By Sunhawk

Dancing on the Beach

Quatre was the one who noticed it first. Seeing, after any missions that required Gundams and killing and mass destruction, that Duo would disappear afterward. He didn't mention it, thinking that it was really none of his business, but once he had noted it, he couldn't help his curiosity.

The first time, he realized that Duo didn't come back to the safe house with the rest of the team, but 'went for a walk' even though the night was rather chilly. But he didn't think much of it and went to bed and Duo came in some time after that, undetected.

But having come to his attention, he began to watch, and the next time it happened, he waited up and it was hours before Duo came in, hunched and shivering with cold, going straight to his bed with little more than a grunted 'good night' to his friend. The next day everything seemed normal, but Quatre couldn't quite put it out of his mind.

By the fourth time, he succumbed to his curiosity and followed his teammate, careful not to be seen and knowing that there was something seriously wrong here for him to even be able to tail Duo, the stealth master, undetected.

It was full dark, a pale half moon in the sky, and the night was very cold. Quatre was surprised when they ended up on the beach. He hid under the boardwalk and watched as Duo walked out onto the beach and stood for a while at the waters edge, staring up at the moon. He was even more surprised when Duo began to strip, carefully folding his clothes and piling them neatly on the sand back from the water where they wouldn't get wet. He was wearing swim trunks under the clothes and Quatre almost gasped out loud as he realized that Duo was planning on going into the water, not only that, but had been planning it since he had dressed that morning. It was late November, and though the temperatures weren't below freezing, it was far, far too cold to be going for a swim.

Duo walked back to the oceans edge, seeming not to notice as the icy water swirled around his ankles. Slowly, he pulled his braid around and unbound his hair, sifting it through his fingers until it was a loose fall around his body, dancing on the evening breeze. He waded into the breakers until he was thigh deep in the water and dove in.

Quatre slapped a hand over his own mouth to stifle the cry that bubbled up and tried to come out passed his defenses. Gods! How could he stand it? The water had to be ice cold!

Duo swam straight out, as though trying to follow the silvery path the moonlight made across the water, and Quatre soon lost sight of him in the dark. The water was fairly calm, and for a while he could hear the sound of Duo's strokes splashing in the night. The minutes ticked by; what the hell was going on here? Quatre took a faltering step forward. What should he do? He couldn't possibly find him in the dark. What was he intending? More minutes ran by, and Quatre began to panic, frozen between running for help and going into the water after him. Was this some kind of bizarre suicide attempt? Where was he swimming? What was he doing? Quatre was making the first moves to run back and find a phone to call for help when he heard sounds that indicated that Duo was coming back.

With a choked whimper of relief, he ducked back under cover and watched as Duo emerged from the water again, rising up from the depths like some strange, fey sea creature, his hair floating on the water around him, plastering itself to his body as he surfaced. You would not have known from watching that the water had to be the temperature of an icebox; he walked out of the surf and up the beach as though stepping from the shower. He turned and faced the moon again, standing for a bit, his pale skin silvered with the moonlight, and then slowly... he began to dance.

Quatre couldn't believe his eyes. There was no music, at least not outside Duo's head, but he began to move in time to some unheard melody, just standing there at first, swaying in the moonlight. Then moving up the beach, turning and swaying, arms sweeping in graceful arcs. The cold night wind pulled his hair from his body and as it dried, it began to fan around him.

Quatre was enthralled. He couldn't have moved from the spot he was in had his life depended on it. It was beautiful. Duo was beautiful. He worked up and down the small stretch of sand, the dance becoming faster; adding leaps and twirls and incredible stretches. The cold night wind dried him quickly, and Quatre couldn't understand how he wasn't shivering and grabbing for his clothes. He could have danced on any stage in the country; Quatre knew that just watching him. His own upbringing had taken him to all the finer theaters in his homeland, and Duo rivaled any dancer he had ever seen. Though he obviously lacked formal training, he more than made up for it with raw talent.

Completely dry now, Duo danced as though partnering the wind, leaping high into its waiting arms, seeming to hang in the air for whole heartbeats, his hair furling about him like dark wings. Though Quatre didn't see how, the tempo of the dance only seemed to increase and soon Duo's skin was sheened again, this time with sweat. Quatre could see him panting even across the distance. He started a run up the beach, heading back toward where he had started, and suddenly leaped as high in the air as Quatre had seen him, his arms spread wide, his legs straight behind him and were he coming off a diving board, it would have been a perfect dive, but seeing as there was nothing in front of him but the sand and his pile of clothes, Quatre couldn't understand; the move seemed almost as though he expected someone to be there to catch him.

