by AKA Anonymous
See Part 1 for warnings, etc
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Morning had come without notice to anyone in the government building, but the short-tempered soldiers enclosed in the governor's office especially ignored it. Even as the frantic pace of work dropped off as more help arrived, civilian or Preventor; the field team leaders wandered in from a stressful night of chasing criminals all over the colony to make their reports to their Commander; and the colony's communications were up to fifty percent; it was an unspoken agreement that the office was dangerous territory. Off limits, unless called for, then enter at your own caution. An invisible line was drawn around the door and people walked as quickly and quietly as possible passed it only when absolutely necessary.
The yelling had stopped several hours ago, but that was no guarantee of anything. They all knew that the room held five of the highest ranking and most deadly military minds of their time, and they were pissed at something. That was all the Preventor Agents needed to know, the civilians (especially the crew kids) walked on egg shells-- easily frightened and always ready to bolt--but that didn't stop them from scavenging the Preventor storage.
The agents raised their eyebrows and watched them slip things (almost anything besides weapons) into the thin rags they wore without it showing, then, under Commander Une's orders, they watched the kids slide back into the alleyways. When another loud crash sounded from the office, some Preventors reverently wished they, too, could slip away.
Three more computers had been dragged into the room and set up; Wufei, Quatre and Heero now joined Une's rhythmic typing as they scoured both the Preventor's database and the colony's in their search. They were frustrated and far beyond irritated with the machines and each other, but the three working pilots refused to take a break and get some rest. Even as busy as the last two days had been, running on no sleep and little sustenance, the young men demanded the chance to troll the databases.
Perhaps it was the flimsy hope they held onto that Duo's actions were not his own doing. Perhaps it was some overactive drive to accomplish something useful when they felt so helpless, or a hundred other reasons that weren't even known to them, but buried in their subconscious where they hid their pain.
Only Trowa wasn't working at a computer terminal, several of his fingers had been dislocated or broken while under Duo's interrogation, but he prowled the office like a wild beast. Every now and then he'd pause to study his comrade's screens over their shoulders and though he didn't speak much he let his thoughts be known with broken vases, crystal whiskey glasses, and anything else expensive and not bolted down in the office.
They had found quite a bit of information in the secret files in the governor's computer (they were encoded, password protected, and hidden, but not nearly well enough) and the five now had a working theory.
For years the various military installments, that the colonists had been subjected to in a dictatorial manor, had run 'drafting searches' in the streets. The soldiers would snatch up as many young men and women as possible and ship them (against their wills) to a training facility on an orbiting satellite or even down to Earth. They were trained in only the basics before being tossed into the frontlines; the few that survived the wars were shipped back and thrown onto to the streets once again.
Hence, the bums could hold their weapons, they might even shoot them somewhat decently, but they were extremely lacking in discipline and focus. Which was what lead to their downfall.
Somehow Duo and Anderson had set up the leaders of the most powerful gangs to declare a truce. At the same time, as far as Une and Wufei could puzzle out, the two were also leading the govern on, making him believe that the gangs would be wiped out, if only they had the machinery for it...
Which led to Tom Johanson. If the governor been any more thorough about his paperwork in dealing with the notorious arms dealer he'd have had to have done DNA tests. Even scrap of paper was scanned, even money transaction recorded, time, date, amount, exchange value, etc. The man was practically obsessive compulsive about his illegal activities.
However, the paper trail floundered a bit as they tried to link the weapons from Johanson to Rendwall, Inc., as Duo had mentioned. Still, it was much more than what they had tried to use against the dealer and the cooperation before.
Trowa sank down into his leather chair again, the exhaustion of his adrenaline roller coaster ride was finally getting to him again. He leaned his head back against the chair and allowed his eyes to wander the pattern his feet had circuited around the room, watching his friends' faces carefully.
They had divided the work in two groups: Wufei and Une searched the colony databases while Heero and Quatre hacked their own system. Commander Une was not happy about the term 'hacking', but since technically their search should have been handled by private investigators who had no connections to the Preventors, thus giving an unbiased analysis (and probably getting Duo into a nice 6x6 cell), she turned her head while Heero broke through every security measure they had with great ease.
