Paradise Lost, part 2
by Kathleen Moffre-Spoor
October 1998


                           Maxwell's Silver Hammer
 
 

                     Bang Bang, Maxwell's Silver Hammer

                        Down came down upon her head

                      Bang Bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer

                           Made sure she was dead

                                 The Beatles
 
 

Duo

I was lucky. I revived, to the doctors' surprise, and they continued the
operation. For a day I was barely conscious in intensive care, vaguely aware
of Father Donaldson seated at my side. The second day, I was in and out of
consciousness and grateful for the sleep. I wasn't up for much talking so I
spent most of the time reflecting over my life.

In many ways I was sure I was destined for priesthood. Even more so now. I
often claimed my black uniform was in atonement for those I killed. Now I
was giving my soul to them. Death made things very clear. My life had
changed. Something burned inside and death no longer frightened me. I had
seen an angel. I spent most of my time pondering my experience.

Still, my thoughts often drifted to Heero. I was exceedingly concerned for
him. Sure I'd give him a word or two for letting whatever conditioning he
had take over and carve me like a Christmas duck, but I forgave him.

When I had the free chance, I planned to do a little poking on his life in
Bar Harbor. Hopefully I'd recover enough to play on the computer I built for
Father Donaldson in his office, but a part of me was resigned. I didn't have
the time. My body didn't want to recover at the pace I willed it to.

On the third day I was moved from ICU and into a new brightly lit room with
two large glass windows. Again, I slept most of the day, admiring the heat
of the sun's rays on my body. Though I was in pain, the morphine they gave
me made it very far away. I drifted in and out of sleep. When my mind was
clear enough, I watched some TV or read the Bible and prayed a hell of a
lot.

Again I wasn't much for talking, and Father Donaldson didn't push me. He
knew I was very upset about Heero and gave me my own sweet time to talk
about it.

On the fourth day, I was coherent enough to remember everything that had
happened to me. Most of all, I marveled I could move with some effort and
decided it was time to leave. Heero needed me. Though I no longer shared a
gestalt with him, my gut told me he would be on the move soon.

Sitting up set off an alarm of anguish in my body that pivoted me back
against my pillows. Weakly I panted, and waited for my vision to clear of
the multitude of bright flashes assailing it. I felt awful, but I knew I had
to get to Father's office and find out what happened to Heero.

Gritting my teeth and bracing for the wave of pain, I slowly sat up. The
effort paid off. I was in a simple hospital gown with an assortment of IVs
imbedded in my arms. I hesitated before pulling them out and made sure I
knew exactly how they were placed. Escaping hospitals wasn't one of my
specialties, especially in the shape I was in. My condition could easily
change for the worse if I wasn't careful.

"Duo, from what I understand the doctors plan to keep you here for at least
two weeks," Father Donaldson's voice spoke from the doorway.

I rubbed my mouth, tasting sour paste. "I have to take a piss and my mouth
tastes like rocket fuel Father." I replied. Determined to prove my point, I
pulled out the catheter. "Yuccckk, I hate that thing." Pissing through a
tube wasn't the most inviting experience I ever had. But then again, I
didn't ask to be gutted by my best friend. Then there was the bed pan. Talk
about gross.

Father Donaldson shook his head. "Now, now, let's watch the language son. I
thought we were working on that." The gentle faced man seated himself in a
chair beside my bed. Amused he watched me stumble painfully to my feet and
grab my IV drip. "I admire your stamina, Duo. You must have made a very good
terrorist."

"Tooo good." I replied arduously shuffling across the room. My stomach
muscles screamed with every movement. "Hot damn, this isn't fun... I hate
pain, I hate pain..." My words became a chant as I made my way across the
room to the bathroom. My bladder wanted to explode. "Heero I'll kill you if
you got my kidneys."

"No, they're intact, but I'm afraid they had to..."

"Remove some of my large intestine... I know, I know, saw it on the tray in
the ER when I died." I straightened myself the best I could when I reached
the bathroom, then turned very deliberately to face the toilet.

The task at hand proved to be a little more difficult than I planned. I
needed both hands to hold myself up on the railing, let alone the wall, and
it took one hand to aim my dick.

I should have stayed dead.

I swallowed, and laboriously seated myself on the toilet and relieved
myself.

After twenty minutes of catching my breath and meditating on dulling the
pain, I washed and made the long journey out of the bathroom. Patient as
ever, Father Donaldson passed the time with a book on the maintenance and
repair of Harley Davison.

"You know, I hurt and it's very hard to keep my manners," I said sounding
very much like the street kid I once was.

Donaldson just shook his head and closed his book on his lap. "You're still
young, Duo, I don't expect you to reform overnight. I see you're trying very
hard and I admire that. Not many young men come off the battlefield
determined to surrender their lives over to God."

I paused, ignoring the cold chill of air against my bare buttocks. "Father,
do you think I belong in the priesthood?"

"Only your heart can tell you that, Duo. Are you ready for the sacrifices it
entails?" He always asked the hard questions.

