Disclaimer: I don't own any part of GW nor it's characters, nor do I profit from it other than having hours of dreaming up stories to share.

Warnings: angst

The End's Beginning - Part 2
Duo's Friendship Arc 21
by Dyna Dee

As Heero now remembered, Wufei's prediction came partially true. When Duo awoke in his own room and in his bed, it was three hours after Wufei had knocked him out so that Sally could finish her medical exam of the uncooperative Deathscythe pilot. Everyone in the mansion knew the precise moment Duo woke as the sounds of furniture being smashed against the floor and walls of his room reverberated throughout the large structure.

Quatre raced upstairs, gripping his healing side, and was closely followed by Trowa, Wufei, and Rashid. They were met by Heero who stood in front of Duo's bedroom door in a stance of challenge. They all flinched as something hit the door behind him and the sound of breaking glass was clear to them all. Quatre moved to pass by Heero and take hold of the door knob.

"No, leave him be," Heero told the Arabian in an authoritative manner as he took hold of his upper arm to stop him.

"It's not okay that he's destroying the room, Heero," Quatre said, frowning at the Japanese boy. "This is my house and I refuse to let Duo destroy it in one of his temper tantrums."

"Would you rather he take it out on one of your hired help, an unsuspecting maid, or one of the men set to guard us?" he asked, frowning fiercely.

"He wouldn't," Quatre answered with a shaky confidence.

"Listen to him," Heero demanded, motioning his head towards the door behind him. Five sets of ears tuned into the sounds coming from the other side of the door. Grunts of exertion were heard as a prelude to the breaking of each article of furniture that succumbed to Shinigami's anger. A stream of muffled curses followed. "Duo's more pissed off than I've ever seen him before." Heero looked worried.

"By Nataku, it was just a check up," Wufei declared disgustedly, his fists planted on his hips.

Heero shook his head. "Something else is going on with him. In the few days we've been here has anyone seen Duo crack a joke, pull a prank, or even laugh?"

All present thought for a moment then shook their heads.

"I think under the present circumstances and stress we're all feeling, that we might have over done it this time," the Wing pilot stated looking worriedly at the door and they all flinched again as yet another crash sounded, this time it sounded like a mirror breaking. Quatre winced and Heero continued. "I think we should let him get this anger out of his system with inanimate objects and then we'll deal with him once he's calmed down."

"Master Quatre." Rashid stepped forward. "Would you like me to put a stop to this?"



Quatre put his hand up to halt the tall Maguanac. "No, thank you Rashid. Heero's right. We'll deal with Duo once he's exhausted himself and his anger has abated." The large man nodded and stepped back to wait.

They all stood in the hallway, clustered near the bedroom door, and waited another five minutes until the room finally became silent. Ten more minutes passed before Trowa picked the lock and they entered into the room that could only be viewed now as a war zone. Heero led the way, and his eyes widened at the mass destruction laid out before them. The Deathscythe pilot had been quite thorough in venting his rage. Every piece of furniture lay on the floor in bits and pieces. Lamps and mirrors as well as the bedroom windows were smashed. The blankets that had once covered the bed were now shredded and on the floor. The inside of the feather pillows lay scattered about the room, and the mattress on the bed was cut with several deep gashes. The room had definitely been hit by the angry wrath of Duo's alter ego, Shinigami.

"By Allah!" Quatre whispered, his face reflected his horror at the sight of the room's complete destruction. A hiss and a quick intake of air was the only audible reaction from the other two pilots standing behind him.

"Where is Master Duo?" Rashid asked with a severe, disapproving frown.

"The water is running in the bathroom," Heero said as he walked over the broken glass and splintered wood up to the bed and examined the ripped mattress. The others watched as he picked up a large jagged splinter of glass and examined it and then looked back at the mattress. He then walked about the room examining the floor, the large shard still in his hand.

"What are you looking for Heero?" Wufei asked caustically. "Evidence that Duo did this? Che!" he snorted and rolled his eyes.

