Bane of Darkness

 

South Gate: 3

 

Duo had the strangest smile on his face the next morning when we gathered around an already prepared table for breakfast. It looked almost as if he knew a secret that the rest of us didn’t. The glances he exchanged with Heero, who was calmly eating his breakfast in an attempt to look normal, spoke volumes on what that secret was.

I hid a smile and pretended not to notice.

"I had a strange dream last night," Quatre said quietly. Since Duo was busy driving Wufei to distraction with a steady stream of chatter, I was the only one who heard him.

"Oh?"

"I wouldn’t have mentioned it at all," he continued. "But it felt so immediate… I don’t know." He shook his head. "I kept seeing this round crystal thing – and for some reason, it was like a part of me. Dorothy was there – she was laughing at me – and I knew that you were in so much danger, but there was nothing I could do about it."

I felt chilled, like I’d been given a premonition. Could Quatre’s dream have something to do with the future? It wasn’t uncommon… "Interesting," was all I said.

He smiled, a bit sheepishly. "I know, it sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? Maybe I’m just confused by everything that’s happened, relating to what we’re doing. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about."

I wasn’t so sure about that, but I decided to keep my thoughts to myself.

"Good morning." Relena walked into the room, with no formal announcement to mark her arrival. "I trust you all slept well?" She glanced briefly at her champion, and smiled knowingly.

" ‘Well’ doesn’t even begin to tell it all," Duo told her, grinning widely.

"I’m glad to hear it," she replied, quite seriously. "Heero has told me what you are trying to do, and I had hoped to offer you my assistance, in any way you might need it."

Wufei nodded slowly. "Appreciated," he said grudgingly.

"Thank you." Quatre graced her with a genuinely warm smile.

I just nodded.

"Heero has requested I write a speech for the citizens of my city," she continued, looking toward her champion. "I hope you’ll tell my why now, since I’ve done what you asked."

"He’s got a plan in mind," Duo told her, with another grin. "We need to get into the tower located in the lower part of your city, and he’s come up with a way to make it a little easier on us."

I shifted my gaze to Heero. "What’s the plan?"

"Just another diversionary tactic," he replied. "It’s fairly standard. If we’re lucky, this one won’t result in any sort of bloodshed at all."

Wufei raised an eyebrow. "How are we going to manage that?"

"Relena will give a speech," Heero answered.

Quatre looked puzzled. "What sort of speech will it be?"

"It doesn’t matter, as long as it seems like there’s something important happening." Heero shrugged. "We only need an excuse to drag the guards away from that tower."

"Yeah," Duo spoke up. "Once they’ve gone off to hear Relena talk, Trowa and Quatre can sneak into the tower and nobody will know what they’re up to until it’s too late. They can’t do anything after the Gate’s all locked up, can they?"

"It sounds simple enough." Quatre smiled at me.

"It is." Almost too simple. I chose not to comment.

"Simple enough to work, maybe." Wufei looked thoughtful. "It’s probably worth trying out, at any rate."

"Good." Heero nodded. "Relena?"

"I’ll send out an announcement at once." She turned and left the room.

I frowned, and closed my eyes briefly. There was something not right about the way we seemed to achieve such easy victories. It was as if… they wanted us to succeed. But why would they? That was against what they were going for, wasn’t it?

My gaze shifted to Heero momentarily. Unless they’ve found a different way to get what they want.

~~~~~~

I glanced over my shoulder at the group of Relena’s soldiers, who had been placed under Wufei’s command. "Will they do, or will we end up fighting?"

"They’re adequate." He sniffed. "Only barely, but they can get us by. I don’t think there will be too much resistance from any of those Gate guards."

"Maybe a protest or two," Quatre guessed, from my other side. He was wearing the uniform of one of Relena’s soldiers, like Wufei and myself. "They’ll probably be afraid that they might get in trouble for deserting their positions."

"Probably," I agreed. "But with the pretense that our soldiers will be roaming the streets looking for stragglers, they might be persuaded more easily."

"Enough chatter." Wufei straightened. "The two of you had better act like ordinary soldiers. I’ll take care of this."

Quatre and I joined the ranks of Relena’s guards, and Wufei gave us all the order to move in on the unsuspecting Gate guards.

"What the – ?" The first astonished-looking guard tried to protest, but Wufei cut him off.

"All citizens of this city are ordered as of now to be taken to the Center, where her Royal Majesty will give an important speech," he ordered crisply. "You are hereby commanded to abandon this post and travel there immediately."

Nice and to the point, I reasoned approvingly.

"But – " someone tried to protest.

"There will be no excuses!" Wufei barked. "My soldiers will be patrolling the streets to prevent theft and to bring all citizens into the Queen’s presense. You people will come with me!"

The Gate guards looked at each other helplessly.

"You, and you!" Wufei pointed at Quatre and myself. "Scout around this area for any others who aren’t yet at the ceremony. The rest of you, take these people to the Queen’s gathering. Move!"

Quatre and I left the group as the reluctant Gate guards were led away.

"That was easy," Quatre commented. Again, I got the urge to answer that it was too easy, but I kept silent. "There’s the entrance," he said suddenly, pointing. Then he looked at me oddly. "You’re being awfully quiet, Trowa. Is something the matter."

Yes. "No. Not a thing."

"All right." He turned back toward the archway.

I followed him into the tower and pushed thoughts of "too easy" to the back of my mind. Time enough to worry about that in the future.

~~~~~~

"All right." Quatre pulled the shimmering mass of keys from his bag, holding them ready. "Time to get started." He moved to the first lock – the Silver, this time.

I immediately stood behind him, wrapping my arms around his waist. He was not going to fall down after sealing that lock. I would make sure of that.

"Trowa, you don’t need to…" He trailed off when he saw my expression, and sighed. "All right, if it makes you happy. I don’t need help just yet, though."

As if that would be enough to ease my worries. I did not like the way sealing those locks seemed to take so much out of Quatre. I had the most unsettling feeling that it had something to do the reason that sealing up the Gates was so easy for us in the first place, and it made me worry – for Quatre more than anything else. I really didn’t want to see him get hurt. More than anything, I knew, I had to keep him safe.

Though that may have been more of a personal thing.

My fears wound up being confirmed as Quatre seemed affected more so than last time by the light that seemed to suck out his energy. I practically had to carry him to the last lock, and when he’d sealed it, he collapsed bonelessly into my arms, hardly seemingly to notice as the locks all sank into the wall, closing up the Gate. He seemed even more exhausted than he had before.

I was starting to have very serious suspicions at that point. And none of what I speculated was good.

"I-I’m okay," he murmured, letting me carry him. "Really, Trowa, I’m… okay." And then he passed out in my arms.

There was a frown spreading on my face as warnings seemed to scream in my head. This is too easy. There must be a reason. And it can’t be good for Quatre…

The thing that bothering me the most was that there was nothing I could do about it.

 

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