This part is very long. It had to be to fit in everything that I wanted to say. Sorry. And the ending is a little iffy, but it really had to be that way.


Title: It's the Pilot Part 18/18

Author: Truth

Archive: The usual places, especially GW Addiction

www.geocities.com/fenris_wolf0/


AU - Wherein the Gundam pilots have known each other for a little while, but the war is still stalled back before the pilots return to space. Meanwhile, the five mad scientists have had second thoughts about some of the pilots. Probably OC as well, but I did my best.


First person stream of consciousness/POV.


Rated PG-13 at least.


Warning: Strong language. Shounen Ai. Violence and Death. Angst. 

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to somebody else, sadly.


Feedback, comments and criticisms cheerfully accepted at

macros@skypoint.com


Additional warning: I know that the constant switching between characters is probably becoming tiresome. Accept my apologies, but there will be a lot of that in this last part as well.


**********


The three of us split up and took widely divergent paths back to the Earth. Zechs was still on L5, so the atmospheric re-entry was a great deal less exciting this time. At least it was for me. I can't speak for the others.


There are times when I actually crave boredom. I think most soldiers do. Not that excessive boredom does wonders for your concentration either, but it beats the alternative.


I ended up in India, mostly for lack of a better landing site. I had to unload my Gundam and get away from my landing site before the local OZ troops showed up. I was not looking forward to flying the new Wing for the first time under possible combat conditions. Dr. J's comments about the new system made me reluctant to test it out without technical back up.


Quatre, Trowa and I were to meet up at a designated point in the Sahara and wait for word of Duo and Wufei's return to Earth. We would then return to the place where the new Deathscythe was stashed, as they would certainly head there after landing.


I don't think a single plan has gone right since we lost Duo the first time.


I had no particular deadline as to when I had to meet Trowa and Quatre, so when I observed a fire fight between OZ forces and what were obviously rebel Alliance officers, I decided to work off some aggression. It wasn't that I was particularly anxious to help any members of the former Alliance, but OZ was the group that currently held my attention.


This new beam cannon is _amazing_.


Afterward, as I was about to fly away again, a woman came running up to one of Wing's feet. She looked vaguely familiar.


"Heero? Heero Yuy? Is that you?"


Ahhhh. She was the woman from the hospital. Major somebody.... It had been a long time since that incident. I hadn't gotten a good look at her at the time, but I have a memory for these things and her voice was a positive match. On a whim, I popped the hatch and stepped out.


I ended up staying the night with her resistance force.


She is a persuasive woman. Insisted that I call her Sally. She believed me when I told her that it hadn't been one of us who had destroyed Noventa and his supporters.


"Only an idiot would have thought so," she exclaimed, outraged. "The Colonies want peace and the whole world knows that, despite OZ and its feeble smear tactics!" 


"That doesn't explain what happened to Noventa," I pointed out. "It was one of our Gundams that was used for that mess."


"Noventa was the best hope for peace, and everyone knew it," Sally agreed bitterly. "But we managed to steal footage of the beginning of that attack, and it is obvious to anyone who has seen the original Gundams in combat that it was _not_ one of the original pilots in that thing."


"And how many people actually possess such knowledge of the original pilots and their tactics?" I asked her.


"Probably only me," she admitted with a sigh.


When I left in the morning, she had offered us her support, and that of her troops. It was good to know that there were decent people even among the former Alliance troops.


I wonder where the others are. I wonder if Duo and Wufei are all right. I wonder exactly when I started calling them by their given names.... I've always called Quatre by his given name, it just seemed wrong not to. I've always called Trowa - Trowa. I know that Barton isn't his name, but Trowa seems to fit, somehow.


It's odd. We all call Quatre by his given name, but the names by which we choose to call the others seem to define who they are to us. Perhaps I have finally accepted Duo and Wufei as companions and not just equals, other soldiers in the same war.