At the last minute, just before he would have crashed into the ground on belly and chest, his arms and legs came down in an almost knee-jerk reaction, and he came to a bone jarring halt right over his pile of clothes. He just knelt there for a hand full of minutes, panting so hard, Quatre could hear him, and then slowly, he seemed to just keel over sideways and he fell in the sand.

The shivering began then, and Quatre watched long enough to make sure that Duo was able to drag his clothes back on before he slipped away, wanting to get back to the safe house ahead of his teammate.

Quatre made it with ease, and was in his room with the door cracked open, watching the hall when Duo finally arrived. Quatre saw him coming, shivering and still struggling to regain his breath, his arms wrapped around his own chilled body, one hand pressed tight to the center of his chest. He passed from view, and Quatre heard the other mans bedroom door open and close, and not long after, the sound of the shower running.

Quatre shut his door and went to ready himself for bed, not sure what to make of the evenings events. Knowing, in the back of his mind, that this was really none of his business at all, but at the same time, feeling strongly that something was very wrong here.

Morning found Duo in high spirits, coming into the kitchen and actually offering to help Trowa and Quatre make breakfast. They let him chop the onions and peppers for the omelets, though after watching him for several minutes, Trowa threatened to make him eat anything he got blood in.

"I know how to handle a knife." Duo smirked at him, but Quatre had to confess to himself that watching the flashing blade was making him a little nervous as well.

Quatre was grating the cheese, and found it to be a mindless task that allowed him to steal glances in Duo's direction. He caught him rubbing surreptitiously at his chest several times, but nothing more than that.

Heero and Wufei came in not long after, and Duo brightened immediately, throwing out the first volley in what promised to be a lengthy war of wits if Quatre didn't miss his guess. Duo just seemed to be in that kind of mood; bubbling and eyes bright with mischief. The kind of mood that usually set Wufei off before Duo even had a chance to open his mouth. It delighted the braided pilot that he could so easily affect the Chinese man, and he never missed a chance to poke sharp, verbal sticks at him.

"Trowa,"Wufei intoned with a heavy sigh, ignoring Duo's barb, "please tell me you are not letting Maxwell help cook?"

"We aren't letting him near the stove."Trowa informed him without cracking a smile.

"Hey!"Duo grinned at them in mock injury, "I am perfectly capable of cooking!"

"Just not anything we're capable of eating."Heero interjected, with a wry almost-smile, and everyone glanced up in surprise, hearing the normally quiet pilot join the match.

If anything, Duo brightened further, flipping his knife in the air to deftly catch it again before resuming his mass murder of helpless vegetables. "Nothing I have ever cooked has killed a single one of you."He pointed out logically.

"Now there's a glowing endorsement for your culinary skills; has not yet killed anybody."Wufei moved passed them to take down plates and began setting the breakfast table.

"Hmmm... I could open a chain of restaurants and use that as my tag line: 'A hundred served; no one dead.' "

Wufei grimaced at him as he came back for the silverware, "That would certainly entice me to eat there. I'm sure you'll do well in your new endeavor."

Duo was standing in front of the silverware drawer, and as Wufei approached, he reached out and gave Duo a playful shove, touching the center of his chest. Duo flinched, his breath hissing sharply, and stumbled a step backward. The room was suddenly quiet, and every eye in the place was on him.

He flushed, "Damn Wufei; don't sneak up on me like that." He stammered, and they all knew he was covering something, but for a frozen moment, no one spoke.

Quietly, Heero rose from the seat he had taken at the table and came back across the room, "What's wrong with your chest?"He asked, his voice seeming a little loud in the sudden silence.

If anything, Duo blushed harder, attempting to return to the cutting board, but Heero came around the counter, calmly walked up to him and slowly began unbuttoning his denim shirt. Uncharacteristically, Duo lowered his eyes and just stood and let him, sighing heavily and blushing furiously.

Heero unbuttoned the first three buttons, and gently pushed the shirt open. In the center of Duo's chest, was a nasty gash, centered over his breastbone, weeping fresh blood from Wufei's touch, obviously only hours old.

