Street of Dreams
by Lasha Lee

It was chilly out, and the boy pulled his jacket tighter around him, shivering as he knelt in the grass and watched an army of ants walk by, carrying leaves and twigs back into their nest.

In the distance he saw Dave and Snyder talking, not paying any attention to him, which suited him just fine. He didn't like either of them. Dave smelled like beer, and Snyder was a grouch.

What Kato wanted, desperately wanted more than anything else in the world, was to see his mother again. To see Sungirl and Starboy and their daddy. To go home.

He hated this place. Hated the tiny apartment they kept him in. It was filthy, smelling of a large grey dog that never seemed to wake up. He hated the canned pasta they kept feeding him, or the too-sweet cereal he was forced to eat if they were too lazy to microwave Spagettios for him.

The one bright thing in his life was the fact that they brought him to the park sometimes to let him play. The rest of the time they just sat around and watched television and argued. To Kato it seemed like he'd been with them forever, but it had actually only been about four days.

He was little but not stupid, and he understand that they were being forced to take care of him, and really weren't sure what to do with him. He'd heard them on the phone yelling at people to come and get him, and that scared him. As much as he hated Dave and Snyder, they hadn't hurt him. Someone else might.

The horrors of the last few days were still fresh in his mind. Smoke, people screaming, running around. Hiding in the closet, with Starboy and Sungirl, Starboy's arms wrapped tightly around both of them.

Then the door opened and men appeared, putting blankets around them and carrying them outside, running with them, putting them in the back of a van that sped away almost before the door was closed.

Then the worst happening. Men opening the door and pulling them out, carrying him away from the other children. Away from the only thing he had left. Bringing him here.

Remembering this, his tears began to fall on the anthill.

"Hi there." Someone said behind him, and he turned around, wiping at his eyes, staring at a man who moved to sit beside him.


"What's wrong? You're a pretty big boy to be crying like that."

Kato didn't answer, but just sniffled.

"Where are your parents?" The man pressed.

"Gone." Kato whispered. "Dave says they're dead." Death was just a very vague concept at his age, but he understood that it meant his mother wasn't coming back. He had no memory at all of his father; only stories he'd been told.

"Who are you here with?" The man wanted to know. Kato pointed at Dave and Snyder, who were busy flirting with a young girl in a short skirt.

The man studied Kato thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. "Older than I was looking for." He said almost to himself. "But young enough." He glanced at Kato's distracted guardians again. "What's your name?"

"Kato Dell."

"Well, Kato Dell, why don't you come with me? I'll buy you a hotdog."

The boy felt something, a rush of unease. A premonition of sorts. He didn't like the way the man was looking at him. His mother had warned him about talking to strangers. Like any parent, she'd imagined all the things someone might do to her son. But what this stranger wanted was nothing she could have ever foreseen. Molesting Kato was the last thing on his mind.

Kato stood up, and started to run back toward Dave and Snyder, but the strange man grabbed him, clamping a hand down over his mouth when he tried to scream. Used to wrestling with Starboy and Starboy's father, Kato struggled, biting and kicking, but a three-year-old was no match for a grown man. Going limp and sobbing, he watched Dave and Snyder, his true last connection to his former life, fade over the hill as he was carried off yet again.

"You were crying last night in your sleep. What were you dreaming about?"

"I don't remember." Heero tried to think. "Something about Odin again. Must have been the stress from yesterday."

Duo sat down on the bed and handed Heero a cup of tea, taking a sip of his own coffee. "You said that the day you and the Peacecraft kids went to look at frogs was the day your mother died. That was probably the day Sanc fell, don't you think?"

"Probably. Relena told me that a lot of people were killed in the attack. She probably never had a chance."

"So they took Relena and Milliardo away to protect them, and somehow or other you ended up all the way on L1 with Odin Lowe. Do you think maybe he was one of the people hired to assassinate the Peacecrafts?"

"I don't know. It's possible I guess." Heero stared into the tea. "It's not like I can ask him."

"You never talk about him very much."

Heero leaned back against his pillow, cradling the hot cup. "We had a... complicated relationship. I loved him. I hated him sometimes too. I wanted him to act more like a father than a teacher, maybe. Maybe he didn't understand that there's a limit to what you can get a small child to do. We frustrated each other."