This whole episode has brought new insights for me. Some of them life altering. Some of them simply mildly interesting. Dr. J is afraid of me, something he was not before. I have decided that this is a good thing.


A very good thing.


But still, my thoughts constantly return to the other pilots. I hope they're all right.


I - miss them.


******

End Heero's Part

******


I am not very happy, right now.


I thought I had a secure landing area, right until those mobile suits popped up and shot me down. I've got a dislocated shoulder and a bump on the head. I'm crabby, too.


Luckily, I got my new Gundam out of the shuttle easily enough and I walked off the nearest cliff and into the ocean. I'm just lucky that Leos aren't terribly well suited to underwater combat and that the OZ commander was not inclined to waste her troops in such a fashion. 


She seems to have some personal grudge against the Gundams.


I'd landed in Africa, so I didn't have as far to go to reach our rendezvous as, say, Trowa. I last saw his shuttle headed toward Northern Russia. I hope he's got some warm clothing. It's still winter in that hemisphere.


But it was going to be difficult to get to that rendezvous all the same. The OZ troops had gotten a good look at the Gundam, and I hadn't wanted to test the new systems in combat before I'd sat in the cockpit less than a minute and a half. So I'd run away.


Heero would have called it a strategic retreat. Wufei would probably have called it cowardly. Duo would have shouted at me for getting into such a mess in the first place, mostly out of worry. Trowa would have agreed with Heero probably, or Duo. Sometimes he's hard to predict.


However, my inadvertent brush with the Leos meant that they had full technical readouts on me, as well as visual identification, and probably a better idea of what my new Gundam could do than I did. I felt a splitting headache coming on.


They tracked me for quite a while, but I lost them around Madagascar. I hope.


I'm probably going to be the last one to that rendezvous, and Heero will be very displeased that I let the OZ troops see me. I'll remember the name of the squad leader who was lying in wait for me. Noin, it was. Clever woman, I'll give her that. She must have realized that I was unfamiliar with this machine. She almost had me, back there. Heero will know what action should be taken to take care of those data files before they get into the OZ main system. I hope.


I'll have to send him a message when I get back to dry land. I'd better ask him for a doctor as well, I suppose. My shoulder is killing me and it's going to get worse before it gets better.


I hope the others are doing better than I am.


******

Quatre's Part Ends

******


I landed in northern Russia without any problems. I did not see or meet any OZ forces. A completely routine landing.


I spent two days waiting in northern Africa before the others showed up. Yuy had made a detour to help Quatre with something. All Quatre would say was that I should never let Heero practice his first aid on me. 


I've heard Maxwell talk about Yuy's approach to injuries and I can just imagine.


We took the Gundams to Howard, who was apparently vacationing in the Caribbean. I think I've seen more of the Earth in the past week than I did when we were first in residence here.


Howard could only work with one Gundam at a time, so while his current guinea pig worked with him, the other two would lie on the beach. We had a lot of time to kill. Chang and Maxwell did not appear.


After two weeks, even Howard began to worry.


Our new Gundams had been tested, and we understood them. They were much more effective than the originals. They moved faster and were easier to maneuver. I had more ammunition space, as well. Not that this would keep me from running out, but I would be able to do more damage before it did.


My Gundam is a walking tank for a reason, but all that fire power is merely an added bonus. I don't really need the guns. They make my job easier, that's all.


All three Gundams had a guidance system that was...frightening. I had Howard disconnect mine. So did Quatre. Heero thinks he can control his Gundam using the new system even though it hasn't been tested under combat conditions yet.


We'll see.


******

Trowa's Part Ends

******


Life sucks.


I've been saying that a lot lately. Don't get me wrong, things have improved amazingly since the afternoon I found Wu in my room at the school, but....


There's always that 'but'.


I got us into a shuttle and back to O's base without too much trouble. Wu was still out of it, although he'd respond to simple commands, if you spoke slowly and loudly enough.


