Demon of Justice Chapter 3
"Daddy, He Followed Me
Ooooo. I hate sugar crash.
MEL: Nobody made you eat all those sweets...
and fairy floss... and--
CHRISTY: Fairy floss?!
MEL: *sigh* Cotton
CHRISTY: Oh... why didn't you say so?
MEL: 'cause here in
Australia it's fairy floss, OK?
CHRISTY: ...oh. 'kay.
MEL: As I was saying, nobody forced you to eat all that
sugar and food colouring. Nobody made you wash it down with three bottles
< thud CRASH > "Wahahahahaaaa! The Death of Rats
MEL: --nobody made you buy lots of the same stuff for
CHRISTY (muttering): dunno why HE doesn't sugar crash. no
fair. hmph. ooo.
< thudthudthudBANGclatterTHUD > "Aha!
--and nobody, nobody, but NOBODY even THOUGHT of even SUGGESTING you should give
Quatre a bottle of Redeye. Platinum Redeye, at that. Quatre on
caffeine, sugar and Gurana is even scarier than Zero System
QUATRE (running past with Christy's stuffed dragon puppet,
chasing Duo): WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE~~~~~~~~~~!
Doppler effect. I only did it 'cause it was what I had in my hand when he said
he was thirsty! ooog...
MEL: Poor Heero tried to stop you, even.
Now look at him!
HEERO (sitting in corner): ...ninmu...
MEL: Trowa's still locked in the toilet and probably won't
come out for hours... and the last time I saw Wufei, he was starting to look
DUO (skidding to a stop): Naaaah, he just looks like
that sometimes, when something really stupid and trivial just happens to
outrage his overdeveloped Justice Gland.
MEL: Like, oh, say, you and
Christy breaking his weapon rack and dumping ALL his swords on the
DUO: Aheh... well... eeep! Ah, Q-man, um... put the acetylene
torch DOWN... please?
(muttering): in fifteen SECONDS.
DUO: Um... ah... I'm
OUTTA HERE! < zip! >
QUATRE: Oooo! Pretty!
MEL: Ah... uh-oh. Christy?
ooooog... I think my brains are gonna run out my ears...
HEERO: ...little girl... with a puppy...
MEL: Wufei? Oh
yeah -- he went to get a new sword rack. Um. Well... before the flames reach the
modem and cut our Net connection... on with the fic! Er... Trowa?
TROWA (still in the loo): ... (translation: 'Not on your life. I'd
"Daddy, He Followed Me
was arguing with himself. One of the psychology textbooks he'd read as part of
his studies had said this wasn't necessarily a bad thing... but he was
That couldn't be good.
'Oh yes, the
multipurpose statement. Next it'll be "hn".'
until you admit I'm right.'
'There it is again! Are we going
to stand here all night?'
'You fantasise about his
I do NOT!
'You nearly had a heart attack the first time you
saw him with his hair loose... freshly washed... clinging to his--'
'Or what? "Omae o Korosu"? That'd be a bit
'You've still got the same reaction to the
sight. You've seen him like that what, four times?'
keep track! How _sweet_!'
Heero was positive that part of his mind
was quietly laughing at him.
Downstairs, Trowa checked
Heh... fifteen minutes and
'You know, it's pretty surprising that
you've seen Duo with his hair down at all. He keeps that very... private.
It's unavoidable when we room together.
'You think so?
Usually he combs it out wet and braids it in the bathroom, no matter WHO'S
banging on the door to get in.'
'Think about it. Have any of
the others seen it loose?'
How would I know?!
'Wufei's been alone
with him on long-term missions a couple of times - ooh, was that a twinge of
'Just checking - anyway, you know he's
ranted about "Maxwell's insufferable habit of locking himself in the bathroom
EVERY morning, no matter WHAT else is going on, until that damn BRAID of his is
'And if you've been rooming with him
for most of two years, and you've only seen his hair down five
times, do you honestly think he couldn't have avoided
'You're losing this argument, Heero. You do
'This argument itself is
'I quoted Wufei.'
you're so concerned about Duo, and the fact that you might have feelings
for him, that you didn't - even for a heartbeat - think about what happened to
Heero's eyes widened and his fists clenched tighter as
he realised... that annoying little part of his mind was
'...I rest my case.'
jerked abruptly awake, shaken out of sleep by a rough hand on his
Huh? Heero sounds... angry? What's going
Startled violet eyes met furious blue for an instant, before
Heero spun on his heel and stalked out of the room. Staring up at the ceiling,
Duo blinked, trying to clear his thoughts.
