Author: Mair

Shinigami

February 5th


Quatre stared out the window, trying to ignore the tugging in his soul. His memories of a week ago forcibly pushed back.

"How is he?"

Quatre looked up to see Noin outside his cubicle. "Trowa's with him today." He motioned for her to take a seat. As she sat down, he continued. "We don't want to leave him alone. It's been a week and so far he's tried to get his hands on the kitchen knives, a bottle of pain meds, bungee chords, pens, pencils... " Quatre shook his head. "He feels like he failed Duo. He didn't even get to go back to the house until two days ago. We had to take anything sharp or potentially poisonous out of it. He destroyed all the pictures and most of Duo's artwork. He can't stand it. I cleaned out Duo's desk and saved his pictures... Eventually Heero will want them, but at this point... " He trailed off.

"At this point it hurts too much." Noin finished.

Quatre nodded.

"How are you?"

Quatre looked away. "I can't believe it. I kind of figured that we'd find something, or that it was one of Duo's jokes... but the most we've found of any of the suits have been some debris embedded in concrete. Of the pilots... They've found a tooth."

"What about the guy in the hospital?"

Quatre sighed. "I haven't paid that much attention, to be honest. Mariemaia would be able to tell you more."

Noin looked at him, surprised. "Mariemaia?"

He nodded. "She set up a fund for victims of mobile suit attacks after her coup. To dispense funds appropriately, she's overseen his care with Une, but the man's still in a coma."

She nodded. "Zechs and I took the next shuttle after we got the news. We... we'd like to visit Heero, if we can."

"I'll see what I can do."

February 14th

Pain. Endless. Gone... Alone.

Heero lashed out at the already broken picture frame beside the bed.

He shouldn't be gone! He hasn't found anything! It shouldn't have happened. He needed him. He didn't get to say goodbye. He loved him.

Never again see him, never again hear him... He would go insane! Heero looked around the colorful room. Pictures lay ripped and scattered over the hard wood floor. The purples, greens, blues, burgundy's and yellows seemed to fade from their vibrant shades into a murky mix he couldn't make out.

He could remember the shopping trip they took to find these things. The places they went to find things in just the right colors. Nothing that would remind them of the war they'd been in; no blood or bright red, no rust brown, the color of dried blood. Just calming colors. Colors he loved. Colors he couldn't love any more.

This wasn't his home any more. Half his soul was gone. This scenic place near the ocean no longer fit the pain that filled the emptiness that happiness once resided in. Heero closed his eyes and laid back on the bed. The scent of Duo's shampoo wafted up from the pillow. He'd hated the funeral. It wasn't even a funeral. No body- -nothing to sneak up on and tickle, no smiles, no one to hold at night, no one to hold him when the nightmares resurfaced, no one who needed the nightmares soothed, no one to caress, no one to kiss- No body to bury. Heero's breath caught in his chest. A memorial service. He couldn't say anything or take comfort in any of it because he was gone. Duo understood him. Duo-

Duo was...

Duo was dead.

July 29th

"Heero, are you sure?"

Heero nodded. "Take them. Keep it for your summerhouse. I think he would've liked that."

Mariemaia looked down at the keys in her hand. "It's only been six months, you may want to go back one day."

Heero shook his head. "I can't. I've stayed in Preventer housing for the past four months. That's all I need."

She looked up at him. The thin figure in front of her turned away. "Heero... " He paused. "Eat dinner with me? Une has a meeting tonight... Please?" He nodded and walked down the hallway, leaving her standing next to the elevator door. Her hand closed around the keys as she hit the elevator button.

Duo's death had hit him so hard. He paid less attention to detail now than he ever did. No one would let him die and somehow, he knew he couldn't die, but that didn't stop him from taking opportunities where it was a high possibility.

The elevator dinged and she went in. Mariemaia looked down at the keys in her hand. A prime example. He gave her the keys to his and Duo's house. She sighed wishing a certain someone was here to cheer her up.

