Chapter 1: New Beginnings
NOTE!! This series is part of the "NIGHT" arch. If you haven't read "Stargazers" or "Starlight", this fic won't make any sense. *sweatdrop* Especially the original characs. For anyone that enjoyed the previous "Stargazers" fics, I hope this one doesn't disappoint you. ^_^ Ja~
The sun flooded through the windows on the east side of the small summer cabin that Quatre had rented as a temporary hideaway, causing the dust motes to dance in its light. It slipped through a crack in the curtains drawn over one window to shine mercilessly into the eyes of one irritated Chang Wufei.
Wufei grunted and rolled over, squinting. "Somebody turn off the sun," he growled under his breath. Somebody nearby giggled, and a hand fell on his back, shaking him lightly.
"Get up, sleepy head," a cheerful voice cajoled. "It's almost seven thirty."
"I need my sleep," Wufei retorted, keeping his back firmly turned and his eyes shut.
The bed creaked as his waker knelt at his back, touching his shoulder. "Ne, Wufei, didn't get enough sleep last night or something?" he asked innocently.
"B-baka," Wufei sputtered, rolling over to glare up at his lover, face flaming. The golden-haired boy leaning over him smiled radiantly.
Quatre Raberba Winner was not, Wufei decided, as innocent as he looked.
"Rise and shine," Quatre sang, leaning over to kiss the other boy quickly before climbing off the cot once more. "Trowa's making breakfast."
"Nnf." Wufei sat up, rubbing at his eyes wearily, combing his fingers through loose ebony locks almost ruefully. What was with Quatre's fascination with his hair down? He was going to have to brush the tangles out of it before putting it back up. He reached for his pants as Quatre pushed aside the thick curtain that served as a 'door' between the main part of the cabin and the bedroom area. "He's up," Quatre called.
"Aa," a quiet voice replied.
Wufei rose, tugging the string on his pants and grabbing his shirt, his stomach grumbling eagerly at the smell of cooking sausage. Padding after his Arabian lover, he entered the den/kitchen area, where Trowa was standing over the stove grilling sausages, a covered bowl of oatmeal already set aside.
"Ohayo," Trowa greeted calmly with a glance in Wufei's direction.
Wufei inclined his head in response, tugging his shirt over his head. Trowa returned to his cooking.
Quatre was definately the most affectionate of the three, making it a point to kiss or touch his two lovers at any given time, always ready with a smile or an "i love you", calling them koi on occassion just to embarrass them. Trowa and Wufei, while they came across as dispassionate when it came to the two of them, did not need to put their feelings on display as their blond lover was inclined to do. A glance, the slightest passing touch, was enough. They knew how they felt for each other; they did not find it necessary to be uncharacteristically affectionate. This had worried Quatre at first, but after more observation during the first few months of their relationship, he came to understand this about his two normally stoic lovers and accepted it graciously, content to love them in his own way.
Quatre reached up to kiss Trowa on the cheek before seating himself happily at the square wooden table, reaching for the paper plates he had bought the other day at the grocery store. Wufei noted with wry amusement that Quatre no longer had to stand on tiptoe to kiss his tall lover, having finally grown some more in the past year.
"You're in a good mood this morning," Wufei observed with a small, amused grin.
"Hai," Quatre agreed with a sunny smile. "Aren't you?"
Wufei blinked, shooting a questioning look towards Trowa.
Trowa arched a brow at him, lips almost hinting at a smile as he chuckled inwardly at his koi's cluelessness. "We're meeting Duo and Heero today," he reminded him calmly.
"You forgot?" Quatre exclaimed, looking wounded.
Wufei scowled, picking up a comb from the counter and running it through his hair until it was silky again. "Oh, that. Why are you so excited about seeing that loud-mouthed baka Maxwell again?"
"Because it's been almost four months," Quatre said, passing the plates to Trowa. "Ever since we became civilians we've all been staying low. Now we can finally meet them again and celebrate being free."
"Free?" Wufei repeated, pulling his hair back in its severe ponytail. "We still have to be careful in case someone recognizes us."
"Don't do that," Quatre protested as Wufei seated himself beside the blond.
"What?" Wufei asked blankly.
Quatre made a face and reached for the other boy's ponytail.
Wufei leaned away quickly. "Baka," he reprimanded, grabbing the boy's wrist. "Leave it."
"But it looks so much better when it's down," Quatre wheedled, looking to Trowa for help, suspecting the other boy felt the same.
"Leave him alone, little one," Trowa said quietly, handing the Arabian a plate of sausage.
Quatre pouted for a moment, but took the plate and said nothing else about it.
Wufei reached for the large bowl of oatmeal. "When are we supposed to meet them?"
"At noon," Quatre said with a pointed look. "Remember?"
"I wonder how they're doing," Quatre mused, glancing towards the window as he cut up his sausage.
"Relationship-wise?" Wufei grunted, spooning oatmeal onto his plate. "A hot-head and a stubborn ass who had to be taught how to feel... I'll be surprised if they managed to put up with each other this long."
