//italics// Kryptonite is by 3 Doors Down. Gw isn't mine.
//I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind,
I left my body laying somewhere in the sands of time,//
He had been unconscious, dead, for nearly a month. But he really couldn't call it dead, could he? God, it hurt to move. Why did I survive?
Heero knew the answer to that question, as painful as it was. He survived because a pair of violet eyes constantly followed him, even in death. He said he was the God of Death. Why should I be free from him in his own realm? Why would I want to be?
The injured pilot sat there silently cursing his helplessness, fully aware of the bloodshed happening all around him. He was still seriously injured, enough to impair his movements by 58%. Worse, his Gundam had been destroyed.
"I destroyed it." He admitted bitterly. //I'm useless.//
Heero stared out the window of the trailer he currently shared with Trowa. The circus was quiet tonight. Tomorrow they would be moving to the next town and everyone seemed to be getting some much-deserved rest. The night looked dark and inviting. A low cloud cover promised rain before morning. The wind whispered soothingly against the trees, promising to shelter him from the pain and destruction of the war.
Just then, the full moon broke free from the clouds, piercing the night with its soft glow.
C'mon, Superman. Don't you ever look at the moon?
Trowa looked up from the book he was reading. Had been trying to read. For some reason, he just couldn't concentrate. It was as if everyone on earth was holding their collective breaths, waiting for something to break the unnatural silence. Being a man a few words, the silence seemed that more intimidating.
He glanced over toward his taciturn companion. Here was another that seemed to have little to say. But, despite the calm exterior, Trowa knew that there was a torrent of emotions just below the surface. Heero looked so defenseless tonight, bathed in the moon's glow. Gundam pilots shouldn't be vulnerable.
"What are you thinking about?"
Heero glanced up quickly, startled that the normally silent boy spoke.
"Hn." He glanced back out the window and sighed.
Trowa gazed at the Wing Pilot with sympathy.
"I'm sure they're alright."
Heero did not turn around.
Duo, where are you?
//I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon,
I feel there is nothing I can do, yeah//
"I can't do anything under such tight security" What am I saying, I couldn't do anything to stop him. Why should I suddenly become competent?
The desert seemed to go on forever, as if all life on this planet was suddenly obliterated and turned into this acrid wasteland. The nearest base was across about seven hundred miles of scorching sand. Too far away and too heavily guarded to save him.
He had been hiding out here for nearly a month. Now he was out of his carefully rationed supplies and had been for three days now. Duo felt helpless and very, very alone.
Last night was the full moon. Duo had watched it rise over the desert from the rocky cliffs that surrounded him. A sarcastic voice in his head had stated that if he got caught like that, he was screwed. Another, much more weary part of him stated that he didn't care. He used to watch the moon with Duo. I watch the moon. OZ has one base and fifty-three facilities there. We have to constantly monitor them... And don't call me that!
But, he was gone now. Self-Destructed.
A bright flash of light brought Duo back into the present. He squinted. It was that blond kid, Katra, or something like that.
The next thing he knew, he was surrounded by mobile suits. Thinking that he was being attacked, the American pilot quickly took up a defensive position. But he relaxed when he noticed that they were just the blonde's servants. Talk about friends in high places. The blond was saying something about going out into the desert, during the approaching sandstorm.
"Do you want to go with me?" The Arabian asked.
Duo closed his eyes. All he could see was Wing exploding, over and over again. He looked at his fellow pilot; comforted by the fact that he could not see the tear that silently made it's way down the American's face. //Boys don't cry.// Heero had told him that once.
"I'll leave it up to you. I'm too emotionally drained to think right now."
The blond looked at him sympathetically.
"I need time to think everything over too." You saved me from that train. I know your hurting right now, so please let me help you.
//I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon,
after all I knew it had to be something to do with you,//
"Kuso! Are they trying to kill themselves?" Heero Yuy stared at the monitor in frustration.
"They are fighting to prove to the colonies that they, that we, are not the enemy." A voice stated behind him.
Heero looked at Trowa.
"They are going to die." Duo, don't die. It hurts. It would hurt...me.
Trowa smiled. "No. They are going to outer space."
