"I really don't like her," Suzu complained, leaning back against Miki's chest. Even as she did so, she shared a silent smile with Aku, who was sitting in a similar position against Enjeru. "There's something...," her voice trailed off as the correct words did not come to her.
"Off...about her," Miki finished.
She nodded. "Everything about her is off. How can we know for sure she's the other one from the prophecy?"
"The wings..." Aku began.
"Sorry, Aku-kun, but I could show you my wings and say I'm the other winged half breed, but that wouldn't make it true. All full-breeds have wings." She poked Enjeru lightly with one slim, sock-encased foot and winked at them both. "Until a few decades ago, no half-breed had ever had wings before."
"So there should be something special about the half breeds' wings maybe?" Miki hazarded. "Like how ours are greyish, but Enjeru's are pure white?"
"That's a good possibility," she agreed. "Aku?"
He shook his head slightly. "Kuroi's wings seemed perfectly normal to me. I've never seen anyone so... eager to show them off before, but they were no different from any other demon's wings I've ever seen before."
"So maybe she's only pretending to be the other?" The white-haired woman frowned and bit her lip lightly. "So why the charade?"
Enjeru had an answer ready for that one, and Aku twisted slightly to look up at him as he spoke. "Simple. To get the layout of our camp, see how we're holding..."
"Or it could be something more drastic," interrupted Miki.
"More drastic?" Aku repeated, snuggling closer and covering Enjeru's arms with his own as the general pulled him tighter against his body. "How so, Miki-san?"
"Gabriel and Michael will be here at the end of the week. Maybe Yuurei sent her to try to assassinate them," he hazarded.
Suzu suddenly went white, stiffening in Miki's embrace. "Or maybe it's not Gabriel-kun or Michael-kun he wants dead. Maybe Yuurei sent Kuroi after you, Enjeru." Aku suddenly clutched onto his arms almost hard enough to draw blood. "After all, the prophecy doesn't say a word about what would happen if you die. And you did go storming into his camp like a one-man army."
Silence reigned for several long minutes, the two couples sitting on opposite ends of Enjeru's bed and staring at each other as they tried to come up with a feasible solution. Finally Miki spoke again. "We're going to have to keep a close eye on her."
"But aren't we fairly sure she isn't the other winged half breed now?" Aku interrupted quickly. "Can't you just go ahead and throw her out now?!"
"Sounds like my kind of a plan there, Aku," Suzu piped up.
"We could," Enjeru slowly answered, "but it would be better for us to know what her intentions are before we do anything. She could just be trying to claim refuge or something -"
"Or she could be trying to kill you!" Never breaking out of the circle of Enjeru's arms, Aku turned so that he was on his knees facing the other man, gently setting his arms across the general's shoulders. "I know you're used to not caring about what happens to yourself, but... I don't want anything to happen to you."
"She might not even be planning to do anything to me at all, Aku. What Suzu said is just a 'what if'."
"I don't care! I don't want you to take the chance."
"I think that's our cue," Suzu whispered, tugging lightly at the tan trench coat Miki wore. "Come on, Miki. They need to be alone." Their exit was barely noticed by the other couple.
"I don't think I've heard you like that since you first got here," Enjeru stated softly. He leaned just slightly forward till their foreheads touched, raising a gentle hand to stroke across Aku's cheek.
"I don't want to lose you..." The words fell from his lips at little more than a whisper.
"If I have any say in the matter, you won't." But I can't promise you anything like that, not this time...
The younger man smiled faintly. "Thank you." I don't deserve you...
And as close as they sat, it seemed like a very small matter to move that last inch and let their lips touch.
* ~ * ~ *
"It's not working."
"Make it work. Get them apart. Kill that bastard if you have to, but I don't want them anywhere near each other. I don't want him corrupting him."
"But... what about... the prophecy?"
"I don't care about the fate of the worlds enough to risk him." Aloud sigh. "Just make it work. I don't care how. Just make it work."
"Of course, my Lady." The scrying mirror went black before her, and she slumped down to sit on the cold dirt floor of her tent. "Now, just how in the hell am I supposed to do it?"
* ~ * ~ *
"Oh yeah, there's definitely some major tension here," Suzu muttered under her breath.
"Remind me again why we're doing this?" Miki returned, leaning back against an extremely thin tree that bent slightly under his weight.
"Because you and Enjeru-kun wouldn't let Aku-kun and me throw her out on her ass." She shook a playful finger in his direction. "If you just let us boot her, we wouldn't have to play so nice-nice now." She frowned, tugging at the blue dress suit she wore. "And we probably wouldn't have had to pretty up."
