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//

{{Flashback}}

<<sound effect>>


Vicious Cycles of Revenge
Part 5

Across the city, a man awaited a death that seemed overdue in coming. Trowa Barton, currently calling himself 'Neptune Flowers', was now alone in his office. He stood staring out the window at an artificial "sunset" he hadn't expected to live to see.

When the video phone buzzed, he nearly jumped. Reaching over, he toggled it on, "Quatre?" he asked expecting it was his lover calling again as they both waited for the inevitable. He was shocked to discover it was someone else entirely.

"Not bloody likely," Heero growled. Trowa couldn't make out what was going on in the background, but it was clearly a busy place with a lot of people moving around and making noise. The fact that it was Heero, however, shocked him to the core.

"Heero? What's going on? I expectedů " he stopped before he said anything else since it was a non-secure line and he did not wish to leave any evidence of his friend's responsibility for his anticipated demise.

"To hell with what you expected, 'Flowers'! Get your ass down to the emergency room at the Fifth District Hospital. *Now*!"

Trowa paled, "What happened? Is Wufei hurt?"

"Get down here and find out." Heero disconnected.

Summoning up what little of his thoughts were available, Trowa quickly called for a cab, not trusting himself to drive. He didn't care about his own life, but he would not endanger innocent people as distracted as he was. After that call was complete, he contacted Quatre.

In this moment of emergency, the blond CEO had taken over answering his own calls for fear of missing even the shortest of contacts from his lover. "Winner here. Trowa? What's wrong? You look pale!"

Trowa looked worried, but otherwise only Quatre would ever have detected the change in skin tone. "Hello, koi. I don't know what's happened, but I just got a call from Heero. He wants me to meet him at a hospital. Something must have happened to Wufei."

Quatre trembled a bit, there had been way too much bloodshed and he worried for the Chinese man he still considered a friend. "Allah, no! Trowa, are you going down there?"

"As soon as possible, what choice do I have? I owe Heero anything he demands, we both know that." Trowa looked confused yet set on the course chosen. "There's the cab, I'll call you as soon as I know anything. Granted, Heero can't very well finish what is between us in front of witnesses, but I must go."

"Then go and may Allah protect all of you," Quatre smiled before severing the line.

"A bit late for that, I would have thought, but perhaps it shall benefit Wufei."

On his way out, he automatically turned off the lights and headed down to where the cab waited for him.



Walking into an unknown situation always put the former Heavyarms pilot's senses into full alert and this was no different.

The first thing he noticed was the fact that Chang Wufei stood perfectly unharmed outside an examining room. "What is going on here, Wufei?" He asked, none of the earlier hesitation in his voice.

Wufei turned to look at him. "Your source was mistaken, but that is understandable and entirely forgivable, come." He led the way in and Trowa saw Duo laying on the bed, oxygen mask in place.

"DUO!!!" He exclaimed in disbelief.

Heero snapped his head around and spotted Trowa. With cobalt-blue eyes filled with hope, he hauled off and decked him squarely.

"We're even now, 'Flowers'," Heero remarked with a grin as he helped the taller man off the ground.

Wiping blood from his lips with the back of a hand, Trowa looked closely at Duo and saw that his eyes were barely open, a look of pained awareness trying to get past the drugs moving through his system. Duo tried to say something to both of the men present, but it was very hard for him to get enough air to talk.

Since regaining consciousness, Duo had explained as much as he could to his beloved, all the while barely able to breathe much less speak.

Not for the first time, both were grateful that they had developed their own silent codes over the five years they had been together. Any concerns Heero had initially experienced regarding possible oxygen-deprivation related brain damage was erased when he saw Duo using their private sign language to express his love and regret for what had happened. The series of events which lead to this most regrettable outcome, however, shook Heero to the core. It had been a very close brush with extinction for the man he loved with all of his heart.

Duo, disguised as Matt Winchester yet not wearing the bullet-proof bodysuit, had gone to the building with every intention of stopping by a local coffee shop on his way back from the fairly low-risk routine assignment.

Instead he had inhaled searing, toxin-laden smoke which had severely damaged his lungs when the explosives he had set detonated prematurely. Luckily, he had been almost out of the building when it happened. This was why there were burns across the back but not the front of his body. The explosive force of the blast had hurled him into a parked car and that impact had resulted in his broken bones and a probable concussion which was nearly impossible to diagnose by the time he arrived at the hospital. Heero theorized the same force must have blown off the red wig leaving nothing to indicate his alter-ego when he was found later, otherwise Winchester was certain to have been identified by local law enforcement officials. The assassin recalled feeling dazed and confused afterward and assumed that within his confusion he had tried to make it home to the apartment he used when there on Winner Corporation business.

