Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Duh.
We were all rested up, though I was positive I got a more restful sleep than the others due to having taken up the one and
only cot in the storage area. Everyone woke up around midnight. We grabbed as much as we could carry, then carefully mixed
our boxes with the others in the small storage area.
I carried a belt of grenades, two automatics and a pistol, along with extra rounds. My side and arm were about ready to just
say to hell with me.
Heero was casting me severe looks. I knew why – he'd seen. He'd been about to call me on it, too, but had been interrupted.
Yay for interruptions.
Still, I had to be more careful around him. Perfect bastard.
“Is everyone ready?” Wufei asked. He took one last glance around, just as I did. Everyone gave a short affirmative.
“All right,” he said tersely. “Let's move out.”
It was difficult to leave as we were – we were bound to attract instant attention. Stealth was necessary, though, so
we were all leaving with cloaks. More specifically, some of the dusty covers had been stolen from their perspective boxes,
beaten, and rearranged to look like something possibly resembling tablecloths. These we labeled cloaks and hoped we were mistaken
Heero and Wufei left first, leaving Quatre, Trowa, and myself together to wait for five minutes before leaving. I sensed Quatre's
gaze on me and carefully kept my eyes away from him.
I did a mental tally. Of course Quatre knows my problem. Because of Quatre's reaction, Trowa disliked me. Heero was pissed,
and Wufei was actually more comfortable – at least most of the time. Huh. I was batting a thousand so far.
It was Quatre, of course, his voice quiet and pleading. I looked to him then, as I couldn't help but do. I saw Trowa watching
me carefully even as I caught eyes with Quatre's troubled gaze. I felt like he was ready to pull me apart limb from limb if
I so much as made Quatre frown. Damn but he had to be an intimidating bodyguard.
Good. Quatre was that much safer.
“Duo...” He hesitated. “Are you sure?”
About the promise. “Yeah.” Then I frowned. “But...” My eyes flicked to Trowa before focusing back
on Quatre. “I think... there shouldn't be anything hidden.” Between the two of you.
Quatre frowned. “I don't-”
“Stop talking in riddles, please,” Trowa murmured. His voice was soft, but no one could mistake the fury softly
held captive in that tone.
I turned to him and shrugged. “Sorry.” I turned to Quatre. “Basically, I don't want this to get in the way
of you guys' relationship. The two of you shouldn't have secrets, right?” I shrugged again. “I can handle it if
it gets out.” I was positive I didn't hide the wince in time.
I cut off Quatre's sad voice. “Really, I'm fine with it. I don't want you guys having any fights over me.”
“We won't.” Trowa's eyes gleamed a bit. In dislike.
Well. That... was a bit of a switch.
“Trowa.” Quatre turned on Trowa with a disparaging tone.
I sighed. Shit. We were about to enter into official danger and I had just started a rift between two very close lovers. A
grand start. Maybe I shouldn't go back.
But Heero's tears...
God, I was going to hurt someone no matter what. Quatre and Trowa's relationship would suffer if I was around, and Heero and
Wufei would suffer if I left. I was going to hurt someone no matter what.
Why? Why was my existence never...
They came together then to talk quietly to one another. I checked my watch. Another minute. Plenty of time for Quatre to tell
Trowa my little secret.
But I saw Quatre shake his head. “No time,” he whispered, looking at me. I turned away, but I was sure Quatre
could see my fear. I really didn't want anything to get between the two of them – but I didn't want Trowa to know. Especially
as he was now, hating me.
Quatre was right. The minute was over. I went out first, then Quatre, then Trowa. We both agreed on that much, I saw: we wouldn't
let Quatre get hurt.
But still Quatre could take care of himself. He moved just as silently as we, meeting up with Heero and Wufei, who waited
for us in the shadow of a warehouse, their 'cloaks' already lying on the ground, carefully folded. I met Heero's glittering
eyes as we entered the shadow with them. Then I turned away from him to fold up my own dusty little tablecloth.
Wufei then gave us quick information – two on the right, on patrol. We would take the longer way, only manned by one
sleeping guard who apparently had gotten bored with his detail. We would go in the same formation – Heero and Wufei,
then us three. There were no words spoken between any of us. I took this as a blessed reprieve. I could only hope nothing
happened to anyone.
