"The Scent of Sandalwood">
"It sounds like another Gundam." Wufei's statement only helped to confirm Duo's suspicions. "But why would she encourage this boy to pilot one?" He frowned, arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the window, the rising moon casting dark shadows on his finely sculpted face.
"She's always been against the Gundams and the war they represent," Trowa agreed quietly from his perch on the sofa.
Duo was pacing the den floor, playing with the end of his braid as he thought. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "But by the way she was talking it sounded like she thought this guy Trinity could help *prevent* a war."
"What war?" Wufei scoffed. "Things aren't as peaceful as she would wish, perhaps, but there isn't a war. After the whole Operation Meteor scheme things have settled down considerably. Why drag in another Gundam to rile things up?"
"Maybe she knows something we don't," Trowa offered contemplatively, not looking at the Chinese warrior. "She's in the position to find things out."
Wufei ignored him. He had been acting coldly towards Trowa since the moment Duo had brought him back. Neither of them had made any real eye contact with each other or even exchanged words directly. It was beginning to annoy the hell out of Duo.
Maybe the two needed to be alone to discuss things... or duke it out, whichever worked.
He headed abruptly for the stairs. "I'm going to go make sure the scientists haven't e-mailed me," he said over his shoulder. "Lemmie know if you two figure something out."
Trowa caught the double meaning and shot Duo a sideways glance, but Duo ignored it, hurrying upstairs.
There was a long moment of strained silence in the den, the only sound the ticking of Quatre's polished grandfather clock.
Finally Wufei pushed himself away from the window, striding towards the door. Trowa rose smoothly, effectively blocking his path. "I think we need to talk," he said calmly.
Wufei offered a cool look. "I don't need to talk to you," he said in biting tones. "Get out of the way, Barton."
"Iie. Wufei, if you don't control your temper Duo and Heero are going to say something."
Wufei merely glared.
Trowa's next words caused his eyes to widen, however. "They know. And the angrier you act the closer Duo gets to saying something."
"They..." Wufei swallowed, feeling embarrassment churn in him. So he and Quatre hadn't been as secretive as he had hoped. He recalled Quatre's sleepy almost-snuggle of the night before when Duo had told them of his spying on Relena and felt a flush slowly rise to his face. The fact that Duo had managed to keep his astrominally large mouth shut all this time was surprising, but only caused to humiliate him farther. What did Heero and Duo think of it? "Get out of the way," he repeated in a growl, attempting to shoulder past.
Trowa would not be budged. He angled his shoulder firmly so that Wufei was pushed back a step. His eyes hardened, the only sign of feeling on his otherwise impassive face. "Quatre is special to me," he said, very quietly, giving Wufei pause. "I don't care what claims you say you have to him, I'm not going to stand by while some cult has him."
Wufei's glare threatened to melt the paint off the walls. "You should have thought of that," he said acidly, "before you turned your back on him."
Trowa drew in a sharp breath, almost inaudibly, and Wufei knew he had struck a nerve.
"I did something I regret," he said slowly, as if restraining his temper. "And you took advantage of that."
Wufei's quick temper flared. "Are you implying that he only came to me as a fallback?" he snarled. "That he was so hurt by *your* rejection that he would have fallen into the nearest pair of arms?"
Trowa's eyes narrowed slightly, eyes hard as jaded ice. "I never rejected him."
"You just didn't know how to react to him," Wufei interrupted scathingly. "The clown who doesn't have a heart," he said tauntingly. "You were so god damn *scared* of his feelings for you that you didn't think that you might hurt him by not reacting! You don't give a damn about him, you're just pissed that someone else stole his attention!"
Trowa's fist cracked into Wufei's cheek with frightening speed and alacrity.
The Chinese Warrior staggered a step, too shocked by the unexpected action for the first second to retaliate. This was the closest to losing his temper that Wufei had ever seen in the older boy, and it left him dumbly surprised. His shock was washed away in the next instant, however, by heated fury. "Kisama!!" He swung wildly.
But Trowa was expecting the blow, and dodged nimbly backwards, out of reach.
Wufei took a threatening step forward, but was suddenly assailed with an image of Quatre pleading with him to stop, blue eyes wide and sad. Several times Quatre had hung on his arm during moments of temper, begging him to calm down, saddened at the thought of fighting between the team mates. Clenching his teeth so hard that his jaw hurt, he lowered his shaking fist. "You're not worth it," he bit out. Spinning on his heel, he stalked from the room.
Trowa stood where he was, head lowered slightly, hands limp by his sides.
He didn't notice when Duo appeared in the doorway, watching him with a pained expression.
