Note from Kitana: Well… here I am again on the full moon of October, Friday the 13th. Lucky, ne? Well, having nothing else to do until 12:00 - when I'm hopefully going to a scary movie with my little buddy - I decided to sit down and write. Well, I promised my "little buddy" who is my sister after all - I love her, she is so kawaii. ^_~V - that I would write a story I've been teasing her with little snippets of. So here I am, home alone, drinking a HUGE water bottle of Kahlua and well on my way into a fuzzy haze *evil chuckle* and with lotsa creative energy to burn… I finally decided to yield to her pleas and write my Gundam Wing fanfic that was about one year in the planning and is going to be probably around one year in the making. (It depends on how much she - and you- like it.) Please enjoy. ^_^V
Disclaimers: Sadly, just like so many of us other fanfic writers, I don't own the Gundam Wing boys. (Goes off to have a nice long cry with her fellow writers) But I DO own - and I'm proud of this, they took all the five brain cells I have left to create - the storyline, and the original plotline characters!!
Warnings: AU, shouen-ai (which will later become yaoi ~_^), humor, Relena-bashing (Do NOT read this ficcy if you like Relena! I got a little carried away. ^_^) angst, sap, gore (this means parts of the story will be downright gruesome… don't worry, I'll warn you ahead of time), lemon, death. Woo hoo! I think I have almost every warning there is in here!!
Pairings: 1+2, 2+1, 3+4, 4+3


Realm of Shadows

Kitana Bradford

At the edge of the sea, in the island valley known as Raven's Hollow, there lies
the remains of a remote and desolate village. Long ago, on the eve of a great storm, a shroud of darkness swept over the island and all who lived there were lost, never to be seen again.

No one is certain what arose from the deep that fateful night, but when the dawn broke, all that remained was a blighted husk of the village that had once stood there. Ravens black as sin took roost, and no living soul was ever known to trod among the crumbling stone dwellings.

Travelers returning from the area brought with them strange tales of a solitary light that shone like a beacon from amidst the distant ruins. The tower bell was heard tolling and some even spoke of a gathering of shadows in the town square in the misty dead of night. A looming barren castle seemingly appeared overnight among the ruins, made from the darkness of shadows.

Then the tales dwindled and vanished as all who were brave or foolish enough to sail their ships too near the perilous rocks and treacherous isle bluffs failed to ever return. The darkness spread its grasp over the surrounding valley and seas. The neighboring islands were deserted when people, young and old, went mysteriously missing and a black fog settled over the island chain.

What dark curse befell this forsaken place is to this day unknown. No one dares venture near to discover what secret lies buried within the Realm of Shadows… until now.


Haath, High White Mage and Soothsayer for the Trillium Empire, watched sadly from his perch on the parapets as the miserable procession of peasants filed one by one over the lowered drawbridge and into the dubious safety of the royal castle. They looked piteous: dirty, crying for the lost of all they had known and held dear. Most were clutching a single satchel of belongings and gripping tightly the hands of their children, husbands, or wives - the only items they had been able to amass before the expanding maw of the fearsome black miasma had swallowed up their islet homes.

Haath stroked his long flowing white beard worriedly as his wrinkled blue gaze shifted from the citizens below and to the southeast, where he could just barely see the dull, dark blue line Blood Sea spanning the horizon. And beyond those dark waters, was the root of the repulsive visions he had been experiencing of late. A malevolence swathed within an all-consuming shadowy haze that was slowly spreading and now possessed the Isles of the Myst.

Haath's magic detected a presence approaching from behind and the old mage turned slowly to face the individual who had entered his circle of White Magic. Within a few seconds, a haggard-looking messenger appeared in the stone doorway from the stairs, halted, and gave a respectful bow to the High Mage.

"Sir," the messenger gasped, out of breath. "His Highness wishes for your presence in the Tower of High Sorcery. They plan to begin the Summoning ceremony."

"I see. Thank you. You are dismissed." Haath said thoughtfully before releasing the fatigued messenger to hopefully get a few hours of well-deserved rest. The grateful messenger bowed once more before turning and descending the stairs that would lead him back into the heart of the castle.

A few more wrinkles formed among the many in Haath's wizened face as he contemplated their course of action. Without any way to stop the growing darkness that was sweeping across the land, the other High Mages, himself, and the king had arrived at the decision that the peril to Linfaldia was too great. It was time to summon the Chosen.

"I cannot believe it has come to this." Haath said softly to himself, though he knew they had no other choice. All the combined powers of the entire Guild of Mages, fifth rank through the formidable High Mages, paled in comparison to that evil's sinister pulsating heart.

With one last look at the darkening horizon, Haath raised his large staff and sharply struck the stone beneath his with the butt. Before the echo of the impact had even faded, a bright light surrounded the High Mage and he was instantly transported to the Tower of Sorcery, where the others awaited his presence to begin the Summoning of those, deemed by ancient legends and prophesies, who were able to revive Linfaldia from the grip of the Realm of Shadows.


With the arrival of High Mage Haath, the Circle of Magic was complete and the final preparation for the Summoning were set into motion. The magical artifacts were put into place and a fire was lit on the altar, it's comforting green flames dispelling the shadows in the room. The scrolls needed for the ceremony were placed on a great stone pedestal before the fire, to be burned during the course of the Summoning.

Finally, the king gestured towards the tower doorway and a slight figure separated itself from the entrance, stepping into the light of the fire. The greenish glow highlighted the lithe body of a young woman, glinting off her light brown hair, and accentuating her wide green eyes. She knelt reverently in front of her king. A servant appeared at the King's side, offering a scroll upon a silver platter to the king. He smiled and accepted it, placing it into the girl's hands.

"Now, Taren," the king's authoritative, yet soothing voice boomed through the tower. "You are the best suited and most learned of apprentices of students in the Legends. I'm entrusting you with this mission: go to the place mentioned in the Legend and pinpointed on the scroll. If all goes well, that is where the Chosen will appear. You must guide them to victory and help them in their quest to save Linfaldia. We're counting on you. Remember, time is against us. Please do not fail."

The girl, Taren, nodded and rose, dashing off through the castle to begin her mission. Weaving her way in between the citizens crowding in the gate entrance, she leapt onto her horse, which awaited her at the other side of the drawbridge. The last she saw of the castle was a brilliant red light flaring from the Tower of Sorcery as the Summoning was cast. Resolutely, Taren turned and kicked her horse into a gallop, determined to succeed for the sake of their world.

