I don't own Gundam Wing, though I wish I did. Please don't sue me.

Also, this is shonnen ai. Boys. In a relationship. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Rating- 'PG' for content, though this will be a mixture or waff and darkfic.
This takes place instead of Endless Waltz.

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The Splendide Mendax Account
Part One: Authenticity's Grief
by Dagmar-chan

~~~~~~

Please don't lie to me, unless you're absolutely sure I'll never find out the truth.

-Ashleigh Brilliant

~~~~~~

It will be a simple mission.

Duo and I are to play diversion, while Trowa steals the real target: a disk containing the plans for a new Aries shielding system. With luck, the enemy won't realize it has been copied and the weaknesses found until the new systems have gone into production.

Our mission is to raise hell for an hour. Most of the troops will be then diverted from their security posts giving Trowa the room he needs to infiltrate.

I can't see Duo having trouble attracting attention.

He is brushing his hair again. I can hear him behind me, occasionally cursing as he reaches an unexpected snarl.

I asked him once why he bothered to keep such a distraction. He smiled at me with that half smirk. For a moment I thought he wouldn't answer, but then he continued.

"Because it keeps me human."

Whatever that means.

Damn it. He's a distraction. I find myself wishing he had been chosen to infiltrate instead of fight. But Trowa is already in place, and wishing doesn't change anything.

I stare at the monitor for a moment longer, before logging off. We have a high margin for error, and a low probability of failure. It's the most a soldier can ask for, and I should be satisfied.

I turn my chair to face him, and watch for a moment as he ties his braid off with one smooth movement. He looks up at me, his eyes sparkling.

I recognize that look, and a small bit a fear worms into my mind.

"Heeeeeee-ro?" His voice is surprisingly restrained for the stress he has placed on my name.

I just look at him. He will continue whether or not I acknowledge the address.

"We have a couple of hours until we have to be at the site, and it's really nice out, so I was thinking that we should walk to pick up the Gundams. I mean it would be a great warm up, and if we were to steal a car then we'd be attracting attention to our hideout. And who knows when we might want it again?" He takes a deep breath, and looks at me expectantly.

I glance toward the window. "It's raining."

He grins like he has already won. "Just a sec."

He dives behind his bed, and disappears for a moment. When he resurfaces he is holding a rain poncho in each hand.

I have to stifle a slight smirk as he begins sneezing. The accumulation of dust bunnies has revolted to their cruel imprisonment, although I don't know where he could find such a splendid collection in three days.

I walk over and take the poncho from his hand. "We had better get going then."

He gives me a spontaneous half-hug, and runs out the door poncho still in hand.

Behind him, I rub the shoulder he has leaned on, trying to get the strange tingly feeling to leave.

~~~~~~

The rain is more of a mist right now, but I keep up the hood on my rain poncho. Duo is less cautious. I don't think he has passed up a single puddle, and I have found that much of the splashing has landed on me.

He is smiling still, and I wonder what it is that makes him so happy. Surely this cold suspension of water and air can't be the cause.

"Hey, Heero! Look over there."

I look, only to feel water across my side. I turn back and he is laughing as he leans back down on the leafy branch no longer coated with rain.

"Omae o korosu."

"Oh man, you can kill me, but it was worth it for the look on your face!" He chuckles and races ahead a bit, past the turn in the road. I consider chasing him, but instead walk and wait.

/At least he can have his fun./

When I reach the bend he is there, but with one hand behind his back. I continue walking toward him. When I am close enough, I tackle him. For a moment we roll, until I gain the upper hand and wrest away his secret.

In my clumsy hands, I am holding a handful of purple flowers. They are still covered with water, and several are wilting in my tight grasp. I stare at them as if I had never seen such a thing before.

"Now you ruined the surprise." He sounds disappointed but the smile is still there. "Do you like 'em? I thought they complimented your eyes."

I shift and rise, the flowers still in my grasp. When he stands to face me, I shove them toward him. "You found them. They're yours."

His smile fades for a second, then regroups. "Okay, I gave you your chance." He grabs them from my outstretched hand. Carefully, he strings the violet buds together and sticks them in his hair.

They compliment his eyes much better than they would mine.

I stalk past him.

"You're in a hurry." He spins after me.

"We have a mission, remember?" I say, keeping my voice cold.

His voice is quiet. "We always have a mission."

And for the first time I find myself wishing that were not true.

