1-9-2002

Title: The Phenomenal Imp- part 3

Contents: Shonenai, AU, some angst, OCs, violence, some sap

Pairings: 1x2/2x1

Warnings: a little long, some blood, cursing, and some magic. NC-17 overall I hope that the battle scene is good enough to follow.

Notes: I got information about the monsters & creatures in this series from the Palladium books, except how Duo is. (He is beginning to be more like an Elfquest elf)

Archived: Many places- Joygasm, I love bishonen, DHML, Infinity base, Jay's place, and one other

Dedicated to: Mikkeneko, Heartfelt, Lasha Lee, and Lev just because they're a great inspiration with their writings and AU styles, and have helped my brain to dream up this craziness.

Disclaimer: I own none of these boys. ~Sniffles~ maybe the horses and other soldiers, but that's it. ^_^

Status: 3/?
~~~~~~~~~~~

"Zechs." Heero wandered into the captain's tent without a care. The blond haired man looked up from a map that he was studying. Instantly recognizing his prince, Zechs went down on his knees and bowed his head.

"Yes, Your Majesty?"

"Why aren't the men packing yet? I asked you to take care of that yesterday."

"I'm sorry, sire. I'll get to it right away."

"This is serious, Merquise. If you disobey me again, you'll be replaced. Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal clear, Your Majesty."

"Good." Heero left the captain alone and walked swiftly to his own tent to keep an eye on the elf. When he did return, he found the mischievous imp lying upside down on his bed; his head was touching the ground. He had his knees up and he seemed to be staring at the floor underneath Heero's desk.

The prince was, to say the least, most baffled to why the elf was laying upside down like that. Didn't one get a head rush from being in that position for so long?

"What… are you doing?" Heero sighed, trying to look as unnerved as he could.

Duo just moved his line of sight from the floor up to the prince, "Thinking." Came the immediate answer.

"About what?" Heero asked, not sure why he was asking in the first place.

"That, my dear prince, is none of your business." He moved his eyes back to the floor, or the other side of the tent. "Did you find your captain?"

"Yes I did." Heero moved over to stand next to the elf, debating on whether he should sit down next to him or not. He decided to just stand there.

"And did you yell at him for not doing as he was told?" Duo moved his knees back and forth, looking like he was bored.

"I didn't yell. I just gave him a warning." Heero raised an eyebrow, "What do you care if my people listen to me or not?"

Duo shrugged, "Just wondering. I'm a curious elf."

"So I've noticed. Are you gonna stay like that all day?"

"Like what?"

"Upside down." Heero sighed.

"No, not all day. I'm too comfortable right now to get up though." The longhaired elf brought a hand down to scratch his ear. "Do you know you have spiders in here?"

"Of course. Spiders aren't that rare."

"And cobwebs… lots and lots of cobwebs are under your desk. Did you know that?"

"Yes… this is considered roughing it you know."

"To you. You're a prince; you're used to castles and servants cleaning up after you, am I right?" Heero didn't answer, "This is NOT roughing it."

"Well, I know this isn't exactly sleeping under the stars, but I am the prince and I do need the extra protection."

"Mmhmm…" Duo finally flipped over onto his stomach, but he kept his gaze forward. "Like women's undergarments."

"Excuse me?"

"Never mind."

Heero shook his head. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to stand having this elf around much longer. He was beginning to regret taking him instead of the little blond.

~**~

Zechs got the prince's orders to all the men, and they all quickly obeyed, even though they didn't care to be moving out so soon. They understood that if they didn't do anything, they'd be at the receiving end of the ax. Some of the soldiers were confused by the way that Heero let his "slave-elf" run around wild and not chained to his tent wall like the blond boy was. Lance had asked Zechs about this once, and the blond captain just shrugged his shoulders. He didn't really have the say, one way or the other, how Heero kept his slaves.

But that was something that had been bugging Zechs. Heero seemed to be acting rather differently toward the elf than any other slave he'd had. When Heero had the blond, he would often hear the sound of the whip cracking and the sounds of the slave screaming. He hadn't heard any of that yet. Maybe the elf called Duo was actually behaving himself.

