Kimi no Koto wa Itsudemo Mamoru
A Gundam Wing Fanfiction
by Orla


Legal stuff: I don't own Gundam Wing or the characters, they all belong to other people *sniff*. Don't sue me, okay?


Authors note: It's never fully explained if the house Duo and Hilde live in is Hilde's or Duo's. The work they take up with the Sweepers in the TV series is the work that Duo was doing before he became a Gundam pilot. I can see ownership of the business and the house going either way, and for the purposes of this story I have made Duo the owner.


Part Two


Heero opened his eyes and became aware of a weight on his hip. He was puzzled for all of one second and then realized it was the cat. Heero carefully raised his head and regarded the young ginger cat that was comfortably snoozing across his body. This was becoming a habitual thing, since Hilde was incapable of looking after the cat; AJ had ended up adopting Heero. Of course, Heero was still unsure if this was a _good_ thing...

He lay back down and listened to the sounds within the house. AJ's purring, the clatter of pots in the kitchen...

Heero sat up, abruptly dislodging AJ who yowled in protest.

Someone was in the kitchen.

He and Hilde were the only people in the house.

_He_ wasn't in the kitchen.

So that meant...

Heero vaulted out of bed and ran out of his room. He pounded into the kitchen and brought himself to an abrupt halt at the door.

Hilde looked up from the stove where she was frying something. "Good morning Heero," she said with a smile. "Breakfast will be ready soon."

Heero attempted to pull himself together. "Breakfast?" he said lamely.

Hilde nodded. "Yeah, I woke up half an hour ago and decided to make French toast for both of us!" she looked at Heero and shook her head. "Heero... I'm not going to pick up a knife and stab myself in the heart, I swear!"

Heero stiffened. "I didn't say..."

"But you were _thinking_ it!" Hilde interrupted. She waved her spatula at him reprovingly. "I know I've been a hopeless case for the past five months, but I meant what I said last night!" she said vehemently. "I refuse to be a living zombie! _He_ wouldn't want me to act like that anyway!"

Heero noted the way that Hilde avoided saying Duo's name, but he couldn't help but be relieved that she had pulled herself out of the dark hole she'd been in.

Hilde turned her attention back to the frying pan. "Could you put some plates out?" she asked. "This will be done and after we've eaten this, I'll make lots of waffles, okay?"

Heero pulled plates out of a cupboard. "Can you eat all that?"

Hilde looked at him and blinked. "Ah... maybe, just a couple then..." she bit her lip. "I forgot that not everyone has a big appetite like..."

Heero put the plates on the table and regarded Hilde who was staring into space. "The toast will burn," he said harshly.

Hilde jumped and looked down. "Ack! Sorry!" she removed the pan and turned off the stove. She shook herself slightly and smiled at Heero. "All done!"

For the past five months Heero had eaten breakfast in silence. Hilde would either stare into space or eat half-heartedly and Heero couldn't think of anything to say that would break the silence - not that he was the type to talk alot anyway. However, today was an abrupt change.

Hilde deposited two pieces of toast in front of him and then served herself. Just as she was about to sit down, AJ came into the kitchen and announced that he was hungry with a penetrating meow.

Hilde stared blankly at the cat for a minute, then she smiled. "AJ! Oh, I've been neglecting you haven't I?" she looked at Heero. "Have you been looking after him too?"

"Yes," said Heero. "He likes to sleep on my bed," he added.

Hilde laughed. "I see... well, cats are born opportunists!"

Once AJ had been fed, Heero and Hilde attended to their breakfast. Heero ate quickly and finished long before Hilde.

"Was it good?" Hilde asked anxiously. "I was worried that I might be a bit out of practice."

"It was good," Heero assured her. In fact it had been _very_ good. He had taken over the cooking duties since Hilde's suicide attempt in the kitchen, but he was well aware that his cooking skills were poor next to Hilde's. She had a knack for making even the most plain food taste good Heero remembered how much Duo would enthuse over Hilde's cooking.

"That's a relief," said Hilde as she polished off her toast. "Now, onto business..." she regarded Heero with a serious look that almost matched his own. "I take it that you've been handling the business?"

Heero nodded. "It's been doing well," he said.

"But?" Hilde pressed.

Heero was slightly startled that Hilde had picked up on the hint of trouble in his voice. He paused, not sure whether his news wouldn't depress her further.

"Heero, _tell_ me!" Hilde insisted as the silence grew.

"But," said Heero. "I am not regarded in the same light as Duo was and many of his contacts have been avoiding me."

