By Jen
Disclaimer:Gundam Wing and the G-boys aren't mine! ::wails:: The injustice of it all! Ahem. Anyhow, you who own this know who you are and you have my eternal gratitude for filling my mundane life with these colorful pilots. I am of course making no money from this, so sue me if you like, but I'm certain I could dig up a lawyer chara around here somewhere for my defense. (All Jen's characters laugh uproariously at the thought of ever defending her.) ::sweatdrop:: Then again...
Warnings:Yaoi, lime, lemon, violence, cursing, and AU. A nicely rounded list, don't you think? ^^ (Which means I give this fic a rating of 'R'. So you'd better be old enough to read this, kiddies!)
Other inane ramblings:Comments and criticisms welcome! Flames will be eaten for lunch. This is my first attempt at a boy-boy relationship, so we'll see how I do! Any and all lapses in the plot are to be blamed on my muse.. He likes to run off to Tahiti without me. It's very hard to write when I think of him sunning himself on a beach and me here, sitting at the computer screen, staring blankly... for hours and hours and hours... Anou... (I always get such a cute picture of chibi Chichiri saying this to Miaka when I think of this word. ^^) ::sweatdrop:: In any case, this fic would take place somewhere near the middle of the series. Before Wuffie's colony gets blown up ::sniff:: and sometime after Heero does his self destruction stunt.

When Fallen Angels Fly + Part One

"God will save his fallen angels
And their broken wings he'll mend
When he draws their hearts together
And they learn to love again
All their sins will be forgiven
In the twinkle of an eye
All the saints rejoice in heaven
When the fallen angels fly"

~Patty Loveless "When The Fallen Angels Fly"

The braided pilot was getting on his nerves. No, perhaps that was not strong enough. He was driving him stark raving mad. His incessant nannerings didn't leave him with a moments peace. He had read this same sentence three times now in an attempt to regain his train of thought. It wasn't often he was given the time to sit and do virtually nothing, so it was only natural that he would want to use that time constructively. And listening to Duo Maxwell run at the mouth was not it.

His strength of will the only thing that kept him from sighing aloud, Wufei Chang slowly lowered the book he had been reading and eyed Duo impassively. The Deathscythe pilot was dressed in a loose shirt and pants, presumably what he had worn to bed and not yet changed. His dark brown braid was flying about his body like an out of control whip, while his arms seemed to be competing with it for the appendage which would first cause Duo the most bodily harm. As was the usual case, he was rambling on about something, his words rushing together almost to the point where Wufei had given up deciphering them.

Duo was restless, and Wufei was to be the target for his boredom.

"Hey, Wu, are you listening to me?" Duo questioned, stopping long enough to plant his hands on his hips and offer Wufei one of his overly bright smiles.

Wufei pushed his glasses up further on his nose. "Hearing, yes. Listening, no."

Never one to let an opportunity pass him up, Duo pounced on that. "Want me to tell you again?"

"No!" Wufei responded, more forcefully than he had intended.

Duo threw his hands up. "Okay, okay. No need to get so excited about it."

"I am not excited," Wufei returned blandly.

No kidding, Duo thought to himself, resisting the urge to make a face at the serious pilot.

Of all the Gundam pilots to be cooped up with for the next few days, it had to be Wufei. Duo had never seen anyone have the capacity for tuning out another human being like he did. Heero was fairly good at it when he got going on that laptop of his, but even then, Duo could tell when he was getting through to him, if just by the occasional 'hn' that was thrown his way.

Wufei valued his privacy to the point where he spent long hours without speaking to anyone, or even coming out of his room. To someone who considered the thought of being in a room with only four walls to stare at and endless silence for company as close to real hell as he was going to get while still alive, it was unthinkable that someone could actually get enjoyment out of it..

With Heero, Trowa, and Quatre all off on their own separate missions, he was left to do just that. Which meant that suffering Wufei's company was better off than the alternative. Not to say that it was all bad. Wufei wasn't half bad to hang around when he was in one of his better moods. If he could get the other pilot to talk, some of the conversations they had were fairly interesting. It was getting past that first hurdle. Wufei could be incredibly stubborn when he wanted to be.

