8-8-2001

Ahh, I'm sorry for the repost. ^^; I've pretty much completely revised the workings of the fic, added more detail, new scenes... So for anyone that remembers seeing/reading this... oh... Long time ago, apologies in advance. Part 2 is in the works. Any C&C is very appreciated; you know this right? ^_^

Land of Shadow: Meetings and Acquaintances
Part 1 [v.ii]

author: hazard blue
standard disclaimer: not mine.
warnings: yaoi, bishounen angst, and the feeling you won't know what the hell is going on. things will be revealed as we move along...

~*~*~*~

"Hey hey, pretty boy..." a voice drawled to him through the dirty shadows. "What'cha doin' 'round here parts, eh...? Bad part of town, eh?"

Trowa watched as a figure stepped drunkenly out from the dim light of an alley. He sniffed in contempt. A poseur, nothing more, trying to be tough. He could see from the posture, the way the man balanced himself, that he knew nothing of discipline. Trowa had come out here for some action, a way to safely let out his aggression, but all he could find was...trash. And entirely of the wrong variety. He frowned.

"There is no good part of town." He said flatly.

"Heh--you're right! Deserted hereabouts, too...nobody to hear you scream, eh? Heheh..." It was true, the stained brown buildings that stood squat and despondent were all but abandoned. Only the most desperate eked out an existence in the roach-infested dwellings of Six. The night brought out the sinister promise of slit throats and crimson blood, and only the most skilled, drugged out, or stupid roamed the streets when the sun went down. Trowa only wanted one out three... Was that so much to ask?

The man stepped closer, until the bloodshot eyes of an alcoholic shone dully against a flickering streetlamp. His jowls quivered in anticipation. The drunk's clothes were rumpled and smelled of sweat, copper, and a saccharine sweet substance. The odor was strong enough to waft up in a foul breeze to where he was standing. He turned his head away from the smell. It didn't help.

"...."

"Not much of a talker? Heh. That's fine with us, we don't really like screamers... Although they are fun." The man smirked and stepped closer.

"...us?" Clear eyes narrowed warily.

"Somethin' wrong, babe? The more the merrier, I always say...heheheh. ...Don't tell me you're frigid!" Laughing uproariously, the man stepped aside, revealing darkened silhouettes behind him.

//Well....shit. Bit off more than I could chew...?// But before Trowa could complete his thoughts, he sensed a change in the breeze and automatically looked up.

"If that's your motto, then what's one more?" A shadow suddenly dropped down in front of Trowa, startling the would-be attacker, who involuntarily took a step back. Duo turned amethyst eyes on him, and he took back another step. A slow smile grew on Duo's face. He glanced at Trowa casually, who flinched.

"Trowa, dude! You know better than to tempt these pervs! You're such a morsel, they'd just gobble you up without appreciatin' your full...value." Duo grinned. Meanwhile, the perv in question seemed to have gathered up enough of his nerve to make a move.

"Hehe...one more birdie to enjoy, eh? Heheh..." the man started forward, but suddenly stopped--gurgled--jerked for several seconds--and fell. The menacing shadows vanished before he hit the ground.

"Mine. No one else's." Duo said possessively. "Perv." He added. He swiveled to look at the frozen boy behind him, and strode over.

"Tro-dude! You know better than to fall for the oldest trick in the book! Those shadows appeared because you thought they were there." Duo waved an admonishing finger and stepped ever closer to Trowa. I thought I taught you better than that..."

"...I'm sorry...Master."

"No prob," Duo said breezily. "So you gonna stay in town or ya wanna bail out..." Smiling wickedly, he reached out and laid an arm around the taller boy's neck. Bending him closer, Duo whispered against hot skin, "...With me?"

"I thought..." Trowa started awkwardly.

"Yesss...?" Duo replied, nuzzling his lips against Trowa's heat.

Trowa's heart quickened, and he suddenly wrapped both arms around Duo. He gazed into his master's bottomless eyes and leaned in closer to breathe his message into his ear.

"I thought you were getting tired of me."

Duo chuckled before replying. His husky voice sent shivers down Trowa's spine, making him shiver.

"Never, Nanashi... Never... Now come here, hmm?"

Trowa sighed in acceptance and surrendered into Duo's capable hands. Tomorrow, he would confront Duo about the rumors, but for now...but for this... This was truly bliss.

--//--

"What do you mean, he's gone?!" It was a well known fact that when Master Quatre got angry, things got tossed around and people got broken. Everyone learned to get well out of the prince's way when he got...peeved. Unfortunately for this guardsman, running out wasn't an option.

