Gundam Fantasy

Chapter Eight

After the general round of introductions had been made, the young elfin boy was able to meet with the Empress. They decided it best that they should move into a more disclosed location within the Palace. Moments later, Thea sat the Mages down within the map room and carefully explained to them in a riddle the locations of their God Protectors. The only clues that he was able to really give to the Mages' task where 'accepting', 'fighting', 'welcoming', and 'disdaining'. The Mages where to say the least confused by this, but nodded in silent understanding as to what they must do. All except Heero who merely closed his eyes and listened as Thea explained where to go from Sanc to find the sleeping Gods. By the next morning all five mages rose early and with their guide, and after a brief goodbye and wishes for success by the Empress, they headed out to find the hidden resting places of the God Protectors.

It had only been a day since they left Sanc, though to the travelers it felt like longer. They had traveled along the forest's edge to where the greenery of the forest melted into never-ending sandy dunes of the large desert lay before them. None wanting to leave the cool shade of the forest, but they continued to travel along the border of the two areas. Every so often Trowa noticed that Quatre was looking off into the distance as if seeing something the others had missed. It was around midday when Trowa watched as Quatre began to lag further and further behind the group. Before he even spoke up to ask what was wrong for he was deeply concerned, Quatre gently spoke up.

"You should all wait here." Quatre told them as he reached up, touching the center jewel of his necklace lightly as only he had seen it glow. "I should do this alone....."

"Are you sure?" Trowa asked cautiously, for he had felt a deep sense of uneasiness about the whole situation. He did not wish for Quatre to go off by himself, especially if he could not be there to protect him.

"He has to do this alone." Heero cut in sharply, but also spoke with an air of great knowledge in the matter. "When the time comes, you'll all have to do this alone. We can only observe. Not interfere." The other Mages looked at him curiously but didn't push any further to question.

Quatre waved farewell to others, taking a brief moment to calm the Water Mages unease before he headed out into the desert very much alone on foot.

* * *

"It's here." He whispered to the very air around him, feeling the heat of the sun upon his backside he sighed softly, "Something... is calling me." Quatre slowly brought his hands to his chest, lightly covering over his heart. "I hear you." He said aloud slowly glancing about as if in some vain hope of seeing what called to him, "Yes... I will set you free." Closing his eyes, the Wind Mage began an incantation. The words soon called forth a huge windstorm that torn at the sands in front of him. As his spell pushed the desert sand aside, he suddenly found his own spell fighting against him. Knowing that continuing on with the spell could have been dangerous, Quatre discontinued it soon seeing the reason why the winds had acted so. For what was once beneath the still desert sands and now exposed to the sun and sky, lay an enormous slow moving whirlwind which seemed to be encasing the trapped God Protector.

"It's begun." Heero told them, as he looked up from the ground in front of him. He had spent the time waiting while leaning back against the slight rocky surface of a boulder that remained imbedded into the ground. He looked towards the desert as a huge dust storm began to form in the direction Quatre had headed off into.

Quatre called up a similar whirlwind, but its rotation was in the opposite direction. He fought for control as he slowly moved the spell wind onto the guarding windshield. For brief moments, the two opposing winds would create a calm, for which Quatre would move into. He slowly made his way down to the base of the God Protector Sandrock taking as much caution as possible as he did.

When the incantation was complete, Quatre had unearthed the God Protector Sandrock. The Gundam stood stoically in the roaring calm created by Quatre's windstorm. As he stood at the base of the pit, Quatre lightly touched his necklace again and discovered it was radiating. He could feel his entire body was still exhausted from casting his incantation, since the Wind Mage had to maintain the spell for over an hour until he could calm the whirlwind encasing Sandrock.

"Yes, I understand." Quatre whispered tiredly, looking into the face of the giant God.

* * *

From where the others waited in the shadows of the forest away from the midday sun, when they heard Quatre's scream from across the desert. They looked at each other for a moment, wondering if they had heard correctly. It was quite faint yet the cry was coming from just off in the distance.

