Enjoy, minna-san! I may not be able to post again for awhile, since I'm going home for the holidays, and will have to beg my little brother to let me use his internet connection. <sigh> Siblings.. <mutter>

Part 5

There was utter silence for a moment. Then Wufei snorted, turning his head away. "Self-fulfilling delusion," he muttered, and Dana flushed again.

"You're an alien?" Heero demanded emotionlessly, at the same time Quatre burst out "But I thought you said you were three quarters human?"

Dana curled her left wing around her body in what was obviously an unconscious protective gesture, and bit her lip. "I AM three quarters human, and no, I'm not an alien. Not the way you mean it."

She glanced out the window, where the moon could just be seen in the bright afternoon sky, three quarters full. "My people also have legends and myths. They tell of a time when we lived on another world, in a magnificent city, and everything was like a paradise. A time when Humans and Dragon Gods mixed freely, when there was no hunger, or illness, or war. From everything I've ever heard in the tales, and from what I've learned of this planet, I believe that we originated from Earth."

"You're spacefaring then?" Trowa asked. She shook her head.

"Oh, no! We don't have nearly the level of technology you do. We don't have cars, or watches, or televisions, or - or - anything like that!"

"Then how do you know what they are?" Wufei asked, contemptuous. "And how did you get to Earth in the first place?"

"The OZ scientists quickly discovered that I knew very little about technology, and in their efforts to determine exactly what I DID know, I learned a lot. More than they realized, I'm sure." She looked out at the moon again, and the longing in her face was obvious. "As for how I got here - I'm not sure. I was on the Dragon Hunt, and I'd just managed to corner and kill an Earth Dragon - and then suddenly, there was a brilliant white light, and the next thing I knew, I was here, on earth. Surrounded by a bunch of VERY surprised OZ soldiers."

"I bet," Duo chuckled, imagining the looks on the soldier's faces. "But if everything was such a paradise, why did your people leave Earth in the first place?"

Dana looked down, her eyes sad. "They over-reached themselves. They tried to be gods. And they destroyed everything they'd created. The survivors were sent to Gaia, to rebuild, but Atlantis was destroyed."

"Atlantis!" Quatre and Wufei gasped at the same time.

She looked startled. "You know it? Does it still exist, after all?"

Quatre shook his head. "No. It's a legend here, as well. A city of great beauty and high technology, that was destroyed by some unknown disaster."

Wufei jumped to his feet and started pacing angrily. "I can't believe you're acting as if you believe her! There are so many holes in this, it's almost laughable! Obviously she's heard the legend of Atlantis, and she's making the rest of it up."

"What about the wings, Wu-man? You can't argue those away!" Duo protested on Dana's behalf. Wufei flushed and said nothing.

Dana just curled her wing tighter around herself. "I know it sounds completely unbelievable. I don't expect you to believe me any more than I would expect someone from Gaia to believe me if I told them I'd been to the Mahou no Tsuki - Earth, I mean. That's what we call it."

"Phantom moon?" Quatre asked, curious. "I can see why it would be referred to as a phantom, if it only exists in your legends. But why moon? Why not planet?"

She glanced up at the moon for a third time, as if for reassurance. "Because it IS a moon, to us. It hangs in the sky, shimmering blue and white, just beyond the real moon. The one you can see from here, I mean."

Quatre gaped at her, while Wufei just snorted again. "And there's your proof. If you can see Earth from this 'Gaia' of yours, we should be able to see it from here."

Dana looked ready to cry. "I know. I can't explain why you don't. All I know is that the legends say the Elders from Atlantis used the last of their powers to create Gaia to be a safe place for the survivors of Atlantis. The Mahou no Tsuki hangs in the sky to remind us of the folly of attempting to go beyond our limits. Perhaps you can't see Gaia from here, so that you won't be tempted to try to reach it, thereby going beyond your limits?"

"Created it?" Trowa asked. "Created it how?"

She looked surprised. "Why, with magic, of course. What other way is there?"

Wufei threw up his hands and looked ready to stalk out of the room. Duo jumped in front of the doorway. "Whoa, Wu-man. At least hear her out." Wufei glared at him, but Duo wasn't budging.