"Maybe he was your real father. Maybe after your mother died he came and got you."

"Last night you were sure that I was a bastard Peacecraft." Heero noted with a smile.

"Well, you had to come from somewhere." Duo argued. "Why are you so sure neither one of them is right?"

"My name, for one thing. Dell. That's not a Japanese name. Doesn't it sound reasonable to you that it was her married name? That the man she was married to was probably my father?"

"Reasonable... " Duo agreed. "But not as much fun to think about. If you share a father with them, then you've got a living brother and sister, two nieces, and a nephew. You'd be Gage's uncle." He paused. "Ewww. That would mean that Relena had a girl-chubby for her own brother."

"Thank you." Heero grunted. "She'd be delighted to know that."

"And think of it." Duo was enjoying himself. "If you weren't into guys, you could have ended up married to her."

"Well, at least I wouldn't have been able to get her pregnant." Heero reasoned, finishing the last of his tea. "It would also mean that I've found my brother just in time to watch him die."

"Heero, I'm sorry." Duo put down his coffee cup. "I guess didn't think about it that way."

"It's okay. Do you want to come to the hospital with me? I want to see if Starboy is awake enough to talk about old times."

The only good hospital memories I have are of when my daughters were born. (Gage was born in Laura's apartment, to try and keep it quiet.) The other times I've been in one of these places were to have my own injuries treated, or those of my children. (For someone who didn't start out in a hospital, Gage quickly made up for lost time by ending up in the emergency room as often as he could swallow a rock or stick scissors in a light socket.)

Mostly it's the lack of privacy I dislike. Always being poked and prodded at and ummmed over. Being forced to use a bedpan is another added bonus. I'm making a list. It's right above this gruel they keep feeding me. I'm not allowed to have anything that might raise my blood-pressure. Anything that tastes better than paste falling into that category.

Then there's the fact that I'm going to die in this bed, and that's not pleasant to think about either. That when I do leave here, it's going to be on a stretcher and not under my own power. Personally I think they keep giving me slop to eat so that I won't mind dying as much.

It's working.

So I lay here, and I'm watching things happen around me, and life seems like a television program right now. Not that I'd be up to leading man status the way I look at the moment, unless it was a real-crime series. God, it's been so long since I've seen one of those I barely remember. The Derans aren't fond of television. Planet of the Bookworms. I wonder what kind of impression I'd make on the nurses if I responded to their next attempt to wipe my bottom with "Get your hands off me, you damned dirty ape!"

I think Shan has finally convinced Gage to go home and get a shower, and they took Lucrezia with them. I don't know what's happening there, but if my death accomplishes anything, maybe it will be to make them realize that they're family whether they like it or not. Maybe she'll look at Gage and realize that I'm not really gone, that in him and the girls I'm alive and kicking. Maybe is what I have at this point.

I'm staring at the ceiling, brooding, when I hear the door to my room open, and Heero asking "Are you awake?"

"Until they drug me up again." I turn my head without moving my body. The bruises hurt too badly to move much. "How did your Memory Walk go?"

He looks different, staring at me with those intense eyes of his. Sorrow, excitement, a little fear? I'm confused. "Heero?"

"I saw my mother." He begins. "I saw where I lived as a child."

"That's wonderful. I know how much that meant to you."

"I saw something else too." He goes on, and he really looks nervous now. "A girl and boy I used to play with before... when I was small. My mother was their nanny."

"I had a couple of those." I remember. "I adored both of them."

"I know." He says. "I know that Starboy loved my mother."

I go cold for a second, and I forget how to breathe. He's still staring at me, and I'm looking into Heero's eyes, but I'm not seeing Heero. I'm seeing a ghost. Those eyes fill with tears and in spite of the pain I raise my hand. His fingers touch mine. "I saw you." He says in wonder. "You and Relena. And me."

"Moonboy? You're... Moonboy? My Kato?" I need to hear him say it, and he nods. "I don't remember it, but I saw it. I saw how happy we were."