Heero's face was blank of emotion as his eyes moved rapidly over his screen. His hands were clenched in his lap and he hadn't so much as shifted an inch after he had set his search program into effect. Even when Trowa had thrown the whiskey tumbler, after all the glasses had been used, he barely blinked. All his attention was focused on the scrolling files of security information, searching for some recent connection between Duo and the blonde man, Anderson.
Wufei's and Une's searches had turned from trying to fit Duo's role in the colony coup d'etat to finding all the evidence they could. Their faces were serious, but each had a singularly smug facial characteristic that only a close acquaintance would have been able to identify. Wufei's mouth twitched slightly in the left corner, a sure indication of his confidence of victory. Une, on the other hand, smiled openly--and quite evilly. Trowa half-expected her to throw her head back and cackle at any moment.
Quatre's face was perfect. It always was, in Trowa's opinion, though to be really perfect he'd need to wipe that smear of dirt from his nose--a shower for all of them would have been very beneficial, but such a suggestion at that place and time, even from the President himself, would have been pointedly ignored. The auburn-haired man studied the blonde with a tiny smile as the other's bow mouth was drawn in a small pout of concentration as he typed away at the keyboard, but he soon paused to look up. The two made eye contact immediately and Quatre immediately cast his lover a flat gaze that distinctly read, 'Get to sleep, idiot.'
Before the look could be voiced, though, there was a polite knock on the door. No one would be bothered to open it, but that didn't stop the person on the other side. Five looks of surprise, four looks of disappointment and a final glare (from Heero) welcomed the newcomer as he calmly stepped into the hostile environment.
Zechs Merquise was not one to be intimidated by mere looks and he moved about the room like the four of the five people in it didn't resent his interruption.
Heero made sure the resentment was very clear, just in case. "What do you want, Wind?"
"I had heard," the blonde's smirk widened when Heero didn't so much as turn his head from the computer screen, "that the Gundam pilots were going insane and I had to see for myself."
Trowa's jaw clenched at the blonde's familiar prodding. This time, however, the nobleman had no clue how close he was to the truth-- until Heero's chair flung itself backwards and the Japanese boy was an inch from his face in the blink of an eye.
"Zero-one! Stand down!" Une was on her feet as well. Quatre and Wufei watched, their hands held within inches of their hidden weapons. After a moment Heero stepped back, murder still in his eyes, turned heel and picked up his chair to watch the files scroll.
Zechs looked slightly paler as he tried to shake off Heero's bizarre behavior. He saluted and addressed their leader. "I'm to report that most of the rebel activity has been put down, communications to Earth have been restored and there was an unknown shuttle craft that landed about an hour ago. The passengers are now in our custody and are being escorted directly here."
"Here? I don't have time to see anyone at the--"
"Apparently," Zechs interrupted, "the shuttle was Preventor issue and the two are dressed as priests."
A dropped pin would have been an explosive sound.
In the next hour the tension from the four Gundam pilots had infected the building. Veterans who had seen combat face to face, who had killed with their bare hands, and slept with a gun under their pillow became jittery in the presence of one of the pilots as they set up an impromptu interrogation room. One that didn't involve various forms of physical persuasion, as the rebels had for Trowa.
Dr. Po had arrived within the preparation time and fixed her own glare upon each boy. They took turns being looked over and making people scramble to have the necessary equipment set up in the small room. Sally made several very loud protests that any of them should be allowed to continue, as exhausted as they obviously were, but her demands were swept aside. Nothing anyone said would stop them from facing their betrayer.
When Sally had heard who their betrayer was her protests died for a few moments, horror took her breath away, but then put down one final command: Trowa could watch the questioning, but only from a video feed in the field infirmary. She put her foot down as the young man swayed on his feet and as his superior officer; he could not disobey the order. With one chaste kiss for Quatre, he allowed himself to be led away, glancing backwards just in time to see the motorcade pull up.
The two men dressed in black walked together through the capital building without a word. The younger kept a small smile on his face and nodded congenially to the familiar, confused faces in the crowd while the older's face was downcast with worry.
"Father Anderson," Duo looked his companion in the eyes, "everything will be alright. Tell them everything."
