Disclaimer: Not mine. The end. Jedi Rora and Michael belong to me however...as does this particular story.
Comments are always welcome.
By Nicole Silverwolf
It was closing rapidly on 1AM, the stars moving at the sedate even pace they always did. The moon hung silver and crisply sharp in the navy sky, bright enough to light the steps of the courthouse but not strong enough to truly define the lone person sitting there.
After all who in their right mind in the middle of December would be sitting in the freezing cold on the steps of the city courthouse? Even the homeless had sought shelter in city and charity run shelters for the night.
But the figure waited patiently, content to sit and wait for whatever it was waiting for. For there was a definite air of anticipation surrounding the cloaked person. A straightened back, feet crossed loosely under it on the lower step (ticking every so often) and hands that fiddled with the cloaks edge every few moments, worrying the worn garment even more.
It still was quiet though.
2 Weeks Prior
OZ Mobile Suit Facility 2501A
The blow was viscous; unnecessary and violent for the sake of violence alone. The soldiers knew the boy would not talk. He had not before--why would he now?
"Where are the other pilots!" the man growled yanking his head back painfully by the roots of chestnut brown hair longer than most girls'.
Duo Maxwell, Gundam pilot, self-proclaimed God of Death simply glared at the man. Defiance of an uncanny level shone in his eyes and without speaking said everything. He was ready for death if it was to come here and now.
Such strength of spirit in a child of no more than fifteen years. A rare and prized quality in any person.
Three other soldiers were in the room besides the one now looming over Duo. They stood, training guns on the young man dressed in black and generally observing the whole proceedings with a soldier's detached interest.
Duo's indigo violet eyes had not dulled through the whole session. In fact he smiled as if inviting them to try again. But it only angered the other man more.
He stood and pushed the boy awayin disgust. After taking a moment to regain his equilibrium Duo smirked widely and cracked a joke, perhaps the twentieth since getting here.
It was not well received.
The interrogator got the strangest glint in his eyes--a dangerous one--and for a moment Duo's mask faltered very slightly. It was probably unnoticed by the soldiers.
He stood and turned, walking to the door of the small room. Two words--orders really--were said quietly, and the malice and predatory gleam in each word was disturbing.
He glanced over the shoulder for the reaction. And smirked satisfactorily when he saw it.
The boy's face was ashen; there was no mistaking the words being spoken, and no way to misinterpret their meaning.
Two soldiers advanced from the three, grabbing the silent boy hard and fast. Flipping him and holding him down in fluid practiced movements.
Only then did the shouting start. Curses, shouts, protests and the scared near begging of a fifteen year old boy. One who was more desperate than he had ever been not to lose the only thing that had survived a tragic childhood. The third man stepped forward, a knife drawn, the blade glowing in the dim light.
"Please. Please don't."
The lead soldier hesitated for a moment. "Sorry kid...orders..." Even he seemed a little uncertain.
A flash of silver metal bathed in moon and it was over in a few moments.
So very odd how such a precious object could be lost so easily. The two witnesses in the corner noted that Duo's movements had slowed considerably, and as the last strands of the braid were severed he seemed to implode in on himself.
They had gotten to him.
The room was empty not five minutes later dragging a now short-haired boy between them, who didn't protest, who didn't smile, who didn't seem to exist.
The braid lay in a puddle of grimy water, the light of a full moon shining down on it. It looked like a snake almost. More like an animal really.
The larger end was unraveling slowly.
The two unseen witnesses had not moved the entire time. They were there to record--to remember--to make sure that someone would be able to mark the existence of the Gundam pilots in this world; in case history chose to forget the five of them.
Two witnesses without interference; observers of an experiment left with too many variables to count.
They were relatively young looking, older than the pilots by perhaps ten years but both timeless in their own rights--it would be hard to pin a definitive age on either of them.
The young man was dark-skinned and stood with a posture of arrogant indifference to the world around him. At least a casual observer might assume that. But then the casual observer might not recognize him as an angel either. He seemed to radiate 'gang youth culture', though he did not dress it very much or keep involved in it at all.
And though his head was shaved to within perhaps a centimeter of the dark black hair, glittering chocolate brown eyes, tinted with very thin streaks of silver stared in anger. Though one could not be sure if the precious article lying defiled on the floor had incurred such anger.