Hilde frowned. She could understand some of the reluctance of the Sweepers, Duo had been one of them for a long time and he had the knack of talking and bargaining with them. Heero on the other hand, was a harder person to get to know and his serious demeanor didn't invite friendly overtures. Hilde wondered how she could show the other Sweepers that Heero... she paused her thoughts... but then again, did _she_ want to continue the business? After all, she had only started working with the Sweepers because Duo was and it had seemed natural to continue after the war was over. Did she plan on being a Sweeper for the rest of her life?

Heero waited while Hilde sat deep in thought. He didn't know what she was deciding, but somehow he sensed it would decide the direction of Hilde's life from now on. Heero made a promise to himself and Duo's spirit that whatever she did he would be there for her.

***
One Week later,
Earth:

"Vice-Minister Darlian?"

Relena turned from her political secretary as the receptionist spoke up behind her. "Yes?" she asked.

"There is a call for you, on the secured line," the young woman told her.

Relena blinked. "Right," she said. "I'm sorry Hokuto," she smiled at her secretary. "I'll get back to you about that speech this afternoon."

Hokuto bowed. "Thank you Miss Darlian."

Relena went into her office and sat at her desk. She activated the communicator... and almost fell off her chair in surprise when Heero's face filled the screen.
Swallowing her surprise, Relena leaned forward and smiled at him. "Heero..." she said softly quelling the skips her heart was making. "I haven't heard from you in a long time, how are you?"

"Fine," said Heero, he looked a little impatient.

Relena realized that this wasn't merely a social call and sat up a little straighter. "Is something the matter?" she asked. "Is Hilde...?"

Heero was pushed to one side and Hilde smiled at Relena. "Hi Relena," she said.

Relena noticed that Hilde's smile, although bright, did not quite reach her eyes. "Hello Hilde," she said. "Are you feeling better now?"

"Yes, and I want to apologize for my _terrible_ behaviour!" said Hilde. "I'm amazed you can actually speak to me!"

Relena laughed slightly. "That's alright, really! Now, what can I do for you?" her eyes sort Heero's again.

"A place on Earth," said Heero briefly.

Relena's eyes widened. "A place...?" she asked baffled - after all, there were lots of 'places' on Earth. She hazarded a guess. "You mean a house?"

Hilde shot Heero a slightly exasperated glance. "Yeah, he means a house. I've basically decided that I don't..." she bit her lower lip. "I don't want to be on L2 anymore," she looked at Relena almost pleadingly. "So many memories... I need somewhere different... you understand?"

Relena nodded. "Yes," she said softly. "I understand, but are you sure, Hilde?"

"Yes... no... maybe," Hilde shrugged. "Heero suggested Earth and I thought 'why not'? It's a chance to start afresh anyway..."

Relena looked back at Heero. "And you will be coming too, Heero?"

"Yes," there was a note of finality in his voice.

"Well, I'll see what I can do," Relena said. "Have you thought about what occupation you'll do?"

Hilde shrugged. "Not really, Heero's a bit annoyed about that," she shot Heero a teasing smile to which he didn't respond. "But the sale of the business brought in alot of cash, so..."

"You _sold_ the business??" Relena squeaked unable to conceal her astonishment.

Hilde's chin came up defiantly. "And why not?" she challenged. "I made a decision and I didn't want to linger over it."

"Hilde, I'm not trying to talk you out of anything," Relena hastened to reassure her. "It just all seems a bit sudden."

Hilde's expression softened. "I know, sorry," she mumbled. "I just want to get it over with..." she looked as if she was going to cry all of a sudden.

Heero put his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her off-screen. "We plan to be down in two weeks," he told Relena.

She nodded. "I'll help," she promised. "In anyway I can, Heero." She met his eyes and smiled into them.

"I know," he said meeting her gaze with a solemn look and then he disconnected.

Relena sat, staring at the blank screen for quite some time. Then she sighed and turned away. *Heero... why do I feel like I've lost you when I was never really sure if I had you?*

***
Two Weeks later,
L2 Colony:

Heero lay in bed, one hand gently stroking AJ's head, and listened to Hilde in the next bedroom trying to conceal her crying.

Heero sighed and shifted restlessly. He knew she was trying _not_ to disturb him and if he went in she would probably only be more upset, but...

Heero sat up and frowned. Hilde wasn't going to stop anytime soon and he couldn't just continue to lie down and listen to her suffering. He swung out of bed and walked softly out of his room to Hilde's door.

