by Uru-Chan

***Please catch me... Oh, just catch me. Just so that I don't fall.***

Sister Helen: "You say there's no god?"

Young Duo: "Yeah. If there's really a God, He should stop the war." (Sitting on priest's lap) "If there wasn't any war, there wouldn't be war orphans like me."

A small, bittersweet smile tugged at Duo's lips. His fingers squeezed rhythmically against the barbed wire fence, blood trickling feebly beneath his palms. One hand shielded violet eyes from a torrent of bronzed 'sunlight', flesh moist with afternoon heat.

Priest: "Duo, God doesn't start wars; people do. People have to end what they start."

Young Duo: "Hmmm...So it doesn't matter if there is a God or not, huh?"

Sister Helen: "That's not true!"

Jagged planes of steel and concrete thrust up from the crumbling pavement, littering patches of burnt-out grass. One massive plane of splintering metal rested crazily on it's edge, collapsed against a free-standing wall. Chunks of colored glass clung to the warped window-panes, casting intricate patterns on the floorboards.

Splintered pews littered the shadowy recess of the two overlapping walls. Light penetrated the shattered windows, needles of crimson and emerald green glinting coldly in the curve of an old whiskey bottle. Wincing, Duo released the fence, drawing his bloodstained fingers into the light.

Young Duo: "I think the only god in this world is the god of death."

A tremulous little smile played at the American's lips, and his gaze flickered uneasily to the ground. Duo smoothed his injured palm against his thigh, staining the worn denim russet. Gnawing guiltily at his lower lip, he planted one foot on the lower wire, and launched himself over the fence.

Loose gravel scraped beneath his soles as he approached the ruined church, dust coating the tops of his sneakers. Okaeri Shinigami, he whispered hoarsly, grasping the paint scrawled wall with trembling fingers. Iie, he corrected himself, pitching his body forward into the half-light. Duo no baka. Death doesn't have a home. You just wander around, charmin' the universe with your good looks and an industrial strength nack for fuckin' up everything you see. Heh...Just like you did right here... The violet-eyed boy raked his fingers across his heart-shaped face, expelling a tortured sigh.

"Praise the lord and pass the ammunition, ne Kid?"

"S-Solo!" Duo backed uncertainly from the apparition before him, wincing as his shoulder struck metal. The dark-haired boy approached determinedly, smirking slightly as he blocked the only exit.

"You're not looking so well, Duo," he pronounced with mock concern, one hand extending to palm the boy's cheek. "It's been three day since our last...encounter," he grinned wickedly, examining the dark circles beneath Duo's eyes. Gem-colored light flickered across his face, staining his lips a vivid crimson. Solo ran his thumb across the younger boy's mouth, chuckling darkly in amusement.

"I told you to stop it," the braided boy managed, thrusting the larger boy's chest with both palms. "I told you not to touch me, but you didn't listen, did you? You just stuck your hand down my goddamn shorts and did whatever the hell you wanted! You took advantage of me you asshole!"

"You didn't struggle for long, did you? Certainly not the sort of struggle a fully-trained gundam pilot might put up, ne? I'll tell you something Duo," he whispered, breath scalding the younger boy's ear. "I think you liked it."

"Kisama! You son of a-"

"Be that as it may," Solo interrupted placatingly, "is it any reason for sleep deprivation? I've watched you these past few nights. Wandering the streets in vinyl and leather, swinging that pretty little ass, half drunk and half naked, in the clubs on sixth street. Stumbling back to your cheap little room and collapsing, too exhausted to dream. Just like the old days, ne Duo? All that's missing is the sex."

"Iie! We've been through this before, Solo-it isn't like that anymore! K'so! Just let me go, let go of me!" The braided boy struggled free, rubbing his upper arms as he paced about the broken pews.

"I'm sorry if I hurt you, Kid," the older boy murmured softly, the low voice devoid of irony. "I would've stayed away, kept my distance like I used to....But Duo-I'm running out of time."

"Running out of time?" The American retorted mockingly. "Jesus, man, you ran outta that eight years ago. Ah, fuck!" With a huff of frustration, he sank heavily against a fallen beam, dust billowing up into the 'sunlight'. Duo rolled a gin bottle beneath his shoe, succumbing to the overwhelming gloom of his surroundings. Violet eyes widened abruptly they fixed on a peculiar rust-colored stain...

