As Heaven Is Wide
Atop the roof of Heero's building, a lone figure waited in the moonlight.
"Did you think I wouldn't notice you watching us at the park? Or at the party? Or how about on the train?"
At the sound of the voice, and of rustling wings behind him, the figure turned, startled. Behind him, he found a tall, shirtless boy with a meter-long braid standing with him on the rooftop. The two stared each other down before the shirtless one finally spoke.
"Chang Wufei. It's been quite some time."
The boy took a step forward, the moonlight catching his features. His nearly waist-length jet-black hair and black, almond-shaped eyes marked him as Asian. Chinese, Duo knew. The pristine white robes flowing about him cast an eerie glow in the darkness. But the most remarkable feature about this young man was the large pair of wings that protruded from his back and fanned out behind him.
"Duo Maxwell. You're still as stealthy as ever. I should have known that you'd notice my presence. It's good to see you again."
The next instant, they were embracing in a brotherly hug, smiles lighting their faces and laughter filling the air.
"I see they're making you wear these nice robes now. Very fashionable." Duo pulled at one of the long sleeves. "Surely it can't be too comfortable."
Wufei batted Duo's hand away. "Actually, it is rather comfortable, but it's such a hassle to wear around. Fortunately, we are only required to wear them for official business and for some visits to Earth." Looking down at himself, he added, "It's not the most attractive thing, is it?"
Duo shook his head. "It's not too bad. I'm just glad I'm not wearing it. So," he asked, raising an eyebrow, "What business brings you here? It's not often they send a high-ranking archangel like yourself to Earth. Must be something special." He had an idea of what the boy wanted, but hoped he was mistaken.
His angelic friend seemed to sense Duo's inner reservations, so he changed the subject. "Let's not discuss business matters right now. I'm curious about what you've been doing for the past five thousand years." Wufei sat on the roof ledge and crossed his arms over his chest. "Why'd you come to Earth?"
Duo answered, a cynical smirk on his face. "Heaven wasn't treating me nicely. Perhaps you forgot."
Wufei rolled his eyes. "You weren't exiled. And nobody thought any less of you-"
"Yeah, nobody but God..." mumbled the braided American.
"Never mind that," responded the Chinese angel, waving his hand at his grumbling friend. "No one wanted you to leave, but you did, and everyone wants to know why. Some of us have our theories, but I wanted to find out from the source."
Tilting his head, Duo inquired, "What kind of theories are you talking about?"
"Well, the main one involves your ...fascination with a certain archangel archetype. A few parties suspect that you came here to be with him since that option wasn't available to you in Heaven."
"I was assigned to be his guardian-"
Wufei threw up his hands. "You could have watched him from up there! It would have been easier for you to do so."
Duo laughed. "Where's the fun in that?"
With a triumphant grin, Wufei stood up. "I knew it! You followed him to Earth!"
"Of course I fucking followed him!" cried Duo. "Heaven only kept his body; his soul is here. Why would I stay up there to stare at an empty, lifeless shell when I could be here, on Earth, with his heart and with a nearly identical body, especially after God Himself appointed me to watch over him?"
Fluttering his feathers, the black-haired boy conceded. "I guess you have a point. But why didn't you tell any of us about your plans? One day you were there, the next you were not. We thought you'd gone off and killed yourself until Quatre sensed that you were on Earth." Wufei met Duo's violet eyes with his own black ones, his expression very serious. "We were so worried, Duo. You didn't even say goodbye."
Duo looked down, guilt weighing on his heart. "It was stupid of me to just leave without a word. I'm sorry for worrying you. I didn't want anyone trying to talk me out of it, that's all. But I'm not sorry for coming here. I've spent five thousand years guarding him through his incarnations, five thousand years being near the one I care for the most in all of creation, and I wouldn't take it back for anything. Not even to regain God's favor." He stared at his companion defiantly, almost daring him for a challenge.
None came. "I didn't realize how strongly you felt for him. So," he went on, shifting the focus of their conversation, "Tell me about this boy that you've been following around for five millennia. What's he like?"
"Which incarnation would you like to know about? The ancient Egyptian? The Crusader? The Shakespearian actor? He's been reborn dozens of times, and I can tell you about every life he's lived. So which one interests you?"
"How about the current one?"
