Disclaimers and warnings still apply



Part Four : Masquerade 

"Masquerade, seething shadows, breathing lies, masquerade - you can fool any friend who ever knew you. Masquerade, leering satyrs, peering eyes. Run and hide, but a face will still pursue you."

                        ~"Masquerade" from "The Phantom of the Opera"
                           Words Charles Heart, Music Andrew Lloyd Webber


Chang and Maxwell decided the easiest thing to do now that they had been granted permission to capture either of their targets was to break into the dorm room and lie in wait. Their doubles never arrived home together, having vastly different schedules, and they didnít have to worry about being seen by the one they were capturing anyway. Maxwell sat on one bed, all business for once; if he hadnít been in control of his "hobbies," he wouldnít be the Assassinsí Heart of Death. Chang loitered by the window, waiting for a sign of one of their pitiful copies. The twist that Winner had left in the back of his mind still occasionally sent butterflies careening through his stomach, but it wasnít anything he couldnít handle. Their leader knew his limits.


"What?" Chang asked, turning. The American had stood and was pressed against the door, enhanced hearing listening to the sounds of the hallway. He smirked and pulled away.

"Youíre losing your touch," he said, voice cold. "You didnít see him, and your doubleís in the hallway."

"Thereís a second entrance in the back," Chang said, undisturbed. Moving quickly, he positioned himself so that the opening door would hide him from view when Wufei opened it. Maxwell grinned and stood easily in the center of the room, fingering the unfamiliar braid with one hand while he reached into a pocket and drew something out with the other. Chang caught the Americanís expression and smirked - Maxwell always had to do everything with flare.

Wufei paused outside his dorm room door, muttering under his breath and trying to balance a huge bag with one hand as he dug through his pockets. "I canít believe Iím doing laundry at two oíclock in the afternoon...not like Duo could do it for himself, oh no, he has to put on the big puppy dog eyes, ĎFeeeei, pleease do my laundry for me, just this once. You donít want me running around naked do you?í" Wufei paused, keys in hand, and shook his head to clear the images that that sentence had brought to his mind both now and when his roommate first said it. //No way I was answering that question! So I end up doing laundry like a woman...grrr...// Smoothly turning the lock, he opened the door and drug the heavy laundry bag in behind him.

"Heya, Fei."

Wufei looked up in surprise, eyes narrowing. "Duo! You said you had meetings all day. What the hell are you doing here when I just lugged all your damn clothes up the-!??!"

Dark eyes flew wide as Wufei was presented with a double-arm-full of highly enthusiastic American. That hard, slender body smashed him into the door, pressing close as Duo made an odd purring sound deep in his throat. "Welcome home, baby."

"Duo! What-" The Chinese boyís protests were cleanly cut off by a hot, hard mouth pressed harshly against his, a tongue stabbing so deep between lips opened in a gasp of shock that he gagged. //Duo?!// The assault was so far outside anything he had ever imagined that his mind locked, unable to even feel betrayed that this boy he loved would take advantage of him. 


Instinctively he raised his hands to grab at the other boy and push him away, but despite the ache in his chest from lack of air and the sharp nails digging into his sides, he still couldnít find it in himself to hurt the other boy, so all he could do was squirm against that hard chest, whimpering against the relentless mouth. Suddenly, pain erupted in his side and he cried out as darkness fell over his vision and he heard a voice both familiar and strange laughing as he crumpled to the 

floor . . .

"I think you killed him," Chang laughed as his double slumped against the door, face still registering shock as he slipped into unconsciousness. "Not exactly experienced, is he?" 

Maxwell licked his lips, a slow swipe of his tongue, and raised the needle that he had stabbed into Wufeiís side, still dripping blood and a clear white drug. "No reason not to have a little fun, lover. I intend to enjoy my job."

Chang snorted. "Get going. You canít afford to be here when Duo comes back." 

Maxwell leaned down and easily lifted the other boy, shifting him over his shoulder as Chang pulled out a small device and pointed it to the wall. There was a faint whining noise and a rectangle of black light appeared. "Donít screw this up, lover. Youíre no fun for days after Winner punishes you."

