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Shikami Yamino

Moonlight filtered into the small bedroom of the shack where on the bed, two figures were intwined intimately.  One with short dark hair clutching the other possessively even in sleep, his usually hard features lightened as he drifted in peaceful slumber.

The other with slightly lighter and much longer hair was spooned beside the former, unknowingly with fists clenched and a fierce frown on his face.  Unwillingly being drawn in to the clutches of a nightmare he'd thought long since gone.

Darkness surrounded him.

Standing alone on a high cliff, overlooking nothing but the abyss that seemed never ending and hearing nothing but the screams of the dying as they were pulled in.  The sky lightened until it was a shade of rusty darkened blood red, dark clouds swirling like miniature tornadoes, whipping their path through the already destroyed and barren landscape.

Duo picked himself up from his sprawled position and gazed around with frightened and wild eyes.  He knew this place...  he knew... oh God...  Unconscious tears tracked down his face as he stared at the familiar yet dreaded surroundings.  He knew...  he'd known this place since that first time...

Vultures swooped overhead and he ducked, open-mouthed.  He shouldn't be here anymore... he'd reconciled with this place long ago.... why...?


The whisper across his mind was one that was painfully familiar.  Sobbing, Duo turned and saw the half decomposed and tall figure that walked up the cliff.  No... no...

The bastard tried to hit me, so I knifed him... Heh, he didn't know what was coming...

The voice seeped into his ears, a younger and higher version of his own.  He'd laughed it off then, back on L2, bragging to the other kids...  But they had no idea the pain he'd gone through, sitting by the corpse for an hour, trying to control the tears and the shudders that racked his small frame.  The first person he'd killed... it didn't matter that it was in self defence, and that the bastard was obviously some useless bum off the streets... He killed...

*You killed me Duo... did it feel good...?*

No... Leave me alone...

*Did it feel good Duo... answer me...*

Leave me alone!!

*Did if feel good to watch my blood seep out of the wound you made...?*

Get out of my head!!!

The corpse stopped in front of him, its eyes seemingly mocking as it smirked at him.  In the middle of its abdomen was the still red-stained wound, created by a switchblade as it stabbed in and then sliced up through all the major organs.

Duo couldn't stop staring, breath shuddering into his body as he crouched, almost pulling in on himself until one voice gripped his attention.  A lonely little boy's voice...

*Duo... you were my friend...*

Heero woke up with a start as he felt the warm body next to him shudder and tense.  Waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dim lighting available in the middle of the night, his eyes widened as his ears caught the soft whimpering sounds coming from his lover.  He pushed himself up onto his elbows and darkened cobalt eyes caught the faint glitter of tears trailing out of the braided-boy's eyes as they caught the faint light of the moon.

Gently shaking the almost trembling boy, Heero whispered, "Duo?  Duo wake up..."

A sob rose from the slumbering boy's throat and he flinched from the grip Heero had on his shoulder, turning until he was almost curled up into a ball, pulling in on himself as he continued to shudder.

Heero's eyes softened with a confused light.  What was wrong...?

Duo fought to tear his eyes from the rotting corpse in front of him, only to focus on another as it also walked up.  But this time, the figure was short with a boyish face and a relentless grin that was slightly predatory.  A figure that he knew well...

*You were my friend Duo...*

Oh God, Solo...

*Why did you let me die?  I thought you were my friend.*

Solo, I...  I tried... I... I couldn't... I was too late...

The smaller figure stopped and its expression turned from slightly pleading to menacing as a red light shone in one of its missing eyeballs.

*You didn't try hard enough! You let me die Duo.*

Solo, please... I tried, I really did...  I'm sorry... so sorry... I cried for you for so long...

*Well crying isn't enough!!*



Heero held back.  Duo had muttered Solo.  Solo... that name rang a bell...  Where had he heard it before...?

Glancing back at Duo, Heero recalled that time after a tough mission that Duo had gotten completely drunk, slurring his words and completely immersing himself in the alcohol that was swimming in his blood.  He'd seen some of the real Duo then, the part of Duo that his lover hadn't wanted anyone to see.  The part where Duo had hidden all the guilt, the pain, the suffering, the part that he considered weak.  The part that housed all the deaths, the tears and the killing, the part that housed the conscience of the boy who laughingly called himself the Shinigami.

