Gundam Fantasy

Book Two

With dawn less than an hour away, a town, somewhere on the borderlands of the Sanq Kingdom awoke to the roar of huge beasts that descended on them like a plague of locusts destroying everything that lay in their path. Villagers run in a blind panic trying to escape the creatures' horrible and unprovoked wrath.

Livestock carnage litters the village. Women and children are laid to waste with just the swing of an arm. The creatures continue their attack even as the young men of the village fight back, but they are no match for the monstrous creatures.

               A lone Demon Doll rises up on the horizon and joins the others in their gruesome dance of death. In a final gesture, the unreasoning creature douses the village in flames, watching as everyone and everything went up in a ball of flames.

* * *

The following day was beautiful for the ride toward the Palace of the Sanq Kingdom. The road was filled with fellow travelers and merchants making their way between the various towns.

"It's been years since I last visited the Empress's Palace." Quatre said, as the two men rode.


"Yes, it was for the Empress' tenth birthday. All the Kingdoms were there to pay their respects. If I remember correctly, all five Master Mages were invited. Did you attend the Empress' party as well?"

Trowa looked away from his riding companion. "No. While I've spent the majority of my life with my master, Mage S, my training with him was hard. I was an exceptionally trying student, I think. So we did not often go anywhere public. There were times when he threatened to throw me back out onto the street."

"Really?" Quatre looked surprised, "Why?" Quatre was happy to hear anything of Trowa's past and tried not to let his curiosity come across too strong as he listened.

"Things did not go well between Mage S and myself in the beginning. I was a difficult student at best. In fact so difficult on one occasion, he finally became so angry with me, that he just told me to leave."

"And did you?"

"Yes, but after a day or so, Mage S came looking for me." Trowa remembered. "It was in the winter time. He found me curled up, shivering at the base of a large tree, deep in the woods. I didn't have much in the way of protection from the cold, except for the animals I was able to communicate with. Mage S seemed quite concerned about me, so much so that he braved the harsh weather and the animals to fetch me back." Trowa turned to look at Quatre. "He even apologized to me, and said he would try to be more patient and understanding in the future."

"And did he keep his word?" Quatre secretly hoped.

"Yes. He refused to give up on me, even when I gave up on myself so many times."

* * *

Arriving at an Inn, Quatre and Trowa rested for the night, taking dinner in their room as they recovered from their day's journey.

"I wonder how they're all doing?" Quatre mused aloud.

"Hmm? Who?" Trowa asked looking up from his meal.

"My sisters. Whenever I travel long distances, they always worry."

"It must be nice having someone to care about you like that."

"Yes, it is." Quatre smiled at Trowa then noticed the stern look in his companion's face, the far off look in his green eyes. "Is there something wrong?"

"I envy you Quatre." He said solemnly. "You have memories of family that you'll always carry with you." Quatre started to say something, but decided against it and let Trowa continue. "When I said, I had no family - I meant it.

"I was abandoned when I was quite young. My family just left me alone in the woods one day, tied to a tree. I guess they just couldn't take care of me or just didn't want me anymore. I vaguely remember my mother crying and saying something to me… Even now I can't recall those words." Trowa shook his head. "All the memories I do have, I wish they would just vanish.

"Growing up I learned to hate people like you Quatre - the privileged society. As I struggled to survive each day in the street, others ridiculed me because I had nothing. Not even a name to call myself. 'No Name' that's what I was called by the children… and the adults. Crying was all I had and when those tears stopped, I had nothing left of myself.

"A mercenary group took me in. They taught me that society was to be despised, used and thrown away when a better deal came around. Money was all that mattered. As young as I was, I learned fast to hate humanity even those in my company. I did what I had to, to survive. Much I am not proud of.

"When I was about six years old, the mercenary group that took me in, sold me as a slave to Mage S." Quatre tried to hide the shocked expression on his face, hearing the word slave. "I didn't care. I didn't cry since there was nothing in me left to cry for. As I was led away, I could hear the other men laughing and counting the coins they had been given. But Mage S had other plans for me. He made me his pupil and taught me his Magic. He saw something in me that I could not see.

