Born in Chaos Part 8
"They're gone?!" Duo stared up at Heero and Trowa in shock. "Everything?"
"Aye." Trowa said, sitting down and leaning his back against rock wall.
Milliardo looked at the unconscious healer. "I believe that our journey just got a lot harder."
Heero knelt beside the mage, his face thoughtful. "I've heard rumors that there are villages in these mountains. If I traveled by myself, I might be able to find one... and replace some of our supplies."
"I don't think it wise for any of us to be setting out on his own." The platinum haired man replied. "Our recent experience proved that."
"We can hunt for food." Trowa pointed out. "But, there are other things we are going to need, warmer clothes for one. It's not smart for someone not to go. Besides," He gestured at the stricken blonde. "Healer or no, he needs medicines to help him."
Milliardo looked down at Quatre. He knew Trowa was right. Quatre's healing powers weren't helping, he could sense the blonde slipping further and further away from them. With a sigh, the mage looked at the expectant faces around him.
"Fine... but no one goes alone. Wufei and I will travel west, while Duo and Heero go east. We travel for two days and then loop north, once we meet up we come back here. Understood?" Milliardo said wearily.
"Wait!" Trowa said. "Shouldn't I go and you stay here with Quatre?"
Ice blue eyes settled on the young brunette. "No. You have a closer bond to him than I. He'll gain more comfort by your presence."
"I thought you wanted me to stay away from him." Trowa pointed out.
Milliardo stood up. "Now, I want you to stay near him. You're the best chance he has of staying alive."
Heero eyed the violet-eyed boy across the passage from him. "I'd prefer not to go with the thief." He growled.
"You'll go with who I say." Milliardo snapped. "Your powers are well matched to each other's as are mine and Wufei's. If there's a battle, I want the best chances to get out alive."
Heero scowled and head down the passage. "I'm not slowing down for you!" He snapped.
"I don't expect you to!" Duo muttered following him.
As Wufei stood and strapped on his sword, Milliardo turned to Trowa. "Just stay near him and try to make sure he's warm. We'll return as soon as we are able. The light I created will last for several weeks."
Trowa nodded silently and watched, unmoving as the pair disappeared into the darkness. Then with a sigh he turned to look at the healer. "This is a wonderful mess." He muttered under his breath as he settled back against the wall.
The next morning, Duo found himself leaning against a tree, watching as Heero lay down on the edge of a small stream and dunked his head into the icy water.
"Are you sure that's healthy?" The chestnut haired boy asked warily.
Heero sat back on his heels and glared at him.
"Fine." Duo sighed. "I'll go hunt up some food for us."
"No." Heero growled getting to his feet. "With my abilities, I can track game better than you. You get a fire ready."
Duo shrugged as the brunette stalked off into the trees. "By the light, he hard to get along with." He muttered moving around the small camp.
A little while later Duo was sitting on the ground in front of a blazing fire when Heero emerged from the tree line and dropped two small birds at the boy's feet.
"I assume you know how to cook."
Duo raised an eyebrow. "Would have been sort of hard to live on my own if I didn't." He snapped as he set about preparing the birds and placing them over the flames.
"I have to admit," Duo said after they'd eaten. "You may not be much in the personality department... but at least you know how to hunt."
Heero finished cleaning his sword and rising fluidly he walked over to slide it in its scabbard, hanging from a low limb, on a nearby tree. "I'd suggest you get some rest. We've got along way to go tomorrow and I don't want you slowing me down." He said curtly.
He turned around to find the chestnut haired boy standing behind him, his violet eyes blazing. "Cut me a break for a change! I may not be the fighter you are, but I'm holding my own! I don't have the training you have!"
Heero's eyes narrowed. Grabbing Duo's shirt, he drug him around and slammed him face first into the tree. "Yeah... I guess it's different when you survive on your back all the time! Doesn't build up much stamina." He spat in disgust.
"Heero..." Duo struggled against his iron grip. "What are..." His eyes widened as he felt Heero's body press against his back.
"Oh... that's right... you had a 'friend' helping you out. Tell me..." He growled in Duo's ear. "Which bar did you find your 'friend' in? I want to make sure I stay clear of it when I get back."
Duo increased his struggles. "You think I...? I've never let anyone do that to me!!" He cried in anger.
Heero released him, shoving him away. "There's no other way you could have survived and stay so well fed. Everyone in the group knows that... they just won't say it. But I can tell you... no one is happy to have a thief and a whore amongst their midst."
Duo's eyes widened. "Hee-"
"I'd advise you to stay away from me... I want nothing of you!!" Heero snapped.
Duo blinked back his horror and walked silently to his side of the camp, lying by the fire. He was stunned... Heero thought that he sold himself to get by. He never even asked if it were true....
