6-12-2000

AstroKender (AstroKender@aol.com)
"The Hero" (Prequel to Superman)
Songfic/Drama
1+2/2+1
Feedback:Yes!!!
//Italics// I Need a Hero is by Bonnie Tyler. GW is not mine.

 

//Where have all the good men gone and where are all the Gods?//

Heero looked up through a haze of pain to see a dark angel standing over him...and holding a gun. The shadowy figure was cloaked in black from head to toe. The boy seemed to blend in with the darkening twilight. For the first time since Heero had come to the Earth, he was afraid.

The figure holding the gun began to speak, in badly enunciated Japanese. "Obviously you are the bad guy here, aren't you?" He looked over to the blonde. "Are you alright Miss?"

Great. Heero thought. An American. He could hear Relena kneel next to him, asking stupidly if he was okay. Of course I'm not all right. This guy just shot me. Heero lunged for his gun.

A flare a pain seared through his leg and he slid across the deck. Damn, again? Heero lay there panting for a moment, staring up at his attacker. His eyes...they're the same color as the sky...ai [1]...indigo... He shook himself mentally. What was he thinking?

"Don't hurt yourself any further." The figure--a boy he realized, around his age-flashed his teeth in a bright smile. But Heero could see those dark eyes filled with determination. He did not try for his gun again.

"That's enough!" Relena shrieked. "Why did you have to hurt him?"

"Hey, wait a second." If Heero weren't in so much pain, he would have laughed at the bewildered expression on the boy's face.

Heero looked down in amazement. Relena was binding his wounds with strips of her blue dress. How could she be foolish enough to help him? He was about to kill her. If it weren't for the appearance of this stranger, she would have been dead.

"So, I'm the bad guy now?" Said stranger was scratching his head ruefully. He opened his mouth to speak, when a beeping cut through the air.

//Where's the streetwise Hercules to fight the rise in arms?//

The boy glanced at his watch, brow furrowed. "Oops, already here? I may have miscalculated the high tide."

Suddenly there was a great roaring sound from the ocean. Looking out, Heero gasped. Wing... The Gundam slowly rose out of the sea, carried by...Another Gundam? The black goliath emerged eerily from the dark waters surrounding it, like something rising from a grave.

A bright flash of light brought Heero back to the events forming on land. The boy had pulled out some sort of light-stick, and was using it to prevent Relena from getting a good look at the two Gundams. Good effort. Heero thought. But Relena would still have to be killed. She knew too much.

"Miss, I don't know what's going on here, but you'd better go home now. I'm telling you this for your sake."

Heero sneered. This boy put too much worth in human life. He should have killed the blonde for seeing his Gundam. He should have shot Heero to kill, not just to wound. The Japanese boy was determined to show him the error of such sentimentality.

He dashed for the torpedoes as bullets whizzed past him. //He still isn't aiming to kill.// Heero realized incredulously.

"Hey! Back off!" The boy emptied out his pistol, firing at the Japanese boy.

//Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?//

Heero straddled the torpedoes like he would a horse. He looked once more at the figure that had caused him so much trouble. A braid...the guy has a braid...

"That's my mobile suit!" He shouted.

Heero slammed his fist down on the control panel. A burst of fire shot out of the torpedoes and they lurched forward, taking the Wing pilot with them.

"What are you doing, you idiot?" The boy on shore shouted.

Heero lost his grip and plummeted towards the dark waters. As he fell, he found himself thinking that he didn't even know his assailant's name. A pity. Heero thought wryly. He deserves to be tormented by my ghost...

"This is it...This is the end...Mission completed..."

//Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need!//

Duo tossed restlessly in his bed. Cobalt eyes constantly pierced his already troubled dreams. He flipped onto his back in frustration, staring blankly up at the ceiling.

That's my mobile suit!

That girl was screaming at him, hysterical. Duo ignored her and dove off the ship. He swam towards the Japanese boy, who was floating, face down. This was a feat in itself since Duo hadn't even seen this much water until a couple of days ago, and was less than the perfect swimmer. Nevertheless, he had pulled the unconscious pilot out of the water and onto the beach.

He had lain there, gasping for breath, and staring at the dark-haired boy beside him.

Duo groaned and pulled the pillow over his face. He had remembered the soldiers coming...a lot of them. He had to escape; he couldn't afford to be seen. So he had left him...the Japanese boy with the intense prussian eyes. And now he couldn't stop thinking about him.

He had hidden, of course, instead of running away. He had watched as they took the Asian boy, and followed them. He stood there as the pilot was dragged into the hospital, that blonde girl trailing behind him like a puppy. He should have left it at that.

But the medical center belonged to OZ. There was no way he was going to let another Gundam pilot stay in their clutches.

The braided boy fell back into a restless slumber, and dreamed.

[1] In the Japanese dictionary, ai means love and the color indigo (or deep violet-blue) coincidence? I think not!