Note from Kitana: Need any clarifications? E-mail me and I'll be more then happy to explain. Not only with C&C be appreciated, but I will love you forever. ^_^V
Status: To Be Continued. The Gundam Boys enter the scene and are mysteriously transported to a strange land where danger awaits them at every turn….



Disclaimers: (Like anyone ever reads these anyway.) I don't own Gundam Wing. Which means Heero, Duo, Quatre, Wufei, Trowa, or Relena… and anyone or anything else in Gundam Wing which manages to sneak its way in here. I'm just being evil and playing with the characters, I swear! I'll put them back where I found them after I'm done. I'll try not to break them, I promise! ~_^
But I DO own - and I'm proud of this - the origional plotline and all the other characters!! Myahaha!! - ^_^' You'll understand when you've read more.
Warnings: Shouen ai, yaoi, angst, AU, gore - this is my own special warning. It means that, during this fic, will be some downright gruesome stuff. ^_^ - To parallel that, there's humor, Relena-bashing (Do not read this ficcy if you like Relena.) sap, lemon, death - WOW!! I think I have every warning there is in here! ^_~
Pairings: Relena+1, 1+2, 2+1, and a liiii~ttle 3+4, 4+3… just in the background though. Gomen. Maybe even eventually a 1x2. Woo hoo!! Bet you're interested now!! ~_^ Okay, okay, maybe not. Just let me imagine, okay? <g> (Yaoi people, don't worry. In my new system of labeling pairings the R+1 means Relena loves Heero. Next to it is 1+2 and 2+1. That means Heero loves Duo and Duo loves Heero back. Got it? If it confuses you, e-mail me and I'll be more then happy to explain everything.)
Whew! That was long. Okay… I'll shut up and start now.


Realm of Shadows
Chapter 1 - The Summoning

Kitana Bradford

Duo groaned softly as bright orange light penetrated the soothing blackness behind his closed eyelids. He cracked open one eye cautiously, then hastily shut it again against the flood of intense rays in his sensitive eyes. As the slow throbbing of his head brought him back to reality, Duo realized he was lying upon his back on a compact, rigid surface, which felt like…dirt? How the hell? Had he gotten smashed and fallen asleep outside again? Heero would kill him! Well, at least he had all his clothes on this time….

Duo became vaguely aware of sharp lumps digging viciously into his tender back, probably rocks.

"Uuunh! I feel… like a quarter mile … of heavily traveled road," He groaned as he flopped over onto his stomach, pushing up onto all fours, then hauling himself to his knees, squinting against the sunlight. When his eyes had adjusted, the scene that greeted his gaze made his mouth drop open in utter astonishment.

Duo knelt upon a narrow precipice, which jutted forward from the cliff-side. Below him, miles of dry grassland spanned the ground. It reached northwards before abruptly sloping down a steep incline, long yellow grass giving way to gleaming, white sand. The crystalline blue waters of a large ocean lapped gently at the fair beach, sparkling as the sun glinted off the rolling waves.

On the horizon, Duo could see a mountain hovering in the air, high above the ocean. A large lush jungle encompassed the cliff Duo was on, on the west, east and south. But to the west, it was sparkling an icy white, as if covered in snow and frost In the heart of the jungle to the east, rested a volcano, gray-tinged smoke billowing lazily from its jagged peak. Off to the northwest, Duo thought he could see the vague outline of a majestic castle.

Duo released the breath he hadn't realized he had been holding, and filled his burning lungs with fresh air. A moist, gentle breeze, from the direction of the ocean and smelling faintly of flowers, teased over Duo, tugging playfully at his gold-shot bangs, and swirling his long braid to softly brush against his thigh.

Abruptly, the wind shifted and the smell was no longer peaceful, but the odor carried upon the wind was one of death. Torture and despair rode on the buffeting currents of air.

Duo turned to the south. In the far-off distance, where the forest abruptly stopped, a sheer cliff-face dropping down to a violent sea; it's blood red waves peaking with frothy crests. Further out, the shores of a few islands could be seen. No grass there, and the trees which remained on the devastated isles were skeletons, bereft of a single leaf. Black mist choked the land masses and sea in its iron grip. Duo ineffectually strained his eyes, attempting to see into that menacing darkness, to no avail.

"That's it! I've finally lost it! I KNEW I shoulda cut down on the candy." Duo cried, finally breaking free of his amazed stupor. "On second thought… nevermind." He amended with a grin.

A soft grunt brought his attention around to the other occupants of the clearing. Not far from him, the other four Gundam pilots had been sprawled similarly on the earth, eyes closed but breathing normally. Asleep, by all appearances. Or unconscious. At his outburst, they stirred and rose, blinking sleepily and surveying their surroundings, just as Duo had done. Duo merely watched, with a knowing grin spreading from ear to ear as their faces, well some of their faces, reflected the incredulity and wonder they felt.

Trowa and Heero's faces remained emotionless masks, and Quatre's face reflected the awed expression that, moments before, had inhabited Duo's heart-shaped face. Wufei looked mildly surprised and Duo heard him swearing softly in Chinese.

"I see you have all returned to the land of the living. Welcome back." Duo grinned. Wufei turned to Duo, his eyes narrowing.

"Duo, did you-"

"Get us into this mess? Naw. I don't know were the hell we are, or how we got here." Duo said, cutting off Wufei's inevitable question. "The last thing I remember is catching some well-deserved R&R in the hammock, then BANG! I was falling through a red tunnel of light. I thought I was dying or something, but when I woke up, I was here. What a paradise, ne?" Duo giggled.

"That's the same thing that happened to me. Trowa and I were reading in the library and the last thing I recall was falling through a red light and trying to keep a hold of Trowa. Then I woke and found myself here." Quatre said, pivoting to face the remaining pair. "Is it the same with you two?"

Wufei, and Heero nodded sharply.

"Yeah, but why--"

"HEEEEEERO!!!!!" A long, loud, woeful screech split the air, interrupting Duo.

All the gundam pilots started and guns were drawn in a flash, cautious glances darting around the clearing to search for the source of the ear-splitting shriek.

"Hey," Duo said, relaxing slightly, brows narrowing slightly. "I know that voice…."

Just then, Relena burst from the trees not far from the cliff. They reluctantly put their guns away as the destressed girl hurtled across the clearing and grabbed ahold of Heero's arm, clinging tightly to the japanese pilot and trying to bury her face in his chest.

