Updated: 9-26-2003

Title: Muffled Cries
Author: Anrui "Ann" Lowe anrui@japan.com
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing or its characters
Pairing: Uhm. . .The norm.
Warning: Think of every warning ever. Put them together. (That rhymed!) You have this fic.
Part: 1-2/?
Feedback: Please?

Note: This is a giftfic for a friend. Yeah.

Muffled Cries
Chapter One

By: Ann Lowe
Chapter Created: December 26, 2002

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing. Sad, huh? But I do, however, own the plot of this story! I would really hope that no one is unoriginal enough to steal this, but if they do…Well, I’ll borrow Sylvie-chan’s angry penguin squad and hunt you down! MUAHAHAHAHA! Oh, and if you do so happen to decide to sue me, I’m gonna have to sell all the stuff I bought from you in order to pay you…so it’s completely pointless! So…please don’t!

Author’s Notes: Erm, WARNING! This is a YAOI story! I repeat, YAOI! That means boy/boy love and affections! Also, there will be LIME in this story! SERIOUS lime! So, what I’m saying is this (in layman’s terms): If you don’t wanna read about two guys making out, don’t read ANY of this story. Sure, they won’t do anything for a while, but hey! If you won’t appreciate all of it, don’t read any of it. I mean that, it’s a rule to live and learn by!
Also: any asterisk (*) seen within the story will have a note with it at the end of the chapter. This means: READ THE NOTES AT THE BOTTOM! There will be an author note at the bottom of every chapter. Read ‘em, please! It’ll do you good! And there’ll be hints of the next chapter! *nudges and wiggles eyebrows* Please read them! I don’t write this for my health you know! (Well, actually I kinda do…but hey!) Now, enjoy the story! Go on, enjoy!

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

A young man turned in his sleep, haunted by the dreams of the past. Haunted by the returning fear of pain and sorrow. Something, he did not know what, haunted his life and dreams. And he didn’t know what that something was. And he wasn’t the type who didn’t care about knowing the future. No, if his future didn’t contain something stable and read, he was afraid. He hated not knowing things. And those things usually hated him right back.

He shifted once more, and closed his eyes tighter, subconsciously, as he wasn’t awake…even in the slightest. He let out a slight whimper, and curled into a fetal position, unconsciously crying. For the, seemingly, millionth time in his life.

~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~

December 1, AC 205
Brussels Preventer Headquarters
Research Room No. 105
Research Personnel: D. Maxwell, W. Chang, S. Chang, Z. Merquise.
Research Objective: Locating Missing Person

“Okay. Now, let’s find this guy!” Duo Maxwell clapped his hands together. “Heero’s the only one of us who hasn’t contacted Preventer for a job! The ten-year anniversary is coming up at the end of the month! He has to be there! Now! Everybody know their duties?”

“Yes.” Chorused three voices.

“Great! Now, let’s try the obvious first, just in case.” Duo shrugged and promptly got slugged on the back of the head. “What?!?”

“Stop acting like an idiot!” Sally bopped him on the head again. “He’d never make himself that easy to find. He’s too…secretive.” She rolled her eyes.

“More like anti-social.” Wu Fei grinned and laughed. “He may talk more than Barton, but he sure isn’t a better person to have a conversation with. Hell, Barton is better at conversing!”

“He probably is!” Duo shouted, irritated. “But, we should still look. Start at the easy and work our way up.”

“Fine. Which records should we check first?” Zechs sat down at the computer and opened up a search screen.

“How about the L1 area? Residential records, I mean. He’s from there, so maybe we can get a start.” Duo suggested, causing everyone to look at him funny.

“How the hell did you find that out?” Wu Fei looked mildly impressed.

“Eh, he told me. I just asked.”

“I do not understand you. Either of you.” Zechs rolled his eyes. “Fine. Should we enter a name?”

“No. Most definitely not.” Duo grimaced. “He’s so good at changing his name that he may not even remember his real one.” The rest of the group had to agree. “Fingerprint?”

“Good idea.” Zechs pulled up the Preventer records, and copied the prints onto the search file, and hit ‘search’. For about twenty seconds, the machine searched…and found a match. Everyone there felt their jaw hit the ground, then they face-faulted.

“Uhh…guys? Did we just get a result? From a regular search engine?” Sally’s eyes were almost bulging out of their sockets, and she looked up at the name that had matched prints.

“Wow.” Duo looked stunned. “I actually had a good idea. Well, who is this guy? Is it Heero?”

“Well, let’s see.” Zechs clicked on the name. Rei Lowe.

A picture and data popped up. Everyone’s jaws became reacquainted with the floor.

“It’s…him.” Duo was always one for pointing out the obvious. And he was right, too. Dark blue eyes stared back at them from the computer screen, and an emotionless face, that they all remembered so well, was placed before them.

“That was far too easy. What’s he doing? Going senile?” Wu Fei was still recovering from shock.

“No…just becoming a little less protective of himself.” Sally shrugged. Suddenly Duo’s eyes got irritated and his lashes shaded his eyes. A large sweatdrop situated itself on his forehead.

“Either that or he knew we were going to be looking for him, and decided to give us a break, and is monitoring this and secretly laughing at his own being right. The bastard.” Everyone laughed, even the stoic Lightening Count.

“Well, Sally, Wu Fei, you two know what you have to do, correct?” Zechs confronted the two long-term partners.

“Of course. Go and get him. Bring him back. Even if we must do so with him in ties and bonds.” They both mock-saluted, then fell over laughing. “We’re going now!” They laughed and stumbled out of the room.

 

December 3, AC 205
L1 X10001 Colony
Residential Area

Sally and Wu Fei just stared at their surroundings.

“Wow. This is so…normal.” She glanced back at her map. “Are you sure you got the right address?”

“Yes, for the fifth time. I suppose he just wanted a normal life. I just didn’t think he would. Now, we’re on the right street, look for house numbers.”

