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[ Disclaimer: All rights and privileges to Shin Kidousenki Gundam Wing are trademarks and property of Sunrise, Bandai, Sotsu Agency, and associated parties. The characters of these works are used WITHOUT permission for the purpose of entertainment only. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit. ]

A GW fan fic: Tevel(Dearly Beloved) - Part Two
By Stargem

Author's notes: Thank you Jaeny for proofing! ^_^ And sorry this took so long to come out - a few months later than planned ^_^;;;; I actually forgot about this fic until someone mailed me recently to ask for the next part… Hehe ^_^; Comments are all good and welcome!

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Carlo's mouth worked a few times before he managed to sputter, "Wh-what is that creature doing in my house??" His beady eyes, slightly wild, darted to the boy standing partly in front of the cot, as though to protect the fairy from him. "You!! You brought it in here!"

He raised a hand to strike when the room suddenly wavered, tilting dizzyingly at a crazy angle. What…? The man blinked stupidly a few times, staggering into the doorframe before slumping into an unconscious heap. The nameless youth stared at Carlo's limp form for a moment before looking back at his patient and nearly recoiled in fear. The fairy was sitting upright, one hand extended, his mouth set in a grim line. The stony expression belied the fragile, ethereal appearance that had seemed so helpless before.

Suddenly, hard anger faded from the delicate features, replaced by a deep weariness. Even as the nameless youth started forward, the slight figure swayed gently, teal eyes drifting shut with a sigh before the fairy fell backwards onto the bed, half unconscious. When the boy reached out hesitantly, his slim fingers caressing the air above the fairy's cheek, his eyelids fluttered open and fixed a blue-green gaze on him.

"Trowa…" the name was barely a whisper, filled with an emotion the human youth could not quite understand. It wrenched at his heart, striking a chord deep within his soul.

Something clicked inside - a piece of a missing puzzle found. He knew this beautiful, fantastic creature, though his memory had no record of him; the heart remembered. Forest green eyes widened, and the boy's outstretched hand trembled perceptibly.

"I know you."

A small, pale smile crossed the fairy's face and he reached out to clasp the human's hand, intertwining their fingers. "My promise to you, my love - I've found you."

***

"You're late, Wu! I'm disappointed, you know. I'm off to visit the Dancing Circles. See you there! Maybe."

Chang Wufei sighed in irritation, dropping the scrawled note back on the table and bringing a hand up to massage his temples. The Fairy Thief, as the people had dubbed him, was a constant source of frustration to the law and consternation to the rich. For several years, he had played merry havoc with the various bounty hunters and noblemen who wanted the fame and glory of being the one who captured the infamous Fairy Thief. No one had even seen his face or even had any idea of how he looked like. He had taken to leaving little notes for his pursuers at the scene of the crime, dropping hints and clues to his next intended destination. No one had been able to puzzle out the strange riddles - save for him. Wufei felt a vague sense of smugness. It was not an easy thing to keep up with the Fairy Thief. And apparently, the illusive outlaw thought the same and now addressed all his notes to him personally. The trouble was, Wufei was always just one maddening step behind each time.

He picked up the note again and studied the words intently. The Dancing Circles - strange rings of toadstools or light-coloured grass that grew in forests, believed to be the meeting places of the fae. Tales had been told of the unsuspecting human being lured into these rings and forced to dance without pause until the day they died, trapped by the fairyfolk who sought to alleviate the boredom of their long, unchanging lives with such games. Others vanished without a trace. Wufei's eyes flickered over to the map spread out to one side of his desk. There was a small town within three days' journey of here that was rumoured to be a favorite gathering place of the fairies. There had been a history of complaints from the townsfolk that the fae relished in playing their tricks on them. The arrangement of houses was unusual, for the buildings that made up the edge of the town formed an almost perfect circle, not unlike a fairy ring, or one of the Dancing Circles. The town was named Fayesdell.

Wufei immediately pushed back his chair and ordered for his horse to be prepared. He was on the road before the evening shadows started to gather.

***

Men and women hurried out of the way of his horse's hoofs, snatching their children off to the side as he cantered down the middle of the road. Wufei ignored the curious looks and whispers and the giggling of the little children as they ran after him. He stopped at the first inn he saw and gave his horse to the pimply stable boy who hurried forward.

"I expect the best of care for my horse," Wufei said, glaring sternly at the youth until he squirmed under his eyes.

"Y-yes Sir."

Wufei patted the horse's neck. "Rest well, Nataku."