"But there were problems with my training. My spells never fully worked. Even after thirteen years, no matter how hard I was pushed by him or how hard I tried, all my spells… froze."

Quatre spoke softly beneath his breathe looking down at his dinner plate. "Your heart is frozen. All the hardships you endured as a child have kept you from reaching your full potential as a Mage." Quatre met Trowa's gaze, "I am sorry this happened to you. No one deserves to suffer the way you have."

Trowa nodded his head ever so slightly, accepting the kind words from Quatre. "When my training was complete, Mage S offered to let me stay with him or even in the village if I wished. I turned both down. I opted to live in the forest where I could be free of humanity. The animals there were my friends. The last thing I got before I left Mage S was this armband and jewel. He told me to never lose it, and to protect it, because it was special." Trowa gently pulled at the tassel that hung beneath the jeweled armband. "It's not much to look at, but it was a gift none the less, rewarding me for the hard work I did for him. I think that perhaps he was the nicest person I've known… until I met you, of course."

"Thank you. It's lovely." Quatre smiled, his fingers interlaced beneath his chin. "Wizard H gave me this one," he indicated the center jewel he wore around his neck. "He said the same thing when my training was done as well."

Trowa nodded his head and continued speaking. "Animals are interesting, you know. They don't scheme or try to control you with mind games, like much of humanity does." Trowa then smiled at his dinner companion. "I guess that's why I feel at ease around you Quatre. You're open with your feelings. You don't treat others like objects to be used and discarded. You truly care for the people you meet."

Not knowing what to say to such a glowing compliment, Quatre shyly replied, "Thank you." Pushing away from the table, Quatre made for the only bed in the room. "I'll take this side of the bed if it's all right with you?"

"I thought I would be sleeping on the floor," protested Trowa.

"Either we share the bed or I sleep on the floor, " countered Quatre, his stance defying Trowa to argue with him.

"Very well, we will share the bed." Trowa then proceeded to ready himself for a night's sleep.

* * *

The next morning Quatre and Trowa continued on with their journey to the center of the Sanq Kingdom. But things were not to go as planned for the pair. As the sun neared its zenith, they stopped by a river to rest and cool their horses. After a brief lunch, as they were preparing to leave, another traveler approached them from the road.

The man was dressed in the comfortable dress of a field worker and a hoe rested across his shoulders. "Good day, Sirs." He said as he walked toward the two men and their mounts.

"Good day." Quatre replied. Trowa said nothing as he prepared to climb onto his horse. He looked closely at the man and thought he recognized him, but couldn't remember where he had seen him.

"I was wondering if you gentlemen could help me."

"How can we be of service?" Quatre asked amiably approaching the worker.

The expression on the man's face never changed as he brought the hoe off his shoulder and with a flick of his wrist swung it in an arc. Quatre stopped in his tracks as the hoe stopped a breathe away from his throat.

"You can start by handing over your money My Lord." The highwayman smiled. "You too." He motioned toward Trowa. "Come here and join your friend." Trowa growled beneath his breath as he stepped over to where Quatre was being threatened. "That's much better."

The man brought his fingers to his mouth and let out a short series of whistles. Within moments, seven more bandits appeared. Quatre looked nervously at Trowa, who reassured him with his eyes that everything would be all right.

An older looking man with rugged features stepped forward, signaling to four men to detain the two travelers. He motioned to two others to grab the horses. Trowa looked at the man closely and his eyes narrowed as he realized who he was.

Trowa felt rough hands search him for the money pouch he carried. He looked over at Quatre as he was searched as well. Quatre looked frightened. Finding what they were looking for, the two pouches were tossed to the leader of the bandits.

"My lords should know better than to travel unarmed through these woods." The bandit leader sneered.

"You've got what you wanted." Trowa said angrily glaring at the older man, "Leave us be." This only made the others in the bandit party laugh.

"When we are done," it was the man's tone, which worried Quatre. "Your horses look well bred. They belong to us now."