"Those were the best days of my life." I'm trying to recover from the shock, trying to reconcile this man, who has been my friend and my enemy for that last 35 years, with the little boy who once rolled in mud-puddles with me. But looking at him, knowing what to look for now, I see it clearly, Moonboy inside of Heero, and I couldn't believe I didn't realize it before. I've spent most of my adult life hoping to find someone who was right in front of me the entire time. He's talking again.

"Did my mother die when Sanc was attacked?"

I nod, and I have to fight now to stay alert. The excitement is draining me, but I won't give in. I will fight this time to be here for him.

"I believe she did." I have to shut my eyes. "I saw her fall, outside. I couldn't go to her; I had to protect you and Relena. I put you into a closet, and went back to my room to hide my soldiers. I thought they'd protect us somehow." A shiver hits me. "It was dark in the closet. We sat there; we could hear screams, explosions. People calling our names. I was so afraid, but I couldn't cry. I had to be strong for you and my sister."

"God, Milliardo. I don't remember any of that."

"I'm glad. Don't try. They found us, drove us away. Then they separated us. You kept trying to get back to me, you kept fighting them. But they took you away and they took my sister away." My voice is cracking. "And you both were young enough to forget about me, but I swear I never forgot either one of you."

Our fingers lock tightly.

"What about my father?" He asked. "Duo thinks... I hate to even ask this."

"Was my father your father?" I know what he's thinking. "No, Heero, he wasn't."

"Do you know who was?"

"Yes. That I do know." I can give him this, and it strengthens me for a moment. "His name was Paul Dell. He was a British journalist, and a friend of my father's. I never met him but my father kept a picture of him on his desk and he showed it you whenever you asked about him. He died in a plane crash before you were born. You look like your mother, but... you look like him too. I remember the picture."

I take a deep breath. "My father loved you as much as if you were his own, though. You and your mother were important to him. To all of us. You were always my baby brother."

"What was my mother's name?" He wants to know, and I really have to focus on his words now. They're coming through a wall.

"I don't know. Just called her Nana. Your father... well-known. Something about him somewhere. Online. Sure there is."

Now he's apologizing for making me answer questions, but I still don't let go of his hand, and I managed to get out something that sounds like a request for him to stay.

I need to sleep for a while in this joy.

My brother is alive.

He felt guilty for tiring Milliardo in his weakened condition, but still unable to stop smiling. There was sorrow too. Both of his parents were dead, had been dead for a long time now. There was no chance of finding them, no chance of finding he had siblings or half-sibling somewhere in the worlds. A slight chance of a grandparent, perhaps. A better chance of finding an aunt or an uncle, or living cousins. But his parents were gone.

He stayed in the hospital room for the next few minutes, until the nurses made him leave, but he did not immediately return to the waiting area, where he'd parked Duo.

The hospital had several small computer rooms set up for mobile patients, and Heero commandered one and logged on, pulling up the Irnao database, looking for records of a journalist named Paul Dell. A writer, he thought suddenly. My father was a writer, like me.

It was so long ago he wasn't expecting to find anything, but suddenly a link appeared. "British Journalist Wins Percy Award for International Excellence." Taking a breath, he clicked. It took him to the site for the Percy Awards, which were still given out apparently.

He had thought that after the last few days nothing was going to get to him, but he was wrong as the picture loaded on the screen, and he found himself, for the first time, looking at his parents.

His father was tall, with dark brown hair, a shade lighter than Heero's own, but his eyes were the same blue, and Heero understood now Milliardo's comment that he looked like both his father and his mother. Paul was holding a small plaque in his hands. Next to him stood Heero's mother, her arm around him and her dark eyes proud. Feeling like Harry Potter before the mirror of Erised, he looked at the caption.

"World-renowned journalist Paul Dell accepts the International Percy Award at a ceremony in Frankfurt, accompanied by his wife Mikita."

The article went on to talk about how the award was given very rarely, had had been presented to his father after a dangerous uncover mission he'd gone on the previous year.

Heero glanced at the date of the article and frowned suddenly, looking back at the picture again, and at his mother. She wasn't just proud, he realized. She was glowing. Although she was still thin, her free hand rested lightly on the front of her abdomen.

It took him a full minute to stop trembling enough to print it out.

On to part twelve. Back to part ten.