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Title: The Bone Gate
Authors: Nix Winter and LunarGeography (Amy the Evitable)
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4
Rating: Mature adults only
Warnings: Angst, spooky occult stuff, and boys who are not what they seemed to be. Post EW
Archive: fanfiction.net,  http://www.therck.org, all others please ask.
Disclaimer: No infringement of the copyright of Gundam Wing is intended. This story is purely for entertainment purposes.
Date: Posted 26 November 2006

Summary: After Endless Waltz, the pilots are separated by the fears of the new government. But all is not well with the G-boys. Old enemies may be pulling strings from somewhere unimaginably far behind the scenes, and old friends may not be what they seem.

*xxx*: Thoughts
[xxx]: Text on screen

Chapter One

<<Heero POV>>

Heero stared at the laptop screen, fingers hovering over the keyboard combination that would send the message.

This was frivolous. Unnecessary.

Had anything untoward happened to Duo -- happened to any of the other Gundam pilots -- Une would have informed him. Informed him with considerable alacrity. She knew perfectly well that there were nonnegotiable conditions on the Gundam pilots' agreement to let her keep them separated.

She'd kept them all up to date on accidental tear gas exposure and influenza, stitches and sprains -- Wufei really needed to go through some physical therapy to re-strengthen that ankle, it seemed – even permitting the pilots to give input on mission planning for the other's missions.

Anything except allowing them direct contact. Heaven forbid they be on the same continent, or in the same LaGrange cluster.

Heero snorted. Not, of course, that they were forbidden to e-mail or vidcall one another. But Une had been admirably direct with the pilots, telling them that the sniveling politicians who feared a Gundam-pilot organized coup would monitor all such contact, and that frequent inter-pilot contacts would escalate governmental paranoia. The politicians might look upon frequent contacts as a sign of conspiracy, or the potential for one, and might do something that would lead to... "Escalations that were in no one's best interests" had been Une's phrase. There still was talk among some of the more extreme Earth Sphere political factions of war crimes prosecution, whispers that public safety might require locking up the former terrorists... or even more drastic action.

So the pilots did not talk to each other much. Or talk much at all.

Of course, Heero had set up this secret secure electronic connection between the pilots, which he was almost certain was invisible to even the most skilled of the government's hackers. But it was purely in case of emergency. The more it was used, the more likely it was that the government watchdogs would notice it. And if it was noticed, that would certainly lead to "escalations."

So this message really was an unnecessary security risk. Duo was certainly fine.

It took Heero a moment to realize that the deep rumbling growl filling his office was emerging from his own throat.

*Damn them, damn them, damn them, trying to keep him separated from his... from his... From Duo. From all the pilots. Damn Une. Damn the politicians. Interloping, interfering in what was not theirs to control....*

There was a pulse as the fury poured through his mind and heart. He felt heat surge through him, and the world suddenly became sharp and pellucid: the scent of old coffee grounds, nervous sweat, someone's popcorn in a distant office, becoming painfully clear mingling with too many perfumes and aftershaves; impossibly sharp edges and textures in a room almost bleached of color; snippets of conversations:

"Out of coffee again? Doesn't anyone else ever..."
"...so I said yes, of course, but to put me on the spot like that..."
"...Unacceptably poor performance at the firing range..."
"...Placement is the key with these little buggers..."
"Sir, yes sir!"

And Heero's hands clenched into white-knuckled fists above his keyboard, nails driving into his palms.

*No! Control... control....*

He took a deep breath. Another. A regulated count. Another. Count. Another. He was able to make his hands loosen. Another deep breath.

The hyperawareness of L1 Preventer's Headquarters around him receded, his senses dulling.

*This is not right*

He looked again at the message on screen..

[Duo. Are you well?]

*A risk? Yes. An unnecessary risk?*

*...*

He'd been riding the sharp edge of his temper almost continually the last few weeks.

Had all but bounced Agent Saam out on his butt in the hallway throwing the agent out of his office. Saam was a loathsome little weasel, but he'd had a legitimate reason to speak to Heero...

*Not in my damn office! Slimy bastard stays out of my space!*

An unnecessary risk?

Four words.

[Duo. Are you well?]

The click of the keyboard echoed through his office.

[Message sent]



<<Duo POV>>

Four words.

Duo thought about them for weeks. Five weeks.

No reply made
Just
thinking.

The answer had seemed to be positive when he'd first gotten the mail, but something had kept him from replying.

L2 had been his home for as long as he could remember. Whatever parents he'd had had come from L2, or at least died there.

Une had promised not to tell the others, not to tell how hard he'd taken the separation. Anti-depressants, even a short stay as a special guest at his therapist's hospital hadn't really made it better. It just made it acceptable.

All horrible things become acceptable if you don't really want to die and there's no way around them. Duo Maxwell would never get to live with Heero Yuy, never get to tell him about loving him, or kiss him, or dance with him. Duo Maxwell was a murderer, a terrorist, barely worth not putting in some dark jail and all the drugs his therapist could shove at him wasn't really keeping his thoughts clear.

