title: The Soldier and The Reaper of Souls
Archived at: Gundam Wing: On the Wings of Imagination http://www.envy.nu/gundamgal/
The Soldier and The Reaper of Souls
Once there was a soldier who was so fierce, efficient and cold that he was known as the "Perfect Soldier." His code name was Heero Yuy and nothing appeared to touch his soul. Some believed that nothing he did, as he followed his orders, could upset him. It had been said that he lacked a soul, that he was a heartless machine of war.
After one bloody battle, Heero climbed out of his gundam to survey the scarred land. Nothing showed on his face as he explored gutted homes, churches and schools. The enemy had controlled the town since the beginning of the war and had refused to release it, even as they fled, destroying it instead. It was as the Perfect Soldier passed through the shattered remains of a historic graveyard that he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Knowing that none of the civilians had survived and that he did not have any allies in the area, Heero quickly shot at a black blur before he even had a chance to focus it into a person.
Turning fully in the direction of the motion, his quick eyes realized, as the bullet hit, that his target was not human. A small black creature, which was most certainly not a bird, cried out with a human-like voice and fell to the ground. Heero moved quickly to the creature's side, not wishing for it to escape before he knew what it was, and found what appeared to be a tiny, winged doll.
The little toy-like creature was only a few inches in height. He was dressed in black from his hat to his shoes, had a braid of brown hair longer than he was tall, and was wailing as he held one small black bat wing, which had been grazed by Heero's bullet. The miniature being's eyes were screwed shut as he cried, a small scythe lay forgotten by his side.
Heero had no idea what the little thing was, but he was certain that nothing like him should exist. Wanting to know more, he knelt down and picked him up, noting that the flesh of the wing had been hit, but no bones had been broken. Picking up the scythe as well, Heero took the winged doll back to his gundam in order to bandage up the wing.
As he walked towards Wing Zero, the little creature seemed to realize for the first time that someone was taking him somewhere. Panicked violet eyes shot open and he tried to fly to safety as he grabbed his scythe. The attempt caused him to tumble towards the ground before Heero could catch him.
"Baka. You can't fly on that wing," Heero stated as he picked him up, speaking for the first time since he had gotten out of his mecha.
The little being looked up from where he was cradled in Heero's hand and whimpered, eyes pleading to be let go. When that didn't work, he began struggling to free himself, with no success.
Heero looked down at the struggling little thing with annoyance as he pulled his first aid kit out of Wing Zero. The bat winged creature ignored his warning look as he continued to struggle and Heero decided it would be easier to tend to the injury if he confined the toy-like creature inside his cockpit. He climbed into the gundam and closed it up behind him, setting the tiny thing on the floor.
Once free of Heero's grip, the doll-like being ran about the cockpit, looking for an escape. He dodged as Heero, having found what he wanted in the first aid kit, tried to pick him up. Heero glared as he evaded his hand and finally managed to catch him by his braid. The pilot gently picked him up as he continued to fight, and set him in his lap.
"Let me go!" he wailed, surprising Heero with his ability to speak.
"Hold still," Heero ordered.
"No!" he screeched as Heero pinned him to his knee and began wrapping the bleeding wing.
The little thing continued to struggle and cry as Heero bandaged the wing. Once finished, Heero released him and he sat up, becoming silent mid-wail, as he examined his wing. After flapping the wing experimentally, the tiny creature looked up at Heero and smiled.
"What are you?" Heero demanded, taking advantage of the creature's revealed ability to speak.
With a bounce, he hopped up on to his feet and spread his wings proudly. "Shinigami!" he announced loudly and grinned. Seeing Heero's skeptically raised eyebrow, he continued. "I am one of the reapers of souls. How did you see me? Even those bathed in blood can not necessarily see a physical form of death." Heero shrugged silently and Shinigami pouted cutely.
"Anyway, you hurt me, and there is always a price to be paid when a human interferes with other plane beings. You have to take care of me until I can fly again, you've bandaged my wing out of the kindness of your own heart, so I won't steal your soul."
Heero blinked, surprised to hear someone say he had a heart, let alone a kind one. "Iie. Nothing must get in the way of my missions. I do not have time to babysit some strange creature."
Shinigami's statement was offended. "I'm not 'some strange creature!'" he informed the pilot. "I'm a person!"
"Still, nothing must interfere with my missions," Heero responded with an emotionless tone.
