a b c d e f g h i j

Blue Forest Banshee Part 99
Sticks and Stones

Farquahar was out of sight but not out of mind for the next day or so. Life in the MIO returned to almost-normal. Wufei was back at his desk, muttering irritated Chinese curses, his tail switching and his claws clacking loudly on his keyboard. Surprisingly, he had agreed with Duo, that the obliging Were-Tiger should be compensated for looking after the demon's animals.

"It isn't their fault their owner is a... a... feather-brained demon fuckwit," he had growled when everyone turned to stare at him. He even called the female to ask for a list of the type and number of animals the demon had collected, so that they could keep an accounting.

Trowa spent a good deal of time hovering near the recovered Were-Dragon, which only added to his irritation. Trowa seemed oblivious to the grumbles and insults thrown his way; only smirking in his Puma-ish way. He never missed a chance to pat Wufei's back or tail with his massive paws, or to curl his long tail against Wufei's scales, eliciting heavy sighs and eye rolls from the Were-Dragon.

The Elves did a lot of smirking at each other, and the rumor was that Zuma hadn't slept in his own room in several nights. Tiffany and Moira found that 'cute'. Some of Enrique's neighbors found it annoyingly loud.

Estaban spent his time with his nose firmly inserted into his parchments, trying to be as small and as unobtrusive as possible. He had enough trouble with a hysterically pregnant wife at home.

Duo volunteered to do the paperwork for the whole incident, and Inazuma and Wufei graciously allowed it. He also worked industriously on some bright green yarn, turning out a hat, a scarf and a pair of mittens during that time.

Heero was out of the office more than in, being involved in the 'examination' going on in the labs.

"Heero, are you helping the Freaky Five," asked Trowa at one point, "Or are you keeping them from killing him?"

"You know they can't kill a demon," he snorted. "But they want to use him to test some of their experiments. I have to continually remind them that he is not a lab rat."

If a decision had been reached by the higher-ups regarding what had happened to and what to do with Farquahar, the MIO was not yet privy to it. The five Wizards of R&D poked, prodded, spelled, charmed and potioned the demon every which way but inside out and there was some serious debate over trying that, as well. Heero and Q did their own examinations with no more success. This did not amuse anyone. Even Q was quite grumpy by the time they finished.

Finally, though, it was determined that Farquahar would be allowed to go back to his 'home', providing he accepted the presence of a minder. The demon agreed to every condition eagerly, even the minder part. It would be kind of novel to have someone to talk to occasionally. Maybe they could be persuaded to stay long enough to play Monopoly - he had the Wizards version, but it was boring playing alone - or even gin rummy.

Then Zephyrus arrived.

The demon glared at the Wizards and Magical Creatures in attendance. "Have you quite finished your 'examination', ladies and gentlemen?" he sneered. "If so, I would like to depart from this..." He cast a baleful look at the surrounding buildings. "...this hovel. It offends my aesthetics."

"Yeah, well, you offend my aesthetics," muttered Wufei crossly. It irritated him that Zephyrus had shown up before R&D had found any decent clues, as if the damn demon knew they wouldn't. "Just go, already!" he snapped more loudly. "You flea-bitten, mange-ridden Were-wannabe." He lifted his snout contemptuously and flicked his talons at the demon. "Shoo!"

Zephyrus snarled. "Pathetic little crested skink!"

Wufei lifted off the ground and floated closer to the fox-demon. Nose to snout with the demon, he poked Zephyrus sharply in the sternum. "Get. Lost."

Behind him, Q snickered faintly. The demon and the Were-Dragon could be immensely entertaining, but really, now was not the time.

"Wufei," he said instead. "I believe Zephyrus will be going. Please save your indignation for the next time."

"In other words," smirked the elegant demon, "Heel, boy!"

Wufei's frills and spines lifted ominously and he hissed, baring his sharp teeth.

"Zephyrus!" snapped Q, tiring of the sparring. "You came to us; we did not go to you."

Zephyrus huffed indignantly and swirled his cloak around his shoulders with a theatrical flourish. He turned and snarled at his 'cousin'. "Come on, you miserable, useless, pathetic excuse for a demon! We're leaving! And when we get back --" he threatened.

Farquahar cringed, but shuffled toward his fox-demon kin, head hanging and paws twisting together fearfully.

Duo had been quiet, as Q had asked, telling himself that this was a demon thing and none of his business, but Zephyrus' autocratic attitude just stomped soundly on every damn button he had. He tossed his soda over his shoulder, already in motion. "Fuck you!" he snarled at Zephyrus. "Fuck you and your whole motherfucking attitude, you pissant son-of-a-bitch!" He strode toward the startled demons. "He is not your damn property! You do not fucking own him and you are not going to bloody-fucking-well treat him like he's nothing but dirt!"

The Wizards and Magical Creatures blinked as one.

Farquahar's jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out even further.

Zephyrus began to color alarmingly.

Duo was in his face in a few strides, snarling up at the demon like a rabid wolverine.

"How dare you treat him like that, you jerk! He is family! You don't treat family like shit! You may not like him, but that doesn't give you the right to abuse and harass him!"

"He is a blithering idiot!" Zephyrus yelled apoplectically. "He is a damned embarrassment and a lousy pain in the ass to everyone who knows him! He creates nothing but trouble for me and everyone else in my Clan!"

"He's still FAMILY!" Duo roared. "And you DO NOT treat family like nothing! You don't yell at them or blame them for things they can't control, and you don't fucking throw them away like garbage when you're tired of them, you stinking damn fuckwit! You are not going to beat up on him just because he's not up to your blasted bloody standards!"

"What the hell do you know about it?! He tried to kill you, you idiot Banshee! Why are you defending him?!"

"Because somebody has to! If you don't want him around, then leave him the fuck alone and stay away from him! And he didn't try to kill me; the bloody spell made him try to kill me! You don't even care about that! You don't even give a damn that someone was controlling him!"

"He's weak! That makes him useless! He is a pox on the whole Clan!"

Duo stared at the demon, all those old whispers in the back of his head. Strange. Odd. Different. Embarrassing. Worthless. Cast out....

He began to shake. This is a demon! It is... not... the same. Not. The. Same.

Worthless. Embarrassment. Different. ...differentdifferentdifferent...

Arms came up and wrapped around his head even as the wordless howl erupted from his throat. A spherical portion of air around the demon wavered; collapsed. Zephyrus gasped, clutched at his throat, unable to breath. Duo grabbed his neck, lifting the much larger demon right off his feet, and shook him like a rat.