Puzzled I reflected inward. I was alive because I had a destiny to fulfill,
though I didn't know what. The Angel, or whatever it was (I resigned to
calling it an angel because it reminded me of one of the pictures Blake
depicted from Dante's Paradise Lost) encouraged me to rescue Heero, so I was
sure he was a part of it. I swallowed. If I became a priest, I would have to
abide by standards against my training as a soldier. Before Heero showed, I
was ready for it. Now I wasn't sure. Heero's presence made me believe there
was still danger.

Was that my destiny? I bit my lip, but failed to feel it though the pain in
my belly.

"If my intestine was cut, doesn't that mean I'll have to take my dumps in a
bag?"

Father Donaldson cocked his head and chuckled. "Funny way of changing the
topic Duo. But to answer your question, most likely."

"Damn, that's what I thought." I looked down at my bare toes, then realized
I couldn't feel my hair against my back. For one panicked moment I reached
up on top of my head half expecting to find nothing but stubble. To my
relief, it was there, tied in a tight bun, out of the way. I exhaled and
fumbled with the knot. My hair was my pride. I promised myself as a child
I'd never cut it once I was in the position to grow it. Many years had gone
by since and it was just about down to my knees.

The long locks tumbled free of their binds and dropped down into my face. I
quickly brushed it back behind my ears. The cold chill against my rear
vanished. By the saints, I loved my hair. "To answer your question, I don't
know."

"As I thought." Father nodded, all knowingly. "Your friend. What happened
with him?"

Embarrassed I was caught off guard. I shied my attention to the floor. "I
think someone's using him."

"Using him? Duo, what are you trying to tell me? Is he working for someone?
OZ maybe?" Father sounded concerned.

I pushed my bangs from my eyes. "No, Heero was frightened. He's in trouble.
I think he stabbed me because he was ordered too."

I heard the creak of a chair and the rustle of clothing. Father Donaldson's
hand fell to my shoulder. "Then he is working for someone. A few witnesses
saw him get into a car without plates after he stabbed you."

"Against his will." I met his stare. Heero was definitely working with
someone. "It's happened before." I caught my breath. "We were trained not of
serve our own needs and we were often coerced into fighting." But this was
different. Donaldson's warm affectionate gaze relaxed me. "Father, I want to
say more, but he made it a part of his confession....so I can't."
Frustrated, I closed my eyes, feeling tears sting my eyes. "I have to go."

"I knew that too, my son." Donaldson smiled. "But you won't be going alone,
will you?"

Confused, I shook my head. Of course I was alone. It was what Heero wanted.
Then I realized what he meant. I'd never be alone now. I had seen my first
real miracle.

"It's funny. When I was a kid, Sister Helen and Father asked me if I
believed in God. "

I clenched my fists, recalling my troubled boyhood. "I said, I haven't see
any miracles yet, so no. But I believe in the god of death cause I've seen
many dead people."

"You came back to us Duo, because it was God's will."

I nodded weakly. "I saw an angel. I got my miracle."

"Then my boy, you must reflect on this." He embraced me tenderly, his touch
gentle as a feather. Weak, I pressed my face into his shoulder and for the
first time in a while, I sobbed.

I had my miracle. It was time to move on.

It was time to hang up my robes and become Duo Maxwell, pilot, demolitions
expert, thief extraordinaire. The difference was, this time, my soul was
saved.

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

By the middle of the second week, I was crawling the walls. I hated the
hospital, and I felt markedly better. So much better, I talked Father
Donaldson into discharging me two days before my time was up. Within twenty
four hours, I was packed with one duffel bag of clothing, and a backpack of
plastique and other terrorist stocking stuffers, delivered by one of my many
contacts. Before I hit the road, I dropped into Father Donaldson's office,
begged for the keys to his Harley, and nabbed some comp time with his PC. It
wasn't difficult to tap into Bar Harbor's local newspapers and employment
rosters. Sure enough I located Mr Yamamato. He lived at a local boarding
house called Aunt Mae's and worked for a fisherman called Roberts. Sure
enough he had an accident about three months ago. He was hit by a pulley
hook and knocked off the fishing boat in the Bar Harbor Sound. They thought
they had lost him when they couldn't find his body. Four days later he
turned up at a local hospital with a bad case of amnesia. After that, his
whereabouts were dubious.

Hmm, it was worse than I thought, as I expected. Someone put the mind woogie
on here, most likely in the hospital. But to set my mind at ease, I decided
to go to Bar Harbor myself and check things out.

Armed with only my wit and a few grenades, I said my farewells, hopped on
the bike and set off.

And I must say, the bike was sweeeeet. We soared down the highway for a
couple of hours. Hot summer air whipped by, blasting my body with it's
needle like exuberance. For the first time in months I felt alive. Not even
the painful tug of my stitches touched my mood.

I was living on the edge again.

A day or so later I rolled into Bar Harbor. The long ride made me sore and
all I could think about was finding a bed and collapsing when I found an
inn.

Yet something made me delay that thought. I parked the bike in front of a
local 7-Eleven and dumped several quarters into a pay phone. Though I didn't
plan to betray Heero's confidence, I did intend on giving myself some back
up. I flicked my bangs away from my face, and stared at the snow filled
video-phone screen. I hoped I didn't look too ill. Pulses of pain flared now
and then in my belly in an attempt to remind me how injured I still was. The
long ride aggravated the injury, especially since I failed to stop, save for
food occasionally and an hour nap or so. My body was amazingly resilient. I
found myself able to last quite some time without eating or drinking. Days
if I had to. It was convenient on a mission.

