Title: It's the Pilot Part 10/18

Author: Truth

Archive: The usual places, especially GW Addiction


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. 

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to somebody else, sadly.

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


Rooming with Wu hasn't been bad. He's been very patient, actually. He didn't spaz out at me for weeping on him, and in fact has been kind enough never to mention it again. He keeps mostly to himself, as is normal for him. But whenever I start to get restless, he'll put down his books and let me babble until I feel better.

He's an actual human being under there. Who knew?

It's easier to tell, these days. He wears his hair down all the time, I guess because that's the way the real Chang Lian wears it. He and Chen both wear the same sort of thing that Wu normally does, but in black with red dragons embroidered in it. The whole look is very cool. Makes me wish I had one. I hate this fucking uniform.

It still gives me a start if I'm listening to him and then look up and actually see him. Man, he looks _nothing_ like the Chang Wufei that I know.

It's an improvement, believe me. All that depressing white and that 'I am a rock' expression...brrrrrrr. This new Wu-guy is much more laid back.

I surprised him the day after he moved in. He was in my class on 

swordsmanship, and this was the first time he'd been able to attend, due to 'new student' syndrome.

You know, paperwork, orientation, meetings and all that other useless junk. You'd think they'd let us at least graduate before trying to turn us into junior bureaucrats

Anyway, I was working out with a couple of guys who are pretty decent with an epee when he walked through the door. I didn't see him at first, and was just amusing myself by basically humiliating them.

I don't like the epee. I didn't like the two guys I was working with either. I was therefore contenting myself with disarming them. It was sort of a personal game. See if I could force them to stop and pick up their weapons at least once every two minutes.

I was thus happily engaged when I caught a glimpse of 'Lian' out of the corner of my eye. He had a sword case in one hand and he stood and stared at me as if I'd grown another head. Heh. He's not the only one who knows how to use a sword. The Prof (May-his-soul-rot-in-hell-for-all-eternity, Amen) thought that it might be useful if I could impersonate someone from the upper classes and mingle with the OZzies. That's why he made me learn to fence. So useful for all the duels my mouth was sure to get me into. I, personally, prefer the sabre.

Wu's pretty damn good with a sword, but I knew that already. It shocked the hell out of the rest of the class, though. Man, he moves like _lightning_. Very flashy. I could sit and watch him for hours. Especially after the way he beat my fellow assistant instructor in a little under a minute flat. The little prick deserved it, too. 

Overconfident bastard.

Now Wu's also an assistant instructor. God, please don't let me ever have to come up against him in a match. Yeah, I fence. I fence pretty damn well. But if I'm gonna go up against a guy with a sword, please, please, please just gimme a gun.

But anyway, to the point.

Despite the Wu-guy's optimistic (I never thought I'd use _that_ word in relation to him) view of my attempted mugging last week, I knew that they weren't going to be able to just overlook the fact that I'd nearly broken that one kid's jaw, no matter how much he deserved it.

I was right. I hate that.

I got pulled out of our advanced chemistry class in order to see the headmaster. I knew that I was going to get a 'talking to', even if the incident never got reported back to 'Uncle' Zechs. Hell, I've been in trouble before. To be completely honest, I've been in trouble a _lot_. I know the signs, and I could pretty well predict exactly how the interview was going to go.

I managed to make several covert 'I-told-you-so' faces at 'Lian' on my way out. He ignored me.

I don't have to go over this, really. The security office has a camera in the headmaster's study and the Wu-man pinched the video for me. It's not as if there were any danger of it becoming available for general viewing, but I was definitely in danger if we'd left it with its then-owner.

I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm also stalling. Could you tell?

I traded cold, snide comments with my escort on the way to the office, and adopted a proper military attitude before we went in. Lieutenant Maxwell is a pain, but he's got the whole 'proper decorum' thing down cold. I think I'll take him out and assassinate him when this is all over. The guy gives me the willies.

Yeah, yeah. Same to you! I'm not nuts. I've just been pretending to be someone else for too damn long. I'll be glad when I can get rid of this stupid uniform. I'll be glad when they stop cutting my hair once a week....

