Chapter 12 - Practice
Quatre walked beside Trowa, determined to speak to this strangely quiet boy. So far, he had even induced Heero into conversation, but Trowa only spoke to Duo or Heero - the former with love and respect, the latter with restrained contempt. So he would try.
"Nice day, isn't it?"
Quatre mentally smacked himself. He had just sounded very inane. It was lucky for him that Trowa wasn't listening. In fact, Trowa was staring intently at a pair of backs about five yards in front of them. Duo and Heero. Ever since the events on the ship, Heero had not left Duo's side, even bedding down next to him every night. According to Noin and Sally, the Dome was only a day's walk away and Quatre hoped that they all got there in one piece. After the adventure they had to get this far, he could not imagine anything else happening. In fact, he did not want to.
"So, what did you do before going on this journey?"
Quatre, if nothing else, was persistent. He would make Trowa talk, even if he had to strangle it out of him. When no answer came, Quatre continued to ply Trowa with more mundane questions ranging from the weather to speculating about the future. Quatre was so engrossed in his own questioning that he nearly missed Trowa saying something.
"They really fell for each other, didn't they."
It took a few moments for Quatre to absorb the fact that Trowa had spoken an entire sentence. Then he realized that Trowa was talking about the close couple walking ahead.
"I think so. They've been inseparable."
Apparently, Quatre's answer did not bother Trowa as much as Quatre thought it would. In fact, Trowa's face lit in a soft smile. Quatre nearly rolled out his tongue in admiration.
"Duo deserves some love. Even if it's from him."
Trowa turned his head towards the blond boy who had tried in vain to converse with him. He wasn't a bad sort, even if he was a noble with more money than he had ever dreamed possible. This Quatre didn't act stuck up or superior; in actuality, Trowa had never met anyone so unassuming about his status or rank. At this moment, Quatre was busy watching the pair ahead, his green eyes filled with contentment and a bit of longing. It was not the kind of longing born of envy but from true good intentions. Trowa had to give it to this blond - he was a rare guy.
"So, Quatre," Trowa started, "you getting a hang of your powers yet?"
So unexpected was Trowa's question that Quatre stared at him wide eyed for a bit. When Trowa emitted a soft laugh at his dumb-founded expression, Quatre recovered.
"No," Quatre answered, "I don't even know where to begin. I mean, Duo used his power and he told us that Heero had used his too. I wonder if we should ask them how they tapped it."
Trowa nodded in assent. It had been exactly what he had been thinking.
"Yeah. It's been a couple of days since the ship incident and Duo looks a bit more recovered. And it would be kind of cool to at least show the rest of the Dreamers we are actually useful, right?"
Quatre nodded. He could not believe the sheer amount of verbiage from Trowa this particular day. Whatever the reason was for this conversational mood Trowa was in, Quatre was glad.
"Tonight, you said. Tonight. And we are still not there."
Sally was not in the brightest of moods. Noin had told her earlier that they would reach the Dome by this very night. Instead, they were all huddled around a pitiful looking fire in the middle of the woods. This was not fair.
"Sally, how many times do I have to apologize for this? It took longer than I thought. Darkness, people can be wrong occasionally, you know?" Sally grumbled at Noin, just missing sounding like a nag. It was vastly cruel that they were still in the middle of the woods when they could clearly see the Dome off in the distance, mocking them.
"Look," Sally ground out, "I wouldn't blame you for this, but you told me that you were certain that we would be at the Dome this very night. You lied, Noin. Darkness damn you, we were supposed to be sleeping in comfortable feather beds instead of this hard ground. You disappointed me, best friendů"
Noin gave up trying to make excuses or apologize. Sally was in a bad mood and it would stay that way. "Where are the boys? It's too dark for traipsing around the woods."
Sally tilted her head towards the woods in response to Noin's inquiry. Whatever they were doing, she was just glad that they were quiet about it.
"I wonder what they are doing."
Noin's curiosity would be satisfied soon enough.