"Yes?" A pretty, auburn haired woman answered the phone. Her lovely features
where framed by curls and fine make up.

I broke out in a broad smile in hope I could hide the fact my face was pasty
pale and body dead tired. "Catherine! How ya' doing?! Is Trowa around?"

Her brow furrowed suspiciously. "Yes, he's around." She said softly. "How
are you doing Duo? We haven't heard from you in a long time."

I unconsciously touched my throat half expecting to grasp at my priest's
collar and adjust it. Instead my fingers grazed against bare flesh. Today, I
wore a white T-shirt and a pair of black jeans. The only sign of my vocation
was my crucifix. "I've been very preoccupied." I said. Already I sensed she
didn't want me to talk with Trowa. Catherine didn't approve of our
lifestyles. My fingers curled around the crucifix and twisted the thong it
hung on. "I just wanted to see how he was. Actually, I'm on sabbatical and
wanted to visit with him." My first lie. My first broken commandment since I
left the church. I hated myself for it because I never liked lying. As a
kid, I prided myself on not being a liar even though I was a damned good
thief.

Guilt tightened my gut. I was on the rapid road to Hell and it was all
downhill.

"Sabbatical?" Curious she cocked her head.

I laughed. "Yeah... Well ah....I'm sure he must already know about it. The
guy knows everything after all."

"I don't know what you're talking about, Duo." Catherine said, rather
annoyed. "Look, Trowa isn't interested in fighting anymore. The war is
over."

My lower lip twitched. I was transparent as glass. Sometimes life was very
unfair. "Look Catherine, I'm in a heap of trouble, ok. I need to talk with
Trowa."

She folded her arms. "What kind of trouble?"

"This isn't about fighting,...not yet at least. I can't tell you everything,
just that I need Trowa."

My stomach knotted. For a moment, my voice sounded just like Heero's in the
confessional booth. I breathed in and winced, pain twitching my face some.

Catherine's features became concerned. "Let me get him."

A second later, Trowa's calm reserved face appeared on the screen.
"Catherine tells me you're hurt."

"Just a scratch." I said hurriedly. I looked around making sure no one was
watching or listening to our conversation. From what I guessed, Heero had
someone watching him all along, so why not spy on me too. When I was sure it
was safe, I began to talk again. "The line isn't secure so I can't stay on
for long." Just long enough for Trowa to run a trace on me, or so I hoped.
"I'm trying to do something for a good friend. I can't say what."

"Ah... I remember calling Hilde looking for you. She said you went into the
priesthood." Trowa informed flatly. There was very little anyone could hide
from him. Like Heero, Trowa specialized in information and espionage. "If it
is that dangerous, I could call a few friends and assist."

"No, I need you to stand by. I don't know enough yet to call in the fucking
Calvary." I said trying not to sound worried. In all truth, I wasn't looking
forward to a conflict now. I hurt too much and was aware if there was a
fight, it would probably be up against Heero. I rubbed my belly gingerly.
"Talk to Father Donaldson. He can show you where I went."

"Ok. Are you sure? You don't look very well."

"Better than ever." I said with a smirk. "Got to go, places to go, people to
upset, things to blow up, the usual stuff."

He shook his head, as if troubled, but his face remained lifeless and blank.
"You're making a mistake not to bring us in now, but I'll be standing by."

Part of me wanted to break my promise but I held fast to it. If I broke my
vow, I'd never be worthy of priesthood. "Thanks. Hang cool. I'll be fine.
Duo Maxwell, signing off!"

I blanked off the screen and pulled down my cap over my brow. I felt a
little better now. Trowa and the others would be here in a matter of days,
if not hours. It would depend on how fast Quatra and Wufei got to Earth.
Hopefully, Quatra would secure a few mobile suits or, if not, some other
form of heavy artillery.

Boy I missed the Death Scythe.

What was the Grim Reaper with out his Scythe?

I shivered. The idea of fighting again excited me.

Remorseful, I slunk back to the bike and straddled it. Maybe that's what
Father Donaldson saw in me. I was a soldier still.

No, not a soldier. A terrorist, trained to kill.

"Oh well, no hair off my chest." I looked down at my shirt and chuckled. "If
I had hair." I kicked the bike to a start and rolled out of the parking lot.

**********

I collapsed in bed the instant I located a hotel. It was a pleasant one near
the water and its rooms were a modest price.

After sleeping for only an hour, I woke up and ate a huge meal of eggs,
toast, steak and chocolate mousse cake. When I finished, I showered and
ditched my T-shirt and jeans for a pair of cut off shorts and tank top.
Before dressing, I rewrapped my wound, happy I didn't pull any stitches on
my trip. I came close many times, but the internal stitches hung in there
keeping the ugly scar together.

Though I would have preferred sleeping more, I was restless. I kept seeing
Heero alone and lost when I closed my eyes. His time was growing shorter.
With no more adieu, I left my room and trekked out for Aunt Mae's.

The sea front was bustling with fishermen and dock workers. A few ships were
docked at the main pier, and heavy labor mobile suits loaded and unloaded
cargo. I marveled at the small exoskeletons piloted by deckhands. It almost
felt like I was looking back in time.