 

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night.//

Heero strained against his bindings. He had to get free! You must not let yourself be captured. He tugged viciously at his restraints, but to know avail. Damn!

A strange static noise caught his attention. Turning his head, Heero looked up to see a monitor bolted to the wall. The screen was fuzzy for a moment, and then a figure appeared. It's that boy! From last night... The boy was still wearing his black attire and his hat was pulled low, hiding his eyes. For some reason, Heero felt disappointment from that fact. The boy raised his finger to his lips, gesturing for Heero to remain quiet. His eyes were automatically drawn to that mouth, where the finger had rested so casually. Those lips suddenly moved, and the Japanese focused on what they were saying.

Of course I can read lips. He snorted silently, turning his head away. He cracked open one eyelid; he couldn't help it. The guy was still talking.

--If you'd like, I'll help you get out of here.

Heero's eyes shot open completely. //Baka! Are you trying to get captured too?// He shook his head vigorously, but the figure on the screen was gone.

//He's got to be strong and he's got to be fast and he's got to be fresh from the fight.//

A blast interrupted Heero from his troubled thoughts and his eyes shot to where the cell wall...once was. In its place was a pile of rubble and a cloud of smoke. The haze parted to reveal the braided boy, arms raised to shield his face.

Fool. Can't even get me loose without alerting the entire building.

The boy crouched down beside him and looked frantically for a way to release him. This was the first time Heero had got a good look at him up close. Chestnut hair escaped the confines of the braid to drift wildly across the boy's heart-shaped face. Wide eyes that were almost violet in color looked up at him.

"Damn!" He cursed. "How does this work?"

He's going to get himself killed if we don't hurry up. He gave one last tug and his arm broke free of the restraint. He held the bleeding appendage out towards the braided boy.

"Just give me the knife." Heero said, gesturing to the blade strapped to the black-clad thigh. "I can do it."

The braided boy just stared at him in shock. "Your arm!"

Heero growled and snatched the knife himself. He lingered for a moment, feeling the warm radiating from that well toned thigh absorb into his own cold and tired muscles. With a grunt, he pulled away and began freeing himself.

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light.//

Duo slipped his parachute onto the Japanese boy, tightening it to make sure it was secure. He could feel the pressure of those cobalt eyes staring at him, and he forced himself to meet their gaze.

"What are you going to use?" The dark haired boy asked softly.

"Don't worry about me." Duo grinned, patting the strange pole at his side. "I always come prepared."

The two boys ran towards the far wall. Duo yelled and threw a grenade at the window. Both pilots fell to the floor, heads covered, as the grenade blew a hole in the side of the building. Morning light filtered through the room.

Duo looked once more at the boy lying beside him. Their eyes met and held. Finally, the Japanese boy rose and ran towards the opening. Duo followed close behind.

//He's got to be sure and it's got to be soon and he's got to be larger than life.//

Heero shot out the window, arms spread. Below him, the braided boy also fell. //How did he get ahead of me?// He watched as the boy plummeted towards the ground, head first. The sun shone directly behind him, making the boy little more than a shadow. Heero held his breath.

The boy flipped upright and raised the mysterious pole high. A green flame shot out and the top began to spin. The braided boy's descent slowed dramatically. Heero closed his eyes in relief.

Why am I relieved? Why should I care what happens to this baka? Heero's thoughts raced, trying to puzzle out this mystery. The boy shouted at him from above.

"What are you doing? Open the parachute, hurry!"

//I shouldn't. I need to die. I failed my mission.//

"Hey! What the hell are you doing?"

//I'm dying...You saved a dead man my friend...Wait a minute, my friend?//

"Damn! Don't waste any more time!"

"No! Heero!" A cry shot through the air.

Automatically, Heero's hand jerked.

//Somewhere after midnight, in my wildest fantasy,//

Duo found himself once again unable to sleep. Those slanted eyes just wouldn't leave him alone. His thoughts trailed back to earlier that night.

The Japanese pilot had paused in his diagnostic, eyes far away. Duo stepped towards him hesitantly; their last "conversation" had not ended on a good note.

"So, you think you'll get it fixed in time?" Blue eyes brushed past him dismissively.

"Aa."

Taking a deep breath, Duo tried again. "Look, I know we didn't get off on the best of starts..." He stuck his hand out. "My name is Duo."

The Japanese boy merely looked at him. Duo pulled his hand back and stuck it behind his head embarrassedly. "So you're not going to tell me your name, huh?"

"Iie."

"I guess that means no."

"Hn."

Duo sighed in exasperation. "Then I'll just have to find something to call you besides 'Hey, you'."

Was it his imagination, or did he just see the guy smirk?

It must have been my imagination. Duo thought, head pillowed on his hands. Pulling the covers over himself once more, he closed his eyes and again tried to find sleep.

