Written: December, 2000
Rating: R
Pairings: (1+2) (3+4)
Category: Angst Yaoi AU (AC200)
Enigma Story Categorization: G-Boys High Adventure!
Warnings: Angst, yaoi, violence, sap, AU-OOC (AC200)
Disclaimers: Why can't I own the Gundam Wing Universe?!? All I've got are a few novel ideas in this story that are truly mine. I'm not making any money off this story; it's written due to obsession, so please don't sue me!

NOTE: This story takes place a year and a half after the war with Mariemaia. The pilots are scattered, or so Heero believes, with the exception of himself and Duo who live together as lovers.

//someone's thoughts//


<<sound effect>>

Vicious Cycles of Revenge
Part 3

Quatre Raberba Winner was a powerful Mafia boss? He paid for the murders of those who opposed him? Trowa, neither dead nor an enemy of the Arab, worked for him in secret destroying people for the "greater good"? And, worse yet, Duo was their private executioner for hire?

The bottom fell out of Heero Yuy's world.

//Duo? An assassin? No, it couldn't be.//

Suddenly it occurred to Heero how often Duo had needed to go out of town for a day here or a weekend there, but he'd never given it much thought. They trusted each other, didn't they?

When asked, his lover always smiled and said it was no big deal, just visiting friends or doing his college studies. The man who claimed he never lied had been lying to his soulmate for months if not longer.

//How could Wufei have shot him and I never knew? This is impossible. But what the *hell* are they trying to hide here?!?//

"This is total bullshit!" Heero pronounced, finally losing the veneer of control and looking for someone, anyone, to blame for the current situation.

A look of bitter resignation on his face, Quatre dealt with Heero quickly and effectively. "Wufei, can you identify Winchester at a glance?"

"Of course I can, but I fail to believe you regarding your assertion that Duo is Matt Winchester. He's either dead or was severely wounded from the bullets he took when I shot him. I saw the blood, I saw him go down. We never found the body, but the wounds could''t have been concealed if he was still alive." Wufei was firm in his convictions.

"Fine, I understand not wanting to believe this, but is this Winchester?" he flashed a photo of a red haired man, wiry and dressed in a tight fitting steel gray bodysuit well-equipped with weaponry that looked unquestionably lethal. Dark sunglasses concealed his eyes and a hat was pulled low against the light of the day; the photo had been shot through a distance range finder, the targeting sights clearly visible in the photo.

"That's him all right," Wufei snarled seeing the image of his nemesis.

"Are you certain?" Quatre pushed the issue.

"Of course I am!" The Preventers officer had no patience left. "What are you driving at, Winner? I tire of your sadistic games!"

"Then look again," Now the photo changed to a series of images. It was indeed Duo wearing the same steel gray bodysuit, grinning happily, braid swinging as he checked the same weapons apparently after completing the task at hand in the earlier photo. Next to him sat the red wig and hat, the Ray Ban's casually tossed onto the red hair, giving it all a surreal appearance.

Trowa smiled almost sadistically as realization dawned on both of the others in the room. "I took the photos you are looking at. He was on a job for me and we couldn't afford to have him taken alive. He knew I was his 'eraser' if he was going to be captured, of course. The camera was mounted on a hand held missile launcher. I hate to tell you this, Heero, but if he had failed that day, there wouldn't have been enough left of him to identify, much less bury."

"You fucking BASTARD!!!" Heero was out of his seat and lunging at Trowa who easily restrained him. It had been a calculated risk to show him these, but it was necessary. "How dare you do this behind my back! Now he's missing and you tell me you were ready to kill him the day you took these? What makes you think I can believe you aren't the one responsible for his disappearance now?!?" Rage had built to near critical mass, and had to be defused quickly.

Wufei stepped in, "Heero! That's enough! Why would they show us this if there wasn't more to know? CALM DOWN!!!"

Seething, Heero remained in Trowa's viselike grip, snarling angrily. "What the hell was all that about Wufei shooting him then? He never came home with bullet wounds! Don't you think I of all people would have recognized those? You two are playing some twisted game here and I've had enough!"

"Then look at this, Heero. Believe it." Quatre's mask of deadly calm remained as he forced the truth past the last of Heero's emotional defenses.

The photos continued with one of Duo in a makeshift medical recovery area with numerous IVs flowing into his body. There were bandages around his arms and chest. Eyes darkened in pain, he was badly injured and barely alive. The date on the bottom of the photo read roughly five months prior. "He wears a bullet-proof bodysuit when he works for me, but this time it failed. I'm afraid that Wufei is too good a shot; several rounds penetrated the Kevlar. Duo took hits in both arms and in his side, but Trowa's team was able to get him stabilized quickly and he survived."