Shinigami smiled sadly, recognizing dedication where many saw obsession. "If you do not make up for shooting me, the rules state I must make you suffer until you do. I do not wish to do this, these rules were made with cruel people in mind, not someone like you."
Heero regarded the little reaper, once again finding himself surprised by his words. The strange creature of death believed he wasn't cruel? And how did he plan to make him suffer? He had been trained against giving in to torture, he did not fear death. "Hn."
"I'm truly sorry, but you will fail every mission until the laws of the higher planes are satisfied, and you will be unable to die to escape this."
Shinigami's statement worried the Perfect Soldier. It was clear that the winged being was something the existed in defiance of logic, so there was no way he could dismiss the punishment as impossible. "You can do that?" he demanded.
"I can ensure you survive through the impossible. Others will ensure that you fail until our laws are satisfied," he answered seriously.
It did not take any serious thought on Heero's behalf to realize caring for Shinigami would be the less harmful of his two options. "What do I need to do, in order to take care of you?"
Shinigami smiled happily and flapped his wings, which resulted in him wincing. "I need shelter, to be kept relatively comfortable, fed, my injury cared for, to be helped with anything I can't do for myself and for you to take me with you, where ever you go," he listed. "The last shouldn't prove as difficult as it sounds. I can sit on your shoulder. No one will see me and once I latch on to something I don't let go until I'm good and ready."
It went unnoticed as the Perfect Soldier gained a constant companion. The little reaper sat on his shoulder and cheerfully talked to Heero about anything and everything that came to mind. He was not in the least bothered by the fact Heero could not respond in public and normally chose not to respond in private. He curled up on Heero's pillow at night and purred each morning as Heero brushed and braided his hair, since he couldn't reach over his bandaged wing. During missions he sat on Heero's shoulder, excitedly laughing and yelling at enemy moblie suits.
One morning, Heero awoke to find himself looking into sad little violet eyes. Shinigami was sitting on the pillow, playing with his already braided hair and had removed the bandage from his wing.
"Nani?" Heero questioned his strangely quiet companion. Normally by now Shinigami would have attached himself to him, chattering away.
"My wing's healed. I can fly again."
Heero's eyes widened slightly at the statement. "How well can you fly?"
Shinigami smiled, but his eyes remained mournful. "Well enough. I need to get back to my duties... Maybe I'll see you on another battlefield someday. I still don't know why you can see me, not when you can't see any of the others. Thank you for caring for me. I hope we meet again Heero, but not on a battlefield. You are a very kind soul, under what's been done to you. You may be a good soldier, but you don't belong in a war. Most people don't, but it's not the nature of war to care who is involved." With that, Shinigami picked up his scythe, swinging it over his shoulder, and flew out the window.
Heero watched as the reaper left. Shinigami's tiny form had almost disappeared from sight when he took one last look over his wing at the expressionless soldier. Heero knew, as their eyes caught, that he would miss his talkative companion greatly. Though Heero never would have thought it could have happened, the little charge that he had not wanted to take on had become his friend, the only friend he'd ever had. He knew he would miss Shinigami greatly. Missions would not be the same without his friend yelling at the enemy mobile suits.
Two months later a mission came through which would unite the forces of all five gundam pilots, some of them meeting for the first time. It would be the first time any of the pilots worked with the newest pilot, who had replaced the late pilot of the gundam Deathscythe, who had been caught in one of Oz's traps.
Heero sat in one corner of the living room of the safehouse, waiting for the newest pilot to arrive so they could start planning. The doorbell rang and Quatre went to answer it. Voices could be heard coming from the front hall, but the words could not be made out. Shortly afterwards, the Sandrock pilot brought in a teenaged boy about the same age as the rest of them. Heero was surprised when he noted the boy wore an almost completely black outfit and had a long braid of chestnut hair.
"Hi," the newcomer greeted them cheerfully. "I'm Duo, Duo Maxwell, pilot of Deathscythe Hell," he looked about as he introduced himself, his violet eyes caught Heero's, "otherwise known as Shinigami. I run, I hide, but I never lie. That's me in a nutshell."
The others were surprised when, during the planning of their mission, Heero suggested he and Duo partner up and take on a particular section of the force they were up against. When a plan made it necessary for Heero to have a partner, he accepted one, but he never willingly suggested that he team up with anyone. Duo just grinned, unaware of how unusual the suggestion was, the others thought, and agreed to the idea.
