6-18-2001

Thanks to The Queen of Blueberry Toast a/k/a Aoi-chan- TheKWOBT@hotmail.comwho gave me the idea for Duo's ancestry! You have GOT to read "The Room Where the Light Won't Find You"!! GREAT piece of work and very inspirational!All hail the queen! http://aoichan.users4.50megs.com/Fanfic.htm

I swear! This chapter was like "the chapter what would not die!!" I just kept writing and writing and writing! I thought everything was going to be fine, my first draft was at 18 kb and then a second draft at 23kb and then it just kept adding bytes! Went up to 33kb and 42 kb and finally topped out at 53kb!
I mean sheeze! This thing has gained more mass than oprah!

Wayne said to 'Let the fic write itself'. Apparently this chapter has a lot to say cause it just wouldn't SHUT UP!

Anyway, I hope you like it. I wanna thank Miniryu and Elsie for "pre-reading" what I had. You know girls this isn't the same fic I sent out to you. I changed a few things. Hope you like the adjustments.

ON WITH THE FIC!

Title: He's Mine; Heart and Soul (6/12?)
Author: Perotessa Detwieler (cearda@ultimanet.com)
Category: dramatic, Shonen-ai, slight angst
Pairings: R+1, 2+1 and apparently, Collin + Samantha! who knew?!

Disclaimer: Proof of ownership?! I don't need to show you no stinkin'
proof of ownership! But suffice to say....I don't own them, except
for Samantha, Collin, Boo, Bingo and any other original character
(like Robert and Matt Lawrence) that pops up. Those I own and keep in
small bottles in my room.
I am not making any profit, I am just borrowing them for a while. And
maybe sneaking them off to stay with me after this project is done. :)

Rating: PG

Warnings: None really, maybe a bit of rough language. Mostly though, this one is pretty mild. Just know that Heero, poor Heero, is now married to Relena. Talk about a ball n' chain!

Spoilers: None really. Set after the Series and Endless Waltz.

Author's Request: Please be gentle! This is my first try at a GW fic. If people are OOC my bad. *bad llama* I am open to feedback, but flames will be tossed in the old trash bin. You won't get a rise out of me...just crush my feelings and we don't want that now do we? Thought not.

Archived: Not that I know of. I don't have a site for GW fic....so if anyone else wants a crack at it, just tell me.

Notes: Duo Maxwell schemes to get Heero to return to him, after Heero marries Relena Peacecraft. However even he didn't know how far he would have to go to get the love of his life back.

Another little note: This one is a semi-song fic. The lyrics I thought really were appropriate. :D

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

Chapter 6 - Secrets from the Past

"...Secrets always have a way of catching up with us, which is one reason why I don't lie. That doesn't mean I won't twist the truth to suit my purposes, but flat out lying to someone? Nope don't do it! Why not? Because it hurts people and it hurts yourself. I've got enough guilt going around without having to deal with breaking someone's trust in me.
I guess that's one thing I couldn't deal with, loosing someone's trust. Hell, truth be told I just can't stand loosing."

-- from "Confessions of a Gundam Pilot" by Duo Maxwell

 

Earth - Washington D.C.
May - A.C. 201

"Have you seen this?" A newspaper was tossed onto his desk.Arching an elegant brow he looked at the interloper to his office then glanced at the paper.

"No afraid I haven't seen today's paper." He lifted the paper, unfolding it and looked at the picture.

"Change the eyes, the hair and coloring of course. Who does he remind you of?"

The reader's eyes widened and he stiffened, "This can't be." he breathed "Has 'He' seen this yet?!"

The assistant shook his head. "Not that I am aware of, but as you know even I don't have that close access."

The paper's text was devoured by hungry eyes then tossed across the room. "Oh my god! This is not happening!"

A sardonic chuckle was wrenched from his companion. "So what do we do now?"

"What CAN we do? Make sure the Emperor never sees him for starters."

Craig smiled. "That might be harder said than done. Seems one Duo Maxwell has been cordially invited to the Imperial Palace for a private audience with the Emperor this very day."

"Shit!"

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

/Look at what's happened to me/
/I can't believe it myself/
/Suddenly I am up on top of the world/
/Should have been somebody else/

Duo Maxwell sat in the back of the black limo staring broodingly out the window at the scenery that passed by.You didn't have to be a genius to know that when the Emperor of the largest nation on the planet asked to see you, you went. No questions asked.

It had come as a bit of a shock when the message came in; he and Robert had been cordially invited to come to Washington to the Imperial Palace. The Emperor wanted to give his congratulations on a job well done to the newly christened "American Hero"

Robert had declined and had hopped the next available shuttle back to L2. Quatre and his techs had also been invited but they declined instead setting up appointments to see the energy secretary and the transportation council in lieu of the Emperor.

So here he was, all alone speeding toward the Imperial Palace to meet a man who was considered by many as the most powerful man on the planet.

There was no doubt in Duo's mind that Emperor Jonathan Martin Mathis was brilliant. He had pulled off one of the most stunning political feats which had been overlooked and overshadowed by war and strife.

He had waited.

A stratagem that had served him and his people well.

He waited through the Earth Sphere Alliance.

He waited through the Oz overthrow

He waited through the Romefeller Foundation emergence.

He waited through the White Fang offensive

He waited through the Barton Group and Mariemaya.

He got his empire through the war virtually unscathed and with the resources to rebuild, it's own autonomy and self-government unencumbered by Oz or the Romefeller Foundation or the newly formed World Nation. It still held it's own economic stability and a strong central government with a strong leader at the head.

The Emperor withstood it all.

Then when everything appeared stable, after Mariemaya's attempt at capturing victory was defeated, he played his hand. He refused to dissolve the North American Empire's borders. Willfully and deliberately he defied the proclamation of the "Queen of the World"; Romefeller's figurehead for peace and legitimacy.

