Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing. If I did, I would have had Episode Zero animated as an OVA. And I would actually publish the rest of Preventer 5... And animate that too... And...

NOTE: This fic is heavily based on scenes from Episode Zero, the manga prequel to the events seen on TV. If you haven't read it before, you should. (Read the version posted at www dot 0system dot com slash 0system slash index dot html, it has the best translation I've seen so far. In fact, I think they may be scans of the official English version, cuz you read it from left to right, not right to left...) It will give you a greater understanding of the motivations and personalities and backgrounds of all the characters. (Not to mention the fact that you get to see very kawaii pics of the Gundam pilots when they were younger... ^_^)

Rating is for mild swearing. (Though some of the words are a bit pushing it...)

WARNING: Flashbacks within flashbacks (And therefore a lot of tense-changing). Point-of-view-changing (But only like twice). May be somewhat confusing. ^_^ Also, the formatting may be screwed up... Gomen!

A tribute to Odin Lowe, the man who influenced Heero the most of all, shaping the philosophies that our beloved Gundam pilot would come to believe in. The man who cared for this little nameless boy as his own son, teaching him all that he knew, showing the child how to avoid making the fatal mistakes that he himself would forever regret...

                         ~The Assassin's Heart~

      He found himself extremely bored as he scrolled through the pages of his electronic history book, listening to the dull drone of the history teacher rambling on about some long forgotten war or insignificant little election from years before. Ancient civilizations, old kingdoms... All but specks in the memory of mankind.

      He wondered why they even cared, why they bothered teaching such things. History was woven of deeds from the past, irreversibly etched in time. Dead people, dead alliances. Events from the past could never be altered. Yet with one single shot any insignificant fool could change the entire course of history yet to come...

      A bold-faced headline caught his eye near the bottom of the screen.

      "A.C. 175, April 07. The Beginnings of a New War... On this day, the pacifist leader Heero Yuy was shot by an anonymous gunman... With his death came the first signs of unrest in the colonies... To this day, the assassin remains unknown..."

      "Hn."

                   *                  *                  *

      Odin Lowe checked once again, making sure that the clasps of his violin case were properly locked in place.

      "Hey kid," said the tall blonde man suddenly.

      A little boy with spiky brown hair and deep blue eyes that could have charmed a tiger with their seeming innocence glanced up from beside him.

      "You ready?"

      The boy nodded, fingering a shiny black gun.

      "Hai, Odin."

      He knew there was a chance that he could fail. It was a risk that was always there, and a risk that he took willingly – or perhaps it was out of necessity. Yet ever since he had taken the boy into his care, it seemed to him as if that risk had been multiplied by a factor of ten thousand. There was a heightened sense of urgency. Before, failure had meant only death. But now...

      He wondered what the boy would do if he died. It was something he found himself thinking about more and more lately. It wasn't that he was worried the kid wouldn't be able to take care of himself – the boy was certainly capable of doing that – but he feared what the kid would grow up to become without anyone around to guide him.

      He did not want the boy to become another Odin Lowe.

A.C. 183, April 03

      He gazes into her eyes, dark and glistening with some emotion he cannot name.

      "Odin," she whispers.

      Although she says nothing, he knows that she knows.

      "Keiko, I –"

      She turns from him abruptly. "What does your heart tell you, Odin?"

      They are silent.

      At last, he replies. "An assassin's heart feels nothing."

      She looks up. Her eyes are now dull, resigned. "Farewell, then." Slowly, calmly, she walks out of the room. He can do nothing. He knows what awaits her. As does she. And so, he stands, unmoving.

      Seconds later, he hears a gunshot.

      He leaves as flames devour the building.

      They were at the security checkpoint. Destination: Colony X18999.

     "You're a musician?" The guard looked questioningly at the violin case.

      "Used to be. Now I just carry it around as a hobby." Then, he added, "I'm traveling with my son." The boy himself remained silent, the expression on his face blank.

      He was surprised when they did not question him further about the child, but rather, about his occupation. Ironically, it was indeed true, that bit about his being a former musician. He had always loved that violin of his... All these years, he still could not bear to part with it. He carried it with him on every mission; he was fond of music, and playing the instrument often helped calm his nerves. Not to mention, of course, that the case was a very convenient hiding place for documents and other things necessary to an assassin...

