Back to Index.
Back to Part 3.
On to Part 5.

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 17 January 2007

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 4

~*Quatre*~

As the vidscreen went dark after Heero had so abruptly ended the call, Quatre massaged his temples. It did not bode well that even Heero wasn't sure if Duo's suicide had been faked or real. By the end of the war, Heero had been demanding regular status updates from each of the pilots. He claimed it was necessary intelligence for fighting, but what Quatre had felt from Heero was fierce and personal, not remote and tactical, and it was at its fiercest where Deathscythe's pilot had been concerned.

Heero had admitted to keeping close tabs on them all in the year following the wars end, from wherever he'd hidden himself. The intensity of Heero's need to protect Duo – and the corresponding intensity of Heero's confused dismay at that at that need – had nearly bowled Quatre over. It had come as no surprise to hear that Heero had cracked Duo's ribs during the Eve War. Heero wouldn't have accepted Duo joining him on the risky maneuver to retrieve his Gundam, and would have found some way to keep the boy from following. Hence, the punch. And all of that emotional intensity, dismay, and confusion had been channeled into that punch.

The real surprise had been that Heero had let Duo be stationed on L2 after the Eve War, where Heero wasn't there to back him up on missions and evaluate his condition afterwards.

Quatre had taken it as a sign that it really was important for the pilots to comply with Une's request. Now, though, he was wondering if Heero had simply been afraid of his changing emotions regarding Duo and used Une as an excuse.

Letting Heero go alone to L2 was not a good idea. Quatre knew in his bones that if the suicide was real, something in Heero would shatter, and Allah help the innocent bystanders. But he alone wasn't going to be enough. It was going to require all three of them, and he had very little time to persuade the other two if they were to make it to L2 in time to restrain the aftermath. They didn't have the time to waste to come to L4 first, and Quatre sighed in relief that he had an excuse to keep Trowa away from his family. And he apologized fervently to Duo in his heart for the part of him that sang in joy at having a reason, finally, to talk to Trowa again.

No. First Wufei, then Trowa. That was the proper way to do it.



~*Duo*~

"Hey Boy," Howard said, smiling as Duo came to. "How are you feeling?"

"Oh, headache! How long was I out? Did you drug me?"

"Just mild, something I know your system tolerates. I know how confinement gets you. Traffic was insane out there. It seems like everyone on L2 wanted to rush to your apartment building. Heero, I thought you'd want to know, is already on board a shuttle to L2."

"Really," Duo said, sitting up a little, moving too fast without the weight of his braid. One hand moved back over his head, feeling the short hair. "Heero. I hope he knows it was fake."

"I hope he doesn't. If he knows, everyone else is likely to know," Howard's grin deepened the lines on his face and revealed a missing tooth. "Just think how happy he'll be when he finds out you're not
dead."

"Did you get the chip while I was out?" Duo asked, throwing the blanket off as he sat up.

"Yup, both of them. They really wanted to keep tabs on you, boy. You look like shit. You're thinner than when you stole that windup toy."

"I'm not. I'm just taller, that's all," Duo said, looking over his shoulder at a man who had been kind of like a father figure. "I don't feel good."

Howard laid a hand on Duo's shoulder, gave a small squeeze. "You'll feel better after we un-dock and hit the inner belt."

"No. I know Heero probably doesn't care about me, but I want to see him. Let's color my hair. No one's going to be looking for me. I'm dead. You have my new paperwork, right?"

"Ian Finn. All it's waiting for is your new photos. What color do you want your hair? You'd make a cute blond. Red?

"I don't care. Whatever you like," Duo said, "but I want to check my mail."

"I don't need to tell you to be careful, Duo, do I?"

"No," Duo said, still feeling off balance. "Thank you for helping me, Howard."

"My pleasure, boy. This is your room while you're here and there's a computer terminal on the desk."

Duo, wearing clean cotton drawstring pants and a kimono style top, crossed to the computer and checked his secure mail.

[I am coming for you.]

"Howard! He didn't believe it! I have to go to him! He's coming for me!" Duo ran both hands through his hair, suddenly reveling in his freedom!

He sent a reply:

[Are you bringing cake?]



~*Heero*~

The shuttle was nearing the L2 port by the time the last of Une's files were cracked. Whatever was in them, she didn't want anyone to see, and had put quite a lot of effort into making certain no one did. And as he scanned the files, he saw why.

The Lady would be joining him in hell, very soon. He'd see to it himself.

Duo hadn't been well. Duo had been depressed, and Une had known it.

Une had not told him.

Une had ordered Duo into the care of one P.D. Cromwell, Adelberg Chair of Psychoanalytic Studies at L2 General Hospital. Had given explicit instructions to this Cromwell to keep all references to Duo out of the computer system. Had ordered him to commit Duo to the Psychiatric Emergency Ward for a week under an assumed name.

He'd known there was something wrong with the camping trip story. Instead of vacationing, his Duo had been locked up under constant surveillance to keep him from harming himself.

