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Braid and the Beast

Leviathan


Part 1

Once upon a time, for that is how all true fairy tales go, there lived a young prince in a large castle. This prince did not laugh, nor did he smile. The caste was filed with silence, for the young prince's parents had died years ago.

When the prince was fifteen years of age, a girl of the same age visited the castle with her brother to ask for the prince's hand in marriage. She was refused and got so angry she turned the prince into a griffin. But her magic was not strong; the prince found that he could change between his griffin form to something between his natural state and that of the griffin.

Zechs, the girl's brother, had to complete the curse his sister started because she was a silly girl and didn't know much of anything. The spell bound the prince to his half-griffin aspect until he learned to love someone and the someone loved him back.

Relena, the girl, didn't stay to try to win the prince's heart. He was too hideously non-human in his new form for her to love him.

Years went by and the young prince stayed young, the curse would not le him age. The prince wept bitterly over his fate: to live for eternity in his odd winged form. For who could love a Beast?

* * *

Duo let out a long-suffering sigh as Hilde latched onto his arm. He mentally cursed his father, Treize, for betrothing him to the girl clinging to him like a squid. Why me?

"Duo," Lady Une, Duo's mother, called. "Your father will be back soon, please come in and help tidy up the house."

The braided youth, who normally hated housework, bolted inside and slammed the door, leaving his fiancÚ standing bewildered in the street.

He busied himself with sweeping the floor, keeping a careful watch on the windows and doors in case Hilde decided to "check up" on him.

Meanwhile...

Treize cringed back as far as the invisible hands would let him.

"We permitted you to stay the night, we let you eat our food. Ad how do you repay us?" The great Beast rumbled, its half open wings making its presence even more ominous. "By trying to steal my treasure." With razor sharp, strangely delicate talons, the Beast reached out and plucked the ruby and emerald rose from the trembling man's fingers.

"Come back in three days either alone, or send a daughter to take your place. You will die, she will only stay with me in my castle until I choose to release her."

"I-I d-d-don't have a d-daughter," the terrified man stammered.

"Sons?" Now was not the time to be picky. Treize swallowed hard and nodded.

"Go, then."

Abruptly Treize found himself sitting on his horse, Tallgeese the Second. With one panicked glance at the castle he was now outside of, he spurred his horse into a gallop, crashing through undergrowth and narrowly avoiding many low-hanging branches.

* * *

Lady Une's eyes widened in horror at the tale her beloved husband told. Duo's eyes were also wide, but not for the same reason.

When his father was done speaking he immediately chirped, "I'll go!" with no small amount of glee.

His parents stared at him. He shrugged, his indigo eyes gleaming with unholy light. "How bad could it be?" I'll be getting away from this sorry little town and I'll be getting rid of Hilde! What could be better?

"Are...are you sure, son?"

"Positive," he grinned. "Besides, he'll probably get so tired of my talking he'll send me back like that," he snapped his fingers in front of his parents' noses to illustrate.

"He does have a point," Une said.

"So I'm going," the youth stated. "I'll go pack and saddle Shini up."

Part 2

The next morning, Duo rode his pitch-black horse merrily through the forest, whistling cheerfully as if he was going off to see his best friend instead of a beast.

"Free at last," he sighed.

A few birds chirped back at him; one starling was brave enough to sit on his head.

Duo laughed and plucked the little bird from his head and relocated it to his shoulder, where it chirped sweetly in his ear. As the ride progressed, Duo had a total of four birds on his shoulders--two on each side--two more sat perched atop Shinigami's head. The horse, used to his master's strange way with animals, bore it patiently.

When they reached the castle gates, Duo chuckled and moved all the birds to a tree branch. "Off you go, my friends. I don't know what this Beast fellow eats." They chirped sadly back at him, but stayed where they were.

As they passed through the gate, Duo felt a shiver of apprehension run up his spine. What if the Beast wanted to eat him? Hilde is better than death...I think.

"Do not fear him," a myriad of small voices whispered around him. Shinigami froze, nostrils flaring.

Duo scanned the area, but saw no one. "Um...c'mon, Shini..."

"This way," the voices whispered off to the right.

This is freakin' me out...

A stable seemed to materialize before Duo's very eyes. He dismounted and nervously led the ebony-black horse into a stall, where invisible hands removed the saddle and bridle and began to groom the horse. More invisible servants fetched a blanket and food.

"If you'll come this way," a disembodied voice at his side said politely, making Duo nearly jump out of his skin. "Oh, I'm sorry," the voice apologized. "I forget I'm invisible sometimes. I mean, I can see me and so can everyone else under the spell. No one else can, and we haven't had many visitors."

"R-really. What spell?" He glanced nervously around him; the idea of invisible servants floating around without him knowing they were there gave him the creeps.

"Oh, surely you don't think Pri--"

"Quatre!" a sharp voice snapped.

"Uh, my Master was always a Beast?" Quatre finished in a rush.

"I didn't know what to think. This doesn't happen to me everyday."

"Of course, of course," the invisible servant agreed. "Come this way, to the castle."

Duo felt something tugging at his shirt. Reluctantly the braided teen followed the pull, scrambling up stone steps as fast as he could. All too soon he stood before massive wood doors, carved ornately with mythical figures. He stopped to peer closely at a carving of a lion with wings, but the doors opened before he could get a good look at it.

There was a collective feminine squeal and suddenly Duo felt his clothes being plucked at from all sides, his braid was lifted and stroked.

With a startled squawk, Duo whirled around and darted out of reach of curious--if invisible--hands. "Leave me alone!" he yelled, glaring at what appeared to be thin air.

"Ah, sorry about that," Quatre apologized, leading him up another flight of stairs, no easy feat when Duo was still looking back over his shoulder as if he could actually see his invisible assaulters.

They stopped in front of a beautifully carved door, which Quatre did not open.

"This is your room," Quatre told him. "No one but you can come and go as they please, anyone else must be invited in individually by you. It is the one way my Master can grant you privacy."

"All right...just when am I going to meet his 'Master' of yours?"

"Tomorrow. He wants to give you time to settle in before he meets you."

"O-okay...how long am I going to stay here?"

"That is up to my Master. I have matters to attend to now, if you need anything, ring the bell you'll find in your room."

* * *

"Um...your highness? The boy--"

Cobalt eyes set in a leonine face met aqua. "I thought I told you not to call me that."

"Prince Heero--"

"Or that."

"Beast, then!" The blond gulped as he saw Beast's eyes flash in fury. He quickly lowered his voice and told him, "The boy is here, he's unpacking in his room."

The Beast straightened slowly, carefully keeping his wings close to his body so as not to disturb the plants around him in the garden where he had been sitting.

Apprehensively, Quatre stepped back. He could almost see the muscles rippling under the golden fur of Heero's--Beast's, he corrected himself--semi-human legs and arms. Large tawny wings arced gracefully out of his back, allowing him to fly. His lion-like tail twitched at the tip as he stalked towards the reflecting pool closer to the center of the garden.

Upon reaching the edge of the water, he spoke softly. "Leviathan, show me the boy." The water rippled and churned, when it had clamed, cobalt eyes saw a figure with a meter long chestnut-brown braid down its back. The boy was sitting on the large bed in the room, looking at the window, facing away from Beast's view.

The boy turned, marked by a sharp intake of breath from the watching Beast. He was beautiful. Not just beautiful...he was by far the most gorgeous creature he'd ever seen. Large indigo eyes were framed by chestnut bangs, set in a heart-shaped face. His mouth turned upwards naturally, lips not too colored, perfect in hue. The Beast knew what he had to do.

