Category:  Yaoi, Gundam Wing, AU
Warnings:  shonen ai
Pairings:  1x2, 3x4
Author:  Arigatomina

The Way It Was

"Heero? Do you really have to go?"

Looking over his shoulder from where he sat at his long desk, Heero frowned at the boy. Setting his pen down on the unfinished ledgers, he turned to sit
straddled in the chair so he was facing the bed where Duo lay, sprawled lazily. "You know I have to bring him to the magistrate." Frowning in disapproval at the
pout on Duo's face Heero shook his head. "I'm going. If I fail to bring him in, it will ruin my name. No one is going to pay a bounty-hunter who fails to deliver."

"Yeah but, it's not like what he did was that bad. Besides, what would it hurt if you waited a couple of days? At least until we find out if the rumors are true."
Sliding off the bed, Duo moved to stand in front of Heero, making absolutely sure the other boy could see his displeasure. "What happens if they are and you
and Trowa walk right into an approaching army of invaders? Think about it, Heero. There's no reason to risk your life over some stupid job."

Jerking back for a second, Heero reached out to grip Duo's shoulder, giving him a sharp shake. "Duo, the villagers' have been talking about that army for
months now. If it were true, we would have seen some sign of them. It's a rumor and nothing else." Standing, he moved around the chair, a hand rising to
brush back Duo's thick bangs. "I'm not going to die taking a boy ten miles over easy ground. You worry too much."

"I know," Duo said with a sigh, "But you're always so reckless when you're working. Things are different now. I can't help worrying that I'll lose you." Stepping
forward, Duo slipped his arms around Heero's waist, leaning so their cheeks touched.

"Duo, we've been sleeping in the same bed for months. How long is it going to take for you to have faith in me? The risks I take are well thought out, I don't act

"You didn't say anything about being more careful now that you'll be leaving someone behind," Duo said softly, pressing against the dark-haired boy as his
hands slowly rubbed Heero's back. "Not a word about not wanting to hurt me by dying..."

With a rough growl, Heero grabbed the edge of Duo's long, golden brown braid and pulled, moving his head up from where he'd hidden it against Heero's
shoulder. Glaring into wide violet eyes, his free hand moved to the small of his back, pulling the boy closer as he moved his face close. "I *told* you," he said
harshly, breath coming heavy as his eyes narrowed dangerously. "You will *stop* doubting me."

Duo's eyes widened at the order, looking over Heero's angry expression warily. He couldn't hold back a surprised cry when Heero suddenly bent and swept
him off his feet. Duo watched the bed get closer as Heero crossed the room, swallowing hard when he was abruptly dropped and the dark-haired boy climbed
onto the bed, looming over him. The anger was still evident in his intense cobalt eyes as he pressed Duo's shoulders into the bed.

"Just because I don't *say* it," Heero said softly, voice ominous as he released the boy's shoulders, hands moving to his waist where they tugged his shirt
loose, "doesn't mean I don't *think* it. When I said I loved you, you were supposed to know what that meant." Looking away from Duo's wide eyes, Heero
lowered his head, lips moving over the boy's mouth until he wrapped his arms around his neck. Massaging the muscles beneath the smooth skin gently,
Heero's hands slipped under the shirt, moving upward to play with his nipples. As Duo pressed up against him, he moved his mouth away. "Don't doubt me,
Duo. My life has meaning now...I'm *not* going to leave you."

"You promise?" Duo asked, wincing at how weak the question made him sound, but unable to resist asking. At Heero's affirmative nod, a smile slowly made its
way across his face. "I love you, Heero." When Heero nodded again, the smile turned into a grin and he reached up to pull the boy down on top of him.
Running his fingers through Heero's thick, short hair, Duo reveled in the contact as Heero moved a hand to bury it in the base of his braid. "It's not that I don't
trust you," he said, attempting to placate the boy who was still looking slightly insulted. "You guys have been important to me since we were kids, but this is
different. I've never loved anyone before and I can't help but worry that if I'm not careful, I'll lose you. Especially as dangerous as some of your jobs tend to be."

"I'm good at what I do," Heero said as he moved his weight off the boy and rolled onto his side so they were still facing each other. "Except for Trowa, I'm the
best. You don't have reason to worry."

"I know how good you are," Duo muttered, "I remember when I tried to be a bounty-hunter. You were a cocky snot."

Blinking in surprise at the insult, Heero smirked. "And you were too busy thinking about me to pay attention to the job. You can't work with such distractions. It's
just as well you quit when you did, I couldn't work if I had to worry about your getting hurt."

"See, you worry too!" Duo said, grinning widely. "And you told me not to worry."

"That was different," Heero said, shaking his head. "I worried, but I never doubted your abilities. Duo, it'll be fine. Believe in me. If we leave at dawn, we'll be
back by nightfall. There is nothing to worry about."

