Rare Is the Man
Oneshot, supernatural fantasy AU. Rather strange. Unbetaed.
Heero kneeled before his king, awaiting favor. His last victory in battle had been particularly auspicious, securing the Peacecraft dynasty and forcing a retreat from OZ for the first time in fifty years. Now Heero was to be honored, and if there was the little fact that he and King Milliardo couldn’t stand one another, well, that was a rivalry to be fought out in subtle terms, not in front of the royal court.
“Lord Yuy,” said Milliardo, his smooth tones echoing around the throne room, “for your valor and honor in battle, my sister-queen and I grant you the gift of foresight.”
A slight frown marred his brow. Heero had never been one to place much stock in the words of soothsayers, unlike the more spiritually-minded Wufei, and his refusal to worship the gods was a well-whispered secret. But he just murmured, “Thank you, my Lord,” and waited patiently. When Relena motioned at him with a soft smile, the warrior obediently stood up.
Commotion by a side door drew his attention; several guards were pulling in a young man by chain leads, obviously keeping as much distance as possible between themselves and the apparent prisoner. The young man appeared to be around the same age and height as Heero himself with a leaner, more wolfish build, and was draped in so much silver and precious stones that he couldn’t move without the tinkling of charms. Strips of costly ribbons had been woven into a long brown braid, and the overall effect was a strange, rather unsettling androgyny.
Heero was as unaffected by pretty stones as he was by the gods. It was the violet darkness in the man’s eyes, swallowing up the iris and sclera until those eyes had become more like blackened holes in an otherwise human face, that robbed Heero of breath. Something mad with fury raged inside the body as highly decorated as a prized horse, something that was like the eyes of the men he killed on battlefields. Fortunately, the guards dragged the unknown man in front of the court without any protest or bloodshed.
“This is our most powerful diviner,” Milliardo told the warrior seriously. “He has no name, and no family. He exists only for the gods.”
Heero, who had yet to look away from the darkness in the young man’s eyes, wondered what the cost of such knowledge was. Even the usually flighty and duplicitous courtiers were struck by the sheer otherness of the diviner and watched in giddy silence.
“Heero Yuy has, with the help of his three captains, managed to push OZ from Sanq’s borders. He has risen from a lowly lot in his beginnings to become one of our nation’s heroes. What say you about his future, nameless one?”
The long-haired man was silent, staring back at Heero with no discernible emotion. The guards held him in place with the long chains connecting to a beautifully crafted silver collar; the sight made a secret part of Heero’s childhood memories shudder with revulsion. He understood intimately the kind of humiliation and helplessness that came with being someone else’s tool.
As though hearing his thoughts, the diviner smiled, and it wasn’t a kind expression.
“Rare is the man that can truly love the ideals of life.”
His voice was low and somewhat throaty, as though he weren’t used to speaking aloud. Both his words and his manner caused everyone save Heero himself to shift uncomfortably.
Suddenly the diviner jerked backwards. When one of the guards holding a chain connected to the silver collar stumbled backwards, the young man used the slack to duck low and kick out the knees of his two other guards. Before shouts of fear and alarm could be raised, however, the diviner was already in front of Heero, faster than a shadow or the blink of an eye, white long-fingered hands holding the warrior’s face. When he spoke, his lips were so close to Heero’s that they nearly touched – and yet Heero felt no breath, no warmth, against his skin.
“Rarer still is the man that can love Death without regret.”
As though guided by some power outside his control, Heero felt his own hands rising to the silver collar around the diviner’s slender throat. The metal was cold under his fingertips, colder than metal resting against living flesh should have been. He found the catch without realizing that he was even searching for it.
The collar fell on the floor with a harsh clang.
It was the bell that breaks a surreal dream. Panic washed over the courtroom like a tide of mortal fear, swallowed up by the wildness of the diviner’s laughter and the darkness of his eyes, but before the guards could gather their wits enough to draw their weapons the young man had released Heero and thrown himself backwards. His spine arched just before he hit the floor, but instead of the sound of breaking bone his body simply shattered into thousands of tiny pieces like a dropped mirror. The crystalline pieces mimicking the appearance of a human body melted into nothingness on the floor, until the only remnant of the diviner was the silver collar at Heero’s feet.