Author: Aya
Pairings: 1+2
Warnings: Angst, Violence, Language
Disclaimers: I don't own GW, obviously.

Darker Side of Death + Part Five

There was no light in this dreamscape and the distinction between ground, wall and sky was invisible. Everything was midnight black shot through with smoky red swirls that oozed along the darkness like a sentient thing. The blanket of darkness seemed to spread out far and wide for miles and it was the only thing Duo could see. He took a few steps forward, feeling extremely paranoid about walking on what appeared to be nothingness. It looked like he was walking on air even though that idea was squashed when his footsteps echoed throughout the place.

"Takai?" His voice echoed loudly and he winced at the sound.

For the first time, Shinigami did not appear when her name was said. Duo's eyes narrowed and he continued to walk on for what seemed like an eternity. It felt like he was walking in circles at first and the red swirls were making him dizzy. Suddenly, his footsteps weren't the only sound. He could hear the faint buzz of several voices not too far off and he quickened his pace to get to them.

After a few moments of jogging towards the sound, he approached what looked to be a wall full of televisions. With a confused grunt, Duo walked up to the wall and his eyes widened in surprise. They weren't televisions; they were windows to the world and colonies. In each square you could see events that were taking places in several different places. In one, grungy children were running from a group of adults in an L2 neighborhood. In another, Relena was sitting at a desk having an intense discussion with a girl with long platinum hair and shifty blue eyes.

Duo's eyebrows creased together in a frown as he looked over each window in awe. He saw soldiers resting, children playing in parks, he saw Treize Khushrenada in one and Wufei in another, sitting in a field as he meditated. Violet eyes fell on one of the last windows and Duo swore softly under his breath. It was an image of he and Heero, lying in bed at the safe house. Duo stared in fascination, knowing that the scene was going on at that very moment even though his subconscious was wandering around in Takai's dream world. He noticed that Heero wasn't asleep and that the Japanese pilot was caressing the body next to him; lips turned up in a small smile as he watched Duo's sleeping form.

"I see you finally got somewhere with Ryu-chan."

Duo did an almost comical double take and stumbled backwards when Takai suddenly appeared at his side. "What the hell, woman!? Don't do that!"

Purple lips twisted in a humorless smile and Takai looked at the image again. "I'm surprised he was so easily seduced. But then again, he has wanted you for quite awhile."

The blood rushed to Duo's face and he shifted uncomfortably. "Ryu-Chan? Who the hell is that?"

The dark haired Goddess tsked at him and smirked. "You don't even know your lover's real name? I'm scandalized."

"Heero isn't his real name?"

Takai made a face. "Of course not. It's a code name. His birth name is Tajirou Ryusaki."

Duo rolled the name around in his head and decided that he liked the sound of it. "Does... he know that's his real name?"

A sly smirk graced her features. "I'm afraid not. The dear boy doesn't know anything about his earlier years. I would love to enlighten you about his past, if you are interested."

The longhaired boy frowned at her. One part of him wanted to learn more about Heero. Although he and the other pilots had grown closer together, they didn't know anything about each other. However, the other part of his brain didn't think it was right for to him learn secrets that Heero wasn't even aware of.  It felt wrong somehow. "No thanks. Let's just stick to what you called me here for. Oh and you sending me that vision when Heero and me were... getting closer was not funny at all."

One thin eyebrow rose. "It wasn't meant to be funny. I didn't want you to forget about your purpose."

Duo sneered at her. "How could I?"

They glared at each other for a few moments before she turned her back on him. "I called you here to discuss what you plan to do, not to bicker."

Duo looked at the window again and stared vacantly at one of the scenes from L2. "What do you think I plan to do? I'm going to go on that mission and not let her take me by surprise this time. This time, she dies and I won't be caught off guard. The problem will be solved."  The longhaired teen looked at the image of Heero again and he smiled fondly as the blue-eyed boy struggled to keep his eyes open. It reminded him vaguely of a kitten, fighting against sleep so that it could stay awake and play.

"Oh Duo, if only it were that simple.." Takai whispered softly.