A few fishing boats pulled into harbor, their nets full and dangling over
their decks. I thought of Heero and wondered why he decided to take on a
career of fishing. It didn't fit him.

Then again, he didn't seemed to think priesthood fit me.

I pushed the thought out of my mind. After all, I could be what ever I
wanted and when this was all over I'd return to the Church.

Until then, I was playing the happy tourist (as opposed to the happy
terrorist). I brushed my bangs from my brow, warm from the hot summer sun.
The dock reeked of fish and oil mingled with salt air. Not the most pleasant
smell, but I had been exposed to much worse. Death and its stench was firmly
imprinted on my mind. I rubbed my arms recalling poor Solo as he expired.

"Woow... It's them memories man, they really screw with the mood." I said to
myself.

The dock before me stretched out into a marina where large and small boats
were moored for the season. The smell of fish dwindled and vanished as I
made my way away from the working docks. Thankful, I shifted my attention to
the bay and islands dotting the coast line. Bar Harbor got its name from the
rows of islands in the bay. When the tide was low, every island connected to
the mainland, making it possible to travel by foot or vehicle to the
islands.

Beautiful. I stopped and watched the sailboats and recreational sport boats
as they pounded the surf. "Now, that's living." I shoved my hands in my
pockets and closed my eyes. Just for a minute, I let myself absorb the peace
around me.

The feeling of the being's touch returned. I believed now, inside of my
heart, I felt a warmth. The loneliness I felt as a kid was no longer there.
I knew the people I loved were in a better place than this now. I held my
cross, remembering the first time I entered Maxwell's Church as a child. I
looked up at Christ as he hung on the crucifix, his face drawn in anguish
moments before the hands of death closed his eyes, and wondered why he
sacrificed himself for humankind. It seemed stupid at the time, but I
understood now. I sacrificed my soul, my sanity, in the war against OZ. A
part of me died then.

The boy who had hoped for a miracle vanished the instant he donned his
priest's collar and stepped into the Death Scythe Gundam.

"I think I'm back." I said. "But why am I doubting myself all of the sudden?
Is it the job? I'm getting moody again. Ok, Duo, you think to much." I told
myself. "Thinking is bad... got to stop it one of these days." Opening my
eyes, I blinked out the blast of light and started on my way once more.

Aunt Mae's was a quaint pink and white house surrounded by a picket fence.
Poised on the lawn were two tacky plastic flamingos. I studied them for a
moment. What in god's name possessed Heero to move into this place? Didn't
he have any taste?

"Maybe it's already too late for him."

Attempting to ignore the flamingos, I walked up to the front stoop and
knocked. It opened almost immediately. A large woman with graying hair
around her shoulders answered. Pointedly, she placed her hands on her hips
and stared at me from head to toe. "What do you want kid? If you're selling
girl scout candy or cookies, I'm not interested."

Candy? I pouted. Whatever made her think I was a girl scout? She must have
been as blind as she was obese. "Hi! I'm looking for a friend." I said
extending a hand.

She didn't attempt to open the door. Rather, she glared at me through the
screen like I was a bug crawling near her foot. "A friend?"

"Yeah, Kiro Yamamato. I understand he lives here."

Her face formed an irritated frown. "Kiro isn't here. He took off without
paying rent. If you see him, tell him I have lawyer friends."

My patience was wearing thin. She wasn't cooperating the way I wanted. From
the looks of it, I would have to take a different tactic other than shooting
her where she stood (oh God what I would give to lob just one grenade in on
her). "He just left?"

"Yeah. He blew his job and his rent. Not many people around here are happy
with him." She said. She motioned to close the door.

I widened my eyes in an attempt to make my face look child like. "Did he
leave anything behind? I mean so I can find out were he is. It's very unlike
him to take off with out telling anyone."

Lie number two came out with little or no remorse. I had to get into that
room, even if I had to break into it.

"Nothing is there. A couple of guys in uniform came and took everything."
She said.

Uniforms, it made sense. "What kind of uniforms?"

"Romefeller of course." Her piggish eyes glared at me. "There's nothing more
to tell you. Have a good day."

She slammed the door, sending hot stinking air into my face. "Have a nice
day." I mimicked angrily. "Bitch."

Ok, I have to do it the hard way. With a sigh, I turned around and made my
way back to the docks. Hopefully Mr. Roberts was a little more cooperative
than Ms. Big Fat Bitch.

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

Roberts told me to go away. He wasn't interested in talking about Heero, and
when I kept prodding, he told me he'd call the cops. To worsen the blow, he
told me to get a hair cut too.

Heero made a hell of an impression on these people.

Discouraged, but not defeated, I returned to the room and laid in bed for
about two hours. By then the sun set and it was well into nightfall. I
didn't sleep long. I dreamt about Heero again. This time, he was screaming
holding his head, agonized.

I sat up abruptly, body shaking like a leaf. The image was so clear I almost
felt like I was a part of him again and shared his pain. Puzzled, I made my
way to the bathroom, and stared at myself.

I ached still, this time from lack of sleep as well as from my wound. My
eyes were glassy and bagged. "If I didn't have to work tonight..." I said to
myself. "I'd shoot up some morphine and sleep."