The North American Empire was a constitutional Monarchy and Relena Peacecraft was not of their Royal Family. They refused to heed her words and would continue as a sovereign national wholly independent of an overlord.

The Romefeller Foundation, not wanted another war tried diplomacy to bring the Empire into line, but all their ambassadors were ejected from it's borders and the Emperor stubbornly stuck by his word. He had lost much through the bickering and fighting and he had survived through the Alliance, the two wars, and now the Earth Sphere Unified Nation. The North American Empire was strong and didn't need to bow it's head to Romefeller they didn't have too nor would they.

Other countries, seeing the Empire rebel, sided with them and their reasoning and they too defied the concept of a World Nation; an idea which quickly crashed and burned all thanks to a man who simply took the time to wait to make his move.

The Earth Sphere Unified Nation warned the Empire that if they didn't submit to them that their economy would suffer. A threat that was as empty as their armament warehouses. If it was one thing the Empire had, it was raw resources and money. With their strong central government they were not only able to withstand the pathetic embargoes and sanctions that the Earth Sphere Unified Nation placed on it, it flourished. It took advantage of the new peace between Earth and the space colonies and opened up trade relations with them; much to Earth Sphere Unified Nation's dismay.

And now here he was being ushered into the Imperial Palace to be congratulated by the Emperor on breaking an old world record. Duo smirked. When he moved up he really moved up! This was much better than going to meet the Governor of the L2 colony.

He was greeted at the door of the palace by security and one of the palace staff; who had a false smile and secrets lurked in those hooked eyes.

"Good Morning, My name is William Ramsey, I am his Majesty's Private Secretary. I am so glad that you accepted the invitation Mister Maxwell. As you may know, the Emperor is very eager to meet you today. He will join you here in the Blue Room in a few moments. Please sit down, would you like a refreshment?"

Duo shook his head. "No thank you. I am fine."

"Very good sir. Before the Emperor does appear I would like to go over a few points of protocol."

Duo blinked and mentally groaned. <'Ok so I grew up in a slum. Don't mean I am gonna pick my nose then shake the guy's hand!'>

"As a point of respect, you should rise when the Emperor enters the room. When he offers you his hand to shake, take it firmly but not roughly. Do not speak until he addresses you and only address him as 'His Majesty'."

Duo nodded meekly while inside he seethed with hurt anger.

"You're not terrifying another visitor with the 'Do's and Don'ts' of meeting me are you, Wills?"

Duo and the Secretary jumped and turned toward the voice.

True, he had seen pictures of the Emperor but they really didn't give any indication on how young the man was. His eyes sparkled with humor as they gazed upon his Secretary and the young man with him. Tall and broad shouldered, robust and yet trim, in the peak of his life, Emperor Jonathan Martin Mathis, son of Christopher Ethan Mathis, Sixth Emperor of the North American Empire, strode into the room.

Duo quickly scrambled to his feet and found that he was the same height as the Emperor. Eyes of a most striking vivid shade of blue met his own and he felt his breath catch.

It took him a few moments before he realized that the man was offering him his hand. Blinking he quickly grasped it and shook it vigorously.

"Oh God I am sorry. I am just nervous. I-" he babbled

The Emperor laughed softly. "It's alright Mister Maxwell. If you weren't nervous I'd be a little worried. Come, sit, make yourself comfortable. I have a few things I would like to discuss with you and it would be best if you were sitting."

Duo felt his jaw drop and his mouth go dry. This man was the Emperor of the Imperial United States of America; Emperor Jonathan Martin Mathis and he was treating Duo like a long lost friend.

Hesitantly, Duo smiled back and watched in faint amusement as the Secretary stiffened, his protocol feathers all ruffled.

"That will be all Ramsey. I think I shall be fine talking to Mister Maxwell in private." said the Emperor, dismissing the man.

"As you wish sir." said the secretary and he left the room, his back stiff and his nose out of joint.

The Emperor waited till Ramsey was out of the room before turning once again towards Duo, he smiled gentle and sat down in a chair opposite Duo's own. He cleared his throat and leaned forward. "Welcome to the Imperial Palace Mister Maxwell. Did the trip agree with you?"

Duo nodded empathetically, eyes wide.

"I am glad to hear it." The Emperor settled back in his seat and seemed to gather his thoughts. "I think first I would like to say, on behalf of the citizens of the North American Empire I congratulate you on your flight around the globe."

Duo smiled tentatively. "Thank you, your Majesty."

Emperor Mathis nodded absently frowning thoughtfully. "I also would like to explain why it is so important to us why we consider you to be our newest 'American Hero'."

Duo mutely nodded his head.

The Emperor clucked his tongue lightly. "As you may know, for many years the countries of the Earth were wracked by war and civil strife. We as Americans had our own full share of pain and misery and yet we always had heroes to look up to, people whose accomplishments lightened the heart and allowed us to dream of a future which was better than our present.

"You, Duo Maxwell, are our favorite type of hero. One who has faced almost overwhelming obstacles and yet has overcome them all, and now stand at the pinnacle of your accomplishment. No matter what has opposed you, you have battled gamely and won."

The Emperor stood up and walked toward a halo-pic console; his fingers tapped a couple of buttons. The display field flickered and then a picture of Duo flicked into existence.

The alarm bells in Duo's head began to ring.

"I read your book; it was very interesting. It made me think and feel things which I hadn't felt in years."

Duo's hands gripped the arms of his chair till they creaked. Nervously he watched the man who was staring up at his halo-pic studiously. Then a couple more keystrokes and his picture was replaced with that of a woman.

Duo's eyes narrowed and he stiffened.