Duo nodded. "Very well. At the moment, he is Heero Yuy, a sixteen-year-old Japanese schoolboy. He's very smart; skipped two grades in fact. My human form is eighteen at the moment, so he's two years my junior, which is fine, because that way I can keep him under my wing without drawing too much attention. His parents died shortly after his sixth birthday in a freak boating accident, so he's been living with his legal guardian, Odin Lowe, professional asshole, ever since. Heero managed to be really great, despite Odin's influence. He's rather serious most of the time, but he's got great sense of humor. At times he can act like a brat, but I'm sure he'll grow out of it eventually."
Sitting down on the ledge, Duo looked out over the city. "Actually, this is the closest I've ever gotten to any of his incarnations. I usually stay a casual acquaintance or sometimes a perfect stranger, but I felt so drawn to Heero. It's weird. Somehow I wound up being his best friend, and I really like it." Switching from his introspective commentary, he returned to the subject of Heero. "He's got a few other friends, none very close. Relena is one; she's a local rich girl, had the hots for him for a while, but I put a stop to that." At Wufei's questioning glance, he added, "She wasn't his type. Anyway, he gets picked on by some of the punks at school and more outside of school, a few of which are friends of mine. I try not to get involved too much, let him stick up for himself, but I'll step in if I think he might actually get hurt. His only real enemy is Solo, the one who threw the rave. I don't know why they hate each other so much, really, but it probably has something to do with me."
Wufei readily agreed. "I'm sure of it." Before Duo asked, he continued, "When I followed you two to that ...party, or whatever that was, I didn't realize who Heero was. But when he was by himself, his true spirit became evident. As I'm sure you know, his aura becomes visible when he's angry or agitated, and he was very riled up tonight. It was almost as if there was a neon sign flashing over his head."
The American rolled his eyes. "No kidding. He was hyper pissed about me dumping him by himself."
"I don't think it was just your absence that upset him," stated Wufei, his voice conveying the notion that he knew something Duo did not.
Duo caught the knowledgeable tone. "Then what was it, O wise one?"
"He was watching you after you left him. For almost two hours, he watched you and that boy whom I assume is Solo dancing together. The sight was driving him nearly insane with jealousy." As an afterthought, he added, "I'd be jealous too if the person I was in love with was being groped by someone else. And you were enjoying it, which didn't help matters at all."
Duo scratched his head. "'In love with?' Heero's got a crush, maybe, but love? I don't think so. And besides, he knows that Solo and I aren't serious. We just ...relieve each other's tensions. And how do you know that's what he was mad about? You're not a mind reader."
"Actually, I am," boasted the angel. "Quatre taught me while you were gone. I'm not quite as adept as he is in using it, but I've gotten pretty good. And let me tell you, Heero had some choice words for Solo running through his head. Most of it ran along the lines of, 'Get your hands off my Duo, you fucking bastard.' Not very angelic at all."
//His Duo?// "I think you're bluffing."
Wufei sighed. "I knew you wouldn't believe me. How about this, I'll read his mind right now and tell you what he's thinking." He waggled his delicately arched eyebrows at Duo. "Hmm?"
"He's probably asleep, you know."
"I can read dreams, too, idiot. Now let's see what your little friend is thinking..." Closing his dark eyes, he reached out to Heero's mind, concentrating. But what he found was not what he expected.
Wufei's eyes opened with a snap. "Dear Lord!" Holding his nose to prevent blood from getting on his robe, he took several deep gasping breaths to calm himself down.
Duo automatically rushed to his friend's side, concerned. "What happened? Tell me! What's wrong?"
Finally coming back to himself, his friend replied, "Your friend is not asleep. He is awake. Very definitely awake."
"And? What did you see? Is he alright?" Duo asked, frustrated that Wufei was not being direct.
"Well, he's... I don't know how to put this delicately. He's, uh..." He swallowed, trying to spit out the words. "He's pleasuring himself."
Violet eyes blinked. "He's jerking off? Is that all? Humans do that sort of thing all the time."
Blushing, Wufei continued. "That's not quite all. It seems that *you* are the main attraction in his little fantasy. His very, _very_ explicit fantasy." He gave Duo a disturbed look. "I think he's had this one for a while, it's very well-thought-out. Quite detailed."
"How long were you watching?" yelped Duo, suddenly taking note of his lack of attire and trying futilely to cover himself.