Turning his attention back to the Chinese boy, he picked up the end of his braid and fiddled with it absently, wondering how anyone could want to sit on the floor to read when there was a perfectly good chair to sit in or bed to lay on. Darting a quick glance around the room, he realized the decor reflected what he knew about Wufei. Virtually nothing. He wasn't exactly forthcoming with information, and getting anything out of him that didn't have relevancy to the current situation was next to impossible. In short, the taciturn pilot of the Shenlong -- better known and henceforth referred to as Nataku -- was an enigma.

Wasn't it just his luck that he loved puzzles?

"Maxwell," came Wufei's calm voice over the top of his book, "what time is it?"

Duo automatically looked to his wrist for an answer before realizing he had yet to get dressed, which meant he also hadn't put his watch on. Without that option open to him, he took to searching Wufei's room for a clock, half wondering with a small amount of annoyance why the other boy didn't just look up from his book and find out what time it was for himself.

The clock was small and smooth, its wood painted a dark ebony that made it seem somehow more ancient than it was. There were no minute marks, only hours, and the lettering inside the thick glass was something foreign and unreadable to him. It was probably a possession Wufei had brought with him from L5 colony. Still, it seemed odd that he would, considering he never spoke of his family, or lack there of as the case may be, and Duo had never taken Wufei for the sentimental kind. But then, he really didn't know all that much about the pilot.

Holding back a sigh, he stared at the clock and then called out, "Just after noon."

"And you aren't dressed yet?" Came the even reply.

"Hey, I just got up!" He shot back defensively.

Of the five pilots sharing this one secluded house Quatre had asked the Maguanacs to scout out for him, (and it was accepted due to the fact that the environment lent to easy concealment of their Gundams) Duo was what Wufei would label as the least disciplined of them all. He adhered to no strict exercise regime, ate anything that was not nailed down, and seemed to have no control over his own mouth. Yet, the Chinese pilot had to admit, albeit grudgingly, that Duo more than made up for these personality flaws when in battle. If pressured, Wufei would even go so far as to say that he wouldn't want to be facing down the other end of that scythe.

While he had been up since 6am, practicing both his martial arts and sword fighting forms, Duo had obviously been taking advantage of the fact that he had no mission and no homework. Summer meant that the boarding schools they hid themselves away in were closed. It was why Quatre had asked Rashid to find them some place where they would not be bothered. This, of course, ruled out the Mauganacs base. Quatre felt as if they had endangered and inconvenienced the small town nearby it enough. Wufei, on the other hand, really cared less where they stayed, so long as he had his privacy, Nataku was safely hidden away, and he could be reached when it came time for a mission.

Privacy, he was fast learning however, was not a word in Duo's vocabulary. Unlocked doors meant an invitation to enter, as Wufei had found out last week while changing. Foolishly thinking that no one would enter his room while the door was closed, he hadn't counted on Duo bursting in on him just as his pants rose over his knees. While he had been something close to mortified, and definitely something close to furious, the other boy had taken it all in stride. Wufei's rage had been met with laughter, and it became perfectly clear that Duo would have remained in the doorway had Wufei not threatened him with the blade of his sword shoved into Duo's throat up to the hilt.

The boy had absolutely no modesty.

Lips curving slightly, he savored the memory of the expression on Duo's face when the other boy had realized he was serious.

Duo was still standing there. Wufei could feel the other's eyes on him, awaiting a comment of some kind.

Gaze flickering back to the writing before him, he said mildly, "There are 24 hours in a day, not 12."

Duo snorted. "You're almost as bad as, Heero. Only he drags me out of bed. Why the hell should I get up early if there's no reason to? I value my sleep, thank you very much. Lord knows, I don't get much of it when Dr. G's cramming missions down my throat."

"And you listen to Heero?" Wufei asked, attention still on his book as he disregarded everything else Duo had said.

White teeth flashed briefly. "Not unless I have to. Otherwise, I tell him to go screw himself."

Wufei winced slightly at Duo's choice of words, trying to imagine Heero accepting that kind of insult from anyone. But then, Duo seemed to be able to get away with a great deal where the Wing pilot was concerned. It was apparent that Duo was completely oblivious to that fact, however. Wufei had walked in on more than one occasion where the dark haired boy was complaining to Quatre about Heero's lack of response. He was tempted to tell him to spend a little less time talking and a little more time observing to find answers, if only to get him to shut up. But Duo had never asked him for advice, and he considered it really none of his affair what did or did not go on between Heero and Duo.

"Hn." He answered vaguely, trying once again to concentrate on his book.

