Son of a Sable Night
Chapter Eight: And Let the Day be Time Enough to Mourn
"Did you know?" I asked. My eyes were shut tight and I refused to respond immediately to Duo's barb.
Wufei leaned away from me and his hair swished gently as he shook his head. "Not until Quatre told me."
I rose to my feet slowly and took a step up onto the deck proper. Duo righted himself and the mocking smile didn't leave his face.
"I'll kill you," I said, moving closer. I saw Sally's beautiful white handled blade resting across the planter box near Duo's dangling foot and was betting that I could reach it before he did.
His eyes darkened and he leaned forward, his voice in a low whisper meant for me alone, "You think you know everything? "
"I know enough!" I cried as I leapt for the blade.
Wufei shouted something that I was too angry to pay attention to and the maelstrom of power that I called to my hand grew to a deafening roar in my ears. My back ached as energy bled from ethereal wounds that would never heal. For five decades, I had been shielded from the truth about the phantom pain and seeping loss... If only that ignorance could still cloak me.
In a blur, Duo drove his foot down onto the hilt and flipped the blade into the air. He caught it, but I had shifted my aim to tackle him instead. With the extra strength that pulsed through my being, I ended up slamming him so hard against the rail that it gave way and we tumbled off the edge.
I heard the hissing pop and feathered snap that told me Duo had shifted. I had no such luxury and I landed badly on the rocky cliffside, tumbling and rolling until I lay crumpled in the cold sand. He drifted down slowly, pitch-black wings pumping in powerful beats that stirred up the sand as he touched down beside me.
"You don't know half as much as you think you do," said Duo, crouching down. He muttered as he caught sight of the awkward bend of my leg that sent white-hot pain shooting towards my hip.
"It was you, not me." My voice was as weak as my body. That burst of strength had burned away my reserves and I felt dizzy with the loss. If I faded into nothingness, I would be more than happy. Pity that Duo wouldn't let that happen until he took me to see Zechs. I wondered what prophesy he had spouted to lure a creature like Duo into working for him. "You. You were the one who killed Sally."
"Yeah. Does it matter if it was my hand or yours? You were about to kill her," he snapped at me.
"I had to do it," I protested.
"Do you really still believe that?" Sand crunched as he lowered himself to his knees. He gripped my chin and forced me to look at him. "There's a difference between you and I, Heero. I destroyed souls because I didn't know any better."
I snorted and spit at him even though bile rose in the back of my throat as I weighed the truth of his words. I always had a choice, but like Wufei, I had followed my orders until I became overwhelmed with the horror of killing my brothers and sisters.
Duo released my face and wiped away the spittle. "Is it so hard to believe that I've redeemed myself?"
"How could you? You never had a soul to redeem." I couldn't fight away the creeping darkness and its accompanying lethargy as he took me into his arms.
"I have one now," Duo declared quietly. "I'll allow you peace as long I can. If Wufei will, I'll have him bring you back."
Blackness was swallowing me and at the last moment, my traitorous heart hoped, that at my inevitable reawakening, I would find Duo lying beside me.
"...the Son of the Sable Night shall rise. He shall claim the Children of Twilight. And Death will follow at his heels..."
I returned to consciousness with a jolt. There was no easy transition accompanied by the tangy spice of desire. This time, love in its purest form and freely given, coursed into my being. I pushed myself to my knees and lifted my head to find that it flowed to me from Zechs.
He was terrible in his beauty; and he looked so very out of place, even in the less than mundane setting of what was an oddly disturbing mirror of a chapel. Everything was white and pure and still I felt that there was nothing holy about the surroundings. I didn't dwell on such things for long. Zechs' presence surpassed the mortal trappings that he wore and as he looked down upon me, I felt his energy fill the room. I ached with the longing to be burnt away in the glory of his true form.
"Heero," said the luminous creature that stood before me. And I shivered that he should speak my name. "You are the Feather that will tip the scales of Balance. You will bring Peace to the war that rages in the Heavens."
Kneeling and trembling before the Oracle as he placed upon me the burden of prophesy, I understood why none of us were ever sent to slay the most powerful being in the upper echelon to have been Forsaken.
"I require your aid, Heero," he said. The platinum strands of his hair flowed in invisible currents that swirled around him and he held out a white gloved hand to me. Energy crackled and danced along those currents; he was truly the Lightning Count. He held sway over the element of air.
I stood and discovered my leg was no longer broken. Had so much time passed that it had mended on its own? Or had I been granted healing by Zechs' power? Something bothered me, deep down, where the glamour of his aura didn't reach. I took an involuntary step forward and he placed his hand on my cheek.
"You are the only one who can Unite those who followed Treize's Fall," Zechs told me. "If I am to win the Freedom of my Kingdom. I will need Soldiers."
I was sick of death. The only death I wished for was my own.
"You cannot Die, Heero," Zechs frowned. His disappointment churned in the air and I railed at my own foolishness that I had thoughts that would displease him. "You are too important."
"How can I do what you ask? They believe I killed him," I asked.
"Deliver to them, he who truly meted out the Judgement."
"Yes," Zechs nodded. He reversed his hand and brushed his knuckles against my cheek. "Give them Wufei. I have spoken with him; he understands his Fate and will go without question. "
"What if I fail?"
"You won't," he replied. He lifted his other hand to cup my face and pressed a feather light kiss on my forehead. I felt the soft tingling that told me he had blessed me. He had fallen so far and still he could offer such...
I thought then of Duo and Zechs pulled away from me. I thought I tasted bitter confusion shedding from him, but it was gone before I could be sure.
"You need not leave until you wish. You will be safe here." Zechs raised his hand and an echoing clank sounded of a door opening behind me. "When you are ready, speak with Duo."
I forced myself to walk out of Zechs' chamber. While in there, I wanted little more than to sit at his feet and bathe in his glory. As I exited, I started feeling more myself and a shudder ran through my body.
"I'll show you to your room," a young girl said, appearing seemingly out of nowhere. She dipped into a polite curtsey, then whirled and started off down the hall. Out of a lack of any other choices, I followed.
"Where are my friends?" I asked. I memorized the path she led me along by noting the various unique statues and paintings that lined the vaulted halls.
"Duo is gone right now and your other friend is resting," she answered. Her feet were moving in little scuffing steps that made for a quick pace. "He has the room across from yours.
"We're here," the red-headed girl said, stopping abruptly. "m'lord has arranged for a gift. Duo will deliver it when he returns."
"Thank you," I said.
She smiled and although it looked genuine on her face, there was something in her eyes that told me she felt no joy or pleasure in the completion of her task.
I didn't reach for the elaborate brass handle of my door and turned instead to Wufei's. I rapped my knuckles against the wood and heard a faint, "Enter."
"Are you really willing to be a sacrifice for Zechs?" I spoke as soon as the door clicked shut. It was warm inside; heated by a fireplace that bathed one small corner of the room in orange light and left the remainder in shadow.
"I don't know," Wufei answered. He stood looking out a narrow window. I could see nothing outside it save slow drifting puffs of fog. "And you? Are you going to pick up a blade again and lead an army for him?"
"He can see the future," I said slowly. "He said that I'm the one who'll end the war and bring peace."
Wufei turned and his dark eyes reflected the firelight as he fixed them upon me. "Death is peaceful."
I had no reply.