"No," Heero answered, still absorbed in his task. "Evidence as to how badly he's hurt." He held up the piece of glass. "There's blood on the shard, mattress, and floor."

With that statement, Quatre moved without hesitation to the bathroom door and, purposely neglecting to knock, he cautiously opened it and entered. "Duo!" he exclaimed sharply, bringing the others to follow quickly behind him.

A shudder rippled through the former Wing pilot as he still, two months later, vividly recalled the scene in the bathroom. Removing his hands completely from his keyboard, he rested his head in his hands as the memory returned. In his mind, he could still smell the coppery scent of Duo's blood that permeated the bathroom.

The four pilots and Rashid stared in shock at the red tinted water that enveloped their friend. A pale, stunned face turned lethargically towards them. Duo's head rested against the back of the bathtub, his long, loose mane of tangled hair was flung over the top edge of the tub, a stark contrast to the white porcelain he lay against. His eyes seemed glazed and he looked to be in a numb daze.

"Get out." He finally spoke in reaction to their presence in the bathroom, his voice sounding tired and apathetic. He then closed his eyes, apparently to shut them out.

"I don't think so." Wufei boldly stepped forward and plunged his hands into the tainted water and searched for a moment. He then lifted both of Duo's wrists which were caught up in his hands. The action seemed to bring the injured boy back to himself and out of his cathartic state.

"What the hell are you doing? Get out of here!" Duo shouted as he struggled against Wufei's grip in alarm.

The Chinese boy studied his friend's wrists and felt a surge of relief to see them unblemished. His brows furrowed into a look of displeasure as drops of blood oozed from the pale fisted hands.

"Did he...?" Trowa began to ask from behind them, his voice laced with worry.

"No!" Wufei answered quickly, cutting off the rest of the question.

Duo's eyes widened in hurt at the realization of what the other's had assumed. "You ...you thought I tried to kill myself?" he asked in shocked disbelief.

"It was a logical conclusion considering your behavior and all the blood." Heero defended their reasoning.

"You guys betrayed me. You let her touch me," the teen in the bath retorted angrily in accusation of their behavior towards him that day.

"She's a doctor, Duo. It was her job." Quatre spoke up in a short, unhappy tone as he moved to the front of the bath and released the plug while Wufei pulled the gasping and reluctant boy to his feet. The other four viewed the visible damage to the pale-skinned body before them, various sized cuts on his arms, hands, and side that oozed water-diluted blood from their opening. And as the water drained out from the tub, they could see their friend balanced on the sides of his feet as a stream of blood flowed from the deep cuts on the souls of his feet, downward towards the drain.

They each concluded that, in his berserker rage, the boy from L-2 had caused himself several types of wounds; first, cutting his hands while wielding the large piece of broken glass like a knife against the mattress and pillows, and then some of the flying glass from the thrown objects had evidently hit him, causing cuts from their impact on his bare skin. And lastly, the broken fragments of glass and splintered wood on the floor had further sliced through the soles of his feet as he moved about the room in his bare feet to destroy the entire room's contents. It appeared that, after his rage was spent, Duo had made his way to the attached bathroom and, still clothed in his boxers, probably unable to remove them with his injuries, climbed into the warm bath water.

"Call Sally." Quatre looked back at Rashid standing large in the open doorway.

"No!" Duo shouted in an adamant voice, his eyes displaying a tinge of panic.

"You're going to need stitches." Wufei frowned at the injured boy, not comprehending his dislike, or was it fear of the doctor.

"You guys have stitched me up before," Duo insisted. "You can do it now."

"Well, Duo." Trowa spoke up for the first time with a look that clearly spoke of his disapproval of the wet and bleeding boy. "We're not exactly pleased with your performance today. You forget that you did this to yourself, your wounds are not from an enemy. You alone caused these stupid, useless injuries to your body by letting your temper get the best of you." Though tempered, Trowa's voice held in it a cold, stone anger as he continued. "You destroyed your room in which nothing belonged to you, but to Quatre. You owe him an apology for that, and you owe the rest of us one for acting like a spoiled child who scared us sick." His eyes bore challengingly into the American's as he stood looking pathetic, wet, and bleeding before them in the bathtub.