      He found it amusing that they actually believed him about the kid, however. The two of them hardly even acted like they had a close relationship, and they looked nothing like each other. The boy, despite his blue eyes, was obviously Japanese, of Asian descent; and as for himself, his blonde hair blatantly announced to the world that he was gaijin. A white foreigner. Really, though, here in space everyone was a foreigner... For a while, he recalled fondly, that was what the boy had called him: gaijin.

      As they walked away, he looked down at the boy again.

      "Hey, try to act a bit more like family, eh?" He leaned down and whispered in the kid's ear. "That's our contract."

      The boy blinked, as if startled, or amused. Perhaps both.

      "Hm... Okay, Dad."

      Odin smirked slightly. "That's better." Son.

A.C. 183, April 07

      A lone man carrying a violin case, running down a deserted hallway, on the third floor of a tall, grand building. Just two floors below, the halls are chaotic, filled with frenzied crowds. But here, there is no one.

      It reminds him of another day, exactly eight years ago, that had unfolded in much the same manner.

      The wailing of a child pierces the stillness.

      The man pauses, glances back at a door he has just passed.

      "My heart," he mutters.

      He runs back and opens the door.

      They were waiting for the shuttle. Odin glanced up and noticed that the boy was gazing out a window into the darkness of space.

      "Watcha looking at?" The boy did not answer.

      He stood, watching the child from a distance.

      "What are you looking at?" he asked, again, quietly. "The void of space, which took everything away from you? Or... your own image, a face without a name?

      He sees a little boy inside, perhaps two or three years old. Three, he decides. Another man, his partner – the other one who was hired for the job, stands there, aiming a gun at the child. Strangely enough, the kid is no longer crying.

      The other man looks up, startled, then relaxes. "Oh, it's you," he says.

      He looks from the child, to the man, the back to the child. His fellow assassin notices the confused look on his face.

      "Oh, this kid?" says the man, waving his revolver in the boy's general direction. "Son of Hiroshi Yuy." Hiroshi Yuy. Who now lies dead two floors below, as his older brother did eight years ago. Eight years. The man shrugs. "So I suppose we gotta get rid of this brat too."

      "Is that so," he manages to say at last.

      The man raises an eyebrow. "In case you wanna know, I've already erased all his records. Barely anyone even knew about the kid; they kept his birth quiet, to protect their privacy, and I doubt anyone else is gonna find out. Turns out the wife died in childbirth, not of an illness as they reported. The only other two who knew and are actually of any importance, other than Hiroshi himself, were the Yuy sister and the kid's nanny. But we already got rid of them, just days ago... Remember our terms – all immediate relatives of Heero Yuy... I really don't see what your problem is. It's just another kid..."

      His fists clench involuntarily. He pulls out his own gun.

      "My heart... What does it tell me?" he whispers. The other man does not hear.

      "So, you'll do it then? I've only got one bullet left, and I'd rather save that for more important things..." The man chuckles. "You know..."

      He doesn't know. He hesitates.

      "I –" he mutters. "I-I'll do it!"

      He raises his gun and shoots.

      His comrade falls to the floor, clutching his stomach with a look of shock plastered on his face. Blood gushes out from where the bullet penetrated his skin.

      "For you, Keiko..."

      Through all this, the child has not made a single noise, but merely sits there, staring, almost as if curious but for his face, blank of any expression.

      He glances over now, remembering the boy. He pauses, unsure of what to do.

      "So this is the nephew you were so fond of..."

      He scoops up the boy in his arms and runs.

      Only later, when he has gotten out of the building and on his way to safety, does he realize that he doesn't know the child's name.

      "Why... did you come to this colony?"

      Odin smiled, almost sadly, rummaging through his beloved violin case.

      "To abandon you."

      The boy was surprised, though he said nothing. Glancing over his shoulder, Odin could tell from the look in those cold blue eyes that the kid was not pleased.

      It was a decision he had made after nights of endless worrying. It was for the best, he knew. He could not – would not – let the boy lead the life of an assassin.

      So why did he feel so – regretful?

