Quatre woke shortly after dawn. Blinking the sleep from his eyes, he lifted his head from the rolled up jacket Atreusio had given to him as a pillow, glancing around warily.
They were still in the woodlands; by the time they had stopped to sleep, Quatre had been too exhausted to even think of running away. He had a feeling Neo had planned it that way. The man who had been there to bring them all from the old house had appeared briefly before Quatre had fallen asleep, staring at him strangely before holding a low conversation with Neo and Atreusio and then leaving once more.
Any ideas Quatre had had of slipping away were destroyed when he spotted Neo squatting by a small fire, poking it with a stick and watching him silently. Sitting up, Quatre felt cloth slip and looked down. Neo's jacket had been put over him sometime during the chilly night. So the boy wasn't as heartless as he seemed.
"Good morning," he said politely, out of habit, his voice low so as not to awaken Atreusio. He could see the boy slumbering nearby, face peaceful in sleep, fingers curled by chin, palm up. He looked slender and fragile and very pretty, and Quatre felt a strange twang of sympathy for him that he could not understand.
"Hn." Neo glanced towards his sleeping companion before turning his attention back to the campfire. "Aren't we the early bird."
"As are you," Quatre countered, rising to his feet and hesitating before walking slowly over to the fire. He didn't relish being so close to his captor, but it was chilly, and the fire looked inviting. As he seated himself across from the sullen boy, he noticed the absence of matches and wondered at it. He gazed across the quietly crackling flames, studying the other boy.
He was actually quite handsome, though not so delicately structured as Atreusio to be considered "pretty". His wispy brown hair was a little long, the bangs hanging in his face and the back almost touching his shoulders. The ends were curled just slightly in wayward directions, and the early sunlight caught the red and gold highlights in it. His eyes looked less dark and intimidating by day, and he had a stubborn jaw, his chin nicked with a small scar. He was taller than Atreusio, and more firmly built, with wirey arms, his shirt- sans the jacket -stretched over a finely toned torso. A small earring that looked something like a star on a very tiny, thin chain, dangled from his right ear, spinning slightly when he moved. There was a thick silver earcuff above this.
"Could you please tell me why this is happening to me?" Quatre inquired, very quietly, lowering his gaze to stare into the fire. "I feel like a dog being led on a leash. If I have no choice in the matter, I at least wish you would explain things a little to me."
"No choice..." Neo chuckled darkly, and Quatre looked up at him curiously. "You're funny." He tossed the stick into the fire, gazing at the blond with hooded eyes. "I guess you guys never got Atreusio's note. He knew you were in danger; he tried to warn your team mates."
Quatre blinked. "We never got a note..."
"We couldn't find you." Neo shrugged one shoulder. "So we gave it to that girl. Relena. She's stalking one of your friends, right? I guess she was too stupid or slow to get it to you in time."
Quatre was confused. "You wrote a note warning me that I was in danger and then you kidnap me? I don't understand. Were you warning me against yourselves?" he asked sarcastically.
Neo smirked. "Don't be smart. There's people out to get you, Quatre. You just don't know it."
Quatre was silent, listening in mild disbelief.
"It was either get you the hell to Avarion or sit by and let you get killed." Neo picked up a nearby twig and began poking the fire again, lowering his eyes as if in dismissal. "Would you have rather have stayed behind to die? Atreusio knows you don't want to die. And there's something big you have to do. So we couldn't afford to let you get killed."
"You aren't making sense," Quatre stated. "What do you mean he knew I was in danger? You keep talking about him as if-"
"-he's a fortune teller?" Neo grinned humorlessly. "Just trust me, kiddo. You would have died if we had left you with your team mates, and it would have been a very unpleasant death."
"So you drag me from my home and keep me chained like a hostage?" Quatre demanded bitterly.
Neo arched an eyebrow. "If we had shown up and simply asked you to come with us you wouldn't have. And your silly little lover would have tried to get rough." Quatre flushed indignantly at the comment to his koi, but Neo continued blithely. "And we couldn't unchain you until we were sure you weren't the other one."
"Other one?" Quatre echoed, blinking. "I don't understand."
