Ch 2: Death in the Stars
"Baka baka baka baka BAAAAKAAAAAA!!!"
Quatre winces, shoving a finger in his injured ear, trying to escape my howls. "Oi, Duo! Yamero! You sound like Sana-chan from Kodomo no Omocha!"
I pause to take a heaving breath, opening my mouth wide for another barrage of shouts, but a well-aimed couch pillow kills that plan pretty quick, efficiently silencing me and throwing me on my back. I sit up quickly, highly offended, hurling the cushion wildly. "Oi!! Who did that?!"
Heero levels one of his death glares in my direction from where he is sitting crosslegged on the couch, graceful fingers poised over a chess piece on the board settled on the coffee table. "Urusai," he snarls warningly.
Sitting across from him, Trowa offers me a dead-pan stare, and I scowl back at them both, but shut my mouth. I know when I'm beaten.
"Sheesh, Duo.." Quatre gives me a wounded look, retrieving the magazine we'd been skimming through. "How was *I* supposed to know Nuriko's a boy? I've never seen Fushigi Yuugi before!"
"EVERYONE knows that!" I exclaim, flipping my braid back over my shoulder and sniffing importantly as I edge closer, leaning over to point. "Mitte mitte... no chest!"
"Ano.." Quatre blinks, bringing the magazine close to his nose. He's cute when he's confused.
"And a braid like mine.." I pet my own tresses lovingly, pointing to the purple-haired bishonen in the advertisement. "Except *mine's* longer," I add proudly.
I feel eyes boring into my back and glance up to catch Trowa giving me a hard look. Blinking, I look down.
Laughing sheepishly, I lean away from Quatre, removing my knee from his and distancing myself from his bodyheat. Trowa's tense shoulders relax marginally, and I snicker before turning back to the magazine.
My, my, how possessive.
"He's cute, ne? And gay," I continue flippantly, pointing to Nuriko once again. "He's maaadly in love with Hotohori.." I drag my finger over to the smiling figure beside him, watching out of the corner of my eye for Quatre's reaction. "The dashing emperor. Twice as cute, twice as sexy."
"D-Duo," he stutters in surprise, caught off guard by my statement. I chuckle.
We all know of the obvious attraction between Trowa and Quatre, even when they try (miserably) to hide it, and I know they all wonder about me. But I've never been so open about where my tastes lie as to make a comment on a good-looking guy.
This time I point at Yui, dressed in her usual hoe Miko outfit. "'Course, she's pretty hot, too. But she's a bitch."
I laugh, suddenly realize I'm practically leaning against him again, and shrug, not bothering to move.
Quatre opens and shuts his mouth, then sighs and smiles, giving a little laugh at my obvious devil-may-care attitude.
I wonder if Trowa is bristling again, but don't bother to check. Quatre and I have been close friends since the beginning. I'm not going to let a jealous teammate stop me from hanging out with him. Besides, it's fun to make him squirm.
"Ne, Quatre, let's dance!" I cry suddenly, bouncing to my feet and dragging him up by his arms, ignoring his surprised protests. I reach over, flip on the radio, and crank it up. Michael Jackson's "Black or White" blares from the speakers, and I spin around and around the room, twirling Quatre with me, holding him by his wrists at arms' length until his startled look dissolves into one of merriment and he's laughing, the sound so innocent and happy that I add my own hearty laugh to his.
Faster and faster we whirl, Quatre's hands now clutching my own so we don't fall, both of us almost too breathless to laugh. Then one of his slim hands slips from mine and he stumbles. We both fall down in a heap on the floor, lying in a tangled mass, laughing so hard our ribs hurt and tears are coming from our eyes.
I begin to sober first, starting to try and untangle myself, then almost burst out laughing again. This time Trowa is not so subtle. His glare is almost as cold and hard as Heero's when he's angry. I prop myself up with my hands, but don't bother to disentangle my legs from Quatre's, sending Trowa a sneer as if to say "Gee, funny how *I* get to do what *you* wish you could do, huh?"
Boy, if looks could kill....
"Duo.." Quatre is gasping for breath, fighting off his laughter as he tries to push me off, weak with mirth and dizziness. "I need to breathe.."
I relent, rolling over and releasing him so he can sit up and catch his breath.
Heero hasn't moved from his position on the couch, though Trowa is on his feet. Wufei stands in the doorway to the den, back from his practice, eyes hooded and resigned. "I don't even want to know," he says finally, and stalks away to raid the fridge. I snigger, reaching up to pat my hair, making sure it's still in place and my braid is unruffled. I bounce to my feet, stretching and yawning hugely. "Well, that's enough for play-time," I say cheerfully. "Now it's *nap* time; I'm bushed!"
I hesitated, then lean down and lower my mouth to Quatre's ear, speaking very quietly.
"Ne, Trowa is jealous," I inform him simply, then straighten, grinning smugly.
Quatre's face flushes slowly to bright red, and he ducks his head after shooting a quick glance at Trowa. Trowa's eye twitches. He doesn't know what I've said, but instinctively he knows he wouldn't like it if he'd heard.
I grin cheerfully at them all and prance off, waving jauntily. "Oyasumi, minna-saaaan~! I'm goin' to bed!"
