12-30-00 - Well, almost a new year, so here's a new fic. ^_^ It isn't finished yet - this is just a teaser... thus why it's on the teaser page. ^_^ However, I thought you'd like to see something from me since it's been awhile... ^_^ Inspiration struck while I was sitting in my room watching the snow this morning. *g* This is a GW ficcie - it's the sequel that I planned for that little torture-Duo ficcie. ^_^ Now it's time to angst on Heero! *Chibi-Heero growls and begins waving his gun around threateningly. Renee-chan snickers* Oh yeah... like that's gonna convince me to leave you alone. Riiiight. ^_^ *coughs* Anyhoo, I'm a little out on a limb with some of this stuff 'cuz at the moment my GW tapes are in Kansas and I'm in New York, and it's been a while since I've watched 'em. *nods* So, I'm doing my best. Please forgive any glaring discrepancies. If you see something really bad, feel free to e-mail me and tell me. ^_^ Any C&C would be welcome, flames will be used to ward off the 14" of snow sitting outside my house. ^_^

Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, nor am I making any money off of this. I'm just playing with them to keep myself entertained. I promise I'll put them back when I'm done. ^_^

Warnings: Well, anyone who doesn't know the outcome of Heero's first self-destruct and all the subsequent events may not wish to read this fic. Then again you shouldn't have read the first fic either if that was the case - and if you didn't read that one, then why are you reading this one? ^_^ *g* (If you want to read the first fic, then go here.)

Enough already! Give me the fic!

*Chibi edges nervously away from audience* OK, OK... I'm going, I'm going... ^_^

It's quiet. So absolutely, perfectly quiet. Somehow... I thought Death would be more lively. Bubbly, cheerful, unceasingly noisy. Like my Death, my Shinigami. But it isn't. There is no sound. There is no light. No joy. Not even any pain. Just this eternally damned quiet.

I want to strangle it, but I can't. I can't shoot it or blow it up. The Perfect Soldier is useless here. Useless and helpless in this barren, empty place. He has finally failed me - just when I find myself needing him the most. I need his control, his surety, his cold lack of emotions, because without him, I have nothing to protect me from my own. It's funny, in a way. I hadn't thought that I had any left. I was just an empty shell, a husk meant solely to enable the Perfect Soldier to carry out the mission. It wasn't until my Death came along that I realized that I was still alive.

It was a fluke, really. Of all the ocean he could have landed in, he had to land in mine. And of all the weapons bases he could have chosen to raid, he had to choose the same one as I did. In the beginning, that was all he was to me - an annoyance, a nuisance, an interfering, uninvited meddler. He became a convenience, a means to an end, the finally... a partner. Someone I could count on. Someone who became an extension of myself.

I'm not quite sure how it happened. The Perfect Soldier could analyze it and dissect it and eventually figure it out. But he has deserted me, left me alone in the cold, quiet darkness. I can't depend on him, and part of me doesn't want to - the part of me that had been so long buried beneath Dr. J's programming that I nearly forgot he existed... the human being behind the Perfect Soldier. And this human being, this person that feels, he understands that to analyze and dissect this precious thing would destroy it. And I... I don't want that. I want to keep it, protect it, and cherish it. I don't know why, though I expect that my Shinigami would.

The quiet... it is starting to get to me. How can I be expected to spend the rest of eternity like this? If I had known that this is what awaited me upon the cessation of my life, I don't know if I would have had the courage to push the self-destruct button. I suppose it's a good thing that the Perfect Soldier was still with me then...

But good for who? Not for me, not for the colonies, not... not for my Shinigami. A strange feeling sweeps over me when I think of him - his gloriously long, thick plait of chestnut hair, his sparkling violet eyes, his strong, lithe body... his spirit. Perhaps that is what I miss the most. He... he did things to me, worked some magic over me that enabled me to feel. I don't know how he did it. I don't know why he picked me. I am more grateful than I can express that he did, because... I think I know what he gave back to me. The one thing that made all the rest possible. He gave me Hope.

I've been alone in the dark for so long now. I've lost track of time in this cursed quiet. Only one thing has kept me sane - the memory of my Shinigami: his bright, shining eyes staring at me from a monitor screen, his disgusted shuddering as I set my broken leg, his ceaseless chatter, the way he hummed when he was distracted, the way he always used up the hot water in the shower... the way he was always touching me. These memories are all that keeps me from oblivion. I wonder if I'll ever be able to tell him that...

The dark feels different today - as if it is tense... waiting for something. I wish I knew for what. I am almost surprised at how comfortable I've become with that: I wish... I want... I need... I feel... I can say each and every one without hesitation. I don't know that I could share them with someone else, but I can say them to myself. I don't remember ever feeling a larger sense of accomplishment then I did at that moment. My Shinigami... he would be happy, I think. I'm not sure why that matters to me...

