6-5-2001

 

Betrayal.

It starts with betrayal.

It ends with death.

My ... death.

I died.

 

Title: Beyond the Glory
Author: C
Archive:
Warning/s: Death, OOC, Freakishness, Angst, Maybe a little yaoi
Rating: I'd give it an R
Pairing/s: 1+2
Feedback: Please.
Note/s: Yes, I' m starting another series fic. *sigh* I've still got "the lady" and "COYSB" to do. This is an idea I've been playing with. Hope you like. Sorry for cross-posting.

 

.one.

Baths, I decided, stepping out of the hotel bathroom, are a wonderful thing. They really are. Especially when the hotel is a five-star hotel, the baths are huge, and the expense is no problem.

I hummed to myself while drying my long hair with the towel. I don't like blow dryers. During my childhood and the war I really never had use for them. It's air and towel dry for me! I pulled on some pants from my suitcase and thought to myself what a good idea it was to transfer the money on those OZ accounts to mine. Well, Heero would do it for me, 'cause he didn't want me touching his damn laptop and screwing it up. It was still very helpful toward my financial situation, and after the war I didn't have to worry about money at all.

What a great feeling.

I was brushing my hair in front of the vanity mirror the room had, still humming that tune. You know the one, that Monty Python song. *Always look on the bright side of life/*whistle* My theme song. It's a real addictive song. I was watching old AD movies, and this one called "As Good As It Gets" has that "Shining" guy singing it.

Anyway, I was brushing my hair with my eyes closed. It's a real relaxing activity; so much that I didn't realize someone was inside my hotel room until I opened my eyes and met a black, almond-shaped pair staring back at me in the mirror. I set my brush down and turned with a welcoming grin on my face. "Wufei, I didn't hear ya come in," I greeted the former comrade and Shenlong pilot. "What brings you here?"

It never occurred to me to inquire how the hell he got in when my door was locked, and most importantly how the hell did he find me.

There was something in his eyes. It's funny; I didn't think about it, but it tucked away into the back of my mind somewhere for future reference. His eyes -- they were different somehow and all at once exactly the same. They glinted with a new kind of -- you know, I'd like to say light, but it was more of a darkness. A surprising chill coursed through my spine. I shivered. "Hey, man, is it cold in here?" I asked him.

He continued to stare at me. He just stood there like a statue, in his traditional white Chinese garb or whatever, his black eyes focused on mine. His hands were at his side, and his entire body was stiff. I frowned, concerned. "Wufei, there something wrong?"

It happened suddenly, before I realized. His hand leaped out and grabbed my hair, yanking me out of the cushioned vanity chair. He held me to his side. I felt the cold barrel of a gun -- a feeling I knew well -- pressed against my temple. My eyes were wide and my mouth was wide open. "What the hell?" I demanded at last finding my voice. "Chang, what's going on?"

"No more!" he cried. "No more! I don't want anymore. I am here to kill you. That is my objective. Kill pilot 02."

"Wufei?" If I got him to talk, maybe ...

"Kill pilot 02! Then it will end. That's all I want. Just let it end." He sounded funny. But from my twisted position and his tight hold on my hair, I really couldn't see.

"Wufei ..."

"Enou -- oof!" I elbowed him in the gut and maneuvered myself out of his grasp. Then I brought my hand down his back. He fell to the baise carpet floor and stilled. I snatched his gun into my own hands and aimed. It's a weird feeling, you know, aiming a gun at someone you think is your friend. He pushed himself up slowly, until he was kneeling. He looked at me, straight into my eyes. You know when I was talking about the darkness there? For one moment it was gone and Wufei -- the Wufei I always knew -- said, "Do it, Maxwell, end it. Please end it. I have no honor ..."

I stared at him, not hiding my confusion. "End what, Wufei? Tell me." 'Please tell me,' I thought. 'What's going on?'

In his eyes, it came back, and it wasn't Wufei anymore. His eyes had changed completely. He threw back his head and laughed. I've never heard Wufei laugh before. He often snorted and smirked and snickered, but never did he laugh. I guess I never would hear him laugh; this wasn't Wufei anymore. This was someone else.

I closed my eyes.

When I reopened them, his black eyes were wide open, and he stayed in that kneeling position for an eternity. There was nothing but silence, and I noticed idly that smoke blew from the gun. His eyes rolled back, and his head lolled around until finally he fell.

*Thump*

I watched it all as though I had stepped out of my own body. I watched myself pull the trigger, and I watched the bullet hit Wufei's chest. I watched the tiny bit of blood spurt out, and I watched him stare ahead. I watched him fall back. I watched him die. Oh, god, I watched him die.

The gun fell from my hand, burning. Breathing heavily -- for a while I thought I couldn't breath, -- I sank to the floor. My hair blanketed me.

I killed Wufei. I killed one of my friends.

That was just the beginning.

 

.two.

I wish I could have given Wufei a proper burial ceremony. But you know, carrying around a dead guy makes people suspiscious. So I stole a laundry basket, dumped his body in it, snuck out (which is very hard with a laundry basket, let me tell ya), and set fire to it. Which was not at all suspiscious, of course.

I know, it sounds awful. It made me feel awful. Bo, I felt worst than awful. I can't put how I felt into words. I mean, god, I was getting rid of my friend's body. I didn't want to watch him burn, but I had to make sure that it -- whatever it was infecting his body -- was gone and dead and wouldn't ever come back. God, and what's worse is I never cried. Isn't that sad, I didn't even cry for Wufei. His ashes, mixed with burned bed sheets, were dumped into a hole in the ground that I dug myself. I went back to my hotel room, cleaned it of any trace, packed my stuff and ran. I ran to the crappiest motel in a 20-mile radius that I could find.

Believe me; it was that crappy.

I have been to some crappy places. I grew up on L2. I hung around Howard and the Sweepers. Hell, I have gone weeks without bathing. But this motel (if you could even call it that); I didn't even want to stand on the floor.

I grinned and bore it anyhow. Why did I choose such a crappy place to run? It's all about feelings. I felt so sick that I figured no one would care if I happened to feel like vomiting all over; not in here, anyway.