What the HELL did I do to
piss him off NOW?!
Trowa glanced at his watch as
Heero came down the stairs. Nearly twenty minutes... hm. Looks like something
went badly wrong. He watched from under his bangs, maintaining the illusion
that he was focussed on the TV, as Heero (in full Perfect Soldier Mode) stalked
across to his chair and sat down.
The expected tapping of keys did not,
however, start. One of Trowa's eyebrows lifted a millimetre. Heero was just
sitting at the table, staring through his computer screen,
The sound of a door opening came from upstairs.
tracked the sound of unsteady footsteps as they made their way down the hall.
Glancing back at Heero, he saw his hands clench into fists on the table; then he
looked back at the stairs just in time to see Duo half-stagger, half-fall into
view, clutching at the banister for support.
"Damn it Heero, who the
fuck stuck a stick up your ass this time?!" Duo nearly spat the
words at Heero, eyes blazing. "If that's the way you're gonna wake me up, I'd
rather take the chance of dying in my sleep! At least it would be less
painful! If you have a problem with me, say so. If you've got a
problem with something else, then don't take it out on me, because I have
enough things to worry about without wondering if you're gonna trash me
in my sleep!"
Duo's mouth moved as if he wanted to say more, but
then he pressed his lips together, glaring at the back of Heero's head. Trowa
glanced across to see how the Japanese pilot was taking this, and wasn't
particularly surprised to see that he hadn't reacted outwardly... other than to
clench his fists even tighter.
A sigh came from the direction of the
stairs, and then Duo's voice - still angry, but quieter. "Fine."
there was a slithering sound, a thud, and a loud hiss of pain. Trowa and Heero
both spun around to see Duo on his hands and knees on the stairs, forehead
pressed to one step, teeth clenched and tears of pain in his eyes. "Shit...!" he
gasped quietly, then pushed himself up, grabbed for the banister and started
trying to pull himself to his feet.
Heero had barely begun to stand when
Trowa stalked past, shooting him an icy glare; as he dropped back into his seat,
eyes wide in surprise, the taller boy was already at Duo's side helping him
"Yeah, yeah, daijoubu damnit. Just slipped and
banged my knee, is all." Duo's voice was a shock, suddenly tired and defeated;
Trowa had never heard him sound quite so depressed.
"You could say that."
"Right. Come on."
gently as he could, Trowa got Duo back into bed - miraculously not waking
Quatre - fed him painkillers, and checked his knee.
"It's no worse than
"Great; that's a bright spot in my day. Situation Normal, All
Fucked Up," Duo sighed. "What the hell did I do this time, man? I mean, I
haven't pulled any tricks for at least a week, and then I just
short-sheeted his bed; it's not like I did anything to Wing."
stayed silent, uncomfortably. Duo's voice was beginning to slur as the strong
painkillers pulled him back into sleep.
"All I wanna do is keep everyone
cheerful, keep us all together... and I want Heero to like me. I can't even get
that right. I didn't warn Wufei in time, and now this..." Duo's eyes drifted
shut. "Am I really... that much trouble... Trowa?"
wasn't sure whether Duo had heard him or not. He stayed a few minutes longer,
studying the sleeping face; there was a slight unhappy frown there, and both
hands were clutching the braid like a lifeline.
Well, that idea
backfired miserably, he thought glumly. This is my fault - and I don't
know if I can fix it...
Heero turned his head
slightly as he heard Trowa coming down the stairs, but didn't look around; he
just listened as the footsteps crossed the floor towards the TV, and then
paused. When Trowa spoke, his voice was colder than Heero had ever heard it...
except once, when Quatre had been injured.
"I'll wake him up from
* * * * *
Piloting Nataku through a maze of
interconnecting canyons, following a trail of hoofprints he hoped had
been left by the robed man's entourage on their way in, Wufei glanced briefly at
the two girls riding in Nataku's palm. At least the blonde onna's got a grip
on herself now. And the... taller one... is taking all this well.
'taller onna', as he insisted on thinking of her, had mid-brown hair that had
been braided, then coiled around her head and into a bun by her neck. Perhaps he
could term her the 'brunette onna'.
It was definitely easier than
thinking of her as 'the one that isn't human'.