Heero looked back to the screen. "Then we should be helping them."
//I really don't mind what happens now and then,
As long as you'll be my friend at the end//
This was a damned, stupid idea.
They were overwhelmed. He knew that now. They wouldn't make it to space.
"Why do we have to die here?"
Duo laid his face down on the screen as mobile suits blasted his Gundam over and over with their beam rifles.
60%...63%...65% damage. He had to close his eyes. I won't watch Quatre die, too. He refused to watch another person he cared for die.
"Why do you care what happens to me?" Heero stated irritably. The American had been shouting at the Wing pilot for nearly an hour about his suicidal tendencies.
"Because you my friend dammit. And...I care about you." Duo was unable to look him in the eye. "I just don't want to see another person I care about die."
Heero walked up and took Duo's chin in his hand. He watched the glitter of tears threaten to fall from the braided pilot's amethyst eyes.
"Boys don't cry." He said softly, turning away.
Duo looked at him sadly. "But everyone should follow their feelings."
Heero stared out the window, saying nothing. But as Duo turned to leave, he spoke up.
"Will you always be my friend?" He whispered, not turning around.
Duo smiled. "Yes, Heero. Even after all this is over, I will still be your friend."
"Because, WE ARE RIGHT!"
The gruff voice thundered through the intercom. Duo opened his eyes. It was him. That Chinese pilot that had told them that they had been manipulated into destroying the shuttle carrying Noventa and the other doves. Why is he here? Did he come to die with us?
"If you can't fight anymore, let the rest of us take care of this."
Duo forced DeathScythe to rise.
"The rest of us?" Did he mean?
"You can leave, but you would disappoint those who agree with you." See for yourself, my American friend. You are not alone.
"Duo!" Quatre's voice shouted triumphantly through the COM unit. "Duo! They're alive!"
"Nani?" Duo looked at the side view panel, where various newsreels were showing the five Gundams attacking various OZ bases.
//If I go crazy then will you still
Call me Superman//
The Japanese pilot continued to point the pistol at his partner.
"It's okay. I am destined to be killed by you."
How could he say that? How could he calmly stand there and wait for me to shoot him? But that's what I came here to do. Heero reminded himself. Wasn't it? I...I don't want to...
"You're going to do it, aren't you?"
I am the Perfect Soldier. I can do this. I have killed hundreds; one more won't matter. This is for the mission. I am the Perfect Soldier. Duo always called me Superman. Duo...I must be crazy.
"Only if you want me to." Heero no baka, you shouldn't have said that! He's injured. You heard him coughing. There is an 80% chance that his ribs are broken, 60% chance of a punctured lung. He's definitely feverous. He probably wants to die...
"You can use you right hand, right?"
I won't let you die, Duo!
//If I'm alive and well, will you be there holding my hand//
"What are we going to do?" I'm not sure I could do anything with my ribs busted up like this, but I don't want you to try to take the moon base by yourself.
The hospital staff had been friendly, but curious about Duo's various injuries. Three broken ribs, a punctured lung, a concussion, and a hell of a lot of bruises. Luckily, Heero stepped in and told them that Duo had wrecked his motorcycle. Unfortunately, this resulted in Duo getting an hour-long lecture from the head nurse on how he should always wear his helmet.
"Don't come with me. You'll be in my way."
He's right. Damn me for my weaknesses! Duo clutched his ribs in pain. He told me he enrolled into a school using my name. Why did he use mine? I don't want him to go...
"Just concentrate on getting better." Heero started to walk towards the door.
Duo jerked his head up. "Heero!"
The Japanese pilot stopped.
"I...I'm glad you're alive."
Heero walked over and kneeled by the injured boy. Duo was looking at a spot on the floor. The Wing pilot gently placed his hand over Duo's, causing the American to look at him. They stayed like that for a long time.
Finally, Heero rose. As he walked away, Duo could hear him whisper.
//I'll keep you by my side with my superhuman might//
Oh, Duo, why did you come here?
The American looked almost as bad as when Heero had rescued him. Probably rebroke his ribs. I told him to stay on the colony. Why didn't he listen to me?