"M-master Quat-" the nervous man began, gibbering in his fear. "We tr-tried to stop him--"

"Well, trying isn't good enough!" Quatre roared angrily, and viciously backhanded the poor man into oblivion. The servants cowering in the doorway made no movement to try to help the man, too afraid to do anything.

"Oops," Quatre said flatly. He stared almost hungrily at the fallen guard before snapping his attention to his next prey at hand. Turning to the giant shadow beside him, Quatre talked to his man sweetly, apologetically.

"Rashid, why don't you take this man out and...clean him up. He must be filthy from trying to obey orders. I really shouldn't have gotten so angry at him." He frowned prettily. "Oh -- and be a dear and turn the lamp on? I can hardly see the...poor man's condition." His servant nodded jerkily and flicked on the light, making the room almost bright. "Poor guy," Quatre murmured sympathetically as Rashid silently lifted up the limp man from the cold ground. He carefully carried the guard to the wide doorway, where a stretcher was waiting. Placing him in it, Rashid shook out a black handkerchief and wiped his hands.

"Isn't it strange, Rashid?" Quatre asked the oblivious man. "I feel almost guilty about caving his head in..." Licking splattered pieces of brain off his fingers, Quatre smiled, sharp teeth glinting in the phosphorescent light.

--//--

"He's gone!" Quatre gasped.

"Well, yes, Master."

"Why didn't you tell me yourself, then, Rashid?"

"I thought it wise for Master to find out for himself. I meant no disrespect, Master."

"Why?" Quatre choked out in anguish.

"Your father wished it so, Master."

"You're a bastard."

"Yes, Master. In more ways than one."

--//--

"Well, this disobedience cannot go unpunished, Rashid," Quatre insinuated silkily. Winding pale arms around the stoic servant, Quatre bent Rashid until he was stooped over the ground with his face directly inches from his Master. Quatre whispered into his hair and the hot breath sent shivers down the taller Arabian's spine; not of desire, but of fear.

"He was mine. Why didn't you tell me you had freed him?" Quatre breathed. "He was mine."

"He was never 'yours', Master. Please, for all our sakes -- let him go."

"You overstep your bounds, Rashid," Quatre replied with a glint in his eyes. "You mistake familiarity for affection." He suddenly kneed Rashid's crotch, making him double over even more, arms shielding his hurt anatomy from further abuse. His anguished face was food to Quatre's appetite...but... Not. Quite. Enough. "Ali! Please escort Rashid to the Hall of Mortality. Perhaps a few months with Ezakial may perchance right his brain -- hehehe -- hahahahahaha! Right his brain! Heheheheheh... Right, Ali?"

"Yes, Master."

"Please inform Ezakial not to break him -- completely. It's no fun to kill cockroaches, you know," Quatre said conspiratorially. "At least, not until you've ripped all the legs off first. And gouged its eyes out. And disemboweled it. Tell him to wait until I get there to really get started." Quatre spread a wide grin.

"Y-yes, Master." The guard's voice was subdued. He knew what happened when one contradicted the young Master in one of his moods -- Ali suppressed a shudder. He bowed down low, then quickly -- and as unobtrusively as possible -- strode over to the now stoic Rashid. Rashid's face didn't change its statement when Ali quietly produced a gag and offered it to the Master's prized servant.

A minute shake of the head made the bite-ridden wooden block disappear. Ali offered an arm -- just in case -- but Rashid refused that as well. He started to walk toward the large double doors just beyond the gauzy harem curtain that surrounded the 'receiving room'. Ali paced his steps behind Rashid, to make sure the other man didn't make a sudden break for freedom. He didn't. Ali breathed a silent sigh of relief at having been, for the most part, ignored by his Master, and hastened his steps, just a little.

"Wait! Don't go ye~et! Don't you want to pla~aay?" Quatre wheedled, as he swayed up to the startled guard.

"M-master!" Ali gasped. His hand unconsciously leapt to his side for a nonexistent sword.

"Gooood," Quatre purred. "I like my toys alive -- and kicking!" Another maniacal laugh burst free from his diminutive form as the six foot something, 265 pound guardsman quaked in his boots.

"Rashid must be taken to Ezakial!" Ali blurted, eyes wild in fear. His gray eyes flickered back and forth from his Master and his servant. Quatre just shrugged and assured him Rashid could go by himself. And if he didn't... Ali gulped.

Quatre licked blood-red lips. "Ahh... Life is good." He reached out for the sheer gauze curtains that hid the inner room from view, allowing only shadowed silhouettes to play. "Rashid," the golden prince called out. Rashid glanced back at him. "Turn the light off as you go."

