Author: Aya
Rating: R
Warnings: AU, Bad Language, Adult Themes (wow that's lame), Yaoi
Pairings: 1+2
Notes: This is the first part in the Covenant Triolgy. I definitley plan on completing this, hopefully in a timely fashion ^^;

Covenant - A mutual agreement between 2 or more persons to do or refrain from doing certain acts.
Golgotha - One of the names for the hill where Jesus was crucified. It also means 'Skull'

Golgotha

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other.
It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity,
but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.
Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash.
The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar
is a reminder of nothing.

~John Berger

I had always known that walking through the streets of L2 late at night was not the wisest of ideas. Whenever I was here for business, people told me the same thing. 'Stay off the streets at night! If you think the beggars are a hassle in the daytime, you'll never know what hit you in the dark.' I hadn't listened of course; I was a Preventer and a very skilled one at that. Why should I have been afraid of petty thieves and homeless people? I could take them out just as soon as they approached me.

Although I was confident in my skill I couldn't hide the fact that the ever-moving shadows gave me the chills. Unseen eyes and the whisper of footsteps seemed to echo around me, mocking me even as my hand itched to go to the gun that was kept at the small of my back. The shadows seemed to have eyes; the whites yellow and slanted like a cat’s eyes. They were dangerous and terrifying at the same time. I looked around and saw that each corner held the same huddle of shadows, all blending in with the dark, but their eyes standing out as they eyed me and my expensive clothes. They probably considered me an easy mark, and up against a group of them; I was. Nervousness began to set in and pretty soon my feet were moving quicker over the cracked streets.

I recalled a conversation I had had with my friend Wufei, when I had mocked the older men for warning me about the dangerous streets. His exact words had been: "A man who is cold, hungry and bitter is a lot more dangerous than a man who fights to protect others; it doesn't matter who wields the gun. A desperate man who lives in poverty feels that he has nothing to lose, so he'll do whatever it takes... because he feels as though nothing can be worse than the life he already has."

I couldn't help but replay those words in my mind as I visualized the things that these people would do to me if they got me cornered. Disarm me, of course. Maybe beat me to death. Stab me repeatedly? Shoot me in the head with my own gun? None of these choices were appealing and for the first time in a while I was scared. When on missions, I didn't fear getting hurt; because I was fighting for a reason... I had a purpose. However, dying this night on these dark, desolate streets seemed so pointless... it was frightening.

My thoughts were interrupted by a loud bang and the sound of a car alarm going wild somewhere a few blocks away. The unexpected noise startled me and I actually jumped in surprise. My head snapped around, looking for the source of the sound but the only thing I saw was that the shadows seemed to be pressing closer to me. I had the sudden urge to scream at them and tell them to get on with it already, but instead my feet carried me farther away, boots crunching over the carcass of a monstrously large cockroach as I strode down the filthy street. It was almost impossible to move without sound on these streets thanks to the broken bottles and garbage, so I had to give the thief credit.. because I hadn't even heard him coming.

Before I knew what was happening, someone was dragging me into a dark, narrow alley and pressing my face into the wall. "Empty your pockets and I won't hurt you," The young, male voice hissed.

I wanted nothing more than to turn around and beat the punk to a pulp just for being so arrogant, but I knew that part of that urge was because I was angry at myself for letting a street urchin get the drop on me. The feel of a gun pressed to the back of my head squashed the foolish desire.

"You're wasting your time, I only have a few credits on me," I informed him flatly.

"Empty your pockets or I'll do it for you," he said coldly, nudging the back of my head harder with the pistol. He waited for a moment before swearing and sticking his thin hand into the pockets of my jacket and pants. "Rich guy like you doesn't have any credits? Bullshit."

"I'm far from rich." The words came out dry and steady, making it seem as though I wasn't affected at all by the heavy steel weapon. My mind was trying to think up ways that I could get the kid down without getting shot in the process, but none of them seemed likely to work. I couldn't afford to get robbed; I had a disc in my pocket that was laden with very important data, data that could be very harmful to top officials like Relena Peacecraft and her brother if it were to get out.

"Turn around!" The accented voice commanded.

