Ch 19: Dungeons and Princesses

"Let me go!! Aieee!!"
"Dammit.." I growl, dashing through passageways as the screams grow closer. "Stupid *brat*..!"
"Heero!! Eeekk!"
"Hyaaaa!!!" I dive into the tunnel the screams are issuing from, barreling into a pair of goblins, knocking them flat. I roll swiftly to my feet, gun appearing in my hand as if by magic. With a few quick shots I have killed three more and sent the rest scurrying for safety, squealing in terror. Damn, almost out of bullets already. And my powers are dwindling this deep under.
I turn my attention quickly to the heap whimpering quietly against the wall and sigh with exasperation, thrusting my gun in my belt and walking towards her, standing over her imperiously and glaring with a mixture of frustration and pure anger. "I thought I told you to stay behind!!"
She look up at me, arms wrapped around herself, her dress a little torn, mud and tears staining her pretty face, her eyes large and frightened. Blood seeps slowly from a cut on her arm, probably made by a claw in her struggles. She opens her mouth helplessly, trembling like a leaf, visibly shaken by the sudden monster attack. "I..."
I sigh, rolling my eyes and feeling a twinge of pity for her in spite of myself. I crouch before her, looking her in the eye sternly. "I told you to stay behind for a reason, you know," I say irritably. "What if I hadn't come along, eh? You would have--oof!"
She launches forward, and for a moment I half-expect her to either deck me or start shaking me and screaming for Heero.
To my complete and utter shock, she burrows her face against my chest, throws her arms around my neck, and begins crying: wrackng sobs that shake her already-trembling body. Stunned, I simply sit frozen for a long moment before hesitantly reaching up and placing my hand against her hair in an awkward gesture of comfort. I sigh silently, allowing her to hold me in her death grip. I can't really blame her, I guess. She's never seen goblins before. Not many people have. Being suddenly confronted and attacked by half a dozen after believing monsters to be fairy tales must be a terrifying experience.
"Daijabou," I say quietly, letting her cry. "They're gone..." I glance around to make sure they aren't planning on putting on a reappearance, speaking absently. "You shouldn't have come. Heero asked us not to let you. He.."
"H-Heero..." She stiffens, slowly pulling away and staring up at me, eyes scared once more, but this time for him instead of herself. "Where is he? Is he all right?!"
Here we go again. I lower my hand from her head and nod, looking her right in the eye. "He's fine. The others are getting him out of here."
Her eyes flash. "What about you? You left him?"
"I came to save *you*, remember?" I snap angrily, and she lowers her eyes, looking instantly charinged. "Look," I sigh, rising to my feet and pulling her up by her elbows. "We need to get out of here. Heero's in bad shape, and--"
"What did they do to him?" she demands frantically, seizing my sleeves and gazing up at me beseechingly. "Will he be all right?"
"Yes, yes, I told you, he'll be fine," I insist, trying to pry her fingers loose. "Just as soon as we get him to the safehouse where we can take care of him."
"What?! The *safehouse*? He needs medical attention!" she cries, hurrying alongside me as I stride back the way I came. "We need to get him to a doctor!"
"No way, toots," I growl, swiping my hand in a gesture of finality. "We're Gundam pilots, remember? Too much risk. We can take care of it."
She gives a cry of outrage. "His *life* could be in danger, and you don't care!! All you care about is your stupid missions and whether or not another soldier dies or not!"
I whirl on her, lashing out without thinking, my palm cracking hard against her cheek, smacking her into a wall with a pained squeak. I glare daggers at her, breathing harshly. "Don't you tell me whether or not I CARE!" I shout as she slowly raises a hand to her cheek, head still turned from the blow. "Heero means more to me than ANYTHING, do you understand?! He will not DIE! I won't let him, god damn you!"
Slowly she turns her face, eyes meeting mine, her lips open in stunned silence, her hand covering the angry bruise already spreading across her left cheek. Something in her eyes looks blank and horrified, but whether it is from the actual blow or my confession, I neither know nor care. I seize her roughly by her upper arm and drag her along as I storm down the tunnel. "*Move* it, queenie," I snarl, fighting down the urge to bruise *both* cheeks. "Or I'll leave you behind."
She staggers after me silently, stumbling over her torn dress, and I growl impatiently, eyes darting around, ever on the alert for danger, my heart pounding out a frantic warning: Hurry hurry hurry hurry...
Something is wrong. I can feel it.
"Going somewhere, Shinigami-chan?"
That mocking tone and Relena's faint squeal of fear are the last things I hear before dark fog suddenly swirls up around us, fogging my senses and sending me into unconsciousness.