Dana was looking at them all with a sad expression. "I know you'll find it hard to believe. I know that magic doesn't exist here, now. It doesn't REALLY exist on Gaia anymore, either, except for things like my wings. It was magic that created the reign of Atlantis, and it was magic that destroyed it." She gestured towards the lab. "It's magic that creates the life force of a Dragon, and it's the energy contained in a Dragu-Energist after the Dragon dies. And it was most likely magic that brought me here, to Earth."

She shifted to get more comfortable, absently stroking her feathers in contemplation. "We also have legends, of individuals coming from the Mahou no Tsuki to Gaia. They're considered horribly bad luck, and are traditionally killed on discovery. But in my father's time, a girl from the Mahou no Tsuki came, and saved all of Gaia from war." She was suddenly thoughtful. "In fact, it happened on HIS Dragon Hunt. He had just cornered the beast when a bright light came and transported him and the Dragon to Earth. The girl, Hitomi, saved his life, and helped him kill the Dragon. Then the light came again, and took them both back to Gaia."

"Surely, a Dragon appearing on Earth in the last generation would have made the news?" Quatre asked.

Dana shrugged. "People believe what they want to believe. It was there for less than ten minutes, in the middle of the night. Apparently only Hitomi and two of her friends ever saw it. And they probably didn't talk about it - who would believe them? I wouldn't believe the story myself, if it weren't my own father that it happened to."

"You keep mentioning the Dragon Hunt. Is this something that happens often?" Trowa asked.

Dana shook her head. "No. Dragons are rare, and very dangerous. Most of our Dragu-Energists are mined - Dragons have a few specific places where they go to die, and we dig up the Energists of long dead ones. It's - it's kind of a rite of passage, I guess. Energists from a Dragon killed before its time are infinitely more powerful and enduring. Members of the Royal Family in my country are required to go on a Dragon Hunt before they can be declaired Heir to the Throne, for example. My father did it to clear a stain on our family name. Most people would never even dream of it. It takes years of training to be able to hope to face a Dragon."

"Why were you on one, then?" Quatre asked.

Dana blushed, slightly. "I was trying to prove myself. I - Gaian society is very sex-oriented. There are certain tasks which females do, and certain tasks which males do. I didn't want to spend my life tending the kitchen and raising children, married to a man I had no choice in. I thought if I could complete the Hunt and bring back an Energist, people would have to treat me with respect."

Wufei was still raging. "This is ridiculous," he burst out. "Absolutely insane. You have no PROOF, onna!"

She gazed back at him steadily. "No, I don't. Only the Energist, my wings - and my word."

Quatre had also risen to pace now, but his face was thoughtful. "Dana-sama. If I understand you correctly, the same thing that happened to you happened to your father, but he was brought back almost immediately. Why didn't the same thing happen to you?"

She shrugged, looking helpless. "I've often wondered that myself. The light which transports people to and from the Mahou no Tsuki is rare, very rare. Before it happened to my father, it had happened only in legends. Most scholars believe it happened to him because Hitomi was needed to save Gaia from the Zaibach Empire - the people who were destroying all the other kingdoms systematically."

"She brought high technology weapons to win the war?" Heero asked.

Dana looked shocked. "Oh, no! Hitomi was just a schoolgirl, at a late night running practice."

"Then how did she make a difference in the war?" Heero demanded.

Dana looked sad. "She discovered the secret of Atlantis. She's the one who discovered that magic is what had destroyed the city. She was a psychic, who could find things and see the invisible."

Wufei snorted again, but surprisingly, it was Trowa who stopped him from starting another rant.

"Psychics do exist, Wufei," the tall boy said quietly. "It's a documented phenomenon. Rare, but it does happen."

Dana nodded. "She used Tarot cards to predict things, and a special pendant to dowse - look for things, and see the invisible." She shot a glance at Heero. "I did the same thing when I found the right way out for us. Except, I don't need a pendant. As Hitomi got better with her powers, she didn't need it either, and she taught my father how to do it."

