Title: It's the Pilot  Part 3/18
Author:  Truth
Archive:  The usual places and, as usual,
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:  Not this time.

Disclaimer:  Gundam Wing belongs to somebody else,
sadly.

Feedback, comments and criticisms cheerfully accepted
at macros@skypoint.com

 
**********
Things have been very unhappy and unsettled of late.
Duo's disappearance hit all of us hard, although some
of us hid it better than others.
 
When I went looking for Wufei this morning, he was gone.  I 
found a stack of papers on his bed with a note addressed to me on the 
top.  With a nasty, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I sat 
down and read them all.

I suspected as much.

It had to be Wufei, in the end.  I don't think that I could 
have gotten either Trowa or Heero to take the proper steps to resolve 
the situation before it was too late.  I was pretty sure that I could 
reach Wufei, though. 
 
Wufei's very self-contained and he dwells on things far too much.
However, this same introspection is what gives him his strength.

I tried very hard to push him in the proper direction and it 
had been remarkably easy.  All it took was a quiet request and a 
heart-felt plea.  The 'innocently adorable' look (Duo's phrase) 
didn't hurt either.

I'm not really terribly manipulative.  People just tend to 
respond better to gentle requests than to brusque orders.  Why be 
unkind if you don't need to?

At any rate, I read through Wufei's note, his interesting 
little vignette (I'd been wondering about that coat) and the letter 
from Duo.  This was not good.  It explained a lot, however.  Duo can 
be rather remarkably resourceful sometimes.  Luckily.
 
I am grateful that he sent us this warning.  I was relieved to hear
that he was still alive and in one piece.  I was very, very upset... 
 
Zechs Merquise is not someone that any of us want to tangle with, 
not without our Gundams, anyway.  Heero has a healthy respect
for the Lightning Count and his combat tactics that he was quick
to share with the rest of us.   More worrisome, to me at least,
is Zechs' rather nasty habit of turning up at the right place at the
wrong time.
 
Duo is in a very nasty spot, right now.

I took the entire sheaf of papers downstairs and began to work 
my way through them a second time, paying special attention to Duo's 
letter.  That's when the first message arrived.

S wanted to know if I'd seen or spoken to Wufei recently.  I 
replied truthfully that I had not neither seen nor spoken to Wufei 
in several days.  I then laid Duo's letter aside and turned to Wufei's note.  
There were a number of things that he needed from me and very little 
time in which to do them.

Over the next two hours I buried myself in money transfers, 
sponsorship papers, courier arrangements and travel permits.  Wufei 
had left a detailed list for me of exactly what he required for this
operation.  Smart, very smart.  Among the countless couriers 
employed by my sisters and my father, what would be one 
more?  Wufei knew what he was doing.

So did I.

When I was finished, I picked up Duo's letter and began going 
over it again.  There was something about it that was bothering me.  
I wasn't sure quite what it was yet, however.  Aside from the obvious,
that is.

That was when the second message arrived.  S wanted to know if 
I could creep away and bring Sandrock back to the colony.  I was 
forced to tell him that the other two pilots were keeping a close eye 
on me, and that I would not be unable to escape undetected.

I know a trap when I see it.

What I had told him was also no less than the truth.  Heero and 
Trowa were prowling the house like a pair of caged tigers.  Or lions, 
as the case may be.  Their restlessness gives me new hope.  Perhaps
we really are more than just a group of people thrown together by
chance.  Perhaps we _can_ make a difference....

Rashid says that I worry too much.  He's probably right.  I'll 
tell you something that you probably didn't know.  Heero worries just 
as much, if not more.  And I'm not just talking about in terms of 
'the mission'.  He's been on edge since Duo disappeared the first 
time.

 
Heero never struck me as the 'mother hen' type, but he is.  He's
willing to go to truly ridiculous lengths all in the name of a 'mission'.
He's trying to 'mother hen' the entire human race.
 
He's not the only one, either.  
 
I don't know exactly what Trowa is thinking, he rarely opens up.  But 
he's been wearing this rather sad frown ever since we discovered that 
Wufei had vanished as well.  Our little group is being whittled away,
one at a time.

Wufei disappeared because he has finally seen something which I 
knew all along.  Something that Duo realized early on.  Something 
that I think Heero and Trowa are finally beginning to be able to 
admit to themselves.  The mission is us.  We are the mission.

That sounds awfully zen.