Zechs snorted at his own thought. From what he saw, Heero was usually pissed at the elf. So why didn't he punish him? Maybe Heero had something up his sleeve for the little urchin, because they found out that he could heal. Maybe he was hoping to discover other kinds of magic that was embedded within the elf and would have him use his magic to help protect them all. Maybe, Zechs thought, he missed something. This was something he had to think about.

Just as the last bit of the camp was all squared away, and the horses saddled, the prince walked up to them looking stern as ever. All of the soldiers around him stood to attention.

"Is everything secure?" Heero asked the captain of the guards. The tall man knelt in front of his prince, helmet resting under one arm.

"Everything is ready as ordered, sire."

"Excellent. We shall head south so we can get out of the gromek's property. Apparently, that is why that one gromek attacked our scout. We should move out post-haste."

They all bowed, "Yes, My Liege."

As Heero turned to gather his stuff so they could move out, he noticed a short figure standing in the evening shadows, leaning up against a tree. His bright smile was almost haunting in the dusky light, and his eyes were gleaming almost wickedly as he stared at Heero.

"Scared?" The uncanny sprite said above a whisper.

"Silence, foolish one." Heero snarled, almost in a soft tone that matched the elf's, "I am not scared. I rarely GET scared."

Duo grinned, almost spooky-like, and then moved away from the tree toward Heero, arms crossed over his chest. He stopped about three feet from the prince, still grinning.

"Are you afraid of ME?"

Heero sputtered, "ME afraid of YOU? Nonsense! Why do you think I'm afraid of you?"

"You'd be surprised what one can say without words. And the less words, the more fun it is to read body language. You're a fun human to be around, did you know that?"

Heero walked passed the elf to get to his tent, not saying a word. It was just the way Duo knew how he'd react. There would be times that Duo would be so irritated by Heero's icy shoulder that he wanted to do something to make him regret ever being that way, but there was something inside of him that he wasn't totally sure was there. He knew that lust was there, that was usually there, but something else was nagging at him. This was a feeling that he didn't like too much; it made him too vulnerable.

He ran his fingers through his radiant chestnut locks, waiting for the stoic prince to come back with his stuff. He guessed that since Heero thought that HE was his slave, HE should be the one helping him pack, but he never said anything. Actually, he hadn't been treating him like the slave he should be. This was confusing the longhaired elf. He decided then to ask Heero when he returned.

When Heero did come back with his arms full of his stuff, Duo surprised himself by bounding over to him and began to help him with his load. This was definitely a first; he never wanted to help a human voluntarily before in all of his life. For a second, Duo thought he might be sick. But that was ridiculous, he never got sick! Duo shook his head clear. He knew there was something about this human that made him feel different. This gave him the willies.

"Set the stuff in here." Heero commanded, placing the stuff that was in his arms into the wooden cart, which was being pulled by a couple horses. Without a word, Duo did as he was asked, and when he was done, he jumped up onto the back of the cart and sat there, watching Heero rearranging his stuff so it wouldn't fall out.

"You think that we can escape their land unnoticed? That one gromek wasn't killed, was it?"

Heero grunted, "I understand what you're getting at, elf, and it doesn't worry me one bit."

"Not a bit, eh? It doesn't worry you that he might have gone back to his tribe to tell them about us being here? They might already have an army waiting for us. They're not that stupid."

"If they attack, we'll be ready."

"Uh huh. About as ready as a cow in a butcher's shop."

"Stop it!" Heero snarled, "Just sit there and be quiet during the whole trip."

"Yes, Master." Duo said, sarcastically.

Heero ignored the elf's mocking tone and went up to the front of the cart and hopped on. He grabbed the reins, waiting for everyone else to be ready before he gave them a good snap and got the horses to move. In the back of the cart, Duo was leaning back against the secured stuff, what felt like a part of the tent, and began to whistle a tune.

The trip was very boring to the longhaired imp. He switched from whistling a song to singing it out loud. He had been told before that he had a very pleasant voice, but for some strange reason, the captain of the guards was glaring at him from atop his horse. Apparently, the captain didn't have to drive one of those carts that had his items strapped in them. He glanced over and saw that the scout named Hentor was actually steering the cart. Still singing loudly, he looked back at Zechs to see that his statement went from annoyed to anger. Didn't this human appreciate good music when he heard it?