There was a second scream that brought them running. It started when Heero yelled for Trowa to stop, to keep him from aiding Quatre. But the Water Mage paid no heed to the other man's words. With him racing ahead, the others had no other choice but to follow, in hopes to catch the Mage and stop him. Trowa was of course the first to reach the Wind Mage, who was now at the bottom of the pit. The others paused for a moment on the side of pit wall and marveled at the God Protector now visible to all who could see. Quatre still below was currently on his knees, his arms wrapped tightly around his body. He was hunched over, breathing hard as if he had been badly wounded by some unseen force.

"Quatre!" Trowa yelled after snapping out of his awe from the God Protector's Image. He soon slid down the slope, and upon reaching dropped to his knees in front of his friend. "Quatre, what's happened?! What is it?!" He instinctively reached out to grab the young Mage's upper arms and force him to look up.

"No. Don't touch me. It's okay…" Quatre gasped roughly, peering up at his dear friend through unruly bangs. The smaller man's face was flushed as if he were running a fever and his body shook slightly. "It's okay Trowa… I can handle it." Quatre let a small smile escape his lips, trying to put the other man at ease.

"Handle what?"

Another wave of pain shot through Quatre's body, causing his body to become tense and taunt. Quatre slowly reached out for Trowa's arms but stopped himself short of touching the other man and began retracting his hands. This was not a pain he could share with him nor would he want to at this point. "I hadn't expected this though." He breathed almost labored, but slowly seemed to be working his way through it. Quatre soon let out another heartfelt cry that torn at Trowa's heart.

"What can I do?" Trowa's voice reflected the helplessness he felt while watching his friend in such agony.

"Nothing… It's almost done." Quatre panted out before he fell forward onto his hands and knees, arching his back up.

Trowa watched closely as the back of Quatre's tunic began to rip and tear. He saw the white tunic turn red at the shoulder blades and it worried him. There was more tearing, but this time the sound came from Quatre's shoulder blades, as a pair of large white-feathered wings began to immerge. Quatre held back another scream by biting down on his lower lip, as the wings fought to free themselves from the confines of his body. He grabbed at the loose soil beneath his hands and made a fist. When it was over Quatre sat upright, sitting back on his heels. He was still breathing hard as the pain ebbed slowly away from his back.

His ascension was complete.

"Quatre?" Trowa stared at him wide-eyed, trying to comprehend the miraculous transformation of his friend. "Quatre are you…" He gently reached out but dared not reach any more as if he was almost afraid to touch his friend. "You look like an…"

"I'm fine." He answered gently, taking in slow even breaths. Wufei, Duo and Heero slide down the embankment finally catching up with Trowa. They had witnessed Quatre's ascension from afar. Heero stopped himself short of the pit's floor and looked up at the God Protector - Gundam Sandrock. Memories came back to him of a time long ago, when he was one with his own Gundam and until the others could find theirs, he would not be able to call forth his own again.

"What is this?" Duo said pointing childishly towards Quatre's newly acquired wings. "Heero, is this what you meant by, 'we'd have to do this alone'?" Heero nodded his head quietly as he eyed the fire mage. A huge grin spread across Duo's face as he pictured himself with wings, "Cool! I can't wait to get a set of those! The girls are going to just love me even more!"

"Quatre…" Heero said addressing the newly winged Mage, as he ignored the fire mages antics. "Finish what you've started." Quatre looked towards the other mage and nodded as he began to understand Heero's words. Standing on still shaky legs, he forced himself to stand with the help of Trowa and faced the God Protector. Taking a deep breath of renewed vigor, Quatre opened his new wings to there fullest, stretching the tendons in them, preparing them for their first flight. Not understanding how he knew but trusting in his faith, Quatre lifted himself off the ground and into the air heading straight for the chest plate of the Gundam Sandrock. As he neared the God Protector, the chest plate began to open itself to Quatre, beckoning him inside.

From the ground, the other four young men watched as Quatre disappeared into the giant God.

"We all have to endure this trial, don't we?" Wufei said to Heero, while not looking away from the chest plate of the giant before them. "An ascension of sorts."

"Yes, as I did the first time. Many years ago."