The smile immediately faded and Duo felt his chest constrict painfully. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Takai turned to him and for a change her thin lips were not twisted in her mockery of a smile. Her slanted crimson eyes were studying him thoughtfully and she seemed to be choosing her words very carefully. "Never mind." She turned her back on him and began looking at the screens again, her hands clasped behind her back.

Duo's frustration had been mounting over the last few days and he felt anger start to take control of him. His breath began to come faster as he clenched his hands into fists and he was seeing bright red spots as his temper began to claw at the more sensible parts of his mind. Before he realized what he was doing, his hand was closing around one of Takai's slender arms and he was jerking her around roughly. "Now you listen to me, lady -- You have totally turned my fucking world upside down in the past few weeks with your goddamn visions and I have not come this far to be jerked around. So you tell me everything or I swear I will find some way to make you pay." His words came out in a low growl, eyes flashing with black rage.

For a moment there was complete silence, besides the soft buzzing from the windows. Violet eyes dragged back to the tender image of Heero, and  Duo felt his rage cool a bit. He took a deep breath before looking into Takai's eyes. It was then that he realized what a big mistake he had just made. Her eyes were practically glowing with fury and her purple lips were pulled back in a hideous snarl. She no longer looked the part of a little Goth girl playing God. She looked unearthly... and evil.

One pale, deceptively slender hand grabbed his chin and before he knew it, she was holding him about two feet off the 'floor'. "You underestimate me, boy." She growled, eyes shooting red sparks as she squeezed hard enough to gag him. "I chose to help you and my thanks is this?" She hissed angrily. "You disrespect me, you mock me and you dare to touch me. I don't think you understand that I could crush you --" She snapped the fingers of her left hand. "Like that."

Duo opened his mouth to speak, but wound up gagging. His hands flew up to claw at her arm as he slowly began to suffocate. "Leggo..." He rasped.

She smirked at him evilly before flinging him carelessly away from her. He landed on his back about three feet away, panting as he clutched at his abused throat. "Do you really want to know, boy? Are you sure you can handle it?"

Anger flared inside of Duo and coursed through his veins, urging him to snap at the woman and strike out. No one pushed him around, not even the damned God of Death. He took a long calming breath and closed his eyes briefly, trying to rein in his already out of control temper. "Just tell me," He whispered from between clenched teeth. "Tell me so I can get this over with and move on with my damn life."

Her lips pulled back in an unbecoming smile and she began to walk in slow circles around him. "The woman, the woman from the vision.. she bore a strong resemblance to the kind Sister Helena McCoy, didn't she?"

Duo's eyes flew up and he focused on the Goddess standing above him. Her red eyes still held the faintest traces of anger, but she seemed to be all business again. "yes, it was... disturbing. That's why I was so surprised. She was.. she looked... Sister Helen, she died and... it just caught me off guard," Duo said roughly, eyes stinging as he remembered the real Helen.

"They look enough alike to be, sisters maybe? Perhaps even a twin, wouldn't you say?"

Duo's lip lifted in a snarl and he glared at her. "Just where the hell are you going with this? Are you trying to tell me she's Sister Helen's sister?"

Thin purple lips pursed and once again, Takai looked unsure of herself. "What if I was to tell you that Sister Helen didn't die on L2? What would you say?"

Violet eyes opened wide and Duo skittered backwards on the floor, staring up at Takai. "She died!" He snarled angrily. "How fucking dare you try to.. try to lie to me like that! She died! I saw her die! She died in my fucking arms!" He was unreasonably angry, but the things she was saying were getting to him in the worst way. He had tried his best to shove these thoughts and memories out of his mind and here she was drudging them all back up.

"How do you know she died, Duo?" She challenged, walking towards him. "You were only a child, you could have thought she was dead, because she was so close to it... but what if she had survived and the ambulance and police arrived just in time to save her?"

The longhaired boy shook his head in denial and looked away from her, but she pressed on ruthlessly.  "What if you were to find out that the EMT people brought her back from the brink of death and she lived in a hospital for years while in a coma? When she woke up finally, she had no recollection of anything that had happened on L2. No one ever told her the truth of what happened, all she was told was that there was a great fire in the church where she had worked and she was the only one who had survived."

"Why are you saying these things?" He demanded, voice thick with emotion as his eyes blurred with tears.