His companion if glanced at very quickly might have been mistaken for the Gundam pilot that had just been dragged from the room. But that was deceptive. She was taller than him by a bit, perhaps a head at the most.
And she stood in almost direct contrast to her partner beside her, tall and straight with a sort of controlled power around her. Quiet but very troubled green eyes looked down at the braid. But the green was inhuman--candy apple green fading to at its darkest, the color of a green crayon.
The troubled look increased as she reached back instinctively and grabbed at the longest of the three dark brown braids that brushed the back of her knees. Two thinner ones were draped over her shoulders and reached to just above her waist.
The dripping of the pipe was all that was heard as the boy swept forward in one fluid motion, bent and carefully scooped the braid up into his hands. The woman flashed him a surprised look and took a step forward. There was a look in his eyes as he stared daggers out the door. The other smiled very briefly at the way he held the braid and glared out the door as well. This was far from over.
And then they were gone from the room as well.
The air was making beautiful patterns every time a breath escaped and she watched them idly as they ghosted around her and disappeared in the next instant. Michael was definitely taking his time with committee. It was not an unreasonable request and they had been sure it was within the context of the rules such as they were.
She wondered what would be taking them so long to get approval.
So wrapped up in her thoughts she didn't notice the near silent approach of her companion down the wide large steps that stretched nearly the length of the whole block. He stopped next to her and scuffed his boots on the cold marble worn from years of being tread upon.
Her hands wormed out from under her coat and she signed, fingers, arms and hands moving in rapid succession. Loosely translated Michael decided that she was asking about the meeting he had been in...effectively asking, "So?"
"It took a while to convince them that this was at all necessary. He's survived worse than this, he'll move on, he'll live, it'll grow back." Michael mocked the members.
"But I think you managed to cover everything in that initial write-up we did. They just wanted to pick it and us apart. They really did understand our motives...after a little persuasion. Definitely coulda used you in there Jedi Knight. Diplomacy is not my deal."
Rora smiled and shook her head fondly. She knew she couldn't go in. For more reason than one.
Michael was careful with his next words as he offered a hand down to her and hauled Rora to her feet.
"You know everyone back there thinks we're wasting this. That there are better ways to use miracles. They think I'm foolish; they think just as much if not worse of you."
They started to walk, heading towards the edge of this small city, towards the safehouse they knew the Gundam pilots were laying low in.
"If you feel foolish you shouldn't have brought it up, you should have objected to me or to the committee. Train go sorry! I would think better of you Michael. You know why we need to do this. Are those five not deserving of a miracle or two in their lives?"
Her signing was rapid and precise, perhaps even a little angry as they walked. Her signs rapidly jumped languages. Michael translated it as quickly as he could...Rora only did that when she wanted to make a point. Or was in an irritated mood.
"I'm not objecting to what you're saying Rora. I'm well aware that I had plenty of chances to back out of this decision. I'm just saying it how it is. You know me. And I know how much those mean to you." He gestured to her braids. "I know how much this means to him." He gestured to the small pouch that strapped to his side. "We've got a chance to set something right. I'm just tellin you how it is that's all."
The young woman smiled and signed no more. They hurried in silence towards the safehouse, neither willing to admit the excitement that welled in both of them.
It was well and approaching two in the morning when they finally made it back to the building. Indicating the roof that would offer them the quickest and quietest access route they both crouched and sprung up.
A brilliant flash of white accompanied Michael as he loosed impossibly white wings to help him up. A few seconds later as his feet brushed the ground ever so slightly he dropped and the wings disappeared again as if by magic. A few stray feathers settled onto the breeze and as they landed, faded and disappeared.
They slid into the room, Michael first. From what their keen observations could determine, Duo's physical wounds were nearly completely healed. The child did have an unnaturally high regeneration rate which was good for a Gundam pilot. Necessary some might say.
Emotional wounds were something different entirely.
The room was small, relatively speaking but it housed the two occupants easily enough. Both boys had scant personal possessions and except for the two beds, desks and dressers there was nothing else that had been provided for in the house.
In the fast waning moonlight they could both make out Duo--the still essentially Duo--curled under, in, on, and around the blankets on his bed. Dried tears or perhaps only a trick of the silver light shone on a small face, contorted in sadness and grief even in sleeps embrace.
Michael lowered his head and shook it sadly. "Where did the human race go so wrong as to send children to fight the battles to save them? Where did we go wrong in not protecting them from it?"