A gentle hand touched her cheek briefly; there wasn't time for much. "You're pretty either way, Suzu."
"You don't look so bad yourself," she returned, a slight blush on her face as she looked him over briefly. He'd traded in his usual (and rather tattered-looking) black set of clothes for a set that was identical in every way, except color; these were such a deep shade of purple that they could have looked black in anything else less than direct light. The tan trench coat he wore looked newer than his usual one as well.
At the sound of running footsteps, they both turned in time to see Enjeru and Aku skidding to a stop just behind them. "They're not here yet, are they?" the general panted, trying to regain his breath.
"No, not yet," Suzu answered, grinning slightly at Aku bent over and gasping for breath. "We're expecting them any minute though, so straighten up, you guys." Her grin softened to a smile. "You look very spiffy there, Aku-kun. Did Deborah-san make you a new outfit finally?"
He flushed just a bit. "She's been very busy. I didn't mind waiting." The mostly black outfit was so obviously new on him and new to him; he looked very uncomfortable in it, much as she was in hers, straightening any piece that felt even vaguely uncomfortable. "Enjeru made her finish it a few hours ago."
"Well, you look very nice in it." She winked slightly. In response, he looked like he was stiffening himself up for some sort of a teasing remark. "If Enjeru hadn't snatched you up..."
The reddish-blond man wrapped a possessive arm around Aku's shoulders. "Suzu..." he growled, sounding a lot less than angry, a faint amused smirk on his lips. Both she and Miki couldn't help grinning like Cheshire cats at the image.
Sorona, Enjeru's aide, slipped up close to the four of them and whispered just low enough for only them to hear, "Michael-sama and Gabriel-sama were spotted about 45 kilometers from here, Enjeru-senpai, then they vanished. What should we do?"
The general stiffened slightly. "They'll be here any minute then. We need to..."
"Finish pulling that stick out of your ass and act like a normal creature," a faintly nasal voice finished. An elbow appeared, resting on Enjeru's shoulder. "Or was there something else -"
"Gabriel-kun!" Suzu greeted, her usual cheer returning as she bounced up and down in excitement.
"Looking good there, pretty lady." She stuck her tongue out at him in response. "Good to see you again, Miki. Life treating you well?"
He hadn't realized he'd slipped an arm around Suzu's shoulders until he felt how he'd pulled her up against him rather possessively; Gabriel brought that out in almost everyone he met. "I can't complain."
The tall head general with shockingly red hair waggled his eyebrows at the man in the trench coat. "I should say so." Finally he turned to look down at Aku. "I don't believe I've met you yet. I'm Gabriel." He stuck out his hand expectantly.
Very hesitantly, he extended his own. "My name is -"
"Why are there two demons alive in this camp?" a sharp voice cut through the conversation.
Gabriel rolled his eyes and dropped his head into his hands in exaggerated suffering, muttering something that sounded a lot like "Why me".
"Nice to see you too, Michael-sama," Enjeru ground out through clenched teeth. His hold on Aku tightened just slightly, and the younger man raised a hand to lay on the tight arm around his shoulders.
The general of the gods' army scowled much more deeply. "And what is the meaning of... this?"
"Oh, go sit on it and twirl, Michael-kun!" Gabriel retorted sharply. "I happen to find it rather... cute." He winked slightly at Enjeru. "I also like the idea that if Enjeru can get the stick out of his ass, maybe one day you -"
Out of the corner of his eye, Enjeru noticed a faint movement just to the left of Gabriel and maybe a few meters behind him. Blonde and curly hair reassured him of the identity of the person. The white light of a spell being cast did not, however. In the split second before the light was released, he realized that it was designed as an attack spell and it was aimed directly into the group. Then it was fired and he could only react, doing the one thing that came immediately to mind: quicker than a thought, he moved between the attack and Aku, wrapping his arms around the young man's smaller body and shielding it with his own - just before it could hit.
"No!!!" he faintly heard Aku scream into his ear before he fell into the darkness...
16 October 2001
Yay!! Finally! Chapter Sixteen! Gabriel! Michael! And yet another conspiracy/plot! And who's out for which of our heroes' life?
You know me and e-mail/reviews. They tend to help solve the problem.
Tsumetai toki ga yume o furaseru kono te no naka o surinukete
Negai kazoe mezameta toki ni yureru maboroshi ni kimi ga utsuru
Boku o michibiku kasuka na silhouette
When it's cold, the dreams rain down, sliding through these fingers
I count my wishes then I awaken, seeing you in the shimmering vision
Your faint silhouette shows me the way
- "Glaring Dream," by Bad Luck, from Gravitation