The Blood of Peace
First Movement, the Tenth Part: Allegro of a Romance
Relena's two weeks in Earthian seemed to fly. Heero escorted her everywhere, from the city market to the foothills of Lyrras mountains. They were frequently joined by all his Masters, but being a queen, she was used to the lack of complete privacy. Had she been in Sanque, she and Heero would have been joined by Dorothy and Noin at all times. But it was a wonderful time for her. Although Heero did not speak very much, he seemed to convey a wealth of emotions through his slightest actions. She truly felt that they had a connection, that they were somehow meant to be together. It was perfect. When she had to leave Earthian, she felt sad that she had to leave Heero. However, the wedding date had been set for six months hence, and in half a year, she would be his bride. With a mixture of elation and distress, Relena left Earthian and headed back to Sanque.
Relena's departure marked the day that routine settled back into Heero's life. After escorting her everywhere, he was glad to have some time to himself and his Masters. Relena's presence had not helped facilitate the relations between him and his Masters while his Masters seemed to have gotten closer. He had to bridge that gap if he wanted their loyalty. With that in mind, he began his daily routine of meeting and spending time with these boys. He was so intent on getting to know them that he entirely ignored Sylvia and had even stopped running off into the woods. And with everyday that passed, he realized that he genuinely liked them all and respected their skills. And in the back of his mind, he fell more under Duo's spell.
Everyday, Heero met with his Masters for breakfast and from there, they were inseparable. They trained together, studied together, and on occasion, all ditched Sylvia together. Sylvia was even more of a screechy wreck after the four boys came into Heero's life since she had to worry about five strange boys instead of just one. She was found in her grandfather's chambers frequently, lamenting her station in life as Heero's playmate.
Her grandfather was understanding, but he couldn't really help her. He was just too busy with his duties as the leader of the Counsel of Earthian. King Odin depended on him greatly because of his diplomacy, peaceful nature, and the big name that came with him: Noventa. Sylvia, the next duchess of Noventa, should have had more grace dealing with her situation, and he told her so on many occasions. It wasn't that he did not sympathize with his granddaughter, but as of late, it seemed that she was getting more and more sulky. So Sylvia suffered while the five boys truly became like brothers.
It was a gorgeous day, the sun shining brightly and the breeze whispering lightly. The five boys were out on the field slightly far from the castle, enjoying the day and its bounties. They had skipped out on the history lessons much to Sylvia's dismay and had relocated themselves to this scenic spot on the hills beyond the castle grounds. At this moment, Duo was running in circles around WuFei, Trowa and Quatre while Heero furiously ran after him yelling "I'm going to fucking kill you, you long haired idiot!" That rather ruined the Gainsborough like effect of the whole scene, but boys will be boys…
"Hey, guys, you have to hear this! It's too damn funny. It goes, 'my dearest Heero, my days are dreary without you…'"
The rest of Duo's recital of Relena's latest letter was drowned out by Heero's furious voice threatening Duo's life and limb. The three boys just laughed at their antics. Of them all, it seemed that Duo and Heero had grown the closest while Quatre and Trowa shared a certain bond. WuFei was equally close to all of them, but had a certain aloofness that distanced him from the rest sometimes. So, Heero's threats went unperformed and Duo continued reading. For the last three months, after Relena's departure, she had sent Heero at least one letter a week by carrier hawks. And every letter sent got the exact same treatment. Duo somehow found them and read it for everyone to enjoy. Except Heero did not like that one bit. The letters were very embarrassing for him, especially because Relena professed her love a lot. And Duo tended to leave out parts of the letters which were intelligent and pertinent to ruling a country. So Duo ran and Heero ran after him, Relena's loving words echoing in the space between them.
"Oh, and it gets better! Hey, Trowa, tell me about this sentence, ummm. 'I saw the night stars rise above the Tertian mountains last night and their sparkle and color reminded me of your eyes. And I missed you.' Is that one for the poem book?"
Trowa looked at Duo. He was still running and Heero was still in hot pursuit. It was a good thing that Duo was such a gifted runner and dodger or Heero would have caught him by now. And Duo could still speak while running at full steam. That was a great talent. Of course, the braid flowed behind him like a living thing and Heero was trying his damnest to grab a hold of it and stop Duo's little embarrassing tirade. Although, in three months, Heero had yet to catch Duo before he finished reading the letters. And so everyone had to finally come to the conclusion that even if Duo did act like a moron sometimes, he definitely had the skills to be a fine assassin. Even WuFei could not lay a finger on him when Duo was on the move. He was as illusive as a shadow. Which was the only thing that kept him from being pummeled to death by Heero right now.
Finally, the letter reading session came to an end and Duo flung the letter at Heero. Heero caught it and then stopped his pursuit of Duo. The damage had been done and if he beat up Duo now, it would be useless. So a slightly panting Duo and puffing Heero sat down near the others and they dug into the food which they had stolen earlier from the kitchens. Everyone was talking and eating, even Heero and Trowa. It was a good, relaxing scene. Of course, not everyday was care free and fun. Some days, there was hard work, boring tasks and lectures from the king about all sorts of things that they did not pay attention to. But today was special. Today, they would all receive weapons from the master smith, all except Duo who refused to part with his Deathscythe. So far, not even his friends had seen it. Duo strictly forbade them, saying only the dead were allowed to see his weapon. Everyone had thought he was teasing, but that was one of the few times that Duo had been serious. So Deathscythe was a mystery to them, much like its wielder. As open as Duo seemed, not many things were known about him.