Sister Helen: "Du-Duo...I'm so glad. You're alright aren't you?"

Young Duo: "Sister!"

Sister Helen: "Don't worry us like that. The Father was thinking of you till his last moment...The Father was... a wonderful example... He preached peace to... everyone... till the end..."

"It's tragic, isn't it?" Solo mused quietly from the far wall. His footfalls echoed slightly in the vaulted space, startling Duo from his reverie. Penetrating strands of garishly colored light, his pale flesh alternated between amethyst and sapphire. "The slaughter of innocents, without conscience or remorse. Women and children. Orphans. Nobody's safe, and nothing is sacred. Not even the 'House of God'." Solo gestured grandly at the fallen ceiling, mouth curved in a bitter smile.

"Yeah," Duo muttered softly. "Heh. Suffer the little children. Just like the Good Book says."

"Duo..." The green-eyed boy grasped the pilot's arm, tugging him into an awkward embrace. The American struggled instinctively, fingers clenching handfuls of green T-shirt, pummeling the smooth, flawless skin. At last, exhausted, he slumped against Solo's chest, resting his chin on the larger boy's shoulder. Long, slender fingers caressed his back in soothing circles, clutching him fiercely to prevent escape. Violet eyes squeezed shut, his fingers curled loosely about the other boy's neck.

"What's it like," Duo ventured wearily. "Being... dead, I mean." The older boy remained silent for several moments, considering.

"From the moment I died, I knew there was someplace I was supposed to be. It's like I'm fighting a current, being here with you. You can get by for a time; but you can't hold back forever. Chasing my Shinigami all over the goddamn universe...hauling your ass out of trouble...You're an exhausting little brat, you know that?"

"Yeah, so I hear," Duo chuckled softly. "You oughta hear what Heero says-"

"I think I've heard enough of what Heero says," Solo interrupted jealously, grasping the younger boy's pointed chin. "I'm fading, Kid, every second I spend with you. The time I've given you, Duo-it's never coming back. And all you can think about is your goddamn Japanese crush! He doesn't deserve you, Duo. He'll never want you, not the way I do. And he's sure as hell never gonna love you."

"Iie! Where the fuck do you get off talking to me like that!" Duo shoved violently against the dark-haired boy's chest, violet eyes feral with anger. "I told you, you don't have a fucking clue! Him and me, we're different that's all. He's just slow, he doesn't show it like the rest of us! What happened between us, whatever the hell you want to call it-it doesn't change how I feel about Heero!

"You're mine Duo Maxwell-you've always been mine." Solo flung the younger boy back against the wall, grasping the pilot's wrists in one hand. "I call what happened making love," he hissed angrily, grinding his hips against the American's.

"Let me tell you something, Shinigami," slender fingers grasped at Duo's face, forcing the violet eyes to focus on his own. "So long as you go on living, you will continue to kill. You will slaughter countless innocents throughout your 'tour of duty', no matter how well prepared, no matter how careful the mission profile. You will continue to sin, Duo, and you will never, ever, find release."

Stunned, the American stared guilelessly up at him, flesh ashen as the words struck home. Solo's lips turned in a sad, delicate smile, the pilot's wrists tumbling from his hand as he released them. "Come with me, Duo Maxwell. Before it's too late for us, before there's nothing left of me."

"Demo-Solo-" Duo's lips parted, a short, choked sound escaping before he clamped them shut. "Kitto you don't want me to die for you? It's one thing in the line of duty," he whispered hoarsly, palms trembling slightly at his sides. "But suicide? I always figured it was a coward's way out."

"Shimatta, Duo. You wear me out" the older boy lamented, drawing gradually away from the American. Pale limbs fluctuated in the half-light, rapidly losing substance. "Think about it," he rasped, nothing more than a glimpse of green and denim in the darkness. "I could feel it when I made love to you Duo," Solo's voice whispered ever so faintly. "I know you won't betray me."

"Iie, Solo! Matte!" The braided boy collapsed against a broken pew, palms smearing the perspiration from his cheeks. Violet eyes followed the path of Solo's departure, fixing once more on the bloodstained floor. Priests and revolutionaries, huddled together like lambs in the House of God. K'so. With so many dead, I wonder who's blood stains that corner.

Sister Helen: "Duo..." *Reaching out to touch his face with her scuffedhand.* "May God... bless you and... keep... you..." *Her hand drops away.*

On to part nine. Back to part seven.