Duo had glanced aside at Trowa as he began to chastize to him, but then quickly looked away, not meeting any of their gazes.

"You know I'll be sorry tomorrow," he said quietly, still feeling the remnants of anger from his friends' earlier betrayal.

"Maybe that's not good enough," the Heavyarms pilot answered shortly, then abruptly turning, he left the room.

Quatre looked the most surprised of the remaining four at his friend's harsh words to Duo, but then he recovered and looked at the American. "He's right. I know, as usual, you'll feel true remorse tomorrow, but today is when you did this damage to the room and to yourself, and it is today that you need to apologize."

"It'll be more sincere tomorrow," the braided boy said sheepishly, sounding totally unrepentant.

Quatre studied his friend for a moment. "Then I guess I'll see you tomorrow." He turned and followed after Trowa.

Heero put his hands on his hips. "Well?" he asked with a look of impatience on his face.

Duo looked down at the pinkish stream of water as the last remains of his bath slowly made its way towards the drain from his feet. "Sorry," he whispered.

Heero, unsatisfied with the trite attempt at apologizing, merely sighed and left.

After a moment of heavy silence, the injured boy also sighed and looked aside to the last person in the room, the one standing to his side and still holding his wrists. "Just help me get out of here Wufei and I'll take care of myself," Duo said, resigned to being left alone. He knew he'd disappointed his friends yet again, but was at a loss as to how to patch it up, and right now, he really had a lack of desire to do anything but sleep.

"Sit on the edge." The Chinese boy directed him while letting go of his wrists and moved his hands to Duo's elbow to help guide him down.

The American cautiously did as he was told and sat on the cold edge of the bathtub, glad to have the stress off of his wounded feet. He felt a large soft towel wrap around his shoulders. Another went around his waist as Wufei directed him to remove his sodden boxers. With his support, holding him so he didn't slip against the slippery surface, Duo managed to wiggle out of the wet cotton and secured the oversized towel around his waist.

"You are one messed up brat," Wufei murmured as he pulled the long hair out and over the towel on his shoulders.

The injured boy nodded, accepting his friend's assessment, and watched curiously as Wufei wrapped another towel around his feet, binding them together. Then suddenly, he was scooped up into strong arms and found himself being carried out of the bathroom. Wufei carefully dodged the debris all over the floor of his bedroom as he made his way through the demolished room and exited the door into the hallway. Turning to his left, he moved down the long corridor and opened the door to enter his own pristine room. It was an awkward maneuver, but while still holding onto the wounded boy, Wufei managed to snag a towel from his own bathroom and lay it out on the bed before setting Duo down onto it.

The large blue/violet eyes looked up in confusion. "Why Wufei? Why are you helping me?"

The Chinese pilot didn't answer immediately, but went to his bathroom and returned with a small first aid kit. Duo remained silent as he waited for an answer. Sitting on the edge of his bed, onyx eyes met amethyst. "Because you helped me not so long ago when I needed someone to reach out to, and you're my friend, Duo, and you're in pain." He pointed to the middle of Duo's bare chest. "In here." He lowered his eyes as he confessed, "I understand your fear and pain, I feel it too."

The long haired American looked at his Chinese friend in slight astonishment, then sobered and huffed with some degree of disbelief. "What are you afraid of, Wufei? I'm sure it's not the same fear as mine."

