1: Gypsies and Soldiers
Notes: This is just one big giant AU crossover ^^; hee. So far there are characters from five different animes that I plan on sticking in here. The anti-crossover author is going to write a huge crossover. -_-; Go fig. OK, so because of that and because of the story, I've taken the liberty of changing everyone's ages a little. Nothin' specific, but it's obvious the GW boys are a little older than in the show, and when you finally meet the prince, he's younger than the age he is in the show. Also, there's of course going to be random OOCness, though nothing major..I hope. *sweatdrop* Also, be prepared for verrry different pairings. *evil grin* I don't think there are *any* canon pairings in this story. Well...maybe one. Anyway, I'm trying to make the chapters a decent length, and I'm trying to do a relatively good job on it, so forgive me if I take a few days getting new chapters up. I'm making sure to start the next chapter before posting finished ones, and hopefully that will make it go quicker. Ok.. enuff babbling. Enjoy the insanity! ^.~
Heero Yuy lifted his head, right fist placed over his breastplate, intense cobalt eyes hard as steel. His voice seemed to ring quietly into the silence of the throne room as advisors and guards held their breaths in mingled fear and hope of the captain's answer.
"Don't worry, Your Highness. We will find your son."
The Queen's lips, previously tightened in anxiety, softened into a relieved smile. "Thank you, Yuy. I knew I could count on you. Tell me if there is any way at all I can help you in your quest."
"I require only provisions and my choice of men to bring with me. He can't have gone far, Your Highness. I will have him back within a fortnight."
"Rise, then, and choose your men." The woman on the throne lifted her hand in blessing. "Take all that you need, my loyal Captain. Show my crest to my people if you meet with opposition, and may Suzaku watch your path."
The soldier bowed his head. "Thank you, Majesty," he murmured. "I won't fail you." With that he rose, cape snapping as he turned smartly on his heel, boots echoing loudly as he strode out, back straight, face impassive.
Chang Wufei glanced sideways as his Captain passed, the blond beside him looking to him anxiously, gripping his bow tightly. "Wufei," he murmured, but shut his mouth quickly when Heero snapped his fingers sharply in their direction, not even bothering to look their way, still headed for the doors. The two stepped onto the floor, falling in step behind him without hesitation, faces solemn as they followed the Captain out of the throne room, the large double doors slamming shut behind them.
"Captain Yuy, are you sure you don't want more soldiers??"
Quatre Winner looked up quickly, yanking firmly on his horse's saddle to make sure it was tight enough. The soldier confronting the Captain was backed up by three other eager young men.
"What if there are bandits? Do you really think three is enough?" Quatre recognized the boy as one of the more ambitious soldiers, one of the many that looked up to their Captain as the perfect soldier and the best fighter. "Take me with you," he urged.
Heero cut him off with an upraised hand, turning cold eyes on the stringy boy. "Iya," he said quietly. "Three is enough. These two are all I need. They have been through battle before. I know I can count on them."
"But you're always bringing those two!" the boy sounded like a petulant child as his face twisted in frustration. Wufei cast him a scornful look over his horse's back, but was ignored. "Let me go! I can-"
"Enough." Unimpressed, Heero turned his back on the younger boy, slinging his pack over his steed's saddle. "You aren't going. Now get back to your post." Shifting his sheathed sword out of the way, he leapt effortlessly into the saddle, taking up the reins of the snorting black stallion. His two companions quickly followed suit.
Quatre made sure his quiver was secured firmly by his thigh, then clucked to his mount, flicking the reins a little as the other two urged their horses forward, towards the main gates of the castle.
As they left the secured courtyard, their horses plodding onto the dirt road outside, Wufei slowed his horse so that he was riding beside the blond, glancing over at him. "Any idea where the prince could have gone?"
The smaller boy shook his head ruefully, reaching back to draw his hood over his head as muffled thunder rumbled warningly in the distance. "No, Nothing. Maybe Heero does." He sent his lover a hesitant look. "You don't...you don't think he's in trouble, do you?"
"The prince?" Wufei arched an eyebrow, one hand resting on the hilt of his sword, the other holding the reins firmly. "He was trained by Heero to look after himself. I don't think he'll be in any great danger. He's no weakling, though he looks it."
The mage riding beside him gnawed on his lip fretfully. "I know, it's just...I keep having the feeling that he's in danger."
Heero glanced over his shoulder at the two of them as he steered his horse down the road that would lead into the forest. "Danger? Is it a premonition, or a Sensing?"
The boy shook his head helplessly. "Most of the time I can't tell," he said helplessly. "I'm sorry..."