Duo was curled up into a ball on the floor, shivering from the pain of his injuries. Still, he managed to look up and give Heero a small smile. Beside him, WuFei snorted.
"Don't die." Please, Duo. "We might still need you." I still need you.
Duo just laughed and mumbled something about their Gundams being rebuilt and he returning as Shinigami.
"--but right now...I need some sleep."
WuFei snorted again, but this time there was a gleam in his eyes. He would fight once more. With one more glance at the unconscious boy, he retreated to the corner to rest.
Heero waited until he was sure WuFei was asleep before kneeling down beside the braided fighter. He lightly touched the other's forehead, stroking back the chestnut bangs. Duo groaned and opened his eyes.
"Hn." He didn't remove his hand.
"Are you mad at me?"
"Hn. Baka." Duo, I'm just worried. But I can't tell you that.
Duo struggled into a sitting position and Heero reluctantly dropped his hand. He moved to scoot away but Duo stopped him.
"You can't stop OZ all by yourself. I wanted to help you."
The Wing pilot actually chuckled. "But, I'm Superman, remember?"
"Dammit, Heero! Your human! I just said that to get on your nerves."
"Oh, really? I was starting to like it."
Heero moved closer until their foreheads were touching. He could feel Duo's breath as it caressed his cheek. The American took a deep breath.
"I was just worried about you."
Heero smiled. "I know." He tenderly brushed his lips across those of the God of Death.
Shocked, Duo stiffed for a moment, then leaned into the kiss. He gently parted the other's lips to sneak a taste of the Perfect Soldier. Heero arms came up to wrap around him, one hand grasping that annoying braid. It's so soft.
"Maxwell, Yuy! Get a room!" WuFei's annoyed, yet amused, voice pierced their romantic haze and they reluctantly parted. However, Heero did not release his hold on the braid.
If only I could keep you at my side forever. But you are my weakness. My...
//You called me strong, you called me weak,
But still your secrets I will keep,//
"01, step out."
Damn him...How can he be so calm, so emotionless? Even Heero shows more life than this guy.
"Not again! 02 is better than 01. Let me have a crack at it this time." Let me get in a MS, even for a little while. You destroyed DeathScythe, but he's coming back...I hope. It just seems like I dreamt it. That my Gundam is still in a thousand pieces drifting across the galaxy. Thank God for the pain...and the bruises. They served to reminder him that this was reality.
01...02...they haven't given OZ so much as their names. Well, Heero hadn't at least. They had already gotten Duo's name from his previous capture. He told that girl, Hilde. She had also been fighting for the colonies, just from the wrong side. He wondered, briefly, what had happened to her after she helped him escape. Duo forced himself back to their present situation.
"-with the state your in. This time even a Gundam pilot might die."
Why do care what shape I'm in? Duo wanted to scream. You're a traitor!You betrayed our trust! All we had was each other and you tarnished that. Duo took a calming breath and looked at Trowa closely. The OZ outfit looked good on him, he admitted. How much did OZ know about him? Did they know he was a Gundam pilot? Duo didn't think so. A former enemy would never have been given such authority. Well, Trowa Barton, I'll keep your little secret, on the sentimentality of the friendship we might have one day shared. Traitor or not, you don't deserve what they would do to you...
"The enemy is another Gundam."
Shit! Quatre, not you too! OZ can't get us all!
"Nani?" Duo heard WuFei's involuntary exclamation before the Chinese pilot carefully schooled his features. But it was too late; the American had seen the despair that flashed across the other's eyes.
"Seems like it's a new model." Trowa continued inhumanly. "It destroyed as entire OZ base by itself."
"It's features? Weapons?" Heero spoke up for the first time.
Duo looked at Heero in horror, missing Trowa's reply. Surely he wasn't considering fighting Quatre...was he? After all that has happened to them, between them... How could he let himself become OZ's tool? How could Heero leave him behind? He listened as Heero stated that it would be a good fight with Mercurius.
Trowa smirked. "You have to come, whether you like it or not."
Suddenly, Duo couldn't take it anymore. He jumped in front of Trowa.