He stood there, still frowning, trying to determine his best course of action. Also going through his mind, as it had so many times in the past months, was the thought that four years ago he would've left Hilde alone. Heero shook his head, looking after Relena was much simpler; he had never felt that he _had_ to hold her and comfort her as much as he did with Hilde. For someone like Heero who avoided the human touch the whole experience was disconcerting... but then again... if Heero was brutally honest with himself he felt more human now than he ever had. It was as if Duo had started him down the road and now he was gone Hilde was completing the journey with him.

A harsh sob from Hilde startled Heero out of his reflections and he opened the door.

Hilde lifted her head from her pillow and choked as he walked in. "H-heero?" she gasped in surprise. She sat up and stared at him.

Silently Heero crossed over to her bed and flicked on the bedside lamp. Hilde blinked; adjusting her sight to the light while Heero looked down at her. Hilde's face was puffy and tear-streaked and her eyes were red-rimmed, Heero started to have bad flashbacks to the early days after Duo's death.

"I heard you," he said.

Hilde sniffled and looked contrite. "I tried not to... but it just started and I... I couldn't stop..."

"Is it Duo?"

Hilde gulped. "N-no... Not quite. It's alot of things," she bit her lower lip. "I guess it just hit me, that I'm leaving I mean. L2 has been my home all my life and I met Duo here," tears trickled down her cheek. "I just felt so sad about leaving..." she ducked her head. "Sorry."

Heero put a hand under her chin and forced her head up so she met his eyes. "You don't have to leave," he said patiently.

Hilde smiled sadly. "Yes I do," she whispered. "Because I'm just not strong enough to live here anymore," she sighed. "I wish I was stronger..."

"Wanting to starting anew isn't a weakness," Heero told her.

Hilde thought on that for a moment. "Maybe not," she agreed reluctantly, she twisted something between her fingers and Heero glanced at it.

With a slight growl he plucked Duo's old black cap from her. "_This_ is not going to help!" he said irritably.

Hilde flushed. "I found it when I was packing things up today," she confessed.

Heero swore mentally at himself for missing the cap. He had packed up Duo's belongings while Hilde had been in her dazed fog, not wanting her to be further upset by things that would bring up memories.

"Duo's not the only reason, huh?" he muttered. "You're a liar Hilde..."

Hilde sighed. "I know, I'm a hopeless case," she said.  "Heero... you know you don't have to come to Earth with me, I know you're only staying with me because you feel obligated to." she shrugged. "I'll be okay, really."

Heero leaned forward. "I don't stay anywhere I don't want to be," he said firmly. "I will come with you to Earth and I _will_ stay with you."

Hilde half-laughed and half-cried at that statement. "I don't have a choice do I?"

Heero straightened. "No," he said sternly.

Hilde smiled properly. "Alright Heero, you win this round, now go to bed," she told him. "We're going to be busy tomorrow," seeing him hesitate she pushed at him. "Go on, I won't cry anymore... over leaving or Duo's clothing, I promise!"

Heero stepped back and surprised her and himself by smiling back at her...

***
One month later,
Earth:

"Hello!" Relena stood on the doorstep of Heero and Hilde's new house and peered down the corridor. Mostly all she could see were piles of boxes and wrapping paper and Hilde's cat snoozing on a bunch of newsprint in the sun. "Hilde? Heero?"

"Relena!" Hilde ran down the steps and leapt over several boxes to reach the elegantly dressed blond woman. "Why didn't you call? I wasn't expecting to see you!"

"Sorry," said Relena as she stepped inside, carefully avoiding the mess. "My meeting finished earlier than expected and since I was in this part of town I thought I'd drop by... I can leave if it's inconvenient though."

"No," Hilde smiled at her. "Not at all! It's good to see you, we haven't managed to exchange three words since Heero and I got here, you've been so busy." she threw some boxes out of Relena's way. "It's just that the computers arrived today, at the same time as the rest of my stuff from L2. Heero, of course, has been totally obsessed with uploading the software and fiddling around with it, while I've been attending to the other stuff!"

Relena laughed and followed Hilde into the living room. Heero was seated by three computers, his laptop connected to all of them, fiercely concentrating.

"Heero!" Hilde called. "Relena's here!"

Heero frowned and glanced up. His look plainly said he resented the interruption, but he quickly saved his work and put the laptop down to come over to the two women.

Relena smiled. "Well, it looks like you are really getting started for this data security business. Are the computers good? The company was highly recommended to me."

Heero nodded. "They're alright."