The lecture from Odin this time lasted about half an hour. Each boy got a personal glare and yelling session from the king, ranging from disrespect of duties, insensitivity to Sylvia, and impolitics of leaving the castle. The same lecture, a bit longer this time. But when the lecture ended, the master smith entered the room and presented them with their adult weapons. WuFei had especially looked forward to this day. His current sword, the ShenLong, had served him well through training and mastery, but now that he was a Master, he would receive a weapon worthy of his new status. Therefore, anticipation was high while each weapon was unveiled and named before them.
First to receive was Heero, since he was the prince. He was presented with a double bladed sword, slim and light. The blade itself glowed white, not the usual silver. It looked like it had been infused with clouds. Heero reverently held it, taking in its unusual color and exceptionally fine craftsmanship. The master smith then told him the weapon he held in his hand would be called Wing, for it was the blade of angels and the skies. The name and description fit perfectly, since the sword looked so pure. But the irony was not lost on Heero – this weapon would shed blood and cry rivers of red. It was made for killing. His contemplation of the weapon was cut short when the master smith delivered WuFei's blade to him.
It was a single sided sword, the metal pounded and folded so intricately that the color glowed blue. Although it was not as long a blade as Wing, it looked lighter, faster, and sharper. It was a sword of a Master. WuFei deserved no less. And so it was to no one's surprise that WuFei took the sword as if it already belonged to him and kissed the hilt in the traditional way of the Dragon sect when accepting a weapon or companion. The weapon's name was Altron, named after the eternal dragon which was fabled to sleep in the mountains of Lyrras. Altogether, a very fitting weapon for Master of the Swords.
Quatre received his double scimitars, a design very common to the desert regions of Earthian. Since the Winner family held the vast desert lands in the western marches of Earthian, Quatre was very familiar if not expert with the handling of these weapons. They were short swords, almost like daggers but not quite so short. They were short range weapons, designed for close quarter combat. Quatre smiled at the choice he was given and the name Sandrock. That was the name of the deity of the desert that some of his family members worshipped. It seemed fortuitous that he would wield a weapon with the name of a great god.
Since everyone had received blades, they assumed Trowa's weapon would be a sword of some sort also. Surprisingly, Trowa received weapons which had no similarities to their swords. The pair of weapons were S-shaped, with the outer edges sharpened to a keen edge with the hand hold in the middle. The master smith explained that these weapons were of new design in Earthian, made especially for Trowa for his special skills. They were as much close combat weapons as the scimitars, but also distance weapons, for they could be thrown. The special feature was that this weapon came back to Trowa after it decimated its opponents. It was a tricky weapon, only good for the truly gifted thrower. And that was Trowa. Its name, Heavyarms, seemed odd until Trowa lifted the weapons. They were heavy. The name suggested an inside joke and Trowa smiled at it. The master smith, he somehow must have found out that he had a dry sense of humor underneath the stoic mask. Either that, he was just making fun of him. It did not matter either way, since Heavyarms was a fine weapon and he appreciated the fact that the master smith thought so highly of his skills.
While everyone received their weapons, Duo looked on with interest. As great and beautiful everyone's weapons were, he was damn sure that he had the best in his Deathscythe. His weapon had not been forged by the great master smith, but given to him a long time ago by another great assassin. But it wasn't too good to linger in unpleasant memories, so Duo just concentrated on the new acquisitions of his companions. All were excellent weapons. Deathscythe was just so much cooler, that was all.
The boys were sitting in Heero's room, examining and admiring their new weapons. They were beautiful. WuFei had suggested earlier that they go to the training room immediately to test out the weapons, but everyone else had overridden him and decided that quiet meditation on their weapons would be best. Actually, they just wanted to lure Duo into showing his Deathscythe. After all, Duo had seen their weapons and probably had assessed all their strengths and weaknesses. It was only fair that they got to see his legendary Deathscythe. And Duo knew that they wanted to see it.
"So Duo, where is Deathscythe? Think it can stand up to Altron?"
WuFei threw the gauntlet first, eager to see if Duo would pick it up and hurl it back at him. If nothing else, he could finally goad Duo instead of the other way around.
"Nah, WuFei. Altron is a great weapon and all, but it's for a swordsman. My weapon is specially designed for assassins. Maybe in direct combat, one on one, you could have the upper hand. But in other situations, I would kick your ass seven different ways from today."
WuFei glowered at the silent challenge that only he perceived. Duo had not only hurled the gauntlet back at him but had knocked out a few teeth with it. And WuFei never backed down from a challenge.
"Then why don't we test them out, Duo? Prove to me that your weapon and skills exceed mine."
Duo raised his right eyebrow in a very delicate manner. His lips scrunched and his eyes squinted like he was in deep thought. Then he shook his head gently.