Heero nodded once, face its normal stone mask. "I hope you're wrong. He used magic at the gates to open them silently when he left; I'll be able to follow the residue for a certain distance, then we'll have to rely on other means to find him if he doesn't use magic again."
Wufei snorted, looking upwards towards the angry storm clouds slowly rolling in from the east. "I hope we reach the forest before the storm hits," he commented dryly. "I don't feel like starting this journey out looking like a wet rat."
Quatre nodded in heartfelt agreement. Heero merely grunted.
The purple-haired performer drew back the curtains on the makeshift stage a fraction to peep out at the crowd. "Whooo, quite a showing tonight!" he whispered excitedly. "Old Raven will be happy; we'll have enough dough to get supplies for the desert trek this season."
His friend stepped up beside him on silent feet, reaching up to lower the half-clown mask he wore for the performance, the emotionless face a strange contrast to the wide grin of the costume. His fellow actor leaned aside so he, too, could take a glimpse through the curtain, placing one jade eye to the slit. "Yes," he said quietly after a moment. "Just as long as we don't mess it up."
His friend made a face as he drew away, donning the grinning mask once more. "You're such a pessimist! As long as you don't flinch on our second act, it'll be fine! Loosen up, man!"
The shorter boy shrugged, pulling on white gloves, but didn't respond.
"Nuriko! Trowa!" They looked up as a man with wild black hair and a curving mustache popped his head behind the curtain, hissing their names. "Ayane is almost done with her act! You're up next-don't screw up!"
"Us? Screw up?" Nuriko laughed, fluffing the hair piled atop his head and checking an aged, cracked mirror to admire how his dress fit his slim form. "We're the best act you've got!"
Nuriko flashed a dazzling smile to his audience, sweeping his skirts in a curtsey, breathing a little quicker from his sensuous dance, his pants drowned in the loud catcalls and applause of the mostly male crowd. He couldn't hide a triumphant smirk as he straightened. 'Yeah, bet you'd all keel over if you saw what's under the dress.' Smiling and blowing a kiss, he turned to gesture as Trowa stepped out of the shadows holding five red wooden balls and nudging a large blue rubber one before him.
"Allow me to introduce the best acrobat this side of the river," Nuriko called out to the eager audience. "Trowa Barton!" Clapping along with the crowd, he stepped aside to allow his friend to take center stage.
Gazing out impassively at the faces before him, the wiry boy waited until he had everyone's attention before leaping suddenly into the air, flipping and landing neatly atop the large blue ball, arms extended as he gripped the smaller balls tightly in his hands. A scattering of awed applause greeted this, and then he began to juggle, tossing first two, then three, then finally four and five balls into the air and from hand to hand, steadily picking up speed until all that could be seen was a blurring red streak going around and around. The crowd howled their appreciation, clapping loudly and hooting. Then Trowa's feet moved, and he began rolling around the makeshift stage, eyes glued in concentration to the balls he was tossing. The applause grew louder, until finally he tossed the orbs one by one over his shoulder into a wooden pail Nuriko was holding behind him. Flipping off the blue ball, he bowed deeply to the crowd's cheering.
Grinning, Nuriko set down the pail and whipped out a handful of knives from behind his back. "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the final act!" he called to gain attention. Trowa strode past him, walking over to a large wooden target that was being wheeled to center stage by a young boy. Standing before it, he spread his arms and legs, allowing the boy to tie him to the target. Winking cheekily, Nuriko strutted to stand several feet in front of his trapped friend, and the crowd hushed as they realized what the next act was. "Do not move, Trowa Barton, or I might slice off an ear," the feminine boy called, tossing a dagger into the air and catching it by the blade skillfully. Taking careful aim, he drew back his arm, and then threw it hard and fast.
A few startled cries from the audience accompanied the noise as the deadly knife imbedded itself in the wood a mere inch from Trowa's unflinching face. Laughing and calling out teasing taunts, Nuriko hurled the remaining daggers in quick practiced succession, the knives skimming just past the trapped boy to bury themselves at his sides, between his legs, and around his shoulders. Trowa stood stock-still, face a blank mask, eyes devoid of fear, without a scratch on him. Nuriko whirled around, bowing deeply at the roaring of the crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen, the fearless Trowa Barton!!"
"Ne, no cuts, right? No scratches?" In the bustle of the crowd of actors undressing and putting away props, Nuriko anxiously examined his friend's face, tilting the unresisting chin with surprisingly strong fingers. The jade-eyed boy tossed his mask into a nearby chest.
"You never miss, Nuriko," he said calmly. "I wasn't hit."
The taller boy frowned slightly, dressed in men's clothes now that the show was over, his violet hair now in an efficient braid. "Maan... I wish you wouldn't always take it so calmly."
