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fic - kdtv 17 - reconciliation - the turnip patch
version 2.0
turnippatch
turnippatch
fic - kdtv 17 - reconciliation
Series:  Kyuuketsuki Duo
Arc:  TV Series
Title:  Reconciliation



Kyuuketsuki Duo
Episode XVII - Reconciliation


The four assembled teens settled into their places in the backyard, an uncomfortable silence falling over them before Quatre made it a point to make eye contact with each of them.

"Well," the blonde boy started.  "I think we all know what we have to discuss today."  No response.  Very well.  He would just get to the point, then, if no one was willing to engage in small talk.  "Most specifically, I guess, I'd like to know how you feel about Duo, Wufei."

The Chinese boy started almost imperceptibly as focus shifted to him.  "What about him?" he asked stiffly.  Meiran had accepted Quatre's invitation to be here for the both of them.  Not that Wufei really didn't want to be there, but it was easier for him to act as if he were unwilling.  And besides, it truly was an uncomfortable topic.

"Do you still think he's evil?"

Good question.  Wufei had tried to sleep last night, but the question had kept him tossing until morning.  "I'm still deciding," he admitted.

Quatre nodded to himself.  At least he seemed receptive, which was an improvement over his previous attitude.  "He didn't hurt any of those people last night.  Darcy's little cult.  He could have, but he didn't."

Wufei acknowledged the point with a slight tilt of his head.  "He may not be evil, but that doesn't automatically mean he's good."

"Caution is a good idea, in any situation.  But I'm convinced he means us no harm."

"He could have hurt me," Meiran interjected softly.  "He could have just went right through me to get to that... that thing.  But he stopped.  Or his partner stopped, I guess."

"He wouldn't have taken her hostage if he didn't think it would stop Duo," Quatre added.  "...And me, too, I guess.  I...."  He shuddered briefly in memory.  "I don't know what he did to me, but he used me like he did Meiran.  And you heard Duo.  He said he didn't want to hurt me.  Or all those others.  And he didn't."

"Words," Wufei muttered.  "Just words.  But what about that demon in the square?  The one I saw him speaking to."

"If we can agree that Duo isn't evil, then maybe that demon you saw wasn't evil, either.  I mean, maybe Duo's got friends or something.... Well, I guess we can find out soon enough."

Wufei eyed him suspiciously.  "What do you mean?"

"I've invited him over.  He should be here soon."

"You what?!"



Duo stood in front of the door, nervously chewing his lip.

::Don't worry, Duo,:: the thought drifted to him.  It swirled around the edges of his aura and settled there like the familiar old friend it was.

::You'll be here?::

::Always.::

He knew it was silly of him to fret so.  Nothing could go more wrongly than it already had, really.  Resolutely, he pressed the doorbell, as any human might do, and listened as the chime echoed through the home.  He would have liked to have Heero standing directly by his side, someone whose embrace he could hide in if things got rough, but he knew Heero was even closer than that, anyway.  Still, being embodied, he couldn't help but take comfort in corporeal things.

He sensed a presence approaching from the other side of the door, and his hands automatically went to tug at his shirt and straighten out the wrinkles.  He had chosen to wear the shirt and pants of his school uniform, hoping the others would find it comfortably normal and unthreatening.  No shadows, bells, and ribbons today.  One more deep breath was all the time he had before the door opened, and he found himself smiling with what he hoped was reassuring confidence at the boy behind it.

"Duo!" Quatre greeted brightly.  The accompanying smile had a slightly weary edge to it.  "I'm glad you came.  Come in, please."  He opened the door a little more widely, so Duo could step inside without running into him.  "The others are already here.  We've been talking in the backyard."

In his own way, Duo was glad they were all already present, because that way, he could face their suspicious eyes all at once.  On the other hand, he would have liked just a little more time to ready himself, not that he really thought that having any more time would have helped.  He sensed no powerful hostility directed towards him, but refrained from reading any more deeply than that.  Hopefully, they had decided not to lynch him.