January 28th. That was the day everything changed. Why couldn't the last few OZ fanatics accept defeat and that she wasn't going to rule them? She hoped this last mission would catch them all. It hit her suddenly. Heero would run the mission. Mariemaia rummaged in her pockets to find her cellphone and dialed Wufei's extension.

"Agent Chang."

"Wufei, Heero's running the latest mission."

"Hello Mariemaia, I know. Trowa's going to keep an eye out on him and Quatre's running diversion against interference. Everything will be fine."

"But-"

"Mariemaia, you have an appointment with John at the hospital correct?"

She sighed. "Yes, but he gave me the key's to his house."

"Ah. We'll keep a close watch. You know I won't let anything happen." He paused. "Relena's taking you to visit?"

Mariemaia smiled and nodded. "She's going to help me squash down his objections and help with any paperwork."

"It's good to know that you'll have family again... Uh, aside from Une- ow! Quit it!"

She laughed. "Hi Une!"

"She say's hello." Wufei grumbled as the elevator doors opened.

She grinned and looked around. "Relena's waiting, I'll talk to you later. Make sure Heero gets to dinner ok? I asked him and he said he's coming but I don't want to have to have dinner in the hospital."

"I'll make sure of it."

October 31st

Heero walked in and dropped his bag. October 31st. One of His favorite holidays; the day of the Dead. How fitting.

~ "Come on Heero, dressing up is fun! And it's Halloween! Sacred holiday for remembering the dead, dressing up and eating candy!"~ He bit his lip as he set the keys down on the counter. Heero walked into the kitchen and took out the pre-chopped vegetables.

~ "You don't eat veggies on Halloween! That's criminal! Where's that box of mac and cheese? I'm gonna introduce you to one of the joys of this holiday, junk food and candy!" ~

He set his jaw and leaned over the counter, remembering the events that took place afterwards. Duo, his own personal bit of candy. He missed him. Phantom arms wrapped around him and he could practically feel Duo's chin settle on his shoulder. Tears leaked from his eyes.

"God I miss you Duo."

November 4th

"Heero? Heero, I know you're there. Pick up or I'll send over Trowa and Wufei. ... Heero... You called in sick to work. You never do that. Come on... pick up... "

Heero closed his eyes even tighter at the sound of Quatre's voice. He curled his body up as small as he could, hoping he'd just give up. A sigh. "All right, I'm sending them over. They are allowed to break down the door if they find it necessary."

He slowly opened his eyes as the answering machine clicked off. Why wouldn't they just let him go?

November 19th

"-I don't care if he doesn't feel up to it. He's done a lot of things when he hasn't felt up to them, Thanksgiving being the most recent example." Mariemaia's voice drifted down the hall. Footsteps. The door was thrown open to reveal the petite 17-year-old. "Heero Yuy, I want to see you out of that bed. All Thanksgiving we put up with your moping because we know how much you miss Duo. It's like you're drowning without him. But I just got bitched at by Dyad because of your behavior and I defended you, but you know something? I think he's right. Propriety be damned," Relena gasped from the doorway and Dorothy settled for looking surprised. Wufei and Quatre both looked stunned while Trowa watched impassively.

Mariemaia continued. "-you have people who love you. Family and friends who've put up with your grief because they feel it too. They, though they miss him, have faced up to the fact that he's gone and have started to get on with their lives. You have stopped living your life. We all love you, you are respected and your company is enjoyed on the rare occasion that you snap out of your melancholy to join the rest of us." She let out a deep breath and walked to the edge of his bed.

"Ever since Halloween you've been miserable. I know you hurt. I know he loved this time of year." She crouched down next to the bed. "But you wasting away before our eyes is painful. It hurts to see you in this kind of pain. We want to help you but you won't let us. The past nine months you feel his death just as fresh as though it just happened. It didn't."

Sally and Noin appeared in the doorway to get stopped by Wufei. "Heero... please listen to me."

Heero blinked in shock as he looked down at the figure crouched at the bedside. "I couldn't save him... I failed."

