10-19-2001

Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing or any of its characters, and I never will unless I get lucky and win a really big lottery. Until that day comes, Gundam Wing is the property of Bandai, Sunrise and Sotsu Agency.

Warnings: AU and will eventually lead to lemons, angst, danger, betrayal and other good things. You may not like the way some of the more favored characters are portrayed, but give them a chance anyway.

Pairings: None so far but eventually 1X2 for sure.

Rating: NC-17 overall, This chapter R for language. Each chapter will get its own rating.

Author: KwyckSylver mailto:kwycksylver@aol.com

About the title: It's a poem/lyrics by Kendrew Lascilles, found on the album Chicago III, the side titled Elegy. I have never heard it as a song, I've known it as a poem since high school (yes - back during the Medireview ages). I remember reading it in a book then, but I don't remember the title.

~*~

When All The Laughter Dies In Sorrow

When all the laughter dies in sorrow
And the tears have risen to a flood
When all the wars have found a cause
In human wisdom and in blood
Do you think they'll cry in sadness
Do you think the eye will blink
Do you think they'll curse the madness
Do you even think they'll think?

When all the great galactic systems
Sigh to a frozen halt in space
Do you think there will be some remnant
Of beauty of the human race
Do you think there will be a vestige
Or a sniffle or a cosmic tear
Do you think a greater thinking thing
Will give a damn that man was here?

~*~

The Setup: The Allied Earth Nations and the United Lagrange Colonies have bitterly disputed for years over the rich resources found in the asteroid belt. Private corporations have been disrupting and sabotaging the mining operations of their competitors to the point that a cold war has broken out between the two governments. The Colonial Parliament fears the disputes will escalate to a declared war unless they can find a way to cripple Earth's space and military capabilities. Loyal Colonists have quietly infiltrated Earth as fifth columnists. They live the lives of normal citizens while trying to slow down Earth's industrial machine through sabotage and direct attacks. They could be your neighbors, your bosses, or your friends. The Oz Specials, the branch of the military in charge of Earth's security, has had no luck in tracking them down. Until now.

~*~

Pausing long enough to take a deep breath as he shifted his backpack on to one shoulder, the young man summoned his resolve and walked through the door.

He could swear he'd entered chaos. The hallways were bustling with others his age, noses glued to schedules as they searched for room numbers and lockers. He smiled, garnering some comfort from the familiarity of it all. The first day of school was the same everywhere.

He wove his way through the crowd, sidestepping to avoid one body only to collide with another. 'Excuse me-s, I'm sorries, and oops-es' followed him until he stopped in front of the door he'd been looking for. He knocked, then entered the small office and put on his best smile.

"Good morning, I'm Duo Maxwell. I was told to report to the counselor and give her these papers so I can pick up my class schedule," he said.

The secretary looked up from the mound of paperwork sitting on her desk and gave the newly enrolled student a cursory glance.

"Have a seat and she will be with you shortly," she said.

"Thank you, Mrs.," he paused to look at her nameplate, "Paganini," he sat in one of the plastic chairs that lined one wall, joining the other student who was also waiting.

"New here?" she spoke up, "I am, we just moved to this town. My dad got a job at the mobile suit factory that opened this summer."

"Yeah, I'm new too," Duo answered, "the name's Duo."

"Mine's Hilde," she answered, "I'm a sophomore, and you?"

"Senior," Duo grinned.

"Miss Schbeiker?" the counselor asked, "I hope I pronounced your name right, you may come in to my office now."

"Bye. Nice meeting you, Duo. See you around campus?" Hilde asked as she arose from her chair.

"I'll be around," Duo said as he tried to find a comfortable position to sit. He began staring at the clock Mrs. Paganini had hanging on the wall next to her desk. He wondered how many students had been hypnotized by that clock as they sat and waited.

~*~

His mind must have drifted because he was suddenly aware his name was being repeated, rather emphatically.

"Any day now, Mr. Maxwell," the counselor was standing over him none too pleased, it seemed.

"Sorry," he apologized sheepishly as he followed her, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.

"Sit down, Duo," the clerk said less formally, "did you bring your record transcripts from your old school?"

