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

Warnings: Yaoi, some language, mild angst, possible NCS

Second Chances
Part 1 - The Last Entry in the Journal of Duo Maxwell
by Dyna Dee

With the gold embossed sheet of paper in one hand, and a round trip ticket for a shuttle ride to Earth in the other, I made my mind up ahead of time that in accepting the invitation and going, I would kill two birds with one stone; I would have a great time, and find a place to belong. The first of my goals was easy to predict as the high brows of the kingdom of Sanq were sure to know how to throw the party of the century, and I was determined not to be disappointed with that high expectation. There undoubtedly would be fine food and expensive booze flowing freely that night along with good dance music and all the right people bumping elbows in their expensive, designer clothing. Well, yeah, there was sure to be an occasional oversight, like a half-empty glass of champagne not immediately filled, a dropped napkin on the floor and, oh yeah, me.

That's right, me. How a street kid from the ghettos of L-2 ever got invited to the biggest shindig of the century was beyond me. Oh, how could I forget, I piloted a gundam, and not just any everyday, run-of-the-mill, ordinary gundam, but the bad ass suit known as Deathscythe Hell, definitely the best mobile suit weapon ever made. That fact alone made me mildly acceptable and my invitation absolutely necessary, since the invite was to a celebration of peace the came from the last successful battle marking the end of the war between Earth, the Colonies, and the arrogant, delusional, would-be-Emperor, Deikum Barton.

It had been three months since that decisive battle ended, and that same amount of time since I'd seen any of the other pilots. From news reports I'd seen, it took a good month for Heero to recover in the hospital from the wounds he'd gotten when Wing exploded and fell to earth, and two months for Relena to plan this right and proper celebration for the rich and infamous.

As for the gundam pilots, we all sort of drifted off in different directions after the last battle. Quatre was whisked off to L-4 by his family and business while Trowa escaped again to the circus. Wufei seemed to naturally merge with the newly formed Preventers organization and Heero, once recovered, took up the offered job as Relena's bodyguard. I returned to L-2 to a job offer from Hilde to work at her father's salvage yard.

Which comes to the second goal I had in mind when I accepted the invitation, that being to find a place where I felt I could comfortably, truly belong. I realized after six weeks of doing the daily eight to five, mundane and boring grind, that the salvage business wasn't enough to keep me occupied. I was used to moving constantly, my life filled with action, adventure as well as misadventures. Besides, being a kid from the streets, I never had a permanent address, well, until the orphanage. That was a good time for me, the short time that it lasted. It gave me a feeling for what a home might be like. But like most things in my screwed-up life, it didn't last long enough to settle me. In fact, in some ways, it was very unsettling to me.

The loss of the people who cared for me, even for that short time in my early childhood, had a definite impact on my being able to attach myself emotionally to others or stay in one place for too long. The fear of losing anyone close to me became too great to bear sometimes, so I used my sometimes caustic personality to keep people at arms length. After losing all my security when Solo and the kids in our little gang died from the sickness that spread through L-2, I received a second chance when I was given a bed at the Maxwell Orphanage. Life wasn't perfect there, but it was better than the streets, plus being warm, having a bed and something in my stomach on a regular basis, even if it was basically the same food every day, helped me think that maybe life did offer something better than what I'd come to know.

But all good things come to an end, or so they say. Once again, just as I was beginning to feel an attachment to the people around me, I experienced the emotional devastation of losing those I cared about once again. Lost to me as well in the unexpected attack on the orphanage was the home I'd felt safe in when it was turned into burnt ruins by Alliance soldiers. I ended up a dazed, mournful and angry and lonely boy living on the streets once again, hiding and stealing just to stay alive and intact.

Sister Helen used to say that when one door closes, another opens. I began to believe it when I was found by a crazy old bastard who discovered my deftness at stealth and thievery. He decided I was the perfect candidate for a secret project that promised me the revenge I craved against the colony's enemy for all that had been taken from me. He introduced me to my next second chance, the mighty gundam Deathscythe. I remember gazing up at the large, black and partially built gundanium giant and thinking it was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. It stood looking majestic and darkly omnipotent, a promise of death incarnate to those who trod down on the poor and the oppressed, or those who would foolishly stand against it. In gazing at it in a manner similar to worship, I desperately wanted the chance to pilot it more than anything I'd ever wanted before. It would be my chance, my vengeance for Father Maxwell, Sister Helen and the kids that were unconscionably murdered as an example to others for housing terrorists, which I guess is what I was. It was my fault they were targeted and my guilt to bear that they died.