      "Soon," he continued calmly, "there'll be a coup d'etat here. You'll take advantage of the confusion to settle down at this colony. You know how. I've taught you everything you need to survive."

      He turned back to his case, but was startled by the click of a safety catch snapping out of place. He stopped.

      "Who are you going to kill this time?" a tiny but determined voice demanded.

      Sighing, yet at the same time rather amused, he replied, "Septem, of the Alliance space force. This'll be my last job. So you should go to school and live a normal life."

      A life I was cursed to never lead.

      "I'll decide what I'm going to do," replied the boy indignantly.

      "Heh." He smiled again and lifted out a gun from beneath the violin.

      Seven years. For seven years he had run, aimless. Picking up odd jobs here and there, doing the only thing he knew how to do. Kill.

      He did not know what had drawn him back, at last, to L1.

      Perhaps he had wanted forgiveness. The chance to live a normal life, pursue his true occupation. To settle down with the one he loved.

      And so, he had stayed, one whole year. A year he would never forget. A year full of bliss and joy, of warmth and belonging. It seemed like a dream to him, after living most of his life as an assassin, a murderer.

      Yet, like all other dreams, it ended too soon.

      And turned into a nightmare.

      Eight years ago, he had been young, idealistic. Naïve, eager to change the world for the better. He was thirty-two now. Old... so old, so tired. Cynical.

      And such a fool, oh, such a fool... That much had not changed.

      If only he had realized her true identity...

      Eight years ago, he had run away, realizing his mistake, his foolishness, hoping to find truth. But, as it had turned out, he was still as much of an idiot now, if not more so.

      Every single thing he had ever done, he regretted. But there was no changing the past. There was nothing he could do; he wished only to turn back time, live life over again, the way he should have from the start. Never again making those mistakes that he would forever regret, never forgive himself for.

      Would he regret saving the little boy as well?

      Eventually, he took the boy back to Earth. It was safer there, more peaceful, compared to the unrest in space. He returned to Japan, where he had grown up himself... He would always have fond memories of Japan. Painful memories, but fond. Everything he had ever loved... But it was hard for him, going back. Things would never be the same... He no longer belonged.

      It was there that the boy first started calling him gaijin, after hearing him being referred to that by everyone else. Once, he had not been gaijin to the Japanese people; once, he had just been another human, their friend, their fellow man, Odin Lowe. Times had changed since he had last been on Earth. People were no longer so trusting, so accepting. It hurt.

      And then, one day, the boy confronted him. He had been caring for the kid for a little more than a year already at the time. By then, the boy, smart as he was, had figured out Odin's true name.

      "Odin-san?"

      "Hm?"

      "What's my name?"

      He had told him the truth then. The whole truth. He knew it would be better than letting the child build an entire life upon a mountain of lies. Strangely enough, the boy had not seemed surprised, but accepted it almost instantly, as if that was what he had expected...

      They left Japan a few weeks after that. They went to Canada, on a camping trip... And from there, they traveled across the universe... Odin taught the boy to shoot, to use a knife, to cook, to build a fire... all the essentials of surviving alone. He'd even taught him to read, and to write, in several different languages; to hack into the most advanced security systems, to hide in the shadows so that none could notice him...

      He had taught him everything, except how to love.

      It would have been too painful.

      The boy had followed him to the top of the building. Odin stood, gazing out over the city as the kid sat down, tired after lugging a heavy machine gun all the way up there.

      "Hm... There seems to be a rather clever man in command."

      "The rebels are just amateurs," the boy said scornfully, obviously still disgruntled from their earlier discussion. "They need to cut the frontline command center, or they'll be individually targeted."

      Odin smirked. That's my boy... "That's right," he said out loud. "That's why they need men like me."

      "That's a nice train of thought."

      "Yeah..." He paused as the smirk left his face and was replaced by a serious, contemplative look.

      "Here's one last bit of advice. No matter what happens, follow your heart."

      The boy looked at him, startled. Odin closed his eyes, remembering.

      "Once... some idiot fired a single shot... and changed the course of history."

      He fell silent, then continued, more to himself. "After that, I left the organization and just lived from day to day."

      Yet I still ended up helping them...

      "Hey, what are you doing over there?!"