The black haired teen looked away and opened the first aid kit. "It might not be the same, but that doesn't diminish the fact that I can understand your fear, having felt it myself." He paused for a moment and then looked pointedly into the American's questioning eyes. "I suppose I fear the future." He then focused on the first aid kit as he took out a cotton ball and placed against the newly opened bottle of alcohol. "Like you and the others, I don't know what next week will bring, or for that matter, tomorrow." He continued on, his eyes focused on his task, his voice soft and even. "How will the new government deal with us? How will future generations view us? As freedom fighters for the colonies, or as fanatical zealots who were self-serving juvenile delinquents?" He lifted his head and showed his friend the turmoil reflected in his troubled eyes. His voice, as he continued, was now a bit strained with held-back emotions. "A whole colony died for me, Duo." His voice cracked a bit with repressed emotions. "They died so that I would be free to fight on. They believed I would do what was right."

He paused for a moment and Duo sensed there was more to come. Wufei looked up at him, their eyes meeting, and the American saw self-doubt and recrimination in his friend's face. "I don't know if I can ever be worthy of their sacrifice, especially when I question my own actions." His voice lowered as if he was fearful to speak the next words.

"I fear I killed Treize only because he allowed me to, in order to fulfill his own idea of destiny, and not necessarily as an act of one soldier fighting for a just cause against an opponent. But by allowing me to destroy him, he sacrificed himself knowing the effect his death would have in changing the destiny of Earth and the Colonies. His death would end the war. I think he knew the war would rage on if he was still alive." He hung his head for a moment, trying to deal with the weight of his actions in a battle still so vivid in his mind. "Was I wrong, Duo? Did I make a horrible mistake by killing an honorable man?" Wufei's voice pleaded with his friend to answer the question that had been torturing him for days. "Did I shame the sacrifice of my clan only to destroy the wrong person?"

"Wufei." Duo called out his name softly, empathy etched on his face. He reached out his bloodied fingers to his friend, but stopped short and frowned at the blood on his palms. He thought for a moment how touching him, even in a gesture of comfort, would stain him. He drew his hand back, but continued to speak. "You did what you had to. There was no time in battle to analyze the situation or possible motives. You fought for the colonies, for your clan's sacrifice. You fought because Treize stood before you as an enemy. If he had ulterior motives, the blame for his death should be on his list of sins, not yours. He was not an innocent man, but a soldier who did horrible things. Remember," he looked into the onyx eyes. "It was Treize who set up Heero into killing the doves on that shuttle. He has his own sins to atone for."

The black haired boy nodded at his friend's words and bent to his self-appointed task of cleaning the blood off of the pale skin before him.

Duo hissed in sharply as the antiseptic touched the open wounds.

"Sorry." Wufei murmured in response.

"S'kay." Duo said through gritted teeth, then signed. "They're right, you know, I did this to myself, so I deserve the pain." He lay back on the pillow and closed his eyes, preparing for the coming pain. "Funny thing is," he said in a sad and hushed voice that was suddenly filled with emotion. "But the pain...feels good.....tangible and justified. How sick is that?" He ended with a tone of disgust at his spoken thoughts.

After a moment, he realized Wufei had stopped working on him, and he re-opened his eyes to see his friend watching him with a look of serious contemplation and worry.

"What are you afraid of Duo?" he asked again, his dark eyes searching Duo's own. The long haired boy wished he could follow his natural instincts to run and hide, but the other pilot, his friend, had trusted him enough to share his fear with him. How could he call himself Wufei's friend unless he showed that same trust? He'd hidden his fears so well and for so long, it was very tempting to tell someone, to speak of his fears out loud.

Then suddenly, he knew he would give into the temptation; the need was too great. He kept his eyes closed so that he wouldn't see the disgusted reaction of the other pilot at his confession. In a small, timid voice, he spoke the greatest fear of his life, his emotions rose to the surface as the words rose to his lips. "I'm afraid of so much..." His voice hitched as he internally wrestled with the emotions threatening to spill out. "But most of all, I'm afraid of being alone." His humiliation was complete when he felt a tear trickle down from his eye. He sniffed as he fought to hold back the deluge of tears that were dammed behind his closed eyelids. "Everyone I've ever cared for has left me," he continued. "And it hurts so much...*sniff*...to be alone. And now that the war is over...you guys will go on to live your lives and...I'll be left alone again."