Moments later, Quatre re-emerged from Sandrock and excitedly launched himself toward the others far below. The Wind Mage smiled as he landed gracefully beside his friends.

"Well…" Heero started to ask, still awaiting the news.

"Sandrock has accepted me as its pilot." The young Mage beamed proudly filled with joyful warmth in such knowledge.

"Are you alright?" Trowa cut in still concerned since he had to watch the smaller mage deal with such great pain.

"I'm fine, I'm just a little tired." Quatre laughed it off waving his hand a little. "The pain is gone from my back. Once I entered the God Protector, the pain was removed. We are one now." Turning back to face Sandrock, Quatre lightly touched the center jewel of his necklace and Sandrock suddenly disappeared. "Now I understand the importance of the gem my master gave me. It is the key to calling the Protectors."

The others, save Heero, looked at their own gems in wonderment. Their respected teachers had great foresight in order to give them the gems, knowing they were destined to be Protectors of the Five Kingdoms. They each knew that the road to getting their God Protectors would be worth the trials they must each face. But for the moment, rest of the Wind Mage came first as they made their way back towards the campsite.

* * *

Thea returned from one of the nearby villages to the forest campsite early next morning. And watched while the Mages were still asleep resting from the travel they had to deal with just recently. He brought with him a new pack of food to replace their dwindling supplies and a map of the surrounding area. The Elvin guide knew this journey would take its toll on all of them and so allowed them to get as much rest as they needed.

When the five men finally awoke and had their breakfast, Thea showed them the route that he was plotting and explained its dangers and its perks. The mages looked from the map's route to Thea with looks of unease, save for Heero and Wufei who seemed to welcome the challenge. When he was sure they understood his instructions and also felt more at ease with their traveling route, they all pitched in to breakdown the camp then packed what little they couldn't carry onto Spity Lick.

Thea wandered over after checking the campsite for any leftovers, he noticed Trowa talking to the young unicorn and listened in, smiling quietly to himself. As the Water Mage finished securing the last pack to Spity Lick's haunches, the cheerful guide came up from behind and threw his arm around Trowa's shoulders.

"Yours will be the next God Protector we find sir and then you will be able to fully understand Spity Lick."

Trowa jumped nervously, having been startled by the ranger's forward manner. Turning a bit and stepping slightly back from him, he ended up bumping into the unicorn, and Trowa's face had regarded the young man quizzically.

"How do you know that I didn't understand the unicorn?" He asked Thea with unease and caution in his voice.

"Well, Spity is a magical creature, as am I. So we understand each other." Thea began to explain grinning at the magical beast. "You have a connection with animals that is stronger than any I have seen, but you do not accept your inner magical abilities, so Spity can't always reach you. Do you understand?"

Trowa slowly nodded in comprehension, a pained look briefly crossing his face. "But how will my finding a God Protector help me to understand…" He looked back at the young unicorn curiously as if wondering how a beautiful creature could have such a strange name before repeating it, "…Spity Lick."

The other Mages had gathered around the two conversant's at this point and listened intently. Thea was something of a mystery to them and his knowledge was often times very useful. Each had silently agreed that when the guide spoke they needed to listen closely.

"Well, the God Protectors are not just big armor toys for Mages to play with. Each one is actually an entity, or a spirit, if you wish to think of it that way.... that has been waiting for one particular person to awaken it, just as Lord Quatre awakened Sandrock. However if that person cannot accept their own inner Magic, then they will be unable to awaken their God Protector." Thea laughed in a carefree manor and smacked Trowa on the back. "But don't worry Trowa, I know you will do fine!"

With that said the Mages and their unusual guide set off for God Protector Heavy Arms. Though Trowa still had his slight reservations about what the guide had told to him.

* * *

By the following day the Mages found themselves on the edge of some lava lakes at the far borders of Western Kingdom. The party of five and their guide stop just short of entering the insanely hot area to where the next God Protector was to be awakened.

"You will have to leave your horses here." Thea told them even though with the heat it would have been inhumane to take the beasts with them. "It isn't safe for them to venture past this point."