My own pained groan drags me slowly into the world of the living, and I force heavy eyelids open, blinking groggily and turning my head sluggishly from side to side in an effort to wake up fully. "Nnngghh...."
"He's waking up.."
The subdued joy in the tone reaches my drowsy brain. Quatre..
"Duo... daijab-- Yeeaa!!!"
His pained shriek snaps me awake quicker than any gentle shake could have. I sit bolt upright, so fast my head spins. ~~Quatre!!~~
All around me is darkness so thick I can't even see my own hand reaching out blindly in front of me. "Quatre!"
A pain-filled whimper is my only reply, along with a quiet curse and the rustle of chains.
Wufei's strained and furious voice comes from the direction of Quatre's scream. "Don't do that...he warned us..."
"...Quatre..." Trowa's voice, quiet but laced with grief and worry.
"Mm..d-daijabou..." I hear Quatre pant quickly, and can almost imagine his weak smile. "I-I'm..fine..."
"Quatre!" I try to rise, but the shackles around my wrists hold me fast. I yank on them uselessly, blinking hard as I try in vain to see. "What's going on? Where are we? I thought you all got out!"
"Hn." I hear Wufei's chains clink. "We were intercepted near the exit."
"Wh-where's Heero?" I ask, dreading the answer.
"...." The dragon takes a moment to answer, and when he does, his voice is gruff. "Irdarr took him."
My throat goes dry.
"He took Relena, too," Quatre speaks up in a hoarse whisper. "I think I overheard him telling the goblins to go get the mirror. He killed the tiger. He just...just *looked* at it, and..."
"Quatre.." Trowa's murmured comfort silences the whimpering blond, and reaching out tentatively with the mind-link, I finally determine their whereabouts, closing my eyes and seeing them in my head.
Wufei is crouching by the far wall, his own wrists chained like mine, his eyes staring towards me, frustration written in his face and in the tension in his body. Even he cannot see in this complete and total darkness. Not far from him sits Trowa, his arms around Quatre in a comforting gesture, the blond slumped against his side, face buried in his shoulder like a terrified kitten. They, too, are chained. My heart thumps with bitterness and sorrow at the high-strung state they are in. I can faintly taste the fear in each of them, and it only adds to mine.
"Kuso.." I breathe quietly, trying to force down the rising mortal panic. Not now, Duo. I don't need you. Not now. Shinigami's cool head is needed in a situation like this.
I close my eyes, my mouth twitching into a slight frown as I sift through old, buried memories that come free with some difficulty as I carefully untangle them from Duo's own personal childhood memories, placing aside the ones we shared together. I need to know more about Shinigami's cousin... any small thing that might be in my unconsciousness, maybe some weakness I picked up long ago without realizing it was a flaw in his power.....