"I was in my limo (sob) and were driving through the forest (sob) on the trail, (sob) then suddenly this awful red light surrounded me (wail) and dropped me in the forest here. (sob) I thought I was all alone, but I heard voices and saw you, (sniff) and realized you had come for me because you love me and wouldn't leave me alone in a horrible place like this, though you don't know it yet, or you're too shy to admit-" She sobbed noisily.

<What the heck? She was driving on the trail through the WOODS?!> Duo wondered and cut in, wiggling his fingers at Relena.

"Ne, ojousan?" She stopped bawling and turned to look at Duo, barely concealed annoyance in her cornflower blue eyes.


"Were you following us again?" Relena blushed, and Duo had his answer. Rolling his eyes, Duo was sorely tempted to take out his gun and put her out of her misery right then and there.

<But that wouldn't be fair. Why waste a bullet when he could just shove her off the cliff? Nah, too gruesome. Maybe she'll dehydrate from all those buckets of tears she's dumping on Heero's tanktop.> Duo smirked at his thoughts and quickly changed the subject before Relena could get back into her; "Oh-god-I'm-a-poor-defenseless-beautiful-maiden-who-must-be-protected-idolized-and-worshiped-expecially-by-Heero-who-must-love-me-because-what's-not-to-love?" routine again.

"How about worry where are, and how we are going to get back before the waterworks?"

"Oh… yeah." Relena said dazedly, refusing to release Heero's arm.

Duo sweatdropped, feeling a brief flash of anger at the way Relena was positively hanging herself on Heero. He shoved the feeling away, reminding himself that he didn't own Heero- as much as he'd like to- and neither was it his arm she was hanging on. It was Heero's choice if he let her hold on to him like a giant, mutated leech….

Duo sighed and turned his thoughts back to the task at hand, his brows furrowing, and pursing his lips as he tried to puzzle out where the hell they were.

Duo mused aloud, "Red light… tunnel… Relena…. Did we die and go to Hell?"

"DUO!" Quatre scolded Duo, covering a laugh. At the same time, a soft feminine voice answered Duo's question.

"No." The voice came from behind them and all the Gundam pilots turned to see a woman, dressed in skin-tight blue breeches and a tight top, seated upon a large boulder not seven meters away. Duo saw Heero whip out his gun from that secret place in his spandex, which, frankly, he didn't want to know- or maybe he did, Duo wasn't sure- and train it upon the seated female. Instead of being intimidated, she laughed. A soft, musical sound.

"What will you do? Kill me? Possibly destroying all chances of finding out where you are and how you shall return home? I think not."

"Hn. Then tell us. Were are we?" Heero said lowering his gun slowly.

"Welcome to Linfaldia, Chosen ones."

"Nani?! Linfaldia? Chosen ones?" Duo stammered.

"Explain yourself, onna!" Wufei said shortly.

"You all have been summoned here because our world is dying. Here on Linfaldia, there is a balance between good an evil, evil was sealed away centuries ago by our most powerful mages. Recently, that seal was somehow broken and the evil is taking over our world. Many of our people died because of the darkness, and even our strongest warriors have been defeated.
The only thing that is possibly strong enough to defeat this evil is the Lodestone, which vanished from its sacred place in the shrine over 2000 years ago. It split into five pieces, each which returned to their own hidden shrines in five separate places on Linfaldia. The only problem is, no one knows for sure where they are."

"This is where you are so desperately needed. Without the Lodestone to protect us, our land will be swallowed up by this evil." She said, gesturing southward, to the black fog. "Please help us save our world!" The group blinked, shooting confused glances at each other. Seeing this, the girl continued,

"Here in Linfaldia, everyone has a life-force. The prophesy says that yours are the only ones strong enough to carry, protect, and reunite the Lodestone. Five of you are the Guardians, and the one remaining is the Keeper. The each of the Guardians can locate the five scattered pieces because a elemental piece calls out to each of them. Once that shard is found, in order to protect it, the chosen one can then take on their natural form, the animal form of the shard.

The Keeper is the only one capable of manipulating their life-force in junction with the Lodestone, to control its power. That person is the most important and must be protected, at all costs. If you do this and save Linfaldia, then you will be returned home. It is your choice. But be warned; there will be those who will try to stop and destroy you, should you accept."

"Like we really have a choice." Duo mumbled to himself.

"Hn." Heero snorted.

"Translation: Yes, we'll do it." Duo chirped happily.

"I'm so glad! I will accompany you throughout your journey. A guide, if you will." The woman said.

"Just who is this 'special person' who can control the Lodestone and must be protected? Do you know, or will we have to figure that out as we go?" Trowa asked logically.

"This feels like a video game. Just to make it difficult, we probably have to figure it out." Duo commented.

The woman shook her head.

"I already know." She lifted her hand and pointed.

"Heero?!" Duo laughed.

"No, the one next to him," she gestured to Relena. "Her."

"Me?!" Relena gasped, her eyes wide.

"Relena?!" Duo moaned dramatically, "Oh god! We're all going to die!"

Relena shot Duo a glare. Duo gave her a big, fake grin.

The woman hopped off the boulder and strode over to Duo, extending a hand. For the first time, Duo realized that she couldn't be any older then he was.

"Your name is Duo, right?" She asked.

"Yep! Duo Maxwell. I may run and hide, but I never lie. That's me in a nutshell!" Duo said with a flourish, seizing her hand and kissing the back. He didn't know why he did that, it just seemed appropriate, given the circumstances. Besides, that's what the heroes always did in his fantasy books. She smiled and blushed crimson.

"I'm Taren."

"Nice ta meet 'cha! Taren, the blonde over there is Quatre, the one with the unibang behind him is Trowa. The morose, laconic, pernicious one to your right is Heero, and the girl drooling on… er… holding his arm, is Relena. The dork with the ponytail is Wufei." Duo said fervently. He heard Wufei growl softly. He grinned to himself. It was just so fun to tease the Chinese boy!

"Woofie? Your name is Woofie? What kind of a name is that?" Taren said, eyes wide.

"It's WUFEI!" Wufei yelled, ranting that he never got any respect, and there was no justice in the world. Duo was practically rolling on the ground with laughter.

"Oh that's rich! Woofie!!" Duo crowed loudly. Wufei glared at him.

"It's an honor to meet you all," Taren said, blushing furiously.

