Here There Be Dragons
by Lasha Lee

It was the most beautiful day on Seta since they had arrived there, but Duo was in no condition to even notice it. He paced back and forward in the small office room, every now and then pausing to stare off into space.

"Duo?"

The man jumped.

Heero handed him a cup of water. "Here. I'm not about to give you anything with caffeine in it."

There had been little sleep for either of them after Linra's frantic call the night before. After seven years the mystery of why Vire killed the Rynts and taken Jazz had been answered, but it had only left them with more questions. And more fear.

If whoever was taking the girls was indeed of the same race that had attacked the caravan years before, then neither of them would feel safe until they found their son. Duo was confident that Jazz could handle one or two Setan maniacs; alien maniacs he was not willing to chance.

The door opened and they watched as an elderly woman entered. She walked heavily on a silver cane, but declined Heero's offered arm and made her own way to a seat. Although she was nearing the end of her long life, her face still held traces of the beauty she had once been, and her eyes were still as bright and sharp.

"Tren Liea, thank you for coming on such short notice." Duo bowed.

The woman licked her lips softly. "We... need to talk. And it needed to be in person, not over a video link. This meeting will not be a long one." She waved away Heero's offer of food or drink.

"Tren, we have reason to believe that Vire knew of another race; the race that attacked the caravan. Only the women were taken; lately young girls have been vanishing here, last night made the 5th abduction. All between the ages of 13 and 20." Heero took a breath and Duo continued for him.

"We need to know if Vire ever mentioned anything to you about this other race. Anything at all that might help us, even a small detail."

The woman seemed to age before their eyes and shrink into the chair. Her mouth moved but no words came out. Heero was about to call for help when she suddenly spoke, her voice sounding shattered, as if she had lost a major battle within herself. "My son... never spoke to me of much of anything, let alone another race." She took a deep, shuddering breath. "But... if you can find him, you can ask him yourself."

Duo froze, the cup of water falling unnoticed from his hand. "What did you say?" His voice was dangerously calm.

"Tren, Vire is dead." Heero said gently. "He died seven years ago, remember?"

"No..." it was a whisper. "I told you that he died. I lied. He lived. I let him go."

"You... let him go." Duo repeated, still in that calm voice. "To a prison?"

"No... I... gave him a ship. Surgery to make him look different. Then... I let him leave. I think he probably went to Earth."

Heero was beyond speech. Duo was not.

"So, let me see if I understand you. This man kidnaps my son, tries to kill me, and you just LET HIM GO? No tabs, nothing? MY SON HAS BEEN IN DANGER FOR SEVEN FUCKING YEARS AND YOU NEVER TOLD ME???"

"Jazz is in no danger." Liea's voice was strong again. "Trust me when I tell you this. Vire liked your son, he wouldn't hurt him."

"Trust you?" Duo laughed. "TRUST YOU? He could have come back any time for us. Right now.... God, I don't even know where Jazz is right now! For all I know that bastard son of your has him again! How could you? HOW COULD YOU JUST LET HIM GO?"

Liea rose to her feet. "He's MY son! My child. I owed him; it's my fault he turned out like he did. You have children, you would do the same. For Jazz, or Luke or the girls. You would have made the same choices!"

"I wouldn't have had to." Duo's voice was icy. "My children aren't going to grow up to be murders! I promised Jazz that he was safe, that Vire couldn't hurt him again. How am I supposed to tell him that I lied?"

"Vire will not hurt him!" Liea stated again. "He wanted Jazz to..."

Her face turned pale and she sucked in a breath, her body jerking once. She tried to continue speaking but fell to the floor.

Heero snapped to life and grabbed his phone, calling for aid, kneeling down near the old woman. "Tren? Tren!" He felt her neck and started doing CPR.

Duo stook like a statue, watching them.

"Duo, help me!" Heero pleaded.

Duo did not move.

"Duo, she's the only one who can help us find Vire." Heero was still working. "We need to know!"

Reluctantly the other man knelt by his mate's side to try and save the Tren's life, but was hard telling his hands to pump her chest when all they wanted to do was break her neck.


Duo was staring out the window of the bungalow when Heero stepped out of the transporter.

"Well?"

"She had a stroke. They're not sure when she'll wake up again. Or if she even will. It doesn't look good. Even if she does wake up, she'll probably never speak or walk again."

Duo shook his head. "I hope she's in pain. I hope that bitch is in agony!"

What could Heero say? He had always loved the Tren like the grandmother he had never had. He respected her intelligence, her diligence, her leadership skills. Until now, everything she had done was above reproach. And then, for her murderous son, she had lied to him, betrayed him. Put the life of an innocent child in jeopardy. How quickly love could turn to hate.

Heero would never forgive her.

