Into The Realm of Dreams
Heero was not happy. Consequently, Quatre was terrified. Hours of pulling up file after file had resulted in a big nothing, and Heero's tension level was beginning to rival small skyscrapers. Seeing the newscast on TV with OZ soldiers celebrating the apparent destruction of one of the famed Gundam pilots wasn't helping.
Wufei sighed. " Heero, I'm sure Maxwell is fine. There is no evidence to support the claim that Duo died back there--"
He froze and Heero's eyes blazed into him with pinpoint accuracy. Wufei felt a faint sheen of sweat gather on the back of his neck. He remembered belatedly that Heero,in some level, was still blaming him for what happened, and he waited for the other boy to pull his gun out and shove it in his face. Rescue from certain doom came in the form of a small Arabian pilot.
" Heero?" Quatre broke in hesitantly. " Remember - I would know. Calm down."
Heero eventually broke off his intense stare and glared at Quatre. Trowa automatically wrapped one long arm around the smaller blond protectively, and stared back, silently warning the Perfect Soldier to back off. Heero's eyes met his, and Trowa felt relief break out as he saw the dark-haired boys eyes soften at the sight of the two of them. Heero's eyes then darkened with pain as the emptiness in his own arms became painfully evident.
" I--I know..." Heero muttered softly, turning away from all of them. " I....DAMNITT!" Heero slammed his fist into the wall, splintering the old wood and slicing his knuckles. he ignored the streams of blood trickling down his hand and raked his dark hair from his face.
" Where IS he? What the hell happened?" Heero growled deep in his throat, scared that his braided baka was in some kind of trouble, yet unable to voice his concern. He stared at the scepter menacingly, knowing, on an instinctive, subconscious level that that was the key to Duo's whereabouts.
Quatre exchanged a look with Trowa. The Perfect Soldier had become dependant on Duo as time had gone by. Months at chipping away at Heero's icey exterior had resulted in a bond that tied them together stronger then any force in the world. To have Duo missing, was like having a piece of himself ripped away. Did Heero even know that was why he was taking this so hard? Quatre knew that Heero wasn't the most emtionally demonstrative person in the world and would sooner break another bone intentionally to feel a different, more familiar pain, before he'd EVER reach out to any of them.
Until Duo, that is.
Wherever he was, Duo had better make it through unscathed. Quatre shuddered to think what Heero would do if he weren't.
" A UNICORN?!?!" Duo's shrieks echoed across the vast land, sending flocks of winged creatures and bird-like animals flitting across the sky. Aztec winced at the pilot's volume.
Duo stared in rapt fascination at the beautiful creature before him. White as snow, with elegant wings that reminded him vaguely of the swans he saw in a book before, the horse nickered gently and trotted forwards. Duo eeped and backed up against the tree again.
" Is he, uh...friendly?" What did HE know of horses? Especially ones with wings?
Aztec giggled and swirled around Duo in complicated loops around his arms and head before blinking at him innocently.
" Of course he is! This is Snowball!"
Duo blinked as he watched the horse -- yes, the HORSE!! -- turn up its lip in a grimace.
" I really dislike that name...." the horse muttered. Aztec chittered. Duo felt some of his nervousness seep away.
" You talk too?"
" Not very often, " Aztec commented, zipping out of range as the big horse snapped at him. Duo eyed those big teeth nervously. The horse noticed and smiled reassuringly...well, as much as horse could smile, anyway.
" Don't be afraid. I would never hurt anyone."
" Except ME!" pouted the little green and gold dragon. The horse sighed exasperatedly.
" Only because you insist on calling me Snowball!"
" It's your name!"
" Only when I'm thought of by that one child--"
" It's still your name!"
Duo watched them banter back and forth, his familiar grin coming back into play.
" You guys remind me so much of home," he said, a chuckle escaping him. Aztec leaped back onto his shoulder and began cuddling. The horse snorted.
" Anyway, you need to go and see Lavender," the horse reminded them. " She sent me to come and get you."
Aztec looked up, a serious look on his small face. Light flicked off his scales, sending a shower of sparks in the air. Duo felt the tension rise and folded his arms.
" What's going on?"
Aztec nibbled on his tail for a minute, ignoring Duo's question for the minute. He stared at the horse.
" You mean...he's...expected?"
