Intentions of Time: The Past (cont)

I look up at the night sky, looking for the stars that Heero used to love. A long time ago, my love would stand in our backyard at night, just looking at the stars. His eyes reflected the myriad of stars in the sky and I could see the constellations in them. To me, Heero's eyes were the universe. Now, when I see the sky, I don't see Heero's eyes. Now, I see the countless blinking lights that belong to the Mission and the giant blob of amorphous light that is their fortress. The Mission even manages to ruin my memories. The dark cobalt blue with thousands upon thousands of tiny specks of light used to remind me of Heero's eyes. It used to remind me of how Heero would point out a cluster of stars and insist to me that they made a shape. I can still hear his annoyed laughter when I told him that no matter how hard I looked, the stupid Ursa Major looked like a giant pot instead of a great bear. But not when I look up at the sky these days. No more Heero, just the Mission. Not only did the Mission destroy my home, my planet and the peace I worked for so hard, it destroyed my precious memories of Heero. It intruded into things that remind me of my love. It makes me mad, so mad that I can feel the tears gather. Heero died once already. I lost his body, his touch and his corporeal form to a vicious killer. Now, I'm losing the memories of him, the most precious thing I have left, to a rude intruder. The Mission scattered in the night sky killed the universe that I saw in Heero's eyes. The Mission blew up every colony that Heero and I spent time on. Heero and my house, it's long gone from one of their blasts. My car that he gave to me, gone. Our pictures, our mementos, all gone. The Mission took all those things from me. The Mission is killing my Heero, as vicious a killer as the one who killed him all those years ago. Only this time, it's more insidious. This time, they're erasing him from me, taking away everything that reminds me of him. I hate the Mission. I hate every last one of them. Right now, I want nothing more than to kill them all with my bare hands. Or with my Talent, which I suppose is more rational. One day soon, when the Mission is gone, I want to look at the sky and see the universe in my lover's eyes again. I want to see the stars as they were meant to be. I don't want to let someone else kill Heero, not when I can stop them.

The tension and mistrust in the air hung thickly, almost solid in its virulence. Duo stared at the Mission agent fixedly, his eyes never leaving her form in case she tried to run away. They had relocated from the suburbs to the woods about a mile from where they had met. There was more privacy and Duo wanted to be away from people and spectators. That stunt he had pulled earlier in the middle of the city had not been the smartest thing he had done. From now on, Duo was determined to fit in and not do stupid things to make him suspicious to others. It would only complicate his goals.

"Before I kill you, I want to hear all about your mission."

The answer came quickly, almost as if she had been waiting for him to broach the topic. Ever since she had blurted out her mission, the First Talent had become more interested in her than she had hoped. If talking about it would keep her alive to finish her mission, she would do so.

"After you hear what my mission is about, you can't kill me. I was told that you had an attachment to Heero Yuy and you would never dream of interfering."

"How were you so sure that it would be me who followed? It could have been one of the Six."

The Mission considered that shortly, angling her head to look Duo into his eyes. She could still feel her fear, but at least now, it was tempered by hope.

"We calculated the likelihood that it would be you. Twenty years in the past, before the time when Heero Yuy dies. Our time technicians told me that it would be you by eighty seven point six nine percent."

"And just when did you plan all this time jumping crap?"

"It was always our contingency plan if we lost."

There was silence for a while as Duo contemplated his next question. The Mission agent sat still, not wanting to make any sudden movements. The First Talent would fry her at the first sign of trouble, whether or not he was curious about her mission. She had to stay alive.

"Why is saving Heero so damned important to you?"

The Mission hesitated. There was something behind the tone that made her throat dry with fear.

"I.. I was never told exactly why," she said hurriedly when Duo's eyes darkened, "but it's imperative that he lives. He is the key to our survival."

A mirthless laugh strangled itself out of Duo's throat, twisting his features into a grimace.

"I see. Your mission is to save Heero. I see how fucking cruel the whole world is. If you save Heero, you save your race and humanity dies. So by some damned joke of fate, my mission has to be.. my mission is.. to kill you.. and.. and.."

The Mission sat silently as the First Talent's eyes glistened with unshed moisture and a strange mocking emotion. She did not make a sound as he suddenly turned away from her and shouted.

"I HAVE TO WATCH HIM DIE? Is that my fucking mission? To do nothing as Heero dies? Again?"

Duo punched the tree nearest to him as hard as he could. He felt the scraping of the bark against his knuckles and the unsatisfying bit of pain that followed.

"WHY? WHY? Finally, I have a chance to save Heero. Finally. And saving him is going to wipe out the earth? Are you telling me that my choices are watching my lover die or watching the world die? Is that it? IS THAT IT???"

The Mission watched with wide eyes as Duo repeatedly punched the tree. The moisture fell from his eyes in streams and droplets, splattering onto the ground with every shake of his body. And for some strange reason, she felt pity for the destroyer of her people. She felt sorry for the person responsible for the end of her world.