“Okay, what number is it?”

“Eighty-eight.”

“Okay, that’s on my side.”

“That’s why I told you to look.”

“Wu Fei.”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.” (*)

“…”

“Oooo! Here it is!”

“What?!?”

“Right there!” She pointed to a medium-sized white house with the number ‘eighty-eight’ in black letters on the front.

“Wow.” They pulled over to the side of the curb and looked at the house, then slowly, but surely, got out of the car. Together, they walked up to the door and rang the bell. No one came. They tried again. Same response.

“Umm… Isn’t today a Tuesday?”

“Yeah.”

“And it’s three-thirty?”

“Yeah.”

“Won’t he be at work?”

“…” He glared at her.

“Ha! I bet I’m right!” She ran around the side of the house and pressed her face to the window of the garage. No car. “Yeah! He’s gone!”

“Okay, so we wait.”

“No, we go do something, and come back later.”

“Fine, what do you want to do?”

“Well, this colony is renowned for its Chinese and Japanese food! Japanese, mostly, as most of the inhabitants are Japanese, but there’s supposed to be this great restaurant here that’s a mix of the two! Can we go, please!” She pushed out her lower lip.

He sighed and rolled his eyes. “I suppose.” Then smiled lightly as she jumped, bounced rather, all the way back down to the car.

About two hours later, deciding that since most people got off at five, the two returned to the home, to see the garage door open, and a lovely blue sports car inside.

The walked back up to the door, and rang the bell. They were shocked at what they heard.

“Coming!” Was yelled from the inside of the house, and they heard the sound of a pot lid being put onto its namesake. Then, there were footsteps, and the door opened. They were face to face with none other than Heero Yuy himself, casually dressed, and casually living.

“Wow. Hey.” He smiled politely and opened the door. “You weren’t exactly who I was expecting!” He laughed lightly. “But trust me, I’d rather you here that who I expected.” He rolled his eyes lightly. “Come in!” Wu Fei and Sally were too far into shock-relapse to argue and walked inside.

The walked inside to a relatively light décor. Not that they were expecting much. They were in the living room. It was furnished with a large armchair, sofa, vintage stereo, television, bookshelf, and a small glass-cased shelf with breakable items inside. Just like any normal home would have.

Over the years, all the pilots and their friends had matured, physically and mentally. Wu Fei had grown taller and slightly bigger in most places. His muscles, which had formerly been strong, but not visible, were now prominent and caused him to look rather buff for someone as small-boned as he. For, though he had grown, he was still only about 5’8”. Sally hadn’t grown any taller, or any broader, but her features had softened a little, and her figure was more noticeable.

Of the others, Zechs hadn’t done much growing at all, except for longer hair and more maturity, Duo had grown taller and more masculine, Quatre had remained small, he was only 5’5”, Trowa had grown taller yet and definitely more masculine, yet hadn’t lost his grace, Relena had grown taller as well, and had a more developed figure, Hilde had not grown taller, but she had filled out more, and Noin had stayed, for the most part, the same. Well, maybe her attitude was lighter, and she was currently quite fat. But, that was mostly due to her being pregnant.

Now, as the men who were once boys had all grown taller and more masculine, there had to be one exception. Heero had not grown more masculine, surprisingly, and still had the same figure. One relatively similar to a woman’s (**). He had grown taller, but only a little, and may have been slightly shorter than Quatre, if not the same height. His muscles weren’t very focal, and he didn’t seem to have filled out in his bones. He still looked, for all reasons and purposes, like a young, teenage boy. One who hadn’t quite reached puberty. And they all knew that he’d stay like that, too, as he was well into puberty, and didn’t have any more time left for his body to develop.

But, that was to be expected, one might suppose. He had never been very masculine. Not even during the war.

However, there were more changes to the group than just the obvious and visual ones. First off, there had been marriages. First, Zechs and Noin had been married. Their seventh anniversary was coming up shortly. Wu Fei and Sally had married slightly over four years ago, and Hilde was engaged to a man she had been blindly set up with, thanks to Duo, named Charles Courier.

Noin was expecting her second child sometime in March of 206. The first had been born April 10, 200. A little boy named Mickeleon. He had his father’s hair and his mother’s eyes. This caused him to look slightly over-innocent and sweet. Though, he’d turn your house into a pigsty if you let him run wild for even a minute. More of a brat than anything, but they all loved him, and he loved them all back.

The moment all were situated in Heero’s living room, he swiftly left into the kitchen, and came back shortly with odd-shaped brown glasses with tea for them. “Here. It’s green tea, very good for you, and very good for your taste buds!”

“Thank you!” Sally smiled politely and sipped at it. She was surprised at how good it tasted. She had always thought that green tea was only for health freaks and tasted like the rest of the stuff health freaks ate.

“Yes, thank you.” Wu Fei replied as well. He had tasted green tea before, but this was much better than he remembered.

“Very good!” Sally complimented. Heero just smiled lightly.

“Yes, it’s a Japanese custom to serve it. It’s also a family recipe. Tea leaves are actually moderately simple to raise and brew, if you know how to do it and have done it before.” He smiled and sipped his tea.

“So how are you?” Wu Fei asked politely, and friendly, too.

“I’m fine. I haven’t been doing much, though. It’s rather boring.” He yawned, possibly to accentuate his point, but most likely because the tea was making him sleepy. The married ones were realizing this was the case with them, too, right about now. “How about you? How is everyone?”

Wu Fei related a non-detailed summary to the man of disappearance.

“So what are you doing here? I’m doubting you just wanted to chat.”

“Well, as you know, it’s the ten-year anniversary of the end of the Eve Wars, and the Gundam Pilots, as a whole, have been asked to give a speech for the ceremony. Each of us was asked to give one. But you didn’t leave a place where you were going to be, so we had to come and find you.” Wu Fei told him plainly.