"I suggest we get started so that we can return to our own world as soon as possible." Heero said abruptly.

"Woo hoo! That just used up his entire vocabulary for a week!" Duo crowed from his spot on the ground.

"Omae o korosu." Heero said simply. Duo blew him a raspberry [1] and got up, brushing dirt off his black clothing.

"So how do we go about finding these shards anyway?" Quatre asked.

"Oh, that's easy. I can lead you to the general area then you'll be able to sense where they are. But you won't be able to feel them until you are at least in the shard's elemental range. Don't worry about that. That's my job. It's the reason I'm going with you. I have a spell that can detect where the nearest crystal shard is." Taren closed her eyes and pressed the tips of her fingers together in front of her, pressing them upward until her fingers met, then folding her two middle fingers down across her knuckles.

Everyone was silent, and Duo saw Wufei creep in closer to see what was going on. For a brief second, Taren's hands glowed a faint yellow, and all the Gundam pilots stared at her with wide eyes. The light grew, then suddenly flew from Taren's hands to envelop the startled Trowa. Trowa's one visible eye widened, and the light faded as Taren looked up.

"Trowa, your part of the Lodestone is closest. It's at the savanna shrine over there," she said, motioning to the plain Duo had seen earlier.

"WHAT?!" There was a collective cry from the six and they all sweatdropped.


[1] Blowing someone a raspberry is just sticking your tongue out at them. If you already knew that, good for you. You'd be surprised at how many people have no clue what that means. ^_^
Note from Kitana: Whew! All that boring intro stuff outta the way! Now on to the REAL story. HAHAHA! -Have fun!
Status: TBC. The Gundam Boys and Taren begin their journey against time and the growing darkness.


Note from Kitana: Pleeeeze don't get scared off by all the warnings. It's good, I tried my hardest and I PROMISE you'll like the ending.
Note from Chipmunks: (A small chipmunk with a maniacal gleam in it's eyes hops forward. It waves a small sign that reads: [As our slave, Kitana, is indisposed at the moment, *quick camera flash of Kitana, bound and gagged, thrashing furiously and shooting venomous glares at the furry woodland creatures. The chipmunks are unfazed and flip over the sign to continue* we - her crue - er - compassionate comrades shall take her place and continue for her.]) It flips the sign over and on the other side is the following:
[ Disclaimers: Chitter, chitter, chitter.
Warnings: Chitter, chitter.
Pairings: Chitter, chitter, chitter. ]

Realm of Shadows
Chapter 2 - The Peeve


Heero shrugged uncomfortably, trying to gain some leeway between Relena and himself, but she refused to budge, babbling nonstop about love, him saving her, wedding plans, and babies. Heero grimaced. She was worse then Duo, with her self-important prattle. At least Duo knew when to shut up, occasionally.

Heero's eyes drifted to where Duo strode beside Taren and Wufei, the usual hitch in his step. Taren was leading them through the jungle supposedly toward the first shard. From his position near the end of the line, Heero could see Duo gesturing wildly as he spoke rapidly to Taren. As he watched, Duo flung his arms into the air, then sped up a few steps ahead and turned to face them, his arms behind his head as he walked backwards.

Taren cracked up at something Duo said, and Heero even saw the corner of Wufei's lips turn upwards in the beginning of a smile.

"…. right, Heero?" His attention was drawn from the braided baka as Relena tugged on his arm, demanding his attention. "Right?"

"Hn." Heero said, with no clue what she had been saying. She apparently accepted that answer, because she clung tighter to Heero, launching off into her dizzying monologue once again. Heero's gaze slid back to the surrounding forest and Heero caught a flash of yellow dart between the bushes then vanish again. Heero frowned, watching the forest intently for the next couple of minutes and seeing nothing.

Heero became aware that the others had stopped abruptly.

"What is it," He asked as he caught up with the other five, glad for the excuse to leave Relena's side. They stood at the top of a hill on the edge of the forest, which overlooked the grasslands. Not far from where the base of the hill ended, a small village was nestled in the yellow grass of the plain.

"First stop," Taren said happily, gesturing to the village.

"Is that were the first shard is," Heero heard Quatre ask.

"No, but we need to rest, and this is as close as we can get without alerting others of our search for the crystals. I told you the Lodestone vanished from it's spot, and broke into pieces as a result of a powerful spell, spreading the shards throughout the land. I also told you that you five, as the Guardians, are the only ones capable of recovering the shards- and the Keeper is the only one who can reunite the Lodestone.

Well, that last part was incorrect. The darkness we face also has the ability to somehow control the Lodestone's power and twist the protective energy to the power of the Shadow: pain… fear… evil… misery. The Shadows are undoubtedly searching for the scattered shards right now. If they were to get their hands on the Lodestone… this world is doomed. Everyone - including us - will be enslaved and endure the pain of the dark, unwilling yet helpless zombies for their purposes. That is - if we survive first.

Although they won't be able to retrieve them on their own, but as soon as they realize we are collecting them, we will become their targets from the moment we get the first shard- and onward. Which is why we need to keep a low profile to our own search for the crystals.

The Shadows will undoubtedly discover sooner or later that the chosen ones have arrived here, but later is much more preferable. Because as soon as he realizes you are here, things will become much more difficult and dangerous, and he will be trying to either destroy us, or steal the shards from us every step of the way. Understand?"

Everyone nodded silently, taking everything in. Heero listened intently, not missing a word, and turning over their situation in his mind.

"That is why we need to stop here before continuing on to get Trowa's crystal. You all stand out in these clothes, and we need to get you some less inconspicuous ones, supplies, and maybe some weapons, too. This village is an especially good place, because it is so small. With the upheaval the appearance of the Realm of Darkness has made, everyone will be too preoccupied to notice the six of you until we can help you blend in a little."

Heero fell into place in the back of the line as they started off down the hill. Just then, Heero was alerted to a presence, but before he could draw his gun, a brown blur exploded from the bushes and hurtled towards Duo with a loud cry.[1]

"Pitaaahhhh!" At the loud cry, Duo looked over his shoulder, hand going to his gun. Then his eyes went wide and his jaw dropped.

"What the-?!" Was all Duo had time to get out before the thing slammed into him between his shoulder blades. Relena screamed and dove into Heero's arms, causing him to drop his gun.