I checked out the bathroom. It sucked. I can't even begin to describe how much it sucked. It sucked. I won't even compare to the five-star hotel's bathroom. I fiddled with the end of my hastily braided hair. What was I going to do? I thought about my options. I could go to L4 and see Quatre. He would welcome me, and I could tell him what happened, and he could help me figure it out. I couldn't go to Trowa. I remember he went back to the circus or something. The circus travels, and I didn't want to take too much time looking for him. And Heero? He wasn't even an option. He disappeared from the face of the earth (and colonies) right after the second war. I don't think Relena knew where he was. So my plan became this: Go to Quatre.

I could leave Earth tomorrow. I could easily afford a ticket out of here. It's not an assumption that Quatre would welcome me. Anyone who knows Quatre knows I speak truth. I don't know if he'd still be so welcoming after I told him I killed Wufei, but that didn't matter. I just had to get off of Earth and run. I just had to run somewhere.

After the war, after Mariemaia ... A million things happened after the second Earth and colony war. I didn't go back to Hilde and the salvage yard. I came to Earth and did odd jobs. I wasn't ready to settle. Hilde wasn't ready to have me anyway. We both wanted -- no, everyone wanted -- to forget the war. I didn't think Hilde would appreciate me around as a reminder. I didn't think I would appreciate Hilde as a reminder. Quatre went back to L4 to take over the family business. Trowa went back to the circus with that red-hair chick -- Cathering, I think. I'm pretty sure she was some long-lost relative, but he never really confirmed it for me. Wufei -- ohgodohgod -- he went back to Earth, too. Joined the Preventers.

The Preventers! Shit!

It dawned on me suddenly that the Preventers could have been involved somehow with Wufei and ... it. Or were they even aware that Wufei had become like that? When would they find out? What would they do when they found out? I buried my head in my hands and had this overwhelming urge to beat myself over the head. I would have to contact them. Damn it, I would have to contact them!

There was no phone in the room. But when I was coming in, I noticed a pay phone outside; hopefully that one worked.

I ran out into the night and shoved myself into the payphone booth. Hastily, I wired the phone so it wouldn't trace the location for at least four minutes. Hey, I was a Gundam pilot. I can do things like that. And four minutes would be enough time.

All Gundam pilots had been given special extensions to the Preventers, in case any of us decided to join or help or had some juicy gossip to pass along. Kidding about the last part of course.

Of course.

I dialed up the general Preventers hotline and dialed Wufei's extension number. I knew Wufei's number just like I knew everyone else's. Except Heero's. He managed to hide everything from me, the paranoid bastard. A deep voice answered.

"Chang Wufei."

It was Zechs. I recognized him.

I pinched my noise and said in a squeaky voice that would have been comical if not for the serious situation, "This is not Wufei. Wufei is dead." It was occuring to me how bad that sounded, like a kidnapper or something. "Something went wrong and Wufei went crazy. His death was not intentional." They had to know I didn't mean to do it. I gave them the location of his remains. "This is a friend. Believe me."

"What are you --"

I hung up before Zechs could finish speaking.

It started to rain.

I hate my life.

 

.three.

I am insane.

I must be. I have to be. It's the only explanation!

Or maybe I'm dreaming. Maybe this is some weird ass dream, and if I pinched myself I would wake up and see that I'm all wrong.

Because it isn't possible; it is not possible, damn it!

And right now, I want to cry. I want to cry so bad. Poor, poor ... oh, god, what is going on!?

I left Earth the very next morning, taking the first shuttle out to L4. I went to Quatre's, and, as I fully expected, was greeted with open arms. The blond little prince -- even though he always used to deny it with a passion, one can't help but realize his great resemblance to the Little Prince -- invited me to stay in his house, his great big, almost castle-like house. I asked him about his Maguanics jokingly; were they hiding out somewhere, protecting him from all the baddies? He laughed with me (even though it really wasn't funny) and said, no, they're back at their own headquarters.

I stayed at his house for a few nights. We didn't see each other too much those nights, since he had an entire corporation to run, and I had to think about how I would tell him what I did.

It was my last night on L4 when I finally told him. We were sitting in his study, and he was pouring me some coffee. Good, black coffee.

"Duo, I've been meaning to ask; what brings you to my humble home?" Quatre sipped from his cup.

I looked at him. "'Humble home?'" I repeated disbelievingly. "Quatre, this is not a humble home. Relena's little castle in Sank pales in comparison to this palace." Maybe I was exagerating a bit. His house -- pardon me, let me correct myself, mansion -- was very large and lavishly decorated with expensive crap that if I were still a young thief, I would have loved to take. But I'm not a young thief; I'm a former Gundam pilot who murdered another former Gundam pilot who went crazy anyway and would have probably murdered the former former Gundam pilot, not the latter Gundam pilot, because he would be the one doing the murdering of the former former Gundam pilot, although he probably would have killed himself in the end. And besides, I wanted to direct him away from my little confession.

Quatre smiled. "Duo," he said, "you're hiding something from me." Then he frowned. "And it hurts." He put down his cup and moved his hands to his chest. "It hurts a lot. Are you feeling guilty, Duo? Tell me."

I set down my own cup and shifted uncomfortably. "Quatre, I gotta tell you something. It's bad. It's bad, and I feel bad. No, I'm feeling worse than bad, worse than gawd-awful."

He reached over the table and placed a hand over mine. I couldn't help but notice his nails -- they were manicured! -- and how they looked different from the way his fingers and palm felt. Those were rough and calloused; I'm going to guess it was from fighting so much, but it was probably also from playing his violin. I know you get rough hands from playing instruments. Anyway, I tore my thoughts away from his hands when I realized he was staring at me; I could feel it. "Tell me, Duo," he repeated.

I shuddered. "I killed someone. Quatre, I killed someone."

I heard him gasp. I hadn't looked up to face him, okay? "Go on," he urged. Then he hesitated. "Who?"

I whispered it under my breath, his name, oh man, and it came rushing back to me. I bit my lip. Quatre must not have heard me, or he thought he heard incorrectly, because he asked me to repeat myself. I whispered it again, and then said it louder, so he could hear. "Wufei. I killed Wufei."

I felt his hand go rigid. "What?"