They both looked up. Atreusio was sitting up, watching them with an expresionless face. He turned his eerie eyes towards Neo and after a few moments Neo scowled and turned his attention back to the fire, dropping the subject. "Never mind," he said gruffly. "I guess you really are who they were looking for, so as long as you behave you'll be treated decently."
Quatre noted the grudging respect in his tone and wondered at it before Atreusio walked over, offering a very small smile that was not unkind. "Good morning, Quatre," he said softly. "How are your wrists?"
Quatre blinked, holding up his hands palm-up to inspect them. The flesh was healing surprisingly fast, the only indication of yesterday's hardships marked by a pink ring around each wrist from the manacles. The cuts from the constant rubbing of the chains as he had tried to pry them loose were gone. "Oh! They don't even hurt," he said in surprise. He looked up, offering a tentative version of his old sunny smile. "Arigato. That ointment really helped. What was it?"
"An old recipe from a friend," Atreusio said evasively, looking around. He directed his next words at Neo. "We're almost there. We can hand him over to Silverwolf when we reach the falls."
"Aa." Neo grunted.
Quatre looked from one to the other. "Silverwolf? Who's that?"
"Someone that can explain things to you," Atreusio said. "You'll like her."
"Where's the man who was here earlier?" Quatre looked around warily. He didn't really like the rough man.
"Hikaru? He is needed elsewhere."
"He isn't one of us," Neo added in a sullen mutter.
Atreusio glanced at him, a silent order for silence, and continued, "He was merely helping us by Silver's request. I guess you would call him a sort of...mercenary." He smiled at the relieved look on Quatre's face. "He can be an unsavory character," he admitted. "And I can't say I'm disappointed to part ways with him."
Neo shot him a look from under hooded lids, looking as if he'd like to say something impolite about Hikaru, but decided after a moment to keep his thoughts to himself.
"Once you are with Silver and her...friends.. you can decide whether you wish to stay or go back home," Atreusio said, looking at Quatre intently. "The danger that threatened you cannot reach you while you are with us, but Silver does not believe in forcing people to do things against their will, and is actually one who frowned on our taking you. She believes strongly in a person's free will. If you stay with her, you will be much safer than if you return. But if you go back to your team mates, you will die." He said it simply, as if reporting the weather, and Quatre shivered slightly, spooked.
"All right.." he said uneasily. Good. He had a feeling he'd like this Silverwolf woman. As soon as she said hello he was going to turn his tracks towards home. These people were crazy, and he was nearly itching with the urge to bury himself against Wufei's solid chest, aching for the feel of strong arms holding him securely, protectively.
As if he could tell what Quatre was thinking, Atreusio's face softened. "I know you must miss your lover," he said quietly. "But please wait until Silver has had her say before you make any decisions."
Atreusio's fond nickname of the mysterious woman made Quatre wonder how well he knew her. He nodded reluctantly. It was only fair. "All right," he promised.
"Let's have breakfast, then," Neo said abruptly, reaching for his pack, "so we can hurry up and get there."
"I'd rather eat on the run," Atreusio intervened, rising. "If you don't mind."
"Good, makes things faster," Neo said. He shouldered the pack and turned to Quatre as Atreusio gathered the jackets from the ground. "Think you can keep up? We're going to be walking pretty fast."
"I can keep up," Quatre said defensively. He was, after all, a Gundam pilot, he thought with injured pride.
Neo smirked a little, nodding. "All right, then. Let's go."
"Oh, Neo," Atreusio said abruptly just as they were starting to walk away. "The fire..."
Quatre glanced over his shoulder instinctively at the blaze as Neo turned, saying "Oh, yeah..."
Then Neo did something that caused Quatre's heart to leap into this throat.
Glancing casually towards the fire, Neo waved his hand in the air.
The fire sputtered and died immediately seven feet away.
"She's insane," Duo said bluntly.
Heero didn't agree, but he didn't argue the point, either. After
telling the others a brief version of what had happened at Relena's, he had
taken Duo aside. There was something he had to ask him.
"Duo, the note she showed me had a name."
Duo blinked curiously, leaning against one of the squat trees in
Quatre's lawn, enjoying the shade it provided. "A name? What was it?"
Heero stared at him piercingly, waiting for a reaction. "Atreusio."
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