Quatre squeezed his heels into the horse’s sides, nudging him to go faster. His soft blue cloak billowed out behind him like a cape, only hanging on by the clasp at the front of his neck. The white of his healer’s robes flapped around him as well. It was uncomfortable, but he didn’t dare stop or slow the horse’s pace. Life hung in the balance, and on his skill to ride. Just in front of him, Wufei rode just as hard, leant down over his mare’s neck, cutting down the wind resistance, his armor gleaming in the sunlight. His sword beat against his side with every gallop of hooves, his own fear evident in the grasp of reins, and how he kept trying to urge the mare faster. They wouldn’t be in this situation if Trowa… Oh, that stupid knight! Quatre was going to punch him square in the face as soon as he found him, healer vows be damned!
It had all started innocently enough. Quatre had been selected to become the healer for the king. It was an honor for someone so young to be chosen. At 18, he was young and slightly inexperienced with certain things. But, the amount of healing powers he possessed were legendary. He was even stronger than the master that had taught him how to harness his power. At a tender age of four he had managed to save a man’s leg when it had been almost cut completely off in a farming accident. He’d just put his hand on the man’s head and imagined him better. There had been a warm golden light, and when everyone looked down, the man was whole and unblemished. Quatre had been hailed as a hero and there had been a celebration in his honor. Within a fortnight, there had been a visitor to his rural village, way out in the desert. The man was a master healer, and had heard of Quatre’s feat and wanted to meet him. Upon that first meeting, with Quatre clinging to his older sister’s skirt, the man had been in shock. He could feel the energy that Quatre put off, how much power his diminutive body held, and knew that Quatre would do great things. So, he’d spoken with Quatre’s father, and it was agreed that Quatre would go with him and train. When he was older, he would bring honor and respect to his family name.
At 18, he’d been chosen. The king had sent two knights for him, to escort him to the palace to take his place as the healer. He was small in height, with a bit of muscle on his body, keeping him almost fairy-like in his appearance. His pale skin from too much time inside studying was offset by his bright blonde hair, and rich blue eyes. When the knights had arrived, his heart had started to beat faster upon seeing one of them. He was a tall man with a fall of dark brown hair hanging over half his face. His eyes were a stunning green that rivaled the best healing herbs at the peak of ripeness. He was strong and fit, judging by the cut of his armor and how it hung on his body. He was tanned from being outdoors, and his name was Trowa. Even his name was exotic, and Quatre didn’t know how to respond to the feelings running through him for the man. It was immoral, and wrong of him to think of another male like that!
The other knight was a man from the Orient, with hair as black as ink, piercing dark eyes, and a sharp tongue. He was smaller than Trowa, but almost more vicious, if possible. His name was Wufei, and he would not tolerate anything less than the best. They’d provided a horse for Quatre, a large draft horse that they assured him was a gentle beast. He was a war horse, but was seasoned, and knew how to read his rider as easy as a book.
They’d set off for the palace, a good two weeks ride away, and things had gone fine at first. Trowa rode in front, with Quatre in the middle, and Wufei bringing up the rear of the line. They traveled during the day and camped at night. The knights took turns keeping watch over the blonde man as he slept, Wufei’s sharp gaze not missing the way that Trowa would look at the other man. They spoke in hushed tones one night when they assumed Quatre was sleeping. But, the blonde heard it all, pretending to sleep when all he wanted to do was get up and tell Trowa that he felt the same! He didn’t care if it wasn’t a common thing! He wanted to explore the emotions he’d never felt before.
They were halfway to their destination when things went wrong. They were riding at a steady pace, so they didn’t wear the horses out when they heard a call for help from just up the road. The knights had been on the alert, scanning the area for threats. They’d forgotten Quatre’s reputation as a healer, and hadn’t expected him to ride ahead and be off his horse before the animal had come to a complete stop. He was kneeling beside a young man, sure hands looking him over for injury, locating the badly twisted ankle. With a soft hum, Quatre put his hands on the man and concentrated on healing him, eyes falling closed as he slipped into a trance-like state. He pushed magic into the man, glowing brightly like the sun, feeling the sated bliss that always followed a healing. It was a rush to fix and mend people, to know that you had worked such potent magic. It was like a high, that left him feeling lighter than air.
