Disclaimers and warnings still apply

SHATTERED GLASS
Ryu~Itsutsu

Part Two : Our Side of the Mirror

"He stared at the glass with such dumb, disbelieving horror that all the
fury died within me. And then, before I could stop him, he screamed and
flung himself at the mirror, pummeling the glass with his clenched fists in
a mad frenzy of terror."
~Madeline, speaking of the first time he saw his own face reflected
Susan Kayís Phantom (the life story of the Phantom of the Opera)

After Colony 197

In the wake of humanityís final war, five young men rose to the position of
honored heroes, respected by colonists and earth natives alike. Heero Yuy,
Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Winner and Chang Wufei, once shunned by
the earth they helped and the colonies they protected suddenly found
themselves not fugitives but respected idols. Their opinions were sought in
all areas of politic, life, even advertising. It was Relena Peacecraft who
had noticed the escalating number of young people no longer attending
schools; literally thousands of teenagers had poured out of the schools
during the war and had yet to return. Assisted by the written words of
ex-pilot Chang Wufei, Relena began to encourage these drop-outs to return to
the schools. Private high schools and colleges, the leaders in the academic
world since the downfall of the public systems a century prior, were given
funds for scholarships to make it possible for pennyless veterans to gain
the education they would need in order to survive in a peaceful world. The
Preventor organization took in many of the former soldiers on a rotating
basis and allowed them to serve for a span until placement and funds could
be found, the semi-militant group assisting in the acclimating of veterans
to normal society.

Perhaps the greatest step taken to encourage the soldiers to return to the
schools was Relena Peacecraftsís recognizing of the influence the five
former Gundam pilots held over these young men and women. Viewed as the
ultimate fighters, if they could become successful in the new world she knew
the others would follow in their footsteps. Deciding to use this influence
to the Veteranís New Education Programís advantage, Relena convinced all
five Gundam pilots to enroll in one of the largest private high schools in
the program. Sponsored by the Winner Corporation all five agreed, even
Quatre Winner himself, the young billionaire handing the reins of the
company over into the capable hands of four of his sisters and Rashid until
he graduated. The idea had paid off quickly; high schools and colleges were
quickly filled almost to overflowing with young veterans who, although
occasionally causing some behavioral disruptions, did very well on the
whole.

Now seventeen years old, the five ex-Gundam pilots have already graduated to
the college level due to having been extensively trained in a wide variety
of academics. They had chosen to attend the same college and were all doing
extremely well. The respect most people felt at the mention of their names
hadnít diminished, and they still found themselves assisting in a number of
political and social planning and advancing.

Of course, all in all, they *were* still college students.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Duo Maxwell sighed mightily and liiiiiifted his bag, settling it on his
shoulders with a droopy yet melodramatic flourish. Dragging his feet
sluggishly, he slumped through the doorway and down the hall, stepping out
into already bright sunshine.

The first thing he say was Chang Wufei, his roomie, stripped down to soft
silk pants, glistening with sweat as he went through his morning katas.
Being..well, not an idiot, Duo managed to blink enough sleep out of his eyes
to just enjoy the view a moment. //Hell, if Iíve gotta get up this early, I
might as well enjoy it!// "Oi! Fei! Have you lost your ever-loviní MIND?!"

The Chinese boy stopped in one fluid move, turning and arching a faintly
amused eyebrow at his companion. "You ask that every morning, and the answer
is still no, I havenít."

The American actually managed to lift his poor, tired, early morning feet
and walk aaaallll the way over to that obnoxiously awake boy. "You," he
said, poking the other boy in the chest, "Do NOT have a class until eleven!
It is 7:45 in the morning! Your ass should be in bed!!"

"Not everyone lives their lives in reverse," Wufei answered, crossing his
arms and giving the other boy a disapproving look. "If youíd wake up earlier
youíd stop falling asleep in class. You donít give your body and mind time
enough to prepare for-"

Duo laughed and tossed an arm around his scowling roommate's shoulders
despite the light sheen of sweat. "You're too tense, man! You need to loosen
up!"

Wufei snorted. "Just because the war is over doesn't mean we can afford to
be complacent, Duo-kun," he answered shortly, pulling away to fall back into
the smooth movements of his kata. "Overconfidence leads to destruction."

"Aw...you are *so* not fun," Duo argued, sticking his tongue out at the
sweaty back.

"Put your tongue back in your mouth," Wufei said without turning. Duo very
nearly grinned. Was that *amusement* in the other boy's voice? "You look
like a five-year-old."

Duo mock scowled and moved to block the next step in the pattern he knew so
well, braid dancing behind him. "I still say itís a sin!" he said, hands on
hips. "*I* should be the one with opportunity to stay in bed all day! I
wouldnít just let it slip by!"

Wufei halted again and glanced at his watch. "If you donít hurry-"

"Then youíll say Iím going to be late and Iíll really be on time like Iím
*always* on time!" was the cheeky reply. Duo shook his head with mock
sadness and said, "Ja ne, Fei-kun. May you...enjoy...your morning."