Life was never that kind. I grabbed my backpack and rummaged through it. I
located a box with a few syringes and one bottle. Normally I stayed away
from the stims, but I needed them tonight. I felt so crappy, I'd never make
it. The last thing I needed was to land my ass in jail because I screwed up
a break in. With that, I prepped a syringe, wrapped a rubber about my
forearm, and injected the serum. I had pills, but they took a half hour to
take effect. I needed something fast.

Sure enough, my brain cleared of all sleep in a matter of moments. Quickly,
I cleaned up, dressed in solid back, and crept out into the night.

I kept my picks carefully concealed in my hair, and six knives hidden in my
clothing. Unfortunately, I hadn't accessed a gun in fear it would violate my
present moral code (It made killing easier to do, and I often avoided
killing if I could).

The night was cool and moonless. It made it easy to keep to the shadows and
sneak around.

Roberts's Boat was cake to break into, but I found nothing to satisfy
myself.

I broke into the Fat Bitch's via a second story window near a tree. It was
open, so I didn't have to do any fancy work with the door locks.

I climbed in and crept around the dark halls. When my eyes adjusted to the
dark, I could see very clearly. It made navigating her house effortless.
After a few minutes, I located Heero's room. The lock was a bolt lock. All I
did was slip in a pick, feel around and click it open with a twist of the
wrist.

Trespassing...Wasn't that a commandment? Damn, they were falling like flies.
I suspected Father Donaldson understood this was destined to happen the
instant I left him.

I pushed the door open and slipped in.

The room was bare save for one bed, a dresser and a table in the corner. I
studied it carefully. My mind superimposed the room with an imagined
facsimile of what I thought Heero would do to the room. "A computer on the
desk, clothes tossed over a chair or on the floor, an unmade bed and papers
strewed everywhere." I mumbled.

His scent was very faint, but there under the heavy salt air. "If I were
Heero and I knew I was in trouble, what would I do?"

I tapped my chin and looked at the long floor boards. One seemed
particularly scuffed up. I dropped down and studied the markings. A narrow
knife blade appeared to have been inserted in the cracks and board wedged
up.

"You sly bastard..." I worked quickly. I inserted one of my own knives and
pulled up the board silently.

There, nestled neatly in a bundle of papers was a small sack. I swiftly
picked it up. It was light and flat to the touch. A book no doubt. Knowing
Heero, he recorded his antics here down for future reference. I twitched as
my belly flashed pain. Perhaps it was left here for me.

"No time to worry about it." I told myself.

With that, I cleaned up after myself and left Aunt Mae's boarding house.

That is, after toilet papering those damned flamingos.

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

Heero

  The pain had stopped. I lay on my cot, gaze focused on the vacant gray
walls. By now, I knew every inch of my room right down to the cracks in the
ceiling. I no longer saw it as my prison. It felt more like home now.

I sat up, weary from a long day of training. Alexie said the drugs I was on
would curb my homicidal tendencies. With luck, I'd have control over my mind
again. I just wish I hadn't gone to Duo.

The kid didn't have a chance against me. Although he hadn't lost his fire,
he was working damned hard to put it out. I didn't understand him. In the
past, he talked about God and death as the same. Why did he deny it now? I
dug my hand in my hair frustrated. Now he was dead, by my hand.

Duo, a man I swore to protect. Instead, I killed him.

The tears stopped coming days ago. Now I felt numb when I thought about him.

He was gone. Nothing mattered anymore. I hugged myself and huddled on the
cot. Life sucked.

A creak of light slipped into the room. Alexie's face appeared. Gently he
smiled in an attempt to reassure me. "We'll be moving on soon, Heero. The
next phase is beginning."

The next phase. I stared at him blankly, only half understanding what he
meant.

The next phase meant I had a mission to train for.

I climbed off the cot.

A strange prickling sensation tickled my belly. I looked down in surprise,
half expecting to see my own guts rolling on the floor. Instead I saw bare
skin. I made a face. "Duo.?"

Alexie just smiled, and closed the door.

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

Duo

  A full night's sleep and a bath set the stage for a remarkable morning. I
soaked in the deep tub for about 20 minutes, reading Heero's journal,
fascinated. He was on another one of his quests to discover himself.
Apparently his trips to the colonies directed him here.

"Hmmmmm. Verrrrry interesting..." I dropped the book on the toilet and sank
under the water. My hair floated around me like a bed of kelp. I planned to
keep it down until I left this morning. That way I could air it out before I
braided it back. I made it a task to keep my hair healthy and brushed it two
times a day. Then the abuse of tying it back wouldn't do too much damage.

I tried to hold my breath for five minutes, but realized my injury keep me
from staying under the water for more than two and a half. Shrugging it off,
I climbed out of the tub, rewrapped my wounds and brushed my hair out. The
moist sea air brought out whatever wave it had in it, so I had to brush for
a while longer or else it would become a rat's nest.

Damn, I had a lot of hair. I admired it in the mirror, tossed it over my
shoulder, and grabbed the book. I set up shop on the patio after dressing in
a over sized Bar-Harbor T-shirt and a pair of dark blue Speedos.

Room service brought up a continental breakfast shortly after. I clicked on
one of my favorite Beatles CDs and spent the morning studying and eating
muffins, fruit and coffee with an occasional sip of orange juice. Now and
then I watched the sailboats glide about the islands in the bay.