It was when he was recovering that he was grabbed. It had been an ambush, like the knights had feared all along. Quatre was too far for either of them to grab and flee. The man he healed had grabbed him around the chest and held a dagger to his neck, threatening the knights. The tip of the blade bit into the pale skin of his neck, drawing a sharp hiss from the blonde. It had been a mere trickle of blood, and hadn’t really hurt. But, it was enough to tell Trowa and Wufei that they were serious. They dragged the knights into the woods and relieved them of their weapons and money before they tied them up together, leaving them for whatever fate would befall them. When they tried to steal the horses, Quatre had to laugh. War horses were a cunning breed, and knew how to read people. They simply ran off, leaving the bandits in the dust. With their main goal achieved, they slung Quatre over a horse and rode off, leaving the knights.
It took Trowa and Wufei three days to track them down. When they found the blonde and the bandits, their revenge was swift, and the bandits were disposed of in short order. Quatre sat in the chair he’d been tied to, just staring with frightened blue eyes. They had been ruthless with the men that had taken Quatre, killing them without hesitation, except for one. Wufei had knocked him out and tied him up, while Trowa had attended to Quatre. The blonde hadn’t known how to react when the brunette knight had knelt before him to carefully cut away the ropes that had bound his ankles, then his wrists. He didn’t even care about the blood and death around him. He flung himself out of the chair to hug Trowa, arms wrapped tightly around his neck, face buried uncomfortably in the armor on his shoulder.
“Do I get a thank you like that?” Wufei had asked with a chuckle.
Quatre had turned a deep red, his cheeks heating out of embarrassment as he carefully withdrew from the hug. Trowa had been nothing but a gentleman, asking if he had any injuries, and how he was feeling. And, how he had been treated during his time with them. They had been mean, but fair. They’d fed him but hadn’t had many nice things to say to him, unfortunately.
“Why did you keep him alive?” Quatre asked, gesturing at the one Wufei was shaking awake.
“We want answers. While it could have been a simple random act, there is something about it that doesn’t sit well with us. We worry for your safety.”
Quatre had tried to protest. He was just a healer, and there was no need for them to go through such trouble. Wufei had told him he didn’t known his own worth, or the worth of what his powers could do in the wrong hands. That had quieted the blonde, and he sat in a corner, watching and trying not to watch all in the same breath. He wouldn’t participate, and had vehemently told both men that he would not heal the man just for them to re-injure, and continue a vicious cycle. Because, Quatre could do it, and both knights knew it. But, they also knew Quatre was firm in his vows and beliefs and refused to be swayed.
To Quatre’s relief, it hadn’t taken much for the man to spill his guts. It was sometimes the strongest of them that bowed and quivered under the slightest bit of pain or threat and caved in like a house of cards under a gentle breeze. He’d told Trowa and Wufei everything that he knew. Quatre had stepped outside at some point, unable to breath with the knowledge of what was coming next. He stood by the horses, petting them to keep himself calm and grounded, ashamed at himself. He detested the unnecessary loss of life like that, but the rational part of his mind knew that it was necessary for his own safety. Trowa came outside a short time after, standing next to him in the dark, quiet for a moment.
“I’m sorry you had to witness all of that. I hope you think no less of myself and Wufei. We are loyal to our king, and his needs. His needs which include you. And, now, this new quest that we must undertake.”
“New quest?” Quatre turned to look at him, the bright glow of the moon allowing him to see every feature and angle of Trowa’s face.
He looked so serious, so stern. But, he was gentle and kind. He didn’t seem to judge too quickly, or be quick to anger like Wufei could sometimes get. He looked like a man who would do anything that needed to be done, and he acted like it as well. He’d seen it himself, the anger and violence in his eyes when he’d been taken, and the promise of death when he’d burst into the cabin the bandits had hidden in and killed them without thinking or blinking.