Zechs had it up to here with the pointy-eared! It wasn't that his voice was bad or anything, it was just that Zechs enjoyed his rides through the woods to be quiet, especially when they could get jumped from any direction. He needed the silence so he could hear an attack before it could happen.

But even through his own bellowing, Duo could hear the faint sounds of flapping wings. He quickly stopped singing; his face had gone from smug to serious. All the time, he was looking straight at captain Zechs. The blond guard thought that he had finally gotten through to the elf, but there was something odd in the way his facial features were held. Zechs questionably watched as the sprite moved his eyes back and forth, and then he cocked his head to his left, just a bit upward. Then, his ears twitched.

"Shit, they've found us!" Duo hissed.

Before Zechs could say anything, the elf had leapt up onto the top of the stuff in the cart, making his way to the front where Heero sat.

Heero was very startled when Duo jumped into his lap. He was about to yell at him, but the way that Duo looked made him suspicious. Instead, he raised an eyebrow in question. Duo's furrowed brow and serious eyes stayed focused on Heero's steel ones and said,

"They're attacking."

"What??" Heero instantly halted his horses, and his men followed suit.

"What's wrong, Your Majesty?" one of his men asked.

"Where?" Heero grounded out, still staring at the elf, hoping he was joking around. Duo pointed up at the top of the trees to his left without breaking eye contact. Heero regrettably followed the elf's finger upward, and then gasped.

There was an army all right, all winged and green skinned, and armed.

"To arms!" Heero screamed. Just as his men got off of their horses and carts, the gromeks were on them, fast. Up close, they were uglier than what he heard, but he didn't want to show these things how surprised he was. Duo moved out of Heero's way, as the prince scrambled to get his weapon.

Taking out his long sword and shield, Heero charged one of the gromeks that looked to have been gaining the upper hand on one of his men. He stuck his sword into the thing's back, emitting a high-pitched shriek from it. The gromek dropped to the ground, dead. One other saw this and charged at the prince, it's axe clearly bloody, already used. Heero's rage escalated, knowing that the beast had just killed one of his soldiers. He moved out of the swinging axe's way, just in time, to plunge his long sword deeply into its belly.

"Go to hell." Heero muttered. The thing fell soundly to the ground next to the other dead gromek.

The soldier that the first gromek, which Heero had slayed, was fighting thanked his prince quickly before charging into a fray to save one of his men. Heero suddenly remembered Duo and looked around everywhere, trying to locate the elf. He couldn't find him.

He backed up a bit, still quickly looking around, debating on whether he should call out for Duo or not. He suddenly bumped into something and he twirled around quickly, sword ready to strike. He stopped the blade a few inches away from the throat of the person behind him. It was Zechs Merquise. Heero let out a relieved sigh.

"Have you seen Duo?" he quickly asked, wishing to help out some of the men that he saw whom were struggling with a couple gromeks.

"No I haven't your majesty. Please worry about yourself." Then Zechs charged behind the prince to block a swinging axe that was aiming for Heero's head.

"I'm gonna look for Duo." Heero told the blond guard before taking off behind his cart.

"Your Highness!" Zechs called after him.

"Duo!!" Heero shouted at the top of his lungs, praying that the stupid elf would answer him. "Damn it, elf, where are you??"

A couple gromeks heard Heero's shouts and came in a rush at him. Heero just barely had enough time to block one, and dodge the other's attack. `Damn, these things are fast!' Heero thought, dodging another swing. The other gromek had some time to react after Heero's last block, and he brought the axe over head to slice the human prince in two. Heero didn't react fast enough, and moved as quickly as he could away from the giant ax. He was just about to get his arm chopped off, when two small arrows suddenly pierced the back of the monster's head, and came out directly through the beady eyes.

The gromek screeched in horror and fell to the ground in defeat. The other gromek that was preparing to behead the prince, looked over in shock at his partner's demise. Both the monster and Heero looked up from where the darts came from and immediately located the source. Problem was that the gromek didn't know who the shadowed figure was, but Heero did. Heero was in just as much shock, not knowing where Duo suddenly got himself a bow and some arrows.

