Echos of the Mind
It was October and already snowing outside. Fat wet flakes were falling serenely from gray clouds and already piling up in front of people's doorsteps. Halloween had been ruined by an early winter, and it was almost ironic. Almost. A full moon hung in the unseen sky, a slight breeze rustled the leaves from street tress in the quiet town and the air was crisp with a spooky feel. It would have been the perfect night for trick or treating, but all around the small, unseen village children were disappointed. Bright orange lights clicked out at houses, jack-o-lanterns were pulled inside to keep from freezing, and everywhere there were childish groans of unhappiness.
The only building to still boldly leave it's neon trick or treat sign ablaze was the three story hotel on Main Street, the small town's only building that rose above a height of ten feet. Inside the guests had organized a hotel wide trick or treating event where neighborhood children could go knocking door-to-door and collect candy provided by the hotel. On the second floor however, all of the lights were dark, save one corner room facing the street. The occupant of this room was only a tad disappointed that the festivities had been cut short; after all, he had never participated in such child joys when he was a kid. He sighed as his mind automatically started filtering through memories. He took off the cheesy store bought black cape he'd been wearing and tossed the plastic scythe aside. Duo Maxwell fell onto the little hotel room couch and turned his attention to more important matters.
The teenager was staring at a huge bowl of candy. Hershey bars, M&M's, KitKats, Skittles, Snickers, and even little packets of Starbursts stared back. Sure, he was much too old to possibly enjoy the painstaking effort of going from house to house slowly building up a collection of brightly colored treats, but sugar was still sugar to an eighteen year old boy, especially one who was starving and hadn't eaten anything on the flight from his resident colony. Silently Duo hopped off the couch and crept over to the door, practicing the deadly stealth he had been carefully taught so long ago. He leaned lightly on the doorframe and let his ear rest on the poorly painted wood. There wasn't a sound in the hallway, no creaking stair boards, no giddy giggles, and no shouts of "Trick or Treat!!". Duo smiled. "Alright. More candy for me then."
He dived on the bowl and was just starting to pick out his most choice favorites when two very annoying and disruptive things happened. First there was a sharp knock on the lower half of the door, and immediately after the phone started ringing. Duo sat completely torn, a Snickers bar in his hand, his eyes on the phone and the door being banged on behind him. He rolled his eyes, opened the candy, took a big bite and strode to the door.
A small, lone girl who must have been no more than eight blinked up at him. She giggled. "Trick or treat!"
Duo was taken aback. The girl was looking at an eighteen year old boy with very thin features, slightly tan with huge laughing cobalt blue eyes. He was dressed very simply, a black button down shirt and black jeans. His long brown hair was tied back in a braid, which hung down his back. And his face was set in a quizzical smile. She was dressed as an angel but the costume consisted only of a plain white dress that was a little stained and some dirty white feathers bobby pinned to her ink black hair. Her candy bag was a torn pillow and she was visibly shivering from the thinness of her dress. Duo hid his cringe as his mind opened the memory files once again, she must have been poor. "Hey there little lady! Aren't you a big girl to be off by yourself…your parents in the lobby?"
She blinked rapidly again. "They're...around."
Duo never stopped recognizing a lie when he heard one. "Okay, so what'cha supposed to be?" As the girl thought up an answer Duo heard the phone still ringing. Didn't people get the idea to hang up? "Would you hold on for a second, gorgeous, and let me go get the candy?"
"Sure!" she giggled again.
Duo nodded and rushed back into the tiny room. He picked up the phone and sat down on the bed. " 'Lo, Maxwell here."
Duo recognized the voice instantly and his entire mood changed. Desperate to keep this a secret he proceeded to employ a very effective tactic: annoying the hell out of the all too familiar person on the other side of the line. "Well that's some greeting. If I didn't instantly remember that depressing way you talk when you're all unhappy about the world and such that kind of greeting would have definitely inspired me to hang up on you."
"Baka. The phone rang eleven times."
"What can I say, I have guests at the moment," Duo glanced towards the door and decided to let the guise drop. "What's going on here, Heero? I've been waiting for you to call and explain all day. You pulled a very nasty trick on me, bringing me all the way down here on an hour's notice for the plane flight, dragging me away from Hilde, whom I was planning on going trick or treating with, and booking me in the capital town of the middle of nowhere."
The voice belonging to another young man, Heero Yuy, grumbled something inaudible. "Yeah," Duo smirked, "I knew you were probably going to kill me, I was just wondering why you decided to pick Old Western, USA as a location."
"I thought so. So what's up?"
Duo and Heero were good friends who's histories went back quite a ways, Duo was staying in the hotel in the first place because his friend had called him to Earth over some sort of top secret emergency. It had been a very long time since either of them had dealt with a top secret emergency, or a mission of any sort. In fact Duo hadn't seen Heero since the whole Mariemaia incident had blown over and all of the happy bureaucrats had made the gundam pilots sign a treaty never to fight in a war again. So the whole ordeal was all very odd. But Heero had never seemed to care about the situations he put the people he called his friends in. "I need to talk to you. In the open. Meet me in front of the hotel in two hours."
