++Chapter 18++
"Quatre Explodes"

Duo watched numbly as Quatre's slender form was hidden from view by the circle of dark-hooded people, their low, intense chant starting almost immediately.
"Light and dark," Davarius was murmuring in his ear, eyes locked on the ceremony. "Quatre is the Light, you see. And at night... we shall have another little ceremony."
Another ceremony.... Duo's voice was hollow. "You're not only after Quatre."
"Clever boy," Davarius purred, reaching up with his free hand to trail his fingers down Duo's cheek. Duo stiffened. "And I think I know just who it is."
Duo shot him a narrowed glance out of the corner of his eye. "What are you talking about?" he demanded.
Davarius smiled. "Your friend Trowa, of course. Don't you think it's a bit odd that he seems to be connected to his partners in some pyschic way? And that he was able to pass that idiot Neo's barriers at the old house so easily?"
Duo tried to swallow, but his throat was dry.
"Neo... he's such a fool," Davarius scoffed suddenly, as if discussing politics, or the weather, turning his attention back to the ceremony. "He'll most likely be on his way to try and stop me. I had a little fun with his little pal Atreusio a few years back... he went insane with rage. He's quite protective of that little snit, you see. He just doesn't like to show it." His smile was like a tiger's.
Duo flicked him a startled glance. The words compassion and Neo just didn't seem to go together.
"They're such bitter boys," Davarius sighed dramatically. "Being different from everyone else is no picnic. They were just too weak to take the higher road."
"Your road, you mean," Duo growled.
"Of course." Davarius smiled endearingly. "They are both so complicated... it really is fun to play with them. Neo used to be a lot like your friend Trowa, you know. ..Until he was hurt one too many times. Seeing his little friend practically destroyed before his eyes kind of caused him to... snap, so to speak. He's quite the prickly ass now, isn't he? Not a bad playmate in bed, either." His eyes were hooded with pleasant memories. "He would do anything to keep me from Atreusio... he just never told the little twit seer all the things I made him do on his behalf."
"Why are you telling me this?" Duo whispered harshly.
"To pass the time," Davarius said flippantly. "Isn't it funny how those you see as enemies are really not so bad? Neo is not as evil as you thought he was... which means I can't possibly be that bad, can I?"
"Go to hell."
Davarius laughed. "Oh, I've been there, my friend. And anyone that crosses me will be travelling there shortly. This will take awhile," Davarius added lightly, leaning away from Duo a little and looking around for entertainment. His eyes landed on Trinity, trussed to a nearby boulder, and a slow smile spread on his handsome face. "Lucias," he drawled.
Duo's heart leapt into his throat as Lucias glanced from his leader to the small boy with sudden interest.
"Amuse me while we're waiting," Davarius suggested, watching Duo gleefully for his reaction. "I want a repeat of what you started with our friend here... But complete the deed."
"With pleasure," Lucias chuckled, striding towards Trinity, who was went rigid as the older boy approached.
"No-!" Duo gasped, starting forward. Davarius shoved the gun painfully against his chest to halt him. "Don't! Get away from him!" Panic whirled in him sickeningly, almost blinding his reason. "Davarius, don't do this!"
"Let's see if your pain at watching this happen to your old friend is loud enough to bring Trowa running," Davarius purred, seizing Duo's hair painfully. Duo's body went suddenly stiff and immobile; another mind trick. "You can scream if you want," Davarius hissed right in his ear. "But I doubt it will drown out the kid's screams by the time Lucias is done with him."

It was cold.
Quatre blinked dazedly, looking around slowly. He felt as if he'd been trapped in a silent wind tunnel. Everything was muffled, even the chanting of the cloaked figures surrounding him. He shivered slightly, and his confidence wavered.
He resolved it firmly. This was no time to be undecisive and unsure of himself. As long as he didn't let Davarius complete the ceremony, he had nothing to worry about. He'd figured he'd just reappear after a minute, bowl right through the circle and catch Davarius by surprise while Duo and his young friend escaped.
But the minute he had stopped in the center and the circle had started chanting, his muscles felt heavy and he felt very lethargic. Part of his mind was frantically telling him to snap out of it and get the hell out *now*, but the rest of him was in too much of a drugged-like state to obey or even pay much attention.