//Somewhere just beyond my reach is someone reaching back for me.//

Duo gave up all pretense of sleeping after about an hour. Someone was welding, and it was keeping him awake. Growling, he stumbled out of bed, barely managing to slip on a tank top for decency.

"Dammit, Howard! Can you keep it down-" Duo paused, one hand still on the door. It was the Japanese boy, not Howard that was wielding. Duo sighed and leaned up against the doorjamb. The pilot worked on unaware.

"I may have caused you some trouble buddy," Duo whispered to himself. "But not nearly as much as your causing me."

Taking one last look at the firm muscle bunching under that green tank top, Duo turned back into the room and shut the door.

He didn't see the Japanese boy turn, a confused look on his Asian features. He didn't see the boy reach out and his mouth open to call him back. Duo didn't see that arm drop and the face turn impassive. He didn't see...

//Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat.//

Duo raced out of the hanger. Howard's men were standing around, looking up in awe. The braided pilot followed their gaze and gasped. The Gundam was on the runway, but it was different. It was transformed from its man-like appearance to something that looked more like...a bird.

The engines burned with blue flame, sending a blast of heat back through the hanger. The throttle was kicked wide open as the jet prepared to take off. Duo ignored the hot wind and ran towards the Gundam.

"I can't believe this! What a guy! He fixed this shit in one night?"

With a final blast, the Gundam took to the air, nearly knocking Duo to the ground. He watched as the strange Gundam disappeared into the distance.

//It's gonna take a Superman to sweep me of my feet!//

Heero looked at his view screen, which showed a very enraged Duo, shaking his fist at the sky. He suppressed the urge to chuckle. That's what he got for trusting a stranger. Maybe he had learned his lesson now and would survive a little longer.

The Japanese pilot watched as the screen started to fuzz out. He looked once more at the braided pilot. He was yelling something. Heero turned on the audio.

"-get you yet, Superman!"

The screen showed static as Wing flew out of range. Heero took one last glance at the disappearing hanger.

"Sayonara...Duo."

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night.//

Duo sat on the pier, legs over the side, quietly watching the sun slowly set over the ocean. The clouds above were stained into a myriad of colors. The soft light reflected gently across the braided pilot's heart-shaped face and lovingly tinted his hair a dark auburn.

Howard stepped softly behind the youth, hands stuck deep into his pockets. Duo, normally so loud and boisterous, had been quiet lately. Ever since that boy had left. Howard wondered what had gone on between them, but it wasn't his place to ask. He was just a mechanic.

"Your mobile suit has been repaired." He said instead.

Duo turned around and gave him a genuine smile. "Thank you. I appreciate it." He stood up slowly and they walked over to where his mechanical partner sat. Howard's men buzzed all around it, giving it a little tweak here and a little polish there. Duo nodded at them approvingly.

"No need to thank me..." Howard said amiably. "Just pay me as usual. You're my biggest client you know."

Duo looked up at his aibou [2], smiling. "We managed to get it ready for the next mission." Was all he said.

Howard looked at him. He alone knew why Duo insisted on them hastening the repairs. He was hoping to see that Japanese lad again. The old man shook his head. He genuinely liked Duo. He had been wary when the kid first showed up on his base, with a stolen Gundam [3]. But after he had talked to Professor G, he warmed up considerably to this audacious youth. The boy was brash, and stubborn, and loud...and Howard loved him like a son. I hope that Japanese kid doesn't hurt you, boy. He had a wildness in his eyes that damn near gave me the willies.

Howard said nothing of this aloud, just merely watched the boy as he stared up at his Gundam, violet eyes shining.

//He's got to be strong and he's got to be fast and he's got to be fresh from the fight.//

Heero fired his beam rifle one last time, beheading the last of the enemies that remained in the area. The battle had been quick and easy, with no complications. Now all that remained was to destroy the facility itself. He lifted the rifle to fire at the main tower, but someone beat him to it. Looking over, eyes wide, Heero saw a familiar black Gundam seemingly descend from the heavens. Duo's face popped up on his screen.

"I guess we're on the same mission."

But Heero wasn't paying any attention, for behind the black Gundam was...

"Hey!" The braided pilot complained. "It won't cost you anything to say 'Hello' to me."

Heero once again raised the beam cannon. "Target: Locked on."

Misunderstanding his intent, Duo raised his buster shield. Heero saw hurt flash in those violet eyes, before grim determination quickly covered it up.

"So we have to fight this out after all?"

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light.//

The two Gundams faced off for a long moment, as time seemed to stand still. Suddenly the ground beneath DeathScythe's foot gave way, and the Gundam stumbled backwards.

Heero felt his heart leap in return and quickly pulled the trigger. The beam rifle fired and Duo let out an involuntary yell. But the beam passed over his Gundam to blast into an object right behind him. Duo looked back to see a now-headless mobile suit crash to the ground, then explode.