Wufei frowned, moving up to stand beside Heero, "Maxwell, I'm sorry... I did not realize."

"It's nothing." Duo waved them away, trying to move out from under everyone's gaze.

"This looks like a knife wound, Duo." Heero's intense stare was making Duo squirm.

"A knife wound?" he cocked his head and looked up at his partner through his unruly bangs, "Get serious. My... my toolbox came loose in Deathscythe during the fight."

Heero frowned, "Tool box?" he questioned, looking skeptical, his fingers gently probing the wound.

"Ow! Watch it, Heero!" Duo winced and pulled free, "Yeah, I had tools flying all over the damn cockpit, I'm not sure what hit me."

Quatre moved closer, looking around Heero's arm at the gash. That had not been there last night on the beach. He would have seen a cut that large even from where he had been crouched in hiding. He was positive Duo's chest had been unmarked last night after the battle. He held his tongue and went back to grating cheese.

"Well," Trowa tossed in with a raised eyebrow, "Whatever it was, you should tend to it; looks deep."

Wufei and Heero had Duo backed up against the counter, one on either side.

"Maxwell," Wufei almost growled at him, "This goes to the damn bone!"

"Guys!"Duo wailed, pinned and cornered, "Lighten up, will ya!"

"Duo, it needs stitches." Heero had removed the knife from Duo's hand, laying it on the cutting board and the two darker pilots took him by the arms, one on each side and began to usher him out of the room.

"Don't be such a big baby about getting a couple of stitches, Duo." Heero was telling him, "You shouldn't hide things like this from us."

Then they were gone, and Quatre never did hear what Duo's retort was, but he knew the gash had not been kept a secret because of any fear on Duo's part about having stitches put in. He himself had seen Duo sit quietly through far more painful procedures than suturing. No, he was sure the secret was where the mysterious wound had come from. He was positive it had not been there on the beach. It did not come from any accident during the heated Gundam battle. What could have happened to Duo in the time between the beach and arriving at the house? He had not been ten minutes behind Quatre, hardly enough time to have gotten into some sort of fight.

"Something wrong, Quatre?" Trowa asked, looking up from his task of browning sausage quizzically.

Quatre hesitated, thinking that it would be nice to talk to someone about what he knew, but feeling embarrassed to admit that he had followed and spied on one of his own teammates. He wasn't sure how Trowa would take that.

"Uhmmm... that just seemed rather... odd, don't you think?" He compromised, thinking that they might still discuss it without him having to admit anything he didn't want to.

"Duo?" Trowa raised an eyebrow and glanced after the departed trio, "Yeah, I suppose so. Don't know why he'd bother to hide something like that."

"I don't remember seeing any blood on his clothes after we got back, do you?" He watched the taller man closely, gauging his reaction.

There was a moment of silence while he considered it, then, "I... don't remember that I saw Duo after we got back."

"He went for a walk." Quatre informed him; again watching for a reaction, but all Trowa did was shrug and turn back to the stove.

The whole thing was just not all that odd if you didn't know what Quatre knew, but didn't want to tell. He gnawed his lower lip in frustration, but decided to just drop the subject before Trowa got suspicious.

After breakfast, during which Duo was much more subdued than he had been, Quatre decided, on a sudden inspiration, to volunteer to do some laundry.

"I have to run some clothes through; anybody got anything they want to throw in?" He asked the room at large, and, as expected from a group of young men who really did not like housework, there was a chorus of gleeful acceptance, and Quatre found himself with enough clothes for several loads of laundry.

As soon as he was alone with the washing machine, Quatre dug through the pile until he found Duo's clothes from the night before. While he found the front of Duo's shirt blood soaked, he also found it totally unmarred; there was no hole in the material from whatever 'tool' supposedly inflicted the wound.

So, the gash had definitely happened while Duo was on the beach, after he got undressed to go swimming, but before he got dressed again. In point of fact; while Quatre had been watching him. He was sure he had seen no sign of blood while Duo had been dancing, and the only window of opportunity had to have been at the very end, when Duo ran up the beach, jumped into the air and fell. After that, Quatre realized, he had not seen Duo's chest again. He had fallen over in the sand and gotten dressed not long after. Had he fallen on something? No rock or stick or other beach debris would have made such a clean cut. Not even a piece of glass. Quatre shook his head, not able to puzzle it out, and set to doing the laundry with a sigh. It had just become an all day job.

