Cycles


Disclaimers
: The GW characters belong to the people they・ve always belonged to, and the initial concept
of this story was inspired by S. L. Wai・s :Seeking Dreams;. The rest is mine. Please ask before stealing.
Warnings: Shounen ai, character death, AU. Implied NCS. This story is rated R so beware mature themes.

When dreams and pasts intersect, two young men are drawn irrevocably towards each other
while those around them struggle to solve their puzzle. As the cycles revolve,
it becomes a race against fate and time...


Cycles

Chapter One

/ The figure sprawled against the bricks, its seemingly casual posture at odds with the pain contorting its face. Low mutterings sounded nearby. Suddenly, a metal pole was hurled, and landed with a clang beside the body. The figure flinched. Two threads of laughter echoed eerily, their sounds distorted by the alley walls. Then, the footsteps receded and all was still.

After some time, a shadow appeared and moved forward. The fallen figure felt a surge of hope and struggled to sit up, whispering faintly, .Lily...・

A humourless laugh penetrated the silence. The figure gazed upwards in shock, tensing as the woman・s smile spread into a smirk. It tried V in vain V to reach upwards, but its arm dropped limply onto the ground again. A low moan escaped its lips. The shadow・s smirk widened.

Then, the knife fell. /

***

Quatre cried out noiselessly. Sweat dripped from his forehead onto the pillows, and his arms were wrapped with suffocating tightness around the blankets. His body was curled up but trembling, and his face marked with fear. His eyes were clenched shut.

.Master Quatre!・

The familiar voice pierced through the darkness, and Quatre・s eyes flew open. For a few moments, they darted across the room wildly, searching for some confirmation of an altered reality. None appeared. After a while, Quatre drew a shaky breath and exhaled it slowly, struggling for some semblance of composure.

On the opposite side of the door, the pounding grew more insistent. .Master Quatre?・

Hurriedly, the young man slipped out from the sweat-soaked blankets and admitted his burly assistant. .I・m sorry, Rashid. I had only just woken up.・

The man・s gaze ran over him critically, then grew concerned. .Another nightmare?・ A frown met Quatre・s nod. .Master Quatre, perhaps you really ought to see a doctor.・

.I・m okay,・ came the reply. Rashid crossed his arms. After several minutes of silence, Quatre sighed and acquiescenced, .After the tour, then.・

The assistant nodded. .I・ll take your word for it.・ He paused, shifting uncomfortably. .Master Quatre, I・m sorry...・

.Rashid, we・ve been through this.・ The interjection was firm. .If I hadn・t thought myself capable of managing, I wouldn・t have granted you leave.・ Quatre smiled slightly. .I can survive by myself for a fortnight, truly. Most twenty-year-olds seem able to.・

.Most twenty-year-olds aren・t internationally acclaimed musicians,・ the man answered, his frown returning.

.So I should be better at surviving than most twenty-year-olds.・ Quatre touched his arm. .I・ll be fine. Go, and give my greetings to Abdul.・

Rashid hesitated, then bowed. .I will, Master Quatre. Thank you.・

After the man closed the door, Quatre・s smile faded and he collapsed onto the bed, breathing heavily. He reached for the remote and increased the room temperature but it was no use; the coldness remained, as did the numbing sense of betrayal. It was growing difficult to distinguish the external emotions from his own.

The sensible part of his mind was telling him to dismiss the dreams, but they returned too frequently and too starkly to be ignored. Worst of all, they *felt* real, so real that they seemed as sure as reality. Quatre believed in his feelings explicitly. He was, perhaps, known for trusting too easily, but in this case, his trust was not misplaced.

Quatre Winner・s feelings had never been wrong.

***

.Your pacing is making me dizzy,・ Duo muttered, cracking open an eyelid.

.Your eyes were closed,・ came the dry observation.