"I wasn't!" shouted the Chinese boy, incensed. "I didn't realize what was going on at first, but when I did, I certainly didn't stick around and see what would happen next! I got out of his head as soon as I could!" He narrowed his eyes at the barely dressed American. "Thanks to you, I will never get that image out of my head. Why couldn't you have just taken my word that I can read minds? No, you _had_ to have a demonstration. Damn it! I'm scarred for life!"
It was Duo's turn to be insulted. "Hey! I take offense to that! Most people would kill to see me naked!"
"Oh, good Lord, get over yourself!"
The two huffed at each other angrily, both staring daggers. Finally Wufei relaxed. "The boy has an expansive imagination, I'll give him that."
"I don't want to talk about this anymore," snapped the still-cooling Duo. "Let's talk about you now. What have you been doing since I left?"
The white-robed angel contemplated a moment before speaking. "I haven't really been that busy until recently. Things have been relatively quiet."
Duo smirked. "It figures things would calm down after my departure. How are my armies? Have you been keeping them in line?"
"_Your_ armies? The last time I checked, they were *Heaven's* armies, and they were under *my* authority. That being said, the armies are fine. They've been in constant training since-"
Not wanting him to get into business matters, Duo interrupted. "How's Meiran? Have you made any progress?"
Color quickly rose to Wufei's cheeks, noticeable even in the darkness, and he looked away. "Meiran is fine. As for the 'progress' of which you speak, I do not know what you mean."
"Don't play coy with me!" laughed Duo. "I know your little secret. So things still haven't changed in the five thousand years I've been gone? Still pining away, huh?" He chuckled as Wufei turned an even darker shade of red. "Come on, I'm curious, tell me."
The blushing boy sighed. "She's still as beautiful as ever, still so fiery and determined. And I want to tell her how I feel, I really do, but I never can get the courage..."
"It's a little unnerving that Chang Wufei, Commander of Heaven's Armies, doesn't have the balls to tell his second-in command that he's in love with her." Duo shook his head. "We won't stand a chance. It's pitiful."
Raising an eyebrow, Wufei quickly countered. "Balls have nothing to do with it. I'm just waiting for the right time, that's all." Turning the tables, he asked, "What about you and your Heero? When are you going to tell him?"
"As for everyone else, they would send greetings if they knew I was here. This is a somewhat covert mission. Only Quatre knows of my whereabouts. He hopes you're not being too self-destructive, so I won't tell him what I've seen. He doesn't need anything else to worry about." Wufei took a breath. "Duo, we can't keep dancing around the subject all night. You need to know what's going on. It involves all of us."
Duo crossed his arms over his chest. "I know, I know. Go ahead and tell me. I can take it."
Wufei sat on the ledge beside his longtime friend. "The seal has been breached."
"What?! How is that possible?" Duo had been expecting news of another revolt, but this revelation caught him completely off guard.
The other boy shrugged his shoulders. "Right now, we don't know how it happened. But it did, and the demons are starting to come through. There's nothing we can do to stop them." He looked away, unable to bear the expression of anguish on his friend's face. "We have no doubt that he'll be out soon and that he'll be heading for us. It's inevitable."
Duo sat motionless, numbed by Wufei's shocking news. //How can this be happening? The seal on the Abyss was supposed to be impenetrable; God forged it Himself. But somehow, he broke through, I can't understand.//
The Chinese boy nodded solemnly. "Yes. He's expected to break through at any time. He'll be bringing his army with him, of course. However," he paused, knowing that his next words would prove even more painful, "we have information indicating that Zechs will come to Earth before he goes to Heaven."
The longhaired boy closed his eyes. "He knows you're here, Duo, and he's coming. Soon."
"But if you know that he's coming here, can't you do something? You're the fucking Commander now, bring the armies down to stop him!" Duo pleaded, desperation evident in his voice.
Wufei looked away. "He will not send His armies to Earth for one angel, and especially not for one that has fallen out of His favor. I tried to persuade Him, but He feels that Heaven needs more protection that you do. I'm sorry."
Duo shook his head. "It's not me I'm worried about. I can take care of myself. I just don't want Zechs to find Heero. If he finds out that I've been here with ...Zero-one, he'll be furious. He'll do something to Heero, I'm sure of it." He held his head in his hands. "If he finds me, he'll find Heero. But leaving would only put Heero in more danger. So I'll just have to fight for him."