"Duo!" cried Q, finally breaking the shocked silence. "Duo, let go of him," he commanded softly, approaching the Banshee carefully. "You've made your point. I'm sure Zephyrus is willing to rethink his position. Let him go, Duo; you don't want to kill him..."

Duo shuddered, blinked and realised what he was doing. He let go of Zephyrus with a whimper, and stumbled back from the now-gasping demon.

"Oh... shit..." he breathed.

Trowa suddenly lunged at the Banshee, throwing himself in the most powerful, most desperate leap his Were-Puma muscles could manage. He still missed. He sprawled hard on the spot where Duo had been a split second after the Banshee vanished.

Q blinked at the now-vacant-of-Banshee spot. "Well, crap..." he muttered under his breath. He turned to the half-strangled demon. "Heero will be arriving momentarily, Zephyrus; I think it would be best if you were not here. He will not be... pleased."

Zephyrus sucked air, all dignity gone, and his anger with it. "What the fuck was that?!" he croaked.

Q raised one eyebrow. "Duo is not without power of his own; I thought you knew that. Heero is coming."

Zephyrus blinked and began to straighten his clothing, gathering his shredded poise as well. "I... I believe we'll be leaving now..." He hooked a finger at Farquahar, scowling.

The ugly, schlumpy demon hesitated, took a step, and stopped. "No," he whispered. "I don't want to..."


"I don't want to go with you; you're going to hurt me," he mumbled. He shot Q a pleading look. "I wanna stay here..."

Q smirked microscopically. "Heero's coming..."

Zephyrus snarled; it would have been more impressive if he'd had any appreciable voice left. The Elves snickered behind their hands. "Fine! I wash my hands of that-that moron! And good luck to you!" he rasped. And he vanished in a 'poof!' of sulfur.

Q turned immediately to the Elves. "Find Duo! Heero really is on his way!"

"Yessir!" They both vanished, as Q gestured to the other Wizards to also begin tracking. He crouched beside Trowa.

"Trowa, are you all right?" The Were-Puma still sprawled gracelessly on the ground.

He raised his head mournfully. "I'm sorry; I just suddenly knew he was going to port... I tried to catch him..."

Q petted his tawny head comfortingly. "That's all right; it's probably better he did. I'm afraid Zephyrus pushed some very bad buttons."

Wufei drifted over, still blinking in surprise. "How did you know?" he hissed as Q moved away to speak with Farquahar.

Trowa shook his head. "No idea. Just all at once I knew... and I thought if I could get hold of him, maybe I could keep him here. Didn't work, though..." he sighed.

Wufei patted his shoulder tentatively. "Well, it was a good effort... I think I just made it worse, dammit."

Heero dropped like a stone from the sky, landing in front of Q.

"Where is he?!" he bellowed.

Farquahar tried to hide behind the Wizard.

"He got upset, and ported," Q said easily. "Trowa tried to catch him, but it was too quick. I already have people looking for him; calm down, Heero. You'll have a stroke." He patted Farquahar's head absently.

The Wyvern stared at him for a long moment, then visibly pulled himself together. "Dammit," he muttered, and morphed. "What happened?" he asked, glaring at Farquahar.

"It wasn't Farquahar; it was Zephyrus," Q explained. "They had a bit of a debate over the merits of 'family'."

Heero blinked. "Crap," he growled succinctly. "I am going to cut off that stinking fox's head and feed it to him and then make a scarf of his tail." He eyed Zephyrus' lesser cousin balefully. How in hell did such a loser manage to become one of Duo's circle of protectees in only these few days? Or was it just that Farquahar was such a loser... The Banshee was highly protective of the people he loved or identified with; another part of his charm and a continuing source of exasperation to the less-forgiving Wyvern. He didn't want his Chosen identifying with something like this, dammit. "Crap," he said again.

Q's phone rang; he opened it and said, "Yes?" He listened for a moment; frowned. "Well, that is vexing," he said finally. "Keep trying; call if you have any success."

Heero glared at him. Trowa and Wufei joined them, Trowa rubbing his head against Heero's leg in apology. The Wyvern stroked his head and ruffled his ears. "Thanks for trying," he said softly.

Q let out a sigh. "The porters haven't found him; he didn't leave a track this time."

Heero growled. Trowa and Wufei edged away. Farquahar crept after them.

"He always leaves a trail!"

"Not this time," Q shrugged. "Maybe it's an anomaly or maybe it's another step up in his abilities. They've put out the word to all the other port stations; if anyone sees him they'll either bring him home or call."

"Great. Just fucking great!"


Duo blinked. Ah, shit... He'd wanted to rip Zephyrus into small pieces and stomp on the pieces, until he realised what he was doing... He looked around, hoping he was at the beach again, but the scenery this time was totally different. For one thing, it was early morning, the sun just barely clearing the buildings. For another, he was in a city or town; the buildings were bare concrete and close together with metal doors; the street was narrow with several small cars parked on one side, and exposed pipes, conduits and overhead wires everywhere... Along with heavy clouds and a feeling of impending rain. And the hills visible between the buildings were really, really... green.

Damn. Not only did this not look like California, it didn't look like Kansas either. He swallowed; where had he ended up this time? And how long before someone came to get him? They would; he was sure of that. Q didn't like these impromptu vanishments and always wanted to know exactly what was in Duo's mind at the moment. He snorted to himself; this time Q was on the spot, he probably didn't need to ask that question.

Oh shit. Heero. He could sense when Duo ported, now that he'd gotten attuned to it. He'd be back as soon as possible and in a fury. Much as Duo would have liked to smack the crap out of Zephyrus for being so cruel to Farquahar, he didn't want the fox demon disemboweled when he couldn't be there to watch.

He glanced around again, realizing that people were appearing on the street, some walking, some getting into cars. All of them dressed as if going off to work. All of them watching him curiously. And some children in school uniforms, not stopping, but staring at him all the same.

He wished whomever was coming for him would hurry up; he felt uncomfortably exposed and unprotected here. The rattle of a metal door from down the street caught his attention. He saw a small knot of people streaming into a newly-opened shop, and then the scent of fresh coffee wafted past him. Coffee. Coffee would help; caffeine could fix anything.

He had money; he reached for his bag, and realised that he'd left it sitting on the ground. With his cellphone. Well, crap. And he was wearing Banshee drag today; no pockets, which meant no money for coffee. Dammit. Maybe he could at least find out where he was...?

