Hello everyone. I have yet another fanfics for you. This one is, however, is NOT YAOI, but it does have a little "darker" cast to it. I hope you enjoy it. The Huntress Of Zechs, Karen.

A DEAL WITH DEATH

BY: KAREN HICKMAN

 

The waning sunset painted streaks of red, pale pink and gray across the horizon. The sinking sun rested on the skyline, its shimmering orb, enlarged like a fiery Dragon’s Eye, tinted the swirling fog giving the withering grasses a faint reddish hue.

Over the leaf strewn clearing a chilled mist rose and drifted from everywhere and nowhere at once. Darkness would come quickly now. The black tide of night, engulfing the fading day, showed no mercy in its undaunted advance.

Floating above the ruddy fog, a tall, gaunt shape moved silently over the clearing. A long black cloak covered an equally dark robe. The cloak’s cowl hid away the form’s features as the figure glided never touching the ground.

A bony, fleshless hand curled about a long handle supporting a cold tempered, steel-gray scythe stained with the blood of a thousand and one victims. The Grim Reaper’s tool of destruction and demise rested on his shoulder as his pace kept straightway on his mission of soul reclamation.

Behind the ghostly apparition a shorter, more fleeting, outline raced through the crimson haze. The form was dressed as darkly as the Soul Harvester’s ebony vestments.

“Please!” a strained voice called out in panting, labored breaths, “Please wait!”

Death, veiled in cold, passionless disdain, neither slowed its focused strides nor acted as though he heard or cared.

Drawing closer, the rushing, anxious, outline took on more distinct contours. The young man, faced flushed from his exerted efforts to catch the minion of Sheol, quickly closed the gap. Finally he came up along side the robed figure slowing his winded pace to match the floating preternatural phantom’s movements.

“Please, you have to listen.” the young man begged insistently.

“I have no time.” Death answered with a hauntingly distant voice.

“But you have to stop!” the boy demanded with surprisingly brash boldness.

Then without any sign or fear or pause, the youth raised his hand and grabbed hold of the heavy black robe’s sleeve. “You will listen!” he demanded.

Death stopped in place. Slowly it pivoted sideways and hovered over casting an icy, enshrouding shadow over the determined lad.

“You are brave.” the specter declared straightening to its full height again, “One touch on my robe could have meant an instant end for you.” the Demon whispered lowly. Its foul, sulfur-drenched breath struck the boy’s face bringing on a lightheaded sensation.

Wisps of clammy fog swirled about the boy’s feet, climbing with clawing fingers up his legs and hips, until his entire torso was bathed in the eerie mist.

“What is your name, Boy?” Death inquired belching out more foul breath.

The youth dared to look up into the hooded vacancy where a face should have been. Two large glowing circles, deep with liquid scarlet sight, jumped out of the void. Sucking in an involuntary gasp of air, fighting the sudden shock that stabbed through his soul, the Boy swallowed hard to muster up the courage to reply.

“Duo.” the name rose faintly from his terror restricted throat.

“Duo.” Death repeated with a husky growl that sent another wave of pure fright coursing over the Gundam Pilot.

The cavernous facelessness lurking in the hooded cavity leaned forward coming within inches of the trembling Boy. “What is that around your neck?” A single bleached skeletal finger pointed at the gold chain gleaming in stark contrast to Duo’s black jacket.

Duo braced his shaky legs resisting his overwhelmingly compelling urgency to flee from the ghoulish reach. “A cross.” The words shivering on Duo’s lips horrified of what Death’s reaction would be to the holy symbol Death so despised.

A hollow laugh rang from inside the ragged cowl, “You ARE very brave, Boy, to dare wear that sign of sanctification in my presence.” Death conceded with a sarcastically mocking tone.

“But I will respect your courage.” Death proclaimed, “Tell me, why have why have you sought me out? What could be so important that you would risk your mortal soul to interfere with my claiming mission?”

Duo was not deceived by Death’s apocryphal sincerity concerning his bold actions. He would not be fooled into any sense of false security. He knew the wicked Demon could turn on him with the slightest provocation. Still saving his friend was more than worth the deadly consequences should Death change its hypocritical mind.