* * *

Leaning in the doorway, Trowa looked at Quatre. The small boy was sitting on the soft rug on the narrow porch of the house, legs crossed, a cup of tea held in
both hands as if for warmth despite the pleasant temperature. Head tilted, he looked down into the cup, jaw clenched as he glared. With a soft sigh, Trowa
pushed the door open, knowing he was in trouble when the pale boy stiffened. Moving across the porch silently, he lowered himself to the wooden floor beside
the boy.

Eyes moving over Quatre's angry expression, Trowa shook his head knowing the blonde boy could see the movement from the corner of his eye. "Talk to me,"
he said softly, green eyes boring into Quatre's pale blue-green ones. "If I leave with us angry, you will not forgive yourself."

Turning his head, Quatre glared at Trowa's calm expression. "You know me so well," he said sarcastically. "What makes you so sure I'll forgive you?"

"Because I *do* know you," Trowa said, brushing his knuckles over Quatre's cheek, wincing when the angry boy flinched. "I know you love me."

Glaring at the low blow, Quatre looked away and shook his head. "I may love you...but I don't like you right now. You completely ignored my warnings. I don't
even want to look at you right now." Blinking to ease the stinging in his eyes, Quatre looked at the small shed that was used to hold prisoners.

Eyes narrowing, Trowa noticed the way Quatre's eyes sparked in the last rays of the setting sun. Taking hold of the pale boy's chin, he forced his head to turn
they faced each other. "You *will* look at me. Quatre, I gave my word that I would bring that boy in. He killed a man. He broke the law."

"So what?!" Quatre cried angrily. "He was a horrible man! I'm telling you, I know it's wrong to turn that boy in. I *know*. I can *feel* it. Trowa, when have I ever
been wrong?"

"Never," Trowa agreed, relieved that the blonde boy was looking at him. "But Quatre, there's something else. The reason why I'm going despite your warning.
Quatre, what about Heero?"

Frowning, the smaller boy blinked at him for a moment before his eyes widened and he flushed. "You mean...if it weren't for Heero, you wouldn't go?"

"Of course not. You know I wouldn't hurt you like this if I could help it. If I don't go, Heero will take him to the magistrate alone, and that is too dangerous."
Watching the boy, Trowa could tell the exact second that his anger dissipated. His eyes cleared abruptly and the expression of hurt was replaced by a tiny

"I'm sorry I got so angry. I just know you shouldn't take him and it hurt to think you would ignore me. I should have known you had a good reason." Putting the
cup aside, he motioned for Trowa to join him on the rug, sighing when the tall boy wrapped an arm around his waist. "You're right, you know. I wouldn't have
forgiven myself if I'd let you leave with anger between us." Pushing aside the long fall of red-brown bangs that covered half of Trowa's face, Quatre stretched
up to place a kiss on his forehead, then on his lips.

Leaning his head on Trowa's shoulder, Quatre glanced again at the shed where the criminal was being held. He still had a sense of impending doom, but he
couldn't force himself to argue about it. Especially since he knew Heero was stubborn enough to go on his own, despite Duo's repeated ramblings about the
army that was supposed to be in the area. With a small smile, he watched as the sun slowly reached the horizon. //Duo and I are just the same when it comes
down to it. We warn and worry and get ignored, only to have our love grow stronger.//

* * *

Testing his bonds for the fifth time, Wufei glared at the dark door. It was no use, the Japanese boy had tied them too efficiently. //I have no one to blame but
myself. I thought they were weak and refused to fight them. It's only justice that I learn my lesson. And I will, only, I'm going to be in trouble when I get back.
Who knows how long it may be before I get loose, and the war could start any day now.//

Sighing, the black-haired boy eased himself onto his side on the small cot that lay against the wall across from the door to the shed. //Nataku...forgive me if I
break my word. I wasn't weak, I was just foolhardy and must pay penance for it.//

* * *

Darkness closed over the house and Trowa looked down at Quatre, "Ready to go in?"

Smiling, the blonde boy nodded. "I'm sorry I didn't let you explain," he said again as Trowa drew him to his feet.

"It's alright, Quatre."

"I still feel bad," the smaller boy said, shaking his head as he smiled up at Trowa.

"Well, you could make it up to me if you really feel bad," the tall boy said slowly, eyes glinting as the blonde boy's eyes widened. With a rather evil smirk, the
green-eyed boy suddenly bent and picked the slender boy up, carrying him inside quickly.

* * *

"So you're leaving first thing in the morning?" Duo asked, sighing and staring at the ceiling when Heero nodded. Face downcast as he pouted, Duo heaved a
heavy sigh. "I guess you better get to sleep then," he said, voice depressed, "Gotta get up early in the morning."