"No, WuFei. Your weapon, hell, all of you guys' weapons, they were designed for honorable combat. Mine is for assassins. Get it? I don't fight fair. My weapon and I have no sense of justice or honor. Only death. So we can't really fight. Sorry man."
WuFei was taken aback by this statement. In the past, Duo had always joked his way out of situations like this, always excusing showing Deathscythe with one silly reason or another. But this was serious. And WuFei felt a bit of shame at goading Duo.
"It's all right that you don't want to show us Deathscythe. From now on, we'll stop asking you. Will that make you happy?"
With a wistful smile, Duo nodded. At least now they understood. The mood was very somber and not even Duo was cracking a joke to lighten it. So, it was up to Quatre to get everyone out of the dumps. And he was all prepared to do so when Heero interrupted.
"Duo, stop looking like that. Your face cannot support such as gloomy expression for too long. Now, smile or else."
An ultimatum, delivered with the extreme lack of tact that they had come to expect from their prince. And it made Duo smile and his eyes became shiny with laughter.
"Man, Heero, you have got to be the only person on this entire planet who can make me smile with a threat."
And the two boys stared into each others eyes, smiling at one another, lost in their private moment. They would have gone staring at each other with their longing plain on their faces if WuFei had not gotten uncomfortable and cleared his throat. Instantly, the two boys stopped looking at each other and pretended that it never happened. They did this often, so often that it had somehow become routine. The curious and strange feelings, the unexpected longings and desires that had sprung up on the first day of their meeting had grown into full fledged devotion for Duo and Heero. Quatre knew with certainty that they were somehow in love, and neither knew that they held these feelings for each other. Or they knew and never acknowledged it. Whatever the case was, Quatre knew they loved each other and Trowa only confirmed his convictions whenever they discussed Duo and Heero. This love between the prince and the assassin, it had yet to interfere in anything. However, the wedding was three months away now. They had to sort this out before anything drastic happened.
So Quatre worried occasionally about his two friends and worried more frequently about his feelings for Trowa. He knew Trowa felt the same way, but they both somehow knew that this was not the time. Not when Heero and Duo were at such a difficult place. When they became Masters, the four boys had taken an oath to protect and support the prince until the end of their days. That oath came before the personal feelings between any of them. Therefore, both Quatre and Trowa agreed implicitly that they would keep their feelings under wraps and under strict control until Heero's feelings could be sorted. All they had to do was wait for Heero to come to Quatre. After all, Quatre was his confidante, it was one of his job functions. Unfortunately, Heero had yet to come to Quatre in that capacity to date. Soon, Heero would force Quatre to pounce on him and shake the feelings and answers out of him. And Quatre did not like being a violent person.
Duo sat in his room and looked out into the night sky. They had called it a night and each had gone to bed. That had been two hours ago, and Duo was still up, staring at the sky. The stars were hazy behind a slight cloud cover and the moonlight filtered through like silk on water. It was a sublime sight but Duo could not really concentrate on the beauty. He was too busy thinking about a pair of eyes, the same pair of blue eyes that he thought about every night. He saw them in his mind, in the sky. He felt their intensity, brilliance and devotion so totally that it was impossible now to deny the feelings they stirred. Heero and his eyes.
They haunted him day and night. From the first day he met Heero, Duo had felt a connection to him that had taken him by surprise. Then he spent a great deal of time trying to ignore the feelings, denying them, even pretending that they didn't exist at all. After all that effort, all he had done was fallen in love with Heero. He didn't know exactly when he found this out about himself, but he knew that these feelings, his love for Heero, could not ever be realized. They were supposed to be brothers, not lovers. Brothers. He repeated that word in his head over and over, like he did every night, to get the message to his heart. They were brothers, not lovers. His heart only lamented at the doggedness of his brain. Sometimes, even your body parts rebelled and fought each other. And Duo did not like that one bit.
Duo suspected that Quatre and Trowa probably knew about his feelings for Heero. Even if Duo had a wonderful mask that kept his real feelings hidden, Quatre was an empath and Trowa was well… Trowa. That guy never missed anything. And he was fairly certain WuFei had an inkling about the situation too. And that meant Heero knew since he wasn't one to miss anything that everyone else had picked up on already. So, Duo figured, everyone knew he was in love with Heero. Such was life. And since emotions never listened to logic or reason, Duo decided that the agonizing should stop sometime soon. He accepted his feelings for Heero. All he had to do now was figure out a way to make it work so that his love did not interfere with his and Heero's duties. Surely, as a master assassin, he could at least pull that off. Duo was so busy trying to convince himself of those certain realities that he actually failed to notice the door to his room being opened. When he realized that someone was in his room, it was almost too late to react. But Duo wasn't called the Shinigami for nothing. As quick and fleeting as a shadow, he dove from his window perch and grabbed the figure's ankle on his way to a roll. When the other body toppled to its side, Duo unsheathed Deathscythe and rolled on top of the figure to slice his throat. Then he focused upon a pair of startled cobalt blue eyes.
"Hello, Duo. So, that's what Deathscythe looks like."
And the two boys stared into each other's eyes lit by the silver moon while the weapon between them glistened with a dark fervor.