Snowball nodded solemnly, blowing a forelock of hair from his eyes.
" Lavender sent me to find him and bring him to her. He's the one who's going to help our world. Hopefully."
Aztec mewled and wrapped himself around Duo again, burying his scaly head into Duo's stomach.
" Okay, a little explanation would be much appreciated." Duo was getting concerned, especially with this save-the-world talk.
Snowball turned slightly, gesturing to his back.
" Get on. I'll take you to Lavender - she'll explain what's going on, better then I could." He flicked on wing gently. " Watch the wings though."
Duo looked down at Aztec who was still hiding. " Are you coming?"
Unwilling to lose his new friend, Aztec looked up and nodded with determination and floated into the air. Duo placed his hands on the horse's broad back and vaulted on, taking care to keep from kicking Snowball's wings. Seating himself comfortably, he gripped the horse's mane firmly with both hands. Aztec hovered on the air, his mischievieous grin coming back momentarily.
" Ever fly before?"
Duo swallowed. " I've flown in a Gundam, I am an ELITE pilot! I CAN ride a horse." His grip tightened and Snowball whinnied in pain. " Oops...uh, sorry."
Snowball rolled his eyes and tossed his head. His wings spread out, revealing to Duo that they were much larger then he'd originally though, a span of at least fifteen feet. The horse leaped into the air, wings beating furiously. Duo automatically shut his eyes. _I will not spew, I will not spew..._
After a few minutes, he felt the wings slow, and the ride smoothed out into a glide. The wind whistled by, ruffling his bangs and causing his hair to trail out behind him like a braided banner. Opening his eyes slowly, he glanced downwards and stared at the passing scenery, hundreds of feet below him.
He was flying!
He'd flown before, of course, but being wrapped up in a metal coccoon of Gundanium was nothing compared to the freedom of this! Birds flew by, squawking at him, the air ripped through him making him feel more alive then he'd ever felt before. His grip on Snowball's mane loosened and he raised his arms above his head, a loud whooping issuing from his throat.
" This is AWESOME!"
A green blur zipped by and suddenly Aztec was flying alongside the horse, keeping pace.
" Heyah Aztec!"
" Having fun?" the dragon chirped. Duo nodded excitedly, then noticed the small creature holding something. " What's that?"
Aztec grinned as he held out a piece of black fabric. Duo started, as he recognized it.
" My HAT!"
Aztec nodded. " You nearly forgot this!" Giggling, the dragon put it on its own head, backwards, tiny claws holding it in place so the wind wouldn't sweep it away. Duo laughed out loud.
The horse snorted again and swooped forwards. Duo yelped and wrapped his fists around clumps of the horse's mane again.
" Warn me when you're gonna do that!"
Something caught his eye then, and he looked over to see the distant castle from before, now, not so distant. A castle. Duo blinked again. A floating castle - was one supposed to get used to that? He looked in amazement at the thick fluffy clouds holding the castle up, and then took in the rest of it.
Multiple towers rose into the air, multiple shades of blues and purples, dark and light assaulting Duo's eyes. Beams of light glinted off windows, molded together to form rooms of glass. Archways and bridges criss-crossed over large courtyards, exotic looking plants curling and winding their way around large, intricately carved statues. A faint glow was seen emanating from the center of the courtyard, it's blue glow reminding Duo of the jewel that had first brought him here. It seemed to call to him; he could feel something answering from deep within. _Interesting..._
The horse landed lightly on a marble-covered platform, hooves making clip-cloppy sounds that echoed loudly. Duo reluctantly slid off the horse -- again, minding the wings -- and looked around. Aztec landed on his shoulder.
" So where to now" Duo asked, scanning the area cautiously. As friendly as everyone had been to him so far, he'd been a Gundam pilot too long to let his guard down. Again, he felt a power call to him and he looked towards the courtyard alomst longingly. Aztec chirped and he snapped out of it, swinging his head around at a movement from the large doors.
A young girl stepped forward, sheathed in dark purple robes that swirled around her as though they had a life of their own. Her hair was a deep shade of of violet, pulled back from her ears and held by silver clips. The remainder fell in soft waves, framing her face. Her whole being radiated power and her violet eyes that matched his own, showed a wisdom beyond her young visage. Duo swallowed.
" Lavender, I presume?"