}Angels Would Fall{

[Takes place during episodes 19 and 20]
 

[The rope that's wrapped around me
Is cutting through my skin
And the doubts that have surrounded me
Are finding their way in ]

Captured.

It couldn't be possible. The braided baka couldn't have gotten himself
captured. No.

Captured.

Duo had been captured.

Heero narrowed his eyes at the TV screen, watching it with the same
intensity with which he always observed the world around him. He was
calm, collected, in control of the situation.

No, he was...afraid? How could he be afraid? Soldiers didn't feel fear; so it
was impossible. He wasn't afraid.

The picture on the TV jumped, bands of interference skittering down it. The
entire world around Heero retreated, everything dimming in the wake of the
image on the TV screen; Duo, hanging limply between two soldiers, his
face battered and covered with bruises. There was a line of dried blood
running from the corner of his mouth to his chin. It looked like he'd been
eating a hamburger and just gotten sloppy with the catsup. No; it was blood.
Duo's blood.

He could almost imagine it; the soldiers questioning Duo, Duo grinning at
them, the soldiers beating him for his continual refusal to cooperate, and for
the insults he must have been flinging at them.

"Baka." Heero said softly.

There was no choice. Duo was now a threat, a potential information leak, a
danger.

Yes, better to think of him like that. Don't think of him as a person; think of
him as a target. After all, it was thinking about him like a person, not a
threat or a useless obstacle, that had caused the problems in the first place.

/I have to get rid of all threats./

There was no room in a soldier for feelings.

No, there couldn't be. Ever. Heero narrowed his eyes and turned away from
the TV, going back to the dingy dorm room that he was currently storing his
life in. There was a gun under the mattress, cleaned, oiled, loaded, and
laying ready. All he had to do was retreat back into the blankness of
purpose, and it would be over. Open the door. Bang. Dead. Simple.

It was too easy to end lives.  It was easy not to think; thinking only
interfered with the mission.

No room in a soldier for feelings.

Everything was easier without feelings. It hurt less.

[I keep it close to me
Like a holy man prays
In my desperate hour
It's better that way ]

The guards were pathetically easy to get past, simple to distract and green.
No match for the perfect soldier. The hard line of the gun dug into his back;
there'd be a bruise later, he knew. Nothing of consequence. Pain didn't exist
for the Perfect Soldier.

Pain was something reserved wholly for humans. All that there was for him
was blank ice. Unfeeling. Numbing.

***

/As I wait in the cold dark, I donít have a lot to think about or dwell on.

I don't know when I first decided that I loved you. I can't even be sure if I
know what love is. All you and I have known for so long it pain and death
and destruction...I'm surprised I can still feel enough after all of this to even
wonder if I am in love. But it must be love; it's agony. Only something that
strong could hurt so much, I'm certain of it. Anything minor wouldn't be
able to make me feel pain any longer; I'm too numb for that.

No, it has to be love.

I'm in pain.

And it's a pain that I never want to end. I want to hurt like this forever, until
you come and take it away./

[So I'll come by and see you again
I'll be such a very good friend ]

One last guard, and the door was open. Heero looked down at Duo,
sprawled across the floor.

It was strange. Duo had never looked so small before, or so delicate. All it
would take was a grab and the flick of a wrist, and bones would snap. The
feeling of power was disconcerting; strange, it should have been satisfying.
Power meant that the mission would be completed.

"I'm surprised, Heero. You always show up out of the blue." Duo grinned at
him. He grimaced as one of the scabs on his lips cracked and fresh blood
began to well out.

The blood was fascinating.

No, there was no room for distraction. The gun felt familiar in Heero's hand;
what was it he'd heard once...like an old friend? Somehow, the word friend
seemed wrong. Very wrong.

Duo continued to smile as if he weren't looking down the barrel of the gun,
into the blackness that was going to swallow him whole. "It's ok," he said
softly, "They'd just try to use me and the Gundam anyway." He pulled
himself to the feet, leaning all of his weight back against the featureless,
blank wall behind him. It was obvious that he was in pain; his face was pale
and sweat was beginning to gather on his forehead, but still he smiled.