“There’s a plot unraveling before us, with you at the center of it. From what we can tell, the king is being manipulated by some evil warlock. It’s unsafe for you to go there as planned. So, the three of us will follow this thread as far as it leads, and see what we can uncover.”
“That sounds like a lot more fun than sitting in a stuffy library, only being called upon when needed,” Quatre admitted with a laugh, his voice soft and musical in the dark night.
It warmed something in Trowa, that he hadn’t even known was cold. He wanted to hear it again. Hear more of Quatre talking, laughing. Distantly, he wondered what that voice would sound like crying out in the throes of passion. Before his thoughts could gallop away from his control, Wufei joined them, the creaking of his armor alerting both men to his presence.
“It might sound fun, but you have to be prepared Quatre. Prepared to fight if we need you. And, your skills as a healer will be sorely tested,” he said calmly.
“While you only know of my healing, you would be surprised at what I know. I had free time upon my hands. While I haven’t tested any of my skills in an actual battle, I have learned battle magic. Buffers and holy magic. I suppose you would call me a battle priest. I can heal, support, and fight,” Quatre responded, voice almost smug with satisfaction.
“Then I will be honored to have you fight alongside myself and Trowa,” Wufei said with a bow at the neck, giving Trowa a smile.
“It’s been a long time since we went on an adventure like this old friend,” Trowa stated calmly, looking up at the night sky, anticipation thrumming through his veins.
It had been a whirlwind of a journey. They had chased down lead after lead, from each corner of the continent. They had avoided the central kingdom, out of fear that they would be discovered, and Quatre would be taken by a much larger force than the first time. They needed to understand everything they could about the warlock before they fought him. As the weeks bled into months, they traveled and fought together.
Quatre was true to his word. Once they found him a staff to help channel his magic, he became a formidable warrior in his own right. He could heal Trowa or Wufei without even touching them if they weren’t that damaged. For stronger magics and larger healings, he had to be closer, touching was best, but if he couldn’t get to one of them, he was still able to heal them. Trowa and Wufei benefited from the buffers that Quatre was able to provide. From helping dampen physical attacks to helping block elemental magic, they couldn’t recall a time that they had been a more fearsome duo.
Closeness from cold nights and traveling with only one another for companionship were bound to breed together something more. They talked of their dreams, their hopes, their pasts. No subject was truly taboo when you saw one another naked while bathing. Wufei and Quatre developed a bond that resembled brothers, with Wufei feeling himself as the older brother that needed to protect the younger one from any harm. It was one of the first times that Quatre felt like he belonged, that he wasn’t just some all-powerful boy that everyone wanted to know and be ‘friends’ with.
With Trowa, it was different. There were long glances, tender words. The briefest of touches that left them both shivering with a torrent of emotions. It happened as naturally as breathing that they fell in love. They were such a good match, that Wufei couldn’t even be jealous of his friend. No, Trowa deserved the small, gentle blonde. Quatre brought out the softer side of Trowa, that Wufei hadn’t seen in years, since they’d been children. It was as good for Trowa as it was for Quatre. He watched Quatre go from being nervous but opinionated into a headstrong, righteous man. Seeing them so over the moon for one another made him long to be home after so much time away. He longed to hold his wife, to see her smiling face, to hear her yell at him for some slight transgression. He only hoped that they would solve this problem so he could return to Meilan.
Their journey came to a head one fateful autumn morning. A messenger from the warlock himself, informing them that the time for games was over. He would meet them the next morning in an empty field to kill Trowa and Wufei and take Quatre, so that he would continue on with his nefarious plans. They had to decide their course of action. They’d already gotten the strongest weapons and armors that they could find, imbued with some magic to help ward off ailments and some of the magics that they’d be fighting against.
“It won’t be just him. We’ll have to fight our way through his minions,” Wufei mumbled, checking his blade once more for sharpness.
“Then we’ll just have to hope that we can recover in between battles,” Quatre responded, ever the optimist.
