[ 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 Three
By Stargem

Author's notes: I'm really, really slow at this, aren't I? ^^;;;; *apologises profusely*

=================================================================================

The patrons of the Roaring Dragon's inn ceased their murmuring as the door swung open to admit two new faces, one a tall, silent young man with fathomless green eyes and a delicate blond dressed identically in subtle earth tones. By his looks and clothing, the blond might very well be a noble of high status attempting to travel incognito, his green-eyed companion as his attendant. They were certainly beautiful enough, each in their own way, drawing appreciative stares from both genders. An anonymous group hidden somewhere within the sea of curious eyes suddenly began a series of whistling and catcalls, effectively breaking the silence. The blond's strangely glowing blue swept across them all once, and suddenly the inn resumed its previous busy hum of laughter and drunken conversation as the strangers were forgotten.

The flow of magic was more natural now, Quatre noted. The mild glamour and spell of forgetfulness he had cast were fortunately less taxing than he had first feared. No one would remember him or Trowa, neither would they be given a second glance for as long as they stayed unless a stronger magic broke his enchantment. Unfortunately, his spells were sufficiently weak enough that even a low-level mage or someone sensitive to magic would be able to pierce the illusions. That would be a Very Bad Thing, him being a fairy in a town that did not think kindly towards his kind. And what would become of his beloved then?

/Enough,/ he thought to himself, locking away all doubts and fears. They were safe, for the moment. And his strength was returning. There would be no trouble; they were not staying longer than a night at the inn. What harm could come in the night? Trowa stood patiently behind him as Quatre bartered with the innkeeper for a room. The fairy was tired from the day's events and wanted nothing more than to sleep, secure in the knowledge of his beloved's presence. As he drew Trowa's hand into his own once more to lead him up the stairs, he did not catch the curious pair of violet eyes observing him from the back of the room.

***

Wufei looked up, springing to full alertness as he heard boots thumping across the wooden floorboards followed by gentle murmuring outside his door. His katana lay across his lap, glittering in the candlelight as a forgotten whetstone slipped from lax fingers to the floor. As he listened, he identified the innkeeper's voice and another that he did not recognise. Then, there was the sound of a door opening and the innkeeper bidding the stranger good night. The door clicked shut softly after an answering mumble and there was the sound of people moving in the room next door. More than one, the Chinese nobleman determined as a short conversation followed in whispers to low for him to make out. The gentle flowing voices were remarkably like the cooing of a pair of lovers. He turned back to sharpening his weapon with a slight scowl, ignoring the sudden flush in his cheeks. /The walls of this inn are too thin,/ he thought irritably. He had no wish to eavesdrop on his neighbours, unintentionally or not. He sincerely hoped they would not disturb his rest that night… The red on his cheeks deepened at the turn his thoughts were taking and he shook his head furiously. Suddenly, he was very glad that he was alone in his room with no one to witness his embarrassment.

From next door, there was a shuffling of cloth and finally a thump and a creak. Wufei guessed that his neighbours had opted to retire early. A yawn threatened to work it's way out of his throat and he stifled it, nostrils flaring slightly. Hmm, he was more tired than he thought. Best to sleep now and be well rested in the morning, he decided and sheathed his blade. Wufei blew out his candle and stretched out on the mattress he had placed on the floor behind the bed towards the wall. Staring at the stains on the ceiling above him, he finally drifted off into slumber.

He was rudely woken from his sleep some time before dawn by an alarmed cry, quickly followed by a crash and a feline hissing. Wufei rolled off his mattress and up onto his feet in a smooth motion, his katana already bared and gleaming in one hand. The scuffle was coming from the lovers' room. When had he accepted that assumption as truth? But there was no time to dwell on that. He ran into the corridor.

"Trowa!!" It was definitely the voice of the young man who had spoken to the innkeeper.

Their door was suddenly ripped off its hinges and smashed against the far wall as a snarling, spitting bundle of female fury came hurtling out of the room. Wufei gaped at her. This was not at all what he had expected. She picked herself up and shook her head, shedding splinters in every direction. A gentle-looking blond had stepped into the ruined doorway, his wide blue eyes surprised as he noticed the Chinese warrior. His taller, green-eyed companion stuck close to him protectively. There was something flickering green at his throat…

The woman had sufficiently pulled herself together for another round and rushed at the blond while he was distracted. Wufei's instincts kicked in as she ran past, one foot shooting out to trip her up neatly. She stumbled, cursing, but didn't go down.