      Soldiers. Just as he had planned. Swiftly, Odin pulled out a knife and threw it at one of them. Beside him, the boy stood, and quickly gave the other soldier a hard kick in the gut. Both collapsed, falling to the floor with a thud.

      "However carefully you plan, you never know if some fool is going to change the future. So, you may as well do what your heart tells you, so you won't regret it later. That's the right path... For people who live life in the present."

      He pulled on the uniform of the dead soldier.

      "Okay... This is goodbye." He finished adjusting the helmet strap and looked toward the door, ready to set off on his final mission.

      The small voice of the child broke through his thoughts. "Don't overdo it... You're old now."

      He froze at the boy's words, shocked. Quickly regaining his composure, he retorted, "Huh. Not something I want to hear from a kid."

      He turned away quickly so that the boy would not see his tears.

      "Don't get killed," he muttered gruffly, and walked off.

A.C. 173, Date unknown

      He watches her dance, her black shoulder-length hair swirling about.

      Beautiful.

      He blushes. What is he thinking?

      He does not remember ever feeling this way about a woman before. All his life, he has been busy, working as an assassin and performing music. He has never had the time to notice the opposite sex.

      But then again, he is only twenty-two.

      Her name is Keiko.

      She spoke to him, the other day. She is a very intelligent woman.

      He loves her smile, free and unrestrained.

      They lie together, gazing at the stars twinkling above them, all around them.

      Life on the colony can be so lonely at times.

      She laughs at something he says. Her laughter is clear and bright, like tinkling bells. He cannot believe how lucky he is, to have met someone like her. She never ceases to amaze him.

      "Have you ever tried counting them?"

      He blinks, surprised.

      "What?"

      "The stars." She giggles, leaning on his shoulder. "It's beautiful, isn't it? All those little dots of light in a dark, endless void."

      She pauses, as if drinking in the sight.

      "When I was little, I used to wonder... There are so many, you know. Even back on Earth, in Japan." She seems a little sad, mentioning Japan and the Earth. "Here in space, there's nothing but stars... I always wanted to know if there was an end to them..."

      "And?" he prompts her, amused.

      "There isn't," she says, turning serious. "The stars are infinite."

      She pauses.

      "...like all the innocent people who have died in war... Uncountable."

      They fall silent.

      "It's not fair," he says at last.

      "Iie," she agrees. "It isn't."

A.C. 175, March 27

     He is inside his room. Sheets of music are scattered across the ground. He closes his eyes, drawing his bow across the strings of his violin, letting the sweet strains of music clear his mind.

      The radio is on.

      The announcer is talking about the pacifist leader Heero Yuy's next speech, which will be in a little more than a week. Ten days, to be exact.

      He is playing Vivaldi, one of the more difficult passages. The melody hides a deep, dark passion, yet the notes dance lightly, echoing throughout his lonely room. It reflects his own heart. Dark, almost bursting with suppressed emotion, yet unsure, wavering.

      There is a knock on his door.

      "Come in," he says, fingers continuing their flight down the black neck of the instrument tucked beneath his chin.

      The door opens. Keiko walks in.

      "'Four Seasons,' hm?" She smiles.

      But he cannot bring himself to smile back.

      "Odin." She knows something is troubling him. She knows him so well.

      He sighs and stops his bow, abruptly cutting off the rest of the passage with a screech. He drops the violin on a couch and stares outside the window at the bright stars, blooming in the field of darkness that envelops them.

      She walks to him and takes his hand. "Odin," she says again.

      "Keiko, I –" He takes a deep breath. "What's the point?"

      She steps back, confused.

      "What's the point of pacifism... what's the point of trying to get the colonies and the Earth to coexist peacefully? It's impossible! The colonies will always desire independence... and the Earth will always lust for dominance...

      "We can't all get what we want... someone's going to lose out, someone's going to win. And the loser will always be discontented... The loser will always rebel... And war shall always return... Pacifism, what a joke!"

      She seems sad, disappointed. "At least we must try..."

      "There's no point in trying. It's pointless, all pointless."

      "No, Odin. You're wrong." Her voice is determined, convinced. "If we all keep trying, then someday, someday our dream of peace will come true. But if we just sit here and do nothing, then nothing will ever change. We must try; we must do something, at least. Every little bit counts, every little glimmer of hope will someday add up. Someday, people will see how wrong it is to fight; they will see the truth, and then we shall have peace at last."