As the young men dismounted, Spity Lick pranced toward Heero and whickered softly at him. Heero looked at the unicorn suspiciously, for no animals liked him. His reincarnated flesh raised hackles and caused yowls and snarls of fear in every animal he met. He eyed Spity's sharp horn warily, not ready to throw off the mortal coil again just yet.

Thea laughed at the taciturn Mage's predicament and gave a mighty slap to Spity Lick's haunches.

"Stop teasing him, Spity, and get on with it."

Spity Lick turned, snorting at the amused ranger then with a blink of an eye had turned back to Heero to begin licking his face and nibbling on his clothing. Heero backed away quickly pulling his tunic from the overly friendly unicorn. To his surprise, it wasn't his tunic that Spity was chewing on, but covering him with a long black coat that now covered his body to his knees. His hands were gloved and thick boots adorned his feet. Moving to wipe his face of Spity's lick, Heero realized that Spity Lick's kiss had also bestowed upon him a strange mask that he had barely noticed.

It covered his face and a hood covered the rest of his head. Eye goggles allowed him to see and a strange filter over his nose and mouth allowed him to speak and breathe easily. Spity Lick neighed cheerfully as it quickly moved to each of the other Mages licking them each in turn and gifting them with similar outfits.

"Spity Lick has given you outfits that will protect you in the next area you go into. We will be unable to follow you there, but just make sure you keep all of your outfits on. It is very dangerous here to be with out them. I will be unable to help you if you remove it."

* * *

"Oh man Trowa…" Duo began, "you are in serious trouble." The fire mage grinned as he knelt beside the lake of fire and swirled his hands within its scalding currents, his protective gloves long since discarded. "Gods, this feels great!" He continued cheerfully, as he basked in the fire that danced on the lake's watery surface. For it had seemed that upon seeing the fire on the lake, Duo did not hesitate to pull off his groves and thrust his hands into the fiery liquid. Quatre now noticing his actions, worried that Duo had scalded his hands, thus pulling them from the fire to examine them. Finding them unharmed, he sighed deeply and let Duo go back to what he was doing.

"Will you cut that out!" Wufei growled, grabbing hold of the collar of Duo's long jacket, dragging him away from the lake's edge and toward the others. "He's nervous enough already without you adding your ridiculous idea of help to it. And put your gloves back on! You heard what Thea said."

Duo made a face beneath the mask he wore, thankful that Wufei couldn't see. "It's not like the fire here is going to hurt me." Reluctantly sighed as he began to put his gloves back on.

Trowa looked uneasy as his forest-green eyes scanned the surface of the Fire Lake. Quatre moved up beside him lightly placing his hand on the taller man's arm. "It'll be okay." Quatre spoke, reassuring his friend as best as he could. Trowa nodded his head and looked back toward the burning lake before him. He felt Quatre leave his side and join the others further behind him.

Wufei was right.

Trowa was nervous, but having his spells turn to ice this time could be used to his advantage. Scanning the surface of the Fire Lake, he spotted the tiny island that was to be his target. Closing his eyes, he calmed his thoughts as well as his heart and began his spell. Trowa knew that he would need all the strength and energy he could draw upon. He opened his eyes and saw his hands glow an intense shade of blue. Bringing back his hands as if he were going to attack someone, he threw them out in front of himself and ran toward the fiery lake. Ice suddenly appeared and began to layer itself over the surface of the molten lava turning it black. A second and then a third layer of ice covered the first, making it safe enough for Trowa to cross.

The others watched from their place of waiting as Trowa scrambled his way across the quickly dissolving bridge. As the ice would melt ahead of him, they could see Trowa throw another incantation ahead of him to lay down yet another ice sheet.

Heero watched silently as the taller Mage make his way across the ice bridge. The Blood Mage showing no emotion in his eyes or face. It was obvious that Wufei and Duo were concerned and silently cheered Trowa on as he made his way toward the island at the center of the immense lake. Though at times Duo's hoots of encouragement became vocal. Fire spouts erupted around Trowa forcing him to weave this way and that, the eruptions, at times, taking him further from his target.