The boy turned, face lighting up at the familiar thatch of red moving through the crowd towards him. "Tasuki! Over here!" He waved wildly.
The grinning gypsy appeared in front of him, hoop earrings dangling as he scooped the whooping boy into his arms, kissing him soundly. "Oi, baka, miss me?" he teased, and received a playful punch that nearly bowled him over. "Ackk! Don't you know your own strength?!" he protested frantically.
Nuriko laughed sheepishly. "Ooops! Sorry 'bout that, Tasuki-channnn."
"O-oi!!" the bandit sputtered, flushing. "Don't call me that!"
"What, 'Tasuki-chan'?" he teased.
"Good show, good show." Trowa glanced up as the gypsy leader passed by, patting them firmly on the shoulders, his long mustache bobbing as he talked. "We earned just enough for the trek this autumn."
"Oi, Raven," Tasuki called as he started to pass. "We gonna celebrate tonight?"
"Of course!" the older man winked broadly. "Wine and cakes all around."
"Damn, that's what I'm talkin' about," the redhead cackled, punching his palm in anticipation.
"Mouuu, no fair, Tasuki will eat us out of house and home," Nuriko wailed.
Thunder cracked overhead, and Trowa turned his face upwards, letting the light drizzle wash the sweat from his features, calm eyes taking in the darkening sky. "It's going to storm soon," he said quietly. "We'd better pack up and circle the wagons." As if to prove his point, lightening flashed brilliantly enough to blind the troupe, casting eerie shadows everywhere. Stepping up beside him, Nuriko, too, tilted his chin, his face serious for once.
"Aa. It's going to be a violent storm. I hope no one's out in this weather."
They entered the forest just before the storm hit, the foliage above providing some amount of protection from the pounding rain. They urged their horses onwards as the rain grew steadily heavier, slowly making its way through the leaves and branches to soak the riders as they searched for shelter.
Finally Wufei's sharp eyes picked out a dark spot, and he called to his companions, pointing. They hurried towards the caves, pausing outside to allow Quatre to leap down and enter to search for any danger. The entrance was large enough for their horses to ride through unmounted, and they did so when the blond poked his head out to give the all-clear.
They quickly started a fire after tending to their animals, then set out their blankets while Quatre quickly heated up some water for coffee, listening to the pounding rain and the crashing thunder, blinking whenever the lightening flashed brightly enough to light up the cavern. Heero then took his sword and set off deeper into the cave to do a more thorough search, and Wufei seated himself beside his blond lover, accepting the steaming mug offered to him, grunting his thanks.
Quatre poured his Captain a mug, and then took one for himself, scooting over to lean his head on the warrior's shoulder, gazing out at the sheets of rain. His partner did not say anything, but he didn't pull away, either, taking careful sips from his drink.
"Why do you think the prince ran off?" the mage asked quietly, blowing on his mug to cool it. "His mother loves him very much, and he is treated well by everyone. I don't see why he would run away from home."
"He's a child," the other said dismissively. "Children do strange things. He's just throwing a royal temper tantrum."
"But he didn't seem angry the morning before he disappeared," Quatre mused, staring into the dark steaming liquid. "He seemed...pensive. For days he seemed lost in his own thoughts. He wasn't acting as cheerful as he normally does. I don't think he ran away to be naughty. I think he's after something."
"After something?" The bronze skinned soldier sent the slighter boy a sharp sideways glance. "Like what?"
"I don't know...I think his mother does, though." Quatre took a careful sip of the coffee, looking up as Heero returned from his scouting and placed his sword on his blanket. He picked up the extra mug and held it up as his Captain strode over and accepted it silently. "She didn't seem frantic or ashamed, like you would expect a mother to act when her child disappears," he continued as Heero took a seat across the fire. "She was worried, but she seemed almost as if she had an idea why her son took off like he did."
"The queen is usually a calm woman," Wufei countered.
"Yes, but you know how she dotes on the prince," Quatre argued. "Remember how worked up she got that one time when he went riding with Heero and got lost for an hour? I thought she was going to tear the woodlands apart looking for him. And now she's just quietly anxious?" He arched a brow. "I think they discussed something, and he took it into his mind to..." he shrugged. "Do something about it."
Heero glanced up at them over the rim of his mug, cobalt eyes glowing in the firelight. He said nothing.
They finished their coffee in silence. Heero was the first to finish. He rose, casting a glance outside. "The storm could last for hours," he said calmly. "Wufei, you take first watch. Then me, then Quatre. Whoever isn't on watch, get some rest. We have a long trek ahead when the weather clears."
To be continued...
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