She was lithe, with pale skin; smiling as if she had some amusing secret that she was just waiting to share. Her eyes were a beautiful shade of blue-grey and her hair was a light ashy brown with fell around her shoulders like silk.

But it was the smile...there was something about her smile. He had seen it before...in his mirror.

Emperor Jonathan Mathis turned slightly, the light glinted off his bronze skin. His eyes flickered from the woman's halo-pic to the almost shell-shocked Duo, and then he said softly almost sighing: "God, but you look so much like your mother."

Stark denial flavored with a twinge of fear, swept through Duo and he stared at the Emperor as if he had gone mad. Emperor Mathis continued in a stronger voice seeming to ignore Duo's reaction. "Her name was Marguerite O'Hare and it is my firm belief that you are her son."

Duo blinked. <'Don't make the very powerful, and yet obviously madman angry.'> he thought to himself. <'Just play along and maybe you can get out of this alive.'>

"Me?! Why would you think that?"

"She was my companion. She disappeared a little over twenty years ago; disappeared carrying my child. She was later found, but her child wasn't...until now." He speared Duo with a very significant, searching look.

Duo gulped shocked and overwhelmed. Sputtering he said: "You're not saying what I think you're saying are you?"

"Maybe. What do you think I am saying?" asked the Emperor softly.

"You think I am her kid? That...I don't believe this. There is no proof! You can't just go around throwing around assumptions like this! You need proof!"

Emperor Mathis nodded sagely, "That's quite true, which is why I humbly ask for your cooperation to resolve this mystery. Would you be willing to have your DNA tested?"

"Huh?" was Duo's intelligent reply.

"A blood sample would be taken, then compared to a sample of DNA of Miss O'Hare which we have on record. The whole procedure should only take a few minutes of your time and the results would be back within three days."

Duo frowned. <'Hell boy, I've been set up! Whoever the hell put this bug in this guys head is so screwed it's not funny.'>

"When?" he asked suspiciously.

Mathis sighed and relaxed. Duo began to get another really bad feeling about this whole thing. "If you truly don't mind, now would be good."

Duo's jaw fell. Flabbergasted he could only say faintly: "Sure why not."

Another sequence of key taps. Silently they waited, not very long as a stooped grey haired man carrying a black doctor's bag entered the room.

The Emperor smiled benevolently. "Mister Maxwell, this is Doctor Weldon, the last person from the palace to see Marguerite alive."

Duo blinked then stood up reaching out to shake the doctor's hand. "Good day doctor."

"Hello!" said the kindly looking older man; pale green eyes quickly sweeping over Duo taking in everything. A smile spread over his face and he shook Duo's hand with a firm grip. "So you're the young man that has the palace in an uproar. I am pleased to meet you." he glanced over at Mathis as if to gauge his reaction.

Duo's eyes followed the doctor's, but saw nothing to fear from the Emperor.

"This won't take long." the doctor said absently as he unclasped his bag and rooted around in it for a moment. "Please sit down, relax." Duo who didn't care for needles anyway, sat stiffly, turning his gaze back to the Emperor of the North American Empire.

Emperor Mathis watched the proceedings with hooded eyes and a vague smile on his face. Duo had the distinct feeling that he was missing something. Judging by the looks Weldon was casting at the Emperor, Duo got the impression that he was uncomfortable in the man's presence.

Why, he couldn't tell.

<'What aren't they telling me?'>

Why and for what reason would he be so scared of the man who was watching the proceedings so benevolently?

However Duo's attention suddenly shifted as the needle slipped into his skin. Whatever the results, this simple action was going to change his life forever.

If what Mathis said was true; if he was the son of Marguerite O'Hare. What the hell happened for him to be born and ultimately abandoned on L2? He had so many questions where he had, had none before. Maybe the mystery that was his past would finally be able to be pieced together.

As Doctor Weldon swabbed the area and placed a small Band-Aid on it. "There you go; all done. Just keep some pressure on that. I should have the results back in 3 days. If you leave a phone number where my office can reach you, I shall contact you as soon as they come in."

Dazed, Duo nodded then said softly. "I really have no place to go. I wasn't expecting this. I made no arrangements."

Emperor Mathis' soft voice broke in as he said: "I can have one of my people make you comfortable either here in the palace or at a resort if you wish, Duo..."

Duo shook his head. "Naw...that's ok. I need to go. I...uh...gotta get outta here. I need to think; go for a walk or something. Are we done? Can I go?"

The Emperor exchanged a slightly alarmed look with Doctor Weldon who sighed nodding. "Of course you can go. Here is my card, please call me when you've settled down."

Duo nodded absently. "Yeah sure."

"Do you want me to call you a ride Duo? Drop you off somewhere?" asked Mathis.

Duo shrugged still spaced out. "That sounds good; sure."

The Emperor nodded and walked to a wall mounted vid-phone. He talked quietly with whoever answered and covertly studied the shell-shocked Duo Maxwell.

Duo could feel the tension; the worry/concern in the room, but for the life of him, he couldn't seem to pull himself together. It was like everything, his reality, had shattered and now he was floating helplessly directionless on the resulting waves of chaos.

Only in a vague sort of way was he aware of being put into a car and driven off. He really had no direction in which to go, no destination. At the fifth stoplight he told the driver he was fine and hopped out quickly disappearing into the crush of people.

As he wandered along the streets in his strange fog-like state, he wondered how long had he held this dream. How long had he wanted one day to meet his parents. Yeah sure he normally would just scoff and shrug and say he wasn't interested; that dead was dead.

<'I had believed that they were dead for the longest time.'> Was it possible that this man...the Emperor of the North American Empire was his..."father"?

Just thinking that he may be sent chills down Duo's spine.