I bit my lip. I said, "I don't know, Quatre. I don't know. He came to me and then he threatened to kill me. He attacked me, damn it! He pulled a gun on me! He grabbed my head and shoved me down and he pointed the gun at me! And he said something about killing pilot 02, and that was the only way to end it, and I have no idea what he was talking about, Quatre! I had no idea! He just went crazy! I had to defend myself. So I hit him or something and I grabbed the gun and then he told me to shoot him, and Quatre, you've got to believe me, I didn't want to I had to there was no other way! You believe me, right, Quatre? You gotta, you gotta, 'cause it's the truth, even though it sounds crazy, I know it sounds crazy, but Wufei was crazy, and, and ..." I knew I was rambling. I just had to fill in the air. Quatre wasn't saying anything. He wasn't comforting me or condemning me or anything! So I finally looked up at him.

I must be insane.

Quatre was staring at me. Or at least in my direction. His eyes were kind of vacant suddenly. And kinda glazed over. Like he was dreaming with his eyes open.

Like Wufei's eyes.

Wufei's eyes burned in my memory, and now Quatre's would, because they were the exact same. I tried to move my hand, but Quatre's hand stayed on it. I never realized in all my years of knowing him how strong he could be. But his hand, I'm ashamed and scared to admit, was almost stronger than my entire body. I pulled back with all my strength, throwing my entire body into it. His hand held me firm.

"Quatre," I said, hoping there wasn't any panic in my voice. I snapped my fingers with my free hand and waved it in front of his face. "Quatre, Quatre, don't you dare do this do me. Quatre, come back. Be normal again!" I slapped him.

He blinked and stared into my eyes. He was noticing me now. I was never more scared in my life. Trust me. In one milisecond, he used his free hand to grab mine and twisted it. I cried out. Especially when I heard a snap. Yes, a snap. Does anyone know what a snap like that usually means? Especially when someone has been twisting your wrist? Ding! Ding! Ding! It means the damn bone is broken! He released that hand which I held to my chest. It wasn't all that painful. I've experienced more pain than that before. It was just ... shocking. Mostly because it was Quatre that did the deed. He yanked hard on my other hand so that I tripped over the coffee table between us and wound up on my knees looking up at him.

He started laughing. It was a creepy laugh, haunting. Quatre wasn't Quatre anymore. It -- I had dubbed it It -- had taken over, whatever It was.

He said to me, "I should snap this one too, shouldn't I?"

His eyes really freaked me out. What to do, what to do. Where the hell was my fast-thinking brain when I needed it, hm? My only plan? Stalling. It's what I did with Wufei, it's what I'd do with Quatre.

Or rather, It.

It was weird and rather morbid when the only thought that could come to my pretty head was, 'God, this sounds like a Stephen King book or something.'

"What's wrong with you, Quatre? Quatre, tell me. Quatre? Quatre?" Repeating his name. I heard somewhere that would make him think of himself as a human or something and realize what he was doing. I think it was from that AD movie, "Silence of the Lambs." "Quatre, it's me, Duo. You know, Duo, your buddy, your pal, Duo, the idiot American everyone loves. Quatre, it's Duo. I am Duo. You are Quatre. Quatre Duo Quatre Duo ... you getting the picture here?"

It was like Wufei all over again. That awful thing in his eyes flickered away and he spoke like he was normal again. " ... Duo?"

But it was back, quicker than it had been with Wufei.

My eyes searched the study. What could I use as a weapon? I needed a weapon!

There was a lamp. It was one of those fancy green desk lamps that lawyers have. Only two feet away. It was all I had. Unfortunately, I was kneeling on a table, with a broken wrist and Quatre holding my other hand. I had no options. At least, none that I could see.

Quatre, the real Quatre, not It, must have been using his uchuu no kokowhatever and sensed that the only way to help me was to get to the lamp. Because It laughed again and still holding my one hand, flipped me onto the seat right beside the lamp. My butt hurt a little bit, even though the chair was cushioned, and I remember thinking, 'Gee, thanks, Quat,' because I'm weird that way and even in the worst moments, my humor rears its little head. It towered over me, which, if you think about it, is pretty funny, since Quatre -- no; now is not the time to be making jokes! It smiled. It wasn't a very pretty smile, let me say right now for the record on my honor scouts honor, it was the scariest smile I'd ever seen. Not even Heero with his glares and his scowls and his stupid little "Omae o korosu"s were scarier than this sight. None of them combined.

"Quatre, Quatre, Quatre, Quatrequatrequatrequatre." That was me, still trying the name thing, still trying to buy time.

Like before, his eyes flickered. That smile lessoned a notch, and I ripped the lamp from its place on the little end table.

And then I bashed him over the head with it.

Quatre gasped, and It glared at me.

Right before it fell unconscious to the floor.

Pieces of broken lamp were scattered on the lovely baise carpet. I stood up cautiously and cradled my broken hand. He wasn't dead, yet, he was just unconscious. But I had to ... to ... to ...

I didn't want to think it, to say it, to do it, but I had to. I had to get rid of it.

Luckily for me (in a twisted way), Quatre never lost at least some of his training. He kept a pretty little pistol right under the cushion of the armchair he had been sitting on. Convenient for him, ne?

I left him laying on the floor when I was done. What good would it be if I moved him? No good.

Later that day, after I ran to the spaceport and was about to board my shuttle to L3, a breaking news story came on the television. Winner Coporations president, Quatre Raberba Winner had been found dead in his own home. By one of his sisters.

With shaking hands, I gave the attendant my ticket and boarded my shuttle.

Would you believe it?

I didn't cry.

 

.four.

When I arrived on L3, one of the first things I heard in the news was the murder-suicide of Triton Bloom and Catherine Bloom, famed circus performers.

Triton Bloom. Sounded familiar. It finally struck me; after the whole Mariemaia thing, after we destroyed our Gundams, Quatre, Trowa, and I were talking about names. Trowa mentioned something about taking on another name from his past, just as he had taken Trowa Barton's. Triton Bloom. Then he would really be his sister's brother. It's funny what you remember in one instant.

The news went on to describe the "incident." They were calling it an "incident." The manager of the circus said that during a usual practice of the Blooms' knife-throwing act, "Triton" attacked Catherine. The manager claimed it was so sudden, so unexpected. Triton had snatched a knife and slit her throat. While the manager was attempting to approach him and stop him, he said Triton faced him, and the manager was frozen in his place.

Do you know what the manager said then?

