Death comes to us all, but life only comes to those
who seek it.
The crispness of the autumn air was more biting than
refreshing to the wearied travelers walking on the
barely maintained dirt road leading to the capital
city. The sun was up, but it did not warm anyone with
its weak rays and the wind was picking up considerably
as time went by. It was nearly the end of the third
month of running for this particular group of eclectic
travelers and each showed the wear and tear of the
harsh life they had suffered.
Duo and Heero walked hand in hand, their digits
clinging to each other more for comfort and support
than warmth. The weather was a far cry from the humid
heat they had met under; the heat had given way to
this chilly weather nearly two weeks ago. But they
had grown closer, so much more than anyone in their
group had expected. In the time of stress, their
relationship had blossomed until the love they felt
for each other seemed a tangible and solid thing.
Behind them walked an equally tired couple, also
holding hands. Trowa's bangs which had defied gravity
and tornado gusts now hung in limp dregs, the brown
locks having lost their rebellious nature sometime
during this harsh journey. Next to him, his short
blond lover trudged on in silence, his sunny
disposition long put to rest. However, their dismal
situation did not put a damper on their soft and
glowing love, but strengthened it like tempered steel.
Bringing up the rear to this weary pack was an
unlikely trio of Wufei, Sally and Hilde. The two
women flanked the lone boy like bookends, eyeing each
other over his tired head in silent communication.
There was no love lost here, not since the day the two
women had walked into their private world by the
firelight nearly three months ago. It had been Wufei
who had most strenuously objected to their alliance,
citing numerous logical reasons and some idiotic ones.
Ever since then, these three had been on edge with
each other, none giving in to compromise.
The trees shed their bright and colorful leaves,
letting them dance on the breeze. Had it not been for
their extreme exhaustion and the running, they would
have appreciated the beauty of the nature surrounding
them. But such was not the case and it was only with
great effort that Wufei managed to sound civil.
"How long are you two going to hover over me?"
His low growling voice did nothing to intimidate
Sally, but Hilde shrank back a couple of inches.
"How long are you going to be a grumpy priss?"
The growling rose a couple of decibels at Sally's pert
and teasing comment. It wasn't that he did not like
Sally or Hilde, but they somehow found ways to get on
his nerves. He had no idea how they did it or why,
just that they did it so regularly that it was
becoming a ritual.
"Why did you come with us again?"
"Because," Sally replied to the question Wufei asked
her every single day, "we don't want to die."
Silence fell again as their verbal sparring ended.
Not that it mattered, but Wufei rather enjoyed having
someone to talk to who wasn't mired in a deep
relationship. Although his friends did not ignore him
and he was quite happy for them, it was different.
Duo was so in love with Heero and had finally realized
it. His friend had thrown away all reservations and
mistrust of the ex-god and had whole heartedly
admitted his love to everyone by the camp fire in that
one fateful night. And then Quatre and Trowa had
finally admitted to everyone what everyone had already
That night had been filled with so many confessions,
revelations and just plain new information that Wufei
had felt his brain burst a major artery. Gods, Fates,
allies, love and fear. Take them all, mix in a bag
and shake vigorously to achieve complete chaos.
Wufei grumbled under his breath as his thoughts took
him back over the past three months. It had been
hectic at first with the planning and integrating the
new members to their group. But then it seemed
everything had conspired against them and nothing had
Heero and Duo's plan to confront the Fates had not
borne any results so far, none of them having even
glimpsed the elusive gods in their long trek over
mountains, rivers and gods know what else. They had
been jumped numerous times by both the assassin and
the murderer guilds, chased around by the police and
the army and had been chased out of more towns than
they could clearly recall. Even though Heero assured
them often that Relena was doing all she could to help
them out by rethreading their destinies to match Duo
and Heero's intentions, it had not been easy. The
running was taking a severe toll on everyone.
"Hey," Wufei called out when the silence became
unbearable even for him, "it"s time to rest. I think
Hilde is beginning to sleep on her feet."
Only a slight wince indicated that Wufei had felt the
indignant stab of Hilde's elbow into his ribs, but his
pain was well worth it. Immediately, everyone halted
and agreed with him on resting. Wufei looked at his
traveling companions and realized that they had all
been waiting for some excuse to rest; for that, he was
doubly glad that he had suggested it.