Releasing a shuddering breath, he whispered, "I'll have to..."
"Why don't you come back? You'll be safer with-"
"I don't care about my own fucking safety!" cried Duo, tears shining in his eyes. "The only one I am concerned about here is Heero. Fuck Heaven and God and everything else. He's all that matters to me."
Wufei's eyes turned cold. "Well 'Heero' matters to Heaven as well. Surely you haven't forgotten his original purpose, his reason for being? God will want him back to fulfill his role. Zero-one was not created to be your soul mate; he was fashioned as a weapon, a powerful tool built for just such an occasion as this. You know as well as I do that Zero-one is the only thing that could ever stop Zechs, and he's all that stands between Heaven being taken over and all of humanity being wiped out." He stood, his voice growing increasingly louder and his compact frame shaking with rage. "Zero-one is a weapon of mass destruction, and you were stupid to have fallen for him. I thought you better, Duo. You knew this day would come. You knew that he would have to be used, but now that he is needed, you don't want to give up your precious toy. You cannot hold back Heaven's only defense for your own selfish purposes!"
Silver tears trailed down Duo's cheeks, the incredible pain he felt in his heart clearly visible in his expression. "I know! But I love him, Wufei! I always have, ever since I first saw him, and I always will." He tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but his sobs rose, unbidden. Pulling his feet up onto the ledge, he buried his face in his knees and cried. "I love him so much, and I don't want anything else... I just want to be with him. I love him so much. So much, so much..."
All of Wufei's anger drained out of him as quickly as it had come, and he rushed over to comfort his sobbing friend, wrapping his arms and wings around Duo's shaking frame. "Shhh... I know you love him, I know. Everything will work out for the best in the end, I promise."
Both knew that his words would not hold true.
"My Lord, I have returned with good news. Wonderful news, in fact."
An elegant hand motioned for the girl to continue.
"I have found the one you have been searching for. Duo is on Earth, just as we suspected." Taking a step closer, she added, "And Zero-one is with him."
Zechs lifted his head, his clear blue eyes pleased. "Good work, Mariemaia. Your efforts are to be commended." He stood up from his seat on his regal throne and walked down toward the red haired demon-child, his robes and pale golden hair trailing over the marble steps. Stopping in front of the girl, he placed an affectionate hand on her head. "When I regain my rightful place in Heaven, you shall have a place by my side."
Mariemaia looked down, embarrassed. "Thank you, Lord Zechs, but I only do what you ask of me. Knowing that I have pleased you is worth more to me than any position." She smiled slightly. "But being your right hand would bring me great joy."
"You will not be my right hand, dear, though I am sure you would enjoy that title." He tried to hide his amusement at the stricken look on her face. "Duo will be my right hand, so you will have to settle for my left."
Relief replaced the sense of panic that she had felt moments before. "Y-yes, sir, I completely understand. Being by your side is honor enough."
The regal blonde put a hand on Mariemaia's shoulder and led her from the throne room and out onto the balcony that overlooked the sprawling palace gardens. "Isn't it beautiful, Mariemaia? All of this," he spoke, indicating the surroundings with an outstretched arm, "all of this came from my hands. The Abyss was a cold, dark, empty space that God intended to imprison us in, but from the nothingness that He sentenced us to live in for eternity, I created a glorious sanctuary. It is through me that we have not perished, through me that we have thrived in this paradise, and it is through me that we will soon rule Heaven."
Zechs smiled, looking up into the sky. "God erred in creating something that He could not control. He was foolish to have made me as powerful as Himself, and He will pay for that foolishness when I bring my armies into his palace and take His throne. I only wish that I had known the extent of His weakness and the scale of my power long ago, so that we would not have faced such difficult times." He put a hand on the balcony rail, crushing the stone with his grip. "So that Duo would not have been punished by a vengeful and cruel God. But I will make it up to him. Together we shall reign over our kingdom, and he will finally be mine..."
Breaking out of his brief reverie, the powerful fallen angel turned again to his advisor. "And what of my legions? Are they ready for the battle?"
"Lady Une has been in charge of their training since you gave the edict. As you well know, she's very thorough and meticulous in her methods. Nothing has gone undone." Mariemaia looked up at her magnificent ruler. "They are ready for anything."
