by Dev-Aki Basaa
"Is this the right thing to do?" he asked as he looked
down at the handcrafted detonator he held tight in his
"I haven't doubted it for a minute."
Satisfied with that response, he nodded. "Good. I
trust you implicitly."
"The world was rocked once again yesterday by a tragic
accident claiming the life of another Gundam pilot,
Duo Maxwell. This coming just one day after the
shocking death of world hero and fiance to the
Vice-Foreign Minister and former Queen, Relena
Peacecraft-Darlian, Heero Yuy. Preliminary reports
have shown that both accidents are completely
separate, un-related incidents and at this time, no
foul play is suspected. Not unlike his former Gundam
comrade, Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell also had very public
life. As chief PR representative for Preventers,
Maxwell was also considered to have a rising political
career and many charitable groups have expressed today
their devastation at the loss of one of their most
vocal supporters. Funeral arrangements for Duo
"Oh, Dorothy!" Relena cried from the settee, her body
curled into a ball on the cushions, "turn that off, I
can hardly stand it!"
Dorothy Catalonia stood from her seat near the
vid-feed and shut off the news report, just as it
began giving the funeral information for Heero. She
then turned to face Relena, who whimpered softly
across the room, a small pile of crumpled tissues
collected beneath her.
"Don't you think it's odd that they've both died in
freak accidents just a day apart from each other?"
Dorothy said, folding her arms across her chest.
Relena lifted her head and sniffed. "It's so tragic,
isn't it?" Her tear-filled eyes scrunched up as she
began to sob again. She dropped her head back down to
pillow in her arms, drawing her knees up close to her
body, curling into a tighter ball.
Dorothy retook her seat by the vid screen, crossing
her legs and carefully arranging her skirts to fall in
the most flattering of manners. Even in this most
tragic of times, one must still hold a level of
decorum. Well... Dorothy tipped her head to once
side, contemplating poor dear Relena's state, her legs
drawn up against her body in an almost fetal position.
But could she blame her? She was devastated.
"How have you been doing, Lena?"
Relena sniffed, her face still buried in the fold of
her arms. Murmuring against the soaked sleeve of her
dressing gown, she answered Dorothy's inquiry.
"There are times when I'm fine. When I'm not thinking
or I'm thinking how close I came to losing Heero
during the war and that I was lucky to even get this
time with him. And then there are times when I start
to think..." She chocked back another sob. "He was
such a gentleman... We never..." She breathed a
shuddering sigh and wept again. "He was my fallen
prince!" she gasped.
Dorothy frowned at the statement, but refrained from
comment. Relena had all the reality she could deal
with at the moment. She glanced back over at the now
blank vid screen and remembered something she'd heard
in the news report that had intrigued her.
She looked back over toward Relena as another crumpled
tissue fell to the floor.
"I'm surprised that they're not having joint
Relena shook her head against her arms and waved a
dismissive hand, a tissue tucked under her thumb.
"No, they were never close. I think Quatre Winner is
handling Duo's funeral. It'll be the day after
Heero's." Her voice cracked at the end.
But Dorothy hardly noticed, she hadn't gotten past
Relena's first comment.
"Weren't close?" she questioned. "But..."
Relena shook her head again, turning to look over the
crook of her elbow at Dorothy.
"No," she answered her. "They hadn't even kept in
contact after the war. I would know."
Dorothy looked back over at the blank vid screen. She
remembered seeing them, standing so close together.
She chewed on her lip for a moment, and then glanced
back towards Relena. Her dear friend was giving her a
puzzled look. She seemed to have noticed her
contemplative moment. No, Relena didn't need more
reality right now.
"How are the other's taking it?"
The segue did the trick and Relena was pushing herself
up to a sitting position, heaving a long suffering
sigh - her crying subsided for the moment. She drew
her legs under her and settled back against the settee
cushions. Her dressing gown fell perfectly into
place, without one tug of arrangement. Dorothy smiled
at that subconscious grace.
"Fairly well, I suppose," Relena began, her fingers
twisting around the only slightly damp tissue in her
hands. "No real public comments from any of them.
