see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Halves: Circles + Chapter 15
The pair were as still as the
stones around them for a split second. Then Duo sensed, more than saw,
something hurtling at him out of the dark, a slash of silver.
He's barely registered the object; he was shoved out of the way and a
blur of moonlight ripped the air a few inches from his face. He blinked.
Heero's mage blade had transfixed whatever it was right in front of Duo.
"Get the basket!" Heero snapped, standing in one fluid movement, wrenching
his sword from out of the ground with a metallic clink as a broken object
fell from the blade -
Duo didn't have time to think, something was hissing through the air.
Heero's blade flashed again, and the object clinked and went flying against
a rock to one side.
Duo shouted. Something had grabbed his arm. He stared down in horror and
barely had time to flinch as Heero spun and sliced him free, before turning
in the same fluid movement and parrying a flash of silver that had been
headed towards his throat.
Chains! Duo stared in amazement at the broken thing wrapped around his
arm, glinting dully in the moonlight. It was a fairly thin chain, only
a finger in width, with widely spaced links. It appeared to be splattered
with some dark substance, dried and flaking in the light of the fire.
Duo dropped it, grabbed the basket and upended it into the flames.
The bread and some fruit rolled into the embers, and a small packet at
the bottom of the basket fell into the heart of the flames, its thin gauze
covering immediately blackening and turning cherry red at the edges of
Duo felt something jerk him back and he swore in a very un-kingly like
manner as he tried to wrench the thin chain from around his chest. His
knife -broader and longer than his usual one, since the Maseng incident-
leapt from his belt scabbard and caught in one of the rings. He tugged
viciously and the chain broke after tightening on his chest.
Duo rolled to his feet and his hands shot out towards the shadowy figure
that was slowly moving towards them through the rocks. He wasn't surprised
when nothing happened.
"It's touched me too." Heero grunted, not even bothering to try his magic.
"Done." Behind him, the gauze had disappeared in a flash of flame and
its contents were starting to combust. The fire suddenly roared, flared
and smoked, a belching burst of acrid white fumes.
Duo stared at the figure that had finally stepped into a pool of moonlight,
silver dripping off the coils and slithering... chains. It was all chains!
No, there was a figure under there, he realized, as he dodged another,
thicker chain that surged at him from the coiling mass as if hurled by
a ballista. He could barely see it, except for the occasional glimpse
of an eye or mouth behind the chains.
"K! K! I suppose you will not surrender k!gracefully."
Oh good, this one talks. And it's a lot more house-friendly than the ninth
circle wormbait. Duo tensed as the thing rattled chains in what might
have been laughter.
"This time there is no one here to k!get you out of our trap!"
"We can get ourselves out." Heero snarled.
"No, no, you k!can't." The thing's coiling became more frenzied. "This
time you will not es-k!cape. You will k!come with me and you will serve
him and then you will be the first to die at the k!clutches of our masters."
The chains jangled and shook together. "A pity... you were so k!cute together...
"Are you sure we need it alive?" Duo whispered in sudden fury.
"Now you will k!come... "
Chains shot out from the writhing pillar of metal, hurtling towards Heero.
"Watch my back." Heero sounded almost bored.
And then the mage-blade exploded into motion.
Duo, dagger at the ready, stood to protect Heeros' back but he couldn't
help but stare in stunned amazement. The blade was like distilled moonlight
lancing up and down, shattering chains, spinning, splitting others, each
movement claiming several hits against the flying, crawling, clinking
creature grasping at them.
The blade flew up - a thick chain was struck out of the way, hurtling
back a few feet. Heero spun into the movement, slicing two more chains,
turned and sent his boot crushing down on a thin flat-linked shackle snaking
along the ground towards his legs. The sword shot straight up to bash
away a strike aimed at his face, as he dodged and simultaneously caught
another chain heading for Duo in an iron fist, snapping it with a sharp
tug, steely arms tightening beneath the light leather armour.