Nataku tossed her snowy mane and snorted. He chuckled and stroked her nose one last time before leaving her in the hands of the stable boy. Wufei plunged straight into the disorienting cacophony of noise in the common room, taking a moment to readjust to the dim lighting. He quickly stepped aside as a drunk crashed at his feet, snoring loudly. This was a place for food, drink, and gossip. Secrets were traded in whispers for gold and stolen valuables exchanged hands as freely as whores gave favours. Wufei slipped into a corner seat, deciding it would wise to first observe the people. A harried-looking young barmaid slammed down a large tankard of foaming, golden ale on his table and hurried off, yelping as one of the drunken men slapped her behind. Raucous laughter sounded as the rough men told bawdy jokes and stories over their drink.

Two days of hard riding had saved him a day in his journey to Fayesdell, but he had yet to find a sign of the Fairy Thief - if indeed, he was still here. Wufei cautiously sipped at his beverage and set the tankard back down almost immediately, squelching the desire to spit out his mouthful. This liquid is absolutely vile. He decided not to try the food.

"Looking for the Fairy Thief?" a conspiratory voice whispered into his right ear.

Wufei jerked around in surprise, confronted by a pair of sparkling violet eyes. The youth was no older than he was, grinning cheerfully at him while one hand played idly with the tip of a long chestnut braid.

"Duo. Duo Maxwell." The stranger said before he could say anything and plopped down beside him.

Wufei narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Chang Wufei. How do you know why I'm here?"

Duo laughed. "Hey, the whole town's been complaining of mysterious thefts happening recently and it ain't the fairies. The fae just want to have fun, not rob the people, y'know? Besides, your clothing and appearance practically screams 'nobleman', and uppity people like you don't come around unless something interesting happens. And I'm pretty sure disappearing Amber Stones are pretty damned interesting."

"Tell me more."

"Tch'!" Duo wagged a finger at Wufei as a teacher might to an erring student and gave the feather in his hat a playful tug. "That's not how it's done, Sir PoppyCock! Information has a price y'know. You don't get anything free here."

Wufei bit his tongue before any heated words could issue forth. Informants were hard to come by, and he wasn't prepared to lose a particularly promising source on account of assuaging his temper. But… Sir PoppyCock indeed! He wordlessly slid a gold coin across the tabletop.

"Man, you're cheap!" The braided youth took the coin anyway and leaned in closer, much to Wufei's discomfiture. Duo smelled much nicer than the inn's other patrons, he noted in passing. "Okay, just this once since I'm such a nice guy. Merchant Sarindar came into town about a week ago. Seems that he's a real good friend of the mayor's and an important guy to boot. He was taking a pair of Amber Stones to the Prince of Gombar - you know those pretty golden rocks that allow you to create Illusions? Valuable stuff."

Duo paused and gave Wufei a significant look. With an internal sigh, the nobleman grudgingly slid over another coin.

Duo smiled beatifically and continued his story. "The Fairy Thief gave him a visit during the night. Stole the stones right from under his pillow! Or so the people say."

"How do you know it was the Fairy Thief and not some other clever burglar?"

For a fleeting moment, Wufei could have sworn that Duo looked insulted. "Sarindar had an entire group of mercenaries protecting his precious goods. Outside every door and window, and even one in his room! Do you think that just any amateur could get past all that? C'mon!"

"Hm," said Wufei non-commitally.

"Alright, would any old thief leave this behind at the scene of the crime?" Duo produced a carefully folded note and waved it in Wufei's face. "I took it off one of the guards."

Wufei raised an eyebrow whilst trying not too seem too interested in the note. "You're a thief?"

Duo nodded, his rakish grin fully restored by whatever little reaction he had gotten from his audience. "Yep. You gonna arrest me?"

Wufei considered the thought. Tempting as it was, the youth had been helpful, and two gold coins were a fairly small price to pay for information. And Duo was still holding the note. "No."

"Didn't think so." Duo tossed the piece of paper over to him.

Wufei caught it reflexively and looked at the thief in surprise.

Duo shrugged easily. "Call it a favour. I'll collect on it sometime."

It didn't seem much of a price. He probably simply wanted a sure bail out of jail if he was ever caught. One more common pickpocket left to wander freely on the streets was of little consequence. Wufei nodded his acceptance and pocketed the note. He would read it later in the privacy of a room.

"If you have any more news, I would appreciate it greatly if you would keep me informed. Especially anything concerning the whereabouts of the Fairy Thief."

Duo seemed vastly amused, and started chuckling softly. "No one has ever seen his face, or known where he has gone unless he cares to make his presence felt."

Wufei was slightly disappointed, but not surprised. He rose, leaving a few pieces of copper on the table for his largely untouched drink. "Well, if that is all, I shall retire for the night. If you have any new tidings for me, I can be found here."

"Gotcha." Duo winked at him, raising his hand in a mock-salute. "Seeya around!"