Quatre called with his condolences, but that was
before Duo's tragic accident."
Duo and Heero. Dorothy blinked. She remembered...
"Relena, don't you think it's quite a coincidence
She remembered how happy they looked.
Relena had the puzzled look on her face, the same one
from before when she noticed Dorothy's distraction.
A small smile curled on Dorothy's lips, but she shook
her head to hide it, waving a dismissive hand at
Relena. "Nothing," she said. "Nevermind."
Relena suddenly raised her hands to her mouth,
seemingly in the throes of another approaching sob.
"Oh, Dorothy, how will I ever survive?"
Dorothy glanced back at the blank vid screen and
smiled openly this time.
"You'll find a way, Relena. We all do."
Quatre Winner scuffed the soles of his shoes against
the carpet of the funeral parlor. The sound almost
seemed to roar in the sedate quiet of the room. He
surveyed all the seats, filled with so many
unfamiliar, yet somber faces, and then he glanced
towards closed casket beyond. He shook his head and
shoved his hands in the pockets of his dark suit,
turning his head just enough to speak softly to the
companion on his left.
"Brave, don't you think? Attending your own funeral."
Duo Maxwell chuckled and rocked a little on his heels.
He dipped his head to try to hide the amused smile
that split wide across his face. "You don't get
chances like this everyday." He made a slight gesture
towards the rows of chairs before them. "I don't eve
know half of those people!"
Quatre turned to look at Duo full on, sighing and
shaking his head again at the sight he beheld.
"I just can't get used to it," he said, resisting the
urge to reach up and finger the newly shortened locks
of his friend's once long beautiful hair. It barely
brushed his shoulder's now - though, really, no less
beautiful for its lack of length and altered color.
Duo tugged at a few strands by his ear, now pitch
black from the dye. "Tell me about it." He nodded
towards the front of the parlor. "You should see
Heero as a blonde. I'm still adjusting."
Quatre glanced about the room, his eyes searching out
every blonde he could find. "He's here too?"
Duo nodded, rocking on his heels again. "Oh yeah. I
think he's really getting a kick out of this hiding in
plain sight stuff." Duo made a more distinct nod
towards the front right corner of the room. "He's
Quatre saw Heero this time, conversing with yet
another unfamiliar face among the many. Even with
just a color change and the slightly shorter cut, a
different style of clothes - he looked so different!
Just as Duo did, with his black, short hair falling in
waves around his face, so unlike how he ever wore it.
Such simple things and they looked completely changed,
almost unrecognizable. They could actually pull this
"You should join us." Duo's words jolted Quatre out
of his reverie.
Join them. It sounded so tempting... But the
corporation, his family, his charity work, his
political ideals... He was needed. He...
"I... I can't," he answered finally, his eyes still
fixed on Heero and the person he spoke with. It
seemed Duo had given him some pointers on social
conversation, though his hand gestures seemed stilted.
He'd become more natural with time, certainly. It
was probably another aspect of their disguises.
Duo nudged his elbow against Quatre's side, a physical
prod to accompany his verbal one.
"Come'on," he started. "No more media exposure, no
more family pressuring you to marry." Duo spread his
hands as his speech became a little more dramatic.
"Say goodbye to social expectations and hiding what's
really important to you, forget the fake smiles and
baby-kissing." Then he paused and his tone became
very serious. "Just you and Trowa against the world,
together, nothing to hide."
"Everything to hide!" Quatre countered.
But Duo shook his head. "Not if you do it right."
Quatre said nothing in response. He'd be hard-pressed
to effectively argue this with Duo. He really
couldn't do it, just disappear like this...but it did
sound so tempting.
"Will you keep in touch?" Quatre asked instead,
glancing at Duo again and hiding the wince he felt as
Duo's expression let him know that he hadn't missed
the deliberate change of subject.
After a moment, Duo nodded, again rocking on his heels
as he had before. "Of course," he answered. "It
won't be obvious to the general public, but, don't
worry, you won't miss it. Heero's very creative."