"Quatre," he called softly.

"Yes, Master?" "This is the one?" he waved a clawed paw at the pool, knowing full well it was.

"Yes."

"Send him back."

"Wh--? Why? You haven't met him yet!"

"He's--" his throat tightened unaccountably. "He's too beautiful. There's no chance..." Beast stopped.

"Surely you'll meet him first?"

"No. He doesn't need to see me if he doesn't have to."

"Are you sure, Master?"

"Yes. Leave me."

Quatre sighed. "As you wish." The servant ghosted away back into the castle.

"Leviathan, I'm doing the right thing, aren't I?" A small blue serpent poked its head out of the water, fanning frilly fins in agitation.

"No!" it squeaked in a surprisingly feminine voice. "But don't worry, it'll work out." The serpentine head slipped below the surface, scarcely leaving a ripple to show its passage.

"Stupid sea monster..." Beast muttered. "It is the right thing."

* * *

Knock knock knock.

Duo opened the door and looked out into empty air. "I am not going to get used to this," he muttered.

"It's Quatre, and you won't have to get used to it. My Mater is sending you away."

Duo stared blankly for a moment. "Wha--? Why? I didn't even get to meet him!" No! I don't want to go back!

"I know. That's what I told him, but..."

"Too bad. I'm not going."

There was a moment of stunned silence. "Huh?"

"I'm not going." "B-but--"

"I'm staying right here. And from what you said before, there's nothing you can do to stop me. Bye." The door closed.

The braided youth moved back to the window, trying to catch another glimpse of the thing that was moving down there. It had been merely a flash of gold caught in the corner of his eye, but Duo was sure it was the Beast. Why doesn't he want me here? He's the one that gave Father an option in the first place.

* * *

"What do you mean 'he won't go'?" Beast deadpanned.

"H-he said he w-wasn't l-leaving," Quatre stuttered, cringing back, not wanting to invoke his Master's fury. It was one of the few emotions he did show.

A small blue serpent-like creature sailed into the room, using her fins as wings. It curled protectively around Quatre's neck and bared abnormally long one-inch fangs at the golden Beast. "It's not Quatre's fault, Beast."

The cold fury in the cobalt eyes faded somewhat. "Lev, get back in your pond."

A snake-like tongue flicked out and the monster stayed silent.

The Beast glared at her angrily until she unwound from the servant's neck and glided sullenly out, but not before hissing quietly at the master of the castle.

Without another word, Beast strode into the castle and down the hall toward the grand staircase, claws clicking on the marble floor and tail lashing. At the foot of the stairs, Beast jumped powerfully from the floor and with one down-stroke of golden-feathered wings reached the top with silent grace.

Quatre moaned. How could he tell the other servants--especially Trowa--that Prince Heero was sending their one chance at freedom away?

* * *

Duo gazed curiously at the blue creature hovering in mid-air. It had come up to his open window and introduced itself--Herself, he corrected--as Leviathan, Lev for short. Then she had flown quickly in a circle, opening some sort of portal, in which a leonine face was framed. The indigo-eyed boy looked back at the golden-furred face in the portal. It was strikingly human-like, but had a very, very wild look.

"Is...is that the Beast?" Duo asked tentatively.

Lev bobbed up and down, which he guessed was the equivalent of a "yes."

The image zoomed out, showing wings, tail, and the fact that the Beast was completely covered in fur. Well, he's probably totally covered in fur. Can't tell when he has those pants on.

"He's coming here," the sea serpent said quietly. "I just wanted you to see him first so you won't be scared."

"Thank you," Duo said sincerely, knowing he probably would have done something stupid if he had just met the Beast face to face with no prior knowledge of his appearance.

Lev cocked her head, listening. "I must go," the image portal disappeared. "If you need someone to talk to, find the reflecting pool." She flitted quickly away just as a loud pounding on his chamber door made him start.

"Eep." He crossed the room and tripped over a rug, nearly sending him sprawling. He scrambled the rest of the way and threw the door open. He was abruptly face-to-face with the Beast, staring into a pair of pissed off cobalt-ice eyes.

"Um, hi," he recovered quickly. "I'm Duo."

Beast was shocked into silence, totally taken aback. This boy didn't appear to be afraid of him at all. Regaining his composure, he stated simply, "I know. Get out."

"No."

Beast blinked. "Why not?"

"I don't want to."

"Why not?"

"I don't want to go back home."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't. Say 'why not' again and I'll...uh...do something."

"Leave?"

"Nope. Not getting rid of me that easy."

"Leave. Now."

"No."

"I said leave!" he was growing angrier by the second.

"My hearing is fine, thank you."

"Give him a chance," a voice said from behind Beast.

"I don't remember asking for your opinion, Trowa."

"It sounds like you need it," Trowa said.

Duo backed away a step as razor-sharp claws were unsheathed and Beast turned on empty air. He prudently took the opportunity to quietly close the door.

The door was pounded upon once again in a matter of seconds. With a sigh, Duo opened it again. "What?" he glanced at cobalt blue eyes that looked so very human and recoiled slightly when he was the raw fury contained therein.

"You can't stay in there forever. Unless you starve." he said in an ominously cold voice. "The servants have been instructed to not aid you in any way."

The braided youth gaped at him. "You're heartless, you really are. Maybe I will just die in here. I'm sure you'd care." He said sarcastically, then slammed the door in his face.

"There is no reason for you to stay here with a monster like me," the golden Beast murmured to the wooden paneling. He walked off down the hall, arms crossed, wings clasped tightly to his back.

"Wufei, Quatre, Trowa," he called, the three servants materialized seemingly from the woodwork. "See to it that he doesn't lack for anything."

Blond, brown, and black haired heads bobbed up and down obediently. Beast strode out of the castle and leapt upwards as soon as he cleared the threshold, golden wings snapped open, light glinting off the feathers, making Beast resemble a small sun as he winged upwards towards a tree in the middle of the garden, the oldest in the land with the branch-span to prove it. His back claws gripped the limb firmly, scoring the hard wood. Deep green leaves rustled as he back-winged to gain his balance. He walked down the branch to the main trunk, where a large hollow had been made. Beast curled up in this hollow; wings curled protectively around his body and did something he hadn't done in years. He cried. Cried for the freedom he would never have, cried for the loss of his human form, cried for a foreign emotion he'd never experienced.

Part 3

Duo vaulted out of the window, landing on a terrace a half-floor below. From there he swung over the rail and thudded to the ground, his legs tingling with the impact. As soon as his legs recovered, he sprinted into the gardens, in the direction of the water he had seen glinting in the subdued sunlight.

Pushing through large bushes with delicate yellow flowers, he nearly stumbled into the pond itself.

"Lev," he called, glancing furtively around, expecting the Beast to pounce on him any second.

"Already?" A soft voice inquired by his ear.

A fanged mouth was split in what Duo was sure had to be a grin as surprisingly green eyes looked into his.

"Ne, Lev, he's going to let me starve!"

The sea green eyes blinked and the blue serpentine body flipped backwards, the sea serpent dove into the water without so much as a ripple.

An image formed on the water, replaying what had happened after Duo had slammed his door, ending with the scene of Beast flying towards the huge tree.

Indigo eyes blinked; Duo felt really, really lousy. Then he panicked, realizing the aforementioned tree was towering out over the pond.

"He won't hurt you." Leviathan rose out of the water and spun around, sending crystalline beads of water out in a small arc. Then she curled up on the top of Duo's head, resembling some sort of fey garland. "Let's go see him, shall we?"

"Oh, er, ah..." Duo gulped.

"Please?"