Both knights could see that it wasn’t as easy as that. There would be waves of stronger beasts they’d have to face, before they even set their eyes on the warlock. Even then, he might have something truly evil empowering him, which could resurrect him, only more evil and more powerful. Most of their fights until now had been fairly easy. Quatre had done so well, but how would he fare against an almost unending onslaught of evil monsters.
“We should all sleep,” Trowa finally said, setting his own blade and shield down by the door, making sure it was secure.
They’d taken refuge in another cabin tonight. It wasn’t their first choice, but it was better than trying to rest out in the elements. Wufei threw more wood onto the fire to ensure they’d stay warm when the temperature dropped and headed to the bed on the far side of the room to sleep, turning to face the wall to give the others the illusion of privacy. Quatre unclasped his cloak and draped it over a chair, pulling off his boots and taking the other bed, facing the fire. He curled on his left side, pulling the blankets up to his chin to ward off the chill he was feeling. There was something in the air he just couldn’t understand. It was just a niggling feeling, like an itch you couldn’t reach, that something was off.
Trowa removed the last of his armor and his own boots, settling himself into the bed behind Quatre, pressing his front against the healer’s back. Quatre’s body remained tense, even when Trowa slid an arm over his hip, hand resting in the middle of his chest. Trowa could feel the pounding of his heart as he laid behind Quatre. Leaning his head down, he kissed at the side of Quatre’s neck, feeling some of the tension leave him from the action.
“When this is over, and things have settled, I would like to see you. Outside of world ending danger and battle,” Trowa whispered.
Quatre felt his heart give a flutter in his chest. His eyes widened at the words, fingers curling into the bed underneath him. It was a shock to him to hear such a declaration. He could feel the sincerity rolling off of Trowa in waves though, so he knew the brunette meant it.
“Will you have time for me? I know you knights can be pretty busy.”
“I’ll have time. After all of this, it might be time to take a bit of a break. Of course, me seeing you hinges on you being able to get out of the palace every now and again,” Trowa teased, kissing just below Quatre’s ear.
“If we all survive this, I’ll make the time for you Trowa,” Quatre whispered, voice slightly breathless.
Propping himself up on his arm, he dipped his head to capture Quatre’s lip in a kiss, trying to climb inside the smaller man through his mouth. They took their time, exploring one another, licking and nipping, Quatre doing his best to stifle his noises. Sensing Quatre was reaching his limit, Trowa pulled back, gazing down into unfocused blue pools, a satisfied smirk on his face.
“Let’s get some sleep.”
Quatre nodded and settled himself, his lips tingling like he’d been touched by lightning as he laid there, cocooned in warmth until he allowed sleep to pull him under. He hoped they would win, not for the king or the kingdom. But, for the chance to fall in love with Trowa, beyond what they already had built over the time they’d traveled together. He drifted off, scared, but safe and warm at the same moment.
Wufei was used to waking with the sun. He came awake easily, eyes fluttering open as he stretched. Or, as he tried to. Frowning, he was alert instantly, hands trying to move, tugging at ropes. Rolling his eyes up, he swore loudly. His hands were tied to the headboard with thick rope. Judging by the knots, it wasn’t a novice. Only Trowa had this much skill. Even more skill to accost him while he was sleeping and get him into such a position. Picking his head up, he shifted his gaze to the other bed, unsurprised to see Quatre in a similar state.
“Quatre! Quatre, wake up!” He shouted.
The blonde’s eyes shot open and he tried to flail, thinking there was danger that he needed to confront, letting out an undignified squeak when he couldn’t move.
“What on earth?!”
Quatre let out a low groan, looking around, knowing it was futile. Trowa had tied them up while they slept, so that he could go on ahead, hoping to spare them the messy fight that would happen. To save them both, because the knights hadn’t been so certain that they’d all make it through alive.
“I’ll kill him,” Quatre fumed, his head already turning at the ideas of what he could do to the taller man once they were free of this mess.
“Relax. I’ll get us out of this,” Wufei said, voice eerily calm, despite the gravity of the situation.