There were five boys about fifty yards from the campsite, looking intensely pained. Each was trying to tap into their powers. Each looked tired, frustrated and herniated.
"I did it on the ship! Why can't I do it now?" Duo's plaintive whine was echoed by Wufei of all people.
"I'm doing what you said Maxwell, but it isn't working. I'm going to beat the stuffing out of you for this misrepresentation."
Heero rolled his eyes and stepped in between their quarrel.
"Look, none of us are doing well. Maybe we should start over."
"Fine, whatever. Let's just try to get this before we get to the Dome and disappoint the entire place."
Heero ignored Duo's discontented mumblings and motioned for everyone to sit in a circle. When they were all situated and comfortable, he began.
"When I first tapped the power, I was really angry."
"Oh, please, Gorgeous," scoffed Duo, "you tried to kill me. Admit it. I forgive you."
"Shut up Duo. As I was saying," continued Heero, completely unfazed by Duo's interruption, "for me, anger was the trigger."
"For me too, actually." Duo spoke with a small bit of wonder in his voice.
Quatre turned his head to look at Duo. On the ship, he had not seem angry at all. Just devoid of all emotions. A well filled with nothing.
"Oi, Quatre, I see you looking. I know I didn't look angry, but when I look like that is when I'm really freaking pissed. Ask Trowa."
Everyone except Duo swerved their heads toward Trowa and waited for him to answer the question. Trowa gave Duo a glare worthy of Heero and responded. "Face of Shinigami."
Crickets chirped, the wind rustled. When it seemed that Trowa had said all he wanted to say, Duo picked up the thread of the dead conversation.
"I should know better than to ask Trowa to explain anything.."
"That's right, Duo. It is your place to explain who you are, not me."
Duo and Trowa stared at each other for what seemed to be a small eternity. Then Duo broke the eye contact, leaned back onto his arms and looked to the sky. His smooth voice flowed out into the night.
"Right, so I guess I'll explain. Shinigami. God of Death. Pretty depressing when you think about it. But that's me when I'm angry. No fear, no mercy, no holding back. When I get angry like that, when Shinigami comes out to dance, is the most dangerous. You all saw it. It wasn't that I had no emotions, Quatre. I was brimming over with it all and lost control. That's what it is. So angry that control was not there."
Silence once again settled around them. Then all of a sudden, Quatre's eyes lit up like lanterns and he jumped up startling everyone.
"What in the Darkness are you talking about?" Wufei's statement went unnoticed as Quatre poured out with his theory.
"Don't you get it? Control. The trigger wasn't anger. It was control. Heero lost control, and from what you just said, you lost control too, Duo. Maybe the power isn't something we can force. Maybe the power to tap it lies in letting go."
The five of them looked at each other, digesting Quatre's insightful words. It made sense. More sense than anything else they had thought of so far.
"A power like ours shouldn't be able to be tapped so easily," Quatre continued, "and so the Darkness must have made the powers accessible only through a truly hard way. What is harder than letting go of control, especially for people like us?"
It sounded right. It sounded so right that it had the glow of truth.
"You must be right," said Trowa, "because we are probably one of the few people in the world who can't let go of control. We are all in control of our emotions, bodies and minds. The first step must be to learn how to let go."
Trowa smiled at Quatre's exuberance. He admired the blonde's logical thinking, his patient explanations and his beautiful face. It was too bad that Quatre was a noble, even if he didn't act like one.
"That's all fine and good, I suppose," Wufei drawled with a bit of cynicism coloring his voice, "but once we let go and tap into the power, how the hell are we supposed to direct it? Make it do what we want?"
Heero agreed with Wufei. It was one thing to have the ability to reach the power, but the most fearful part of it all was that they would not be able to control it once it was in their hands. If that happened, who knew what kinds of calamity they could cause?
"Good point, but Duo controlled his powers on the ship. Right, Duo? You made that water spout and you made it do what you wanted. Right?"
Quatre's earnest questions brought nothing but a blank stare from Duo. He had no idea how to answer because he could not remember how he had controlled it.