Ah, what a satisfying night of mischief. ^________^
"Congratulations! You've just won a one-way trip to HELL!"
My scythe sweeps in a wide arc of death, slicing into two mobile dolls and decorating the inky blackness of space with their silent red and orange explosions. I laugh triumphantly, already turning to give the same treatment to a fool that thought he could sneak up on me.
"You have seen Deathscythe-- now you must die! Nobody beats Shinigami!"
Another silent boom, but I am not watching my handiwork. I focus my attention on the group of dolls surrounding Wing, closing in like hungry dogs. I hold my breath, my heart pounding...
And Wing is through them, effortlessly defeating three in one swinging blow. The Gundam turns in mid-flight, firing into the remaining crowd with the Beam Cannon, instantly making them into scrap metal. I laugh once more, twirling my deadly weapon expertly, turning away to find more dolls to play with.
Heero's voice is calm over the speaker near my ear. "Duo, quit your maniacal cackling."
Gee. How sweet.
"I'm not cackling," I protest indignantly, dodging a fool-hardy mobile doll and destroying it almost off-handedly as I rush headlong at its companion. "Quit being a fussbudget."
"What are they up to *now*, anyway?" I explode after a minute, the silence torturing my eardrums with its volume. "Look at all the little boogers! There's squillions of 'em!"
"... Are you saying you can't handle it?"
"Pcah! Don't be stupid," I scoff, backhanding a sneaky doll and crushing its head, probably granting the pilot inside instant death. "I'm just wonderin', that's all."
Talkative fellow, isn't he?
I glance around, taking stock of our position.
Heero and I are the only ones facing the score of dolls surrounding us. Wufei, Trowa, and Quatre have been sent to attack a base hosted by the White Fang, and Prince Charming and I are distracting the guards, keeping them away while the others find out what Zechs is trying so hard to keep a secret from us and from Treize.
"Well, let's hurry and get this over with," I sigh, shifting my scythe from hand to hand impatiently.
"I wanna see what's up at that base."
"Hn," Heero replies, but he follows me when I leap into the fray once more, my voice hoarse with a loud war-whoop.
"That was almost insultingly easy," I snort, stepping over the unconscious body of the guard, glancing around. "Looks like the other three took care of any other guards, though."
"Stay on your toes," Heero says without emotion, striding past without so much as a glance in my direction, cocking his gun. "If Zechs wants to keep his secret, he'll have plenty of guards that the others probably just dodged around."
I make a face at his back and follow, clicking the safety to "off" on my own gun, my footsteps the silent tread of the thief, a skill I learned long ago.
We weave through the corridors like silent wraiths, avoiding guards when we can, sending a few to the ground with blows to the head.
"Damn, this place is like a maze," I grumble after several minutes of fruitless searching for our companions. "How are we supposed to--"
That's the only warning I get before a calloused hand clamps over my mouth, an arm wrapping around me like a vise and yanking me into a shaddowed doorway.
I fight for breath until the hand loosens around my nose, and suck in air through my nostrils hungrily, my heart thundering, my eyes craned upwards in vain as I try to see Heero's face. He has my back crushed against his chest, and if I hadn't been struggling to breathe right then I would have enjoyed the sensation of his body making a taut line against my own.
But for now I think I'll just suffocate.
Two guards pass us, talking, hands on the guns in their belts, and we both stiffen reflexively, prepared to leap out and attack if one of them happens to casually glance to the side and spot us in the shadows.
But they pass without so much as a sniff in our direction, and we both nearly sag with relief.
His hand drops from my mouth, and his arm starts to slide away, but I grab it unthinkingly, turning slightly to finally look him in the eye.
He blinks, mildly surprised, and I swallow hard. I wish he would quit acting like nothing happened that night at the party. Pretending I didn't get shit-faced and come so dangerously close to letting him know how I really feel about him.
I reluctantly let go of him and turn away to try belatedly to hide the hurt in my eyes, turning towards the door. I blink, then lean closer.
"Oi.. Heero," I hiss, my pain momentarily forgotten as I beckon to him. "Take a look at this."
He steps closer and I trace the keypad lock with the tips of my fingers, a small smile of triumph dancing on my lips. "Looks like one of those fancy locks, with a keypad *and* a slide-card." I glance up at him wickedly. "Think we should knock, first?"
He snorts, motioning me out of the way, and I step back, glancing around for guards, gun ready, as he applies a small explosion device to the pad. Then he grabs my wrist, ignoring my startled squeak, and pulls me to the other end of the hall.
The explosion is quick, but noisy enough to get the attention of those guards that passed earlier. We race back across the hall and duck into the dark room quickly as the door slides open. I immediately swirl around and slam my fist against the button to close the door, and it slides slowly shut again.
Then I fumble for the lightswitch, and it's only as I'm doing so that I realize Heero is still holding my wrist.
I open my mouth to say something-- I don't know what --but then my fingers find the switch, and Heero's hand drops away as light floods the room. I blink at the sudden light, looking around quickly. We have to be quick, before the goons outside arrive and manage to get the door open.
The room we've broken into is large, and everything is white. Everything.
It reminds me of an asylum.
The walls, the floor, the ceiling-- all glistening white.
And in the middle of the floor is.....
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