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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 2 December 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 2

~*Heero*~

The first 24 hours after he'd sent the message to Duo were the worst. He'd had no idea what to expect.

Once 24 hours had passed with no reply, he knew something was wrong. He knew to expect trouble.

This was familiar territory, at least.

Action was justified.

He smiled and turned to his laptop. Step one of dealing with any trouble was to identify the problem.

He spent the next four weeks obsessively following Duo Maxwell's activities. He noted every bank transaction, learning which grocers Duo preferred, and noting that his diet was well-balanced, but somewhat lacking in overall caloric consumption. Either he forgot to eat meals on a regular basis, or someone was providing him with food free of charge. Heero was supremely irritated to discover how far behind the L2 Preventer's medical department was in the mandated regular checkups. It made it impossible to determine if Duo had lost weight.

He made a mental note to send a scathing note on the topic to Une later. He read through each mission report Duo submitted. Read through the mission reports Duo's partners submitted. Read through Duo's
performance reviews, psychological evaluations, e-mails, and expense reports.

Everything seemed fine. In the eyes of those around him, Duo was behaving as he always had. His performance at work seemed excellent.

But there were little things that made the hairs on the back of Heero's neck raise. The apartment lease, pre-paid two years in advance was atypical of Duo's mobile lifestyle, and something about the rider which transferred the lease to a neighbor's name in the event of his death gave Heero a chill. Duo had become unusually diligent in turning in his expense reports and other administrative paperwork in the last week or two, rather than letting them linger until the latest date possible. Possibly most puzzling was the complete lack of financial transactions during the vacation he'd taken a month or two ago. E-mails to coworkers had indicated that Duo was planning to go camping, but even then, Heero would have expected some transportation records, food purchases, or even purchases of camping supplies. None. Nothing. It was like Duo had been locked in a cellar for the duration.

Something was wrong, but Heero had no idea at all of what it was.

Heero's temper had gotten even shorter over the last five weeks. Agent Saam had bolted from the men's room without even fastening his pants at the glare Heero had given him. Heero had overheard the clerical staff doing jan-ken-pon to see who the unlucky person was who delivered his mail each day. His neighbor's dog had taken to rolling on its back and whimpering whenever Heero passed by.

It occurred to Heero that perhaps he wasn't entirely well either. The periods of sensory hyper-awareness were becoming more frequent, and would sometimes leave him with a headache so severe that his vision blurred with each pulse of pain. He'd developed trouble sleeping, waking with so much energy filling his body that he was amazed he couldn't see it arcing between his fingers in Jacob's ladders, and only a long, long run, or hours of lifting weights, would ease the feeling. And he craved the presence of the pilots, wanted them near him. He wanted to see them, hear their voices, but even more, he wanted to be able to smell them, touch them, know what they were doing.

He craved Duo most of all. He wondered if this was how an addiction felt. He smirked to himself at the thought of Duo as a controlled substance, and then decided it wasn't funny at all.


~*Quatre *~

The throbbing in his head was almost intolerable. Quatre reached for the bottle of ibuprofen he'd taken to keeping in his desk drawer, and the simple motion almost undid his control over his nauseous stomach. He sat perfectly, perfectly still, keeping his breathing as shallow as possible.

He didn't want to embarrass himself by having to bolt out of his office into the restroom yet again.

Slowly, the urge to vomit passed, and with much greater care, he retrieved the bottle and took twice the recommended dosage. It was the same amount he'd taken just two hours before. It was silly to think the painkiller would start helping now, but in order to get anything more potent, he'd have to see a doctor. The trusted family doctor, of course, and while he didn't think she'd actually break confidentiality, his sisters would find out that he had scheduled an appointment. Then he'd be asked, oh-so-solicitously, whatever could be troubling him. And then would come the hinting that he had lingering troubles from the war, that he needed to seek treatment and therapy, and perhaps needed to reconsider what else in his life right now might be due to trauma... Such as his filthy, blasphemous, sexual relationship with another man.

Coming out to his sisters had not gone nearly as well as he'd hoped it would.

Coming home to his sisters had not gone nearly as well as he'd hoped it would, either. He'd taken to thinking of them in political blocs, which he felt bad about – but it really was an apt metaphor. There was the block that were still angry over his defiance of Father's wishes. That one could be broken down to the bloc who wrote the whole thing off to an act of adolescent rebellion, and thought he needed to be sent off to a rigidly disciplined school until he finally displayed some signs of maturity, and those who were still emotionally enraged by his betrayal. Amihan had gone so far as to accuse him of being just the same as the people who'd killed Father, implying that Oz wouldn't have had to go so far if it weren't for the Gundams.

Then there was the bloc of sisters who were very active in WEI, and resented that Father's will had dumped the controlling majority of stock into the hands of an inexperienced boy who knew nothing of business and whose sole qualification for a the privilege was the possession of a penis.

He completely understood their anger, and was willing to work with them – perhaps to put his stock into a trust controlled by them until he'd completed university, or even to sell it to them outright. If his Y chromosome conferred magical powers of executive decision-making, he hadn't noticed it yet. Perhaps having had Trowa's cock buried deep inside his ass had negated that particular power.

No. He wasn't going to get caustic and bitter. He wouldn't let the situation change him like that. Trowa wouldn't like it.

The pang of longing that thinking of Trowa invoked made him gasp aloud, aggravating his headache. He wanted Trowa next to him so badly sometimes that it felt as though some tiny bright part of his soul fell dark and died each time he finally made himself accept that it just couldn't happen. Sometimes he was afraid he was running out of those tiny bright parts.

