Disclaimer: I don't own GW nor profit from my storytelling.

Warnings: a bit sappy

Breaking Free - Part 6
Duo's Friendship Arc 12
by Dyna Dee

As he came to a small semblance of awareness, the first thought that came to the Deathscythe pilot was that he felt terrible. Always sensitive to drugs of any kind, he fought the urge to throw up as he returned to consciousness. He groaned out loud at his misery and curled into a ball, clutching his stomach.

"Dougal?" Pierre's voice sounded close and concerned.

Duo tried to moisten his lips, his mouth tasted like the inside of a dirty sock. "Water." he croaked out, the fog hovering in his mind began to slowly dissipate.

He moved his body where nudged, onto his back, and felt a paper cup pressed to his lips as his head was gently raised, he drank greedily as if he hadn't had nourishment for days. He drained the cup and slowly forced his eyes open. Pierre was above him, his face looking sad and his brown, bespectacled eyes concerned. Duo clutched his stomach and frantically looked around the room and, as quickly as his drugged body allowed, he crawled with all haste over to the portable toilet in the corner and promptly threw up into it. Not having eaten in a while, the fluid below him in the plastic bowl consisted of stomach bile and the water he'd just ingested.

Making his way back to his bed on hands and knees, he sat and turned his head, taking in his surroundings. He was in a room, a stark and empty room, painted in a shade of pale yellow. There were no windows, nor pictures on the walls. He registered the absence of chairs or a table, and the only means of lighting was a recessed flourescent light twelve feet up on the ceiling. He realized that, other than the portable toilet in the corner, he lay on the only other item in the room, a mattress with no bed frame. Both he and the mattress were positioned on the floor in one corner of the naked room. He took note of a pillow and two blankets on the mattress and the lack of sheets on the bed. Still feeling woozy and a bit dizzy, he moved to lay down again and Pierre reached out to help. He was irritated that his hair was un-braided and in a tangled disarray around him, and noted also that he wore a pair of pajamas. Someone was being very careful to see that he had no means of escape.

"Where are we?" he asked the French boy in a deep groggy voice.

"We're in my home, in Paris." Pierre said sadly.

"How?" he couldn't remember coming here.

"You've been out for almost two days now. We brought you here by private jet just after my father used the tranquilizer gun on you." Pierre said quietly and then cautiously ventured on. "He says that you're a Gundam pilot. Is that true?"

Duo looked into the sad eyes of his friend. He looked...... betrayed. He slowly nodded his head in answer to his friend's question.

"Now I understand why you wanted to be my friend." the boy's voice was full of hurt.

"No, Pierre." Duo reached out to touch the other boy's arm and was surprised when he didn't pull away. "I.... maybe at first," he began to explain, "but once we got to know each other, I counted you as a real friend and felt honored to have your friendship in return."

"But you lied to me." The brown eyes accused him.

Duo shrugged. "My feeling of friendship wasn't a lie. But surely you can understand why I couldn't tell you the truth."

There were several moments of silence between the two and Duo took that time to scan the room once more. "Why am I not in an OZ prison?" he asked, curious about his situation.

"I begged my father not to turn you in." Pierre explained quietly. "He knows what would happen to you there: interrogation until they get information from you, a trial, and possibly an execution." Pierre looked up as if he, too, were about to be tortured, then suddenly the frown on his face softened and he continued. "My father really is a kind man, unlike many in the military. We've all had a hard time seeing you as a terrorist and not an exchange student."

"Don't underestimate your enemies." Duo said and was surprised to hear some of Heero's words of advice come out of his mouth.

"Are you really my enemy?" Pierre asked thoughtfully. "Would you really hurt me or my parents?

Duo looked at the boy and felt badly things turned out the way the had. He shook his head. "No, you're not my enemy. OZ and Rommafeller are. I wouldn't hurt you, not intentionally, but I can't let you keep me here either."

Pierre nodded sensing his friend's honesty. His father had warned him that his friend would try to escape and that was why they needed to take every precaution. He had also said that, in the long run, removing 02 from the war would most likely save his life and keep him safe from his dangerous life as a rebel soldier. The Colonel had asked his son to trust him, that together they could save his young friend from himself. Pierre steeled himself as he spoke to the boy laying listless on the mattress. "You're going to stay here with us until the war is over." he announced firmly. "If you behave, my mother will continue your education as she's a trained educator."

"My friends will come for me." Duo replied with a quiet confidence, his eyes closed.

"How will they know you are here?"

"They will learn of my mission objective and follow my leads."

Pierre shook his head and sighed. "My father filed a report to OZ stating that you befriended me and, while in Monte Carlo, you stole classified information and disappeared. I was, of course, reported to be devastated by the betrayal of a friend and returned home with my parents to attend a local school. On OZ's records, your mission was successful and you disappeared."

