Paradise Lost, part 1
by Kathleen Moffre-Spoor
October 1998


                              When I was younger, so much younger than today I never needed anyone's help, help in any way Help me if you can I need it now. Help me if you can I need it and how Won't you please, please help me. The Beatles  
 

Heero

The warmth of her soft flesh tingled through my palms and down my arms as I
tightened my grasp. My heart pounded relentlessly against my chest as she
gasped helplessly. She thrashed, her long wheat colored hair whipping at my
face as she reached out to me. "Why?" Breathless words gasped out.

I found myself shivering. As her life slipped away mine intensified. Killing
was the only way I felt alive. It was what I was trained for.

Pale blue eyes flickered with horror and anguish. The woman's delicate
fingers brushed up against mine in an attempt to free herself.

I smiled thinly.

I dropped one hand away relishing the brief flicker of relief brightening
her gaze.

She went to speak. "Heero, I love......"

With a flick of the wrist, a knife triggered to my palm and I plunged it
into her gut and wrenched it up into her chest cavity. The sickening crunch
of bone and cartilage sent pulses of pleasure over my body.

The body went limp and dropped out of my hands.

Motionless I watched it as blood pooled about the woman's ethereal features
and shapely figure. Her hair quickly became scarlet... My mission was over.

To my surprise, the body changed.

The alley about me came into focus.

I blinked as if wakening from a dream. Suddenly I had no idea how I had
gotten there or where there was. The last thing I remembered was working on
my computer, and falling asleep before a glowing green screen.

I was alone, surrounded by decaying boxes and rusting garbage cans.
Confused, I took a deep breath, then looked down.

The body was there.

I killed her, but I had no idea why.

I lifted my hands, numb. Crimson dripped off my fingers and ran like deep
rivers in the lines of my palm.

"Why???"

It wasn't the first time I woke up from a dream and discovered someone dead
near by...

What was happening to me?

Fear gripped my gut. Slowly, I sank to my knees, a mixture of terror and
anguish knotting in my throat.

I vowed a year ago the killing would stop. I was no longer an assassin, nor
a terrorist. I had no missions...

Yet some part of me couldn't stop the murders. People didn't seem like
people. They didn't feel, nor did I want to believe they did.

That part of me still didn't care.

It wanted death.

In the silence of the night, I screamed.

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

I don't know how long I walked, it must had been days. A part of me didn't
care. It just drove me to move on. I had to find him. I had to find my
friends. Only they could help me now.

My instinct and portable PC lead me to a small church outside of Boston. It
was modest, with one bell tower, a church yard and a fresh coat of white
paint. The windows were stain glassed and elegant in a colonial sort of way.
In many ways it reminded me of the churches I saw in children's books as a
child.

I stood before the double doors, wondering if my sources were right. I took
a breath. I was a damned soul and had no right to step foot on holy ground.

But then again, I never gave a shit for what people thought.

I pushed open the door and walked inside.

A priest dressed in black stood near the entrance and smiled at me gently.
"Good afternoon young man, is there something I can do for you?"

"Confessions still happening today?" I asked studying my surroundings. Two
confession booths stood near the wall along side a long row of pews. The
main altar was at the end, and a elderly woman knelt on the cushions below
the crucifix. Why was I here?

The priest looked at the clock over the door. "Brother Maxwell is still
hearing confessions, for another ten minutes."

"Humph." I brushed past him and headed toward my salvation. Part of me
scarcely believed it. Still, I pushed all my disbelief aside and ducked into
the dark booth. I needed him more than ever now. "What do I say?" I asked,
voice husky and awkward. Flashes of blood and women's screams repeated in my
every thought. I was a psycho, lost a world of violence and blood.

No one could help me.

An all too familiar voice chuckled some, in good humor. "Well, you can start
with bless me Father, I have sinned."

I swallowed feeling fear again. "Bless me Father. I have sinned."

There was a long silence. Then a shuffling. The little door between our
booths slid open and a bright boyish face framed with a head of light
chestnut brown hair peered through. "Heero?"

"Tell me, Duo, if I'm a sinner, what's a guy who claimed he was the Grim
Reaper doing as a priest."