"No one could have saved him Yuy. You've seen the report. You knew about that leak we discovered later in the week. It was too well planned. You know that." Wufei said quietly.

"I should have been able to..."

Mariemaia put her arms around him as he started to rock back and forth. His soft chant of "I should have" now buried in her arm.

Dorothy turned Relena and the others from the door and shooed them out. She left the door open a crack then walked over.

"Soldiers know when to expect the worst and know that nothing is ever guaranteed. Duo knew this and you know this. It's time you believed it again." She said and turned and walked out the door.

Mariemaia tightened her arms around the lath thin figure. After a few minutes she released him. "I'm going to go get you some food and you WILL eat it all." She gave him a last smile before leaving the room.

When she reached the kitchen, Sally and Une nodded to her. "What was that about?"

Mariemaia looked over at Sally, then started rummaging about in the fridge. "Dyad and I got in a fight. I'd defended Heero but as the fight went on, I found myself agreeing with what he said. I figured someone had to say something to Heero or we'd end up having to have someone move in with him again."

Sally smiled. "That's one of the least lady like displays I've ever seen you put on."

She smiled as she pulled out several packages of lunchmeat and fruit. "Did you hear Relena's reaction? If it was anything like Heero's it must have been a sight to see. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go make sure he eats."

December 10th

Heero stared at the screen in front of him. It had been three weeks since the incident at Quatre's after thanksgiving. Mariemaia turned into an interesting young woman. She blatantly disregarded all the rules Une raised her with to make sure he snapped out of things. Her brother had been right. Duo wouldn't have wanted him to waste away. How was it that someone he'd never met would know that better than he or any of the others?

Heero fought the urge to sigh. Mariemaia called them all today to let them know she wouldn't be joining them for Christmas. She would spend it with her brother. Evidently she already emailed Hilde and told her. Those two had quite the email relationship, dignified Mariemaia and the not-quite-as-crazy-as-Duo Hilde.

He looked over at Duo's empty desk next to his, a pain sounding deep in his soul. Duo would have found this incredibly amusing. Probably say crazy things hinting at something more than the best friend relationship the girls had.

He turned away from the desk as he could practically see Duo's figure reclining back in the chair.

"You need a new partner."

Heero turned around at the sound of Une's voice. "I disagree."

Lady Une shook her head, walked in and sat down at the empty desk. "The others don't have time to shadow you on missions. They have other things to do. I have someone interested in joining the Preventers... Mariemaia's brother, Dyad. If he joins, I believe the two of you would work well. Better than any of the other candidates I've been interviewing."

"Dyad M. Barton was a victim of the mobile suit attack that killed Duo. He shouldn't join the Preventers out of some obscure sense of obligation. I refuse to have an amateur for a partner."

"He's worked with a physical therapist in some forms of martial arts. It was the only thing that would keep him going with physical therapy. He isn't a base amateur. He also hasn't signed up yet. I'm just telling you in advance that I will be doing this if he joins."

Inwardly, Heero seethed. He didn't need or want this reminder. "I don't need a partner."

The figure in the trim blue suit rose out of the chair. "Your opinion has no different in the matter Agent Yuy." Her form relaxed slightly. "Heero, how are the psyc appointments going?"

He glared. "Fine."

Lady Une waited for more information. When she didn't get it, she turned to leave. "For now, Michael Adams will be your partner. Mission planning. I will inform him of my decision immediately. You will start tomorrow. You will not be active in mission execution until you have a partner that can keep up with you." With that she walked out the door, leaving Heero to his silence.

December 30th

Laughter echoed down the hallway as greetings were exchanged. Michael poked his head around the corner of the cubicle to see Mariemaia talking with Quatre. He watched as they gave each other a hug and then Mariemaia came down the hall toward him.

"Hello Michael, is Heero in?"

Michael shook his head. "Iceman's up with Lady Une. I think I'm finally getting replaced. Thank GOD!"