Records from the police indicated he never arrived, though, and had collapsed near his destination. Uncertain that he could survive injured and unaided, he had invoked the state of suspended animation he had learned from Wufei years before after they had been trapped in an OZ moon base and he had seen Wufei use the technique in an attempt to avoid death by suffocation. Duo's seemingly lifeless body had been taken directly to the morgue after it was found two days later laying in a heap in a back alley.

Wufei admitted that, at the time, he thought it was a waste of effort to teach the American such skills, but Duo had learned it quickly and obviously mastered it without his ever realizing it.

Upon hearing these facts, Trowa looked stunned. Duo nodded weakly as Heero told him most of it, leaving out anything incriminating when hospital staff members entered the room, the Japanese man seemingly planning his revenge for another time.

When the tale was told, Trowa finally had a chance to talk to Duo himself. "Duo, you must know that Quatre and I truly regret this."

Duo shook his head slightly and tried to smile through the oxygen mask.

"Forgive," was the only word he said in response, then he closed his eyes briefly, fighting the pain and effects of the medication coursing through him. He reopened his eyes to see those of his emerald-eyed friend fill with pain and confusion.

"*What*?!? 'Forgive'? Duo, no, you can't mean that you want to forgive us, not after all of this. We don't'deserve it," Trowa had been tortured all day awaiting his death by Heero's hands and he could no more accept this generous gift than he could stop time.

Duo looked sad, speaking was very hard and he'd spoken a lot to Heero, simple sign language would never be enough to say how sorry he was for the deceptions and all that had occurred. He whispered out, "Catherine---free. Killers---dead. Trowa--- Quatre---free!" he choked, coughing as his body vainly attempted to improve his breathing; eventually he re-closed his eyes, sucking in precious air as the meaning of his words hit home.

"Wait. Do you mean you found the evidence? It was them? You saw proof?" Trowa was ecstatic. His sister's spirit could be free now, she and thousands of innocent victims were now free to rest in peace. This meant that he and Quatre had achieved their goal, justice had been served finally after seven long terrible months of effort.

A silent nod confirmed it. The victims of the explosion were criminals who had paid the ultimate price for profiting through the suffering of human lives, especially children's lives.

"Duo, thank you. This is the greatest gift you could have given us!" Suddenly Trowa's own impending death by the man's lover seemed a small price to pay, but if Duo was alive, could he do anything to help keep the American that way? "But what of you? Are you going to be all right? How can we help you to recover from all of this?"

Duo didn't respond immediately as medical personnel began to prepare him for surgery to deal with the numerous broken bones which had languished unset and untreated. Unfortunately his ravaged lungs were another matter, they couldn't even predict if they would ever heal.

Further questions regarding Duo's medical history were thrown at Heero who answered as best he could but tossed an angry look at Trowa when he had to amend a statement about the last time Duo had undergone surgery to include the time Wufei had shot him five months prior. Clearly, Heero didn't think much of their old comrade or his offer of help, something which disturbed Duo.

//Damn it, Heero, don't cut yourself off from a friend you've just found again!//

Duo felt a deep sense of remorse for what might happen if Heero chose to pursue the vengeance against their friends that Duo had asked him to abandon.

//Please, koi, don't do something stupid over this! Revenge aint worth it, I know. Besides, you just may need Tro and Q if this goes badly.//

When the doctors had left for a moment, the injured ex-pilot gasped out, "Tro, I---quit," and smirked around ragged inhalations.

Heero, however, turned and actually smiled at Trowa who was quite confused by the statement. "You heard the man, he quits. 'Matt Winchester' died in that explosion, understand?" Heero gazed meaningfully at both of his friends to be sure everyone would realize that Duo had granted each and every one of them the ultimate gift---amnesty.

Amnesty from revenge, amnesty from further bloodshed, and, greatest of all, amnesty from the guilt of everything that had gone before.

Trowa and Wufei were both speechless. The former in gratitude, the latter in shock that self-proclaimed criminals would walk free because of his own code of honor and the intervention of a man thought dead. If he could have spoken more easily, they might have been more shocked that Duo Maxwell would have gladly given his life to have brought them these messages at all. The amnesty he wished for them was total if only they would accept it from him and understand he asked for no one's life in exchange for his own regardless.