And his mother...what the hell was she doing on L2?! Apparently he had never married her...he had referred to her as his "Companion"...and by her maiden name. What the hell was that all about? Was she just a paid escort? He refused to call her a 'whore', he didn't know of the circumstances of her relationship with the Emperor. Besides that may just be calling the kettle black. He himself had turned a few tricks in his day.

<'Well...Shit.'> he groused. <'I won't be getting anything done by wandering around the streets, may as well find a place to hole up and wait. I should call home too...Gods why now?! Why this?'>

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

At 8:00 p.m., the Garden Terrace Lounge was packed with diners. For Craig Hambly, Senator's assistant, tonight was simply a means to an end. He was wining and dining a few constituents for his employer and enjoying it immensely, but even "yes-men" needed to get away from fawning every once in a while.

He excused himself from the table and retreated to the bar just so he could get away from his dinner companions for a few minutes. Craig ducked into the bar then did a double take. The braid was unmistakable.

<'Huh! What are the odds?'>

Not one to squander a prime opportunity, he sidled up to the braided figure.

"Hey, don't I know you?" he asked. <'Oh great opening line.'> he berated himself. The figured turned and he found himself drowning in eyes so blue they were almost violet. <'Oh my god....it's true. It's got to be true! He's got the Mathis eyes!'> "You're Duo Maxwell the Gundam pilot aren't you?" he stuttered.

Duo blinked then seemed to pull himself together and offered him a tired smile. "That's me." He offered Craig his hand.

Dazed Craig shook it, nothing the calluses on the fingers and palms. "My name is Craig Hambly. I read your book it's an honor to meet you."

"Heh....funny. Seems everyone says that now days, even the Emperor."

Craig cringed. <'Damn too late!'>

"You had an audience with the Emperor?"

Duo nodded.

"How interesting! I work for a cousin of the Emperor myself; Senator Nathaniel Garwood."

Duo nodded but it was clear that the name meant nothing to him. <'Good, may as well keep it that way.'>

"How long are you going to be staying in the capital Mister Maxwell?"

Duo shrugged, "I am not sure yet, at least a week. I have some business to wrap up. If you'll excuse me, I have a phone call to make." He stood up, nodded once to Hambly and left the bar.

Craig stood there watching him go. "I'll be damned."

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

The next day Craig walked into Senator Nathaniel Garwood's office, threw himself onto the plush leather sofa and grinned a Cheshire grin. "You won't believe who I just happened to bump into last night."

Nathaniel looked up over the edge of a paper he was reading, and sighed irritated. "I don't have time for your guessing games Hambly."

"Duo Maxwell."

Senator Garwood blinked and gently put the paper down. "I just found time. So, has he seen the Emperor?"

"Oh yes. He saw him alright; and whatever it was he said it had him really on the outs."

"You didn't happen to ask or probe did you?"

Craig shook his head. "No, I thought it would be too suspicious. Whatever happened yesterday I am sure we'll hear about it...and soon."

"Damn it all to hell. It was perfect Hambly! Perfect! I would run for president, where I am a shoo-in to win, I get the power of the Empire and all is right with the world. Why did he have to discover that he had a son now?"

Craig snorted quoting one of his favorite sayings: "'Such is Fate.'"

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

For three days, Duo had been on pens and needles. Staying in his suite at the Four Seasons, was like being held in an OZ detention cell. So instead, he roamed Washington D.C. restlessly.

He caught all the sights: The Vietnam Memorial, The Zoo, The National Mall, the Mathis Memorial, and the Capital Building. He didn't take any pictures, he didn't need to. He really didn't see anything as he wandered around; he was looking, but he wasn't seeing.

The first day had been the best, he figured. After a long sit down bath and room service, he felt calm enough to actually call up the good doctor Weldon and tell him where he was staying.

Under normal circumstances, Duo would simply stay in a cheap hole in the wall. Unfortunately, when he had finished wandering around, the Four Seasons hotel was right in front of him. And since he was nervous and put out, he paid for a week in a real fancy suite, where he allowed himself to be pampered to his heart's content.

The second day everything that had happened the day before sunk in and he was an uptight mess. That was the day he decided to go sight seeing. The hotel's concierge was very helpful in getting him tickets and helping to plan a "fun day" out visiting the capital. Under any other circumstances it probably would have been great fun, but as it was it was a sorry to say a huge waste of money.At least it got him out of the room from morning until late at night.

The third day was the absolute worst. He called L2 just to inform the others that he was ok and that everything was fine; "sight seeing" he said. All the while he waited in the room, anxious and snappish. He tried not to think about what it would mean if the results were positive. That sent him into wondering what would happen if the results were negative. Then in a spark of true masochistism he would wonder what would happen if the results were split. Marguerite his mother, but Mathis not his father.

Room service must have come up at least twenty times that day alone.

When he got nervous he ate. Ate a lot.

Ate things that would give a normal person a heart attack. The richer the food the better.

He found the hotel's kitchens very happy and eager to fix him up almost anything. Although they DID balk at the sardine, peanut butter, pickles, and mustard sandwich.

The rest of the night was spent watching pay-per-view movies and drinking pineapple-orange juice. After that last show, he decided to call it a night and went to bed.

He was awakened the next morning by Doc Weldon's office.

The results were back.

That woke him up.

They made arrangements to meet at the Imperial Palace half past noon. The guards would be expecting him.

So once more he was in the Imperial Palace being lead to the "Blue Room" by the Private Secretary William Ramsey.

Doctor Weldon, had a very pleasant and yet expectant smile on this face, and the Emperor, who stood stoically by the large window, were already in the room.

"Good morning Mister Maxwell. I hope you slept well."

Duo scowled not in the mood for pleasantries. He cast a look at the Emperor who continued to gaze out the window, seemingly unmindful of the two other occupants of the room.

