my mother's workroom. We're not allowed inside, because she says I would break something."

They quickly moved on, the dark and dismal room being quickly closed, and forgotten by Duo. Another room was revealed, full of coats.

"This is the closet!"

"…" Trowa must not have been a man of many words, Duo guessed. He didn't seem to have much to say.

After showing him four more closets, and his small room, they moved back to the main room, where Duo served him a cup of coffee.

"So, what now?"

"…You should come with me," Trowa said, and Duo choked on his coffee.


Trowa didn't think Duo fully believed his mother's teachings. The fact that many things he said contradicted each other hinted at that, but the enthusiasm at being able to get out of the tower proved it.

And besides, a man his age shouldn't be living with his mother still. That was just downright wrong.

So, he helped Duo pack a bag, leave a note, and get out of the tower. They used Duo's hair again, which still made him twitch thinking about it.

When they were down on the ground, Trowa took several bobby pins out of his clothes – one never knew when they'd be needed – and wrapped Duo's long, long braid around his head several times, before securing it and then placing a hat over it. When he had suggested cutting it, the man had looked like Trowa had asked him to kill himself. So, the second solution left only a few meters of braid showing under the cap. The man was beaming. Trowa could admit to himself that it would have been a shame to have to cut such beautiful hair anyways…

"Wow! It feels weird," Duo said, and Trowa shook his head, exasperated.

"Hurry, before we are seen."

They moved through the forest, Duo pausing to stare several times at the sun, mountains, trees, water, and a chipmunk, but at Trowa's prodding, kept moving forward. What was once a twenty minute walk to get to the nearby inn turned into almost an entire day, as the man who had never seen so much of the world was suddenly surrounded by it. Trowa was patient though; the guy clearly had issues, possibly Post-Tower-Trauma, or whatever it was called. He could only hope that Duo would get over it soon enough. Trowa was a wanted thief, after all, though whether the captain of the law wanted him for his crimes or his body was still debatable.

The inn, cleverly called The Crime Stop, had seen better days. It stuck out just as badly as the tower did in these woods, though the inn was much more useful than a tower. Taking Duo's elbow, he leaned in and said quietly "Once we go inside, don't say a word. I am going to get some information, and then we can leave."

"Okay!" Duo said cheerfully, his eyes following some sort of furry animal darting into the undergrowth.

Trowa wondered if the man had ADHD as well.

Duo was ecstatic to be able to leave the clearing. He would miss Heero; the man-who-had-been-a-tree was his first friend after all, but he didn't believe he would miss his mother. Mother hadn't been there much in the first place, always leaving to go fight the evility that the world was made of.

Though if evility was anything like Trowa, he would totally take their side. This guy was hot!

When they went into the inn, Duo thought it was a rather dark and dreary place. It could use a bit of cleaning… which made Duo glad that Trowa had wrapped his hair up so that it wasn't dragging through whatever coated these floors. It made him shiver in disgust thinking about it. He kept his mouth shut as he promised though. He didn't want to get Trowa into trouble by telling the people in here that their bodies made the floor look clean!

Sitting next to Trowa, Duo kept himself distracted from the dirty place and occupants by imagining all the things he could do now that he was out of the tower. He could go fishing, go hiking, climb a tree (for real!), go visit the castle that he sometimes could see from his tower, see if donkeys could really talk, go hunt evil like Mother did, and all sorts of things!

Though, in the back of his mind, a small, fuzzy memory kept trying to make itself known. Duo ignored it though. He had told his mother about it before, and she had gotten mad. He didn't want to make anyone else mad if he remembered whatever it was he had forgotten.

"…Captain Winner has been searching you out again, Barton." Duo turned to look over at his companion, who was now frowning.

"Thank you for the warning. Come," Trowa said, standing. Duo stood with him, and the room turned to look at them. As they walked out towards the front, Duo couldn't help but comment on the stares that followed them.

"What, are you expectin' me t'burst into song, or somethin'?"

Trowa set up camp on the banks of a river, where he built a fire and caught them some dinner. Duo didn't seem to have lost any of his enthusiasm from running away from his 'home,' despite having to rough it in the great outdoors. The levels in which he trusted Trowa to keep him safe embarrassed the quiet man. He wasn't used to that much blind devotion.

Duo looked to be doing something with tree branches, but Trowa couldn't tell what. It looked like he was building a scarecrow, but what use it would serve was questionable. It wouldn't scare anything away, not looking like that (and having a berry bush being used as an arm didn't help with the scare factor). Duo stepped back after sticking one final branch on, and examined his work.