I got them to load the Gundam and some supplies while I found Wu some clothing that wasn't soaked with OZ blood and washed him up a bit. Then I tucked him into the shuttle and took off.


I probably should have tried to snap him out of it before we left the L5 vicinity, but something about that whole run-in with Zechs was still bothering me and I wanted to get the hell out as fast as possible. That blonde bastard gave up just a little too easily.

I had missed something. Something important.


Damn it! I can't think of everything....


When I was sure that we weren't being pursued, I made for the moon. It wasn't too hard to hide the shuttle there. Except for the main base, the place is pretty much deserted. We couldn't go back to Earth until I'd gotten Wu back to normal. There was no way he was  going to able to fight in the condition he was in - and I had no idea where they'd hidden my refurbished Deathscythe....


This was not going to be fun.


It wasn't that I didn't understand what Wu was going through. We all have a snapping point. His was rather firmly connected to his own view of 'right' and 'wrong'. Sometimes I think the two of us are from different worlds. My own problems stemmed from an inability to remember who I really was - a 'personal' problem, if you will.


Wu freaked out because he saw something horrible happen and decided that the terrible wrongs that had been done were somehow directly attributable to his actions.


Maybe it's because of who I am or what my childhood was like, but in his situation I would have been shocked and appalled, maybe even horrified - but not wigged out. Wu seems to have led a very sheltered life, initially. He's managed to develop both morals and ideals. Not that I don't have those things, I just could never afford to worry about them much. I had enough trouble just surviving.


So my problem was threefold:


1. Get Wu's attention.

2. Convince Wu that it wasn't his fault.

3. Get Wu back into a Gundam, ASAP.


Yeah, I like to make lists. Keeps me focused. 


Number 2 would be the _really_ difficult part, so I decided to get to work on Number 1 right away. Wu was still in there somewhere, all I had to do was get him to respond to me. How hard could it be?


Two days of patient coaxing later convinced me that this wasn't the way to go. He still responded only sluggishly to commands and suggestions, and he really didn't seem to see or know me. Sometimes he would actually seem to be listening to me, and then he'd just drift away again. This was not working.


For example:


Me: Wu, would like some dinner?

Wu: ....

Me: How about sandwiches again?

Wu: ....

Me: Sandwiches it is, then.


or better yet:


Me: Wu, its time for bed.

Wu: ....

Me: Aren't you tired?

Wu: ....

Me: Right, bed it is, then. Did you need help with your pjs?

Wu: ....


God. Trowa's more talkative on a _bad_ day!


So I resorted to playing dirty.


I waited until he seemed to be aware of his surroundings again. That took another day or so of endlessly frustrating attempts to get him to respond. Not that I minded expending the effort. I mean, he'd been there for me over the past month.


Through Hell with Lt. Maxwell, actually, but that's sort of beside the point.


When I was sure that he was at least hearing my voice, I asked, 


"What would your wife think about the way you're behaving?"


It was cruel, I know. But I'd spent a lot of time with Wu's cousins while he was with Master O, and I'd learned a lot about his marriage. Yeah, I'm nosy. So what?


Wu responded as I'd hoped. Well, mostly.


He punched me out.


At least he was paying attention....


******

Duo's Part Ends

******


I hate Duo Maxwell.


Can't he ever leave well enough alone? Of course not. If he could, then he wouldn't be Duo.


I snapped out of my intense and all-consuming misery to find myself with two broken fingers and Maxwell slowly sliding down a wall across from me.


My first reaction was horror. What had I done? What had I been thinking? How could I have attacked the only person who really cared about me?


I dropped to my knees beside him, noting that I'd done a splendid job of nailing him almost in the same spot as his previous injury. He was out like a light.


Marvelous.


I picked him up and found my way to the crew quarters. I tucked him into bed and sat beside him, trying to figure out what must have gone on while I was wallowing in self-pity.


There _was_ more to it than that, but I don't feel that I need to share it with you.