Heero paid no attention to Duo as he moved around and finally lay under the tree, closing his eyes. When he opened them the next morning... the chestnut haired thief was gone.
Milliardo walked silently ahead of Wufei... his light spell barely cutting into the inky black of the forest they'd entered a short time prior.
"I think that once we head back this way, we should choose a different route." Wufei's voice floated around them.
"Aye." Milliardo replied. "This place makes me uneasy."
Suddenly the foreign boy was beside him his sword drawn, his dark eyes scanning ahead of them.
"What is it?"
"I thought I saw something..." Wufei replied quietly. "Ahead of us."
Milliardo stopped and increased his light spell, "It's like the dark is closing in on us."
Wufei nodded silently.
Suddenly a tendril of shadow shot out of the blackness, startling Wufei. "What?!?"
It slid forward, wrapping itself around his ankle.
"I can't move!"
Milliardo found that he could not either, pulling together his concentration, he started to form a different kind of spell. As he spoke the words softly, he watched the young fighter as the shadow released his legs and moved up his body to stroke itself across his cheek. Almost a loving caress.
Spell cast, the mage broke free and jumped forward the next spell already started. Light sparked from his hands as he touched the shadow and with a squeal it dissipated. Suddenly freed, Wufei collapsed to the ground.
"What... what was that!" His voice shook as Milliardo kneeled beside him.
"Part of what holds the land." The mage said grimly. "It was checking you... deciding whether you were friend or enemy." He helped Wufei back to his feet. "I think we better move quickly... they'll be looking for us."
Wufei nodded, a strange expression on his face, as they started to move swiftly through the forest.
"What is it, Wufei?"
"What?" The boy jumped.
"I can feel your concern. What's bothering you?"
Wufei sighed. "That thing... when it touched me..."
"You enjoyed it." Milliardo finished for him.
"I don't know if I'd go that far.... but I wasn't afraid of it. I was more afraid of my own reaction to it."
The platinum haired man stopped and turned, placing a hand on Wufei's shoulder. "Wufei, I have my suspicions that in some part of your journey here, you encountered such a creature."
Wufei opened his mouth to speak and Milliardo silenced him. "It would have made sure you did not remember. I believe that it may have left part of itself with you, though. I can't be sure, I couldn't tell when I examined your pendant."
"Can't you do something?"
"Not unless it shows itself. Which, I'm sure it will eventually and we'll have to wait until then to deal with it."
"How can you trust me, if this is true." The black haired boy questioned, almost angrily.
"Because the person that is you, can be trusted." Milliardo said simply. "Now, let's not worry about it until the time comes that we have to."
Wufei nodded slowly and the pair started moving again. Milliardo increasing his light spell to help them see their way through the woods.
Trowa's eyes flew open and he jumped up from where he'd been resting as Quatre cried out. Moving to sit beside the young healer, his green eyes filled with concern as he saw how flushed the blonde's pale skin had become. His face covered in a fine sheen of sweat, Quatre began to thrash under the cloaks.
"He's slipping even further away." Trowa murmured to himself. "Quatre." He spoke quietly, leaning forward and taking one of the boy's hands in his own. "Tell me what I should do?"
He gasped as he was flooded with feelings... and on top of everything he felt the healer's certainty that he was dying... and his fear of not wanting to fail those that depended on him. Then as the blonde went rigid, a sharp cry escaping from his lips, Trowa saw his own healing.
"Is that it? You need my strength?" He whispered. "But, I don't know what to do."
Quatre's eyes snapped open and for an instant the soft blue depths focused on Trowa. Grabbing Trowa's arms, he gasped...."Are you willing?"
"Please..." He cried out with great effort. "ARE you willing?"
Trowa blinked for a second. "Yes." He said in a low voice. "If it will help you."
Quatre grasped his hand as his eyes slid shut and his breathing seemed to stop. Trowa fought down a wave of desperation as he thought the healer had perished. Then, a series of images flooded his mind, startling him, making him cry out.
Throwing back the cloak, covering Quatre's slim form, he moved quickly, pulling his tunic off of him. Then he leaned back and practically ripped his own top off. Lying down beside the blonde, he cursed as he pulled Quatre against him. In the span of a couple minutes, the boy had gone from feverish to icy cold. Reaching back, he grabbed the cloak and pulled it around them.
"Whatever strength I can offer to you... take it... please." He whispered, holding the blonde tightly.
He went rigid as he felt like something had slipped into his own mind. Clutching Quatre to his chest, he was dimly aware of the space around them glowing brightly, overpowering the dim light that Milliardo left behind.
Then his last conscious thought was of searing agony ripping through him as everything around him went black.
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