To Change the Future - Part 1
Duo's Friendship Arc 19
by Dyna Dee
"Oh shit!" Duo Maxwell muttered in disgust as he glanced at the time when he fastened his watch on his wrist. "Heero's going to kill me." He turned to quickly finish the chore that had taken up so much time that morning; brushing his hair until it was snarl free. He made a mental note that he needed a serious trim as his treasured mane was getting harder and harder to care for.
"Stupid." He berated himself. He'd spent twice as long as usual under the heat light in the ionization shower, trying to dispel some of the perpetual cold he felt in space. "I've gotten use to the warmth of the sun on Earth," he mumbled out loud as he separated his hair into thirds and started his braid. The pulsing, dry ion shower didn't clean his hair as well as a shower of hot, steaming water did, so he ended up spending more time and using most of his water allotment credits that were given to every member of the Peacemillion crew. Now he would have to buy, barter, or win more water credits in a card game of poker in order to wash his hair again this week. That was certainly one aspect of being back in space that he hated. Well okay, spartan water rations and the perpetual cold that was a part of living in space went neck and neck for the title of most hated.
With his braid fastened off, he flung it over his shoulder then looked into his mirror with a critical eye. Absentmindedly, because of daily practice, he quickly and efficiently hid the assortment of lock picks and miniature sheathed and very sharp knives within the thick weaving of his braid. With his traditional priest-like outfit on for the mission ahead and his large pockets fitted with an odd assortment of potentially useful tools just in case of an emergency, he finally felt prepared to leave his room. Slipping on his black leather jacket, he was completely satisfied that he was ready for that morning's battle. With a cocky smile, he saluted his reflection in the mirror, just for good luck, and headed for the door that swished open before him and closed as the motion sensor shut off his lights.
Believing himself to be dead meat for being so late, he raced down the corridor of the spaceship knowing the others, especially Heero, would be unhappy with him. He careened around a corner and nearly collided with some of Howard's men. They chided and teased him in their greeting, then gave him an affectionate, hearty pat on the back. He'd known these guys from when he first went to earth and ended up at Howard's ocean barge and they considered him to be somewhat of a little brother, a deadly little brother. He laughed and joked with them as he walked backwards, hoping not to be waylaid any further.
He didn't hear the door behind him open as he waved farewell to the other men when they turned to go where ever it was they were headed, but he did feel the strong grip of a hand on his arm as he was effortlessly pulled backwards, stumbling into a room, the door swished shut behind him. He noticed immediately that the motion sensor in this room didn't seem to be working as the lights didn't flash on.
"Hey!" he exclaimed in alarm.
"Duo." An unfamiliar voice called out to him through the darkness.
"Who are you?" he demanded a bit harshly, feeling the hair on the back of his neck rise in warning.
"A friend," was the gentle reply and then, at the sound of a slight click, the lights flashed on and the Deathscythe pilot blinked in surprise.
"I'm sorry ancient one," Duo said the instant he realized he was standing a few feet in front of an elderly Chinese man. He promptly bowed from the waist as Wufei had taught him to do when meeting a revered elder. As he rose up, his eyes narrowed in scrutiny of the old man that stood surprisingly straight for a man of his advanced years and was dressed in a loose fitting, black outfit that resembled a gi.
The white-haired old man's mouth turned upward slightly as a smiled formed on the aged and wrinkled face. Then, surprisingly, the old man's eyes suddenly became moist with what looked to be a suppressed emotion. The aged, but seemingly wise, dark eyes were framed above by trim white eyebrows and deep crow's feet at the side that were no doubt earned from advance aging. "Duo, my friend." The man's firm but slightly crippled with arthritis hand grasped hold of his shoulder and gave it a friendly squeeze, a hint of joy showing in his smooth but weathered face.
The braided boy tilted his head in puzzlement as he studied the man in front of him. He was sure he'd never met him before, nor seen him on the Peacemillion during his stay. But somehow he seemed......familiar.
"I've come a long way to see you, Duo." The dark eyes studied the amethyst ones in return, studying the boy with a look of fondness and affection and looking for some sign of recognition. Then suddenly, a wave of emotion seemed to ripple through the old man and his former smile faded into a look of sadness or grief. His body bent slightly and his shoulders began to shake as he sucked in his lower lip in an attempt to hold back the emotion that had evidently was unexpected and had surprised him.
The teenager saw the old man begin to break down and was suddenly concerned for him. "Oh man, are you okay?" He asked and reached out to take hold of the old one's arm in an attempt to aid him. "Can I call someone for you?" He was surprised at the speed of the old man when he suddenly found himself firmly embraced by the deceptively frail-looking arms. Duo could feel the man's body trembling against his own.
The young pilot's wide, shocked eyes stared over the man's shoulder, and then he did the only thing he could think of; he brought his arms up and patted the distressed man on the back in a comforting manner. "It's okay," he said soothingly, not knowing what else to say, but continued anyway. "I don't know what's wrong, but maybe I can help," he offered. He felt the arms around his back slowly release him and the stranger stepped back.
