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WISH UPON A STAR

Youko Sutsume

For Shi-chan and Sora-chan on their birthday...


When you see a shooting star.... make a wish...

"If wishes do come true, what would you wish for..?"


Duo looked through Deathscythe's viewscreen at the blackness outside that is space, dotted with the faint glow of stars, vague shadows of the bulks of colonies, and the pieces of destroyed mobile suits -- space junk -- floating aimlessly in the deafening silence.

Well, that was easy... The violet-eyed boy leaned back in his seat, arms tucked behind his head, a satisfied grin on his face as he surveyed the outcomes of his mission. Staring at the beautiful blue planet below him, he idly wondered if the people on Earth are seeing shooting stars cutting through the night sky, trailing their sparkling tails behind them. He chuckled slightly at the thought. Probably not. None of the MS got close enough -- he and his Shinigami made sure of that.

The light-hearted chuckle faded as a ghost of past, painful memories that should have been buried long ago crept their way back to the surface.

"Hey, Solo, look! Shooting stars! I heard that they make wishes come true!"

"Che'! Shooting stars don't make people's wishes come true. You know what those shooting stars are really tellin' us? That some poor bastard's dying, that's what it's sayin'."

"Hontou...? Still, what would ya have wish'd for?"

"That's easy. Food, an' a nice life for the gang. What about you, Duo?"

"... Right now? I don't know.."

Duo shook his head once, fiercely, to clear the images that surfaced in his mind. He can't afford to think about the past now... Turning his attention back to the control panel in front of him, Duo half-whispered to the dark Gundam. "Ja, aibou, let's head back. The others are probably waiting to hear the report of our success ne?"

Deathscythe did not reply as it rushed in full power towards their destination -- Earth.


A stealthy shadow snuck silently into the room. The window was locked, but a few twists with a simple lockpick solved that problem easily. It was already way after lights-out in the boy's dorm, with nearly everyone sound asleep, safe and happy in their dreams. Even the nighting gales have retreated for the night with their sweet melodies, leaving the owls cooing chillingly in the dark, moon-less night.

Duo re-locked the window behind him, not making a sound, the black of his priest-like outfit blending perfectly with the darkness of the room, hiding him in the shadows. He turned, letting out a small sigh of relief at finally returning to their "hideout" and was looking forward to getting some sleep before classes tomorrow morning, when he found himself looking down the barrel of a dull-black gun.

"Oi! Heero, ya still up? It's just me, no need to get jumpy." Keeping his voice low, Duo jokingly told the dark-haired boy holding the gun.

Heero calmly returned his gun back to its original position under the pillow. "The mission?"

Duo waved nonchanlantly as he took off his boots and jacket, ready to fall asleep the moment his head touches the pillow. "Done, completed, finished, succeeded, you get the drift."

"Stats on Deathscythe?"

Duo's eyes were beginning to close. "Not a scratch.. Tell ya al~ll 'bout it tomorrow, 'kay?" He yawned, "Ja, oyasumi Heero."

Even if Heero replied, Duo could not have heard him at that point, his mind already lost to the comforting blankness.


Duo ran. Sprinted through the night under the millions of stars blinking down at him.

His lungs burned as if they were on fire, and his legs was sore to the point he could barely move them. Duo knew that he's more athletic than most eight-year-old kids but he was still too young and under-trained for this sort of top speed marathon.

Despite the condition of his body, Duo's heart was bursting with joy.

He patted the small package tucked safely inside his jacket and smiled to himself. Yes, everything will be alright now. Solo will be alright, once he got this medicine to him. Everything would be just fine.

Kitto.

Duo stopped, his chest heaved with each gasp of breath. He was ready to fell on his knees anytime, but he knew he wasn't far from their camp, where Solo was. The boy lifted his hot flushed face to the cooling night air, and caught the sight of a shooting star, its tail trailing across the sky in a gentle arc of thin silver mist. A sudden wave of uneasiness hitched in Duo's throat as he remembered a conversation he had with Solo but a few weeks ago.

"You know what those shooting stars are really tellin' us?... That some poor bastard's dying, that's what it's sayin'."

Dying...

The word repeated itself like a curse in Duo's mind. He clutched his precious cargo, almost desparately, as he stared at the shooting star fade away from the sky.

Everything will be fine... everything will be fine...