Mariemaia smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry about him. It's just-"

He smiled. "I'm just not who matches him. I figured that one out the first day and turned in my request for a new partner two days later. I'm still a bit surprised Yuy never did."

Mariemaia smothered a smile. "That's because he knew it was an exercise in futility. My guardian laid down the law the day you got your notice about your new partner. She told him that he would get a partner and it would be the person who best fit at the time." Her smile faded a little. "She hoped my brother would join. He did."

Hope rose in Michael's chest. "I'm really getting out of here?"

"As soon as he passes his physical exams."

Michael looked heaven ward, put his hands in a praying position and mouthed 'thank you'. "So aside from coming in and being the bearer of good news, what brings you in?"

Mariemaia twitched the bag at her side. "Christmas presents for Une and Heero from my brother."

Michael nodded. "In that case you better get going."

She smiled slightly and nodded. "Have a nice day Michael."

"How could I not with your news?" A laugh followed Mariemaia down the hall toward Lady Une's office.

Mariemaia nodded politely to the secretary as the woman smiled up and announced her. The doors opened and Lady Une and Heero both rose politely as she walked in. "Good day to you both! I know I'm not supposed to come in with personal stuff but Dyad sent Christmas presents for you both."

They both looked surprised and Une gestured for Mariemaia to sit down. "That's all right. How was your trip?"

"Everything went smoothly." Mariemaia replied as she sat down and opened the bag at her feet. "The flights weren't crowded at all and most people are about doing their Christmas exchanges." She pulled out two identically sized boxes in bright paper with smashed bows. She handed the red and green one to Une and the blue and silver one to Heero. "Now, you have to open them both while I'm here. I'm under strict orders to report your reactions." Two more surprised looks.

Une nodded and started opening her gift. She looked surprised at the contents of the box.

"What did he give you?"

Une blinked and pulled out a beautifully preserved red rose in full bloom, then a bottle of rose water and two bars of soap; one rose, one lavender. "This is the same brand Trieze had once. This is the kind that actually smells like what it's supposed to be. I tended to wear it and Trieze loved the bath oil they made."

Slowly Heero opened his present. Inside lay an intricately carved box. He removed it and tried to open the lid. When it didn't budge, his eyes narrowed and he began to search for things that moved. Panel by sliding panel, he figured out the box. The first thing he found was a letter, then a key, then a picture and a candle. He set the box on the table next to him and opened the letter.

'Heero,

Thanks for letting me use your house. I really appreciate it. You have helped give me a bit better of a chance at getting back on my feet by letting me stay here. I was a bit nervous at having to stay in a mansion. I don't have comfortable feelings associated with them, which is odd.

In case you're wondering what all this stuff is, the key is to the house. You are welcome to come and visit or poke around when ever you want. M told me you gave her all the keys. This is still your house you know.

The picture-'
Heero picked up the photograph and looked at it. ~"Wow... Hey Heero! Check this out! If we didn't like the house could we tear it down and build another one here? Check out that view, it reminds me of the post cards. I know I could just sit and watch every sunset from here and it would never ever look the same twice."~ His breath caught in his throat as he looked at the picture of a glorious sunset obviously taken off the back of the house. He looked back at the letter.

'The picture is of a sunset I saw a short while ago. I figured you might want a picture of it. If just to remember all the good stuff. The candle is something I debated putting in for a long time. I'm still not entirely sure about it. See, the thing with the candle is this, it's a reminder that the lighter of the candle has to act like a light in the world for their departed ones. It's like saying, hey, I remember you and I promise to never forget you and to live my life as you would prefer I live it- true to your memory. It's also symbolic of not being alone in the darkness of life without one's loved one. Don't ask me where I got that from, I'm not sure. I figured it would help you remember all the good things instead of dwelling on the not so pleasant things.

I figured that part of the reason you gave the house to M was because of the memories here. It's not good to suppress the good things you remember. Remember them. You had a good time. Maybe you'll be able to smile again if you do.