Quatre started to protest when he heard Trowa mutter beneath his breath. A second later the horses reared and broke free from the men who held their reins. Trowa then looked at Quatre and slightly nodding his head to let him know that the horses would be fine.

"Damn animals!" The leader yelled, "Bring them back." Several of the men took off running after the horses. The leader turned his attention back to his captives. "Now… for you two."

The leader stepped up to Quatre looking him over. He reached out and grabbed Quatre's face, forcibly turning his head from side to side. A burly looking fellow continued to restrain Quatre from behind. "This one will fetch a fine price at auction. His features are so delicate and those blue eyes will make him worth an easy 500 gold pieces." Quatre paled at the thought of being sold. The man then turned his attention to Trowa and saw the intensity in his captive's eyes, as he looked him over.

"This one… this one has a strong will I think." He pointed out. "We'll have to beat it out of him before he'll fetch a good price."

"You've tried that already." Trowa breathed, the words coming uninvited.

Caught off guard, the man looked closely at his captive. "No Name…?" The leader asked Trowa looking into his eyes, "Is that you?"

Trowa said nothing. He continued to glare at the bandit leader as he was addressed. His silence confirmed what the bandit leader suspected. Quatre looked over at his companion and saw the anger building behind his green eyes.

This must be the Mercenary Group he spoke of. Quatre thought.

"It is you No Name!" The man laughed, "Didn't think we'd ever see you again! Hey guys, its little No Name!"

"It looks like that old man treated you pretty well." Another man laughed.

"More than you ever did." Trowa's voice was low, angry and bitter. "All I was to you was something to be passed around on cold nights."

"I guess those rumors we heard about him were true after all. You've kept your pretty looks I see." The leader said, leering as he grabbed at Trowa's armlet, ripping the jewel from his arm.

"You sold me like I was some mongrel dog off the street!" Trowa growled, straining against the two men who held his arms painfully behind his back. "You had no right!"

"Right?" The older man laughed hard. "Who took you in off the street and taught you how to survive? You owe me your entire existence No Name!" Grabbing the front of Trowa's tunic, the man pulled him close even as the two men restrained him. "Besides, I didn't hear you complaining when the old man led you away." The leader continued to chuckle, shoving the younger man back sharply.

The leader of the group turned his attention back to Quatre and grabbed the necklace he was wearing. "This should bring a pretty price as well once it's broken down."

"No! Please don't!" Quatre pleaded. "It was a gift from…"

The man struck Quatre hard across the face with a vicious backhand snapping his head sharply to one side, knocking the young man to the ground. "Quiet you!" The burley man caught him by the neck and held Quatre upright, sagging heavily in the man's grip. A large, ugly red mark started to spread across Quatre's pale cheek.

Trowa's eyes widened as something inside him snapped. From within him, raw anger grew like a burning coal eating away at his conscience. "Leave him alone!" Trowa snarled, breaking one arm free. He brought his hand around quickly.  It glowed, an unnatural blue. A split second later the two men detaining him were thrown back covered by a sheet of ice. "Don't touch him!"

Trowa reached over with blinding speed and pulled a knife from the belt of the burly man who held Quatre and slashed it across the man's throat. He turned and faced the rest of the bandits putting himself protectively between them and Quatre.

The laughter had finally stopped. The remaining mercenary's backed away from this unexpected threat and the fallen Quatre. The leader of the group continued to smile as he stepped away as well.

"It looks like the old man taught you a bit of Magic as well." He scoffed.

"And I remember that you taught me how to kill." Trowa said stoically, holding the knife expertly in his hand. Stepping toward the leader, Trowa focused all his attention on the older man.

Behind Trowa, Quatre's eyes fluttered open and he clutched his chest, doubling over in pain. Realizing what was weighing him down Quatre pushed away from the man's body in horror, its lifeless hands still clutching at his robes. Blood droplets freckled, the young man's face.

"Trowa... s-stop... why are you doing this?" Quatre whimpered softly, as the man's hands fell away from him, but Trowa didn't hear him for he was focused entirely on the man in front of him. It was as if Trowa had become a completely different person.