“I see. Sorry for making you look. I didn’t hide my information. It’s not like anyone is looking for me anymore. And the ones who might be already know I’m here.” Though hardly noticeable, there had been a note of something in his Heero’s voice as he said those words. Something along the lines of…disgust and fright.

“It’s no problem. We had a very lucky guess on where to start looking, and found you in five minutes. We had assumed it would take days, but it didn’t.” Sally was still surprised, and let it show.

“Oh, sorry. No, I don’t feel I should have to hide. I doubt very much that I’ll be murdered in my sleep.” He smiled and laughed.

“Yes, a little birdy with a big mouth said you were from this area, so we checked the L1 area residential records, by using your fingerprints.” Wu Fei said stoically.

“I think I know who that was.” Heero laughed slightly. “The only person I told that to does have a big mouth, now doesn’t he? Oh well, it’s not like it’s personal information. Not that big of a deal.” He stood up suddenly, and stretched. “Would either of you like something to eat?”

“No thank you.” Wu Fei said, scowling at Sally. “She dragged me to about thirty restaurants here in town.”

“I see.” Heero chuckled. “There is some pretty good dining here. It’s the only thing we ever get tourists for! This is the smallest colony in all of the network. We have about…two thousand people living here. We mainly use the areas around for resources.”

“Didn’t this use to be a resource satellite?”

“Yeah, then it was attacked and discovered by the government. The family that had been living here secretly was killed, so they say, and people moved in.”

“That’s horrible!”

“Yeah, since it’s a true story.”

“You’re serious?!?”

“Yes. I knew them. Well, I knew the few that lived. Since the incident occurred when I was four-years-old.” He smiled, if somewhat sadly. Wu Fei and Sally were still shocked to see the change in him. The man who had had seemingly no emotions during the war was just like them. No, he wasn’t. Wu Fei looked at the eyes of his comrade. They were blank. Devoid of emotion, care, or any other hint of feeling. He was still the same on the inside. He’d just changed costumes.

“That’s so sad…” Sally trailed off. “I hope they found their way to heaven.”

“Yes, only the ones who lived won’t make it there.” He walked, rather quickly, back into the kitchen, throwing over his shoulder: “I’m going to put away my dishes. I just finished supper before you arrived.” After a little while, Sally brought her and Wu Fei’s cups into the kitchen, and planed them on the counter when directed to by Heero. After a while, he returned to the living room, to sit with his friends.

“So what are you doing now?” Wu Fei was referring to his job and life.

“I’m a High School teacher. I teach History.” He smiled lightly. “I like teaching. I like to believe I’m rather good at it, too.”

“I assume you would be. You were able to explain things to even the most hard-headed of us. Even if the ways you explained it didn’t make sense right away, they made more sense, perhaps, later than the facts would have at the beginning if you’d explained it in a conventional way.”

“I suppose that’s just my style.” Heero shrugged.

“So what name are you going by?”

“The one I was born to. Rei Lowe is my real name.” He just looked up at them, completely peaceful.

“Is Rei short for anything?”

“No, it’s Japanese. Rei. R-E-I. It means ‘zero’ or ‘nothing’, which is mildly appropriate, if you think about it.” He smiled sadly once more. “And I have my mother’s last name. Lowe. If I were to have taken my father’s, it might have caused quite a stir.”

“I can’t remember my parents.” Wu Fei said quietly.

“I can’t either. Don’t feel bad. They died when I was four.”

Wu Fei and Sally thought about that for a while, then looked back at him. Heero was looking out the window, his eyes narrowed and sad.

“But, I can remember my brother!” Sally said cheerily, trying to bring the mood back up.

“Hmm…? Oh, yes, I remember my siblings. My parents had four children. Just a couple too many, really, for them to put up with!” He laughed. “My sister and I nearly drove our parents crazy several times.” He looked up at them. “I had two older brothers, and a twin sister. Christopher, Charles, and Riley.” He smiled. “Charlie and Riley died when the base exploded in 195. It was in March. About three weeks before Operation Meteor began.” He looked down this time. “Chris is still alive, but I would prefer he wasn’t. Bastard.” His eyes were narrow again, but this time with fury, and his knuckles were white, as he was squeezing his hands tightly.

“Hey. It’s all right, you know?” Sally smiled reassuringly at him.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. He just upsets me a little. It’s not really a big deal.”

“Oh, all right.” Anyone could tell she didn’t believe him.

“I have pictures of all of us, if you’d care to look at them. I have to go to bed, I have work tomorrow. Oh, right, the speech. I can do it, as long as it’s over Christmas break.”

“I believe the speeches are on the actual anniversary, Christmas Eve. Right when everyone is together with their families and can watch them peacefully.” Sally smiled gently.

“That’s good. Yeah, I can make it. Where do you want me to show up?”

“Brussels International Airport. We’ll have a Preventer vehicle pick you up.” Wu Fei stated facts, and nothing else.

“All right,” and he got up and left the room, coming back several minutes later with an album, two blankets, and two pillows. “You two will stay here tonight, right? The hotels around here are horrible.”

“Oh, sure, why not?” Sally smiled politely and both husband and wife said their thanks when handed bedding materials.

“I don’t have a spare bedroom, but the couch pulls out into a bed.” He reached down and pulled it out, Wu Fei and Sally standing up so to not be in the way.

“Well, I suppose we’ll see you in the morning.”

“Yeah, Oyasumi nasai.” Heero smiled politely, bowed, and headed up the stairs to go to bed.

“Well, care to look through it?” Sally asked her husband, holding up the album Heero had brought down for them to amuse themselves with.

“Why not? He said we could. In fact offered it to us.”

“Okay!” She opened it to the first page, and automatically noticed the hand-written note on the inside cover. She pulled it out and read its contents.