"Forgive me," the ancient one said, wiping the moisture from his eyes. "I was overcome by seeing you again."
The boy scratched his head as he thought back in his memory. "Again?" He looked confused at the man now watching him with a cautious eye. "Have we met before? You seem to think you know me, but I don't remember you."
The old man smiled again in a manner that seemed to indicate fondness, confusing the boy even more. "Duo." The name passed his lips in a warm, affectionate tone of voice. "This will be hard to comprehend, but I don't have much time to explain everything." Pulling back a long black sleeve covering his left arm, the white haired man looked at a rather large, bulky looking watch attached to his wrist. He frowned slightly and muttered, "I must hurry."
"Oh man," Duo slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. "I'm late and Heero's gonna kill me. I've gotta go," he said apologetically and turned to leave, but he was stopped from leaving by the iron grip on his arm that pulled him none to gently back to face the frowning man.
"I'm here to give you a message," said the old man in a more serious tone. "A mission."
"A mission?" Duo questioned looking mildly perplexed. "From who?"
Duo felt increasingly confused and he was becoming perturbed by all the cryptic lines the old man was feeding him. "Look." He began, only to be silenced by the other's interruption.
"I'm Wufei," the man stated with a steely look in his eyes, defying the teenager to disagree with him. "I came here from the future to warn you, to stop something from happening that will cause millions of lives to be lost."
Duo knew his mouth had dropped open at the statement. Now that he studied the old man's face, it did look like an older version of Wufei. Okay, a very much older Wufei. "Why? How?" were the only strangled words that managed to come out of his mouth, not sure if he believed the utterly fantastic statement or not.
"I don't have much time to go into it," the man rushed to say. "But in short, the scientists survived the war and escaped. Quatre, Trowa and I were so busy trying to help rebuild a devastated planet that we chose to let them go. It took us decades to help bring order out of the chaos caused by the portion of the battle ship Libra that crashed into the Earth's atmosphere and hailed down enormous chunks of debris that fell like bombs over an eighth of the Earth. That devastating battle ended the war between Earth, the Colonies, and White Fang and united those factions to begin the true fight...for the survival of humankind on Earth."
The old man's face looked haunted for a moment before he shook his head and cleared his thoughts, then he continued. "When we got wind of a new, potentially deadly experiment being secretly worked on in one of the colonies, I was sent to discover what it was and who was behind it along with their intended purpose. I found the scientists, very old men by then, working on a time machine. They had worked out most of the bugs by the time I found them, but with Quatre's funding of their project, we made it almost fool proof. My standing here before you today is proof that we succeeded."
"Why did you need a time machine and why did Quatre fund it?" Duo asked dubiously. He couldn't get over the feeling that this sounded like the plot to a science fiction book.
"Because we wanted, no...," he shook his head and began again. "We needed a different end to the war. We needed to change the past in order to make a better future for those generations that survived the holocaust that nearly wiped out the planet's population. After careful deliberations, we knew who could change the future and the person we needed to contact in order to change the events that led to the horror."
Duo's eyes widened. "Don't tell me it's Relena who's going to save the world." He looked aghast. Wufei shook his head. "Me?" his voice squeaked in disbelief.
"No, but you are the one person who can save him," the elderly Wufei told him.
"Who?" Duo's eyebrows rose in anticipation.
Duo forgot to breath. "Save him?" he whispered, afraid of what those words meant.
"Duo," Wufei's voice softened in preparation of what he must say. "Today is the day that Heero dies." The old man's face showed a great depth of sadness and his voice shook slightly with emotion as he spoke. The braided boy looked incredulous and in turn, the man in front of him watched him a bit nervously.
Suddenly, the wide blue/violet eyes lowered into a glare and the teen turned one-hundred and eighty degrees, surveying the room with a critical eye, his hands on his hips. "Okay you guys," he scolded. "I admit this is a good one. You really had me going there." He put his hands up in mock surrender. "Come on, I give up." His braid whipped around him as he searched again. "Guys?" he said hopefully.
"This is no prank Duo, and I've no time to prove to you my claim," the man claiming to be Wufei said, causing the boy to turn to face him again.
Duo's eyes shifted back to the man and shook his head. "Please," he entreated. "I'm pretty well messed up from the war already." He tapped his head knowingly. "Don't make it worse."
"I'm sorry Duo, but I need to tell you quickly what is about to happen in order for you to save Heero."
The boy from L-2 was still skeptical, but he recognized the earnest look in the onyx eyes that now seemed so familiar. He nodded for the old man to proceed; he would listen to what he had to say.
"You're preparing for a battle today." Wufei began and Duo nodded his confirmation. "The plan will have the five gundams spread out to attack the oncoming troops and mobile dolls approaching your positions from various directions. You will be too spread out when it comes."
"It?" Duo's asked with one raised eyebrow.