He'd taken a good look
earlier, when he first picked them up, and it was definite. The blonde girl
certainly looked human... actually, she reminded him rather of Quatre in drag,
from that disastrous mission where three of the Gundam pilots had had to enrol
at an all-girls school. Wufei quickly dragged his thoughts away from the memory
of THAT indignity; Heero and Trowa had insisted that neither of them
could 'pass', the cowards. In any case, whatever the blonde looked like, the
brunette was entirely too tall, especially for a human from what seemed to be a
medieval-level society; there was something odd about the bone structure in her
face; and there was the small matter of...
kept wandering back to those
that he'd nearly missed a turn, and dragged his attention back to the
Naiya leaned forwards between two of the
demon's fingers, peering into the dimness. "He must have great night
vision; I can't see a thing!" She leaned further, craning her neck to look
straight down. "Well, not quite... I can see a little, where the moonlight
falls... but certainly not enough to backtrack horses, and that's what he seems
to be doing. And he's so fast!"
From behind her, Rami spoke up in
a worried voice. "Please be careful, Naiya! You'll fall!"
worry, I'm holding on. And he doesn't have his fingers that far apart, anyway.
He's being careful not to drop us... hm! I wonder... if I did fall, would
he catch me?"
"Don't try to find out!"
"Oooh... Naiya! You're impossible!" Rami pouted half-heartedly,
trying not to smile.
"I'm a hradani; I'm supposed to be
"I thought that saying ended with 'stubborn'?"
too," her companion said cheerfully.
"Um... why have you been calling the
Naiya looked surprised. "Am I...? Hm! I don't know... it
just sounds right. He certainly seems too much like a person to be an
"I guess so..." Rami said doubtfully, looking up at the smooth
metal face above them. She shivered as greenish-white glowing eyes looked
directly at her for a moment, then returned to scanning the path
Wufei had more things to worry about than furry
ears. For one thing, he wasn't entirely sure he could trust his
While the two girls looted their former captors' baggage,
he'd taken the time to do a little first-aid. The battle with OZ, and then the
rough trip here, had resulted in quite a few bruises where he'd been flung
against his seat harness; he was used to that, and just ignored them. The
injuries from when he'd been pelted with the contents of his toolbox were almost
all superficial, though he'd cleaned several oozing scrapes and bandaged one
rather nasty puncture on his thigh. But when he'd stripped off his tank top to
check the damage he was sure he'd felt--
--flying along the
corridor alone, no Gundam, no Nataku, just him alone feeling the ache of wounds
across his chest and back as the energy poured painlessly through his
--there was nothing.
Wufei frowned, rubbing the heel of
one hand across his chest. That had been bad enough - though he had to admit,
given what had been happening to him at the time, a minor physical hallucination
But what had happened afterwards...
he'd picked up the two girls in Nataku's hand, he'd begun to move forwards, but
had found himself transfixed by the sight of the bloodstained altar stone.
Looking at it, he could feel the fine hairs on the back of his neck starting to
prickle. It was the same feeling he'd had as a child, gasping into wakefulness
after a nightmare, when he couldn't see anything in his room but there was a
horrible weight on his chest and a presence and he
It was wrong.
He hated it.
And without a second thought, he'd
brought Nataku's foot down on top of the stone with her full weight behind it,
shattering it into fragments.
He shuddered, wrenching his mind away from
the memory and focussing determinedly on the tracks he was following. He didn't
want-- he wasn't ready to think about what he'd done next... Nataku's
fire burning the canyon until there was nothing left but greasy smears across
blackened stone, exulting in the pointless destruction--
Furry ears, he discovered, were becoming a welcome
* * * * *
"Can't you go any faster?!"
tracking by torchlight, Gwent! If we go any faster we'll lose the trail.
Besides, we've only three horses and twenty men. D'you really want to ride ahead
and leave all the others behind?"
"We have to go faster! That's my
daughter they took!"
"It's after being my own daughter too, man,
and Derrin's as well," a deep voice cut in. "We'll not do the girls any good if
we get there one by one or not at all."
A thin, balding man -- Gwent --
glared at the huge hradani walking by his horse. "And what if we get there too
"Then I'm thinking we'll be sending those as killed
them after our girls so they can be apologising for it in person," Cord rumbled,
a dangerous glint in his eye. "But we'll get there later still if we lose the
trail, little man, so just you be sitting quiet and let Terrin be doing his
The horses jibbed, snorting nervously as
they felt the faint tremor in the earth.
