disclaimer: don't own 'em. wish i did. ::sniffles::

warnings: umm...weird...sorta...shounen ai-ish...umm...read the prologue first or you won't get what the hell i'm talkin' bout.

threads
by lady of the mer

[part 1]

[somewhere in an alternate space-time continuum]

“Mama?” The silver-haired child looked imploringly up at his mother, hands on some of the old Fate beads his brother had disregarded into the Death Mound.

His mother, a woman with white, ivory skin and long, long black hair smiled down at the questioning boy. “Hai, my child?”

“Is it time yet?”

The woman smiled sadly at her son. So young, yet so old. His ancient eyes already pulsed with the Star, destining him to become the next Keeper. Her hands wavered slightly on the Threads, pausing from her endless Weaving.

“No, not yet, my son.”

[ac 195]

“Ne, Heero!”

“....”

“Heero?”

“....”

“HEERO!”

“Nani?”

“Gods, you’re impossible!”

“Hn.”

Duo sighed and swung his legs over the dorm bed on which he was previously resting.

“I’m bored. You got any ideas?”

“Do your homework.”

“Are you nuts? It’s nine ‘o’ clock on a Friday, and you expect me to do homework?” The braided boy made a face. “You have *got* to be kidding me.

“Go to the library.”

Duo rolled his eyes. “The library’s not open, Heero.”

“Go out.”

The violet-eyed boy brightened visibly at Heero’s suggestion. “Go out! That’s a great idea, Spandex Boy!”

“Don’t *call* me that.”

Duo sniffed. “I’ll call you whatever I want! So there!” He stuck out his tongue. “Anyway, you, Mr. Yes-A-Person-Can-Fit-Into-My-Spandex-And-Not-Geld-Himself are coming with me!” Duo bounced over to where Heero was sitting and replaced the dull green laptop screen with his grinning face.

“Omae o korosu.” Heero inflicted the full force of his Death Glare™ upon Duo.

“Yeah, yeah…” Duo waved away the death threat as if it were a flock of pigeons after his breadcrumbs. “You can kill me when we get back. Now, come on!”

Heero turned his Glare up a notch. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Duo’s grin widened. Apparently, he had developed immunity to the Glare. The fact that this was turning into a potentially life-threatening situation didn’t appear to faze the braided youth. Either that or nobody told him about the dangers of provoking Heero.

“Aw, Heero, c’mon. We haven’t been out in ages!” Duo turned the laptop off with a decisive flick of his wrist. “Let’s go!”

Heero gave a long-suffering sigh.

“Fine.”

[later]

Duo bounced happily from vendor to vendor, stuffing giant clouds of fluffy cotton candy into his mouth. His violet eyes sparkled with happiness and sugar-high and his braid was half-unraveled. His black clothes were disheveled, bits of pink sugary fluff clinging here and there. His mouth was never completely shut, ever smiling, laughing and babbling.

“Ne, Heero!” he called, scampering over to a stand where a large crowd was forming. “Hurry up! I wanna see what’s over there!”

Heero trudged on, bearing the nonsensical chatter of his companion with stoic silence. The scowl remained permanently etched on his features even now. He had replaced his spandex with blue jeans at Duo’s urging that it would attract less attention. His hands were shoved deep into the pant pockets and his tousled head bowed, trying his best to melt into the crowd.

Suddenly a slim fingered hand grabbed his arm and pulled him into a run, dragging him towards the aforementioned stand. “Come on!” Duo yelled above the noise of the crowd. As they pushed their way through the crowd, Heero caught glimpses of what all the hubbub was about. He saw a flash of black, of tawny gold, of dusky orange.

When they finally got to the front of the crowd, Duo gasped.

An animal tamer.

The man was dressed in an impractical frock spattered with all matter of colors: blue and green and pink and orange, among others. He wore bright pink hose and his shoes were mismatched, one black and the other white. In one hand he held a glittery whip and the other waved about enthusiastically. He was grinning widely, revealing a gold tooth.

He was standing on a rickety stage made of plywood. A few props, like a stool and a golden hoop, stood in the back left corner. A gaudy stage curtain hung behind him and portable spotlights adorned the floor.

“Welcome, welcome to the Great Mansuini’s humble presentation! Today you will witness the wonders of the animal world, from Umbra the Purple-Eyed Panther to Diem the Albino Tiger!” His bow swept so low that his prominent nose swept the lumber of the stage. “And now, for my first animal, Umbra the Purple-Eyed Panther!” He whistled.