"It was, or appeared to be, a spherical object acting much like a mobile doll. It went after Wing Zero, and we later determined that it was specifically targeting the Zero System. A particle beam burst towards Heero even as he raised his buster rifle to destroy it. When the beam from the sphere collided with that of the buster rifle, it caused an overload of Wing Zero's systems. We think the sphere's purpose was to absorb or retract the Zero system, making the gundam useless as a weapon and vulnerable to attack. We came to that conclusion when several days later the same thing happened to Zechs in Epyon. He died shortly after when his gundam was left defenseless and was unmercifully attacked by an enemy to both Earth and White Fang known as the Barton Faction. We came to believe that was the probe's original intention when it fired on Heero, to disarm him, leaving him defenseless, probably to be captured and used by the new enemy, but the power of the buster rifle interfered with its original purpose. Wing Zero imploded and Heero died instantly."
Duo grabbed hold of the cross that hung on the chair around his neck . "No, please....don't let it be so," he said in a strangled voice as he closed his eyes in supplication to his god. He couldn't lose another person he cared about. He opened his eyes when he felt his shoulder taken in a firm grip.
"I know how much Heero meant to you, Duo, that he was like your family. You must prevent this from happening." Wufei the elder ordered him. "Stay with Heero and destroy the sphere as it approaches. Do whatever you need to in order to save him," he said with a tone of desperation in his voice.
"Wufei?" Duo's glazed eyes searched the other's hopeful ones.
"Yes Duo?" the other answered, seeing that Duo now fully believed him, though he could also see the words said of what was to come had frightened him, seeing his small frame begin to tremble slightly. "Heero," he whispered hoarsely, looking horrified at the thought of losing the person he was the closest to.
Duo felt confused and frightened. He'd lost so many people that he had cared for, he didn't know what he'd do if he lost his best friend, even though he always knew it was a possibility given their occupation.
"You've got to pull yourself together, Duo. You can do this. You must do this," Wufei said firmly.
The braided boy nodded that he understood and, even as he took in a ragged breath, he began to visibly calm. "I have one question," he said, then looked a bit sheepishly at the old man. "Well, I have more than one, but you mentioned a lack of time."
"Quickly then." Wufei glanced at his odd looking watch with a frown.
"What happened to me in your future? You mention Quatre and Trowa, why not me?"
The old man's eyes closed for a moment and a look of sorrow crossed his features. "You died shortly after Heero," he replied sadly, and his composure began to slip again at the faded memory. "When he died, you locked your emotions and grief away. We tried to help you, but we were all grieving Heero's loss, though all of us kept fighting. You threw yourself into battles recklessly until your luck finally ran out. In a way, I suppose you committed suicide, and we were helpless to stop you." A tear escaped the corner of the old man's eye and trickled unheeded down the aged and slightly wrinkled cheek. "I've missed you, Duo," he choked out and his hand reached out to touch the boy's cheek, now stained with his own tears. "And I'd forgotten how alive and vibrant you were. Your eyes and smile..." His voice trailed off and he slowly removed his hand.
"So, I'm the logical pick for this mission because I don't have a future unless I save Heero." Duo stated his thoughts out loud as he wiped the moisture away from his cheeks with the back of his jacket's sleeve and felt a chill crawl up his spine at his own words. "If Heero lives, I live."
"By Nataku, I hope so," the elderly Wufei said earnestly, his hope for a change of the past visible on his face.
"I'll do my best Wu," Duo said as he straightened with a new resolve in his eyes. "I won't let Heero die today, or any day if I can prevent it."
"My time is up." Wufei said abruptly as a faint beep was heard. He quickly embraced his friend one last time, and as he pulled back, he kissed the boy on the cheek and placed something in his hand. "Good luck my friend. And please, live, for all our sakes."
With another couple of steps back to make sure the teen who was so important to the future of the earth was not caught up in the field, Wufei tapped a button on the bulky watch.
Duo watched with wide eyes as suddenly, a blue static field of energy flowed from the small box Wufei's wrist. It surrounded the calm looking man who kept his gaze on the friend from his youth. He was obviously unhurt and unafraid of what was happening around himself. The field of blue crackled with an increase of power and grew more dense by the second, then it suddenly began to spin around the man encased inside the energy field. The ancient Wufei's form became blurred and distorted as the field picked up speed and spun furiously around him. Duo watched with awe as the spinning field noticeably began to sink in, collapsing into itself and taking Wufei with it. Several moments later, it became the size of a small ball. Then suddenly, with a loud snap and pop, it disappeared.
Duo blinked at the unbelievable sight. "Was that real?" he breathlessly asked himself out loud. Then he looked down at the object clasped firmly in his hand. Slowly opening it, he gasped silently. It was his cross, the one Sister Helen had given him. He made it a practice to never take it off, afraid he might lose it. He reached his other hand up to his neck, his fingers quickly finding the familiar metal; it was still there. He carefully slipped his own cross over his head and placed it in his open hand. He then opened his other hand to study them both, side by side. The same. They were exactly the same, he noted with awe. He then realized that Wufei had kept his cross as a memory of him all those years since his death. He was deeply touched by his friend's sentimental act. "Don't worry Wu," he spoke loud as he gazed at both crosses. "I plan to be around long enough to give you more than a few of those white hairs and wrinkles." With that said, he raised both chains of the crucifixes and placed them around his neck.