The man nodded and followed the uniformed Preventors to a separate room, he was quickly lead to his own interrogation chambers.
The cream colored walls ruined the stoic effect that was usually characteristic of such rooms. It was small enough, though, making the walls seem that much closer and closing in fast. Especially with the amount of people already sitting or lounging around when he was escorted in.
Zechs Merquise had volunteered to oversee the questioning while Commander Une and Lieutenant Noin had seen to the other. A little uneven, but no one was going to tell that to the stony faced boys studying their ex-comrade with unreadable expressions.
The braided boy said nothing, but took a seat and stared at the table top while he wait their demands. The tiny smile he had kept on for the Father's sake was gone, in its place was a small guilty-looking frown, like a child who stole the last cookie.
"Duo," Quatre's voice wavered, "ho--? wh--?" The sea-blue eyes filled with tears as he tried to find the words that would help him understand what had happened to their happy-go-lucky friend.
"Oh, Cat, don't cry," Duo bit his lip and his eyes flickered around the room, coming to rest on the scarf of Zechs' jacket. A moment later Quatre had the scarf in hand, Zechs looked both stunned and angered, and Duo was sitting down once again. "Come on! I'snot that bad, is it? I mean I've pretty much fucked up my chances at a prom'tion, but everything's okay, right?"
Panic entered his eyes as he took in each face and bolted out of his seat. "Trowa! Trowa's al'right, isn't he? Oh GOD! Where's he?! I didn't mean to! I di'nt mean ta! I swear! I din't mean ta hurt anyone!"
Four pair of eyes followed the shaking, babbling boy as he paced the room, apologizing profusely to the each of them, even Zechs a few times. They were so stunned to silence at the Deathscythe pilot's hysterics that they almost didn't catch him as he bolted for the door.
"I have ta see 'im! Pleeease!" Duo thrashed against Zechs' taller frame as he held the young man in a bear hug. Wufei and Quatre moved around the table to help when they heard the distinct sound of a gun being cocked.
"Maxwell, don't make me kill you." Heero's weapon was pointed between the blue-violet eyes and the boy immediately slumped, almost knocking Zechs over with the sudden change of weight.
"If I have to be killed, it's destined to be by you," the boy's mouth was split with a smile as his head came up. He looked over his shoulder to eye the taller man holding him. "You know I love you, Zechsy, but not like that."
The man practically flung the boy out of his arms. The ice-blue eyes glowered coldly at the impish face, but the young man was already sitting back down, facing the other pilots like Zechs had popped out of existence. "So, shall we get down to business?"
Three sets of eyes blinked at him.
"Come on, Heero, put the gun away," he admonished jokingly. "You know, for being the Perfect Soldier, you don't know how to run an interrogation."
"And you do?" Wufei asked viciously.
The braided boy's faced filled with pain for a moment before the fake smile was applied again. "No, I don't, Wufei."
"You remember us now," Quatre asked softly, trying to find the right thread to start unraveling the mystery without them having to draw weapons again. "Why now? Why not at the ruins?"
"Oh?" the boy looked genuinely surprised at the question, "you hadn't found that part yet? It should have been in with the medical reports, in the governor's files? Anyone?"
Wufei shifted and grudgingly admitted, "I found various medical reports, but left them for a professional to go through. I didn't realize they were yours."
"It's all right," the boy shrugged. "Probably better this way, anyhow." He took a deep breath and rubbed his hands together.
"How much do you know about passive-regressive brainwashing and MPD's?"
"MPD?" Zechs eyebrows dipped in apprehension.
"Multiple Personality disorders," the boy supplied. "I have it, by the way." He grinned.
Wufei's faced paled beneath his tan skin. "Maxwell?"
The boy's grin turned somewhat evil. "Nope, great guess, though!"
"Duo?" Quatre asked hesitantly.
The boy made a face. "I don't get along well with that pissant. Strange, ne? Of course, if he had been stronger I wouldn't have been needed in the first place."
"Quit playing these games, Zero-two!" Heero's hand twitched towards his gun again, "What are you talking about?"
Duo's persona winked at him. "Well, in order to...oh, boy where to start." The heart-shaped face clouded in thought for a moment, the grin finally fading.