As the time drew near for me to take my gundam into action, I found out what the true orders for my buddy Deathscythe was, and in my reaction to the news, I discovered that I did have a conscience after all. Even though I wanted, no craved revenge, there was no way anyone was going to use my gundam, something I'd come to cling to emotionally, to kill millions of innocents on Earth by dropping a colony on it. I knew it was the Alliance who was my enemy, and those who made decisions to kill innocent colonialists that I wanted revenge on, not all the people of Earth.

Old habits die hard I guess as I ended up stealing the war machine from the old geezer, G. Hey, I wasn't the total bad guy there, it was his suggestion. Guess he wasn't so bad after all.

I couldn't actually believe, once I got to Earth and began to fight against my true enemy, all of the second chances piloting my gundam brought: a chance for revenge, a chance to do something right and good, a chance to have friends with common goals, and a chance to know what it was to love and give affection, and a chance to have the real power to do something important.

From the first time I entered Earth's atmosphere, I never really believed that I'd survive the war, but somehow I did. I guess in doing so, I gave myself yet another second chance, one that I'm not sure I'm ready for; a life beyond a war, hate and the deep seeded need for vengeance.

As I think back on it now, all the run-around we pilots experienced on Earth and space, well, it's no wonder I've had a hard time with an ordinary job meant for someone who was...well, not ambitious, unimaginative, and lacked any dreams. I'd been off L-2 and had seen the glories of the planet below the colonies, and they were enough to give me more dreams than my small body could hold. I now knew of possibilities that would otherwise been unimaginable had I not seen and experienced the wonders planet side, and I couldn't settle for just a mundane existence on L-2.

The arrival of the golden engraved invitation to the Earth and Colonies' Peace Celebration at the Sanq Kingdom Palace was just the excuse I needed to leave L-2 again. Funny, it didn't feel like home or a place I belonged to any more. And though it had the familiarity of a hometown, it held too many bad memories for me to want to stay and set down any roots. Two days before the party, I packed all my meager belongings, along with my hopes for a brighter future, and said my thanks and goodbyes to whatever friends I'd made, then turned my eyes and a hopeful heart towards Earth.

My hopes? you question. Yeah, I was fervently hoping that at least one of the other former pilots, guys I considered my comrades and friends, would have a place for me in their life. Sounds needy, doesn't it? Ah, what the hell, I've always been a bit needy. Must be because I lacked physical and emotional attention that I hungered for as a child on the street of L-2. But my hopes weren't completely groundless. You see, during the war we kind of...well, you know...became close, despite my internal warning claxons going off that letting someone, anyone into my heart would only mean loss and disappointment sooner or later.

I was closer to some of the pilots more than others. Take Heero, *sighs*. He was my first real sexual experience. Talk about intense. At first, I found myself fascinated with him, and thinking about him all the time. I tried, but couldn't seem to fight my unexplained attraction to him. He was dangerous and mysterious, and for the first time in my life, I wanted a boy to kiss me and touch me intimately. I mentally fought myself against pursuing him, but almost against my will I flirted with him outrageously, needing some sort of response from his placid face and well-controlled emotions. It took several weeks of curt rebuffs, some shoving and a punch or two before I got the reaction I was hoping for.

I knew from the first time he roughly pulled me down onto his bed and pinned me under him that he would always be the aggressor in our so-called relationship. Once we figured out what we were doing, we had a couple of wild weeks of discovering ways to please each other before his self-destruct gig. I was surprised by how devastated, hurt and deserted I felt after watching him on my vid screen inside Deathscythe as he hit the self-destruct button and flew through the air from the blast, along with the debris from Wing. I knew at that very moment, when I felt my heart painfully breaking, that I had stupidly lost it to the Perfect Soldier. It seemed my bad luck followed me still, as I lost the only person I had found to love since the orphanage.

As it always did, my luck turned, and it seemed just good street-kid fortune that I fell in with Quatre after watching my lover literally bite the dust. Through his empathic ability, he felt my grief and loss even though I tried to hide it behind my practiced smile, and in the time we had together, hiding from OZ, he sought me out to offer me comfort. The beautiful and gentle blond desert prince led me to his bed and taught me the fine art of kissing softly, leading gently from the first tentative touch of our lips together, to a more lingering and satisfying physical expression of our combined needs, to an even greater passion. It was...an unusual experience for me to go slowly and almost methodically down a path of many small steps from a kiss to the final act of coupling with a lover; it was something Heero obviously had a hard time stopping to do as he usually went from a first, desperate kiss to throwing me on a bed or on the ground and ripping off my clothes to get to my body. I didn't complain at the time because I didn't really know any better, and I had decided early on that attention in any form from Heero was always definitely better than none at all.