He looked downwards, watching a small beetle trundle by with mute fascination.
Slowly he began to slip away, his eyes fluttering shut, his body relaxing completely as he was pulled into a trance.
"No, Davarius!!"
Quatre frowned irritably to himself, still slowly sinking into unconsciousness. That voice was familiar... and the strain and panic in the yell was attempting to tug him back from the edge. He tried to shrug it off. He wanted... to sleep...
Then the screams split through his numbed awareness.
"He's just a kid! Let him go!!"
Quatre opened his eyes with a struggle, his heart quickening with unease, helping to dispell the trance. Duo... Duo was *screaming*. Screaming as if watching the destruction of the Maxwell church all over again. And that younger scream, the one of pure terror... Was that his young friend?
"Stop it! Leave him alone!"
That was Duo... and then, a cruel voice, tinged with mocking laughter.
"Don't sound so angry.. haha... You get to watch."
Hate boiled to the surface so thick and so dark that Quatre's semi-dreamlike state was washed away by it. He turned sharply, glaring furiously at the two closest cloaked men. There was a hesitance in the chanting as they realized their subject was no longer under their control.
Quatre could feel thunderclouds inside of him, rolling and twisting, getting bigger and bigger as his fury mounted.
Someone was doing something to Duo. His friend.
Someone was going to die.
"H-hanase yo!! DUO!"
Quatre released the storm.

There was an explosion of bodies.
Davarius whirled, shocked, as half of the circle was blown violently away, like helpless leaves on the wind. Many of them crashed into boulders with howls, others shot rolling downhill screaming. Most of the symbols that had been scratched into the dirt were wiped away, and all of the candles went out.
Amid the yelling chaos of the cloaked men, Quatre strode swiftly and calmly from their midst, eyes locked heatedly on Davarius.
Davarius's grip on Duo's hair slackened, though his powers kept Duo very still. "You," he snarled, staring in shock and anger at the boy walking towards him. "How the hell did you-"
Quatre flicked a glance at Duo's face- tearstained and twisted with hate and agony -before returning stone-cold blue eyes on the focus of his hatred.
Davarius gave a strangled cry of shock as he was wrenched from Duo by an unseen force and slammed against a boulder. He sank to the ground with a moan.
Ignoring him, Quatre turned his attention to his right, and his hatred flared up anew at the sight. The young boy- Trinity -was stretched out on the ground, face pushed into the dirt as the one who called himself Lucias crouched over him, one hand buried in the boy's hair in a tight, cruel grip, the other already halfway down the back of his victim's pants. He had frozen at Quatre's entrance and was staring at him with his mouth gaping. The boy beneath him gave a muffled sob, struggling to lift his head for proper air.
Lucias screamed hoarsely as he, too, was knocked aside as if by a violent wind, cracking against a dead tree and then a boulder before rolling a few feet on the rocky ground, unconscious.
With a quick gasp for air, the boy hastily pushed himself up on his elbows, coughing harshly and wiping dirt and blood from his face. Duo ran to him.
Quatre let out a loud breath of air he hadn't been aware he'd been holding and felt suddenly light headed. He took a wavering step towards the two boys and weakness washed over him in a naseating wave.
Duo was crouching by Trinity, holding him, muttering frantic reassurances as he fumbled to help his shaking friend wipe the dirt and tears from his face, unware that his own cheeks were wet.
"Daijabou, it's over," Duo said haltingly, wiping blood from Trinity's nose with his thumb. "He won't hurt you- are you all right? Is anything broken?"
"Duo-" Trinity gasped quietly, looking over his shoulder.
Duo turned quickly on his heels.
Quatre was swaying in place, looking queasy. Before Duo could say anything, the slender boy gave a sigh, his eyes rolled up in his head, and he collapsed in a boneless heap.
"Quatre!" Duo cried, crawling over to him quickly. Trinity got unsteadily to his feet, looking around wildly as some of the cloaked men began to regroup, looking ready to rush them.
