"There's no doubt in my mind that not only is the Shi kingdom not a myth, but that the fabled Shi power exists and that both Duo and Hilde can harness it."
Heero, Trowa, Wufei, and Hilde stood in Quatre's tent, listening to him speak about the extraordinary happenings at the river earlier that day. Duo, who had the most experience with cooking over campfires, was seeing to the evening's meal as well as setting up Heero's tent. Heero suspected that Duo was just reluctant to participate in any discussion of what had happened to him at the river.
Hilde looked at Quatre with astonishment. "Quatre, what do you mean 'Duo and Hilde'? I have no powers, certainly nothing like what Duo exhibited."
Quatre regarded the dark-haired girl kindly, a small smile playing around the edges of his mouth.
"Hilde, how do you explain the warning you shouted out before anyone else was aware of the monster's presence?"
Hilde opened her mouth to respond, but she stopped and blinked at the blond mage, her mouth agape, unable to think of a valid answer to Quatre's question.
"Well, then, answer me this," Quatre continued. "Have you ever had such flashes of clairvoyance in the past?"
Wufei looked at Hilde with surprise when she nodded hesitantly. "You mean this wasn't the first time this has happened?" he asked, amazement clearly in his voice.
"No," she said shyly. "It happened often when Duo and I were younger. Sometimes, right before something bad was going to happen, I would see it and I could warn Duo. In fact..." She trailed off for a moment before continuing in a tearful tone, "In fact, I knew something was going to happen when our aunts died. But I was too young to know what to make of the vision I saw. If I'd known, maybe I could have saved them..."
Wufei placed a protective arm around her shoulders as silent tears ran down her pretty face.
Heero thought for a moment. "Hn. I don't understand something. Hilde, you clearly remember instances you've used your powers in the past, correct?"
She raised tear-bright blue eyes to the prince. "Yes, every time. If that's what I was doing," she replied.
Heero frowned. "Then why can't Duo remember what happened at the river?"
"I believe I can answer that," Quatre said. "Has anyone noticed how different Hilde and Duo's reactions have been to this journey, indeed to the entire concept that Shi actually exists?"
"Hilde has been nothing but exited," Wufei interjected, "while Duo..."
"Has been less than thrilled," Heero finished.
"Yes, exactly," Quatre stated. "Hilde has been far more accepting of everything where as we practically had to twist Duo's arm to make him believe that what he did at the river truly occurred. This tells me that Hilde is, and always has been even if she didn't realize it, more accepting of her power. Therefore, she can access it more easily. But because of Duo's reluctance, his power had to force itself upon him. His body channeled the power without difficulty, but his mind retreated, unable to accept what was happening."
Heero's frown deepened. "Why would the power force itself on him in that way?"
"According to the scholars, the Shi power is inherent to the Shi royal family. Not only can they access it, it is a part of them. This means that Duo's power wants to protect what is important to Duo, in this case, you, Heero. When your life was under such dire threat and Duo was so desperate to help you, the power wanted to save you as well. So it took over, even with the risk."
Heero's eyes narrowed. "What risk?" he growled.
Quatre sighed. "As I said before, the Shi power is a part of Duo. He wasn't meant to try to reject it. In forcing itself into his body, the power overwhelmed his mind. If it happens many more times, I'm afraid Duo may go mad. Or his mind will disappear completely and he will be nothing but a vessel for the power, devoid of any personality of his own."
Heero went pale. Abruptly he turned and left the tent, his eyes intent and his jaw clenched.
Intimately familiar with the prince's iron will, the others didn't bother placing bets on the odds that Heero would convince Duo to stop endangering himself by continuing to foolishly reject his heritage.
Heero returned to his tent to find Duo putting away their things. Duo's back was to him and he noticed the tension in the braided boy's shoulders. He knew that Duo was aware of the reason for his meeting with Quatre and the others.
"Duo, we need to talk."
Duo didn't turn around. "About what?" Duo said without the slightest curiosity.
"About you and Shi. I think its clear after what happened at the river that you *are* the future king of Shi."
"Whatever," Duo mumbled in response.
"Then how do *you* explain what happened?" Heero growled, feeling his jaw tighten in frustration at Duo's stubbornness.
Duo turned around sharply. "How am *I* supposed to know what really happened? I don't remember a thing!"
"That's the point! Because of your unwillingness to accept who you are, the Shi power was forced to overtake you so that you could destroy the monster."