Heero's lips twitched at the look of confusion that passed over Duo's face.

"Now we're even." He began to laugh. Leaving Duo still staring at him in wonder, Wing shot up into the air and transformed into bird mode.

"Damn." Was all Duo said. "You got me."

At this Heero smiled. "I'll hold you to that." He whispered softly as his Gundam disappeared into the lightening skies.

//He's got to be sure and it's got to be soon and he's got to be larger than life.//

[2] Aibou means partner.
[3] In Endless Waltz, it is revealed that Duo actually "steals" DeathScythe, though Professor G told him to.

 

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night.//

The star shone brightly down upon the solitary figure resting peacefully upon a machine of war. Duo laid on DeathScythe's canvas covered leg, looking up at the gentle curve of the full moon. The air was chilly tonight, but not so cold that the braided boy wanted to leave his comfortable perch. He heard voices coming towards him and swore softly, hoping that they wouldn't notice him. He really didn't feel like putting on the mask tonight.

"Hey Duo!" Duo sighed. So much for privacy.

"Duo!" Another sweeper called.

Duo reluctantly rose from his reclining position. He looked down to see Howard shooing the two men away. The old man turned and looked up at him.

"What's up Duo? What're ya doin' up there?" Howard called up softly.

Duo tried to find his trademark grin. "Nothing. I just found that the moon looks much more beautiful from the Earth."

Howard nodded sagely. "The moonlight on the calm sea..."

Large violet eyes turned back to stare at the glowing orb. After a moment, he spoke, his words seeming to be absorbed by the darkness.

"The moon looks so clear from the colony, I always thought of it as a huge graveyard."

"Hmm..." Was all Howard said. "Graveyard, huh?"

Duo found himself becoming irrationally angry for some reason. "I'm sure that guy doesn't have the soul to look upon the moon this way." He spat. He doesn't care about anything but the mission. "You should let yourself go over the edge every once in a while and enjoy your life!" I wish he would look at me. Just once, really look at me. I don't want to be alone anymore...

"Especially while you're still alive..." Duo blinked away the sudden moisture that appeared in his eyes.

"Being rational is one thing; reality is another..." Howard said consolingly. "It's a sad human saga..." The old man slowly walked back towards the hanger.

Duo lay back down on the cold metal of DeathScythe's leg. He gazed at the stars as if he were trying to divine the future. After a moment he sighed and spoke his thoughts aloud.

"I wonder what he's doing now..."

//I pray the mountains meet the heavens above,//

Heero sat in the cockpit of the hijacked cargo jet. He began flipping a number of switches, preparing to start the engines. On the third switch, a red light blinked warningly at him. The cargo door's still open, he realized. Just then, a shudder rocked the plane.

"Who's back there?"

Heero raced out into the bay area, pistol in hand. There, a frustratingly familiar Gundam rested. A head of chestnut hair popped out of the hatch, followed by a slender, black-clad body.

"Hey! You should load yours up, too." The cheerful voice stated. "I'll take care of the cockpit." Heero's gun did not waiver.

"Duo..." Heero looked down at the braided boy incredulously. What are you doing here?

Duo grinned up from beside of DeathScythe. "You don't wanna screw up this mission, do you? Leave it to me."

Heero stared at him. He wants to come with me? To work together? Heero tried his best to make his voice seem normal, but he knew his eyes betrayed him. He lowered his gun.

"Do whatever you want."

"This is gonna be a great mission."

Heero looked over at the braided boy in irritation. He's having fun? "Do you really know the importance of this mission?"

Duo glanced over for a moment, hands still steady at the controls. He's a good pilot. Heero thought. Violet eyes met cobalt.

"Of course, I do. This is gonna be our best opportunity to destroy OZ once and for all."

Heero broke the gaze, turning to stare out at the blue sky surrounding them. He spoke quietly. "This is unlike anything else we've done so far. We can terminate the heads of OZ all together." I'm using 'we' now...'We', not 'I'...

"Aa...And then I'll be able to go home."

After this mission, he'll be gone...Heero stared at the braided boy, his eyes like open wounds. Duo remained oblivious, concentrating on piloting the cumbersome cargo plane. The Japanese boy watched him awhile longer, memorizing each feature of the fey creature beside him, then he reluctantly looked away.

//I pray the lightning splits the sea.//

Wing fell to the ground, transforming back from bird form. The Gundam stood quickly, to dispatch its attackers, but DeathScythe struck first. Raising its buster shield, Heero watched as it shot towards the enemy, a thermal blade igniting from the tip. The enemy exploded in a fiery inferno that was reflected in the ocean's water around them. Heero looked at the black Gundam with new respect.

Duo's face popped on his view screen, looking uncharacteristically grim.

"Defenses are really heavy!" He grunted at more shots connected with DeathScythe. "This may be too much."