Whirling, she spat at him in fury, "Keep out of my business, human! 'Else I tear the life from your body in the most painful way possible."

/Human?/

"Leave him be," the blond said. "Your fight is with me."

"Indeed," the woman said with an unpleasant smile, claws extending from her fingertips.

Wufei blinked rapidly, not truly believing his eyes. His katana went up defensively as the wicked-looking talons slashed in the air, missing its target as the blond twisted aside. The green-eyed youth grabbed her wrists before she could strike again, eliciting an angry growl. The blond intervened with a short burst of white energy that crackled from his palm, hitting the woman squarely in the shoulder. Her tunic caught fire. The air was suddenly filled with her howls of pain and rage and the blond took the opportunity to run, urging his companion to follow.

Not really thinking, Wufei started after them. "Hold! Hold, I said!" The woman had joined the pursuit, streaking ahead of the startled Chinese nobleman with ease. "Quatre! Do not run from me, bastard fairy!"

/Fairy??/ His mind snippily asked if all he could do was repeat every last word that he heard. He mentally snarled for it to shut up and resumed the chase. Down the stairs and straight into a chaotic mess of people running around in confusion, erupting into spontaneous brawls.

"Damn," Wufei swore, halting.

His first duty was to the people, and he would need to break up the mob before any real damage could be done. For one wild moment he craned his neck frantically to see if he could spot the blond or the crazy woman with claws. They had already disappeared outside. He let out a frustrated sigh. It would have to wait. Jolted by the milling people, he bellowed for quiet. It worked for less than half a second as the stunned crowd turned to stare at him. Then someone threw a punch and the entire scenario degenerated from there. Sometimes I really hate this job…

***

Quatre's mind was in a whirl of confusion. How had Mew tracked them down so quickly? He had been very careful to keep a low profile, not taking any chances that might betray his location. Unless she had somehow planted a tracker…

A thunderous crash sounded just behind him. One good thing about annoying the cat-woman; the loss of her temper was also followed by the loss of common sense. Instead of her usual silent stalking, she had taken to blundering blindly after them with the single-minded intent to maim and perhaps even kill. On a horse, or with his full powers an easy escape was feasible. However, they currently only had use of their own legs. /Oh yes, this is very good,/ his mind mocked. /What now, oh crafty one?/

"Trowa," Quatre gasped as he tried to ignore the hot stitch in his side. "Ideas?"

Trowa shook his head. Keep running, his mind advised. It seemed the only thing they could do.

A sparkling stone of amber arced across their line of sight, shifting from light to dark and light again. The trio skidded to a stop, mutual astonishment written all over their faces. The stone seemed to wink and suddenly disappeared in a wreath of smoke that transformed into a thick cloud of grey horrors - teeth, claws and hungry, slavering mouths. The apparition rushed at Mew with a chilling screech, flowing into the cat-woman's body even as she tried to escape it. She jerked; her mouth and eyes wide with fear and loosed an ear-splitting shriek. Quatre's magical senses tingled as he felt a portal open - he suddenly identified Sze's power - and swallow up the cat-woman, cutting her off in mid-scream. He shuddered, thankful that he wasn't close enough for Sze to sense him through the portal - otherwise she might have attempted to pull him in as well. He looked back at the road and saw that the strange stone had returned to its normal form. He knew of only one type of stone of that particular colour that could produce such an effect.

"Amber Stone?" he wondered out loud.

"Yup," someone said cheerfully. "First-class quality; creates Illusions of such realism that they cannot be distinguished from reality."

Quatre blinked and looked up at a grinning chestnut-haired youth with sparkling violet eyes. He started as he felt a tingle along his senses. "You… you have fairy blood…"

The young man cocked his head to one side, studying him thoughtfully. "I'm a half-breed. My mother was human."

Quatre collected his thoughts and firmly gained control of himself. He spoke hesitantly. "Thank you… uh…"

"Duo," the violet-eyed youth said. "Duo Maxwell."

"Thank you, Duo," Quatre said carefully.