He scanned the notes, certain passages jumping out at him:

[Communicated to Cromwell absolute importance of keeping all information regarding DM out of computer systems. Required practical demonstration of inadequacy of hospital information systems security. Assured that the message will be reinforced repeatedly to Cromwell over course of treatment.]

No, Une hadn't wanted him knowing anything about this.

*Bitch. Lying bitch.*

[First Cromwell session with DM today. As recommended, ordered DM to report to Cromwell immediately, providing no prior warning in order to prevent DM from finding method to avoid appointment or to settle on strategy of deception. DM visibly shaken by my insistence that he attend evaluation, demanding to know what he'd done 'wrong.' DM only complied when implied consequences to other pilots invoked. Altogether distasteful.]

Oh, he'd show Une distasteful. Oh, yes.

[Cromwell reports DM likely suffering from depression, PTSD. Significant sleep disorder present. Further sessions should yield more information. Never fear, all things will be accomplished in the fullness of time.]

*...In the fullness of time? What?*

[Cromwell confirms diagnosis of major depressive disorder. DM resisting medication. Indications of self-harm.]

*Self-harm? What self-harm?* What had Duo been doing? And why in hell was Une sending a depressed Duo who was hurting himself out on hazardous missions?

[Case L2-W555: Presence of secondary militia cells on L1 confirmed. Removing DM from case, as close contact with L1 office will be required.]

[Cromwell reports breakthrough. DM hypothesis confirmed. Issued reprimand to DM for continuing to pursue L2-W555, as contact with HY strongly contraindicated.]

*Hypothesis? What?*

L2-W555 didn't ring any bells... Wait. Agent Saam had been assigned to L2-W555; he remembered hearing the man complain about having to liaise with L2. He'd had... words... with Saam about the man's bigotry.

[Cromwell warning about possible adverse reaction to medication. Sent an agent to speak to DM's neighbor, Taniko, requesting contact  should DM shows any signs of stress. Cannot officially put DM on desk duty without drawing attention, but imperative keep him out of action. Will not put his team at risk. It would be a terrible shame, wouldn't it, to have something unfortunate happen to an agent because he was sent out on a mission while unfit for duty? It would be a most distressing lapse of judgment on the part of his commanding officer.]

Heero couldn't agree more with the sentiment, but... Why hadn't it been present when the diagnosis was first confirmed? Or when Une had first suspected Duo needed help and ordered him to therapy? This was wrong, all wrong.

[DM suffered breakdown. Taniko called, reporting screaming and slamming sounds. Cromwell and hospital orderlies had significant difficulties restraining DM. Personally conducted cleanup of DM apartment. Significant quantities of blood at the scene, most of it DM's. Cromwell denies DM suffered anything but superficial injuries, but did admit to 'impressive quantity' of such. Cleanup heartbreaking. Most personal effects destroyed, excepting photographs of pilots and gold cross on a broken chain. All photographs of DM alone mutilated. Not certain I can continue this.]

[Visited DM in hospital. No signs of violence or intense suffering. DM was polite, unusually soft-spoken and subdued. Apologized for causing difficulties. Had difficulty preventing tears at apology. DM very insistent that HY not to know about incident when asked.]

What? Why? Had Une wanted to tell him about Duo's breakdown? Why hadn't Duo wanted him involved?

*Did he think I wouldn't care? That I wouldn't come?*

By the time docking was complete, Heero was nearly exploding with the need to act. He needed to do something, anything. He slammed the laptop closed, not bothering to log on to the L2 network, and commandeered a taxi to Duo's apartment building.



~*Wufei*~

As Katrine had said, Une was sitting at her desk, staring fixedly at the screen.

"Commander?"

Not even a twitch in response.

"Commander Une!" He snapped her name out this time. She still didn't react.

This was not good at all. Une had been officially cleared by the Psych unit, free of any diagnosis of PTSD or dissociative disorder. After an exhaustive review and stint at therapy, she had been certified sane and functional.

Then again, so had he. What did that say about the competency of the Psych unit? And he couldn't deny that there were times when she seemed off; when a sudden gesture or turn of phrase had him checking from the corner of his eye to be sure of whom he was with.

He' didn't like to admit this, but he'd had recurring nightmares where Trieze or Meiran would suddenly take the place of whoever he had been interacting with, and though neither of them had ever done anything terrible after appearing, the visceral twist of horror had him waking with a shout more than once.

In all honesty... Une had once or twice had him afraid he was dreaming, nerves snapped tight against the surety that if he blinked, or turned away for even a moment, she would suddenly wear a different face.

An aristocratic face, topped with ginger hair.

But that was just a ridiculous dream-born fear. Probably just a manifestation of suppressed guilt. He'd be assured so, by the Psych unit.

He eased around the side of her desk, making sure each of his movements was clearly visible in her peripheral vision. Only a fool would sneak up on a soldier in the kind of mental distress Une was displaying.

"Lady...?" The rest of his question died unspoken, as Wufei caught sight of the vid screen. Window upon window upon window was open, showing the live media coverage, creating an overlapping mosaic of tragedy. In the upper left corner, the slender form fell from the balcony railing, graceful, flowing, as though he were performing some reverse dive for an Olympic contest. In the center, a cameraman's lens peered around a uniformed chest to show splattered carnage upon the cement. Below, an infamous news anchorwoman spat silent questions at a man in an L2 police uniform. Image upon image of Maxwell's... plunge. And landing. And the chaotic aftermath.