      "Someday," he mutters bitterly. "Someday."

      "Odin..."

      They fall silent.

      He picks up his violin again.

      They stand, listening to the bittersweet tune of 'Winter.'

      There is so much crime, here, on the colonies. It is chaotic. Back on Earth, everything is peaceful, serene, despite the wars. Under control.

      The colonies are wild, uncontrollable.

      He thinks the colonists are fools, to believe that they can handle all this crime, all this chaos on their own.

     It takes a well-established, well-funded organization to control crime, make the streets safe for the people, and the colonies have no money, no resources whatsoever.

      They are poor, yet they are such fools, refusing the help of their mother nations on Earth. The overall shabbiness on the streets, the lack of money, the rampant diseases – these are the results of their foolishness.

      He thinks they are complete morons.

      Space – so beautiful, yet it feels so empty.

      He feels lost among the stars, the bright stars embedded in the black velvet cloak of space.

A.C. 160, Date unknown

      A little boy, around nine years of age.

      Wispy, sandy blonde hair.

      He does not remember his parents; they are dead. His mother, he is told, was a Russian. His father was American.

      But in spite of that, he has lived on Earth all his life, in the island country of Japan, under the care of a sweet, old Asian lady he does not remember the name of. She was a violin teacher, and her last gift to him is a lovely burnished violin. It is too big for him now, and too heavy, but he can still figure out fingering patterns that allow him to play relatively efficiently. The weight he can handle, for the violin is of excellent quality, and the wood is relatively light. He loves music, and he loves his violin.

      He has never seen anything so vast and dark as space, except perhaps the ocean, but the ocean is full of life, and space is dead.

      He was told that the colonies were a grand place. Filled with technology. Adventure. Glory.

      But he does not care for such things.

      He misses the Earth.

      He knows that the brochures lie.

      But he has no choice.

      He does not have any home left on Earth, and so, he must come and resettle on L1, where at least they speak Japanese, his first language, as well as English, his second.

      There are many orphans on L1. Like him.

      He is playing his beloved violin on the corner of a street. The black case lies open, beckoning the passersby to throw in a coin or two.

      A nice young lady passes by and sees him.

      "Oh, you poor thing," she gushes in English. She must be a tourist from Earth, because she then proceeds to hand him a crisp new twenty-dollar bill. An American tourist.

      No colonist could afford to hand a twenty-dollar bill to some random kid in the streets.

      "... here to teach music at one of the schools..."

      He ignores her chattering. It is pointless. All that matters is the money. Perhaps he can finally have a meal today. He hasn't eaten in days.

      But something about the woman fascinates him. When she finally walks away, evidently frustrated by his lack of response, he gently replaces his violin into the case.

      He follows her silently, curious, lugging his instrument along.

      They walk past many buildings, tall and white, all identical. Some of the paint is peeling off, and there is graffiti everywhere he looks. Faces glare at him from the shadows. Trash, dirt, grime. He shudders. Not even the worst sections of Tokyo could compare with this, he thinks.

      Suddenly, the woman screams.

      He watches, helpless, as nameless figures creep out, stabbing her, grabbing her purse.

      He can do nothing.

A.C. 161, Date unknown

      The little blonde boy plays his violin on the corner of the street, as always.

      A man, a dark stranger, passes by, grabs his shoulder. Startled, he squirms out of the stranger's grasp and pulls out a knife.

      "Hey kid, you're pretty good," the man drawls in English.

      He shakes his head. "Nihongo only," he says simply, pointing to himself. "No understand."

      The man looks at him, laughs.

      "Boy, don't lie to me. I know you understand English. I've been watching you for a while now."

      He crosses his arms.

      "What do you want," he states warily, with a slight Japanese accent that, this time, is not faked. He does not trust the man. No one is to be trusted, here on the streets of L1.

      "You don't like it here, do you..."

      "Nani?!"

      The man ignores him. "You think that the colonies are stupid, to want independence from that which they depend most on. You think that the colonies would be better off, more civilized, if they were under Earth's control. Don't you?"