With no thought to the consequences, Trowa muttered an incantation. Still holding the knife in his right hand, he brought his hands to the level of his chest and kept them just inches apart. The leader of the Mercenary Group drew his sword on Trowa and charged him. In the blink of an eye, as the leader swung his blade, Trowa threw his hands out before him and launched his attack. Ice daggers materialized out of empty space, embedding deep within the leader's chest as he swung his weapon forward.

The leader looked down at his chest in disbelief. Sticking out of his chest where a half dozen projectiles. He looked back up at Trowa, whose expression remained hard and cold. Trowa stared at the leader and watched as the older man's face lost all color and he collapsed to the ground dead.

Trowa stood breathing hard, his left forearm resting lightly against his left side satisfied that justice had finally been dealt. He looked at the remaining bandits who took off running.

Hearing Quatre cry out, Trowa turned expecting to see him in the clutches of a mercenary, but was shocked to see him alone and in immense pain. Dropping the knife he held, Trowa covered the space between them in a single leap, coming to rest right in front of Quatre. As Trowa knelt down and placed his hands on the smaller man's shoulders, Quatre involuntarily flinched away.

Trowa sucked in his breath trying not to feel hurt, but Quatre's response was too painful. Trowa crouched down trying to peer through Quatre's platinum bangs.

Quatre's eyes were squeezed shut in a desperate attempt to black out the images that had burned themselves into the smaller man's brain. Tears coursed down his cheeks and nothing could make them stop. He almost fell backward as he jerked away from Trowa's touch, when the taller man attempted to touch him again. "Please…. don't touch me…"

"What's wrong Quatre?" Trowa asked anxiously. "Were you hurt...what can I do to help?"

" could you Trowa?" wept Quatre. " killed those men...all that blood...and it didn't even affect you." He cried out, still sobbing.

"They were bad men Quatre, and they hurt you." Trowa tried to explain, trying to understand why Quatre was so upset. "They would have killed me for sure once they knew who I was and you would have been sold on the slave market. I couldn't let that happen to you." Trowa tried to get Quatre to look up at him once more and once again was refused.

"I understand that we were in danger, Trowa, but I don't understand why you had to kill them. I felt that man die... It was horrible. His soul was ripped from him and there was nothing I could have done that would bring him back." Quatre continued to weep. Finally his chest began to loosen and his shoulders relaxed as the sobs that wracked his body slowly ebbed and died away.

Trowa grabbed Quatre in an unbreakable hug as he saw the blond man's eyes begin to flutter open. "I'm so sorry Quatre, please forgive me." He whispered in anguish. "Please don't look. I don't want to hurt you anymore than I already have. Let me clean up my mistakes, before you look again."

Quatre let himself be comforted by the taller man. How was Trowa to know the extent of his empathic abilities? Trowa felt Quatre's body relax somewhat against him. "I'm sorry... I am so sorry..." Bringing up a hand, Trowa lightly caressed the younger man's hair and before he knew what he was doing, Trowa lightly kissed Quatre's forehead. "I promise I will never let you be hurt like this again."

Quatre held still in his companion's arms. His breath caught as he felt the taller man's lips brush against his forehead. His heart yearned to cry out to Trowa's, but the memory of the horrible cold look he had seen in the other man's eyes earlier frightened him. He could still feel the pain even though the two bodies were already growing cold.

Trowa felt Quatre's forgiveness, but he could tell that something was wrong. Quatre had pulled a part of himself away from Trowa. There was an invisible barrier of depression and gloom hanging between the two men that Trowa was keenly aware of. Helping the smaller man to stand, Trowa made sure that Quatre could not see any of the carnage around them. Bringing him to the river's edge, he sat Quatre down in order to clean him off. Trowa tore part of his cloth wrap and dipped it into the water. Wringing it out, he gently wiped the blood from Quatre's face and throat. When he was done, Trowa spoke again.