As Wufei located the innkeeper and made arrangements for a room, he turned back for a last look. The table he had previously occupied was empty. Duo was nowhere to be seen.

***

The magic had partly come back. It had surged up at his command, summoned by his anger when he had seen how the stranger had yelled at Trowa, had threatened harm to his beloved. Quatre knew that it would have been advisable to wait until his powers were fully recovered, but he was running out of time. The spell of incapacitation he had used to subdue the strange man would not last for very long. Just his luck to be injured and trapped in a town of fae-haters with Mew not far behind on his trail. Still…He looked at the green-eyed human beside him, and couldn't suppress a smile of pure joy. If it means I have found you again…To see your smile, to know your beautiful eyes once more… It was all worth it.

Quatre squeezed Trowa's hand gently. "I can't stay here. Come away with me, love. Let me take us both far, far away from this place." Trowa was still staring at their intertwined fingers in a confused sort of fascination.

"It will be alright, I promise." Quatre assured him, though he felt a slight pang. It was always hard, the first time.

The heart remembers always, but the mind does not. In time, the memories would slowly return, but for now, he was little more than a stranger to Trowa though it was clear that they shared an inexplicable bond. Quatre tugged lightly on the human's hand. Trowa followed the pull without protest and their foreheads touched. The fairy could clearly hear the sudden increase of his love's heartbeat and sensed that he had closed his eyes. Lifting his golden head, Quatre planted a chaste kiss on the human's forehead as a soothing gesture.

"Come," he repeated, drawing Trowa to his feet. Trust in me.

The room wavered in Quatre's vision, but he stood firm until the dizziness passed. He had to be strong, for both their sakes. Slowly, carefully, they made their way out of the house, not looking back at the unmoving bulk of Carlo's snoring form in the doorway.

Fortunately, there was a fresh, tethered horse just outside. With some difficulty, Quatre pulled himself up on the mare, glad to find that the beast was an even-tempered one. There was no ready saddle in sight, so he decided to ride bareback to save time. He indicated for his quiet companion to climb up behind him.

"I have to conserve my energy for now. You'll have to lead the horse, Trowa."

The green-eyed youth nodded in understanding, taking up the reins. Quatre allowed a small sigh to escape and leaned back against the taller, lean form of his beloved as the horse moved forward at a gentle walk. He trusted Trowa to take over for a while. He was tired. Just a little while. I'll just close my eyes for a minute. The hypnotizing rhythm of the horse's hoofs combined with Trowa's steady heartbeat and warm presence soon lulled him to sleep.

***

Trowa was not entirely sure what to think. The fairy's golden head nestled against his shoulder, expression peaceful in obviously much needed sleep. He was not sorry to leave his old life behind, but he was bemused by the insistence of his heart that it was the right thing to do to follow this compelling, gentle stranger - and one of the fae, no less - to he knew not where. He had called him his love. That was, perhaps, the most confusing of all. When had he ever had anyone's love? And how? Why? He had no ready answer for himself, and he did not want to disturb the sleep of the fairy to ask him.

They had exited the town without any mishaps and were wandering down a well-traveled road, most probably used by merchants and other passersby. Trowa allowed the horse free rein, relaxing as the sheer beauty and serenity of his surroundings calmed his soul. He had always been able to sneak out before, but this unconditional freedom was new and wonderful to him. And the slight body in his arms warmed him as no fire ever could. He felt… happy. There was no other way to describe it.

Suddenly, there was a giggle from the trees above. Trowa frowned slightly and raised his eyes to the leafy canopy. The giggle sounded again. A little girl perhaps? But what would a girl-child be doing in a tree? The fairy stirred as the giggles came closer. Trowa checked the horse and looked around. There was most definitely someone or something following them.

"Who's there?" he called.

The bushes rustled, and a child ran into the road in front of the horse, giggling all the way. Trowa noted that she had pointed ears and her garment was made completely from leaves. A fairy-child? She looked up at him and smiled. A chill passed through him.

"Hello, mortal. Would you like to play with me?"

He had little experience in dealing with the fae, but the stories he had heard all warned against directly following their wishes or igniting their tempers. Fairies were a natural nuisance, and enjoyed humiliating, humbling, irritating and generally discomfiting people, but they did not do any permanent harm to the mortals they chose to torment. Usually. There was always an exception to the rule, and Trowa had the unhappy notion that this was one of them.

The horse jerked up its head and pawed uneasily at the ground as the fairy came closer, her unsettling smile not changing. It let out an explosive snort and skittered to the side even as Trowa placed a soothing hand on the side of its neck. The sudden movements shook Quatre awake.

"Trowa?" the fairy inquired, still half-asleep. His eyes fell on the female standing in their path, who stared right back innocently.

"Kindred, who is that pretty thing with you? Let me have it for my own! I'll give it back - after a while." the fairy-girl demanded like a petulant child.