"Taking confessions, what does it look like." He said cheerfully. He hadn't
changed since I had known him a year ago. As always, Duo was making do with
his life the best he could with the best humor he could do it in. I envied
him. The boy was still innocent. So innocent he was attempting to pick up
his life were he had left it off. In the church. The once self proclaimed
atheist had returned home.

I bit my lip tasting blood. "Good, that means this is confidential. You
can't tell anyone, right?"

The smile on his face began to fade and was instantly replaced with worry.
"Yeah... What's wrong Heero?"

"I'm going insane, Duo. I can't control myself." I said evenly. "I need your
help. I'm killing people, and I don't know why."

He shuddered then leaned forward so I could see his pale face. In the end he
knew we were both killers. The war made us that way. "What are you talking
about? Heero? What the hell is going on?"

"I told you, I don't know." I whispered. I bowed my head and buried my face
in my hands. I hated him seeing me this way. Duo only knew me as cool and
deliberate. He knew the killer, not the side filled with guilt and remorse.
"Help me."

The boy's gaze narrowed. "How? "

I shrugged. "I need a place to hide and someone to talk to. You're the only
guy I trust."

"Ok, I'll see what I can do." Duo looked about suspiciously. "Why didn't you
contact one of the others?"

"They aren't obligated to keep their mouths shut by a holy vow." I replied.
"You are."

"Bastard." He gritted his teeth and looked down at his crucifix. "You know,
I'd really like to get ticked off at you, but I'm too tickled you came to me
for help."

"I don't ask for help." I said unable to meet his stare. "Besides,
priesthood doesn't fit you."

Duo's brow furrowed. "Let's not go there. My terrorist days are over now."

"Yeah right. I don't think Shinigami has breathed his last breath." He never
wanted to admit it, but Duo was just like me. The difference was he tried to
like what he did. Shaking, I came to a stand. "Confession's over. Let's blow
this place. I'm not comfortable here."

The boy cleared his throat and shook his head. He began to laugh quietly.
"Hmmm, you mean you're not going to let me save your soul?"

"I don't have much of a soul to save," I admitted. "Just like you, but I
don't hide from the truth with good humor, a cross and a smile."

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

Duo

We walked in an uneasy silence. In all the years I had known him, I had
never seen Heero like this. He was pale from sleeplessness, his gaze filled
with fear and confusion. In the past, I suspected he was human and felt
terror and pain as we all did, but he never dared to show it. Now he
stumbled beside me, his gait slow, his mind lost in thoughts I shivered to
think of. Heero was psycho and proud of it. Only towards the end of the war
did he realize what a conscience was.

Now something bothered him, and he wanted me to do something about it. I
smiled inwardly. Despite my worry, it was a good sign. The old Heero never
pleaded for help, especially to me. Whatever happened to him terrified him
enough to come to me. Me of all people, the guy who followed him around and
fished his sorry little ass out of trouble. The poor schmuck who couldn't
leave well enough alone and got his face beat in for a psychotic with a
mission and was never thanked for it.

A mission we all shared.

A mission I was trying to atone for by starting at square one. The church
saved my ass as a child. I owed it my life. I heaved a deep breath, forcing
my thoughts to the present. Father Donaldson told me to leave the past
alone, and I gladly did so. I didn't regret what I did, and in many ways I
did it for the Church and their God. Uneasily I adjusted my collar, then
slipped a hand to the stained wooden cross around my neck. Father said God
forgave those who were sorry for their sins.

Even the Grim Reaper, and now the Reaper's hung up his scythe for a cross
and Bible.

Heero was wrong about me.

I stopped at a door at the end of the hall and opened it. My chambers were
bright with the warmth of the summer sun's heat. The thin curtains on the
window fluttered in a faint zephyr. "Home sweet home." I said, gesturing for
him to enter.

Heero shuffled past, his shoulder nudging mine as he walked by. "Cute.
Entirely not you." He muttered looking at the cross hanging above my bed
board. He slouched on the foot of my bed and stared at me with piercing dark
eyes.