"I want you to wait here." He said, "I'm going to bury those men. I'll also call back Foonie and Domon. I doubt the two who went after them ever caught them." Quatre nodded vaguely in Trowa's direction, his mind seemed to be somewhere else entirely. I'm so sorry Quatre. Resting a friendly hand on Quatre's shoulder, Trowa turned back to the scene of the fight.

Kneeling beside the dead leader, Trowa took back his jewel and the ruined armlet. He looked at it in his hand and wondered why he worried so much about losing it. It didn't look like much, just a plain green gemstone. It probably wasn't even worth a great deal. Reaching into the folds of the dead man's tunic, Trowa found the two money pouches and Quatre's necklace.

Quatre will want these back.

Trowa glanced back toward the river and spied Quatre still sitting where he had left him. Sighing heavily, Trowa set to work burying the two bodies. The two men whom he had covered in ice were gone. The spell he had cast on them was only to detain not kill them. The ice had melted and the two probably took off once they discovered that their leader was dead.

Finished burying the bodies, Trowa returned to the river's edge and found Quatre gone. All that remained were the torn pieces of cloth from Trowa's wrap.

"Quatre?" He called out, looking up and down the river's bank. "Quatre!" When there was no answer or sign of him, Trowa began to really worry. He heard a hawk screech overhead and Trowa saw hope. Concentrating, he called out to the bird. It flew down and came to rest on Trowa's extended arm. Stroking the bird, Trowa asked the bird of prey to find his friend. Screeching again, the hawk took to the air, searching for Quatre.

* * *

Trowa had left to bury the dead men leaving Quatre alone with his thoughts. Absentmindedly, Quatre picked up the torn piece of cloth and wrung it in his hands, pulling and tearing at it. He had never felt such terror in all his life. He had felt death before but nothing like this - so violent and heartless. He stared for several seconds at the large bloody stain on the front of his robes, reliving in his mind again and again the horror he had witnessed. Standing up, Quatre started walking along the river's bank. His mind not focused on anything except the image of Trowa's cold eyes. Left behind in his place were the torn pieces of cloth.

Quatre's wandering led him along the bank of the river, where the currents became much stronger. He thought he heard his name, but the sound of the rushing water drowned out even the slightest noise. Quatre brought his arms up and wrapped them around his chest, hugging himself. He stood looking down into the waters below, as the currents churned and crashed upon the rocks.

* * *

Trowa saw Quatre just ahead of him. He seemed to be walking blindly. Quatre came to a halt at the top of a slight ridge that overlooked the river below. Trowa kicked his horse forward to catch up with the smaller Mage. He resisted the urge to call out Quatre's name for fear of startling him.

Reining in his horse, Trowa slowly dismounted from the animal's back. His heart was racing as he approached Quatre's still form. "Quatre..." he softly pleaded, "Quatre please, come away from the edge." Quatre slowly turned to face Trowa, his blue eyes reflecting the pain he still felt. Trowa's heart sank at the sight. He wanted to reach out, grab Quatre and pull him away from the edge, keep him safe. Quatre tightened his grip around himself as he watched Trowa slowly approach him. Trowa held out a hand for Quatre. "Please take my hand."

Quatre didn't move. He closed his eyes and hung his head down. Tears once again streamed down his cheeks.

"What, Quatre?" His silence was distressing. "What is it? Why do you weep?"

"I still feel the pain… It won't stop." The distraught Mage whispered. "Those men are dead and yet I still feel their pain."

Quatre stepped away from Trowa, and the ground beneath his foot broke away from the ridge, tumbling the blond-haired prince into the rushing water below.

"No! Quatre!" Trowa yelled, running to where he had last seen Quatre. The dirt was soft and easily gave away under Trowa's footing forcing him back from the edge, as he strained to see the other man in the churning waters below. "Quatre!" Then he saw it a glimpse of blond hair bobbing to the surface.

Quatre, shocked back to reality by the chill of the water, struggled against the current of the river, desperately trying to keep his head above water. It occurred to him, that his feelings for Trowa were caught in a very similar current. Trowa was such a beautiful person on the surface, but like the water, a smooth surface often hid a quickly moving stream underneath, that could sweep one off their feet in a heartbeat.