Duo immediately found two things wrong with this. "First, excuse me for daring to bring up this point but I will anyway and risk your wrath at me having a slight bit of doubt. You want to talk to me at midnight, on All Hallows Eve, with six inches of snow on the ground?"
"Ah. Guess that doesn't creep you out."
"Not even slightly."
"Hmmm. Second thing: now we all know there's only one Shinigami and that's me so I'll let this one go. But, having a conversation outside in the open is asking to be spied on. In fact, making a phone call on a public line is asking to be spied on but it's too late for that, huh? For purely security reasons you wanna at least talk in the lobby."
Duo pulled the phone away from his ear as Heero started laughing. "You haven't changed at all, Duo. I'm afraid though, as usual, I know what's going on and you don't. See you in two hours," and he hung up.
Duo closed his mouth half way through saying good bye and shrugged. Heero obviously had some reason for setting this whole thing out in the open, Duo couldn't guess it but the reason was there. He looked to the door and his guest was still there, blinking innocently and waiting. Duo snatched up the bowl of candy and dashed one last time to the door. "Sorry about that."
"That's okay," the girl reached into the bowl and pulled out a couple of pieces of candy.
"Hmmm," Duo folded his arms and held the bowl in one hand reflectively. "What's your name?"
"Cassie huh? Well listen Cassie," Duo hesitated for a split second before pressing the entire bowl into her hands. "You're a very brave little kid, coming all the way up here when no one else would. It's getting late so I'll just give this all to you, 'kay?"
Cassandra's dark onyx eyes widened and she giggled so much that Duo almost started blushing. Almost. "Wow! Thanks so much Mr…Mr...."
"Duo, my name's Duo."
She grinned brilliantly and ran away, pounding down the stairs and laughing at the top of her lungs. Duo smirked as he shut the door; even he was amused at himself for the good deed. Duo gazed at the empty room and wondered what he was going to do for the next two hours. He leaned against the door and thought about turning the laptop he was carrying with him on and e-mailing the other pilots, all whom he hadn't seen since the treaty was signed also. Duo wondered if they knew what was going on. Just as he was about to walk over to his small, solitary suitcase he heard sound coming from outside the door. It was a lot of kids' yelling so Duo immediately opened the door to check it out.
Cassandra had gotten into a fight with some other kids who had tried to steal her candy. They had run away as soon as Duo showed up and only the little girl sat on the dull, rather grimy looking floor. Duo realized with a jolt that by being a nice guy he had probably made her a target. Just another reason why I've always been taught that nice guys finish last, Duo thought to himself. There was candy all over the place, as Duo knelt down to Cassandra he noticed that the candy was sticking to the walls and even to the ceiling at very odd angles. It looked as if it had been thrown there by a very large force. The tiny girl, who Duo now realized was Asian, was crying and trying to gather the untouched treats into a small pile.
"Hey, you okay?" Duo asked her quietly. "Sorry about that, it was probably my fault-"
"They were bad kids," Cassandra muttered as she wiped her eyes. "They don't like my kind."
Duo blinked. "Your kind? What do you mean, your kind of candy?"
"No," she shook her head. "My kind of person."
"What are you talking about-…Cassie, how'd this candy get all over the place? Did the other kids throw it?"
Cassandra smiled very slightly. "No, I scared them away with it."
Duo stopped smiling. "What do you mean?"
In response the little onyx eyed girl picked up a packet of Skittles and opened it, letting the candy fall onto the floor. She carefully positioned her hand so that each finger was pointed to a different piece. And slowly under the unwavering direction of the little girl's hand the Skittles rose off the ground and smashed into the wall, each one easily sticking in a path that followed her fingers. Duo's mouth fell open and he didn't bother to shut it.
"Cassie. What do you call that?"
"You can move things without touching them."
"Oh. That's a big long "t" word…tele…telek…oh yeah, I remember…telekinesis."
"Ah," Duo closed his mouth and decided to sit down. He thought about this for a while and only found one possible solution. "Hey, you wanna come meet a friend of mine?"
She perked up a little bit. "Really? I like meeting people."
"Ya," Duo let his voice mask his now suddenly thoughtful mood. "Let me run back inside and get you a jacket, because we're gonna be waiting for him outside. I have a feeling he might be able to help you out. Are you lost or something?"
Cassandra followed Duo as he walked back into the room. "Nope, I ran away for Halloween."
"Why?" Duo opened his suitcase and started shifting through the clothes. He pulled out a light black jacket for himself and got a navy blue fleece.
"Because they don't like letting anyone out."
"Okay. Here, take this," Duo handed the tiny girl the fleece, which was very warm but far too big for her. She pulled it over her head and giggled again. Duo gamely held out his hand like a gentleman and she took it, wrapping her entire hand around his index finger. Duo only paused to turn his laptop on and then the two of them set off down the stairs and outside to wait.