Whee! Here we go again!
It was nearly an hour before Quatre's man emerged from the room,
shutting the door softly behind him. Duo lept to his feet, his face anxious.
"Is she okay? Will it heal? Will she be alright?"
The doctor's face was haunted, and his eyes were vague. "She will survive," he replied. "The wing will heal. Whether she will ever be able to fly again, I cannot say." He moved off down the hallway, muttering to himself, "Allah be praised - an angel. A true Angel."
Duo briefly considered trying to shake more out of the doctor, then gave it up in favour of checking on Dana himself. He burst through the door, then brought himself up short as he saw her eyes closed and her gentle breathing. She was asleep.
He tiptoed over to her, noting that she had been placed on her stomach to keep from crushing her wings. Her right wing had had many of its feathers removed, to let the doctor work on the break. The delicate skin was torn in multiple places, and the spot where the bone had broken through was obvious. Ugly stitches held the flesh together, and a makeshift sling had been rigged to keep her wing immobile against the side of her body. The other wing was stretched out over the bed, almost like a feathered blanket.
He sat gingerly on the side of the bed, and brushed her tangled hair from her face. She blinked, then looked up at him in a daze.
"Duo?" she whispered, and tried to sit up. She cried out in pain and lay back down hastily, tears running down her face. "It hurts."
He soothed her forehead gently. "I know. But it will be okay. You'll live."
The eyes she turned to his face shone with more emotional pain than physical. "My wings. oh, Duo, I might never fly again."
His own eyes were shining with awe. "Fly. you can really fly? Truly?"
She averted her eyes from his, and nodded hesitantly. "Truly."
"Then you had these. before?"
Again, the nod, even slower this time. "Hai. I was born with them."
He ran a gentle hand along her back. "But where were they? You definitely didn't have them in the cell."
She shrugged, then winced as she jarred her right wing. "They come when I need them. I don't know how, or why. I can't put them away though, when they're injured."
She lifted her eyes to his again, and Duo was startled to see fear and trepidation within their depths. "Please, don't hurt me."
"Hurt you!" Duo exclaimed, unbelieving. "Dana, why on earth would I want to hurt you? You saved my life!"
"People hate and fear that which is different," she said softly, looking down at the pillow again.
Duo grinned broadly. "Saaa, but I'm hardly ordinary myself. I'm Shinigami, after all." She blinked and looked at him in confusion.
"The god of Death, man! So, how appropriate is it for me to be saved by a Dark Angel? We were meant for each other!"
She hesitantly matched his grin with a smile of her own, and fluttered her left wing a little. Then suddenly she sat up and wrapped her arms around him, burying her face in his shoulder, heedless of her injury.
"Oh, Duo! I've been so afraid, so lonely.." She started to cry.
He returned her hug gently, careful not to jar her wing. "It's okay, Dana. You're safe now. I won't ever let them hurt you again. I promise."
A soft sound in the doorway made Duo look up, to see Quatre standing there beaming at them. "Maa, I'm glad you're awake, Dana-sama!" He said, coming into the room with a tray full of food. "I thought you might be hungry?"
Her eyes widened at the sight of the food, and Duo fluffed some pillows up behind her so she could sit comfortably. She attacked the tray with gusto, swallowing so quickly Duo was half-afraid she'd choke. Remembering how her last meal had been interrupted, and the similar way she'd gulped it down, Duo figured she had learned to eat as quickly as possible.
When she was finished, she thanked her host with a radiant smile. "Thank you so much! I can't tell you how much all this means to me." tears formed in her eyes again, and Quatre hastened to reassure her.
"You're very welcome, Dana-sama. Please, consider my home to be yours. I'm Quatre Raberba Winner, by the way, and this is one of my family's holdings."
"Yeah, Quatre's the rich one among us," Duo said cheerfully. "You know Heero, he's the guy that was with me when I came for you. Wufei is the Chinese, and that just leaves Trowa. He's the pilot of HeavyArms - the Gundam that rescued us."
Dana bowed slightly to Quatre. "I appreciate your offer of hospitatily, Quatre-san. I'm sorry to be a burden."
"Not at all, Dana-sama." He turned to Duo. "The others are in the lab, would you like to join us?"
Duo nodded and bounced to his feet, then turned back to Dana. "Oi, you might as well come meet the others now - if you're up to it?"
She swung her legs over the side of the bed. "I think so. He gave me some painkillers, and they seem to be working, as long as I don't move it." She accepted Duo's hand up, and only leaned slightly on his arm as he followed Quatre down the hall.
They entered the 'lab', as Quatre had referred to the temporary facility they'd built to research their new acquisition. The original purpose of the raid in which Duo had been captured was to interrupt an experiment OZ had been conducting on a powerful new energy source. The source had been retrieved, and they were now trying to determine the nature of it.
Heero, Trowa and Wufei looked up from where they were bent over a table. Trowa gestured for them to join them. Heero grunted, and Wufei moved so he was as far as possible from the winged girl.