Umm... yeah. So thanks for letting me use the house. Feel free to stop by any time.

Thanks.
Dyad M. Barton.'


Slowly Heero folded up the letter.

"What did he say?" Mariemaia asked.

Heero looked down at the gift that covered his lap. "This is a gift that Duo would give." He gathered the contents of the box up and left the room in silence.

Mariemaia blinked and looked over at Une.

Une watched as the door closed. "He's right." She fingered the dried rose on her desk. "These are things Duo would give."

December 30th

His hands trembled as he set the gift down on his desk. Heero slumped into his chair, caught up in the effort to control himself. He stared at the box. Slowly he began to replace the contents of the box, but hesitated at the candle. He fingered the waxy surface as he remembered Duo doing one of his rituals for the dead.

The two of them, standing in a slightly cheesy looking church that looked like it went for the modern design look and failed. Off to the side there was a rack of candles and they'd walked over to them. He remembered how Duo dropped a coin in the box and then lit all of the remaining candles.(1) Heero later got it explained to him, but at the time he remembered being almost astonished. For someone who claimed no faith but in the truth of the God of Death, this had a strangely religious feel.

Heero looked down at the candle in his hand. He would most definitely remember; the pain, the love, the hope, the anguish, the happiness, the loss... It seemed to help Duo at that time. Maybe it was time for him to do a ritual all his own.

January 18th

"Ready for your new partner?" Michael asked.

Heero looked over at him, not saying a word. He wished it was Duo, alive. Back again somehow.

Michael fought the urge to sigh. It was one of those days.

Thankfully the last. "Well enjoy, don't give him too much grief."

He heard voices and looked over toward the elevator. "And here they come now." Michael smiled and turned back to Heero. He waved. "See ya."

Heero watched as the man practically fled. Hopefully Une's new agent would work out a bit better, since he –had- to have a partner.

Though just about anyone would be better. He and Michael never clicked. He nodded to Lady Une as she appeared in the recently vacated cubicle doorway.

"Ah, good, you're actually here. Heero Yuy? Meet your new partner, Dyad Barton." She smiled at him.

He fought the urge to say or do something rude, (like turn around and ignore them or remind her that he didn't want another partner), and looked over at his new partner. Deep blue eyes caught his in an almost hypnotic stare. -

~Eyes he could fall into for hours, ones that reflected his soul. He smiled and kissed Duo, watching his eyes slowly close.~

-Chestnut colored hair that hit right at the aristocratic chin. He didn't think peoples hair naturally parted quite like that. The one thought that came to mind was not one he was comfortable with, Mariemaia's "brother" looked similar to Duo.

Heero fell back onto his old tricks and fought the pain back with an emotional and commutative crutch. "Hn." He turned around and went back to the mission plan.

"Don't worry, he isn't very talkative. That's your desk there, make yourself at home." Heero heard Une's foot slide on the carpet. "Oh, and Heero? No chasing him off."

Heero settled for glaring at the computer, the pang of missing Duo fleeing slightly under the onset of his annoyance with Lady Une. This wasn't a good day.

February 2nd

Things fell all to easily into a pattern. If Heero had anything to say to Dyad, he'd relate it through who ever passed by so they could tell him. Some of Dyad's habits were too similar to Duo's old ones. Not to mention his looks. He couldn't take the risk of falling into even a friendship with him.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Quatre walk past. Mentally, he gave thanks to whichever god looked out for him today, he wouldn't have to ask Dyad to do something. "Quatre?" He looked over at the door.

Quatre peered around the corner. "Yes Heero?"

"I need Dyad to go get the PAA-27 files from intelligence. Can you make sure he gets them?"

Quatre sighed and shook his head. "Dyad is right next to you and he knows where the files are and he hasn't had a problem yet. If you're asking me to tell him you're sorely out of luck. You need to communicate with him."