"His eyes were so different. It was almost as if, he was no longer himself, and he had been replaced with another person. Then, for the briefest moment, his eyes were normal. He looked at Catherine and what he had done. He pointed the knife at himself. I couldn't stop him, I couldn't move! Just when he was ... stabbing himself, his eyes went back to that eerie look. There was nothing that could be done to save either of them."

Later, the manager commented:

"I don't know what went wrong with Triton Bloom. He had always been the quiet type of fellow. He loved his sister very much. I don't know what could have possesed him to do such a thing."

I knew. I knew too well.

It.

It had gotten to Trowa, and It had made him attack. It had killed Trowa's sister. So Trowa, when he came to his senses, couldn't take the mere possibility of his sister's death and killed himself.

What I'm going to say may sound awful and mean and down right insensitive, but it's the truth.

I'm at least glad that I didn't have to kill him myself.

It was the only reason I came to L3. I knew It would get to Trowa, too. It had gotten to Wufei, It had gotten to Quatre. I had to stop Trowa before It got to him too. What else could I have done? Confronted It in a civil way and politely asked It to stop possessing my friends and get the hell out of Trowa's body? Yeah, right. 'Cause that would have been so logical.

Trowa had taken care of himself for me. I don't mean for that to sound bad, but it just comes out that way! Is it my fault the truth is so damn complicated and screwy? Hell, no!

I'm so confused. This is a sure sign of insanity, right? Killing off friends because theie eyes look wierd? But they did attack me. Why did they attack me? Why why why why so many damn questions what the hell is going on holy jesus what the HELL!?

I was so close to crying. But I wasn't there yet. No, no. Not there yet.

For once, I wasn't not going to run. I wasn't boarding another shuttle, going to whatever colony or city on Earth. I was going to stay on L3, in another run-down, crappy motel. Another goddamnshithole.

I knew who was next to be taken over by It. I was just too tired to run anymore. Let him come to me. Let him look for me. Then let me kill him. Oh, god.

Heero ...

 

.five.

The motel room was as crappy as the one on Earth had been. It was fairly decent, in fact. The single bed rested against the wall, a few feet from the window. The mattress was a little lumpy, but hey, I could deal. The carpet was a little stained, but that was okay too. The adjacent bathroom wasn't as glorious as the hotel's on Earth, but it was clean and I was clean.

I think two days passed with me laying in that room, on that lumpy mattress. I was exhausted, but my brain wouldn't let my body sleep and rest. I think my brain was turning against me. Everything in the freakin' universe was turning against me, so why not my brain to add to the list? On the third night, I was on my side, facing the fading striped wallpaper. One hand -- my injured one -- was tucked under my head. The other under my pillow, holding my loaded gun tightly. It was my usual position now. I wouldn't leave the bed except to use the toilet and maybe get a drink from the sink. Other than that, I hadn't even left the room, I hadn't even eaten. It was dark, and the only light in the room was from the street lamps right outside. I was waiting. I knew he would come.

By my internal clock, it was around midnight when someone came knocking on my door. Immediately, my grip tightened on the gun I had used many times before. The door creaked open, and more light flooded the room. The floorboards groaned beneath the new weight. I didn't move. The groaning stopped. And I bolted up in the bed, gun firm in my good hand, aiming. I did my best to keep my face hard but empty of any emotion, like he always managed during the war.

There he stood. One foot away from the open door, feet spread a little and firmly planted on the stained carpet. His arms were at his side, almost casually. Black jeans, for once, and that denim jacket he liked. His hair was still messy, and I could feel his eyes looking into mine, and I wondered, 'Has It taken you too?'

"Why are you here?" I asked bitingly. Hopefully he couldn't hear my voice waverling, like it sounded to my own ears. "How did you find me?"

He didn't say anything. He did move a few inches closer to me.

"Stop!" I shouted. "Don't you dare move." The gun trembled slightly in my hand. 'Damn it, stay still!' I ordered silently. I slid off the bed and stood up. "Why are you here?" I repeated. "How did you find me?" I inched closer. "Who are you?"

No sound.

"Who are you?" The anger inside me was rising, mixing with the fear and the regret and the loss. "Who are you?"

I stood an arm's length away from him, with the barrel of the gun touching the center of his forehead. He didn't flinch. I didn't expect him to.

Having had enough of his silence, I finally screamed, "ANSWER ME, DAMN IT! WHO. ARE. YOU!?"

My chest heaved. A minute passed. He raised his hands to mine. I tensed. And he lowered my hand until the gun aimed his heart.

"Duo," he said calmly. "Duo; you know who I am. If you would feel safer shooting me, then do it. I won't stop you." His hands released mine. And he waited.

I stared at him, stared into his eyes. The gun fell from my hand, landing with a soft thud on the carpet. I fell foward, and he caught me. We sank to the floor together, and I cried, "It's you, you're real. Oh god Heero you're real you're realyou'rereal ... " I let it out, sobbing into his shoulder, into his chest, as my head lowered. He held me and let me cry on him. He held me and let me confess to him. He held me and let me hold him. He held me.

He held me and that was all.

 

.six.

I woke up in warmth. Someone was holding me. I shifted in the bed I was laying in, which I never remembered getting into, and the arms that circled me moved with me. It was a nice feeling, and for once I felt like it was all okay.

Then, of course, everything had to come rushing back to my memory. At least I didn't feel like crying, anyway. I was all cried out. I raised my head and stared into blue eyes. I blinked. "You're awake."

Ah, yes. Then he opened his mouth.

"Bravo," I said, sitting up slowly, "you still have your observation skills, I see." His arms let me go and I stretched and yawned like you're supposed to do after you wake even if you don't really feel like it. I didn't really feel like it. "What time is it?" Light was trying to come in through the window which had been covered by curtains.

"14:00. You fell asleep at 01:28. Have you failed to sleep before?" He looked at me with a question in his eyes.

"Well, after I was attacked by two friends and then killed them," I started, sounding almost casual, "then heard about the murder-suicide involving another, I kinda felt a little paranoid and started worrying about people killing me in my sleep." He stared at me some more. I was starting to feel weirded out. More so, anyway. "What?" I demanded. "Why d'you keep staring at me like I got another head or something?" He sat up, his back against the head of the bed. I moved to sit at the end of the bed, with my legs resting next to his.

"I'm thinking," he said.

I looked at him. "Please," I said, trying not to sound begging, "at least talk, okay? Talk what you're thinking. It's been quiet too long. I don't want to -- I don't really -- Talk. Just, talk. Okay?"

