by Uru-Chan

***The angel from this dream I have, he's here again. He came like sound through the window, and he smiled. The higher you fly, the harder you fall.***

The swell of afternoon warmth moistened the stale air, rising from cracked pavement in glistening waves. Pale yellow light filtered through narrow, glass paned skyscrapers, glinting in the chrome of passing vehicles. Men and women clustered beneath gray, spidery trees, fanning themselves with hats and rolled up newspapers.

Damn this heat, Heero muttered irritably, running his hand beneath his shirt collar. No wonder it's fifteen bucks for a bottle of water. He lifted one hand, filtering the 3 O'clock haze through a span of fingers. The intersection sprawled out before him, ringed by a cluster of fast food venders, awnings rippling faintly in the breeze.

A flicker of chestnut caught his eye as Duo changed direction, braid snaking wildly about. The American hopped briskly from the curb, turning sidelong glances down the alleyways before crossing the street. Violet eyes darted suspiciously about, head turning at any sudden motion.

Heero's scowl deepened as he noted the tension in the boy's slim shoulders, visible even through the black fabric of his T-shirt. Is someone following us? Iie; I'd have been the first to know. Ch. Nanase, Duo, talk to me...

A burst of feminine laughter startled Heero from his reverie. Glancing up he found himself opposite a cluster of passing women, mouths hidden behind manicured hands. Hn. Women. Kitto they're all the same, every last one of them-not enough sense to mind their own business. Just like that baka Peacecraft girl...

The Wing pilot glared expressionlessly back, oblivious as to why they should find him so amusing. However, the moment he followed their gaze to his own hand, his face flushed crimson in embarrassment

K'so! Heero tugged insistently at the fingers clenching his own, struggling to free himself from Duo's grasp. Unfortunately, Shinigami's attention was lost in the throng of pedestrians, and his hand clutched the Japanese boy's even tighter.

"Duo! Hanaseyo!"

"N-nani?" Duo sputtered, startled by the menacing growl behind him. "Oh! Gomen, Heero, gomen, ne? I just---" Duo's face fell at the other boy's harsh expression, the narrow mouth curled in a snarl of contempt.

"Oi!" he exploded defensively, "I just wasn't thinkin', OK? Geez, Man quit lookin' at me like that!" The American snatched his hand free, clutching it protectively to his chest, before turning away. "It's not far now," he muttered brokenly, refusing to meet Heero's eyes. "I think it's--"

"Yamete." Fingers closed irresistibly on Duo's shoulder, yanking him almost gently about. "Why don't you just tell me what hell's the matter with you?" Heero demanded quietly.

"Nani?" Duo repeated, stalling uneasily beneath the weight of the other boy's gaze. "Oi, I'm fine, ne? Just--"

"Iie," Heero responded flatly, mouth ticking with irritation. The Japanese boy's hands clenched his denim-clad hips, head tilted slightly in disbelief. "Nothing? Duo, you've been holding my hand since Central."

"OK, OK!" the American exploded irritably. "Geez, nothin' gets by Heero Yuy." The braided boy slumped against the pale brick of a pawn shop, raking his fingers through a mop of chestnut hair. Duo fell silent, violet eyes fixed on a cluster of distant children. Heero folded his arms across his breast, toeing a bit of loose gravel impatiently with his foot.

"You ever dream, Heero?" the boy asked abruptly, shifting his gaze to the dark-haired pilot. "I used to dream about simple things," Duo continued, not really expecting an answer. "You know; food, water, shelter... God, I used to hate those dreams. Cuz the second you think it's real-the second you've got that bread in your mouth, the very second you taste it-Boom! Wakey wakey! Welcome back to reality! And trust me, Man, the memory of that little taste never really goes away." Duo chuckled softly, sinking down against the warmth of the pavement, arms falling across his knees.

