4-23-2001

===============================================
[ 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 Five
By Stargem and Casshire

Author's notes: More action than plot or romance in this installment - hope you enjoy, regardless ^_^; I hope the fight scene don't sound *too* bad… Thanks to Amy for looking it over! All always, comments and criticisms are more than welcome.

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

Fire.

There was fire everywhere.

The maddened inferno swirled through the forest, twisting about the blackening trees and leaves. Smoke drowned what little of the heavens they could see above the smouldering canopy. Once, there was beauty here, but no more.

"I guess she doesn't need you back alive," Duo remarked flippantly.

Quatre smiled grimly through a veil of matted hair; he had no reply for the half-fairy's gallows humour. He brushed aside the tangled locks, tucking the strands behind an ear. The heat was irrelevant to him. It washed onto his skin in unpleasant waves, but it was not his main priority - Trowa was. The fairy sought to maintain a close watch upon his human paramour through his blurring vision. Among the three, he was the most vulnerable to the heat. Already he could detect the symptoms of fatigue on Trowa's face; the way his breath locked in his throat, the wavering stance. Fists tightened convulsively around the reins; Quatre led his mount towards Trowa, a hand reaching forward to rest reassuringly upon his arm.

"You've been a very naughty boy, Quatre," a familiar voice crooned.

The fairy was not surprised; he had been expecting Mew's arrival. It had only been a matter of time before Sze's minion made her appearance.

"Mew..."

She inclined her head. "Are you going to come home with me, Quatre? Or do I have to… persuade you?"

"What about us? Are we spare merchandise?" Duo inserted himself into the conversation, pulling his mount in beside the fairy.

Mew smiled rather unpleasantly. "Yes."

The trio readied themselves as the cat woman charged them.

***

Quatre drew back, biting down on a yelp as the rapid movement stretched the bleeding scratches and cuts that marred smooth skin. His mount had long since fled along with the other two horses - not that he blamed them. Sporadic bursts of light marked the systematic destruction of the surrounding forest; white energy struck out indiscriminately as he attempted to flash fry his nimble opponent. While Mew posed the greatest threat, the fairy was aware that the blaze was a ticking time bomb. Their sweltering battlefield was shrinking as the moments passed.

Elsewhere, Duo emitted a sudden yip as he was sent flying away from Mew. The healer-mage winced as the half-fairy took the top half of a still-burning sapling down with him into the ground with an unpleasant crackling sound. He did not get up.

"Duo!" Quatre ducked awkwardly as Mew slashed at his neck with her claws, scrambling towards the half-fairy's inert form.

Heart fluttering, the healer-mage checked Duo's condition quickly with his eyes, extending his senses to determine any unseen wounds. There was a roar behind him as Trowa pounced on Mew, having shifted to a gigantic lion. Hisses and snarls faded into the background as Quatre fed his healing magic into the myriad lacerations and bruises sustained by their ally, nudging him back to consciousness.

The sluggish seconds ticked by. Quatre loosed a startled exhalation of relief as a pair of violet eyes blinked up at him slowly. "…you know what? I think I don't like her very much."

There was a pained bellow that morphed into a more human statement of agony, snapping their attention back to the fight. Trowa crouched close to the ground, cradling a broken arm.

Backlit by the flames, Mew smiled. "Playtime is over."

The cat woman's talons dug into a pocket, retrieving what appeared to be an ornate cage. It would have been a tight squeeze for a mouse. Uncertainty caused Quatre to cease-fire for only a moment, watching as Mew flicked the latch open lazily. Too late, he realized that the tiny prison was saturated with Sze's magic; skeins of power wrapped around his soul in mindless intent, twisting and tearing, lessening his light. He fought back with reflexes dulled by shock and surprise - too slow. Fire gushed through his veins, obliterating all control and discipline. In the distance, Trowa's voice wove around him in a panicky swirl of meaningless sound. Careless, careless; how could he have been so careless?

The flames swallowed his screams.