"Quatre!" Duo rolled the boy onto his back, patting his cheeks sharply. The initial shock at seeing the things his friend had done was buried under his panic and his pain. "Quatre, wake up!" He turned desperately to Trinity. "He's unconscious!"
"Duo.." Trinity began, voice wavering. He backed towards his friend, breathing harshly. Blood was flowing from his nose again, onto his lips. He watched the men advance with the fear of a cornered animal. "We need to get out of here."
"Oh, no you don't..."
Duo's grip on Quatre tightened at the snarling, furious voice. He turned slowly on his knees to watch in stupefied horror as Davarius pushed himself laboriously up to his feet, glaring at them with burning eyes. "Seize them," he rasped. "Get them, don't let them take the boy!"
The hooded people surged forward.


"Stop! Don't shoot!" Atreusio seized Heero's wrist, pushing his gun down hastily. "They're friends!"
Heero's finger instinctively flexed at the other boy's sudden move, and the gunshot echoed like thunder in the quiet woods. Everyone jumped, though the bullet was buried harmlessly in the loam.
Heero turned a fierce glare on the startled seer, who had yanked his hand back in fright. "Don't ever grab me like that again," he said in a low voice.
Atreusio gulped and nodded jerkily.
Neo, who seemed to be the only one unfazed, strode forward to extend a hand towards the people who had appeared from the surrounding woodlands in introduction. "Calm down, gun-boy," he said smoothly. "This is Silverwolf and her coven. Friends," he added in a voice usually reserved for struggling elementary students.
Wufei frowned, dark eyes flicking over the grouped people before them. The tall woman in front blinked as she regained her composure, though she was still a little pale. "Hello, Neo," she greeted faintly.
"Charming friends," someone in the back drawled, watching Heero warily.
"Next time don't step out of nowhere," Wufei snapped. He lowered his hand from his sword hilt. "Where is Quatre?"
The priestess shook her head minutely. "Davarius has him. He also is holding two young boys captive, though I'm not sure what interest he has for them. They might be bait for all of you."
Trowa stepped forward, glancing from Atreusio to Silverwolf. "Atreusio said they were looking for someone else," he said quietly. "He thinks it might be Duo- one of the boys he took."
Alarm flitted briefly over the young woman's face. "Then..."
"Hold on a damn minute," Wufei growled, still on edge. "Why don't you tell us exactly why every person in the whole damn wiccan world is after Quatre- and Duo? What's so important about them?"
Neo frowned at him, but Silverwolf held up a hand to silence him before he could say something rude. Behind her, the rest of her coven exchanged glances, but left it to their priestess to explain.
"You have a right to know," she said quietly. "Though it would be best if I explained on the way. Neo, you said you think you know where Davarius was headed- please lead the way."
Neo nodded curtly and headed off briskly. The coven followed after him quickly and silently. Wufei, Trowa, and Heero stayed beside Silverwolf, almost struggling to keep up with her long, sweeping strides. "A long time ago," she said without looking at any of them, "a seer had a vision about two boys who would appear to us- two Old Souls."
"A seer? You mean Atreusio?" Wufei asked.
"What's an Old Soul?" Heero demanded at the same time.
"No, not Atreusio. He wasn't even born, yet," Silverwolf answered. "It was someone from another coven. A girl who was about my age at the time who called herself Juniper. Wiccans believe in reincarnation- heaven, hell, the devil... these are all Christian beliefs."
"So you think when people die they're reborn as another person?" Wufei asked, frowning a little. He remembered some of the older people of his colony had said the same thing- he had shrugged off their ideas with scorn, being the educated young man he was.
"We *believe* it," Silverwolf corrected quietly. "We know it is so. There's a difference." She paused, as if to let that sink in. "An Old Soul is a soul that has been reborn hundreds or thousands of times. A soul that's.. 'been around the block', you could say," she said with a very tiny smile.
"So you believe souls are recycled," Wufei said with barely concealed sarcasm. "So let me get this straight- you think Quatre is one of those things? You think he's been reborn over and over?"
"Why him?" Trowa asked.