Harlow. I'm coming to get you, fucker.
I grinned then, just before Heero and Wufei got into position. Hero caught the grin and seemed to pause, but he ignored it
to take Wufei's back. I concentrated carefully on how wonderful it would feel to get my hands around that slimy bastard's
neck. Oh yes. I couldn't wait.
We slipped out of the warehouse's shadow then to ghost over to an abandoned pile of boxes. After that was a nearby building
proclaiming “Jill 'n' Jane's Pasta” to be the best in town. I grinned at the stupidity of such a sign before we
moved again, this time to a more sedate building with a simple sign reading “BarberWorks.”
We kept moving like that for a long time, eventually passing the lazy guard, who was leaning boredly against some pizza joint.
His gun wasn't even in his hand.
I entertained the thought of stealing it for about half a second.
We progressed this way, slowly but surely, from Sector D to F. We'd crossed kilometers when the space station's dawn cycle
started running through, clearing the fake sky in pinks and purples. I hardly noticed the man-made beauty. We had met a few
more guards, but we'd managed to sliver past them. How much longer could that continue? Especially now that the fake sun was
coming through. We wouldn't be able to continue blending in with the darkness.
And as if my thoughts had triggered the occurrence, someone shouted from above us.
I turned immediately. A guard was shouting to someone behind him. With a sharp sigh, I pulled out the pistol from my Belt'o'Grenades
and shot the poor bastard.
Then we were quickening our pace. The alarm sounded seconds afterward.
We were met immediately by two more guards, stupidly thinking they could take on the intruders alone. It was Heero and Trowa
who took them out.
We split up once we entered Sector G. Heero and Wufei, being partners already, took the left, and we the right. I watched
their backs as they turned around a brick building, then turned steadily away. They could take care of themselves.
Then my worries turned to us, as five men came forward before we could move out. We took care of them, but our position was
damned. We took off quickly and silently, moving toward the next sector, taking care to find a continuous route forward. More
men came, practically a freaking platoon. We had no choice but to find individual cover and take down the enemies before moving
I hadn't been counting the kills, but the number was beginning to thin when I pained cry from Quatre.
I stood then, coming out from under cover, to try to give Quatre time to duck down. I fired on those bastards in front of
me, picking off three before they got their asses in gear. Trowa, I could see, had zipped over to Quatre's side. I grimaced.
Was it just me, or had there been an aura of agitation over my existence in the area?
Finally there was a chance for me to use my grenades. The enemies had begun to group together, thinking they'd gained an advantage.
With a smirk, I launched the first grenade.
I ducked beneath my cover and heard men shout an already-too-late warning before the explosion sounded. I didn't wait for
the dust to clear before standing again. I shot the few survivors and raced to Quatre's side.
“Qat?” I questioned when I got close enough.
Trowa was holding Quatre up; he'd taken a shot to his arm. It was bleeding badly, even though Trowa had already made a tourniquet
and bandaged the wound.
“I'm fine,” Quatre muttered.
I felt my heart beat erratically. Shit. Two of us were already injured, and we weren't even in Sector H. Worse... worse, Quatre
had taken this hit because I hadn't been able to take care of Harlow myself.
Wordlessly Trowa went to stand on Quatre's left, guarding the injured arm. I took the lead, ignoring Trowa's penetrating stare.
He wasn't happy with me.
Was it my fault that Quatre got hurt? Had he been too busy worrying about me?
I grimaced at the thought.
When we came to the entrance to the next sector – a carefully erected metal door big enough for twenty people standing
on each other's shoulders to walk through – we found Heero and Wufei waiting for us. Heero was absently rubbing his
Shit, that was right – make that three people already injured.
We each gave status reports. I saw plainly the worry that flashed through Heero and Wufei's eyes when they heard about Quatre's
injury. They demanded a diagnosis from Trowa, then nodded. I was glad to hear Quatre had taken a full-through without having
hit the bone. That meant the blood and infection were the only things to worry about. Good.