"Um..."

"He might stay in there all night if you don't and it's not good for his health." Disregarding the fact that he can't die--at least from illness--...he can still get sick.

"Oh, all right...one problem. I can't fly." The lowest of the tree's branches was a good twenty feet off the ground.

"No problem," she chirped, removing herself from his head.

Before his very eyes, she grew until her total body length was around ten feet, about a foot in diameter at the thickest part. Huge, tattered looking wings rose from her back where the fin-like protrusions had been.

Duo "eep"ed and jumped back a few feet, not taking into account that the bushes were still behind him, so he ended up in a tangled pile of braid, twigs, leaves, and clothes.

"I'm sorry," Lev apologized meekly, sea green eyes the size of his palm blinked sincerely and gazed into indigo.

"Wow...you're big," the braided teen giggled as the blue sea serpent wrapped around his body. He threw his arms around the part of her that was closest and hugged her. (Nyaaaaaaaaaa nyaaaaaa! ~Lev)

The sea serpent practically started purring as she butted her head against Duo's gently. With a glint of mischief in her voice, she said, "Hold on."

Without any more preamble, Lev had uncoiled and they were already a few feet off the ground, Duo dangling below her.

"Ohmygodohmygodohmygod," he squeaked and tried not to look down as they rose higher. To solve the problem, he squeezed his eyes shut until he felt something solid under his feet.

He opened his eyes.

Not a good idea.

He stifled a shriek as he perched precariously on a branch a foot and a half wide that bowed slightly under his relatively slight weight. Lev had turned a little again and nudged him towards the trunk of the tree with her blunt snout.

"Go on, go on, you won't fall."

"S-s-sure I w-w-won't..." He took a step forward and froze as the branch shifted and bobbed slightly. Taking a deep breath and gathering as much courage as he could muster at the time, he practically sprinted to the core of the massive tree.

"There, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Yes!"

"Oh," she twisted around midair so she was looking at him upside down. "Well, you did it. He's around the other side."

"Lev?" Beast called, sensitive ears picking up on the familiar voice. He rubbed quickly at his eyes to make sure she wouldn't be able to tell he'd been crying.

"Yeah!" she called back cheerfully. More quietly to Duo, she added, "Come on."

Shaking all the while, the braided youth made his way around the trunk as Lev flew on ahead.

"I've got someone with me, are you decent?" Duo heard her ask.

"Was that supposed to be funny?" Beast asked bluntly, his tone indicating it hadn't been.

"Ch'. Lighten up."

Duo poked his head around the side of the trunk into the hollow. "Hello," he wiggled his fingers.

Deep blue eyes blinked and widened in surprise, then narrowed. "Why are you here?"

Duo blanched at the cold, hostile tone; so out of place after what Leviathan had shown him. "Ask her," he nodded towards the little serpent.

"Ano...ano...ano...sayonara!" A blue streak darted out of the hollow and they heard a small splash as she disappeared back into her pond.

Duo laughed nervously and started to edge away.

"Stop that," Beast sighed. "I'm not going to hurt you."

"Okay...in that case, can I come in there with you? Unstable heights aren't my thing."

He's a brave one. "Fine."

Duo squeezed through the opening, brushing against Beast's golden-furred arm in the process, but did not flinch. He's soft.

"So, think we can talk about me staying here rationally with level voices?"

"Hn."

"Is that a yes or a no?"

"We can try," the cobalt-eyed Beast consented.

"Good. Let me give you the rundown on why I want to stay here: Ya see, my parents are trying to make me marry this girl; her name is Hilde. Before they decided that, we were really just friends, she was a nice enough girl. Then her parents and my parents got together and decided that us getting married was a good idea.

"I didn't think so, but Hilde did. So she started clinging to me, et cetera, and generally making a pain of herself. I was about ready to kill the girl and my father comes home one day, babbling about a castle and a rose and a Beast and either he or I was going to have to go back. So I volunteered."

"To get away from a girl." He didn't sound impressed.

"Well...yeah. And away from my parents...and the stupid little town we live in."

"To come to an even smaller place."

"So?" he shot back. "I've never been here before."

"So you want to stay here to get away from the girl, your parents, and your town."

"Basically."

"And you'll go to any lengths to do so."

"I guess so. Not that this is too extreme."

"You don't consider living in an enchanted castle with a beast extreme?" the Beast sounded faintly amused.

"Ah...well...so what if it's extreme? I'm safe here."

"And how do you know that?" he flashed his sharp teeth, expecting the boy to at least flinch a little. He didn't.

"I've been sitting here, alone with you for who knows how many minutes and you've had that long to...uh, eat me or something, and you haven't even touched me."

"You actually want to stay here."

"Yes!" he yelled, exasperated. "I. Want. To. Stay. Here. In. This. Castle. With. You."

"Just remember it was your decision." Why am I letting him persuade me?

"Fine. Now how am I going to get down from here without killing myself? My ride deserted me."

"Jump?"

"I said without killing myself."

"I could fly you down." "Honto?" Wow! That'd be so cool!

"Aa." Beast stepped out of the opening and onto the branch, hind claws gripping the wood to stabilize him as he stretched, great golden wings shimmering in the dappled sunlight. Duo watched, entranced. Liquid gold.

Tentatively, Duo reached out and touched a long primary feather.

Beast froze and looked quickly over his shoulder at the braided boy, who jerked back guiltily and looked at the branch he was standing on.

Not a good idea. While the branch filled most of his vision, empty air occupied the rest of it. Vertigo. He was falling.

And then...he wasn't. He was still on the branch, pressed against a warm, furry chest.

"You really don't do well with heights, do you?" He could feel Beast's voice vibrating in his chest.

"That's what I said. I run, I hide, but I don't lie." He eased back away from Beast and smiled sheepishly. "Thanks."

"Hn." He nodded. He really isn't afraid to touch me.

"Now that I've nearly killed myself, can we go down now? Please-please-please?" Duo pleaded.

"All right." Keeping his claws carefully sheathed, he picked Duo up, one arm under his knees, one supporting his upper back.

"I feel like some kind of helpless--eep!" Duo stopped talking abruptly when they were suddenly airborne. After a few moments, he concluded being so high up with Beast wasn't nearly as bad as standing on that tree branch. In fact, it was almost...enjoyable. Seconds later, they alighted on the ground and Duo was standing on his own two feet, staring at Beast's back as the golden figure walked away, flipping his wings to his back.

Something dawned on him. With wings on your back, you can't very well wear a shirt, which is probably why he only wears pants. He's furry all over...I wonder if his--he flushed furiously as he cut off the thought and ran to catch up with his host.

* * *

Lev grinned a serpentine grin. Things were going perfectly!

And she hadn't missed that blush.

Part 4

A few days after he had come to the enchanted castle with a Beast as its lord, Duo was bored. Beast seemed to avoid him at all costs--at least they hadn't had any more yelling matches--and talking to invisible servants got frustrating after a while.

He considered leaving, but that would mean going back to Hilde, not something he would willingly do. If only he would talk to me instead of avoiding me like the plague.

He brightened suddenly. He~y, I can ask Quatre or someone why he's avoiding me and plan around it. He jumped off his bed where he had been laying and staring at the ceiling, and bounded over to the door, knowing as soon as he opened it the nearest servant would drop whatever he or she was doing to ask him what he wanted.

He pushed the door open.

"Yes Duo?" Right on cue.

"Trowa, c'mere, man." He ushered the invisible boy through the door and sat on the window seat, staring out.

After a few moments of silence, Trowa tentatively broke the quiet. "Was there something you wanted, Duo?"