So I marched smartly into the study, which had about seven or eight assorted Alliance officers and OZzies in it, saluted to the headmaster (as is proper for cadets. The man's a retired Alliance General fortheluvapete) and clicked my heels together.

He said something along the lines of, "Ah, Cadet Lieutenant Maxwell, you're here."

I refrained from commenting, but it was a struggle. It was perfectly damn obvious that I was here...why did he look so pleased about it?

"We have a pleasant surprise for you."

Oh shit.

"I am very pleased to see that you're doing so well, Maxwell," a voice drawled from behind me.

I was _so_ screwed. I did not turn, as I was still at attention, but my skin actually crawled. I had a very unpleasant idea of what I would find if I was allowed to turn around.

"At ease, Cadet," the General told me as he gestured to the officers around the room. "We'll just give you two some time together, shall we?"

And they left.

Giving in to temptation, I slowly turned around. Zechs Marquise, that fucking silver half-mask and all, was lounging on one of the couches, a file dangling from one long-fingered hand. 

There's a phrase for that sort of attitude. It's called 'casual arrogance'. I can do it, but it requires the right clothing. My Cadet uniform isn't quite as bad as the regular Oz 'bellhop' get up, but it's damn close. That stupid, damned, pseudo 1776-type British officer's uniform that Zechs wears is definitely the right clothing.

Why am I being so descriptive? Well, it was the last thing I remember before my life started flashing before my eyes. The sight is pretty much burned on my retinas permanently. Zechs is one really scary SOB.

Truthfully though, it was the HUGE pistol he pulled out just as I turned around that really got my attention. My mouth, hooked straight into my instinct for survival, kicked in right about then.

"Why, Uncle Zechs? Is that any way to say hello? And here I thought you'd be happy to see me!" True enough. He would have been thrilled to have me at his mercy, had he known who I was. And I had no intention of letting him find out.

I'd like to say that he lifted one eyebrow and sneered menacingly (Yeah, I'm addicted to old movies, particularly old _bad_ movies. Or British comedy. But I'm getting sidetracked again) but with that fucking half-mask, who could tell?

"Duo Maxwell," his voice was considering.

Oh God, please help me now. He's one of those, 'let's take it apart and see what makes it tick' bad guys. Great. Why couldn't he just have shot me out of hand?

"Sir!" I even saluted, and I know it looked good.

"Who are you?" he sounded intrigued. See my previous comment. Where the hell was Wu when I _needed_ him!

"Duo Maxwell, sir. As you said." I was still standing at attention, eyes forward. Damn it all, he was just too far away for me to do anything about that gun! I was just going to have to stand here and take whatever he chose to dish out. The distance between us had not been chosen by accident, either. There were a lot of other chairs and couches around the room he could have been sitting in, but he was in the one furthest from where a disobedient Cadet would be forced to stand.

This guy was smart. Too smart. 

"You're certainly not any nephew of mine," he commented dryly.

"Not to my knowledge, sir." I always stick to the truth. For all I know, he could have been my uncle. Plus, if I was gonna die, I was gonna have some fun first.

"Why did you claim such a relationship, then?" he asked.

Damn. Lesse here....

"It wasn't my idea, sir. My guardian," (damn the man, he _is_ my legal guardian) "wanted me to go to school here and felt that the easiest way would be to claim some well-known but relatively mysterious person as a relative."

All true. And very misleading. Good.

"I feel as though I know you," he began slowly.

Oh shit. He's never met me, ever. But he's seen me - or rather 

Deathscythe. True, it was underwater and at quite a distance, but the best soldiers have a sort of sixth sense.... please don't let him have it. Or if he does, let it be going haywire. I remained silent. Better to say nothing than give him any ideas.

"Tell me, you must have another reason for being here. What is it?" He was watching me closely, I think.

God, I hate that mask. Maybe that's why he wears it.

"It's punishment," I told him frankly. "Who'd _want_ to go to 

military school."

That foxed him. He stared at me for a long moment and then glanced down at the file, still held in his other hand. He's good, I'll give him that. He merely glanced, a quick flicker of half-seen eyes. He wasn't going to look away from me. Damn it all.

"Your grades are impressive," he began.

"The highest of any Cadet at the school, sir," I assured him. They were. And as of last week, Wu had pulled ahead of me by a percentage point. I was determined to pass him and - Okay, my mind is wandering. Back to the issue at hand.