Wufei, too, was hypnotized by the images before him. Duo... why had Duo done this? What had happened? Wufei had never had the chance to repay the debts owed to Maxwell... and now Duo was gone.

When the stillness was broken, Wufei jumped, adrenaline spiking, hands coming up into a defensive position. The Commander remained utterly still as she spoke. "He's furious."

"What? Who...?" A thought suddenly occurred to Wufei of who else would be watching this. "Do you mean Yuy?"

Heero had been keeping close tabs on his comrades, and he'd always been strange about Maxwell. Whenever the two of them were in a safe house together, you could be sure that Yuy was attuned to Maxwell's every move. It was never anything so obvious as staring – it was the positioning of the laptop monitor to catch Maxwell's reflection, the sudden switch to an alert posture moments before Maxwell entered the room, the uncanny sense for when Maxwell returned from a mission wounded. Heero would have the first aid kit out almost before the door closed behind his partner, not even needing a visual assessment to know Maxwell was bleeding.

There had been something perverse in Yuy's constant secret surveillance of Maxwell combined with his determination to ignore all of Maxwell's actions designed to catch his attention, one way or the other. The few times Wufei had been an a safe house with only the two of them for company had been uncomfortable, an exercise in spending as much time avoiding his companions as possible, and behaving in as remote and formal a fashion as possible to avoid stepping on the lethal emotional mines that surrounded Maxwell and Yuy.

Yes, Heero would be furious, to say the least. Someone needed to go to L1 to begin damage control immediately.

Une was shaking her head from side to side silently. The furious person was not Yuy? Maybe. Wufei was still not entirely certain she was aware of his presence, much less his question. He crouched down next to her chair, and realized his hands were shaking. Damn it, he was not the person to be handling Une right now – he was too personally affected by the tragedy. But he couldn't think of another Agent he'd trust in this sensitive situation, either.

Une was becoming more agitated. Her breathing sped up, and her hands were gripping the edge of her desk. "No. No. He's dead, there's nothing to be done. It's too late now. No."

"Lady?" He began again. "Are you alright?"

She turned to face him at last, but her eyes were glazed, the pupils huge. "That wasn't supposed to happen. He shouldn't have done that. He..."

What was there to say? "Of course it wasn't supposed to happen, Lady. No one would have expected that – not from Maxwell."

She shook her head again. "No, he was supposed to have been better."

Better? Wufei had a sinking feeling in his stomach. If it was supposed to be better, that meant there had been a worse, and...

He reached out to the computer, clicked on a dark window almost totally obscured by the barrage of news coverage. It was a text file, a journal of some sort. There was an entry dated almost 2 months ago.

[Cromwell's assessment of DM is positive. No further signs of suicidal behaviors. Medications managing mood swings. Any continuing self-mutilation is likely coping mechanism, and DM less likely to turn to those. DM seems to accept that contact with HY not beneficial to either of them.]

"Duo was suicidal?" Wufei knew he was stating the obvious, a behavior which infuriated him in others. But it was so unbelievable – Duo was always good-natured, never sunk into the moodiness that plagued the rest of the pilots during the war. Very little shook him, and what did was shaken off so quickly...

Well. Apparently not. Another thought struck him. "He was in treatment while maintaining active duty status?"

"He was so insistent... It was important that no one know... I couldn't take him off active status without filing a reason, and no one was to know about Maxwell's treatment. I kept him out of the most dangerous missions." Une's pupils were shrinking back down to normal size, and she was finally tracking his movements.

Wufei wondered if the burning in his stomach was the work of an ulcer. "Une. Please tell me Heero knew about this."

As she shook her head in the negative, Wufei decided that if the pain wasn't an ulcer, it had to be his gut preparing for the blows Heero was surely going to inflict when he found out about this. Shit.

Then his pager went off. He was almost giddy with relief to see it wasn't Yuy. It was Winner. Yes, Winner could help keep Heero contained. Winner was very good at that sort of thing. Excellent.

"Commander? May I take a call in here? It's Winner."

"Hmmm? Oh. Yes. I would need to speak to him, anyway." She pressed the heels of her palms against her eyes, rubbing them, unsuccessfully trying to eradicate the tears that were slowly beginning to seep out. "And Chang? I'm so sorry. So sorry about Maxwell. So sorry about all of it."

With the journal entry right before his eyes as he opened a communications window, Wufei couldn't bring himself to tell her it was alright. Or that he forgave her. It was much, much easier to focus on the minutiae of Preventer protocol that hadn't been followed, to think about the emotional reactions of the other pilots, than to face the empty place inside that had opened up. That empty place, and all the places in his soul rendered forever hollow that were to hold he'd meant to say, questions he'd never gotten around to asking, and debts he hadn't paid.

Back to Index.
Back to Part 3.
On to Part 5.
Send feedback to Amy the Evitable.
Send feedback to Nix Winter.