      He is stunned. He does not answer.

      "Come with me, kid," the man continues. "I can show you... how to fulfill your dream of peace... change the colonies for the better... I will show you how to make your mark in history..."

A.C. 175, April 07

      People are screaming in the streets.

      Running.

      Confused.

      They are wrong. Can't they see that?

      Fools, all of them.

      There are people crying, sobbing. Mostly women, and children, but even some men.

      Why? Why do they cry for a fool?

      He glimpses her in the crowd, face buried in her hands. Her black hair shadows her face like a curtain.

      She does not see him. He is too far away, and running. Running away from the bloody, chaotic scene he wishes to leave behind forever.

      Even so, he sees the tears streaming down her face.

      It is quiet. Still.

      Brooding.

      People mill about, dressed in black, mourning the fall of a man whose ideals never could have worked.

      A throbbing undercurrent of dissatisfaction, anger, hatred lies beneath the grief. He can feel it.

      It is strange, how complete strangers, enemies have been unified in this one single event. People have regained their trust in each other, here in space, in the colonies, in a place where once, only the individual mattered.

      It bothers him.

      Who was this man, who touched the lives of so many people?

      He does not know.

      He does not know anything, anymore.

      Septem, you were wrong.

      I was wrong.

      Crouching down, he waited. He heard footsteps, voices.

      "We must connect the emergency circuits at all costs!"

      Septem. He could recognize that bastard's voice any time. He raised his gun, aiming.

      "Septem!" He could have easily shot him from behind. It would have saved a lot of trouble. But he wanted him to know. He wanted the bastard to see his face before he died.

      The man named Septem turned, face frozen in shock. "O-Odin Lowe?! Y-you bastard!"

     He could sense that the man was frightened. Good, he thought, smirking. Yet he was slightly distracted. The man behind Septem – looked so familiar. Odd. But it did not matter, not now. He pulled the trigger.

      Revenge would be sweet.

     "General Septem!" A soldier, one of Septem's blindly devoted followers, no doubt, threw himself before the general. He collapsed with a moan, taking the bullet that had been meant for Septem.

      "Open fire! Don't let him get away!"

      Odin began to run, furious at the way things had turned out.

      A bullet tore through his leg.

      "Kuso!"

      However carefully you plan...

      Memories pelted him as he ran.

A.C. 182, Date unknown

      He returned, in the end.

      He was tired, tired of running.

      To his surprise, she had forgiven him already. She asked no questions, and welcomed him back immediately.

      He was glad she did not ask, for he did not know the answers.

      "I've missed you," she had told him.

      "Gomennasai... I shouldn't have..."

      "No, it's all right. Sometimes, it's okay to run away..."

      She had smiled, gathered him into her arms. "Listen to your heart, my love. Even when you're confused, when your heart is confused, if you listen to it, you won't regret it, no matter what you do... Because even if you make a mistake, listening to your heart, it is a mistake you will learn from; you will grow from it, and become a better person. Remember, Odin, just follow your heart..."

      And then he had realized that perhaps, those seven years of hell had been worth it. In following only his heart, living from day to day, he had discovered truth and what he truly desired in life.

      Or so he had thought.

      They sit together on the couch, watching television. They are at her apartment.

      He has returned to his old job, playing his violin at dances and other festivities. She tells him of her nephew, her brother's child, born only a year before his return. Of the boy's blue eyes and brown hair, so uncharacteristic of a Japanese child. He tells her of his travels, the sights he has seen in the years he has been gone. His childhood. They speak of their love of music, of the stars, of space, of the Earth.

      It is a pleasant life, and he enjoys it. This is all he wants to do, for the rest of his life.

      There is a knock on the door.

      "I'll go get it," she says. She stands and walks out of the room.

      He hears arguing. Concerned, he too gets up.

      The angry voices stop as he enters the scene.

      There is a young man with brown hair standing at the door. He carries himself in an arrogant manner. He is, perhaps, around his own age, but obviously comes from a wealthy and prominent family.

      "You," sneers the man. "So this is the bastard who left you, seven years ago."

      She is trembling, upset. He has never seen her this angry before.

      "Get. Lost." she whispers fiercely. "You know I never cared for you, and I never will, you arrogant jerk!"