Duo had been remarkably patient. I don't remember much of what went on since that - incident at Noventa's, but I do know that he saved us both back in the shuttle bay. He watched out for me and took care of me when I'd succumbed to weakness and uncertainty, even though he was still pretty shaky himself.


Then I remembered the last thing he said to me before I'd tried to break his jaw. Let's analyze this, shall we?


I was angry. Why? I didn't want to...share Meiran with anyone. The memories were now all that I had left to show that she'd even existed. Nataku....


Stop. Don't think about it, don't dwell on it. I went to find an ice pack for Duo's jaw.


I was angry. We've established that. I calmed down and set about trying to ascertain if I'd given Duo another concussion. I was also confused. When and where had he....


Ah, Saiming. The interfering woman. She must have been with Chen and Duo when they were eavesdropping on my 'conference' with the elders. And whose idea was _that_ I wonder?


Why would Duo care? Enough to ask about her, I mean. I know damn well that Saiming would not have volunteered any information. She knows very well how I feel. So why?


Gratitude? I don't think so. Curiosity? Possibly. But I've never known Duo to be the type to dig up the painful past simply as an exercise to ward off boredom. And what else had he asked about?


I'm wandering away from the subject at hand.


I shouldn't have hit him. It was obvious that he'd been hoping for some sort of violent reaction. I was vaguely aware that he'd been trying to get me to snap out of my shock/depression for several days.


Days. Dear Gods, how long had it _been_ since that... And what the hell had happened in the shuttle bay? And where were we? I had been concentrating so hard on what had happened, that I had not thought to question my surroundings. I had been content to let Duo choose our path....


I am definitely obsessed.


And I just slugged the object of my obsession with enough force to break two of my fingers.... And I was focused enough on that obsession that I hadn't noticed the pain until just now.


Bloody hell.


******

End Wufei's Part

******


The last time I felt this bad I'd just been hit by a car. True, I had managed to roll out of the way at the last minute and just been grazed by the vehicle in question, but the feeling was sickeningly similar.


Someone was holding something cool to my throbbing jaw and gently stroking my temples. It felt pretty good. The coolness and the fingers, I mean. My jaw felt like I'd just used it to land the shuttle on.


The fingers were suddenly withdrawn.


"Open your eyes, Maxwell."


Ouch. Maxwell again. Oh well, I deserved it.


I managed to pry open my eyes and allowed myself to be subjected to all the regular tests for concussion. They were becoming depressingly familiar.


That's when I noticed Wu's fingers. Man, he may be a martial artist, but he hadn't exactly been himself when he socked me. I know broken fingers when I see them.


We had a pleasant little exchange vis a vis taking care of our respective selves when injured, and I ended up enduring having him pull out some pain killers and check my jaw for breakage. Then I got to retaliate by setting his fingers.


And a good time was had by all.


Wu's been acting strange. Before the Noventa incident, he'd been watching me like a hawk. And now? He's not currently speaking to me, other than to ask me how my head feels. He's angry. Really angry. At me. Broke my resolution already, dammit. I wish I could tell what else is going on.


It's hard to ignore another person when the two of you are the only ones in a small, enclosed space. But he was managing it very well, thanks. 


So. Objective one has been accomplished. Wu is his normal, cranky self. More cranky than usual, actually. He feels bad about slugging me. Worse than bad. I don't think he's ever raised a hand to anyone before, outside of combat, that is. He's acting like a condemned murderer, or a child beater.


I guess I can understand how hed feel bad about it, but I'd viciously probed the unhealed wounds of someone in an emotionally unbalanced state. And I'd done it deliberately. I was lucky that he hadn't _killed_ me. Sure, he should feel _something_ for knocking me on my ass, but overwhelming guilt was _not_ it.


Objective two was going to be a bit difficult to accomplish while he was ignoring me so strenuously, but....


Oh. Realization strikes. Duh. Of course hes avoiding me.