~~~~~~

Our Gundams are waiting patiently. They are the superior component of the fighting machine which we form- they have no distractions.

I check over Wing's systems before entering the cockpit. All sections appear to be functioning normally.

Inside I punch through the warm up sequence with practiced ease, waiting as the monitors lighten into being. Casually, I open a communication window to Deathscythe and wait. Duo is there and ready, looking grimly prepared as he always does minutes before a battle. Only when we finish preliminaries will he settle back in his manic state.

"Ready." It isn't a question, but I know he will take it as one.

"As ready as ever." And the mask of excitement clicks into place.

That is all the preparation we need; we both know the mission and we both know the stakes.

~~~~~~

We take fewer than ten minutes to level the base. Twenty mobile suits against two Gundams is a simple matter.

Using my beam saber against the encroaching Aries, I cut through two of the enemy and spin to stab one approaching from behind. Continuing in my momentum, I take out yet another hanging behind.

I almost pity them, fighting for what they believe in without the skills or equipment to have a chance of success.

But they are soldiers.

As the last one falls, I feel an intense relief. Deathscythe is standing in the middle of a field of broken toys, the pilot grinning.

"Well, that was easy enough, Heero." He has a mocking tone is in his voice. Lavender flower petals are scattered throughout his hair and across his shoulders.

"Hn." I refuse to let relief show in my face, but I can't trust my voice to more than a monosyllable.

"So now it's back to life as usu-" His chipper voice stops off in mid-ramble as we are buried in a mass of cannon fire and titanium. "Crap." He pulls up his beam scythe barely in time to prevent four Aries from slicing into the cockpit.

But I have my own problems and can't watch his progress. A mass of Taurus suits have pulled themselves into a offensive array, forcing me to into evasive patterns. Dodging both the spattering of fire and the a large portion of Aries which have are apparently set on making this a kamikaze mission, I flip Wing over the line of barrage and level my cannon at their backs as they struggle to disentrench themselves from their fortifications.

No, shooting them in the back isn't precisely sporting, but then neither is two hundred against two.

I press my finger against the button and ready my aim. I can hit nearly forty of them they are so thick.

Behind I spot something else. Deathescythe. /Duo./

It's my turn to swear. "Damn." I pull back my hand and switch Wing over into plane mode. With maybe half the ambush on my tail I fly off and out of sight.

This time my finger doesn't pause as I fire my buster rifle, but the enemy is prepared and scatters. I try to fire once more, bringing my total up to perhaps ten hits before discarding the slow weapon. My beam saber lights into action as I draw it, and the fight begins.

~~~~~~

I am breathing hard and I can feel a vague sensation of blood seeping from my scalp where I slammed into the back of my seat. Catching my breath slowly, I stare out across the wreckage. Somewhere in the remains of a once-pristine forest there is a bird chirping.

Occasionally I feel as if some greater power has a cruel sense of humor, if only we knew enough to see the joke.

Smothering an urge to laugh at this same power which has once again spared me, I punch into broadcast frequency. "Duo?" I try to keep the concern from my voice. "Duo, are you there?"

Only static greets me. Either of the communications units could be shorted from the battle. Or he could be out of range. Or he could be too busy to answer.

/Or he could be-/

Once again I shift over into plane mode and fly toward the origin of the ambush.

/Be okay Duo. Be okay for me./

As I reach the site I am met with a flock of thirty Leos. Tired and struggling to remain conscious, I prepare myself to fight once again.

There is no sign of Deathscythe or pilot.

/He escaped. He escaped. He's okay./ The relief is so strong I can feel it running through my veins.

The first attack knocks Wing to the ground. My forehead slams into the main monitor, red splotches fill my vision, though I can't tell if I am nearing unconsciousness or if it is just blood spreading across the screen.

Head wounds always look worse than they are, but eventually bleeding will kill you just as effectively as a bullet.

Grimly I jab my fingers at the console. Damages are where I expected. The left arm is immobilized, the wings are nearly useless.

