Warnings: Angst, Language, Weird, Yaoi
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: 1+2, Solo+2
Note: Well Sonny and I watched that Disney movie Newsies last night and we both decided that 'Spot Conlon' or rather the actor that plays him, Gabe Damon would make the cutest Solo. So I basically described him when I described Solo. ^^ You can see pics of him here: http://stellarsoldiers.homestead.com/gabe_solo.html

Darker Side of Death + Part Two

Heero sat on the couch in the small living room with his arms folded over his chest. The other two pilots had returned some time ago and he had the feeling that more had happened on their trip than anyone was telling him. Duo had immediately fled to the room that they shared, closing the door behind him. Quatre on the other hand was sitting on the reclining chair, staring out the window; his face was pinched with worry.

"Do you want to tell me what happened or should I ask Duo?" Heero asked flatly.

Quatre's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. "W...what? Nothing happened!"

Heero's eyes narrowed and he glared at the blonde. "Do you want to tell me what happened, or should I ask Duo?" he repeated coldly.

"Heero..." Quatre sighed heavily and rubbed his fists over his eyes. "I promised Duo that I wouldn't say anything. It's really no big deal!"

"If it's no big deal, why did he make you promise not to tell me?" The Wing pilot asked shrewdly.

"I--" Quatre stopped and glared at him. "You know what? I really do not appreciate the two of you putting me in the middle of these things. You can fight entire battalions of mobile dolls and blow up bases but you can't even get along with each other!"

Heero's eyes narrowed dangerously but Quatre didn't stop there. He was on a roll.

"If you two hate each other so much, why do you always want to room together anyway? Why do you always request him for your back-up when you go on missions? I think the reason why you guys argue so much is just a bunch of unresolved sexual tension!"

Heero eyes widened and he nearly choked. His eyes bugged out for a moment as he stared at Quatre in shock but he quickly regained his composure and glared harder. "Are you done?"

"Yes."

"Good. Now tell me what happened."

"You are really annoying, Heero. I want you to know that."

"Spit it out, Quatre."

"Duo is having some problems. I think it has something to do with the fact that he hasn't been sleeping very well," Quatre started slowly.

"What kind of problems?" Heero demanded.

"Well - I think he may be having hallucinations. When we were in the store I found him aiming his gun at a shelf and saying something about a girl being there, but I saw no one."

"Is it possible that someone had been there before you approached?"

Quatre shook his head slowly and sighed. "I don't think so. When I came up behind him ...he was speaking as if he was talking to someone but no one was there!"

Heero narrowed his eyes again. "I see."

"Look Heero, I know what you're thinking--"

"Do you?"

"You're thinking that if he is hallucinating he could put us all in danger in a battle. You're thinking that he is a liability and that he will get in the way. But before you do anything, give him time. See if this gets better. I mean this is the first time anything like this has happened and he is a part of this team. He is an excellent pilot and a brilliant soldier, Heero!"

Heero frowned. "You're acting like I've condemned him already."

"Haven't you?" Quatre asked coldly.

"I am fully aware of everything you are saying Quatre, but if it comes to it I will do what needs to be done," the Japanese teen snapped before standing up and stalking out of the room.

Quatre slumped in his chair and closed his eyes. "Oh Trowa . . . I wish you were here with me. I don't know how to handle this anymore . . ."

+

Heero sat in the cockpit of Wing, his eyes closed as he contemplated everything. Ever since that night three weeks ago, Duo had been acting strangely. He had been quiet, moody, and Heero had noticed that the other pilot had barely been eating or sleeping. Heero knew that no simple nightmare could cause such a dramatic change in a person. There had to be more to this than met the eye. It was obviously not a simple case of insomnia since Duo was supposedly having hallucinations as well.

Heero's brow creased as he thought about it and he slumped in the seat. It bothered him that something was wrong with Duo--something that he could not fix or control. He knew his concern wasn't just because this could endanger the mission. A large part of his concern came because he cared for Duo. He cared for him and thought of him in ways that were supposed to be forbidden between two men and forbidden for someone that had trained under Doctor J.