"Wufei!" Quatre exlaimed, staring at him, agast.
Trowa calmly reached for the oatmeal. "Wufei's right, in a way," he said quietly, ignoring Quatre's wide-eyed look. "Though they waited for each other long enough that I think they can handle each other now."
"That's right," Quatre said quickly, stabbing his sausage righteously. "Everyone knows Duo's loved Heero since he met him. And Heero proved how he felt about Duo when he got jealous about Davarius."
"That doesn't prove anything on Heero's part," Wufei said, spreading his oatmeal to cool it. "He could have just been jealous because something he considered 'his' in some vague way was taken away from him. If he doesn't really love Duo, their attempt at a relationship is a waste of time."
Quatre looked crestfallen. He turned to Trowa. "Trowa? What do you think?"
Trowa took a bite of sausage. "I think we'll find out when we meet them," he said matter-of-factly.
And that was the end of the discussion.
In the nearly four months since he had settled himself in the small town of Hartsville, Duo realized that morning outside the general store, he had yet to go anywhere near St. Benedict's.
He could see it from where he was standing, brown paper bag of groceries held against his chest as he stood on the curb, gazing down the street at the large, impressive church with its spires and arched stained-glass windows. The big stone cross atop its highest tower seemed almost to mock him, daring him to set foot inside the dim, cool cathedral. It was old- as old as the small town itself. The angels carved above the enormous entryway watched him with emotionless eyes anytime he so much as walked across the street from it, and the very sight of it stirred memories best left buried.
And yet, despite the unease the big Catholic church caused him, Duo was comfortable in the tiny, old-fashioned town. Heero had asked him at first why he was so keen to visit a place that Davarius himself had introduced Duo to. Duo had not been quite sure of the answer himself. He had wanted to visit at first merely to go back to the dusty little Craft shop Davarius had taken him to, to thank the lady for encouraging him to buy the stone that in the end had given him the stamina needed for his revenge. But the town appealed to him, and he couldn't help but think back to that day when he had yearned to walk down the streets of Hartsville holding Heero's hand, knowing the complacent citizens wouldn't even glance twice at the sight. He knew Heero liked the place, too- it was small, quiet, and not well-known. It was the perfect place for two ex-soldiers to quietly begin a new life together.
Of course, Duo admitted to himself as he turned his back on the church and headed towards home, their life together hadn't started out all peaches and cream.
After the first two weeks they had been ready to kill each other. Duo's over-affectionate, talkative mannerisms drove Heero to near-homicide, and the ex-perfect soldier's lack of visible emotions and gruff attitude aggravated Duo to no end. They had fought almost daily- loud, sometimes violent arguments that always ended with slammed doors, bruises, and hurt feelings.
It was only when, in frustration, Heero finally claimed he was leaving for good, that Duo let go of his pride and broke down, begging Heero to stay. Visibly startled by Duo's outstream of emotions, apologies, and soforth, Heero had cooled down and they had spent a night free of arguing for the first time in weeks.
Ever since then they had learned to accept each other for who they were, and also to curb some of their habits to appease the other. Compromises were made, and arguments still happened, but never as violent as the ones that had almost destroyed their relationship in the beginning.
Love, Duo thought ruefully, and relationships aren't as easy as everyone pretends they are. Sacrifices have to be made, pride has to be put aside. He had gone through a lot to make Heero his, and there was nothing in this world- not even his own stubbornness -that was going to take him from him.
Duo paused at the lobby door to the apartment he and Heero had leased, holding open the door for an old woman who smiled at him as she passed. Whistling quietly to himself, Duo gave a quirky grin to the manager behind the desk- who for some reason held a smouldering, grumpy dislike for teenagers with braids and big mouths -and took the elevator to the third floor.
Heero glanced up at the sound of a key in the door, shutting the lid of his laptop- a belonging Duo had tried many times to either trash or convert to his own personal game and e-mail toy.
"Tadaima~" Duo called as he entered, kicking the door shut behind him. "They were out of bread, so I got cookies instead."
Heero walked into the kitchenette, offering Duo a dead-pan look. "Duo. Cookies are not a substitute for bread."
"Sure they are," Duo scoffed, pulling milk and apples from the bag. "Made of the same stuff, aren't they? Except for the chocolate and sugar part, I mean."
"I'm just kidding. I got cookies AND bread."
"You like Oreos, right?"
Heero opened his mouth again.
"What, koi?" Duo asked, his back to his lover as he dumped the cookies into a tin jar on the countertop.
Heero made a mental note to curb Duo of that annoying habit of pretending not to listen. "Quatre e-mailed us."
"Let me guess," Duo laughed, dumping the empty Oreo wrapper in the wastebin. "He was making sure we didn't forget we were all going to meet at noon."
"Aa." Heero reached past Duo for a cookie.
Duo swatted his hand away unblinkingly. "Cookies are not a substitute for breakfast, Hee-chan," he mimicked. "Is he still with Trowa and Wu-man?"