Takai crouched in front of him and stared hard into his eyes. "She was left feeling hopeless and lost. She didn't know who her family was and had nothing left of her memory. After Helen was fully recovered, she decided that there was nothing else for her to do but join the army. She became a soldier who killed with no remorse. Over the years the only thing that remained of the once sweet, caring nun was her long blonde hair and delicate features. She would go on to become a personal favorite of Une and will unwittingly become the cause of massive death and destruction when she becomes the first Oz soldier to take down a Gundam pilot."

By this time tears were streaming down Duo's pale cheeks. "It's not true! Please, don't let it be true! She was all I had... the only mother.." his sentence broke off in a ragged sob. His long bangs hung around his face, shielding his eyes as he wept.  It couldn't be true, it couldn't! It would mean that he had walked away from her when she was still alive. That she had become the very thing that had been responsible for the destruction of the church.

"Duo.." Takai leaned forward and pressed clammy hands to his face, tilting his head up to look into  anguished, violet eyes. She no longer looked angry. Her eyes were full of remorse and sadness, looking down on him as a mother would look at a son. "Duo, it's true. I can't change it no matter how badly I wish I could," She said softly, pushing the damp clumps of hair from his face.

"I can't do it! I'm sorry.. I.. I know everyone depends on me, but Jesus I can't! How can I?" His eyes were puffy and bloodshot, lips trembling as he stared at her pleadingly. "She meant so much to me..." As soon as the words left his lips, Duo broke down again; crying silently, but so hard that his shoulders were shaking from the intensity.

Slender arms wound around his neck and Takai pulled him into a tender embrace. Her thin fingers stroked his messy hair soothingly as she held him. "You have to, Duo. There's no other way."

"I don't care! Let the fuckin' world end! I won't do it, damn you!" His voice was muffled as he pressed his face into the crook of her neck.

"Is one woman more important to you than the lives of your friends? The life of Heero? The lives of innocent men, women and children all over the world?"

Duo let out a shuddering sigh and he pulled away from her, eyes hard and unforgiving. "Why did you tell me? If I had never known..." He let the sentence trail off as a shiver wracked his thin frame. "Did you tell me to be cruel?! To be spiteful?!"

"No!" Takai squeezed her hand in to a fist. "If I hadn't told you, you would have found out anyway. You would have looked into her background to find out who she was and why she looked like Helen and you would have killed yourself. That would result in the same things that we are trying to avoid! I didn't want to tell you Duo, but there was no other way!"

"I won't do it," He whispered fiercely. "I'll.. I'll avoid running in that direction, I'll get in Deathscythe immediately instead of watching Heero. I'll do something, but I will not kill her!"

Takai's fingers dug into his thin shoulders and she shook him fiercely. "Don't you think I have thought of that? I've played every possible scenario in my mind and they all lead to either the death of you, Heero or her. If you don't watch Heero's back, he will be killed and his survival is monumental if you are to win this war and the second war."

Duo's thoughts were so jumbled that he didn't even think to ask about the end part of her sentence. "Why me?" He whispered softly, trying to fight the tears that still wanted to spill from his eyes. He squeezed them shut and tried to ignore the memories that were assaulting him. "Why do you even care about what happens to me?"

A small, sad smile crossed her face and she started to back away. "Prepare yourself Little Shinigami. Don't let everyone down." As she moved away from him, everything started to grow darker. Duo stared at her in confusion, still needing to ask questions but before he could... he woke up.

+

"Duo!" Heero shook the boy beside him gently. "Duo, you have to wake up."

The longhaired boy bolted up, heart pounding as he stared at Heero with wild, startled eyes. "What?" He demanded breathlessly, voice surprisingly raw even though he had only cried in the dream. He wiped a hand across his face and swallowed several times, fighting the lump that seemed to be permanently lodged in his throat.

"We have a mission," Heero informed him. He leaned forward and brushed Duo's bangs from his eyes, offering a small smile to his new lover. "Are you okay now?" He was being so gentle..

//No.// "Yes, I'm fine now," Duo lied, plastering on a fake smile for the Wing pilot. "Everything's going to be fine," He added softly, heart feeling as though it would explode when Heero gave him that warm, affectionate smile in response.