Smirking at how Duo looked when he was sulking, Heero scooted closer to him, propping himself up on an elbow so he could look down at him, Duo still facing
the ceiling. Eyeing the way the boy's bottom lip protruded with the pout, Heero leaned close to him. "I don't have to go to sleep just yet," he said suggestively,
a hand moving so he could brush a finger behind Duo's ear, smirking when the longhaired boy shuddered lightly. The violet eyes lit up as Duo realized he
wasn't going to go to sleep, a smile curving his lips at Heero's touch. The dark-haired boy knew just how to touch him to get the strongest reactions.

Smiling seductively, Duo slipped his hands over Heero's cheeks, fingers threading through his thick hair before halting, buried in the hair at the back of his
head. Lifting his own head, Duo pulled Heero to him so their mouths met, lips parting so their tongues could touch. His own tongue guided Heero's into his
mouth where he sucked on it gently, pulling the other boy closer when Heero growled, hands moving to undo the buttons of Duo's shirt. The need for air soon
parted the boys and Heero leaned back so he had room to push Duo's unbuttoned shirt off his shoulders. Letting Duo work on *his* shirt, Heero pulled the tip
of the long, golden-brown braid onto Duo's chest. Resting his elbows on the boy, Heero began to undo the braid, smirking when Duo's progress on his shirt
was hampered by his position.

Giving up on the shirt, Duo let one arm drop, the other curved around Heero's shoulder so he could drum his fingers on his back. Glancing over his shoulders
at the impatient fingers, Heero raised an eyebrow and looked back to Duo, a sultry smile gracing his face as he met Duo's laughing violet eyes. Not having
paused in the unbraiding of Duo's glorious hair, Heero slipped a hand under the boy's neck, pulling him onto his side so he could reach the hair lightly braided
at the base of his neck. Spreading the long locks of hair over the pillow, Heero slowly lowered Duo until his face was framed by his hair. Lust shining in his
eyes, Heero moved in for a passionate kiss.

Finger-tapping forgotten, Duo gripped Heero's shoulders tightly, mouth moving over Heero's with equal passion. When they parted again, Duo let his head fall
back on the pillow with a blissful sigh as he smiled up at Heero. Then his eyes fell on the partially undone shirt and narrowed as he quickly undid it, slipping it
off as Heero smirked at him. It was a mocking smirk, but it looked very good on Heero's face, especially when it was flushed as it was at the moment. Hands
moving over Heero's waist, Duo massaged the muscles of his lower back, eyes closing as soft lips moved over his neck.

Sighing as Heero once again proved how well he knew Duo's body, the violet-eyed boy let his head tilt back to give more access to the sensitive skin at his
neck. His hands continued to roam over Heero, caressing his chest and circling his nipples lightly with his fingertips as Heero did the same to him with his
tongue. Growling at the boy's soft sigh, Heero paused to look down at him, taking in his lazy expression. Deciding he wasn't excited enough, Heero quickly
undid Duo's pants, jerking them off in a sudden move that caught Duo's attention and woke him up. Not that he'd been sleeping, but he *had* been rather
peaceful as he'd enjoyed Heero's ministrations. Seeing his dark-eyed lover remove his own pants, the longhaired boy licked his lips as he waited.

Tugging the long golden-brown hair lightly, Heero bent for a furious kiss before he moved over the boy, not longer taking his time as he moved to take Duo's
length in his hand, smirking when the boy pushed up against him urgently. Growling as he swooped to take the violet-eyed boy's mouth, Heero suddenly stilled
as a soft sound reached his ears. Giggling, Duo pulled him back down as he recognized the cries as belonging to Quatre. "Looks like they're not fighting
anymore," he whispered, still stifling his laughter.

"Hn." Pushing the sounds out of his mind, Heero silenced the grinning boy beneath him. Squeezing him lightly, he turned Duo's attention back to him in the
most delightful way.

* * *

Mouth moving slowly over the small boy beneath him, Trowa growled when he felt hands touch him. Lifting his head, he frowned at the frantic boy staring up at
him as he took hold of Quatre's wrists, pulling his arms over his head and pushing them firmly against the bed. "Keep them there," he said sternly as he met
the boy's pleading blue-green eyes. When the blonde made no move to disobey, he lowered his head to take his erection in his mouth again, making a
satisfied sound in his throat at the boy's soft cries. Sucking on a finger as he continued to drive the smaller boy crazy, Trowa slipped it inside Quatre slowly,
finding the pleasure spot easily.

Biting his lip as he tried futilely to hold back his cries, Quatre writhed beneath his green-eyed lover. As much as he enjoyed this, he longed to bury his fingers
in Trowa's silky hair, anything but lie there with nothing to distract him from the sensations Trowa was stirring in his body. Fists curling around the sheets
beneath him, he threw his head back, eyes closed tightly as he was stroked both inside and out, his body moving fitfully. Bucking his hips, he let out another
frustrated cry as his hips were pushed down, Trowa still preventing him from reaching his release.