Duo had said something about Solo then, his first friend... the boy who took him in and showed him the ropes of being a street brat.  The boy who had died from a disease because Duo had been too late in stealing the antidote.  Duo's voice as he spoke drunkenly of that time had had Heero stunned.  The hurt and the self-hatred in the tones that usually held ones of laughter were shockingly real and deep; scars that marred the jester that Duo tried to portray on the outside.

Reaching to shake the sleeping boy again, Heero said more urgently, "Duo, wake up... Duo!"

Duo sobbed, there was no way to escape from the voices that damned him in his own mind.  Yes, he had killed and yes he had let Solo down.  Curling in on himself, Duo averted his eyes from the vengeful and hateful gazes of the two he had killed.

No please... no more... I'm sorry!!

*God forgives all Duo...*

Anguished violet eyes tore up at the sound of that voice.  The sweetness and the tender care was still evident, still the same as the voice that was branded into his memory.  What he didn't remember was the underlying tone of anger and resentment in a voice that had only been filled with motherly love and kindness...

No... Please... not you too...

*God forgives all who have sinned...*

Another voice, this one masculine, fatherly.  Duo clutched his head in pain and anguish, bending over himself in an effort to stem the tears and to keep the pain in check.

Get out! Get Out!! GET OUT!!!!!!!  You're not Sister Helen!  You're NOT Father Maxwell!!!!

*But we are Duo... We were proud of you...*

*You were my little angel...*

GET OUT OF MY FUCKING HEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The voices stopped and silence descended, the only sound was the ragged breaths as they fought their way into Duo's lungs and the sobs arising from his throat.  Fighting for breath, Duo slowly looked up and gasped as he caught the two more corpses standing in front of him.  The tall blonde lady in the nun's habit and the jolly, balding figure of the priest in the robes that he was so familiar with.

Sister Helen... Father Maxwell...

*God forgives all Duo...*

Duo couldn't look away, mezmorized by the two people who he had loved more than life itself.  Who had loved him like the parents he never knew...  The two people who were now dead...  But now, like Solo, their eyes grew blood red and the expressions turned to ones of hatred and malice.

*God forgives all except those who turn away from Him!*

Duo's breath caught and suddenly he was choking.  The silver cross he had worn since that day of the Massacre tightened until the the chain cut into skin, leaving angry red welts that showed only a small amount of the pain Duo was suffering.

Father... I...

*You turned away Duo, you turned away from all of us!*

No... I...

Fighting for breath, Duo coughed, gagged and clawed at the chain that was still tightening, cutting off his air supply.

Heero almost gasped as Duo's body suddenly went into spasms, jerking crazily as the tears continued to fall from the closed violet eyes.  Sobs arose from his throat as frantic hands reached up to grapple with something that was non-existent around his neck, jangling the silver cross that always hung there.  Something that was obviously choking him in the throws of the dream.

Roughly shaking his lover, Heero quelled the slight fear that was growing inside him.  "Duo!!  Duo wake up damnit!!"  His lover was a tough bastard, laughing and smirking at anything tossed his way with nothing but a smug smile or a smartass comment.  Nothing got to him as this one dream had.  What the hell was going on?!

Duo was unresponsive, face tightened in pain and agony as he continued to scrabble at his neck, fingers entwining with the thin silver chain so that it tightened as he ripped and pulled and raised ugly red welts on the smooth pale skin.

"DUO!! DUO!!!  WAKE UP!!!" Heero was almost screaming into the unhearing ears of the other, trying to keep his hands gentle as they shook the still dreaming boy, trying to wake him from the nightmare that had so gripped him in its hands.

Agony held him in its claws as it gripped him tight, never letting up the hold that it had on him, wanting him to feel all that he had tried to mask over the years.  Suddenly all was quiet again as the chain fell loose to the hard stone rock beneath him.  Fighting to get breath back into his lungs, Duo hung his head as he supported himself on his hands and knees.  Chest heaving with the effort as sobs continued to rise in his throat.  The a voice he knew all too well...

It's all your fault Duo... you let them die... you let them down... you betrayed them...

The little nagging voice in his head was starting up again, the voice that he thought he had suppressed so long ago now came back to haunt him once again.