Seven weary bodies slumped to the camp ground only a
half a mile off from the road. They dug into the bags
for food and water, but there was not much of
anything. They had not gone into a town for a few
days in fear of endangering innocent people and their
supplies were running low. Even with their daily hunt
for food, it was not enough.
"Shit. There's a colony of fuzzies on my bread.."
Duo's complaint washed over everyone without making a
single dent. All their food was like that, none of it
in perfect condition. It was just barely edible, but
it was all they had for now.
"I can't believe that after three months, we still
can't find the fucking Fates. Why can't Relena find
Quatre shrugged delicately at Duo's non-too-polite
inquiry as he pondered the same question. Relena had
assured them that she would do her best to hinder her
sisters and help them out and so far, it seemed to
have worked only partially. None of them were dead,
none of them had betrayed Heero or Duo to the
authorities and nothing too ugly had happened in their
little group. In fact, it had been Relena who had
threaded Sally and Hilde into their group. However,
they were no closer to resolving their problem than
they were three months ago.
"We have to be patient, Duo. Gods are elusive
A crude snort was all Heero received as response from
Duo. He understood that Duo wanted to find the Fates
and straighten out this mess one way or another as
soon as possible, but there was nothing they could do
to facilitate finding their whereabouts. Even when he
had been a god, it had been impossible to find the
Fates if they did not want to be found. Also, he was
quite sure that Dorothy and Noin were avoiding Relena
as much as possible as well, knowing that the future
weaver was not on board with their plans.
"I'm sorry, Heero," Duo said contritely after a
moment, "but I just can't stand all this walking and
not knowing. I want to figure this shit out fast, not
only for our sake, but for our friends. I mean, look
at them! They all look like death dragged them over a
field of pointy and sharp rocks."
"Thank you for that lovely description," Sally replied
rather tartly in Heero's place, "but I disagree with
you about how I look. I'm still quite lovely. And we
chose to come with you so it's not your fault that
we're all tired."
Duo let out a laugh and spoke to Sally without
disguising his frustration.
"Oh, you chose to come with us? Haven't you learned
anything? None of you chose anything! Relena did.
The only people who chose to do something are me and
"That," Sally said scathingly, "means nothing to me.
I'm here to help. Whether I chose it or not, my
sentiment does not change. Even puppets can sometimes
think on their own."
Somehow, it was Heero who defused the situation.
"Sally, Duo does not mean to demean your choices. In
fact, we appreciate your company quite a lot. My love
is just tired and a bit cranky."
"Cranky? What, am I a kid with the colic or
something? Couldn't you have at least said irritable
"Miffed," Trowa jumped into the fray without batting
an eye, "would be my word."
"Cantankerous." Wufei said without cracking a smile.
"Bitchy." That was from Quatre, the well spoken one
of the bunch.
"Crabby." Hilde didn"t even miss a beat.
"Ornery." Sally finished with a flourish and a
Five seconds later, everyone was laughing, including
Duo. The tiredness seeped away a little and their
short but much needed moment of hilarity took over.
For a short time, they verbally sparred with each
other light heartedly, forgetting about Fates, destiny
and their moldy bread.
For a while, the world seemed beautiful again.
Heero looked around the dark forest, trying to discern
where his lover was. After their dinner of rabbits
and more moldy bread, his lover had taken off from
their camp site with a feeble excuse about wanting to
be alone. Heero had caught that cautious and gentle
look his lover had thrown at him just before he had
disappeared into the darkness and had followed. His
lover wanted to be alone with him and he would not
The steady footsteps took Heero farther from the camp
site until he could no longer make out the flickering
of the fire. He walked softly, but made enough noise
to let Duo know that he was out there. With assassins
and the police out looking for them, it would be
downright dangerous and stupid to sneak up on his
lover. A few more yards later, he heard Duo's voice,
gently singing into the dark night.
"Lost beyond the horizon, I search for you.."
Duo's voice held a longing and a heartbreaking kind of
love as he softly sang the words to an old ballad.
