Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and the G-Boys definitely don't belong to me. I, like most other fanfic writers wish that were not so... ::sighs:: But such is life. In any case, it belongs to its respective creators, all of whom I bow down to in humble gratitude. I'm certainly not making any money out of this. I'd not recommend suing me, as I have barely enough to rub two nickles together and my worldly possessions don't amount to much worth.

Warnings: Cursing... and uh, maybe what you might consider some violence?

Other inane ramblings: This is my very first attempt at a GW fic, so all comments and criticisms are welcome. This isn't much of a fic. It's just me attempting to get a handle for writing for Duo. It's something I wrote for an GW interactive fiction, and I thought I might make a nice start for me to get rolling on some fics that _are_ big. ^^ It basically follows Duo from leaving L2 to first finding Wing Gundam. I've altered the dialogue a bit and the fight sequences... but I owe being able to write it to GW's creaters!

On the Wings of the Night
Part One: Leaving Outer Space

"Up high I feel like I'm alive for the very first time
Up high I'm strong enough to take these dreams
And make them mine
Can you take me higher?
To the place where blind men see
Can you take me higher?
To the place with golden streets"
~Creed "Higher"

The heels of his black boots clicked sharply on the tile as he walked, echoing from the unadorned, equally plain walls of the hall. With one hand tucked casually in his pants pocket, his mahogany colored braid that rippled with red and nearly blonde hues in the light swaying gently behind him, he walked leisurely, one limb unfolding after the other with practiced ease. The fabric of his form-fitting, black pants, flared out at the edges of his thighs and molded up the lithe lines of his legs, curving across his backside to rest against a slim waist. An equally dark shirt, the sleeves ending just above his elbows and trimmed with white, stretched over rounded shoulders, the collar vaguely resembling that of a priest.

Bright cobalt eyes peered out from beneath the bill of an ebony cap that obscured his face with little help from the bangs trailing into his eyes. They were filled with a light that set others at ease and did nothing to show all the death and pain they had witnessed in the span of 15 years. The casual way in which he moved belied the energy crackling just beneath the surface, and his often goofy actions cleverly masked the rapid fire movements of his thoughts. With an ever present smile and a mouth that moved a mile a minute, often jumping from one subject to the other with a speed that left the rest straggling to keep up, it was difficult to imagine that Duo Maxwell piloted a 7.2 ton machine made of Gundanium alloy.

If you looked close enough into those enigmatic eyes, you saw something that did not appear to belong there. It was a wisdom and an intelligence that did not quite seem to jive with the rest of the image. They were eyes that appeared far older than the youthful, boyish face; eyes that spoke of things better left unsaid; eyes that you could drown in if you were not careful. But that was only if you cared to look beyond what you expected to see.

To outside eyes, he looked like any other normal boy.

Deathscythe waited for him in a transport shuttle, tucked down in the darkness with a pale, tan tarp his only blanket. There would be no more preparation up in space. This was for real now. Operation Meteor was underway. Earth waited down below, and he knew what it was he had to do there. It was for peace. It was for something more than that. It was for everyone that was tucked away in their homes, oppressed, but lacking the means to do anything about it. It was for those who should never have to fight. He would become their weapon. He would become their justice. He would become Shinigami. The God of Death.

Duo felt excitement dance across his nerves, until it was all he could do to keep himself walking at a normal pace, and not breaking out into a full-fledged run, knocking people aside in his haste. That would certainly draw attention to himself, and at the moment, he did not want anyone following him. That would require coming up with interesting ways to dispose of them without actually killing them. He was never one to shy away from a fight, but his attention was focused more on what he was going to be doing and he wanted it to stay that way. Getting side-tracked meant being late and screwing up the timing. The last thing he needed was to listen to one of Dr. G's oh-so-interesting lectures. The guy loved to make speeches.