With a soft sigh the Wing pilot opened a hidden file on his system. Once during a mission, he and the normally cheerful pilot had been in space awaiting orders in their Gundams. As usual Duo had been speaking to him through their comms but after awhile he had grown strangely silent. Curious, Heero had opened the vid connection and saw that Duo had fallen asleep. He had been completely caught off guard at the beauty and peace that graced the other pilot's features. He looked so young and even innocent. Instead of cutting the connection, Heero had watched him sleep and he had even gone so far as to save the file. Ever since that mission, he would open the file and stare at Duo's exquisite features, wondering about things he had no business wondering about.

Now Heero opened that same file and watched as his comrade slept peacefully in the safety of his mobile suit. He had never fully appreciated Duo's smiles and laughter, until now. Now, it was as though Duo was an entirely different person; his face was gaunt and his eyes were shadowed by dark circles. Heero sighed again and gazed at the old Duo--the Duo who made his heart clench and his breath catch in his throat. The recorded Duo smirked in his sleep and murmured something softly. Heero felt a small smile form on his own lips as he eyed that smirk. It was a smirk that was usually accompanied by some mischievous thought or idea.

Heero spent the next few hours watching his secret recording until he drifted into a restless sleep.
 
+

Duo adjusted the drawstring of his sweatpants and eyed the black punching bag in front of him. After his eventful trip to the market with Quatre, he had went to his room and paced for a couple of hours. He was afraid to fall asleep because the last thing he wanted to do was have those nightmares. However he was too wound up to sleep anyway, too many thoughts were running through his brain. Maybe he was going insane, the idea wasn't that bizarre. With a sigh, Duo dropped into a fighting stance and swung at the punching bag. It was always the same with him. He was always the one with the problem--the one to get captured, the one to get called an idiot . . . the one to be called a bad soldier.

Cross jab, uppercut.

Of course no one ever notices how the others fuck up too, but they always point out when he does. Heero can gun down a shuttle of pacifists and no one says a word, but the flighty American gets captured and Wufei holds it against him forever.

Jab, jab, left hook, snap kick.

He had overheard Heero interrogating Quatre a little while ago and it had pissed him off. Mad because Heero always assumed something was up with him and pissed because Quatre could never just keep his mouth shut. Duo wasn't fighting this war for any of them and none of them were his superiors, so what right did they have to decide if he was a liability or not. G thought he could handle it and he let him have control. As the thoughts ran through his head, Duo got madder and madder; his moves becoming more violent.

Uppercut, front snap kick, rear uppercut.

And why did it have to be him to get the kooky visions and hallucinations? Why couldn't it be one of the others? Why did the weird shit always have to happen to him? Was it even a hallucination or was this 'Takai' real? Why did he have to be the one who couldn't concentrate on his missions? Why did he have to be the one with the nightmares? Duo didn't bother wiping the sweat from his brow as it dripped down the sides of his face.

Lead jab, cross jab, uppercut, roundhouse kick.

Why did he have to be the orphan street kid from L2? Why did he have to be looked down upon by people like Relena just because he hadn't had the privilege to have grown up with a family and a home? Why did his best and only friend have to die? Why did Maxwell Church have to burn down? Why did he always get fucked?

"My. Life. SUCKS!" Duo shouted as he pummeled the bag. "EVERYONE SUCKS!" He screamed at no one in particular. "FUCK THIS WAR! FUCK HEERO! FUCK THAT PINK BARBIE DOLL BITCH AND FUCK . . . FUCK SHINIGAMI!" As soon as the words left his mouth, Duo's head spun and his vision dimmed. "What the...?" Then the ground was suddenly rushing up to meet his face.

+

"You rang?"

Duo opened his eyes and winced as a searing pain shot through his head. With a groan he slowly sat up and glared at Takai. He wasn't surprised to see that he was in the dreamscape from his nightmares--the large open space with no light or color. Just black everywhere. "Quatre's right, I am going crazy."

Takai made a 'tsk tsk' sound and rolled her eyes. "Still a nonbeliever, are you?"

