From Far Away Part 16

"So what are you really, Heero?" Wufei asked the boy sitting in front of him. They had all retreated into the forest behind the ruined castle and were now sitting in a circle. Duo was sitting next to Heero, whose upper body was covered by a blanket Quatre had given to him. Wufei could tell the boy didn't want to answer his question.

"Tell us about yourself, Heero." Duo squeezed the boy's arm tightly, not wanting to let go and at the same time giving encouragement to Heero, who was still bowing his head. Despite the protectiveness he felt towards Heero, he also wanted to know what had caused Heero to change like that in the first place.

Heero looked up and ran his gaze over his friends. He had let Duo pull and maneuver him around, preferring to have Duo beside him as long as possible. He wanted to stay silent, but he knew Duo wanted answers as well. He can't hide anymore.

Heero studied his friends' faces one by one, not surprised to see confusion and fear in them. His eyes fell onto Noin, who was trembling and looking at him in disbelief. "You know what I am." Heero spoke neutrally then he bowed his head again.

"She knows?" Duo and the others looked at Noin questioningly.

Noin gulped and nodded. "I knew .....when I realized him had destroyed the palace." Noin gulped again "All by himself. Alone."

Duo and the others turned their heads toward Heero. All of them tried to process her words when Noin added, "Only one thing can do such a thing.... One legendary creature...."

Duo tried to remember all the stories Hilde had told him about legendary creatures. Of all the creatures Hilde had told him, not one could destroy a castle alone. But he knew someone had told him something about this thing. Duo thought hard, trying to recall where he heard about this creature.

//The rumor says that it can destroy one palace within seconds.// Duo gasped when he remembered where he heard it. It was when he talked to Dana and Pargan, a couple they had met before they ran into Wufei and the others. And at that time, they were talking about Perfect Soldier. Only Perfect Soldier could destroy one palace alone!

Duo turned to the boy next to him, looking at him in disbelief and shock. So shocked that he missed the tensing in the hand he held so tightly. "Perfect Soldier...... " Duo whispered and watched as Heero kept his head bowed all the time to avoid the gazes from his friends. Duo looked around and saw the others, having come to the same conclusion as him, eye Heero in surprise and shock. He looked back to Heero. "You are that Perfect Soldier..... the ultimate and strongest......" Duo swallowed.

Heero kept bowing his head and bit his lips in anticipation of what Duo would do next. Would Duo ask more questions, run away from him in disgust, or act like the Shinigami supposed to and control him? He was so deep in his thoughts that he was startled when Duo hugged him. "My koi is the Perfect Soldier? Wow, I think I'm sooooo blessed." The braided boy laughed and hugged him tighter.

Heero blinked in confusion at Duo. Duo didn't mind at all?? About him being the Perfect Soldier? Wait a sec, my koi? Heero blinked again and looked around to see his other friends looking at them, jaws dropped.

"Duo..." Hilde stammered, "He is the Perfect Soldier, you know."

"I know." Duo grinned and kissed Heero lightly on the nose. "Isn't it great to have a koi like him?"

Heero blinked rapidly at the cheerful boy before him. This was not the reaction he expected to get from anyone, and definitely not from Duo.

"Uhm.... You know about the Perfect Soldier, don't you?" Sally asked hesitantly while looking at Heero.

Duo stopped laughing and looked at the others seriously. " About him being the strongest in this world? Of course."

"Uhm.. then.. why.."

Duo cut Sally's words, "So what? What's wrong if he is the Perfect Soldier? He is still Heero nevertheless." Duo pulled Heero into his embrace. "My Heero," the braided boy growled possessively.

"But... Duo... he..... can change." Quatre glanced at Heero, who was still blinking and looking at Duo as if the braided boy had just grown another head.

"I don't care what he looks like, he is still Heero." Duo looked sharply at Quatre. "He is still the Heero you all know. Even if he changes he won't do anything that'll harm us. I believe in him." Quatre quickly averted his eyes and bowed his head, feeling guilty. Duo's words had hit them all, destroying their previous images about Perfect Soldier. The words were true. The monster they had seen in the middle of castle didn't do anything except for trying to reach for Duo. That creature didn't even fight back when they attacked it.