Tipping his head towards his right hand, he shifted with as much leeway that he had. Eventually, he was able to pull a small blade out from his hair. It was nothing more than a slip of metal, but it was sharp enough for him to curl his fingers around one end and begin sawing at the rope. Because it was so thick, it took time. He could almost feel the minutes ticking past as he worked, eyes shut so he could concentrate on the tension in the rope, feeling it ease the further through the rope he worked. Finally, after what felt like an eternity to both men, he freed his hand. With that one free, it was easy enough to work on the other hand, then his ankles.
“Please hurry Wufei. We both know he’s being insanely stupid right now,” Quatre pleaded, his voice sounding like he was close to tears.
It was one thing to run a gauntlet of strong fights with a team, where you didn’t have all the damage being inflicted upon yourself, and you had a healer who could help ward off said damage. But, to go it alone was suicide. You didn’t have time to recover, and if you didn’t have any buffering spells on, you’d run out of luck even faster. Trowa had nothing but the enchantments that came with his armor! Wufei freed the blonde quickly, rubbing at his thin wrists to get the blood flowing again. Thankfully, Quatre hadn’t been tied as tightly, or Wufei would worry about less visible damage. Quatre shook off his gentle touch with a sad shake of his head. As much as he appreciated Wufei’s concern, it wasn’t the time or the place to be fussing over such trivial things.
They dressed quickly, Wufei strapping on his armor with an efficiency that was frightening to see in action. Quatre fastened his cloak and shouldered his staff, shifting from foot to foot as Wufei went through final preparations. When they were ready, they headed outside, relieved to see that Trowa hadn’t tried to take the horses. They mounted and turned the steeds in the direction of the appointed field, and set off riding at a brutal pace.
As they rode, they could see smoke in the near distance. Trowa had gotten a good lead on them, which worried Quatre. But, they kept riding. As they passed down the dirt road, they could see the signs that he’d been through. Monsters and humans alike lay dead, struck down with a single blade strike. When the fallen began to become piles, Quatre’s heart clenched in his chest. He was frightened and anxious. Would they arrive in time? Would they be too late? He could sense the same feelings from Wufei, and the way he rode, like there was a demon chasing him.
Quatre pushed his horse until he was keeping pace with Wufei. He’d never tried this before, but he’d be damned if they’d stop to prepare now! Focusing on his magic, he trusted the horse to steer itself and follow the path. He reached deep down into himself, calling upon his magic. He worked quickly, unwilling to waste his magical reserves, casting protective spells over himself and Wufei, adding extra physical protection to the knight and himself, knowing they’d be the primary targets if they got there too late.
Bursting into the field, they could see Trowa, leaning heavily on his blade, one arm useless by his side, blood dripping down in a steady pattern. Quatre choked back a scream, looking at his opponent. It was no longer human. Some conglomeration of human and various other parts. Animal, monster… It was something out of a nightmare, or the depths of hell itself. They rode even harder, Wufei pulling his sword as they rode, ready to jump off the horse and spring into battle. Quatre tried to cast something, anything to prevent it. A protection spell, a healing to give Trowa more strength to survive the next attack. But, it was too late. He watched in horror as two arms, one human, and one with a vicious looking claw came down, grabbing Trowa’s head in its hands and twisting. Even from half-way across the field, he could hear the sickening ‘crack’ as his head was twisted clear around. He crumpled to the ground in a heap, eyes glassed over.
The inhuman scream that came from Quatre even frightened Wufei. It was full of pain and longing. It was the sound of a man losing everything that he has in a single instant. Quatre slid off his horse, dropping to his knees beside Trowa’s lifeless body, tears streaming down his face in torrents. He was broken, felt hollow, like someone had ripped his heart out of his chest while it was still beating. His back was to the creature, but he sensed Wufei move in between them both, his sword stopping the blow that was meant to kill him as well.
“Quatre!” Wufei screamed out, anger and despair clouding his voice as he fought the creature back.
He was desperate, for Quatre to try something, anything. He was the strongest healer in the land, couldn’t he do something?!
“Cover me… I… I have to try,” he managed to hiccup out between his sobs.