When he bursted into the small dark alley, he was greeted with the worried black eyes of a young girl, about seven years old, her short ponytail the colour of shadows.

"Duo!" She exclaimed in her childish voice, "Oniichan said hurry.. Solo-san.." She pulled on a stunned Duo's sleeve. "Hurry! Hurry!"

Duo felt like he was struck by lightening, the impact of the news was so great, he was shocked still for a moment. The jolt of the young girl's tug brought him back to the matter on hand, Solo.

He rushed inside the abandoned building where they had set up their base, and found the gang surrounding the pale-faced Solo, lying there seeming so still, so... dead.

"SOLO!" Duo shouted, kneeling at his best friend's side. "I got the medicine Solo.. you'll be fine now.. ya hear me? You'll be fine.. c'mon, I know you can hear me.." The chestnut-haired boy mumbled softly, patting Solo's pale cheeks.

"...Duo...?" A weak whisper came from the dry lips. Unseeing eyes, glazed with pain yet eerily calm looked into Duo's own blue-violet orbs, and a ghost of a smile tugged at the corner of Solo's lips.

Duo grasped Solo's hand tightly, the other hand, trembling, held out the medicine to the sick boy. "Look, Solo, I got them. I got the medicine. You're gonna be okay!"

Solo shook his head slightly, still smiling the sad little smile. "Duo.. remember what you said about shooting stars..? That they make people's wishes come true? I'm asking you to be my shooting star now.... make my wish come true Duo... you're... the leader of the gang now.. I couldn't find a home for you or them... now... I want you to... please Duo.. take care of them.. and... be happy..."

With that, Solo's eyes gently fell closed. Duo's eyes widened as he felt the hand in his grasp go limp. He dropped the lifeless hand as if he'd been burned by it, and hastily stood up, staring unbelivingly at the still body of Solo on the ground.

"...Solo...dead...?" Violet eyes was blank as the eight-year-old boy regarded his best friend's unresponsive corpse. "..Masaka.. Solo can't be dead... HE CAN'T BE DEAD!!" He turned and ran outside, staring up at the stars winking down at him, mocking him.

"DAMN YOU!! DAMN YOU YOU HEAR ME?!" Duo screamed his anguish to the sky, his heart was aching so much, but his eyes still remained dry, as if he had no tears within him to spare.

He fell to his knees, crushing his fist into the ground, the rough surface scraped his knuckles, drawing blood, but the pain in Duo's heart was greater than that of his body. "Chikusho.. I coulda saved him.. if only I had been there a moment sooner.."

Silently, Duo knelt there for a long interval. Some of the older kids from the gang hovered near him but none dared to come near him in his present state.

After a long uncomfortable silence, one of the older kids in the gang took a cautious step forward, face uncertain as he eyed the silent boy kneeling on the ground. Before he could reach Duo, however, the chestnut- haired boy stood up, the movement so sudden and fluent it startled the other kids.

But it was his expression that really frightened the other boy, that made him fall backwards onto the ground and scrambled hurriedly back to the group. The eyes. Violet-blue eyes held no tears, no emotions, and no LIFE in them. Instead they held a blankness only seen on corpses, yet strangely focused.

"We'll bury Solo's body tomorrow, at dawn." Duo spoke, unemotional, dead, like his eyes. His voice also sounded different, no longer the light childish sound an eight-year-old should have, but deeper, older, and so cold... like a frozen river, with a barely-detectable undercurrent of sadness and grief.

With that, he turned and walked away, his back proudly straight, and his steps sure. The gang watched him leave, too stunned to call him back.

Duo didn't look back.


In the concealing darkness, Heero silently watched Duo's sleeping figure on the other bed. He had thrashed so violently, trapped by his nightmare, the noise had woken Heero up, and the Wing pilot had been standing here beside Duo's bed since, watching him intently. Heero didn't dare touch the sleeping boy, for fear of him waking and finding Heero beside him. That would show that he cared. Heero couldn't risk that.

Duo had subdued so suddenly and became so still, it was as if he was knocked unconscious... or died. It had given Heero quite a shock, though he would never admit that, it was only the shallow breathing and the rapid movement of Duo's eyes that confirmed the American's state of living. And dreaming.

Strands of long chestnut hair had came undone from the braid and clung to his face, cold and wet with sweat. Heero couldn't help himself as he gently brushed the wild strands from Duo's face, fingertips barely brushing the soft cheeks.