      The man is furious. He whirls around, glares at him. "You – Both of you – You will regret this! I am a Barton! My father is a powerful man..." A thought apparently occurs to him, for the man suddenly smirks.

      "You don't even know who she really is, do you?"

      The man turns, slams the door. Leaves.

      She breaks down and starts to cry in his arms.

      Who is she?

      The dream is beginning to turn into a nightmare.

      There are loose ends, he discovers, that he has yet to sever completely.

      He is resting by himself, in an empty corridor. It is late; on the colonies, formal balls like this one always last until long past midnight.

      "The brother and sister of Heero Yuy are seeking to carry on his legacy. They have also launched a campaign to find the man who killed him and bring him to justice. They have become a threat to the stability of the colonies. You know you must get rid of them. Them and any other immediate relatives of Yuy. But the question is, will you, Odin Lowe?"

      He freezes, looks up, shocked.

      "Who – are you? How –"

      "My name is Dekim Barton."

      An assassin's heart does not feel, and he has been an assassin since he was ten years old.

      An assassin relies on his mind, his common sense, his instincts.

     Common sense tells him he must do it, to escape, leave the past behind.

      But...

      He must. It will be the last time, he promises himself.

      He must, or the past will haunt him forever.

      He rings the doorbell. It is a small house, but in a nice, quiet neighborhood.

      A middle-aged woman answers the door. She stares at them suspiciously. He is not surprised. It is, after all, past midnight.

      "Is Ms. Yuy here?" asks his partner.

      "No," says the woman after a pause, trying to slam the door shut.

      A shot rings out.

      "Liar," mutters the man accompanying him.

      They enter. They separate, searching for the sister of Heero Yuy.

      He walks through the house, feeling an overwhelming sense of unease.

      A young woman walks out, flashlight in hand. Too late, he ducks behind a wall. He knows she has seen him, and curses under his breath.

      "Ms. Yuy," he states, deciding to reveal himself. He points a gun at her.

      And then freezes.

      "Odin," whispers the woman.

      Keiko... no, it can't be...

      Somewhere inside his mind a voice taunts him. "You don't even know who she really is..."

      Keiko Yuy, younger sister of Heero Yuy, beloved pacifist leader of the colonies.

      You... you lied to me... I...

      He sat, bandaging the wound on his leg. Damn it... I probably won't get another chance now...

      He jumped slightly as he felt a shadow come over him.

      "Are you alright?"

      Looking up, he saw the man who had been standing behind Septem. The one who had looked so familiar.

      "Oh, it's you," he said, holding up a hand grenade. "Don't worry... this place will blow with one press of this button."

      "I see..." The man aimed a gun at him.

      Somewhat confused, though not too startled, he asked, "You want me silenced...? No need for that."

      As the words left his mouth, he realized suddenly exactly who the man was.

      "I am a Barton! My father is a powerful man..."

      "...They have become a threat to the stability of the colonies. You know you must get rid of them... But the question is, will you, Odin Lowe?

      That same man... Dekim Barton. And the younger one – his son?

      "No... This is for revenge."

      Realization flooded his brain.

      No... not like this, don't let it end like this!

      The man pulled the trigger. He felt the cold metal of the bullet ripping through his heart*.

      So many things left undone... so many things left unsaid...

      "Unh...gh..." He crumpled over, clutching his chest.

      "It's not fair..."

      "Iie, it isn't."

      "D-did you m-mean to do this... ever since you hired me...?"

      The man did not answer as he walked away.

      "How ironic..." He smiled bitterly and collapsed.

      Keiko... Maybe this assassin's heart truly can feel... I-I wish –

      "Odin!"

      He heard the boy's voice calling him and managed to lift his head to look over.

      Boy...

      "Hey... I shoulda listened to your advice... I've... gotten old..."

     The boy gazed at him, an oddly childlike concern in his deep blue eyes.

      "Wait here. I'll secure us an escape route," said the kid.

      Son...

      "... Too late..." he mumbled, closing his eyes.

      "Listen... don't forget what I told you... before we left... It's the last lesson... this old fool can give you..." He paused, almost wistfully. "The last few years we spent together..."

      He smiled, remembering.