Really, he told himself yet again, it would be wrong to have Trowa join him here. It would cause political problems – political problems that would have very personal effects on Trowa, with his undocumented status and total lack of citizenship. In return for his co-operation, Lady Une was blocking the war crimes investigations into the mercenary group with which Trowa had been affiliated. It wouldn't matter to some people that Trowa had only been a child, that he was just following the orders of the only people who would offer him a bed to sleep in and food to eat. As the sole survivor of the unit, they'd punish Trowa for actions he couldn't possibly have stopped.

Even if they could get around that – and Quatre had a few thoughts on the matter – how could he possibly bring his lover into the poisonous atmosphere his family home had become? The most frightening block of his sisters, the ones who were horrified that the darling baby boy of the Winner family was homosexual, would rip Trowa to shreds. They'd try to convince him that he'd corrupted and dirtied Quatre, that he wasn't good enough for Quatre, that his very existence was bad for Quatre. Trowa was strong enough not to let them destroy him, not to let them push him away from Quatre... but they could push Trowa away from himself. Trowa would bury his true self beneath his silent, blank mask again, and Quatre couldn't bear that happening again. Not when it would be his fault.

No, he couldn't bring Trowa here.

Quatre found himself walking over to one of the vases filled with red roses that filled his office. He bent down and literally buried his face in the blooms. The velvety petals were the most gentle touch he'd felt since he'd come home,  and he let the scent drown the thoughts and longings. Even his headache seemed to ebb a little when he was enveloped by the roses.

It was funny, he thought, as drowsiness began to fill him. A vase of red roses had simply appeared in his office a few weeks ago. He hadn't known if they were part of some new decorating scheme, or possibly been given to him for some holiday he'd overlooked. They were just there. He hadn't liked them at first. The ornate scarlet blooms looked like blood to him, and they hadn't fit at all with the lighter color scheme he'd chosen for his office.

But the scent relieved his headaches, and he'd begun to order more. He had a half-dozen vases of the things in his office now. He couldn't quite believe he'd ordered that many, but it had been his signature there on the order forms. When his headaches were really bad, he sometimes didn't pay enough attention to the details of what he was doing. When they were at their worst, he couldn't even make his eyes focus properly. It was amazing that the worst slip-up he'd made had been ordering an overabundance of roses...

He was asleep at the table, head next to the vase of roses, when one of his executive assistants rapped  on the door sharply and entered without being acknowledged. "Mr. Winner? Sorry to disturb you like this, but there was something on the news I knew you'd want to see right away."


~*Heero *~

Heero was finishing his highly-illegal download of Lady Une's personal files – the last place he had left to look for information about what was wrong with Duo – when the reply came.

[No, but I will be.]

Heero didn't know how long he would have stared at the message window on his laptop if an alert hadn't beeped. He'd been staring long enough to have an afterimage of those words burned onto his retinas, at least. The programmed agent that alerted him when any of the pilots were in the media opened a window of live news feed from L2.

The sounds of the news anchor blathering and the cameraman violently retching were drowned out by the crash as Heero's fist shattered the surface of his desk.

The laptop sat on the floor among the debris of the desk, showing that long, long, fall, that shuddering collision with the sign, the shattering thud of landing over and over.

*He wouldn't do that. Not Duo. He wouldn't. He can't be... "No, but I will be". Will be what? Will be dead? Is dead well? He wouldn't think that. Would he? Wouldn't he? Could I have faked something like that? Could he? Yes... yes.... But. Oh, god, Duo!*

That long fall, shown over and over...

When the vidphone rang, he stabbed the answer button with enough force that his claw sent a chunk of it flying. What remained of the button was stained red with blood from clenched fists.

An image of Quatre, deathly pale with his fist pressed against his sternum appeared. "Heero!" Quatre's eyes widened further, and he sucked air in an audible agonized gasp. "You.. you saw."

Heero nodded once.

"Would Duo... would he really...?" Quatre's hand apparently spasmed against his chest, flashing the signal for 'More data required.' "He wouldn't, would he?"

"I don't know." Heero flashed the sign for 'assemble at safe house,' but he was far beyond registering the actual snarl in his voice. "But I will find out."

Quatre's eyes narrowed slightly, as he gave the barest of nods, but he continued to speak for the benefit of anyone tapping the line. "Heero... I think we need to be together to deal with this. I want us to be able to support one another."

"Ryoukai. We will gather at your location on L4. After. First I'm going to L2."

"Heero, I really don't think you should be alone right now."

"I'm going to L2. Now. Gather the others. Make sure they are..." Heero's lips twisted in a bitter smile. "Make sure they are well and wait for me on L4. I'll join you later."

He didn't wait for Quatre to acknowledge that before he cut the connection.

He picked up the laptop from the wreckage of his desk. He booked passage for L2, and sent out a message to Quatre, Wufei, and Trowa on his secure network.

[Go to Quatre's. Stay until further orders.]

He needed to know the other pilots were well. Needed to know his... his pack... were gathered, that he could join them, have them safely under his aegis. His pack? Yes. That was the term his heart had for them. More then friends. Almost family; almost, but the need to protect them, to lead them to have their scents and voices near him, all made him chose the word pack.

J had always said he wasn't entirely human. What was the point in denying it?

He needed his pack together, but could not wait for them to join him before he want to find Duo. Yes, They should gather to protect one another, and as soon as he could, he would join them. Hopefully with their last pack mate at his side.

Another message to Duo.

[I am coming for you.]

His hand shook as he hit the send key, and his vision blurred the [Message sent] notification with unshed tears.

*Duo... please, please get that message. Be alive. Don't let me have waited too long.* Grabbing his emergency travel duffel he had always kept in the office, he headed towards the Port. He had an entire flight to look through Une's purloined files.

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