"Yes, ma'am," he answered, "I'm sorry I didn't get them to you sooner, but my move was rather sudden."

"That's ok, with the factory opening up and so many new families moving here, I'm afraid we've fallen a little behind ourselves. We've barely had enough time to get enough temporary classrooms built before school started, as it is. I was hoping though, to get to meet your parents."

" It's just my dad. I'm afraid he's away a lot, ma'am. He's opening up two new recycling centers in other cities."

"Are you aware it's illegal for a minor to attend school without a responsible adult in residence?"

"I am eighteen," he replied, "my dad chose to move here because my brother is taking graduate courses at the university, that way I'm not by myself. He's twenty two, if that helps."

"I guess that's acceptable. Well, here's your schedule. Your first class is your homeroom and that teacher will assign you a locker. You'll also need a hall pass so you're not counted tardy. Welcome to St. Georges High School, Duo."

"Thank you, Miss Noin. Oh, uh are the tryouts for the football team still open?"

"I believe the last tryouts are this afternoon, but to be sure, ask Coach Chang," she said, "now scoot on out of here and get to class."

"Yes ma'am," Duo scooped the papers off her desk and hurried off to class.

~*~

The morning seemed to drag by. Each period was a repeat of the previous one. The teacher would issue textbooks, hand out a list of required supplies and expound on the importance of keeping the rules of the classroom unbroken. And Duo still hadn't found out if football tryouts were over.

The lunch bell rang and he herded out the door with his classmates, following them to the cafeteria. He was starving and quickly queued in to the hot food line. It wasn't as crowded as he'd expected. The grill, on the other hand, was overflowing with hungry students who desired less healthy foods for their noon meal.

The line moved slowly but he eventually made it to the head of the line. He was about to grab a tray and utensils when someone bumped into him.

"Outta the way braid boy, we're cutting in," deep blue eyes dared him to protest as they burned holes through him. For some reason those eyes gave Duo a chill.

"Hey! Just who do you think you are?" he could feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

"We're the guys that just told you to get the fuck out of the way," one of the group snarled as he gave Duo a shove.

Duo was about to push back when a hand on his shoulder stopped him.

"I wouldn't, if I were you," the gentle voice whispered.

Duo turned around, facing the girl who had just spoken. She was petite, with soft eyes, burnished gold hair and a very angry look on her face.

"And why not?" he asked.

"That's Heero Yuy, he and the rest of the goon squad make up most of the defensive line on our football team. If you get into a fight with any of them, you will automatically get the blame for starting it," she said with disgust.

"Hmmm, school favorites, huh?" Duo responded, "oh, my name is Duo, by the way."

"Mine's Relena," she smiled, "not just favorites, they're the reason we've won the championship for the last two years. Around here they're gods."

"With a big 'G' or a little 'g'?", he grinned. "Oh . . . uh, would you happen to know if the football tryouts are still open?" it wouldn't hurt to ask.

"Oh, good, a sense of humor," she giggled. "You report to the field house by the stadium right after school. Are you thinking of trying out?" she couldn't understand why he was interested in the tryouts, especially after what had just happened.

"I was planning on it anyway, but now I have a reason to," he answered.

Relena gave him a questioning look.

"You know the old saying, 'if you can't beat 'em . . . join 'em'," he grinned, "and kick their asses while you're at it."

"I think I'm going to like you, Duo," Relena laughed, "and I'll be there to root for you. I'm on the cheerleading squad."

"Cool," he smiled his most winning smile, "I think I'm gonna need a fan club."

They sat together and as they ate lunch Relena filled Duo in on all the student politics. Which cliques were popular, the troublemakers to stay away from, the teachers you could go to for help and where the hangouts were. What would have taken him a month to find out on his own, Relena had educated him in ten minutes and they were fast becoming friends.

~*~

When the final release bell rang, Duo made a mad dash for the field house.

"Name please?" a student stood at the door, taking the names of the hopefuls who had showed up.

"Duo Maxwell."

"Ever play football before? On a varsity team that is?"

"Yeah, the school I used to attend."