Why was he smiling?

"I am destined to be killed by you." He closed his eyes and grinned even
more broadly. "Go ahead. Kill me now."

Heero's finger tightened on the trigger, and he retreated into the blankness
of the perfect soldier.

No, not the blankness. It wouldn't come; it was imperfect, there was
someone already there. Duo.

[Have mercy on my soul
I will never let you know
Where my mind has been ]

Duo opened his eyes when the shot didn't come immediately. "You are
going to do it, right?" He sounded almost disappointed.

It hurt.

Why did it hurt?

Heero eased off the trigger. It wouldn't come. The Perfect Soldier wouldn't
take him over like it always had. It hurt too much.

Pain was reserved for humans.

It still wouldn't come. All Heero could think about, all he could remember,
was the sterile white ceiling of the hospital as he listened to his blood drip
on the sterile white floor, and the face on the monitor. The face that spoke
to him without a sound, and told him that there was escape.

Escape.

"Only if you want me to." Heero said. Turn away...just turn away. Heero
looked back at the door; it hurt too much to look into those eyes. They
threatened to swallow him and leave nothing but pain. "You can still use
your right hand, correct?" Heero threw his gun to Duo, and picked up the
automatic rifle of one of the guards.

[Angels never came down
There's no one here they want to hang around
But if they knew
If they knew you at all
Then one by one the angels
Angels would fall ]

/I wandered into a church once, a few years ago. It was an old one; there
wasn't even a priest there, just a bunch of old men. The entire place smelled
like rat piss, beer, stale sweat and cigarettes. Still, there was something
strange about it that made me feel something I hadn't felt in a long, long
time. Not since I was a child. Despite the drunks and the dirt, it was warm.
I've been cold for so long inside that I wasn't sure what warmth felt like any
more.

There was a statue of an angel in one of the little alcoves; it hadn't gotten
ripped off yet, oddly enough. It had a couple graffiti tags on it, and the
angel was still smiling serenely as if to say "I've seen the ugliness and the
sin, and I can still love. I can still find peace."

I wish that it was like that, truly like that. I wish that there were real angels
out there, smiling beatifically down on us. Maybe we'd pull our heads out of
asses and everything would clear up. No more killing, no more fighting. No
more secrets. Too bad.

All the angels are dead.

I killed them./

***

Duo was so light in his arms that he felt unreal. The boy seemed to radiate
heat, a steady beacon of warmth cradled against Heero's chest. Heero
carried him up the stairs to his dorm room as quickly as possible, not
wanting to be spotted by any of his fellow students.  He reached his door
both too quickly, and not quickly enough. Duo was too warm.

The chestnut-haired pilot was laid out on the bed, and Heero searched
around in his closet until he located the first aide kit.

It made him angry; there were so many bruises on Duo's fair skin, little cuts
and lacerations that could only have come from the rough bottoms of army
boots.

Where was the anger coming from?

He could remember his fall from the hospital building, and the rough impact
that had left him with a broken leg that was impossible to walk on. Duo had
tucked himself under his arm, supporting him while they escaped. Like he
had supported Duo this time.

Heero sighed softly and sat down on the edge of the bed. Duo's braid snaked
across the covers, and he idly combed his fingers through the tip of it. The
hair was soft and silky underneath the rough, callused pads of his fingers.

No one was watching. No one would see what he was doing.

[I've crept into your temple
I have slept upon your pew
I've dreamed of the divinity
Inside and out of you ]

Heero sat up hurriedly, gasping for breath as if he'd just been running.
Sweat prickled along his forehead, cold droplets of it running down the
back of his neck and tracing along his cheekbones. He was still sitting
beside Duo's bed; he'd been resting his chin on the mattress, using it as a
pillow as he slept.

Hands...mouth...tongue...skin against skin...

He shook his head hurriedly to clear the remnants of the dream from it
before he glared down at Duo's sleeping form. He was still sleeping,
innocently. So innocent.