Heero cursed loudly and was forced to watch helplessly as Duo toppled forward and began to roll down the large hill. Heero growled, shoving Relena away, snatching up his gun, and sprinting after the braided boy, his mind sounding a high-pitched note of alarm. He was aware of the pounding of the others as they followed a few steps behind, but only vaguely as he was intensely focused on the blur of yellow and black that was Duo and his attacker.

When they all caught up to Duo, he lay sprawled at the base of the hill, a triumphant little animal sitting on his chest. Taren took one look at the animal and doubled over with laughter. Heero looked from the animal to Taren and back, puzzled.

It was the size of a small cat, with thick brown fur over a barrel-shaped body and short muscular legs. There was a thin ruff of brown fur, almost like a small lion's mane, around the creature's neck. It gripped Duo's chest with three paws and with the forth scratched itself busily. It had a short, almost dainty muzzle, a bushy tail, and ears that went up into long points. In it's big yellow eyes was a exultant look.

"What is it?" Quatre gave the animal an curious look. Heero eyed the little creature with an unreadable look on his face.

Taren laughed again. "It's a pet peeve. Annoying little animals. Harmless for the most part, if you don't include mental damage from their incessant blundering. And it seems it's taken a liking to Duo. Poor Duo," she giggled. Heero relaxed slightly and suppressed a small grin as he looked back at the cause of all the trouble.

"Sounds like Duo's met his match." Wufei said smugly.

"Pounce!" said the peeve in it's high-pitched voice. "Mine!"

Heero smirked as some of Duo's more colorful curses drifted up to them from his supine form.



[1] Hee hee hee! The inspiration for the peeve's "attacks" actually came from my own experience involving a girl I baby-sit for, believe it or not. Any time she sees me, she screams my name and comes running at me at top speed. I barely have enough time to turn around before she vaults at me. Next thing I know, I'm on the floor with Taylor (the little hyper goofball child) sitting on my stomach. And, boy, I can tell you, there's nothing scarier then hearing your name screamed like a battle cry, turning around, and seeing someone flying at you like a six-year-old human seek-and-destroy guided missile! ^_^

*Kitana finally frees herself and leaps up, snatching up the closest chipmunk by the tail and shakes it.*
Kitana: You dumbass chipmunks!!! What were you thinking!?
Chipmunk: Chitter, chitter, chitter.
Kitana: What the hell you talking about?! "For my own good"?! You just wanna take credit for my writing!!! I should send you all to a coat factory!! I hear chipmunk fur coats are all the rage.
Chipmunk: *struggles furiously* CHITTER, CHITTER!!!
Kitana: Oh bite me. You had your chance and you blew it.
Chipmunk: CHOMP!!!
: YEEEOOOOWWWW!!!!!!!!!!! WHY YOU #$%^ LITTLE $%#@ FURBALLS!! THAT WAS MY FINGER!!! THAT'S IT!! NEXT TIME I SEE YOU, YOU AN' ALL YOUR LITTLE SCHEEMING CRONIES ARE DEAD!! YOU HEAR ME?! I HOPE YOU ALL GET STUFFED!! *Sees the alarmed looks she is getting from all of you and takes a second to calm down, sticking her injured finger in her mouth*
Okay. Back to where I left off…

Note from Kitana: Hi! Have I confused you yet? Go easy on me, I'm a baka. It should get better, hopefully, as soon as I get going. I know, I know, the characters are wildly OOC, but I'm trying my best! Damn Heero and his lack of facial expressions anyway! ^_^
Also: I've been asked several times if this is a self-insertion fic. No it's not, or I would have put 'self-insertion' in the list of warnings. Taren is not me, and Duo DOES NOT have any romantic feelings for her AT ALL!! ^_^ The closest I came to self-insertion in this fic, is actually the peeve. Hah! It's the manifestation of my hyper side!!! ^_^ Okay, I'll cut this short. I do tend to write long notes, don't I?? ^_^; Gomen. Well, here's what you've been waiting so patiently for. (I think.)
Status: In part 3 the Gundam boys must go trekking through the dry plains in search of the first shard!!


Notes from Kitana: Well, here I am again… Hey… HEY WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! I'M NOT THAT BAD, AM I? <g> ^_^ Well, despite a few pleas for me to continue my other fics, Here I am to update Realm of Shadows. Hey I AM working on the others, but just kinda slowly. ^_^' I'm on a major writer's block with Shivers and have the same problem to a lesser degree with my other two fics, Mirror Image an' Perfect Soldier…. Jus' wanted ta let you know that… if you even care. But if you do, e-mails do wonders for prompting me over such annoying things as writer's block. ~_^
Disclaimers: Gundam Wing not mine.
Warnings: Shouen-ai, humor, Relena-bashing… and the list goes on and on…
Pairings: R+1, 1+2, 2+1 and some obscure 3+4 and 4+3

Realm of Shadows
Chapter 3 - Disguise

Kitana Bradford

"Here we are." Taren said proudly as the seven strode into the small village. "Altion. My home town."

Duo followed, barely hearing Taren's words and taking in the small bustling town distractedly. He was far too preoccupied at the moment trying to contain the squirming nuisance that was the peeve.

Much to Duo's amusement and annoyance, the small animal had followed him ever since the incident on the hill. It had constantly run in little circles around Duo's feet, tripping him up and coming dangerously close to being stepped on several times. Duo had watched it curiously until - much to the amusement of the others - the darned animal had clambered up the body of a very surprised Duo to perch utop his head like a oversized furry hat; wrapping it's bushy tail around Duo's forehead.

Naturally, Duo had balked at that idea. A miniature battle had ensued at that point and finally a compromise had been reached - which was why the peeve was now happily weighing down Duo's left shoulder. It purred contentedly, mumbling a constant string of gibberish in Duo's ear.

"Since the people here know and trust me, we won't have such a hard time keeping your presence in Linfaldia a secret. And I can get you the best of weapons! This town may be small, but our weapons and armor are among the best in the land!!" Taren boasted truthfully.

"Surgoi! So we get to pick out what weapons we want to -- ITAI!!! NOW CUT THAT OUT!!!" Duo burst out, causing the others to jump and throw surprised glances his way. Duo didn't see them, he was busy glaring at the peeve, who had begun to blissfully kneed Duo's shoulder with it's sharp little claws.

Wufei chuckled gleefully at Duo's predicament and Duo stuck his tongue out at the Chinese boy. Wufei smirked.

"Consider this justice for all the pranks you've played on us, Maxwell."