Quatre shut and locked the door behind him, and led him out to the spacious backyard.  It looked to have had the touch of a professional landscaper, once upon a time, or perhaps just a person in touch with nature.  Quatre's mother?  In any case, it was comfortable and open, with a small waterfall in one corner, and opposite that, a large tree providing shade over a section of lawn that would have been ideal for picnicking.  Currently, the space was occupied by three teens, studying his approach intently.

Quatre took a seat in the roots of the tree next to Trowa, but Duo remained standing, stopping far enough away from them that he could face them all at once.  His confident smile had faded in favor of a more sober look as he stood before them, awaiting judgment.  "Guys," he greeted neutrally, trying to meet each of their eyes with a swift sweep, without really trying to meet them.

"Duo."  Wufei was the first to speak, and he turned slightly in the Chinese boy's direction.  He would likely be the one to set the tone for the meeting.  Quatre claimed he was already convinced.  Trowa was ... well, Trowa.  He could be counted on to be a listener when others were talking.  Meiran, though not a submissive person by any stretch of the imagination, probably didn't have a strong opinion yet, and therefore would likely stay quiet for a while.  Wufei, however.  Wufei was the one he challenged with his very existence.

"Oh, this is silly," Quatre interrupted the quiet staring contest that might have started between the two of them.  "Duo, we've already agreed that you're not our enemy.  You didn't hurt anyone last night, so have a seat."  His words were at least half directed towards Wufei.

Duo's deep violet eyes blinked back to the blonde boy, his fight or flight instincts warring with his relief, telling him not to seat himself until he was sure of his situation, but he finally managed to shove all those little voices away and folded himself gracefully down onto the grass.

He had maintained his silence, hoping it passed for perfect calm and tranquility, but now he was starting to get antsy.  Around them, nature went about its business, uncaring of the humans and mostly humans that had gathered in its bosom.  "I believe there were some questions," he said carefully.  He chose not to be the one driving this conversation.  His plan was to be truthful, if not forthcoming.  Perhaps they had decided not to unite against him, but he still had to watch his step.  He didn't want to change their minds.

"What are you?" Wufei demanded, almost immediately, as if the query had been on the tip of his tongue since last night, and he had needed only a spark to ignite it.  Quatre may have convinced him that Duo meant them no harm, but obviously Wufei still wasn't willing to go so far as to call him a friend.

Duo had prepared a brief explanation in anticipation of the inevitable question, and he directed his answer to the assembled youths in general.  "Beyond the realm of humanity," he began, glad that he would not have to spend a lot of time convincing them that such a place existed.  If they didn't believe it by now, they were hopeless.  "There are many other planes of existence.  One of them is known as the Dark, and in the Dark, reside the Shinma.  Long ago, a line of guardians was formed, that would watch over the boundary between the Dark and the mortal plane, and maintain its integrity as necessary.  The guardians were to make sure that no humans wandered into the Dark, and no Shinma wandered into the human realm.  I am one of those guardians."

"What are the Shinma?"  This question came from Quatre.

"Darcy was an example of one, although certainly not all of them are as overtly malicious as he.  They are inherently non-corporeal beings that feed on the spiritual energy of humans.  Most prefer some particular flavor of emotional energy, and will either incite it themselves, usually through possession, or skim off of what's already there."

"Who created the guardians?" Wufei asked.

"The Shinma."

"Why?"

"Their place is in the Dark.  Some believe it more strongly than others, although certainly it seemed a more popular idea in days long gone.  They created the guardians to enforce that order.  When in the Dark, the Shinma exist more purely.  They can survive without feeding upon the human essence."  The confrontation was going more smoothly than he had really hoped.  He supposed Quatre must have told them all to behave themselves.

Wufei shook his head irritably.  "You may be a 'guardian', Duo, but that really explains nothing.  What are you?  What were you created from?"

Ah, here was the question with which he might sink or swim.  Duo chose his words carefully.  "The guardian lines were created from both human and Shinma blood."