Zechs ignored my interruption. "Your overall performance with the Cadets is exceptional.'

"Thank you, sir!" What, did you think they were calling me Lieutenant for my good looks, charm and personality? The Cadets aren't allowed rank, but the most outstanding student from every year category is given the title Lieutenant.

Betcha didn't think I had it in me, didja?

"And you are one of those five Gundam pilots," he continued.

I didn't say anything. He gently waved the file at me, smiling. "Do you pilot a Gundam, young man?"

"No," a flat answer.

That surprised him. He had been so sure he knew who I was. But I 

wasn't a Gundam pilot anymore.

"But you used to be," he finished.

Oh shit. I've been fed to the wolves. On purpose. I bit my lip, but did not answer. I had no words to give him, anyway.

"Lenient, aren't they? You screwed up and _this_ is punishment?" I 

swear he raised an eyebrow under that mask as he waved the hand holding the file at the opulent room. The gun never wavered.

I let my own mask slip. Shinigami is a scary person, much scarier than Lieutenant Maxwell. I didn't have time for these stupid games. If he wasn't going to kill me, I had homework to do. I wasn't about to let Wu get any further ahead! Yeah, I did actually think that. Maybe I need to see the school psych.

Anyway, I lost the fucking military bearing and relaxed. I narrowed my eyes at him and let him get a look at the real Duo Maxwell. "You are an idiot!" I snarled. "I was left here on purpose!"

He blinked. I swear.

"They left me here with _your_ name attached to me like a fucking tag on a Christmas present. You were _meant_ to find me!"

"Why?" he asked. His voice was surprised.

"So you'd kill me, presumably," I gave him my nastiest smile. "So if you don't mind, you can either shoot me, or you can let me get back to class."

He actually appeared to consider that.

"I'm afraid, young Maxwell," JUST like the evil villain in an old 

movie. "That you're going to have to come with me."

That was an interesting, if cliched line.


"There's a great deal that you could tell us about those Gundams, now that you've been cast adrift." He smirked at me.

"I'm not going to tell you anything."

That surprised him. "You just told me that you'd been hung out to 


I shrugged. It wasn't anywhere near that simple, but I wasn't going to tell him that. There was no way that I'd tell them anything that might hurt the others, no matter how badly the Prof et al had screwed me over. C'mon Wu. I've been gone _way_ longer than a simple lecture could possible call for. Come looking. Please!

The door to the room swung open as if cued. I couldn't help turning to see, hoping that by some miracle, Wu had gotten my distress signal.

No such luck. It was the headmaster avec flunkies. Zechs' gun disappeared. He obviously didn't want them finding out about his new acquisition - one pissed off ex-Gundam pilot.

I didn't want them finding out either. They wouldn't shoot me out of hand either, but the Alliance was into torture. I knew this because they frequently broadcast exactly what they planned to do to us once they caught us. That meant I was stuck with Zechs, at least for the nonce. It could have been worse. The OZzies would treat me fairly well. At least until they discovered that I really _wasn't_ going to tell them anything.

Not a good train of thought to be following. Focus, Maxwell. Focus.

My stomach began to cramp up as I heard Zechs agree to take that tour of the school now, and that I would be accompanying him. Not just on the tour of the school, but on the rest of his tour of the colonies and then to return with him to OZ headquarters on Earth.

And I couldn't protest. I couldn't say anything. I was sooooo screwed. He turned to me with a smile. "Come along, Maxwell."

"Yes, 'Uncle'."


Truth: Next up, Trowa.

Duo: You're not actually going to let him take me AWAY, are you?

Wufei:  No, she's not. It would be a supreme injustice, especially after all the work I've been through.

Truth: I thought you _wanted_ to get off the station and away from the school!

Duo and Wufei: NOT WITH ZECHS!!!!

Truth: You never said that!

Duo: On the bright side, I don't think Zechs is gonna insist on my keeping this stupid haircut.

Wufei: DUO!!!!

Duo: Sorry Wu-man.

Wufei: Don't call me that!!!

Truth: Calm down, Wufei. You're up after Trowa. You can tell us allll about it then.