"No...yes...sort of. I like it here, but here's nothing to do because I can't even see the majority of the people here, and the only one I can see is avoiding me. Why?"

"Why what?" Trowa replied cleverly.

"Why is he avoiding me?! I haven't seen him since the day I got here!"

"Oh. Uh..." Heero would kill me if I told him...but he would kill me if he left...rock and a hard place. Why me?

"Not going to answer me, are you?"

"I...er...uh..."

"Very articulate."

"He's afraid, okay!?" Trowa snapped back then realized what he'd said. "Uh--I mean--"

"Afraid of what? It's not like I'd be able to hurt him, even if I wanted to."

Hurt him? Oh, Duo, you could. You most definitely could. Just not the way you're thinking of. "I--don't worry about it, Duo. I'll talk to him."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Bye Trowa." Trowa exited the room quickly and ran to find Heero. After searching nearly everywhere, he decided to look the one place he hadn't...the tower. He groaned at the thought of all those steps, but trudged loyally to the base of the massive stone tower and started up the steps.

Five minutes later, he stood at the door to the tower room, a bare chamber devoid of everything except stone. He knocked.

"What do you want, Trowa?" Beast's muffled voice asked.

"To speak with you, Heero."

The door opened and Trowa stepped inside. Beast was standing, looking out the lone window with his back to him.

With a deep breath, Trowa decided to just plunge right in. "He's bored and he wants to know why you're avoiding him."

Beast looked over his shoulder at the brown-haired servant, cobalt blue eyes hard and cold. "How does that concern me?"

"He's going to leave." Can't you understand it would be better that way--for everyone? "Let him."

"Why are you doing this? A real reason, Heero. Why?"

"Why should I let us suffer even more? There's no chance he could...ever..." he cleared his throat and continued, "I don't see any point in getting everyone's hopes up for nothing."

Trowa knew he would regret his next words, but he had to try something. "You are a coward, Heero. I though you had more--" The golden figure turned from the window and took a step towards him "--more courage, more confidence--" another step "--in yourself." He was three feet away. "You would give up without trying?" Pinned to the wall.

"You dare judge me? Which of us has spent nearly two decades like this?"

"You used to fight for what you believed in--does this mean you don't believe in yourself?"

Beast restrained the urge to hurl the comparatively frail human across the small room. "Believe in myself," he laughed harshly, no mirth in the hollow sound. "Believe in a monster? No." He let go of the emerald-eyed youth and turned back to the window. "Leave me."

"You're making a mistake, Heero." He left quietly, leaving Beast alone with his thoughts.

I am not a coward, he seethed, flexing his claws against the stone windowsill. I already feel too much for the boy as it is. I'm just setting myself up for more loss, more pain.

A flicker of movement out in the courtyard captured his attention. Duo.

The black-clad teen was making his way towards the stables where his horse was. He's leaving, Beast surmised, trying to ignore the stab of pain that was almost physically hurtful.

Stop him! a tiny voice screamed in his head.

"You would give up without trying?" Trowa's words already came back to haunt him...

He had sprung to stand on the windowsill before he registered what he was doing.

With a powerful leap, he jumped from the tower and let himself fall until he was only twenty feet from the ground before extending his golden feathered wings and pulling out of the dive, gaining altitude with powerful beats of his wings.

He soared high until he was directly over the stables, taking a small sense of accomplishment from reaching them before Duo. He landed lightly on the roof above the doors and sat down, dangling feet and tail over the edge.

Duo rounded the bend and did a double take as he noticed something gold over the stable doors.

"Hey!" he called up, radiating excitement. "What brings you here?"

"I was informed you wished to see me," the Beast hazarded, jumping down from the roof to land a few feet in front of the chestnut-haired boy.

Duo nodded. "I haven't seen you since the day I got here. Why were you avoiding me?"

"I wasn't." Liar.

Duo blinked. "Oh really."

Beast glared at him, sensing the disbelief in the indigo-eyed boy's tone. Duo blanched and looked away, then mentally chastised himself for backing down like a weakling.

"If you weren't avoiding me, why didn't I ever see you?"

"I had--matters--to attend to."

"Huh. Sure." His flippant response caused the Beast to glare at him. He glared back, sternly telling himself that contemplation of his host's gorgeous eyes could wait until another, more appropriate time.

Duo ended the glaring contest by looking away and chuckling slightly. Beast raised an eyebrow at the laughter, clearing requesting an explanation.

"It's just that we always seem to find something to argue about whenever we see each other...it stuck me as kinda funny." He moved past the master of the castle and into the stables.

"What are you doing?" Leaving, what else, baka?

"Sayin' hi to Shini," Duo's voice floated out.

"After you're done talking to the horse, would you like a tour of the castle?" he peered off into the dimness, trying to get his eyes to adjust and wondering exactly what had possessed him to ask such a question. He didn't notice a glint of blue disappearing behind the building.

Please say yes, please say yes...

Duo popped back out so fast Beast took a step back. "Wai! Sure! Let's go!" he grinned at the somewhat flustered Beast and grabbed his hand--er, paw--and pulled him off.

Beast allowed himself to be pulled, taken aback by his guest's apparent enthusiasm.

A slight rustle to their left in a clump of fire bushes drew his eyes to the pair of servants "hiding" there. Quatre had the grace to look abashed at being caught spying, Trowa solemnly winked at his master and pulled Quatre further into the garden.

Duo had paused when he noticed the Beast's eyes glaring off into the shrubbery. "What is it?"

"Nothing."

The longhaired teen sighed and walked after Beast, who had taken the lead. As they approached the massive doors, Duo remembered the carving he had tried to examine when he had first come to the castle. He dashed ahead and told whoever was opening the doors for them to stop for a moment. He found the carving and turned to wait for Beast to catch up.

Beast's tail was lashing back and forth in irritation at being left behind; his cobalt eyes glinted dangerously. Duo did not let this deter him.

"What is that thing?" he asked curiously, pointing to the lion with wings.

Beast glanced at it and answered immediately. "Griffin."

"Oooh..." he looked at the golden Beast before him, then back at the carving. The back to the Beast...and emitted a sound of understanding.

Beast nodded, confirming his thoughts.

Well, that's one mystery cleared up.

"Lead on, my friend," Duo smiled with an elaborate bowing gesture.

Beast found himself rolling his eyes at Duo's antics as he reached over and righted him with as much effort as it would have taken an ordinary human to pick up a feather. Duo blinked, grinned again, and the tour got underway.

* * *

Duo collapsed boneless on his bed, exhausted from the "tour" he had received. After he had expressed his boredom at the inside of the castle, Beast had taken him outside into the four main gardens surrounding the castle. Each represented a season--the only one he had been in previously was spring--and was maintained in a stasis of the season by magic.

Summer had been rather parched--boring, fall had been full of leaves and mums--not too exciting, spring he had seen, winter was where the fun had begun.

A carefully launched snowball had caught his unsuspecting guide in the back of the head, causing the golden figure to whirl around and glare at him. Duo had put on his best "innocent" look and smiled sweetly. Beast turned back around and was assaulted yet again by a frozen ball of water.

The next time he turned around, he scooped up and threw a pawful of snow back at Duo, thus ensuing a snowball fight, which eventually deteriorated to seeing who could knock down the other first.

Beast won.

Duo laughed at the memory: a well-controlled gust of wind created by Beast's wings had sent him tumbling into a drift of snow. Beast had actually grinned at him--and his accomplishment--as he offered a paw to help him up. Duo had reached out and taken the paw, but used one of the oldest tricks in the book: he pulled Beast down beside him and promptly laughed his head off at the shocked expression on the leonine face. Beast had blinked, shook his head to get rid of the snow in his hair, and started to laugh, too.