The journal touched many things. Apparently Heero discovered his name in a
Romefeller data base with an attachment to another file he could not obtain.
Consequently, he located the base on one of the nearby islands and was going
to hack into their system.

After a great deal of time he came up with several names. Akira Yuy (holy
shit!!!), Patrick Reily, Quatra Winner, Peter Sergai Bloom, and Chang Wufei.
I sucked on my lower lip wondering if Heero was related to the Heero Yuy?

Goose bumps pimpled my flesh, I dropped the book. A warm sensation knotted
in my throat. I scanned the names a second time.

That name.

The Angel called me Patrick.

Trembling I lifted the book again and examined the page. Yes. It had to my
name. Two of the names on the list were people I recognized. We all shared
many things. We were experimental Gundam pilots in the war. We were all the
same age, and had very distinct personae. I scanned down the text, seeing
how Heero came to the same conclusion. The scientists who worked with us
planned everything out, including our personalities and how we'd work with
each other.

Nothing was left to chance. We were augmented and set up all our lives to
become pilots of the particular Gundams we were assigned.

They let people in my life suffer so I'd identify with the Death Scythe.

I shut my eyes to tears. The disease that killed Solo and so many others
didn't touch me. I thought I was lucky, but the truth was, it was planned. I
was immune to it to witness their deaths.

I fumbled for my cross and held it for comfort. It took a great deal of
discipline to control myself from tossing the table over and screaming my
goddamned lungs out.

"Bastards!!!!" I whispered. "They're all bastards....So help me god...!"

I put the book down once more, unable to read on. If I did so, I'd vomit or
set out to assassinate my mentor and his colleagues. That is if they were
still alive.

To cool down, I stood and walked to the edge of the balcony and leaned on
the rail. "Somehow, I think I knew it along." We were only weapons to them.
Weapons to forge and build, just like the Gundams. I just wish I was told.
"Heero didn't live with any delusions. Why did I have to?"

I grabbed a corn muffin off the table and bit into it. A breeze rustled my
hair blowing it into my face.

"There's nothing I can do about it now." I said with my mouth full of
muffin. Nothing, except for saying lots of prayers and hoping God would give
me a little mercy. "And things are just going to get worse."

The CD player began to play Maxwell's Silver Hammer and my spirit lifted
some. "C'est la vie."

I began to sing along, changing the lyrics to Maxwell's Silver Beam Scythe
and cheered right up.

After a while of debating, I went back to the book and read the rest.

When I was finished, I decided to do a little sightseeing and visit the
local Romefeller installation on one of the Bar islands. I might even get
some hiking and photography done too.

I smiled at the swooping gulls as they cried out and danced over the air.

"Hmmmmm, I think it's a good day for hang gliding..."

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

Hang gliding was a blast. It enabled me to get some really awesome shots of
the base quickly and quietly. But not too close to the base because it was
daylight. Besides, I had to get the feel of the rigging. It was the first
time I used a hang glider and to be honest, I wasn't look'n forward to the
idea of free falling without zero gravity (I could see the head lines,
splattered teen news at eleven). Once I felt comfortable enough with
manipulating the steering bars, I came back to earth.

I saved most of the gliding for the evening and spent the rest of the
afternoon puttsing around trying to find out about the tide and renting
equipment. When I finished, I rested, aware the pain in my gut was worse.

That evening, I set out again. I swooped down off one of the nearby cliffs
like a great bat and flew right over the sea. The wind was strong and
carried me right to my destination without too much fuss. God damn, (another
commandment shattered in my wake) to my surprise, I spied mobile suits. It
could only mean one thing. Earth was rebuilding their forces. My chest ached
as I soared by. The last thing I wanted was another war. I kept the glider
low enough to the ground not to be spied by radar, and it was dark out so
the night colored canvas was nearly invisible. I used a specialized infrared
Camera to take my pictures, knowing Trowa would have the facilities to
develop the rolls when I sent them to him.

The following day, I went for a cruise on the bike, over the sand bars and
to the islands surrounding the base. Security was heavy. No one was allowed
on the island without a pass, and they did many scouting missions around the
nearby islands. I did notice a few scattered security cameras about the one
I was on, but I was able to dismantle them long enough to locate a safe
hiding place.

Once there I camped out in a tree, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
and watched the base with a set of binoculars. "Just like old times." I told
myself, unraveling a Hershey chocolate bar. "Camped out in a tree, watching
the Ozies. I really do feel like I'm vacation."

I took several more photos and before I left the island, I even made sure I
took one of me standing in front of the camera smiling with my happy
terrorist T-shirt and combat fatigues. Trowa would be amused to say the
least.

Later that afternoon, I went fishing. I caught two flounder and three shots
of Aries series mobile suits with my telephoto lens. I did a full
circumference of the base, keeping my distance of course, and tried my
fishing luck on the other side. I took more pictures of the installation,
and tapped into some radio conversations with my state of the art listening
devices.

Security was simple though tight, and moved in shifts. I'd have no problem
sneaking on the island by water at night.

Not long after formulating my plan, I managed to reel in one cod, and a ray
that nearly knocked me and my equipment out of the boat. Damn fish. I fried
that one up for supper on a nearby beach, just based on principle. The
sucker was tough as hell, so I ate flounder and cod instead.