Trowa shot a look to me, though, and I realized he was angry that I hadn't asked. Nevermind that I had trusted Quatre's word
and had been worried about the enemies and the need to get to the next point. Apparently things had changed, and now the guys
wanted to be worried over. I looked away from him. It hadn't been the time to fuss and worry. Maybe Trowa was just looking
for more reasons to dislike me.
Then Heero turned and hacked in the password he'd apparently already had – he must have been the one to do surveillance
as to where Harlow is. I felt my gut twist in painful knots thinking about the danger he'd been in. It was an effort to tamp
the fear down and let Shinigami slip once again into the forefront.
We slipped behind cover before the door opened, ready for the worst. And we found it.
There was a fucking squadron waiting for us, already firing before the door opened more than a crack. We waited for them to
realize we weren't there. Once the firing paused, we leapt up and counter-attacked. I threw two grenades, blowing the fuck
out of the enemies there. The others, not so outrageously equipped, settled on using their automatics. We ducked again when
the smoke began clearing, and the enemies started shooting again. I noted with a grim smirk that there weren't nearly as many
With a reckless snarl I rose back up and threw another grenade, ducking quickly back down. I was angry, I noticed with some
surprise. I almost paused for a second in shock. I was absolutely furious. With Harlow, with this entire fucking mission,
with Heero and Wufei and Trowa. I was absolutely furious.
I used it.
I left my little cover and ran into the enemy's flanks. I think I heard Heero yell out my name.
And then I swerved around the remaining fools and shot one. Two. I twisted around one even as he aimed for me, switching my
pistol to the side of his head as I stood behind him. I shot him, then used his body as a shield, dancing around. I gripped
his gun and lifted the both of our hands together. Four. Five. Six. I stopped counting and snarled.
Pissed. I was absolutely pissed.
Why did Trowa hate me so much? Why were Heero and Wufei so dead-set on me returning, whether I wanted to or not? Why the fuck
was it so important to them now, after they'd officially shunned me? Why should I give them anything when they'd given
me nothing but pain?
And why the fuck did I care?
I threw my shield-corpse to the side and pulled out my other automatic, now holding one in each hand. The men around me were
shouting – I think I heard Heero's voice in there somewhere, and Quatre's. Blankly I swiveled my eyes to my next target,
watching everything. I eliminated three people in my mind, leaving them be. Without thought I labeled them allies.
I killed the rest.
I just stood there for a while, panting and gasping and glaring at the ground. Bodies. They were everywhere.
I hadn't felt sick at the sight of corpses in years.
I felt an overwhelming pain digging into my side and arm just as Heero came up beside me and held me up, cursing vehemently.
“Goddamn dumbass,” he snarled, taking me to a beaten-up scaffolding. “Fucking reckless bastard! I should
leave you out there to rot!” But he gently set me down, taking from me my weapons and putting them down beside us. “Wufei,
head out without us,” Heero ordered tersely. After Wufei okayed Heero's decision and led Trowa and Quatre away, Heero
sighed. “Duo, you're bleeding.”
I looked down at my side, where Heero was staring. I grimaced. I must have pulled the stitches like a dumbass. “Huh.”
Heero merely sighed again and had me lay down. I suffered through his poking, then carefully ignored the burning in my gut
as he carefully traced my arm. “You pulled a couple stitches here, too,” Heero murmured. “What were you
It probably wouldn't be good to admit I hadn't been thinking at that moment. “It worked,” I grumbled.
“With you getting hurt,” he pointed out.
“Could've happened, anyway,” I said with a careless shrug. I winced when the movement irritated my wounds.
Heero was silent for a time. “Ah,” he whispered. “Quatre.”
I said nothing.
“Trowa...” Heero hesitated. “Trowa has seen Quatre worry about you for these past three years. It... was
hard for him. He couldn't do anything to help Quatre through it, like he usually did. He doesn't hate you. He just...”
“Don't,” I muttered, letting Heero bandage my arm. “It's fine.”
Heero gusted out an agitated breath. “Why are you trying so hard to be the joker now?”
“Jester,” I said without thinking, then winced. Oops. Heero's fingers stilled.
“Well?” he asked with deceptive calm, returning to his task.
“Bullshit,” Heero said, even as he kept his voice easy.