The heavy iron sliders of the curtains snapped shut, and the room was darkened to an obsidian blaze once more.

~*~*~

His footsteps resounded through the rich marble floors. An old wooden cane, sharpened through centuries of use and age, pricked at the soft, heavy stone with each footfall. The rod was amazingly detailed, but even a few feet away, the bold carvings seemed to blur together, leaving only the slightest traces of human craft. An eastern dragon coiled its way around the whole length of the staff, indistinct lumps of wood to the unobservant eye. Serpentine scales were riddled throughout its length, giving texture to the ancient wood. Bronzed fingers gripped the handle of the well worn dragon with a vengeance.

"Weak," Wufei hissed. He limped through the endless corridor, the forceful click click sounds of the staff meeting the floor echoing through the empty palace.

If he hadn't been weak, Meiran wouldn't have... The scholar-warrior tightened his jaw. He could have stopped her. He could have. He would have... If she hadn't... If she...

...there was nothing he could have done.

Because he had been weak.

And now the revolution was here. He hadn't expected it to sweep through the Shadows this quickly--he hadn't expected it to get here at all. At the rate it had been going, it would have taken another millennia for them to even start thinking of... But because of that damned--

Shit.

Meiran was supposed to have fought. She had been the true Dragon, not he. He hurried his pace, his irregular steps marking the endless hallway.

For it was, indeed, endless.

And Chang Wufei slid deeper into his nightmares.

~*~

They had met in school.

Not in a dark, smoky bar that didn't care about ID, nor a steaming, sultry nightclub that was teaming with bodies, but...school. Or, really, on the way to school...but still.

How embarrassing.

It sounded too much like a cute...cute... He still couldn't get past that word.

But that was the truth, and no one in heaven or hell on earth was gonna get Duo Maxwell to cough up that little tidbit up, even if it cost him his secret stash of Godiva chocolates.

But it had been an ordinary day for one Heero Yuy: Wake up, get out of the futon, finish his toiletries, put on his uniform, and set off for classes. Maybe grab a bite to eat, but he usually didn't; it seemed so much trouble. Besides, there would be free lunch later in the day.

Walking out the door, he snagged his laptop from the converted shoe rack that hung from the ceiling. He jogged down the stairs and took a deep breath as he stepped outside. The air was pleasantly cool, and the street was quiet except for the odd call of a bird. The day was dry autumn; colored leaves crunching underfoot and graceful trees writhing, twisting their nude branches toward the sky. Heero walked slowly, enjoying the day; the Institute wasn't far from his apartment dorm.

A couple blocks down Olympic and left on 2nd led to the Hellena St. Ara Institute, or St. Hell Inn, as it was called by the failing or superstitious. Partly because of the courses offered, or maybe just because it was the only thing that was set apart from the rest of the town.

In this town of glittering technical engineering, where the local café was made of glitches, quirks, and holograms, and served nonexistent coffee, the arcane was still a bit of a foreign concept. Even if the school was older than anything else in the town, people still had a hard time getting used to what they did not know.

The Institute had been started by scholars, back when the Great Wars were still fought by the mercenaries. The foundations had started to take root, gathering students from all fields; perhaps one of the first schools to open its doors blind to racial or financial background. The roots of the Institute had continued to unfurl throughout the years, tapping into unventured ground until finally finding the existence of one Heero Yuy, who could do amazing things with just a few pieces of metal and wire.

Heero passed the electric station, then cut across the abandoned lot and headed to the southern campus of the school. Heero was so focused on the walk over to the school, he almost didn't notice the figure barreling his way. He neatly sidestepped the almost-assault, and turned to glare at the other person.

"Oh, man. Sorry, I wasn't really looking where...I...was..." The boy, for that was he was, drew in a long slow breath. His braid twitched in the wind. "...going...hey! Do I know you from somewhere?" He looked curiously at Heero: his face, his hair, his clothes... He all but checked out his...attributes. Oh. There. He did.

"No." He did not need an obvious homo checking him out and giving cheesy pickup lines in an abandoned field when he had class to get to. Heero turned and stalked through the long, unkempt grass. He pretended he couldn't feel the weight of the other boy's stare boring into his back.

~*~*~

"Great going, Maxwell..." Duo muttered to himself. "First meeting and he thinks all you're about is asking him out on a frigging date. Don't even know his name, either." He sighed. "At least I didn't shoot him this time."

~*~*~

Old brick buildings stood adjacent to glass towers, and the computerized timing system silently counted the minutes to class in the school belfry. The buzz of students filled the air with energy. Heero walked silently through the throng, and he passed as if invisible. No attention was tossed his way, except for maybe a nervous girlish twitter.