***

Duo blinked as Quatre disappeared from his side, his eyes widening as the fairy rematerialised within the delicate cage in Mew's hand. Automatically, he started forward, a shout on his lips as the cat woman latched the cage and stepped back into a glowing portal, her mocking laughter dying off into the crackle of the flames.

"Shit!" Duo exploded in frustration. Bad guys one, good guys zilch. "Dammit!"

A thick cough penetrated his thoughts and he cursed under his breath. He had forgotten the shifter. Spinning on his heel, the half-fairy padded towards his other fallen ally and dropped to his knees in the dirt beside him. There were spots of blood on the dead leaves.

"Trowa?" The shapeshifter's face was obscured by long bangs, one hand bracing himself partially upright. "Trowa - we gotta get out of here. You hear me? " Duo shook his shoulder gently, dismayed at the tension under his fingers. "C'mon, man. We're gonna roast alive if we stay any longer."

Trowa did not move, remaining utterly silent.

The half-fairy frowned, more than a little worried now. "Trowa? Oi, we can worry about Quatre after we get out of here. Let's get a move on!"

He shook the shapeshifter harder. In spite of his attitude, Duo knew that the shock of Quatre's abrupt disappearance so soon after their brief reunion was a devastating blow to the young man. He had been numbed by the flow of events; and was more than likely to pass out from blood loss any moment-

*THUD*

"Shitshitshit!" Duo shifted Trowa's unconscious form to a more comfortable position in his lap. "Great! Just great! What next? A dragon's going to walk up here and ask why in Oberon's name we're sitting here, waiting to be barbecued?"

"A dragon would much rather eat you," a nasal voice commented.

To Duo's credit, only a squeak escaped him as a rush of air threatened to blow him away. A shadow fell over him, tiny feathers drifting down to rest on his hair and clothes. The half-fairy peered up at the gigantic white Gryphon limned by sunlight - the strong gust had put out the flames. A snort ruffled Duo's hair as the Gryphon bent his head, one baleful golden eye staring at him. The half-fairy stayed very, very still.

"Nice kitty," he whispered.

The eye blinked.

"Wing," the earlier voice - the Gryphon Rider spoke again.

The Gryphon backed off, extending a wing to allow his Rider to slide down to the ground. Duo stared. No longer obscured by a halo of sunlight, the figure's blurry lines resolved itself into a handsome young man with a tousled mop of brown hair falling into deep cobalt blue eyes. He was dressed for travel in a rough tunic, leggings and boots, with a sword hanging at his hip.

"Wing? What kinda name is that? It's obvious that he has wings- Oi. You listening?"

The Rider smirked, unimpressed by the rapid flow of words. Duo gave himself a mental kick as he caught himself staring just a little too long at the slight upward curve of the stranger's lips. Bad Duo, he scolded himself. What would anyone see in a bastard - half fae and half human to boot? The Rider strode forward, directing an inquiring look first at him, then at the bleeding Shapeshifter in his arms. Introductions were in order, the half-fairy supposed.

"Name's Duo. This is Trowa. Okay, he might look like Mr. Bleeding-while-I'm-seriously-unconscious now but he's also Trowa."

There was no response.

"You don't talk much do you?" Duo asked, lifting an eyebrow. "Who are you anyway?"

The stranger tilted his head slightly, debating the wisdom of answering his question. Finally, he said, "Heero."

"Apt," Duo commented. Waving a hand, he gestured towards Trowa and then to Heero, fingers wriggling lightly. "You aren't with Sze, are you? Because if you are, then... I can't do bloody much, can I? Maybe we can play a symbolic chess game or something."

Heero was gazing at a point somewhere behind his head. Duo frowned, irritated.

"You don't play chess? Maybe we could try something else, like say a musical contest. That's pretty interesting, yanno. But I don't know who's supposed to judge since we're all alike in the sense that we like to believe that we were, are and always will be the victor of any event. It'd be a very prejudiced vote if we put it through that."

