Here There Be Dragons
by Lasha Lee

Duo threw down the headset in disgust. "Nothing. Either it's broken or he's pulled a fast one on us."

"My money is on the fast one."

"WHY? WHY is he acting like this? We've been good parents. We've done our best. We've never hurt him, or put him down..."

"I wish I knew. If we survive, maybe he'll tell us one day and we'll laugh about it."

"I hope so. I don't know how much more I can take..."

The transporter chimed and opened, and Duo turned around to lay into his son, only to see Yanir step out alone.

"Where's Jazz?" He demanded.

"Jazz is safe." Yanir assured him. "And will hopefully be back within the next few days."

"Excuse me?" Heero interjected. "The next few DAYS, Seb? That's unacceptable. He comes home now."

"I'm afraid that will not be possible. Jazz, with his own permission, has been taken into protective custody by the Setan government."

"WHAT?" Duo gaped at her. "Oh, no, lady. I don't think so. I am perfectly capable of protecting my own kid. When I can find him, that is. Nice offer, but it's declined."

Yanir shook her head. "Sit down, please. I will try and explain everything, and why we felt this step necessary to take."

"Seb, this better be the best damn explanation you've ever given in your life!" Heero growled, sinking into the couch and pulling Duo down beside him.

Slowly, carefully, Seb Yanir related to Jazz's parents what Vire had told them about the Wronith.

"Yeah, we thought it was something like that, but what the hell does that have to do with you keeping my son from me?" Duo demanded, fist clenched.

"Because we feel the Wronith might be more willing to listen to the true Tren of Seta."

"Let Cala speak to them, then."

Yanir shook her head. "Cala is acting Tren until our Tren reaches his 25th year and will assume the leadership. It is he the Wronith must speak with."

And then, Duo knew. And he did not want to know.

Heero watched his mate's eyes grow larger, watched him sink into the couch. "My son. You're sending... my child out to meet with these monsters, aren't you?"

"He will be safe. This is a diplomatic meeting." Yanir assured him. "We only wish to negotiate."

"Seb, we refuse to allow Jazz to do this. We have rights." Heero said quietly.

Yanir shook her head. "With the safety of our world compromised, you do not. And the boy feels very strongly about this." She smiled. "You should be proud of him. He is a fine young man."

"If he's in no danger, then why put him in protective custody?" Duo demanded.

"It is not the Wronith we are protecting him from." Yanir admitted. "It is you."

"Excuse me?"

"You would never allow him to do this. We feel, and Jazz feels, that he must. So he is under our care until after the meeting. Rest easily; he is being treated extremely well. Only the best for our future Tren."

"Let's clear that up right now, shall we?" Duo stood up. "Jazz is not, and never will be, the Tren of so much as a doghouse. I'd love to know where you got this crazy idea from! He's going to be a farmer. It's all he's wanted since he was a little boy. If he wants something else now, it's only because you've brainwashed him."

Yanir shook her head. "He was Vire's Choice as successor, and it was a good one. However, your son is just as adamant as you are that he not be made Tren. We believe that once he has had time to adjust to the idea, he will accept the position. His training would begin at twenty, and last the next five years. So you see, it's not a decision he would have to make right away. We are confident that he will do the right thing."

"So am I, which is tell you all to go to hell." Duo snapped. "I want to talk to him. Then I want access to a cigarette lighter and a box of nails because Mr. Vire and I are going to have a little get-together. At the end, maybe he'll think twice about ever volunteering someone else's child as Tren ever again!

"That will not be possible. However, Jazz did ask me to give you this." She handed Duo an envelope. "I must be getting back."

She bowed to Heero. "Ambassador. Duo. I bid you good day."

Then she was gone.

Duo's fingers traced the envelope.

"Are you going to open it?"

"I feel like I'm holding Pandora's box, actually." Duo admitted. "Like nothing will ever be the same again once I do."

"Hope remained in the box." Heero reminded him. "Do you want me to do it?"

"No, I'll read it outloud." He pulled out several folded sheets of paper.

Dear Pops and Ojisan.

Well, right now you're probably really pissed off at me. Someday, you'll understand why I had to do this. And someday, I'll have kids of my own and maybe I'll understand why you would have tried to stop me.

Pops, do you remember when we read the Dragonlance books together? Besides using up a whole box of tissues between us when Raistlin died, do you know what I remember most? Especially now?

Gilthas, Tanis' son. Do you remember that?