I obeyed and got a good look at the young gamin. His hair was long and unruly, falling in a long tousled braid down to his hips. It looked like it hadn't been washed in months and his bangs stuck out unevenly all around his face. His skin was pale, gaunt and his cheekbones stood out sharply. He had large eyes that were a strange indigo color and a tiny button nose that sat in the middle of his face. He couldn't have been more than seventeen or eighteen years old and he looked terribly malnourished. "What are ya'? Gay or sumthin'? Quit lookin' at me," he snapped, looking irritated.

"I'm just surprised. I imagined all street thugs to be tough looking, but you don't look much older than a child."

Indignant outrage crossed his handsome face and the youth shoved the gun at my chest. "Fuck you! I ain't no child. I'm nearly twenty years old, ya prick. Now hold your hands out so I can search the pockets of that fancy coat of yours."

I sighed and did as I was told, hoping he chose to bypass the silver disc as he ransacked my deep pockets. After a few moments he pulled out a handful of credits and his face practically lit up in delight as he shoved them in his own thread bare jeans. It couldn't have been more than fifty, but it occurred to me that fifty credits was probably a fortune to him while it was barely pocket change to me. Suddenly I felt a little ashamed of myself even though he had a gun pointed at me. I doubted he would use it anyway, unless I actually attacked him first. The kid was obviously starving, ragged clothes were practically hanging off of his skinny form and here I was being stingy over a few credits. Why didn't I ever just donate money to charity? Orphanages? Why didn't the government help these people out? I made a mental note to tell my friend Quatre to bring this up at the next congressional meeting.

I heard a soft gasp and let my eyes focus once again on the thief. He had pulled out my Preventer's badge and was gaping at me in disbelief. "You're a fuckin' Preventer?" The hand that was holding the gun had begun to tremble.

"Yes." I met his gaze and was surprised to see that there was anger behind the indigo orbs instead of fear, as I had expected. I watched as he flung the badge into the street and nearly winced at the loss. I was going to have to scrounge around in the gutter for it later. Joy. The bo-- no, the man's lip curled in what appeared to be disgust and he shoved me against the wall.

"I oughta pop you right now, you filthy pig." Now he looked the part of a street thug. His eyes had gone cold and were gleaming with anger, face twisted in an angry scowl. He seemed to be seething at the sight of one of the elite Preventers. The Preventers who were a special unit of government officers, sworn to protect politicians and the people surrounding them. The time of district police officers had passed and now Preventers held all the cards. They had smaller offices stationed in each city all over the globe and on the colonies to protect the people; but the main force surrounded the big wigs in the government.

I stared at him in surprise, wondering what grudge he could have against the Preventers that could make him look so malicious. "If you kill me, you'll be executed. You realize that, don’t you?” The words came out cold and somewhat smug. I hadn't meant for it to sound that way, but for some reason my brain and my mouth always seemed to be on two different wavelengths.

A bitter smile crossed his face and I was so distracted by the sudden beauty of it that I didn't notice his quick hands emptying my pockets. "That's right. And if you kill me... you'd get a fuckin' medal." The fist that suddenly cocked back and stuck me was unexpected, so I didn't have nearly enough time to block it. My head snapped back, hitting the brick wall and I crumbled to the dirty ground with a groan. His denim covered leg reared back and he kicked me in the gut before spitting in my face with a sneer. "Thanks for the toys, Preventer Scumbag," He snarled and disappeared into the shadows.

I didn't even hear his footsteps echoing down the damp sidewalk as he left the alley but I knew within seconds that he was gone. I lay on the ground panting and holding my stomach until finally the searing pain passed and I was able to sit up. I didn't even want to know what the wet substance was that I had fallen in, but the stench of it gave me an idea. I wiped the blood from my lip and cursed myself once again for letting a street punk get the best of me. A quick inventory of my pockets showed that the fucking guy had completely cleaned me out. My wallet, credits, and keys were gone. My fucking gun was gone and so was the goddamned disc. The only thing the little prick hadn't taken was my handcuffs. "Fuck!" This was completely unacceptable. If I went to Une and told her that an L2 street urchin had robbed me of important government data, she'd fire me on the spot just for being a moron. I had jurisdiction to put a bullet in anyone who threatened me because of my status as a Preventer and the fact that I hadn't exercised that right and had allowed the disc to be stolen; well... it's safe to say she wouldn't be pleased at all. I swore darkly and climbed to my feet, my mind already devising a plan to find the thief. My previous sympathetic thoughts were gone, replaced by anger and a hurt ego. He had picked the wrong person to rob...

