Another lull between missions. Duo sighed, staring out of the rain-streaked windows, glowering at the grey, overcast sky above. Life was depressing enough without the wether mimicking your feelings, he thought moodily.
A sigh. Idly, he traced one finger around one drop-pattern streaked across the glass, watching the condensation of his breath obscure the details of the water. He scrubbed the fog away and pushed himself up.
Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the fact that his nightmares that he thought he'd banished for good had been coming back with a vengeance. A familiar clacking noise pierced his subconscious and he scowled at the image of his temperamental room mate, reflected in the glass in front of him.
Maybe it was his psychotic partner that was depressing him. Who knew? Who cared?
" Thinking is highly over-rated," he muttered, dropping his head, his forehead thudding against the window with an audible thump. " Ow."
"If that was pertaining to you, then I'd have to agree," came a dry voice from behind him. Duo lifted his head enough to see Heero's smirk firmly in place. Blurred as the reflected image might be, it in no way, dampened the smug look on the Wing pilot. He stuck his tongue out.
" Bite me," he said heavily, not caring what way Heero might take that statement. He was tired. Tired of the rain, tired of fighting, tired of putting on his happy face...he was plain tired. And having the Perfect Soldier for a room mate meant that if he started whining or complaining, the last thing he'd get was a sympathetic ear.
Suddenly, the walls seemed to close, almost suffocatingly so, and he pushed himself up, whirling around and snagging his jacket off the desk chair he'd slung it over earlier.
Halfway way out the door, he heard Heero's voice automatically asking him, "Where are you going?"
Did he have to sound so disinterested? A little feigning of interest might have cheered Duo up - imagine, someone asking about HIM once in a while. He snorted at such ludicrous thoughts and tossed a half-hearted, " Out," back at Heero. The door slammed shut behind him. A pair of cobalt-eyes tracked his departure thoughtfully.
Zipping up the front of his leather jacket, Duo pulled the brim of his black baseball cap down on his face, partly to block the sprinkling of cold rain, partly out of habit to conceal his features from any possible OZ soldiers who might spot him.
" However unlikely that is," he murmured. The safehouse he and Heero were currently holed up in was located in a small town, fairly close to what he knew from his history class, was once called Welland, in Canada. Nice place as it was, it nonetheless would NOT get Duo Maxwell's thumbs up in regards to 'things to do'.
He walked aimlessly, vaguely checking out the store window fronts, and watching the other citizens of the city scurry around, anxious to get home and out of the nasty weather. Duo thought wistfully of having a home of his own - he'd never really had one before. Well...
"One home. And of course, it got destroyed. End of home." Duo licked his dry lips as old memories floated through his mind. He grimaced. " I believe I already said thinking was over-rated - now I'm sure of it."
A glimpse out of the corner of his eye froze him in his tracks, and he slowly turned his head. A small building stood across the street from him, vines trailing up the one side of it. What caught his attention was the large, decorative cross mounted on the cold brick. Tarnished and weatherbeaten with time, Duo could still recognize the familiar figure nailed to it. He could suddenly hear an old voice in his mind, filled with warmth.
" This is our Lord, Jesus Christ, my son." A handsome gentleman, hair starting to grey with age, clasped his hands under the folds of his stately robes, watching the small boy stare up at the statue on the altar.
" Did he really love everybody?" A young Duo asked curiously, wrinkling his nose at the nails in the man's hands.
" Yes He did," said Father Maxwell.
" Even though they hurt him?"
" He was love Duo, and part of love is forgiveness."
" Oh." The boy was silent for a few minutes. Then he asked almost hesitantly, " Do you think he...could he love me too?"
The priest lay a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder.
" Of course He does," he said firmly. " Why would you think otherwise?"
" 'Cause if he's God, an' he's s'posed to love us, doesn't that mean he's s'posed to care?"
The priest frowned at him.
" I don't understand, Duo."
Young Duo wrapped his arms around his thin little body and blinked rapidly.