"There it is again!" Gwent yelped,
shortening the reins as his horse - more used to pulling a wagon than being
ridden - skittered sideways. "What is it? Where's it coming
"I'm not certain," Terrin said, pressing
his palms to the trail as he listened intently. "It's too faint to be sure,
"--I think it's getting closer... coming
from up ahead."
"Well what is
"How in Krahana's name should I
"You're the hunter here!"
never hunted anything that walked that
There was a horrified
"You're saying that's after being
footsteps, then?" Cord asked calmly.
"Can you think of anything else it
All the men looked at each
other, clutching their weapons tightly.
"I wish I
"I'm thinking maybe we should be putting
the torches out."
"I think we should be
Terrin shook his head,
still crouched feeling the vibrations. "It's much closer already. We
can't outrun it."
After a hurried
discussion, the villagers spread out on either side of the trail in a hasty
ambush. Some way ahead of the rest, Cord and Terrin crouched behind a screen of
bushes and waited. The plan was simple; when whatever-it-was reached the
midpoint of the ambush, the men who'd brought bows would loose at it. Cord and
Terrin would come in behind it with axe and spear, and then the others would
"All this is supposing yon beastie's a threat," Cord murmured
softly to his companion, reaching back to make sure his forgehammer was securely
looped to the back of his belt; he doubted it would be of any use, but it was a
comfort. "We'll look a right pack of noddies if it's not."
"I promise to
yell if I recognise it as harmless, how's that?" Terrin whispered. "Though I
hope you'll forgive me if I'm a tad suspicious, since it's coming from the same
direction that Phrobus-damned wizard went in."
"Aye, there's sense in
that," Cord chuckled, then sobered. The heavy footsteps were strong enough to
shake his whole body now, and he could hear the frightened whinnies of the
horses from where they'd been tethered some way down the trail.
we should be seeing some sign of it by now--
Something glinted in the
moonlight above the trees, and he stiffened.
"Is that-- how tall IS this
thing?" Terrin whispered, shocked.
Then it stepped into view.
stared, mouth open. Amazingly enough, there were no cries of fear from the other
villagers behind him; he supposed, with the corner of his mind not occupied with
watching the immense figure striding towards him, that they were all too shocked
to scream. Beside him, Terrin was alternately blessing himself and blaspheming
by the name of every god he could think of.
"A demon," Cord whispered.
"Phrobus damn them to the deepest hells, those whoresons were after summoning a
Terrin snapped his mouth shut, cutting his babble short as
Cord's hand gripped his shoulder tightly.
"If we're after having a demon
here," the hradani murmured into his ear, "I'm thinking we've no chance to save
any of our girls at all, at all. That being so, I'm minded to start the payback
with this big bastard. Are you with me?"
"Are you insane?!" Terrin
hissed. "We can't kill that!" He twisted around, tearing his eyes away from the
demon to glare at Cord, and was brought up short by what he saw in the
moonlight. The hradani's face was almost calm, but something hot and hating
glittered in his eyes.
When he spoke, though, his voice showed nothing of
it. "You've chopped bigger trees than that lad's legs, man. Hamstringing should
bring it down closer to our level, don't you think?"
seeing as how it's headed straight down the trail to home, we'd best
Terrin closed his mouth, swallowed, and
Wufei leaned closer to his screen, frowning as
he tried to make out the tracks. The trail he was following now was broad and
well-defined, almost a road; the tracks had joined it shortly after he'd left
the maze of canyons and moved into forested terrain. Still, there were enough
minor paths joining and crossing it - animal trails? - that he still needed to
keep checking to make sure the tracks didn't swing off, and the false colour
image enhancement mode he'd switched the screen to was giving him a
He straightened suddenly, blinking. Did something just move
in the trees? Reflexively, he switched to infrared.
flashed into view on the edges of the trail, sidling out of cover, each raising
one arm towards him--
Some of the other villagers must have come
to the same conclusion as Cord, for several bowstrings twanged as he and Terrin
sprang out of hiding. Racing forwards as the giant feet paused, he felt the Rage
sputtering at the back of his mind and let it loose, pouring its strength into
his arms as he howled a wordless battlecry and swung at what he hoped was a
"NO NO NO DON'T SHOOT DON'T SHOOT LEAVE HIM
Then his axe hit the back of the demon's
leg with a tremendous < < CLANG! > >, and he swore and dropped it,
Armour? This thing's wearing
The smith in him immediately started calculating how
to make armour that large.
The father in him had other concerns. "Naiya?!