Heero pulled his hand back, and looked at his fingers incredulously before returning to his task of watching over Duo.


Dawn.

A beautiful time. The light of the rising sun giving warmth to the land and all that lives upon it. Soft morning mist hung in the air, covering things, giving them an air of surrealism.

Beautiful. Too beautiful for this bleak moment.

A shallow grave was hastily dug in a small clearing amidst the ruined buildings, no crosses, no prayers, just the kids. All the kids from the gang surrounded it as Solo's body was gently lifted down into the grave by two stronger kids. Everyone was weeping, whether openly or not. Duo wasn't one of them.

The eight-year-old boy watched, as the body of his best friend -- the only true friend he'd had -- was lowered into the grave, no tears came. His eyes stayed dry and face emotionless even as they shoved earth over Solo's body, lying so still, so pale, in his shallow place of rest.

As if sensing the sadness of the children, their grief over a great leader lost, a dark cloud covered the bright sun, and it began to rain.

It was only a drizzle at first, then it began to really rain. Drops turned into sheets, everyone was drenched within five minutes. Still, they worked until the grave was completed.

Even after the gang had scattered to find shelter, Duo remained standing alone in the rain, beside Solo's grave. He didn't care about the cold droplets that chilled his body... his heart was already frozen solid.

The boy stood there as the scene around him suddenly melted away under the rain, giving way to total darkness. A whisper seemed to drift on the air... soft, female voice...

Duo...

A gentle hand landed on Duo's shoulder, startling the ten-year-old boy. He whipped his head around to see what had been the cause, and came face to face with a familiar face filled with kindness.

"Sister Helen..." Duo whispered.

The ghostly figure smiled at him. In his mind, Duo could hear the conversation they had, when she had discovered his hatred for stars, especially shooting stars.

"Why don't you like stars, Duo?"

"Stars are useless, they j'st bring bad luck. Solo says shooting stars appear when someone's gonna die."

She smiled, "You know why that is so, Duo? It's because that every star is someone's soul. When someone dies, they become stars, guarding those they love, until that person no longer needs them.

"This world is balanced, Duo, when someone dies, another must be born to replace the lost soul, that's why there are always shooting stars when someone dies."

Duo smiled back, a genuine smile, and reached out towards the semi- transparent figure of Sister Helen. She opened her arms, as if to embrace him, like she always did. Close.. so close...

A green light flashed.

Her face distorted in pain, arms falling short.

The end of a silver scythe erupted from her right-shoulder, slashing down to the left of her waist.

Duo's eyes widened, he had no choice but to watch as Sister Helen fell, one hand still reaching out for his, revealing the dark cloaked figure behind her, scythe in hand. Death.

The reaper wore a black, hooded cloak, covering its body and face, the only things visible was the blazing scythe, and the cruel smirk on its face.

Duo backed away, shaking his head violently. He knew what was going to happen... it had happened, so many times before. He whispered a single word through dry, cracked lips. "No..."

Death threw back his hood, revealing pupiless, shimmering violet eyes, the mocking smirk still playing on the full lips. A long chestnut braid hung down along his back, the end fluttering in an unseen wind.

Duo saw himself, holding the silver scythe that had claimed the life of Sister Helen...

The tool of the Shinigami.

He watched as Death raised the scythe... swinging it down in a graceful arc, its gleaming tip travelling straight at him.


Duo suddenly jerked up from the bed, violet eyes wide and unseeing, full of fear. He was completely sweat-soaked, loose strands of hair flying wildly across his face.

Yume...

He put his forehead in his hand. Just a dream... Something gleamed in the night. Duo raised his head and lashed out with his fist, panic-stricken.

A strong hand caught his fist easily, prussian eyes boring into wild violet-blue.

"... Heero..?" Duo whispered, feeling all strength drained from his body.

The pilot of Wing released his fist and said coldly, "You were having a nightmare."

Duo offered a weak smile. "No shit."

With a slight snort, Heero walked back to his own bed, "Get some sleep, we've still got classes tomorrow."

"Aa..." The braided boy listened to the slight rustling of sheets, and the soft breathing indicating that the other pilot was asleep before lying back onto his own sweat-soaked pillow.

Duo didn't close his eyes again for the rest of the night.

Neither did Heero.

~~~OWARI~~~


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