The tension increases and I feel something new. The quiet and the cold hid it well... I am bound. Tied hand and foot on the altar of... of... my guilt. That is this heaviness, this weight that keeps me here. My guilt over General Noventa. It screams through me like a knife, but I welcome the pain. I deserve it.

A bright haze begins to illuminate the darkness around me. I don't know what it is... but I can see two spots of shimmering violet right above me. A smile stretches wide across my face. Somehow, I know that here, now, it is safe to let my emotions show - to let them play across my face as easily as they do across His. For... he came for me - my Shinigami. He came to free me from this false Death. I knew he would.

In his hand an even brighter light begins to shine. This is what will set me free. I know what I have to do. I gather my strength and send all of it shooting down my left arm. The pain is immense, but I succeed in breaking that one rope. I hold out my hand for the dagger of light and he hands it over with a laugh. I cut the rest of my bonds and jump down from the altar. Shinigami smiles and holds out his hand. I take it... and everything dissolves in a wash of light.

When I next become aware, a cacophony of sight, sound, touch, and smell assault my senses. And each sense seems determined to give me conflicting information.

Touch: I am warm, encased in something soft and comfortable - a bed and blankets - but very single part of my body, especially my left arm, is sending me signals of glaring, intense pain.

Sound: A quiet, soothing melody reaches my ears from a short distance... humming. My heartbeat quickens. Could he be here? I listen harder. Overlying the gentle humming is a clash of noises - animal, mechanical, and human - that I can make no sense of.

Smell: The smell of cooking food is the first to waft over to me, making me abruptly aware of how empty my stomach is. And yet, overpowering that is the smell of those animals. Where am I? A zoo?

The final sense to send me such confusion is Sight: I can see light and shapes moving about, but nothing clearer that tha-- oh. For the first time since I first said the words "I feel", a new emotion sweeps through me - embarrassment. I open my eyes - oh, that's better. However, that only solves part of the problem. I still don't know where I am. I let my eyes travel around the room. It is a small room and looks well lived in. There is a display monitor, a small couch, and cheerful curtains covering the open windows. It is pleasantly warm.

I turn my head towards the source of the humming, still hoping that somehow it might be my Shinigami... but I am disappointed. It is a young woman with short wavy brown hair. A sunny smile breaks out across her face when she catches my eyes on her, "Oh! You're awake! Would you like something to eat?" She bustles out of the room, calling to someone outside, "Your friend is awake! Come and see!"

I slowly sit up, mindful of the bandages covering my entire torso. Until I know... until I see Him... I don't want anyone to know. The truth... I expected the Perfect Soldier to be waiting for me upon my awakening, but he is nowhere to be seen. He has deserted me for failing my mission - and I can't quite bring myself to regret the loss. However, I still don't think that I'm ready to share my emotions... my needs... my wants... my wishes... with anyone. Anyone but Him - my Shinigami.

I school my expression into the Perfect Soldier's cool mask and wait for my visitor. It doesn't take long. Trowa's dead visage appears in the doorway. Ah... the young woman must be Catherine, then. He watches me for a while, contemplating, obviously searching for something to say. I must admit that I'm surprised at what he comes up with.

"I admire you. I wish that I had your courage - to stand up for what you believe in with such conviction. I wish that I had the strength to die for the mission."

I'm not quite sure how to respond to that. I don't even know what I believe in... except Him. I believe in my Shinigami. The other... that is just the mission. That was always the Perfect Soldier's domain. I was willing to die for the mission because I didn't truly understand that I had another choice - no matter how many times He tried to explain that I did. I never really understood... until now.

But how can I explain that to Trowa? In his own ways, he is as dead to the human inside him as I ever was. It took Death to awaken my spirit... what will it take to awaken his? I don't know. Perhaps... perhaps he has his own Shinigami - his own partner. Perhaps I should try to guide him until he finds that person. A vision of Quatre's beaming smile floats to the surface of my mind and inwardly I smirk. Or perhaps I should guide him until he can reunite with his Shinigami... though I doubt that's what he calls Him. Quatre is the light to my Shinigami's dark - more like an angel than Death. As he turns to leave, I finally come up with something to say.

"The willingness to give up your life is not something you should envy, but here's something to keep in mind if you really do: Dying hurts like hell."

I don't know who's more surprised at the laughter that bursts from Trowa's lips. Whatever the case, it causes that spark of Hope in my chest to flare. Perhaps it isn't too late for either of us... not yet.

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