.Of course.・ He sat up. .I was trying to sleep. The footfalls on wooden floorboards didn・t help.・

Wufei halted and glanced at his friend. .Had you been in your bedroom, I may have apologised, but trying to sleep in my study and complaining about my presence is hardly sensible.・

.I・m not complaining about your presence; I・m complaining about the noise your presence makes.・ Duo・s lips quirked. .And I・ve never been known for being sensible, have I?・

The Chinese youth shook his head, retrieving the newspaper from his desk. After flipping through several pages in silence, he lifted one and handed it to his companion. .Here.・

.What is it?・ Duo・s eyes were already roaming over the print. When he finally looked up, his expression was almost wistful. .Are you going?・

Wufei indicated negative. .I・ll be visiting my parents tomorrow night. You?・

The man averted his gaze with a headshake. .Can・t. I・d like to, but it・s a Wednesday.・

.Ah,・ Wufei murmured. He was quiet for some moments. .I・d have liked to, as well. Besides, he rarely ever tours the cities.・

.Mmm,・ came the reply. .He doesn・t, does he?・

A sharp glance. .What are you thinking?・

Duo reclined against the couch, covering a yawn. .Nothing much. But it・s rather amazing how somebody our age could have become so famous.・

Wufei・s brow knitted. .He・s hardly the only young musician to be recognised internationally.・

.But he・s one of the first to deserve the recognition.・ Duo rose. .Pop idols aside, how many musicians are there who can actually claim to create music?・ He nodded at an empty jewel case. .Quatre Winner does. I mightn・t know much about it, but one doesn・t need to be a musical genius to end up wiping tears away after his concertos.・

.True,・ Wufei agreed. He gestured towards the clock. .Hadn・t you better eat breakfast? It・s almost noon.・

Duo shrugged. .I・m not too hungry, but I guess I should get going. The show・s coming up.・

.When?・

.In three weeks.・

.Leave me a spot.・

.I will.・ A pause. .Thank you.・

Wufei・s expression softened into something almost affectionate. .You know, Mr Maxwell, you・re not doing too badly yourself.・

Duo grinned. .Neither are you, Mr Chang.・ He gave a cheerful wave, slowing momentarily at the exit. .I・ll see you tonight.・ The door closed behind him with a click.

***

Heero looked up at the knock. .Come in.・ He slid his laptop and notes aside as the door slid open and admitted a young man. .How may I help you, Mister...?・

.Trowa Barton,・ came the reply. He sat down. .Trowa is fine.・

Heero nodded. .And what appears to be the problem?・

The man crossed his legs before him, pausing in thought for some moments. Finally, he returned, .I・ve been getting recurring dreams. Nightmares. They・re beginning to affect my performance, and I would like a way to deal with them.・

.How long have these dreams bothered you?・

.Almost three years.・

.Are they frequent?・

.Growing more so. They come weekly, instead of quarterly or monthly.・

Heero・s fingers flew over the keyboard. .Would you describe the dream? I assume it is the same one each time.・

.It is,・ came the reply. .I don・t remember much of it, but it is set in a dark alley, possibly beside an inn or a pub. There is a scent of wine, and empty barrels are stacked against one side. A man... named Robert, I think, is attacked by two other men. They leave him on the ground. Then, the sky darkens and a female approaches. Lisa... Lisa Bennet. Robert is glad to see her, but she says something, then stabs him with a knife.・

Heero began to speak, but Trowa forestalled him. .And I have never witnessed, experienced or heard of such a situation, nor a mixture of similar elements.・

The doctor regarded him sharply, then graced him with a rare smile and a nod of acknowledgement. .Then I need not ask. I will also assume you rarely frequent places such as the one you describe?・

.I do not. Alleys, yes, but nowhere near pubs.・ He paused slightly, then lifted his shirt to reveal a narrow scar on his chest. .Each time I have that dream, this scar begins aching, sometimes so much so that I cannot work.・ His visible eye held Heero・s. .I have never received an injury in that area.・

.I see.・ A pause. .No other physical symptoms?・

.No.・

.And that scar has been there for all three years?・

.Yes. It grows more visible after each dream, then fades.・

Heero thought for some time. .Has your work been stressful of late? Any particularly dangerous or urgent cases?・

