Time for yet another installment to my monster! Special thanks to Hazard Blue for beta-ing this for me!
Any warnings about this chapter: Dark and angsty. PG-13 for mature situations.
This story is a Rurouni Kenshin/Gundam Wing fusion. It's going to be an Alternate Universe fic and will definitely have a 1x2 pairing--I just have to slog through the set up of the story to get to that (Which will be the first couple of chapters). ^_^
Oh and Duo and the boys are about 16 in this fic.
Rurouni Kenshin is the property of Nobuhiro Watsuki and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing belongs to Bandai. I'm borrowing the characters and situations purely for entertainment purposes, not to make any money.
"They will, of course, try to cover things up," Treize observed later, after Wufei and Duo had returned from their appointed 'rounds.'
Treize sat back in his rolling chair, fingers interlaced and resting across his midsection. All in all it had been a most gratifying evening. While one of the more obscure operas out there, Lucia di Lammermoor held a special place in his heart. It had been his first exposure to the art and no matter how many times he experienced it, he never tired of it. Especially when the production had been as masterful as tonight's had been. The young diva playing Lucia had the voice of an angel and he looked forward to seeing her in future projects.
And from what Wufei was saying, his other business had gone off without an apparent hitch. Yes, it was most gratifying to find things progressing so smoothly.
"I don't see how," Wufei remarked acidly, looking up from the blade he was sharpening. "If Maxwell did his usual job, the carnage was probably horrific."
He glanced over at where Duo sat, leaning across the open doorframe of the room. To anyone else it might have appeared that the boy was napping, but Treize knew better. That bowed head and loose posture were a lie made all the more blantant by the sword resting gently against his shoulder. If some thing or some one tried to attack them, Maxwell would be up on his feet, with that blade in hand before anyone could react. It was why he was so valuable to Treize; he was always alert and he had yet to lose. Or question his orders.
"Nevertheless," Treize continued, "Dermail will not wish to cause a panic amongst the aristocrats, especially those in his party. He will cover the incident up, perhaps make it appear that there was some sort of robbery. We will have to be careful now. We've struck a blow and now Dermail will be watching for our next play."
"I still don't understand why we couldn't rid ourselves of him, too," Wufei groused. "I mean, if you were going send your dog out in the first place, you should have let him take care of all the loose ends."
Treize shook his head. "You really must learn patience, Wufei. If I kill Dermail now without having insinuated myself into the power structure, the result would be chaos. And anyone can seize power in that kind of situation. What would happen to all our hard work and plans if someone else took advantage of Dermail's death and took over? No, the time is not yet right. We must discredit Dermail before we remove him."
"Then what the hell was tonight about?" Wufei demanded.
Both men turned their heads towards the soft voice. Duo lifted his head, his lengthy braid lifting then sliding off his shoulder to hang loosely behind him. On anyone else, Treize would have called that much hair a vanity but not with Duo. Duo had no vanities that he could tell; he did what was needed and understood the situation perhaps even better than Wufei did.
"Treize is trying to intimidate Dermail into making a mistake," Duo repeated.
"By killing his associates?" Wufei's tone was skeptical. "All we've done is warn him that some one's out to get him."
Duo's violet eyes darkened with what Treize could only call pity. "It throws Dermail off his game. He will be expecting us to strike at him next, just as you want us to. By not doing so, he will start to wonder, start to second guess himself."
"And that is when we will strike," Trieze nodded. "We will remove Dermail in due course, but first we must eliminate his support structure and advance our own stock to both the royal family and to the Assembly."
Duo rose to his feet, "If you have no more need of me tonight, I think I will turn in."
"Of course," Treize nodded, "You must be tired. I apologize for not letting you go sooner."
Duo shrugged, then gave Wufei a brief nod before leaving the room. Once again, Treize allowed himself to admire how Maxwell made no sound or gesture that would betray his presence. If he hadn't seen the boy with his own eyes then he would never have guessed he was there. Skilled, indeed.
"You're playing fire," Wufei remarked. For the first time his tone was free from its habitual sarcasm.
"Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about, Treize. That boy is dangerous," Wufei glanced at the door, lowering his excited tone of voice. "He has no honor, no stake in our revolution--he only fights to kill. He's been useful, I'll admit that, but don't for one second think you have a tame bear there."
"Wufei," Treize replied patiently. "I am not a foolish man. I do realize how dangerous Maxwell is but at the moment, he is also useful and until he proves otherwise, he is a valuable member of this revolution."
"Besides," Treize continued, swivelling his chair around to stare out his unveiled window, "He had more of a stake in this revolution than you'll ever know."
After he'd left Treize and Wufei, Duo didn't immediately retire to bed. Instead, he slipped out of the mansion into Treize's extensive rose gardens. He didn't like Treize's home; it was far too lavish for his tastes. And there were so many spies and underlings in the house that any illusion of privacy he might have retained was nonexistant now.
Breathing in a silent, deep breath, he unsheathed his blade and settled into a stance, saluting an imaginary opponent before launching into a intricate series of shadow fighting. These katas were his morning and nightly ritual; they kept him in shape, honed his senses, and allowed his mind to focus.