Duo smiled; he would never forget it for as long as he lived. Beast was human.

Part 5

Months passed in which Beast and Duo grew closer and closer. They spent their days walking in the extensive gardens surrounding the castle, reading together, or talking about random things. The one subject Beast would not talk about was why he was a beast, and this piqued Duo's curiosity to no end.

Also in these months, Duo's parents became more and more worried about their only son's well being.

* * *

"Treize, we should go after him! He might be dead or dying! Surely the Beast is done with him!" Une said worriedly.

"Une, the Beast, he'll--"

"We have to get Duo back!" Hilde yelled.

"I agree," a glint of coldness entered Une's eyes as she glared at her husband.

"Yeah! Let's go rally the villagers and storm the castle and get the king to help us, too!"

"Just the first two should do," Treize commented dryly, eyeing his son's fiancÚ warily. She was a little too exuberant.

With a battle cry, Hilde went off to wake up the villagers, who would probably be pretty pissed off about their night's sleep being disturbed.

* * *

"Beast, where are you taking me?" Duo asked, glancing curiously around the unfamiliar corridor Beast was pulling him down.

"Hn." They turned right sharply and started up a long, winding spiral staircase.

"Is this one of the towers?" He had seen the impossibly tall towers from afar, but had never been in one.

No answer. "Dammit, Beast! Talk to me!" He stopped and jerked his wrist away from his companion's vice-like grip.

The golden Beast turned to face him then, wingtips brushing against the cold stone walls of the tower.

Duo gasped. Never had he seen such raw emotion surface in the cobalt depths. Pain, regret, anger, longing, but mostly sorrow swam through Beast's eyes.

"Please." Come with me this one last time, "Trust me."

"I do trust you."

"Then stop asking questions." They went swiftly up the rest of the stairs, leaving Duo slightly breathless at the top.

"Look," he commanded softly, gesturing with a paw towards the window.

Duo did as he was told and gaped. He could see his whole town from here! But what was that blob moving towards the castle--? "Beast?"

"The people from your town."

"What are they doing?"

"They're coming to get you." And you will surely go with them willingly after living with me for so long. Why aren't you already gone? You have free reign of this castle...free reign of me.

"Get me? Huh? To take me back?! But--but I don't want to go back!" He flung himself at Beast and wrapped his arms around his waist, hiding his face against the Beast's chest. "I want to stay here with you!" He looked up; indigo orbs shimmering with unshed tears. I don't want to go, I don't want to leave, they can't make me, they can't, they can't!

Cobalt also gleamed with the presence of tears as Heero hugged the boy to him, his golden wings forming a protective shell around them.

"What can I do...do you think I could talk to them and tell them I'm staying of my own free will? Would that work?"

"I don't know. It's been so long since I've dealt with humans..."

Duo blinked away some tears and looked at Beast. "You say that like you aren't human."

Beast froze, then pulled away from Duo and flipped his wings to his back, crossing his arms over his chest. "You call this," he gestured at his wings, his tail, his fur, his paws, "human?"

"Well, not that," Duo smiled at him. "But your heart is most definitely human."

Beast looked at him sharply. My...heart? Relena condemned me for not having a heart. So how can he say my heart is human?

Duo cocked his head to one side, trying to figure out exactly what Beast's expression meant, but gave up as more pressing matters reasserted themselves in his mind. "C'mon, I wanna tell those people I'm staying here before they actually get here." He started towards the door to the small tower room and was halfway out when he realized the Beast wasn't following.

"Beast?"

"Hn?"

"Come on!"

"I-I can't go with you. Out there. Do you have any idea what kind of a panic that would cause?"

"Oh." He sighed sadly. "I will be back." He closed the door again, leaving Beast alone in the tower room, suddenly much colder without Duo's lively presence.

I can only hope.

* * *

"Quatre, Trowa, Wu!" Duo hollered as he raced out of the castle and to the stables. "Get Shini ready!"

By the time he reached the stables, Shinigami was saddled and waiting for him outside the barn door.

"Duo, where are you going?" The voice he had come to recognize as Trowa's asked.

He vaulted into the saddle. "I have to divert a mob of villagers, I'll be back!" he called over his shoulder, spurring his horse into a gallop. Other invisible servants had the gates open and waiting for him.

As they watched him ride away, they all sighed.

"He had better come back...it'll break Heero's heart if he doesn't," Wufei said quietly, casting a glance at the high tower window where he could see a faint glint of gold.

"Aa," Trowa agreed. "But will his coming back do any good? Heero may love him, but if he loved Heero, wouldn't the spell have been broken?"

Two pairs of eyes flew to the brown-haired youth in shock.

Trowa blanched and took a step back. "What? I was just saying..."

Tears welled up in Quatre's eyes and he started bawling, Wufei still looked horrified as he awkwardly patted Quatre on the head.

"What is that awful sound?"

Three heads swiveled to look at a slim, blue body hovering over them.

"L-L-Leviathan!" Quatre wailed. "Duo left, and-and-and Heero l-loves him, bu-but he doesn't love Heero!"

Lev flinched and curled her body up so portions of it were covering the sides of her head. That answers the awful sound question..."Oi, Quatre, STOP! Everything's going to be okay!"

He sniffled. "Really?"

"Uh huh." She flew down and nuzzled Quatre's cheek with her snout then raised her head and looked in the direction Duo had gone in. I hope so.

* * *

Duo leaned low to try to reduce air resistance as he urged Shinigami faster, cutting through the hazy dawn air. He had to make it to the mob, and soon!

After about another hour of hard riding, he heard the sounds of people on the road ahead. Rounding a bend, he was suddenly face to face with his parents, Hilde, and most of the other people in town.

"Duo!" Hilde shrieked and glomped onto his leg as he sat in the saddle of a heavily breathing Shini.

He impatiently shook her off and stood up on the pitch-black horse's back. "Listen up!" he yelled as loudly as he could, using his hands as to make his voice even louder. The angry roar of the mob died down.

"I'm Duo! I'm safe! Go home!"

Hilde pulled him down off his horse and started checking him over for injuries, murmuring, "Duo, oh Duo, I knew you would come back to me."

"Gah, Hilde, get off!"

"What about the Beast?!" An angry townsman cried, repeating one of the falsified statements Une and Treize had made up to gain support. "He'll come after our children if we don't kill him!"

KILL HIM!?!?!?! FUCK NO, not while I'm alive! "No, he won't! He's the gentlest, kindest person I know!"

"Sure he is!" A woman jeered. "Witchcraft! He's got the boy under a spell!"

"Look, lady, you're insane! He'd never hurt anyone! And I am NOT under a spell!" At least the kind you're talking about...

Murmurs of agreement with the woman went through the crowd, ending with them surging forward with cries of, "Kill the Beast!" (I couldn't resist! ^_~ -Lev) They pushed past Duo, Shinigami, and Hilde, a river going around a solitary rock.

With some difficulty, the indigo-eyed boy managed to turn Shini around and plowed through the people until he was in front of them again, blocking the road. The black horse reared and neighed loudly, clearly a challenging action.

"You will not harm him!"

"Traitor!" The cry rose up, people closed in on them, hands trying to pull him off his perch. Shinigami reared again and struck out with his front hooves, taking out two villagers.

After an intense struggle, they pulled him down and shoved him in a nearby underground storage area, and proceeded on their way to the castle.

Duo pounded futilely on the doors. "Let me out, let me out!" He groped blindly around his prison for something, anything that would get him out so he could warn Beast.