Weldon cleared his throat and said: "Well now that both of you are here, I suppose I should tell you the results. First the results of Marguerite O'Hare and yourself Mister Maxwell."

He keyed into his small palm-top computer. "Marguerite O'Hare is your mother to the degree of 99.995 percent."

Duo didn't know what to think or feel. He looked up at Weldon in slight confusion. "Yeah, and..."

"In the matter of Mathis' paternity...he is your father to a degree of 99.998 percent."

The Emperor released a breath that he hadn't been aware of holding and turned toward Duo.

"Thank you Weldon, that will be all."

The palace doctor glanced between father and son then nodded, bowed once and left the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

Duo dropped his head, stared unseeing at the floor.

<'Gods...why did this have to happen now? What the hell is going on?'> His sharp ears picked up the sound of the Emperor moving from the window, but he was in no mood to have the man any closer to him. "What do you want from me?" he asked softly; his voice echoing off the walls.

Emperor Mathis stopped where he was. Duo looked up, his eyes pinned the man where he stood just daring him to come closer. However the Emperor wasn't so easily intimidated. His own eyes narrowed and his lips got pinched.

"Want from you? I don't want anything from you. I would like to get to know you however. You are my son and I would like to ..." he stopped and swallowed.

"I am sure you have questions about your mother and why she was on L2. Why you grew up there." he said hoarsely. "Believe me Duo..."

The ex-Gundam pilot jerked.

"May I call you Duo?" asked the Emperor softly. Duo made a 'go on' gesture with his hand.

"I searched for your mother for years. I tore Washington apart looking for her. However I couldn't wholly focus on finding her, and by the time I could the trail had gone cold. If it's one thing about L2 I quickly learned it's: 'Nobody knows anything'. They haven't seen nuthin'; they haven't heard nuthin'. They know nuthin'.

"By the time I was able to recover Marguerite's body any records of any child were lost. It was as if you didn't exist."

"I don't know what to think about this now." said the assassin. "I...why was it so important for you to know anyways?!"

"I had to know!" Exploded Mathis, who whirled back around and stalked toward the window. "I loved Marguerite with my whole heart. When she disappeared something within me died. When my advisors told me to move on, to find another woman to wife I shut down. How could they make that request of me? Didn't they understand how much I loved her? I would never be able to look anyone else in the eye and not compare them to Marguerite. She was my life and when she died a part of me died as well.

"I had to know because I believed that if there was a part of her still out there that she didn't truly die; and she hasn't. You are so much like her it's amazing. There are glimmers: there a look, a gesture, a tone of voice." said Mathis staring at Duo beseechingly, begging him to believe him.

Duo shook his head and rubbed at his temples. "Gods I got a headache." he muttered. "That still don't tell me what the hell it is you want from me."

"I don't want any-"

"Bull!" snapped Duo. "Everybody wants something from someone! What the hell is it that you want!?" he paused and his eyes grew impossibly wide his mouth working but no sound coming out. "Oh no...no....NO! There ain't no freakin' way you're gonna be a'dressin' me up in no robe n' a'putting me up on no throne! No way in hell! Fuck that!"

He stood up in a rush and lunged for the door.

"Duo wait!" cried out Mathis.

"Leave me alone!" he spat in return.

"I'd never deliberately put you into a position which would make you uncomfortable Duo. Why else do you think I had Weldon do the tests? He was the last person to see your mother alive. It's his fault she disappeared you see."

Duo froze and whirled around with a wild eyed stare.

"He's been trying to make up for his stupid slip of the tongue ever since."

Duo's jaw dropped open and he struggled to find balance in a world that had gone upside down and had forgotten to tell him. "Wh....what?!"

The Emperor slowly moved toward him, those blue eyes riveted on his own. "I am sure you have questions, many questions. I have answers maybe not all of them but most. All I want in return is a chance to get to know you Duo. That's all I want. You don't have to worry about being put on the throne or tossed into a world which would attempt to eat you alive."

Duo stood there blinking in confusion and muttered: "I...I need to think. I gotta think about this."

"Of course you do." Soothed the Emperor. "I have to come to terms with this as well." His lip quirked up in a faint smile. "I would like to meet with you again though, before you leave to return to L2."

Duo scoffed. "And what makes you think I'll go back there?"

"'You may run, you may hide-.'"

Duo glared teeth bared. "I don't need to run or hide from this." he snapped.

"My mistake." said Mathis placatingly.

Duo ran his hand through his bangs. "I gotta get out of here." he muttered

"You're always welcome here Duo. When you're ready just come to the front gate, you'll be ushered in."

Duo stared at the man who biologically was his father. He studied the face and dimly realized that he could see a few of his own features in that face. That just sent another shudder through his slight frame, whirling he stalked out of the room.

/Believe it or Not/
/I am walking on air/
/I never thought I could feel so free/
/Flying away on a wing and a prayer/
/who could it be?/
/Believe it or not it's just me/

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

Three hours later found him in his hotel room staring at the vid- phone and debating weather or not to call home. <'I can't hide forever....and I gotta tell somebody about this!'> sighing he dialed the number. After a few rings, it was picked up and Sam's face flickered on the vid screen.

"Hey" he said softly.

"Duo!" she cried a smile blossoming on her face. "Hey guys! Its' Duo!"

He smiled faintly, his regular cheer having fled.

"Uh Sam, are Collin and Robert there?

"Course they are!" she grinned, then frowned when she noticed how distant Duo was, how soft his speech was.

"Duo...what's wrong?"

He shrugged. "Do you think we can have a conference call in the office?"

"Anything you want. Here hang on."

A few moments later Duo's vid screen split into three sections and Collin, Robert, and Sam looked at him expectantly.