A week passed before there was another mission that involved Duo and Deathscythe. Heero was sent to destroy a new base attempting to gain a foothold in the inner solar system by setting up a station orbiting Mars. Duo, as his partner went as backup.

A simple search and destroy. The kind of mission Duo hated the most. His imagination painted personalities and families and whole damn life stories behind the soldiers they were forced to cut down. The warrior in him told him that this was war; they came here knowing exactly what they were getting themselves into. They would not hesitate to kill him or anyone else who got in their way, and it was just their sorry damn luck that it happened to be his job to get in their way.

It went quickly and well, and if Duo was unusually quiet on the trip back, Heero attributed it to the weariness that came from a long haul through space, and found no reason of his own to break the silence. He worked on his mission reports, his own way of dealing with the stress and guilt and gave no thought what so ever to how Duo dealt with it.

They landed and secured their Gundams but when it came time for the walk back to the safe house, Duo just shook his head and waved Heero on.

"Go ahead, man; I think I'll go for a walk first."

Heero frowned at him, taking in the jeans and t-shirt attire, "It's damn cold out to be walking around dressed like that, isn't it?"

Duo ducked his head and grinned at his partner, "Cold doesn't bother an old street rat like me."

Heero's frown deepened; he hated hearing Duo refer to himself like that, but he just grunted and watched as Duo turned on his heel and walked away, hands stuffed in his pockets. He watched the figure move in and out of the pools of light cast down by the streetlamps with an odd pang. For a moment, he considered calling for him to wait up, but discarded the notion; Duo obviously wanted some privacy. Then his senses told him he was not alone and he whirled to find Quatre standing not far up the path that led to the street and back to the house.

"Is something wrong, Quatre?" He asked, surprised to find anyone waiting for them.

Quatre moved closer, his eyes fixed on the spot where Duo was quickly disappearing into the night.

"Follow him." He said simply.

"What?" Heero frowned at him as though he had grown a second head, and Quatre finally turned his gaze on Heero and the look on his face was disconcerting.

"I... I can't explain right now... but I think you need to follow him." His voice was soft, but very serious, and Heero cast a glance behind him again, just in time to see Duo step clear of the last pool of light and vanish into the dark. It decided him somehow, and with a last, puzzled look at Quatre, he turned and jogged lightly after his partner.

He moved quickly, but silently, and soon caught sight of Duo again, he had the same odd sense that he should not be able to shadow Duo like this, that Quatre had felt, and like Quatre, was equally surprised when Duo's walk brought them to the beach. The moon was near full now, and Duo, just like the time before, walked to the waters edge and stood staring up at it. The night was colder, though Heero couldn't know that, and the wind was blowing hard enough to lift and pull at Duo's braid.

Heero took the same hiding place that Quatre had employed, under the boardwalk, though Heero dared edge closer, settling himself behind a large support post with a bit of scrub brush growing around the base.

He watched aghast, just had Quatre had, as Duo moved back up the beach and stripped to a pair of black swimming trunks. He carefully arranged his clothes and gear in a neat pile and Heero felt it had a faint, ritualistic feel to it. His heart was in his throat as he watched Duo slowly unbind his hair, threading his fingers though it and freeing it for the wind to take up and spread around him. He stood for several minutes, turning his face into the wind, eyes closed and silver-pale in the bright moonlight. Then he walked out into the icy ocean and dove in.

Heero stood up from his crouch and almost called after him. He couldn't believe Duo wasn't scrambling back out instantly, pulling his clothes on and yelping with the cold. The moon cast a white frosting on the surface of the water, and Heero could easily make out Duo's dark form knifing straight out into the water, swimming hard and showing no signs of turning back. Heero inched forward, a sudden fear moving his body without his conscious thought. Had Quatre known about this? Is this why he thought Heero should follow Duo on his 'walk'? Damn! Why hadn't he given him more information? What in the hell was happening here? Duo just kept swimming; Heero could just barely still make out the shadow of him on the water in the distance. Why the hell didn't he turn back? How far was he planning on going? In his chest, Heero's heart began to pound painfully. He knew that Duo was too far out for him to reach in time even if he saw him get into trouble. Gods! Didn't sharks feed at night? He couldn't remember if he had heard of any attacks in this part of the country. What was Duo thinking?