Heero frowned slightly. "I-" He stopped as Quatre paled and leaned against the barrier as Dyad toppled from his chair. Heero watched Quatre, slightly alarmed, not wanting but wanting to look over at Dyad. He didn't care about him. He was just an amateur that Une saddled him with. Really. "What's wrong?"

Quatre blinked and took a couple deep breaths as Dyad started to cry on the floor. "It's Dyad... " he breathed. "It hurts... There isn't a reason for this but it hurts... " He staggered into the cubicle over to the form now wrapped in on itself. "Dyad?" The man lying on the floor didn't respond as Quatre's hand touched his shoulder, but continued to sob in his fetal position. Quatre looked up. "Heero, go get one of the others. Something's really wrong."

"I'll take care of it." Mentally he swore. Why did he say that?

Quatre snorted. "You've barely acknowledged his existence and you're offering to take care of him? Forgive me Heero, but I don't think he would relax in your presence and come out of this." He looked back down at Dyad. "Dorothy!" Quatre yelled.

The phone beeped next to Heero on the desk. Heero watched as Quatre tried to calm Dyad down and punched the receive button. "What?"

"Manners Yuy." Dorothy's smooth voice practically purred. "Quatre?"

"Dyad's collapsed." Quatre pried one of his eyes open. "He's gone into some sort of shock. Something threw him into his present state of crying in a fetal position. Can you get someone here to take him to the hospital?"

"Yes. I'll call Mariemaia as well." Her voice softened. "Try talking to him, he may latch onto your voice to help bring him out." Dorothy said, then hung up.

February 23rd Heero sat in the chair watching the sedated man. According to the hospital shrink, it was possible that Heero's behavior toward Dyad had been the trigger. He shifted uncomfortably in the chair. Quatre then pointed out that he'd just asked him to tell Dyad what to do. He then received a ten-minute lecture from the hospital shrink with Quatre nodding along.

He couldn't talk to Dyad though. His eyes studied the still figure on the bed. Dyad reminded him of Duo. Dyad's dark wavy hair fanned out against the white pillow. His eye color and the color of his hair were remarkably close. Heero tore his eyes away. Dyad would talk to him to try and get a response when things were slow, he asked questions about the missions, and, for a guy, he was big on physical contact. He didn't keep up a stream of conversation, like Duo used to, but picked his battles for conversation carefully. Strangely, the slightly raspy voice was comforting- when it wasn't asking personal questions in Japanese.

Heero closed his eyes. He felt protective around Dyad, but couldn't actually do anything because of the memories. Heero frowned. This was pointless. There wasn't any reason he should be sitting in a hospital watching the source of his most recent version of torment sleep.

His mind shifted to the box on his desk. He knew Dyad recognized it. He knew he wanted to ask about it.

The drugged figure started to move again, stirring. Heero's eyes opened and flicked toward the bed. He couldn't be here when he woke up. Very carefully Heero rose up out of the chair. He spared one final glance to his partner on the bed and slipped out the door.

They even woke up the same way- this was too much. He needed to talk to Une.

March 12th

"Heero... no."

"I'll take a psychological evaluation and get him transferred."

"I assigned him to be your partner."

"And the similarities are painful. Assign one of the others to him and another to me."

Une sat down behind her desk. "Heero, people will remind you-"

"Not like he does. Remember Christmas?"

"I remember." Une said quietly. "I also know you have the box sitting on your desk."

Heero glared at her. When Une didn't say anything further, he rose to leave.

"Take a look at this." Une motioned to a tablet sitting on the corner of her desk.

He picked up the art tablet and flipped it open. He started paging through, but after couple of sketches, he froze.

"Dyad did that yesterday. When Quatre saw it he asked if he could borrow it. He brought it to me." Une watched as he slowly paged back through the other sketches. "According to Quatre, Dyad's never seen a picture of Duo before."

"You know what happened to my pictures."

Une nodded. "I suggest you visit him in the hospital."

Heero hesitated, then gave her a short bow. He placed the tablet back on her desk and practically ran out of the room.

[prologue] [cont] [back to Mair's fic]