"Which means they're very good in Heero-speak," said Hilde. She turfed some paper off a chair and brushed it down. "This is all I can offer you at the moment, Relena," she said ruefully. "But I can get you a drink!"

"Thank you Hilde," said Relena sitting down.

Hilde shot Heero a significant glance and picked her way across the floor to the kitchen. Relena saw the glance and coloured faintly. Hilde could be very unsubtle sometimes...

The silence stretched between them. Relena had never been fond of small talk and it was possible that Heero didn't even know what casual conversation was.

"So how is Hilde doing?" Relena asked eventually.

"Better."

"But still not quite right?"

"No."

Relena sighed. "Well, I guess at least she seems to like it here and that's a good start."

"Yes," said Heero glossing over Hilde's frequent bouts of tears and her occasional dark moods. If Hilde wanted to confide in Relena that was her choice, Heero was not going to be the one to reveal things.

"How long are you planning to stay?" Relena asked. "Until the business is running smoothly? Or," and her voice faltered a little. "Longer? Until Hilde is completely over Duo?"

Heero said nothing; he just looked at her. Relena examined his face, trying to see something that would indicate that he felt something towards her other than his belief that she was his icon of peace. But as usual, Heero's eyes remained unreadable and Relena suspected, with a heavy sadness, at this point unreachable.

Relena suddenly felt she couldn't bear it any longer. She got to her feet and smiled tremulously at Heero. "Tell Hilde I'm sorry, but I forgot I have a... another meeting, I have to go..." she walked, carefully, out of the room.

As she reached the door she thought she heard Heero say her name. Feeling hopeful Relena turned back to face him.

"Heero...?"

"I'm sorry, Relena," he said quietly.

Relena drew in a shuddering breath. "Yes, I understand," she said. *I understand that you _can't_ leave, it's not like you to leave something unfinished, whether it's a mission or someone's shattered life, I understand that much Heero...*

She smiled. "I'll see you later then," and then she left.

Heero stared after her and tried to sort out his feelings. He looked at Relena and saw in her the future of humanity, but whether his future was also with her wasn't clear... not that it had ever been. Heero was aware that his understanding of 'love' was limited and confused.

"Where's Relena?" Hilde came out holding a drink in her hand.

"She left," said Heero, he moved back to the computers and reactivated his laptop.

"_Left_?" Hilde shot him an exasperated look and put the drink down. "Heero... How are you and Relena _ever_ going to get anywhere at this rate?"

"Stop pushing Relena at me!" Heero snapped.

Hilde blinked at his tone. "But I..." she paused. "Sorry... I didn't mean to do that, I just thought that you wanted..."

"No."

Hilde sighed. "Okay then... if that's how you feel..."

"Hilde? Heero?" a new voice echoed through the house.

"Sally!" Hilde popped her head out of the door. "And Wufei too..."

"What _is_ this mess?" grumbled Wufei entering the room.

"Wufei," Heero acknowledged him.

Wufei nodded and trod carefully over to him. "I've brought the Preventers files for your test run," he said. "Although I thought you'd be up and running by now!"

"The computers were delivered late..." Hilde started to explain but was stopped by Sally's hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry, Hilde," she said. "Wufei isn't happy unless he's complaining about _something_!"

"Woman!" Wufei glared at Sally.

She ignored him. "Hilde, can we leave the boys here for a while and have a little talk?"

"You mean a check up don't you, Dr Po!"

Sally grinned. "Basically."

Hilde and Sally went upstairs to Hilde's room where Sally did a quick physical examination of Hilde.

"Well, you look alot better," said Sally finally. "I take it you're eating more and not taking the sleeping tablets?"

Hilde nodded. "I still get the occasional bad dream," she admitted. "But it's not as bad as before."

Sally nodded. "That's good," her eyes narrowed and she looked sharply at Hilde. "But something _is_ bothering you."

Hilde told Sally about Relena's visit and what had happened.

"I feel like I'm responsible for them not getting together," she said. "Heero is devoting all this time to _me_ when he could be with Relena!"

Sally leaned against the wall. "Hilde, I think you're being oversensitive here. Heero never indicated that he loves Relena the same way you loved Duo," she smiled at the confused young woman. "There are many different _types_ of love and not all of them involve getting married!"

Hilde flushed. "I know, but..."

"Also, have you considered this? Heero probably needs you as much as you need him," said Sally. "In his way he loved Duo too, from what I could tell they were very close friends - even if Heero would never admit it. Looking after you is probably Heero's way of dealing with _his_ grief."