Trowa dove off the bluff into the rapids below. He hit the water hard, and its chill froze him, but the tall Mage ignored his discomfort and focused solely on the soggy platinum hair that bobbed along in front of him.

"Quatre... Quatre, please hang on." shouted Trowa as an eddy caught him and pulled him under. Quatre was already several yards downstream when Trowa cried out trying not to choke on the churning waters around him.

Quatre thought he heard a splash behind him and the pain that he couldn't shake off throbbed to new life, intensifying even as he struggled to overcome it.

Trowa's voice floated over the roaring of the water toward Quatre. He turned his head in the direction of the voice. Water splashed into to his eyes, blinding him. "Trowa!" Quatre cried back before swallowing a large mouth full of water. The coughing fit that seized Quatre forced his head under the water and he felt his consciousness begin to slip from him as white water swirled everywhere. And the ache tore at his heart.

Trowa watched Quatre's head disappear under the water and his heart leapt in terror. An enormous energy blast shot through the water creating two towering walls of water on either side of Trowa. As the current pulled him downstream, the water Mage concentrated on locating the smaller man's body in the river. Finding him, Trowa then began to weave the water into a rope between the two of them, with a simple spell that Mage S had tried to teach him, but had never fully mastered. The one thing that ran through Trowa's mind over and over was reaching Quatre before he took his last breath.

The spell was simple. He remembered being told that time and time again. All he had to do was relax, focus on the target and the spell would run its course. But there was no time to relax, no time to focus. Within seconds the water temperature plummeted as Trowa concentrated on his spell.

No! It's freezing again.Trowa thought in a panic. Not now. Not with him… Concentrate... concentrate on the objective... Quatre.

But it was no use. The spell had become tainted, like all the times before and the rope between them began to freeze. Trowa watched as the water he commanded at his fingertips began to crystallize and creep its icy way toward Quatre's limp form.

Discarding the spell, Trowa swam with the current. He would have to reach Quatre without using Magic. He reached out and grabbed Quatre's arm and drew him close. Wrapping his arms around Quatre's chest, Trowa headed for the surface.

"Stay with me Quatre." Trowa commanded as the two men broke through the surface, "Hang on for just a minute longer." The currents of the river slowed and Trowa found it easier to swim his way toward the shore with Quatre in tow. "Almost there Quatre..." Trowa heard Quatre moan in response.

Trowa pulled his friend to shore. He turned the smaller man on his side to help release any water still trapped in his lungs. Quatre coughed and gasped for air as Trowa collapsed beside him.

"Where do you hurt Quatre?" Asked the taller man as he lay looking at Quatre. His eyes were red rimmed with concern.

"In my heart. I can still feel their pain."

After several minutes of silence, Quatre slowly sat up. "Thank you Trowa." He said softly. "You've saved me twice today."

Trowa sat up as well, but kept his face turned away from Quatre, unable to face him. Trowa ran his fingers through his soaked bangs and pulled them back over the top of his head, exposing his entire face.

"Quatre… I wish, I wish so much that I could have stopped myself, but there is something in me. It... hates and I don't know how to control it." He said, wishing he could take the other man in his arms, but was afraid he would lose his only friend. The only person who had ever shown him a kind heart. "I wish it wasn't a part of me... that I wasn't like that. If I could have spared you all this, I would have." Quatre said nothing as he shivered uncontrollably. "I don't know what I would have done if... if I had lost you. If it takes me a thousand life-times to undo this hurt I have caused you, then so be it."

Slowly Quatre looked up, tears shining in his eyes. His body shuddered violently as the wind blew around him and cooled his skin even further. "Trowa, I love you..." Quatre blushed as he realized what he was saying, but continued in his resolve to be honest about his feelings.

Trowa turned and looked at Quatre.

