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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: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3244342/1/ ,  http://www.therck.org, http://www.gundam-wing-diaries.150m.com/gw/Single_Authors/gwsingleauthors.htm, all others please askDisclaimer: 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 5

~*Heero*~

To call the scene at Duo's apartment building a circus would be an insult to Catherine. Notably the circus had better crowd control than the L2 authorities seemed capable of maintaining. Nonetheless, it was inarguably a freak show. There seemed to be several large crowds of mourners, many in tears and a few actually wailing, all intent on covering every available surface with flowers. Other people seemed to be there purely to gawk, and seemed highly excited when Heero came into view. Whispers, pointing, and then of all things, someone came up to him as he was forcing his way through the crowd and asked for an autograph.

Fortunately, the autograph-seeking idiot had the sense to know death when it was glaring him in the face, and fled.

Heero could hear the in the distance the strident tones of a street preacher, who seemed to see in the situation a chance to berate large crowds of people for the many and varied sins of L2 -- for which Duo was somehow responsible. Or emblematic, at the least. If the bastard had been anywhere near him, Heero would have had some words with him about the appropriateness of using the scene of his closest friend's death to capture an audience for his ranting. Some words, and some cripplingly painful blows.

Breaking through the crowd, Preventer's badge held before him like a shield, Heero approached the scene of the... impact. He wouldn't call it death, not until he was certain.

He cursed under his breath. The scene was totally contaminated. A media crew was being pushed back by several uniformed Preventers. They'd definitely gotten close enough to contaminate the scene... the anchorwoman's highly polished shoe was marred with red smears. L2 cops, judging from the uniforms, were cuffing a man and removing test tubes from his pockets... some of which contained red substances. Heero didn't know if he should get perform violence upon the man for the attempted theft or be violently ill, but either way, violence was called for.

When his arm was touched, Heero found his hand around the throat of a woman in a Preventer's uniform before he had the chance to think about his response. Her hands wrapped around his wrist, yanking at it, and she struggled while choked-off noises spilling from her mouth.

He didn't want to let go. He wanted to hurt someone more than he ever had in his entire life, and this woman had touched him without his permission, and there were crowds of people here to stare at Duo's body, and this man trying to steal pieces of Duo's body, and there was blood splattered everywhere, a huge radius, and there was so much of it, the stink stabbing into his brain, and this woman should not have touched him...

*Breathe in. Out, slowly. In again, from deep in the belly. Out. Slower. Better*

He made his hand relax.

"Don't touch me."

The agent coughed, massaging her throat with her hands. Heero could see white marks where his fingers had pressed. There would be bruises. He couldn't bring himself to feel sorry.

"Agent Yuy?" She waited for his nod. "I'm Julia Parks, with the L2 branch. Agent Chang assigned me to be your liaison."

He nodded again. He wasn't pleased to meet her, and he wouldn't say he was.

"The body has been taken to the morgue already. Do you... do you want to go there, or..."

"His apartment. I want to see his apartment first."

Agent Parks escorted him inside, and had the sense not to try to talk to him. She stood back as he walked through Duo's tiny kitchen, the mismatched, thrift-shop living room, the blackout-curtained bedroom. As Une's notes had said, the apartment was now bare of personal effects except for several framed photos, all featuring one or more of the former Gundam pilots.

The kitchen counter was covered with evidence bags. He looked through them – empty prescription bottles, Duo's badge, a Preventer's standard-issue firearm, fiber samples, and a single piece of paper.

A note.

Heero read it.

People

I fought for you.
I bled for your freedom and safety.

You know what I wanted? In the war? I wanted to kinda belong.

I wanted everyone safe, free
and for me.. I wanted
I wanted to be a good person
I wanted to be okay to be around
I wanted my friends and my family

the other pilots
they're my family
but I'm a bad man
and people are scared of me being with my family.

I can never be close to anyone or they'll die or I'll hurt them
somehow.

I survived the church.
I survived the war
But I can't survive without my family

Heero is a good man. He'd never hurt you. Don't be afraid of him. He's
kind and only wants to help people.

Quatre is a saint. Sweet and gentle.

Trowa is a quiet man who keeps to himself and only wants to live his
life, you fucking assholes.. he's in love with Quatre. Being torn from
the man he loves? That's his reward for helping save your sorry asses?

Wufei? Well, now he's an asshole, but he's not gonna start blowing
things up. Mostly, I think he just liked telling me what an idiot I am.