"I'm getting to that." Silverwolf was silent for a moment to collect her thoughts before she continued, "Juniper told us that two Old Souls would appear to us not too far in the future. She confided in my father, who was a Priest for a coven. I was very young at the time, but it's as if her words are burned into my memory. I think she was intending for me to hear her prophecy more than my father, though she never let on. After all, my father died two years ago- before we were even sure Quatre was the one she'd told us of. It was Atreusio who recognized him- he felt his Kokoro no Uchuu. That's how we know he is one of the boys Juniper spoke of."
"Prophecy," Heero repeated. "So the things she predicts or sees always come true?"
Silverwolf tilted her head slightly in acquisence, brushing an overhead branch aside and stepping nimbly over a thorn vine. "You know of Atreusio's gift- he sees flashes of what *might* be. True seers- prophets -like Juniper, see glimpses of what is *meant* to be."
"So what did she see that was 'meant' to be?" Wufei asked, cursing as he stumbled over a hidden root. "Get to the point already."
"'Two boys will come to thee, of Light and of Dark. Of the night and of the day'," Silverwolf intoned. "'Ancients with wisdom hidden in their most distant memories'; that means they're Old Souls. 'To prevent the destruction of our earth, Night and Day must coincide. To bring about the death of our world, to the twisted one send them'. The two she spoke of are supposed to have extraordinary powers, just as Atreusio and Neo do."
Wufei blinked, looking thoroughly confused. "What the hell does all that fancy garbage mean?"
"Light and dark, day and night," Trowa frowned pensively. "Are you saying that the two people you're all searching for... one is good and one is evil?"
Silverwolf gave a short, humorless laugh. "That is a Christian's way of thinking," she scolded lightly. "You forget what our religion is based upon, sir."
"Harm none," Heero said promptly, recalling Duo's words. He scowled. "That doesn't make any sense, then."
"Dark does not necessarily mean evil," Silverwolf patiently explained, brushing her long hair over her shoulder distractedly. "Neither does the night. The moon represents our goddess- when does the moon appear? At night. White and black serve different purposes for our religion, but black is not bad. That is a misconception of the superstitious and the uninformed. It's too much to explain now- I am not here to preach my religion. I just want you to understand that while night and day, dark and light, are different, that does not make one good and one evil." She glanced upwards through the overhead foliage at the high afternoon sun before continuing. "So in a round-about way I suppose you could say the two Old Souls Juniper foretold of coming are both very powerful, but in their own ways, with their own separate powers. Different things are attributed to the goddess and the night, whereas there are some things that are attuned to the god and the day. Your friend Quatre represents the sun- the light. Today is the day Atreusio foresaw as being the most powerful day of the year, and while the sun is up Davarius will try to lure Quatre to his way. He will initiate him through a ceremony in the sunlight. Dawn is the best time, but since he couldn't get to him then, noon will do because the sun is at its peak."
"His way." Heero hated that he was parroting the woman's words, but was still lost. "I thought Davarius was like you."
"He used to be Wiccan," Silverwolf admitted sadly. "But he was tempted by the powers of the god and goddess and started to twist them to his advantage. Instead of using the gifts of the god and goddess to help others and himself, he used them to harm others and to gain power and respect through fear."
"So much for harm none," Wufei snorted, swatting an inquisitive mosquito out of his face irritably. "What's to stop him from being bad, anyway?"
"Karma," Silverwolf said simply. "And he's got a lot coming to him. For all we know everything could backfire on him during his ceremonies, but we can't be certain, so we must take your friends back from him as soon as possible. If he initiates them into his coven and convinces them to do things *his* way... out of ignorance, they will do so. He will attempt to awaken their knowledge and their power through the ceremonies, but not their full memory. They won't know that it is wrong to hurt others through their powers, but they will still be punished for it in the end. But all he cares about is using them for himself."
"So.." Wufei frowned, trying to sort things out in his head. "If your coven puts Quatre and Duo through your ceremonies and you teach them all this 'harm none, be good or else' crap, you can prevent the world from being destroyed. But if Davarius warps them for his own uses, earth goes boom?" He arched his brows. "Sounds like horseshit to me."
"Wufei," Trowa admonished quietly, pressing his arm from where he was walking quickly beside him.