Quatre had been and was the most nervous out of all. Since his ascension, his empathic ability had greatly magnified and he was still adjusting to it. He was becoming aware of more and more things around him, especially when he was around the other four Mages. He knew when they were happy or sad or even worried. There was a rapport that slowly grew between him and the others, even if they didn't know about it. He did his best to keep the influx of emotions around him in check, so not to worry the others. He paced back and forth as he watched Trowa make his way through the fire.

But there were other emotions that came into play - his love for Trowa - and watching him go through the ascension test alone was a little too much for Quatre to handle. He rubbed his hands together fidgeting nervously.

"He'll be alright Quatre." Heero spoke up breaking the mage from his thoughts, while placing a calming hand on the Mage's shoulder, causing him to stop from pacing. Quatre smiled weakly at the dark-haired Mage and nodded his head in understanding, though even with that he still worried.

The ice-bridge that Trowa had created was beginning to melt behind him. He didn't have to see it to know, he could practically hear the ice cracking and sizzling against the heat. With this in mind he ran even faster to reach the small island in the center of the inferno. Without warning, Trowa lost his footing and fell forward on the ice, sliding forward and dangerously close to the edge. He was able to stop himself but barely, as one hand dropped onto a single layer of black ice, burning his hand. He cursed from his mistake as he pulled his hand away. The protective glove covering the palm of his hand was gone. But there was no time to examine the burn, not with the ice behind him slowly disappearing. Quickly standing, he continued his incantation making his way closer to the island. But during the last leg of his travels, the ice broke and melted away from the island just ahead of the Water Mage. At the last possible moment he leapt into the air, somersaulting before he landed safety in a crouching position, in the center of the small island.

The Water Mage thought he heard cheers coming from shore, but he couldn't be sure over the sound of the crackling fire around him. But no sooner had Trowa caught his breath that he doubled over as his body was gripped in pain. There was a sharp pang in his back as he fell hard onto his knees.

Is this what Quatre felt? Trowa thought, as he fought to keep himself from screaming aloud. He felt his tunic pull tight across his chest, as the pain in his back grew even stronger. He struggled to keep his voice silent but the pain became more unbearable. NO! I did not ask for this!

There was the sound of soft material tearing that slowly grew louder. It was obvious as the sounds became louder that the jacket provide by Spity Lick was beginning to tear.

Unwittingly Trowa screamed out in the heated air around him, calling out Quatre's name, as he fell forward. It was more then he could handle or bear as he cried out once more. Wave after wave of spasms wracked his body and Trowa continued to scream. He heard tearing but wasn't sure anymore if it was his tunic or the skin on his back ripping apart.

"Trowa! This is what Thea meant! Don't fight it!" Quatre cried out in vain, running to the edge of the lake, his hands over his heart. The empathic Mage had sensed Trowa's pain even before hearing his name called. His white wings open to their fullest, tearing through the protective outfit. "I'm coming!" As Quatre readied himself to fly, he felt two pairs of strong hands grab his arms and hold him fast. He looked quickly and found Heero and Duo holding him tight. "Trowa needs my help! Let go!"

The Water Mage screamed again as he felt the pair of wings burst from his back. The remains of his tunic and jacket hung loosely around his neck as he collapsed to the ground. Trowa lay there exhausted breathing heavily through the mask he wore. His new wings draped heavy over his body, pressing him to the small island. Pushing himself up, he could feel the heat of the lake on his body as he struggled to stand. The heat of the fire around him was reddening his unprotected skin. His hand throbbed with pain. He stood shakily, his legs threatening to buckle as he tried to straighten his stance. Over the crackling heat and fire, he could hear Quatre calling to him. He sounded panicked with fright.

"Quatre…" Trowa whispered looking back toward the others, but something was wrong on shore. Through the waves of heat, it appeared that Duo and Heero were restraining Quatre. Why?

The Wind Mage struggled to free himself from the others who detained him. It took all three now to hold Quatre as he fought to take flight. "Stop it Quatre!" Heero snapped at the other Mage. "Trowa has to do this alone! You can't help him. You must understand that! You are endangering what he has fought for."