I returned to the hotel a few hours after mailing a thick package of film
and files to Father Donaldson to give to Trowa. My body ached and I sported
a very nasty sunburn. I wasn't raised on Earth, so I wasn't accustomed to
worrying about the sun nor did I realize the importance of sun screen number
40. All I wanted to do was sleep now. I'd worry about everything else later.
"I hate the sun." I moaned sitting gingerly on the bed.

Crazy as it was, I missed L-2.

Most of all I missed Hilde. But after what I did to her, I'd never be able
to return. With a sigh and an effort, I slipped out of my T-shirt and tossed
the dirty sweaty thing to the floor. My shorts followed as did my
underpants. I finished surveillance. Tomorrow I'd prepare for infiltrating
the base, and hopefully rescue Heero. A moment later, I was out like a
light.

"He's alive, isn't he Alexie!?" Heero said following close on the heels of a
tall dark haired man. They were both dressed in elaborate blue short waisted
jackets and tight white pants. Heero seemed glazed eyed to me, and very
troubled.

The older man looked over to Heero and studied him. "Does it really matter?
He's no longer your concern."

Heero looked away, guilt and anger flashing in his dark eyes. "You should
have told me. Duo is my friend."

"We have no friends in this business, Heero." Alexie stopped walking and
folded his arms. His features were displeased. "Have you forgotten that? You
can't afford to have anyone in your life now. The process makes it very
dangerous."

Heero's gaze dropped shamefully to the floor, lost in grief. He clenched his
teeth and formed tight fists. "We all under went the process when we were
trained as children... Duo and the others should know."

Alexie formed a thin smile. He nodded to Heero amused. "Time with tell,
Heero, time will tell..."

"What are you planning?" Heero went to grab his arm, but Alexie stepped away
effortlessly. "They aren't a part of this!!!"

His face suddenly froze. Heero then jerked, his hands reaching for his head.
He began to scream....

I startled awake, my brain burning with hot searing anguish. I grabbed my
head, screeching as I doubled over. The pain was incredible, unlike any I
ever had before in my life. It throbbed and wailed like a high pitched
siren. I thrashed back, skin pinching from my sunburn and fell against my
pillows. I couldn't think, nor could I see anything but a blaze of red,
white and black flashes.

I found myself thrashing, my body no longer under my control.

Then the pain stopped.

My hair hung sloppily in my face and it took a moment to blink the spots of
purple and white from my vision.

"Heero." I breathed his name, wondering if he was the center of my seizure.
The dream appeared real (although I barely recalled it's contents), like the
others I had, but I only half took them as something more than dreams. After
all, I wasn't an Esper.

But somehow, Heero and I must have shared in a gestalt.

The faint flickers of buoys in the Sound blinked through the pale curtains.
I felt the sea breeze cool my pulsing warm skin. I turned to my side and
watched the flutter of fabric. Stars winked in the distance.

"Heero. I'm coming."

Blackness returned.

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

I woke a little earlier than usual this morning and soaked in a tub of cold
water. My skin ached as did my wound and I wanted to baby my body as much as
I could before going out tonight and breaking into a major military
installation. After two hours, I mustered the strength to move from the tub
and put a towel about my waist. I stared in the mirror for a minute noticing
how beet red my body was. The only place I wasn't burned was my dick and
butt (saved only by a pair of swimming trunks (stupid me kept taking off the
T-shirt yesterday). "Christ. I look like a boiled lobster ready for a clam
bake."

My wound was red, but not from sunburn. I kept it wrapped all the time.
Rather, it was a bit pusey and swollen and very warm to the touch. I
aggravated it hang gliding and god knows what I would do to it tonight when
I went scuba diving.

A knock drew my attention away from my reflection. I quickly grabbed a short
robe and went to the door. If I was right, it was room service with my
waffles, eggs, ham, and sausage.

To my surprise it was a small dark haired girl in a simple pink blouse and
tight cut off shorts. She had a very large duffel bag at her side.
Pleasantly she smiled, her round face wet with tears. "Hello Duo. Mike told
me you were asking for some toys..."

"Hee... Hilde?" The name cracked from my lips. I stepped back, as she showed
herself into my room and placed the bag on my bed.

"I know I'm not a courier, but I talked him into letting me bring them in."

"Ahhhh." Incapable of words, I struggled to comprehend how she managed to
find out about my activities. Most likely one of my contacts informed her I
was back in action. But why, by god, did she make the trek to Earth just to
deliver my guns?

"You know, you're a hard man to find." She said closing the heavier curtains
and unzipping her bag. She pulled out three different guns. One pistol, a
sub machine gun and an assault rifle. With them, she had an assortment of
clips, belts and boxes of bullets. "In my car, I have a mobile suit piercing
rocket launcher. " She then smirked and put her hands on her hips. "But that
might be a bit much for a little squirt like you."

Weapons, guns, and Hilde. It was enough to make any man, novice or not, get
a hard on.

Her milky white legs were shapely and shifted weight under her gracefully as
she walked around the bed to meet me face to face. "Yeah, but this little
squirt can pack a hell of a punch."