Slipping another finger inside the boy, Trowa was on fire listening to Quatre's cries. This was something he'd never get enough of, making the sweet boy
writhe in pleasure, seeing his loved one in such wonderful torment and knowing he was responsible. Lifting his head to kiss that whimpering mouth, Trowa held
him down as he carefully entered him. He knew from experience how eager the small boy got and had no intention on letting him shove downward and thereby
hurt himself. Instead, he let Quatre's tongue move frantically on his as he slowly embedded himself in the boy's heat. Holding still, Trowa waited until the pale
boy bit his tongue lightly, telling him that he was more than ready for more.

What ensued was a slow onslaught on both of their senses as Trowa kept his strokes slow and even, not wanting it to be done too quickly. Mouth silencing
Quatre's quiet sounds, he stroked the boy's hard member gently, not wanting him to come but wanting him stimulated as much as possible. Unable to keep still
any longer, Quatre lifted his arms to wrap them around the tall boy's neck as he shoved closer to him. Smiling against the blonde's soft lips, Trowa didn't stop
his slow attack, knowing they could make it last for at least an hour so long as he didn't let the smaller boy entice him more than his simple presence did.
Alternating between quick hard thrusts and slower ones, he did his best to keep both of them on edge, fighting his own needs. It was much better if he waited,
and as much as the boy's cries spoke to the contrary, he knew how much his small lover enjoyed the lovemaking. They both did.

* * *

Throat closing tightly around his harsh cry, Duo threw his head back forcing Heero to bury his face in the curve of his neck when he climaxed and collapsed on
the violet-eyed boy. Breaths still coming fast, they lay entangled as their bodies slowly recovered.

"I love you so much..."

Lifting his head slowly, Heero blinked at Duo for a moment before pulling the boy close, his head hid against Duo's neck as that boy's arms moved around him.
"I love *you*, Duo. Always." With a soft sigh, the dark-haired boy relished the warm arms around him as he inhaled the scent of their love mixed with the smell
of Duo's soft skin. This was where he belonged.

* * *

"I can't believe I lived through that...never again, Trowa..."

Smirking at the pale boy's stunned expression, Trowa wrapped his arms around his slender waist and pulled him onto his chest, stroking the hair back from his
face as he kissed his lips lightly. "You always say that." The boy didn't answer, letting out an exhausted sigh as he collapsed bonelessly against the tall boy's
muscular chest. "I love you, Quatre."

"Hmph." Making small noises as he got more comfortable on his not so soft pillow, Quatre didn't look up. "Yeah, love you too."

Blinking as he smirked at the boy's disgruntled voice, Trowa let his head fall back on the pillow behind his head as he closed his eyes. Sighing, he held his
angel close as sleep took them.

* * *

It wasn't a bad day to be traveling on foot, the sun was warm, and a soft breeze was blowing, rustling the coarse grass beneath their feet. As always, they
moved prisoners by foot, since neither boy liked the idea of forcing him to walk behind a horse while they rode. Also, they were not about to give him a horse,
even if his hand were tied, it was too dangerous. So they walked, Trowa and Heero flanking the black-haired boy as he walked a foot or so in front of them, his
hands tied behind his back.

No words were spoken as they'd set out at dawn, and the boy was moving without being prodded, his head held high as he viewed the land before him. He had
no intention of trying to escape. As far as Wufei was concerned, it was only justice that the hunters get credit for having caught him. It was *his* fault for
underestimating them, and while it was a mistake he wouldn't make again, he was prepared to suffer whatever fate they were taking him too. What better way
to make absolutely certain he learned?

Time passed quickly for Trowa, who was still fighting his preoccupation. Quatre's farewell kept coming back to him, the worry evident in his pale eyes. It was all
the tall boy could do not to rush the travel so he could return to the boy quickly. His premonitions were usually accurate, and Trowa had not dismissed them as
lightly as he'd pretended to. Rather, he knew that they needed the money from the job, and as difficult as it had been to catch the boy, the completion of the
job would go far to increasing their fame and thereby getting them the better jobs. Shaking his head as he kept an eye on the prisoner, the tall boy marveled
at Quatre's sweet acceptance. As if Heero couldn't manage the trip on his own without incidence. Glancing to the dark-haired boy, Trowa took in his less than
intense gaze.

Since he and Duo had gotten together, Heero'd seemed less pent-up, more relaxed. Since the violet-eyed boy hadn't made an appearance with Quatre when
they'd left, Trowa assumed they'd made their own goodbyes the night before. Hopefully, the job would be done without a hitch, and they could return before
dark. Glancing at the solemn, proud boy between them, Trowa gave a silent sigh. He agreed with Quatre that the boy's crime had been a reasonable one. The
man he'd killed had deserved to die and although the court would reach the same conclusion in time, Trowa didn't like having to take him in while there were
more dangerous individuals loose. That was one of the main reasons they wanted to increase their reputation. As it was, they hadn't been given a high job yet,
and if they went on their own after the worse criminals, they'd find every bounty hunter on their back. It wasn't worth making so many enemies.