Well, this might make things either easier, or much, much more difficult. But the direct approach is always worth a try, right? And what can he do to me? Finish breaking my jaw? Toss me out the airlock? Kill me slowly and leave my corpse as a warning to the OZ troops not to mess with Chang Wufei?


I'm not sure that this is such a good idea after all....


But the guys need us. I need to remind him of the mess we're all currently in, which is not going to be fun. I need to convince him that I trust him, and that he can trust me. If he gets angry at me, that's okay. We're professionals, sort of. He can still work with me, even if he never wants to speak to me again.


Right?


It's for his own good.


Really.


******

End Duo's Part

******


I was sulking. I'll freely admit it. I was trapped in an enclosed space, thousands of miles from anywhere, with Duo Maxwell. I was in hell.


I spent the first two days after I struck Duo by avoiding him. He assisted me in this by actively staying out of my way. It wasn't as though he was afraid that I'd strike him again, thankfully, more as if he wanted me to have time to think - to relax.


It didn't help. I was growing more and more tense, almost as if waiting for the other shoe to drop. I didn't need time to think. I didn't _want_ an opportunity to reflect. Not about Meiran, not about the Noventa massacre, and especially not about what I'd done to Duo.


I finally resorted to using one of the small cargo bays to practice sword kata. I tried to meditate, but had only limited success. I immersed myself in exploring the systems of my new Gundam. That didn't help either.


I was spending almost every second dwelling on Duo Maxwell. Why had he decided to become my friend? When had I accepted him? What was he thinking? Why did he care whether I lived or died? It wasn't gratitude for what I'd done. 


He'd risked his life to send me that original message from the school. If they'd had any suspicions at that point, the codes hed used to send me that message were easily broken, and they would have discovered his secret. 


And he hadn't expected me to come rescue him. He'd simply sent the note to warn me - and at considerable risk to his own life.


Why then?


I'm obsessing again.


Re-reading this, I've come to the conclusion that I don't care. I am obsessed. So what? It's not as if Duo is really in any shape to notice. He's still all wrapped up in his own problems, and in keeping out of my way.


That's what I believed, anyway.


But it keeps being brought to my attention that I really don't know Duo Maxwell at all.


When I headed back to the galley for something to eat, he was waiting for me. He had a serious look on his face, and something in his hands....


"Wufei, I need you to do me a favor."


There are hidden depths to Duo Maxwell....


"You want me to what?!"


Duo looked down at his feet and extended the objects in his hands to me. "I need you to cut my hair."


******

End Wufei's Part

******


It took more courage than I thought to ask for Wu's help. I thought he was going to choke when I asked him to cut my hair for me. I'd found my braid in his luggage. He knew how much it meant to me, if not why.


"Why?" The shocked look on his face told me that I'd at least gotten his attention.


I sighed. "Because I can't do it myself."


He frowned, pushing his own hair out of his eyes. "That's not what I meant, and you know it."


I had thought about this for a while, and knew that I'd have to tell him about it. "The braid was something that I kept to help me remember something. Thanks to you, I still have it."


He actually blushed. I ignored that, and continued. "But now, my hair reminds me of something else."


I ran my hand through my much shorter hair as Wu sank into a chair across from me in the tiny galley.


"What?" he asked me.


"It reminds me that there's really no one I can trust," I told him grimly. 


He gave me a hurt look, shock written across his features. 


Damn. I can really put my foot in it, can't I? "That's not quite what I meant...."


"What _did_ you mean then?" 


Great. Now he was getting pissed again. I reached out and grabbed his arm with my free hand. "I thought you knew that I trusted you!" I snapped. "We're Gundam pilots. We trust _each other_."


I could see that he finally got it. "But no one else," he breathed.


I nodded. "No one else."


There was a long pause.


"All right," he said finally, taking the razor and the scissors from my hand. "I'll do it. But I think it's a crime." His voice dropped almost to a whisper for that last sentence.