"Do you need to feed, as the Shinma do?"

"I must feed, as must all creatures.  But not as the Shinma."

"Darcy claimed that you are a vampire.  That you must drink the blood of humans to survive."  Wufei waited expectantly for an answer, but Duo remained silent.  "Do you drink blood?" he demanded directly.

"On occasion," Duo was forced to admit, although he did so calmly.

"Do you kill your victims?"

"No."  Wufei hadn't jumped him yet, so he was thinking maybe things were going to be okay.  But perhaps he shouldn't have been surprised.  Wufei was a smart boy, if a bit stubborn.  A scholar at heart, really, until circumstances diverted his attention.  But with all the evidence presented in direct opposition to his previous conclusions, he would not be so obstinate as to ignore the facts and persist in his previous course.

"So you are not Shinma enough to feed off spiritual energy?" Quatre interjected, hoping to re-emphasize Duo's humanity.  Or at least, non-Shinmahood.

Duo shrugged.  "I am embodied.  Likely, I need the energy in a more solid, substantial form."  Actually, he could supplement his power in other ways, but that was a secret between him and Heero.  Some of his ancestors, in the book that they had found in his attic, had mentioned a similar ability, but not all.  Nevertheless, for true sustenance, he did need blood.  He snuck an unnoticed peek at Trowa to see if the discussion had stirred up any uneasy recollections.  If it did, the teen gave no sign of it.  Then again, since it was Trowa, that probably didn't mean anything.

"You're not a traditional vampire, are you?"

"If by traditional, you mean, conforming to all the legends, then no, I am not your traditional vampire."  Someday, Duo would have to sit down and have a talk to those people who called him a vampire.  About the only trait he shared with one was the fact that he needed blood to survive, and having to explain that he didn't share the rest of those traits was tedious.  It might have been a simple term to use to describe his situation, but difficulties that usually arose with the word more than counteracted the convenience.

Inside his head, however, he felt a light tickle of friendly laughter.  ::I seem to recall having to explain those very same differences to one rather confused young man, myself, once upon a time,:: Heero reminded him.

"I sit here freely in the sun, and don't burst into flames," Duo continued, acknowledging Heero's jab with an amiable poke back of his own.  "Holy water should have no effect on me, although I admit I've never run into it."  He tugged his necklace out from within his shirt.  "As you can see, crosses mean nothing, nor silver.  And while I don't particularly like garlic, that's just a matter of taste."  He dropped his necklace back inside his collar, and gave it a little pat to make sure it settled properly.

Duo watched Wufei's face carefully as the boy struggled to reconcile his beliefs with the braided youth seated casually in front of him.  "But what do you do?"

"In a nutshell, return stray Shinma to the Dark.  I'm not part of a massive cover-up conspiracy, per se, but I also try to see to it that humans don't have to deal with the knowledge that the monsters under the bed actually exist."

"And Darcy...?"

"Was a stray."  Not that he had actually returned that one to the Dark, as he was implying.  He studied Wufei's countenance again as he tried to fit his concept of evil into Duo's job description.  Duo had to repress the urge to reach over, and pat the poor boy on the shoulder.  There wasn't much more he could tell him.  Wufei would have to come up with some sort of conclusion on his own.

Quatre sensed Wufei's conflict, and suddenly remembered that he had some questions of his own to ask.  "Duo.... What about me?  What am I?"

Duo turned his attention to the blonde.  Hopefully, he would be able handle the truth about what he was without as much conflict as Wufei.  "You're a spiritualist, Quatre.  A human with a powerful spiritual force that you are able to manipulate.  You can probably sense a lot of things that other people can't, things about the world around you."  Quatre nodded.  "You can do that untrained.  Trained, you can also use your power against things like minor Shinma or little demons and the like.  Nothing too flashy.  It's power that's pretty much geared specifically towards wards and the like.  What happened last night, when the Shinma took control of you, was a flagrant abuse of your power.  He basically just picked it up and threw it at me.  Very inelegant."