No, they would go through the regular channels the same way the other men had, taking the smaller cases until they caught a criminal who'd eluded other's
attempts at capture. As they had with the black-haired boy. Glancing to the boy's profile, Trowa's eyes suddenly narrowed as he saw those black eyes widen
in absolute shock. Glancing away to see what the boy was looking at, he missed seeing Wufei glare suddenly in anger as his own eyes snapped to the
cloaked figure standing not ten feet in front of them. He didn't have to look to know that the area they were in had no places that could have hid the person's
approach, so as angry as he was, he had to admire the individual for having managed to get so close without being caught.

Whether Heero shared the green-eyed boy's appreciation was a moot point as he drew his gun with lightning speed, the hammer thrown back before his arm
had even stopped moving, the barrel aimed at the person's chest. Cobalt eyes narrowing, Heero waited to see if it was friend or foe. As it was, he was
completely unprepared when the person slowly lifted a pale hand to throw back the hood revealing a shockingly beautiful woman with straight black hair. Not
releasing his hold on the gun, Heero didn't move when the black-haired boy growled and took a single step forward.

"What is the meaning of this?" Wufei demanded, eyes shooting sparks as he glared at the woman. "Do *you* dare to interfere with justice?"

Smirking, the woman looked at Wufei, disregarding the other boys as well as the guns they both held on her. "Dragon, if I were to let them take you in I would
be doing *them* an injustice. There are things for you to do elsewhere, and they have somewhere to be."

Eyes narrowing as he turned his head to give a calculating look to first Heero, who still held his gun, then Trowa, Wufei met the woman's calm gaze again.
"What have you to do with them?"

"Not me," she said easily, her soft voice echoing in Trowa's mind as he slowly lowered his gun. Heero glared as his hand tried to do likewise, but gripped his
wrist with his left and held firm. "I'm simply delivering a message for an acquaintance of mine, and getting you for your new mission." Nodding slightly, she
smiled as the ropes binding the black-haired boy slipped away and he moved his arms, crossing them over his chest as he continued to scowl. "Time is short."

"Who are you?" Heero demanded angrily, still fighting with his hand as it continued to lower until he gave up completely. "What are you talking about?"

"The two of you must make haste to return to your home," she said soflty, her eyes shining with a light that gave both boys a sense of forboding. "Go to the
island, enter the forest, and speak with the one you find there. He will help you to recover the two you've lost."

Breath catching in his throat, Trowa took a sharp step forward, his eyes narrowing dangerously. "Lost?" he asked slowly, voice cold and void of emotion.

"They live still, but as I've said, time is short. Go now, before it is too late. Ask the one on the island for help and he will give it...for a price."

"The dead island..." Heero's arms obeyed him as he moved to replace his gun, his back very straight as he gazed at the woman. "No one returns alive from
that unholy place."

"But you will still go, won't you." Smiling again, she closed the distance between them until she stood before Wufei. "Go now, be quick." Placing a hand on the
black-haired boy's shoulders, she leaned her head toward him and they both disappeared.

* * *

"Nataku, who did you send them to?" Staring into the black void surrounding him, Wufei waited patiently for a response, his anger gone as fast as it had come.

"On the wings of Justice," she whispered, her voice sounding from behind him.

"...comes death." Sighing, Wufei bowed his head. "I pity them."

* * *

"The tracks point to the ocean," Trowa said slowly, his voice strained as he forced his hands to stop shaking. Gripping his gun, he looked at Heero's
murderous expression. "She said they were lost, not dead. We'll get them back."

Eyes dead save for the hate that shone in them, Heero jerked his eyes away from the total destruction of both their house and the town so close by. "He
warned me," he whispered, self-disgust evident from his hoarse voice. "He kept telling me and I ignored him." Suddenly, he let out a harsh cry and stalked past
the tall boy, heading for the sea. "I'll kill them all. Every last one of them."

"Are we going to the island?" Trowa asked, the belief in the woman's words keeping him sane. "We'll have to swim."

"I'd walk through hell for him..."

* * *

Glaring at the iron shackles that bound his wrists, Duo moved to where Quatre lay against the wall. Pushing the boy onto his back, he brushed his
blood-matted hair off his forehead as he eyed the gash there. It wasn't that bad. "Quatre," he called softly, not caring if the guard who watched through the
bars heard or not. "Hey, wake up, kiddo." Pale blue-green eyes shone in the dark cell, and Duo let out a relieved sigh as he moved as best he could to help
the other boy sit up, his back against the stone wall. "They hit you pretty hard."

"Did I get him?" Quatre asked slowly, his eyes moving over the guard who was trying to act as if he wasn't listening. "I know it doesn't really matter, but I hope I
got him."