Just as Heero reached that panicky state that Quatre had been in the week before; torn between going into the water and running for help, the small, dark spot that was Duo stopped and after bobbing in the water a moment, turned back, seeming an impossible distance out. The sweep of the arms was more sporadic, the strokes uneven, and it took a lot longer for Duo to make the return trip than it had for him to swim out. A sign of the cold and his tiredness for sure. Heero slid carefully back under cover and watched the shadow on the water grow in size as it approached, his heart not calming until it was apparent that Duo was far enough in to stand.

Again, though he didn't know it, he was treated to the same vision of Duo rising from the depths of the icy ocean, wearing the mantel of his own sleek hair, that Quatre had seen.

Relief flooded through Heero as he saw his partner return to the beach, looking oddly not like the Duo he knew so well. There was a strange unrealness to him; he moved with an unconscious grace that drew Heero's eyes to aspects of his form he had never noticed before. He had never seen Duo with his hair down like this. Oh, occasional glimpses after a shower while he combed and then braided it, but never like this; with the wind tugging at it, wreathing his body in the slowly drying strands. He had never noticed how ... strikingly beautiful his partner was before. As that thought crossed through his mind, out on the beach, Duo raised his arms and slowly began to sway where he stood, and then... to dance.

Heero forgot to breathe.

He could almost hear the music that must be playing in Duo's head, as he swept and turned and drifted up the sand. He moved almost slowly at first, arms weaving intricate patterns in the air, feet ghosting across the sand, sometimes seeming to barely touch the ground. The wind was drying his hair as he moved, and the silken strands began to loosen their strangle hold on his body, swirling around him like a cloak.

Heero was chilling in his crouch under the windbreak of the boardwalk, and couldn't understand how Duo was bearing the icy wind on near naked, wet flesh. The dance progressed up the beach, the tempo increasing, Duo adding leaps and turns to the gentler movements he had been making. Heero was captivated. He couldn't have pulled his gaze away from the sight in front of him had the boardwalk collapsed on his head. Duo was an absolute vision in the bright moonlight, his movements unbelievably graceful and fluid. Heero had not known his teammate could dance like this. He lost himself in the sheer beauty of it for a time, forgetting for the moment about the cold, about the fear he had felt watching Duo swim out into the ocean as though he wouldn't turn back, about the fact that he wasn't supposed to be here, effectively spying on his partner.

Clouds brushed at the edges of the moon, gentling the light bathing the beach, giving the whole scene a surreal aspect. He could have been watching some elven creature from mythology dancing through some pagan ritual in the sand.

The dance became more frantic, the pace increasing, the leaps so high that sand began to fly under his feet as he vaulted and landed. Heero had no idea how long the dance had been going, but he could see the panting movement of Duo's chest, could see his body starting to coat with sweat. Heero couldn't fathom how he was standing the cold. Each time he thought for sure that Duo would give way to exhaustion, the tempo of the dance only increased. He was starting to be able to hear the gasping breaths whenever Duo drifted towards the boardwalk.

Perhaps that was what brought Heero back to reality, the realization that Duo was driving himself to collapse. When he forced himself to look with a more clinical eye, he could see that the perfect, flowing motions weren't so perfect now. The steps were a little faltering; the leaps weren't landing as gracefully.

The soldier took over his mind; began to evaluate the scene a little closer. Something wasn't right. Duo's face, when it turned where Heero could see it, was pained, the eyes glazed. The hard swim in the icy water right on the heels of a long, hard mission. The dancing itself; it all seemed a deliberate effort to push the body past the limits of fatigue. Just what the hell was going on here?

Something about the dance suddenly seemed to change, and Duo, who had leaped and twirled his way some distance away, was running full out back toward the boardwalk. At first, Heero thought he had been seen, then realized that Duo was running more toward where he had started, toward where his clothes were piled. In that moment, three things happened; the clouds completely cleared the moon, Heero spotted the knife blade jutting up from the pile of clothes, and Duo made his diving leap.

Had Quatre seen the knife blade the week before, it might have solved the puzzle for him, but it also might have changed the whole course of events, for he surely would have screamed. And though Heero wanted to scream, the mind of the perfect soldier put the pieces together in an instant and realized that this was where the gash on Duo's chest had come from. That he wasn't intending to impale himself on the knife, and that if Heero screamed out, or otherwise distracted his longhaired partner, that might just be the result. So he bit his tongue and watched the scene play out, watched Duo arch his back and fling himself into a perfect swan dive, aiming unerringly for the pile of clothes. At the last moment, his hands and knees came down, almost seeming to jerk out of his control, and he landed hard on the sand right over the knife blade.