He nodded sharply. "You told me that Wufei found you in your hotel room and attacked you. Without logical reasoning. And his eyes were -- "

" -- Scary," I included. "Scary and very different. They were dark and different and it was down right scary."

"Right. His eyes were different. Then you killed him." I winced. How could he say it so ... matter-of-factly? "Then you went to Quatre. You told him about it. His eyes changed. Then he attacked you. You killed him." I closed my eyes and nodded. "Then you came here, looking for Trowa so you could kill him. But instead, he apparently changed before you could get to him and killed off his sister. Then he killed himself. So you stayed, expecting me to come and kill you." He gave me a funny look. "Because you thought I would be the next to go ... crazy."

I nodded again.

He kept his eyes on me. Then he asked, "Why did you think it would be me? Why did you think I would come to kill you?"

"Why not?" I replied miserably. "Everyone else was. I figured, okay, so it's gonna be the great Heero Yuy, coming to complete the failed mission ... or something. It made sense, okay? Everyone else seemed intent on killing me."

"Not Trowa."

"He didn't see me yet." I paused. "Okay, everyone else seemed intent on killing."

"What about you?"

I shot him a glare. "What about me?" I made a face. I would never go on a killing spree. No way. And I especially wouldn't try to kill a friend.

He was still staring at me. At least his eyes hadn't changed. "Think about it, Duo," he said very calmly. "Think very hard." I'm sure my face had some sort of blank look because he made a little snorting noise. "What about Zechs?"

I made another face and said in the same annoyed tone, "What about Zechs?"

"You said that their eyes all looked different when they were attacking you. The news reported Trowa's eyes to be different when he was attacking his sister."

"And what does any of that have to do with Zechs?"

"Duo. Whom, of the three we know to have gone insane, was the first to die?"

"Wufei," I answered, with a trace of remorse in my voice.

"Who was the second?"

"Quatre."

"Who was the last?"

"Trowa."

"How many Gundam pilots were there during the war, Duo?"

I looked at him like he was an idiot. "Five. You were there."

"Wrong," he said immediately. "There were six. Zechs Merquise was a Gundam pilot."

"Okay, there was Zechs, too. So. What?"

"Duo. What pilot are you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I am pilot 01. What pilot are you?"

I rolled my eyes. This was really stupid. Monotonously, in a wonderful way of mocking him, I said, "Duo Maxwell, Gundam pilot 02, Gundam Deathscythe and Deathscythe Hell." Then I added, "Is that all? Or would you like my D.O.B., age, sex, and Social Security while I'm at it?" That wasn't funny. It wasn't even funny when I said it sarcastically. When I think of it, I'm pretty sure it didn't make a bit of sense, but he was being weird, so I decided to be weird with him. Everything was weird. I dunno. It was just weird. I don't know why life decided to be so confusing and weird.

"So what pilot is Zechs?"

I shrugged. "Am I supposed to know?"

"Zechs is pilot 06."

"O-kay," I said in an overly false chipper tone. "So. What?"

"Now. Tell me the order of the pilots starting with Zechs stopping with Trowa."

I sighed. "Zechs, Wufei, Quatre, Trowa."

"Who was the first to go insane?"

I winced again. "Do you have to be so abrupt about it, Heero?" I asked. "It's just ... bad memories. God-awful memories."

His eyes grabbed mine again, and he repeated, "Who was the first to go insane?"

I muttered, "Wufei."

"Then?"

"Quatre then Trowa. Satisfied?"

"So what about Zechs?"

I glared at him again. "What *about* him?"

His face held the look of wanting to slap me very hard. "Think about their order, Duo. The first to go insane was Wufei. He was pilot 05. The second was Quatre. Pilot 04. The last was Trowa. Pilot 03. Zechs is pilot 06."

I gasped. Okay, it was coming to me. I think. I think i think i think.

He must have noticed because he nodded slightly. "Yes. By this logic, by this order, wouldn't it have made sense for Zechs to go insane first? Which is why I ask. What about Zechs?"

I frowned. "I dont know. I called the Preventers after I ... after Wufei, and Zechs answered the phone. He sounded sane enough to me."

He said, "Zechs is a complicated person. You said Wufei's insanity subsided a bit? Maybe that's what happened with Zechs when you called." He nodded to himself. "We've got to get to him before he can harm anyone."

"Heero ... "

"Duo. We have to stop him."

I made a small noise in my confusion. "Do you know what's going on?" I asked. "Do you know why they all went insane?"

He opened his mouth to say something when along came a beep. An oddly familiar beep. I looked around and saw it. It was on the floor, beeping.

"You brought your laptop?" I asked. "But, last night, you didn't have it ... "

"It was in the hallway," he said sharply. "I wanted you to know that I was unarmed."

He rose from the bed and went to attend the precious piece of crap. He left me to think.

Zechs, Wufei, Quatre, Trowa. 06, 05, 04, 03.

Duo. 02. Me. My large eyes went wider as my world once again came crashing down. If Heero was right, and it was happening in order, after Trowa came ... me. What was going to happen?

"Duo. It's Relena."

I glanced up at him, trying to lead my thoughts away from the sudden ... direction my brain had turned. "Re - Relena?" I repeated.

Heero's lips were in a thin line. "The message is from Relena. It's Zechs."

"Zechs ... " I whispered. "What's ... "

"He's on the attack. We have to go." He grabbed his laptop and forced me to my feet. I was in a little stupor probably, from my sudden thoughts and this information about Zechs. "Duo." He grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him.

"Heero?" He looked concerned. For me? "What do you think it is?"

His hand dropped. He said in perfect monotone, "The Zero System."

 

.seven.

I could barely think while Heero hurried to pack my stuff and his. I could barely think while Heero dragged me into a car and we sped to the space port. I could barely think while Heero bought our tickets and shoved me onto one of the shuttles. I could barely think while Heero pushed me into one of the seats and then sat beside me. He kept looking at me strangely, concern maybe if I thought it were possible. Then the shuttle took off, and Heero said something. It snapped me out of my daze for an instant. "What?" I asked quietly.

"Duo." He seemed to hesitate. "Are you ... all right?"

I shook my head. No use lying to him. "No," I told him, "not 'all right.' Some of me is still screwed up."