Heero recalled this one rather clearly. It had been
written perhaps a couple centuries ago by a lovesick
bard about a coldly beautiful princess. When he had
first heard it, it had seemed to be filled with pain
of unattainable love. Yet, Duo made it sound like a
true love song.
"Following the fading starlight, I drift to you.."
Heero walked closer, knowing that Duo heard him.
Sometimes, it seemed that Duo did not need these tell
tale sounds to know that he was near. Ever since the
day Duo had found out that he was free from destiny,
he had unabashedly loved him, showing him affection
and joy even through the tough times.
"Through this vast desert, I travel to you.."
Heero found himself standing directly behind Duo as he
sang the final verse, his eyes trained on the
twinkling stars above. Heero could never tire of his
lover's eyes, the shade of violet that was so uniquely
his. Even though they had not made love, they were as
close as destined lovers could be, perhaps even
closer. After all, they loved each other by choice,
not by mandate.
"Lonely and dying, I thirst for you.."
The song ended and Duo turned to Heero, his eyes
visibly reflecting the silhouette of his lover in
their darkened irises. Heero lost himself for a
moment, staring at his own reflection in his lover's
"I can't imagine how I ever thought you were the same
as my former love."
The words were out before Heero could think about
them. Too late, his eyes widened and he stared in
horror at his lover. But Duo surprised him yet again.
"Can you tell the difference between me and him now?"
The panicked horror receded from Heero's eyes as he
realized that Duo had not taken offense at his
careless remark. Instead, he was asking earnestly
without a hint of malice or resentment.
"I think," Heero replied with feeling, "that I knew
you were not him from the beginning. I knew it, but I
was blind to it by choice. For so long, I wanted what
was lost, not what I could have. He was my past and
you.. you are my future."
"I'm glad you finally see me, Heero. I love you for
that, you know. I know it's hard to give up on a
dream that you have had for so long. Instead of him,
you got me."
Duo was surprised when Heero put his arms around his
waist and drew him close. He felt Heero nuzzle his
neck, breathing him in and sending shivers down his
"I'm glad that it is you I have. I finally let go of
a ghost and found something real. This is perfect,
more so than I ever imagined."
"Really," Duo said, his voice tinged in laughter, "so
it's your ideal to be running for you life with a
bunch of vagrants?"
"As long as it's with you."
A small chuckle followed Heero's declaration. Both
realized that they sounded like a cheap romance
pedaled by bards across the kingdom, spouting words of
love and commitment that seemed clich'd and trite.
Yet, neither minded that they sounded like every other
lover portrayed in books and poems because their words
Heero drew back slightly from Duo and met his eyes,
letting the dim light of the stars shine between them.
Slowly and carefully, Heero leaned in closer, his
lips hovering scant hair's breadth away from Duo's.
The small space between their lips tingled with
anticipation and desire, the electric heat of their
mutual love crackling in the air.
Duo closed his lips upon Heero's after his softly
spoken words, letting his mouth fit to Heero's in
perfect harmony. The electricity that only hovered in
the air now jumped through their bodies, jolting the
two with intense desire. The kiss escalated with
their mounting need, their hands now roaming the
contours of each other's bodies in frenzied journey.
Breathing became harsh and almost an obstacle to their
need to be with each other and their bodies ground
together until their bones creaked beneath the
Using self control that was almost inhuman, Heero
managed to break away from the kiss for a moment,
trying vainly to catch his breath. It was for naught,
because every time he took much needed oxygen into his
system, the heavy scent of passion and his lover
flooded his senses. He could hear Duo's hitched
breathing as well, just fueling on his desire to be
with Duo more.
"We.. we haven't yet.."
Duo understood Heero's question without it finishing.
It was true that they had not done anything more than
desperately kiss and grope each other when time and
circumstances permitted so far. It was hard to find
time alone enough together to do anything more than
that. Always, something interrupted or time just ran
out on them. This time, in this small moment of
solitude and desire, Duo wasn't about to let anything
get in their way.
"About time, don't you think?"
Heero just crushed his lips to Duo's in response,
knowing that his lover was as impatient and needy as
he was. Tonight, they would make the time. Tonight,
they would finally be together in body as well as in