I try leveraging Wing using her right side as a counterweight. /Get up./ The left thrusters refuse to respond. /Damn you. Get up./

I slam my hand at the control panel, willing the systems to do _something_. The only response is a steadily blinking light; I am loosing fuel from the second fuel tank.

Above me a Leo takes careful aim.

/Ironic./ I close my eyes and wait. "I was looking for Death, and now I have found it."

"Did someone call for Death?" I jump as the garbled sound pipes through the speakers. An instant later I feel the blast throw Wing through the air.

I stare at the readings filling my screen. Only belatedly do I realize why I am still alive. The blast missed the generator, instead striking the leaking fuel tank. The explosion had catapulted Wing over several hundred feet onto her right side. "Duo?"

"In the flesh; Shinigami is at your service!" He sounds chipper as he fights three suits at once. "But a little help might be nice if you have time."

This time I am able to use Wing's right arm to raise into a standing position. I draw my beam saber and slice through yet another of the enemy as he attempts to fire into my unguarded back. Even with the severe limits of my piloting and equipment, we take less than five minutes to finish them off.

Nearly diving Wing to a resting position, I open the door and jump to the ground. The landscape is swaying unsteadily.

Duo appears a moment later, his face filled with satisfaction. "So, Heero, why'd you come back? Couldn't stand the idea of any enemy mobile suits surviving? Or just couldn’t stand the idea of me getting half the glory?"

"Duo... You're alright..." My speech is slurred, and I am having a hard time standing.

"Shit! Heero are you alright?" He doesn't sound so chipper anymore.

Suddenly, I realize I am no longer standing. I am instead surrounded by a field of warm, faintly-damp black cloth.

"Heero you're bleeding!" He gently probes the back of my head, feeling for the wound. "Are these fresh?"

"Yeah." I shift to stare up at him. "I'll be fine... Just gotta catch my breath."

"Stupid! Why on earth did you come back if you didn't have to?" His arms are tightening, and his voice sounds thick.

Distantly, I can hear myself. "I came back to save you."

"Heero..."

And then there is only black.

~~~~~~

The first thing I am aware of is a soft snore next to my right shoulder.

Opening my eyes to investigate proves an ill-considered action. The sun streaming from above me is bright enough to disorient me, forming the beginnings of a headache. Or rather the remains of one.

I reach up to my forehead, and probe the bandage. The wound appears minor, though something to consider before attempting anything physical for the next few days.

Cautiously, I sit up. I am back in our dorm room.

Duo is where I expected, asleep ever edge of my bed. He looks unkempt; his clothing is wrinkled and petals are still clinging to his braid, though the original wreath is nowhere in sight. He has most of my blanket bundled under his head. One hand is grasping the edge of my pillow as well.

Even in his sleep he is beautiful.

I touch the top of his head softly, and he shifts ever so slightly. His mouth is drawn tight. "Duo?" As much as I would like to watch him sleep, I need to know the results of the mission.

He moves again, pulling my pillow closer.

/So that's how it is./

"Duo. Wake. Up." I punctuate my words with a firm shake, ignoring the ache in my arm and side.

This time his eyes open a little. "Heero?"

"Sleeping comfortably?" I let irony tinge my words, and fight the urge to smile.

Duo only stares up at me, disoriented, for a moment before registering the blanket and pillow in his arms. His confusion turns to subdued embarrassment. "Sorry?"

"Hn." This time I do smirk. "How long have I been out?"

He stretches and stands, looking strangely subdued. "You must be hungry. You've been out for three days and I know that I-"

"Did we get the information?" I do feel famished, but first I have to know.

Duo's expression darkens, and I suddenly wish I hadn't asked. He sits again. "I..." He takes a deep breath and looks away. "Heero, Trowa is dead."

My mouth moves, but nothing comes out. For a moment our room is silent except for the sounds of our breathing and the occasional student in the hallway.

I swallow and try again. "And Quatre?"

Duo shakes his head. "He's alive, but that's all I can say. Wufei's with him."

"Aa." Something hits the back of my hand and I realize that it's a tear. "Duo?"

He's still staring at the wall. "Yeah?"

"I'm not hungry."

Without looking he extends his hand and places it over mine. "Neither am I."

I tighten my hand around his. Suddenly the sun doesn't seem so bright.

To be continued....