"So Duo when you coming home?" asked Sam.

"Well you see...that's the rub. I...uh...I found my parents."

"What?!"

"You're kidding!"

"Oh!! How wonderful for you!"

"Really? Who are they?" asked Rob suspiciously.

Sam shot him a look and smiled at Duo encouraging. "I am sure you'll want to visit. How long will you be on Earth?"

Duo tittered a weak laugh. "Well you see my father...he's just so excited and happy to see me...he really wants me to stay here on Earth for a while..."

Robert arched a brow. "Really? How long?"

"Would you believe the rest of my life?"

"Uh...Duo...what's your dad's name?" stuttered Collin.

Duo tried to grin, to reassure his friends and realized that he was failing miserably. Sighing he just decided to come clean. "Would you believe Jonathan Martin Mathis?"

Sam gasped, Robert startled, and Collin blinked jaw dropping open. "Oh my god..."

Robert frowned heavily. "Do you mean Emperor Jonathan Mathis? Of the Imperial United States of America? THAT Jonathan Mathis?!"

Duo nodded, for all the world looking like a kid who's hand had just been caught in a cookie jar.

The older man snorted. "Oh yeah, I could see him wanted to keep you around."

Duo chaffed. "But...but...I am a colony kid!!!! Born and raised on L2!"

"Damn Duo...when you move up in the world you really move up." drawled Collin.

Duo speared him with a venomous look. "HELP ME DAMNIT!" he wailed.

"Wait a minute here Duo. I thought you were an orphan!" Sam said frowning.

"So did I! Apparently though I look a lot like my mother. He recognized me."

Robert frowned thoughtfully. "And there is proof?"

Duo nodded, braid clutched tightly in his fist in an unconscious gesture of comfort. "Yeah, I had my DNA tested against theirs; its a match."

Sam blinked, a confused look on her face as she struggled to understand exactly what was going on. "So what's this mean? You're the prince?"

Shoulder's slumping the American rubbed at his eyes tiredly. "I dunno. I don't think so...maybe."

"Well you better find out soon, Pup! Them Mathises have a very nasty little habit of dying way before their time." warned Robert.

Duo wrinkled his nose. "Oh gee thanks, Pop! Damn..."

Sam sighed, "I'd love to stay and chat Duo, but I gotta help with the kids." she said regretfully.

Robert groaned. "And I got a milk run."

Duo waved them away. "Ok, ok I get the idea. I'll talk to you guys later."

Sam and Rob both gave him a measuring look then hung up, then it was only Collin and himself.

"So what are you gonna do Duo?" asked his advisor softly.

"I dunno, what should I do?"

Collin looked down then spoke very softly and hesitantly. "I am the last person to tell anybody how to live or act. My attitude toward L2 is more than enough evidence of that. Moreover, if you're asking for a second opinion, one that's not caught up in what you have going on Duo, I can't do that. You've opened my eyes to a point where all I see is the suffering of the people here; where all I do is search for a way out for them.

"Sure it only started with the children I mean I could handle that...little kids. And then it turned into older kids, and then young adults, and now there are whole families that are looking for help to get out of their hell hole. And who do they come to? You Duo!

"Because they have seen what you've done with the kids and how you've tried to save their lives with the vaccines and getting them adopted and shipped off L2 to other colonies in warm and loving families. They believe in you, they trust you, and they are working hard to gain your respect back.

"Did you know the Hanson's now have jobs? Sure they stay at the house but they go out and work and damn they are HARD workers! They don't slack off they want out of the poverty, but you know that Mark Hanson is marked and can't go back to the bio-labs that blacklist on him is still in effect, and his wife is still being hunted down.

"Duo...Fate has given a great opportunity here. Can you imagine how much help you can give these people if you take the position offered you? I mean sure we'll have to get around immigration and find a place for a transplant...but still Duo...when I first met you, you just totally blew me away because you truly believed that there was something worth saving here on L2. Now I see that there is something worth saving here as well...but we can only go so far.

"Its time to move on to a second phase of the project and that's to get some of these families the ones that are blacklisted and hunted down and prosecuted of crimes they didn't commit, off this colony and help them start a new life free of that cloud.

"You are the only one I know of who can do this monumental task. You're connected in ways that boggle the mind. Duo if you don't do this....then who will? You can do so much good there on Earth as the Imperial Prince."

Duo swallowed thickly and nodded. "I want you here Collin. I...I can't do this by myself. I am going to need help."

"I'll be on the next shuttle down if you want, Duo."

"Nothing that quick." He said with a slight smile. "But soon. Gods...I really didn't see this coming. It's so ...fast. I need to think about...I need...to think. I need to plan but I will tell you one thing...I'll do it."

Collin looked up quickly in shock.

"I'll do it cause you're right; I CAN do a lot of good down here. And I CAN help my kids up there and besides...I want answers. Something is going on down here, I can feel it. I am not going to let them use me as a pawn in a game that I just happened to stumble into. I may be late coming to the table but they're going to have to deal with me and they're going to learn, that they can't push me around."

Collin let out a great breath of air and smiled. "They have no idea what kind of hell they just got themselves into do they?"

"Not a freakin' clue."

They shared a laugh which helped to break up the tension of the moment.

Collin sighed deeply, "Well I better let you go."

"I'll call you Collin."

The financial advisor nodded his head, gave Duo one last look then hung up.

Duo himself sighed and put the handset back.

<Man oh man! What trouble have I gotten myself into now? Oh god Heero I wish you were here.'>

He blinked, swallowing thickly. <'I can't believe I haven't given a thought to Heero! How the hell am I going to get Heero back now!?'> He frowned. No, that wasn't the right way to approach the problem. When he had started his mission what were the three things he said he needed to get Heero back? Fame. Wealth. and Power.