Trowa, still lost in disbelief, simply nodded agreement.

Wufei finally nodded, too. It was, after all, justice for Catherine Bloom and countless others that the perpetrators of the slavery ring had died or been taken into custody thanks to Duo's sacrifice. Even justice sometimes went only partially served but it was better than the hollow victory that breaking his oath could bring the Preventers officer.

Duo seemed to need one last measure of reassurance before the anesthesia took what little awareness he had away. "Heero, forgive us?" he searched his lover's cobalt-blue eyes, the color of heaven to him, and finally heard the answer he needed so desperately.

"Hai, koibito, hai," Heero smiled and clasped Duo's hand as his violet eyes, hazy with pain and drugs began to slide shut. "For you, anything, or didn't you know that? Yes, I will forgive both Trowa and Quatre for this, but it can never happen again, understand? I don't ever want to have to retrieve you from a morgue again, Duo. Yes, I forgive you, koi. I think I need to try to understand this better, but I will add no new pain to what has already happened. But I need to know, can you forgive me? I should have known what was happening, I should have found a way to stop it somehow; our life together should never have gotten so out of control! Can you forgive me, Duo?"

Pulling his eyes open a last time, Duo tried to focus on Heero's face and failing to do so, simply smiled. "Hai---koibito," he whispered and then fell into the darkness granted by the medication and oxygen deprivation.

Heero smiled and dropped a light kiss upon the pale forehead beside him. Reaching out a hand to stroke the chestnut hair, he spoke to the unconscious man, "Thank you, my love. I'll be here when you awaken and later we'll talk through all of this. For now, though, just rest and heal."

The unnatural smile refused to leave Heero's lips even after his lover was taken away for surgery.

Trowa left Heero and Wufei to call Quatre with the amazing news.

"How could such a miracle have occurred?" he asked. The Arab seemed even more shocked than Heero had been having seen photos from the bombing site. "The idea that Duo had been caught in his own blast indicates someone found the explosives and tried to defuse them, there's no other way to explain a premature explosion; why didn't we think of that sooner?"

"It doesn't really matter now, does it? Keep in mind that we have Wufei to thank in part for this miracle, without his teaching Duo how to achieve a state of suspended animation during the war, all of this would be moot." Trowa wore a bemused smile as he spoke briefly to his lover. "In truth it was sheer luck an informant spotted Duo when they did or he'd be dead now due to the autopsy procedures. Regardless, we have much to do to guarantee that our errors are accounted for. How soon can you get here, love? I am certain that our friends will wish to discuss this with you as well as myself."

"I'll leave immediately, I'll use the corporate shuttle and be there as quickly as possible."

"Excellent."

"I really find all of this unbelievable, love." Quatre's voice sounded pained. "I need to see Duo, alive and well, with my own eyes for this to seem less of a fantasy born of desperation."

Trowa cautioned his lover, "Quatre, wait. The doctors here have told Heero repeatedly that Duo may have irreparable lung damage, but he wont listen to them. You need to be aware of this, he may not ever be truly 'well' again."

A low growl told Trowa that Quatre was not pleased with this piece of news. "I see, this is not good news. If Heero is letting himself be distracted by the large picture and is neglecting the details, then he may have a great deal of difficulty dealing with the ramifications of everything later. Very well, this is just a greater reason for me to get there as quickly as possible. If more trouble awaits, let me come to be there by your side for it, you have borne the brunt of the weight of our errors."

"Don't worry on my behalf, love," Trowa cautioned further. "Neither of us have had much rest in the last few days, sleep on the way here, and I shall gladly let you take over when you arrive. Be safe."

Quatre's voice carried a smile, "Always worried about everyone other than yourself, love? I don't deserve you. Yes, I'll rest on the way there, but I'll hold you to the offer; when I get there, you step back and let me handle things for awhile. Agreed?"

A smile graced Trowa's weary features, "Agreed. See you soon."

"Good. Soon, my love. Out."

"Out." Neither man had strayed from the lack of names beyond the use of terms of affection and it was all that Trowa could do to keep from signing off in the way he had for years. Why did he now feel an almost overwhelming urge to end with "Barton out" even if he hadn't said that since his involvement in the efforts to find his sister's killers had begun?

It would be a good thing to have the couple reunited to face what the future held now.



While Trowa was absent, Wufei cleared his throat uneasily. Heero turned and looked at him questioningly.

"So, Heero, what do you intend to do about Barton and Winner? Still plan to seek revenge?"