So, please, as I can't stay here anymore, please be kind to my family.
We only wanted to help you. We never wanted to bring you fear. Unless
you're some corrupt politician who's hurting people, and even then..
we're older, broken in body and soul. Please. For those I leave behind.
Just leave them the hell alone, please?

Duo Maxwell
Death.


Heero watched his fingers as he shuffled the evidence bags, then covertly placed the note in his pocket. He felt as though he were a foot above his body, watching as it did the most surprising things entirely independent of his own volition. There was a high-pitched ringing in his ears.

"I'm done here," said his mouth to Agent Parks.

The ringing almost drowned out the sobbing coming from the apartment next to Duo's, where through an open door, he saw a woman being questioned by two Preventer agents. Almost.

The detachment lasted through the elevator ride down and exiting the building. As Agent Parks made for the cluster of official vehicles, he stopped and turned. Leaving his escort behind, he walked up to the media crew, now standing outside the newly-erected barrier. He faced the anchorwoman who was impeccably dressed, except for the dull red stains up on her patent-leather shoes, and handed her the note from his pocket. Duo's note.

"This is for you," he said.



~*Quatre*~

"Winner."

"Wufei. Lady Une. It's a pleasure to speak to you both again, though I wish the circumstances were other than what they are."

Lady Une, thought Quatre, looked worse than either he or Wufei. Her eyes were glassy, and he wondered if she'd taken tranquilizers. What did it say about them, all of them who'd fought in the war, that at a time like this not a one of them had shed a tear? All of them had just seen a brother of the soul fall to his death, even if they cherished a secret hope that it had been a fraud, yet none of them could cry. It felt like the ability to cry had been burned out of them, and the grief that twisted inside of them could only find exit through more corrosive methods.

Duo, Quatre suspected, would have had tears, had it been another one of them who had fallen. And he wouldn't have been wasting his time in these polite phrases. He'd have been on the line demanding, "What the fuck?," pushing for answers, pushing for action through the tears.

Well. Even if he couldn't find his tears, he could push. It was about damn time somebody pushed.

"Wufei. I'll need you to meet me on L2 as soon as you can. Heero is already en route, and I don't think it's a good idea for him to be left there alone. I'll be contacting Trowa, as well.  I'll arrange for us to stay in one of WEI's properties there. Look for the details in an e-mail."

Thin lips twisted, a sure sign that Wufei was about to balk. Quatre had no patience just now for a 'Chang Wufei takes orders from no one' snit. No patience, and no inclination to coax and wheedle him into acting as part of a unit, part of a family.

Besides, Chang Wufei damn well took orders from Heero and Trowa. As well as Dekim Barton and his eight year-old puppet, damn it. It was about time he extended that courtesy to Quatre.

"Winner, I can't just --"

"Chang. Shut up."

Wufei looked flabbergasted. Even Lady Une blinked.

"Heero has asked us to gather. He suggested doing so here on L4, but I am not leaving him to face whatever he finds on L2 alone. He needs the rest of us around him if he has to face Duo's corpse. You know what Duo meant to him. You damn well owe it to him to be there." This felt good. Really good. He'd spent the last few months trying so desperately to fix his shattered family, softening his words to make them more palatable to the sisters whose love he didn't want to lose. To speak the blunt truths of his heart again, knowing that for all his moods and snits, Wufei wouldn't fail him -- it felt like finally being able to swing his arms after being trapped in a straitjacket for so long.  "You owe it to Trowa and I not to leave us to support Heero alone, and you owe it to Duo to find out what happened, and to give him the grief and respect he deserves."

"I... am fully aware of what I owe Yuy. What I owe all of you, Maxwell not the least among my benefactors." Wufei bowed then, formally. "You are correct. I had realized myself that Heero will be unable to handle the situation well. And there is information of which all of you should be made aware."

Quatre raised an eyebrow.

"Let it wait until we are are together in a secure location, Winner. Please. It is too late to use it now, in any case."

"All right, Wufei."

"In all honesty, however, this is an incredibly difficult situation for the Preventers as well. Maxwell was a high-ranking agent, an exemplar, so to speak. There will need an internal investigation, and the invasive media coverage will require – deftness." Wufei's eyes slid to his traumatized boss, a silent indication that he thought she was incapable at the moment.

Frankly, Quatre agreed. Her silence thus far was unnerving. Une had always been able to make decisions and issue orders, no matter the situation before now. But... 