Duo' mind traced over Pierre's words as he listened to him speak. He knew that when he didn't report in on schedule, Heero would scour OZ's files to discover if he had been captured. OZ usually made a public display of any of the gundam pilots who had been caught in the past. "My friends will look for me." He said again, though in warning to Pierre or to reassure himself, he wasn't sure.

"Are you so sure?" Pierre's eyebrows rose with the question. "If you told me the truth about your breaking free of them to find your independence, won't they believe that maybe you are doing it again? After you've been missing for a long time, maybe they'll believe that you met with an unfortunate accident. They will eventually stop looking. After all, they do have a war to fight, don't they?"

Duo pulled all of his thick brown hair over his right shoulder and began to finger comb through the tangles. "Will I get my clothes back?" he asked sourly, wanting to change the subject that had him doubting the others and his chances of escaping.

"No." Pierre answered and continued on even though Duo's head shot up and his eyes narrowed. "My father doesn't want to take any chances, so you will wear pajamas like the one you have on now."

Duo looked down and inspected the soft cotton garment. All the buttons had been removed and the front was held together with velcro.

"My mother found some very interesting things in your hair." Pierre continued as he studied the boy in front of him and his reactions to everything he said. He was clearly trying to understand this boy he had called a friend. "Is that why you grow your hair, to hide tools in it?"

"No." Duo spoke softly. "That's a side benefit." He looked up from his long hair to meet the other's questioning brown ones. "Do you really want to know why?" he asked.

Pierre nodded and the boy from L-2 began his tale of his childhood friend, Solo, and their struggle as wandering orphans on a colony that didn't want them and ignored their needs along with many other throw-away kids. His voice dropped as he spoke of the plague and how he had to steal the vaccination that was denied them because of their lowly station in life. He told him of Solo's death and how he was taken in by Father Maxwell and Sister Helen and briefly described the orphanage. "It was stark in relation to worldly things, but it was a home where caring and love existed." he sighed deeply, feeling the loss as he always did when he spoke of those times. He then told the sheltered and protected son of an OZ Colonel the horrifying tale of the destruction of the orphanage and it's occupants as a political statement, because he had stolen an archaic mobile suit for the rebels and was recognized as the Little Demon from Maxwell's Orphanage.

Duo's eyes glazed over as his mind recalled the vivid memories of his return to the destroyed building. "They were all dead." he whispered. "Father Maxwell, Sister Helen and all the children. Killed by the Alliance without mercy." An unbidden tear slid down his cheek in memory of those who had died so horribly and uselessly, because of him.

"This was hers." Duo reached up to take hold of his cross, but his eyes opened wide in horror to find it not there. "Oh no." He moaned and sat up quickly to search around him looking frantic.

"In your pocket." Pierre suggested, seeing what the other boy was looking for. "My mother thought that it looked like something you would need, so she put it in your pocket."

His hands quickly reached into the breast pocket on the front left side of his pajama top. A small smile of relief graced his face as he beheld the familiar article in his hand. Bringing it to his lips, he kissed it and made the sign of the cross before he began the struggle to free the clasp.

"Here," Pierre reached out to the hands made ineffective by the drugs still in his system. "Let me help."

Duo mumbled his thanks and looked back into the sympathetic brown eyes. "Sister Helen use to wash and braid my hair. Told me I didn't have to cut it if I didn't want to. They were good to me." Duo's voice trailed off to a whisper. "It's for them that I keep my hair long." he lifted the long ends of his hair. "For Solo, and the innocents at Maxwell's Church. They were still alive and happy when she brushed and braided this part of my hair." he spoke quietly as he held up the lower half of his long hair. "It's like a visible reminder of my past, of where I was and why I am here now."

His eyes took on a steely look to them. "They all died unjustly, and I fight not to just avenge their deaths, but to prevent it from ever happening again to someone else."

Pierre was not unaffected by the emotional tale he had just heard. It opened up a whole different perspective on the war, and why the colonies sent the gundams. His heart went out to the young soldier in front of him. "Oh, Dougal." he said sadly.

"It's Duo." the braided boy informed him.

"Duo." Pierre tried the name out on his tongue and nodded his head as he stood. "Thank you for telling me your story. I think it's helped me to understand better why you do what you do. I admire your courage to act on your convictions."

Duo didn't respond. He couldn't find it in himself to smile as he heard his friend's words. Telling the tale of his past always took something out of him. In a way he felt like a piece of him died with each telling. He slowly lay himself back down on the mattress, and for a moment took pleasure in the softness of the pillow.

"I'll go and get you something to eat." Pierre announced and moved to the door. With a simple knock, the door opened and quickly closed, leaving the boy from L2 alone with his thoughts.

on to part 7

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