Innocence was what he killed; it was his specialty.

Tentatively, Heero reached down and touched Duo's forehead. He was
warm, always so warm.

No.

Heero stood and headed for the room's small bathroom, for the shower.

[I want it more than truth
I can taste it on my breath
I would give my life just for a little death ]

/How did you manage to get under my skin like this? I still don't understand
you. I didnít like you when we first met. You were too different from me. I
couldn't understand you, and I hated you at first. You were just so...alien to
my world.

Then I realized that underneath it all, the masks upon masks, you are just
like me. We're the same, you and I, two made out of one mold, but painted
differently. See the pretty dolls, how they dance, but they're both cold cast
porcelain underneath.

You and I, we're the same person, now. Nothing can separate us, no matter
how much we wish otherwise.

But I don't wish it otherwise. I may not be able to say the words or speak to
you, but I never want to be apart from you. I might not ever be able to tell
you that; I don't know if you can understand, considering I can't understand
it myself. So we're friends. I haven't had a friend in a long time. No one
needs to know what I really think, least of all you, because you'd be
disgusted, or think I was joking, or you'd run. I won't let that happen.

 Only death can separate us, and you are my death. So even then, we'll still
be together, won't we.

Always./

[So I'll come by and see you again
I'll be just a very good friend
I will not look upon your face
I will not touch upon your grace
Your ecclesiastic skin]

Goosebumps sprang up along Heero's back and arms, and he shivered
slightly, another sign of weakness. Water ran from his hair, flowing down
his back, his arms, to pool in his cupped hands. Heero watched, fascinated,
as the water ran out from between his fingers, flowing toward the floor of
the shower.

Water...or was it blood? His hands were stained so badly that they would
never be clean, never be free of blood.

How could he have even thought of touching Duo with those hands? Duo
was life...everything. The only thing in his world that was warm, that he
could cling to.

Would his hands leave smears of blood on Duo's skin?

/Are you lost?/

/I've been lost all my life./

He was still lost, and he would never be found again. But maybe...maybe...

/Duo.../

No...there was no room in a soldier for feelings. His hands clenched into
fists, sending the water splashing down to the slick floor.

His fist struck the porcelain tiles of the wall before he could even register
his own movement. The tiles were cracked, he could feel them under his
knuckles. Pain thrilled up his arm, into his shoulder.

But...what about a human?

[Angels never came down
There's no one here they want to hang around
But if they knew
If they knew you at all
Then one by one the angels
Angels would fall ]

/I play little games with myself sometimes, when I don't have anything better
to do. I imagine you, sometimes with your clothes on, sometimes without, it
doesn't really matter because either way, you're the most beautiful thing I
know. I play a game of make believe where I tell you what I feel, and you
understand it. I enjoy being cruel to myself, I think; it's one of the ways that
I know I'm still alive.

Sometimes, when I'm playing my mental games, I think that I'm the only one
that understands you, really...and I'm not even certain of that. If I
understand myself, I understand you, but sometimes, I can't even be certain
of who I am from one moment to the next. This mask, that mask, the next,
which is real? Does it matter? Will you recognize the real me? Will you see
yourself mirrored in my eyes? Will you see all of the blood and the deaths
and the madness that I can barely keep locked away, the anger and rage at
everything that comes closer to the surface every day? Can you love that?/

[I'll come by and see you again
I'll have to be a very good friend
If I whisper they will know
I'll just turn around and go
You will never know my sin]

Duo was still deeply asleep.

He was beautiful, so beautiful.

/I wish.../

Heero reached out and tentatively touched the other boy's bruised cheek.
There was no stirring, no indication that his intrusion had been felt. Only
the perfect, smooth skin beneath his fingertips.

/If only.../

Duo's lips were so warm and soft against his...

No.

Heero stood up quickly and walked away, shutting the door behind him.

/Duo, Aishiteru./

[Angels never came down
There's no one here they want to hang around
But if they knew
If they knew you at all
Then one by one the angels
Angels would fall ]

/Heero...Aishiteru.../