Silverwolf shrugged, long hair sliding over her shoulders once more. "Even I am not sure of exactly what Juniper saw in her vision. How can these two boys possibly save the earth? How can they destroy it? Are they that powerful? Or are they simply meant to prevent something from happening?"
"The thing that threatens this earth most is war," Heero growled, dodging around one of the coven members that was too slow for his liking. He shot a dark look up at Silverwolf. "As gundam pilots Quatre and Duo do that just fine. If you put your silly idealistic theories in their heads, then they'll be useless. They won't be able to kill, which means they can't fight."
"So obviously you've got the wrong guys," Wufei agreed. "What makes you so sure Quatre is one of them, anyway?"
Silverwolf's eyes flitted aside in a faraway look. "We know," she said simply.
"Then Duo," Trowa said abruptly. "Atreusio said he thinks Duo is the 'other one'. The dark one, I'm assuming. Why on earth would Duo be a part of all of this?"
"Atreusio," Silverwolf called. The dark-haired boy slowed his step so that he was walking beside her. "Why do you suspect this 'Duo' of being the dark one?" she inquired keenly. "Another vision?"
Atreusio shook his head slowly, biting lightly on his lower lip. "No," he admitted. "I have just felt that there was something special about him since I first met him. Something about him makes me wonder. I sense...something." He looked frustrated. "I'm afraid I can't explain it. I guess you could call it intuition."
"Or," Heero suggested coolly, watching him with distrust, "you're too taken with him to judge this 'feeling' right."
Atreusio flushed, and Trowa flicked a glance towards Heero, amused by the jealous comment. The perfect soldier really could be a hopeless boy sometimes. He didn't even recognize his snappish attitude towards 'Gable' and Atreusio as jealousy-- no wonder Duo was so frustrated with him. He allowed his hand to casually brush Wufei's as they walked, and though the other boy didn't look at him, he turned his hand slightly so that his fingers touched the back of Trowa's hand in response. Trowa felt a rare smile threatening to emerge and quickly squashed it. "So it's not a certainty that Duo is the other Old Soul," her surmised.
"Correct." Silverwolf looked a little less tense after hearing Atreusio's uncertain admittance. "Let's hope that you are wrong, Atreusio."
Atreusio nodded mutely, glancing sideways towards Heero in a half defiant, half nervous look. Heero ignored him stonily, staring straight ahead. "Are we too late to stop Davarius from doing a ceremony with Quatre?" he asked instead.
Silverwolf shook her head to show her own ignorance. "Let's hope so."
"What about Atreusio and Neo?" Trowa asked. "You said the two Juniper talked about were supposed to have powers like them. Are they Old Souls, too?"
"Yes," Silverwolf nodded at his quick conclusion, smiling a little. "None of us are sure *how* old they are, but they have surpassed us. They are... something else, now."
Heero glanced at her sharply. "Something besides human?"
"Oi, quiet back there," Neo called from the front. "We should be there soon. It's up this hill."
Heero paused to look upwards at the rocky, uninviting hill before them. He firmed his mouth in determination, striding past his team mates and Atreusio, leaving Silverwolf behind. He caught up to Neo, and the other boy flicked him a sideways glance, dry amusement dancing in his fathomless eyes.
"A little eager there, wonder boy?"
Heero offered him an emotionless stare. "Davarius is mine," he said simply.
Neo smiled fiercely. "We'll see who gets to him first."
Heero snorted, and the two boys hurried onwards, leading the rest of the coven towards the rocky summit.
Suddenly a faint scream echoed off of the hilltop, rent with terror. Another scream joined it, desperate and panicked.
Heero's heart leapt into his throat.
At the back of the group Trowa fell to his knees, clutching his head and gasping.
"Trowa!" Wufei crouched quickly, seizing his partner by the shoulders and looking into his face wildly. "Daijabou??"
"It's Duo," Trowa gasped. "Someone is hurting them..."
Heero wasn't listening. He surged forward, dashing past Neo before the other boy could react, gun already in his fist.
One thought was thundering in his head, ruthlessly violent and matter-of-fact.
Davarius was going to die.

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Ch. 22
Ch. 23