"How'd it go again…?" Duo muttered to himself as he tilted his head. The hat was still in place, so the now-much-shorter braid swayed with him, brushing against his ass. Trowa watched it move (he was not staring at that well-defined ass, he told himself firmly), seeming to shine in the dark of the night. Actually, Trowa thought, sitting forward, it was glowing. A dark, purple hue shone from the weave, seeming to suck in the light of the fire and eliminate it. His attention was dragged from the oddity in the man's hair as even odder words flowed out of his (nice, thin, distracting, appealing) lips. The language was one that Trowa didn't recognize, but the intent was obvious. As the pile of plant matter shifted into something with a bit more mass and the ability to breathe, a bright smile lit up the face of the caster.


Deep blue eyes blinked slowly, focusing on the hyper long-haired man who was clinging to the former tree.


Trowa closed his eyes and leaned back. The more he learned of his new traveling companion, the more he wondered how wise it was to take him from that isolated tower. The man himself wasn't a bother to Trowa, but he wasn't sure if the rest of the world was prepared for someone quite like Duo.

Relena blinked in disbelief. What sorcery was this, she screeched internally, as she clutched a bundle of sticks to her nude chest. A bush of red berries brushed against the exposed skin, unnoticed by the hysterical woman, a red rash quickly forming in its wake. She and Sir Heero were about to finally, finally, consummate their eternal love (after years of persuading him) and he… he was cursed!

No, she thought, a rational thought breaking through the thick mass of blonde. It's a body-switching spell. I have one in my own spellbook… but that's my only copy of it, so who…?

"Duo? Duo?" she bellowed from her doorway, a robe slipped upon her frame. No answer was returned, which was unusual. Usually, she had to debate why she kept him in the first place, as loud and vocal as he was. Heading down to the living area she avoided for the most part, she saw a piece of paper fluttering from its pinned location. Going up to it, she quickly read the messy scrawl.

All forest life quickly fled at the inhuman sounds escaping the mysterious tower.


Some hot guy wants to take me on an adventure, so I'll be back with gifts for you!


It was dawn when someone came into their camp. His shorter stature hidden with well-formed clothes and the height of his steed, the army captain smiled as he dismounted the black and white horse.

"Trowa, it's been a while."

"Captain Winner," Trowa greeted, rising from his makeshift bedroll. Duo shifted, his source of warmth vanishing from his chest. A pillow quickly soothed the braided man, and Heero shifted closer in his own sleep. Quatre raised a brow at the pile of blankets (and the occupants), then smiled kindly.

"Don't be so formal, Trowa. I've told you to call me Quatre."

"…" Trowa shifted, his eyes scanning the woods quickly.

"Oh, don't worry, my troops are off chasing a Balrog over in the Millennia Mountains," Quatre assured him. Trowa's expression didn't change at the news, though the thought 'Why isn't he helping them then?' flittered through his mind. An uncomfortable silence engulfed them, before a shout from the bedroll startled both of them, along with the horse.

"It wasn't me! I was not in your workroom-" Large indigo eyes blinked rapidly as he realized that his mother wasn't chastising him, because it had been a dream. He looked up at Trowa, and gave a grin. "Hi!"

"Hello, Duo," Trowa returned the greeting, his eyes flicking towards Quatre, who was avidly watching the man untangle himself from a rather odd blanket. Trowa smirked slightly, knowing that it was not a blanket Duo was trapped inside. It was his own hair.

"Er… a little help here, buddies? Yo, blondie, don't just sit there and stare. Come gimme a hand!"

Trowa forced his thoughts to not wander down the path that the innocently spoken words created in his mind as he moved over and started working locks of hair away from pale flesh. Heero just lay there, a victim to Duo's hair as well. Quatre, after getting over his shock, assisted in freeing the two men from their bindings.

"So, who're your companions, Trowa?"

"Duo, and his forest friend Heero."

After watching Heero help Duo braid his massive length of hair, Quatre wisely decided that the finer details were unnecessary. It might do something irreparable to his psyche, and that was fragile enough as it was. He was the youngest of thirty siblings, the other twenty-nine being females. It was safe to say he had some trauma from his childhood!

"He's gorgeous," Duo said, and Quatre blinked himself back to the present. Duo was wearing a large beanie, only a few feet of braid showing from under the material. He looked very different without yards upon yards of hair dragging behind him, Quatre mused. He was examining his horse, and Quatre smiled at the innocent picture it presented; the man looked like he had never seen one up close before.

His steed eyed Duo in distaste, which quickly turned into disbelief as Duo started making cooing noises and petting his nose.

"What's its name?" Duo asked Quatre.

He gave a smile as he replied, "His name is Wufei."