I tried to ignore him, knowing well he studied my every move as if I were an
enemy. I turned my attention to my home. My chambers were simple; one bed, a
plain wood table with a coffee pot and clock radio set neatly on its
surface. A dresser sat in the corner and was packed with what few belongings
I owned. Most of my stuff and my travel company, I donated to my former girl
friend Hilde. I winced remembering the day I left her. I still saw her
sitting at her kitchen table, a tea cup in hand, blank face as I informed
her I planned to become a priest and give up my life as a soldier with a
very promising career in terrorism.

The past was very sneaky. It always crept up on me, reminding me I was more
than a novice in the Catholic Church. No sweat. I removed my white robes and
hung them in the closet with a few other garments.

"Now, that's the Duo I remember." Heero said, more at ease. He looked out
the window. Birds sang sweet melodies in a nearby tree. Troubled pain washed
over the other boy's face once more. "So why did you become a priest."

I shrugged, and touched a small leather bound bible on my dresser. "Why did
you become a terrorist?"

"I didn't have a choice," he said smugly. "I'm sure you had a choice..."

I shrugged and sat down beside him. "It was something the people in my past
thought I should do, so I said, oh what the hell, I'll become a man of the
cloth."

Stunned, Heero blinked . "Just like that?"

I smirked and winked at him. "Just like that."

He moaned and buried his head in his hands. "Great. Well I guess it could
have been worse. You could have become a Mormon or a born again Christian."

"I thought about becoming a Mormon. The idea of having lots of wives sounded
kind of cool, but Hilde didn't go for it." This was no good. Heero never
engaged in small talk. He was avoiding why he was here. My mouth went dry. I
licked my lips and stood up. "Coffee?" I asked, trying to set him off guard.

"Only if it is black."

"I know, black and strong enough to melt the spoon and start a car." I
crossed the room and rinsed the coffee pot in the tiny sink beside my
dresser. I had to plan out a strategy to interrogate Heero. He'd keep
tight-lipped if I didn't approach him right. "So, what happened?"

I heard the soft spring of a body pressing into the mattress behind me. A
brief glance showed Heero laying on his side, moist gaze blankly focused on
the door. "I need you to help me."

"Yeah, you keep on telling me that, but I need to have the details." I set
the pot on the hot plate and prepared the coffee. Moments later, the pot was
brewing and I had two mugs. I liked lots of sugar and cream with mine and
was looking forward to having a good batch of coffee. "Spew whatever you
know."

"I'll spew in my own good time." Heero snapped.

"Great." I put one cup down, turned to face him and eyed his long jean clad
legs. Spots of dried crimson dotted the cuffed pants and his white T-shirt.
"You know, you're smelling up my bed." I said. "You at least owe me a good
story for it."

"You've reeked a lot worse." Heero sat up and leaned his elbows on his
knees. He bowed his head so his unruly mop of brown hair covered his face.
"I've been having dreams. In them, I'm killing people... women mostly, and
when I come out of them, there's always a body."

I swallowed. Out of all of us, Heero seemed the most appreciative of our
work. He killed without provocation, and was often guiltless. I jokingly
called him the psychopath, but never believed him as one. The man killed for
his mission and was trained to be cold blooded. Killing innocents with no
purpose wasn't in his character. Worry twisted my gut. "Hmmm, sleep
homicide." I tried to make light of it, knowing that was what he expected. I
folded my arms and scratched my chin. "This doesn't sound good Heero. "

"Shit, I didn't need to get a second opinion from you, Brother Maxwell." He
stressed the word brother sarcastically. "What do I do?"

"I think..." I began pouring the coffee. It was easy to believe he perhaps
deluded himself. It was very common for soldiers to flip out and have
hallucinations after a war. "You're suffering from post traumatic stress
syndrome."

"I don't think so." He snapped. His fist tightened. "It's really happening.
I'm killing and I can't control it. It's like I'm sleep walking."

I handed him his coffee cup and hoped the caffeine would relax him. With my
luck it would bug him out more. "Ok, you're sure it's real." I almost told
him to turn himself in. What he needed was psychiatric help. If the war and
his training got to him, there was nothing I could do save become a victim
myself. I bit my lip. But I was a stupid loyal bastard and like every other
good lemming wanted to help him myself. After all, he did come to me, and he
was my friend. Doctors were incapable of understanding Heero like I did.
"Ok, do you think someone is messing with your brain?"