"Are you okay?"

Of all things, the Mission had not expected laughter from the First Talent at her innocent query. But she was hearing it, a full bellied laugh edged in bitterness and hysteria.

"Okay? Am I okay? Can you even fathom how wrong that question is?"

She looked on uncertainly as he stalked up to her in slow, agitated steps. His hands were fisted and bleeding, clenched so tightly that she could see every bone and vein under the thinly stretched skin. She said nothing as he grabbed her by her shoulders and yanked her to her feet roughly.

"You are telling me that I have to choose between Heero and the world. How does that make anything okay?"

Duo let go of the Mission agent and she slithered to the ground, her legs no longer able to support her weight. She stared at the ground beneath her, just listening to his hitched breathing. She was quite certain that any moment, she would die. She had to get away from him before he became too unstable and lashed out. Slowly, her hand inched towards the control panel on her right arm, towards the small button that would transport her from this spot. The destination was uncertain for this technology had not been perfected, but it would get her away far enough. Suddenly, a pair of hands latched onto her wrists and hauled her up, ruining her chances of escape. She could not fight the First Talent. She would die.

"Are you going to kill me now."

The Mission surprised herself with her calm and collected voice. It did not shake in fear or failure.

"No. I'm not."

Startled by his answer, the Mission jerked her head up and found herself staring into deep violet eyes. The hysteria was gone, replaced by an iron hard determination. When he spoke, his voice was deadly serious.

"I'm going to choose Heero."

There was no sigh of relief from the Mission, but Duo felt the tension leak out of her system. He would let her relax. He supposed it would do her or him no good if he divulged his plan. Yes, he was going to save Heero. More than that, he was going to decimate the Mission before they ever got to the earth. He would destroy the Mission with his Talent before they got the chance to enter the solar system.

The strong scent of cinnamon is tickling my nose, making me want to sneeze. Trowa gave me these incense cones, telling me that they would relax me if I lit one and just breathed the gentle scent. Well, gentle scent my ass! This smell is strong enough to wake the dead from six feet under. For the love of Christ, I know Trowa meant well, but this is stupid. So I walk to the little incense burner and pour some water into the tiny pot, watching as the little cone soak up the water and burn out. I'm quite sure that Quatre made Trowa give these to me. Quatre's been worried lately because I've been so tense. But then again, why wouldn't I be? It's the third week of our young stalemate and we have not been attacked once as of yet. And I and the Six had been so sure that as soon as the barrier went up around the earth, the Mission would have bombarded us with everything they had. But so far, nothing. So I've been tense, just anticipating an attack. Whoever it was that said anticipation killed had it right. After the smell of cinnamon dissipates, I paddle back to my comfortable chair and sit. I feel the barrier with my Talent to make sure there are no holes in it anywhere, just in case the Mission wants to send us a surprise gift. Defending the earth is tiring work, even for me. I get weary of it sometimes and have terrible thoughts about just letting the damn planet get blown up. But that won't do. Heero would never forgive me if I gave up like that. Heero would have gladly given his life to defend humanity. Hell, he tried so damn many times during the war. And isn't the irony just beautiful, that he survived war to die in peace. A poet, I am not. That was Heero. For a guy who never spoke more words than strictly necessary, he had a way with putting words on paper. He wrote me poetry sometimes, you know, just to tell me how he felt. And all those words, every day words, combined to form images that just can't be described by someone like me. I'm getting lost in my thoughts of Heero again. I do that a lot. For a while, all I had was vengeance. Before the Mission came, my mission in life was to find the evil bastard who killed Heero. But now that I have my hands full with the Mission, vengeance took a step back. I still think about finding the killer if he's still alive. I think about all the things I can do to him now with my Talent. I wonder if one day, I'll just step outside and run into the killer. Life is like that, throwing you sharp turns and corners. But I can't think about that now. I have to make sure the earth lives so that Heero won't be disappointed in me. Is that pathetic, that I defend the earth because of a dead man? He's my inspiration and my strength, even now. When he and I fought in our gundams together, we fought for peace, but also we fought for each other. We made sure that the other came back alive, no matter what. If I had died during the war, Heero would have carried on with his missions for me. So I carry on for him. But you know, if I could, I'd give up everything to be with him again. I would give up my power, my Talent, anything within my disposal. Anything and everything I am I'd give up in an instant to be with him again. But that's my selfish side talking. Selfish and stupidly delusional side. I'm just going to stop thinking about it and check on the barrier again. Maybe the Mission will attack soon and I can stop having dumb ass thoughts.

The first day back in the past had passed and Duo found himself faced with three days to complete his mission. The first day had been filled with shocks and revelations, some of which he still could not accept fully. The night had been spent in vigil, Duo keeping an eye on the Mission in case she tried to get away from him and the Mission staring at Duo to make sure that he did not kill her in her sleep. It had been an uneasy night for the both of them, but neither felt the tiredness or the lack of sleep. The sun was barely up but the two enemies looked as alert as ever, constantly watching the other for sudden movements.