" If he loves me...why does he keep taking everyone away?"
Father Maxwell sighed sorrowfully and drew the boy close to him, crouching down to look in Duo's eyes.
" Sometimes...the Lord needs people so much, he calls them back to him. It hurts when He takes them, but you have to know that He does everything for a reason."
Duo shook his head, laughing harshly.
" I can't believe I was so stupid to believe that," he growled, staring at the silent figure. " I can't believe I once thought there was such a thing as a loving, merciful power that cared for everyone - how stupid is that?" He pointed a shaking finger at the cross. " The only God is Shinigami - I've got proof up the ears that death exists, *Jesus*," he spat out sarcastically. " But why would someone supposedly loving all man-kind allow such hurtful, hateful things like war?"
Suddenly cold, Duo shoved his hands back into his pockets and trembled violently for a minute.
" Father Maxwell was wrong," he whispered. " There is no God, there is no beautiful life, there is nothing. Nothing but death, and disappointment. YOUR FAITH DIDN'T SAVE YOU DID IT!?!" He screamed at the heavens, throwing his head back in anguish.
Heero Yuy wondered what the hell he was doing. One minute he's trying to finish off some mission reports for Doctor J, the next minute he's outside in the rain, cursing as the water drips off his bangs and into his eyes. And why? For some reason that he wasn't really sure of, the thought of Duo's parting shot back in their room bothered him. Duo never usually seemed so....cynical.
He snorted - he was one to talk. But then again, he didn't make it a point to be cheery to the point of aggravating. Duo does. Well, did. Hn.
He watched with hooded eyes as Duo stopped in front of a church. The tenseness in the American could be seen even from where he stood, nearly half a block away, just watching. Suddenly, Duo began laughing, and Heero could hear the hysterical pitch to it. He moved closer, straining to hear Duo's mocking words, and blinked as Duo screamed at the statue on the wall.
Duo inhaled sharply, trying to stave off another bout of hysteria, and worked for a few minutes on getting his breathing back under control and his emotions reigned in. About to pass by, he suddenly heard a chord struck up from within the bowels of the church. The melody was faint, but compelling. It brought to mind afternoons spent with Sister Helen, trying to watch without seeming too interested as she practiced playing the different hymns on the large pipe organ, and Duo felt his feet move towards the large doors. Reaching out, he tentatively pushed the solid oak door open and stepped inside. Habit forced him to remove his hat and he walked slowly down the aisle, rows upon rows of pews with their hymn and prayer books framing him as he went. At the altar, he paused, and automatically crossed himself, out of respect for Father Maxwell and Sister Helen who had tried to teach him. He then followed the sound of the music out of the main room and into the hallway. An open door beckoned him and he slowly peered in.
It was a choir practise being held, with a group of young children singing along with their teacher while another young girl warmed up on the piano. Duo watched, transfixed at the scene and leaned against the door. One nun gestured at the girl to play, and Duo closed his eyes. It wasn't a typical hymn, being that this seemed to be some kind of youth group, but it struck a chord within himself. He wasn't even aware of a silent figure following him in, watching him with what seemed to be concern, as the music swelled.
// Some kids have it, some kids don't
And some of us are wondering why//
Duo thought of nights of empty stomachs, no toys, no roof over the head. If he concentrated, he could still feel the warmth of shared heat as a bunch of ragtag orphans piled close to each other to keep both the cold, and demons away.
// And mom won't watch the news at night
There's too much stuff that's making her cry//
Screams of shock echoed around him as paramedics and rescue teams systematically checked every square inch of the obliterated church, searching for survivors. Duo heard the cries and sobs of neighbours who came out in their wrappers and slippers to stare at the devastation. He blinked, focusing again on the piano player.
// We need some help
Down here on earth//
Now THERE'S an understatement, Duo thought bitterly.
// A thousand prayers
A million words
One voice was heard//
The young girl's voice seemed to soar as she sang, her own eyes closed, a picture of pure innocence. Heero swallowed hard. THIS wasn't quite what he had expected when he followed Duo into the church. The girl reminded him painfully of another in his past....a young girl...and her dog...