"Wow, a strong name for something that doesn't suit it," Duo murmured. Wufei reared up on his hind legs, causing Duo to quickly back up away from the flailing hoofs. "Er… what's his problem?"

"He feels insulted," Quatre said knowingly.

Duo blinked, and then shrugged. "Can I ride him?"

Trowa snorted, trying to stop his laughter from escaping. It was in vain, however, as Quatre replied "He only lets me ride him. He doesn't like to share."

"What? What's so funny?" Duo asked, as Quatre joined in the laughter. Wufei stomped at the ground, and walked off into the woods in a manner that really didn't suit a horse.

"W-Wufei's a cursed horse, Duo," Quatre explained, catching his breath. Trowa was still lost in his humour. "His wife thought he could learn a lesson in humility, but then she was kidnapped by furlings and never seen again. He's been stuck like that for almost four years now. He was human before that."

"Oh… I still don't get it."

Trowa, who had just composed himself, lost it again, as did Quatre. Duo just stared at them, sinking down to sit on a log next to Heero.

"Do you get it?" Duo whispered to his best friend. Heero shook his head.

"You humans never make sense to me."


They couldn't get rid of Quatre or Wufei. The latter looked like he would rather be anywhere else but there, but the former wouldn't take a hint. It was midday, and they were still walking towards the capital city (Duo had expressed his desire to eat a fried dough pastry, and Trowa had decided to indulge him.) when a menacing aura overcame the travelers.

"What…?" Quatre gasped, drawing his sword. Trowa pulled two knives out of somewhere, and Duo just looked up. Heero didn't even do that, just ignored the feeling of doom that the aura emitted.

"Give him back…" a mysterious voice echoed around them.

"Mother! Cut it out; you're scaring my friends," Duo whined, crossing his arms stubbornly. A neon pink figure dropped from the canopy, and pointed a shaking finger at Duo.

"You… you foolish brat!" she screeched at him. Her usually perfect wheat-spun locks were sticking up in a strange, frizzy mess, her eyes looked bruised and bloodshot, and her breathing was labored. Duo tilted his head, confused.

"Wow, Mother, you look like shit. Did you fight with necrolytes again?"

"You…!" She launched herself at the naïve man, who was quick to flatten himself to the ground. He scrambled to his feet, darting behind Trowa.

"I think she's mad…" Duo whispered loudly. Trowa would have groaned in disbelief, but he was rather numb to the antics of his traveling companion by this point.

"Ma'am, I think you should take a moment and breathe," Quatre said kindly, and rabid eyes focused on the blond knight.

"Shut up! Give me back my Heero!"

"Mother… he's my friend! Go make your own!"

"Shut up!" she bellowed, and Duo meekly quieted himself. Hysterical sky-blue eyes stared into innocent indigo, one challenging and the other completely oblivious to the fact. The one in question, Heero, just watched the two argue back and forth impassively. Humans were so confusing… though his creator, Duo, was rather interesting to observe.

The staring contest was cut short when a loud explosion of sound and light blasted through the clearing. Duo clapped his hands over his ears, though one was forced away when he was firmly grasped and bodily moved to the side. Through leaking eyes, he saw the flash of light brown hair that showed his savior to be the same one as last time.

"Tro… what was that?" Duo croaked, his distorted vision barely making out a small flash of metal, black, blond, and a large mass of black moving around them.

"An explosive to help aid escape. They come in handy," Trowa answered, his voice barely audible over the loud ringing overwhelming Duo's hearing. He was stumbling badly from the disorientation, very alike to the time he drank the entire amount of liquid contained in a dusty bottle his mother had always hid in her dresser. Actually, all of his senses felt similar to the after-effects of that event. How odd.

Trowa watched in their new campsite as Duo stumbled around, trying to help with the meal that was to be shared amongst the five of them (despite Wufei being stuck as a horse, he refused to lower himself to their diet). That's right, the five of them.

Trowa fleetingly thought of the days where solitude was normal. Aside from the captain occasionally showing up for less-than-official reasons with Wufei, he'd never had this many people around his fire since he was but a small child. Not that he remembered his childhood days. Those were a large blank, for reasons he couldn't remember. That didn't matter though. He looked at their mismatched group with appreciation.

Captain Winner had shucked the formal armor and just wore white linens, bare feet curled under him as he spoke exuberantly to Duo. The naïve, innocent, clueless, drop-dead-gorgeous man with freakishly long hair, who had a (psychotic, insane, deranged) mother with a fixation on Heero... The man made from a tree, and the personality of one to show it, who had been Duo's only social outlet until Trowa 'rescued' him from his tower. Then there was the last tag-along, the man-turned-equine because he had loved Quatre more than his (now missing) wife. Trowa had been there for the unfortunate event (Not that they had been aware. He had been taking off with a valuable heirloom, after all.), and he distinctly remembered the words 'if you like being ridden so much' shouted at one point before the man lost his two-legged form.