Suicide would never be believed. Well, unless he left a body decaying in the tub, and he was rather fond of his body the way it was and he didn't think Heero had any inclination towards necrophilia. He just really needed to be someone else.

For all he knew they'd tagged him with some kind of identifying chip during one of his exams. He couldn't just walk away and if he screwed up, the others would pay as well. Une had made that very clear.

It had taken weeks to clarify his mission. He almost didn't have the nerve to leave his cage. It was a cage they'd made for him too, a very nice prison where he could be put to their uses. Duo Maxwell would not be used.

What he wanted he couldn't have.
He wouldn't be free.
He couldn't have Heero.
Duo Maxwell had no reason or will to continue.

It had taken him five weeks to release from all that he'd thought he'd held to.

He lived in a nice apartment, on the thirtieth floor. Preventer uniform undone at the collar, at bag of food in one hand, he knocked on his neighbor's door.

She was a single mom, three kids, only one of which was hers. Duo was going to miss her and her kids.

When she opened her door, she grinned. "Duo! I wasn't expecting you home so early. Are you okay? Are you hurt again?"

"Naw," Duo said, giving her a wink. "But I'm gonna go on a new mission later tonight and well, I wouldn't be back for a little while. So I wanted you to have the perishable stuff in my fridge and things."

"Duo! Thank you! Will you be gone long? Do you have time for dinner?"

"No, I really have to get ready. There's so much to do. It's a dangerous mission, Miss Taniko. I have paid my lease for the next two years. if something should happen to me. I have arranged that the funds be transferred to your lease."

"Oh!" she cried, throwing her arms around him. "I don't want your lease! I want you to hurry and come back!"

He hugged her, a hand comforting on the back of her head. "I care about what's most important to me, Miss Taniko and I have follow my heart. There is someone I'm in love with and this mission may be the only way to be free to be with him, someday."

She pulled back and looked up at him, smiling. "You will be with him again. Just give it some time. Don't do anything rash!"

Duo's heart raced. She knew him too well, but he gave a bright smile, toothy and cocky. "No worries! You know how I get sometimes, that's all. It's just one of those days."

"See you tomorrow?"

"Sure thing!" Duo gave her a wave and went across the hall to his own apartment. He peeled off his Preventer uniform for the last time, leaving it on the floor, a trail to the bathroom.

He had the whole plan. It was all going to work so smoothly. Freedom, the only freedom he could have.

The shower washed away doubts, brought in a peace. Heero could self-destruct. Duo understood more how that would feel, the peace.

Still wet, he picked up the blade he'd kept with him in the war, since he was a child. Wearing just worn blue jeans, he took his braid in one hand, caressing it, saying goodbye.

There was no turning back.

He replied with his own five words.

[No, but I will be.]

Just on time, Preventers were at his door. "Mr. Maxwell? Are you okay?"

Miss Taniko was very dependable.

"Yup, fine. Go away," Duo yelled, over his shoulder as he opened his balcony door. "Don't need any help, thanks!"

"Mr. Maxwell! Please, let us in! We just want to make sure you're okay!"

Duo boosted himself up on to the railing of his balcony, blade in one hand, braid in the other. He tilted his head back and let the fake star light fall over his face. It was always just so hard to really let go. There was no place for Duo Maxwell when he couldn't be free though.

The mission would fail though if the media didn't show up to see this tragedy. If this could buy the freedom of his friends, then the media had to see it.

His door had been reinforced, very recently. The first shoulder to ram his door didn't do anything but cause his would-be rescuer to curse his name.

He sighed. His blade cut into his braid, sawed, and as quick as he could, faster because he couldn't stop, if he did, he'd try to save his braid. He could feel Sister Helen's hands on his shoulders, but … but he had something more important now and it would never work without his braid.

Finally his blade was through and he let the long beautiful treasure of his hair fall. He had to go with the hair, timing was everything.

Frightened. His heart in his throat, he flew again, like a gundam pilot, like he was with Scythe again, arms out, now short hair whipping against his face. Timing, timing was everything!

Below….

"Oh my god! He did it. Are you seeing this? The legendary Gundam pilot known as Death as just leapt from his balcony! We are told that there's no way anyone, not even a gundam pilot could survive this fall!"

The camera followed the falling body down, losing it only briefly as it passed behind the huge sign that advertised the place. It slowed the progress, and the sign shook with the impact… what fell from the sign was battered beyond being human and the camera shifted, the cameraman's stomach adding an additional soundtrack to the recording.

"Oh my god, he'd dead. Duo Maxwell is dead. It's the end of an era! He was perhaps the greatest hero of our time! What a horrible tragedy!"

Behind the sign, one Ian Finn held to the railing with both hands, swinging, picking up momentum, until he let go and dove through the open window into the waiting arms of lawless sweeper scum that were his life long buddies.

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