"Ja ne, Duo-kun," Wufei said, hiding a smile as the American whirled and
took off for his class across campus at top speed. He waited. At the
road...Duo would turn back. He always did. Wufei knew because...Wufei
watched the other boy. There was something magnetizing about the braided boy
who was at once optimistic and dark, laughter and grief. There was a depth
to him that Wufei was afraid he lacked, and so he watched him roommate with
a growing feeling of...something...that he couldn't quite identify. Or
didn't *want* to. He wasn't sure which it was and wasn't ready to find out.

Of course, Wufei hadnít originally been the Americanís roommate. When they
had left the private high school where they, as the famous ex-Gundam pilots,
had all been given their own rooms, it was Heero who had been assigned the
room with the talkative American. Wufei had been assigned to live with
Trowa, while Quatre was in a private room so that he could set it up as an
office and keep in touch with Rashid and the rest of his company. Heero had
managed two weeks before the ever-chattering Duo had caused him to come
tearing into Trowa and Wufeiís room and shoving all the Chinese boyís stuff
into his and Duoís room while Wufei was away at class. Wufei had put up a
good fight, glaring for all he was worth...until the American had returned
and found Wufei and Heero arguing in the hallway over who "had" to live with
Duo. The wide violet eyes had been so open and hurt that Wufei had felt the
words die in his throat; and, if he was honest with himself, he had come to
enjoy the Americanís talkative company in high school. His argument had been
more a taken protest than a real desire to stay in the room with Trowa. He
didnít want to admit it to himself . . . but heíd frankly been thrilled to
have an opportunity to get to know Duo.

Duo turned at the road, waving back with a wink that took any sting out of
his joking words. Despite himself, Wufei waved back, unable to stop the
smile that touched his lips. Smoothly, he returned to his kata, the familiar
movements doing nothing to stop his running thoughts of his violet-eyed
roommate.

Dark sloe eyes watched from the shadows as Chang shook his head with disgust
at the teasing former Deathscythe pilot and his own mirror image. "Pitiful.
No..sickening." Chang had been sent to gather this Duo so that his Maxwell
would be able to replace the laughing "God of Death" while Winner forced
information from the captive. He found the name highly amusing; despite the
fact that he had killed in droves during this universeís war, Chang had no
doubt that Duo didnít know half as much about swift death as he did...or as
much about lingering pain as did Changís delicious lover. "Killing these
two...will surely be a pleasure. Or, I could give them to Maxwell..."
Silently, the Chinese assassin melted into the darkness, smiling slightly.
"Maxwell will be needing a new pet soon."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Nanashi had been sent to kill Quatre Winner.

Winnerís double was clearly as strategic genius; that was clear from the Oz
tapes that soldiers from the Five Assassinsí universe had confiscated. It
could also be assumed that he shared some of Winnerís empathic abilities. A
shiver ran down the nameless killerís back. It didnít look like Quatre had
the sort f mental discipline that Winner did, but . . . the assassinís
leaderís empathy ran two ways; he could both sense *and* cause pain. Nanashi
as well as the others had been on the receiving end of that power more than
once and the thought that this Quatre was also more than the kind innocent
that he appeared to be was enough to make the mass murderer...nervous.

Moving with the silence of a cat, Nanashi moved in on his prey. He had
followed the blond the entire day; he seemed never to be alone, forever
surrounded by friends and admirers. If Nanashi didnít find an opportunity to
snatch the boy he would be on the receiving end of Winnerís wrath yet again,
and he refused to even consider that possibility. Winner wanted Duo replaced
and Quatre killed. So be it. He would kill the boy, and Winner would take
his place with an effortlessness born of theatrical genius. The capture of
Duo was also a logical step; it would keep Maxwell from getting his hands on
his double and away from Yuy in case he should forget his orders not to
break the silent one yet, and it would give him access to Chang Wufei. The
Chinese boy was the best fighter in the group at this point, but not given
to being social; he was the least likely to realize that his roommate had
been replaced. Maxwell was an excellent actor as well . . . and if Wufei did
figure something out, well, Maxwell would have his new toy.

Alone. Winnerís double was finally alone. Movements careful, Nanashi
prepared to step out of the woods that surrounded the forest, limbs tensed.
He needed no gun to kill this boy. The cold precision of bare hands was just
as effective and made less noise.

"Trowa!"

Nanashi froze, sharp eyes catching sight of his double as Quatre waved and
called the name warmly. Trowa Barton had been the name of a zealous leader
of the mercenaries who had "raised" Nanashi; that this other him would take
that hated name was enough to make the assassinís hands spasm with the
desire to kill. But he couldnít, not now. Trowa would be a witness and
Winner didnít want Heero or Trowa replaced or damaged in any way...yet.

Expression calm and revealing none of his internal fury at having been cut
off before he could fulfill his mission, Nanashi melted back into the
camouflage of the trees. He would just have to wait for another opportunity.
Watch and wait. IF he was lucky, he would learn something they could use,
and Winner wouldnít be as likely to...cleanse...his mind again.

END PART TWO