"Why doesn't he call? Why doesn't he just send us a note or something to let us know that he's okay? He doesn't know, Heero. He doesn't know about the other race. And he doesn't know that somewhere out there is the man I promised him he'd never had to see again."

From Jaf's living room, Jazz turned up the volume on the headset to listen closer to what his father and Heero were saying. Other race? Man?

"We've got to find him. And when we do, I'm not letting him out of my sight again. Not until we find Vire."

VIRE? Jazz's heart thundered in his chest. "Vire's dead." he whispered, his words echoing in the room.

"She said she thought he'd headed to Earth." Heero was saying. "But that he looks different."

"If we knew WHAT he looked like now, that would be a place to start." Duo answered.

"Hang on." There was silence for a moment. What were they doing?

"Nothing. I thought there might be some record of his new features somewhere, but nothing. Liea made sure it was all wiped out."

Vire was alive.

Jazz took off the headset, and stood up, his eyes wide. His mother had lied to them, been lying to them all this time. What had they said? She'd had a stroke? He agreed with his father; it served her right.

He felt like he had been hit with a bowling ball. It was hard to see or think. All the memories of those terrible days came crashing down on him. How small and helpless he had been, how frightened for his father. That voice that insisted on calling him Jason. It still haunted his dreams sometimes, left him a child again in his bed.

And it was worse for Linra and Rosie. Their entire lives had been destroyed by Vire. Linra was left with only 8 years of memories of her parents; poor Rosie had only had a few brief months.

His father must be worried sick about him, Jazz realized. He had to go home. He had to face the music and get this over with.

But he couldn't just leave without telling Jaf where he was going. The man had taken Osmar out for a walk and would be back soon. He would wait for him, explain the situation, explain why the plan had to be aborted.

He walked over to Jaf's computer and booted it up. Sometimes demons weren't as scary when you looked at them through older eyes, he had found. He typed in a search, pulling up articles on the not-so-late Tren of Seta.

The articles didn't interest him as much as the pictures. Once again he was face to face with the man who had hurt them all so badly. He looked rather silly now. An ugly, weak-looking man. Jazz had to smile. He looked at another picture. And for the second time that night, his heart stopped.

It was a picture of Vire pushing back a photographer. He was younger in this shot, not quite as ugly as he would become, but it wasn't his face that fascinated the boy.

It was his hand.

A long, winding scar ran up the palm toward the fingers.

Jazz knew that scar.

Jaf had that scar.

Jazz leaned back in the chair. Suddenly, everything made sense. And he knew what he had to do.


"Go play." Jaf took the leash off of Osmar's neck and the dog immediately ran for his food dish. The man brushed sand off of his legs and flipped on a light switch.

"Hey Jazz." He nodded to the boy sitting at the computer. "Find out anything?"

The boy raised a neuralizer and pointed it directly at him.

"I've found out plenty." he said quietly.

"Jazz..."

"I thought you hated nicknames." Jazz said in a soft tone merely like his father's. "Isn't that what you told me? That you hated nicknames? That's why you always called me Jason."

The boy stood up, still pointing the weapon. "Did you know that I still can't stand my real name because of you? Because I still remember you using it?"

Jaf's demeanor changed, and he smiled. He looked satisfied.

"Very well done, Jason. Excellent. I knew you'd realize it sooner or later, but this is much sooner than I expected. You're everything I expected you to become."

"I didn't give you permission to speak, Tren!" Jazz snapped.

"What are you waiting for, child?" Jaf folded his arms. "You have the weapon. I am defenseless. You've probably been dreaming of your revenge for a long time now. Do it, then. Push the button. Show your steel; I know you have it in you."

Jazz said nothing.

"If not for yourself, do it for those girls. The one you love, and the little one. Think of how much they would love knowing that you rid the universe of the person who killed their parents."

The boy's finger tapped against the button.

"Surely it's not compassion that stays your hand. But before you do press it, and you will, I should tell you a few things."

Jaf/Vire eyed him. "Vire died a long time ago, child. Jaf is the person I am, and was meant to be. I have no interest in politics, not any longer. My sun has risen and set, so to speak. And as Jaf, I have always been honest with you.

"You told me once that you had two paths to choose from; your father's and mine. You picked your father's." Jaf continued. "You are so very like him. I wonder, how like me are you? Am I not a sort of surrogate father to you myself? I taught you, you said. I taught you to hate. If Duo Maxwell is within you, am I?"

"Yes." Jazz spoke at last. "You are. You are in everything I hate about myself, and that is my fear. But I'm not afraid of you any longer. For the first time since I was a little boy, I can look at you and see how pathetic you are. And I am not afraid."

He pressed the button and Jaf/Vire fell to the floor.


On to part twelve. Back to part ten.