Quatre nodded again.  "That would probably explain why my head hurt so much last night.  And why I've been feeling so tired all day, right?"

"What did Darcy-- the Shinma mean when he said that your powers did little good against Quatre's power?  And humans?" Wufei asked.  Trust Wufei to try to ferret out any possible weaknesses Duo might have, even if they seemed to have come to a tentative peace agreement.

"I'm a guardian," Duo explained patiently.  "The powers my line was given were to fight against stray Shinma.  I'm very limited in what I can do against anything else."  Technically, he was very limited, but only in direct action.  He didn't think Wufei needed to know that right now.  In truth, there were many other ways to get things done without direct action.  It was all a matter of being creative.

"But why me?" Quatre asked, perplexed.  "Why do I have these powers?"

"It's inherited.  You got it from your mother, so far as I can determine.  It wasn't from your father.  And your sister, Iria, has some trace amounts of the gift running within her veins.  I've never met any of your other sisters, so I couldn't tell you for sure about them."

"Can you train me in the use of my powers?  I gather I was so easy to take control of last night because I had no training."

Duo experienced a short moment of surprise.  He had not really thought about the matter of training.  "Your mother would have trained you properly in the use of your power, when it emerged."  Quickly, he queried Heero for confirmation of his next statement.  "It should really be a spiritualist.  And I don't know any other spiritualists, I'm afraid."

"But surely you must be able to teach me something...!" Quatre persisted.  He might not admit it in so many words, but last night, when he lost control over all of his faculties, had been one of the most terrifying experiences of his young life, and he had no desire to repeat it any time soon.

::He's right,:: Duo mused to his companion.  ::He needs to be trained.  We've been saying that since the beginning.::

::He needs to be trained,:: Heero agreed.  ::But by someone that is familiar with his power.::

::Well, unless you know someone that is, and you just said you didn't, then we're as familiar as he's going to get.  Surely we can teach him enough to keep him out of trouble.::

::Would that be enough?  You know him better than I.  Isn't he the type that would rather use his powers for the good of others, rather than just using them to protect himself?::

A mental sigh.  ::Too true.  But then if that's the case, then he'd probably try to use them, even untrained, so we'd better do what we can, and maybe find him someone more knowledgeable down the road.::

::Contrary humans,:: Heero sent, without any real irritation behind the thought.  Quatre wasn't nearly as contrary as Duo was on occasion, and he had had much time to get used to Duo's ways.  ::Very well.  The basics across all disciplines are similar.  After that, we can improvise.::

Duo nodded to himself, and directed his attention outwards once more.  "We can teach you the basics, but after that, there are no guarantees."

"We?"  Wufei pounced on the word.  "You mean, you and your companion from last night?"

Duo blinked.  He hadn't meant to let the plural pronoun slip out, but now that the subject was brought up, there was no way they'd forget it again.  ::Don't worry about it, love,:: Heero whispered into his mind's ear, right before he materialized directly behind his partner.  Three simultaneous gasps were heard.

::Heero!:: Duo started, although his body betrayed nothing.  ::Are you sure about this?::

::If I weren't sure, I wouldn't have revealed myself,:: he chided.  Duo knew he wasn't prone to impulsive decision making.  ::Just don't expect me to unmask myself for them or anything.::

Ah, still a little early to be deliberately showing himself to others.  Well, Duo could respect that decision.  Somehow, he agreed with it.  Maybe Heero had been right, and he was suddenly finding his as yet exclusive privilege to Heero's bared being to be very personal and very special.  He shrugged to himself.  Contrary humans.  "Yes, my companion from last night," he stated blandly.  "His name is Heero."

Wufei recovered first.  "You are the one from the park that night, aren't you?" he demanded of the newcomer.  Heero appeared as he had always to them, with his mask and cloak and cowl.

