1-1-2002

Growing Wings

By LdySowan

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is owned by Bandai, Sunrise and Sotsu Agency and probably a host of other folks I know nothing about.

Pairings: 2x1 (there will be some serious lemon and NC later, but I'll warn you when they come up)

Comments: This fic takes place four years after Endless Waltz, so the pilots are all about 20 now. Sorry about leaving my signature on the Prolog; it wasn't intended as part of the fic--sometimes I just forget to remove it! Chapter 2 will be ready tonight. I'll try and have the Chapter 3 out to everyone Thursday night, and it will be a bit longer. C&C much welcomed! (Thank you Chiaki, Little Angle and Brighnasa!!)

 

Chapter 1

 

Duo had the music turned up so loud that he couldn't have heard a gun go off in the hangar unless it was under his nose. Lying on his back, almost entirely cocooned inside the ship, he sang off-key to himself, half-yelling his favorite lines: "Aitsu wa ore yori yasahikute? Aitsu wa ore yori tsuyoi no kai?" [1]. An old song, a funny one--it suited his mood at the moment. He hadn't stopped smiling since he had started work on the crash. Three days he had worked on his mysterious Uma, tracing the intricate tracks Yuy had laid inside the ship. He hadn't slept much. He hadn't eaten much. He was engrossed with figuring out just what it was that Heero had done to the ship, and when he had done it, and why. It was late, well into the night shift, but tired as he was, he wasn't willing to let it go just yet. Sometimes he made progress based on hunches; he knew how Heero thought (or he used to) and he knew what to expect. But there were surprises.

Heero had rigged the guidance system so that the ship had piloted itself into the moon's surface, complete with her gentle crash landing. It was the sort of audacious thing he expected from Heero: autopiloting was one thing, but auto-landing was something else entirely. No machine, not even the Zero system, could analyze things the way a good pilot could, taking into account acceleration, velocity, atmospheric density, surrounding conditions, instinct and just plain experience... Hell, that anyone ever landed properly on anything other than a smooth, paved landing strip was a bloody miracle. That he and the other pilots had perfected landing Gundams on damn near anything solid was a testament to just how good they really were.

The mobile suits had been blown up four years ago, and he still couldn't quell the surge of pride he got whenever he thought of Deathscythe. He shook his head over it. Back to the job at hand. He had sorted out the rest of what Heero had done with the guidance systems and the engines, but he still had two mysteries to solve: there was an added panel inside the hull plating that didn't belong and there were carbon scores on the outside of the hull where it looked like something had been removed from the ship, possibly cut off with an arc-torch.

For now, his focus was on the added panel, which he had finally managed to wiggle in next to. Thank god he'd never been claustrophobic. For Heero to have put the damn thing in, he couldn't have grown much. Fishing into the tool pack at his waist, he pulled out a ratchet wrench, re-sized it, and wedged himself in another few inches to get the access he needed. Thank god he'd never really filled out the way Trowa had, or he'd never have reached it. As it was, his braid was making a painful lump in the middle of his back where he had tucked it inside his shirt. He fished the small flashlight from his shirt pocket, clicked it on, and put in his mouth. He couldn't sing properly anymore, but he could see and his hands were free. It was worth it not to have to wear one of those heavy salvaging hard-hats he hated so much. And he could still hum, which he did. He had the panel off in minutes, sliding it carefully down the hull and out of the way. Returning the wrench to his pack, he peered into the now-open space, trying to see what he'd exposed.

The explosives were packed and primed with a skill only Heero Yuy had.

"Shit!" And just like that, he was choking on the butt-end of the flashlight, suddenly in the dark and banging his head against heavy metal parts that weren't very forgiving. He twisted sideways, trying to breathe, and the flashlight fell, clattering against things as it went, Duo's curses following it.

What the hell was Heero doing, sending a ship loaded with explosives to the Preventer moon base? What the fuck was Yuy thinking?! He tried to steady his breath, his mind scrambling. Okay, okay, he needed decent light, more tools; he had to get in there and figure out if it was armed or not. And if it was armed, he had to disarm the damn thing before it blew half the base out of existence.