"Thank you."


He needed to know that I trusted him. That I'd let him cut my hair. That I'd be able to relax while he stood behind me with sharp instruments. At some level, I had to get him to realize that I truly trusted him with my life.


God, please let his work. Otherwise, he's going to think I'm betraying him.


******

End Duo's Part

******


Giving a trim to someone with hair as short as Duo's was fairly easy. But my hands shook the entire time, and it wasn't because of the hair cut.


He was silent until I was almost finished.


"I had a talk with Master O about your new Gundam...."


I nearly dropped the razor. I knew he had an ulterior motive with this. He had his back to me, naturally, so I couldn't see his face.


"And?" I asked, concentrating on not shaving half of his remaining hair away.


"That new operating system that they developed, the Zero system? He said that you could run it no problem, because you're so focused." 


I nodded. The thing was hell on your imagination, but you could learn to ignore it if you just concentrated on what your main objective was. I had forgotten that he couldn't see me, and he took my silence as an effort to ignore him.


"Wu, he ran some tests and said that I could run it too."


That shook me. "Duo, that thing is vicious!"


He shrugged, nearly causing me to take off rather more hair than would have been attractive. "Yeah, I noticed." His voice was distant, unhappy.


"You actually _tested_ it?? When did _this_ happen?" I

was angry now. That system was fully capable of chewing you up and spitting you out.... It worked against your insecurities and your fears. And Duo was still having problems with Lt. Maxwell. _NOT_ a good idea.


"After you wigged out. We needed to know if I could run it if things got hairy." There was a long pause while I tried to process this information. "The guys need support, and as long as we stay here, they're on their own, with Gundams that haven't even been tested yet. Wu, if you're gonna stay all locked up inside, I'm going to have to take your Gundam and help them."


"Wha-what?"


His voice was vanishingly soft. "Wu, I'm sorry. But if I have to leave you, I will."


I sat down hard, still clutching the scissors. I was still so wrapped up in what I felt, in what I wanted, that I had forgotten my responsibility, to the other pilots and to our mission. I closed my eyes tightly and tried to think.


As I fought with myself, warm arms wrapped around me.


"It'll be all right, Wu. You're just going to have to learn to let go. You can't use the new system while you're all tied up in knots."


Let go. Something I'd never been good at. Could I manage it? Was it possible?


"It wasn't your fault, Wu. You know it, and I know it. Give us a little while, and the world will know it. C'mon Wu. Relax."


Relax? Yeah right.


Those same hands took the scissors away from me. "Just relax, Wu," he repeated. "You have all night to think about it. But do we have to leave, and soon. Why don't you just go to bed. You can make your decision in the morning."


I opened my eyes as he tugged me to my feet. He was smiling sympathetically, but there was an iron-hard resolve at the back of his eyes. "I don't want to leave you, Wu. But if I have to, I will."


When did he become so strong? My memory suddenly dredged up a fragment of conversation. The familiar voice was ice cold.... 


'I have a mission to fulfill and if I have to shoot you both to achieve it, I will.....He'd do the same.'


Would I?


Yes, I would. I let him take me off to bed, already knowing what my answer would be.


******

End Wufei's Part

******


It was just over two weeks after our own return to Earth that Heero found an OZ report stating that another shuttle had arrived, this one from the Moon.


It landed in Southern Argentina and by the time the local OZ troops got there, it had been destroyed. There was no sign of its passengers or the Gundam they supposed that it had been carrying.


Heero was still grumbling about having to clean up after my encounter with Noin. I guess he's not sure he managed to get every copy of her report. It won't happen again, though. We've all been checked out on our Gundam's new systems, even though we still haven't taken them into combat.


With news of Duo and Wufei's return, we made our way back to where wed hidden the new Deathscythe. It's got a different name, I think. Deathscythe Hell, wasn't it? Our self-proclaimed Shinigami will be thrilled.