Besides which, the thought of acquiring some lovely new lumps and bruises was far from appealing. When you were as slight as he was, you tended to get back what you gave out and then some. Looking as young as he did, however, had some advantages. People generally did not consider you a threat of any kind until it was too late and they were sucking air through all the wrong places. Most also tended not to pay overly much attention to a young kid. More the pity them. Duo really hated being treated inferior for any reason, and loved sticking it to the pompous ass the made that mistake. He got a great deal of perverse satisfaction out of it, as a matter of fact, and hardly felt a prick of guilt afterwards.

As he drew closer to the docking bay where his shuttle sat, he came across a window and paused. Turning so that he was facing it, he stared out into the vast darkness of space. It seemed to stretch endlessly, as if it had no beginning and no end. A man could probably wander his whole life and only see half of what it had to offer. His expression uncharacteristically serious, he tucked both hands in his pockets, palms pressed against his hip bones, and silently admired the view. This would be the last time in a God-only-knew how long that he would see space like this. It would no doubt seem so small from Earth, and far more mysterious and unreachable.

L2 Colony had been his home for the majority of his life, and though not always a welcoming place, it was nonetheless Duo's to claim and to protect. When this was all over, he intended to come back. Or maybe that was just what he told himself to make this easier. There was a good chance he might not make it out alive. Duo knew this, understood it, and moved on, finding it better not to waste time thinking about it. He was used to death. There had been a good chance he could die his entire life, and so far, the odds had been in his favor. His own sacrifices, whatever they might be, had already been taken into consideration. The reason he did this had far more worth than his own life.

"That's why we're Shinigami, eh?" He asked of his reflection, the corner of his mouth lifting in a mock shadow of his usual grin.

His reflection smiled back, wavering in silent agreement.

Duo shifted his attention away from himself and back to the inky blackness sprawling out before him. He wondered what it was like to live with space above you, instead of living in the middle of it all, with it gathering just outside your window. There was beauty here, but there was ugliness as well. There was ugliness everywhere. Earth probably had more than its fair share. With OZ contaminating it, spreading like an infectious, ravaging disease, he knew it did. But Earth had real grass, real trees. None of this artificial, man-made crap. He seriously doubted that even half the population appreciated the value of that either.

His reflection came back into focus.

"Hey buddy, you're missin' a great view," he told it softly, eyes lingering for a few more moments before he slowly turned away.

Better get to Dr. G, Duo, before he has a conniption fit. Wouldn't want his old clunker to give out.

Grinning, he shed the thoughts that hung around him like a dark cloud and walked faster, animation coming back into his step. He was not doing this because he had been forced to, and that lent to an eagerness that made it difficult to keep any part of himself still. Not that he could accomplish that feat at any other time. Duo liked action, and inactivity made him restless. He could not even stand in line to pay for something (if he felt like paying for it rather than stealing, which, admittedly, was a rare occurrence) without shifting back and forth and bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet. He was even in motion while he slept, if his blankets always ending up around his ankles or on the floor was any indication.

The shadows grew longer, telling him that Dr. G was true to his word. It was going to be dark enough so that anyone who did happen by was not going to see much. How he had managed that, Duo did not want to know. Things were going according to plan, and that was enough for him. The minute details were hardly important. Duo knew better than to mess with karma.

Moving up next to the wall, he slowed his pace and slid along it, eyes taking stock of his surroundings as they adjusted to the abrupt shift in the amount light. As the world aligned itself, he caught sight of the unmistakable white bulk of the shuttle. Further scanning brought Dr. G into focus, a lone figure in white nearly blending in with the ivory background of the shuttle itself. If it had not been for the steel grey of his hair and the dark slashes of his pants, he would have accomplished just that.

Confident that nothing had gone wrong, he pushed away from the wall and made his way across the hangar with hurried steps. He felt his breath catch as he realized the enormity of what he was about to do. This was hardly the first step, but it was probably the biggest one, aside from deciding to do it in the first place. Once he left, there would be no going back. Duo never went back on his word. He planned to do whatever it took to accomplish what he set out to do.

Dr. G's sharp voice with its usual derisive edge cut through his thoughts. "It's about time you got here."