"Shuddup Wu-man. Or I'll set this thing on you." Duo warned, not sure whether the peeve would cooperate or not, but deciding it was worth a try. Wufei was unconvinced, seeing the peeve half closed eyes and the firm grip it had on Duo's shoulder. He shifted his gaze back to Duo's eyes and raised an elegant black brow challengingly.

"Umm…." Caught in his own trap, Duo shifted his gaze to the ball of fur on his shoulder. "K'so!" He mumbled under his breath. Then he grabbed hold of the peeve, who let out an indignant yowl at being moved from its comfortable position, and attempted to toss it at Wufei. Attempted.

It clung to his shoulder like a persistent burr.

"C'mon… Peeve! Sick 'em! Dangit… LEGGO!! Ow, owowowowowwww!! THAT'S MY SKIN!!" Duo cast an irritated glare at the others, who were practically on the ground laughing, all except Relena who watched the entire situation with disinterest. Mirth even glinted in Heero's cobalt eyes.

With renewed determination, Duo gritted his teeth and pulled even harder at the peeve, who only clung tighter to the sleeve of his black uniform. There was a resounding 'RRRIIIIPPP!!' Duo felt a cool breeze rush over his left shoulder and froze, afraid to confirm with his eyes what his other senses had already told him.

There was renewed laughter from the others and Wufei actually fell over from the force of his laughter. Quatre supported himself on Trowa's shoulder and the tall Frenchman held the blonde gently around the waist. Heero chuckled softly and Duo's attention was drawn to the Wing pilot.

For a second, all Duo could see was how incredibly beautiful Heero looked, his icy eyes sparkling with humor and his mouth quirked upwards in a rare smile. Duo's eyes focused on Heero's lips, thinking how delicious they looked. Duo's tongue crept out to moisten his own suddenly dry lips.

Then the moment was broken as the peeve began to squirm in his hands, still clinging to the ruined remains of his sleeve. Taren recovered enough to scold Duo,

"This is no time for antics, Duo. We're attracting attention. We have to get you guys suited up and give ya some good weapons," But her stern tone was belayed by the twinkle of mirth in her green eyes. Duo looked around. Indeed, the whole struggle with the Peeve was earning him some curious stares.

"Hai, hai." Duo said resignedly, letting go of the peeve, hoping against hope it would drop to the ground. The Peeve quickly regained it's purchase on Duo's ruined shirt, clambering to sit triumphantly on his now bare shoulder. Duo turned to ineffectually pin it in place with a stern glare.

"You can stay there, for now, but if you start doing that little clawing thing again I swear I'm gonna skin you alive." The Peeve ignored him, settling down to resume it's nap.

"C'mon. The weaver's shop is this way." Taren said, almost excitedly leading the way deeper into the village. Duo recovered quickly, and skipped after Taren, purposefully jouncing the peeve with every hop and smiling smugly. As he passed by Heero, he was acutely aware of the other's eyes on him. For once, he was glad the peeve was situated on his shoulder, because it hid his fierce blush from the Japanese boy.


Duo stepped into the expansive clothman's shop and looked around with wide eyes. All kinds of cloth in all almost every color imaginable were here. Duo blinked then grinned and poked Heero.

"Oi, Heero! Oh darn. No spandex. What WILL you do?"

"Hn." Heero gave an irritated grunt and glared at Duo. Duo 'eeped' and scooted out of arm's reach. Just then an older woman, who Duo guessed was the owner of the shop, came around the corner from the hallway. She caught sight of the seven and froze.

"Melinda!" Taren exclaimed happily. The aging woman cried out in pleasure and surprise and rushed to enfold the tall girl in a tight bear hug.

"Oh, Taren. It's been so long! And who are these people you have with you, my dear?"

"They are the Chosen, Summoned just yesterday by the High Mage Guild. That's Relena, Heero, Quatre, Trowa, Wufei and Duo." Taren said, pointing to each in turn.

The old woman's eyes went wide and she turned to scrutinize the six again.
"Then I must say it's a pleasure to meet you all! I take it you are here for more… suitable clothes? Well, you've come to the right place. Only the best for the Chosen!" The old woman clapped her hands and five serving-girls appeared.

"Taren, I'm sure you can tend to yourself, you know our customs." Then she turned to the others. "As for you six, my serving-girls and I will attend to you." She assigned a girl to Relena and each of the Gundam Pilots. Because Duo was the last, the old lady Taren introduced as Melinda took the braided boy herself.

Duo grinned and shrugged as they were split apart and ushered into separate rooms for the fitting. Duo allowed himself to be pushed into the room before the kindly woman. She shut the curtain then spun Duo around to face her.

"Well… let me have a look at you." She said warmly. Duo stood self-consciously as she scanned him up and down. As her gaze passed over his face, he saw Melinda's eyes widen and blinked uncomfortably as she leaned in close, her face inches away from Duo's.

"Your eyes are purple!" Melinda exclaimed. Duo blinked again in surprise.

"Yeah, so?" Duo asked curiously.

"I've never seen purple eyes! They're beautiful!"

"Uhh… thanks?" Duo said, still unsure of the woman.

"Oh come now, don't be shy." Melinda reassured him. Duo grinned, deciding he liked this woman.

"Now! We must find you an outfit which will accentuate those lovely eyes of yours. Oh! I know the perfect thing! Will you trust me to make your outfit for you?"

"Sure," Duo said cheerfully. "I'm positive you're good at it. Besides, you saw Heero out there. Anything's better then spandex."

"Great! Then let us get started."


Heero was the first to emerge from the room to which he had been taken. Not long behind him followed the servant girl sent in to help him. The poor young woman looked hassled and slipped quietly out the door, staying as far away from the Wing pilot as she could.

The girl had attempted to aid him in choosing clothes with a little bit more style, but Heero had flat out refused, glaring at the girl when she reached for him. She had gulped and quickly backed off, allowing Heero to choose his own clothes and adding in a feeble suggestion now and then.

Heero gave an exasperated grunt, stretching to test his new outfit and finding it satisfactory. Deprived of his spandex, Heero's new clothes consisted of solid, ankle-high boots, and light blue skintight pants of the softest leather. His shirt was light yet durable material of a dark blue color that set off his eyes. It was long-sleeved, ideal for concealing weapons in, and was tucked securely into his pants.