"Hm, the Preventors had been trying for months to catch Rendwall as a weapons manufacturer when I happened to run into an old friend, Father Anderson, at HQ--he had just finished with updating Une on some situation on a different colony. (He's quite a gossip for the underside of the colonies, but a real soft heart for kids; makes a great informant.)" The boy leaned back and calmly studied the faces before him. "We began working out a plan that would be mutually beneficial; I'd get some evidence pointing to Rendwall, while he'd get some attention for his missionary work in the colonies. Tricking the gangs into unifying was just an after thought; they lean pretty heavily on the little kids, plus it ups the degree of charges against the dealer.
"The biggest problem was deceiving the necessary people into thinking I had turned against the Preventors and was on the take. My companion was able to unite the gangs, telling them that once they had control of the colony, they'd be in charge of all food lines and water supplies. It was an opportunity they couldn't resist, especially when we showed them the weapons.
"The governor was already on the take, as I'm sure you've found, hiding several shipments of guns in his private warehouses so they were out of the way in case the Preventors came against Rendwall's. My lot in the deal with him was to make sure the goods hadn't been damaged during shipping and to keep the Preventors off the scent."
"You've been sabotaging--!" Wufei shrilled, but was stopped by a hard grip in his arm. Heero's hand, which could have easily broken the bones with a twist, remained there, loosening slightly to allow blood to flow, but obviously not taking the chance that the Chinese boy would remain quiet without encouragement.
"No. I didn't have time to in any case, the gangs got out of control too quickly. They overthrew the governor and cut the communications before I could stop them. Next thing I knew, I was facing Trowa in a jail cell, only I didn't remember him. It wasn't really me." He looked directly into Quatre's eyes. "Tell him, I'm sorry. I know it's probably not enough, but..."
Duo's face was held in anguish for a long moment, but his shoulder suddenly loosened and the jester's smile came back. "God, I'm so fucked up!"
"Huh? Now who are you?" Zechs was getting a headache from trying to figure out which Duo was the one he knew.
"Same as before, Zechsy-kun!"
"So you're the third personality, right? How many do you have?" Quatre asked, his politeness wearing off as his weary mind tried to take in all he had been hit with in this one sitting.
"Oh, Q's got it! Seriously, people, I've known you all this time and- -I'll give you that I was never this separated before--you can't even guess?" the blue-violet eyes twinkled. "I'll give you a hint: I have a pretty well balanced imbalanced psyche. You've got the childishly hopefully idiot--"
"Duo." Heero supplied.
"--the serious, cautious, (mildly depressed) but very smart guy--"
"Maxwell?" Quatre guessed.
"--and," he spread his hands wide, "the protective, ass-kicking, joker persona. Come on, you lucky bishounen, I've given you plenty of help!
"Shinigami," Zechs said with a disgusted snort.
"Oh!" Shinigami threw his hands up in mock despair. "And the ex- arch rival gets it!" He slouched in his seat and began drawing invisible lines on the table. "I'm mildly disappointed."
The four Preventor Agents exchanged several looks; each had no ideas as to how to proceed.
"So, how come we never knew about your personalities before?" Quatre asked curiously.
"Ah, the thing is, I was created by Stupid a long time ago and I use to only come out when absolutely necessary, then Maxwell came along and the two of them took over pretty much 'til the wars started. Then we all kicked Oz tail. You see, my other selves were less aggressive until I let those bastards play with my memories.
Big mistake, let me tell you! They tried this memory-repressing brainwashing technique that didn't work--in fact, it made me even more volatile and gave me a somewhat psychotic alter ego. Turns out that my personalities are directly linked to my memories, trying to repress them is like splitting your soul. I wound up forgetting the most important things at the worst times, then, in the confusion, Solo would take over."
"Solo? The leader of your gang?" Wufei questioned.
"Crew, we call the younger groups crews, they scavenge for food and water. Gangs fight for territory and are much more aggressive, they're usually teens and above," Maxwell explained with a kind smile. "And, yes, Solo was the name of my friend. But he was nothing like the bastard my brain created."
"What..." Zechs started, but faltered, uncertain how to ask his question.