He approached the shop hesitantly and waited until the line of customers had been served and sent on their way. A couple of men seated themselves after a glance at a clock on the wall. Duo sidled up to the counter where a thirty-something woman smiled at him and bobbed a small bow.

"Ohayo gozaimasu," she said expectantly.

Duo smiled automatically as he frantically tried to identify the language. Not Spanish or French; he recognised those by the accent. Maybe Chinese? Wufei's Were-Dragon Chinese was nothing like the modern Human dialects, according to Heero... Oh. Duh. Maybe it was Japanese? The Wyvern language that Heero spoke was a strange mixture of several European tongues haphazardly mingled with Japanese and some other, even older, Asian languages. If it was Japanese, then he at least had a clue where he was.

"Um... Hello..." he began hesitantly. "Do you speak English?" She frowned; obviously not.

But she looked past him to the two men and called to them. One of the men got to his feet. "May I help?" he said slowly. "I have some English; very poor," he said apologetically.

Duo sagged against the counter in relief. "I'm... lost, I think," he said slowly. "Can you tell me where I am?"

The man looked him up and down curiously and said something to the woman. She replied in a doubtful tone and he gestured to Duo. Her face lit up then and she chattered back. The man returned to Duo.

"You visit the Dragon?" he asked carefully.

"Clan Torii; yes," Duo responded hopefully. If they knew Heero's Clan, then maybe it was close by.

"I call," said the man firmly and gestured for Duo to sit down.

"Thank you!" he sighed in relief and sank into the indicated chair. A moment later the man was speaking into a cell phone and the woman had set a cup of something very black in front of the Banshee. "I don't have any money," he began.

"Ryu," she said with a snort. "Wyberunu. Kohi."

He understood that plain enough; if he was attached in some way to the Wyvern Dragons he needed coffee. "Thank you!" he said again. The coffee was espresso, he discovered, and set his head to buzzing almost immediately.

Then a phone was pressed into his hand. He blinked and said "Hello?" not expecting to understand.

"Duo!" came the cry from the tiny speaker. "What are you doing here?!"

"Faiesa?" It certainly sounded like the Clan's stern security coordinator.

"Of course," she snorted. "Tanaka-san says you are in a coffee shop in Kin-cho."

"Got me," he babbled. "I have no clue at all where I am! I just want to get home or let Heero know where I am; he's probably freaking out."

"How did you get there?"

"I... um... Do you know about my... um... accidental porting?"

"I've heard about it, but it brought you all this way?"


She snickered. "All right; stay put and I will send someone. Giniro is holding morning court."

"Great!" he cried in relief. "Thanks and I'm really sorry to cause a problem."

"Pish," she said. "You are not a problem; you are family." The line went dead then and he closed the phone, handing it back to the man.

"Thank you so much. I got... lost," he admitted in embarrassment.

The man bowed. "It is... not a problem," he smiled. He opened the collar of his raincoat to show the police officer's badge. "We are here to help." He pointed to the espresso. "The coffee is... on me...?" he offered.

Duo grinned. "Thank you very much." He gestured to his clothing ruefully. "No pockets. No money with me."

The man snickered. "Ah so. Sayonara."

Duo bounced to his feet to bow deeply. "Sayonara!"


He had to wait only a few minutes. Other people came into the shop, glancing curiously at him as they ordered, and much excited whispering went on over the counter with the proprietress. He thought at one point that he heard the name "Heero Yuy" mentioned, but it went by so fast he wasn't sure.

Then a group of children in the street began jumping up and down and squealing and pointing. A moment later a Wyvern landed in one of those close-quarters drop-like-a-rock-and-swap-ends maneuvers. The children chattered and bounced and managed to bow respectfully before scampering on down the street.

The shop patrons arranged themselves to best advantage and bowed as if choreographed, as the tall, mottled orange and gold Dragon stalked into the coffee shop. Duo didn't recognize the color pattern, but then he rather doubted that he would ever be able to tell all the Wyverns apart by pattern. The Wyvern halted before him and bowed deeply. Duo blinked and started to return the bow, but the creature hissed at him softly.

"No, no," it breathed for his ears only. "You do not bow to me, Lord Banshee; you are Chosen."

He didn't understand, but he certainly wasn't going to argue with a nine-foot tall Dragon.

"Okay," he breathed back.

The Dragon took his hand and drew him to his feet and under a protective wing, then turned to the proprietress of the shop. It said something in the local tongue and the woman bowed deeply. As they turned to leave, the Dragon waved a hand and, in a cascade of theatrical light, the interior of the shop was cleaned and renewed; the paint freshened, the ages-old wear of the wooden floors and walls vanished, the elderly plants replaced by lush new foliage, the furniture and fixtures returned to just-bought status; even the woman's apron was crisp and new again.

Then they were outside and the Dragon was scooping him up and launching into the air.

Duo clung tightly, not altogether trusting the strange Dragon, even though he knew he was being silly.

"Is it far to the Clanhold?" he asked after a couple of minutes.

"Only about ten minutes as the Wyvern flies," the Dragon smirked. "You managed to get very close for a first try."

Duo shook his head in embarrassment. "I wasn't trying; it just... happened. My teleporting is wildly random. It mostly only works when I get really upset. And then I end up... wherever," he sighed.

"So I've heard." The Dragon glanced down at the Banshee. "I'm not sure if this counts in the pool. Doesn't matter to me; my date isn't for three months."

"Pool? Date?" What the hell...?

"The betting pool on when you would port yourself to the Clanhold."

Duo stared up at the chuckling Dragon. "You guys are betting on me?!"

"Yes. It's highly probable that, if it's decided that this is close enough, Rigel is going to be insufferable for the next month. Today was his day."

Duo's mouth dropped open.

"But I got to collect you, so I'm one up on that score. Ah, I forgot; we haven't been introduced. I am Algol; Rigel is my brother."

Duo blinked. "Oh. Um... nice to meet you. I can't get over you betting on me..." He shook his head. "Does Heero know about this?"

"Of course not; he'd hurt us. The IchiBan knows; we wouldn't be allowed to do it without her permission. Her date is later this month, though, so she may decide this didn't count."

Duo gaped at him. "Geez..." he murmured finally. "I'm a pool..."

"We are ever on the look-out for amusements," Algol snickered.

"Obviously... Um... What was that magic in the coffee house? The sparkles..."

"When one of the native Humans does us a favor we repay them in some way. Faiesa said I should make it good." He flicked his tongue in a smirky way. "I think Faiesa is familiar with the proprietress' mother. They make a great espresso."