Chang scowled. "Just get the information we need."

"Oh..donít worry about that." Maxwell smiled languidly and ran a fingertip over the smooth swell of his captiveís thigh and buttocks. "Iíll get it." And he stepped through the portal, disappearing with a snap.


Nanashi watched Quatreís door with flat eyes. Trowa and Heero had finally left. The three had been studying for over an hour, and before that his target had been in classes, meetings, meeting people for dinner, any number of things, until finally the nameless assassin had been drawn here. He knew that Chang and Maxwell were one building over, lying in wait for one of their two targets, just as he knew that they had no clue where he was and couldnít care less anyway. Stepping out of the bathroom, Nanashi slowly approached the door. The blond was finally alone. Completely, totally alone. Reaching inside his jacket, he pulled out the leather strip he preferred for strangling his victims and held it in his right hand as he stepped forward and slipped a small lockpick from his pocket. With calm precision, the assassin slipped the pick into the doorknob and felt around-

Music suddenly reached his ears, drifting through the doorway. The sweet sounds of a flute expertly played touched his hearing and he froze, eyes widening. He had known that the other boy played, had seen him carry the instrument with him to a band director who could fix something that had gone wrong with it, but this was the first time he had heard it. There was such love and innocence in that sound, both unfamiliar concepts in the world and universe of his birth. What Nanashi knew to be music was the chants of the dictators, the harsh beating of drums that were designed to make it impossible to think clearly at odd times of the day, causing mass confusion and not allowing the citizenry to fall into any comfortable pattern. But this music brought not feelings of confusion but instead images of the other boy as he had seen him throughout the last few days returned once again to haunt him; Quatre laughing, smiling, helping a classmate study, at Duoís birthday gathering, that light in his eyes when he saw the way Chang and Maxwellís doubles danced around each other, the honesty in that familiar smile . . . 

Thin fingers tightened around the pick and Nanashi leaned his head against the cool wood of the door, frozen, eyes wide, listening to that soothing tune as the leather strip fell silently from his palm to the floor. . .

That was what he had left the mercenaries for.

Those smiles, those eyes. He could still remember the gentle expression on Winnerís face when the blond first found him, broken and used. The soft hands had held him as the sweet voice soothed his fears away. It was not until the two of them had reunited with Chang, Maxwell and the now-dead Relena, already part of the Assassin group, that Nanashi had learned that the gentle boy who had pulled him out of hell was nothing but a facade carefully and ingeniously crafted. Chang, he knew, had found the fact that Nanashi had been so easily fooled highly amusing, and Maxwell . . . well, Maxwell thought so lowly of him that he had never even considered using the taller boy as one of his sextoys, which was the highest insult the American could give. Nanashi stayed because he was born and altered to be an assassin. He felt nothing, feared nothing, never hesitated . . . until now.

Quatre was *real.* His kindness was no act, but a part of himself. Quatre *was* the false Winner who had pulled Nanashi from the darkness, but unlike the assassinís leader, he wouldnít have turned around and plunged him into another hell. In Nanashiís world, Quatre was an angel of light to Winnerís demon of pain.

And Nanashi had been sent to kill him. 

He stumbled back, thin frame hitting the far wall, hands shaking. He didnít understand the emotions that coursed through him, had no frame of reference for them and he shuddered, wrapping his arms around his chest. The Golden Angel..the Golden Death...he couldnít, couldnít deal with this now. Reaching out, he snatched up the leather strip and backed away from the door.

//I need to take the pills Winner gave me; the ones that calm me down. Iíll take them...and Iíll kill him tomorrow.//

Cold turquoise eyes flashed across his vision and the usually emotionless killer shuddered. 



As Nanashi disappeared into the stairwell, intense cobalt eyes flashed in the shadows as Yuy moved soundlessly out of hiding. He stood for a moment, watching the door that did little to block the sound of gentle music wafting into the hallway, and then nodded once before silently slipping through the stairwell door opposite the nameless boy.