+

Golgotha tenement
city of sores
Give me your tired and your wicked
Give me your dollar whores
Down on the boulevard children are sold
To pave the way
For your streets of gold

- Golgotha Tenement, Machines of Loving Grace

It had taken me only ten minutes to find the badge that he had carelessly thrown in the street and now it was safely tucked in my pocket. I felt strangely vulnerable without my gun but I was confidant enough in my fighting abilities to continue to walk the streets and alleys unarmed. I wasn't being logical at all but my anger was driving me and causing me to ignore the sensible part of my brain. I was on my own personal mission and I didn't plan on going home until I had found the thief.

It was raining heavily by eleven o'clock and I cursed whoever was working the environmental controls for their bad timing. My dark hair was plastered to my face and my leather jacket was barely keeping me dry. As I walked around in the rain, I marveled at the dilapidated buildings and houses and wasn't able to take my eyes off of the pathetic excuses for parks. Everything appeared to be in ruins and it was quite a change from the other four colonies, which were extremely well kept. Street children ran around in the rain, appearing to be delighted about the sudden change in 'weather'. They were holding large pots and buckets, collecting the water and shouting happily as they did so.

I became so engrossed in the obvious decay that the whole colony was in, that I had almost forgotten why I was wondering around in the L2 ghetto to begin with. The shadows still seemed to follow me, but the look on my face kept them away. I saw whores on every street corner, both male and female calling out to me as the cold rain drenched them. I saw an entire family of beggars huddling under the awning of a corner store, looking at me pleadingly as I passed. The whole colony was like someone's bad dream, but the horrible thing was that it was too real. I felt very out of place in my expensive clothes and felt ashamed about rubbing their noses in the fact that I could actually leave the colony and go to my real home. By the time I reached South Street I was so horrified by the sheer amount of child prostitutes that I was about ready to hail a cab and run the fuck back to my hotel.

However, a familiar voice echoed out of one of the alleys and I knew I had found my target."....are you serious... ?!"

"...never knew what was coming!"

"...one hundred credits, and that's all."

"Are you fuckin' nuts?! This ain't no six shooter! It's a fuckin' laser pistol! I could get five times that in a shop!"

I crept into the alley silently, getting the tail end of the exchange as my eyes focused in the dark. I could make out my little ragamuffin thief standing with his hands on his hips, looking pissed off and an older man who was dressed rather oddly in a brightly colored shirt. The older man was holding my gun and looking at it critically.

"Then take it to one of them and sell it! This is some serious power here, Duo! You didn't just rob a rich banker! He's a fuckin' Preventer! I take this thing and next thing I know that bull dyke Lady Une will be bargin' in my house with a whole troop of them pigs!"

Duo? So, the little thief's name was Duo. Interesting...

"Shit, Howard.. I thought for sure that guy was going to kick my ass! I only risked it cos' I thought I'd get serious cash for this thing. Do you know how much money I could've given the orphanage?" Duo swore loudly and raked a hand through his wet hair.

My eyes widened and I had to stop and consider that one. I had thought for sure that he would want money for drugs or something equally illegal. The idea that he was going to give it to charity.. well that hadn't even crossed my mind. "..Yeah I understand, it's okay." Duo forced a smile and the older man, 'Howard' clapped him on the back.

"Buy yourself some dinner with those credits before you give it all away, kid. You're skin an' bones already! And get off the damned streets before that cop comes lookin' for ya. Those Preventers are real hardheaded SOBs." The older man looked at Duo apologetically before he disappeared inside the side door to one of the buildings.

"Shit," The youth hissed and kicked the wall dejectedly.