I... I... no... I....

You turned your back to everything... You chose to become the Shinigami...

I am the Shinigami... everything around me dies... but I...

You killed all those around you... why deny it?

I killed... I....

You and you alone are responsible... you are Death... you deserve to die...

I deserve Death... I am Death... I...

Quiet voices cut into his thoughts.

*Did you enjoy killing us Duo...?*

*Did you enjoy seeing our blood spilt in your path...?*

*Did you enjoy seeing the pain as we were torn from the world before our time...?*

*Do you enjoy being the SHINIGAMI??!!!!*


But you are Duo... you are Death... you killed all those around you...

SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!!!!!!!!

Shaking his head furiously, Duo sobbed, tears falling from his tightly closed eyes like rain.  Silence pressed in around him but he was oblivious, aware only of the voices that continued to pound in his brain.

*You killed us Duo...*

*You will continue to kill all those around you...*

*You are Death...*

*You are the Shinigami...*

The surroundings turned black and as Duo lifted his head, a pair of demonic red eyes burned into his vision, burning past all of his barriers and scorching his very soul with their horrific laughter and the enjoyment of killing.

No.... NO!!!

Looking down, Duo now realized that he was standing up and that his priest's outfit was gone.  Inside he was adorned in a long robe of shifting darkness, swallowing all light that entered it and reflecting nothing.  In it, the same red, pupilless eyes gazed at him, mockery and laughter in their depths.  Then as he stared, a warmth appeared in his hand, icy cold to the touch but warm to his skin and he gazed in shock at the object that had appeared.

The sickle blade... the Scythe... the weapon of Death...

Hastily dropping it as if burned, Duo's gaze was pulled forward and he gasped.

There he was, still adorned in the robe of darkness, the Scythe glowing in his hands as he one by one, cut down his victims with nothing but a wild gleam in his eyes and soundless laughter.

Slashes of the burning sickle blade blinded his vision but each time when his vision cleared, a face he knew looked out at him, expression in one of pain, hurt and betrayal.

A black-haired Chinese boy in the now blood-stained white Chinese robes.  A golden Arabian boy, his azure eyes filling with tears before he painfully closed them.  A single emerald green eye, the other hidden by a shock of brown bangs, widening in shock and pain before turning away in betrayal.  Finally a shocked whisper as the owner of the voice gazed up at him with softened sapphire eyes, a shaking hand reaching up for him despite the growing crimson blossom that stained the front of the army green tank top.  "Duo... Naze...?"

His vision cleared and his eyes widened.  No...


Heero grappled with a furiously struggling Duo in his arms.  Duo's scream reverberated in his ears but he didn't really pay attention.  His mind was on the twisting form of his lover at the moment and the look in the now open but unseeing violet eyes was fanning the little growing flame of fear inside his stomach.

The indigo eyes were empty of everything that made Duo who he was.  Instead, they held, fear, hatred and self-loathing at the same time as pain and longing.

"Duo!! Duo snap out of it!!! Duo!!!!"

The effort was futile, Duo couldn't hear and he couldn't see, still fighting the monsters that his mind had created for him.  Fighting them somewhere where Heero couldn't reach him, couldn't give him a hand, couldn't destroy those who threatened the one thing he cared for in the whole world.

After his scream died out, Duo found himself back on the cliff, still on his hands and knees and still sobbing.  Denial poured out of him as he whispered in his mind.

Chigau... chigau yo...

*You killed us Duo...*

*You deserve Death...*

*You were my friend Duo...*

*Did you enjoy it...?*

Voices penetrated his thoughts again and he glanced up, this time seeing all those he had killed and those that had fallen victim to the deadly presence of his Deathscythe.  All the nameless faces turned to him as each damned him in its own voice.


Each voice, each word was like a whip, sending searing pain into his head until he couldn't do anything but clutch his head and bear the agony.  Each damning phrase stripped him of himself, of the person he thought he was until nothing was left but a husk of Duo Maxwell, filled with nothing but pain, anguish and emptiness.

Suddenly the corpses moved forward, continuing their chant and Duo pushed himself up in shock.  They moved towards him, unseeing and unfeeling as they pushed him towards the cliff's edge.

Get away from me!!  Let go of me!!!