Duo rolled his eyes. "Great. You sound like Heero. What're you reading there?" He added, venturing closer, Wufei's clock passing from hand to hand in some odd sort of rhythm.

Praying to Nataku for patience, Wufei lowered his book and regarded Duo stonily. Duo had obviously desensitized himself to threatening glares under the tutelage of one Heero Yuy, for he remained unperturbed as he bent over and tried to get a better look at the cover.

With remarkable aplomb, Wufei lifted the book so that Duo could see easily and with the hope that the other boy would leave him alone after having done so.

"Geez Wu-man, this is in friggin' Chinese! How do you expect me to read that?" He blurted out, rocking back on his heels as he now began tossing the clock.

One hand snaked out and past his guard, snatching the clock in mid-air.

"I don't."

Without the clock to occupy his hands, Duo began swinging them back and forth.

Did the boy ever remain still?

With a half-sigh, Duo gave his braid a reassuring tug. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, he was worried about the others. They were alone, without back up of any kind, and he hated to think that one of them might not make it back all in one piece. But had he voiced that to Mr. Wufei 'never-shuts-up' Chang, he would be informed in that succinct way the Chinese boy had of stating his absolute opinion, that it was an insult to their abilities to consider them unable to complete their missions without help. So instead, he settled for expending his nervous, pent up energy on distracting Wufei from his book and never standing still for more than a second.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. He wasn't supposed to care. Dr. G had sent him down to Earth alone, and alone was how he had expected to stay. But life rarely worked out as it was supposed to, and Duo was generally willing to go where it took him with little complaint. The problem that presented itself from allowing that, was that these four pilots were now his friends. They meant something to him in a way only three other people in his entire life had.

And those three people had died. Two because of his actions, and the third because he was not quick enough to prevent it.

That day, as he knelt in the ruins of the Maxwell Church, Sister Helen's lifeless body clutched in his arms, was the day he had ceased to believe in God.. The God of life, at least. For he had wanted desperately to protect the church from those rebels using it as refuge from the Federation, and had braved losing his own life to get them the Mobile Suit they so desperately wanted.. But that action had invariably caused the deaths of two of the few people who had ever given a damn about him, and taught him at the same time that no matter what he did death would follow him.

So he would believe in the God of Death. He would become the God of Death. He would accept that it was a part of him, while still living at the same time. He would smile more, live harder, and laugh longer. Life had taken the people he had loved, caused him to bleed, and left him alone, but he refused to fold under. Death had already taken everything from him, it could not have him too. Anger was a much more effective weapon, and with anger, he felt alive. So he got back at death by living, because that was the most effective revenge. And he continued to care, because he had come to realize that emotional death was far worse than physical death.

But a part of him realized as well, that he allowed himself to care for these pilots because they were strong. They had skirted death more than once and came out the victor each time. Especially Heero, who seemed to consider self destruction a sort of hobby.

By becoming death, he also had control. He was death, so what did he have to fear?

Wufei had grown accustomed to Duo's movements, so when they ceased, his attention was again pulled from his book. The American pilot was a nuisance. He was one of the few people that Wufei could not completely ignore and overlook. It seemed that no matter what he did, he was a distraction. Wufei disliked admitting to it, however, because it spoke little for his discipline.

It only made him feel marginally better that even someone as focused as Heero was not completely immune to the braided pilot.

There was just something about Duo that was difficult to ignore. For a boy that claimed to be Shinigami, he was filled with a great deal of life. He tended to throw his energy everywhere he went, as well, and to remain untouched was to be completely without feeling. That such conflicting masks of both light and dark could live within one person told Wufei that Duo was far more complicated than some gave him credit for. One such person being Heero, who had confided to Wufei once (which he suspected was only because he had been around to hear it) that Duo's lack of focus and control were not the traits of a decent Gundam pilot.

While Wufei tended to agree with this, he had long ago suspected that behind Duo's battle chatter and laughter, there lurked a focus and control that would have made even the Perfect Soldier envious. It was simply his way of dealing with it. They had to have ways of dealing with the deaths caused by their hands. Heero met it with resolve, Trowa with silence, and Quatre with gentle strength and regret. Duo embraced it by calling himself Shinigami and laughing in death's face. And he, Wufei... took refuge in his solitude and the very things which caused the one he fought for to call him weak.

But he would not think of that now.