There was a roar as a great panther bounded out from behind the curtain. It padded languidly up to the center of the stage and scanned the crowd. “Umbra!” the tamer called. Umbra threw him a quick glance and then went back to studying the crowd. Suddenly, it caught sight of Duo. The purple eyes latched onto the braided one. There was an almost imperceptible twitch of a lip.

And then Time stopped. Everything was frozen, not moving, in silence. Even Heero was still, covered in a silvery mist. The braided youth glanced around quickly before his gaze latched back onto Umbra, who stood at his feet.

Duo gasped as the panther started to shimmer. A white mist swallowed it up, and when it cleared, there was not Umbra that stood there. It was an angel. The once-white wings were streaked with blood and some of the feathers were haggard and torn out. Long, black hair cascaded in waves to his knees. The eyes were different, one violet, one the hard, cold blue that Duo knew all too well.

Heero’s eyes.

But it was still an angel.

“Who are you?” he breathed.

The angel smiled. “I am Zephyr, your Wind Brother. I am your twin, born of the winds that blew when you were hatched, o Blessed One.” The angel’s smile saddened. “Dahni. The Eiryan word for life. How ironic, then, that you should be the Master of Dark.”

Duo’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

Zephyr’s translucent hand brushed against the skin of his cheek. “It is not my place to tell you. You will understand in time, Blessed. I have come to give you a gift. It is the sacred pendant of the Eiryes, the Gods of Wynd.” The angel put a hand to his chest and a black mist began to gather. Zephyr gave a sharp cry of pain and pulled a gleaming black crystal from his breast. The crystal twisted grotesquely until it formed a tiny black gryphon.

The winged creature was reared back on its hind legs. Its claws were extended, sharp points in the smooth crystal. Bat wings were completely unfurled, arched gracefully behind it. The wickedly hooked tail curled and arched. The cruel beak was parted in a screech. Both long, furry ears stood up in an attempt to make the creature look larger. But strangest of all were the eyes. They were blood red, glowing with some weird inner light.

The gryphon rose from the palm of Zephyr’s hand and floated to Duo’s chest. A thin, black thread wound its way around his neck and held the gryphon in place against his sternum. Zephyr touched Duo’s forehead and spoke.

“Now my job here is done. I must go back, Blessed. Goodbye,” The angel shimmered again and Umbra slowly took form. First the paws, then the tail, the body, the head, and lastly the eyes. No longer were both purple; one was violet and the other cobalt. The lip twitched again and then everything was back to normal.

Duo was shaken. Who wouldn’t be? Nevertheless, he brought up the well-worn jester’s façade and bravely plastered a devil-may-care grin on his face. “Ne, Heero, this is boring. Let’s do something else,” he whined, tugging on Heero’s arm and attempting to drag him out of the crowd.

Heero’s eyebrows twitched but he wisely said nothing, stoically letting himself be dragged.

“Let’s go to that park, y’know, the one with the lake? I wanna look at the moon.” Duo said, pausing for a moment to let Heero get to his feet and then continuing on, as avid as ever. The braided boy led them out of town to a forest. Duo wove his way through the trees until they found a beautiful clearing with a giant lake.

The light of the moon reflected off the water, making it seem like a giant silver mirror. Fine white sand formed a small beach where the great pine trees ended. Duo plopped down at the edge of the sand and tilted his head up.

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Nani?”

“The moon.”

“It’s just a big hunk of rock reflecting light from the sun, baka.”

Duo sighed. “But just the same, the light of the sun looks a hell of a lot prettier from here than from the colonies.”

“Hn.” Heero grunted and glanced at Duo, expecting the boy to be starting at the moon. But he was wrong. The braided one was staring at him. And when Heero looked into those deep abysses of amaryllis, he lost himself and his senses to a strange vision.

The sharp, coppery scent of blood.

That was the first thing he noticed.

He was standing on a battleground, dead bodies littering the soil; staining it red. The moon was eerily red, as if reflecting the bloodshed of the fight. His vision shifted of its own accord, focusing on a lonely figure in the middle of the field.

A long, blood-encrusted braid whipped out behind it, carried aloft with an unholy wind. A long tail lay softly in repose at its feet, twin, wicked-looking spikes rising from the tip. Two great, ragged, leathery bat’s wings rose from its back, fully extended. A tall double-bladed scythe rose above its head.

And then a stray shaft of light illuminated the figure.

Regular, elfin features.

The braid, under the blood, was honey-gold.

A slender figure.

Large, violet eyes in which on could drown oneself.

Duo.

Then, Heero did something a Perfect Soldier should never do.

He fainted.