"Ten times more than I expected." Heero stated, cursing himself for putting them both in danger due to his underestimation.

He watched Duo's eyes harden. "We've gotta take them more seriously today!" His scythe stuck out, slicing an oncoming enemy in half.

Heero brought his beam rifle to bear. This was going to be a difficult battle.

"It's taking too long!" Heero shouted.

Duo watched as the white Gundam discarded it's beam rifle and pull out it saber. This is gonna be messy. Duo thought. His lips firmed. I have to help him out as much as I can. Turning on his thrusters, he jetted into the attacking mass.

"I'll break through the center!" Duo cuts a swath of destruction through the ranks of mobile suits.

Hearing his name called out in warning, Duo struck out blindly. The butt of his scythe slammed into the MS behind him and it fell towards the ground. Growling, Duo turned, slicing it in half.

//I can swear there's someone somewhere watching me.//

"Damn. They just keep coming!" Duo shouted into the com-link.

Heero could hear the other pilot's frustration...and the under current of fear. He was just about to order him to pull back, when they struck.

Heero watched helplessly as a volley of missiles headed towards the black Gundam. He opened his mouth to call out a warning, but it was too late. DeathScythe was engulfed in flames.

Forcing Wing backwards numbly, Heero braced himself as the aftershock of the explosion washed over him. Wing was flung to the ground. He peered through the blaze intently, foolishly hoping for a miracle.

DeathScythe knelt in the middle of the wreckage as if in prayer, scythe held up in offering. Heero closed his eyes in relief. Somehow, Duo had avoided the brunt of the missiles.

Heero watched the black Gundam rise and turned to face their attackers, murder in his eyes. What he saw made his eyes widen.

"Are they OZ's new mobile suits?"

"But they're attacking the Federation's mobile suits!" Duo's voice sounded staticy through the communicator. Heero had lost visual status when the missiles struck, so he couldn't see the braided boy's face.

The four suits faced off grimly. Heero's eyes narrowed. There. The red one. That was the one who fired on them.

"There just like us..." Duo said in awe.

They attacked us...they're our enemies...

Suddenly a jet flew overhead, the OZ symbol prominently displayed on its hull.

"Go!" Duo commanded.

"That's it." He forced Wing to transform, and took to the skies. He glanced back once, and then concentrated on the plane looming ahead.

I've got a mission to complete. Now is not the time to think of feelings and braided bakas.

//Through the wind and the chill and the rain,//

"We've been tricked by Treize...?" Duo asked softly in disbelief.

"Completely and perfectly..." The stranger's in the suit beside him mumbled.

No. God! How could I have been so foolish! Duo eyes blazed with rage. "We have no choice! Let's go after Treize!" He warmed up his thrusters. "We can still catch up to him!"

"You're not thinking straight!" The boy yelled.

"Stay out of my way. Or I'll shoot you!" We can't let this Treize guy get away with this!

"We're only good at guerrilla tactics." The strange new Gundam turned towards him. "But right now, OZ's defenses are almost faultless!"

Frustrated, Duo tried DeathScythe's hidden machine guns, but they were out of bullets. Closing his eyes, he sighed.

"I guess you're right."

Gunfire came from the right, slamming into the black Gundam. Gritting his teeth, Duo turned to face the new threat.

"Are there still survivors?" Haha! Here was something he could take his frustrations out on!

"Let's get out of here for now."

"Aa." Duo said.

DeathScythe and the new Gundam split in two different directions, trying to confuse the enemy. Duo glanced back to check on the Japanese boy, but he hadn't moved.

"Wake up! Move out!" He shouted. The com-link remained silent.

Duo moved back in front of the Gundam, taking the brunt of the assault. Hit after hit jolted him in his harness as he fought to shield the both of them. He hit the com-link irritably, trying to get a visual.

"What the hell is he doing?" He growled out.

A blast from a beam rifle shot out towards the immobile Gundam. Cursing, Duo threw himself in front of it. His head smacked against the console and Duo fought to stay conscious.

"Hey! Stop giving me a hard time!" He gasped to his still-silent partner. He felt something trickle down his cheek and wiped at it absently. Looking down, he saw his fingers stained with blood.

"Your friend seems to be in shock from what he's done." Duo slammed his fist onto the control panel and a blonde haired boy popped up on his view screen.

Who can blame him? If I had just destroyed the world's only hope for peace, I'd be dead inside, too.

//And the stars up above.//

Heero floated in a haze of numbness; seeing nothing, feeling nothing. He was vaguely aware of the black Gundam in front of him, protecting him. There was someone in that Gundam...someone important...but Heero couldn't remember who.

A cannon blast shot forth, one that the black Gundam couldn't block, and slammed into Wing. The mobile suit crashed to the ground. Heero lay there, shaking his head, trying to clear it.