Cued by a faint click, Heero's head snapped up in time to see two doors open almost simultaneously. Quatre and Trowa emerged, each wearing his own new apparel. Quatre wore slightly baggy white pants and a matching white tunic with sapphire blue trimmings. Underneath the tunic was a light pink shirt that provided warmth and solidity and just enough style for Quatre's tastes. Heero calmly observed the outfit which, on anyone else would've looked ridiculous, but somehow seemed to work for the blonde.

Trowa was adorned in a green tunic which set off his one visible eye, and tasteful yet simple gold designs on the tunic completed the look. Like himself, Heero noted that Trowa wore soft leather pants. They were green in color, and vanished into the knee-high boots the tall boy wore.

Heero watched as the two caught sight of each other and Trowa strode over to the smaller Arabian, encircling the fair-haired boy with his slender arms and tilting his chin up to whisper something in the blonde's ear. Heero couldn't hear what was said, but had a pretty good idea. His suspicions were confirmed when Quatre blushed a fiery crimson and leaned in to press a quick kiss on Trowa's lips.

Heero shifted his gaze away from the embracing couple with a look of disgust. How could they be so wrapped up in each other when there was a mission at hand?

After a few minutes, Wufei stepped out, trying to remain stern yet obviously satisfied. The serving girl had somehow managed to find the Chinese boy elegant white fabric adorned with the intricate forms of two twining dragons. Plain white pants were bound in at the waist by a black sash.

The four started as the door beside Wufei's was flung open. Relena made a overdramatized show of emerging, followed by one very harassed-looking serving girl who went to join the other girls near the counter and relate her sad tale.

Relena twirled in front of the four, showing off her new outfit to the four. She wore a pink one-piece which ended in a skirt halfway down her thighs. Beneath the skirt, Relena wore a pair of slightly loose pink pants. The outfit was pulled in tightly - a little too tightly it looked to Heero, from the way she gasped, as though out of breath - at her waist by a pink silken ribbon which tied off in a bow behind her back. A pink ribbon was threaded into her hair and a small bundle of cherry-colored flowers perched above her temples.

Heero felt sick. He didn't think he had ever seen that much pink in his entire life. Obviously taking the horrified silence as adoring, speechless approval, Relena tossed her wheat-colored hair over her shoulder suggestively and went to stand by Heero.

A few minutes passed and the others impatiently waited for the final member of their group to emerge. Taren took that moment to flounce in the door. She still wore the same outfit and was carrying a rather large satchel.

"I got some supplies," She announced happily. "You guys ready?"

"No," Wufei growled glaring at the only remaining shut door. "That baka Maxwell is taking forever."

Taren giggled. "Lemme guess, Melinda was going to help him dress, right?"

Heero looked at Taren warily. "Aa. Why?"

"Because she tends to get a little carried away. Let's just hope he didn't give her permission to choose his stuff for him. Or she's probably having a field day in there making Duo try on outfit after outfit, searching for 'just the perfect look'. Too bad I forgot to warn him about that."

Taren strode over to the shut door and pounded on it, yelling "Hey! Melinda! Could you hurry up? We're all waiting out here!"

"Just a minute, just a minute!" The singsong voice called from inside. A few more seconds passed, then the door opened and Melinda stepped out.

"You all will love it! I found just the PERFECT look!" Melinda bubbled, missing the meaningful glance Taren shot the others at her words. Any comment that Taren would've made was cut off as Duo appeared in the doorway.

Heero's eyes shifted from Melinda's triumphant face to Duo and he abruptly forgot everything else. Duo wore solid black leather boots that laced halfway up his shins. He wore ebony form-fitting leather pants that rode low on his hips. A silver sheen of fabric over the leather caused it to gleam as he moved and the play of light shifted across Duo's long legs.

Black puffy long sleeves covered Duo's arms all the way down to his wrists, where they were firmly enclosed in a snug pair of wrist-cuffs. Over top of that, a light, unrestricting, yet durable sleeveless tunic covered the American's torso. It was laced up loosely at the chest, allowing for tantalizing glimpses of the tanned flesh beneath. The material of the longhaired boy's shirt was of the brightest violet, which accentuated the braided boy's large eyes, causing them to sparkle like many faceted amethysts.

Suddenly, Heero's own pants felt too tight.

Oblivious to the admiring stares he was getting, Duo flounced happily out of the doorway, sniffing the air.

"Mmmnnn!! Izzat food I smell? I'm hungry," Duo exclaimed, unlike most people, Duo wouldn't claim to be starved. He had experience with that first hand and it wasn't something to joke about.

"Hey! Hey!! Watcha all starin' at?" Duo said curiously, as none of them moved.

"My fly open? Have I grown another head? What?"

They all seemed to come back alive like jerky marionettes.

Heero's eyes met Duo's and the Japanese boy's stomach clenched. Heero looked away, confused a little at the intensity of all his emotions.

Taren jumped up to give instructions then, quickly thanking Melinda for her help and hustling the Gundam pilots and Relena out of the shop. She took them to a nearby bar and inn called Red Dragon Inn. Though it seemed full, the people parted for them like water.

Taren frowned. "Looks like everyone here knows who you all are. I should've asked Melinda to keep a lid on it. Word about you has spread like wildfire."

Heero noted that while being the "chosen ones" did earn them some admiring, respectful, and even a few frightened stares, it did get them the best rooms in the inn and food at very low prices. He was relieved to see that the innkeeper was a kindly man and, though he looked stressed and weary, it looked to Heero as though the big man kept everything within the inn well in order.

The seven went up quickly to choose their rooms and change into the looser, more casual clothes to dine in. Taren chose the first door. Relena, of course, chose the room across from Heero's. Beside them was the inseparable pair, Trowa and Quatre, then on the far end of the hall came Duo and Wufei.

Heero snickered at that one. He wondered how long it would take them to drive each other insane, burying the sharp pang of disappointment that Duo couldn't be by him instead. Suddenly angry at himself for having such weak thoughts when he should be focused on the mission, Heero bent to his tasks with new diligence.

"Besides," a little voice inside his head whispered, "Duo wasn't interested in him anyway."


Duo hopped from foot to foot excitedly as he surveyed his room. It was HUGE!! There was a dresser inside, a large window, a king-sized bed, and numerous doors to explore. He ran around for a few minutes, peeking into each of the doors before dashing across the hall to see what Wufei was up to.

"Hey, Wu-chan! Isn't this great?" Wufei looked up to see Duo bounce into his room, the ever-present peeve which seemed to have "adopted" the braided boy scurrying about his feet. Wufei noted the wide grin and the sparkle in the American's eyes and recognized the warning signs foretelling that the longhaired boy was hyper.