Rora bent down contemplative at Duo's side. "It's not...wrong. They have the hearts that will truly bring peace. They fight, because they have to fight. They want to bring peace, they whisper it every day. They sacrifice for it every day. It is a noble choice...and a very hard life."
"At what price Rora? When do you believe the price of this peace becomes too high? I believe it's too high already."
She closed her eyes in conflict and signed quietly in her own language. "I agree."
For a long moment nothing happened--just a Jedi Knight and an angel--the two human children in their beds and the silence of contemplative thoughts. It was the two children who brought the older ones back from their near meditative state.
Contrary to many beliefs one did not move very much when asleep. Even nightmares failed to bring out responses in most people, forcing them more towards rigidity than to flailing arms and legs as often seen in movies. Restless movements were more the indications of a low-level REM sleep, the rapidly approaching consciousness kind.
Duo's sudden movements startled them both and they were up and glancing around worriedly with a few instants. If one pilot was close to waking the other wasn't far behind.
Rora took a pained step back as she watched Duo reach unconsciously for the braid that wasn't there anymore. Michael shuddered and turned away, trying his hardest not to think or watch though his eyes were seeing blank wall. It was disturbing watching the blind hand grope for its companion.
The pile on the other bed moved suspiciously and Michael noted that Heero was gonna wake up real soon if they didn't do something and fast.
"Rora?" was the curt request/question.
Without any more communication than that she slammed her knees into the ground and pulled herself together. Reaching out with her mind she latched onto both their Force signatures, unique and blazing and dragged them back down to a deeper level of sleep. Both boys quieted instantly and Rora was immeasurably pleased to see the seemingly disembodied hand stop its frantic search for something that wasn't there.
"Can ya keep em there?" Michael asked moving to the pouch quietly at his side. He stripped it off and set it carefully on the bed.
Another quick look to Rora to make sure she had the full control and he slipped open the bag at his side and reached over pulling back the covers to reveal Duo's head, the ragged cut hair that still remained firmly attached to his scalp.
Callused hands reached into the small bag and drew out one very familiar chestnut length of braid--now bound at both ends--one the original and the other, borrowed from Rora. He undid the new end slowly, slinging Rora's piece onto a wrist and carefully spreading the massive length apart, until the top two inches or so were unbound.
Rora couldn't see exactly what was happening from her position on the floor. But she doubted she would be able to even comprehend what exactly Michael was doing. Miracles were meant to be that--unexplained magic--and she knew that even if she could she wouldn't really want to know what exactly he was doing. She could see a light golden glow reflected on his focused face as he concentrated on his handiwork. He was going slowly so she contented herself with watching, observing the thing they only had an opportunity to perform once a year.
"Done," he whispered satisfactorily and slid off the bed to sit on the floor. He was tired. "Wanna see?" he smiled to his partner.
She rolled off her knees heedless of the fact that it had been well over an hour since she had even moved. Slinking over, an impish smile on her face she grinned fully at what she could see.
Curiously she signed something that Michael thought he was mistranslating. But she was always clear and it took a moment to realize what she was 'speaking' the truth. "Two together to be one once again! Not bad for a beginner." Referred to his skills in braiding hair.
For where once had been ragged, chopped, chestnut brown tendrils now lay the long coil of braid that had been severed not two weeks prior. Of course it looked far from severed at that point--and it was in desperate need of a re-braid and a bath--but it was reattached; every single last hair.
"Wanna stick around for part two?" he asked from the floor.
"Michael," she signed playfully. "That's the best part."
Surprisingly their personal bets on the wake up call were not the first thing that woke them that morning. It was the very, very loud "What the fuck!" that emanated from the room below them.
"Damn I thought he was gonna scream first."
"I thought he would have fainted."
The two looked at each other. "Tie." They mutually declared.
They weren't quite sure what exactly they would come on when they slid into the room. Free will tended to leave a lot of room for improv and they were both curious.
Duo was kneeling on the floor, dressed in long pajama pants and a black long sleeved tee-shirt worn thin from overuse. Clutched in his hands like he was afraid it was going to either eat him or up and vanish in the next few seconds was the braid Michael had so carefully reattached a few hours ago.
One of the most complex expressions lit his face, swinging from disbelief to denial, questioning and confusion right back to joy and wonder. It was almost like he was trying to reevaluate everything in that instant. He was suspiciously close to tears, overly bright indigo eyes, locked on the slightly dirty brown lengths.