"Heero!" A voice called from nowhere. "I know you can hear me! Listen to me! Heero!"

A familiar voice floated through the com-unit. "Heero...is that his name?" I know you...

"The missile self-destruct system has been activated at this base!" The woman over the intercom continued. "OZ is trying to blow you up along with the whole base!"

"I've confirmed it." Another voice added. This one seemed to come from the mobile suit beside him. "There are 47 high-yield nuclear warheads, and if all of them went off at the same time...everything in a 180-mile radius will be destroyed!"

"What are you waiting for then? Let's get the hell outta here!" Duo...

"We have less than 10 minutes to get away." The unfamiliar voice stated. "There's no way we can fly 180 miles in such a short period of time!"

No escape...Fine...I deserve to die... He heard Duo cursing weakly. But, Duo...

"You could possibly escape from here in time, but let me ask you for a very selfish favor..." The woman begged. "Don't let them go off, Heero!"

//I can feel his approach like a fire in the blood.//

Duo leaned back in the confiscated cargo jet, showing casualness he did not feel. Sweat poured down his forehead as he mentally ticked off the minutes. Everything was riding on this boy.

"Heero...I'm counting on you!"

The blond looked at him reassuringly from the view screen. "There is only a 10% chance of success...but I know he can make it."

Duo looked out the window nervously. I hope so...for all of us.

//Like a fire in the blood, like a fire in blood, like a fire in blood.//

Heero stood on the roof of the missile hanger, watching the two shuttles take off into the night. He would meet up again with Duo, at a previously planned location. The wind brushed softly through his hair, reminding him that he was still alive. At least more innocents didn't die at his hands...

"What a horrible mistake...It's my..."He whispered brokenly. "It's all my fault!"

His Gundam was the only witness to his anguished scream.

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night.//

Physics is boring. Duo thought. As a Gundam pilot, he probably knew more than the teacher. I could definitely teach the class better than this old fart can. Faint whispering could be heard behind him and he listened absently.

"I tell you those Gundams should be bombed back to hell where they belong!"

"Yeah! Those terrorists are nothing but a menace. If I ever met one-"

Duo snuck a glance beside him. Heero was studiously taking notes, seemingly unaware of the conversation taking place behind him. Upon closer look, Duo noticed Heero's jaw was clenched painfully and his pencil was locked in a death grip, knuckles turning white with the strain. Cobalt eyes met his in an intense stare. Duo flushed and looked back down at his empty notebook.

The bell rang, signaling lunch, and the students raced out of the classroom. Heero walked by the braided pilot without a word. Shaking his head, Duo started to leave the room.

"Mr. Maxwell!"

Duo winced and turned to face the very disapproving face of his teacher. Sgt. Laperoski was an ugly that put Professor G to shame, but with less personality. And the worst part, he worked for OZ.

"I know your new here, Mr. Maxwell. But that does not excuse you for slacking off in my class." The man stepped closer, so close that Duo could feel the man's fetid breath against the back of his neck. The braided boy repressed a shudder. "I felt the need to keep you from lunch, Duo, because I believe there is a way we can work something out that is agreeable to both of us." A clammy hand rested on Duo's thin shoulder.

"What do you mean, Sir?" He gritted out, forcing himself not to kill this man instantly. He couldn't blow their cover.

"A man learns certain things in the military, Duo..." Muddy-brown looked deeply into the braided boy's violet ones. "You seem to be having some trouble in this class..." gnarled fingers slowly stoked the back of Duo's neck. "I could...tutor you...privately."

Duo tried to pull away, but the hand held him firmly. An irrational lump of fear lodged in the American's throat and he forced himself to remain calm. He plastered on a false grin.

"That's okay, Laperoski-sama! I already have a tutor!"

The Sergeant's eyes narrowed and the hand holding Duo clenched painfully. "Oh, really? And who might that be?"

"Me."

Duo turned in relief to see Heero standing in the doorway. The Japanese boy held his hands clenched tightly at his sides. Cobalt eyes blazed, yet his voice betrayed no emotion.

The painful grip on Duo's shoulder was loosened as the teacher stepped back slightly. "Ah, Mr. Yuy. It is commendable for you to help a fellow student." The gray haired man shifted to look once more at Duo. "If you find yourself needing any... additional help, feel free to come to my office, Mr. Maxwell."

"That won't be necessary." Heero ground out, dragging Duo from the room.

They walked in silence for a few minutes, Duo absently rubbing his shoulder. He stopped suddenly and slumped against the wall, sliding weakly to the floor. Breathing heavily, he hid his head in his hands. Heero sat next to him uncertainly.

"What made you come back?"

Heero thought for a moment. "You weren't at lunch...you're normally the first one in line."

Duo laughed and drew in a shaky breath. His eyes rose to meet Heero's.

"Thanks man."

Heero shrugged. "I owed you one."