He nodded and then said, "You have your gun? Is it loaded? Do you need extra --"

"What?" I interrupted. "Heero, what's the plan?"

This time he didn't hesitate. "We're going to kill Zechs."

Wow. Okay. I leaned back in my seat, thinking about a question. Should I ...? Yes, I had the right to know. I sat upright again and asked, "Heero? The message you got that was from Relena." He turned his attention to me. I don't know why I felt nervous. It's just one of those things, those feelings you get when you want to know but you know you won't like the news. "What did she say exactly?"

A few minutes passed and Heero didn't answer. He turned to look out the window instead. So I tried again. "Heero?"

"It was a video," Heero said, still not looking at me. "She had a bruise one her cheek and a cut on her forehead. I could only see her face, and she looked like she was hiding in the dark. There were some noises in the background. And she was whispering. She said that he had gone crazy. He'd just burst through the doors of her office, saying something about how she was not a true Peacecraft. None of them were worthy. He attacked her. She didn't say who it was she was talking about, not until the end of the video when she screamed. She screamed, 'Zechs, no!' and the video was cut off."

I swallowed. "Oh. So you were right. Zechs has gone insane too."

"There's one other thing that concerns me," Heero confessed.

"What?" I asked.

"I keep going through the video in my mind, and each time, there's someone in the background giggling. It's too feminine to be Zechs, so I've no idea whom else it could be."

"Play the video, again," I suggested.

Heero shook his head grimly. "I don't know if I can see it again without getting ... very upset."

"You care about her that much, huh?" I asked. Another feeling in the pit of my stomach. And a new one in my chest. Things were crazy ...

Heero said, pulling out his laptop, "Not as much as you might think. Watch with me, Duo. Maybe you'll be able to see something I haven't."

And just when I thought I could be no more confused, Heero starts pulling this nice guy thing with me. War changes people, right, gotcha there. But Heero ... what the hell did he might "not as much as you think?" When did he start asking people for help? Thank you, Heero, for making my life much more complicated. Without you, my life might have been more simple. Here I was, killing my friends, then you showed up to complicate it all. That was sarcasm, by the way.

Instead of expressing my Heero-frustration, I nodded and said, "Sure, Heero."

He typed some codes and whatever he did to access his files, and turned the laptop so that I could see the screen. It flickered on, and Relena's face appeared, bruised and painful-looking.

"Heero," she hissed, "Heero ... I don't know what's wrong with him. He just burst into my office and started yelling. He said I wasn't fit to be a Peacecraft. He told me --" she winced, and gripped her arm "-- that none of us were anymore. Heero, you must do something. He's gone crazy! He's attacked me! I'm hiding right now, I hope this gets to you. Heero, he's absolutely mad! He's --" Her eyes widened and she looked to her side. She gasped and screamed, "Zechs! No! Do --"

The screen cut off. Heero shut off the laptop and said, "Did you hear the giggling?"

I nodded. "Yeah. But Relena also said something at the end, other than Zechs' name. She said 'Do.' Obviously, she didn't get to say it, but that might be a hint of something."

"Aa," Heero agreed. He frowned and his forehead scrunched up in contemplation.

"So," I said, "Zechs, Wufei, Quatre, and Trowa. Then there's me and you, of course. Four of us have gone nuts-o. And why? Because those damned scientists decided to invent the Zero System. And people love to screw with everyone's head." I shook my head in disbelief. "Stupid old farts. Glad they're dead."

Heero's head snapped up. "Dorothy Catalonia."

"What?" I said intelligently. "Who's that?"

"In the first war, she was the one who used to Zero System to control the Mobile Dolls. Remember, she stabbed Quatre."

Right. How could I forget dear ole Dorothy? "She was the blonde, right?" Then I suddenly thought that there were a lotta blondes in the war. Quatre, Dorothy, Zechs, Relena ... Well, sorta Relena. She has a kind of blondish-brown, while Zechs is more of -- okay, way off track. Anyway ...

"Quatre and I met her when we stayed at Relena's school. She has also been exposed to the Zero System. Relena's last words on the video was something that began with a D."

"And the giggling on the video belonged to a girl!" He nodded. So, we'd found our mystery person. "So, she's insane, too, huh. Well, you know it was kind of obvious. From what Quatre told me ..." I trailed off. I seemed to be doing that a lot. A bad habit from somewhere.

"Instead of just Zechs, now we have Dorothy to deal with," Heero said.

Oh, of course. I remarked, "And the plot thickens." It was supposed to be funny. But all my intended humor flew out the window when Heero glared at me.

I leaned back and fell asleep.

 

.eight.

There we stood. Heero aiming his gun at Zechs, Zechs aiming his gun at me, and me weaponless because of my own stupidity. Dorothy's body was laying across the room, a fencing foil pierced through her body, and limp like a ragdoll. She's dead. Relena? Poor girl.

"Put your gun down," Heero said, no room for arguement in his voice.

Zechs smiled at him. I shuddered. Like the rest, his smile was cold and creepy and his eyes were dark and ... soulless. "Heero," he said calmly, "you know I'm not going to listen to you. It's not logical. If I put my gun down, you'll kill me. If I don't, you'll still kill me. But then at least, I'll be able to kill Duo." He turned those eyes to me and said, "Hello, Duo."

The way he said it was so polite, you'd think he was trying to be chummy with me. I wanted to laugh. But I was frozen in my place. So I just looked at him, willing myself to not to piss my pants. Hey; if you were in my position, you'd be thinking the same thing.

"Zechs, I'll only say it one last time. Put your gun down."

"Zechs," I started, sounding nervous and trying not to, "why don't ya listen to him? Hey, aren't you a fighting-fair kinda guy? I'm defenseless here. At least gimme a gun or something. You wouldn't harm someone weaker than you, wouldja?" My eyes were darting around the room. Where had my gun fallen to? Zechs had kicked it out of my hand and it went where?

I could feel Zechs' eyes on me. I spotted my gun, right beside Dorothy's body. It happened at once. Zechs replied coldly, "No," and I leapt to the side. The instant I did, there was a shot, and someone shouted, "DUO!"

Then I saw black.

 

 

We'd arrived at Relena's castle at sunset. The front doors were wide open, and I glanced at Heero. "I think someone's 'specting us," I said in a low whisper. He nodded and entered cautiously, with me at his back.