Trowa thought it was terribly funny. Heero just rolled his eyes. He had managed to pry the reason for Deathscythe's rebuild out of G. Apparently, Duo has done a great deal of personal tinkering with the stealth systems of his Gundam and G can't figure out how to duplicate the effects. This meant that G had to build the Deathscythe Hell around the stealth system, instead of merely installing a new system in a completed Gundam.


We got to the hiding place first, as we had been closer to begin with. Trowa went over the Gundam with a fine toothed comb a second time and came back with a rather surprising observation.


Deathscythe Hell didn't have Dr. J's new system.


Why didn't Duo's Gundam have the Zero system? Wing Zero had it, the new Sandrock and new Heavyarms had it. According to J, even Wufei's new Gundam, Altron, had it.


Heero pointed out that the 'punk' wouldn't have been able to handle the Zero system on the best day of his life, and the new Gundam had been handed over to _him_, not Duo.


A valid point. On the other hand, it again might have something to do with the various tinkering that Duo has done to the Gundam. I went over it myself then, and discovered something rather surprising. They _did_ attempt to install the new operating system. And Deathscythe rejected it. Heero checked my findings and confirmed them, adding that it was impossible.


"The programming already in place should have accepted the new system without question. It can't just spit it back out like an organ transplant rejection."


But it did. I think we need to have words with Duo about his programming skills. That Gundam gives me a creepy feeling down the back of my neck.


Which reminds me, we need to go check on the little creep.... uh, boy, soon. Rashid assured me that everything was fine the last time I contacted him, but I believe we all want words with the pseudo-pilot.


Short words, preferably. To make them easier to understand. He lacks a certain quickness of wit and comprehension which defines the man he tried to replace.


And Heero still has to have that conversation with Relena Dorlan. Or rather, Peacecraft. Several interesting things appear to have happened while we were all chasing our tails over Duo's disappearance.


At any rate, we settled in to wait for Wufei and Duo. We didn't have too long to wait.


Wufei's Alton is rather impressive. He flew it in, believe it or not. He brought Duo along in one of the shuttles escape pods to protect him from the acceleration. There really wasn't enough room in that cockpit for two.


They've both changed again. Duo seems a lot better. Wufei.... He obviously took what happened at Noventa's very hard indeed. I wonder how differently I would have reacted, or indeed, any of us.


But Wufei kept the Zero system, and seems to be handling it well. Duo doesn't seem to have any doubts as to his fitness anyway. It took Duo only seconds to make himself totally at home with Deathscythe Hell. I had forgotten that he had already seen the specs and had a chance to operate it.


He asked about the pseudo-pilot, but Wufei and Heero both told him to forget it. He obeyed, but not without a dirty look for them both.


I saved the expression for further perusal later. I do believe he was actually pouting. 


We had an emergency council of war.


Trowa will go back to OZ. He is the best of us at infiltration and subterfuge. Wufei and Duo will return to our original mission of destruction and chaos. I will work with Heero as we try to sort through the OZ files and find a link to Romafeller. We _must_ find out what they have planned.


Thanks to Heero, all five of the Doctors and Professors have been brought to heel. Actually, it seems that O was on our side all along.


That's how our world is, now. Divided neatly down the middle into them and us. Howard is tentatively one of us, as is O, but we will only trust them provisionally. The only people we can really trust are each other.


It's the pilot. It has always been the pilot. The five of us are a unit. Not really equals, as we are too different, but five parts of a perfect whole. Our Gundams define our mission and our goals, but they are not who we are.


We will continue to take and use the mission information generated by our former 'masters', but we will no longer trust it. We will choose our own path. We will forge our own destiny.


We will put an end to OZ and the Romafeller foundation. We will shake the very world that our people created. We will make a future for all mankind.


We will survive.


And we will triumph.


******

End Quatre's Part

******


The room was only dimly lit. It was an office, opulently appointed with velvet curtains over the windows and velvet cushions on the chairs.