      "... w-weren't so bad..."

                   *                  *                  *

      He strolled down the hall, feeling irritable. The damn teachers were just about going to bore him to death. And the stupid uniform! So damn itchy...

      He hadn't thought about the man named Odin Lowe for years. Not since that day he had met Doctor J and decided to become a Gundam pilot.

      He wasn't sure why he felt so annoyed. Surely it couldn't just be because of the school... Normally, he would have felt nothing. No, he should have felt nothing. He wasn't supposed to care if some moronic teacher was going to blab all day long about crap that he had already learned, years ago. As long as he accomplished his mission... nothing was supposed to matter.

      "Um, excuse me?"

      He glanced up, feeling even more irritated than ever. A group of other kids had gathered around him, and were watching him expectantly. And there, before him – Not her again. What the hell did she want?

      The girl held out an invitation to him and said something, but he did not hear. He was not paying attention. He was angry at himself. He should have killed her, that day on the beach... Why hadn't he? Glaring at her, he took the invitation and ripped it in half.

      He was surprised to see her eyes become watery. A tear rolled down her cheek. Hesitantly, he reached out and brushed it off. In the back of his mind, he remembered another girl, and her puppy, so innocent, so young...

      Then, crashing back into reality, he growled. "I'm going to kill you." He turned and ran off before he could see her reaction.

      Why couldn't he seem to bring himself to do it?

      "Remember what I told you... Follow your heart."

      Was that it? Was his heart telling him to spare this girl? He snorted in disgust. Since when did the Perfect Soldier ever listen to his heart? And why the hell would he want to spare that girl?

      He stopped outside, gazing up at the sky above. Out there, beyond the blue, beyond the fluffy white clouds – space. The empty void of space, which had taken everything away from him... yet was all that he really had left.

      Maybe...

      He shook his head and snorted once more.

      "Hm... Okay..."

      "...Dad."

                               Owari

* Yeah, I know, in the manga the wound is actually on the right side, and your heart is supposed to be on your left. Bear with me, ne? ^_^ I didn't notice until too late... I suppose I could change it but I'm too lazy to...

Language/Terms:

hai = yes

nani = what(!?)

iie = no (spelling???)

-san = honorific for people older than you, or for strangers/important people.

gaijin = term referring to a foreigner, particularly a Caucasian. "Outsider".

gomennasai = I'm very sorry. More formal/serious/polite than gomen, which also means sorry. I'm not sure if sumimasen or gomennasai was more appropriate. (spelling???)

kuso = the Japanese equivalent of "Damn it!" or "Shit!" or "Crap!" I don't know exactly which it should be, but hey, it's still an expletive... I believe it has a slightly, um, stronger, connotation than our "damn it".

owari = the end

Nihongo = Japanese. As in the language, Japanese.

BTW, Odin speaks Japanese with Keiko. He also speaks Japanese with Heero, but only in the flashback when Heero asks about his name. Afterwards (after they go on the camping trip in Canada ^_^), he speaks to him in English. (Reason? Dunno, I guess cuz it became too painful for him to speak Japanese... too many memories.) Heero speaks to him in a mix of English and Japanese. (mostly Japanese, though) All other conversations are in English.

Wow. *blinks* That was long. (for me). I mean, seriously, this is as long as all four chapters of my other fic, if not longer... tho that one was meant to be a one-shot too, I suppose, I just kinda divided it up...

Hmmm, just noticed something ironic. The colony where Endless Waltz takes place is the same as where Odin dies... L3's X18999... Hm. Also ironic: Operation Meteor begins on the same date Odin shot Heero Yuy (the pacifist), April 07. All these coincidences... (Yes, there was a reason I chose the exact same date for when Odin first finds little Heero ^_^)

Anyways, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So it wasn't really a Father's Day fic, but hey, close enough...

Review? Please? ^_^ (Flames are welcome)

(I know I probably won't get many, not many people out there in the GW fandom interested in anything other than yaoi or hentai... romance... suicide... the highly improbable resurrection of the Gundams... inane humor... etc... Then again, I'm a total sucker for romance and morbid themes too, so what can I say? ^_^)

Quote of the day: "I kill crazy people." - Heero, Episode 25 ^_^