He shrugged. "Possibly."

It was a start. "What happened when you left Relena's?"

He paled, then twitched his fingers and cracked his thumbs. Guilt formed a
frown on his drawn features. "I got a job in Bar Harbor on a fishing boat."

"A fishing boat?" Now I was surprised. "How..."

"I'm just killing things again. It's just fish don't have much brain power
so it doesn't really count." He shrugged. "I'm good at killing things.
Anyway, I don't remember very much after that. The next thing I know I'm
wandering the streets and I'm having nightmares."

"About killing?"

"What else."

I shouldn't have asked. He hadn't changed one bit. I leaned my back into the
bed board and studied his face. He was holding back. "Anything strange
happen between the time you started working and when you started having bad
dreams?"

He pouted then wiped the expression away with angry frustrated eyes.
"Nothing. No, wait..., I keep feeling cold. Sometimes in the dreams, I feel
like I'm drowning."

"Ok, that's a start." I said. I sipped my coffee and tried to piece together
his words. I could guess what had happened to him, but it wouldn't tell me
for sure. What we needed was evidence. "Did you use an alias?"

"Yeah, Kiro Yamamato." Our gazes met. How ironic. Yamamato was strongly
associated with the concept of peace.

I felt a chill. "We can look up that name on your PC and then we can trace
what happened to you." I said hopefully. It was a start, and I wondered why
he hadn't thought of it. I went to ask when I noticed his gaze change.

Heero seemed to vanish. Death danced gold fire in his eyes.

Gold fire, just like the Zero System.

Before I could move, his hand drove something into my gut and twisted up.
The coffee cup in my hand dropped and shattered on the floor. Pain sliced
into me, making me gasp and my vision blur. Too shocked, I grabbed at his
hand in an attempt to wrench it free unsuccessfully. Blood spilled over my
hands and the warm ooze of lacerated viscera trickled between my fingers.
"Heerrroooo?"

He pulled his hand away, his features masked red from the splatter of my
blood. Heero grinned, ecstasy maniacally flooding over his young face. "I'm
sorry Duo." He said voice gruff with pleasure. "But it felt sooooo good, I
had to do it. You'll understand some day... I promise. I told you, I don't
run from what I am, I embrace it."

Gulping I tried to reach him, unable to believe he'd just gutted me. The
anguish intensified. The room darkened, but I still managed to grab on to
the fabric of his T-shirt as he stood up. "Heerrooo? Why?" The salt of blood
burned my lips. I gagged, dribbling red from my mouth and down my shirt.

The face before me flickered. Death stared down at me and smiled. "I just
thought it was time for you to meet the Reaper."

Blackness enveloped me.

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

Heero

Blood, his blood smeared my face and shirt. I burst down the hall, too
frightened to look back, unable to believe what I had done. It was like
looking at myself from a distance and having no control over my body as it
did what it wanted. And yet, it was what I wanted. I hated Duo. He had no
right to be innocent. He had no right to return to the world he remembered
as a child.

Tears filled my eyes as I burst from the church. The startled gazes of
priests stared off at me as I bounded and fell down the steps into the
streets of the small town.

What had I done? Duo, I killed Duo? But why? What made me do it? I ran
faster, my ears just picking up the shouts of people from behind. They found
Duo, now they were going to call the authorities on me.

Why did I kill him? It was like an overwhelming urge driving me to force the
knife into him. I had to have his blood. It seemed to quench the emptiness
inside of me. Duo was my only hope. With all my will I forced my body to
slow. I no longer understood why I ran. I killed him....

The images of his stunned and pained features as I stabbed him raped my
every thought.

Duo. Tears dribbled off my chin and down my neck. They were cold. I
shivered, the sensation of drowning washing over me again.

A car rolled up beside me, and the window opened. A dark-haired man smiled
thinly at me.

"Your mission is over Heero. It's time for you to come home."

My body convulsed, I felt myself begin to fall.

My mission.