"Excellent. Now, about Zero-one. Tell me what you know."
The redhead nodded. "As you know, Zero-one's soul, having been removed from his body, was sent to Earth to be reincarnated as a human. When I first received word years ago that Duo had been appointed his guardian and had gone to Earth to observe him, I traveled to the surface to find them, but I was and have been unsuccessful in my searches. Until now. When I surfaced this last time, I sensed Zero-one's presence and was able to track down his location. He is currently occupying the body of Heero Yuy, a sixteen-year-old male. The body is practically identical to the one held in stasis in Heaven's Vault. Once I realized that I had found Zero-one, I knew that Duo could not be far off. After a little bit of searching, I found him in the crowd. He was dancing with-"
Zechs cut her off. "How is he?" His face looked hopeful.
Mariemaia smiled inwardly at her master's anticipation. "He appears to be well. It seems that he has become rather wild, somewhat untamable after his imprisonment. I believe he is holding a grudge against God for his punishment."
"Is he still as beautiful as before?"
"He remains ever-glorious, my Lord. He is as handsome as ever. But," she added, "He still does not compare to your radiance."
The blonde shook his head. "No. Duo has always surpassed me in beauty. That is what originally drew me to him. He was the most perfect angel in all of Heaven; none could be measured against him. He had the purest soul of any, the kindest heart, and because of that I had to have him. Little did I know that God would take my love and use it against him." Anger sparked in his eyes. "That mistake He will soon come to regret, for in Duo's name, I will slay God and take His place. Everything has been and will be for Duo. Nothing less for the one that stole my heart." Zechs smiled, an uncharacteristically dreamy look on his face. "Do you have anything else to report?"
"There is something else." The young girl clasped her hands behind her back. "Chang Wufei was also on Earth. I believe he came to warn Duo."
Zechs turned around and leaned back against the balcony railing, folding his arms across his strong chest. "I assumed that Heaven's spies would discover our movements eventually. It is of little importance, however. They cannot stop us now. Did Chang see you?" he asked, a blank expression upon his features.
Mariemaia shook her head. "I do not believe he sensed my presence. This proves that the shields you created are effective, for he surely would have confronted me if he realized who I was." She smirked, her cornflower blue eyes twinkling. "You have outwitted Heaven yet again, Master."
"Your flattery is appreciated, child, but not necessary. I knew the shields would be successful, otherwise I would not have sent you."
"But how did you...?" She looked up, puzzled. //How could he know?//
A long finger reached out, tracing along the line of her jaw before tapping her nose lightly. "Come, dear. You know I never ask a question without already knowing the answer. Do you really think I would send you, my precious advisor, into such danger without knowing ahead of time that you would be safe? Surely your faith in me is not that weak." She shook her head sheepishly, and he smiled. "Good. Now, to answer your question, I knew the shields would work because I sent others before you to test them. They have been living among the humans for some time now, undetected by all accounts. Even Duo has not been able to sense them." Looking away, he sighed. "I wish to be alone now. You are dismissed."
The young demon bowed her head in respect. "Very well," she replied, backing away slowly, only turning after she had closed the balcony doors.
Mariemaia clutched her stinging cheek, blinking furiously to keep the tears from falling. Shaken, she looked up at Zechs, towering over her, lightning flashing in his eyes. "M-master?"
"How _dare_ you turn your back on me! I am the highest creation, and you are nothing compared to my greatness!" His rage filled the room, making all in his presence shrink back in fear. "If you," he screamed at his advisor, "or any of you," turning to the others in the audience, "value your pathetic existence, then you will show respect to your ruler! Never turn your backs on me, or you will feel the full force of my wrath!" Clenching his fists at his sides, he yelled, "Get out, all of you! You disgust me!"
Her heart pounding, Mariemaia picked herself up off the floor, hurrying away, but keeping her eyes on Zechs. "Yes, Master. Please forgive my impudence."
The Morning Star whipped his head around, eyes still blazing. "Get out before your life is taken from you."
"Of course, my Lord."
Still shuddering at the three-thousand-year-old memory, Mariemaia looked out the glass doors at Zechs. //Master. Our beautiful, perfect Savior. I cannot wait to see you on your rightful throne, ruling over Heaven with power and grace. It will be a truly wonderful sight. And it will be soon.//