There was a spell he’d read extensively about. Only the greatest of healers had been able to do it. It wasn’t something that you could practice, after all. Raising the dead skirted the line into necromancy and black magic. Magic he didn’t want to even attempt. But, freshly dead? He could try. At the worst, he would fail, and have wasted valuable resources. In the best case, he’d revive Trowa, and he could help them fight. Then, he could hit the brunette to his heart’s content.
Closing his eyes, he tried to remember the words. They failed him, but he was the best, wasn’t he? He knew what he wanted to have happen. He pushed his magic into Trowa, feeling it slide inside of him, waiting. He wanted Trowa alive again, healed, able to fight. His magic knew what to do, and it wrapped Trowa in a blinding white light, hiding him from Quatre’s sight. It seemed to take forever, but it wasn’t more than a handful of seconds. One minute, he’d been cradling Trowa’s lifeless body, and now, there he was, standing tall, his body unblemished and free of wounds. It was a rush like no other healing had ever given him, to hold such a control over life like that. It left him almost giddy with power.
“Tr-Trowa?” He whispered, unable to believe what he was seeing.
“In the flesh, Quatre,” he said with a smirk.
“It worked! Oh gods it worked!!” Quatre shouted, wiping at his face, knowing he looked like a mess.
“I’d hate to break up the reunion, but I’m a little outmatched here!” Wufei barked, fending off another blow, panting for a moment as he tried to catch his breath.
“We’ll talk after. Can you cast more?”
“Get up there. I’ll do what I can from back here,” Quatre said, pushing himself to stand up, his legs a little rubbery, but supporting him.
Trowa picked up his sword and rushed forward to stand next to Wufei, their shoulders bumping together.
“Glad to have you back, you idiot,” Wufei intoned, sparing his friend a quick look before he turned his attention back to the creature.
With the three of them, it was quick work to end it. Quatre healed them from the back line while they did all of the damage and protected Quatre from being hit. When it had been reduced to nothing more than a man and the evil that had taken him over, Quatre unleashed a holy spell, bombarding both of them with powerful white magic, to fight, not heal. He cast the final blow that ended their battle. Standing there, in a field that had been charred into oblivion, with dead enemies around them, Quatre did what he’d wanted to do since he’d awoken that morning. Striding to where the other men stood, Trowa turned to watch his approach, holding his arms open to accept the blonde coming towards him.
Quatre went to his arms, but didn’t swoon against his chest like some wilting damsel. No, he pulled his arm back and let his fist fly, connecting squarely with Trowa’s jawbone. Trowa was unprepared for the blow and stumbled backwards, hand coming up to cup his face. His eyes were a mixture of shock and pain, because the punch had actually hurt.
“You deserved that and a lot more,” Wufei said in response, chuckling when Trowa glared at him.
“You did you bastard. You don’t ever do that to us again. We’re a team! I thought you loved me! What would I have done if you’d died?!” Quatre shouted, hands coming up to bang on Trowa’s chest, uncaring of the armor that rendered his hits useless.
It made him feel better to get it out, to release his frustrations in such a manner. Trowa’s arms came down to envelop the blonde in a hug, pulling him closer, nuzzling his cheek in the soft hair on Quatre’s head.
“I won’t ever forget it, I promise you,” Trowa said firmly.
“See that you don’t,” Quatre retorted, voice full of sass. “If you do, I’ll have to punch you again. And, I’ll let Wufei help,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Agreed,” Wufei intoned with a nod.
“Noted. Now, let us collect our spoils and head home. I know Wufei wants to be home with his wife. And I… I want to take you to my home, before I even take you to the palace,” Trowa whispered, watching when Quatre’s face heated, his cheeks a lovely shade of crimson.
They collected the loot from the fallen enemies and climbed back onto their horses, turned them in the direction of the main city of the kingdom, setting off at a leisurely pace. They didn’t know what the future would bring, but with Trowa and Quatre as lovers, they’d figure something out. And, if they were needed again, the three of them made one of the best fighting parties that had ever walked the lands.