In that brief period of time that we had together, Quatre let me take the role of aggressor, confessing to me he didn't really know what to do. Despite that, my blond friend took the secondary role of a gentle teacher, not that he had any experience, he just followed his heart and naturally took things a bit slower, telling me that he only did to my body what he wanted me to do to his. This made the experience of making love different enough from how I had been with Heero, that I found it cathartic, not to mention very satisfying. In many ways Quatre was like me in the more submissive role that I'd had with Heero. I might have been dominant to Quat, but he was anything but passive in return. I think I knew then that I wouldn't be submissive for just anybody, but I wished with all my broken heart that it could have been my continuing role with my former, deceased lover.

As we lay in bed at night, again, skin to skin, sated and feeling melancholy, I let down my mask and solemnly and in a slightly broken voice told Quatre of my feelings for Heero, that I had discovered too late that I loved him. I think he sensed anything he would say to try and comfort me wouldn't do much good, so instead he asked how we met and inquired as to how we finally bridged the gap between friend to lover. He then spoke of his budding feelings for the Heavyarms pilot I'd met only briefly, Trowa. I didn't know this pilot and had only seen him on the vid screen during communications, but I envied him. Quatre's soft spoken words in describing the Heavyarms pilot alerted me to not let my heart get too emotionally involved with the Sandrock pilot, because it was more than evident that his heart was already engaged elsewhere.

Trowa and Wufei? I'm not as close to them as the other two, but for history's sake, I feel the need to write about how I got to know them better. I finally met up with each them after they'd both experienced a trauma in their lives. Trowa, after he lost his memory and came back to try to fight in protecting the colonies, despite his handicap. He shared the same malady as the rest of us; he had nightmares. Feeling lost in not knowing his past and over his head in battle, he welcomed my comforting words and spontaneous hug of support and sought me out to hold him when he was afraid to sleep. He was very sensitive to the cold and shivered a lot, and at times his body quaked as memories of being left alone and floating in space for a long period of time ambushed him. Quatre was too deep into his guilt from his Zero episode to take my role as Trowa's comforter, but I assured him I would not do anything that would compromise our friendship nor his chances of being with Trowa one day, and I made sure I held fast to that promise. I owed Quatre too much for helping me during that rough time in my life when I thought Heero had pulled a harikari stunt. I would never do anything that would jeopardize Quatre's possible future relationship with the guy he'd fallen for. After he'd gained his memory back, he naturally turned to Quatre and didn't need my reassurances again, but my efforts weren't lost as I had gained a new friend.

Wufei and I escaped the moon base at the same time with our nearly finished, better-than-ever gundams. Almost suffocating together can bring two very different people closer than they ever thought was possible. We stayed together for a short time and I learned that Wufei suffered nightmares and tremendous guilt concerning his dead child-wife, and he was haunted by his failure in his face-to-face battle with Treize.

I heard him cry out one night as I was returning to my room after working in the hanger on Deathscythe. I entered his room to wake him up and, well, after talking a bit, I asked him if he'd like me to stay with him so he wouldn't have to be alone. His nightmare had been so intense that he grabbed hold of me like a life line and held me tight. From then on he would seek me out and hold onto me after a hideously bad dream would wake him up, leaving him feeling distressed or panicked. He didn't feel comfortable doing much else with a boy, and frankly, I was glad as I was already taken and he wasn't my type romantically. I respected that our tentative friendship had its limits and that made it easier to deal with in the long run. I was more than comfortable with the arrangement the way it was. After all, I was back with my resurrected Heero, but he was gone a lot, and too busy or injured when he was around to pay much attention to me. It was just that I had this innate need to be held once in a while, to be comforted and told I wasn't alone in the war or in the universe. It's funny now that I think about it, but it was during Heero's absences that I forged the friendships with the other pilots, and I counted myself fortunate; I had good, trustworthy friends, and it felt wonderful to know that they needed me and that in turn, they could meet some of the needs I had, platonically, that is.

After Wufei's colony was destroyed and he was reunited with the rest of us, I sought him out on Peacemillion and found him secluded in his cabin. He sat in his position of meditation and I moved to sit next to him on his bunk and asked how he was doing, having heard the news of how his colony came to be destroyed. It seemed no one had asked him until then, and to my surprise, he broke down, having held his guilt and grief inside himself since that horrifying moment when he witnesses the destruction of all held dear. I held him for hours, trying to comfort him by telling him it wasn't his fault. We connected at a deeper level of friendship that night, for I understood his loss all too well. That night was also tinged with a bitter memory, as Heero was anything but pleased that I'd spent so much time in the Chinese pilot's room. We had one of those unpleasant, blow-out arguments we sometimes had when the tension was high, usually just before a battle or mission.

So, as you can see, I had some sort of relationship with all of the guys and I was banking all my hopes in going to the big, formal shindig that at least one of them would want or need me and would give me some direction in my somewhat vagabond life.

I arrived at the palace mid morning the day of the Celebration, and taking a deep breath, I started up the stairs towards my future.

on to part 2

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