Dana gasped as they separated to reveal the object on the table. Deceptively simple looking, it appeared to be nothing more than a roughly spherical, oddly ridged rock. It was a light pink in colour, and glowed very faintly from within.
"Any luck?" Quatre asked. Heero shook his head, but it was Wufei who replied. "Nothing we do will get it to respond. There's definitely a good amount of energy in there, but we can't do anything to induce it to come out. Like a battery, but with no way of activating it."
Dana was moving slowly forward, her eyes fastened on the rock. "It's."
"Do you know anything about it, Dana? You were in there for a long time, surely you overheard them talking about it." Duo asked her.
She shook her head, still moving forward. "It's. I can't believe it."
Quatre's features were etched with concern. "What's wrong, Dana-sama? You look like you've seen a ghost."
A foot from the table, Dana halted. Almost reverently, she raised her hand and cupped them before her. To the shock and amazement of the pilots, the rock began to glow more strongly, as if responding to her prescence. "Dragu-Energist," she whispered. As if the words were an incantation, the rock flared so brightly it was painful to look at. When the glare had subsided, Duo rubbed his eyes and blinked, to see her holding the rock at chest level, still staring at it as if memorized.
Heero was glaring at her. "What did you do?" He demanded.
She flicked a glance at him. "It knows the person who won it," she murmured, her hands tracing the surface as if checking for damage. "It recognized me and acknowledged me."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean, onna?" Wufei spluttered. Trowa restrained him with a gentle hand.
She looked up at them, her eyes wide. "This is the real reason I was in that prison."
When the commotion started by Dana's proclamation had subsided, they were in the living room, the rock once more tucked safely away in the lab. Dana had been extremely reluctant to part with it, giving in only after Duo had assured her that it wouldn't be damaged in any way.
"First, what are you?" Heero broke into the general babble, effectively silencing the room. "Second, what is that thing? Third, how did you activate it?"
"Are you an Angel?" Quatre added, his face shining and earneset. Wufei shifted uncomfortably.
"Iie," she replied, blushing slightly. "At least, not exactly. I've long suspected that your legends of angels may come from early sightings of my people."
"You mean there are more of you out there?" Wufei burst out.
Duo gave him what he termed his best 'boy, are you stupid' look. "Duh. She had to come from somewhere, right?"
Dana laid a gentle hand on his arm. "It's okay, Duo. Yes, there are more like me," she continued, flexing her good wing self-consciously. "We call them 'Dragon Gods' - I don't know what their name for themselves is. I don't know much about them - I'm three quarters human. My father's mother was a Dragon God, and she died when he was very little. She abandoned her people to marry my grandfather, so." She shrugged, and Duo was fascinated by the ripple the movement produced in her feathers. Every so often, one would separate itself from the wing and drift gently down to the floor, but the wings didn't seem any less covered.
"If there are more, why haven't we ever heard about them?" Trowa asked tonelessly.
She smiled at him gently. "But you have, as Quatre-san pointed out. In legends, and myths, and stories."
"Next question," Heero broke in abruptly.
Dana frowned and seemed to be struggling for words. "It's - well, we call it a Dragu-Energist. It IS very like a battery, a great storehouse of power, if you know how to use it properly."
"But what is it, actually?" Wufei asked, his scholarly side overcoming his distaste of her.
"The heart of a Dragon," she answered, and he frowned.
"Metaphors are all very well, but what IS it?"
She smiled at him. "Just that, exactly. It's not a metaphor. I killed the Dragon it belonged to, and that's why it knows me."
There was stunned silence for a moment, as they all tried to assimilate that idea. Then Wufei stood, towering over her, his face red with fury. "You expect us to believe that there are Angels and Dragons out there, which have never been found with all of modern science, but which your people - whoever and wherever they are - know all about? Onna! You try my patience! Tell us the truth!"
Dana blinked, then suddenly she was angry, too. She stood, and stretched her good wing out to its full length, nearly taking Quatre's head off in the small room. Her eyes blazed, and she shoved her face into Wufei's.
"I AM telling you the truth. You see my wings. When they heal, you'll see me fly. You saw how the Energist reacted. What more do you want?"
They stared at each other for a few moments, neither willing to give ground; then she swept her wing forward towards him, and he jumped back, startled. Having been the first to move, he gave in gracelessly, and returned to his chair. Trembling slightly from exertion, Dana sat in hers as well.
"Who are your people? Where are they?" Quatre asked, trying to soothe over the situation.
She sighed, and seemed to droop into herself slightly. "You'll never believe me. Wufei has already demonstrated that. You won't believe anything I can't prove to you, show you physically."
Duo stroked her feathers absently while struggling to form the right words. "Dana, this has been a shock, for all of us. But I think we all realize you're telling the truth. However weird it sounds, it can't be much weirder than being saved from certain death by an angel." He smiled down at her, and she blushed.
"Aa." She paused, gathering her thoughts, then took a deep breath. "You've never heard of Dragon Gods and Dragons because they don't exist. Not on earth. I'm not from this planet."