Fame to capture Heero's attention.
Wealth to keep his attention
and Power to get him away from Relena.

He narrowed his eyes as he realized that everything he ever needed had just fallen into his lap!

<'What does Relena have that I don't? She has nothing.'> Sure she was important to the peace between the Earth and the colonies, as an ambassador of total pacifism, but she had out of necessity, delegated many of her responsibilities to other countries. The load of being the only person capable of reworking world politics no longer her main concern.

<'And as one of the most powerful countries of the post-war conflict, the Imperial Royal House is too important to be snubbed or ridiculed.>

He frowned trying to work out in his own mind where this train of thought was going. <'Maybe...just maybe this whole Imperial Prince thing isn't the handicap I think it is. If I play this right, I can kill two birds with one stone. Establish a foothold here on Earth for Second Chance, and wrest Heero away from the freakin' queen.'>

Not to mention the fact that as Imperial Prince, Relena couldn't just toss him out on his ass if he showed up in Sank.

He snorted in amusement. <'Oh yeah...it does have it's benefits now don't it?'>

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

/Just like the light of a new day/
/hit me from out of the blue/
/breaking me out of the spell I was in/
/making all of my wishes come true/

The next morning he called up the Palace and requested a meeting with the Emperor. William Ramsey, who was still a bit disgruntled, told him that he would have to check the Emperor's schedule.

Duo snorted wondering if Wills put him on hold out of spite.

Five minutes later he came back and told him that he would be welcomed to come around ten o'clock. Duo said that would be fine and hung up.

So here he was, once more being ushered into the Blue Room. <'You know, I think I am beginning to like this room.> thought Duo with a slight grin.

Ramsey gave him a strange searching look and Duo sighed out of irritation. "What is it? Do I have something on my face?"

"Forgive me sir I didn't mean to be rude."

Shoulders slumped Duo gave the secretary a sidelong glance. "You know don't you?"

"So the rumors are true; it's all the staff talks about. I must have been blind not to notice it before, but the resemblance is startling. Forgive me for being presumptuous sir, but what shall you do now?"

"I don't know. That's why I have come today to see what my options are."

Ramsey stared at Duo for a moment, an inscrutable look upon his face then nodded slightly. "Very good sir. I hope that whatever you plan it comes to pass, and you are happy with your decision."

"You and me both." snorted Duo.

A few moments later, Emperor Mathis entered the room. This time without scaring either himself or Ramsey.

"Thank you Ramsey, that will be all." the Emperor said dismissing his Secretary.

Secretary Ramsey gave a curt nod, a slight bow and left the room.

Duo swallowed nervously. This wasn't the same Emperor that he had met the past two times. This was a man who looked to be on a mission. His blue eyes were sharp and centered on Duo's form. He gave him a long assessing look then walked toward what seemed to be his normal position in this room, by the large bay window overlooking the gardens.

Neither said anything. Duo shifted uncomfortably in his chair. That action produced Emperor Mathis's eyes sweeping towards him, and he being pinned in his chair by that riveting stare, before the Emperor's gaze softened.

Duo almost let out a breath of great relief but harnessed it to huff: "Ok so what do we do?"

Emperor Mathis crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the wall. "As I figure it there are two options. Your resemblance to your mother is striking, and as you may have already heard, people are noticing it. It won't take long for the media to pick up on this. So you can either go back to L2 and try and keep the those vultures away from you...or...I could publicly recognize you as my son."

Duo arched a dubious brow. "And this helps me how?"

"By being recognized then the media shouldn't hound you so badly. Trying to dig around for dirt, seeing if you are indeed my biological offspring or some charlatan trying to lay claim to the throne. You may need to hold a press conference and a few interviews but other than that, you'd be off the hook. Also if you are recognized, the Congress would have to pass legislation giving the Secret Service authority over your protection. It would set up a security detail for you which would discreetly watch over you twenty-four seven."

"Oh that will go over well in the slums." Duo chuckled his quick mind already seeing dark suited figures huddled behind trash cans trying not to be conspicuous.

"This is serious." Scolded Mathis. "If you are under protection then the media and really persistent reports would have to stay at least 100 feet away from you."

Duo, arms crossed over his chest and head bowed looked up at the figure at the window through his bangs. "You seem to have it all planned out for me." He drawled. "You are assuming of course, that I will be going back to L2. What if I want to stay here on Earth for a while. What if I have found something here on Earth worth staying for?"

Mathis looked at Duo puzzled. "By your most recent reactions, I would think leaving Earth would be the most pressing concern on your mind. You seem to run whenever the issue of establishing a father/son bond is brought up."

Duo snorted. "What else do you expect me to do? Total and complete acceptance? Maybe it was the way I was raised, but I don't totally believe everything that's told to me at face value. I will admit, I did run because I was confused and needed to sort out my own feelings on this whole thing. I mean it's not every day you find out that you're the son of the Emperor of the North American empire. I've been doing a lot of thinking since I first met you. I also think I may have overreacted yesterday as well...I am thinking, that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to be dressed up in robes and put on the throne."

The Emperor startled and straightened up from the wall. "What are you saying, Duo? You changed your mind and WANT to be Imperial Prince? Why? If you're thinking it's a life full of wealth and privilege let me set you straight right now-"

Duo shook his head, his braid swishing behind him. Suddenly he stood up and stalked toward the Emperor.

"Do you know what I do for a living?" he asked, then continued without waiting for an answer. "I help children get off the streets. I had enough money after the wars to go back to L2, buy a house and made it into a half-way house for the street rats.

"I lived on the streets since as far back as I can remember, and when I got off of them I swore to myself that if I could, I'd never let any kid live the same life I had.