I decided to make my move then. I was behind him before he could turn around and one strong arm was wrapped across his neck before he could scream. He cried out in surprise and I clapped a hand over his mouth. "Didn't think I would let you keep my stuff, did you?" I hissed in his ear. He stiffened in my arms before he began to struggle violently. I spun him around and slammed him against the wall, my grip on his collar tightening as he stared at me with wide eyes.

"I want my stuff, now or else."

"Fuck you!"

My palm cracked across his face hard but he barely flinched, instead opting to grin at me manically. "You gonna havta to do better than that, Preventer Dickhead!"

I growled angrily. "I don't want to hurt you kid, but I need my stuff back now."

His eyes narrowed at me. "You act like you can't spare a few stinking credits and a wallet! I know yer type, you come from Earth or one of them rich bitch colonies. Why don't you get fuckin' lost and leave me alone!"

"Screw the credits." I did a half-assed one handed search as I held him up with my left hand and relieved him of my gun, shoving it back in its proper place in my pants. "The disc. Where is the damned disc?" I stared at him intently, eyes blazing, but he lifted his chin defiantly.

"I don't know what yer talkin' about, man."

"Don't play games with me, you little asshole." My grip on him tightened and he yelped.

"What disc? What the hell are you talking about?"

"It's in a small case with a clasp on the side. Inside there is a small, round, unlabeled disc. I know you took it."

His large eyes took on a slightly calculating gleam and the full lips tilted in a smirk. In the light of the street lamp, I finally got a good look at his face and realized how attractive he was. "Oooh, that disc. I'll tell you if you give me... mmm... let's say, five hundred credits?"

"How about I snap your neck and search your rotting corpse?" I snarled, losing patience with him.

His face paled a bit but he kept the cocky smirk plastered across his lips. "If you kill me, you'll never get it back," he proclaimed brightly, grinning like a madman as the rain poured down on us.

"I don't have time for this shit!" I roared and slammed him against the wall again. "I don't even have five hundred credits; you took all the money I had!"

He made a face at me. "What kind of rich guy only has fifty credits in his pocket? What, did you spend all ya money on a whore or sumthin'?"

I eased up the pressure on his neck and he sagged against the wall in relief. "First of all, I'm not rich --"

"Well that's a bunch of bullshit. All Preventers are rich, even I know that."

I glared at him. "You know shit about the government and even less about the Preventers, so shut your mouth."

"And whose fault is it that I know nothin'?" he drawled.

I glared at him for a moment before speaking. "If you don't tell me, now, tonight... I will call in a squadron of Preventers and have them tear this pathetic excuse for a neighborhood to pieces until it's back in my hand." Okay, it was a bluff and a bad one at that. I didn't have the authority to authorize something like that and if Une found out I'd lost one of the few copies she'd probably just fire me on the spot instead of going through all the trouble. He, however did not know this and his eyes widened almost comically.

"Okay okay man! Don't get your tighty whities in a twist! I.. I had the disc but I gave it to someone." He stammered.

"Who?"

He hesitated before grinning at me nervously. "A friend of mine, Trowa. He uh.. he's a computer hacker and I wanted to know what was on the disc so I gave it to him and ..ow! Stop! That shit hurts, man!"

I hadn't realized that my hand had tightened around his neck once again and I let him go with a grunt. Fuck. This was not good. "Take me to him, now."

"I can't! I don't know where his place is, he's real secretive about that shit and I mean if I was him I'd be nervous about it too. He has all kinds of high tech shit in his pad and if half the street kids out here knew they'd --- okay! Ow! Ow fuck man, not the hair!"

I loosened the grip I had on his braid and raised an eyebrow expectantly.

He glared at me but continued. "Anyway I'm meeting up with him tomorrow night to get it back."

"There's no way to get it back from him before then?" I asked suspiciously.

He shook his head frantically. "I swear on a stack of ten bibles that there isn't! Look man, I've tried to find his place before and all that wound up happening was that I got beaten up a bunch of times by the street gang that runs that area!"

I sighed and wiped a hand across my face. "So then tomorrow when you see him, I'm going with you."