"Quatre, my man, I'm glad you have all kinds of confidence in me, but I don't know how I did anything on that ship. If I did, I would tell all of you, believe me."
"So we are back in the beginning."
Quatre sighed at Heero's pessimism. But of course, Heero was right. They should not attempt to tap their powers if they could not control it afterwards.
Unfortunately, Wufei had never been the patient type. "Oh, Light take me, all this talking won't get anything done! I'm going to try something, so stand back."
The four boys stared at Wufei as he walked to the edge of the small clearing and sat down in a meditation pose. He couldn't be serious.
"Ah, Wufei, you do realize that if you can't control it, you're going to make us into crispy Warrior Mages, right?"
"Shut up, Duo. I'm concentrating."
Duo sighed. Wufei would not be deterred, so he would join in the cause.
"Fine, Wu. I'm gonna try too then."
With that said, Duo stalked over to Wufei and sat next to him in a similar position. Never one to be beaten by Duo, Heero joined them quickly. Trowa also joined the sitting group. In the end, it was only Quatre who stood staring at the four sitting boys.
"You are all crazy."
Quatre stared and stared. It had been an hour since the others had taken up their positions and try to evoke their powers. So far, much to Quatre's relief, nothing had happened. He was not confident enough to try just yet, but maybe, if one of them got the hang of it, they could explain it to him. Anyway, he figured at least one person should be sane enough for damage control. Quatre sat and stared some more, trying to see if any of them looked different, but there was nothing. Bored, he started to draw on the moonlit forest floor with a stick. Then all of a sudden, the ground started to shake.
"What in the Darkness?!?"
Quatre's exclamation was drowned out by the rumbling of the earth. Then all of a sudden, the winds picked up and shook the tree limbs. Alarmed, Quatre started to head back to camp to notify Sally and Noin when a huge conflagration of fire burst out from no where and nearly made a barbeque out of him. Startled beyond his wits, Quatre could only numbly feel his face when rain started to fall. The four sitting boys sat like nothing odd was going on while he was standing, singed by fire and soaked in rain, on the shaking earth, freezing from the frosty wind. All he could do was watch. Then everything started to get worse. The earth began to crack and crumble beneath him. The fire danced with the water, the flames evaporating the tinier droplets while the rain smothered the smaller flames. The wind picked up, almost at tornado force, and threw around large chunks of earth, fire and water. Quatre just couldn't take this anymore. If this kept up, the four of them would kill him, Noin and Sally, if not break apart this entire forest. Enough was enough.
Then it all stopped. The earth became still, the winds died and the fire and water cancelled each other out. Quatre was left in the eerie quiet, looking at the four boys who looked as dumbfounded as he. Then..
"Holy Darkness! We did it!"
At Duo's triumphant exclamation, the boys all broke out into laughter. The four who had tapped their powers laughed out of joy and Quatre out of sheer relief. However, it did not last long.
"What in the name of Darkness is going on here?!?!?!?!?!?!"
Five faces turned towards an extremely enraged Sally Po. Behind her was Noin who looked as angry as Sally. They were both soaked and had small tendrils of smoke rising from their slightly burned clothes. This was not good.
"Ah, well," began Quatre in his most ameliorating voice, "we were just practicing, you know, getting a hang of our powers. We didn't mean any harm.."
Quatre eeped when Sally gave him the most evil eye he had ever encountered. He quickly scurried towards the others who were also looking fairly frightened at Sally and Noin.
"Practicing." Sally spoke in an awfully quiet voice.
"Practicing." Noin said with unholy control.
The five boys, the five Elemental Warrior Mages with infinite powers at their disposal, began backing off from these two women. Nothing scared them, not even the battle for the end of the world. Nothing, except for these two Dreamers.
In a deadly voice, Noin began to speak. "You know where the road is."
Five heads nodded in unison.
"You know how to get to the Dome from here."
Five heads again nodded together.
"I'm going to count to ten. If you start running now, by the time I'm done counting, you may be far enough ahead of us. One.."
Five boys took off running as fast as their legs could take them. They were swifter than the wind.