“I have come to plead for my friend.” Duo declared drawing renewed strength from the fear of losing his fellow Pilot.

“It was his choice to trigger the self-destruct on his infernal machine.” Death declared, “His choice to remain inside as fragments of metal and glass exploded and riddled his body.”

The ghastly figure leaned closer with numbing foreboding, “ I would say his choice was clear, he intended to die. Now I have come to fulfill his wishes.” Death announced with haughty pleasure.

“But Heero did that to save me.” Duo explained as the sight of Wing

tearing apart blinded his sight. As a wrenching pain tore through Duo’s heart like the slicing shrapnel had torn through Heero.

Now Duo stared into Death’s red, glowing centers of sight with firm resolve. “No.” he had decided. No matter what it took, Heero would not die that night. “You will not take him. Not now! It is not his time.”

“Not his time.” Death growled, “How dare you tell me when such things are meant to be!”

The scythe swung around. The blood drenched blade leveled off at the braided Boy’s head. Defiantly Duo stood his ground. His cold, harden, glare met the steely sickle with unflinching obstinateness.

“NO!” Duo screamed.

Reddened sparks flashed in his violet eyes. The bits of hellish light busted like fireworks over their widened pupils. Then the ember flickers massed together until the ignited inferno enkindled his hot, burning sight. The violet flare darkened, deepened into a crimson glow matching Death’s own fiery orbs.

The scythe halted midway frozen in a quivering, suspended pose. What was

not clear, however, was what had stopped the blade’s lethal advance.

Had Death rescinded its retributive reprisal or was it Duo’s piercing anger-

heightened, glare that held the wavering razor-honed edge in its postponement?

Now a contest of wills played itself out as swelling thunder clouds cascaded overhead. Power against power summoned up unbridled energy charging the air and throwing out bolts of white-hot lightning across the enraged heavens.

Neither Duo nor Death would yield. Whether Duo’s force was borne of light, to save his precious Heero, or spawned from a blackness kept at bay in his soul’s deepest recesses until that fateful moment, Duo knew that the macabre Master Of Hell had met a resistance equal to his own evil puissance. Only in death would Duo surrender. There was no other way, no other path to guard his fallen brother-in-arms.

The heavens trembled with fire and fury. Lancing energy crisscrossed the booming clouds resounding over the mist blanketed clearing. Staunchly Maxwell held his ground as Death pushed him to his exhaustive limits.

With muscles burning and his lungs collapsing from an external pressure coiling about his chest like a great serpent, the same one, no doubt, that orchestrated the fall of mankind and their shameful exile from Eden, Duo clumsily moved his hand to his aching chest.

With one final, victorious force of will, Duo’s fingers folded over the gold cross dangling from its now strangely contorted serpentine chain. Shutting his eyes in prayerful entreatment for both his soul and Heero’s, Duo breathed a silent solicitation to give him the strength to end the apocalyptic battle.

Suddenly torrid heat raced through Duo’s body. His mind flashed with images of the past and present and, oddly, the future. He felt Heero’s pain racked body, heard his anguished screams. Then as quickly as the tormented cries left his hearing, a warm, peaceful wave flowed in pulsating currents.

Suddenly Duo knew, without a second’s uncertainty, Heero would live. That his pain and torment had eased as Duo’s energy force split the darkness and entered Heero with the indomitable power that would send Death back to the bottomless pit of the Underworld. Suddenly Death let go, the forceful release causing Duo to drop to his knees.

Hard breaths pounded in Duo’s chest. Sweat-soaked hair clung to his clammy cheeks.

Duo turned his still glowing eyes upwards, locking their scarlet centers with his defeated foe.

Death glared back from his sightless hollow shrouded in his morning cloak. The quivering scythe drooped in his gnarled fingers. A barely discernible sigh wafted forth with the strong scent of sulfur and the stench of decay.

“I will admit I underestimated your dedication to your friend.” Death stated shouldering the curved blade once more. “And even though I do not uphold the concept of fidelity, I must acknowledge your loyalty.”