He suddenly found himself fully engulfed by Wufei's strong arms and his reluctant tears turned into silent wracking sobs. He didn't know how long he wept, hating himself for every tear he shed, but the Chinese boy's hold on him never faltered. Suddenly, all his held-in fears came tumbling out. "What's going to happen to us Wufei? Should we trust our fates to a government. Can we run? Should we? Where would we go? Will we be hunted and hated? Will they separate us?"

"Shh, Duo. It's okay. Everything will be alright. Shh... don't cry." Wufei's words came out like a soft soothing blanket, comforting and warm. "I didn't realize." He continued, his voice sounding confused in Duo's ear. "You seemed to make friends so easily, always so confident and cocky. It's alright." He awkwardly rubbed the trembling boy's back trying to sooth his fears. "We'll find a way, and if we have to, we'll run and hide, alright? I'll go with you if you need me to."

Duo simply nodded his head at Wufei's reassurances, trying desperately to control himself. "Sorry." He sniffed, embarrassed at his sudden and overwhelming lack of control. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I can't seem to control my emotions lately, it's like....they're out of control."

Wufei released his friend, but stayed close as he studied the face pinched with pain, both internal and physical. "Don't be sorry." He said with a penetrating look at the other boy. "We've shared something so intensely personal to both of us, and that can only bind us more strongly as brothers."

Duo turned his wide, red-rimmed eyes to Wufei. "You don't think I'm weak?" he asked timidly, thoroughly spent from the last hour's physical and emotional strain.

"Anything but weak." Wufei managed a small smile and moved to stand. "But could you tell me why you didn't want Sally to examine you? I'd like to understand why you acted to strongly."

The Deathscythe pilot took in a deep breath and as he let it out, it was expelled in the form of a shudder. "Do you know anything about L-2?" he asked, and Wufei shook his head.

"Not much, just some of the things you've said. I know it's not a prosperous colony and that they have a lot of social problems."

Duo nodded knowingly. "There are two classes on L-2, the rich, and the poor," he began. "When I was a kid, I was not alone on the streets. The greater majority of the people on that godforsaken colony struggled from day to day to get by. I would say a good thirty percent of the total colony were homeless. Some of the lucky people on L-2 managed to eek out an existence as store owners or laborers in the few commercial businesses that struggled to prosper. The poor owners of stores that sold necessities like food and clothing could barely get by. The daily occurrence of theft by the desperately homeless of their store's goods usually drove them out of business."

Wufei had stopped with his cleaning of Duo's wounds to concentrate on what his friend was telling him. He sat on the edge of the bed, patiently waiting for him to continue.

"Do you know what happens on a colony when over half of the people are hungry and have inadequate or no jobs other than struggling to survive each day?"

"Revolution?" Wufei guess, remembering his history lessons.

"That's what was brewing." Duo nodded thoughtfully. "The older people were sick of the struggle, the younger men and women were angry at the impossibility of improving their lives, and we, the children, knew nothing but hunger and cold. All of us had common enemies, the Alliance and the rich. Their ears must have been pretty close to the situation, probably eager informants spilled everything they knew for the kind of money they shelled out for useful information. The Alliance, with pressure from the more affluent citizens of the colony, began their pogrom against L-2's unwanted."

Duo looked up into Wufei's face, seeing it clouded with unhappiness to hear of such a way of life. "They sent in executioners in the guise of medical people," he said in a voice strained with emotion. "At first, the older people went to the newly set up clinics, grateful for the free service, the food they were fed, and the inoculations that promised to fight against sicknesses common to the aged and homeless. It was noticed rather quickly that within a week or two of the visit and shots that the old ones began to get sick and quickly died. We might have had nothing other than our names, but the homeless were anything but stupid. The temporary clinics were soon places to be avoided at all costs."