When you enter Relena's castle through the front, you are met with a grand staircase. The staircase is wooden with a red carpet rolled down the middle. It's a velvet carpet, too, that feels sooo good if you're walking down it barefoot. There's a chandelier that dangles overhead, and there are paintings and what-nots hanging from the walls. All the paintings and what-nots on the walls had been slashed and destroyed. I was reminded suddenly of Zorro and wondered if Zechs had ever heard of him. But then again, that was my weird humor talking and I snapped my intention to the object hanging above the staircase, looking as though it were floating.

The object? Relena.

We rushed to her. Her feet were a foot off the steps. Her arms were spread-eagle, and her head was lolled to the side. Heero lifted her head, and her eyes were wide-open, fearful. I covered my mouth and forced myself to not throw up. Heero moved his fingers over her eyes, closing them. She was dead.

"A martyr," said a voice from behind. We turned, on guard and aiming our guns. A girl with really long blonde hair stood directly center of the now closed doors. She wore what looked like a military uniform and held her hands behind her. She advanced toward us slowly, stopping when she was three feet from Relena' hanging body. We kept our guns trained on her. Her eyes -- they wre pupilless blue-gray orbs -- glittered as they gazed upon the former queen. "She died believing. Even when the tip of the blade flew through her chest, she still believed in the good of her own murderer, her own brother." A sigh from the blonde. "Isn't it splendid?"

"Dorothy Catalonia," Heero said stiffly.

Her eyes shifted. So this was Dorothy, huh? I'd never met her in person before. "Heero Yuy," she answered. She bowed. "I'm honored." She glanced at me. "Duo Maxwell. A pleasure, I'm sure." I wasn't surprised she knew my name. Zero System or not, this chick was crazy.

"Where is Zechs?" Heero asked.

Dorothy smiled slyly. "Obviously not here," she said.

"Dorothy, tell us where Zechs is. If you don't, I will kill you now instead of later," Heero informed her calmly.

"You would not give me the pleasure of a rematch, then?" Her eyes darkened to that healthy insane look I was so used to seeing. It had her now. She stepped back, moving her arms out and revealing a fencing foil. Her face filled with contempt as she cried out, "En garde!" She jumped forward and with a flick of her wrist, knocked the gun out of my hand. "Duo," Heero said to me, "catch." In replacement of the gun, another foil. I wasn't even going to ask where he managed to find this, so I yelled instead, "I don't know how to fence!"

"Wing it," he said, leaving my side. I was left with a smirking Dorothy and a dead Relena hanging beside me. I know my confidence was certainly rising.

So this is how it went: she advanced, I blocked. She advanced, I blocked and shielded myself with Relena's body. She advanced, but the foil went through my shield, mere inches above my hastily ducked head. I heard Dorothy gasp and peeked out warily from behind my shield. Dorothy stumbled back. "Oh my God," she said. "Relena ... Relena, I never meant to ..." She fell to her knees.

I approached her cautiously. She looked up at me. "Will you tell him I died in batle?" shea sked me. Her eyes looked normal enough.

I pointed the tip of the foil directly above her heart. I said, "I'll tell him you died."

I imagined she died very slowly and painfully, even though she closed her eyes the minute I stabbed her. She didn't make a noise, except for the gasp when the foil went through. Five minutes later, a bullet whizzed past my ear and I broke into a run. I'm not stupid enough to stand around and let someone shoot at me. I got a little across the room when I heard the deep voice. "Stop. That was only a warning shot. Next time it won't be."

No, I kept running. Of course I stopped! Zechs knew what he was doing, and I was positive that insanity had not affected his shot. I spun around to face him. He was five feet away, pointing the gun at me.

"Zechs." Then Heero was standing five feet away from Zechs. That's where we were when the shot rang out.

 

.nine.

There was black. It wasn't a comforting black. It was an eerie black. Too calm to be natural.

I tried to open my eyes. But it was surprisingly hard. I had this feeling of "no" spreading all through my body. Then it suddenly felt like I was being restrained, restrained in my own mind, like something was ... looking ... over ... And i gasped. Well, in my head I gasped. It. When my eyes opened it was more like I was watching a movie. Scenes were being projected to me rather then my actually living them.

Heero's mouth was on mine. That was ... interesting. I found that I liked this feeling. That scared me and surprised me. It, on the other hand, had different feelings. It shoved Heero away very roughly and shouted, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Heero looked at me -- It -- with surprise. "Duo, you're awake," he said.

It wiped my mouth and spatted, "Whoa, you got something right. Give the man his reward." It looked around. Zechs was bleeding on the floor a few feet away with a hole in his head. Heero followed It's gaze and said, "He shot at you and missed. I killed him. You passed out and stopped breathing. I had to give you mouth to mouth."

"Bet you just loved that, hm?" It sneered.

I, on the other hand, was horrified. I struggled against the restraints It had on me. "Stop!" I shouted. "Stop! Stop! Stop!"

"Did it get ya excited, Heero?" It continued harshly. "Hm? Did you like how it felt?"

Heero frowned. "Duo, what are you talking about? Are you --"

It stepped forward and grabbed Heero's wrists and pressed them to his side. He leaned forward. "Heero, Heero, Heero," It said in a horrible whisper. "You don't think I knew? I thought you were much smarter than that."

My mental jaw dropped. "What? What are you doing? Stop it! Heero, don't listen to It! LISTEN TO ME!"

It had him trapped. It was amazingly strong, even stronger than Heero. Heero was struggling against It's grip.

"Come on, Heero," It chided, "look at me. Admit it. I'm right, aren't I? Look at me."

Heero raised his head, glaring at It. I remained helpless. Heero's glare softened bit. "Duo ... your eyed ..."

"My eyes?" It repeated, tightening his hold. "What about them?"

I shouted as loudly as I could (and for an instant was reminded of Relena):

"HEERO!"

And then I was free.

The grip on Heero loosened and Heero eyed me with concern. "Duo? Is it you?"

"What did It mean?" I asked him. "You've got to tell me, what did It mean?" I was a desperate man. I held onto him though and asked, "How did you find me? Why? You never told me."

"I've been looking for you," Heero said slowly. "And when the deaths started, I became ... concerned."

"Why?" I felt the tugging. It was trying to pull me back. I had to stay tough, just a little longer. "Please, Heero, please."