Rora poked at Michael and they looked to the other occupant of the room who had gotten out of bed and was sitting next to Duo on the cold wood floor. Modified only slightly from his daily attire, Heero wore a pair of long black wind pants and a faded, often worn, forest green tee-shirt. The expression if one knew how to read between the lines was one of pure bewilderment.
Every so often he would duck his head trying to reconcile what had apparently happened with some scientific explanation.
The door burst open at that and the two once again witnesses drew back into separate corners of the room, bathing themselves in early morning shadows. They continued to watch.
The three other Gundam pilots arrived as one, all in various stages of sleep. They all also looked like they were going to murder their alarm clock. That is until they caught sight of the braid and the amazed look on both faces.
Quatre was first. "Allah..." he trailed off. He could not say more as they stood there in the doorway. Wufei was quiet but it was possible he had muttered Nataku under his breath. Trowa was quieter then all, it seemed he always was, but there was something amazed in the single, visible green eye.
"Duo? How? What? When? Isn't it?" Quatre approached the two slowly, reaching out and grasping Duo's shoulder. "I mean...this can't be possible by science. Can it?" he directed the question to Heero. They all seemed to be looking for the answer to that.
"I don't believe so." Even his monotone held a tint of wonder in it.
Duo was sitting perhaps more quietly than the others would have thought he was capable of. Michael shot a worried glance to Rora, who stood with a grave but confident look upon her face.
"Perhaps it is not explainable because it is a miracle," came the soft response, not from Heero or Duo but from the unlikely Trowa.
Duo turned sharply at that, his indigo eyes burning up at Trowa, slightly unfocused as if he wasn't really looking at him; yet holding the gaze.
'You don't believe in God, but you believe in Shinigami?'
Yeah! 'Cause I've never seen a miracle, but I've seen lots and lots of dead people!'
"A miracle!" Wufei snorted. "No such thing."
"What the heck do you call that then?" Quatre gestured to the braid that Duo still clutched in his left fist. "Hair doesn't just grow like that overnight!"
"I...I don't know," Wufei admitted quietly.
"Duo," Trowa asked. "What do you think?"
For once the braided one was almost as quiet as Heero. He simply held the braid in his hand, something both witnesses were sure he would do for some time now.
"Nah...I'm pretty sure it's a miracle, maybe a mistake, but definitely a miracle."
It was all the warning they got before he leapt up and grabbed them each into a deliriously happy hug. Quatre was laughing, he might have mistaken Trowa's smile being much closer to a laugh. Wufei smiled a little and perhaps more surprising of all the shy smile of Heero Yuy got a chance to be seen.
None of them noticed that the room had two less occupants as they sat in the morning light, puzzling over a miracle, enjoying the amazing joy they could feel, and simply acting like the fifteen year olds they were. The two far elder witnesses settled onto the roof of the house, smiles upon their faces, quiet truth radiating from them both.
Duo was surprised that there was a church open so late at night. He didn't think that such things were open anymore. Most were locked at dark.
Slipping into the building, a quiet peace immediately descended on him like it always had, like it probably always would. It was an old and simple place, filled with darkened wood, worn carpets and candles. Choosing the furthest pew from the front he knelt swiftly to one knee making the sign of the cross and slipped onto the bench.
For a long time nothing but silence enveloped the boy sitting there. He still clutched the braid (newly washed) running fingers slowly up and down it.
Finally he spoke, no fancy, wordy, prayers--just spoke--to whoever might listen. To the one he might believe in now.
"Hey. I know...I...I know I don't talk to you as much as I used to. Heck I said I don't even believe in You half the time."
"I think I kinda got a little lost. I've been known to do that y'know? Well of course you do. You're the big cheese in charge of everything."
He paused and ran his fingers into the braid.
"I still don't get why you don't come down here and stop all the suffering that we see everywhere. I don't know why you left me behind all those times I wanted to do nothing but die. And there are still some times when that's all I want to do. But I know now that I gotta stick around and help bring peace. And maybe keep the guys from goin nuts huh? I swear didja hafta make em all so serious!"
He smiled, grinned really, in the way he always did and would.
"I always...I always said I didn't believe in you because I had never seen a miracle in my whole life."
He hefted the braid up to the front of the church.