The look of disbelief remained and he struggled forward trying to ease some of his friend's guilt by adding, "Duo's remarkably resilient, Heero, partially because of the extra training he received from you over the years. We 'manufactured' a vehicular collision to explain his injuries. The bullet wounds were enlarged to conceal their original cause. Even though it drastically increased the danger that he might never heal completely and also increased the needed recovery time, Duo voluntarily agreed to this further mutilation to conceal his illegal activities and to protect us."

"Do you recall this?" The next image was of Heero himself standing next to Duo's bedside in a hospital near Cairo. Pale and suffering, the former Deathscythe pilot looked worse in this photo than he had in the previous and it showed Heero looking deeply pained.

Heero went limp in Trowa's arms as realization hit him. He did remember it once he saw the photo, Duo had been hurt in a car accident while doing research, or so Heero had been told, and he took several weeks to recover. The incident had been burned into his mind since it had seemed so unexpected, yet Duo didn't feel too upset about it, saying repeatedly that it could have been much worse. Now Heero, too, knew it could have been much worse indeed. Duo could have easily died at the time.

Wufei was shocked as he finally became convinced that the man he had pursued with a vengeance was in actuality one of his best friends. "So this is why Winchester, one of the most renowned sharp-shooters in the assassin's guild, never once did more than graze me with a bullet no matter how much I shot at him. Duo knew who I was all along and avoided injuring me any more than he had to so that he could escape." Abashed, he hung his head in his hands. "I've tried to kill him repeatedly yet it was Maxwell all the time. This is wrong, just flat *wrong*!"

Trowa, certain that Heero was trying to convince him of his lack of aggression in the hopes of breaking free, tightened his hold wringing a groan of pain and frustration from the man he restrained.

"Damn you, Winner! How could you do this to him?" Anguish tinged Heero's words as well as the answer he received.

"I never wanted to, Heero. But after the war, he contacted me and said that you two needed money," Heero cringed in recollection of the times when finances for the couple had indeed been tight and they wondered how to make ends meet. He'd been surprised when he realized his lover had come up with funds which he had been quietly adding to their bank account, but the money had eased their budget problems and was forgotten. "Duo wouldn't accept my offer of help, but instead offered his services as an assassin, something he was adept at during the war. Somehow he knew that I had targets that needed eliminating which he felt he could handle. All of them were underworld criminals, people who had bought their freedom with a few well placed bribes. He always knew the risks. When you had enough to live off of, he was addicted to the thrill of the hunt, or so he said, and stayed on. Unquestionably, Duo is the best there is at what he does. I was very lucky to have him."

Quatre's tone went cold, he had changed back to all business. "But now he is missing, something we never expected. There are unidentified dead bodies, Trowa's project will have to be relocated and go silent for months while we wait for the trouble to pass, and we still don't know if Catherine's murderers have been destroyed. All in all, things are very bad. Where we go from here, however, will depend on the two of you. Will you work with us?"

"There isn't much choice, now is there?" Wufei commented angrily. "I gave my word earlier and you are right, this information may make all the difference in determining what has happened to Duo, but right now I should be arresting both of you for the crimes you've committed. For that matter, Duo, too, is a criminal. Winchester is considered public enemy number one and has a huge reward on his head. It's no wonder we could never get any leads on him, he simply does not exist."

The phrasing on the last statement could have been better, but hearing it drained the last of Heero's energy, allowing Trowa to safely release him. Heero pulled away sluggishly, uncertain of what to do, either try to inflict some form of pain on the man he had trusted with his life who had betrayed him or perhaps turn and go straight to the police right outside the door. He chose a third option and simply collapsed into a chair, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.

Before any further trouble could manifest, there was a call to Trowa on an intercom. He glanced at the buzzing comm unit and noted a special access code had been entered indicating it was an emergency.

"Mr. Flowers?" An unknown man's voice came through when he pressed the receive button. "We have just received urgent word regarding to your special instructions about Red."

Hearing the code word for Duo as Matt Winchester, Trowa immediately reacted, "What have you got for me on Winchester?"

The voice sounded upset. "I'm sorry, sir, but it isn't good. We've got an insider down at the fifth district morgue right now. They received a John Doe there yesterday that fits him out of uniform."

"Hold on," Trowa hit the hold button and looked around the room to find worried eyes. "He's telling me it's Duo, no costume. Let me get more information."

Quatre's eyes had gone cold and flat as had Trowa's, they apparently were waiting for just this news, expecting and dreading it at the same time.

"Tell me more," Trowa commanded.

"Sir, the information I have indicates that the cause of death is uncertain, the body is scheduled for autopsy this afternoon, in about four hours. Unless we can get someone down there before that *with* identification, we can't stop them. If it's Red, this is our last chance to get him back. He may still be traceable to us, I don't know. Do you want me to take a retrieval team?"

"No, we can cover it. Good work. Pay off the informant. Flowers out." Trowa looked meaningfully at the other two men in the room. "This is not the best possible news, but it is better than not knowing. I'm sorry for your loss, Heero, truly I am."