Satisfied with his friends' reactions, Duo turned his attentions to Heero. "But I admit, I'm curious about the changing, too. Why did you change like that, Heero?"

Heero blinked again. He still couldn't believe Duo didn't care about him being the Perfect Soldier. Moreover Duo said 'my koi' ...... Duo considered him as his koi? Heero found his mind in complete disarray and in confusion by Duo's statement, leaving him with many questions he needed answers to. Duo's statement contradicted with what he saw and heard yesterday. Then he heard Duo asking him something. It was a question he could answer, so Heero decided to set all his questions aside and answered Duo's question first. "I needed more Power."

"More Power? What for? You are already strong." Duo frowned.

"Not strong enough to protect and save you." Heero answered. He kept his eyes on Duo, not aware of the others hearing their conversation.

Duo was surprised. So Heero changed so he could have more Power to save him? Then Duo remembered all the times Heero changed when he was in danger. First from the attacking giant bird and recently from becoming a sacrifice. "You changed to save me?" Duo held Heero's cheek and stared at the boy he loved. "Baka, what if you couldn't change back?"

"I didn't care." Heero answered. "I'll do it again if I need to."

Duo felt so overwhelmed. He could tell the depth of Heero's love for him by the words he just heard. Wufei and the others seemed to realize this, too. Heero was willing to stay in his other form if that could save Duo. "Baka.... " Duo hugged Heero tighter. He was very grateful Heero had changed back to normal. Heero didn't deserve to be in that form forever.

"So... if he is the Perfect Soldier..." Relena finally found her voice and looked at Duo, " Shinigami is....."

Duo's mind snapped at the word Shinigami. Shinigami! The one who controlled the Perfect Soldier! The one who controlled his Heero. A wave of anger quickly coursed through him. No one would control *his* Heero. "Shinigami? Who is he???" Duo growled, but quickly blinked when he saw all eyes were on him, including Heero's.

"Me?" Duo choked out. "I'm Shinigami?" He looked at Heero and found no denial there.

"You're Shinigami. You control me." Somehow, Heero's resigned tone made Duo angry.

"Hell no!!! I don't control you! No one controls you!" Duo growled. "Tell me when I ever controlled you."

Heero stared dumbly at Duo. He opened his mouth to answer but nothing came out. When did Duo ever controlled him? He traced his memories one by one, but he couldn't find any. He was the one who chose to protect Duo. He was the one who chose not to kill Duo. And he was the one who chose to let Duo claim him. To let Duo take him. Heero blinked, feeling a thick fog has just been cleared from his mind. Yes, Duo asked him not to leave, Duo asked him to stay, but all decisions were his to decide. Duo never forced him to do anything. It was him who decided to follow Duo. Because he loved Duo.... Not because Duo was Shinigami.

Duo smiled when he saw realization hit Heero. "You're a free man, just like the rest of us, Heero."

"But Duo... you changed him back from the monster.... " Noin stopped when Duo glared at her.

"No, I didn't! The only thing I did was hug him. I don't care if it was his true form or not. All I wanted was for him not to leave me. It was Heero himself who decided to change, not me." Duo growled and looked at Heero, asking the boy to clarify his words.

Heero blinked again. Duo was right. It was him. It was him all this time. "Aaa.... You're right...... It was me. I was the one who wanted to use my Power. I was the one who allowed myself to change." Heero looked up at Duo. "When you hugged me, I felt warmed and loved. I felt like going back to what I used to be and let go. That was when I changed back. You helped me change back, but you didn't control me."

"Right!" Duo smiled, happy that Heero didn't have such a low self-esteem anymore.

"But the prophecy said ......" Noin again was cut off by Duo's angry voice.

"Fuck the prophecy. The prophecy can't decide someone's fate. It is us who decide our own fates." Duo spat but then frowned. "Come to think of it, what does the prophecy say, anyway?"

Wufei and the others looked at the braided boy as if he just grew another head. "You don't know?" Wufei asked in disbelief.

"I just hear summaries of it from the people I met." Duo shrugged.

Wufei rolled his eyes and asked Heero, "Is he really Shinigami? It's hard to believe a baka like him is our savior."