They sat there quietly for a few more moments. Then Heero spoke up.

"Basketball?"

Duo's grin was the only answer he got.

//He's got to be strong and he's got to be fast and he's got to be fresh from the fight.//

"Nice, Heero." Duo called out cheerfully.

The Japanese boy smiled slightly at the flushed heart-shaped face in front of him. This was a good idea...Heero praised himself. You took his mind off the incident earlier.

Heero vaguely heard the cheers coming from the bleachers, congratulating the to boy's on yet again defeating their opponents. A warm and slightly calloused hand rested comfortably on his shoulder.

"Why don't you wave back to them, Heero? Show your appreciation to your loyal fans!"

Heero said nothing and simply walked away. He sat down on a bench overlooking the sea. The ocean waters below sparkled merrily, but Heero's eyes were fastened to a black shape out in the distance.

"There you are!"

The braided boy almost bounced over to the railing beside him. Heero watched as the wind caressed the tan skin; damp with sweat, and traced it's fingers through the chestnut braid, sending it flying like a banner.

"Well, to keep transferring ourselves turned out to be a pretty good idea." Duo announced, leaning precariously over the rail. "Boy's our age are supposed to be in school, after all."

"What are you thinking about?" Heero surprised himself with that question.

Duo seemed startled as well. He smiled softly. "I'm just thinking as usual."

"You stand out." Heero stated. This afternoon had proved that.

Duo seemed unperturbed. "I think it's much more natural for me to be myself than to try hard to hide my identity like you." Indigo eyes seared deep into Heero's. "You should enjoy your childhood too."

The Japanese boy stood up irritably. "I'm not like you."

" 'You're getting in my way', right?" Sinewy arms crossed as Duo contemplated his partner from under unruly bangs. Heero forced himself to ignore the way the braided boy looked in his basketball gear. No wonder everyone's after him...

"But we share the same objective." The American continued. "It's useless to pretend otherwise, I can see that airbase reflected in your eyes."

Heero's eyes narrowed dangerously. He had said nothing of his intent to level the base tonight, yet the braided boy had seemingly read his thoughts. I'm I really that visible?

"First come, first serve. What do you say?" One delicate eyebrow rose mischievously. Two heads swiveled to gaze at the base across the dancing waters.

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light.//

Duo looked appreciatively at the destruction around him. Nothing was like taking all your frustrations out on the bad guys. The braided boy had a marvelous time picturing Laperoski's face on every mobile suit he destroyed.

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Duo looked around absently. Heero was nowhere to be seen. "Alright! I got here first."

Just then, Duo caught a flash of light off to his left. Wing descended from the skies like an avenging angel...only with a beam rifle. Duo snickered at the thought as he opened the link between the two Gundams.

"You're late, Heero. But, I didn't forget to leave you some."

Heero said nothing but Duo saw a familiar gleam in the Japanese pilot's eyes. Wing rose in the air once more, running down mobile suits like they were soda cans. The beam rifle raised and with a burst of light, the base exploded.

"Mission: Completed."

Duo snorted. He must have not been the only one who needed stress relief.

//He's got to be sure and it's got to be soon and he's got to be larger than life.//

Heero looked over at the sleeping figure beside him. Duo was slumbering peacefully in the passenger side of the stolen jeep. Heero smiled to himself when he thought of a certain physics teacher that was going to need a new mode of transportation to get to work.

Heero tried to concentrate on the road, but his eyes constantly drifted to the braided boy beside him. It wasn't often that he got to observe Duo without the threat of being seen. The American looked younger somehow, with his arm thrown carelessly over his head and foot resting precariously on the dash.

Heero had expected the braided boy to object when he stated that they were leaving tonight. It did seem suspicious that they left right after the base exploded, but Duo hadn't complained. They had left soon afterwards.

The night Heero had destroyed the shuttle carrying the Alliance peacekeeper he had been in shock. He had stumbled tiredly to the rendezvous spot and collapsed in Duo's arms. He didn't remember much more from that night. Only that he woke up in an unfamiliar hotel room with something warm wrapped around him. He was surprised, to say the least, to find out that the warmth was coming from a slumbering Duo curled around him. They were both fully clothed, so Heero reasoned that nothing untoward had happened. He found himself strangely disappointed at that fact.

He and Duo had woken up the next morning and continued on towards the school they had enrolled it. Duo never once mentioned that night.

Heero shook himself back into the present and once more concentrated on the road, trying hard to forget the slumbering creature beside him.

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night.//

"Mission: Accepted..."

Destroy the Taurus suits...Heero thought. I wonder if Duo-His thoughts were interrupted by the door creaking open. The Japanese boy whirled around, gun in hand.

"Who's there?"

Duo's head slowly came into view. Dark violet eyes looked at Heero. "I came to say goodbye."