He worked his way back, barely able to move legs that had gone numb from being cramped in tight, unnatural positions. Halfway out of the ship, he knew something was wrong. He couldn't see much of anything, with the outside of the ship being as dark as the inside. The radio was still playing loud, but the overhead hangar lights weren't on anymore. His heart, already hammering in his chest from the first discovery of the explosives, slowed and steadied. He'd never been jittery in combat, and now wasn't the time to start.

Options, options...

He didn't have a gun; there hadn't been room to carry one along with all of the tools he'd brought with him into the bowels of the ship, and he was in the heart of a Preventer base. Here, of all places, he didn't think he'd need one. It was just Maxwell luck to prove him wrong. Staying inside the ship wasn't going to do him any good. In here, he was a trapped target, and armed or not, he had better chances outside where he could move. Of course, he could just be paranoid. It was possible that someone hadn't realized he was inside the ship and had just turned the hangar lights off.

And left your radio on, Duo? Not likely...

Quiet as he could, he eased another foot toward the opening, sliding his back onto the cold steel of the bottom of the fuselage. Maxwell luck wasn't a pretty thing. He smelled blood, fresh, somewhere close by. There was a lot of it for him to be able to smell the coppery sweetness over the heavy scent of grease and fuel. He closed his eyes, tight, for just a second to spare a little prayer. He hadn't been shot yet. Maybe they didn't know he was inside the ship. The radio had been loud enough no one could have heard him. There was shelter on the far side of the hangar. If he could make it there, he could hit the com and put the base on alert, maybe get out of this with his skin intact. Maybe not, but staying here wasn't doing him any good either.

Half rolling, half-scuttling, he moved as fast and quiet as he could. He cleared the mechanic access hatch and was halfway to his feet when the Maxwell luck kicked in again. It was surreal. He didn't hear the gun--couldn't hear anything over the radio's blaring "Hitotsu no me de asu o mite"[2]. He didn't even feel pain at first, just his leg flying out from under him, like someone had hit it with a baseball bat from behind, the force of the bullet swinging him off his feet and onto his back on the floor before the hurt of it caught him.

For a second, he lay stunned on the cold, concrete flooring, his breath driven from him by the fall and the pain in his leg. But he wasn't a Gundam pilot for nothing. He had certainly fought through worse. Rather than waste time struggling to his feet, he rolled towards Uma, trying for cover, scanning the dark hollow spaces and even darker shadows for a sign of the gunman. With the echoes and the music and the dark, he couldn't tell where the shot had been fired from.

He missed him until it was too late.

He pulled himself up to his knees against the bulk of the ship, trying again to scan the room when the still-hot barrel of the gun pressed hard into Duo's temple. A familiar voice whispered against his ear, "Don't move, and I won't kill you." But Duo couldn't do that, not when he knew that not-moving was also a death sentence. Duo twisted, took in dark, cobalt blue eyes, saw the emptiness in them as Heero leveled the gun. This time, the shot it was so close he heard it over the silencer, over the music, but it still didn't seem real, not even when he felt blood pouring out of his stomach, down his back, the pain a strange and distant thing. In that instant, he knew was a bad wound, one that he wouldn't survive, though it would take some time to die.

He collapsed back to the ground, curling instinctively around his abdomen. Heero let him drop, moved away, the gun held low and ready in an easy two-handed grip. "Heero? Why?" His voice was little more than a whisper; even he could barely hear it, but Heero stilled for a moment before he moved away, a darker shadow drifting through the blackness of the hangar.

Duo drifted in and out of awareness after that, his impressions jumbled together in impossible ways: Heero, carrying the body of one of the younger guards slung carelessly over his shoulder; Heero crawling backwards out of Uma; Heero leaning over him, packing something into his stomach.

The music and darkness made everything nightmarish, Duo's mind filling in details that weren't real, couldn't be real. All over again, he was in an Oz cell, helpless while they questioned him. All over again, he was waiting to die as the air grew thinner and thinner. All over again, he was on that battlefield, watching the white afterblaze of Wing's self-destruction, screaming Heero's name. When Heero stooped to sling him over his shoulder, pain brought a moment of absolute clarity and he knew what was going on, then he well and truly passed out.
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[1] "Ai, Just On My Love" by SharanQ
[2] "The Real Folk Blues" sung by Mai Yamane (not sure if she wrote it)