Duo flashed him a grin, and looked at his watch. "Hey man, I'm not even late."

The half-smirk on Dr. G's face did not shift. "That's a first."

"I'm on time when it counts," Duo said in defense, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. It was childish, and at the moment, he was going to reign in all kindergarten tendencies. Dr. G got the biggest kick out of throwing them back in his face. Besides that, he owed him one. The least he could do was temper his smart-aleck remarks.

"Yes, well, put this on," he ordered, spinning away to come back around again with a brown flightsuit and helmet.

Duo regarded it dubiously. The scientist wanted him to stuff his entire braid in that puny helmet? Not to mention the fact that he would have to take his hat off...

Dr. G rolled his eyes. Apparently he was not working on the same goal Duo was.

"Just put it on. If it's too tight, we could always cut the braid off," he added, his lips stretching into a smile that reminded Duo way too much of what Satan must look like just before shoving his pitchfork into unsuspecting victim's asses. Welcome to hell.

"No way. Not happening," Duo replied, snatching the flight suit and helmet from him with more pull than was necessary. Dr. G did not need to know that this braid was more to Duo than just vanity.

"I'll be relaying missions to you through Deathscythe. You won't ever hear from me personally, however. If you aren't in the Gundam at the time I send the message, it will be recorded to the internal computer and be waiting for you. Otherwise, rely on your initiative," he added, seeming a bit reluctant.

Duo pushed the bill of his cap back with a short jerk of his hand, lifting the shadows from his face.

"Yeah, yeah. You told me this already," he interrupted, part out of impatience and part out of the insult to his intelligence. There was nothing wrong with his memory.

Dr. G stared at him through the small part in his absurdly mushroom-shaped hair. "So impatient. Be careful or your recklessness will screw things up."

Duo pressed his hand to his chest. "You wound me, Dr. G. Your faith is so inspiring..."

"Besides," he continued before the scientist could reply, throwing his hands up and inclining his head, "the construction of the Gundam was left to you. Leave the flying of it to me," he added, jerking his thumb toward his chest. "I'm the best you've got."

"You're all we got," Dr. G muttered, turning to shuffle away.

"Hey! I heard that!" Duo called after him, his tone filled with mock hurt.

Dr. G did not even appear to have heard him.

"Sheesh. Nothing like being told you're a last resort to make a guy's day..."

With a long suffering sigh, he began to jerk himself clumsily into the flight suit, letting the appropriate curse escape when the process proved more difficult than it should have. By the time he had the bulky thing on and strapped, snapped, and zipped in all the right places, Dr. G was done with whatever it was he had been doing. The scientist closed the distance between them, inspecting Duo as if he expected to find something wrong with the way the Gundam pilot had put the suit on. Duo tucked the helmet beneath one arm and resisted the urge to gloat over the fact that Dr. G had nothing to take issue with.

"It's ready to go."

Duo shot a glance at the shuttle. "This is the easiest theft I've ever had to do."

Dr. G sniffed. "As far as everyone else is concerned, you did steal this."

Pulling his gaze back to the scientist, he shrugged. "Yeah, so? Should I feel bad?"

"You obviously don't need me to answer that," he returned dryly. "Now, see if you can stuff that ridiculous hair of yours into that helmet."

"Look who's talking," Duo grumbled beneath his breath, twisting his braid around his hand and pushing it up against his head as he awkwardly slid the helmet down.

"There. Happy?" He asked of Dr. G, his voice muffled as he resisted the urge to shift around until the pressure of his braid pressing against his head let up.

"Immensely. Now remember-"

"Dr. G, you like the sound of your voice entirely too much. What you don't get, and haven't got is, I don't," Duo interrupted, flashing him grin through the glass.

"Punk," Dr. G shot back.

"That's me," Duo agreed blithely.

Duo had learned long ago that the best way to take an insult was to accept it. Nothing pissed off the person insulting you more, and you got to have the last laugh. All in all, it was a win-win situation.