"As am I," Quatre added solemnly. "But he was doing what he believed in. The things being done to mere children by those monsters enraged him. Hate me if you will, but do not hate Duo, he died as he lived, courageously. I take it you want to go and get him, Heero?"

"Damned right I do," Heero tried to keep the pain he felt out of his words and failed miserably. He had not been prepared to be told his lover, *his* beautiful Duo, was dead.

It was too sudden. Too final. Too much.

"As do I," Wufei growled. "I will keep my word of honor and not report any of what you have admitted to here, Barton, Winner, but rest assured, the moment I find out anything new beyond this which implicates you, both of you will face justice! You have placed Duo in harm's way and now the end result is upon us. There is nothing you can say that justifies this. I only regret giving you my oath. You *both* deserve to be punished for this outrage!" The righteous light of fury glowed within the dark eyes promising a full measure of justice as soon as possible, further dividing men who had once been closer than anyone could imagine.

Standing, he donned his Preventers jacket and badge, then straightened his shoulders knowing he alone would have to be strong for Heero Yuy. Neither of the others could be anywhere near the morgue when they went to identify Duo's body. Quatre was still on Earth anyway, but Wufei believed Trowa would probably be long gone as soon as they departed, and that would probably be for the best since Heero Yuy would undoubtedly seek revenge for the death of his partner.

"Contact us if there is anything we can do," Quatre added quietly.

"You've done enough, you scheming toad!" Heero seethed. "Find a rock to hide under, Winner! No hired guns will protect you from me if his death is your fault. Unlike Wufei, I don't have any reason to hold back and I certainly never promised that you wouldn't be held accountable. If you've taken away Duo's life, then I will return the favor---to both of you!"

Heero and Wufei stormed out of the office leaving Trowa behind facing Quatre alone.

"So it ends, ne, little one?" Trowa asked Quatre as the other's stern appearance quickly melted away.

"It would seem so, koi. You'd better vacate the building while you can. Once they identify Duo's body, you know Heero will come after you and Wufei will turn a blind eye," Quatre looked profoundly sad. "I'm sorry we never got the evidence we needed to prove these were the right people, Trowa. I hate leaving this unfinished for you."

"Perhaps it went too far already, Quatre," Trowa sighed. "No, I'm going to stay right here. There's nowhere to run from the Perfect Soldier, we both know that. May as well make getting revenge easier for Heero by being where he can find me without any innocent people getting hurt."

Quatre looked only a little bit surprised at this; he always knew this might happen some day, he just hoped it was worth the lives it had cost. "Do you think Duo would have been satisfied with what we accomplished?"

"Yes, love, there can be no doubt," Trowa looked supremely confidant on this point. "We kept hundreds of children away from the slavers to begin with, and if we have crippled their operation or even destroyed it, there will be so many others who will escape that fate. Yes, Duo would be very pleased and maybe he could forgive the failings he seemed to hold against himself for his childhood terrors."

"Then that shall be enough for me as well. I don't know when Heero will get back there, but in case he's there before we speak again, you do know that I still love you, right?" Quatre was resigned to the fate facing both of them now and wanted to reassure himself that Trowa understood his true feelings.

"And I love you, too, angel, I never stopped. It has been a long strange trip, hasn't it? But as long as we traveled it together it seemed to always work out. But I doubt we'd ever have accomplished as much avenging Catherine without Duo as our partner."

Trowa then smiled sadly. "But if this last assignment cost Duo his life, then this would have been the last for us as well, we'd always agreed we'd go to Heero if it came to this, and we both knew the ultimate cost if we ever failed to protect Duo."

"True. I'm sorry I won't get to hold you one last time, but as Duo always said, at least we'll see each other in hell soon, right?" Quatre's eyes reluctantly filled with tears.

"Cold comfort, I'm afraid," Trowa remarked. "Be certain that Rasid understands that the cycles of revenge must stop with our deaths. Do not allow him to avenge us by attacking Heero, it ends here. I'm sorry I'll be the first one of us to go, I regret leaving you to grieve even for a short time. Let Heero have the revenge he deserves. I am willing to keep this simple for Duo's memory if nothing else."

"Agreed, love," Quatre then added, "please be careful not to let any of the rest of the staff suffer for this, all right?"

"Count on it, koi. Perhaps we will talk one last time, but if not remember our love, it does not die when we do." Trowa did not cry, a warm gentle smile spread across his lips instead. "It has been worth it, you know. Everything. All of the pain, all of the sacrifice was worth it, koibito. Now, let me get this place cleared out before there is bloodshed. We will see each other again, one way or another."

"Of course, farewell, my love." Quatre smiled around his tears before breaking the connection.

"Farewell, Quatre," Trowa said quietly. Then he rose to begin rapidly sending everyone out of the building including his own defense personnel who doggedly refused to leave.

If the building was to become a battlefield, there would be very limited casualties. Only one man would die there that day, and he was ready for it.

on to part 4

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