Heero had the feeling he'd be seeing that guy around. Better to check up on him: birth records, jail time... Just to be sure he wasn't the type that shot him in his house with a .38 semiautomatic in a psychotic fit.

Him, paranoid?

Sure.

He set down his bookbag on a bench, rummaged through it, and found his laptop. Booting it, he settled himself on the cold stone slab and set the computer on his lap. Heero had started to open his System, as he called it, when an upside-down face right in front of him startled him so much, he had to fumble with the laptop to keep it from dropping.

The face of the boy he'd seen earlier frowned--that is, smiled. It was not on the right side of gravity, after all.

"Hallo," the face said cheerfully. A long hank of hair swung right beside the face, tickling Heero's nose. His eye ticked in annoyance. Heero jerked the hair away from him and tried to scramble away. The Face followed, turning right side up this time.

"What the fuck are you trying to be, the Cheshire cat?" Heero asked sharply. His eyes narrowed as he reviewed all the weapons he had on hand. Compass, check. Cutting razor, check. Scissors, check. Super glue, check. His hand hovered near the opening of his bag.

"...." It seemed to be contemplating something. "...You do know you've just broken all the stereotypes I've set for you in the last...oh I dunno, hundred, maybe thousand years, right?" Heero sighed silently and gave up. It may be a weird floating Face, but it was a crazy floating Face. In disgust, Heero tried to pack the laptop in even as he tried to walk away from the apparition. He looked around. No one else seemed to be aware of a disembodied Face following him around. Heero even started to check his motor functions, just to make sure everything was operational--and that no foreign substance had made him hallucinate such a ridiculous illusion.

.....

No such luck.

He finally gave up on trying to outrun the Face. Whirling around, he demanded, "What the hell do you want from me?"

Large colorless eyes blinked innocently. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing." Staring hard into Heero's eyes, the Face murmured, "In fact... You won't even remember this. None of it."

Heero blinked confusedly at it. What did it mean it didn't want anything from him...? And forget that--that...

The Face seemed to smile, and said softly, "I've got what I wanted. I'll be seein' ya, Hee-chan." It disappeared.

And Heero wondered why he was standing against the brick wall when he had class to get to in two minutes.

And for some reason, he had Japanese words dancing in his head for the rest of the day, riding into the rest of the next week, causing him to answer queries with, "Hai?" before seeming to snap out of whatever it was he was in.

--//--

"Class, we are pleased to announce a new student. Mr. Duo Maxwell, from Timbu Shikuman Pkqutalan." The teacher, a short, kind-looking, matron of indeterminate years, blinked. "Did I pronounce that right, dear?"

"Sure. A little more roll on the tongue on the last two consonants, though." The new student smiled perkily. He certainly didn't look or sound like he came from an exotic locale. He didn't even have a trace of an accent. And in fact, looked more American than anyone else in the room. Heero could feel his cheek muscles aching as he watched Maxwell. He had begun to energetically recount his adventures in...what did he say? Timbu Shikuman Pekaytalayn?

"Shikuman's located below the Equator; it's a pretty tropical area. I've been staying there for the last year or so, but not really the greatest vacation spot around--no conveniences stores, no convenience, period. And actually, Shikuman isn't really a place, it's the tribe's name. Where they're staying at the moment becomes Timbu Shikuman Pkqutalan, I guess you can say. It's been nice staying with them, you know? But at that point, I would'a killed for a gigantic, round, supreme pizza..." Maxwell couldn't quite help licking his lips and drooling.

The class laughed a bit in response. Even the teacher gave a small smile of her own before asking delicately, "So how did you receive an invitation to attend...?"

"Oh, by pigeon, if you can believe it. I'd send a notice to the closest town the--well, I can't really say address, but general directions of the area I'd be staying at, and the post office would send any important mail through Pidge Airlines." Maxwell paused a moment. "Smart pigeons, they were." The kids snickered.

"Actually, I think they had someone with a touch of animal empath to guide the pigeons a little. Fills its little bird brain with info, that kinda thing."

"How fascinating. Now, you'll be sitting in the empty seat beside Mr. Yuy. Wave please, so Mr. Maxwell will know who you are. ...Hm.

"Well, I suppose you may choose from the empty seats beside, in front, or back of Mr. Yuy."

--//--

Duo kept up his grin. As he walked through the aisle, he brushed past Heero and whispered, "Hope we get to know each better...Hee-chan."

Heero blinked.

 

[end part 1]