The braided boy snorted as his mind reflected on those dark memories. "But far be it for the government to be denied their goal." He continued as his eyes focused on nothing in particular over his friend's shoulder. "They began to send soldiers out to grab the homeless off the streets and drag them into mobile medical vans where they were given the deadly shots by so called doctors. There was panic in the streets and alleyways at the realization that there was little to no place safe to hide. My gang of kids had about ten scruffy, skinny kids. Solo was the oldest and our leader. We followed him as we fought, stole, bartered, and did whatever we could for our little hodgepodge family to survive."

Here Duo stopped as his already red-rimmed eyes filled with unshed tears. "Solo hid us and went out by himself to find food, telling us it was too dangerous for the younger and slower children. At about eight years old, I was old enough and fast enough to go, but he told me to watch over the little ones until he returned. He came back hours later without any food and in tears telling us that they had caught him. He showed us the puncture wound in his upper arm and we all huddled together and cried in fear and grief. Having heard the rumors on the streets as to what the shots did, we knew we were losing our leader, our brother and father. He died ten days later, and one by one, the other kids were also caught as hunger drove us out of our hiding spot.

Seems the government's plan worked as over half the homeless died in a matter of months. They just jettisoned their problem of the angry homeless into space," he said in a voice and tone of someone lost in a distant, haunting memory. "I was saved by Father Maxwell when he found me alone, near starved and dirty on the church's doorstep and took me in."

He looked up, trying to shake off the bad memories. "I know Sally wouldn't hurt me, like giving me a shot like that," he confessed. "But I can't shake the fear and hate I felt as a child of doctors giving shots that killed their patients."

"I'm sorry, Duo." Wufei reached out and touch his friend's bare arm. "If I had known, if any of us had known, this afternoon could have been handled differently."

"Yeah right," the wounded boy snorted. "I could see Heero in mission mode. I was going to be examined and pricked by a needle no matter what the circumstances."

"That's not being fair." Wufei countered defensively. "Heero clearly asked Sally if it was absolutely necessary. He was not insensitive to your fear."

Duo nodded, acknowledging the facts. "Yeah, you're right." He relaxed against the pillow beneath his head once again and closed his eyes. He sighed deeply, feeling weary to the very center of his soul.

Wufei stood and looked down on the other teen. "I think you and I could use a good stiff drink before I start stitching you up. Will you be alright if I leave you for a few moments?"

"Yeah, go ahead," was the sleepy reply.

Duo watched through his thick eyelashes as his friend left the room, and he sighed again in relief. He'd shared his greatest fear and hadn't been rejected or mocked. He wiped away a rogue tear that refused to be held back and let himself relax, surrendering to the desire to sleep and, in doing so, make the world and all its heartache and problems go away for a short time. He'd only realized that he'd drifted off to sleep when he felt his shoulder being shaken.

"Here Duo. Drink this." Wufei's voice cut through his sleep fogged mind. A steady hand behind his back raised him up and the cool touch of glass on his lips warned him of the drink to come. The strong taste of whiskey met his taste buds and he swallowed carefully, but still ended up coughing from the strength and burning of the liquor going down his throat.

His eyes flew open. "Where the hell did you find hard liquor in Quatre's house?" he gasped as the coughing subsided.

"Not everyone here is of Quatre's faith." Wufei smiled and placed the cup in his now fully conscious friend's hands. "Now, drink it all and I'll wait a few minutes to let it set in before I begin."

The long haired boy dutifully complied by sipping down the amber contents as he watched Wufei take out a needle and thread and more bandages and gauze. Finishing the drink, he let the empty tumbler rest in his hand and smiled crookedly at his friend. He was getting a quick, warm buzz from the strong alcohol already. "Good stuff," he smirked. He watched as Wufei continued to move silently around the room and felt his eyes closing as weariness settled in, and without any effort on his part, he drifted into a deep sleep.

"Duo...... hey Duo?" Wufei gently shook his friend. Seeing him completely out, he removed the tumbler that had held the doctored drink from Duo's slack hand. He placed it in the adjoining bathroom and moved to open his bedroom door. "Sally?" he called out.