"You're always tellin' me I'm such a baka, it must be luck, or a hard head that keeps that one foot outta the grave. Well...sometimes...sometimes I have this dream...It's funny; I never had it once till I was about seven years old, ya know? There's this kid, hell, he's just a bit older than me now," the American reasoned quietly, toying with the fringe of his braid. "K'so, Heero. He's so damn familiar to me...but every time I get close to figuring things out-it's just like the bread. It's 6AM and I got you throwin' water in my face.

"He used to scare the hell out of me, Man. Used to wake up in the middle of the night just screamin' from the things he'd say to me. He'd tell me to do things, tell me when people I cared about were gonna die... Can you imagine? This seven year old kid havin' dreams like that! Sister Helen called him my guardian angel...Ch'. More like a vision straight from hell." Duo fell silent briefly, gaze drawn inward, examining the blurred lines of a boy's shadow in his memory.

"Anyway...I had that dream again last night. I thought...I was worried that-" Duo's violet eyes darted unexpectedly up, narrowing as they met the smirk on the other boy's lips.

"Oi! Gomen man! If I was borin' ya to tears you shoulda said somethin'! I mean I know you've prolly got shit to blow up or somethin', I just thought-ah, fuck!" The American launched himself to his feet, stalking off through a smattering of trash cans into a nearby alley.

K'so! Heero no baka! the Japanese boy hissed, you really blew it that time, didn't you? He trusted you, didn't he, and you threw it back in his face! Heero's left palm darted unconsciously to his face, smoothing Duo's scent against his cheek. Shimatta!

Heero strode determinedly after the retreating chestnut braid, clenching the tip like a lifeline. The American whirled about at the slight pressure, fist raised, startling the Wing pilot with his vacant expression.

"Heero! "Duo's mouth curled in a sheepish grin, tension seeping from his limbs. "Dude, don't sneak up on a guy like that. You're lucky I didn't put you in the hospital!"

"Hn." That's it? Iie, I know you haven't forgiven me yet, Duo. I know you that well, at least.

"Oi, this is the place I told you about," the American continued, jabbing one thumb at a flickering neon sign. "Good selection of parts, and damn cheap too-by L2 standards anyway." Duo's hands grasped the metal handle, shoving the glass door into the cool interior of the electronics shop.

"GAWD, does ever it feel good in here!" he exclaimed, lifting the weight of his braid from his neck. The American wandered aimlessly about, poking and prodding the stockpile of salvaged equipment. "Hey, look at this stuff over here! Ha! I haven't seen one of these since-"

"AYEE! No, no no!" The pilot's head jerked up at the throaty stream of ethnic-sounding protests. A thin, balding man burst from the storeroom, wielding a broom in one hand and a dustpan in the other. "Many years since you visit me, eh? Long time since you smash my windows eh? Eh?" Duo backed warily away from the bristling man, broom gyrating wildly from one fist.

"I don't want any trouble, Man-"

"No trouble? No trouble?" he half squeaked, slamming the dust pan to the carpet. "I give you trouble! Vandal! Delinquent! What you think, eh? 'Ha! Is old man, his memory no-so-good, so simple to cheat him again', but still I remember you, stinking little thief!"

"Omae o korosu." The shopkeeper glanced up at the low, menacing whisper, but it's significance escaped him.

"So, you bring little partner, eh? Hah! Your mouth, it is not so loud this time, eh nasty little thief? Is good enough for me! Get out of my shop, or I teach you both the lesson! Is nobody breaking my windows today!" Duo recognized the flicker of motion in Heero's hand, and his fingers closed quickly on the Japanese boy's wrist.

"Just let it go, OK?" the American pleaded, darting for the door with an unwilling Heero in tow. Duo released the scowling Wing pilot the moment they hit the street, whirling about to face the triumphant shopkeeper. He peeled back the lid of one violet eye, sticking his tongue out at the man in the doorway.

"Bpee~eda! Oh shit!" Duo flattened himself against the pavement as the broom went sailing overhead, smashing into nearby fruit stand. "K'so! Run for it man!" Both pilots fled into the nearby alley, Heero fuming silently at the humiliation of such a defeat.