Duo studiously ignored his 'hallucination' and got to his feet, still wary of his pounding headache. "Yup, I have finally gone insane."

"I'd think you would believe in me since you go around shouting my name in vain." She narrowed her eyes at him. "I do not take kindly of you cursing me, boy."

"Well, I don't take kindly to going crazy either, so we're even."

She sighed softly and ran a hand through her bangs. "Duo, you're not going crazy. I am Shinigami. It's the truth. You are one of the strongest souls I have ever encountered and if you were going to go insane you would have done it when Maxwell Church burnt down. The only reason I have chosen to show myself to you, is because certain events are going to take place very soon that will have very bad consequences and it's all up to you to prevent them from happening."

"It's all up to me? Huh. Why do I feel like I'm in a Marvel comic or something? 'Duo Maxwell, you are the only one who can save the world!'"

Takai smirked. "Actually, that's quite accurate."

Duo quirked an eyebrow and smirked right back. "Give me a break."

"Remember those visions I sent you, Duo? That is what will happen if you were to die before this war ends. The outcome of the war does not rest solely on your shoulders because the other pilots play a large part as well, however without you . . . many things that could have been prevented won't be and many will die."

"How...?"

She eyed him for a moment before speaking. "That one with Quatre and Trowa is complicated because many other events are tied into it that I can not tell you. I am already telling you too much. However that battle will take place in space months from now and if you survive, you will save them. The one with Wufei and Heero is pretty self explanatory I think. They will be fighting alone against tremendous odds, but without you and the others they can not win. Their Gundams will be destroyed and they will be beaten to death by White Fang soldiers. The last vision with Earth being destroyed is what Marquise will do if he wins the war."

"What? What's White Fang? And what about the one with Relena and Heero?" The words were coming out of his mouth so fast that he had to take a breath.

Another long pause accompanied by an appraising look. "After you die, Heero will shut down every single emotion he has allowed to seep into his heart since he came to earth. He will only think of the mission and become something like a mindless robot. He will get an assignment to kill Relena and instead of hesitating as he would do if you were to survive, he will kill her."

Duo's eyes widened and his mouth opened and closed several times before he could speak. "Why would he care if I die? I'm expendable, right? He doesn't give a damn about me."

Takai's face was unreadable. "Don't assume you know how he thinks. He feels more than you know."

The long-haired pilot raked a hand through his bangs nervously as he mulled all of it over in his mind. "How can I trust this? How do I know that this isn't all one big hallucination? How do I know you're really Shinigami? Prove it to me somehow."

Thin purple lips turned up into a smirk. "I had a feeling you would say that. Hmm. Don't start crying like a little girl when you see him or I'll be really disgusted," she said mysteriously.

Duo blinked at her. "Him?"

Instead of answering, she gave another mysterious smirk and looked at something over his shoulder. "Isn't he precious?"

"Stuff it, ya old broad," a familiar accented voice snapped.

Duo's heart stopped and he slowly turned around. "Solo . . ." he whispered softly. One hand flew to his mouth and tears sprang to his wide eyes as he stared at his long-dead friend.

"In tha flesh, baby," Solo said with a familiar lopsided smirk.

He was just how Duo remembered him. It was like he had stepped right out of Duo's memories . . . They had never really been sure just how old Solo was but now as Duo stared, he could see that he had been maybe 14 or 15 when he'd died. They were almost the same height now, but Solo was still a couple of inches taller than Duo's 5'1. He looked exactly the same! The same slender lanky limbs and cream colored skin. His light brown hair was tucked behind his ears and hidden by a backwards baseball cap. He had the same shockingly-pale, cyan-colored eyes and pert button nose. His stance was even the same--head cocked to one side and hands on his hips as he eyed everything cynically. Jesus, he even wore the same faded, bedraggled jeans with the torn hems and black button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows.

"Solo!" Duo couldn't stop the happy cry from escaping his mouth as he grabbed the other boy and hugged him tightly. "I've missed you so much!"