"You buy coffee there?"

"In my other form; yes. We don't make a habit of wandering amongst the Humans in this form. It's better for all concerned if they maintain a bit of awe. We visit Su Ryu often; it's the home village, but Kin-cho is the big city." He chuckled briefly.

They were flying beneath the cloud cover, skimming just above the treetops; they swooped up and over a small hill and the Clanhold opened out below them. Duo couldn't help a small gasp and came close to tears; the sensation of home-coming was so strong. Several other Wyverns circled close, calling out questions or greetings to Algol. Duo didn't understand the replies, but the toothy grins were clear enough.


They landed near the pond, in front of the elaborate chair that was the IchiBan's 'throne'. Giniro was waiting; her arms open to gather Duo in as if he were a long-lost child. Unexpectedly, his throat closed and he wrapped himself in her embrace with a barely-held "mama" trying to escape. This, he thought, is what it would have been like... if only...

"Little Banshee!" she laughed, squeezing him tightly. "If we had known you were coming, I would have arranged entertainment."

Duo swallowed and blinked himself back to reality and pulled back enough to grin at her. "If I had known I was coming," he smiled; "I'd have brought the entertainment with me! I need to call Heero; he's probably tap-dancing on a demon even as we speak."

"I'm sure the demon deserves it," she snorted. "But I will call. I would like to talk to you, though, before Heero claims you again."

Duo blinked. "Oh, sure! I just want to keep him from razing the whole Castle."

"Let's go inside; I think Toshi should have tea laid by now." One arm rested around his waist; her other hand produced a cellphone. Duo could hear the sharp greeting from the other end.

"Heero, stop snarling, dear; I have your Banshee. He is fine. No, give me a little time with him; he will call you when you may retrieve him. Of course."

She handed the phone to Duo and left him alone with his anxious Wyvern.


"Angel...? What happened?" He sounded much calmer than Duo expected.

Duo sighed. "I got pissed at Zephyrus. And I ended up... well, here. I'm sorry, Heero; I didn't mean to scare you."

"You didn't. I mean, not directly... We couldn't track you..."


"The porters couldn't find any trace of where you'd gone."

"Oh. Crap. Explains why no one came looking for me..." he muttered.

"You left your bag..."

"With my cellphone; yeah. Um... You didn't... you know... hurt Zephyrus... did you?"

"He was gone by time I got back. Q threatened him with me..."

"Oh. Farquahar?"

A deep sigh. "Still here."

"Okay. Zeph was being just... just hateful to him... That's what set me off, I think."

"That's what Q said..."

Duo sighed again. "I guess the IchiBan wants to talk to me..."

"So she said."

"Is that... um... You're okay with that?"

Curiosity. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"I... um... disappeared."

"But I know where you are now, and I know you are safe."

Duo snorted softly. "You are hopeless."

"No; I am in love. Call me when you're ready to come home."

"I will." He closed the phone and stared at it for a moment. What an odd sensation... 'Come home...' To Heero. Something fluttered in his chest; it almost tickled. He had the strangest desire to giggle.

A Dragon loves me....


Wufei ended the phone call with a sharp stab at the button and sighed. Nine port stations down, about twenty to go. Too bad none of these ingenious Mundane entrepreneurs had come up with a hands-free headset that would fit a Dragon in full phase. He huffed mildly and began to tap in the next number, using a claw as a stylus. The rest of the MIO were also making hurried phone or fire calls, looking for any sign of Duo and alerting the various stations to keep their eyes open. The ambient noise was rising - why were Wizards so damned noisy anyway - so he covered his free earhole so he could hear the voice on the other end. It took less than two minutes for Addis Ababa to inform him that no one had reported a strange creature within their bounds, but they would look around, and may Allah protect. With eyes rolling in place of a sigh, Wufei thanked Addis Ababa and moved on to the next country on his list, Kuwait. How come he got all the Middle East countries this time? He had enough trouble with the accents of the English speakers he dealt with every day; the Middle Eastern voices, speaking rapid, heavily-accented English forced him to listen so hard he was already getting a headache.

Again, Kuwait gave the same answer, the same closing; must be the Arabic version of "have a nice day". He dialed the UAE next. Something nudged his leg and he nudged back companionably. Trowa wasn't able to use the phone right now; he'd been placing fire calls.

UAE took a little longer; the Wizard he spoke with was not fluent in English so it took a bit of effort on both their parts. At one point he reached down and patted Trowa's head. The Were-Puma was still beating himself up over failing to catch Duo; damn cat could be so hard on himself sometimes.

Hm. What had Trowa done to his fur? Why did it feel so... weird?

Wufei ended his call and glanced down, mouth opening to tell the Were-Puma that he really needed to change shampoo brands, and saw his paw resting easily on... Farquahar's head. The demon crouched in a rough ball next to Wufei, sighing happily as Wufei's talons scratched between his ragged ears.

For a few seconds, Wufei just stared as his paw moved automatically, front to back, on the top of the demon's head. What. The. Fuck.

His brain caught up with his eyes and he sprang straight up in the air with a shriek, somersaulted twice and landed on all fours hissing like a furious cat, his talons digging furrows in the grass and his tail whipping with rage. Every spine and frill on his body stood straight out. The air was filled with streams of colored smoke.

Farquahar made a squeaky sound (like a rat, dammit!) and scuttled away to hide behind Q. "Sorry, sorry, sorry!" he babbled. "I'm sorry, Lord Dragon! Don't hurt me!"

Heero had been speaking into his phone; he glared as Wufei shrieked and immediately realized what had happened. The damn demon had been shuffling around apologising to everyone in sight ever since Heero arrived and the search began. Apparently he'd gotten a response from Chang. In spite of himself, Heero snickered as Wufei landed looking like a scalded cat and everyone turned to see what the problem was. Count on the Were-Dragon for comedy relief. Trowa came bounding over to try to soothe Wufei, Q began to assure Farquahar that he'd done nothing wrong, and Heero's phone rang.

He growled into it impatiently and it replied, "Heero, stop snarling, dear; I have your Banshee."


Formalities out of the way, the IchiBan dismissed the young Wyvern who had provided the tea, and turned to her grandson's Chosen.

"I have heard about the incident with the demon. I understand that you were angry with Heero for sending you away from the scene." Duo ducked his head in embarrassment. "I have also heard that you were ready to Choose him in order not to be sent away, should something like this happen again."