The small lamp on the desk and the viewscreen beside it were the only sources of light in the room. The viewscreen showed Heero Yuy, bound to a hospital bed. As the short video-clip played, there was a sudden explosion and the footage ended.


It was replaced with a still-picture of Chang Wufei, dressed in black with his hair falling into his face. A male voice spoke:


"His name is Chang Wufei. He is the eldest of his generation, but we were unable to find out more before some enterprising soul erased his files. There were quite a large number of files, indicating that he is, or rather, was someone of great importance within his family."


A long fingered hand reached out and gently traced the arrogant expression of complete assurance that was displayed by the still picture.


"Hmmmm. Accustomed to command. Look elsewhere for the information. The Chang clan keeps extensive personal records in the name of preserving their family history. They will not have erased those."


"Yes sir. We do have his fingerprints and several other pictures and recordings from his temporary stay at the base on L5."


The picture on the screen changed again. A split screen showed Duo Maxwell both before and after his Cadet's haircut.


"Hmmmm again." The voice was amused. "There is _quite_ a difference there. A gutter rat, he told you? I very much doubt that there is no more to him than that. Have you looked further into the Maxwell Church episode?"


"Yes, and there is little doubt that he is the same Duo mentioned in the records. I wonder where he was, that day."


"We may never know. You have all his school records?"


The second voice was sober. "I do. But all video footage following his capture was carefully erased, probably by Chang."


"Unsurprising." There was a dry chuckle. "What about the other footage?"


"Running now, sir."


The pictures of Duo faded away to be replaced by video footage of the encounter in the shuttle bay of L5 colony. There was silence during the minute and a half that it took for the battle to come to an end.


Again, one long finger traced Wufei's figure, frozen in the last, graceful lunge which had ended in his capture.


"Very interesting."


"Yes sir."


Treize turned from the viewscreen to look at his friend and subordinate. "Zechs, those two could be very useful."


"My thoughts exactly." Zechs smiled grimly.


"Find them," Treize's voice was soft, but there was a note of predatory interest that could be clearly heard. "Find them and bring them to me. This could make everything a great deal easier."


"It will be a pleasure."


"Of that I have no doubt. But be very careful. They will not believe anything that we tell them, no matter how true it is. And they are very, very dangerous."


***********


Trowa: You can not possibly leave us hanging like that.

Truth: Like what? You're all together again, aren't you?

Quatre: So to speak. And what about Duo and Wufei?

Duo: What about us?

Heero: How did you resolve all that conflict?

Wufei: Like I'd write anything personal down where _she_ could spread it across the net?

Zechs: That's not an answer.

Heero: What are _you_ doing back here?

Truth: It's a very valid answer. If he won't write it down, you don't get to read it. I just can't see Wufei putting anything very personal in black and white.

Duo: True, he keeps avoiding any personal explanations, even face to face!

Quatre: But Trowa's right! You cant just leave us hanging like this!

Truth: I'm not. There's a sequel in the works.

Wufei: And how long will _that_ take?

Truth: At the rate I'm going? Years. If there's a demand for the sequel, it'll get written faster. If no one cares, I'll take my own sweet time.

Duo: That's not _fair_!

Truth: Hey, a girl's gotta eat and sleep, you know. And I have other projects too.

Wufei: That's UNJUST!

Truth: Bite me, justice boy. You were the one complaining that I was violating your privacy.

Duo: Wu's an exhibitionist, really.

Heero: Is that why you switched to third person?

Truth: I'll never tell....


 

I need to watch the end of Gundam Wing again before I work much further on part 2. I have tried to follow the original plot of the series as best I could and capture all the characters as accurately as possible. Part 2 will deal with Relena, Dorothy, Treize, Sally, Une, Noin, Zechs, Catherine and the escalation of battle and taking the war to the colonies.


We are talking serious AU here.


Part 2 is currently under construction....