His solitude was missing, but Trowa wasn't missing it at all. He was rather content, even with the captain, whose responsibility was to arrest him, sharing his fire.

They made it to the capital in time for the yearly celebrations. The king and queen would throw a birthday party for their long-lost child that no one remembered anymore. It had been over twenty years since the child had vanished without a trace, and now instead of a birthday celebration, it was just a giant party with the excuse to eat fattening foods and get smashed. The history behind the celebrations was not known by Duo, but that didn't stop him from having a blast.

He was able to eat his fried doughnut with relish. He also tried a strangely fizzy drink never before seen. And tossed beanbags to win a prize (he took what he wanted, as the owner was unconscious). And begged Trowa to wear a party hat (he, himself, wore one on top of his other hat). All in all, he was having the time of his life! This was so much more entertaining than anything he had ever tried to do at home!

It was as the day drew to a close, Duo relaxing against Trowa's chest under the shade of a maple tree, with Heero sitting above them and Quatre sitting nearby with Wufei, that a loud voice broke into the tranquility.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for celebrating this special day with the royal family! For those who might not remember, twenty five years ago the crown prince was kidnapped. Today would have been his birthday, and he would be here celebrating with us. Let us all take a moment to wish him a happy birthday, and hope our voices bring him home!"

A loud (and very drunk) bellow shouted "Happy Birfday!" which was immediately followed by a more unified repeating of the words. Duo felt his memory stir, a flash of dirty blond hair in his mind's eye.

"So, the prince was stolen?"

"That's what they say, anyways. Rumor has it he actually ran away," Trowa replied blandly, raising his head from where it had been leaving a dark hickey on Duo's neck. There were matching ones around it, some having faded over the last several days, but still clearly visible. When Duo seemed satisfied with the answer, Trowa returned to his entertainment, taking the curve of Duo's ear between his teeth and nibbling on it. Duo tilted his head to let Trowa have more room, but also in thought.

"I don't know why, but this feels like something I should know already…"

"It would be amusing if you were the missing prince," Trowa murmured, dragging his tongue along the shell. Duo moaned, then chuckled.

"I doubt it. That would be too weird."

"So true," Trowa breathed, a hand sliding under the hem of Duo's shirt. The long-haired man shifted, his eyes drifting closing contently. A cough had both of them looking up into the eyes of a blushing guard.

"Uhm, gentlemen, I'm going to have to ask you to come with me." The voice was feminine, and after a closer look, it made sense, as the guard was indeed a woman.

"On what charges?" Trowa asked, seemingly unconcerned. His hand was still moving upwards inside Duo's shirt, seeking its wanted prize.

The woman blushed further, her eyes fixed on the outline of the wandering hand as she stuttered out "E-E-Exhibitionism."

Trowa wasn't concerned about having been arrested with Duo. Firstly, they tossed both of them in the same cell. Then, they left them alone, with not even a guard to watch them. Trowa could have easily busted them out (he had a feeling the lax security was the captain's influence), but there was a bed. Why not put it to use?

After finishing what they had begun under the tree, they cleaned themselves off with the ratty prison sheets, and walked out of the dungeons and into the royal gardens. Surprisingly, the king and queen were sitting at a table sipping tea, and when the king looked up at them, Duo's breath caught.

"Hello, gentlemen," the king greeted kindly, and Trowa nodded mutely. Duo was just staring.

"Young man, is there something wrong?"

"Y'look like him. Jus' like him." Duo's voice was filled with disbelief, and the queen looked up hopefully.

"Who? Who did you know that resembled my husband?"

"…He's like a dad t'me. Raised me 'fore my mother did. I took m'name after his own… I knew him as Solo."

"Solo was our son," the king said. "Do you know where he is?" Duo blinked. Wow, this was awkward…

"He died many years ago from illness, your majesty. I am sorry to inform you of this." He tried to keep his speech like the king's formal one, and thought he did a very good job of it. The queen's face fell, and the king sighed in resignation.

"I am sad to hear it, but I have had many years to come to terms with him being gone. Go along now; I have nothing further to discuss with you."

Trowa led Duo (who was in a daze) out of the gardens, and into the forest next to it.

"Hey, Tro?" Duo's small voice asked, and Trowa squeezed his hand to show he had heard the question. "I think I know the truth now, about Solo…"


"He ran away. There's no fuckin' way he was snatched."