The five of us were sent here to be soldiers, warriors.  But 
underneath it we're people, just like the people we are fighting to 
protect.  And like those people, we need each other to survive, to 
keep the nightmares away.  To keep each other sane.

Perhaps the 'mad scientists' as Duo calls them, did not bargain 
for this little revelation.  As long as we were separate, we were 
prepared to fight and die alone.  But now that we're together, we 
draw strength and support from one another.  We are stronger now than 
we were.  More complete.  We rely on each other's strengths when 
planning our missions and we cover each other's weaknesses.

 
It would have been suicide to fight OZ as we were, separate and
without support.  Well, Duo and I had support.  Anyway, going up 
against the OZ specials as individuals would have spelled our 
death very quickly.  The OZ organization is terrifying, not because
of their firepower, but because of their very autonomy within the 
Alliance.  They are only restrained by the limits of Treize Kushrenada's
imagination, and he strikes me as a very imaginative man.
 
Which leads me to another realization.  Before Duo disappeared, 
the OZ specials were very busy.  The amount of activity which they
were generating reminded me of an over-turned ant hill.  But since
we lost our Shinigami....
 
They've been quiet.  Very, very quiet.  This means one of two things.
Either they were behind Duo's vanishing act, or his disappearance
and our own subsequent activity screwed up some major operation
that they had in the works.
 
Guess which idea bothers me more.
 
If OZ is really pulling our strings to that extent, Duo is not the only
one in imminent danger.  Worse, the activity level of the Alliance
military has not changed.  This would indicate that there is more 
going on with OZ than even their so-called overlords are aware.
 
This could get very ugly.
 
The strength of the Gundam pilots lies in our anonymity and
unpredictability.  If OZ can predict our moves we are that much
closer to the death that we have promised to embrace for the
freedom of our colonies and of the Earth itself.
 
This is not a good thing.

We've begun to see the merit in living, and we're not so 
willing to recklessly spend our lives when there's even the slightest 
chance of salvation.  Perhaps that is the danger that the scientists 
see.  If that is indeed the problem, then they are blind.  We may be 
less willing to throw away our lives, but that same feeling that 
binds us ever more closely to life and to each other fuels our 
determination to stop OZ and the Alliance once and for all.

It was at this point in my ruminations when a third message 
appeared.  S wanted me to drop any efforts to find Wufei and destroy 
the records of our search for Duo.  I was to keep all information 
regarding this last exchange of messages a closely guarded secret.

Feeling a bit unsettled, I decided that a cup of tea might help 
me think.  I wandered off to the kitchen, a need for Jasmine tea
calling me onward.

After my first leisurely cup of tea, I still felt unsettled, 
and made another.  By the time I finished my second cup, I decided 
that I might as well begin dinner.

In hindsight, perhaps I oughtn't to have left that stack of 
papers resting by my laptop.  I should also probably not have left 
that laptop sitting on the table in the living room.  And I simply 
can't think how I could have been so careless as to forget to erase 
that last message which I had left blinking on the screen.

So maybe I am a manipulative little bastard (Duo's words 
again).  
 
Heero and Trowa were even quieter than usual over dinner.  I 
kept up a light, pleasant conversation despite their silence.

After dinner I was able to assure S that all the records had 
been destroyed and that the other pilots would not hear of any of 
this from my lips.

 
I serve my people.  More than that, I am fighting for an 
eventual peace for all people.  Trust is an internal part of that 
peace.  My life depends on being able to trust my comrades and on 
their being able to trust in me.

Trust cannot be granted without trust given in return.  I had 
not thought that they would attempt to replace me, but I would have 
thought the same about Duo or Wufei.  To attempt to replace any of 
us....  

It's not the Gundam.  It's the pilot.

They are making a grave mistake.  Perhaps I have made a similar 
error in the course of action which I have chosen, but I did it for 
trust and for love.  I couldn't abandon Duo, but nor was I the best 
choice to save him.  
 
And that admission hurts me badly.  I guess Heero's 'mother hen'
problem is contagious.

I finally pinned down what it was about Duo's letter that was 
bothering me.  I hope that Wufei is prepared for what he may find 
when he reaches the end of his journey.

Trowa, Heero and I will wait here, guarding each other's 
backs.  Hopefully we will hear something soon.  They will be watching 
us now, and I do not think that we will be given a chance to escape 
that Wufei had.

 
He was right, however.  Writing everything down can be terribly 
therapeutic.  I'll have to let him read this.  It'd be 'unjust' to 
have read his own ramblings and deny him the chance to see my own.

*************