Grinning at the boy's pained yet hopeful expression, Duo nodded quickly. "You tore him up. They threw him over a horse and carried him to the ship, but he
was definitely dead." Still in a bit of awe at how the blonde boy had bested the man who'd tried to catch him, Duo smiled. He'd had at least three men with guns
surrounding him, but they'd not expected the pale blonde to give them much trouble. The one man who'd approached him certainly hadn't been prepared
when Quatre'd pulled a long knife. "You did great," Duo said again, sighing when Quatre smiled slightly. "Trowa'd be so proud."

"I hope so." Glancing around the small cell, he looked at his bound hands and frowned at the guard for a minute before turning his eyes on Duo who'd
stopped crouching and was now sitting beside him. "What happened after they hit me?"

"Well, there was a huge argument about what you did. That man had a lot of friends who thought you should have been killed immediately. Luckily the guy in
charge said we were to be taken alive. I still don't know why." Meeting Quatre's eyes, Duo winced at what he was about to say, knowing how much it would hurt
the boy. "As far as I could tell, we are the only ones they spared."

Gasping, the blonde boy shook his head as his face took on a horrified expression. "The town...?"

"Everybody," Duo said slowly, looking down at his hands. "The leader said they didn't take prisoners." Taking a deep breath as he tilted his head back so he
could stare at the ceiling, Duo shook his head slowly. "I don't know what we are or why they let us live, but he said we weren't prisoners. I think..." Biting his lip,
he turned to look at the other boys. "I think we might be bait."

"What for--" Eyes widening as realization hit, Quatre gave a soft cry. "Oh no. They'd never have a chance against so many. Oh God...why did this have to

"I don't think *God* had anything to do with this..."

* * *

Not bothering to wring out their wet clothing, the two boys moved quickly down the deserted beach, their trained eyes taking in the lack of so much as a bird.
Moving around a large rock that jutted up from the sand, they moved as one toward the small dark forest. Everyone knew about the island, about the fact that
no one could go there without his body washing up on the shore a day or two later. The island was death to all who came to it, but this knowledge did not slow
the two as they walked to the forest, not pausing as they stepped beneath the first of the trees. Then the world around them was gone.

Freezing as they found themselves standing at the base of a tall hill, the boys turned to look around them, Heero moving behind where they'd stood as he
looked for some evidence of the forest they'd stepped into. As they scanned the flat field of green that surrounded the hill on all sides and stretched for as far
as the eye could see, they didn't notice the way the temperature dropped. Then an icy breeze moved over their necks, causing them to turn simultaneously,
eyes latching onto the black figure that stood on the hill.

For the first time, they looked over the temple that sat on the top of the hill, like a throne in the flat nothingness, marble steps leading up to it. Exchanging a
quick look, they nodded and moved to the steps, walking side-by-side as they climbed up to where the figure stood. They could feel eyes on them, and a violet
light shone behind the black cloaked figure which, even as they got closer, made it impossible to see the person's face.
With a single step separating them, they came to a stop, waiting for whatever would happen.

"You didn't hesitate."

Fighting a shiver that tried to go through him at the whispering voice, Heero glared furiously. "Never. We were told you could help us get them back. That's all I
care about."

"The two of you are so dedicated," the figure continued, cowled head moving from Trowa to Heero. "And you both have the qualities of a warrior. I *will* help
you, in return for your service."

"We'll do anything," Trowa said flatly, forcing himself to stare into the black void where the figure's face should be. "Name your price."

"Not now. Now time is short and I shall do my part of this bargain. All it will take is both of you to give me your word that once you have them back, then you
must accept my price."

Trowa opened his mouth to agree when Heero stopped him, stepping forward, fists clenched at his sides. "I won't agree so readily."

"I thought you'd do anything...?" the voice taunted.

"I will not. Only if I have *your* word that no harm will come to Duo and Quatre once this is over. If *they* stay safe, I will do whatever you ask."

Realizing this would stop the figure from demanding either boy as a sacrifice later, Trowa was grateful to Heero's intervention. "I too agree with those terms."

The figure let out a bone-chilling laugh, and neither boy was able to keep from shivering in reaction. "Done! Know that I am Shinigami, and that our pact is
binding. To seal it, all you have to do is step forward and into the pool." Moving to the side, he revealed a violet pool of liquid set into the floor of the marble
temple. "Then you will have a pact with me."

Not giving themselves a chance to hesitate, the boys moved forward, Trowa flinching as he passed near the figure, feeling the icy cold that radiated from him.
Stopping at the edge of the pool, they looked at each other for a moment, each reading the other's determination. Without a spoken word, they clasped hands
and stepped together into the pool, the cold violet liquid rising to swallow them.

Nodding as he turned to the pool, Shinigami laughed sharply, lightning flashing across the cloud-free sky as the boys sank from view. "It begins."