Hey! This is Ann! I’m making a wonderful little photo album of all my family! Andrew, the jerk, persuaded me to write this little note in English, rather than Japanese, the party pooper. I originally wrote it in Japanese, and you can read that if you turn this over, but hey! It’s in English now, and that’s all that matters! Well, these pictures are all of my family! My husband, children, and pets! Not that we’ll ever have any pets, since I’m allergic! But hey! Who cares, eh? It sounds good! Well, I’ve got little labels in both Japanese and English under each picture, so you can go ahead and read on! Bilingual photo album, here we come!

Sally laughed a little as she finished it, and Wu Fei just smirked. On the first page, in nice big letter, was: “The Family Album of Andrew Yuy and Ann Lowe, the Only Married Couple This Side of Mars with Different Last Names!” Both Sally and Wu Fei almost fell over at Heero’s father’s last name. It really was Yuy! They turned the page, and the first page after was blank, the back side of the first, but the next page had two large pictures on it. The one on the left was a young woman with midnight-black hair and piercing blue eyes. She didn’t seem ready for the photo, since she was walking the other way, and had turned her head to meet the camera, hair flying around her. Under her was the name ‘Ann Lowe’. The following data was also included: ‘Date of Birth: August 8, AC 150.’ Next to her was the picture of a young man with chocolate brown hair and the same color eyes. His hair was slightly messy, but he looked cute even with it that way. Under him was the name ‘Andrew Yuy’. He also had some vital information: ‘Date of Birth: April 4, AC 150’. When they turned the page, wedding photos filled in their vision. They, then too, saw something rather shocking. The pictures showed, quite openly, the man who had married the couple. And he was no other than King Peacecraft himself! The Queen stood next to him in a picture, and the label underneath said ‘The King and Queen, May they Rest In Peace’. The album had obviously been made after the death of the two. Or the label had been replaced. The latter was much more likely than the former.

When they turned the page again, there was the picture of a young boy with chocolate brown hair and the same eyes. At first they thought it was Andrew again, but the label read ‘Christopher Alexander Lowe’. Underneath that read ‘Date of Birth: December 21, AC 170’. The two pages in the spread were covered with pictures of him. Through the pictures alone, the two could not see why Heero disliked his elder brother so much. But they assumed there was a good reason, for Heero did not upset quite so easily.

They turned the page again, and another child was on the widespread. It was another little boy, he had chocolate brown hair and the same color eyes. His hair, however, has straight, rather than messy, like his brother and father’s. Under his picture read: ‘Charles Michael Lowe’. ‘Date of Birth: January 11, AC 172’. The pictures of him were of little use to Wu Fei and Sally, as the boy was already dead. On the next widespread, the two were shocked. In the upper left corner, where all of the labeled pictures had been, were two pictures. The two in the pictures were completely identical.

Underneath each picture, from left to right, read: ‘Riley Corrigan Lowe’ and ‘Rei Lark Lowe’. There was one date of birth ‘March 14, AC 180’, but there were two other little labels. One, the one under Riley, read: 1:14 a.m., and the other, under Rei, read: 1:29 a.m. Both small children had chocolate brown hair, but these two had dark blue eyes, the same as their mother. In the spread, they were always dressed alike, but the labels told them in order on the picture. But even after all the pictures, Wu Fei and Sally could not tell them apart.

When they turned the page once more, there were several group photos. Christopher and Charles were much older than the twins, and it was apparent. There were group photos of each little group, too. First there was the, obviously older, picture of just Ann and Andrew, then one of Ann, Andrew, and Christopher, then Ann, Andrew, Christopher, and Charles, then the addition of the twins.

They turned again, and found that there was only one more widespread left after this one. And on this one, there were random photos that were obviously loved by Ann.

When they turned once more, another note fell out, and they read it.

Hey! Riley (and Rei) here! We found this thing in the attic of the house, it was obviously mum’s! She’s the only one obsessed with records! (Here the handwriting changed.) Since she’s dead (by about eight years), the two of us are going to show you everyone now! We’ll even grace you with mum and dad’s graves! How’s that for nice of us? (And it changed back.) Ototo-san is very rude in issues like this! So what if they’re dead! They’d still like seeing these pictures. Anyway, here are the pictures of everyone as of June 27, AC 192! Enjoy!

On that page were more up-to-date pictures of everyone. They noticed quite subtle differences in everyone but Riley. Her smile shone beautifully and she looked amazingly happy. They could tell the difference in Christopher immediately, however. His smile was rather cruel and as though he were plotting something. Charles looked more naïve than a five-year-old. Heero, however, also had a noticeable difference in features. In contradiction to the adorable four-year-old, happy as can be, there was a soon-to-be teenager, scowling rather harshly. His eyes were cold, but not quite devoid of emotion. His eyes, though dying, shone with sadness, pain, regret, and any number of sorrowful emotions. They weren’t happy, they weren’t neutral, they were dying. Dying out. In stark contrast to Riley’s beautiful emotion-filled eyes, which they could assume would be what their friend’s would look like if he didn’t hide everything, Heero’s eyes were dying. That was the only term they could think of.

They turned the page once more, and Sally almost choked. On the back were pictures. The first two were graves, then a person, then two more graves, then another person. Each picture had something written under it. The first: ‘Ann Lowe. 8/8/150-1/12/184’, the second: ‘Andrew Yuy. 4/4/150-1/12/184’, the third: ‘Christopher Lowe. 12/21/170-?’, the fourth: ‘Charles Lowe. 1/11/172-3/13/195’, the fifth: ‘Riley Lowe. 3/14/180-3/13/195’, and the last: ‘Rei Lowe. 3/14/180-?’.

Sally’s eyes watered. “She died a day before her birthday?!? What happened! I want to know now!” Her voice was raspy and kind of hard to listen to.

“Look.” Wu Fei pointed to something taped to the back cover of the album on the inside. It was a video recording. The label read: ‘Riley Lowe, Eyewitness Reporter into the lives of the Lowe family! Dates recorded: 1/25/192, 2/6/194, 3/12/195. Dates w/ clips included: too many to list!’