The braided doctor entered the room, medical bag in hand and moved to study the drugged, towel clad boy on the bed as she approached him. Her eyes widened at the open and slightly bleeding wounds on his hands, feet and body. Her eyes then looked up with perplexed worry to Wufei. "He did this to himself?" she asked.

The Shenlong pilot nodded. "Inadvertently, as he destroyed his room," he answered. "He was angry at what he deemed our betrayal this afternoon."

She sat cautiously on the edge of the bed and thoughtfully pushed the burnished brown strands of long hair from off the sleeping boy's forehead. "Why Wufei?" She looked up clearly perplexed at Duo's behavior. "Why would he act so strongly or feel that way?"

The Chinese teen took a deep breath, thinking quickly about how much he should say. Deciding, he answered her. "We are all uneasy with the situation we find ourselves in at the moment," he began. "Duo always reacts emotionally to whatever is happening, sometimes strongly. He told me he couldn't seem to control his emotions. It could be the stress we feel," he added, then turned to look at his towel clad friend as if to figure out what was wrong.

Sally waited a moment, but seeing Wufei was done with his unsatisfying explanation, she, too, turned to look at the handsome boy on the bed. "We're going to start psychological testing tomorrow," she announced and pursed her lips together as she threaded the suture needle with the special thread.

Knowing Duo was in good hands, Wufei turned and exited his room only to be met by Heero, who was still leaning against the wall close to the door, in the exact same spot he'd been in when he'd left to get the doctored drink.

"How much did you hear?" he asked the Wing pilot.

"Everything." Heero answered with a crease of worry between his pinched eyebrows. "Something's not right," he told Wufei. "He's had bouts of depression and extreme reactions in some situations, but Duo's never been this bad before. His mood swings are getting worse."

Wufei nodded in agreement, having come to the same conclusion himself. "We're all on edge wondering what's going to happen to us, but it's triggered something in Duo," he surmised and looked up into the blue eyes of the other boy. "I think it's imperative that one of us stay with him until his evaluation is over."

Hero nodded. "He'll not like it, but I agree with you." He then looked into the depths of the other pilot's eyes. "Will you really run with him if they decide against us?" he asked with serious intent.

"I told him I would, and I will if necessary," Wufei answered. "I think incarceration would destroy Duo, and I have no fondness of it myself, especially after the incident on the moon base," he replied, clearly remembering how he and Duo were almost suffocated when the oxygen was shut off in their cell.

Wing's pilot nodded. "Good," he said softly.

The two of them began to walk to the stairway at the end of the hallway. Wufei looked askance at his quiet friend. "But you won't, will you? If they decide to prosecute us, you'll stay."

Heero nodded thoughtfully. "I'll take whatever they deem is a fit punishment, if it comes to that." He replied truthfully, his voice reflecting no emotion at such an outcome. "Quatre won't run either," he added as they descended the stairs. "With his large family and business, he'll be afraid of any repercussions or retribution for his actions during the war falling needlessly onto his family in his absence if he were to flee."

They reached the bottom of the stairs before Wufei stopped to address him again. "I can't see either Duo or Trowa just standing idly by if you two were taken into custody. I don't know if I could either," he said in all honestly. The five of them had bonded together in a brotherhood through their shared experiences during the war. They had fought together, patched each other up, struggled, suffered, and sought comfort together from the pain, both physical and emotional, and from the nightmares that plagued all of them.

Heero merely shrugged at his comment. "I guess we'll just have to wait and see what develops."

Wufei sighed yet again. "This is.... difficult, not knowing, and not having any control over our futures, especially after the way we've been living."

Heero gave him a penetrating look. "We knew the risks when we accepted the responsibility of piloting the Gundams against Earth's forces. I think we all believed we would either die fighting or answer for what we'd done. Well, we all survived, somehow." He left the rest of his thought trail behind him as he walked away, leaving Wufei to stare after him.

on to part 3

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