The creature made an angry rattling noise and the chains started coming
out faster and thicker, some coiling far above their heads or off to one
side to catch them off guard. Duo shook himself from the trance the flickering
blade had put him in and started batting and cutting away at the few chains
that made it past the glittering wall of steel and muscle before him.
Heero didn't even flinch as one thick chain with curled barbs on it managed
to half wrap itself around his chest, ripping his armour; he leaned back
in one fluid movement, lifting his sword in both hands and sliced it straight
down between the links. Then the blade windmilled around and two more
chains hit the rocks, which were fast becoming covered in metal. The fiend
seemed to have an endless supply, however. They weren't real chains, after
all, though they were real in all ways that mattered to a human. They
were being generated from one of the circles of Hell -the fifth, the analytical
part of Duo informed him- and being phased into existence through the
intermediary of the fiend. They wouldn't stop coming until the spouses
The creature bellowed and the chains dropped back a bit. And something
else uncoiled from among the slithering links; it looked like a chain
but it was black like a hole in the world and its shape flickered in and
out of reality. It poised like a snake waiting to strike and then hurled
itself at Heero's chest.
Heero's mage blade flickered up to intercept and his eyes widened as the
object that wasn't one went straight through the steel... and shattered
like glass as it crashed into Heero's ward, shards fading into oblivion.
"Hah take that!" Duo screamed, a manic grin on his face, proud that his
gift to Heero had stood the test of fire. He caught a fierce smile of
thanks from his husband that was much brighter in his night than the smoking,
chocking fire. Then the world erupted into a metal hail of deadly intent.
The creature howled and clattered as it threw chain after chain at them.
The mage-blade started to loose ground, and Duo found himself caught in
several strands, nearly immobilising him. He could only stare, helpless,
as Heero and the chains danced to a final refrain.
Heero was bleeding now, several chains had slipped his guard and had ripped
leather, cloth and skin, but he appeared oblivious, his sword still dancing,
light and deadly in the dying firelight. Duo felt his heart catch in his
throat. Heero dodged as he struck, each movement neat and graceful in
its simplicity, a step out of harm putting him in place for the next strike
even as he finished the previous one. He staved off two more coils with
his fist and boots. He turned, carving, dodged, brought the sword up,
- slicing the air like silk an inch above Duo's hastily lowered head as
he cleaved the chains around the sorcerer's shoulder and right arm in
one graceful movement, then, still spinning, the sword flickered up through
the night air to block and parry a chain as thick as a cudgel aimed at
Duo managed to free himself from the other restraints, the creature was
concentrating on Heero now. This couldn't go on! Where were they?!
Four flashes of blue light ripped the night air.
"Finally, what took you so long?!" Duo screamed.
"For someone who stinks so much at teleporting, that's almost funny. Almost."
G ground out, hands weaving as quickly as Heero's blade. He was to the
north of the creature, a few feet from Heero. To the south stood Jay,
silent and menacing, hands ramming through the gestures of entrapment.
Amon and one of Jay's disciples stood at the west and east, blocking the
last cardinal points.
The creature screamed and darted chains forward but they crashed into
the walls of the prison of magic the sorcerers were weaving around it.
"Whoa, the bondage special I see." G's voice sounded lazy, though a trickle
of sweat ran down his thin face. "Fifth circle, I take it... "
"You can save your time." Jay ground out from the other side, as he watched
the creature writhe and spin and clatter. "The boys kept you busy long
enough, we cast half the spell before we even 'ported. You can't break
out now. This is my spell, my domain,
and you are going nowhere."
"Duo, are you alright?"
Heero had turned towards him. Duo had staggered back a bit under the effect
of the adrenaline surge which he was unable to burn off with his usual
magical release. He hoped the creature's spell would fade now that it
was trapped; if he didn't blow up something soon he was going to have
His heart rammed twice against his chest.