Face flaming, Duo stared into his tea. "Tiffany said that I didn't have... the standing yet to watch his back, because I haven't Chosen him..." he said hesitantly. "But Heero wouldn't even let me say the word when I told him... He said he didn't want me Choosing until I was ready and sure I want him, not just because I'm scared."

She patted his hand. "He's right, little one. Choosing is not something done on a whim or out of fear."

Duo lifted one shoulder, face still crimson. "I don't think... it's not exactly a 'whim'... I do care for Heero; I just.... I don't know what happened that day. Everything happened so fast... The guy was a demon, and Zephyrus showed up breathing fire and Heero practically threw me at Tiffany and said there might be trouble and she wouldn't let me go back, and he didn't come home, and didn't come home.... I got scared and I got mad, and I thought if I Chose him, then he couldn't do that to me again! He couldn't treat me like a little kid! I know he's a damn Dragon! Everybody says he's practically invincible, but Zeph's a demon! What if he could do something and hurt Heero?! And when Heero did finally get home, he acted like it was no big deal! And that made me madder. I was going to say that I Chose him and he acted like... like I'd begun a spell! He wouldn't even let me say the word!" He stopped abruptly as he realized he was getting quite loud and Giniro was waggling her fingers to get his attention. She was also smirking. "Sorry," he muttered, finding an interest in the bottom of his teacup. "I guess I'm not as over it as I thought I was."

"You have very strong feelings, strong emotions, little one," she said approvingly. "I haven't seen anything to say that you are over-emotional or hysterical, like most Humans and some Magical Creatures. I would be more concerned if you had simply shrugged and gone to bed when Heero sent you home."

Duo blushed again, faintly. "Good thing you weren't there to see me; I think I was pretty hysterical. I kind of threw a temper tantrum..." he admitted. "I just don't like... It's not that I dislike him being concerned, but I'm not... I can take care of myself!" he managed finally. "It was only that one time... I know it was a pretty damn big one time, but still..." He sighed and sipped at his tea. "IchiBan... If I were a Wyvern, would he be this... twitchy about me? Is it because I'm weaker than he is?"

A flicker of something, some shadow, crossed her face, but Duo missed it.

"I think," she said slowly, "that Heero would be just as protective if you were a Wyvern. Another male - Rigel or Algol or Kiba - might not be, but I believe Heero may be overly-conscious of the fact that you are not a Wyvern, as well as of his own mixed parentage." She poured more tea for each of them. "Nikko was very aware that Tori was not as physically powerful as she. Don't misunderstand me," she said quickly, when Duo frowned. "His magic was quite strong; he was not by any means weak or helpless. But still..." She sighed and examined her teacup rather closely. "Power didn't help; strength didn't help; magic didn't help. They still... died," she whispered.

Duo could have smacked himself. Way to go, asshole, he snarled internally. A fine guest you are!

"IchiBan... I'm sorry; I didn't mean to... to..."

"You didn't do anything wrong, Duo. I think about them often; it's hard not to, you know?" She smiled and Duo found an interest in his napkin, just for a change. "I think perhaps you are confused or unsure of this 'Choosing' business," she said briskly then, steering them away from those shoals. "Is that possible?"

He looked up, startled. He hadn't thought of that; at least, not so clearly. He didn't like being confused and this whole 'Choosing' thing was definitely confusing. Every time he tried to untangle how he felt about it, he just came up with clueless and stupid. Maybe that embarrassment was leading him away from an understanding instead of toward one? He didn't like to publicize his intellectual failings; perhaps that was a mistake.

"I think it must be," he admitted reluctantly. "I don't understand it. I thought it was like Human marriage, but Heero's so adamant that I be sure... And Humans get divorced all the time, so I kinda wondered..." He shrugged uncomfortably.

"If Choosing can also end in divorce?" He nodded minutely. "No, little Banshee; as far as I have seen, Chosen is forever. But it also doesn't mean the same as Human marriage. As I understand that concept, it involves promises of exclusivity and ownership of one another. Being Chosen is closer to... to being a unified whole." Giniro frowned slightly. "I am not explaining this properly. It is being best friends, partners, lovers, siblings, without the promises or declarations. I think."

Duo blinked. "Um..."

"I've never Chosen, you see," she said thoughtfully. "So what I know is second-hand."

Duo swallowed. "So... we're both sort of clueless?"

The IchiBan laughed. "I'm afraid we are! I've never thought about that before! Well! I will just have to recruit someone who isn't clueless to enlighten us."

"Recruit?" Oh crap. That meant someone else knowing he was an idiot. Great. Come on, ground; just open up and swallow me now...

She clapped her hands and Toshi appeared immediately. Giniro spoke to him in the Wyvern language and he bowed and then vanished as quickly as if he had teleported.

"We will bring in an expert," she grinned. "And we can be clueless together!"

"Okay..." he agreed hesitantly. Not like he could refuse; the female could eat him for lunch. And he already felt silly. What was one more layer? He had already figured out that he wasn't likely to die of embarrassment, regardless of how much he wished he could.

Not that he wanted to do that either. Dieing would mean leaving Heero and that... well, that wasn't in the cards for him. He just couldn't seem to get inside the idea that Heero would be willing to spend a lifetime with him. If Wyverns could be said to have royalty, then surely Heero was a crown prince... and only in the Human-written fairy tales did the prince do "happily ever after" with the commoner.

That led him to wonder if at any time, in any place, among any of the Banshee Clans, there had been royalty. Elves and Faeries often had such distinctions, though mostly ceremonial in these more egalitarian times, but Duo had never heard of such among his Clan. He made a mental note to talk to Teal about this. Maybe it was part of his problem, this "Cinderella" notion.


"IchiBan, you requested my assistance?"

Duo jumped; he hadn't heard the Wyvern enter. To his surprise - and yes, embarrassment - it was Algol, bowing respectfully to Giniro.

"Indeed, I have. You've Chosen, have you not?"

"Yes, IchiBan; about seven years ago I Chose Nageya and she was kind enough to Choose me in return."

"Excellent!" cried Giniro. "Sit, please. Duo and I have questions. Heero has Chosen him, as you know..." Algol nodded. "But Duo does not understand what Choosing entails. I tried to explain the process to him and discovered that I don't understand it either!"

Algol blinked at her. "But..."

"I have never Chosen, Algol, so I am not a good example. And Heero has not been very clear about the process." She paused thoughtfully. "That is very unusual for Heero; he is generally very detailed."