"I took a powerful neuroleptic, an anti-psychotic, specifically designed to eliminate the effects of my treatment. It was a little risky, with my brain scrambled like eggs, to know what personality would come out on top," he grinned and smiled, "but I think the good guys have won."
Heero let out a distinctively sarcastic snort and Wufei fought to keep his smile down. Quatre's and Zechs' gazes met and they rolled their eyes with a smile.
"I think it'll be up to the courts to decide who is the good guy," Commander Une spoke from the doorway. Her face was soft with sympathy, but her eyes were hard with the strain of duty. The two officers who stood behind her moved forward to place handcuffs on the young man's wrists. One gently pushed his hands behind his back, while the other softly reminded him of his rights. "I'm sorry, Duo."
The young man's face melted into an innocent expression of affection, "S'alright, Miss Une. I'll be fine, don't worry about't. I dug this hole, now I hav'ta sit in it."
The impish boy turned to his comrades and smiled. "Well, this's it!"
The remaining three pilots stared at their comrade in disbelief. It struck them hard, as the boy turned and calmly left in the officer's custody, that they had never really know the boy they had called friend, comrade and ally.
It didn't matter, either.
In the whole world there was no other person who had stared down his gun time and again with that cheeky grin; who had shot him, then saved him and refused to give up trying to be his friend. Heero couldn't stand to watch him leave like that.
Quatre was watching the scene as if it was actually a play. Not real, his mind wanted to insist. There was the person who had him brought news of a missing loved one when the last of their hope was failing, gone out the door as if...he wasn't coming back. As Heero moved forward, Quatre followed.
Wufei drew a jagged breath watching his comrades rush the door, he understood why, but for a moment he held back. That was the person who had shared a dark cell with him, slowly choking to death, and come out with a smile and vengeance, but how did he become so strong?
From the infirmary Trowa watched in sorrow as the boy walked out of the room. When he had played the traitor during the Mariemaia coup it was Duo that he faced and the boy had brushed away his apologies with that same smile. He silently cursed his friends for letting him leave, but one at a time, within a second of each other, they rushed the hall. Trowa couldn't see anything after that, but he let a few tears slip by before finally drifting into sleep.
"DUO!" Heero's voice was a recognition, command and apology all at once. The boy's escorts were pushed aside as the young man flung himself within an inch of his friend. Once there, he stared into the blue-violet eyes, not knowing what else to do. No more words could escape the tightness of his throat.
Quatre was only a beat behind him, but he didn't stop. His arms encircled the boy in black before the boy could get out a single word. Quatre whispered in his ear for a moment, drew his face back, and held Duo's face in his hands. "You'll always be my friend."
The happy-go-lucky mask broke and Duo's mouth quivered, "I am really sorry, for everythin'! Oh, Cat!" He buried his face in the Arab's shirt collar while the blonde rubbed his back soothingly.
"Maxwell?" The tear-reddened eyes blinked up to meet Wufei's coal black, slightly nervous gaze. The Chinese bowed deeply and added, "Thank you. For everything, you know, back then."
"Oh, Fei-chan!" The boy lifted his arms forward (the handcuffs dangling from one wrist) and squashed the other in a tight embrace.
"Shinigami! Omae o korosu!"
"Stop stealing Heero's lines!" the boy laughed playfully until he met the cobalt blue gaze of the person he was 'defending'. His breathing became more difficult as he studied the familiar features of the boy who had at times tried to kill, hurt, and insult him. The boy was his best friend. "Heero." The Japanese boy winced. He took a step forward and awkwardly wrapped his arms around their betrayer. He whispered something softly into the boy's ear and pulled back to ghost a kiss upon the startled American's forehead.
The boy stared blankly at the air in front of him for a moment before fixing his friend with his own death glare. "I do not sound like Relena!"
With his old smile and a nod to the officers who were supposed to be escorting him, he walked off into the crowd. The officers shrugged and followed quickly, catching the handcuffs out of the air as the boy set off to face his consequences.
AN: Hope that made sense! I'm planning a companion piece of the /same/ time period, just a different perspective (all Anderson, that's why he's so lightly touched upon.)
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