Heero was standing a few feet away, his back to the creature, his eyes
on Duo only. His leather armour had been completely shredded from him
and he was struggling out of the remains one-handed, still not letting
go of his blade. Underneath his shirt had been ripped and pulled to strips,
falling from smooth shoulders by itself. Duo followed the few bloody welts
that had marked his husband's skin but then lost sight of that and pretty
much everything... gods Heero was beautiful. His skin was brushed silver
in the moonlight and the flickering blue light of portal fire danced across
well-defined muscles and hard features. Duo could still see it; could
see in the hard, lithe muscles of arms and shoulders the poetry of destruction
that had been weaving its own spell of blade and moonlight a few feet
away from him, protecting him from the metal grasp of the fiend.
Duo felt as if every cell in his body was harbouring a tiny speck of the
light that had flashed from the dancing blade, warming him and making
He vaguely remembered someone mention the fact he might not like men,
some time ago, in another lifetime... well, he didn't know if he liked
men but he liked what he saw. A lot. He tore his eyes away reluctantly
before he embarrassed himself further, he'd been staring for a minute
and Heero had come forward to put a concerned hand on his shoulder. Duo
started as if the touch had torched the air between them.
"I'm fine! Let's go see what we caught!"
Heero was looking at him strangely and he couldn't blame him, he was going
as red as Quatre as he staggered forward, kicking away a loose chain caught
around his boot. Heero followed him closely, too close for comfort right
now. Duo had the nasty feeling that if he regained his powers any time
soon, he wouldn't need any physical contact for an explosion to occur.
His heart seemed to be beating wildly, and he couldn't stop from staring
straight ahead, even though Heero was now behind him, his presence a burning
brand in his mind.
Duo concentrated on their catch with something like desperation. Later.
When things were quieter and he'd sorted out the other
The creature was a huddled mass of metal in the center of the trap which
was nearly complete.
"Can we get it to talk? Is this similar to a summoning circle?" Duo asked
"Well, it's a special custom piece, but it will do. It's not like we can
tie it up anymore than it already is, right? Of course it will be stubborn
to start with, but sooner or later it will have to obey the spell-"
"Yeah, they always say that. I wonder what it is about fiends that make
them so pathetic at cussing." G remarked wisely.
"I may have failed but you are only delaying the inevitable. We will su-k!ceed.
My masters will ta-k!ke revenge for my death on your bloodied bodies and
"Death?" G seemed puzzled. Duo frowned as well. Fiends had no concept
of the word, except where it applied to mortals. Destroying a fiend's
physical aspect only sent it back to its original circle. He assumed it
was the same for these ones, though they were so different from anything
they knew of...
"Damn!" G suddenly snarled, and Jay swore like a soldier.
The thing had started twisting and writhing, and the chains shot out again,
but this time they stopped short of the spell wall. More and more sprang
And they began to pull.
A creak of strained metal and slowly tearing bone became louder than the
cries of the sorcerers.
"Shit! It's trying to kill itself! Or disintegrate or whatever!" Duo shouted.
"I'm open to suggestions." G ground out. "It doesn't seem to be obeying
the summoning spells we wove into the prison! They should
control any fiend that- What is this critter?!"
"We won't find out if it's dead!" Duo yelled.
The creature screamed, a rattling agonizing cry. The chains pulling it
apart had left it nearly visible, a splayed humanoid form, the links sprouting
from its bones through torn skin, flashes of ivory glinting as the skeleton
slowly bent in and out depending on the direction of the ripping forces.
"My... masters... k!...will-"
Duo could see its eyes, almost all iris and the colour of metal shards.
"M-masters!" It seemed to be writhing in obscene obeisance, unafraid of
its own destruction. Until...
Duo and G were facing the creature and so saw it clearly. For a few seconds,
the chains hit the last resistance of the skeletal frame they were wrenching
and as they strained, the form seemed to bend and twist under a different
force, as if something was squirming away from it. And the huge grey orbs
suddenly blinked and became two pupils in wide eyes. The face slackened
beneath the smaller chains pulling the flesh away from bone, and it looked...
The man blinked several times, a look of pain way beyond what was happening
to his body invading his eyes. It looked as if he were remembering something,
and understanding something.
The chains buckled and ripped...
"Gods... I-I-... s-sorry-"
And just before the body became a splatter of blood and flesh and metal,
the man threw back his head and changed everything with his scream of
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