"So you're just gonna sit and watch while Gundam Pilots fight each other?" He looked over at Heero. He knew he had one chance. "Hey, Zero-One, don't do it!" He saw Heero's eyes soften slightly. "They're only testing out the mobile suits. Don't give them any help!"
Duo saw the fist coming at his and braced himself. The air whooshed out of his lungs and his broken ribs screamed in protest. His vision went dark and he thought he was going to pass out. He barely heard his assaulter's words.
"-quiet in here. You'll get your chance."
//You took for granted all the times I never let you down
You stumbled in and bumped your head,//
Heero leaned against the wall, arms crossed, as the scientists updated him on the current events. So much has happened in such a short amount of time. Things seemed to be spinning out of control. He did his best to remain calm, when all he wanted to do was tear down the walls in search of a certain long-haired baka. If the scientists escaped, why wasn't he with them?
Heero had rushed to the cell they had shared only to find it empty. The Japanese boy remembered breaking into the security room and hacking into the OZ surveillance records. His heart had leapt into his throat as he watched Duo stumble and collapse next to the still form of WuFei. He reached out and touched the screen, unconsciously trying to lend his strength to the fallen boy. But it was too little, and too late. Static replaced the view of the cell and Heero growled, slamming his hand through the screen.
I let you down, Duo. I'm sorry.
"Treize Kushurinada has been confined to quarters by Romafeller Foundation's High Command." Dr J's voice jerked Heero back into the present.
"And now OZ's army has been split into two groups."
I don't care. What about Duo?
"Lady Une has been shot." Professor G added. "We do not know whether she's dead or alive. The Romefeller Foundation, however, has branded her as a traitor."
The bitch deserves it for what she tried to do to the colonies.
Dr J studied Heero silently for a moment. The Japanese boy could feel it behind his closed eyelids and fought not to shift uncomfortably. The Doctor always seemed to have this creepy way of reading his thoughts. Finally, the old man broke his stare and the unnatural silence.
"Duo Maxwell and Chang WuFei have succeeded in escaping by using the internal breakdown of OZ's troops as their chance."
Yes! If I believed in God, I would thank him.
"However both their Gundams are only at 80% capability."
His Gundam isn't at full capacity. Will he be all right?
The remaining 20% will only take a few adjustments." Professor G stated smugly. "It'll be easy enough for them to take care of it if they take their time."
Heero smiled, eyes still closed. G was right. Duo would be fine. There was only one for question...
"What about Trowa Barton?" He asked. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Quatre turn to face him.
Dr J's voice was grim. "Since Vayeate was destroyed, he's reported missing. I'm guessing he's dead."
"We shouldn't expect him to still be alive." G chided. "It's too bad that our fighting force has been diminished, but that's that."
Dr J turned to Heero once again. "That's about everything we know of the present situation. Did you understand all of it, Heero?"
Heero's eyes flashed in the darkness.
Heero found himself in the same room sometime later.
"You wanted to see me, Dr J?"
J beamed up at him. "Ah, yes! Come, Heero my boy. Have a seat." He gestured to the chair beside him. Struggling not to curl his lip in distaste, Heero complied.
"How did you like the Earth?"
Heero looked at the Doctor warily. The old man had never encouraged idle chitchat.
"It was acceptable. Besides that girl that keeps following me around, I have had nothing unusual occur."
"No ones else has noticed you?"
"You're keeping things from me, Heero." Heero shivered involuntarily. "I trained you against such actions."
Heero stood up, suddenly angry. "You're the one who didn't tell me everything! I wasn't the only one who was ordered to come down to Earth in Operation Meteor." He began to pace, back and forth.
"Pilot of Gundam HeavyArms, Trowa Barton. Pilot of Gundam Sandrock, Quatre Raberba Winner. Pilot of Gundam Shenlong, Chang WuFei. And pilot of Gundam DeathScythe, Duo Maxwell."
Dr J stared up at him, expression shuttered. "So you've befriended the other pilots. The American?"
"I don't think of the other Gundam pilots as friends." Heero responded automatically. "Actually, I haven't had a friend from the very beginning. This guy named Duo is just like Relena. They're just annoyances keeping me from my mission."