Hands clawed at his shirt and he threw wild punches everywhere but they were unfelt by these corpses who had already suffered Death at his hands.  Finally, he was standing on the edge with the weight of hundreds of corpses pressing against him.  Frantic, he did everything he could, punched them, kicked them, but to no avail.

The sound of rocks cracking reached his ears and he gave up, closing his eyes as he felt the rock fall away from his feet and himself plummetting into the dark abyss.

Several of the corpses fell with him but they now held expressions of excitement as the fell alongside him, taunting him with their voices.

*Death is dying...*

*Death deserves to die...*

*Shinigami will return to its rightful realm...*

Darkness swallowed him.

Heero gripped the struggling Duo in his arms, stoically taking the wild punches and kicks that Duo was delivering like there was no tomorrow.  He could feel the bruise already swelling on his cheek but he ignored the sensation and concentrated on the boy in his arms.

Suddenly, Duo's struggling stopped and after a second, his limp body sagged in Heero's strong arms, the eyes once again falling shut but tears still trailed out of them.  Heero released Duo with an apprehensive expression and then gently shook Duo.  "Duo?  Duo, wake up..."

Wet, shining violet eyes opened and then widened as they saw him.  Duo started struggling again, a fear that Heero couldn't interpret in his eyes but he held tight, refusing to let the American go.

"No... no..." Whimpers were coming from Duo's throat as he stared, eyes strangely unfocused and unseeing.

"Duo!  Duo!!  It's me!!" Heero repeated the phrases over and over in Duo's ear until his lover seemed to calm down and the dazed violet eyes focused on him.


"Aa, it's me..." Seeing the disbelief written in those painstakingly beautiful night-darkened eyes, Heero leaned forward and pressed a warm kiss to Duo's lips.

Duo's eyes widened and then recognition showed as if he was seeing Heero for the first time.  Burying his face in the crook of Heero's neck, he clutched desperately at the other boy, ragged breaths entering and leaving his body.

Heero held him, unsure of what else to do.  This was indeed the first time that the cheerful pilot of the Shinigami had ever broken down on him and he wasn't sure anymore of what to do now that the firm anchor of Duo's cheerfulness had been pulled from him.

The look in Duo's eyes had been frightening, the emptiness and the guilt had washed over him the second that those eyes had stared, seeing, into his own, almost knocking him back with their force.  Those indigo depths had looked like they had been stripped of everything that had hinted at the Duo Maxwell that used to laugh and instead been replaced by the anguish and torment of a life revolving around Death.  They weren't Duo's eyes, never Duo's eyes... this was some stranger...

Finally Duo had calmed down and was breathing evenly again, though the arms around his waist hadn't loosened and nor had Duo lifted his head from its position hidden in the junction between his neck and shoulder.  Gently nudging Duo's head from its position and ignoring the whimper of protest, Heero looked into the violet eyes that were still empty but now confused.  "Duo... daijoubu?"

Duo remained silent, lowering his eyes until they no longer stared into Heero's.  There was something bothering his lover, and Heero sensed that the American wouldn't be able to sleep until it had been solved.  "Do you want to talk about it...?"

Duo shook his head, still silent and laid his head back down on Heero's shoulder, comforting himself with the strong and warm presence of Heero next to him.

Heero's voice was gentle as he gazed at the obviously insecure boy next to him.  "I... I was scared...  I didn't know what was happening.... I..." words failed him but he hugged Duo again tightly before tipping up the lowered chin.  "What happened Duo?  Tell me..."

Duo shook his head again, "I can't..."

Heero raised an eyebrow and then decided to force the issue a little.  Rubbing his aching cheek, Heero said, "Don't tell me I'm going to put up with this without even a good explanation."

Duo's eyes widened as they caught the darkening patch of skin on Heero's cheek and he scrambled out of Heero's arms.  Shaking his head in denial, tears once again threatened to fall as he propelled himself across the room to slump against the opposite wall.

Heero was surprised.  He'd expected one of Duo's sharp comeback but instead had received frantic hands pushing at him until Duo was seated on the floor, slumped against the wall opposite the bed.  As he stood up and approached the American again, he heard Duo's muttered words. "... Death... everything that touches me dies... Solo... Sister Helen... Father Maxwell..."  Empty violet eyes fixed on him as he continued to approach and Duo squirmed, "Don't come here Heero... don't come near me..."