Duo snorted softly and turned away, rolling his eyes. His motion was arrested as Heero took hold of his arm. He turned Duo back around, his dark blue eyes intent as they looked into the skeptical amethyst pools.
"Duo, Quatre says that, as the crown prince of Shi, the power is supposed to work with you. It is supposed to enhance your abilities, not completely dominate you." Heero sighed at the continued stubbornness on Duo's face. "Duo, if you continue to resist the power and it's forced to take control again, it could drive you mad. Or worse, it could overtake you permanently, leaving you an empty vessel, nothing but a conduit for the power to work through."
Heero's dire warnings caught Duo's attention. He looked up at Heero with a look of confusion.
"But if this power is supposedly mine to command, why would it harm me?"
"Quatre believes that the power is tied to you and acts to protect the things you care about. That's why it manifested back at the river. Because you wanted to save me, even though it endangered you at the same time."
Duo's eyes widened. "So if you, or Hilde, or one of the others were ever again in serious danger..."
"The power would force you to use it. And if you continue to resist..."
Duo lowered his gaze. "I can't believe it..." he whispered.
"Why not?" Heero grated out anxiously. "Why can't you accept the truth when it could destroy you if you don't?"
"Because I'm afraid!" Duo shouted as he snapped his head up to meet Heero's gaze.
Heero's eyes narrowed in confusion. "What are you afraid of?"
Duo sighed. "Heero, look at me, I'm no prince. You... you are a prince. The people of Hane love you. Your men would follow you anywhere." Duo looked away. "Me? I'm just a gypsy brat who had to sell his body to fat merchants just so he could earn something to eat."
Heero placed the fingers of his free hand under Duo's chin, forcing the tortured amethyst eyes to meet his intent dark blue gaze.
"You are not just some gypsy brat. And as for people following you, Hilde would follow you without question and she doesn't strike me as a foolish person. And I, I would follow you anywhere because I love you and I trust you. Duo, even without what happened at the river, I have always known that you were extraordinary. You *are* a prince, Duo, a prince who is the heir to an incredible power. You are definitely something special."
Duo was nearly blinded by the love and utter faith that shone on Heero's face. Feeling humbled by Heero's complete confidence in him, Duo blinked rapidly trying to dispel the tears that threatened. "But what if I can't do it?" he whispered. "What if I can't be a prince? I don't know how."
Heero leaned forward and placed his lips against Duo's forehead. "I'll always be there to help you, no matter what."
Duo closed his eyes, the tension flowing out of him at the feel of Heero's tender kiss. "You promise?"
"I promise." Heero leaned back and tilted his head to look into Duo's eyes. "Now, do you promise to keep an open mind, for your sake ... and mine?"
Duo opened his eyes and peaked up at Heero from under his long lashes. "And what if I don't?" The corner of his mouth quirked up in a mischievous grin.
Heero returned the grin with a mock glare. He backed Duo up until he was flush up against one of the sturdy tent walls, his eyes racking the surprised face. "Then I guess I'll just have to convince you," he growled and lowered his head to capture Duo's lips in a heated embrace.
Duo exhaled in excited contentment at the feel of Heero's firm mouth against his own after the past week's abstinence. His hands came up to grasp Heero's broad shoulders when an insistent tongue suddenly invaded his mouth. Duo tightened his grip and moaned but the lifting of the apprehension he'd been feeling since the beginning of the journey caused his mind to fill with its customary devilment. He leaned back, breaking away from Heero, and smiled impishly.
"Mmmm ... nice try, but I don't think I'm completely convinced yet," he murmured, his voice husky with passion.
Resisting the urge to place a kiss on the tempting, thoroughly naughty grin, Heero's deepened his mock scowl. He moved away just enough to allow his hand to come between them, running it down Duo's firm torso. Duo looked down at the wandering hand questioningly before all coherent though left his mind. His smile faded, his eyes closed, and his lips parted on a helpless moan as Heero reached past the waistband of his leggings and took hold of his growing arousal in a proprietary clasp.
Heero slowly pumped Duo's engorged member, his eyes never straying from Duo's beautiful face as Duo moaned in appreciation at Heero's skillful touch. Heero had missed his beloved gypsy and cursed himself again for the foolishness that had kept them apart. As he watched a becoming flush move into Duo's cheeks, he promised never to let his reserved nature hurt his beautiful lover again.