Trowa shook his head. .I am an Honourary Agent. No active duty save for some specific infiltrations, and they all proceeded without mishap.・

.And within the family? Or in relationships?・

.My parents are dead, and my sister overseas.・ He hesitated. .I have a girlfriend, but we have not been close. I... find myself wishing to avoid her after I have that dream.・

.Would you say that the relationship has grown more strained ever the last three years?・

.Yes.・

There were several moments of silence. .I have a hypothesis, if you would like to hear it.・ At Trowa・s nod, he continued, .Instead of seeing the strain on the relationship as a result of the dreams, it may in fact be their cause. You fear betrayal by your girlfriend, and this fear manifests itself in the dreams. And since the dreams makes the betrayal a reality, however briefly, your fears are affirmed and you therefore feel more uncomfortable around her. It may also be that you feel ashamed of the fear and wish to prevent her from discovering them, again leading in the wish for avoidance.・

Trowa・s expression grew inscrutable, and he was quiet for some time. .And the scar?・

Heero noted the sudden reserve but did not comment on it. .For ordinary people, that may be a mystery, but unless I・m mistaken, all Honourary Agents receive specialised training in self-coercion.・ He crossed his arms lightly. .Just as your subconscious mind can produce dreams, it can also utilise your training without your knowledge. Such instances are rare beyond cases of self-induced sleep and memory blocks, but are certainly not impossible.・

The patient thought for a while, then gave a brief nod and stood. .I・ll consider the theory.・ He returned Heero・s gaze steadily. .But for now, I still maintain that there is more to the dream. For one, I do not particularly care for my girlfriend; I may have, at one point, but the feelings are gone. For another, the dream feels too real.・ He stared out through the window. .I feel as though I *am* Robert, each and every time.・

There was a silence.

Heero regarded him from where he sat, then tilted his head by a fraction. .If you wish, I can organise a consultation with Special Detective Chang. He has more experience with matters that aren・t yet satisfactorily explained through scientific reasoning, and may be able to offer both additional theories and a fresh perspective.・

Trowa glanced at him, thoughtfully, then gave a small smile. .That will be appreciated. Thank you for your time, Doctor Yuy.・

.My pleasure.・

***

Duo Maxwell had a history. Most of the workers at the Preventors did; their histories forged their personalities, and their personalities were crucial to their roles. He was different, however, in that his own past did not result in traits such as pain-tolerance or the ability to deal with extremely disturbing situations. Indeed, he did not need traits like those. Normal Agents did, as did Spies and Interrogators, but Duo was neither normal nor Spy nor Interrogator.

Duo Maxwell was an Artist. And yet, he was considerably more than that. Unlike the Detectives, who specialised in noticing and drawing relevant links between the tiniest and most unrelated clues, Duo・s skill lay in being able to do the same to people. It was not a conscious trait; he was naturally observant, yes, but no more so than his coworkers. His portraits, however, and the details he inserted in his trance-like states, were often perceptive enough reveal everything from the motivations to emotions of the person in question.

That skill Duo attributed to his past. As an orphan in the streets, his survival depended largely on his ability to understand those around him, from the police to the wealthier citizens to the gang leaders. He needed to know when to approach and when to hide, when to beg and when to let his pride define his actions. He needed to appear as neither aggressor nor prey. Those childhood skills had let him survive, and, eventually, to move beyond the streets, first into the Preventors, then into his own art studio.

But Duo was not one to forget his past, or to renounce it. He was, perhaps, too keenly aware of the sheer amount of luck he had been blessed with, and of the way the less fortunate were forced to live. Whatever his reasons, Honourary Agent Maxwell was never available on Wednesday evenings. He would always disappear somewhere between Jones Street and Kingsley Street with his backpack and black outfit, to run whatever errands he always ran. Few knew exactly what he did, and those few were wise enough not to question or comment.

It was on such a Wednesday evening that Duo strolled the narrow backstreets of the city. Nobody bothered him; he was well-known within the region, whether it be as an arbitrator or protector or interferer or provider or, though he denied it, a one-man peacekeeping force, and the only person who bothered trying to maintain order in chaos. Once in a while, somebody would challenge him, but those who chose to do so soon learnt that his trademark grin did not necessarily equate a lack of fighting skill.