"I remember when I Chose Nageya," said Algol. "I won't say I was irrational, but logic was not at the forefront of my mind while I waited for her decision. Maybe Heero is being a little... illogical?" He gave Giniro and Duo an apologetic look and a shrug.

Duo stared at the elegant Wyvern. Heero? Irrational? Impossible! And yet....

"Interesting..." murmured Giniro. "Perhaps the dreaded hormones are somehow involved." Both males blinked at her. "In any case, I am interested in what it means to those involved in the matter. Please explain what 'Choosing' is, Algol."

Algol blinked again. Twice. "Well.... It's a sort of bonding... but not like the formal marriages of Humans and some other creatures. It involves love and companionship... and oneness... and... and respect... Um... trust." He ran down, looking rather nonplussed. "It's... just knowing that you can't bear to be without another person...?" He sounded uncertain of that. "It's a bond... but it's not... binding? It doesn't limit or control..." Duo began to feel rather sorry for the Wyvern; the poor guy didn't seem to have any better idea of what Choosing was than Giniro.

"Maybe," he began hesitantly, "if we ask questions? Maybe it would be easier to nail it down that way?" He couldn't remember if Wyverns got cranky over not knowing things or if they simply found the information and went on.

Algol looked relieved, though. "That may work better." He looked at the IchiBan apologetically. "I've never tried to explain the... the emotions involved before. I just one day decided that Nageya was the person I wanted in my life and Chose her. We'd been together for a few years already."

"Ah!" cried Giniro. "So, you already had a history together when you made the decision. That sounds logical.... You were compatible or in love?"

Algol hesitated briefly. "Both, I suppose. She hadn't had occasion to want to kill me and we disliked being apart, so perhaps that was it."

Duo raised his hand slightly to attract the Wyverns' notice. "Heero and I have only known each other a little over a year; could he be so sure in only a few months?"

"I don't see why not," said Algol thoughtfully. "Temsa and Bean Chose each other only a week after they met." He glanced at Giniro. "Didn't Kohaku and Kiba Choose fairly quickly, as well?"

"I believe they did..." she said slowly. "Yes. They met in the early spring and Chose each other by summer's end." She snickered softly. "I remember Heero was rather annoyed that they waited that long; she wanted to be sure of his agreement, and he said she was being silly, since she was the one who had to live with Kiba."

Duo blinked. "Kohaku had to have Heero's permission to Choose?"

"No, that's the point. She didn't need anyone's permission, but she insisted that Heero and Kiba get to know each other because of the children. Heero adores his children," she smiled. Seeing the incipient question forming on the Banshee's lips, she continued. "In a Wyvern way, of course. But that was never a problem; Kiba is a natural with kids. His Clan jokes that Kohaku bore two children and Chose a third."

"Oh. Oh..." He nodded to himself a bit.

"Perhaps I should call Kohaku; maybe she can offer some opinions."

"IchiBan, maybe Yasu and Kohelo can also offer more help. Kohelo Chose Yasu ages ago, but Yasu has never Chosen him, yet they're still together and show no sign of ever splitting up," suggested Algol. "Maybe their point of view would be helpful to Duo?"

Before Duo could protest that he really didn't need this much attention, Toshi had again been summoned and sent on his quest.

"IchiBan, I'm beginning to feel like a real idiot here," he tried anyway. "You've both been very helpful, but I really think I need to figure-"

"Nonsense, Duo! This is a very important subject; I am surprised that we've never discussed this amongst ourselves before." She cocked a single eyebrow at him, reminding him strongly of his own Wyvern. "We like to know about things; who, what, where, why, when and how. Especially why. I've only just realized we don't know the 'why' of this. That might be all right for me, never having been in the situation, but for someone who has been there and done that not to know... Well, that is simply unacceptable! We are Dragons! We must Know!"

Duo blinked. Swallowed. Blinked again. Glanced at Algol for help. The male Wyvern frowned thoughtfully to himself, giving the impression that there would be no help from that quarter.

Great. He might as well hang a sign around his neck; "Worm Cans Opened Here."

"Algol, have you anything in progress right now?" Giniro asked briskly.

"Just finished a project," he replied promptly. "Nothing else on my schedule at all."

"Good. I want a survey of every adult in the Clan on the subject of Choosing. I want to know have they ever done it, thought of it, rejected it; been successful, been unsuccessful, said yes, said no; you know what I want."

"Yes, IchiBan. Shall I contact the other Clans, as well?"

"Yes. I want to Know if it is just this Clan or if it a general Wyvern thing. Start today," she commanded imperiously. "You may draw assistance as needed."

Duo gaped unattractively. Holy shit! Giniro was opening a whole project, just because of his confusion over Choosing?! Well, she seemed to be less than knowledgeable herself, but still....

A light tap on the door frame made him look up. Toshi stood, waiting respectfully, with two adult male Wyverns.

"Ah!" cried Giniro, waving them in. "Yasu, Kohelo; thank you for coming so promptly!"

"With pleasure, IchiBan," said one. "Toshi has not failed to please, has he?" he asked.

"Not at all, Yasu! Toshi is a very bright child; very quick and clever. No, this concerns the concept and execution of Choosing." The two Wyverns glanced at each other, and then back at their IchiBan somewhat warily. "Duo is Heero's Chosen, but he's somewhat confused by the whole concept; Banshees do not have that custom. I thought to explain, but soon realized that I have no real understanding of it myself. And Algol attempted to describe the matter, and was quickly overwhelmed, as well. I have decided that we need research on this matter, which Algol will be undertaking immediately. In the meantime, I would like you to give Duo an idea of what Choosing meant to you, and how is it that Kohelo Chose, but Yasu did not." She fixed them with a laser-like stare. "Please."

Yasu and Kohelo looked at each other. Kohelo frowned. "You want to know why, IchiBan?" he said slowly.


"Um... We are compatible... I love him... He cooks... I would rather be with him than anyone else..." He shrugged apologetically. "I'm not sure there is a single 'why'." He smirked at his Chosen. "He's Yasu and I wanted him."

Yasu looked a bit more uncomfortable. He obviously didn't enjoy being put on the spot about his lack of Choosing. "I just never felt like I could say the words and mean them.... I love him, passionately, and I can't imagine anyone else in his place.... I just.... I don't know why... the words never came." Kohelo nudged his shoulder against Yasu with a smile. Yasu returned the smile and rolled his eyes.

Giniro regarded them thoughtfully; Duo sat very still, hoping no one would notice the Banshee who had started this whole thing.