"Better call off your goons before I kill them all." The longhaired elf replied. The gromek either didn't care, or didn't understand, and took off at the elf. Although the gromek did have the advantage of being able to fly, Duo had the range advantage. The thing had a large, heavy axe to swing, but the nimble elf had a bow. Duo had one cocked back before the monster could even get close, and he took him out just as easily as he did the other one.

Still in some shock and awe, Heero stared up at the elf that he had been calling lover for the past few days. Duo grabbed a near by branch on the tree he was perched on and pulled it out. Right before Heero's eyes, it began to take shape and came to a point at the end. Then Duo lathered the tip of it with something that was lying next to him on a leaf. He cocked the arrow back, taking aim behind Heero, and let it fly. Heero turned around in time to witness another gromek fall dead. The elf had just saved his life… twice.

"Keep fighting, Heero! I'll be fine!" as he said this, he snatched a couple more branches from the tree to shape. Deciding not to question anything further, Heero turned back around to the fight. He so badly wanted to mourn right then and there, but it was not the time to do so. Heero swallowed his tears, felt them in the pit of his stomach, and used them as fuel to fight on. The gromeks have killed quite a few of his men while he was busy being at awe with the elf. He hated himself, knowing that at least one of them could still had been alive if it wasn't for him. The prince growled low in his throat, extremely pissed at himself, and threw himself into the melee.

The battle was finally beginning to ease up a bit, and the gromeks were slowly losing ground. Heero knew deep down inside that if it weren't for Duo, they wouldn't be winning the fight. Secretly he decided to make it up to Duo and free him. If the elf still decided to stay with them, then so be it. He would make sure that Duo got treated the same way that he was, and no questions asked.

Heero finally met up with Zechs and they began to fight side by side. Zechs could tell just by looking over quickly at his prince's face that Heero wasn't too happy with the events. He decided to ask later; right now, they needed to get rid of the last of these monsters before anyone else died.

Both Zechs and Heero noticed this one particular gromek, whose clothes were a bit different than the rest of them. Heero silently realized that this one was possibly the leader. It was no wonder, cause he was much stronger than all the others. Heero decided that maybe the best thing to do for them was to face the thing by himself. He moved forward quickly, shocking the hell out of Zechs, and stood before the hulking beast.

The bigger gromek eyed Heero, sizing him up. Heero had been right, he was the leader, and he was the strongest. The gromek instantly knew by looking at Heero that he was the human's leader. The thing made some kind of noise to the rest of his group and the fighting stopped. The other gromeks took flight and perched up onto the tree branches as if they were ordered to.

The big gromek gave Heero a toothy grin before quickly attacking. This was it, Heero thought; this is the final battle for us. This will be the outcome of it all. I die, they win. The gromek dies, we win.

Heero showed the monster that he possessed some speed as well and blocked the gromek's fierce blow. The beast was strong, so strong in fact, that Heero felt like he was being pushed into the ground. His one knee gave out and he fell down onto it, panting and grunting as best he could to keep from falling over. The gromek seemed impressed by Heero's power, and brought the axe back up over his head to swing harder onto Heero's shield. Heero gasped as he heard the front of his shield crack.

Heero's men all gasped as they watched their beloved prince lose ground. The thing seemed to be laughing now, knowing that it will be winning this one on one. The prince didn't want to give up now, he needed to stay alive so that he could reward Duo for saving his life and for… and for… stealing his heart.

`No! This can't be!' Heero gasped at his sudden realization, `I'm not in lo…' he didn't have time to finish his own thought as he was forced onto the ground. The axe came down again, and Heero rolled out of the way just in time. The large gromek came for him again, but Heero kept on rolling out of the way. The beast was becoming furious now, so he kicked at the human, getting him to halt in pain. The gromek's weapon came down again, but this time Heero had a sudden reflex and blocked it with his long sword. He got himself up on one knee and began to battle back to his feet.

After a long struggle, Heero somehow managed to get them both to lose their weapons. Both the axe and the long sword went flying out of each other's hands. Heero's sword became stuck in the ground behind the gromek, and the gromek's axe lay flat behind Heero.