"Guess this was supposed to be my wakeup call. No better way than to get me to believe in miracles than to give one to me. I think you should have used it to save Solo or Sister Helen or Father Maxwell or all those other people who died. But I guess I'm gonna have to put a little more faith in your big master plan huh? I know they're with you up there so I'm glad they aren't here to see this war. Maybe it's better that they don't have to suffer with me anymore."
He was quiet as he regarded the front of the church, remembering times from long ago, the past.
"I gotta go...the guys'll be worried that I got captured again or something. I think I'll try to talk to you a little more often kay? Even if I can't get to a church. Thanks for listening even if you don't get the message for a while, I know you gotta be pretty busy up there. I promise I'll keep trying to do right."
Duo stood again and made the sign of the cross. Standing in the aisle facing the altar and the simple cross there he bowed again, low and formal nothing like that of the cocky Gundam pilot. "Thank you," he whispered and the emotion trapped there was something more than any word he had spoken before. A single drop of water darkened the worn cloth flooring and the boy was gone.
"Nataku...I think I saw a miracle today. I wonder if you would laugh at me for saying such a thing. It is not a very scholarly thing to think."
Wufei sat atop his Gundam Shenlong--renamed Nataku--folded precisely into a meditative position, total control evident in the straight back and neutral features.
"Justice was served today Nataku," he smiled despite his penchant not to. "The best kind of justice."
The Gundam stood proud and tall against the world at that and Wufei fancied for a childish moment that the Gundam was smiling in approval.
Quatre let his fingers vibrate carefully as he tuned up. He much preferred vibrato anyway. After running up and down several scales and doing another fine-tuning with the smaller knobs at the base of the violin he was set to go.
One of the few personal possessions he tried to carry with him at all times, the prized violin case lay open on the kitchen table, now doubling as a stand. Somehow he had forgotten said stand when they had left for the last mission.
For once though he couldn't really focus on the complex note patterns in front of him. If he wasn't missing a sharp or flat, he was holding out a whole note to nearly twice its length.
Normally that would have irked him to no end being a sort of perfectionist about music. But he simply lifted the bow off the strings and tucked the instrument under his right arm, so that it lay flat against his chest.
"Allah," he smiled tapping the top of the case with the bow's tip. He could see Duo walking up the path towards the house, the usual bounce in his step and he was sure a grin on his face. The braid was swinging back and forth like a living thing, barely visible in the dark night, a dark black on black.
"Thank you for bringing him back to us."
The music rustled slightly as if the wind had blown it. But no door or window was open.
Trowa wondered if someone was really trying to tell him something today as looked down at the book in his hands. It was a tattered paperback, small and lightweight--definitely well used. He had found it here, perhaps left by some former occupant.
He smiled down at the words he had reached today. Such irony it would seem.
Without really thinking about it he started to read the play aloud, as it should be. "There are more things in heaven and Earth Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophies."
That Shakespeare guy must have known something. Maybe this Hamlet character did too.
1. An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God. "Miracles are spontaneous, they cannot be summoned but come of themselves" (Katherine Anne Porter).
2. One that excites admiring awe. See synonyms of wonder.
Heero Yuy lay flat on his back on the bed. Hands laced behind his head he stared at the ceiling (flat and white) above him pondering the words he had finally found.
They were far from the scientific explanation he was sure existed out there. But somehow none of them seemed right either.
He turned his head to regard the bed across the room. It was well after one in the morning and Duo was asleep already, blankets drawn up around him and his face smooth, quiet and untroubled in sleep. Except for the braid clutched in a near death grip.
Prussian blue eyes just watched for a long moment. That braid, had done more to restore what was missing to their team than all the science and technology that had helped to heal Duo's wounds. Was that what constituted a miracle? Something so simple that could make one believe that anything was possible? Even an end to the war? Heero honestly didn't know. But what had happened fit the definition of a miracle...such as it was. He was going have to think about that.
A small smile, the one that very few had ever had the privilege to see worked its way out in the dark. He would never admit it but he rather preferred this Duo to the one he had seen for the past week.
Turning over and crawling under the covers Heero was asleep in a few moments, even with all the questions still floating in his head.
The term "train go sorry" is used in actual American sign language (ASL). It's an idiomatic expression that roughly translated means lost opportunities or missed chances.
Heero's definition of a miracle came from the web since the Webster dictionary definition was a little boring and too long for the purpose of this fic.
Sooo...comments, flames, criticisms, praise...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.
Thanks for reading!