"Oi! No need to get all mushy 'n shit, I ain't goin' nowheres for tha time bein'," Solo said, putting up his tough guy front even though he hugged Duo back just as tightly. They stayed like that for several moments; just clutching each other. "I missed ya, Kid," He whispered softly in Duo's ear.

"I'm so sorry! It's all my fault you died! I should have died! It should have been me!" Duo babbled as he smothered his face in his friend's shoulder.

"Hey! Cut that out! Ain't none of it your fault and you know it. If it's anyone's fault it's that broad over there. She's the one who be takin' souls," Solo said as he jerked a thumb in Takai's direction.

She glowered at him. "I'm tired of your mouth. You should learn to have more respect, boy," she snapped.

Solo snorted and raised his chin defiantly. "I ain't gotta respect no one. Why dontcha go count corpses or whatever you morbid bitches do. This is a private moment, ya know. Go on, scram!" Duo smothered his laughter in his friend's shirt. Only Solo would curse out the God of Death and not piss his pants in fear.

Takai sneered. "You have five minutes, boy. Use it wisely." Then she disappeared.

"I bet she's watchin' us right now. Freakin' pedophile probly likes you," Solo muttered as his keen eyes swept over the expanse of darkness.

Duo pulled back and chuckled. "You haven't changed at all, man."

Solo smirked again and looked Duo up and down with a leer. "You have, Kid. You're prettier than you were when we was kids."

A surprised bark of laughter escaped Duo's mouth and he blushed furiously. It made him shockingly happy to hear that Solo thought he was good-looking. "We're still kids," he reminded the ghost dryly.

The blue eyed boy smirked and began sauntering around Duo; eyeing his form. "Nah, youse a kid, I just got a kid's body. I got the mind of a 22 year old man." He stopped circling Duo when they were face to face. "Damn Kid, if I had lived I woulda jumped your dick, no problem."

"Solo!"

Solo laughed and slung an arm around Duo. "I'm proud of ya, Kid. You done good for yaself. Gots a big ass weapon of mass destruction, got good comrades and ya fight better than any of them old alley cat bastards who useta mess with us. If Spotty McCoy could see ya now he'd shit himself!"

Duo felt warm inside at the praise. Solo had always been his hero, the person he admired and looked up to. To hear these words made him practically glow. "I wish you could come back with me," he said sadly.

Solo's smile faded and he reached out, touching the side of Duo's face. "Me too, Kid. I miss ya more than you could ever know."

Then, before Duo could react, those soft, thin lips were pressing to his mouth and his best friend was kissing him. Surprise ran through Duo and, even though he had strong feelings for Heero, this felt all too right. With a soft sigh he parted his lips and kissed Solo back. It was a sweet kiss. Gentle and slow, each of them trying to memorize the taste of the other because they knew they would be separated soon. Once again tears welled in Duo's violet eyes and they spilled onto Solo's cheeks as they kissed desperately.

When they pulled apart, they were both misty eyed and Duo was filled with grief at the idea of losing Solo yet again. "God, why can't you come with me?" he wailed softly.

"I wish I could, but you know I can't," the taller boy said as he blinked back tears of his own. He gave Duo a watery smile and pulled his hat off, raking a hand through his straight hair. "Don't forget me, Kid. We gonna see each other again someday. And do me a fava? Think about me sometimes when ya jerkin' off instead of always fantasizin' bout Mista' Roboto."

Duo laughed through his tears and nodded. "Sure thing, Solo."

Solo sighed heavily and looked at him from under half-closed lids. "I love ya, Kid."

"I love you too, man," Duo said honestly.

"Kick some Romefellar ass for me and listen to the old broad. She knows what she's talkin' about," Solo said as he began to fade away.

'I love you,' Duo mouthed.

"Forever . . ." Solo whispered sadly and he allowed a look of anguish to wash over his features right before he disappeared.

Duo slowly sank to his knees as he stared at the spot where Solo had just been standing. A strangled sob escaped his throat and he sank to his knees tiredly. "Okay Takai, you win. I believe," he whispered. Then, once again, his head spun and his consciousness faded away.

[part 1] [part 3] [back to Aya's fic]