"No, I can help him. I have to go help him! Please!" Quatre pleaded as tears threatened to fall. "He's hurting…"

Quatre thrashed about and suddenly broke free of the other Mages' grips taking flight after Trowa. As he passed the edge of the lake he hit a wall of force that sent him sailing back into the ground. He jumped up furious that he was unable to pass since he could not be there for Trowa as the Water Mage had been there for his ascension.

The Water Mage took to the air using what strength he had left within him. He could feel the presence of the God Protector but was still unsure of where it was resting. He knew he had to act quickly. The heat of the fires below him had been tapping the last of his stamina. If he didn't find the God Protector soon, he risked falling into the lake of fire below.

Then he saw it, an opening in the center of the Fire Lake, but he was still unsure of what he saw. He pushed himself higher into the sky. Yes, it was there, it was unseen to the eye at ground level, but easily spotted from an aerial viewpoint. For just beneath the surface opening, untouched by flame or fire was the Gundam Heavyarms. With no time to waste, Trowa dived toward the opening, disappearing from view beneath the shoreline of the others.

"What's he doing?" Duo asked in shock, as they watched Trowa plunged head first toward the lake's surface. "Is he crazy? He'll never survive that!"

The others on shore could do nothing but watch in alarm as Trowa disappeared from sight. Quatre ceased his frustrated tirade and closed his eyes trying to block out the scene that unfolded before him. His mind panicked believing that the one he cherished was gone, but he heart told him the Trowa would be safe from harm.

Moments later, there was a huge explosion from where Trowa had disappeared below the horizon. The liquid fire erupted into a huge plume, raining back down across the fiery surface of the lake. From the center of the fiery plume rose a hulking figure of red and white.

The God Protector lifted out of the lake and landed on the shoreline, just beyond where they had left their horses, and its chest hatch began to open up. Trowa stepped out once it was fully opened and leaned shakily within the entrance. He weakly pulled at his torn tunic and protective jacket and let them drop to the ground far below not wishing to carry the extra weight anymore. By his posture, Trowa looked drained and defeated. He looked down and saw the others running toward him, though he specifically focused on Quatre, who had much worry dancing within his blue eyes. Pushing himself away from Heavyarms, Trowa took to the air with his newly released wings once more. Turning to face the giant God Protector, the Water Mage touched the gem given to him by his Master and the Protector disappeared.

It was obvious to the others on the ground that Trowa was having difficulty staying aloft in the air. They watched as he clumsily took to the air and struggled to stay in flight until the God Protector dematerialized. Then all of a sudden as the Protector was completely gone, Trowa's body went limp, like that of a wounded bird shot out of the air by a hunter's arrow.

"NO!" Quatre screamed in horror, instinctively throwing his hands out toward the plummeting Mage. As he did, Trowa's body was caught on a cushion of air, breaking the other Mage's rapid descent. Setting him down gently, Quatre ran to Trowa's side and gathered the taller mans body in his arms. As he reached Trowa's side, he pulled off his own gloves, jacket and mask. "Trowa..." Quatre called softly, his voice on the verge of cracking, "Trowa, please open your eyes." Quatre continued to beg as he gently removed the mask from Trowa's nose and mouth.

Trowa stirred weakly in Quatre's arms, looking up into the serene angelic face above his. Quatre's wings where opened wide, shading Trowa from the afternoon sun. "Quatre…" He said softly as he slowly inhaled and exhaled.

"I'm here." Quatre whispered, fighting back his tears.

"Heavyarms… has accepted me."

"I'm glad." Smiled the smaller man as his tears gently started rolling down his cheeks.

Trowa brought up his injured hand for Quatre to see. "It hurts…"

"Shhh… I'll take care of it." Quatre told him softly, gently taking hold of the injured hand and began to heal it with his power.

"Tired… so tired." Trowa closed his eyes, slipping into unconsciousness.

He'll never succeed if he doesn't stop fighting his own gifts though... Quatre mused quietly to himself as he watched the mage sleep in his arms.

Trowa continued to rest peacefully in Quatre's arms and lap. He was exhausted from his ascension and pairing with the God Protector. His strength had been tapped out from casting continuous spells and the blazing heat in which he had to travel through. Quatre's healing spell had tended to his burnt hand and Trowa's breathing had finally slowed from the ragged breathing that had plagued him.

