Disclaimer: I don't down any part of GW, nor make any profit from my storytelling.

Warnings: mild language, drama, humor

Disguise the Limit - Part 1
Duo's Friendship Arc 10
by Dyna Dee

Clutching his side, the pilot of Deathscythe continued running through the dark streets trying desperately to keep his companion in sight. His gait was not as steady or strong as it had been several miles back, and even then he had been slower than usual. But it wasn't his fault, he thought - his companion's legs must be longer. He lumbered along, pushing himself past his normal endurance just to keep up with the shadow in front of him. He could feel warm, sticky blood running down his left leg. 'Can anything else go wrong on this mission?' he snarled to himself as he thought of the last twenty-four hours.

Wing, Shenlong, and Deathscythe had been sent to destroy the manufacturing site where computer components for the mobile dolls were being made. It was heavily guarded by Leos and a newly developed ground beam cannon. They hadn't been prepared for the latter. All three gundams sustained heavy damages. Deathscythe concentrated on the Leos, Shenlong on the beam cannon, and Wing picked the base apart, piece by piece, before taking the back-up position for the other two gundams.

Shenlong was heavily damaged by the time the beam cannon was finally crippled, and Wing covered Wufei's flank as he retreated back towards Deathscythe, whose green scythe swung wildly, destroying and maiming anything that approached him. The area immediately around Deathscythe brilliantly flared as the gundam was hit by three separate blasts from the surrounding Leos at the same time from different directions. Duo yelled loudly in alarm as he was flung forward, his gundam falling face down, flattened to the ground and warning claxons sounding within the cockpit.

"Duo!" Heero yelled through the com.

"Get up, get up!" Wufei ordered him, fear lacing his normally placid voice.

"I'm okay." Duo grunted and struggled to rise. The Leo's, seeing his weakness, tried to exploit it by centering their attack on the fallen gundam. Twice more he was knocked down by their constant blows.

Wufei made it to his side and deflected enough of the blows for Deathscythe to gain its feet.

"We're done here, retreat!" Heero ordered from above as he used his beam cannon to hold off the remaining Leo's

"Status." Wufei ordered Duo as they broke away.

"It's bad." he replied almost breathlessly. "Deathscythe's not going to make it far, over half of the systems are down. Can you find a safe place near by to hide him?"

"Just a moment." Wufei checked the schematics of the area on his computer. "There's a lake four miles north of here. Can you make it that far?"

"Just lead the way." Duo answered, his voice sounded of forced cheerfulness. Even to his own ears it sounded contrived.

After Wufei informed Heero of their retreat and they seemed to be momentarily free of pursuit, Wing turned to fly back to the safehouse, and Duo followed Wufei several miles into the forest of tall trees, both completely missing the dramatic sunset behind them.

The Chinese pilot was waiting at the edge of the lake as the other pilot came to the surface and slowly swam to the shore. Duo's wet clothes weighed him down heavily and he struggled to get out of the water, crawling on his hands and knees in exhaustion. Wufei reached down to give him a hand up.

"Come, Nataku will carry us both a bit closer to the safe house." he told the American as the dripping boy in the priest's outfit stood bedraggled before him.

Duo quietly followed the Chinese boy a short way to his gundam and was immediately sent up the ascending foot line. Wufei chose to climb up, and entered the cockpit only a moment or two after Duo. The cockpit quarters were tight and carrying two was going to be a challenge. Wufei sat in the pilot's chair, and it was quickly decided that Duo should sit on the floor and hold onto his legs for support.

Though the gundam was heavily damaged, it wasn't as bad as Deathscythe, but close enough for both boys to realize they weren't going to go far. Shenlong took slowly to the sky and seemed sluggish as it began to move northward. Duo looked up worriedly as Shenlong suddenly dipped sharply and jerked to the right. That's when the violent vibrations began. "Wu..u...u...fei..i.ii." Duo voice rattled in alarm along with the entire machine they were flying in.

"Were.... set.. ting.... d.dd.o.own." Wufei's eyes were intensely focused on the task before him.

The gundam landed hard, and Duo's grasp on Wufei's leg was not enough to hold him. He was suddenly flung forward against the closed door and then slid to the floor as the gundam righted itself.

"Hold on, I'm laying it down." Wufei's voice called out in warning, his mind fully concentrating on the task at hand, not realizing his companions present state.

Unable to hold on to anything, Duo was thrown towards the back wall, violently hitting his hip and thigh on the pilots chair and bouncing off of it enough to clear the chair and hit the back wall, gratefully coming to a stop. He flung his arms out for a moment to make sure his position was secured. After being assured that they had stopped moving, he relaxed with a relieved sigh and flung one hand over his eyes. "Oh man, that hurt." he moaned.

"Stay there while I shut down." Wufei ordered him as he busied himself with the process. Duo was only too happy to comply and dozed off while he waited.

"Duo?" He felt his shoulder being shaken. "You okay? Wake up."

Reluctantly opening his eyes, he looked up into Wufei's black orbs looking worried and very close to his face.

"M..fine." he answered in a groggy voice, even though his whole body ached.

"Come on then." The Chinese pilot clasped his arm and pulled him up. "There's a city about thirty miles from here, we can get lost in it and contact the others."

It was dark out when they climbed out of the gundam. In the tree-filtered light of the moon, Duo noticed most of the gundam's body had been camouflaged with trees and brush. Wufei must have done that while he slept. He waited, watched, and yawned as the other pilot closed and secured the hatch. Wufei turned and grabbed hold of his sleeve and wordlessly pulled him along behind him, into the deep, enveloping shade of the forest.