Gil had always been a sick kid, and Tanis was really, really protective of him. He would never let Gil go to the elven homeland and Gil resented it. So one day, Gil ran away. He was blackmailed into being the Speaker of the Sun. Tanis had to leave him behind there, in Qualanesti (did I spell that right? It's been so long I can't remember, but I know it's something like that) and then died before he could ever get him back.

I'm bringing that up because I don't want you to think that's going to happen to us. It's not. I'm coming home, Pops. And they need to find someone else to be their Tren. We both know that that's not where I belong.

But this isn't about what you want or what I want. It's about making sure this world stays safe, and beautiful, and alive. It's about other kids who are probably even more scared than I am right now. Those girls.

Pops, they're being raped. Raped until they get pregnant with Wronith babies. How can I sit back and let that happen when I have a chance to maybe stop it? I can't. I won't.

And I know you couldn't either, if you were in my position. You couldn't let someone else go through what you did. That's not something we talk about, but I know about your past and you know I know. And I wish that I could go back in time, and find you when you were a child, and take your hand, and find a way to keep you safe from those sick bastards. Because I've heard you crying, and each time it breaks my heart.

I don't know if I'm going to have any luck speaking to the Wronith but I'm going to give it my best shot. Maybe... maybe I can bring Zea and the others back.

Because they won't stop with Seta if no one stands up to them. Dera will be next. They'll come for Linra, and Rosie, and Meishel.

When I was a little boy, you took my hand, and we went sailing. We crossed the sea, and we fell off the edge of the world.

And here there be dragons. And I go to fight them because it is the right thing to do. Because it is the only thing to do. And because of who I am.

I am Jason Heero Maxwell.

I am my father's son.

I am my mother's son.

I am my pledge-father's son.

And I am proud to be all four.

I love you. And I will see you very soon.

Jazz

Duo laid the letter down on the coffee table, blinking rapidly. Heero's fingers were warm against his shoulder.

Neither of them spoke, but sat together in the silence of the room for a long time afterward.


"Come on, eat it. You love peanut butter." Wufei waved the piece of bread in front of his daughter's face. "It's good. Come on, baby. Just eat one piece for Baba."

"No."

"You're making Baba sad." Wufei said in desperation. "You're going to make me cry if you don't eat."

The little girl sullenly took the bread and nibbled on it, to Wufei's relief.

"I want Jazz." she grumbled.

"I know, baby. And Jazz will be home before you know it. I know he misses you, too.

Shan followed his sister's example and started eating his own lunch. Wufei hadn't even bothered trying to coax the boy; had he been starving he still would have refused to eat as long as Meishel was.

"Jazz lives here." Shan informed his father with a pout.

"Yes, Jazz does live here. He has NOT moved away." Wufei assured his son.

Meishel was thinking. "Someone stole him." she said at last. Shan nodded sagely in agreement.

"No, no one stole him..."

"Yup. Someone stole Jazz." Meishel was sure. "Thieves got him."

Wufei laid his head on the table in frustration, fighting back the urge to both laugh and cry. How close to the truth she was without even knowing it.

He was tired, exhausted from the mental battle he had waged since learning Jaf's true identity. And no closer to a solution.

Jaf was Vire. Vire had killed people his wife loved. Vire had blinded his wife. Everything that composed who Wufei was cried out for retaliation and revenge.

He glanced up at Meishel, who was licking peanut butter off of her tiny fingers.

Vire had saved his daughter's life. Vire was the reason his beloved child was still with him. And everything he was cried out that he must honor that salvation; that he must repay Vire in full for that debt.

Meishel reached out to pat his cheek and he smiled at her.

"Meishel? What would you do if your honor was demanding you do two completely opposite things to someone?"

The little girl looked confused.

"Okay, what would you do if your brother kicked you, and then immediately gave you a cookie?"

"Eat the cookie." She gave him an odd glance, as if that question was beneath him to even ask.

"But what would you do to Shan?"

Her look now was one of a younger generation imparting a great secret upon an older one. "A hug. Cookies mean you're sorry."

"Yes, I guess they do." Wufei tried to absorb his little daughter's wisdom. "I wish everyone thought the way you do, Meishel."

"Meishel smart." Shan was proud of his sister. "She knows everything."

Meishel beamed.

Wufei wiped off their hands and sat then down on the floor to play. They ran off chasing each other, squealing giggles echoing throughout the farmhouse.

He could not see himself offering Vire either a hug or a cookie, but he would speak to Denea. If she did not wish him to seek revenge, than he would not. He would allow the Setan authorities to handle Vire in their own manner.

If she did...

He would honor spare his life, in payment for Meishel's.

But Vire would wish for death.


On to part sixteen. Back to part fourteen.