"Heyyyyy!!!" Duo shouted in protest while the others, minus Heero, laughed. Somehow it lightened the mood and erased the stress all around them. Heero couldn't help but quirk his lips a little when he heard Wufei's words. It was his exact same thoughts when he first found Duo.

When the laughter finally subsided, Trowa told Duo the prophecy. "Out of the starlight, when the world is on the edge of destruction, the Shinigami shall step into this world and claim his Perfect Soldier, whose Power can destroy an entire kingdom within seconds. The Power has both a dark and a light side. Shall he choose to use the light side, together they will banish the evil and darkness enslaving peoples, opening a brave new world, with peace and contentment. But shall he choose to use the dark side, ...... "

"Just that?" Duo blinked when Trowa stopped in the middle of the sentence.

"Yeah, that's all we know. There's more to the prophecy, but there's only one great prophet who could predict it and for some reason, he keeps it to himself." Quatre answered for Trowa.

Duo nodded absently. // Starlight my ass.... It was an explosion alright... // "Okay, about the starlight, it might be true. I'm not from this world, and the starlight did bring me to this world. Now is this world on the edge of destruction?" Duo asked the others.

"You can say that. As I've already told you, we are at war right now, between my kingdom and kingdom of OZ." Relena answered dolefully. "If the war keeps going as it is, half of this world may perish."

"Okay, check that. So Shinigami will step into this world .... Just because I've arrived during this time of crisis, it doesn't necessarily mean Shinigami is me." Duo spoke out.

"Our prophets and prophetesses could predict the Shinigami's arrival and the place where he would show up, that's why we made this journey." Wufei snorted.

Duo groaned. "Don't tell me that this place is the Golden Forest."

"It is." Trowa spoke up.

Duo held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay, so I'm Shinigami. I stepped into this world and claimed my....." Duo looked at Heero, who quickly bowed his head. "Heero... you.... So all this time, you thought ....." The braided boy narrowed his eyes and growled, pulling Heero's chin so the boy looked up at him. "We'll talk about this later."

Heero could only nod weakly and bowed his head again as Duo released his chin. The others watched them in curiosity, except for Hilde, who looked guiltily and regretfully at Heero. Duo growled again. "Okay, the prophecy is right, I did claim Heero as mine. And according to it, Heero has the Power to destroy..." Duo frowned and looked at Heero. "You only destroyed a castle, not a kingdom. How great is your Power, Heero?"

Heero shook his head, indicating he too didn't know or have any ideas as to how great his Power was.

Relena spoke up, "Let's assume Heero can destroy an entire kingdom, then the Prophecy is true. And Duo will decide the future of this world by choosing which side the Power..."

"Hey, hey wait a sec." Duo cut in. "Who said it was me who will decide? Was that why all of you thought I controlled Heero?"

Quatre answered patiently. "It's stated in the Prophecy, you will choose..."

"Not me. *He* will choose the dark or light side." Duo repeated the prophecy. "There are two *he* in the prophecy. Me and Heero. You've all thought the Perfect Soldier was an *it* because of the Power, didn't you? Heero is a *he* too. It's more appropriate if he is the one who chooses which side of Power he will use it for since he is the one who owns the Power, not me."

At these observations, all eyes blinked in realization. Duo continued, " According to this prophecy, both of us will help this world if Heero chooses the light side of his Power, but we don't know what will happen if he chooses the dark side." Duo bit his lower lip, trying to process the prophecy further. "I know you all thought something bad will happen if Heero chooses the dark side, but I have a feeling it is more than just 'bad' ......."

"What do you mean, Duo?" Hilde asked curiously.

"Just look what the Prophecy did to you all. You've all thought the Shinigami is this great person, while in fact, I'm just an ordinary boy. You've also thought the Perfect Soldier was an *it*, while in truth, the Perfect Soldier is just like the rest of us, except for his Power. Prophecies are guides to the future, but they're also riddles and puzzles, and they're left for people to interpret and fulfill, with time showing the meaning and truth within them. Unfortunately you all have interpreted it wrong."

For once no one disagreed with Duo. The braided boy had opened their eyes. Duo turned to Quatre. "I need to know the missing part of the prophecy before drawing any further conclusions. You said there is only one great prophet who knows about it. Who is he?"