"Again, we have not answered the 'why'," she muttered with a frown. Her phone chirped and she flipped it open automatically. "Hai. Ah, Kohaku! Excellent! I have questions regarding the Choosing..."

Duo swallowed and shrank down in his place. Oh, shit! She was calling the whole family! Holy mortification! Intellectually, he knew he wouldn't expire from humiliation, but damned if it didn't seem like a very good idea right now. He really needed to be... somewhere else. He looked around furtively; everyone was following Giniro's conversation.

Bathroom! He could hide in the bathroom. And he had all that tea and the espresso as an excuse, if he needed one... He eased out of his place and slipped out of the room unnoticed and into the hallway. Toshi was seated at a tall desk a few meters away, apparently doing homework. He had a scroll laid out and was writing swiftly with a brush pen. He looked up as soon as Duo took a step toward him, and scrambled down from the stool.

"Banshee-san," he said with a respectful bow. "How may I assist?" His English was very good.

"I was looking for the... bathroom?" There was another word or term, but he couldn't remember at the moment.

"This way, Banshee-san." He led the way down the hall and through another room, pausing at a familiar door. "HeeroYuy's rooms. All ready, Banshee-san."

"Thank you, Toshi. Um... Is there a telephone I could use? I don't want to interrupt the IchiBan..."

"Hai. On the desk, Banshee-san." He gestured to Heero's room, then bowed deeply and faded back the way they'd come.

"Thank you!" Duo called after him, and pushed open the sliding door panel.

Heero's bedroom; just as he remembered it. Yay. He made use of the attached facilities and then flopped onto a pillow beside the low desk and picked up the phone. Heero's phone rang twice before it was answered.


"Heero, it's me."

"Angel..." His voice warmed and softened and Duo heard him moving. "Are you ready?"

Duo heaved a great sigh. "Heero, I love your grandmother and your Clan, but I am so ready to get out of here!"

"What's wrong?" Sharper; protection mode.

"We were talking about Choosing..."

A growl. "I told her not to bring that up."

"No, it's okay; it wasn't that, so much... Somehow, we got onto me not quite understanding the concept... Heero, she tried to explain Choosing to me and she couldn't, because she said she'd never Chosen. So she called Algol and asked him to explain. He couldn't. Then she summoned a pair of Wyverns, and they couldn't give her an answer either! And just now, Kohaku called! Heero, she's turning it into a multi-Clan mission!" He took a deep breath to calm himself, looking up at the formal kimono displayed on the wall above the desk. It was a beautiful thing, all deep emerald brocade with golden embroidery; he wondered if it had belonged to Heero's mother or to his father. "There're at least four Wyverns in the parlor right now, and I think she's summoning more. Heero, this is getting a little scary; can you come get me?"

Heero growled an annoyed sigh. "I will come as soon as I can. Q called a brief meeting, but we're almost finished. Fifteen minutes."

"Great," Duo breathed in relief. "I love them, but one intense Wyvern at a time is all I can handle!"

A rumbling chuckle. "We are rather daunting, I'm afraid. Where will I find you?"

He could stay hidden in the bedroom, but he could feel the intensity of the Wyverns on a mission through the very walls. "The koi pond; I think I need the calm."

"I will find you there, angel. I love you."

"Heero..." But the line was dead before he could decide how to reply. He sighed and put the phone down, then slipped out the outside door and into the garden.

The koi drifted lazily up to gaze at him when he sat down on the flat rock in the center of the pond.

A question followed that collective gaze. "They're a little... intense," he replied with a sigh. A burble of amusement surfaced, followed by agreement. "Do you mind if I wait here for Heero? I don't have any food..." A feeling of welcome blended with satiation brushed against him. "Oh, you've already eaten? Thanks. I love the Clan, but sometimes they almost scare me," he sighed again. Another question. "Oh, the IchiBan realized that she doesn't understand Choosing, and apparently neither does anyone else, so she's on a hunt for information." A breath of thought that seemed to say "Ah." Most of the beautifully-colored carp dispersed then, leaving a large jet koi. He bubbled the water for a moment, and Duo smiled. "Thanks. He should be here soon."

After a moment, he stretched out on his side, dabbling his fingers in the water. A few of the fish drifted back to mouth his fingers playfully. No particular words or concepts came from them; they were just playing. This was nice, he decided, and wondered if there was any place like this at the Castle. The gardens there were beautiful and serene, but one always had the feeling that Master Khushrenada was lurking somewhere, just out of sight, to make sure they stayed that way. That Wizard was just crazy about his gardens.

Winters at the Castle were pretty cold; maybe too cold for koi... Unless a pond could be heated in the cold weather. Or did koi like cold water? They were carp, after all. Maybe he would look that up when he got home.

A soft throat-clearing brought him out of his musings. Toshi waited patiently on the next rock. When he saw that he had HeeroYuy's (that was how he tended to think of the IchiBan's grandson; as one awe-inspiring word) Banshee's attention, he bowed and offered the large umbrella.

"Banshee-san, it is about to rain; this will cover the rock so that you will stay dry."

Duo grinned and accepted the offering. "Thanks! I guess I wasn't paying attention to the clouds. Um... Toshi, you don't have to use 'Banshee-san' to me; my name is Duo." The young Wyvern blinked and blushed.

"You are HeeroYuy's Chosen and a guest of the IchiBan; respect is required, Banshee-san."

Duo pushed the button and popped the umbrella open. "Well, I guess if it's required, I'll have to put up with it," he sighed. "But I don't really like it much. I'm not a very formal Creature." He smiled at the Wyvern, who returned a tentative smile.

"House duty requires respect to all guests and visitors, Banshee-san."

"So... when you're finished with house duty, you won't have to call me 'Banshee-san'?"

Toshi hesitated. "Um... I suppose not," he answered slowly. He'd never thought about that before. Respect given was part of the duty; no one ever mentioned whether it carried on after. Well, beyond the respect shown by any well-mannered Wyvern, of course. Perhaps he should ask.

"Good," nodded the Banshee firmly. "Because it really makes me nervous when people are always giving me titles I don't deserve. 'Chosen' I guess is mine, since Heero gave it to me, but really I just prefer to be 'Duo'. It's my name, and I kind of like it."

A few drops of rain splattered on the umbrella. Toshi bowed with a more adolescent grin. "As you have ordered, Duo Banshee-san." He fled back to the house before Duo could reply.