“But you have seen the future.” he added with a self-confident declaration, “You know your friend will have to make the same decision one more time. Tell me, Boy, will you be there to save him then?” Death asked with delight in his hissing voice.

“There will not be another time.” Duo answered with surety, “Heero will never have to protect me again. I will be there each time stronger than before. Again and again, until the fighting is over or we, both, die together.

You will not come for him. I stopped you once and I will never again falter in my avowed commitment.” Duo solemnly pledged.

Death leaned forward once more but, this time, Duo Maxwell did not flinch or draw back. He locked his sight with the Demon’s grizzly glare. “Yes, brave.” the noxious voice breathed out the words. “So, Boy, if you are truly as dedicated as you profess, I purpose a deal.”

Duo narrowed his reddened sight, “A deal?”

“Yes. What are you willing to trade for your friend’s life? How far are you willing to go in your steadfastness?” Death inquired of the brave Boy.

“As far as I have too.” Duo answered without further consideration or pause.

“Here, then, is what I require.” Death announced waving a trembling, bony finger in Maxwell’s face, “In return for your friend’s life, you will become my avenging agent. You will reap my vengeance whenever my demonic thrust for blood or spirits needs to be fed. Only then will I spare your friend.”

“And how do I know you will keep your word? I know of your cleaver promises, your many past acts of betrayal.” Duo called Death’s hand. “What is my guarantee?”

Death pointed the same shaky finger overhead at the churning clouds ablaze with heavenly fire. “You have a power borne of faith, Boy. You stood against me with a confidence of mind and certitude of spirit.

I will not break my bond with you. Powers greater than yourself or I have ordained this union.” the Slave Of Satan proclaimed as the thunder rolled in a ground-jarring tremor.

Duo touched the gold cross enfolding quivering fingers about the sacred symbol. Once more his eyes closed in silent prayer asking for the strength to endure his fall from grace. And forgiveness for what immoral acts his agreement would spawn.

“Amen.” Duo ended his humble suppilcation standing to face dark his collaborator. “I agree.” he whispered lowly.

“Excellent!” Death exclaimed with triumphant delight. “And befitting your new role I think it is only proper you have a new title. From this time forward you will be called Shinigami. I will give your fighting machine an energy scythe to aide you in your acquirable task so your enemies can feel my sting of death.”

Duo quietly considered his new title and his Mecha’s new armament, turned them over again in his mind, “A new name for me. A new weapon.” he thought out loud, “Then my Gundam shall have a new name, also. Now it will be called Deathscythe Hell.”

“So be it.” Death announced moving stealthy away from the Fallen Angel. The Son of Hades grew thinner and thinner until the transparency of his faint form blended and disappeared into the icy mist.

Overhead the black, swirling masses of fire and light also drew away. The silver illumination of the full moon shone with a purifying brilliancy.

Duo clutched the gold cross lifting his glowing eyes towards the moon’s radiant luster. As he watched, a thousand pinpoints of flickering starlight appear across the ebony heavens, “Well, Death, you might very well have Shinigami’s soul,” he sighed touching the gold crucifix to his lips as a blue-violent aura encircled the moon, “but Heero has my heart. Heero, hear me now. Feel my strength and power.” he ordered.

***************************************

Many miles away, far from Duo and his now, strangely peaceful spirit, Heero Yuy laid pale and still beneath a canvas tent. He had been that way, comatose, for weeks.

Suddenly a jolt, like an electrical shock, made his limp body shudder. Breath swelled in his lungs and a warmth spread from his heart to cover his chilled body.

A dim essence floated somewhere just beyond his consciousness. A hand touched a gold cross to his feverish brow. But what Heero couldn’t see with his weakened sight, he could feel with his renewed spirit. “Duo.” he whispered too softly for anyone but him to hear.

Slowly Heero opened his eyes. Blinked once, twice, then brought a blurred image into focus. A smile brightened on the compassionate face looking back.

“Trowa.” Catherine’s gentle voice called, “Your friend is awake.”

A DEAL WITH DEATH--By: Karen Hickman--October 2000