Unconsciousness claimed me, but my last thought remained with him.

Duo, Shinigami, I killed the Grim Reaper.

God forgive me.

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

Duo

Blazing agony speared my body with a veil of red hot light. I huddled,
cradled in its heart, swaddled by the pure anguish.

"Bother Maxwell!" A voice spoke from beyond.

Sound faded in and out of my mind, bathing me with an assault of dizzying
sensation. Warm, cold, screeching cries, I floated among them, unable to
touch any of them. Everything blurred into together like a black hole eating
away at my senses.

Fingers touched me, voices hovered over me, but I didn't care. I wanted it
to stop. I wanted silence.

Heero betrayed me.

That pain alone was unbearable.

"We're losing him!" Another voice whispered.

A jolt shocked through me. I felt my body tremble.

Then white engulfed me.

I seemed to be floating, the world around me distant.

I saw me, laying motionless, women and men dressed in green scrubs darted
about my form in a flurry. I could see the wound they struggled to bind. It
was a deep gaping gash oozing with thick purplish fluid. On a tray was a
pile of whitish gray tissue bathed in blood. Morbidly I stared at it,
fascinated. I never saw my guts before and wanted to record the event in my
consciousness for eternity.

Another jolt rolled over me as the doctors pressed electronic pads into my
chest. I felt myself spasm. Despite all this, my face was at peace. I stared
at it. They had efficiently shoved a tube down my throat and bound my hair
away in a plastic cap. My chest wasn't moving and I was deathly pale.

I was dying.

A sickening steady bleep pierced the air.

The white light in the room intensified, swallowing everything in it's wake.

A voice spoke as it was drowned out by the fire. "We've lost him, moment of
death, Tuesday June 9th...."

Blackness.

"Patrick." It wasn't a voice, it was a sensation. It flowed over me, a river
of comfort.

I hovered in vacant space, lost save for the brilliant light taking shape
before me. In awe I stared, unable to look away. White golden wings, several
seemed to take shape about a women's form. "Patrick...." She said. A name I
did not know, but somehow knew at one time it was mine. "You're so far from
home now." She said her words heavily accented with a mother's tender touch.

I felt small and frightened. I wasn't ready to die yet. I hadn't yet atoned
for my life. I was too young to die. My life just started. I almost cried.
It was unfair, my death seemed so meaningless. Heero...that bastard had some
explaining to do after I found him. Even if I was dead, he'd have to pay his
dues.

Heero. Whoever screwed with him was going to die, even if I had to return
from the dead.

"Mother?" I spoke, my words tiny in the vastness of the growing void. Yet I
knew she wasn't who I thought for she felt greater than a mere relation. Was
she Death?

"Ohh fuck.... I can't be looking at an angel......"

She wasn't alone. I recognized Solo, and so many others I saw death take
away in my childhood.

Suddenly my thoughts of revenge appeared very unimportant. I was drawn here.
I wanted to stay.

This was home.

"Funny, I was sure I was gonna take the express elevator down." I said
realizing my words weren't words but a state of being.

We were separate, but all one collective consciousness. The entire universe
was piece of one bigger whole. I could see the expanse of space and millions
of souls united together in harmony. They were the sun, the moon, the trees,
the planets, they were life. I longed for it. Perhaps this was what I was
looking for. I reached out for her. Life was bad enough, death was bloody
confusing, but I could live with it.

The being shook her head and I saw Solo smile.

"Hey, Duo. It's not your time yet. Remember Heero."

"He needs you, my child." The being of light touched my hand sending tingles
of comfort and well being through my soul. My vision expanded and I was
looking at a boy sitting alone on a cot, knees to his chin and tears
spilling down his face. Heero, for a moment a part of me became him. He was
broken and pained at my loss. He needed me and I was a lemming. I had to go
to him despite my regrets.

It was unfair. He even messed up my afterlife.

I hated being responsible.

"You're not God or anything are you?"

Golden eyes looked though me.

Not God, but something like it.

Death maybe, but a part of me at the same time. I didn't understand. It was
a real bummer.

"But I don't want to... I belong..."

The pain in my gut returned full force, hammering me back into blackness.