The Banshee looked down at the koi who seemed to be smirking at him. "You know, Wyverns really are smart-asses," he laughed.

Feeling much more relaxed, he closed his eyes and listened to the rain 'tink' down on the umbrella and the water of the pond. As scary as a roomful of Wyverns on a mission were, it now made him smile knowing that they were missioning over him. He couldn't ever remember a time when anyone in his own Clan - outside of Shar, Caz and Teal - did something especially for him. Maybe the Wyverns would do this anyway, just to Know, as Giniro said, but they probably wouldn't have even thought of it, if not for his confusion. So, it really was all his fault, and even though he found it embarrassing to be in the center of it, viewing the activity from the sidelines was just... well... heartwarming. And wasn't he just being an idiot for being so back-and-forth about the whole thing. Just accept that they have a new mission and that you caused it, whispered his little voice. They love you, and this is how they show it.

Yeah. Dragons loved him... This time he giggled out loud.


He started and almost dropped the umbrella. "Heero!"

His own personal Dragon stood on the next rock, also holding an umbrella, and grinning at him.

"Shall we go before Sobo notices us?" he asked lightly, holding out his hand.

"No; I'm better now. There's something about hanging out with the koi that puts things in perspective." He grasped the offered hand and joined Heero on his rock, swinging his umbrella down and closed. Heero gathered him close in a one-armed hug and kissed him soundly. "Mmmm.... I'm sorry I scared everyone," Duo said softly.

"Hn. As Q has pointed out to us, you have never gone anywhere dangerous, only to places that seem safe or at least out of the conflict zone, so I'm not sure 'scared' is the correct term. We were worried when the port Wizards couldn't track you." Heero did something magical and the umbrella levitated out of his hand to hover over them. He wrapped both arms around his Banshee. "We didn't realize at first that you didn't have your phone with you."

Duo rested against him, head on his shoulder, Heero's shaggy hair tickling his face. "From now on, I'm carrying the phone in my otherspace. And some money, too. What the fuck is wrong with Banshees that our clothing doesn't have any pockets?!" he snickered.

Heero nuzzled his ear. "You know, Moira said the same thing... Shall we go home, angel?"


"Not yet!" They both jumped. The IchiBan regarded them from under her own invisible canopy. "This has been a very stressful week for Duo; he needs a vacation. So do you, Heero; jousting with a youkai is never relaxing. And certainly Kitsune Zephyrus has never had a reasonable bone in any of his bodies. I've arranged a weekend for you."

Heero blinked. "Sobo, we can't just run off whenever -"

"Don't be obstructive, darling; I spoke with Q after Duo arrived. He thinks it's a wonderful idea and says he doesn't want to see either of you before Monday."

"Sobo! We have jobs -"

"And very important they are, dear, but you cannot be at your best when you are stressed and anxious." She patted Heero's shoulder, smirking. "Your porter is waiting; she has plenty of experience." She leaned in and kissed Duo's cheek, winking at his consternation. "You will have a lovely time." She hauled them both back to the grass. Duo looked back at the koi in the pond; they were snickering.

"Heero, the fish are giggling at us..."


"Chichiro will take you now; you'll be just in time for lunch." A youngish Asian Witch bowed to them and reached for Heero's arm. "You will have a wonderful time, Heero. Give my regards to Ilioku." She waggled her fingers, grinning at them, and then they vanished.

Duo blinked. They were standing on the steps of a... resort, it looked like. A building that seemed to grow right out of a lush tropical forest. The porter stepped away from them, bowed and then vanished, leaving them standing in the forecourt.

Heero swore. At least, Duo assumed he was swearing.

"Ah! Heero! Sorry; I didn't expect you so quickly. Giniro was somewhat vague about the timing." A lean, copper-haired male strode across the stone terrace to envelope the Wyvern in a brisk hug. "By Pele you're looking wonderful! How is that child of mine doing? No trouble with him, I hope?"

"Of course not, Ilioku," Heero began peevishly, "But we can't stop here -"

"Of course you can! IchiBan has arranged everything! Three nights in the best cottage, right on the beach. I've already assigned the staff; everything you want or need is only a word away." He left off hugging Heero, who was turning an alarming shade of red, and snatched up Duo's hand, bowing low. "Duo of Blue Forest; it is an honor to meet you at last! May I say that the descriptions I have had of you do not do you justice! Heero, you are a very lucky Wyvern!" He slipped his arm through Duo's and grabbed Heero, pulling them toward a path that led around the front of the building. "Come along now; I'm sure you'll want to freshen up before lunch. Would you prefer the dining room or room service? There is a menu in the cottage, of course, but if there is anything you want that isn't on the menu, just ask."

Heero was still speechless with apoplectic fury and Duo had yet to catch up with everything when they came out of the foliage only a hundred meters from a black sand beach and the sparkling green ocean, a not-at-all small cottage their obvious destination.

The voluble male, Ilioku, was still talking. Heero looked near to self-destructing. Duo untangled his tongue to say, "Um, excuse me... Where are we?"

"Hawaii!" Ilioku laughed. "Didn't Giniro tell you?"

"No... Actually, she just kind of hustled us off... Heero, are you okay?" The Wyvern seemed to be counting to ten, or maybe a thousand, in an effort to disarm his temper.

"I... I will be fine," he ground out, glaring at the cottage.

"Of course you will be!" cried Ilioku. "Giniro said you needed a little time off; I heard about the youkai incident." He turned suddenly to Duo, causing the Banshee to take a step back. "Ah, my manners! Thank you, Duo, for being there. Inazuma told me about what you did; amazing work."

"I... huh?"

Heero growled and removed Ilioku's hands from his arm and his Banshee's. "Duo, this is Ilioku; Ilioku is Inazuma's father. This resort is on the large island of Hawaii; it is one of the businesses of Inazuma's Clan."

Ilioku beamed at them both. "We are currently number one on the list of magical resorts," he proclaimed proudly. "We cater to Wizards and Magical Creatures of all sorts."

Duo glanced back the way they'd come, taking in the sprawling buildings, the tiki-decorated walkways and impossibly-green tropical forest. "Wow..." He hooked one arm around his Wyvern's waist and fluttered his lashes coyly. "Heero... if the IchiBan and Q insist... who are we to argue?" he grinned.

Heero heaved a resigned sigh, then smirked with a roll of his eyes. "All right, all right. Any one of you I could argue with, but all of you at once? Not bloody likely." He waved a hand at Ilioku. "Lead on, innkeeper."



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