Heero was moving the instant it was over, his heart hammering in his ears, his hands shaking, his mind yipping in little circles in his head. Whatthehellwhatthehellwhatthehell!

He pitched himself down beside where Duo still hung, suspended above the wicked looking knife blade, his arms were shaking and his breath was wheezing in great, erratic gasps. Heero threw his arms around Duo's waist, shocked at the chill of the flesh under his hands, and jerked him away. Knocking the blade free and away with an almost angry backhanded swat.

Duo went limp in his arms then, collapsing completely, and Heero's heart almost closed his throat off as he realized how close the trembling pilot had come to stabbing himself. He pulled him into his lap, rubbing icy skin briskly; not even coming close to understanding what in the hell had just happened.

"Duo?" He shook his partner, hard, and for a moment, the violet eyes met his and that familiar lop-sided grin sprang forth.

"Guess Shinigami forgave me again, huh?"

Heero blinked down at him, his fear giving way to anger.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?" He snapped, knowing the grip he had on Duo's arms was too tight, but not able to let go.

Duo was starting to tremble, the cold pouncing on him hard now that he had stopped moving. His body began to shake almost convulsively, and Heero fought off the urge to pull his partner into his arms, reaching passed him for his clothes instead.

Duo pulled away from him, his disconcertion giving way to an anger of his own. He jerked his clothes out of Heero's hands and sat up to begin pulling them on. There was fresh blood on his chest.

The breath hissed sharply through Heero's teeth, and he reached out to check the wound, but Duo pulled away.

"What the hell are you doing here?" He snapped, trying to get his shaking hands stuffed into uncooperative shirtsleeves.

"What am I doing?" Snapped Heero, "What in the seven hells were you doing?"

The shirt was on, pulled down and covering the wound, and Duo was struggling with the pants, "None of your damn business!"

Heero couldn't take his eyes off the center of Duo's chest, watching the white t-shirt as it spotted slightly with red. "Duo! You damn near... You almost... Don't you ever do something like this again!"

Their eyes locked for a moment, and Heero realized that Duo was flushing darkly, the blush standing out starkly on his pale, icy skin.

"Don't tell me what to do, Heero." He growled, clutching the rest of his gear to his chest.

"Damnit, Duo!" Heero forced his voice to stay steady, "What were you thinking?"

Duo was pushing away from him, staggering to his feet and he hissed darkly, "I said; none of your damn business." And he stumbled away, leaving Heero kneeling in the sand, watching him go.

He stopped, a hundred yards or so up the beach and struggled into the rest of his clothes before resuming his drunken wobbling trek to the street level.

Heero watched him go, absolutely baffled by the whole incident.

He shifted in the sand and hugged his knees to his chest for warmth, his eyes still seeing the lithe, graceful form, his heart still hammering in his ears. He had determined ages ago that his attraction to his partner was something that stayed locked strictly in his own heart. That kind of complication was not something either of them needed in the middle of a stupid war. In Heero's mind, there existed a gallery of images that he kept to ward against the darkness. All remembrances of Duo; the flash of that bright smile, the swing of that damn braid, those hands on the controls of a shuttle, strong and competent; piloting like no one Heero had ever seen. All memories that brought a pang to his heart, making him want to reach out and offer more than just friendship. This new image, though; Duo on the beach dancing in the wind... that brought a pang to his body... filling him with a desire stronger than he had ever known. Making him want... things.

But that final image; Duo and the knife blade. That brought a stinging, clinching fear to his gut that left him trembling and afraid, not sure what he should do now.

He thought about the wound he and Wufei had tended to the other week, realized when he thought hard, that there had been other scars scattered across that smooth skin; some not so bad, some worse. How long had this been going on? What in the hell, exactly, was going on? How long before he didn't catch himself? Before he fell on that knife with all his weight and... and... Heero shook his head sharply before that image could lodge itself permanently in his brain.

What had he said? 'Guess Shinigami forgave me again, huh?' What the hell was that supposed to mean? Why hadn't Quatre warned him what he was walking into? And that prompted Heero to finally pull himself up out of the sand and head back for the house. He needed to go talk to the man who sent him on this trip.