* * *

Stepping briskly, the general moved so he could see through the bars of the cell, viewing the two boys who sat within. Brown eyes moving over their angry
expressions, he frowned as his arms crossed over his chests, the fingers of his right hand moving lightly over his gun. He had been warned about them, and
while he didn't doubt his informant, they both seemed too young to be a threat. They were mere children, eighteen at best. While he had no qualms about
slaughtering children, he had never feared one and was not about to start now no matter what the man said. Eyes narrowing as he remembered how
effortlessly the blonde boy had killed Zechs, he gritted his teeth.

The man had been his best soldier, as well as one of his closest friends, and there was nothing he'd enjoy more than to kill the boy slowly. Yet, he couldn't
help but hesitate, remembering the dark man's warnings, and the proof he'd shown. They were boys, it was true, but the man had displayed weaponry such as
he'd never seen, proving that he was not from their time. And he'd said that the boys, not the two in the cell, but the two who would no doubt attempt to rescue
them, he'd said that they would prove to be his downfall if they were not taken care of now.

It rankled him to have to listen to the man's warning, but staring at the longhaired boy's glare, his fist clenched as he remembered his shock when the man had
lowered his hood to reveal a shockingly familiar face. He'd imagined hell, many times, but he'd never imagined coming face to face with himself. Still furious
about the death of his friend, he found himself wondering why he hadn't been warned about *that*. If his visitor had come from the future, he should have
known what would happen, should have told him in advance. Not speaking to the two boys who watched him warily, he dismissed the guard.

//If I could come back to this time, if I had the ability, why wouldn't I simply kill them in my own time. What reason would there be to do it now when they don't
even know me?// Shaking his head, he paced back and forth in front of the bars, shooting glares at the boys as he wondered how long it would take for the
other two to show. //And what about the fifth? He said there were five of them, but that only the four could be caught. Why? Surely he could have found the
fifth. I suppose they must be united for their strength to be great enough to destroy me.// Pausing as he met the blonde's gaze, he scowled. //To think he
would have me fear babies.//

* * *

Watching the man pace before them, Duo fought his urge to look at Quatre. Nothing good would come of it, but he couldn't stand the waiting, not knowing what
had happened. He couldn't even be sure what time it was. For all he knew, it was still afternoon and Heero and Trowa hadn't even returned home yet. //I hope
they don't come for us. I couldn't bear it if I lost him.// Following the man's movements, he prepared himself as the man suddenly paused and turned to face

"I really thought you'd be taller."

Blinking as he realized the man was speaking to *him*, Duo frowned. Not seeing a reason to stay silent, he slowly stood and moved to stand a foot from the
bars, out of grabbing reach. "What are you talking about?"

Smirking as he knew the boy had no idea, the man shook his head. "Pilot 02, the escape artist and expert at sneak attacks. I see you haven't learned those
skills yet as you're still here. It's a pity you won't have a chance to."

Fighting his confusion, Duo stared at the brown-haired man, wondering for a moment if he weren't being mistaken for someone else. But then, if he were, then
he'd no doubt be killed immediately, since the man didn't take prisoners. Clenching his bound fists, Duo glared. If they weren't the ones the man thought they
were, then they weren't after Heero or Trowa. He had to find out. "I don't know you," he said slowly, fighting to keep his voice light. "I have no idea what you're
talking about."

"I know," the man said smirking as he looked at the boy. "And it doesn't really matter, Duo Maxwell, and Quatre Winner. I know *you*."

* * *

//He knows my name...// Duo stared at the man in disbelief.

"Sir, two boys are approaching the stronghold."

Turning at the report, the brown-haired man eyed his soldier. "Why wasn't I notified the moment they set foot on land?" he demanded, one eyebrow arching.

"Well, sir. We didn't spot them until just now. We don't know how they got here, there are no ships and the men are still patrolling the beach. They must have
gotten past them unnoticed."

"Impossible." Glancing at Quatre's wide eyes, he smiled. "It doesn't matter. Bring them here, alive. I want to see the threat before it's disposed of."

"Yes sir." Turning, the man left the room quickly.

//That didn't take long. I wonder how they got to this island without being spotted. The guards must be slacking off since they know they're children. But no
matter, this will be over very soon.//

* * *

Still fighting to get over his shock at the man knowing their names, Duo wasn't prepared when the guard announced Heero and Trowa's arrival. Exchanging
looks with Quatre, he knew they had to do something. Moving closer to the bars, he glared at the man who was watching the door with an expectant look.

"Who are you? What kind of man goes to so much trouble over two boys. Why us? We aren't a threat to you." //Not yet, but if there is justice, Heero and Trowa
will take out a couple of their men before they're caught.//

"Don't get me wrong," the man said, turning to face the boy, not unmoved by his taunts. "I don't see any of you as threats. Yet. It's the big picture, boy. I'm
thinking ahead, planning for the future."