“I think we should wait until tomorrow. When he’s gone to work.”

“I agree.”

And they put away the album, slipped under the blankets, and fell into a fitful sleep. Minds unable to think of anything but their recent discoveries.

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

(*): Erm…I stole this from an awesome fic I read by Kouri Arashi. It was an X/1999 slash Tokyo Babylon fic surrounding Subaru and Seishirou. I give all credit for that line to her! Kouri-sempai rules! Give her credit, go here: www.fatalistic.net/knkfics/

(**): Okay, in the original Gundam Wing manga, Heero is frequently mistaken for being a girl. He does have a feminine figure, and I’m really guessing what I think he’d look like! Honest! Ah well!

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

Muffled Cries

Chapter Two

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

December 4, AC 205
L1 X10001 Colony

Residential Area

88 Barnes Street

 

When Wu Fei and Sally awoke, there was a neat breakfast sitting out on the kitchen table, along with a note.

Hey, I had to go to work, and you looked peaceful, so I decided against waking you. As you can see, breakfast is made. If you care to, we can go out to lunch sometime around noon. I’ll stop by my house to see if you want to. See you then, Heero.

They noticed how he used the name they were used to, rather than the name he preferred. It was just a sign of hospitality and friendship, they supposed. Looking at the clock, it was only 8:30. They ate breakfast, did the dishes, as it was the proper thing to do, and decided to watch the video file they had found the night before. They went over to the bookshelf, where they had placed the album, opened it up to the back cover, and pulled the disk out of its slot.

“I suppose now we find out what exactly is on here. It’s narrated by Riley, I suppose, as that’s what’s written on the disk.” Sally just pulled out her laptop, as it was compatible with files like this.

“I suppose.” Wu Fei just leaned back on the couch turned bed. Sally popped the disk in; a video screen popped up and she pressed play.

A girl with dark brown hair, shaggily cut to her chin, appeared on the screen.

“Hey! My name is Riley Corrigan Lowe! It’s January 25, After Colony 192! I’m eleven years old, and this is the soon-to-be ongoing documentary of my family! Of course, my mom and dad are already dead, so they won’t appear much, except in clips from years ago! But, there’s me, my older brothers Christopher and Charles, and my younger brother, if only younger by fifteen minutes, Rei. Me and Rei are identical, even though we’re fraternal, and we think that’s cool! So, just to annoy people, we dress alike! See if you can figure out who’s who!” The screen went blank, then opened back up to two pre-teenagers sitting on the sofa, eating instant noodles. Wu Fei and Sally looked between the two of them, and could not, for the life of them, figure out which was which. To be completely honest, they both resembled girls more than boys.

“I bet you didn’t get it!” The screen flashed back to Riley’s face, then the former scene came back and stilled. “Okay, the one on the left is me, and the one on the right is Rei!” Little white arrows drew themselves across the screen. After about two minutes, it went back to Riley, though this time she was walking around inside of a building with a lot of halls, but she was talking as she did so.

“Okay! I’m going to introduce you to everyone!” She turned a corner for about the thirtieth time before coming upon a closed door. She knocked once, and ‘Come in!’ rang from inside.

“This is Charlie! He’s nineteen!” She pounced on her elder brother. “Say ‘hi’, Charlie!”

“Hi.” He laughed. “Now what are you doing, squirt?”

“I’m making a video documentary of our whole family! I already did me, now I’m doing you, then Rei, but I don’t know where Chris is, so I suppose I’ll just have to do him when I find him.” She shrugged.

“Well, find Rei, you’re bound to find Chris lurking somewhere.” He rolled his eyes. “You know him.”

“Yeah. I suppose that’s a good idea, and probably true, too. Ah well! This is my big brother!” She hugged him around the neck and kissed his cheek. “Next, we torture my poor little twin!” She laughed, purposefully, maniacally, and Charlie laughed.

“Later, Riley.”

“Later!” She skipped out of the room, down endless more halls, and came to an open room where what seemed like her clone was sitting and reading.

“Rei!” She bounced over to him, and he looked up from his reading and smiled slightly.

“Yes, Riley?”

“I’m doing a video file on our family! Smile and say something!” She kept bouncing. “This is my little brother, Rei!”

“Hey! I’m not that much younger than you!” He scowled at her.

“So? I’m still older!” She stuck out her tongue at him and he laughed. And it was a different laugh from now, Wu Fei and Sally noticed, slightly shocked. His eyes smiled as much as his face did and his laugh was sweet and childish.

“If you insist, dear sister.” He just smiled.

“Well, I do. Now, do you know where Chris is? I already did Charlie, I just have to do Chrissy-poo!” She smiled and bounced, but the life visibly left the young boy.

“Yeah, he’s in the office over there.” He quickly went back to reading, and Riley stared at him for a while, looked at the ground, and headed over to the aforementioned office.

She knocked, and the standard ‘Come in!’ was yelled in response. “Chris!” She bounced over to him, and he smiled. His smile was frightening, like he was plotting something. It was as though the only emotion he had was one of sarcasm. He seemed like he was laughing at the world.

“Oh, hello, Riley, darling. How are you?” His voice was sweet, just a little too much so.

“I’m doing a video thingy on our family! You’re the last one I need to do!”

“I see.” He just smiled his all-too-sweet smile at her.

“This is Chris! He’s twenty-one, and the one in charge of our family!” She smiled and patted him on the shoulder.

“Yes, that is true.” He stood up and stretched. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, your dear twin needs to get back to work. We’ve been stalling for an hour.” He walked past her out the door, and she peaked, along with her camera, around the side to watch them converse. You couldn’t hear what they were saying, but Rei visibly stiffened and hastily, almost running, left the room, Chris following with a sinister look on his face.