"Why don't you ask Trowa?" Heero challenged, grabbing a cookie. Living with Duo, who always had a barrage of treats on hand, Heero had acquired something of a sweet tooth.
Duo stuck his tongue out at his lover. "I haven't talked to Trowa since last week. I don't wanna.. y'know, call and interrupt them in the middle of bonking or anything."
Heero gave Duo a Look.
"What??" Duo threw his arms up in defense. "I'm serious! Calling on the phone is different- they can ignore it or stop what they're doing. If *I* call Tro, I could hear whatever he's thinking while he's screwing Wu-man or something." Duo made a face. "Geh, wish I hadn't thought of that."
Heero snorted and turned, walking back into the main room.
"Don't forget," Duo called after him, cramming the milk into the small fridge. "You promised we could visit Trinity this week."
"Aa," Heero replied, opening his laptop once more.
"Can I play Cubix when you're done?" Duo asked hopefully.
"What's the use of a laptop if you're not even going to play games on it?" Duo complained.
Heero, with a skill borne from years of practice, ignored him.
Griffin brushed away a trailing vine obscuring his view and glanced around, looking for any sign of movement among the lush wildlife of the forest his Circle had chosen to camp in. They had been at the familiar site for less than an hour and already he had lost his dark-haired young friend. "Trin?" he called, only half-expecting a response. Trinity tended to wander off into his own little world at times, blocking out everything around him aside from what he was focusing on. He seemed to love these woodland excursions more than any other members of the Circle did, and Silverwolf always smiled gently at him when he begged for permission to wander off by himself to explore.
Well, she may not be worried about him, Griffin thought grimly, but Trinity was still only fifteen. And after all that had happened a year ago with the Red Crystal Circle, the older Wiccan was still a little uneasy when the solemn boy left his side for too long unattended.
"Trin!" he tried again, stepping carefully over a lush batch of moss on an arched tree root as he set off further into the forest. "Where are you?"
He continued to walk quickly but carefully through the woodlands, avoiding treading on the plantlife around him and tactfully keeping his footsteps light and quiet so as not to disturb the wildlife.
His sharp ears soon picked up the faint sound of running water, and he turned his feet in that direction. Pushing through thorny brambles, he ducked under a large, curving tree limb and looked down a slight slope at a bubbling creek, almost blinded by the scattered reflection of the sun off its surface. Blinking, he moved slightly and scanned each side of the creek. He soon found the object of his search. "Trin," he called, leaning over the slope, gripping the limb firmly. "Oi, baka."
A young boy crouching on the creekbed didn't even look up, dark head bent as he watched the minnows in the water intently, fingertips trailing in the water. There was the faintest hint of a smile on his lips, as if he were hearing a song nobody else could hear.
"Trin," Griffin tried again, louder. He chucked a stick into the water near the boy's hands.
The boy gave a little start, as if waking from a doze, and looked up quickly, body tensed in preparation for fight or flight. His gray eyes softened in recognition when they landed on Griffyn, and he offered a smile. "Hi, Griffin," he greeted calmly, rising to his feet with a grace that belied his adolecense. Brushing his fingers off on the sides of his jeans, he watched the older boy climb down the slope and step carefully across the stream on a few slippery rocks.
"Baka," Griffin snorted the minute he reached his small friend, cuffing him lightly upside the head. "Didn't you hear me calling you?"
"Itai," Trinity yelped, covering his head. "Maa maa, Griffin.. Gomen ne. I didn't hear you. I was-"
"-thinking," Griffin finished the familiar excuse, rolling his eyes. "Yeah yeah. Enough thinking, water boy. It's almost breakfast time, and Silverwolf asked me to find you."
Trinity arched a brow at the taller boy in disbelief. Nine out of ten times, Griffin sought Trinity out on his own. "You worry too much," he complained.
"You don't worry enough," Griffin shot back, pushing his wild hair out of his face and glancing around. "How do you find these hidden little places? Eesh. You've got too much free time on your hands."
Trinity looked around with a slightly bewildered look. "It wasn't hidden," he said. "I knew the way."
Griffin opened his mouth to demand an explanation, but hesitated, glancing up at the gently swaying treetops overhead. Trinity always seemed to be able to find hidden little niches and hear the secrets the trees were whispering. Ever since last year... Despite the fact that Trinity had only very vague memories of what had occured that day on the hill with Duo, Quatre, and Davarius a year ago, he had never been quite the same since.
"Come on." Griffin took the smaller boy's arm in a careful grip. "Let's get back."
"Aa." Trinity smiled up at him. "I'm starving."
"You're always starving. You're a walking stomach."
Author's Notes: And Amiko, in all her glorious retardedness, starts another series. @__@ Somebody shoot me. Gehh *runs around like a chicken with its head cut off* Stupid muses! Arrgh! Why why??
*cough* Anyway, I'm currently working on half a dozen other fics right now -_- and I had the whim to write this at the airport this Thanksgiving weekend. 15 hours at the Atlanta airport can do that to ya. @_@ Feh. Hopefully its updates won't be as slow as Pride of Ice... *sweatdrop* Enjoy ^_^;
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