After minutes of searching, his hand came into contact with a stick. Frantically, he tried to wedge it between the two doors and pressed, trying to use the leverage to break one of the doors open. All he broke was the stick. "Beast...oh, Beast..."

Eventually he went back to pounding on the doors, hurling all he had at the immobile wood barriers for an indeterminable amount of time.

Without warning, one of them creaked open, but he could see no one in the growing darkness of the night.

"Who's there?"

"Trowa. Come on!"

"Wha--" he was yanked out of his dark cell and then he was being pulled, his legs began to cooperate after such a long period of inactivity; they were running through the trees, crashing through bushes.

"Trowa," he gasped out, "what happened? I have to warn Beast, I couldn't stop them!"

"Hee--Beast is going to need a lot more than a warning for him to survive this."

"What!? Surely they can't actually hurt him!"

"If he doesn't fight back they can."

They jumped a fallen tree and ducked a low hanging branch before Duo spoke again. "Why wouldn't he?!"

"You left," Trowa told him simply.

"Me?? But I was coming back! It's not my fault--" he dodged a large tree "--they shoved me in there!"

"Shut up and run. The villagers were nearly at the castle when I passed them!"

After running for what seemed like an eternity to Duo, an earsplitting neigh sounded off to their right and a horse-shaped shadow crashed towards them. After a moment of total shock, Duo recovered and mounted Shinigami, then called out to Trowa. "Are you on?"

"Hai."

Duo pushed Shini to his limits; as much as he loved his horse, his Beast was more important.

They arrived, breathless from hanging onto the madly galloping stallion, to see the mangled, scorched remains of the main gate. Duo dismounted and forced himself to run to the castle and through the door--he had no idea if Trowa was still beside him or not.

"BEAST!" He yelled as loudly as he could, running up the staircase, narrowly avoiding attacks as the townspeople realized who he was.

He sprinted down the hall, all the while yelling for his friend. More than that, his mind whispered.

Yeah, I know, but I don't exactly have the time to think about that right now!

Acting on a hunch, he raced to the tower where he had last been with Beast. He scrambled up the stairs, nearly falling more than once. He was still three dozen stairs away when he heard humans screaming, "Another monster!" The door burst open and a half-dozen townsmen poured out, tumbling down the stairs towards him. Thinking fast, he jumped and managed to catch hold of a window opening so they tumbled past him. He dropped to the stone stairs again and climbed the last steps as fast as he could.

Throwing open the door, he was met with a horrifying sight. His mind registered two colors. Gold. Red. So much red...

Suddenly terribly uncoordinated, Duo stumbled and sank to his knees beside the still form of the Beast. Golden feathers were strewn everywhere throughout the small room, most of them blood spattered. The tousled head lolled to the side, a trickle of blood running from the corner of his mouth. Blood matted his dark brown hair to his forehead; turned the golden fur of his chest an ugly, dark color.

Hot tears streamed down the longhaired boy's face as he pulled Beast to him where he sat with his legs tucked under him, next to and partially in a pool of blood. Resting his shoulders and head in his lap, Duo bent over the still form, tears dripping onto the leonine face.

Cobalt eyes fluttered open at the damp impact. "Duo...?" he whispered hoarsely.

Hopeful indigo eyes shot to his and Duo half-smiled at his disoriented, dying friend--Beloved, he decided. "Beast, I told you I'd come back. They locked me in a cellar and called me a traitor...I couldn't get out, Trowa somehow set me free. I--I came as fast as I could."

"I'm sorry." His eyelids drooped.

"Beast? Beast! Don't die, gods, please don't die!"

A paw reached weakly up and stroked his cheek, leaving a bloody smear, but Duo didn't care. He clutched at the paw, holding it to him like a lifeline.

If the tower room hadn't been so silent, the braided boy wouldn't have heard the ragged, "Ai shiteru, Duo," as the Beast took his last breath.

"I love you, too, my Beast," Duo sobbed uncontrollably, cradling the dead Beast to him. Found and lost all in the space of a few seconds.

An eerie white light surrounded the prone form, Duo watched in teary awe as the once great golden wings receded and disappeared, as did the lion-like tail. The leonine face became human, the matted, once golden fur turned to smooth, bronzed skin. All the wounds closed up, leaving Duo holding a perfect, gorgeous youth of his own age. The curse...is it broken? Why now? God, Beast...come back...come back...I love you, you can't leave me...come back!

He jumped when the boy suddenly breathed in deeply, causing the perfect chest to rise with the intake of air. Cobalt eyes slowly opened once again, this time they did not close, except to blink at the vision above them.

"Duo?" He reached up and touched the heart-shaped face, noting with surprise the human fingers that appeared to be his own. Could it be?

"You're alive," Duo whispered, entwining his fingers with Beast's--That can't be his real name--now human fingers. "You're alive," he repeated, louder this time and sounding slightly hysterical. He brought the cobalt-eyed boy's hands to his lips and kissed each knuckle, every bone he could feel beneath the smooth skin.

Careful to not pull away from Duo, Heero sat up and stared at his other hand, curling each one of his fingers into his palm separately, then flexing them out. Then Duo's other hand captured the hand he was examining, drawing his gaze to Duo's eyes, where he started to get lost in the bottomless pools of indigo.

"What is your name? I can't exactly call you Beast, now," Duo murmured, repeating the treatment the first hand had gotten on the other.

The Beast-turned-boy blushed faintly at Duo's ministrations and replied, "Heero."

Duo grinned at him and pulled him closer so he was leaning against the braided boy...both found themselves wishing the contact was skin on skin instead of the clothing Duo was wearing to Heero's bare back. "Heero," he repeated. "I like that a lot better than calling you 'Beast'." This is so surreal. "Are you going to tell me about the curse now?" Duo asked, half-teasingly. He wasn't totally sure what had broken it; Heero's beast body dying, or...

"It happened a long time ago," he sighed, snuggling back against Duo, trying to get used to a body he hadn't been in for decades.

Duo remained quiet, silently encouraging the dark-haired boy to continue.

Heero took a deep breath and launched into his monologue. "My parents...I can't remember their names...died when I was young, so it was only the servants and myself in the castle. When I was 15, a girl came to the castle--her name was Relena--with her brother, Zechs.

"For some reason, Relena wanted to marry me, but I didn't like her, so I said no and tried to send her away. She wouldn't go, and kept insisting we were perfect for each other. I kept refusing until she realized I was serious...she was outraged...she turned me into a beast and left.

"She didn't complete the spell, though, so Zechs finished for her. I was locked in the beast form for eternity--no aging--or until I learned to love someone and the someone loved me back."

Bitch, Duo hissed venomously in his mind. She had better be far, far away from here, or she won't live very long. "How did that include bringing you back to life?" Duo queried to hide the path his thoughts had taken. "Not that I'm not grateful for that," he added quickly.

"I...I don't know."

Speech between them ended for a few minutes, leaving both boys to sit and enjoy the feeling of just being with each other.

One pressing question burned in Heero's mind, and only Duo could answer it. "Duo...?"

"Hm?" his answer had an almost sleepy quality to its tone.

"Do you love me?"

The heavily loaded question brought the indigo-eyed boy fully awake. "Heero, are you seriously asking me that? Wait, wait, don't answer. Yes, Heero-baka, I love you."

A smile bright enough to rival the sun appeared on Heero's face as he turned to Duo and wrapped his arms around the boy, burying his face in the juncture of Duo's neck and shoulder.