"So I created Second Chance Foundation. I wrote a book, and through book readings, and dinners it generates money which goes back to my Kids. However now it's not just kids, now there are young adults coming by the house looking for that second chance; anything to get off the streets before they die in a gutter somewhere forgotten and alone.

"It started out for the kids, yeah...but now families are coming to me asking for help. How can I turn them away? So I don't. And now here I am in this great beautiful palace looking out onto clean swept streets, and rich people in fancy cars, and yet I see just down the street, and around that corner the same wretched poverty, and hopelessness that I thought I had left on L2."

He paused and stared at the Emperor whose eyes had gone wide in shock. "I want to help those people, and if the only way I can help them is by assuming the title of Imperial Prince I'll do it."

Emperor Mathis looked at Duo and shook his head firmly. "You have no idea what hell it is to be Imperial Crown Prince, Duo. For right wrong or indifferent the Mathis line ends with me."

Duo studied the stubborn statement on the Emperor's face. Not just the Emperor, but his father; the man who had sired him.

The man who claimed to have loved his mother.

He had answers; answers to questions which had haunted Duo for most of his life.

"The way I see it, your Majesty, you really can't afford NOT to let me assume the title. Besides how would it look for Emperor Mathis to formally recognize his biological son, and yet not raise him up to the position of Imperial Crown Prince? You'd loose the next election for sure, and then there goes your administration and the resistance against the Earth Sphere United Nation. Hell may as well give up now the way I see it, and let the Earth Sphere United Nation have the Empire and absorb it into their World Nation.

"What I think you fail to understand about me is that I HATE the ESUN with all my heart. For almost two centuries the Empire has stood up against anything and everything that has attempted to absorb it and make it into a puppet state. Can you really see a person like say, Senator Garwood sitting on the throne and standing up against the sugary sweetness that is Relena Peacecraft? He'll fold like a house of cards!"

Mathis looked at Duo shocked. "You're serious?!"

"I may be young, but I have always considered you a brilliant man. I have watched as the Empire waited for the Alliance, Oz, Romefeller, White Fang, and Mariemia came and went. I have admired how strong you and your father were in the face of such adversity. If you don't recognize me you'll loose everything that the five past Emperors have worked so hard to build. And the worst part is you know it."

Emperor Mathis stared at Duo in mute shock, then dropped his eyes and studied the floor intently.

"Why would you do this for me?" he asked softly.

Duo made a slashing motion with his hand. "I am not doing this for you. I can make a difference here; I know I can. I can't just see the suffering and then turn away without even trying to help.

"I know that Relena means well, but she doesn't have the faintest idea what it means to suffer. I mean REALLY suffer. I do. Her ideals are great, wonderful but they don't fix problems on a grand scale. They are like putting Band-Aids on a gaping wound. They only cover a little bit of the hurt but not the whole thing."

He sighed letting his shoulders slump. "Also, I am doing it for me; I want answers. I want to know who my mother was. I want to know who you were at that moment in time. I want to know who, how, and why."

Emperor Mathis smiled softly, his blue eyes shining. "Ask your questions Duo. I shall answer them as fully as I can. As for your proposal, are you sure you want to do this? Once you agree to becoming Imperial Crown Prince there will be no turning back." he warned.

Duo groused. "I am sure. I can do this, hell I was a Gundam pilot! I think handling a bunch of dressed up hyenas will be easy compared to facing off against hundreds of mobile dolls. Besides, I've been dealing with people like these politicians my whole life. You can't con a con; I think I can handle it." he said with more confidence than he really felt.

Mathis studied him intently his blue eyes piercing him to his soul then he slowly nodded. "Very well. We shall make a public announcement of your discovery and subsequent formal inclusion into the line of Mathis. How does 'Duo Maxwell-Mathis' sound to you?"

Duo barked a laugh. "You're kidding!"

The Emperor shook his head, a faint smile on his face. "His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Duo Maxwell-Mathis. Kind of has a nice ring to it does it not?"

<'Oh my god....what have I gotten myself into?'> thought Duo frantically. He grinned suddenly. "Sounds very nice."

Closing his eyes, Duo crossed his arms and turned his head toward the window which faced the rose garden below.

"Why did you want to meet in this room?" he asked softly, cracking open one eye to peek at the Emperor.

Mathis shrugged. "It was Her favorite room. She loved looking out into the gardens. She said that it was soothing and peaceful; that she could think and get work done in this room."

Duo nodded thoughtfully. "Hm."

<'So this is it huh? I am an idiot. Here I am happily slipping the noose around my own neck. What's next? Jumping off the gallows with a smile on my face?'>

He looked over at the Emperor and saw the same look of nervousness and hesitancy and realized that he wasn't alone in this. <'He's scared too. Well, I guess this won't be so bad. If he loved her as much as he says he did, he won't let them hurt me, and I sure as hell will give as good as I get. Yeah...I think this will work out just fine.'>

Together Emperor and the newly discovered son, stood facing the path of their future, coming to the sudden conclusion that the first step was the hardest, but that neither one was alone.

/Believe it or Not/
/I am walking on air/
/I never thought I could feel so free/
/Flying away on a wing and a prayer
/who could it be?/
/Believe it or not it's just me/

/who could it be?/
/Believe it or not, it's just me/

 

TBC...

Next up: We find out what Heero Yuy, Duke of White Honor, has been up to during the past 4 years. Dissatisfied with his life and role as Relena's husband, Heero has struck out on a new venture one which is challenging and yet still falls within his self-assigned mission parameters.

But even this isn't enough to keep at bay the loneliness for a certain braided baka. Trapped in a loveless marriage, has he lost his chance for saving his soul?

Next in -- He's Mine: Heart and Soul
Chapter Seven: Rising from the Ashes