Whimpering helplessly with pleasure, Duo's head fell back and his hips thrust forward helplessly as Heero continued his devastating manipulation. Finally, unable to resist Duo's impassioned utterances, Heero shoved his free hand into Duo's chestnut mane, destroying the neat braid so that the silken strands flowed about them. He then muffled the long-haired boy's cries with a deep kiss.
Duo barely felt his hair being undone. He was completely caught up in the sensations caused by Heero's mouth and merciless hand. As he continued to moan his pleasure, Duo was unaware of Heero divesting him of his tunic and his leggings before dealing with his own. The sudden feel of Heero's heated flesh against his own as Heero locked a powerful arm around his waist only added to Duo's unbearable ardor.
Their tongues dueled fervently as Heero gradually increased the speed of his hand. Feeling Duo's body tighten, Heero broke the kiss and moved back slightly, wanting to watch his lover as he came apart. Duo's moans turned to passionate cries as he neared his completion. Then without warning he was there, shouting his joy for the entire camp to hear. He emptied himself into Heero's hand and fell limply against the prince, supported only by the arm around him, his head resting on Heero's shoulder as he attempted to catch his breath.
In a daze, Duo felt Heero place a gentle kiss on his forehead. He looked up into his prince's deep blue eyes and shivered at the need he saw there. Duo realized that his erotic torment was far from over as Heero turned him around to face the wall of the tent, never speaking a word. Duo's eyes flew open in surprise when Heero entered him with a long finger lubricated with his own passion. He exhaled on a low moan only to inhale sharply in pleasurable pain as second then a third finger joined the first. The long fingers brushed against his center of pleasure causing him to cry out in ecstasy. Clenching his hands into the sturdy tent canvas, Duo groaned continuously as the fingers gently but inexorably stretched him.
Unable to bear the sexy sounds coming from his lover for another second, Heero removed his fingers and positioned himself at Duo's tight entrance. Duo's disappointed moaned at the sudden loss of those magic fingers turned to one of anticipation when he felt something much more interesting pressing against him. He parted his lips to release a cry that came from the depths of his soul when he felt Heero's impressive member slowly entered him.
Heero moved forward until his sweat-slicked chest was flush against Duo's heaving back. A wonderful feeling of contentment filled him at the sensation of Duo's tight, hot sheath surrounding him once more. Resting his cheek on top of his lover's shining hair, Heero waited a moment for Duo to adjust, gritting his teeth against the desire to show his soulmate exactly how much he needed him. Heero felt Duo arching his back to press against him and took that as the sign he had been waiting for. Placing his hands on Duo's narrow hips and catching the curve of Duo's neck with his teeth, Heero backed away until he was nearly unsheathed. Then, with a feral growl, he rammed forward, encasing himself completely in the long-haired boy's heated depths.
Duo shouted out as Heero struck that magical place deep within him with devastating accuracy. His entire body burned with an unquenchable fire. His being was centered on the incredible feeling of Heero moving within him. Duo had become a mindless creature of desire and in his abandonment, he could feel the stirrings of an incredible power deep inside.
Duo was peripherally aware of the tingling sensation in the vicinity of his tattoo as both the power and his passion swelled within him. Heero was hitting that perfect spot with every powerful thrust and Duo's cries marked the rhythm. Then Heero reached around to again take hold of his neglected arousal and the erotic tension became unbearable. A tidal wave of sensation rose within him and he yelled his fulfillment when it crashed over him.
The feel of Duo clenching around him sent Heero over the edge but not before he felt a hot and powerful wind blow around him. Duo's long mane whipped fiercely in the mysterious torrent of air and Heero was nearly blinded by it as he felt his body clench and empty itself into the boy before him.
Heero and Duo sank to their knees with Heero still buried deep inside the amethyst eyed boy. Heero clasped Duo to him and rested his head in the sweet curve of his neck. The tousled condition of Duo's hair reminded Heero about the strange wind that had blown through the tent. He looked up to where Duo had been gripping the tent canvas and gasped at sight of two hand-shaped scorch marks on the thick canvas.
"Duo," Heero breathed.
Duo, still heaving from the violence of his release, turned his head to look at the prince.
"Look," Heero whispered.
Duo followed his gaze and felt his breath catch in his throat when he saw the scorch marks. He had felt the mysterious power surge through him as he'd reached his climax and knew without a doubt how he had caused those marks.
"Do you still doubt your power?"