Now it was Duo's turn to start pacing, as he bounced around the room excitedly. "Sugoi! You can use this ability to tell us exactly when and where to strike OZ, and…"

"NO!" Dana burst out, leaping to her feet, tears in her eyes. She trembled as they all stared at her. "No!" She repeated, less forcefully. "You haven't listened. Magic has a price, a horrible one. Each time you use it, to learn information, or to find things - you have to pay. Something bad will happen, to you or someone around you." She turned a tearful face to Duo. "That's why you fell off the roof. I dowsed the way out, and the price was the lucky punch that knocked you off. The more magic you use, the worse the disaster will be."

"Then Atlantis…" Quatre trailed off, looking horrified. Dana nodded.

"Yes. They used their abilities to bring prosperity to their people for years, centuries even. When it finally caught up to them…" She shrugged, looking sad. Duo slung an arm around her, hugging her gently.

"Saaa. Well, I forgive you for knocking me off the roof, since you're the one that saved us. Me, especially. And it's MY fault your wing is broken. So, are we even?"

She nodded, her voice choked, and buried her face in his shoulder. More feathers fell as she trembled. "It was so HARD, not using my powers to bring someone to rescue me - but I knew if I did, something AWFUL would happen. And then you showed up, and I was so afraid I'd used them unconsciously…"

He grinned down at her. "Hah! I AM the something awful that happened to you. You just haven't seen me in action yet! I'm Shinigami, man!"

Wufei moved towards the door again. "If that's the end of this little explanation, I'm going out to practice." No one moved to stop him as he left.

Trowa also stood, with a gentle look towards Quatre. "HeavyArms took some damage. I'm going to repair it."

Heero moved behind him. "I'll go with you."

Quatre beamed at the two before him. "Don't tire yourself out, Dana-sama," he said. "You were very badly hurt, and if you keep the wing upright for too long, it may not heal properly. Please, as I said before, consider this to be your home."

She smiled shyly at him from beneath her tangled bangs. "Arigatou gozaimasu, Quatre-san." He nodded, smiled once more, and then moved off towards the hanger.

Duo closed his eyes and buried his face in her silky hair. He felt dirt and grit, and a million knots in the long strands. He pulled away. "Oi, you really need to take care of that mane."

She raised a self-conscious hand to her inky hair, fingering a lock. "Hai. I couldn't even wash it with the facilities I had, and I didn't have a brush. It's going to take DAYS to fix." She looked dismayed.

The words were out of Duo's mouth before they had checked with his brain to see if it was okay. "I'll brush it for you!" he blurted, then blushed.

She blinked, surprised. "You would? Really?"

He nodded, not willing to retract the offer now that he'd made it. :Besides,: He reasoned with himself. :She can't raise her right arm without pulling on that wing. She needs my help: "You should take a shower, too," his mouth continued, even as he kicked himself. "And I'll find you a change of clothes. Those are practically shreds."

She glanced down at herself ruefully. "I did wash with the water in the sink when I had time, but there was nothing I could do about my clothes. Oh!" she exclaimed. "Oh, I can't wear normal shirts with my wings out like this!"

He regarded her thoughtfully. There was no way they'd fit beneath a normal shirt, and they were far too large to just cut a hole in the back and stick them through. Besides, her right wing couldn't be bent. "Hmm. I'll talk to Quatre, one of his men will come up with something. Can you get those wings wet?"

"Uh…" she hesitated. "I guess so. I fell in the lake, once, while I was first learning to fly, and the water didn't seem to hurt them any. I'll have to keep the injured one out of the water, though." She sighed. "I hate to be such a bother to all of you."

He grinned at her. "Ah, don't let Wufei and Heero get you down. They're always like that. I certainly don't mind, and Quatre LOVES having someone to fuss over. Never mind having an angel to fuss over!" She blushed, and his grin widened. "Go take that shower, or a bath, or whatever, and I'll find you some clothes."

She nodded, then without warning, threw herself back into his arms. "I can never thank you enough for rescuing me, Duo," she whispered softly. Her voice was husky, as if she were holding back tears. "You have no idea what it's been like, to be alone for so long!"

His arms tightened around her waist involuntarily, and she cuddled deeper into his embrace in response.

:Oh, Dana,: he thought morosely. :I'm worse luck for you than anything your powers could have brought on you. 'Cause I'm pretty sure I'm falling for you - and I'm Shinigami. Everyone I love dies.: