By: Lyssira
Disclaimer: No miney. `Cept for the story. That miney. Lucky Bandai. ;_;

Guilt Whispers To Me + Part 6

<Duo's POV>

The room was silent. Any noise I made seemed thunderous. Every time I considered moving, the bed squeaked. And when it squeaked, it was loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear. It took me an hour to get out of the damn thing. I knew someone was listening at the door - probably Heero - so they'd know everything I did. I gathered up my stuff, stowing it neatly in my single, canvass duffle. It'd been a gift from Howard. He said it would probably outlast me and the colonies. I'd begun to believe him by then.

My luggage in hand, I hobbled over to the window. Grayish sunlight streamed through the glass, belying the storm clouds in the sky outside. A storm would be a good cover for my escape. People would be inside. It wouldn't matter if Deathscythe and I made our getaway. I unlocked the window, examining its width. I was thin enough to slip through. If would open. I tested it.

Painted shut. Shit.

I flopped back onto the bed, listening to the metal springs screech their protests. I fingered the end of my braid. It was too quiet. The daytime is supposed to be noisy and active. But I was by myself. And there was no one to listen to. Even the whispers had quieted until their words were no longer coherent. I squirmed. Humming didn't work. Any song I knew was one from then. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to think about lullabies or work songs. I didn't want to remember her voice. I bounced on the bed instead.

Wufei had taken his book with him. And I had none of my own. Quatre read the newspapers more than anything else. I suppose he left his books with the Maguanacs. Or maybe they're with that family he refuses to talk about. I missed reading; the last book in my possession was probably *Charlotte's Web*. Nothing to do. I glanced at the old rocking chair. Its last staining job had been worn off by time and use. The woven seat was rotted and split. It was narrow, just narrow enough.

The window shattered nicely when I threw the chair at it.

It took Heero, Trowa and Wufei all of a second to burst through the door. I smiled my sweetest smiled for them. The front half of the chair hung out of the demolished window. I was sure the kids across the street were getting a good look at it right about then. Heero glared at me while the other two removed the furniture from its current resting place. It was a shame that it couldn't fit through the frame. That poor chair looked like it could have used a merciful death. Certainly spending its last days in the company of Heero and Trowa was enough to warrant mercy.

"You rang?" Heero asked sardonically.

"Yes, dear boy, I require a glass of ice water, a paper-thin slice of roast beast and a box of liquorice-flavored condoms."

"No Playboy?"

"Now that you mention it, some magazines wouldn't be so bad," my smile broadened.

"Fuck off, Duo," he told me. I could see him struggling not to strangle me outright.

Yes, soldier boy, I am the rash on your ass that you can't reach.

"You know, that wasn't new the first time you said it either," I reminded him.

"....."

"Besides, I can't without my condoms. Isn't safe you - and your fair princess - should know." The chair was safely retrieved and now rested at my bedside. I leveled myself out of bed, giving the red- faced soldier and his companions a salute. Before any of them said anything, I limped out the door, my bag in hand. Hell if I was going to stay with that peanut gallery. I shuffled down the stairs, walking the awkward, halting walk of an hurt person. It wasn't the first injury I can remember affecting me that way. It probably won't be the last.

I reached Deathscythe soon enough. The murmurs were growing in strength again, as I left my comrades behind. I surveyed the outdoors. There were several oblivious townsfolk on the sidewalk outside of our safehouse, gesturing at the busted window. They talked among themselves, gossiping. They knew nothing about us; they probably thought we were drug-dealers. By the time we were traced here, these people wouldn't remember us anyway. There would be a new weirdo to finger and point at when something went wrong. That's how people are in small towns. Unlike city people, they actually give a shit about neighbor gossip. And unlike them both, the colony's people had never had time for gossip. They were too busy dealing with being colony people.

And us? We were wanderers, loose ends. In the end, it didn't matter what we did.

I pulled myself into my Gundam, wondering why I'd ever bothered to leave the shelter of its metal embrace. I knew better than to risk it now. My `fellows' couldn't find out anything else. If they did, there's no telling what they'd construe from the scattered puzzle pieces. The four of them may have been murderers. They may have been lackeys. But they weren't stupid. They were enough like me to understand. And I couldn't let them.

Deathscythe's dark interior was my greatest comfort that mid- afternoon. In it, I typed an encoded message to our five benefactors, informing them I was leaving. No matter what they said, I was gone. If it meant I was free of their help as well, so be it. It wouldn't be the first time I was alone, on my own. I'd leave that night, around midnight. It should have been storming by then. The air would have been thick with rain. There wouldn't have been enough light to discern nightmare from reality. Free.

The temperature outside dropped, converting my MS into a Gundanium refrigerator. I layered my clothing from the duffle until my bulky form resembled that of a homeless person in mid-December. I hugged my arms against my chest beneath the many layers of tee-shirts, sweatshirts and over-shirts. My fingers were icy against my skin. One fist circled around the cross hanging in the hollow of my throat. I rubbed the smooth metal, more in habit than in prayer.

My cheeks were numb from the caresses of cold air. Without a mirror, I knew my ears were cherry red. I wrapped my arms around my knees, gathering the heat of my own blood to me. Hugs had been a rare thing before I was an official orphan at an orphanage. When you're seven and your only companions are other kids, you don't do much hugging. Adults didn't want to hug you. And when they did, it was because their breath stank of alcohol and they didn't know the difference between you and the kids they drank into foster homes. No, the first time she hugged me, I didn't even realize what was going on.

There was a perfect cross-shaped imprint in my hand by now and five crescent marks where my fingernails broke the skin. I burrowed farther into myself. My eyes drifted shut and mused over the other four. No one said much about their pasts, not even Quatre. Around Wufei, you don't talk, think or breathe about the subject. Whatever happened to him was bad, maybe even worse than what happened to Heero and Trowa. They were orphans, like me. But not quite so lucky. They wouldn't want my pity, either. Then, the less lucky you are, the less likely you are to screw it all up. So they had it better all along.

The clock on my consol read 5:00 PM. It would be dark out soon. The days were becoming shorter.

Might as well sleep. It's safer. As long as I don't dream.

+

But the dreams were there.

Everywhere I turned there were faces I knew. Thousands of them; some of them were people I had only glanced at on the street once. My subconscious summoned them to surround me. Heero, Quatre, Trowa and Wufei joined the masses, their faces blurred among so many others. My surrogate family, the only one I'd ever known, stood with them. They were all watching, just watching me.

Warm fluid trickled down my skin.

I stared down at my arms. They were bleeding. As if my very pores were wounds, they were bleeding. I shuddered and faced the mass of people around me. But the blood ran down my cheeks like tears. I could only see red, only red again. Like that morning in the shower. Sheets of red rain poured upon me. Those around me dripped blood. They moved forward, hands outstretched. Heero, Quatre, Trowa and Wufei grabbed me by my clothes, lifting me up into the crowd's embrace. It was red everywhere. They cried blood. They screamed it, breathed it. Their snatching fingers pulled at my clothes and hair.

They were saying things I couldn't understand. Why couldn't I understand them?

Explosions went off in my mind. There were flashes of blinding light. Why couldn't I understand? Lances of pain shot through me. They were everywhere, stabbing me. Their blades sank into my flesh again and again. They wouldn't stop talking. Their words were a buzz in my ears, as if an insect had been trapped inside my head. The light shone down upon me, like sunlight and moonlight but neither. It was red-hot, like molten metal. But sunlight wasn't supposed to be like that. The daytime was safe. It was the night I had to run from, the night who understand all too well.

I fought them. I struggled against their grasping hands, their meaningless words. I kicked and punched. The gun found its way to my hand. I fired shot after shot. I ripped through their fragile skin and muscle with Deathscythe's scythe in my hand. I whirled it around, decapitating my friends, dismembering people I'd grown up with. But it was me or them. I had to. I had to kill them all. I brought the scythe down again and again. There were thousands of them. They had to die.

I would kill them.

+

Thunder shattered my dreamworld and I bolted upright. Outside the safety of my Gundam's hull, the storm rattled the windows of our improvised hangar. I glanced at the clock again. 11:50 PM. Sweat had crystalized on my skin. It suddenly became unbearably hot, like that place in my dream. I squirmed out of my layers until my typical black outfit remained. Deathscythe's controls were solid and real against my fingers. 11:50 . . . There was time for a final errand before I left the company of my comrades. I wanted my gun back. Heero had enough of his own.

And after all, I should say goodbye right? Quatre would be so disappointed if I didn't.

I jumped from the cockpit, ignoring my body's protest of the strain it put on my left foot. I smiled up at the five giants that towered over me. They stared into the dark with blank eyes. They were nothing but big toys. They were pieces in the game we played. My black companion had always been my favorite. Not to the belittle Wing, but big guns tend to be compensations for other things. I would also hate to constantly be running out of ammunition, like my dear friend the clown. Quatre and Sandrock were suited to each other, as `Scythe and I were. And Nataku? Wufei practically made to love to his Gundam, adored it to the point of worship. Poor guy.

I sauntered out into the rain. It was water. I smiled. The cool liquid soaked me through, but I barely noticed. I let the rain trickled in between my parted lips. Very refreshing. Lightning split the sky, crackling in a rainbow of colors. It lit up the yard and outshone the artificial lights in the windows around the neighborhood. Nature had her own fireworks, it seemed. Thunder clapped high above my head. Beautiful.

I picked my way into the house again. It was a shame they didn't trust me. I was hurt.

I crept into the kitchen. My sodden clothing dripped onto the tile flooring. It created a little tune, which I hummed along to. It had been a while since I heard music I could enjoy.

The living room was empty. It looked like they were all tucked away in bed.

"Sweet dreams," I said out loud and laughed at my own joke. Ask any soldier's wife. There was no such thing as a sweet dream.

The stairs didn't betray me as I snaked upstairs. I thanked them under my breath. They whispered back. The walls whispered to me. The lights deadened in their fixtures told me of the cold. They told me that all the boys were safe in their rooms, under the covers, the thunder muffled by pillows and sleep. My braid and my shadow followed me as I approached the first door. That was the room I didn't share with Quatre.

He was all by himself. How sad.

I opened the door.

"Sin is lurking at the door," I said.

"And its desire is for you."

+

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