Quatre winced as the manacles loosened and were taken from his wrists. Rubbing the injured flesh carefully, he gazed up at his captor with trepidition. "Why are you doing this to me?" he asked. "Is it a ransom you want?"
"No ransom." The boy before him crouched, offering a tiny tin jar, gazing at him with depthless dark eyes that made Quatre's hair stand on end. He was the one Quatre had identified as the kinder, more even-tempered of his assailants, and he was determined to get on his good side. Whatever he had done to knock Quatre out that time on the way from the house to the car, he had seemed reluctant to do, and he had been polite thus far, unlike his edgy, impatient companion, who at the time was nowhere to be seen.
Quatre hesitated before taking the proferred tin, carefully lifting the tiny lid. "What is this?" A faint, pleasant smell assailed his senses. He faintly recognized Sandalwood among others he could not discern. It brought memories of the incense one of the Maganocs had given him after a trip.
"Put it on your wrists," the boy said in his quiet, inflectionless tone. "It will help heal the skin."
Quatre obeyed, carefully rubbing the ointment on his raw skin, wincing slightly but appreciating the coolness of it. He glanced up almost shyly. "Thank you."
The boy nodded slightly, dark shoulder-length hair whispering as it fell to frame his face. He lifted a pale, slender hand to push the locks patiently behind his ear. "We aren't going to harm you," he assured the petite blond. "I'm sorry Neo was so rough when he came to get you."
Quatre drew in a quick breath in recollection. "He hurt my friends." His voice grew firm, and he set his jaw. "I want to see them, to make sure they're all right."
"They are fine," the slight boy said quietly. "And searching for you. The one with the strange hair... the tall one-- he seems particuarly anxious to find you. As does the dragon warrior."
Quatre flushed at that. Trowa? Was Trowa really so desperate to find him? At the same time he felt relief that his two friends were unharmed. "And what about Heero and Duo?"
"Heero and Duo... the other two?" Something in the boy's eyes seemed to change, as if he was becoming alert for the first time. "Which has the braid?"
Quatre hesitated, unwilling to give any information away on his friends.
The boy relaxed once more. "Aa. Never mind. It doesn't matter, anyway. You're the one they want."
"Who's 'they'?" Quatre asked quickly. "And what do they want with me?"
"Getting friendly with our little guest, Atreusio?"
They looked up at the silent entrance of the second captor. He strode towards them with a faint smirk that lacked humor, the moonlight filtering through the trees giving strange highlights to his unruly brown hair. He peered down at them through his bangs, his fathomless eyes so much like his companion's that Quatre felt a nervous tug on his Kokoro no Uchuu.
The other- Atreusio -rose smoothly to his feet, gazing at his partner calmly. "Just giving him something for his wrists."
The taller boy- he must be Neo, Quatre realized -offered a mildly scornful look. "You're too soft, Atreusio. Anyway, you shouldn't take his chains off. He might get the unwise idea to run away." He flicked a meaningful glance towards Quatre that he took to be a warning. Quatre remained seated and declined to comment. Seemingly satisfied, Neo turned to gaze at the surrounding woodlands, sighing loudly as he stuffed his hands into the pockets of the school uniform he was wearing. Atreusio was wearing one, also, though from the design it must have been from a different school. Something about its look tugged at Quatre's memory, but he couldn't for the life of him remember where he had seen the outfit.
"What's taking him so long?" Neo grumbled. "I want to hurry up and get this over with. They sure were desperate to get this little bugger."
"You don't think it's who everyone's looking for," Atreusio guessed, arms crossed loosely, stance relaxed.
Neo scowled. "I dunno," he admitted. "He does have..." here he tapped his chest, over his heart, and Quatre had to swallow a gasp of surprise, "but..." He shrugged. "I dunno. He doesn't seem to have any knowledge of the art, does he?" He flicked a glance towards the small tin on the ground by Quatre's knee.
Atreusio shrugged fluidly. "Many don't know their own path and walk another in ignorance," he suggested mildly.
"Ch'." Neo sneered. "We'll see soon enough, won't we?"
"Aa." Atreusio glanced up at a sudden call from an owl. Quatre jumped at the sound, his nerves on edge. "Time to go," Atreusio said quietly.
Neo was already moving towards Quatre. "Get up," he ordered. "If you don't try anything stupid, you can walk without the chains." Quatre rose unsteadily to his feet. "But if you try to run away or attack one of us..." Neo's eyes narrowed, his voice hardening, "you're gonna be in a world of hurt."
Quatre nodded silently, and fell in step behind Atreusio as the taller boy led the way, with Neo keeping an eye on him from behind.
Silently he called out to Wufei for help, hoping against hope that somehow his lover would feel his need and fear and come rescue him.
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