Heero looked a bit disturbed by even being asked. "No, Wufei, I don't. Duo asked me not to and I'll honor that. If he wasn't killed, then killing them would be even more wrong than it would have been already." He looked distressed. "I'm glad you didn't try to stop me before, Wufei. I was quite blind, even I can see that now; I'd probably have killed you, too. It's good it never came to that."

Wufei nodded. "Of course, Heero, I believe that after five years of knowing you I had a good idea where you were headed and that it would be foolish to get in your way. Besides, I, too, wanted revenge for Duo's apparent death. Neither of us is blameless. But now I need to report to Une. How do I explain this without aggravating the situation?" Wufei would keep the agreement to keep the details of what had happened out of Preventers records, but it meant being a bit more liberal with the truth than he was used to and that made him uncomfortable.

Heero smirked, "Easy. Tell her we found Duo, but that he's hurt. Tell her the truth, he was caught in the blast set by the now deceased 'Matt Winchester'. The doctors say he ought be fine, but it will take time. Beyond that, the rest was not part of your original assignment, was it? You've done your duty, Chang Wufei, let the rest go. I know it doesn't sit easily with you, but do it for Duo." Seeing the man who had helped him get through one of the worst situations of his life fighting an internal battle, he tried to joke a bit to lighten his friend's mood. "At least you don't have to help me arrange for a funeral, that should be worth something to you."

Wufei smiled a small, almost secretive smile. "Thank the gods for that, especially since I was the one trying so hard to kill him not that long ago. Duo had the right idea, but total amnesty can be hard to achieve; but first I think I need to learn how to forgive."

"I believe we will all have to work on that, Wufei," commented the tall sandy-haired man who walked back in to rejoin his old friends. Both turned to look at him and it struck Heero again how different Trowa looked now, nothing like he had when they had been young pilots sent by the colonies which also sought revenge at the time.

//Revenge.//

Heero was lost in thought for a brief moment.

//Acts of revenge set in motion at different points in time by others have more than once dragged me into their clutches and nearly torn away what little I cared for. Now I can see that there *were* things I cared about at 15 when I first fought beside these guys in our Gundams. Will there ever be a true peace for someone like myself trained for war? I'm just not handling peace very well.//

//Or is all of this just the shadows of those wars? The fact that Duo turned to the life of an assassin so quickly when we needed money worries me. How could he become such an infamous killer and keep his joy for life or is that another lie, too? We have a lot to deal with after he recovers from all of this. Thank the gods we'll have time to do so.//

Trowa quietly commented, "Wufei, Heero, this was a series of horrible tragedies, but Duo ultimately did have all the answers we needed, didn't he? Forgiveness takes time, but we should be able to achieve it, don't you think?"

Heero frowned briefly, "We're all guilty of various things, 'Neptune'. But he's right about us building some kind of bridges of forgiveness or we'll never live in peace of any sort."

"Getting philosophical now, Heero?" Trowa looked puzzled by the unexpected change in him and saw Wufei doing the same. "And just call me 'Trowa', Heero. I think Catherine would want me to reclaim my own happiness as well." He reached out a hand in friendship.

"Glad to have you back, Trowa." Heero answered shaking his hand then releasing it for Wufei to do the same.

Surprisingly, a look of disgust then crossed Heero's features. "Besides, I didn't care for either of the two new guys I ran into this trip. I wasn't overly fond of 'Matt Winchester' or 'Neptune Flowers'! Good thing they're *both* gone now!"

"Agreed!" Both Trowa and Wufei responded enthusiastically. Then the two smiled at each other, a little embarrassed for no apparent reason. Soon all three found themselves laughing a little like they had years before, truly relaxing in each others company for the first time since they had come together on L-2 in this time of crisis.

Forgiveness.

It was a very good way to restart five lives.





Author's Notes:

1. This story is dedicated to all of the lurkers on all of my mailing lists! Writers sometimes forget you guys are out there reading and enjoying what we put together and I thought you should know we appreciate the fact that you take the time to read it even if there isn't always time to C&C. (^_^)

2. Whenever Duo-torture occurs, offerings go to my main muse, the goddess of angst, Melpomene. Love her or hate her, now that I've convinced her we can have G-Boys High Adventure without killing any of them, she's gotten a lot more fun to be around.

3. I've been asked by several folks to set up an alert system when something of mine is available, so please feel free to sign up at EnigmaFanficUpdates-subscribe@egroups.com!

owari

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