"Maxwell. Settle down. You're acting like a little child." Wufei eyed Duo as he efficiently set up his things.

"Awww! Wu-chan, you're no fun." Duo pouted.

"I am not so easily amused as to consider jumping around like a four-year-old fun. And don't call me Wu-chan." Wufei retorted, glaring daggers at Duo.

Duo rolled his eyes. "Oh pu~leeze Wu-man! You're kidding yourself if you think your glares are gonna faze me after I've bunked with Heero so many times. And WHEW, can he get up some glares that'll make a diamond crack! I mean it makes you just want to check an' see if all you body parts are still there when he looks away-"

"Duo." Wufei said sharply. Duo froze, grinning and pasting an innocent expression on his face.

"Yes, Wu-chan?"

"Shut up."


The dinner was huge. There were various dishes of items Duo hadn't even SEEN before. And it all tasted perfect. So of course Duo pigged out.

In the warm, comfortable afterglow of the extremely filling meal, the seven got down to business and mapped out locations, routes, areas to avoid, and towns where they could get supplies - mostly planned by Taren.

The important talk over, they settled back - well, Duo, Quatre, Taren, and Trowa settled back, Wufei slouched as much as it was possible for Wufei to slouch. Relena, typically, had been relaxed and out of it the entire evening, with eyes only for Heero who remained alert and, for the most part, ignored her.

They quickly sank into quiet conversation which eventually led to Heero's question about the monsters they would be facing as soon as they left the comparative safety of the town.

The sound of Heero's voice as well as the topic gained Duo's rapt attention until, underneath the table, he felt something warm and fuzzy brush against his leg. Peeking beneath the tablecloth, Duo saw the Peeve's bright yellow eyes blinking owlishly up at him.

"Dark. Warm. Nice." He heard the Peeve purr as it clung to his leg.

Duo frowned, trying to keep track of the conversation while jerking his foot in an attempt to shake loose the Peeve, who refused to move, clinging to his leg like a burr.

Suddenly, Duo felt the Peeve crawl inside the baggy leg of his loose pants; the furry lump slowly traveling up his leg.

Duo gasped softly, his eyes going wide. He caught Heero sending him curious looks and smiled disarmingly, simultaneously attempting to chase the Peeve back down and out of his slacks. The Peeve ignored him, stubbornly plodding forward on its trek upwards.

Duo felt the Peeve pass his knee and continue onward. Duo squeaked softly, turning a fiery crimson, desperately attempting to prevent the Peeve from continuing it's journey by trapping it under his hands.

"No. Bad!" The Peeve's muffled voice floated up to him as it squirmed beneath Duo's restraining grasp.

"Duo, are you okay?" Quatre asked worriedly. Duo's blush deepened as he realized he was the focus of six pairs of eyes.

"Yeah," His voice was a little high-pitched. "I'm fine."

Somehow, the Peeve managed to worm its way out from under Duo's hands and creeped upwards, reaching the V in Duo's pants.

Duo's eyes went wide and with a loud yelp, he exploded from his chair. The others jumped and stared at him in alarmed astonishment. Duo ignored them, frantically yanking at his belt. He tripped over the short rise near their table and fell on his butt on the hard wood floor of the inn. Leaning back a little, Duo finally got his belt open and the Peeve darted under it and up his shirt.

"K'so, you little spawn of Lucifer! Get out of there! I swear, once I get my hands on you I'm gonna- NO! Nono! Nononononono! Not there!" Duo giggled as the Peeve squirmed against his exceptionally ticklish stomach. Duo thrashed on the ground, trying uselessly to arch away from the Peeve. "DON'T! STOPPIT, THAT TICKLES! Ah! Ahee hee. Hee, hee, hee-ah! Stop! STOP!"

Finally, the Peeve tumbled out of an armhole. It looked miffed for a second, then walked a few feet away and proceeded to clean itself nonchalantly with its tongue. Duo flopped over on his stomach and glared at the creature who blinked back innocently. Duo gave the Peeve the one-finger salute.

"You…you, I'll-"Duo began, shaking a fist angrily at the Peeve. But he was interrupted by the uproar of laughter from every single person in the inn. Duo blinked, then realized what a sight he was, sprawled across the floor with his pants undone, his belt open, and his shirt halfway off his head. He scrambled to his feet, hastily redoing his pants and straightening his clothes, his face burning.

He decided to make the best of the situation and, still blushing crimson, bowed elaborately, picked up his chair where it had fallen when he had hastily vacated it, and plopped into his seat.

The laughter soared to new heights. Even Heero and Trowa were laughing! Duo marveled at this until the innkeeper wandered over, his face flushed a bright red from his laughter and joviality brightening his kindly blue eyes. He clapped Duo on the back and bellowed heartily,

"Now that's a feat in itself, a sight to be seen! Well done, young man. No one has laughed at all since the news of the Shadows has invaded the land. Made business slow and hard. I thank you for breaking the tension!" He turned and addressed the entire inn, "Thanks to this young man, everyone can have another round on me!" The people cheered and toasted Duo who stood and took another bow, laughing until his sides felt like they were going to burst.

The Innkeeper turned back to Duo and his party and winked.

"I truly appreciate it. Have all that you like, my treat."


The inn's atmosphere had lost the nervousness and tension that Heero had noticed earlier and everyone laughed and talked heartily, enjoying their free round and wandering over to talk with the seven.

Heero humored Relena, escorting her around where she wished, but his attention was really on Duo, who was surrounded by a friendly, admiring crowd. His face was flushed with wine and merriment and the braided boy laughed happily as he traded jokes and bar-songs with the others.

Heero's eyes zoomed in on the American's sparkling eyes, the way they sparked as he laughed, the way his cheeks took on the rosy glow of the wine, and the way his full lips glistened with moisture as they moved.

Heero looked at the vision before him and remembered the way Duo had squirmed on the ground, his shirt pulled up and the toned muscles of his abdomen showing. Heero felt his pants grow tight as he imagined Duo writhing beneath him and he groaned. This was going to be a long night.

Notes from Kitana: Sorry this took so long to come out. Someone was having fun playing merry hell with my life. <g> (I've been really busy and missed the deadline for the updates. Gomen to all of you to whom I told I would have this up by the next update. I meant to!)
Status: TBC. ^_^V C&C craved!