I look up lazily from where I am sprawled on my bed, munching thoughtfully on some small delight, fingers already dipping into a glass bowl for another sweetmeat. "Irdarr," I greet without enthusiasm. "What brings you here?"
He steps unhesitatingly into my chambers, glancing at the sleeping form curled against me before giving me his full attention. "You don't come out that often anymore. We are beginning to think you are growing soft." His generous lips curve in a small sneer. "One would think you were actually *attatched* to the mortals you are destined to destroy."
I raise an eyebrow, not bothered by his accusations. "I am not destined to *destroy*, cousin. I lead them to their rest, at whatever age, when I feel it is time for them to leave their dreary lives. You are the destroyer, not I."
He snorts quietly, eyes transferring once more to the golden head against my chest, the sky-blue eyes closed in deep slumber, face sweet and smooth. One shimmering white wing shifts slightly as he dreams. I never take my eyes from the taller man at the foot of my sprawling bed, tracing one hand tenderly down the bare side pressed close to me, the hint of a wicked smile appearing on my features. "He's a beauty, isn't he? I haven't had one like him, before."
There is no emotion in his eyes or tone. "I recognize him. Is he not the Archangel's son?"
"His youngest." My smile is definately evil, now. "And yes, before you ask...I know *exactly* how pissed off he would be if he found out." I laugh quietly. "It is practically forbidden," I murmur thoughtfully after a moment, eyes riveted to the peaceful face, fingers tracing his jaw. "But he intrigued me. Little Quatre..."
"...." My cousin lifts his chin defiantly, and I smirk secretly at the flash of jealousy in his silver eyes. "And if he dies?" he asks coolly. "You will have to find another plaything, then, little cousin."
I turn a bored look his way. "He is no plaything. I do not intend to use him until I tire of him and toss him aside. That is your department." I yawn rudely, pretending not to notice his annoyed look. "This lovely creature stays with me as long as he wants. I have had him for over a week, and I think I'm growing quite fond of him." I shrug slightly, feeling a chill and realizing the sheets are only pulled up to my waist. Ah, well. Modesty is not my department, either. Why hide something so obviously beautiful, ne? "If and when he dies, however... I will give him the gift of his name."
Irdarr gives me a wry look. "It is believed that in some cases those reborn with their original names will have a better chance at reclaiming their memories," he says snidely. "I was right. You *are* growing soft."
"Hn." I turn my eyes from him dismissively. "Is that the only reason you came here? To whine?" I flick my fingers in his direction. "We have never gotten along, so it cannot be you came just to wish me 'good day'. Go. You're boring me. Besides, I need to be ready for Quatre when he awakens." I grin ferally.
His jaw tightens, but he keeps his cool. I can never help pricking his pride in this manner, displaying each new lovely, willing lover I have, knowing the bedmates he has are always either unwilling or prostitutes. His cruel nature wards off any potential mates, and being a solitude Diety can get achingly lonesome, as hard as it is to admit. "One day," he says quietly, voice like ice, "one of your little toys is going to disappear...And I'll be the one laughing."
My eyes harden as I sit up partially, my own voice dangerous. "Do not dare speak to me that way in my own domain, Irdarr," I warn. "Your powers are nothing here. Threaten another of my mates once more, and you will find yourself in a very sad position indeed."
He looks completely unconcerned with this threat. "We shall see, Shinigami-sama," he says mysteriously, and leaves without another word.

I bite my lip hard at this recollection. So he was true to his word, after all. Although he was not the one to slay Quatre-- that was the work of a demon Shinigami himself tore apart afterwards --he kept his word by stealing Heero from me.
Damn him.
This far into his domain, my powers are useless, as his were when he entered Shinigami's chambers so many years ago. We must have passed through another dimension somewhere in the tunnels that led to his realm, which would be the only explanation for our decreasing powers. To protect themselves, each Diety's domain and home is created for just that one Diety, sapping the energies and Power of any who cross into it, a safeguard that kills mere mortals and protects the owner from other potential enemy Dieties and Demons.
My frown deepens, my eyes still closed tightly. If that were true, however,-- if we really are in his domain --Relena should have fallen dead to the ground from the energy being sapped from her. She was so deep in the tunnels, that as a mortal she should not have survived the barrier's powers.
Perhaps we aren't in his domain.
But then why the Power drainage?
I force these thoughts quickly to the back of my mind before the others can see them in the mind-link. ~~Hai, Quatre?~~ you think he's going to kill us?~~
I swallow hard. He knows as well as the rest of us that should Irdarr decide to kill us, Shinigami would be the only one to survive. The Beast Master's Chosen One will Replace him, and Quatre will die for the second time, and unless Shinigami manages to return to his Realm in time, he will not be reborn. The same goes for Wufei. Last of the Dragons. I wonder absently what Wufei's old name was...from his life as a full dragon, but I force myself to sound confident. ~~Pah! Daijabou, Q-man! I'll think of something.~~
--hn-- Wufei sounds unimpressed, and I tactfully ignore him.
In my mind's eye I see Trowa gaze towards the ceiling passively, the slightest undercurrent of sadness coming from him. If we are killed, he will lose Quatre... I swallow hard. Trowa... Wufei... Quatre....
I will not let you die!

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