Hilde considered this. "You think so?"

"It's a good possibility," said Sally. "Of course, we don't know for sure unless Heero tells us."

Hilde smiled. "Trying to get Heero to talk about his emotions is like trying to extract emotions from a Mobile Doll!"

Sally laughed. "Well, you just think about what I said," she suggested. "And don't dwell on feelings of guilt and remorse, that's not going to help you heal!"

Sally left to see how Wufei was doing; Hilde lingered in her room letting Sally's words replay in her mind. Then she went over to her bedside table and opened a drawer. Picking out the photo inside she stared at it.

The photo was of Duo, taken the Christmas of 199, he was raising a glass of champagne and he was looking at the camera with his famous mischievous grin on his face.

Hilde sighed. "Duo... it's odd, but... I still hurt when I say your name," she touched the photo gently. "But it's not so bad now, more like a throbbing ache than something sharp like glass stabbing me all over. I guess I am getting along without you..."

She smiled suddenly. "I loved you and I guess a part of me will always love you, but I'm moving on now, I feel bad, but... can you forgive me for that?"

"He will."

Hilde dropped the photo in surprise when Heero spoke up behind her. She turned and flushed. "Uh... don't you ever knock?"

Heero bent and picked up the photo. "Duo would want you to be happy," he said placing the photo in her hands. "Don't feel guilty."

Hilde nodded. She remembered Sally's words. "The same goes for you, Heero."

He looked startled, but then dipped his head in agreement. "Yes." his features softened as he smiled slightly.

They looked at each other for some time, both aware of a feeling of harmony in feeling. Then the spell was broken as Wufei called up the stairs, querying their whereabouts.

Both Heero and Hilde blinked. Heero snapped back into his serious mode and Hilde hurriedly put Duo's photo away.

"I came to see if you wanted to have a look at the programs," said Heero.

"Ah... yes, yes definitely," Hilde followed him out. For some reason that she couldn't define she felt relieved and wanted to strangle Wufei at the same time.

***
Five months later:

Heero pushed open the door and shut it quietly behind him. He shrugged off his coat and hung it on a peg beside Hilde's.

As he brushed the snow off his coat he reflected on how oddly comforting it was to be back. He'd only been away for two weeks, working on installing some new software which required him to be on site, but during those two weeks Heero became aware that he _missed_ things.

Home... this home had been in his mind alot. That and...

Hilde.

Heero frowned. _That_ had been a surprise. Missing Hilde. Missing her talk, her smile, her breakfasts (the cook on site was just _terrible_) and the way she anticipated things he needed. He missed sitting by the fire, AJ stretched across his lap, listening to Hilde talk about things... not just business matters, anything she fancied mentioning to him in her laughing voice.

Heero had also reached another conclusion. Hilde didn't need him anymore. She no longer cried at night, or woke at strange hours after a terrible dream. The sparkle Duo's death had robbed her of was back. But she wasn't exactly like the old Hilde, there was a poise about her, maturity that only experience can bring.

Heero walked down the corridor, mulling his thoughts over. He opened the door to the living room and walked inside.

Hilde had her back to him and was working intently on her computer. Her short back hair was mussed and she was dressed very casually in leggings and a large sweatshirt. AJ was lolling at her feet, but he mewed when Heero entered.

Hilde turned to see what AJ was looking at and her eyes went very wide.

"Heero!" she leapt to her feet and launched herself at him. Heero caught her as she barreled into him, flinging her arms around his neck. "Heero! You're back! Oh, it's so _good_ to see you!"

Heero was a little astonished by her enthusiastic welcome, but a warm feeling spread through his body and he found himself hugging her back.

Hilde had missed him, by the looks of it almost as much as he had missed her. He pulled back and looked down at her. She smiled up at him and he found himself taken aback at the realization that she was very, very important to him. Unconsciously his arms tightened around her.

Hilde blinked. Her initial feelings of simple relief and pleasure at seeing him again were replaced by nervousness as she looked into his face. His eyes looked intently down into hers and she almost felt she was drowning. A shiver ran up her spine.

Suddenly the telephone shrilled and they both leapt apart and eyed each other nervously. Heero picked up the phone and Relena appeared on the screen.

"Heero!" she said happily. "I heard you got back today, how did the job go?"

"Fine," said Heero. He looked at Relena's face and tried to sort out what had just happened. Hilde watched him, her eyes anxious.

"I'm glad," said Relena, then she frowned in concern. "Is something the matter, Heero?"

"No," Heero's tone was very, very neutral.