And they tired him out, keeping the dreams away.
Duo's step quickened as he tried to banish the thought. Memories of laughter and sunlit days, of warm arms surrounding him and keeping him safe. And memories of blood spilled and dying screams shattering his world forever. Death had stalked him, had touched him, but instead of taking him, it had become one with him. It was his sword and his shadow. It was the air he breathed and the rhythm of his heart. It would remain all these things until his work was completed, until the ones he had called 'Father' and 'Sister' were avenged. Working for Treize was the means to that end and so his cause had become Duo's cause.
Father would not approve, some part of him whispered but Duo ignored it. Father was not here; Father was dead, bayonetted by one of Dermail's soldiers because he had refused them lodgings for the night. Sister Helen would have cried to see her 'brother' fallen so far just as he had cried when the same soldiers who'd killed Father had raped her and made him watch. His sword's slices grew ever more vicious, parrying with opponents who were but shadows in his mind. If he had been stronger <thrust> Father would have survived. Parry, slash, thrust again. If he had been stronger, he could have protected Sister and the other children. Thrust. And if he had been luckier, he would have died with them when the soldiers burned the church down around their ears. Fate had singled him out and damned him to live. So live he would. At least until the revolution was complete and people such as Dermail were thrown down from their high positions and made to pay for all their crimes.
Treize had given him a home, a weapon, and a purpose. While he felt no great love for the man, he owed him for taking in a bloodied, half-insane twelve year old boy one winter's eve. It was a debt he intended to repay the only way he knew how, through the use of his blade and his skills.
When his muscles started aching the strenuous routinue he was forcing them through, Duo dropped to the ground, rolling onto his back in the damp grass. Above him the stars stretched out infinitely across cloud-misted fields of blue and black. This was his solace, the only sense of peace his spirit could find. Everything else would leave him but he would always have the night, the stars, and the moon. He let them whisper their secrets to him until he drifted away from hope, despair, and everything in between into the embrace of sweat-soaked sleep.
"Kenshin? Are you ever lonely?"
This time they were sitting on the porch together, chopping up vegetables for the evening's meal. Heero felt a slow fire shoot through his body as the Rurouni studied him thoughtfully, lowering his knife as those violet eyes clouded with emotions that he didn't understand but touched him none the less. "Yes," the red-haired swordsman said after some consideration. "Everyone is from time to time. Although I have had less time to worry about loneliness since coming here, Kaoru-dono."
"I--I'm glad," Kaoru replied shyly, her gaze dropping to study her sandals. Why was it so hard to say all the things she longed to say to him? She could talk about swords or technique for hours with him but when it came down to the important things... Well, she either found herself unable to vocalize or got frustrated when she felt he was being purposely obtuse and yelled at him.
Kenshin seemed bemused, "Is something the matter, Kaoru-dono? Are you lonely?"
'Yes,' she wanted to shout at him. 'Just not in the way you think. No, if you knew what I was thinking it might scare you right back into your wandering ways..'.
"Don't be silly," was what she said aloud. "How could I be lonely when I have you and Yahiko and Sano to look after."
"We are a handful," Kenshin nodded cheerfully, apparently pleased to see her back to 'normal.'
"I don't know what I'm going to do with the three of you," she huffed in agreement. 'I know what I'd like to do with you though, Kenshin...'
Heero snapped back into consciousness, still feeling the warm breeze that had been stirring in his dream, the scent of pungent vegetables filling his nose as if he'd actually been chopping them. He groaned and rolled over in his bed, casting a glance at the clock near his bedside. 2:30. Great, he buried his face in his pillow, hugging it while his mind replayed the dream again. This was the fifth time in less than two weeks he'd dreamt that he was a girl named Kaoru, less than two weeks since he'd dreamt of those soft violet eyes for the first time, and less than a week since his obsession had begun. The dreams didn't come every night but when they did, he tried to prolong them for as long as he could. He tried to rationalize it by telling himself that if he could get the dreams to play out in their entirety then he would be able to forget them and move on.
By now, even he knew he was lying to himself.
The dreams...they felt more like memories than anything else. Which, of course, was complete and utter nonsense. His overactive, tired mind was just producing some fantasy for him because work had become more stressful of late. That was it. Still, some part of him couldn't help, but wishing that those violet eyes that haunted him were something belonging to the waking world and not his dreams.
The vidphone beside his bed jangled. Frowning, he reached over and turned the audio on. "Yes?"
Heero straightened even though the woman couldn't see him. "Yes, Colonel?"
"I'm sorry to disturb you so late, but you're needed. I'm sending the coordinates to your computer. Une out."
Heero sat there for a moment before sinking his face into his hands and rubbing life back into the skin there. 'I guess there really is no rest for the wicked,' he sighed before swinging his legs off the bed.
His dream world and all his unanswered questions concerning it would just have to wait for later. Reality called.
If only reality had something as enticing as the red-haired swordsman in his dream.
***end of Chapter Two