Half-breeds were not a common sight. Fairies and humans alike preferred to mate with their own, begetting only children of their own image. Children that were a product of the union between an immortal and a mortal were creatures to be spurned, for they were not wholly of one or the other. Fairies turned away from the human blood in their veins just as surely as the humans feared the fairy half of them. They were lonely people, forced to wander constantly without an anchor until the day they died or faded away. Such was their lot in life, cruel though it might be.

This one confused Quatre though. Instead of the cheeky smile, he would have expected the usual guarded scowls or bitter frowns as he had briefly encountered in the past. It was apparent that Duo was not to be placed in the category of 'usual'.

"Hey, you're welcome," Duo said breezily. "Just who was that weird lady anyway? And why's she chasing you?"

"Long story," Quatre sighed.

"Long stories are interesting stories," Duo grinned.

Quatre smiled. He was surprisingly comfortable around Duo, much in the same way he would be with a good friend. And the grins, though slightly manic in quality, were affecting him positively. He felt the warmth of companionship, different from what he felt with Trowa, but no less pleasant. He looked to the green-eyed youth in question, noticing that he seemed to enjoy Duo's presence as well. That decided him.

"It'll take a while to tell," Quatre said.

" I've got all the time in the world."

***

They had retreated to an old hideout of Duo's in the forest - nothing more than a simple hut, really. Quatre and Trowa did not much care as long as the roof over their heads kept the rain out and the walls warded off the cold. Dawn had crept over the land, bathing everything in soft pinks and oranges as the sun began to rise. The sky continued to lighten as Quatre told a condensed version of his story to his fascinated audience.

"As you know, I am pure fae, an immortal," he began softly. "I will not bore you with the details of my childhood; I certainly did not find it exciting. Like all of my kind, being cursed with our eternal lifespan, I was constantly searching for something, anything to take away the boredom." He paused, and looked at Trowa with a faint smile. "I wasn't even sure what to look for. But the moment I saw you… I knew." The fairy blushed a little as Duo cleared his throat, communicating his desire for the story to continue. "Immortals have a hard time playing the game of love, especially when their chosen is mortal. We stay forever young while they grow old… and leave." Here Quatre stopped again, his eyes misted over by memories. "It was hard, each time, having to say goodbye. But I knew that I would find him again, someday, and it would begin all over again. It's a continuing cycle - joy and love, the sadness of parting and the endless searching to be reunited once more. My kin cannot understand the concept of love. They believe that I am weak for succumbing to this mortal emotion, but I do not share their thinking. My love keeps me strong; he brings light and laughter into my other wise lonely and dreary existence." He touched Trowa's hand lightly. "I do not regret, beloved."

The fairy did not speak again and Duo unobtrusively left the two gazing at each other. Let the lovebirds have a little privacy, he thought. He was moved by Quatre's tale, even more so by the obvious devotion in his eyes as he looked at his beloved. They were meant for one another. He couldn't help feeling a little jealous though. Not everyone on this planet had a love as strong or wonderful, transcending even the barriers of death.

Certainly not himself.

/But someday… maybe…/

Duo walked out into the forest, tilting his head up for the sun's gentle caress, liquid gold spilling through a canopy of green.

/Someday, there might be someone for me./

***

/"Failed again, little one?"/

Mew paused as Sze's voice ghosted across her memory, the hard anger evoking a shiver even though the curtain had already gone down on that particular scene.

/"This is the second time, kitten. I will not tolerate a third, even from you, my favourite."/

The cat-woman shuddered again, remembering the deadly promise of harsh punishment in Sze's cold, cold blue eyes. She would not fail her mistress again. This time… This time she would win. She would capture the fairy that her mistress desired as her next conquest. Then, perhaps, she would smile upon her again.

Mew's gaze strayed down to the viewing globe she held. The shapeshifter had proved useful after all. The healer-mage's beloved - his soulmate. And thus, the key to his undoing. If the story she had just heard through the globe was truth. Well, she knew there were ways of finding out. Her claws raked lightly over the surface of the crystal, leaving five neat furrows on the image of Quatre's face. It was pleasant to imagine how it would actually feel to cut him. But she wouldn't. Her mistress had not commanded it.

/I will not fail you again, mistress./

~ End Part Three

*******************************************************************************************
(© August 2000 by Stargem)

Send your comments and criticisms! stargem@silverink.cjb.net