Duo was inwardly seething - at himself.
::How could I let Wufei set me off so easily?:: he wondered angrily. ::So much for trying to escape emotional ties.::
A sound from behind him grabbed his attention and he whirled around, fists raised in an automatic gesture of defense. His eyes widened as he took in the forest-green tanktop and ever-present black spandex.
" Whaddaya want Heero?" he mumbled, turning back around.
Heero frowned and the dejected tone in Duo's voice. It sounded unnatural to his ears - Duo was supposed to be happy. A naggingly persistent voice in his head was telling him that the idea that Duo should be continuously happy was ludicrous but since he'd never seen the bouncy American as anything but, what was he supposed to think? He stepped forward.
" What's wrong?" he asked bluntly. Duo's shoulders jerked in surprise and he turned slightly, cocking his head to one side.
" Why do you care?" he countered.
Heero's own defenses kicked in.
" Just making sure your attitude won't hinder the mission," he shot back. Belatedly he realized his mistake as that unfamiliar mask of coldness slithered its way back onto Duo's features. Duo was nearly growling as he answered the Perfect Soldier.
" Don't. Worry." he bit out savagely. " As much as you and Wufei would LOVE to argue with me, I DO know how to do my job. Now BACK OFF!"
Duo's voice had risen in pitch with each uttered syllable until he was shouting the last two words at Heero who blinked in the face of Hurricane Duo. Duo spun around on his heel and headed for his Gundam. Shaking off his paralysis, Heero blinked, and reached out, snagging the back of Duo's black priest jacket and hauling him back.
" What the-OOF!" Duo landed on his butt and he glared up at Heero accusingly. " What the hell was THAT for?"
" You're not acting in character," Heero informed him, unsure if this was the correct course to be taking. " I want to know why."
If anything, Duo got even madder. Eyes turned into blazing slits of fiery fury and he abruptly stood up, stalking towards the Perfect Soldier with murder in his eye. He stopped short of Heero and just stood there, hands squeezed tightly into fists as he fought for control.
" How," Duo began, his voice dangerously soft. "...the HELL would you know what my character is, Yuy?"
Heero blinked. Duo noticed this and leaned forward so his breath was puffing over Heero's features with every angry word.
" You don't know me. You don't WANT to know me - you've made that perfectly clear." Duo leaned back and awkwardly rubbed his arms, as if trying to fight off some internal chill. " You ignore me, yell at me, call me names, punch me - no matter what I do to try and prove to you that I'm your friend, you have shown me nothing but contempt."
" That's not--" Heero began, but Duo cut him off.
" Not what? True? " Duo's voice shook with brittle laughter. " It IS true. Dammit Heero - I KNOW it's true -I've kept TRACK!"
Now Heero looked confused, but Duo didn't elaborate. He pointed one slender finger in Heero's direction.
" YOU are not the only one I'm pissed off at - but damned if you're not the one most responsible. You have made it clear to me that my offers of friendship are not wanted. That's good - because I don't want yours either. Not anymore."
Duo turned around, and began walking. As if sensing Heero moving, he spoke softly.
" Leave me alone Heero. Please."
Heero pulled his hand back and watched with hooded eyes as Duo climbed into Deathscythe's cockpit.
" Where are you going?" he asked hesitantly. Duo shrugged as the door closed.
" Not sure."
With a roar of the engines, Shinigami lurched to its feet and fire shot from the jets on its back. Heero stepped back and watched as Deathscythe Hell flew off. Anyone watching would have assumed the Wing pilot couldn't have cared less.
:: He's wrong,:: Heero thought to himself. :: And he's right.::
He watched until Deathscythe was a mere black spec in the sky before it finally disappeared.
:: And I was too late.::
Almost absently, he wondered why it felt like his chest was ripped open....
Quatre and Trowa went through their mission packs, doing their daily routine of weapon-checks. It had seemed like the thing to do, to maintain normal appearances. Wufei had gone to his room after Duo's sudden departure, claiming he needed to reflect on his own actions. Quatre had agreed with him.
" I'm missing two detonators from my usual backup of five," Quatre said finally, wiping the sweat from his brow. " Trowa?"
" I have only one extra," the quiet pilot replied, handing said detonator to his partner without hesitating. Quatre smiled his thanks and added it to his pack. Trowa brushed his hair aside and peered at the blonde. " Duo has extras."
" He's got more detonators and actual explosives then bullets," Quatre agreed. " 'God of Destruction' is a very apt term it seems." He stood up, stretching slightly. " I don't think he'd mind if I borrowed one until we meet up with the Maguanacs and restock our supplies."
Trowa gave him a slight nod as he continued with his own pack and Quatre made his way upstairs to Duo's room. He scanned the messy room intently, seeking out the familiar outline of Duo's black backpack. Seeing it apparently gone, Quatre sighed.
" He must keep it in Deathscythe."
He noticed a few blocks of C-4 and two gun magazines and decided to check one more time. Not wanting to intrude too deeply into Duo's privacy, he merely let his eyes skim the surface of each furniture piece. He saw the familiar edge of a detonator on Duo's night stand and he went over and picked it up. Something white caught his eye and he peered down into the half-open drawer of the night table. His eyes zeroed in on his name printed on a piece of paper.
:: My name?:: he thought, curious. He gave a half-guilty glance around the room and then reached in, pulling out the stack of papers. He noted each of them had a different name and his curiosity increased tenfold. Sitting on the end of the bed, he began reading the papers. And with each word passing before his eyes, his heart sank deeper and deeper into the pit of his stomach, eyes sparkling with unshed tears.
" Oh Allah - Duo," he murmured, his voice thick with pain for his friend. He pushed off the bed, nearly stumbling in his haste to get out of the room. He pounded on Wufei's door as he half-ran past, telling Wufei to come downstairs to the kitchen.Trowa looked up as his blond lover paused in the doorway, noting his upset demeanor. One slender eyebrow arched in obvious concern and he looked curiously at the papers Quatre held in his hands. Wufei appeared behind the blond.
" What is wrong?" the Chinese pilot asked gruffly. Quatre mutely held out one of the slips of paper he held. Wufei took it, puzzled. Quatre turned and handed another to Trowa who accepted it.
" Just read," he choked out.
Trowa and Wufei exchanged glances before shrugging and setting their sights on the papers they held. after finishing, a profound silence settled over them like a heavy cloak.
" Kisama..." Wufei swore quietly. Pain was written on his face and he clenched his fist around the paper. Trowa had let the paper slip from his fingers to land softly on the table, staring at it as though it were a poisonous snake.
" I didn't know.." Wufei began and then stopped. He tried again. " I was just joking with him....I thought he knew..."
Trowa looked up at his friend and nodded slowly. " I didn't realize either," was all he said.
Quatre rubbed his eyes wearily. " We have to--"
A loud rumble echoed through the safehouse and Wufei gripped the table to keep from falling over. Trowa reached out with one hand to steady his partner. Quatre's eyes widened, recognizing the familiar whine of turbo-charged engines.
" That was--"
" Deathscythe," finished Wufei. He went over that mornings little fiasco and his face went one shade paler. " Shimatta - he didn't..."
Heero appeared in the doorway. His posture against the door was casual, his face carefully blank.
" Duo left," he said quietly. Trowa and Wufei blanched but Quatre was suddenly furious. He glared at Heero, prepared to rake him over the coals for seeming so callous when he stopped and noticed Heero's eyes. The mask had taken care of his features, but it had neglected to reach Heero's eyes.
Quatre read the wealth of pain and misery shining from that cobalt gaze and felt his anger slip away.
" He's gone," Heero repeated, eyes glassy. " Duo's gone."