As careful as they tried to be in concealing themselves, they were spotted the next day as they made their way through the woods, paralleling the highway that led in and out of the city. There appeared to be a road block, and soldiers were systematically searching vehicles as they left the city. The four soldiers that came after them on foot were easily dispatched. However, those that came after them a short while later on motorcycles were a little bit more of a challenge. One soldier managed to get away; as Wufei stopped to help Duo who was trying to pry a man off his back and neck. Picking up one of the fallen soldier's motorcycle, Wufei hoisted Duo up behind him on the seat and they hauled ass to leave the vicinity.

Reaching the far side of the city, they waited until nightfall to sneak into the outlying suburb. They wandered through the dimly lit residential area with barking dogs marking their passage as they made their way towards the hub of the city.

"I'm tired, Wufei." Duo complained wearily. He knew he couldn't go much further, and he hated to complain to someone who rarely exercised the right to do so himself. His stomach growled loudly, attesting to its empty state, but he refused to say anything about his hunger either, as Wufei had to be just as hungry and had not mentioned it.

The Chinese teen suddenly came to an abrupt halt, for which Duo was grateful. The approaching sound of a loud, rumbling engine was heard as a large vehicle slowly came around the corner at the end of the block, a search light on top of it was beaming brightly as it scanned the darkness of the neighborhood. Wufei grabbed Duo and dragged him towards a house and up to a car parked in a slightly slanted driveway.

"Get under." Wufei ordered. Both boys dropped and rolled to the center of the underbelly of the car and huddled close together.

They heard the deep rumble of the truck engine as it advanced on their position. It slowly passed by, the light flashing over the house and cars as it drove on and the rumbling engine faded into the distance.

Duo sighed with relief. He was sure he was not up to a fight and/or flight moment.

"Let's go" Wufei said with a tug on his arm.

Duo groaned in response, but rolled out after his companion.

No sooner did he gain his feet, but Wufei began to jog again. He continued to lead the way through the suburbs into a more urban area by weaving through the darkened streets and alleyways.

Breathing heavily, Duo gripped his cramping side and pulled his jeans away from his wounded hip. The sound of his slowing footfalls alerted Wufei, who came to a halt and waited for him to walk up to meet him.

Breathing in gasps for air, Duo looked up exhausted into Wufei's face. "Can't ... go.... any.... further. Too... tired."

Wufei put a comforting hand on Duo's shoulder. He knew he had pushed the other boy, but it was necessary to keep him safe.

A dense and moist fog had settled on the city, making the street and business lights bleary and dim. It also made their dark clothing quite damp. The upside, as Duo would say, was that it also hid their presence on the streets.

Wufei had determined that they were in an area that housed middle-class families with convenience stores and small commercial shopping centers. It was near midnight and the majority of the houses were dark. Taking the exhausted boy's arm, he led him to the front of one of the dark houses. It had a small porch with a wood bench in front of the large curtained window. Whispering for Duo to walk quietly onto the wood surface, he motioned for him to sit on the bench and wait.

Duo nodded and sat down, but then grabbed hold of Wufei hand and pulled him close to whisper in his ear. "Don't leave me."

"I'm going to look for shelter so we can rest. I will be back. Soon." he added, trying to reassure the braided boy.

Duo nodded and let go of his hand. His eyes followed the retreating figure as he silently moved down the sidewalk like a natural shadow of the night.

Wufei returned forty-five minutes later to find Duo curled up on his right side, sleeping soundly. The Shenlong pilot shook his head in disapproval. If one of the trucks with the spotlight had come by, Duo would easily have been spotted and captured. He knew he should scold him, but his companion had been strangely quiet, and his lack of complaining and whining indicated that he must be in pain. He had checked him earlier that morning in the woods, but not finding any broken bones, he had pushed them forward. Now, his brow creased with worry as he looked down on his friend. Curled up into a near fetal position, he looked small, his wiry frame looked frail. A feeling of protectiveness washed over the Shenlong pilot. It was his duty, he decided, to protect Duo and return him to the safe house. The memory of his imploring eyes as he whispered, "Don't leave me." reaffirmed his decision. Reaching out, he gently shook the upturned shoulder.

Amethyst eyes flew open. "Gomen." he whispered as he eased himself into a sitting position. Wufei turned and motioned for Duo to follow and the two disappeared into the thickening fog once again.

Ten minutes later, the American found himself on the floor of a small playhouse, obviously designed for a little girl. It had an assortment of chairs, a table, and several beds filled with a variety of dolls. It was a small place, but clean.

Wufei had led him silently into a back yard and into the small structure. Duo stood and watched as his friend took up the little blankets from the doll beds and spread them on the floor, then motioned for his companion to lay down. Closing the door to the playhouse silently behind them, they were completely enclosed in total darkness. Duo felt Wufei lay down close to him, but not close enough for him to feel the warmth of his body.

"We have to leave at sunrise." Wufei whispered.

"K" was the short reply as Duo settled himself for an uncomfortable night.

The Shenlong pilot awoke with a start as Duo fitted his body up against his own. "Duo." he growled.

"Cold." the other answered, his voice sounding pathetic, his teeth chattering.

Wufei realized that Duo's body was trembling as he huddled against his back. He grunted remembering that the Deathscythe pilot never could stand the cold, nor extreme heat for that matter. He turned himself over. "Turn around." he ordered his companion, who was now face to face with him. He watched as Duo complied, slowly and carefully, as if his body hurt with each movement. Wufei reached out and pulled his companion's back up against his chest and wrapped his arms around him. "Better?" he asked.

"Yeah, thanks." Duo whispered, but his body continued to tremble.

Neither boy slept well as the night wore on. It seemed to both that it dragged on forever, as sleep came in brief intervals, and that was the reason they later, in a report, blamed for their oversleeping.

on to part 2

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