Quatre's gaze settled on the ends of Duo's hair again,
but he held back his sigh this time. Their time was
running thin, he knew. "You know I wish you both all
the luck in the world. Will you be changing your
Duo's wide splitting grin returned. "Yeah, just call
me Blissfully Happy and In Love'." Quatre caught the
heated stare that passed between Duo and Heero and he
smiled to himself. He was looking forward to Trowa's
expected arrival later that day. He'd be just in time
to attend the plot-side service. Quatre actually
rather hated that he had to be in attendance,
especially knowing that nothing of importance would be
lowered into that ground. He got such little time
alone with Trowa... But he promised Duo and Heero
he'd maintain their cover, so plot-side they all would
be. Wufei was expected in just a few hours as well.
They'd all come together for them in this bizarrest of
"I'll miss you both," Quatre said, drawing Duo's
attention back to him. "We all will."
Duo nodded and sighed, the first touch of sadness to
his tone since his arrival at the parlor. "We won't
be as far as you think, I promise. I can never say
goodbye, you know that... and yet..." Quatre noticed
the pointed looked Heero was now flashing Duo, their
silent communication so efficient he couldn't help but
be impressed. "We have to get going," Duo finished.
He reached forward and pulled Quatre into a
bone-crushing hug, whispering against his ear as he
gave him a tight squeeze. "We have a life to start
Duo left first, the word 'goodbye' never did pass his
lips. He always had a tendency to dawdle, but seemed
to force himself to leave more quickly this time. A
few minutes later, Heero approached Quatre, reaching
out to shake his hand. It was firm handshake - to be
expected from Heero - but there was something more,
the way he let his hand linger. He was saying thank
you in his own way, even as his words were simple and
"Good seeing you again, Quatre Winner." So full of
formality. Quatre smiled and squeezed Heero's hand as
he thanked him for coming. He knew they planned on
making special trips to visit both Trowa and Wufei
after some time had passed. Perhaps he could make
sure his visit to see Trowa coincided with theirs and
they could all escape, even for a little while. It
would be like old times, after the war, when things
were still good. Before the media ran off with their
privacy, before the public was allowed an opinion on
It seemed like so long ago. They'd all become pawns -
even Relena, whether she realized it or not. She,
sadly, had seemed to buy into the public assessment of
But Heero and Duo weren't pawns anymore, they'd broken
free - at a great sacrifice, yes, but one that they
obviously felt was worth it.
Quatre turned from staring out the door Duo and Heero
had left through to see a young woman who worked for
the funeral home hovering near, an expectant look on
her face. He nodded for her to continue.
"The priest is here for the blessing."
Ah, Duo's cross. Quatre nodded. "I'll be there in a
moment." Satisfied, the woman hurried back to the
funeral director who stood near the side door entrance
to the parlor. The cross wasn't the original; Heero
wore that now. But the copy was meant to authenticate
Duo's demise, effectively blackened to show charring
from the explosion that had taken Duo's 'life'.
Quatre arranged to have a priest bless it and that was
what would actually be buried in the casket. Of
course, no body had been recovered.
Quatre glanced back towards the main entrance, wishing
Trowa would march through right then, though he knew
his shuttle wouldn't be landing for another hour. He
wanted him near so much - all the time.
It made Duo and Heero's choice seem that much less
At the distant cough of the impatient funeral
director, Quatre schooled his features and headed
across the room.
It was time for the fake smiles and the baby kissing.
"Not a one. You?"
He paused. "Only that I had to hurt Relena."
He nodded, understanding. "She'll be fine," he
assured him, wrapping his arms around the other man's
waist and drawing him near. "One of these days she'll
fall in love for real and understand things she never
"I hope you're right."
"Me too," he answered in a soft voice.
Nuzzling his nose against his love's jawbone, he
whispered to him. "I love you."
"I love you too," he sighed in response, his voice
full of emotion.
He tightened his grip around his waist. "For a life
with you? Absolutely."
"Then let's go - forever awaits us."