"What positions have you played?"

"I was the starting quarterback last year. Before that I played running back."

"Don't expect to make quarterback this year, Maxwell, if you make the team at all that is, cause that's me," the boy's smile wasn't too friendly.

"I wasn't holding my breath for it," Duo returned the same unfriendly smile, "besides, I prefer to be the one who scores."

"Grab some equipment and a uniform and suit up, wiseass, then head on out to the field."

~*~

Coach Chang stepped out onto the field and looked over the crowd of young men standing before him. The turn out looked promising, he should have no problem in filling the positions vacated by the seniors who'd graduated last May.

He blew his whistle, getting their attention. "I want to thank you for coming out today. As you know, this is the final day for tryouts. If you don't make the team, I'm sorry but there's always next year. Now I want you to form two groups. Those who are trying out for offense positions, line up over here," he pointed to the left side of the benches. "And defense, make a line there," he pointed to the right side of the benches.

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the other boys as Coach Chang tried them out in different positions. Duo was the only one who hadn't even had a chance to step out onto the field when the coach made his announcement.

"Thank you for coming out, my choices will be posted on the bulletin board in the locker room tomorrow afternoon. Good luck to all of you, you were great," Coach Chang turned to walk back to the field house, "Oh. Maxwell . . . I didn't forget about you. Come into my office, please."

"You know me?" Duo asked.

"I had the privilege of seeing you play a couple of years ago," the coach answered, "I'm good friends with the head coach at the university, I go with him on a lot of scouting trips. I recognized you the minute I saw you standing on my field and decided you're pretty much on the team all ready. That is if you can get past my defensive team. I need someone that can double as running back and tight end. How's your blocking?"

"I hold my own, I think."

"Good, because you're going up against the best high school defense this state has ever seen. If you can elude them or keep them away from the quarterback, you've got the job. Now get out there and show me how you earned your nickname."

"Uh, Coach, I hate that nickname, the local sports reporters hung it on me and it stuck."

~*~

Duo stood in formation, the quarterback called his signals, the center snapped the ball. The quarterback took several steps backwards faking a pass as Duo ran towards him. The quarterback handed off the ball to Duo. He cradled it close to his side and he started running while the guards did their best to block the oncoming defense. Duo continued to sprint as fast as his legs could carry him, knocking over a tackle he'd caught by surprise with his speed and agility. The contact with the tackle slowed him down momentarily and as he was picking up speed. He felt his legs buckle from under and he went down, an oppressive weight was on top of him, preventing him from moving. He'd been tackled from behind. He heard the coach's whistle blowing in short loud bursts, and the weight shifted, moving off him.

"So you think you're gonna make the team," Heero Yuy said as he stood up, "heh, so far I'm not impressed."

Duo wished he could wipe the smirk off the other boy's face.

"Great job!" Coach Chang said, barely containing the excitement in his voice, "you rushed for twenty five yards, Maxwell."

"What's so great about that, Coach?" Heero snorted, "I still took him down, like I take all of 'em down."

"Yuy, you are the best linebacker in the state, but if he can gain twenty five yards off of you, he can gain twice that off the other teams. Ok Duo, let's see you block."

"With pleasure, Coach," Duo turned towards the other boy and blew him a kiss, "come on sweet cheeks, you may have surprised me from behind, but you ain't gettin' through me." Duo was enjoying the hell out of taunting the other boy, it kind of made up for lunch.

"I will and I'm gonna give you the added bonus of shoving that kiss back down your throat, braid boy," Heero growled, "I'm also gonna rub your face into the grass for calling me that."

"Well, bring it on asshole, let's see what you're made of," Duo continued to taunt.

"Knock it off and take your positions," Coach Chang warned, "keep the rivalry off the field, you're supposed to be team members, so act like it."

"Sorry Coach," Heero replied as he stuck his hand underneath the face guard on his helmet, as if to scratch an itchy nose. Instead he gave Duo the finger, then took his place on the field.