"His name is Quinze Kushrenada, younger brother of Treize Kushrenada. He is the most precise prophet in this world."

"And who is this Treize?" Duo raised an eyebrow.

"Treize Kushrenada, the leader of OZ."

At Trowa's answer, Duo frowned. "That means we have to go to the capital of OZ in order to ask him."

"I'm afraid so, Duo." Quatre answered apologetically.

"Uh huh.... Life is never easy.... " Duo sighed and looked at the others. "Well, I think we part here, guys." At the sounds of protest, Duo held up his hand. "Listen to me first. As much as I want to be with you all, there are some things we have to do separately. Your kingdom is at war and you're all needed there to help Relena to defend it. As for me and Heero, we need to know more about the prophecy, so we have to part."

"But OZ is a dangerous territory!" Quatre protested. "You two could die!"

Duo couldn't help but smile. "Quatre, don't worry about our safety. After all, I'm the Shinigami and Heero is the Perfect Soldier, ne? We'll be okay together."

Wufei nodded. "So, I guess it's time to part then." the raven haired boy stood up, followed by the others.

"I still have something I have to discuss with Heero. You guys can go ahead first." Duo spoke up, still holding Heero's hand and ignoring Heero's raised eyebrow.

Trowa nodded. "Very well, I will leave horses at the edge of the forest for you then."

"Arigato, Trowa." Duo smiled at the banged boy.

Relena looked at the others, asking to speak for them all and then turned to Duo and Heero after the others nodded their consents. "I'll speak on everyone's behalf. Duo. And you too, Heero. We're your friends. If you need help, just come to us. I don't give a damn about you being the Shinigami and the Perfect Soldier."

"Thank you, guys." Duo smiled at the others.

Relena smiled too and then looked at the bowing boy whose hand was held by Duo. "Heero. I'm sorry that we attacked you before. Will you forgive us?"

Heero looked up in surprise.

"I want to make a personal apology to you, Heero. It was wrong of me to have wanted to use you to win this war. Please forgive me." Relena looked at Heero, making the boy speechless. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out, so he nodded his head instead.

"It's okay, ojo-chan. We hold no grudges against you. We are friends, remember?" Duo moved forward and hugged Relena with one arm since his other one was occupied holding Heero's hand.

"Till we meet again, Maxwell, Yuy." Wufei nodded to them and then held Relena's hand, walking out of the forest

As the others walked away, Duo smiled and hugged some of them. Heero just nodded to them until his eyes fell on the last person, Hilde. That was when all the questions and other thoughts he had set aside decided to come back. Hilde.... The girl Duo loved..... He wanted to step back as Hilde approached him, but Duo's grip held him in place.

"Heero, I'm sorry." Heero blinked as the girl whispered near him and then walked away. Heero watched her and the others walk away, leaving them. What was that? Sorry? What did Hilde mean by that?

Heero didn't think any further as Duo tugged his hand, asking him silently to follow him. Duo brought him to a big tree and sat down near it, leaning against the tree and pulling Heero down with him. He grabbed Heero's waist and positioned Heero to straddle his lap, facing him. He then putted his arms around Heero's waist, locking Heero in his embrace.

"Duo?" Heero looked at the braided boy in confusion.

"Now you can't get away, we can talk." Duo spoke up and looked at Heero seriously. "Tell me everything, Heero."

Heero blinked, "Tell you what."

Duo growled and pulled Heero closer to him. "Tell me what makes you think I don't love you? What makes you think I loved Hilde instead?"

"Don't you?" Heero answered bitterly.

"No, I love you." Duo growled.

"But I heard you ......" Heero looked confused and surprised.

"Heard me?" Duo raised an eyebrow. "I think you have to start and tell me from the beginning, Heero." The braided boy took Heero's chin with his hand, forcing Heero to look at him. "Everything."

Heero looked at Duo unblinkingly, feeling those violet orbs wanting nothing but the truth, so he opened his mouth and started talking, giving the longest speech he has ever given in his life.


If you have gotten this far in reading this fic, you know the drill ^_^ *waffs for comments*


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