Goodbye? The normally boisterous pilot had a grim expression. Heero recognized it instantly and felt a lump claw it's way up his throat.

"Cause I have a bad feeling about this." Duo opened the door wider and leaned against the wall.

"The OZ transportation plan seems perfect." Duo continued. "We've discovered two different plans-on the ground and in the air."

Who is we and how do you know this? Heero wanted to ask. But all he could do is stare at the lanky figure before him. Goodbye?

"Heero," Duo's low voice caressed his name. "Can you go after the air route?"

Heero knew he should speak, or nod, or anything, but he just sat there. Watching as if from a great distance. "I'll check the ground route." Duo looked at him and Heero repressed a shiver at the intensity of that gaze. Duo turned and walked out of the room. He paused.

"And we'd better be very careful. This time, they're well prepared." Then the braided boy was gone.

Heero looked at the empty doorway for a long moment. Numb fingers shut down his laptop absently. Those violet eyes were still burned in his memory.

"Goodbye..." He whispered.

//He's got to be strong and he's got to be fast and he's got to be fresh from the fight.//

That blond kid was gonna die, Duo realized. He had fallen on the tracks and the train was heading straight for him. There was no way Duo could get to him in time. I can't just let him die...He's one of us.

Without thinking, the braided boy threw himself at the speeding locomotive. DeathScythe clung to the side of the car and Duo pulled desperately. With a groan, the train flipped over onto the black Gundam.

All Duo could see was blackness as he felt the weight of the train collapse on him. The screech of metal screamed in his ears as the momentum dragged DeathScythe and the train across the ground. Blood gushed from a gash on his forehead and Duo closed his eyes, praying that they would stop before they skidded off the cliff.

Finally the wreckage slowed to a halt. Duo found himself buried alive under thousands of pounds of rubble. He lay there, breathing heavily for a moment, before struggling out. He first action was to look for the other Gundam. It had risen from its fallen position and now faced him.

"Hey! Are you alright?"

"Thank you!" The blonde's face popped up on his screen. "I knew you'd come."

Duo grunted and fought to remain conscious, the battle was far from over. "Ah, but we're after the wrong one!"

Around them the derailed cars opened to reveal hundreds of Leos that now surrounded the two Gundams.

//I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light.//

Sweat beaded across Heero's brow but he ignored it, focusing on the battle with the prototype in from of him. He could hear Duo's battle cries through the com-link. Heero hated that they were so far apart and he didn't know exactly what was happening on his partner's end. He heard the screech of metal and fought to pop on a visual. Finally, though, Duo's voice once more floated the intercom, much weaker than before.

Heero made a vicious swipe at the white suit, but it evaded him easily. He was beginning to think of retreating when a woman's voice blared through intercom.

"To all the Gundam pilots, listen! We are ready to attack all the colonies with ballistic missiles. All the space missile sites formally belonging to the Federation are now under our control. The destiny of all the colonies is now in our hands."

Duo's face popped up on the screen, ashen. The other pilot, the blonde, popped up beside him.

"This is not a bluff!" The voice continued harshly. "The pilots must surrender and hand over the Gundams to us immediately!"

"The colonies are in danger!" The blonde boy said, wide eyed.

"Hand over the Gundams?" Duo whispered, meeting Heero's eyes through the screen.

//He's got to be sure and it's got to be soon and he's got to be larger than life.//

"OZ!" A mysterious voice boomed out. "I had no idea OZ was a bunch of idiots. For the last time: the colonies never wanted a war with you. It is only me, who is challenging you."

"Who is this guy?" Duo asked, looking curiously at the picture of the old man on his screen.

"He must be the one who's been giving orders to one of us." The blonde boy stated.

Duo didn't hear him though. He was watching the now-pale face on his screen. He's the one who gives you the missions, isn't he, Heero? Heero met his eyes and nodded, as if he read the braided boy's thoughts.

"Dr. J..."

"Attacking innocent colonies?" Dr. J spat. "What an inhumane strategy that is! You will indeed do anything to achieve your goal...I have no choice. I hereby declare that we surrender."

Duo looked at Heero's picture, wide eyed. The Japanese boy had a resigned expression on his face. Duo watched as the hatch to Wing's cockpit opened.

"Heero! What are you doing? Heero!"

Heero looked at Duo and smiled softly. Duo found himself as close to tears as he had been since Maxwell church.

"Heero...don't..."

A calloused hand pressed up against the screen and Duo placed his own hand over it. Cobalt eyes met violet for another instant, and then both hand and Heero were gone.

"We surrender, but we will not hand the Gundams over. I repeat. We surrender. But we will not hand over the Gundams."

The braided boy heard Heero's voice float through the silence. "Mission acknowledged."

Duo watched as Wing's cockpit glowed with a blinding light, then the screen when blank.

//I need a hero!//

"HEEERRROOO!!!!!"

//I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night.//

 

owari.