Chapter 3: "Tease"


"Illiah?" I frown in confusion, glancing towards Trowa. "Who's that?"

Duo merely shakes his head, legs drawn up, chin resting on his knees. His arms are wrapped protectively around his legs, a gesture I sense is unconscious. Heero stands beside his chair tensely, a faint hum of concern in his thoughts for Shinigami.

I shudder slightly, remembering how he severed our mental connection. How did he *do* that? Is it because he's the Perfect Soldier? But not even Duo could do that! At least, I don't think so...

At least now the connection is back.

"Who carved that symbol into the ground?" Wufei demands, and Trowa adds quietly,

"And then filled it with the blood of Oz soldiers."

I close my eyes at the thought, swallowing hard.

A few minutes after the disconnection of our minds, Heero reopened it, ordering us to come look at what they had discovered. Trowa must have sensed the tone of disgust and slight fear coming from Duo, because he advised me to stay behind while he checked. I did so, and have no regrets, after feeling the muffled wave of startled revulsion that surged in Trowa moments after he left to inspect the discovery.

Even now as we talk about it I can faintly see the image of it flickering in their minds, though I strive to block it desperately. It's horrible to think about, much less *see*.

Trowa senses my distress from where he is sitting beside me on the couch and covers my hands with one of his graceful ones, sending me a quick glance of reassurance. I smile tremulously and take a deep breath to calm myself. It's silly getting so worked up over something I don't know anything about.

"You have to know who it was," Wufei growls impatiently, leaning against the side of the couch, arms crossed. "You said 'Illiah', and you said you recognized the symbol. So who did it and what does it mean?"

Duo doesn't even acknowledge his presense, and Heero looks torn between demanding an answer and leaving his koi alone to calm down.

I clear my throat, forcing a smile as I look to each of them. "Daijabou," I say quietly. "Never mind. Let him tell us when he's ready. Meanwhile, I think you'd better inform Dr. J of what happened, Heero, and the rest of us should be ready for any new mission he might give us. He'll more than likely ask us to look into this. Besides.." I smile ruefully, "I'm kind of hungry, and it's past lunch time."

Heero hesitates, then nods firmly, stepping away from the chair and reaching down to touch Duo's shoulder, silently entreating him to rise. "Right. Eat and get ready for the next mission. I'll go check with the doctor." Duo rises without a word, following him out the door. Wufei leaves a different way, no doubt determined to get some meditation or training done before we have to leave again.

"Come on." Trowa offers a small smile. "I'll make you lunch."

I smile back, letting him pull me to my feet, and follow him to the kitchen, never relinquishing my hold on his hand.


"Back already, kagerou?"

I grit my teeth but refuse to open my eyes, trying to remain calm and silent. I refuse to let that jackass ruin my meditation.

"Nice place for a nap." His sarcastic voice is right above me. "Though usually people lie *down* for a nap."

I don't bother to answer him, back rigid as I sit in the traditional pose for meditating.

After a few moments of tense silence, he plops down in the grass beside me. Well, perhaps "plop" isn't quite the right word. Even I will grudgingly admit to his natural grace. He's snuck up on me more than once: no easy feat. He walks as silently as the Beast Master's precious cats when he has a mind to.

"So how did it go, kagerou?" his voice is low and soothing, a little too close to my ear for comfort. "Everyone is so uptight. Especially Shinigami. What did you see? What happened, kagerou?"

"...." I won't give him the satisfaction of an answer, and that's that.

He is silent for a long time, and I am just beginning to think he has left on those silent feet of his when his breath tickles my ear suddenly, a long-fingered hand sliding suggestively up my knee to my thigh. "Kagerou," he sings quietly.

I jerk away so fast in shock I tumble onto my back, my face burning as I glare up at his laughing face. "Omae..!!" I sputter, scooting backwards on my butt quickly as he leans over me, leering. "Get away from me!! Don't touch me, hentai!"

"What's wrong, kagerou?" he taunts. "One would think you had never been teased this way before."

Is it even *possible* to be this red?? "G-get awy from me!"

"Now why would I do that?" He quickly takes advantage of the undignified position I have on my back, propping his hands on either side of my head and leaning over me, smirking down at me, enjoying my surprise and humiliation. "Come now, little dragon," he purrs quietly, gray hair slithering over his shoulders and shrouding both our faces, hiding the world around us so all I can see is his smirking face, forcing me to realize the beauty of his features now that I have nothing else to turn my eyes to. His golden eyes burn into mine, and for some reason my heart is going twice as fast as it should. I swallow hard, and he chuckles quietly, hoop earrings jingling as he shakes his head. "So nervous, kagerou," he murmurs. "And I haven't even done anything yet!"

I glare up at him angrily. "Get away from me before I hurt you, kisama," I growl threateningly.

"I wonder," he says with a mock thoughtful look on his face, "what you would do if I kissed you."

I choke on my threats, my eyes bulging. "N-nani??" I manage to croak, once more in the midst of a full-fledged blush. "Y-you--!"

"But that is for another day," he says briskly, surprising me from sitting up suddenly, pulling away from me and rising lithely to his feet, tossing his head to throw his mane over his shoulder. I quickly scramble to my feet, snapping my wings once to throw me a good seven feet away from him, glaring furiously at him as he simply laughs at me.

"You know, I just might know what this 'symbol' is," he says out of the blue.

I blink, instantly suspicious. "What symbol? Who told you about that?" I demand.

"I'm not deaf," he says mildly, raising one elegant eyebrow at me and crossing his arms over his chest. "Explain this symbol. If Shinigami recognized it, isn't it possible I will, too? After all, I *did* work for his cousin."

I hesitate, frowning. The information he is asking for could be classified, depending on Dr. J's answer to Heero's mission report. Still...Duo doesn't seem too willing to clue us in any time soon, and I do admit my curiousity is gnawing at me. I lift a finger, quickly sketching the design in the air, using a tiny bit of Power to leave a burning green line behind my finger as I draw. He steps forward to see it, studying it carefully before raising both eyebrows, a mild expression of surprise. He waves the wispy sketch away with one hand, eyeing me. "Oh, ho...I wouldn't pursue this, if I were you," he advises. "You'll be getting in a little too deep for your own good, kagerou."

"Just tell me what it is," I snap. "And tell me if you recognize the name 'Illiah'."

He cocks his head at me, a strange look flitting across his face, his expression no longer playful, but serious. "Aa. That's her symbol. Filled with blood, no less. She's no mortal, I'll tell you that much." He turns his face away, staring thoughtfully towards the horizon. Before I can grow too impatient, he says quietly, "Leave her to Shinigami, little dragon. You are the last of your kind, are you not?"

I glare at him. His attitude and his habit of skirting around my questions is annoying me to no end. "Yes, so far as I know," I snap. "Why?"

He gazes straight at me, tone bland. "If you pursue this, it will be the end of your race."


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