"Sure can. So how's priesthood?" She folded her arms, irritated. "The old
priest told me you were on sabbatical. Interesting sabbatical, I'd say."

I shrugged, sitting very carefully on the corner of the bed. "Yeah,
something came up, but I intend on going back when I'm done."

"How can you do that with a clear conscience, when you're playing happy
terrorist." She said. She looked away, a sparkle of tears rimming her eyes.
"Damn it Duo. Sometimes you really piss me off."

Awkward I hunched my shoulders. Guilt caught in my throat. I was a slime,
the biggest slime this side of Earth, and Hilde came all the way from L-2
just to tell me so.

I pulled my robe around me and stared at the strands of long hair draping
over my legs and bed. "I'm sorry, Hilde."

"Sorry? Sorry? Do you know what I've been through?" She snapped. "Wake up
Duo. I loved you and thought you loved me! It hasn't been easy you know. I
depended on you and you just walked out because you had to run away from
yourself!"

I took a deep breath and braced myself. She was going to lay into me hard. I
deserved it and sat there quietly as she ranted about what an ass I had
been. When she cooled off, I looked up, tangled bangs sticking to my
forehead and face. "Hilde, I know you don't understand. I did it because I
loved you, and knew I was a walking time bomb."

Startled, she cocked her head. "What do you mean?"

"The nightmares didn't stop until I took the vows and only then did I feel
like I had washed all the death from my hands." I eyed my fingers. Many
times in the past I woke up seeing blood and hearing screams of my many
victims. I shivered and hunched my shoulders. "I need to find myself. I
didn't want to hurt you. I knew if I stayed, I'd just go mad."

Her face softened and she sat beside me. Her warm body pressed into mine.

Her fingers prickled as she took my hand into her own. I easily ignored the
pain of the sunburn and nestled my head into her neck. "You should have gone
to a doctor, not become a priest, Duo. You're not well. I knew that then.
You never looked right to me. Your eyes were always disturbed and distant.
It made me worry."

"A shrink can't save my soul." I whispered.

"Then why are you here?" Her delicate fingers touched my chin and cupped my
face.

Funny, my eyes stung. I blinked tears. "A friend needs me." I whispered. I
opened my mouth to explain, but she seemed to understand.

"You stupid, loyal bastard. He's gonna get you killed someday."

She kissed me.

Grateful, I returned it.

Suddenly I was riding on cloud nine. The sunburn ache vanished with my other
aches and pains.

Hilde was back, and I still loved her.

Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a priest after all. I just needed a way of
settling my guilt.

*********

The way to cure pain is a good screw in the sand with an incredible lady who
looks good with a sub machine gun. Nothing could spoil my mood now. Hilde
and I were back as a team, and her touch was everything to me. We spent the
day going over my plan, holding each other and laughing a lot. I even showed
her the pink flamingos. She was filled with vigor and chattered non-stop
about kids and marriage, and me seeing a psychiatrist when we got back to
L-2.

All I could think of was her holding that rocket launcher and blowing away
tanks.

When it was time, we set out in a rented outboard and tossed anchor about a
1/4 of a mile from one of the islands near the base.

The moonlight glittered over the water, making little waves sparkle like
diamonds in the dark. I stood on the stern, zipping up my dive suit, while
Hilde made sure equipment was properly water proofed in airtight plastic
bags. Quickly she concealed them in the duffel bag I'd be carrying.

"The tide's with you." She said smiling as she handed me the bag. "But I'm
worried about you carrying that tank on your back with that wound."

I shrugged, feeling very energetic. Nothing less than God was going to stop
me tonight. I grabbed her friskily and smacked a long breathless kiss on her
lips. Her body was very warm and I found it impossible not to unbutton her
top and fondled her firm breasts. "Let's have one quickie... Just one...." I
panted eagerly. "I still have a few minutes."

She gave me a firm cold gaze. "I've packed several grenades, and the
submachine gun like you requested. Do you have the pistol?"

I patted the front of the bag. "All ready to go." I leaned to kiss her once
more, but she nudged me away. God forgive me, but I was really revved up
tonight. "No time for a little midnight nookie?"

"Keep your pants on, honey. I'm not in the mood." She said buttoning her
shirt and folding her arms. She didn't seem to understand living on the edge
made me feel high as a kite. "I'm worried about you."

"I'll be fine." I picked up the tank and with her help I slipped it on.
Thirty extra pounds on my back made my stitches pinch and ache, but I'd be
in the water soon, so in theory, the pain would be relieved. I strapped my
mask on and pulled it over my head. I smiled again at her.

She was beautiful in the night. It made her hair and eyes sparkle like
perfect gems. I touched her face, affectionately. "You have the rifle. If
anyone come near you, I want you to run. No fire fights, not unless you have
to. Don't wait for me past the rendezvous time. If something happens to me,
you have to tell Trowa everything we planned today." Glassy eyed she nodded,
lips trembling.

"Be careful..."

I winked. "Don't worry. You're talking to Duo Maxwell. If someone bothers
me, I'll just use Maxwell's Silver Hammer on them." With that, I tapped my
bag and caught a giggle from her.

"Like what you did to those poor flamingos?"

"Poor? They were tacky as hell. I did them a favor."

We kissed once more, then I took the plunge. It was going to be a long, long
night.