"Oh, really? Then you might be interested in seeing this." Dr J gestured to the screen beside him.
Heero watched the playback of his and Duo's first kiss, face impassive.
//If not for me then you'd be dead.
I picked you up and put you back on solid ground//
"What the--?" Duo gasped.
"What is it?" Hilde asked.
Flying over the colony, careless of who might see it, was a Gundam the braided boy had never seen before. It looks almost like Wing... Duo moved to protect the dark-haired girl beside of him, though he knew it was a futile effort.
The Gundam landed only a couple of meters from them. Its arm raised, and pointed a very lethal beam cannon at the two figures. An unfamiliar voice began to speak.
The hatch opened and Duo took and involuntary step backwards, almost running into Hilde. A man stepped out, wearing an OZ spacesuit. Duo hated him already.
"Duo Maxwell...Come with me. If you resist, you will die right here."
I'm being captured? Again? Man! I never thought OZ would go to these lengths.
Hilde looked at Duo, eyes wide. Duo decided to call the man's bluff.
"Please go right ahead. But that beam cannon is way too strong. Don't you care that the colony will also be destroyed?" Maybe he can force the man into hand-to-hand combat.
"I don't care."
"What?!" This guy isn't human!
"I don't care about this place. I will not finish my life as a lousy mechanic. If I can reveal the secret of the Gundam system, Tsubarov's Mobile Dolls will become outdated and nothing but trash."
So it's for personal gain... Duo thought. He should have known that not even OZ would destroy an entire colony just to capture one Gundam pilot. Gundam system? What Gundam system?
"The new OZ needs this new system. For that, I will do anything."
Duo glared at the man, teeth clenched. He didn't know what this guy wanted from him, but it couldn't be good.
"Well come to me, Gundam pilot." The soldier commanded. "I only need you."
Duo reluctantly began to climb up the Gundam's smooth surface, the man watching him imperiously from above. Maybe I can push him off. That thought was killed as he reached the hatch only to come face to face with the business end of a pistol.
"You look awfully delicate for a terrorist." Tranto said, grabbing Duo by his hair. "I'm afraid there isn't much room in here, but we're just going to have to make due." He leered down at the braided boy, dragging him onto his lap.
Duo took one last look at a frightened Hilde before the hatch closed and the two shot out into space.
Duo sat in the cockpit of the strange Gundam, numerous sensors attached to his body. He glared out from the depths of his space helmet.
"This is some pretty weird shit you're putting me through. What are you planning to make me do?"
Tranto floated half outside of the hatch, pushing buttons here and there. Duo felt a jolt as the sensors activated.
"I want you to fight the Mobile Dolls with this, Wing Zero."
"Of course, we'll be using real ammo." //So if you don't fight, you'll die.
The threat didn't upset Duo in the least. "I see. I'm okay with it, but I might escape though."
Tranto drifted closer and Duo suppressed a shudder, remembering the feel of the man's arms around him as he manipulated the controls. He would kill this man.
"Wing Zero can be controlled by the outside. Moreover, if you do something strange, the Mobile Dolls will attack the colony."
Something was wrong. Duo's hands clutched the controls tightly. The targets were beginning to blur on the screen. An alarm activated, signaling an enemy up ahead. Looking at the screen, he gasped.
DeathScythe hovered before him, scythe raised to attack. "Impossible!"
"Can you see it too?" Tranto's voice floated through the communicator. "So answer me! What is Wing Zero trying to show the pilot?"
"How would I know?" Duo shouted. "Right now I don't even know who I'm fighting..." He turned to face another suit.
Suddenly, hundreds of DeathScythe's flew before him. The Grim Reaper brought to mechanical life. Voices whispered in the braided boy's ear, taunting him.
Shinigami...You are Death...Everything you touch dies...Everyone you love perishes in agony...
Duo opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out. He closed his eyes tightly against the ghastly vision, but the voices remained.
Death...You will destroy them all...Shinigami... Pictures flashed through his head. Solo, dying. Maxwell church, a burning heap of rubble. soldiers and civilians, all killed by him in this war. Quatre...Trowa...WuFei...all dead.
