Title: The Witching Hour (3/?)
Author: Imo-chan
Disclaimers: Not mine, they belong to some fat japanese billionaires who don't even know how to USE them properly... >.<
Pairings: 1x2/2x1 (not sure yet ^^;;), 4+3, 6+9... possibly others.. but we'll cross that ocean when we get to it. ^^
Warnings: Post EW, Romance, minor angst, death (some might call it bashing... but actually, I'm indifferent >.<), drama, shounen-ai (will be eventually and primarily 1x2/2x1 yaoi), intrigue, mystery (i guess... ^^;;)plodding plot lines and all around stuff I usually *don't* do. o_O;;; Lemme know how it turns out.
Feedback: *points up* Ditto.
Notes: Please, please, please... pay close attention to the dates. For some reason this fic decided it wanted to be written in non-chronological order... and it's confusing the hell out of me... so god knows what it's gonna do to you peeps. >_< Lemme know if it's TOO awful and maybe I can change it. But for now, bear with me.


Part 3/?


[AC 202, April 1st, 22:14 hours]

Something hurt… Far away… a dull, aching pain of something Duo couldn't recognize came whirling out of the dark, throbbing silence to pin him against the wall and scream in his ear… words he couldn't recognize, sounds that didn't register, feelings he couldn't sense…

"… Hee… ro…" His brain didn't even transmit his own voice; he didn't realize his mouth was working of his own accord, forming that soundless word that made the pillars of his world crumble and fall.

Someone was laughing…

Far away…

He heard a voice…

"Hey, Boss?"

//I have to…//


His body snapped.

Lunging forward, his legs propelled themselves in a stumbling run, he skidded through the door and along the hallway, his mind counting the seconds he spent lurching down the dark corridor by bouncing them against his thrumming, pounding, skittering heart. Running at full speed now, he crashed through the doors and somehow… how he did it, how long it took… he didn't know, didn't care… he reached his car and was fumbling for the keys in his pocket when a hand came in heavy contact with his shoulder. He spun, the keys flying out of his numb fingers and saw Manada's rough face inches away from his own.

The silence thickened and hardened between them as Duo's breathing came in small, irregular puffs of smoky air.

"Heero…" he finally managed, his eyes furtively searching the other man's face.

"I know," Manada said, his voice low and serious; his face lined with gravity. Duo was too delirious and frantic to register what exactly Manada was saying. "Do you know where you should go?" The red-haired man asked very slowly, thrusting each word into Duo's brain.

"H… Hotel?"

"Yes, the Florence Hotel. Very good. Now, why don't I drive?"

* * * * * * * *

[AC 202, April 2nd, 3:10 hours, Sector 4-LQ389,
Eastern RimSea Colony, Mars]

"Are you going to be all right?"

"Mm-hmm…" she nodded, the movement was soft and subdued, her eyes were still filled with the memory of unshed tears and her attempted smile was strained to the point of breaking. "In a while…"

The silence hung around her face like an aura, an uncomfortable reminder of how far away they were.

"And you?" she said quietly, her eyes focusing on that still, tan landscape so far away out the porthole. It was a barren line of hills darkened by the slope of the towering rim, which was partially obscured by immense scaffolding and large silver tubes.

"What… what about me?"

"She's your sister!"

"… Was…"

A soft, choked sob escaped her throat.

"… I have tea…" he attempted, running his hand through his hair.

"Oh…" She laughed brokenly at his rather pathetic attempt at safety, his grab at refuge. "Oh, you silly boy."

He was silent, then: "Would it help… make it better?"

She had to smile. He was hopelessly incorrigible. "Maybe," she took a deep breath and raised her eyes to accept the cup.

Handing her the warm mug, he stood uncertainly for moment, his steel blue eyes gone sharp silver in the dark room roved worriedly over her face. One hand twitched feebly at his side before reaching out - so slowly - to brush at her bangs, his thumb tracing the path of the tears. Then, letting his breath out in a rush of released anxiety, he bent forward and kissed her softly atop her head.

"Thank you," she murmured, hands cradling the teacup reverently.

In the silence, she could almost //hear// his mouth curve in a small half smile. He settled down beside her, pulling her body tightly against his and resting his cheek against her head. Taking a small sip of her tea, she settled contentedly against him, letting her eyes drift closed. She could tell he was thinking - hard - by his breathing. It was slow and regular, almost as if he was asleep, but his mind was whirling, she could tell. He wouldn't be able to sleep until he had formed some kind of conclusion as to what had just happened to his sister. The steady beat of his pulse and his comforting presence of strength made her feel safe, and letting her eyes close completely, she drifted off.

Waking briefly, minutely, an hour later - she felt him shift from behind her. Opening her eyes, she felt his hand stroke her hair before he moved to the door and turned in the opening, his hair glinting like gold in the butter yellow light of the hallway.

"I have to make a phone call," he said softly, "Get some sleep."

"Phone call?" She asked, her voice hoarse and quiet, "Who?"

He was quiet, before that soft smile tugged at his shadowed lips.

"A few old friends."

* * * * * * * *