The gromek shrieked and went to retrieve his weapon, but Heero was at a shorter range and swiped the axe before the demon could get it back. The axe felt very heavy in his hands, but Heero was always one to compromise when it came to his life. The gromek was looking confused and scared all at the same time, but then he remembered the human's weapon behind him. He used his wings to glide himself back to where the sword was sticking out from and grabbed it. Heero smirked, now becoming more curious with what the outcome will be, and he clumsily swung the axe at the beast.

Just as clumsy, the gromek blocked with the sword in his hands. The only thing bad now was that Heero could no longer use his shield; it took both his hands to wield the heavy axe, and it looked like it didn't matter, cause the sword in the gromek's hand was like a little toy to it. It was too light for the gromek, and he swung it around in flurries, not even aiming.

The battle raged on, and Heero was suddenly becoming tired. The heavy axe was starting to become useless, his muscles were screaming at him to stop, but his heart and mind didn't wish to give in.

Then, the unthinkable happened; Heero turned to swing, but he left an opening, and the gromek stuck the sword's tip a few inches into his side.

All the men around them panicked, drawing out their weapons to defend their prince.

Heero, hunched over in pain, backed up so that he could get his own sword out of him. The gromek was smiling evilly, looking very pleased with the results. Heero had both his right hand and his left arm over the wound, trying not to lose a lot of blood all at once. The axe was in the ground, forgotten.

The lead gromek lifted the sword up in the air and screamed something. Then, as the monster was about to bring the human's own long sword down onto his enemy, he halted in mid swing. His face scrunched up in pain, and then his free hand moved down to his chest. There was an arrow sticking out of it.

It let out a howling cry before toppling backwards on the ground.

Grey clouds were rolling in the clear night sky. The half moon started to get covered, blocking out most of the light they had.

Duo leapt down from the trees just as the rest of the gromeks fled. No one was sure if they did so in terror or in defeat, but the men were thankful all the same. The elf nimbly jogged over to Heero's bent form, moving his newly made bow out of the way, and lowered himself down to check on his lover.

Heero looked up, and the first thing that came into view was the face of the one he loved, the one who saved his life more than once that evening. He looked over at the dead beast and then looked back up into Duo's eyes questionably.

Duo shrugged, "Poison does wonders, huh?" He moved a small hand over to where he saw the bleeding. Heero flinched away, not wanting the elf to use his magic on him. To a soldier, a battle scar was something to cherish, something to prove that one had been in the fight they say they were involved in.

Heero's men were now surrounding him; all had worry painted on their faces. Duo placed his hands on the human's shoulders and shook him lightly; "Let me close up the wound at least." The elf pleaded.

"Sire please…" Lance begged, holding an arm that is obviously very injured, "Don't die on us."

"Your Majesty, you deserve to live for your courage." Yuki stated.

"Prince Heero…" Zechs looked the most worried out of them all, "Please, let the elf heal you, you're the best friend I've ever had…"

Heero didn't like the weak feeling, but gave in anyway, and lowered himself down to the ground to let Duo heal him.

Duo moved the prince's arms out of the way, exposing the wound for all to see. There were collective gasps from them all as they saw the size of the injury. Duo, with hands stained of the human's blood, began to summon all of his strength to heal the prince. It was rare enough to heal one human in a year, but to heal two in the same month was a world's record. At the moment, Duo didn't care. All he cared about was damming that red river, and mending the torn tissues.

Everyone was in silent awe as they watched the elf glow, long strands of hair that fell out of his plait were flying out behind him as his power emitted from his hands. His eyes took on an eerie deep violet, his lip curled in a snarl, and they could swear that the elf was holding his breath.

Before their eyes, the wound began to close. They all heard Heero gasp; his eyes flew open in some pain. It was all coming at once, the healing pangs, and Heero gaped his mouth open and screamed.

~**~

Heero opened his eyes to the sounds of rain. He noticed right away that he was no longer on the ground, but on a bed. He turned his head at the sound of feet shuffling beside him.

"Glad to see you're awake, Your Highness."