The chestnut-haired teen laughed and hugged him back tightly for a few moments, then pulled away slightly and moved Heero's face to his own. He gently kissed his soft lips, noting with a kind of satisfaction that Heero seemed to be as inexperienced as he was.

They traded soft kisses, becoming lost in the feelings they invoked. Duo's hands caressed the smooth skin of Heero's leanly muscled chest and back. It became apparent after a while that other parts of their bodies were trying to get in on the act, but Duo didn't really feel that losing his virginity on a cold stone floor was what he wanted to happen.

He gently pushed Heero away from him, his rebellious body screaming at the loss.

"We...gotta go get rid...of the people..." he panted softly, running his hands through Heero's short, dark brown hair.

The cobalt-eyed boy blinked, his coherent thoughts slowly making their way back to the surface of his consciousness. "Oh," he murmured, standing up and pulling Duo with him. Duo firmly laced their fingers together as they exited the room and started down the stairs.

"I almost miss being able to fly," Heero told him ruefully. "We could have been down in no time at all."

Duo's mind immediately went off on all sorts of interesting problems having wings would pose during--Now really isn't the time to be thinking about these things.

The hallway the tower was off of was relatively empty except for the few servants that had taken refuge there. Duo's eyes widened as he realized he could see them. He shot a sideways glance at Heero, who didn't notice and continued to pull them towards the top of the grand staircase.

When they reached it, Duo gasped at the sight before him.

Furniture was strewn everywhere, smashed or taken apart to be used as weapons. A blond, aqua-eyed boy was fighting off a pair of drunks; near him was a tall, brown-haired boy with bangs that covered half of his face easily fighting off four of the well-to-do upper class gentlemen and also seemed to be protecting the blond from other assailants. A girl with curly auburn hair fought near them, throwing various sharp-edged pieces of wood at villagers from afar.

Near the center of the floor, a black-haired boy who looked to be of Chinese descent was fighting Duo's father, Treize. Une was being battered by a woman with two honey-blond braids. Other fights raged on in various places in the entrance hall. Duo nearly started laughing as he caught sight of Hilde, who was being harassed by a flying blue streak zipping around her head. The black-haired girl tripped on an overturned table and went sprawling into a few potted plants.

Heero, sensing Duo's barely surpressed laughter, looked in the direction his beloved was looking. "Who is that?" he asked with a hint of possessiveness.

"Hilde," Duo stuttered, his laughter was determined to get the better of him.

The blue streak, which was Leviathan, flew over to them as soon as her victim had fallen. "Hello," she chirped. "Are you going to end all this before someone really gets hurt?" She curled up on Heero's head and nestled down into his hair.

"I would...but...how?"

"Uh. Tell them you're the master of the castle and you order them to get out?"

Heero sighed and shook his head, nearly dislodging the blue serpent.

Duo, however, appeared to already have an idea. He stepped out to the center of the landing, and...yelled "STOP!" at the top of his lungs.

All movement and noise ceased immediately in a stunned silence. All eyes were drawn to the top of the stairs where the pair stood. With a little bow, Duo gestured for Heero to stand next to him.

In a calm but firm voice that carried out over the entire hall, Heero made his rank and precedence over the rest of the people known. "I am Heero Yuy, lord of this castle and ruler of the lands on which your homes are located." Gasps of surprise rippled through the townspeople who remembered the legend of the Yuy royal family; the servants looked overjoyed to see their master alive and with Duo. "If you leave--now--I will overlook this incident. If you do not..." he trailed off, at a loss for a plausible threat. In moments, a ten-foot long blue sea serpent appeared hovering over the stairs, long fangs bared at the crowd, half of which fainted dead away. The other half scooped up the fallen and ran like hell.

Duo captured his hand again as they descended the stairs; a normal sized Lev flitting happily around them.

The servants converged around them; wide grins on their faces as they realized the spell had been broken and they were all free.

Nearer the back of the cluster of people, Trowa stood with his arms wrapped around Quatre, kissing him passionately. Duo happened to glance over at them and nudged Heero in the side when he saw what they were doing.

"Quatre and Trowa," Heero whispered in his ear, sending little shivers of delight up Duo's spine.

After a good twenty minutes of being questioned by Heero's servants, Wufei stepped to the front and turned back to face his fellows.

"This has been a tiring day for all of us. We all deserve a rest. Shoo." Duo started chuckling at his last word, which had been spoken with a straight face in a monotone voice--the voice that he recognized as Wufei. The servants began to wander off, leaving the very-much-in-love couple alone.

They glanced at each other and practically sprinted up the stairs. Their progress, however, was halted when a girl hurled herself out of the shadows and tackled Duo, who went down with a yelp.

"Duo!" Hilde screeched.

Duo wailed.

Heero sprung into action.

Hilde was in a heap at the bottom of the stairs before she found the breath to scream; Duo was in Heero's arms in the same amount of time.

"Mine," Heero growled at her possessively and tugged Duo off down the hall.

A servant girl with long blond hair and bizarrely forked eyebrows appeared out of nowhere and dragged the hysterical girl off.

~owari if you don't like lemons~

Part 6

Once they were out of sight of the stairs, Duo pulled free from Heero's vice-like grip. Heero stopped and looked at him, utterly confused. He seemed willing enough a moment ago...Doubts began to fill his mind. He doesn't really love me...how could he? He lied...I'm not worth it, anyway...

Sensing the course Heero's thoughts had taken, Duo stepped forward and gently put his arms around his beloved's neck, pulling him close.

"Heero, as much as I love you," some of the doubt left the cobalt eyes, "do not refer to me as some sort of possession."

Heero looked down, sideways, anywhere but at Duo. "I-I'm sorry," he mumbled, trying to step back.

Duo continued as if Heero hadn't spoken. "Though I will let you get away with it this time...the look on Hilde's face was worth it."

Hesitantly, Heero raised his eyes to look at Duo's face and found the chestnut-haired youth smiling at him. A ghost of a smile touched his own lips as he wrapped his arms around Duo's waist and took a small step forward, bringing their bodies into full contact.

Duo's smile faded a little as he felt a jolt of pleasure mixed with an almost overwhelming desire for the boy before him.

"You can keep on dragging me off to wherever it was you were headed if you want," he murmured shyly.

Heero leaned forward slightly and pressed his lips to Duo's, initiating a soft kiss that amplified their desire for each other tenfold, making them both incredibly impatient to find a place more private than the hallway they were currently in.

Separating, they resumed their course towards Duo's bedroom, the only room in the castle where they were sure not to be disturbed. Opening the door, Duo bolted inside and turned around to close the door...then realized Heero was still standing outside.

"You have to invite me in," he reminded his love, a pleading note in his slightly nasal voice.

Duo let out an exasperated sigh and said loudly, "Heero, please come in!"

The door was closed and Duo was pressed against the wall before he knew what was happening.

"You are definitely moving to my room," Heero asserted quietly before he kissed Duo once more, this time gently coaxing the sweet-tasting mouth open and letting his tongue roam.

Duo moaned slightly and returned the kiss with growing passion, pressing back against Heero until he was moving away from the wall and towards the bed successfully, without breaking the kiss.

They fell onto the bed, parting minutely to allow for oxygen to enter their lungs. Heero pulled Duo on top of him, running his hands down the cloth covered back, eventually coming into contact with what he was seeking. Following the rope-like braid to its end, he carefully pulled off the tie that held it together and unwound the soft chestnut strands.

Duo reveled at the feeling of Heero's gentle hands in his hair and nuzzled Heero's neck, placing feather-light kisses all over the sensitive flesh.

"Nnnn..."