Riley sighed, then she turned the camera back to herself. “I don’t know why, but Rei seems to be frightened of our dear eldest brother. That’s quite odd as the two of them used to be closer than Rei and I have ever been, and we’re twins. Then, when we were about eight, Rei started avoiding big brother, and it just progressed from there. Now whenever Chris walks in the room, no matter what we’re doing, Rei leaves. And Chris just laughs at him. I want to know the cause of this, but there’s no way Rei would tell me. He doesn’t talk to me anymore, at all. He just bottles himself up, so I have to talk to Charlie if I want to talk to anyone and get a reply.” She sighed again. “I suppose there isn’t much I can do, but I can show you a bunch of clips from years ago. Ones from when mom and dad were alive, and then I’ll just progress through the years, okay? That’s next!” And the screen went black then another clip came up.

A little girl, about four-years-old, wearing a very muddy dress stood triumphantly at the top of a hill. They presumed the little girl was Riley. There was laughter suddenly, and the refocused to something else. A little boy, about the same age, stood at the other side of a group of four people, completely covered in mud from head to toe.

“Riley-chan, what did you do that for?” A woman’s voice, the camera focused on a woman with long raven-colored hair and dark blue eyes.

“Well, he was making fun of my dress. So I pushed him in one of the puddles on the driveway, and he sunk.” They all laughed again.

“Rei-kun, what do you have to say to this?” The woman laughed.

“She does look funny in a dress, though.” He said and stuck his tongue out at her.

“You little!” She bolted at him, but was scooped into the air by a young man, about twelve.

“Charlie! Put me down!” She shrieked at him. He just laughed.

“No can do, my dear. We can have you roughing up little boys, now can we?”

“Hey! That’s not fair!” Rei was obviously pouting, but he too was picked up out of nowhere. Another young man, but he was older, and quite a bit more attractive. It was Chris, but he wasn’t the same as the earlier clips. The smile on his face was pure and he was truly laughing.

“Rei-chan, behave.” He said lightly to the little boy, flicking him on the nose. “I do believe you need a change of clothing, too.”

“I ‘spose.” The boy rolled his eyes, then he yawned. “But ‘m tired. I wanna go to sleep.” He nestled his head on the older boy’s shoulder and yawned again, looking quite content.

One of the maids walked up and smiled at Chris. “I’ll take him for you, Master Christopher. I think he just needs a bath and a nap.”

Chris glared at her, rather fervently, and his pleasant nature was suddenly replaced, if only for a very short amount of time. “No, thank you. I can take care of him.” He shifted the boys weight, smiled at him when he looked up, and carried him into the house. In the background of the shot, Ann and a man, most likely Andrew, looked at each other, a somewhat worried expression mirrored on the other’s face. The nurse was put-off, and it showed, as she went to Charlie, scooped up the little girl, and brought her inside in a huff, to bathe and change her.

The scene flashed out and another flashed onto the screen. It was the four children, this time they were in the building from the first shot, more specifically, the living room area. They looked about two or three years older from the last clip. Charlie was sitting in a chair, looking at the floor. Riley was sitting on the ground next to him, fiddling with her fingers. Chris and Rei were sitting on the sofa, the elder stroking his brother’s hair. Chris suddenly looked up.

“At least it’s a place to stay. We were just orphans on our own, we’re staying somewhere now!” This statement was obviously directed at Charlie, and the teenager looked up.

“I don’t trust them. That’s the end of it, brother. I don’t trust them at all. They’re far too interested in Rei and Riley. It’s not a good idea to stay here!” He was opposed to something, and was letting it get to him.

“There isn’t much we can do otherwise. Do you want to die?” Chris was nervous, too, though somewhat better at hiding it.

“I’d rather die than let anything happen to these two.” He gestured to the two youngest siblings.

“I won’t let them get hurt, there’s nothing to worry about!” One should believe something before they try to convince others of its reality.

“Dammit, Chris! I think you know as well as I what they want to do with us!” Charlie suddenly stood up, glaring daggers at his elder brother.

“I know, Charlie, I really do. But let’s try this. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll leave.”

“What if they don’t let us leave, eh Chris? What if they keep us here?!?” He was panicking. “What then? What do we do then?” He collapsed onto the floor. Riley began to cry lightly.

“I don’t want to be here, either, big brother.” She looked up at Chris, but he took no notice of her. His eyes were narrowed on Charlie, who was also crying.

“Don’t be so weak, Charles. There’s no way the two of us can support ourselves and these two in the world we live in today. There are too many parties that want to kill us, if only for our names.” His eyes were cold and empty. “Here we will be safe. This is a military outfit, they want revenge on the same people as us. Why should we rebel against them?”

“I’m not saying to!” Charlie sobbed, trying to convince his cold brother. “I just don’t think revenge is needed! We shouldn’t turn ourselves into them! They killed our parents, sure, but we shouldn’t kill them! We’d just be repeating the cycle, Chris!”

“So what? They’ll keep killing until their satisfied. We need to get rid of them. You and I, none other. We can do this, you know it! With help, the two of us can rid the world of them, why won’t you cooperate?” Chris was attempting to convince him now.

“You don’t know that we can succeed. And I don’t want Rei and Riley to be drawn into this! They’re seven for God’s sake!” He screeched at his brother. Riley’s tears increased, and she was silently sobbing.

“If we try, we can succeed. Nothing is too much, or too hard. Everything is possible, dear brother. I don’t want them involved in this either. They’ll be protected here, though. If we fight, they’ll have the option of not!”

“Like hell they will.” His eyes narrowed and he was talking through gritted teeth. “You overheard the same damn thing I did, Christopher. They don’t want to just ‘protect’ our younger siblings, they want them in general!”

“That doesn’t mean we’ll let them have them, Charlie. Just cooperate. Once our enemy is gone, we can leave here, I promise you.”

“Stop trying to convince me, it’s not going to work. I refuse to participate in this.”