"You."

The Mission narrowed her eyes at his tone. The First Talent had sounded casual and her studies of the man had told her that he was the most dangerous when too casual.

"What."

A small smile crept its way across Duo's face before it disappeared. Her surly answer had been so reminiscent of Hilde. But this look alike wasn't Hilde. That thought brought up another round of questioning.

"Why do you look like that?"

The Mission gauged his emotionless face and considered carefully. After the near death beating yesterday at his hands, she did not want to say anything that could set him off.

"This is the face and body of one of you humans we found. She was our first encounter."

A deep sigh echoed in the quiet forest.

"I swear, every time you speak, you have to surprise the living hell out of me. You'd think after yesterday, I would be done being surprised, but no. It keeps on coming."

Noting that he sounded frustrated and mocking more than angry, the Mission continued, hoping that her story would at least make him want to let her go. She didn't think it was a big possibility, but the slim chance was there.

"I had no idea that the human was called Hilde. We found her in one of your space mobiles more than twenty of your earth years ago, floating in our sector of space. We calculated that she fell through the small wormhole that exists between the fourth and the fifth planets of your solar system. She was no longer functioning when we found her, but she was the first. She was the one that led us to earth."

Duo chewed on the information in his mind, mulling over each word and putting some things together. It made some sort of twisted sense.

"She must have run away after she found out about me and Heero. She ran straight into death, because of me."

There was no response to his voiced thought. The Mission agent watched as he rambled on, noticing that he dripped more moisture onto himself as he continued.

"I can't save anyone dear to me. I can't even keep them alive. Hilde. Heero. Trowa. Wufei. All the people who ever mean anything to me.. dead. Because of me. Always back to me, isn't it."

Duo could no longer speak. The evidence was damning, so alarmingly clear. He really must be Shinigami as he had purported. He sat and let his thoughts run wild, knowing that the Mission was watching, but not caring.

"First Talent, I have no idea of what you speak, but the human we found, this person you think is Hilde, was the reason we sought out your planet. She alerted us to the presence of your system and your vulnerabilities. She is the one who gave us our imperative by showing us your weakness. It is she who began the war."

"Yeah," Duo replied bitterly, "and it was me who sent her to you. I didn't only kill my friend. I almost killed the entire fucking planet. Some savior I am."

"It is true. You are the center of everything. You are the key to all events. You are the one who should be eliminated, but that is not my mission."

The deadpan voice of the Mission did nothing for Duo's inner turmoil and pain. It was true, then, that he was nothing but the harbinger of death. If anything, he should have been the target, the murder victim, the heart broken fool. But no, he was known as the savior, the survivor, the one who had it all.

"It would be easier, don't you think, to eliminate me in the past before I developed the Talent. Isn't that the logical thing? To kill me?"

"Do you not listen to anything I say, First Talent? I told you, we calculated that you would be sent after us into the past. I don't think you would have stood by idle while I killed your past self. But saving Heero Yuy, that is a goal you would not hinder. We counted on it and here we are. I'm not dead and you won't let Heero die. I would say our plan was perfect."

Duo had no arguments for that. He had chosen Heero and he would not change his mind. But the revelations heaped upon him hurt. He had killed Hilde, if not with his hands, then with his words. He had driven her to outer space where she suffocated or starved to death and sent her straight into the curious and malicious arms of the Mission. He was at fault. Nothing could change that. Right now, at this moment in the past, the Mission was already on its way. Hilde was dead. But Heero still lived and he could save him and destroy the Mission. He smiled inwardly at his last hope, until the Mission agent spoke and destroyed his hopes.

"Don't think you can destroy us before we come to your solar system, First Talent. We have calculated that possibility as well. And I will tell you one thing, you cannot hope to destroy us if you wish to save Heero Yuy."

"Stop messing with me," Duo whispered furiously, "because I've had it. I can blow your kind off the universe before I save Heero. Or after. Whenever. I have all the time in the world to do it."

"It's not time you should be concerned with, First Talent, but the twines of history."

With that cryptic remark, the Mission agent stood and dusted off her clothes. Signaling to Duo with a slight tilt of her head, she walked off bravely at a measured pace towards the edge of the woods. She could only hope that the First Talent did not hear her sigh of relief when he followed her instead of blasting her into molecular pieces.

I think I'm going to die. At least, that's what my gut is telling me. It's not my lunch reasserting itself, nor is it the lecture I got from Relena about diplomacy earlier. No. It's me. I can feel every particle in my body screaming for release and hear my mind echo the sentiments. Do I want to die? I think so. Can I leave this world behind? I can safely say, yes. Am I ready? Maybe. One more thing to do. Yes, one more thing I have to do. Then I will die. Am I wondering if Heero's waiting for me on the other side? Yes. Do I know if he will receive me with love? I'm pretty sure he will. Will I die without regrets? No. I will die knowing I could have, should have.

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