"Like that?" Duo whispered against Heero's neck, causing the other to shiver slightly at the infinitesimal brush of moving air.

A sharp rapping on the window brought both boys out of their semi-trance.

"Huh?" Duo said intelligently, turning his head to look in the general direction of the offending window.

"Lev," Heero growled venomously, gently pushing Duo off of his person and getting off the bed. Duo hazily watched his soon-to-be-lover cross to the window and shove it open with more force than necessary.

"Ano...just thought you might need this!" Lev dropped something into Heero's hand and was gone in a flash.

Heero stalked back to the bed, a small jar in hand. He sat, Indian-style, on the bed and pulled Duo over to him.

"Uh...what is it?" Duo asked, taking the jar from Heero and promptly plunking himself down in the other's lap. He grinned slightly and pressed back against Heero's erection; Heero's breath whooshed past his ear as the dark-haired boy's head dropped to rest on Duo's shoulder.

Duo reached behind him and slid one hand between his back and Heero's chest until he reached the waistband of Heero's pants, nimble fingers quickly undoing the buttons. To his delight, he found that Heero wore no undergarments...he scooted forward slightly to allow his fingers more room to maneuver and ran his fingertips delicately along the length of the hard, hot flesh, drawing it out of the confining material.

Heero had all but stopped breathing as he nuzzled, kissed, and licked at Duo's neck, tasting the slightly salty skin. One hand snaked around the chestnut-haired boy's waist and began to stroke the bulge in the black pants, drawing a gasp from him; the jar slipped from his hand--the one not involved behind him--and clunked to the floor, forgotten.

Duo twisted in Heero's lap and wrapped both legs around his waist, trapping Heero's erection between them, kissing him fiercely. When he pulled away, Duo whispered, "We need to lose the clothes."

Heero's pants were a mere memory in a matter of seconds; Duo was still struggling to pull his shirt off when he felt hands at his waist, tugging his pants off. He lifted his hips to help, momentarily forgetting about the shirt. As the smooth flesh was revealed, Heero placed kisses down Duo's legs, deliberately bypassing the dripping arousal that had been freed, bringing whimpers from the semi-trapped youth.

With a low laugh that heated Duo's blood even more, Heero snaked his way back up Duo's body and tugged the cumbersome shirt off, dropping it to the floor. The gratitude in Duo's eyes was quickly replaced by lust as Heero thrust his hips down, their arousals coming into contact. Duo thrust back, wrapping his arms around Heero's back, holding him in place.

Licking at the longhaired boy's lips, Heero forced his way into Duo's mouth, exploring every millimeter; abruptly, he was gone, kissing down Duo's neck to his collarbone, making two quick detours to give both hard nubs on Duo's chest a kiss, then continuing his way down Duo's torso, feeling Duo's erection pressed against his own chest.

"Heero...please...do...something..." Duo panted between gasps, threading his fingers through Heero's hair and trying to force him to move faster.

The cobalt-eyed boy paused, looking somewhat apprehensively down at Duo's weeping erection. He had no idea what he was doing. Slowly, he lapped at the droplets of fluid at the very tip, jumping back when Duo's hips bucked upward. Deciding it had been a good reaction--Duo's hands clutching his hair told him it was definitely a good reaction--Heero used the tip of his tongue to tease the slit, extracting a sharp gasp from Duo. He ran his tongue down the length of the hard flesh, leaving a glistening trail, then licked back up to taste the new drops already forming at the tip.

"Ohhhhh...H-Heero..."

Heero's mouth wrapped around the head, sucking gently, his fingers lightly running over Duo's balls as he took more of Duo's shaft into his mouth.

Unable to control himself, Duo thrust his hips upward, driving his erection in further, and causing Heero to pull back as it hit the back of his throat. Recovering, Heero sucked hard on the flesh in his mouth then found himself frantically swallowing his lover's seed as he came with a loud moan. He pulled back, wiping away trickles of liquid that ran down his chin and gently disengaging Duo's deathlike grip on his head. (*glare* NOT that one...sheesh. ~Lev)

As Duo lay panting, Heero moved back up his lover's glistening body, feeling his painfully hard arousal rub against the sweaty skin. One indigo eye cracked open as Heero felt long fingers curl around his shaft and pump slowly.

Heero groaned and curled up against Duo, burying his face in long chestnut strands.

"Duo...Duo, I want..."

The hand left his erection and sought one of Heero's hands, tugging it downwards. "So take me," Duo whispered huskily, guiding Heero's fingers to his opening.

"I don't want to hur--nnnn!" The hand was back, this time stroking him faster.

"Do it," Duo hissed at him, his shaft already standing erect once again.

Tentatively Heero's finger pushed its way into Duo; when there was very little resistance and Duo didn't seem to be in any pain, Heero added a second, stretching the tight ring of muscle as best he could. He added a third finger, this time brushing against a spot that had the indigo-eyed teen arcing off the bed in ecstasy.

Heero paused as he remembered the jar Lev had given him. Keeping his fingers in his lover moving carefully, he leaned over, off the bed and shoved his pants, then Duo's shirt away. He grabbed the jar and untwisted the lid with his teeth--I'll have to thank her later.

"Heero...?" Duo breathed, opening his eyes to see what was taking him so long. "Whasat?"

Heero didn't answer as he pulled away from Duo's hand and started stroking his own arousal, coating it in the slick substance the jar contained. Withdrawing his fingers from Duo and reluctantly taking his hand away from himself, carefully pulling Duo's legs to rest on his shoulders, he positioned himself at Duo's entrance--or tried to. With a low growl, he grabbed a few pillows and lifted Duo up to fix the problem. Once that was done, he nudged at the tight opening, his slick hand wrapping around the base of Duo's shaft and slowly travelling upwards as he pushed past the ring of muscle, then paused to allow Duo time to adjust.

Duo threw his head back, clenching his teeth from the momentary pain. Then the pain was gone...but Heero wasn't moving.

Heero waited until he saw Duo's face go completely relaxed, then pulled out, causing the chestnut-haired boy to whimper at the loss. He pushed back in slowly, torturing both himself and his lover; he continued to slowly pump Duo's arousal as he pulled back out.

"Faster," Duo moaned, trying to impale himself on Heero's shaft. Heero gritted his teeth, not sure how much longer he could hold out as he pushed quickly back into his lover, brushing the place that had Duo almost screaming his name.

Duo's cries rose in volume as Heero pounded in and out of him, faster, harder, as his hand flew slickly up the longhaired boy's erection. When Heero changed the angle of his thrusts slightly, Duo came hard, being stroked inside and out, calling his lover's name in the heat of his passion.

Heero felt Duo's muscles clamp around him as he pushed in one last time and the world exploded around him, pushing him to the brink of unconsciousness as stream after stream jetted into Duo's passage.

Heero collapsed onto Duo, pulling out of him as he lay panting on top of the indigo-eyed youth. Duo nudged feebly at the dark-haired boy until he rolled off of him, then snuggled up to his side, resting his head on Heero's shoulder and throwing an arm across Heero's chest to entwine their fingers.

Heero kissed the chestnut-haired head and murmured, "I love you."

"Love you too, Heero," Duo mumbled before slipping into a deep sleep, Heero not far behind.

* * *

"Wow...I didn't think Duo would be so loud," Quatre commented, glancing at the ceiling where the assorted squeaks, bumps, and thunks had finally stopped.

"I hope they actually remembered to use what I gave them, " Lev grumbled, also glancing at the ceiling.

The assorted servants glanced at the set table. "Dinner can be postponed," Wufei said, then added under his breath, "Or maybe they'll want a large breakfast."

~owari!~

 

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