Quatre's gaze hardened, but he took care not to display any undue emotion. He really had no wish to fight with another of his kind, especially while his magic was still recovering. "He is not suited to you, kindred. You will be bored within a day; see, he speaks not a word and neither does he know any of your games." Inwardly, he winced. This was not what he wanted Trowa to hear from him.

The female crossed her arms and lifted her chin. "You will not pass my part of the forest without a price. I want him."

The healer-mage wondered what was the quickest, most painless way of getting out of their situation. He had nothing to give himself. He chewed on his lip, running through all his options and not liking any of them. "I have a deal for you, cousin."

The female tilted her head to one side. "Speak on."

"We will play a game of any choice with you. If we have sufficiently amused you, you will provide us with safe passage through the forest. If not, the mortal is yours, as well as this beast that we ride."

The female laughed in delight. "I like that, cousin! But it is quite a gamble you take. Very well, I accept." She made a pretense of thinking carefully and spoke, "I shall change my form and you must try to find and catch me. You may not use your magic to aid your search."

Quatre nodded. "Very well."

The fairy-girl winked cheekily and vanished.

The healer-mage twisted around in his seat to face the silent human seated behind him. They stared at each other quietly for a second or two. Then Quatre reached out with a hand to touch the smooth cheek caressingly. "Beloved." The quiet, tender word filled the air. "Lets go."

***

The age-old trick of the fae would be to hide in plain sight. There was nothing so satisfying as foiling a pursuer when sitting quite comfortably under his nose, as Quatre knew well. However, that bit of knowledge did not do much good when 'under his nose' included leaves, hair, sticks, stones, birds and other forest creatures. There were simply too many hiding places.

Think. What would be the perfect hiding place? For the thrill of the game, a fairy would often deliberately leave an obscure clue to find - red thread tied around the wrist, a certain-coloured leaf on their person, anything.

"Tell me if you see anything suspicious, Trowa." The human was a good observer, and would do well in this game of hide-and-seek.

Quatre allowed the horse free rein with the vague idea of getting the animal to sense the fairy-girl. They meandered through the forest, keeping to no fixed road. Suddenly, there was the lightest pressure on his sleeve, and Trowa spoke for the first time during the entire ride from the house.

"There."

The healer-mage followed the direction of the human's arm, finding an innocuous thrush gazing at them. It looked perfectly normal. Except for one small thing. Birds do not have blue eyes.

"We have to catch it," Quatre whispered needlessly to his companion.

Trowa nodded slightly in acknowledgement. They inched towards the seemingly oblivious avian, keeping their movements casual. The thrush flitted its wings and tilted its head to one side as they came closer. It seemed to be grinning. As Quatre and Trowa moved within touching distance, it suddenly took flight, chirping merrily. The chase was on.

"Go!" Quatre drummed his heels against the horse's ribs and they were off. He was absurdly pleased when slim arms circled around his waist in a firm hug and leaned further on the horse's neck.

By pure luck, the thrush never left their sight, and it was fairly easy to track it through the leaves as they raced past the trees and bushes. Dropping the reins into Trowa's hands, Quatre unfastened his cloak and gathered it in one hand, steadying himself with the other. He waited for the forest canopy to open up in a clearing and quickly threw the garment into the air, keeping a firm grip on one end. It had the desired effect of falling over the bird and causing it to dip sharply in its flight path, letting out a very un-birdlike squeal of surprise. Catching hold of the other flapping end, Quatre pulled in his catch, knotting up the cloth to prevent escape. He carefully peeled back a part of the cloak, exposing the head. The bird snapped rudely at his fingers with its sharp beak. Fairies were not graceful losers.

"I have fulfilled my part of the bargain." Quatre told the creature.

"You have," the bird admitted sulkily. "Your beast knows the way out. Now let me go."

Quatre released the bird, watching as it flew off into the trees and vanished. He would have to be rather careful in this part of the forest in the future, for the guardian was most displeased with him for winning her game. Still, they had fared better than many in similar cases. The healer-mage did not relax until the horse, moving of its own accord, took them out of the forest onto a dirt-packed road. He recognized it as the main path leading back into Fayesdell. The fairy-girl had kept her promise, but not quite in the way he had wanted. Quatre sighed. I should have expected such mischief. He looked to the sky, noting with dismay that the sun was already sinking below the horizon. There was no help for it - they would have to return to the town and rent a room at the inn.

The healer-mage touched Trowa's hand gently. Even if it means my life, I will keep you safe. None shall touch you with pain nor violence while I still draw breath. I will teach you love once more, as I have done countless lives before, my dearly beloved.

~ End Part Two

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(© March 2000 by Stargem)

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