// A house, a yard, a neighborhood
Where you could ride your new bike to school
A kind of world where mom and dad
Still believe the golden rule
Life's not that simple
Down here on earth
A thousand prayers
A million words
But one voice was heard//
Duo felt, rather then saw Heero appear at his side. At first angry, he turned to yell at his partner for following him, when he saw the look on Heero's face as he stared at the piano and the little girl. Anger, bewilderment, sadness, loneliness....and the most heart-wrendering sense of loss and confusion...Duo swallowed his anger and watched in awe as pure emotion radiated from the eyes of one whom he would have sworn never cared about anything. A lump appeared in his throat, and he opened his mouth, working his jaw as if to say something, anything....and then closed it. He sidled closer to the brooding pilot, leaning against him almost tentatively....and turned back to the music.
Heero didn't move....if anything, he nudged closer too.
// One voice, one simple word
Hearts know what to say
One dream, can change the world
Keep believing, 'till you find your way//
Duo closed his eyes, letting the notes wash over him. He could sense his tension melting away and knew instinctively that Heero was nearly as rigid as he had been earlier. The words spoke to him, telling of hope....and he wondered if this mini-discovery was a matter of fate....
// Yesterday while walking home
I saw some kid on newberry road
He pulled a pistol from his bag
and tossed it in the river below//
Duo couldn't help but smile at that - a sudden image of Heero pulling his precious gun out and tossing it a river entered his mind and he knew that if such a thing did occur, Heero would slap himself and then immediately jump in to retrieve it. He smothered a chuckle and stole a glance at Heero - and was surprised to see the Japanese boy looking back, his own lips twitching slightly. Duo marvelled at that - almost a real smile...
// Thanks for the help
down here on earth
A thousand prayers
A million words
But one voice was heard//
The girl's voice held the note sweetly, letting it trail out into the air chasing after the softly drawn-out chord of the piano.
Beautiful.....Duo clapped his hands softly, not wanting to draw attention to them. Heero mimicked his actions and turned a surprisingly gentle look on Duo, motioning that they should leave. Duo nodded and they quickly exited. A priest stepped out of a hidden alcove and watched them go, fingering his cross reverently and smiling. Watching the two tousled heads scurry out of the building, he sent a prayer to the heavens that maybe they would find some sort of peace that they had lacked when they had first entered.
Duo and Heero walked silently down the street towards the safehouse. The rain from before had stopped, and traces of the sun could be seen, gently peeping around the rapidly-fading clouds. Duo glanced at his partner.
" Why'd you follow me?" he asked somewhat warily. Heero met his gaze for a second, and then dropped it back to the road. He muttered something unintelligeble, and Duo leaned forward.
" I said I was worried, baka!" Heero finally snapped. He threw an irritated glance at the American. " You just left...and you didn't act like you usually did...."
Duo blinked as he digested this information. Dimly, he recalled his earlier wish that just once someone would worry about him for a change, and he glanced back at the church.
"Oh." A tiny smile formed on his face. "Thanks Heero."
Heero finally looked back at him and smirked. Duo cleared his throat.
"Do you believe in God, Heero?"
Heero stopped and looked at the braided pilot. He shrugged.
"I don't know. I don't know what's in store for us or anyone else after we die, and I don't think about it." He glanced back at the church. "Even though...."
"Struck a nerve with you too, didn't it?" Duo kicked a stone restlessly. " Every time I think I've decided on something, something else come and knocks the wall down. I was wishing that someone would show that I do exist outside of mission perameters and lo and behold, you show up." He grinned. "If there is a God, he likes playing with minds."
He thought of the song they had heard and smiled. Maybe there was no God....maybe there was....maybe he was right after all and there was only Shinigami....but as he and Heero began walking back towards the safehouse together, he realized it didn't matter.
//One voice was heard//
Heero had heard, and for Duo, that was good enough.