"Wufei, I understand that. But I, at least, take the meaning of today's tragedy to indicate that perhaps we've all focused too much on the peace, and too little on taking care of each other." He sighed. "Lady, I'm sure you will want to come to L2 as well, to attend a memorial service if not to head up the investigation personally. While I cannot extend the invitation to stay at my property to you, we can be in communication to offer... mutual support. There has to be someone else besides the two of you who can be in charge of day to day operations."

"Commander?" inquired Wufei. Une nodded. "Very well, Winner. I'll see you on L2."

Quatre called in his assistant, and ordered him to make the arrangements for the trip.

"Very good, Mr. Winner."

"And if any of my sisters wish to talk to me, please tell them I'm handling personal business. I am unavailable until I tell you otherwise."

"Yes, Mr. Winner."

It felt far too good to give that order. And now, finally, he could speak to the keeper of his heart. Would see him soon, no matter the circumstances.

The elation lasted until the call was picked up at Trowa's home.

"Hello, Catherine. Is Trowa available?"

"No." If daggers could have been transmitted via vidphone, Quatre would have been bleeding.

"I see." His headache was edging it's way back into a level of pain that couldn't be ignored. "Is there another number at which I can get hold of him?"

"No. There's not. I don't know where he is right now."

Quatre reminded himself that he could not call Trowa's only sister a liar to her face. "It's very urgent that I speak to him."

"Are you planning to drag him back into the middle of trouble again? Is he going to get shot at again?"

"I really am sorry to trouble you again -- " He hurried to cut her off before she called him a liar to his face, "But you may have seen the news about Duo Maxwell?"

Her expression went from stormy to ice cold rage. "Yes. So has he. If he hasn't called you yet, can't you draw your own conclusions?" She ended the call.

Quatre spent a long time with his face in the roses before he was able to make himself get up and pack for his trip.



~*Trowa*~

Trowa's bag sat at his feet, fingers lingering over the keyboard. He'd tried calling Quatre's private number and it had rang straight to voice mail. The phone was off or something. He wasn't sure why Quatre hadn't tried to call him.

Part of him wanted to go to L4 and kick the door down.

He knew Quatre had to find his own way, his own path, his own way to whatever truth would free his heart. If being what his family wanted him to be was what Quatre needed to do, Trowa would respect that.

Part of him wanted to hunt Duo down and beat his ass for pulling this stunt before Trowa could do it himself. He would not believe Duo Maxwell was dead until he saw the body, saw genetic tests on the remains that prove it to be Maxwell's sorry ass. And then… if that were the case, he was going to go looking for the murderer.

And still he stood in front of the vidphone, waiting. Quatre would call. Or his phone would answer, or maybe, Trowa thought, he'd just call the main line. That annoying assistant of Quatre's would put him through to Quatre.

Trowa typed the number before he could back out and sure enough Trowa's assistant answered. Surprise. "Mr. Barton."

"I'd like to speak with Quatre, please."

A twitch of an eyebrow read, 'I bet you would.'

"Master Quatre is not taking calls at this time."

"A mutual friend may be dead. I'd like you to check and see if Quatre will take my call."

"If said friend is the one that impacted the pavement on L2, I think the odds are very good that a mutual aquaintance has terminated his own life. I'm sure he was aware of the consequences of taking a walk off his balcony. At least he knew his limits. My Master specifically said that he would be taking personal time just now. Perhaps you have a balcony near by?"

A hundred percent, Trowa wanted to beat him to a pulp, but no expression showed on his face. "Tell him I am going to L2. You don't want to ever see me face-to-face," Trowa said and then ended the call. If Quatre did not arrive on L2 shortly, Trowa would go looking for him.

"Triton? Where are you going," Catherine said, letting the tent flap drop behind her. "Must you go right now? We can all go together in two days."

He picked his bag and looked over his shoulder. "Thank you for everything, Catherine. I just need to face this in my own way."

"You're my brother! My family!" Her fists balled at her sides.

"Duo is my friend. Heero is my friend, Wufei if he wants my support. Quatre is my lover, even if he doesn't take my calls."

"See? How can he love you if he wouldn't even take your calls at a time like this!?" She knew it was a lie, knew she should tell him that Quatre had called, but all she could feel was her soul being torn away as her only remaining family left her again. Left her again for him. "Don't go, please."

"I have to go," Trowa said. As much as he respected Quatre's right to his own path, he respected his own right to his path as well. "Good bye, Catherine."

He was on a shuttle when the suicide note was released by the media. He saw it on the screens in the terminal as he disembarked, and his heart was as numb as it always was when Quatre was away from him.

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