The lingering silence on Heero's part was unnerving. Duo fidgeted, uncomfortably aware that his words had trickled to a stop. Well, at least he hadn't ordered Wing to eat them. That would mean he was the bad guy, and Duo was getting heartily sick of dealing with bad guys for the moment. Which was good, the half-fairy observed guiltily. It was just plain wrong to be attracted to the opposite party. Grimacing, he fought the urge to smack himself. He was doing it again!

"I'll take you to the nearest village," Heero said, his words phrased more as an order.

"You know, a lot of connotations are flying through my head at this point. The phrase 'take you' conjures all sorts of interesting images."

Heero did not dignify that remark with an answer.

"Just help me get Trowa on your kitty's, err - Wing's back," Duo corrected himself at the Gryphon's rumbling growl.

The Gryphon Rider nodded curtly, standing aside as Duo slung Trowa over his shoulder and approached Wing. The white Gryphon glared down at the half-fairy as he placed a hand on the warm flank. Duo sweatdropped.

"Your Gryphon doesn't bite does it?" Duo inquired, attempting to cover the urge to run away with a flippant remark.

Heero shrugged, a smirk appearing on his lips. Bastard, Duo thought, his crumbling resolve abruptly reinforced by mounting annoyance. The half-fairy took a deep breath and scrambled awkwardly up the side of the Gryphon, having only one hand properly free to vault himself and his unconscious passenger up. Setting Trowa in front of him, braced against his chest, he missed the surprised look that crossed the Gryphon Rider's face.

"Have you ridden a Gryphon before?" Heero asked, the tone faintly curious.

Duo blinked at him. "Ridden a monster like this?!" Wing heaved upwards, eliciting a squawk. "Nice kitty-err-"

The Gryphon Rider placed a calloused palm against Wing's side, smoothing down the ruffled feathers. He studied the half-fairy for a moment before pushing himself up on the Gryphon's back.

"It doesn't matter," he said, closing the subject. Settling at Wing's neck, he leaned forward and buried his fingers in the neck ruff. "Hold on tight."

Duo stared at his back, uncomprehending. "What doesn't ma-yipe!"

The Gryphon leaped up into the air, beating its wings strongly as Duo instinctively leaned against Heero, one arm around his waist while Trowa lolled bonelessly against him.

"You could have warned me before doing that," Duo snapped at his benefactor, annoyed at being taken by surprise.

"I told you to hold on," Heero pointed out flatly.

"Well, okay, but-" Wing plummeted into a heart-stopping dive, pulling up only as they were about to skim the tops of the trees. Duo clamped down tightly on a squeak, keeping his eyes on a neutral spot between Heero's shoulder blades. This was going to be a long ride.

***

Sublime darkness blanketed the gardens, changing it subtly so that it no longer resembled midday paradise. Delicate blossoms glowed in the moonlight; silvery pinks, lilac and iridescent cobalt while the waters bubbling through the fountain set in their midst resembled liquefied silver. A taloned hand dipped into the translucent depths, weaving listlessly through the gently waving water plants.

Mistress Sze was pleased with her. She had done as she was bid - captured the prize that her mistress coveted. And she had been rewarded with a pat on the head and ordered to amuse herself until she was needed once more. A low, unhappy noise escaped her throat. She stared fixedly down at the water, envisioning aristocratic features and cold blue eyes the colour of ice while the ripples formed the impression of golden braids.

"Mistress," she whispered. The face in the water shifted; the hair shortening, facial planes rearranging to incorporate a hint of masculinity. Her nemesis. "Quatre…" Claws ripped through the illusory image, splashing water across the garden. Gripped in a sudden rage, she snarled, "She does not love you! She is my Mistress - you cannot please her as I can!"

Her reflection stared back up at her silently, chest heaving as the shimmer-sparkle of sunlight glinted in the dark eyes.

*She does not love you…*

Mew did not move from her position in the garden even darkness leeched the last of the dying light as night slipped in quietly.

~ End Part Five

**************************************************

(© March 2001 by Stargem & Casshire)

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

Visit us and the StoryTeller and at:
Home - Where the Heart Is
http://welcome.to/uchi