I cocked an eyebrow at the tone. So. I was irritating him. I looked up to the 'sky,' wondering why his fingers were so soothing.
Nope. Not going to think about that.
“It's easier,” I said finally.
The fingers only hesitated for a millisecond. “I see. I suppose I understand that. Being a perfect soldier was easier
than feeling. But when the others accepted me...” He stopped there. “Ah,” he said again.
Yep, I was definitely fascinated with the sky then.
“Duo, what do I have to do?”
“Nothing.” I didn't like the slightly anguished tone in Heero's voice. See? I couldn't fight Heero's pain. That
was why I cared, why I gave a damn. Because I still cared so very much for these guys. Despite everything, that hadn't changed.
Why else would they still be able to hurt me so badly?
“Duo.” Heero sighed again. “I understand that we've changed, and that all of this is new to you. I understand
that you're overwhelmed by the changes. But we're being sincere.”
“I know that,” I murmured.
Heero seemed to hear the truth in those words. “Then it's the sincerity itself that disturbs you?”
Heero finished working on my arm and turned to my waist. I almost flinched again at the feel of those warm hands touching
my waist. I ground my fingers into fists. “You don't doubt our words. Our intentions, then. Or our reasons?”
I remained focused on the sky.
“Dammit, Duo, at least answer yes or no!” Heero snapped, finally losing patience.
I was honestly about to answer – honestly – but then he lifted up my shirt.
My mind immediately blanked.
His hands were so very... warm. Calloused, but gentle. I felt my body react and blushed horribly. I could only pray that Heero
He didn't seem to, but carefully checked my wound, his brow puckering. “Well?”
Vaguely I remembered that I was supposed to be talking about something. “What?”
Heero growled. “What is it about our words that concern you?”
I shrugged and winced. I really had to stop doing that. “I guess... I don't really know. It's hard to explain.”
“Try,” Heero advised.
I struggled with it for a minute. I couldn't let loose anything that made my feelings blatantly obvious. “I guess...
look, don't get mad,” I said quickly.
Heero hesitated again, then nodded once, almost in a jerk. His hands carefully finished unbinding my wound. He studied my
side and hissed. I didn't bother asking how it looked.
“You guys were nothing like this before.” A good place to start, right? But I saw the tension pull his shoulder
blades together. “You were... rude.” To say the least. “And I got used to being...” Hurt.
“I understand,” Heero said quietly. He carefully checked my ripped stitches – wait, how had it been stitched?
– before ripping his shirt and beginning to re-bandage my waist.
I struggled with wording before just giving it up for lost. “You want something from me. I've said no, and you guys...”
I sighed. “Suddenly you care? Suddenly you've decided, now that you're ready, that we should suddenly be friends?”
I felt instantly bad. “Look, I just need some time to adjust.”
Heero finished his work and just stared at the bandage for a minute. I felt wholly uncomfortable, lying down with my shirt
up, Heero just staring and staring. I felt the ache in my chest, a regular companion, grow in proportion to my heart's yearning.
It hurt so much worse than my stupid fucking side.
“I can't understand,” Heero said with frustration. “I've tried, but... I was there, with them, the entire
time. I can't see it the way you do.”
I struggled to sit up. “Hey, it's no big-”
“I swear to God, if you keep it up I'm going to fucking hit you.”
I shut up and stilled.
Heero looked at me, carefully. “You changed, very suddenly.”
Heero saw my eyes widen though it was almost imperceptible. “I knew it,” he hissed. “I knew it.”
His voice turned sardonic. “So what was it? Did you pity us? Or are you mocking us?”
That fucking hurt.
I stood with a flourish then, whether in anger or extreme hurt even I couldn't tell. “We should head out. The others
are way ahead of us by now.”
Heero stood too, though much slower, as if to force himself calm. His body was absolutely rigid, and there was a distinct
feeling of 'pissed' emanating from him.
Still, I wouldn't dignify his cruel words. I picked up my guns and checked the magazines before placing one in its holder
on my back. I turned to Heero. “Let's get going.”
I didn't make it a step before Heero grabbed my good arm and swung me back around.
“We're not finished,” he promised.
Without a word I wrenched him off and led the way into Sector H.
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