It had been a good night. The two major gangs had come to a temporary truce V though those rarely survived a fortnight V and the minor ones were once again too weak to cause havoc. Nobody had stolen from anyone too powerful. The kids were hungry, but far from starving. There was none of the desperation evident several months ago. All in all, the streets were almost peaceful.

It was the stillness that let Duo hear the sound of pounding feet. He ducked instinctively behind an abandoned dumpster. Before long, the footsteps drew nearer, and he could distinguish two separate figures, a large man chasing and gaining upon a smaller one. Inching closer, he drew two conclusions V the smaller man was attractive enough to draw unwarranted attention, and he was definitely not a thief. Those conclusions were enough.

Duo watched intently for another instant, then leaped out, launching himself at the taller man. He added three quick punches V face, shoulder and guts V and thrust a dagger against the man・s neck. .Who are you, and what were you trying to do?・

.S-Steve. Steve Bradley.・

The dagger inched forward. .And the second question?・

A sullen silence. Duo・s grin brightened slowly, forming a complete contradiction with his eyes which had narrowed and darkened from violet to blue. .You know what? I really don・t care. You can bluff or tell the truth, and my eyes will still have seen what they saw.・

He crouched down beside the fallen figure, continuing conversationally, .Have you heard of the laws of the streets, Steve Bradley? No? I・ll tell you, then. Lie still; you can・t get up with the dagger against your neck. There.・ The instrument lifted slightly, then pressed downwards again. .The only law, Steve Bradley, is that there *is* no law. The strong survive. The weak do not. As evidenced by you and your friend there.・

Duo nodded slightly at the other figure, who had stopped some paces away. Then, he leaned over Steve・s face. .But you know what? Now and then, some misfits appear and decide differently. The misfits are strange. They do not believe that the weak should be taken advantage of, and nor do they wish to kill to emerge on top.・

The dagger was tilted until it caught the glint of moonlight. .Unfortunately for you, Steve Bradley, I happen to be one such misfit.・ His expression suddenly lost all traces of amusement. .And there will be no social Darwinism on these streets. Have I made myself clear?・

A hurried nod V one that was quickly stalled from completion by the dagger V was made. Duo released the pressure of the dagger slightly. .Remember, then, Steve Bradley,・ he murmured, in a voice that had turned from casual to icy cold, .that as long this misfit is alive, these streets will not be yours to terrorise. Now leave.・

The dagger was raised and the man sprang up, disappearing at a sprint into the distance. Duo remained crouched on the ground, his eyes closed in silence. After some moments, a voice asked hesitantly, .Are you okay?・

Duo blinked and stood, a sheepish grin covering his face. .Sorry, I・d forgotten you were there.・ His gaze sharpened incredulously as it fell on the other man. .Quatre Winner?・

The blonde hesitated, almost appearing embarrassed, but finally nodded. He offered Duo a slight smile. .The one and only, yes.・

Duo stared for a moment, then laughed out loud. .I wanted to see your concert tonight, but instead, I meet you in person. It・s an honour.・ He offered his hand, and it was taken in a firm handshake. .Duo Maxwell at your service.・

At the sound of his name, Quatre sprang backwards. .Duo... Maxwell?・

Duo stared at him. .Yes, that・s me. Why?・

.Duo,・ the musician swallowed visibly. .Can you turn around a little?・

Duo allowed himself to be rotated, then asked, .What is it, Mr Winner?・

.Quatre,・ came the automatic response. The moonlight fell on Duo・s face and Quatre remained still for a long time. Finally, he asked in the softest murmur, .Duo, don・t you remember me? It・s Raberba.・

Duo froze. His eyes darted across the other man・s features, drawing links, reliving history. He reached out almost in spite of himself, then drew back, his expression uncertain. Without looking away for an instant, Quatre reached upwards and brushed the hair from his face.

After an eternity, a whisper was drawn from Duo・s lips. .Oh Gods... Cat?・


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