Heero stopped short.  Those words had hurt, more than he'd known mere words could but before he could think more about it, Duo had continued.  "Don't Heero... I'm Death... I've killed so many... don't make me kill you Heero... everything that touches me dies... I..."

Anger rose up and Heero gave in, reaching down to haul the other boy to his feet until they were eye to eye.  Sapphire eyes blazed into empty indigo ones.  "Duo, stop this bull shit now!  Do you hear me?!"  He shook the shocked American for emphasis.

Duo's startled eyes gazed back at him.  "It was all my fault... Solo... Sister Helen... Father Maxwell...  Don't touch me!!" Duo jerked away from the hands that held him only to be captured a second later and turned again to face the cobalt eyes of his lover.

Inside Heero, fear and anger mingled.  Anger at the pain that Duo was putting himself through and fear that even someone as bright and cheerful as Duo possessed a side that was this tormented by self-hatred and loathing.  "Duo, listen to me.  It wasn't your fault!  Their deaths weren't your fault!"

Slowly, with the midnight sapphire eyes still burning into him, Duo calmed down.  "But they..."

"'But they' nothing Duo," Heero interrupted, "It was all a dream, a nightmare..."

"But I am Death... everything that touches me dies... everyone that comes near me dies..."

Heero shook Duo again, "Shut up!"  Magnificent in his anger, Duo couldn't help but listen as Heero spoke fiercely, "Duo you're talking bull here.  We're still here aren't we?  I'm still alive, so are the others and I don't think they plan on dying on us anytime soon.  It was all a dream!!"

Understanding slowly dawned in Duo's eyes and the wild gleam left them that quelled the fear in Heero's stomach somewhat.  "All a dream... a dream...  Oh God, Heero... I dreamt I killed you... I killed the others... I..."

Uncomfortable now that the anger had passed, Heero hugged Duo as he whispered in his ear, "Daijoubu... daijoubu..."

Wetness dripped onto his bare shoulder but he sensed no shuddering on Duo's part so continued to hold him, listening as the other told him all...

"They blamed me Heero... they blamed me for their deaths and then Shinigami came for me... only I didn't die... I became it... then I killed everyone...  Oh God, the look in your eyes... I can still see Quatre's..."

Heero rubbed comforting circles in the other boy's back.  "We all have our guilt Duo..."

Duo lifted his head, "You...?"

Heero turned away.  Oniichan maigo? Ne, maigo nano?  "Aa... I... I killed a lot of innocent people once.  There was this little girl... but when I went back the morning after, all I found was the dead puppy..."  He still remembered that time, the daisy still clutched in his hand and the charred teddy bear sitting near the limp form of the white dog.

Duo looked up in sympathy and wrapped his arms around him as Heero was lost in his own guilt for a moment.  Heero shook himself out of it and looked back, "You just store it up more than we do... you never let people see it so when they pour out, they overwhelm you..."

A dry chuckle from the head tucked under his chin lifted his spirits and Heero was relieved when Duo's amused voice drifted up, "Since when did you become psychiatrist for the day?"

Heero smiled slightly before closing his eyes and concentrating on the warmth in his arms. "I love you... and don't you dare tell me not to come near you again you hear me?" He feigned a threatening tone and was rewarded with another chuckle that hinted at a smirk on Duo's face.

"Ninmu ryoukai..."

After another minute, Heero pulled away and glanced at the clock.  The green digital numbers told him that it was three in the morning.  "Let's go back to bed ne?"

Climbing back into bed, Heero was about to close his eyes when he caught sight of the fear that flashed across Duo's face once briefly.  Duo's whispered voice reached his hearing.

"Heero...?  Hold me...?"

Shifting himself slightly, Heero wrapped his arms around the braided boy and watched the other sigh contentedly as the tension seeped out of his back.  Duo snuggled closer and his breathing fell into a steady rhythm, a rhythm that slowly turned into one of deep slumber, this time without the dreams.

With gentle hands, Heero brushed a strand of honey-tinted chestnut away from the peacefully sleeping face and whispered one assurance before falling asleep with his face nestled in Duo's hair.

"Always Duo... always..."


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