Dr. G's perpetual smirk slid away and he looked so serious that even Duo was momentarily subdued.

"This is important, Duo. For the future of the colonies. Don't let them down."

For one second, Duo felt the responsibility of it all weighing heavily on him, threatening to crush him. But as quickly as the sensation had came, it went with an easy mental shrug. He could do this. He could do anything. There had yet to be something Duo Maxwell could not con his way around, under, or over. This would be no different. He would pretend he knew what the hell it was he was doing, and pull the biggest swindle of all on himself.

"Aw Dr. G, did you have to go and get all mushy on me?"

"Do you take anything seriously?" Dr. G asked, exasperation evident in his tone.

Duo locked eyes with the scientist, pulling him into twin depths of unfathomable blue. There, Dr. G saw the answers to all his questions and was left, for the first time since Duo had met him, speechless. It was not wise to underestimate your allies any more than it was your enemies.

"I see..." he interjected into the silence after a few moments of collecting his thoughts.

Offering him a mockery of a military salute, Duo said, "See ya around, Dr. G."

As he made his way to the shuttle, he did not look back. Not at Dr. G, not at L2 Colony, not at anything. He kept his eyes forward, on where he was going, never on where he had come from. This was the past now. Duo never dwelled for very long on the past. It was counterproductive, not to mention hazardous to his health.

Leaving the cockpit alone for the moment, he made his way to the cargo hold. Pausing just inside it, his eyes passed over the bulk of Deathscythe beneath the tarp. Once they reached Earth, it would be only the two of them. Well, aside from the few contacts he had there that would help him out when it was absolutely necessary. Other than them, no one could see him or Deathscythe. Those that did were slated to die. He could not risk the chance that his actions would be tied in with the colonies and used as an excuse to attack them. It was just the sort of thing OZ would do, he was certain.

"Just you and me Deathscythe. Better than being alone, huh?"

Duo hardly expected the Gundam to answer, but he could have sworn he felt something from the general direction of Deathscythe.

"You're going crazy, Duo. Been hanging around Dr. G too long."

Or maybe it was just him. How many people talked to their Mobile Suit as if it could understand?

It was difficult to put it into words, but Duo felt a connection with Deathscythe. It was almost as if the Gundam could read his thoughts... And being in the cockpit was like being embraced. Duo felt utterly comfortable and protected, as if while there, nothing could happen to him. Which was hardly the complete truth. Deathscythe may have surrounded him with a shield of nearly impenetrable Gundanium, but he also presented a large target. Getting jostled around inside the cockpit created all sorts of injuries all on its own. He should know. He had a few bruises to prove that.

It was not like him to get so sentimental, Duo realized with mild embarrassment, wanting to reach out and tug on his braid for reassurance. But the damn thing was stuffed inside the tight, nearly airless helmet. Closing his eyes, he forced himself to take a deep breath. The helmet was not airless. It was there to provide air. Duo just hated having things around or touching his face. It was an invasion of privacy he simply could not suffer. He felt the same when it came to having anyone touch his hair as well. It was the only beautiful thing about him, and that was said without any real arrogance.

Twisting away from Deathscythe, Duo reached down to place his hands in his pockets, only to realize the flight suit did not have any pockets. Reduced with no where to stuff his hands, he was forced to let them hang limply as he walked, a condition that hardly lasted a second. Before long, they were swinging in rhythm with his stride, fingers splaying and rippling with every movement. Duo always had to have something to do with his hands. Since most people thought you were a bit odd if your hands were constantly flinging themselves about, he usually jammed them in his pockets.

Reaching the cockpit, Duo grasped the back of the pilot's seat and vaulted gracefully into it, completely at home. Strapping himself in, he began the sequence to launch, fingers a blur as they struck the right combination of buttons and switches. The vessel began to hum around him, creating a gentle vibration that started from his feet up. Hands gripping the controls, he took the final needed steps and felt a slight jerk as the shuttle jetted ahead.

"Sayonara, outer space..."

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