Duo shook his head at the whispered question, no longer able to deny the truth. Heero moved away just long enough to lay down on the padded groundcover and pull Duo to him. He could feel Duo's shivers of self-realization and held him tightly until they both drifted off to sleep.
Quatre looked up with a smile as Duo approached him at the campfire the next morning. Returning his greeting, Quatre handed Duo a plate a food, resisting the urge to grin at the sight of the braided boy's slightly swollen lips or the dark mark visible on his neck just above his tunic. No one had been surprised when neither Heero nor Duo had been seen after Heero had left Quatre's tent the previous evening and everyone had politely tuned out the sounds of pleasure coming from the prince's tent.
Duo concentrated on his plate for a moment before looking up at Quatre with an air of hesitant expectation. Correctly interpreting the look, Quatre set his plate aside and turned his full attention to his companion.
"Duo, did you have a question?"
Smiling sheepishly at the blond mage's insight, Duo nodded and turned as well, although he kept his plate close at hand. He was famished after the exertion of the previous night and felt he could talk and eat at the same time.
"Quatre, Heero told me about what could happen to me if I continue to resist my power. In fact, I now have reason to believe in it without question."
Quatre cocked his head to the side at the blush that suffused the Duo's cheeks but he refrained from making any comment.
Duo cleared his throat, turning his mind away, rather reluctantly, from the previous night's occurrences. "Anyway, I was wondering why my powers waited until now to manifest. I mean, why not when my aunts died, or when Hilde was kidnapped, or when I was Dermail's prisoner?"
Quatre nodded. He'd anticipated the questions and was prepared to respond. "As near as I can tell, you've never faced anything like what happened to Heero at the river. When your aunts died, you said that you weren't actually there to see it, not to mention you were just a little boy. When Hilde was kidnapped, Dermail threatened her, but she was never truly in imminent danger. When Dermail trapped you in the castle, you were more concerned about Heero's safety than your own. And when you were his prisoner, the power did manifest itself in a way. The disabling spell the duke put on you should have rendered you unconscious. At the time, I couldn't figure out how you'd managed to remain lucid. Now, I realize that it was the Shi power protecting you."
As he listened, Duo felt that Quatre was merely confirming knowledge that he already possessed, knowledge locked deep within. He found himself nodding at the blond mage's words.
"Yes, it makes sense. The other dangers I've faced, though extreme, were never immediate or life threatening. Even when I was raped and tortured in Dermail's camp, they made sure not to try to kill me. But Heero..." Duo shuddered as the vision of the creature crushing his beloved prince to death filled his mind. "Heero would have died. I couldn't let that happen."
"No, you couldn't, and neither could your power," Quatre replied.
Duo toyed with his empty plate for a moment before looking up into the mage's aquamarine gaze. "Quatre, would you teach me how to use my power? I want to be fully prepared should anything like that ever happen again."
Quatre smiled. "Of course, Duo, I'll help you however I can. I'm glad you've finally come to your senses. I knew I could count on Heero to make you see reason." This time Quatre couldn't help but giggle as Duo turned a bright shade of pink from his ears to the neckline of his tunic.
Duo grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, I guess you could say he *pounded* my stubbornness right out of me." It was his turn to laugh as the crude words caused Quatre to try to match his own embarrassed hue.
Quatre cleared his throat. "Hmm. Well, I don't know how much I can truly teach you since your powers are nothing like mine. Whereas mine are invoked through spells, your power is more like an instinct, just like with Hilde."
"Hilde?" Duo's brow furrowed in puzzlement.
"Yes, her flashes of clairvoyance, like at the river yesterday, are actually manifestations of her own power."
Duo's eyes widened. "Imagine that," he mused. "Ummm... would my power just react to danger or any strong emotion?"
Quatre eyed Duo's returning blush as he considered the question. 'What happened in that tent last night?' he wondered. He'd felt a huge surge of emotion coming from the prince's tent and had damped his empathic senses before he was forced to give into the urge to pounce on Trowa in front of everyone.
"Although it took a drastic situation to make it manifest the first time, now that you've tapped into it, and especially now that you seem to accept it, your power would probably react in some way to any strong emotion. But we could work on control. That's what will be most critical."
"Well, whatever you can teach me I'd be more than grateful to learn. But first, I'm going to get another plate of food. I'm starving."
Quatre laughed brightly as Duo smiled and moved to the cook pots.