"Well, I just wanted to say welcome back," said Relena, she sounded a little unsure. "And... I'll see you and Hilde... uh... soon?"

"Yes, goodbye," Heero put down the phone.

"That was a bit abrupt," said Hilde in the silence that followed.

Heero stood by the phone and regarded Hilde. For so long he had protected Relena, even back when her death would have been an advantage, he had watched over her. There was a bond between them, but over the years it had stretched very thin, weakened by her job and his reluctance to allow his feelings to bind him to her. He had wondered if his feelings for Relena were love, because surely, if he loved her he would want to be with her all the time? Looking at Hilde, Heero was very much aware that it was _Hilde_ he wanted to be with, Relena was someone important and keeping her safe was something he had charged himself with, but Hilde was the one now stirring his emotionless heart into life.

Hilde's eyes flickered as Heero stared at her. Relena's face seemed to her to hang between them and Hilde felt an odd, terrible sense of guilt, as if she was betraying her friend.

"Heero, I'm sorry," she said suddenly. "I didn't mean to fling myself at you like that."

Heero blinked. "Hilde..."

"And I just realized something," Hilde continued on recklessly, aware that if she didn't speak now, something was going to happen. Something that both she and Heero could regret. "You've been with me for nearly a year and I'm okay now, so you really don't need to stay here out of a sense of obligation to Duo, and..." her throat constricted and she swallowed. "You should probably call Relena back and..."

"_Why_ do you keep trying to push me at Relena?" Heero interrupted her harshly.

Hilde dropped her eyes and stared at the floor. "You... love her... don't you?" she asked in a very quiet voice.

Heero drew in a deep breath and exhaled sharply. "I thought that I did," he said equally as quietly. "But I don't think so."

Hilde lifted her head and stared at him in confusion. "I don't understand..."

"Relena is important," said Heero, struggling to make Hilde understand what he was only now just beginning to comprehend. "Important to a lot of people, she is... hope and peace... and I want to protect that."

Hilde frowned." So... you don't love her, but she is important?" she shook her head. "Ah... I don't get it, but... still, what I was _trying_ to say is that you should leave." she bit her lip and looked away from him.

Heero walked over to Hilde and stood in front of her. "Do you really want me to leave, Hilde?" he asked her.

Hilde ducked her head. "Heero... I don't want you to tie your life to looking after me because of some supposed debt to Duo. I'm _okay_ now, I'm capable of being on my own!"

Heero put his hands on her shoulders. "Look at me," he commanded. "Look at me and tell me that you want me to go," *And if you do, I'll leave now, forever, if you _want_ me to*

Hilde looked up at him and her eyes were filled with tears. "Damnit Heero, why are you making this so hard?" she choked. "No, I _don't_ want you to go! Are you happy now?!" she cried, a tear trickling down. "I want you to stay!"

Heero touched her damp cheek. "Then I'll stay," he said feeling as if everything was now perfect in his world. "Not out of an obligation, but..."

He bent his head and kissed her very gently on the mouth, letting his actions speak for him. Hilde leaned into the kiss, letting the love for Heero that had been slowly building in her out. Silently she asked Duo to forgive her and laid his ghost to rest in her heart.

***
Eight months later
L2 Colony:

"Hey, you!"

Gerrard, former Sweeper and now Chief cargo checker at L2 Colony's largest dockway turned and faced the stout man who had tapped him on the shoulder. "What?" he growled.

"You're Gerrard?" the man asked. When Gerrard nodded he was presented with a cargo list. "Captain said to give you this."

Gerrard took the list and scanned it. "Mining transport, eh? From the outer rim too, must've taken a while to get here!"

The man rolled his eyes. "Yeah, four months cramped in a crappy ship with a bunch of stir-crazy miners! Absolute hell!"

Gerrard signed the list. "Why do you chose that type of life?" he asked curiously.

The man shrugged. "For some it's the only life you know, for others it's 'cos they have a debt to pay," he pointed to his left. "Like young Shin over there."

Gerrard glanced curiously in the direction the man pointed. A young man, not more than 21 years old, was walking towards them. Gerrard took in the worn, stained jeans and the fraying black t-shirt, the long brown hair held in a ponytail that hung halfway down his back, the violet eyes... the grin...

Gerrard gulped and dropped the cargo list as 'Shin' stood before him. "B-but," he stuttered. "Y-you're _dead_!"

"Oi oi, didn't you know that the God of Death never dies?" laughed Duo Maxwell.

***
End of Part Two

Go ON to Part Three

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