"Let's get ready then, I'll send you the specs when you're in Deathscythe. We have to rush." Heero stood up after giving Duo's hand one final squeeze and began to get his gear together.

Duo wanted to scream. He wanted to scream and cry and bury his head in the sand. It was happening too soon, he wasn't ready, he wasn't even sure if he could do this.. Violet eyes stared vacantly at Heero as the other boy put on a belt that was laden with spare ammunition. Chocolate colored spikes of hair fell into Heero's eyes as he fastened the belt around his slim waist. //I have to do this..//

He got to his feet numbly and began to get ready without really paying attention to what he was doing. He bypassed his priest's outfit and told himself that he wouldn't be wearing it anymore. Before long he was clad all in black, with a heavy backpack hanging from his shoulders. Duo slammed his baseball cap down on his head, hands shaking as he knelt down to lace his boots.

"Are you ready?" Heero asked as he started for the door.

//No, God no...//

"Yes, let's go."

+

Soldiers scattered over the compound as alarms blared loudly and warning lights flashed in the corridors of the large Oz base. Duo ran fast, hard, his lungs felt like they were going to collapse at any moment. "Fuck!" He swore loudly and forced himself to run faster to catch up to Heero's sprint. The place was going to blow up in two minutes and they weren't even at the hangar yet.

"We don't have time for this!" Heero shouted over the shots that were being fired in their direction. Duo didn't bother responding as he dove to the floor to avoid a hail of bullets, rolling up in a crouch as he returned the fire. The longhaired boy felt Heero's presence behind him and realized that they were back to back. Shit. They must have been surrounded.

Duo felt more than heard Heero's rapidly drawn breaths and he quickly reloaded his magnums. This was going to get messy. They both moved at the same time, raining a storm of ammunition down on the soldiers that had them trapped.

"We don't have time for this shit!" Heero shouted again as he neatly kicked one of the soldiers in the throat; crushing the man's windpipe.

"No fucking kidding!" Duo snarled, irritated at Heero's knack for stating the obvious at the worst possible times.

The corridor was now painted with bright red blood. The carnage was enough to make a normal person sick to their stomach but Duo was used to seeing death. Used to seeing carnage. He knew that this was the mission, he knew that this was when he would have to kill... he'd have to kill...

"Shit!" Duo hissed, shaking his head even as they raced away from the corridor. He couldn't have second thoughts now, everyone was depending on him. On the entire journey to the base, he had tried to steel himself to do what needed to be done. He had told himself over and over that this wasn't the same Sister Helen who had cared for him and loved him all of those years ago. He had told himself that he couldn't let the entire world... be destroyed because of one woman and because of his feelings.

They finally made it to the hangar and Duo slashed his way towards Deathscythe. Trepidation filled his heart but he didn't stop himself from taking the same course of action that he had taken in the vision. He had both his guns blazing as he ran towards the hulking mobile suit. Duo delayed jumping in the cockpit just as he had before, ensuring that Heero got in Wing's cockpit safely.

His heart clenched painfully as he ran towards Deathscythe, knowing what was going to happen next. He didn't hesitate as he spun around just in time to catch Helen, no... not Helen, the soldier, with a swift kick to the head. Once again, the helmet bounced off and Duo was assaulted with the sight of her pretty, once kind, open face. But this time, Duo didn't freeze. This time, he saw her hand going for the knife and before she could strike, he aimed his magnum at her head and pulled the trigger.

The gun dropped from his hand and his knees buckled as he stared at her body. Her head was completely obliterated, pieces of shattered skull littered the ground around her. A low whine escaped Duo's lips and he felt the tears try to force their way passed his eyes. "God, forgive me," He whispered.

"Duo! Get in the fucking Gundam!" Heero's voice roared impatiently.

Duo's head snapped up and he saw Heero hanging precariously from the cockpit, barely missing bullets as he ducked back inside. The Deathscythe pilot swore under his breath and tried to ignore the pain that was making his chest clench. With one more grief-stricken glance at the body, Duo wrenched himself away from the spot he had been grounded to and forced himself to clamber up Deathscythe's side. Once inside of the Gundam, he cut all visual and audio communication so that he could cry to his heart's content, without anyone interrupting.

+

[cont]