Naiya, girl, are you there?" He looked around frantically.
He looked up, puzzled, then circled the demon's feet as he heard
another, more timid voice join his daughter's.
"Um... please don't
shoot again! You nearly hit us... is my papa there too?"
baby!" Gwent yelled, running forward waving his bow. "Are you
"Dena, are you there?!" Derrin cried out.
Naiya's voice came again,
hesitantly. "I'm... I'm sorry, Derrin, but..."
Cord peered upwards,
barely registering that Terrin had moved to put a comforting arm around his
twin's shoulders as he sagged.
The giant demon stood calmly, glowing
green-white eyes regarding the swirl of tiny mortals around its feet without
visible concern. One hand was cupped against its chest, cradling something; the
other was curved around it protectively. Something pale moved behind the
fingers, then a hand pushed out between them and waved.
"Naiya... what in
the name of all of Fiendark's furies are you doing up there?"
was his idea!" she called down, sounding rather defensive. "Hold on; I'll see if
I can get him to put us down."
'His? Him?' Cord mouthed silently. More
villagers crept out of hiding as nothing horrible happened to the
"Hello? Excuse me? Sir Demon?"
was suddenly visible above the demon's hands; she seemed to be standing up. She
waved one hand at the glowing eyes, then knocked on the metal breastplate.
The demon's head shifted slightly to look at her.
you put us down?" she called, pointing at the ground with exaggerated motions.
Its right hand uncurled from its shielding position,
revealing Rami's face peeking over the edge of the other hand; then one finger
pushed with the utmost delicacy on Naiya's shoulder until she sat
The villagers backed up quickly to give the demon room as it
carefully knelt and lowered its burden to the ground. As they watched, one of
the bowmen reached up and clapped a hand on Cord's shoulder.
Naiya's always been one to have strange pets follow her home," he said, with
slightly forced cheer. "This one's just a bit big..."
flattened his ears as he glared half-heartedly at the man. "That's not after
being funny at all, at all."
* * * * *
Heero sat at his laptop,
typing doggedly away in his search through OZ's computers for info about Wufei.
He was just waiting for that little voice at the back of his head to dig
at him again.
He wasn't disappointed.
'Are you happy
'Did you prove something
'Are you proud of
pops up, sooty, clutching a fire extinguisher and grinning
MEL: Well, most of the house is still here, and the
computers both still work, so THAT'S okay!
(Christy is sitting on Quatre,
munching on Starburst jellybeans and holding the acetylene torch out of his
reach. Zac, the cute li'l fluffy dog who has not previously featured in this
madness 'cause we were trying to preserve his innocence, is taking the
opportunity to lick Quatre's face enthusiastically.)
that was fun. What do we do next?
MEL (evil glint in her eyes):
Lessee... help Wufei put his sword rack up on one of the unburned walls (if
he'll let us), get the percentage of blood in Quatre's sugar system up to
something reasonable, snap Heero out of catatonia, and get Duo and Trowa
for being rat cowards. How's that as a program for today?
good to me. I'll get revenge on Duo for being a rat coward!
(She pops a
couple of jellybeans into Quatre's mouth.)
MEL: What, and leave me to do
the rest? --HEY! No jellybeans for Quatre!
CHRISTY: It was only a
(Quatre is making guppy movements with his
CHRISTY: Oh look, Mel, he's begging! How sweet! No, Quatre, you
aren't getting any.
MEL (absentmindedly): Not with Trowa still locked in
the toilet, he's not... OH! Jellybeans! Right!
CHRISTY: We could punish
Duo by writing him as Evil Relena's tortured love slave.
(Heero leaps out
of the corner and glares around looking for Relena, gun out and
MEL: Well, that took care of fixing Heero. Mmm... naah. We're no
good at writing Relena as evil. We kill her off too quickly 'cause we hate her
CHRISTY: Good point. We could make Duo go undercover in a
MEL: What, again?
CHRISTY: He hated it last
MEL: Good point. We could make Trowa go with him.
Why are we punishing Trowa? Oh, yeah, he was a rat coward too...
We'll think of something... appropriate. *hehhehhehhehheh*
in the loo): ... (translation: 'Why do I suddenly feel a chill?')
(out at an ice cream shop): *ACHOO!*
HEERO: Just leave me out of
MEL: Sure, Hee-chan! Oh, take Quatre with you so we can plot, okay?
Just keep him tied up until his eyes stop spinning.
HEERO: *sigh* Ninmu
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