This time, Duo took his position as tight end, the quarterback was going to pass. The center again snapped the ball, again the quarterback faded back as the defense tried to break through the offensive line. The quarterback threw the ball and it soared in a perfect spiral into the hands of the wide receiver as he ran towards the opposing goal line. Duo had his hands full blocking Heero, preventing him from advancing on the quarterback and then turning on the wide receiver just long enough for the receiver to reach a safe distance from the linebacker, and then he went down.

Again Coach Chang blew his whistle, "ok everyone, time to hit the showers." He walked out onto the field to help Duo get up.

"Are you ok, son?" he asked. Heero had hit him hard.

"I'm fine," Duo croaked, "just got a little wind knocked outta me."

"You held him back, you really held him back. Your coach from Middleton was nuts. He totally wasted your talents as a quarterback, you know that?"

"Well, we didn't have much choice. Both our quarterbacks were out with mono. We did manage to make it to the playoffs, even though we lost."

"This year you have a darned good chance of going all the way to the championship. Especially now that I also have a really strong offense. I'm glad to have you on the team, Duo. I just hope you and Yuy learn to get along."

"It's up to him, Coach. And I promise I won't bait him anymore," Duo chuckled, "well, at least not too much."

"Please don't. I wouldn't want to have to throw both of you off the team, but I will if I have to."

"I gotcha, loud and clear, Coach," Duo's voice was contrite, he'd been duly warned and he knew it.

"Good, now go take your shower, then get your butt home and to bed early. We have morning practice at seven as well as after school practice until six."

"Yikes, that doesn't leave much time for homework, does it?"

"No, that's why I'll be assigning you a study buddy from the team. You can help each other get your work done. It's a program I've used since I've started teaching, and it works. All the boys maintain good grades, I expect you to do the same. Now go take that shower."

"Yes sir," Duo grinned.

~*~

Duo walked into the field house and headed for the showers. He began peeling the uniform off as soon as he'd hit the doors. Most of the team had all ready finished bathing and were half dressed. They all nodded and welcomed him as he passed, introducing themselves. The quarterback, the one who had been taking the names at the door, smiled, a friendly smile this time.

"You are one awesome player, dude," he grinned, "and I'm sorry for being so rude earlier."

"No problem. Uh, where do you keep the soap and the towels?"

"The soap is in dispensers in the shower and the towels are on the bench at the entrance."

"Thanks, if you guys are gone by the time I'm done, I guess I'll see you in the morning."

"Seven sharp, and that means dressed out and waiting on the field, the coach doesn't tolerate tardiness."

"So that means be here by six thirty," Duo groaned, "well I guess I can give up on sleep for a while."

"You'll get used to it, we all had to," the quarterback said, "after a while, it will seem normal to you."

"I hope so," Duo said as he finished getting undressed except for his jock strap, he'd take that off before he entered the showers. He turned the corner, towards the sound of spraying water, the shower entrance lay just ahead. It was a large open area, like most locker room showers. The usual multiple shower heads all sprayed at one time while only a small pool of water managed to find its way onto the floor outside.

He removed his strap and began to enter, then stopped. There was only one person in the shower and that person was Heero Yuy. Luckily his back was turned towards the entrance and he didn't see Duo standing there. But Duo saw him, and the tattoo he had on his shoulder. It was a heart over a field of stars. Duo quietly turned away from the showers, went to his locker, dressed as quickly as he could, and left. He wanted to avoid a fight.

~*~

He walked home, the air felt crisp, with a hint of fall in the breeze. He shuffled through newly fallen leaves as he thought about his first day at St. Georges. It was a most productive day and he was surprised at how lucky he had been.

He walked up the steps to the front door of the house he had recently moved into and tried the knob. It was open, which meant Zechs was there. He went inside, the smell of dinner cooking on the stove filled the house.

"So how did it go today?" a tall blond man stood at the stove, stirring whatever was in the pan.

"Good and bad," Duo said, "I made the football team, but there are so many new kids at that school, I don't know how long it's going to take me to find the one we are looking for."

"Just make sure you do, our mission depends on it," Zechs answered, his eyes narrowing. He didn't like problems.

"I know," Duo said, turning his face away from those steely eyes. He had just lied to his superior officer and didn't know why.

~*~

TBC