"Oh, Geez, Heero," the braided boy wheezed, "did ya see the look on his face when he hit that cart?!" Duo's hand grasped a paint-peeled railing, swinging his lanky body onto a set of cement steps. "I thought I was gonna die laughing! Dude, you were great back there. 'Omae o korosu!' You might as well have said 'gimme all your spandex!' for all the good it would'a done-he barely spoke English, to hell with Japanese! Shit, man, it was just like the old days," he chuckled, glancing up at the Wing pilot with a manic grin.

"Hn. You're forgetting we need that part to communicate with the others."

"Naw, I didn't forget. Heh...no new part, no new orders...Almost makes me jealous I didn't break it myself!"


"Eheheh! Just kidding! I said almost-" The sharp click of Heero's safety startled the braided boy from his monologue, his head snapping to attention. What the-

"Sorry if I startled you," a low, smooth voice interrupted. Duo's eyes widened at the sight of a young, dark-haired man, approaching nonchalantly from across the alleyway. Shinigami leapt to his feet, heart thundering inexplicably with each echoing footfall. A faint sense of recognition flickered at the sight of the boy's features, beautifully pale beneath a sweep of dark hair.

He's not here to hurt us, Duo reflected, unable to tear his gaze from the vision before him. He feels like an old friend ...but I swear I've never met him before. Oh my god...I don't think I could forget somebody this gorgeous..

"I couldn't help but overhear your conversation," the boy apologized, closing in on the pilots, hands stuffed in his pockets. "I scavenge parts to sell to the local venders. If anybody could tell you where to look, I could."

"Ch'. We've been to every shop this side of L2," Duo sighed, glancing at his glowering partner for approval. "Oi, what do you say, Man? We can't keep this up forever."

He...trusts this fucking freak? Heero's eyes narrowed menacingly as the youth settled next to Duo, pistol still sighted on the boy's head. Shimatta! He must be dangerous; I didn't even sense him coming! The Wing pilot noted the slight, yet muscular line of his shoulders beneath the faded green shirt, the slightly more developed frame of his adversary. Hn. He might put up a fight...K'so! How can he be so calm with a gun pointed at his forehead?

"Damn, Kid, your friend here seems a little jumpy," the youth quipped, flashing a brilliant grin. "I'm not armed, see?" Heero suffered in silence as both hands slid free of the green-eyed boy's pockets. Hn. I could kill you even if you were, the Japanese boy consoled himself, feeling inexplicably threatened.

"Come on, Heero," Duo groaned wearily, "put the gun away. If he tries anything you can always glare him to death." The wing pilot's scowl deepened as he complied, tucking the gun away in the waistband of his jeans. The braided boy fished a small, glistening object from his pocket, extending his hand toward the other boy.

"This is what we're looking for. Just a bit of communications hardware. Seen anything like it?"

"Hmm. Hold it up just a little, ne? Damn, it's hard to see in this light. " Heero stiffened as the youth snaked his arm about Duo's shoulder, effectively blotting him from their conversation. Let go-let go-you touch him I'll fucking kill you!

"Baka," the older boy whispered, fingers stroking the Americans upper arm. "There's a resale shop at fourth and main. You know you're always welcome there."

"Nani?" Duo sputtered, struggling for a glimpse of the other boy's face. "How the hell did you know-" Cool fingers sealed his lips, the older boy's mouth curving in a seductive smile. "I know you Duo Maxwell. I've always known you. Okaeri Shinigami."

"OI! YOU THERE! Get the fuck out of my alley! C'mon, move it before I call the cops!" The pilot's heads jerked up at the sudden commotion, wincing at the thundering spiel of obscenities.

"Come on Duo, we don't' need this kind of attention."

"Demo Heero, what about---K'so! Damnit, Man! That boy-- he's gone!"

On to part five. Back to part three.