I am Death...
His enemies...dead...the Colony...Destroyed...Hilde...Dead... His friends...Dead...Heero...Heero?
Screaming, Duo jerked back to himself. He sat there, panting, refusing to look up and see his colony scattered across the galaxy.
"What a horrible thing I've done..."
Finally looking up, his saw before him, not a destroyed colony, but a Mobile Doll, impaled on his beam saber. Pulling the weapon free, Duo watched the Doll explode, numb.
"I can't believe..."
The colony was whole, untouched.
"Can a human really do this?"
"Yes. We can."
He glanced up to see Tranto, head cradled upon his arms, looking up at him intently.
"We're supposed to. It awakens the consciousness of a human, no, it changes it to a newer one. This system can do anything."
"Special Envoy Tranto." An unknown voice called out. "Can you hear me? Hand Wing Zero over to us and surrender. This is an order from Commander Tsubarov. Repeat, hand over Wing Zero to us and surrender."
Tranto sat up, an unholy gleam in his eye. "They've come."
Duo was too drained to struggle as Tranto lifted him out of his seat. Caressing the American's helmet for a moment, Tranto shoved the boy out into space. Duo floated helplessly, awaiting his death.
"Don't Tranto..." Duo murmured weakly. "That system is..."
A shuttle flew up behind the nearly unconscious boy. Hilde...
"Don't Duo! You can't fight in the condition you're in."
Duo smiled at the worried girl feebly. "Don't worry about me. I'm a Gundam pilot."
The shuttle opened up and DeathScythe rose like a vampire from a coffin. Extending its wings, Duo shot out to stop Tranto.
A human can't use that system. I have to stop him.
Wing Zero's beam rifle pointed at L2. Duo swooped down, scythe extended for an overhead swing.
The two Gundams danced a deadly death, striking and evading. DeathScythe was fast, but the speed of Wing Zero was amazing.
"I can see it!" Tranto gloated. "I can see your moves clearly. I can even see how you die."
"LIAR!" DeathScythe's eyes burned as the double bladed scythe swept down. Wing Zero brought its shield up, deflecting the blow. Duo pressed with all his strength, but Zero didn't falter.
"He has much more power than I do."
With a final shove, Wing Zero pushed away the scythe, ripping it away from the American. Duo watched in horror as his weapon floated away.
"Got you." Tranto moved in for the kill.
Grabbing the Gundam firmly, Zero held DeathScythe in a deadly embrace.
"Baka. Haven't you noticed that this Suit's power far exceeds yours?"
Zero's enormous hand grabbed the black Gundam's head, slowly crushing it. Duo grunted in pain as jolts of electricity shot through the cockpit.
"This is it." Tranto laughed. "You will die here and I shall be bathed in glory."
"What are you thinking?" Duo's voice drifted through grim with determination. "There can be a way for us to die together." His hand gripped the detonator firmly.
Aware of his intent, Tranto shoved him away, gasping.
"Leave me alone. I won't lose. I won't lose to you!"
"If you lose, it won't be because of me. It would have been because of Wing Zero."
"I will not lose." He pointed the beam cannon at Duo.
"Don't you get it?" DeathScythe's buster shield flared to life. The beam and the shield flew towards each other.
A giant explosion lit the darkness. Ignoring the pain, Duo forced DeathScythe thrusters to activate, shooting his through the blast.
"I will not lose. I should not lose. With such a system here..." The rest of his words were swallowed by a scream.
Duo heard the glass of Tranto's helmet shatter and watched as Wing Zero floated lifelessly through space. He ripped his own helmet off and gazed at the Gundam.
"A human can't go on doing such things. If he still does, he no longer becomes human, but something else."
Thousands of miles away, on Earth, Heero Yuy sat, panting in the cockpit of the Gundam called Epyon.
"It's the same, this is the same as Zero..."
Normally dark-blue eyes turned white, then red.
"Eliminate everything. Everything that fights is the enemy!!"
He sat, alone on the charred and bloody battleground. Now normal eyes closed tightly as Heero tried to fight the afterimages from his mind.
//If I go crazy...//