Duo nodded and started to inch away. "Okay! Sounds like a plan! So until then, I'll just be going on my merry way! Try not to get lost in the depths of Golgotha!"

I yanked him back by the braid before he could get down the alley and wound the length of it around my wrist. He winced and yelped loudly.

"Can you stop that!? I am very tender headed!"

I lifted his chin and stared him straight in the eyes. "You are not going anywhere, until that disc is back in my hands, got it?"

"Eheh... got it."

"And to make sure that you get it..." I let the sentence trail off and yanked a pair of handcuffs out of the inside of my jacket.

He stared at me incredulously. "You can't be serious..."

I smirked and clasped it on his wrist roughly before fastening the other cuff to my own. "How's this for serious?"

"This is fucking insane! You can't come here and just start bossing people around and acting like you can just do whatever the hell you want! If you didn't want to get fuckin' robbed you shouldn't have come to the freaking ghetto all fancied up in clothes that cost more than all of the fucking food supplies in this colony put together!" He began tugging at the handcuffs frantically. "Do you know what will happen to me if people see me waltzing around with a fucking Preventer? They'll have my ass!"

I grabbed his hand and squeezed until he winced and stopped tugging. "No one knows I'm a Preventer, and they won't unless you keep screaming like a moron."

"That's what you think, buddy. You stick out like a sore thumb on one of Relena Peacecraft's dainty little hands," he muttered angrily.

"You wouldn't be in this situation if you hadn't tried to rob me. Where's your gun now, tough guy?" I mocked as I started to walk down the street, dragging him behind me.

"Well... it wasn't actually a real gun. But it sure looked authentic, din' it?" Duo smiled brightly and winked when I stopped in my tracks and gaped at him.

"This night just gets better and better." I grumbled darkly. Great. Not only had I let a little punk like this rob me and sucker punch me, but I hadn't even realized that the gun he was toting had been a fake. I was seriously off tonight.

He cackled at me insanely, obviously aware of what my train of thought was. I glared at him evilly and he shut up. "So Preventer Cock, do you have a name or should I keep coming up with my own?"

"Heero Yuy." I grunted shortly and once again began dragging him behind me as I walked... to nowhere in particular.

"Ooh, Heero. Isn't that special. I'm Duo Maxwell, resident thief and con artist extraordinaire." When he was met with my stony silence he made a face. "Are you seriously going to have this big attitude all night and expect me to stay handcuffed to you?" He complained.

"You robbed me at gunpoint, sucker punched me and gave away my stuff. We aren't exactly friends."

"It was a fake gun! And besides, that's all in the past. It's not like I knew that the disc was so goddamned important! All I wanted to do was to get some cash so I could have dinner, you can't fault me for wanting to eat. And besides, what kind of loser walks around with important government shit in his pocket anyways?"

My eyebrow twitched in annoyance and I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. "Can you shut up for two minutes so I can figure out where to go?"

Duo shrugged and leaned against the porch of a large brownstone. "Go right ahead and figure. Ain't much around here that we can go to except for a few motels and abandoned buildings. I live in an old church not too far from here, it's pretty cozy inside if you don't mind cobwebs."

I stared at him oddly for a moment. "Why are you telling me this? What if I come back and arrest you later?"

The _expression on his face changed in a heartbeat and I almost regretted saying it. The cold, angry look found its way back into his eyes and his mouth hardened into a line. "Because I don't want to fucking stay out in the rain all night, okay? Some of us can't go to big, fancy hospitals so I can't afford to get sick. And if you want to go to one of the abandoned factories you better damn well go on your own because them places are full of rapists and drug dealers and all sorts of sickos."

As I looked at his angry face, I couldn't help but wonder how a guy like this had survived in the streets for as long as he obviously had. He was a pretty boy, obviously a good fighter but with a slender build. I would've bet money on the amount of times he had probably been sexually harassed and picked on just for his appearance alone. He seemed to have a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Fuji when it came to the government and the Preventers, but I could only guess why. "Fine. We'll go to your church."

He sighed and looked up at the 'sky' in a "why me" kind of way, before he looked at me resignedly and led me down the street.

+

[cont] [back to Aya's fiction]