"I do, I love you so much and... and I want to be with you always. I just didn't realize that means accepting both the light and dark in your life. I understand now, and I wouldn't want you to be anything other than what you are. You have a good heart that yearns to be free of sorrow and pain, but I lost sight of that. I thought you were cruel with no thought to your own heart's anguish. I'm sorry I judged you so harshly." Tears spilled down Quatre's face as he confessed his feelings to Trowa. As he finished, he reached out to the taller man.

Quatre stopped short as they heard movement behind them. The two soaking wet Mages turned to find their mounts waiting patiently. Quatre smiled and reached for Trowa's trembling shoulders once more. As he laid his hands on Trowa, Quatre winced in pain as if he had been struck.

"Trowa, it's you. The pain I still feel is coming from you! You're hurt."

Trowa's eyes widened in surprise. Quatre moved aside Trowa's overcoat revealing a deep gash in the taller man's left side. Trowa had used his wrap as a partial bandage to hastily staunch the blood, but had come unbound while he was in the water and once again blood flowed freely.

"It's nothing Quatre. I will be okay." He said, brushing Quatre's hand away quickly and covering the wound once again.

"No Trowa that is a serious wound. If the bleeding doesn't stop, you could die. We have to get you to a doctor. I can only do so much to stop the bleeding. My healing skills won't be able to heal all of the injury."

Quatre helped Trowa to where the horses were. "We had better find a doctor before it gets too late."

"You're shivering." Trowa said, "Here..." Trowa unrolled a blanket from behind his saddle and wrapped it around Quatre, "'ll help chase some of the cold off."

"You shouldn't be worried about…" Trowa stopped Quatre's retort with one look. The fair-haired man nodded his understanding. "Thank you…. again." Quatre said, pulling himself onto his horse. "Trowa…I meant what I said."

"I know." He answered painfully, climbing on to his mount.

* * *

A twenty-minute ride and ten stitches later, the bedraggled pair found themselves at a local inn.

"We need rooms for the night." Trowa said to the innkeeper, as he adjusted the pair of saddlebags he carried over his shoulder. The older man behind the counter looked closely at the pair. Both men were still damp from their river adventure and Quatre was still shivering beneath the blanket he held wrapped around his body. The innkeeper noticed the bruise on Quatre's cheek.

"What happened to him?"

"We ran into bandits." Trowa said sternly, dropping his coin pouch in front of the questioning man. "Now… about those rooms?" He had no patience for questions now.

The innkeeper picked up the pouch and felt its weight in his hand and smiled. "Unfortunately, I only have one room left, but it is our best and boasts a bed big enough for the two." At Trowa's nod, the innkeeper came around the bar. "Please sirs, follow me." Trowa kept Quatre close to him as they followed the innkeeper up a set of stairs and toward the back of the inn. Quatre stumbled on the stairs as he stepped on the edge of the blanket and fell forward.

"Are you all right?" Trowa asked as he caught Quatre, helping him to stand.

"I'm fine." Quatre said wearily, "Just cold and tired."

* * *

Once settled in their room, Trowa had the innkeeper bring up hot water for Quatre so that he could have a bath to help chase away the chills. He also had the innkeeper bring up food and drink as well for the two of them. The money that Trowa had given the man was more than enough and the innkeeper did all that was asked of him.

After bathing and changing into dry clothes the two men sat together at the table eating the meal brought to them, Trowa reached into his saddlebag and pulled out Quatre's necklace and coin pouch and set them on the table between them.

"These belong to you." Trowa said sheepishly.

Quatre reached out, carefully picking up the ruined necklace. The chain was broken and the metal work bent, but the blue gem at the center was still attached and seemed to emit a soft blue glow in Quatre's hands.

"Thank you, but what of yours?" Trowa reached back into his bag again and pulled his out as well. And like Quatre's, it was ruined, but the gem was still there and emitted a green glow as Trowa held it. "May I?" Quatre asked holding his hand out to take the jewel. The taller man placed the gem into Quatre's open palm and as he pulled his hand away, Quatre's fingers gently wrapped around Trowa's hand entwining his fingers with his. Trowa looked at Quatre with wonder in his eyes. "Please, let me replace your armlet - a gift from me to you - for all that you've done for me today."

* * *