“I don’t care.” He had given up. His deep brown eyes were devoid of emotion. “You are not the one who makes decisions here, I am. So you’d better just sit back and do what I say. I know what I’m doing, Charles. I’m going to end this. If I lose my own life in the process, so be it. I won’t allow the ones I love to be hurt any more.” He turned to leave the room when Rei grabbed the back of his shirt. He turned around, startled, to look at the boy.

“Big brother. Don’t be mean to Charlie, please? He’s scared, so are you. We know you don’t want to hurt us, but these people aren’t trustworthy. Not at all. I don’t want to be here, but if you’ll stay here, with me, and don’t fight, I’ll stay.” His blue eyes were large, and full of tears, and he was begging his brother. To the surprise of the viewers, the older boy reached down and picked him up, holding him tightly.

“I’ll never leave you if you don’t want me to. It’s you I want to protect, my dear little brother, and as long as you stay safe, I’m happy. Do you understand?”

“Yes. But please don’t fight. It’s pointless. Fighting doesn’t do anything but rile people up. Then even more people will die, just like Charlie says.”

“Fine, we’ll stay away from the fight, I promise. But can we stay here? It’s safe, I hope.”

“I don’t mind, not really.” He smiled lightly and brushed away the tears from the older boy’s eyes. “Not if you protect us.” He smiled and hugged him. Chris would do anything for the small boy. Anything he asked. Charlie and Riley just watched, they knew that Chris loved the boy more than either of them, but didn’t mind, not really. As long as they didn’t have to fight. Neither of them wanted to stay at the base, but they couldn’t do much about it. At least Chris would be there. He would protect them. It would be a cold day in hell when he did anything at all to injure the one he prized. At least, they thought.

There the scene faded out again, and a new one replaced it. The new scene was obviously several years later, as it opened with Rei and Riley, both practicing kendo. They looked about ten or eleven.

“Okay! You’re done for today!” Chris’s voice echoed. “Enough!”

“Yes, big brother!” Riley said happily, and Rei just nodded and ran to put his things away and get as far from his brother as possible. Chris had changed back. No longer a kind-looking person, he had gone back to looking horrible and destructive.

“You need to practice balance.” He motioned for them to do so. Riley climbed onto a balance beam, and started doing gymnastics stuff while humming, and Rei began to climb a ladder to a rope hung above them all. He walked, steadily, to the center of the rope. Once there, he began to practice martial arts fighting stances.

The practice ran smoothly, and they looked quite good at what they were doing, until Riley slipped and fell off her bar, landing on her butt on the floor with a shriek. This shriek, however, distracted Rei and he started to fall off the rope, wavering and leaning forward, he couldn’t keep his balance, and fell. Both viewers had to close their eyes, but there was no crash, as they had been expecting, just a loud ‘Oof!’. They looked up and almost fell over.

Chris had caught the boy, and was glaring at him. “You need to try harder. Ignore distractions.” Rei just glared back at him.

“Put me down. Now.” Was his only reply, and his brother complied with it. Once back safely on the ground, the boy returned to his exercises. The scene faded out again, and Riley’s face, at eleven-years-old, reappeared on the screen.

“Well, I think that describes, pretty damn well, the differences between now and then.” Her eyes weren’t cold, just extremely sad. “Things can’t go back to the way they were, but I can hope that they’ll get better, at least a little.” She smiled sadly. “Well, I’ll record again in a while. Bye for now!” And the screen went black. After about a minute, her face reappeared.

“Hey! I decided to record again! The date is February 6, After Colony 194. I’m thirteen now, so Rei’s thirteen, Charlie’s twenty-one, and Chris is twenty-three. I wish I could tell you that everything between us all has gotten better, but I’d be lying. Those clips, I’ve realized now after watching them, really do sum up our lives quite well. All I can say is that it’s gotten worse. Much worse.” She smiled sadly. “But, I can still get brother-dearest to do some cute things when Chris isn’t around!” They assumed that she meant Rei by brother-dearest.

“Well, let’s see how everyone is, then I have to show you some pretty cute things, to make you feel better, since those clips were kinda depressing.” She walked down some halls, and came upon Charlie, typing on a laptop. “Hey Charlie!” She smiled and waved. “I’m doing the continuation of my video documentary on us!”

“I see, well, hi, then.” He smiled and waved. “But, Riley, dear, I have to work on this. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Not at all! I have to go find Rei, though, bye!” She scampered off and found Rei quite quickly. He was practicing karate in a training room, quite impressively. “Rei-chan! Hey! I’m doing more on my documentary!”

“That’s great, sis.” He was concentrating pretty hard.

“Frustrated, dear brother?”

“A little.”

“What about?”

“Ass holes.”

“Right…I’m going to assume you mean Chris since I hope you aren’t researching people’s butts.” He fell over in the middle of his exercise.

“Riley…” He glared at her for about two seconds before bursting out laughing. “Yes, you’re right.”

“I know, I always am!”

“Hah! Double hah!”

“Oh, you shuddup!”

“What if I don’t?” He stuck out his tongue, provoking a wrestling match between the two of them.

“Well…I just make you try that outfit on again!”

“NO!” He screeched and very quickly pinned her down. “That was torture!”

“But I liked it on you! And plus, if I ever wear it, you just have to! We always have to look alike!”

“If you say so…” He was involuntarily shuddering.

“Hey! It wasn’t that bad!”

“Not if you’re a girl…but guys don’t wear that stuff.”

“J-Rockers do.”

“Well, I’m a martial artist, not a J-Rocker.”

“So? You can be both.”

“Riley…” He was glaring at her.

“Oh, all right! You don’t have to wear it anymore!”

“Good! I didn’t like it at all!”

“But I am adding the recording of you in it to this documentary!”

“Oh, no…”

“…” She stuck out her tongue at him.

“Who all is going to see this recording?”

“Whoever winds up with that photo album we found.”

“Oh, geez…”

“Tee hee!” She grinned and laughed at him. “Well, I have to find Chris, you wouldn’t happen to-“ She was cut off.

