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.
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.
* * *
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.
been years since I last visited the Empress's Palace."
Quatre said, as the two men rode.
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?"
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."
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.
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."
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."
did he keep his word?" Quatre secretly hoped.
He refused to give up on me, even when I gave up on myself
so many times."
* * *
at an Inn, Quatre and Trowa rested for the night, taking
dinner in their room as they recovered from their day's
wonder how they're all doing?" Quatre mused aloud.
Who?" Trowa asked looking up from his meal.
sisters. Whenever I travel long distances, they always worry."
must be nice having someone to care about you like that."
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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
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."
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."
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?"
thought I would be sleeping on the floor," protested
we share the bed or I sleep on the floor, " countered
Quatre, his stance defying Trowa to argue with him.
well, we will share the bed." Trowa then proceeded
to ready himself for a night's sleep.
* * *
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.
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.
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.
was wondering if you gentlemen could help me."
can we be of service?" Quatre asked amiably approaching
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
lords should know better than to travel unarmed through
these woods." The bandit leader sneered.
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.
we are done," it was the man's tone, which worried
Quatre. "Your horses look well bred. They belong to
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.
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."
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.
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."
tried that already." Trowa breathed, the words coming
guard, the man looked closely at his captive. "No Name…?"
The leader asked Trowa looking into his eyes, "Is that
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.
must be the Mercenary Group he spoke of. Quatre thought.
is you No Name!" The man laughed, "Didn't think
we'd ever see you again! Hey guys, its little No Name!"
looks like that old man treated you pretty well." Another
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."
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.
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!"
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.
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."
Please don't!" Quatre pleaded. "It was a gift
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.
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!"
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.
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.
looks like the old man taught you a bit of Magic as well."
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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…"
wrong Quatre?" Trowa asked anxiously. "Were you
hurt...what can I do to help?"
could you Trowa?" wept Quatre. "Y...you killed
those men...all that blood...and it didn't even affect you."
He cried out, still sobbing.
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
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.
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."
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."
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.
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
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.
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
will want these back.
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.
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.
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
* * *
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.
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.
* * *
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.
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."
move. He closed his eyes and hung his head down. Tears once
again streamed down his cheeks.
Quatre?" His silence was distressing. "What is
it? Why do you weep?"
still feel the pain… It won't stop." The distraught
Mage whispered. "Those men are dead and yet I still
feel their pain."
away from Trowa, and the ground beneath his foot broke away
from the ridge, tumbling the blond-haired prince into the
rushing water below.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
freezing again.Trowa thought in a panic. Not now.
Not with him… Concentrate... concentrate on the objective...
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
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.
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.
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.
do you hurt Quatre?" Asked the taller man as he lay
looking at Quatre. His eyes were red rimmed with concern.
my heart. I can still feel their pain."
minutes of silence, Quatre slowly sat up. "Thank you
Trowa." He said softly. "You've saved me twice
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.
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."
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.
and looked at Quatre.
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.
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.
it's you. The pain I still feel is coming from you! You're
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.
nothing Quatre. I will be okay." He said, brushing
Quatre's hand away quickly and covering the wound once again.
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."
Trowa to where the horses were. "We had better find
a doctor before it gets too late."
shivering." Trowa said, "Here..." Trowa unrolled
a blanket from behind his saddle and wrapped it around Quatre,
"...it'll help chase some of the cold off."
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."
know." He answered painfully, climbing on to his mount.
* * *
ride and ten stitches later, the bedraggled pair found themselves
at a local inn.
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.
happened to him?"
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.
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.
you all right?" Trowa asked as he caught Quatre, helping
him to stand.
fine." Quatre said wearily, "Just cold and tired."
* * *
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.
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.
belong to you." Trowa said sheepishly.
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.
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
* * *