"Yes, he is," Duo answered for him, leaning unobtrusively back just a little bit against Heero's legs.  ::I don't suppose I can convince you to sit?::

::Hn.::

"What was he doing there, that night?" Wufei asked, this time directing the question at Duo, since he seemed to be his companion's spokesperson.  Heero was just fine with that.  Wufei had heard his voice once, already, and as far as he was concerned, that was once too many.

"The same thing I was.  Keeping you from getting yourself hurt."

Wufei blinked.  "You were there, too?"

"Yes," he answered.  "I didn't want you to recognize me, so I stayed out of your sight."

"You were the one who spoke!  And that strange place you brought me to.... I had no intentions of getting hurt," Wufei claimed stiffly, suddenly seeing the implied insult to his skill.

"Then I didn't want to see you hurt anyone else, okay?" he retorted, not bothering to challenge Wufei's claim.

"What do you mean?  The demon--"

"Shinma," Duo corrected.

Wufei made an irritated noise.  "Fine.  The Shinma was the only one there that night.  I could have fought it easily."

::And no one says anything about winning,:: he muttered to his partner.  "And what would you have done?  Run your sword through it?"

"If that's what it took to kill the creature."

Duo shook his head.  "You still don't get it, Wufei."  And things were going so well, too.  "Most Shinma don't take corporeal forms of their own.  They dislike having the burden of flesh.  That wasn't just a Shinma you were facing that night.  That was a young man that had been possessed by a Shinma.  If you had run your sword through him, the Shinma would have fled back to the mask and hidden, and you would have been left with an injured, possibly dead or dying man on your hands!"

The haughtiness had leaked out of Wufei's posture slowly as he considered the implications.  Once again, Duo had to suppress the urge to do something nice for him to balance out the harsh revelations he had been handing to the boy all afternoon.  It was never nice to find out that everything you had believed in wasn't quite right.  Duo knew from personal experience.

"Look," Duo started again, more gently this time.  "Leave the Shinma hunting to me, okay?  That's my job.  I can destroy them, or return them.  You can't."

Wufei shook his head, trying to regain some composure.  "No, I destroyed one, once."

"That one was already in your head.  It was on your playing field, and you had enough strength to destroy it there.  But you can't if it's outside of yourself."

Wufei's eyes narrowed, suddenly.  "How did you know that?  That it was in my head?"

Duo sighed.  Damned if he did, damned if he didn't.  "It's my job, Wufei.  I tracked the stray down to you, and I would have returned it if I didn't think you could handle it on your own."  Could, would, should.  He wasn't going to fret over the details just now.

"So that night--?"

"I just gave you a little friendly help, that's all.  So unless you plan on always getting yourself possessed, let me handle it, okay?"

Quatre didn't think that was the best way to phrase things.  "Wufei, maybe Duo can teach us all a little more about the otherworldly?"  He glanced at Duo with a strong nudging hint in his eyes.  "You can never have too much knowledge, after all."

"I'd love to learn more about ... everything, too," Meiran pitched in, speaking for the first time.  She knew Wufei's training had been cut short, and she knew that Wufei knew it, too, but it didn't stop him from going out and trying to train on his own.  She worried about him constantly, and would be more than happy if Duo were to help him out.  Besides, armed with more knowledge, she could help Wufei herself, and maybe keep him from dismissing her so easily.

Duo acquiesced willingly, glad he hadn't had to offer himself.  Wufei would surely have rejected such a proposition, coming from himself, but there were things that he really needed to know.  "I'd be happy to tell you all whatever I can."  He met each of their gazes in turn, but when he looked into Trowa's eyes, he was suddenly struck by the disconcerting feeling that Trowa maybe did know who he was.  Maybe.  Damn him for being so inscrutable, anyway.  Damn himself for making him so damnably inscrutable.



-------
this would lend itself well enough to a flipside sort of division, but i doubt anyone really wants to be bored with all the details of the long explanations twice.

in any case, i apologize for the long conversations, but i didn't want to just wave my hands over it and suddenly have them all buddy-buddy again.




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