Heero met up with them in the forest two weeks later, apparently having received training on being 'alive' from a magic tree out in the neighboring fief. He still was rather lacking in personality, but he understood a bit more about human interactions.

It was three months before the trio met up with another person, and to everyone's dismay, it was Duo's mother again.

"Heero? Heero, love, come back home!"

"Mother, go find your own friends!" Duo hollered, ducking as a rock was slung towards his head. The haggard woman had clearly been trying to stalk them down for months, and any trace of the woman Duo had known growing up in his home was gone. Well, not really. She looked like this after leaving her workroom…

"You wretched cur!" she screeched at her son, who frowned.

"Mother, y'should lay off th'ale. You look like shit. Have ya been sleepin', or usin' your special skin stuff? Y'look like a hag…"

"Shut up!" she wailed, covering her face with her hands. Duo frowned, unsure of what he had said wrong. He was just telling the truth…

"I want it back! Give it back!"

"Heero? Mother, y'can make yer own tree friend… I mean, I used your book t'do it!"

"No! The locket! Give me the locket!"

Duo glared at his mother now, drawing himself up to his full height (which, admittedly, wasn't that tall at all).

"Mother, stop your nonsense. That locket was a gift to me from the only father figure I ever had. You never asked of it before. I refuse to give it up now. You cannot have my possessions, my friends, or my future. Just go, leave us alone." He tried to keep his words whole like Trowa did, but his mother merely shook her scraggly, filthy blonde locks back and forth vigorously, while pointing a formerly manicured nail at him. It now resembled a talon more than a French manicure.

"Don't you understand? That locket is magic! It enhances the beauty and virility of all who are near it! I want to be beautiful again!" Duo blinked in disbelief.

"Mother… y'never were beautiful ta'gin with. You've always been ugly."

"Shut up! You are no son of mine!" she sneered, as if this were a terrible secret she was revealing, hoping it would destroy the reality of the man before her. To her dismay, he merely shrugged.

"I figured that. I mean, you'd a been, what… five, six years old, when you gave 'birth' to me? An' I lived with Solo firs', and you kept mutterin' shit when ya did'n see me near."

"I'll just take you back, back to the tower, and demand ransom! The king's son should fetch me enough to become beautiful again!" Duo thought his mother (No, she'd stopped saying that, so she was just Relena now.) was making very odd changes in her thinking… She wasn't making any sense. She must have ADHD. Couldn't focus on her goal at all, could she…

"I'm not the prince. He died years ago. Just go 'way, Relena…" Duo sighed, waving a hand tiredly. To the shock of Relena and Trowa (who had just silently stood by Duo, ready to intervene if needed), the haggard, deranged, psychotic madwoman vanished with a pop, and a single soap bubble floated where she had been, before popping as well.

"I didn't know you could do magic… Well, other magic," Trowa amended the last part, as he had watched (Duo's ass) as Duo remade Heero that night long ago. Duo shrugged, unconcerned.

"I lived in'a tower for years. Not much t'do 'cept read books an' shower." Trowa tilted his head in consideration.

"Good point."

"Let's get outta here. Heero said that th'birds are gossiping that Quat an' Wu-man are close."

Trowa flinched, lifting his bag up and nodding.

"Sure. I've heard there is a large vine that leads up to a mansion with geese that lay solid gold eggs. I want to check to see if that's true."

"After you, Tro! Are ya comin', Hee-chan?" Duo called back over his shoulder. There was a rustle, then a thud as Heero dropped from a tree, clothes perfectly maintained despite the numerous branches and thorns around them. Without a word, they set off on their next great adventure.

"Are you ever going to cut your hair?" Trowa asked Duo as they lay intertwined in the bedroll. Heero was resting beside them, ignoring the actions of his two human companions. Duo looked at him in horror, spluttering.

"No! Never!"

"Why not?" Trowa asked, curious. He would hate to have to cut it all off, but maybe to a more manageable length?

"Well, first off, Solo always loved my hair. So, I don't want to cut it for him… and well… I felt that way when I first lived with Relena… and kinda acciden'ly made it so I couldn' chop it…" His speech slurred together near the end, fueled by his embarrassment.

Trowa sat up, staring at him.

"You have no possible way to get a haircut?"

"Nope! I'd like it shorter s'well, but I fucked up th'spell an' can't get it off!"

Trowa looked like he was about to say something, but Duo's mouth on his muffled it, and when a hand wandered over bare flesh, he forgot what he was going to say. Besides… there were many uses for long hair that couldn't be cut…