Quatre glanced down into his friend's face, brushing the long locks to one side, smoothing the lines on his face. "I'm sorry for how I acted." Quatre said softly, not looking up to meet the gaze of the other three Mages, but knowing that they had been standing close by. "I'm sorry… it's just that since the - my - ascension, my… my empathic abilities have gotten stronger…" Quatre slowly looked up at the others. "I can feel what each of you are feeling without having to touch you. It's still quite weak but it's there." Quatre wiped away a stray tear with the back of his hand as he continued speaking. "There's a rapport starting and I'm having a little difficulty handling it. And when Trowa hurt his hand… it was… more than I could handle."

"The ascension is different for everyone." Heero spoke assuring Quatre that he understood far too well what the young Mage was going through. "It affects their strengths and weakness. The bond you share with Trowa is growing stronger."

"Are you saying that when the rest of us go through our ascensions, Quatre's going to feel it as well?" Duo asked curiously, eyeing the Wind Mage as he looked up from Trowa.

"In one form or another, yes." Answered Heero with a great calm in his voice, "It will depend on how well he can control his ability."

"Oh man…" Duo whistled for a moment between his teeth. "Sorry about that, Quatre. Hey! That doesn't mean your gonna know what I'm doing on my 'free time' does it, cause that's Duo's time." Quatre as well as the others who where gathered there, stared at Duo for a moment in shock and disbelief that the mage even said something like that.

"What???" Exclaimed Duo as he flailed his arms a bit and argued defensively, "I just want to make sure that people respect my need for privacy."

"We should camp here for the night." Wufei said coughing behind his hand as he quickly changing the subject. "Trowa is in no shape for traveling."

"Good idea." Agreed Heero as he walked towards the horses to unpack enough for the night, "Why don't you and Duo go find us something for dinner." Duo and Wufei exchanged glaring looks at each other. "Stop it you two and get going."

The two reluctant Mages walked off in silence staying a fair distance from one another. Knowing that if they argued and it escalated they would have to face Heero's anger. The first time that happened was more then enough for the two young men.

"You want to tell me what's wrong with Trowa?" Heero asked, once the other two were out of earshot. Heero's straightforward question caught Quatre off-guard and he felt a bit flustered. The Wind Mage tried not to look surprised as he delayed answering the question. "His ascension shouldn't have been so tough on him."

Quatre looked up from Trowa's still face and spoke softly as if not wanting to disturb his rest. "He's fighting his Magic."


"He's fighting his gift. He doesn't care for magic it seems." Quatre spoke sadly, looking as if he'd broken some deep secret. "Trowa's had a very hard life up until now..."

"All Mage training is hard."

"No, it's not that." Quatre countered quickly trying to dispel any false idea's he might have given, "Becoming a Mage was the best thing that could have happened to him."

"I don't understand his control of Ice is quite good."

"That's part of the problem. Trowa has been trained as a Water Mage." Quatre could see the surprised expression on Heero's eyes though his face showed no sign. "Trowa was abandoned as a child. He struggled hard to survive and when he was six…" Quatre's words seemed to stick in his throat still feeling ill from what Trowa had told him months before, "…he was sold off like some worthless property. But in some fortuitous twist of fate, it was the best thing to happen to him. The man who bought Trowa was Mage S."

"And instead of keeping him as a slave, he took him on as a student." Heero said understanding the situation better.

Quatre nodded his head, "Yes, but his heart is not behind the magic, so his incantations… freeze."

"But for the Resurrection Spell… Water Magic was needed. How then?"

"I helped him with it." Quatre blushed softly as he continued speaking. "I can't hide the fact that my feelings for Trowa are strong. I love him Heero… very much. The others don't understand that I would do anything to help him. Anything."

"Then you'll have to help him accept his Magick. When we finally meet up with our enemy, we'll need all the magick we can summon. And it must be pure… unpolluted by feelings of despair or regret. Do you understand?" Quatre nodded his head again. "Good."

* * *