"Zechs…" Heero rasped out. "Where are we?"

"Safe, Your Majesty. We all made it out of the gromek
territory. How are you feeling?"

"I'm surprisingly fine. Where's Duo?"

"He's still resting. He healed everyone that he could. It took the last of his energy and he collapsed. He only had enough to help those who were really injured. Some of us are still in slings and splits, but at least most of us made it out of the fray alive."

Heero was afraid that this moment would come, "Who all died?"

Zechs sighed, wishing that the prince didn't ask. "Your Majesty… you should rest up more before you…"

"I want to know, Zechs! How many died because of me?" Heero spat out.

Zechs could no longer avoid the truth from his prince, "Hentor didn't make it. I'm sorry."

Heero gnashed his teeth, "Who else?"

The blond captain sighed, "Alex, Muller, Percy, and Shingeru."

"Five men…" Heero closed his eyes, "I'm so careless."

"It wasn't your fault, sire. They all fought bravely. And just between you and me, I think that if it weren't for the elf we'd have even more casualties. We would have lost you too."

"Where is Duo?" Heero had to ask again, to get a clearer answer.

Zechs sighed, "He's resting in my tent because he didn't want to disturb you."

"That's a laugh. Usually he loves to disturb me."

"Shall I go check on him, sire?"

"Please do. And if he's feeling good enough to walk around, have him come see me. I need to congratulate him for aiding us."

Zechs bowed, "Of course, Your Majesty."

~**~

The soft sounds of rain fell on the tent that Zechs set up for him. Duo sighed, finally feeling his strength coming back. He had set another record today, healing at least fifteen humans in one night. The one human that he knew he would always heal was the brown haired, blue-eyed prince.

"I'm messed up." Duo sighed, "I'm supposed to be looking for Wing, but I found a stubborn lover instead." Duo laughed at himself for this.

At that moment, Zechs popped into the tent. He looked at Duo questionably, wondering what suddenly made the strange elf crack up like that.

"Heero is awake and wishes to see you." Zechs stated.

"Ok! Thanks blondie!"

Zechs scowled at the imp and then sighed, "Get going before I follow through with my old threat."

Duo got up from the bed, smiling widely. Zechs gasped loudly at the sight. Duo's hair was out of its braid and it flowed passed his kneecaps. The elf knew instantly that his look astounded the tall human. Duo brushed past the captain, turning his head slightly to keep eye contact with him.

"I'll let you paint a picture of me later if you quit staring at me like that." Duo winked.

Zechs became flabbergasted and blushed furiously, "Wha…wha…"

Duo chuckled, leaving a perplexed captain in his wake.

~**~

Duo entered Heero's tent just as elegantly as he exited Zechs'. Heero had his eyes shut, but Duo knew that he was awake. He silently moved to the side of the bed, gazing down at the man whom he feared almost died on him. He brought his hand down to softly brush his fingertips over Heero's jaw line.

Heero's eyes snapped open and he gazed longingly at the beautiful vision above him.

"So…" Duo cleared his throat, "How are you feeling?"

Heero reached up to take Duo's hand into his, "Much better, thanks to you. You're free now you know."

"Oh I am, am I?" Duo chuckled.

"Yes. No more slaves for me. I'd rather have friends around."

"And a lover?" Duo said, biting his lower lip.

"A lover?" Heero lightly gasped.

Duo lowered himself down to Heero's lips, taking them tenderly with his own. "I've gone and done something I shouldn't have done." He stared deeply into Heero's eyes, and Heero stared back into those angelic looking pools.

"What did you do?" Heero breathed.

"I've fallen in love with a foolish human prince who likes taking on creatures ten times tougher than him."

Heero's eyes grew, and Duo's ears wiggled comically.

"You're staying then?" Heero hoped.

Duo smiled, "If you want me."

The prince wrapped his arms around Duo's neck, "Yes, I want you, you phenomenal imp."

"May I stay with you the night?"

Heero sighed blissfully, "Yes. Every night, please." He buried his nose into those long flowing locks, "I lo… adore you."

Duo smiled.

 

~TBC~