“In the office over there.” He pointed to the office next to the ring, and went back to training, any former signs of joy were gone from his features.

“Thanks, little brother!” She knocked on the door, and was let in. “Hey, Chris!”

“Oh, hello, Riley.” He smiled politely at her, but it was his usual, scary smile.

“I’m continuing my documentary of all of us! Just say something!”

“Well, I really must be finished up with this project.” He tapped the container on the desk. “You’ll know what it is soon enough.”

“Oh, all right! Geez, you and Charlie are no fun! I’ll just go do the clips now.” She rolled her eyes and left his office. The screen faded black, then back to her face. “Well, this is what’s happened since last recording that I got on tape and was entertaining. Don’t worry, there’s only one clip this time. Charlie’s the one recording, since he went with.”

The screen faded, and came back on in a clothing store. More specifically next to the dressing room. Suddenly there was a ‘Ta da!’ and Riley popped out of one of the rooms. She scampered over from the girls’ dressing room. The camera was in between the boys’ and girls’ dressing rooms.

Riley was wearing black, skin-tight, shiny black, seemingly leather, pants, and a black mesh top with a tank top underneath. “Like it, Charlie?”

“Yeah, it’s great!” He was laughing. “I can tell you’re actually female in that!”

“And you’re looking.” She raised an eyebrow.

“No, it’s just noticeable, dear.” He was trying very hard to talk between chuckles. “So what’s Rei wearing?”

“This.” Wu Fei and Sally fell over.

Seemingly, so did Charlie, as the camera was getting something upside down. Suddenly, there was a shriek from the boys’ dressing room. “Riley! I am not wearing this out there! You’re insane!”

“Well, you’re no more sane than I, just come out! I did! I’m sure you look cute!”

“I look like a hooker! A female hooker!” All burst out laughing. “Aargh!”

“Just come out!”

“Fine! But you owe me for this!” He walked out, and there was a mass laughing and falling over. He was wearing the same thing, and he really did look like a female hooker.

“Rei! That’s just hilarious! Charlie, we have to get these!”

“I agree!”

“NO!” Rei was about to hide, but they pounced on him. “NOOOOO!” Was the last thing they heard before the screen faded out again. This time when Riley showed up, she looked even older.

“Hey. It’s March 12, After Colony 195, and I’m going to be fifteen in two days! Yay! Well, this is another continuation of my life! So, hey! Here we go!” She walked down the hall, and into the living room thing. All three boys were in there. Charlie was typing on his laptop, Chris was reading a magazine, and Rei a book. “Okay! He guys, this is another installation of my documentary! Cool, huh?”

“Yeah, wonderful.” Rei scowled at her. “Don’t even mention that thing. I’ve seen enough of myself in hooker outfits, thank you.” Charlie and Riley laughed, Chris just looked between the three of them, raised his eyebrows, and shrugged.

“Oh, ha ha, Rei!” She stuck her tongue out at him. “Okay, everyone’s together! Yay! Say something, everybody!”

“Something.” Rei glared at her again, but was smirking slightly.

“REI!” She glared at him and scowled.

“Well, hello never-to-be audience!” Charlie stuck his tongue out at his sister.

“Yeah…Rei’s fourteen, like me, Charlie’s twenty-two, and Chris is twenty-four. Say something, Chris!”

“Well, I finished my experiment.” He smiled slightly and his upper lip twitched up.

“Oh, yay! Do we get to see it?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Okay! Well, there are no more interesting clips, so I guess that was just an update! Things are exactly as they were last year! Bye!” And the video file ended.

Wu Fei and Sally looked at one another. “Wow. That was…informative.” Sally stated the obvious.

“Quite. Heero sure changed a lot in between that recording and operation meteor. And there was only a three-week difference.”

“Wait…” She flipped to the back page of the album and looked at the dates while Wu Fei put the disk away, they had already saved it onto the hard drive of Sally’s laptop. “That’s it. Wu Fei…Charlie and Riley died the next day. The day after that was recorded.” She looked up at him, and both winced.

“We should put this away.” He stuck it back into the book shelf, and looked at the time. “It’s almost noon. That was a long recording.”

“Yeah, it was.” Sally looked at the ground.

“I suppose we should wait to go out for lunch now.”

“Yeah, let’s make the bed…couch…thing.” She laughed, causing her husband to, and they did so. Heero arrived ten minutes after they were done to take the pair out to lunch. It was a nice lunch, but neither Wu Fei nor Sally said much during it. And their flight was to leave at two, so they said their goodbyes, confirmed he’d be in Brussels on the twenty-third, and left.

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

Author’s Notes: Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve completely disregarded the Episode ZERO… Oh well, it’s my fic, after all! Well, that was the last ‘boring’ chapter. AKA, the last chapter with just information on it. The rest of the story will give information, of course, but in a way that’s a lot more fun! Teaser for Chapter Three: The speeches, arrangements, and some weird courses of events. You should know by now, or have noticed, that this story is going to be kind of odd. Why does Heero hate his brother? I mean, it’s somewhat obvious why he does now, but why did he suddenly start hating him when he was eight? They were closer than anything, I mean it. I tried to get that across, but I don’t know if I did a very good job. I’m not saying those questions will be answered in the next chapter, actually, they most definitely will not be! But, you need to think, since I’ll be giving hidden clues the whole way through. I’ve started, but they’re hidden to the point of only I would notice them. Also…’Tomorrow’. What did that mean? What do you think his experiment was? I guess that’s another thing to think about. ^.~ Well, until next time, later!

Oh, and one more thing: yes, I did base Riley’s character off that of Hokuto, the female protagonist of Tokyo Babylon, a wonderful manga/anime (though I haven’t seen the anime) by CLAMP. And with the dressing alike thing, that was also stolen from Tokyo Babylon! Sorry! CLAMP, I love you guys! Get X/1999 done! I wanna know what happens to Subaru