"Duo ..." He hesitated. Then he said, "Duo, your eyes ..."

Pani was rising. It was getting stronger. "Tell me, Heero, please. Hurry!"

"I always liked your eyes," he said. Whispered. Almost missed it.

He kissed me. It surprised me, because it was so ... un-Heero to do something so spontaneous, especially something like this. But I let myself lose control and kissed back. His lips were a little chapped but still soft and warm and real. That was important. They were real. He was real. It was a nice distraction. I almost missed the feeling of the gun sliding between us. But I felt it.

"Duo," he murmured.

It was coming. Soon I wouldn't be real. I smiled sadly.

I felt the trigger being pulled.

 

.epilogue.

Bang.

[Betrayal.]

He slumped against me and the gun fell between us, clattering to the floor. His breath grew more ragid and shallow as the minutes passed. I sank to my knees, holding him in my arms. "I -- I --" I couldn't find the words. He raised his head, or tried to anyway, but couldn't. I held him closer and said in a choked voice, "S-save your strength. Don't ... don't try to do anything. For me." He started to rasp. I quickly realized he was laughing.

"Always," he said. "Always knew ..."

My shirt was getting wet. I frowned and adjusted him so that I could see his face. I touched his cheeks. "You're crying!" I exclaimed.

He closed his eyes and said, "For ... you." He coughed, mixing blood with the tears on my shirt.

Twelve seconds later he stilled.

[It begins with betrayal.]

I positioned him so that I was almst cradling him, with his head against my shoulder. I tangled my fingers into his hair and stroked his back. I rocked back and forth, cradling him, whispering to him, and crying for him, much to my surprise.

'Tell my why,' I begged silently, 'it had to end like this.'

[It ends with death.]

As I mourned him, surrounded by the dead, I thought. There were seven known people to survive the Zero System. The six Gundam pilots and Dorothy Catalonia. One recorded death. Six of the seven turned insane. Only one of the seven still alive. Me. And what about me? I killed him.

I killed him.

[My death.]

I laughed. It came unexpectedly and reminded myself of my laugh whenever I killed the enemy. And soon, I realized, feeling the darkness prick at the back of my head, I would become the enemy too. I, like the others, wouldn't be real anymore.

I gave him something real. He wanted it, he needed it. I wanted him to know I was real, I was still around for him.

Maybe I wasn't real enough, maybe I was too real. Either way, it was he that guided my hand to the gun and my finger to pull the trigger. He shot himself, and I killed him.

I felt dizzy, on the verge of passing out. It wasn't the scent of blood -- I was well used to that, no matter how overwhelming. It was the insanity. I was at its edge, feeling its barest of touches on my mind. The hand on his back left him and crept out to blindly grope for the fallen gun. Idly I wondered what the headlines would read. 'Five Found Dead in Peacecraft Castle. The Last Peacecrafts and Three Unidentified.' We would be unknown, of course, because we;d never been recognized as Gundam pilots after the war. We'd be unknown. And because of that, we wouldn't be real.

Duo would no longer be real.

I kissed the top of his head while bringing the muzzle to mine. I could feel myself beginning to change.

A creaking noise reminded me of the others' presence. Relena, hanging in the air; Dorothy, pierced through her chest; Zechs, a bullet in his head; Duo, shot by himself and killed by me. And I --

[I died.]

I died.

[end]

_______________

IT'S OVER!

Confused a bit? Okay, let me explain. Everyone died. ^_^ Duo put the gun between himself and Heero and was basically saying (you know, while they were kissing), "Shoot me or I'm going to kill you." So Duo shot himself but with Heero's hand on the gun too, so both of them killed Duo. Get it? Okay, now see, this fic STARTS with Heero, thinking all the betrayal-blah-blah stuff in the very beginning. And it ENDS with Heero, thinking along the same lines again. So .. there ya go.

So, how was that? I'm a little bit nervous with the ending. The only people that didn't die (if my memory serves me correctly) were Lady Une, Sally Po, Hilde, Mariemaia ... I don't remember anyone else. Hm. And they're all chicks.

PLEASE respond! Did you love it? Hate it? Disappointed? I'm WAITING!

 

L&L,
C

 

.notes.
I am going to do my best to de-confuse all the readers of BtG.

First, let me give you the shortest summery of this fic that I can think of.

Everyone dies.

But since that summery doesn't really say much, here's a [hopefully] better one.

It's after the second war, after Mariemaia, post-Endless Waltz. Duo hasn't settled down, so he's just wandering around. So BtG starts with Duo in a hotel room. Wufei shows up. Wufei attacks Duo. Duo kills Wufei. Duo runs to Quatre. Quatre attacks Duo. DUo kills Quatre. Duo runs to L3 to kill Trowa. But he hears on the news that Triton Bloom attacked and killed Catherine Bloom. Then he killed himself. Duo waits on L3 for Heero. Heero comes. Duo threatens Heero. Heero comforts Duo. Duo and Heero figure out that the Zero System has side effects. Heero gets a message from Relena. Heero and Duo go to Relena. Relena is dead. Heero goes to find Zechs. Dorothy attacks Duo. Duo kills Dorothy. Duo and Heero meet Zechs. Duo passes out. Heero kills Zechs. Duo starts to feel the side effects. Then he returns to nromal. Then he starts to feel the side effects again. Heero kisses Duo. So Duo kills himself. Then Heero kills himself. The end.

That wasn't really a summery either. But in case you forgot, now you know what happened.

Okay, POV. Most of the story is told from Duo-POV. But the very begining of part one and the entire epilogue are Heero-POV.

Question: Why did Heero kiss Duo?
Answer 1: Heero felt like it.
Answer 2: Heero liked Duo.
Answer 3 (most confusing): Throughout the fic, Duo keeps thinking about how his friends weren't "real" (or something along those lines), and by that he basically meant they were insane. While Duo was going insane, he was becoming "not real." Heero, by kissing Duo, was giving Duo something real before they both went insane, and thus becoming "not real."

I had one reason for writing BtG. And it actually wasn't to kill off all the characters. (In fact, killing all of them wasn't my original plan!) The one reason I wrote BtG was because of part 5 when Heero and Duo finally encounter each other. I wanted to write that scene so bad, but I decided that I might as well write a whole fic to accompany it.

So...

Does this clear up anything? Still more questions?

Send 'em over and I'll try to answer!