"I don't understand." Glancing over his shoulder, Duo saw Quatre stand and come to join him. "Are you saying you attacked the town just to get us? Because
of something we may do later? That doesn't make sense. If you hadn't attacked, we would never have met you."

"Bigger. The picture I'm looking at is huge. It goes beyond such a small timeframe, but don't worry. As I've said, it doesn't matter if you understand. You won't
live in confusion for much longer." Hearing slow footsteps out side the door, the man turned away from the boys, eyes glinting as he waited. Latching onto the
tall boy who stepped through the open doorway, his eyes narrowed as he spotted the numerous guns the boy was carrying.
Another boy entered, the guard he'd sent following.

"What is the meaning of this?!" he cried, glaring at the guard who stood, eyes on the floor.

"I'm sorry sir. I tried to follow your orders."

"Don't blame him."

Eyes snapping to the dark-haired boy who stood, leaning against the doorway, rifle in his hands, the man straightened. Grabbing his gun, he aimed it at the
boy, eyes flicking to the tall one. "Drop the weapons."

"Shoot him."

Turning as the monotone voice reached him, his eyes widened in disbelief and he could hear gasps sounding from inside the cell.

"It won't do you any good though," Trowa continued, not letting his eyes move to Quatre as he faced the man. "We aren't going anywhere without them."

"And answers." Nodding once to Duo in an attempt to placate the boy who looked ready to strangle Trowa with his shackles, Heero waited. "Who are you?"

"Why should I tell you, Heero Yuy? I think I'll end this now!" Sneering in triumph, he pulled the trigger, watching with satisfaction for the boy to fall. Heero didn't
move. Eyes widening in horror, the man looked at the bullet wound and the blood trickling out of it. He'd aimed for the boy's chest, but the bullet had merely
grazed his arm, a scratch at best. Staring at his gun, his heart froze in his chest. "'s too late. This isn't supposed to happen!" Holding his gun with both
hands, he aimed for the dark haired boy's head, the back of his mind wondering why the tall boy didn't interfere as he pulled the trigger. Choking, he stared in
disbelief at the scratch on the boy's shoulder, far from where he'd aimed. "I can't lose *now*! I wasn't supposed to lose."

"Enough," Heero said coldly, raising his rifle. "Answer or die."

Eyes moving from the large barrel pointing at his midsection to the two guns the tall boy now held on him, he blanched, fury at war with his awakening fear.
Staring into cobalt eyes, he made up his mind, a calculating look crossing his expression. "Kill me, Heero Yuy, but I'll not die alone." Turning suddenly, he
aimed for the boys behind the bars, pulling the trigger. Collapsing abruptly, his ears echoed with the multiple gunshots, but he managed a tight, dying smile as
screams also reached him before he hit the floor.

* * *

"You lied! You gave me your word!" Screaming, Heero's eyes blazed as he pulled furiously, attempting to get out of Trowa's tight grasp. "Look! This wasn't
supposed to happen!"

Cowled head moving from the two boys, Shinigami slowly knelt beside the still form that lay at the base of his temple, a beautiful sacrifice. Shaking his head, he
looked up at the boys. "I do not lie. This was not my plan."

"No," Trowa said, voice like ice. "But you gave your word neither of them would be hurt. Keep your word." Holding tight when Heero tried again to attack, he
was unprepared when the figure suddenly lifted the body, turned, and disappeared into the pool.

* * *

"You gave them your word. Now you must keep that."

Glaring at the woman who stood watching him, Shinigami shook his head. "This one wasn't to be involved. You *know* the consequences if I bring him back. I'll
have no choice but to give him my own essence."

"Justice must be served." Looking down at the boy's slack face, Nataku shook her head slowly. "Fate meant this, whether you did or not. You *must* keep your
word. Death, Shinigami, you never lie."


"Then do it."

* * *

"My soldiers. Now is the time to keep your pact with me. Go on your journey, I shall keep your loved ones here, safe until the day you return." Not waiting,
Shinigami turned and disappeared, leaving the four boys to their own good-bye.

"Heero. I'll watch for you, every day."

Holding Duo close, Heero buried his face at the base of shoulder and neck, breathing in his familiar scent. "I'll come back," he said softly, lifting his head to
kiss the boy. "No matter how long it takes me, I'll come back to you."

"I know," Duo said softly, violet eyes bright with tears as he swiped the back of his hand over them. "I'll wait for you."

"Trowa, be careful? I don't know how I'll manage not knowing if you're all right." Shaking his head, Quatre's arms tightened around the tall boy's waist. "No
matter what, I hope you'll always know you're loved."

"I couldn't forget that, Quatre. Please, don't worry so much. We'll both be back." Turning to meet Heero's gaze, he nodded sharply. "We have to go now. Wait
for us."


SEQUEL:  At Last