Once the planning was done, the pilots had time to do as they pleased before the mission started. Heero went up stairs, heading for his laptop, and Duo bounced out of his seat to followed after him.
"It's been awhile, Heero," Duo stated once they were alone. "You're not going to even say 'hi, what've you been up to?'"
"The only Shinigami I've known had wings," Heero stated.
"I still do... just not in this form."
"What are you doing here? Appearing human?"
"You and the other pilots give us a heck of a lot of work. It's easier if we know when and where to have a mass number of reapers, rather than someone having their area flooded and no one there to help them. You did that to me, and some might say I'm lucky you shot me, with all that work to do alone until reenforcements arrived."
"That doesn't explain it. Why you? Why not just have someone reading missions from over our shoulders? It's not like they'd be seen."
"Well, there are reasons, I just can't tell you all of them. Why me? That's easy. I missed you. You're my friend. People that are connected to death as I am don't have many friends, except for others connected to death. It's hard to find people who aren't bothered by it. So here I am," Duo said and smiled, "and it looks like I'm your new partner."
Duo began yelling and taunting over the comm link between the gundams as the fight began. His antics almost brought a smile Heero could not suppress to his lips as Wufei shouted, to be heard over Duo, for the new pilot to shut up. It felt good to have his friend at his side again, and to know he would be staying until the end of the war. He rarely thought about what would happen after the war, when there would be no need for a Perfect Soldier, and he did his best to push thoughts of his friend disappearing to back of his mind with his other post war concerns.
After the pilots sent in their mission reports, three of which noting not only did Heero and Duo work well together, but Heero had proved willing to work with the pilot of Deathscythe Hell, Heero and Duo quickly became regular partners.
The Sandrock, Heavyarms and Shenlong pilots were all amazed by what Duo proved capable of getting away with. He seemed to go out of his way to aggravate or involve the Perfect Soldier in activities, yet he rarely got more than a glare or a threat when he crossed lines that would trigger another's death. None of them could figure out how he could actually get Heero to go to movie theaters or amusement parks. Wufei even claimed, to Quatre and Trowa's disbelief, one day, that he had seen the Wing Zero pilot give his partner a small smile and chuckle. All things that seemed to insure one's death around the Perfect Soldier, Duo could perform and escape alive and hale. Duo simply laughingly claimed in answer to how he did it, one day, 'you can't kill Death, so he doesn't bother trying' and had gone off to tease Heero.
When the war came to an end and the pilots began parting ways, Heero and Duo found themselves alone within the room they shared in their last safehouse. They had often shared comfortable silences in the past, but the silence between them then was weighed down by their unsure and immediate future. Duo fidgeted where he sat on his bed, playing with the end of his braid in one hand, a tiny scythe in the other.
"After the celebration, where will you go, Shinigami?" Heero asked, breaking the silence as he leaned back in his chair.
Duo shrugged lightly, as if unconcerned. "Where ever I'm assigned. Do you have anywhere in mind, I could request a particular position, though that wouldn't mean I'd get it."
"Iie... I have no where to go."
Duo's eyes took on both a hopeful and frightened look. He got up from his bed and closed the distance between them. Leaning down he wrapped his arms around the lost soldier and softly kissed him. "Come with me," he asked quietly, his voice lacking it's cheerful tone, instead holding an almost pleading, serious one. "I love you. I want you with me." When Heero did not fight off his hold he continued, still in a voice, almost alien in it's softness. "That's one of the reasons I took this form. I wanted to be with you. I took it to see if there was any chance for us. Love is only part of a relationship, I needed to know if a relationship had any chance if we were the same. I know there is no way we could be a real couple if you were a hundred times my height. Come with me."
"How? If you go back, how can I go with you? I'm not a part of your world," Heero stated, expressionless and emotionlessly. It did not bother the reaper-turned-pilot, he knew he had not been rejected.
"I can make you part of my world. You would not be a reaper of souls, but you would be similar to me and still entirely yourself. You would be you, only my height and with wings, invisible to the human world in that shape," he told him. "You would be dependant on me at first, but only because you don't know my plane of existence. With time you would have your independence back."
Looking into loving violet pools, Heero closed the short distance between them and gave his answer with a soft, tentative, kiss.
The writer with muses in the form of Chibi Duo Bats