| Author: Merula
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.
I feel I must take a Princess Bride moment here and assure my readers that Trowa is not dead. I never kill anyone off in my stories. (Usually!) I apologize for the cliffhanger again, but there wasn't another good place to stop without going on for 5 more pages.
Afterwards + Part 5We were at the hospital a few hours later. The car rise was thick with tension. We didn't talk much, each of us busy with our own thoughts and worry.
Wufei was in the waiting room, his uniform stained with blood. Trowa's blood, my mind supplied. But I also noticed a suspicious bulge under his right sleeve. Duo took one look at Wufei and sat down. I managed to stay on my feet, but I wanted to sit down too.
Quatre, gentle, sweet Quatre took one look at Wufei and got flaming pissed.
"What the hell happened?" He snarled at Wufei. Wufei looked startled. I reached out and put a hand on Quatre's arm.
"Quatre. Wufei didn't shoot him."
"I know that!" He turned on me, which is what I had wanted him to do. Wufei looked too shaken to handle Quatre like this. "I left and they assured me that I was the target! Obviously they were wrong! Why weren't they watching?" He was blazing with anger. "I said that Trowa might be in danger because of me and no one listened!"
"I'm listening, Quatre." I reassured him and turned to Wufei. "Is there a guard on the room?"
"Yes. And only Sally and her staff are being allowed in. She says that he should wake up in a few hours. The bullet damaged his lung, but Sally says it wasn't too bad." Wufei relaxed a bit as the fire in Quatre's eyes faded.
"What about you?" I gestured to his sleeve.
"I'm fine." Quatre reached out and pushed up the sleeve of Wufei's shirt. A bandage was wrapped around his upper arm.
"What happened?" Quatre's eyes narrowed.
"I got hit too. Not as bad- went right through."
"So whoever this was shot both at of you?" Duo got to his feet. "Why?"
"He's after the gundam pilots." Lady Une entered the room, a group of Preventers on her heels. "We got a communication from the assassin. He wants you all dead." She delivered this news flatly, as if the killer had invited us all to tea.
"Where is it?" I asked. A familiar figure detached herself from the group behind Lady Une. She had a slip of paper in her hand.
"It's good to see you Heero," Hilde said with her cheerful smile.
"It's good to see you..." I started before Duo interrupted me.
"Hilde, what are you doing here?" Duo exploded. "It's not safe!"
"I'm a Preventer too, Duo!" She shot back, not intimidated in the slightest. It shouldn't have surprised me. Of course she wouldn't let Duo join without her. I ran my eyes over her figure, noting the faint curve of her stomach with a pang. No wonder Duo was worried. Hell, it made me worried!
"You're not supposed to be on jobs like this! You're supposed to be on bodyguard duty!" Duo was furious.
"She is on bodyguard duty," another soft familiar voice spoke up, and Relena stepped forward, Zechs on her heels. They were also in Preventers uniforms and the group of Preventers with Une was explained. They were shielding Relena. Another thought occurred to me- Zechs's old friend from Oz who joined as his partner must've been Hilde. Now why hadn't Duo said that the first time?
"Why are YOU here?" Duo scolded Relena.
"She has every right to visit her friends in the hospital Duo!" Hilde snapped back.
"I'm perfectly safe," Relena chimed in, sounding tart. Good gods, I groaned mentally, this could go on forever! Stubborn idiots.
"May I see the note, Hilde?" I asked politely, trying to sidetrack their argument. She turned to me, ignoring the irate Duo, and handed me the note.
"We received it about an hour ago."
The gundam pilots must pay for their sins. I will bring divine justice upon them.
"Great. So he's the left hand of God, is he?" I handed the note to Quatre after I scanned it.
"Divine justice?" Duo was reading over Quatre's shoulder. "Has he been hanging out with you Fei?" He asked teasingly. Wufei reddened, but before I could step in, our peacekeeper did it for me.
"Duo," Relena chided, "Wufei would not hurt his friends!" Duo subsided, but I couldn't help my snort. Relena glared at me and Wufei turned redder. A silence fell on the room for a moment and Wufei took a step towards me.
"Yuy- I never- I meant to-"
"Save it, Chang." I said to him. "It was war and we weren't friends."
"Heero!" Relena snapped.
"It's the truth," Wufei stopped her before she could rant. "It was war and we weren't friends."
"Then," I added and saw Wufei relax. I took the note back from Quatre and turned to Hilde.
"Did you get anything off of it?" I asked her.
"Nothing- completely clean."
"Why does he call himself the Wizard?" Quatre bit his lip as he posed the question. "Do you think he was a scientist or something?"
"Maybe he wants to magically get rid of us," Duo suggested.
"Maybe it was his code name during the war." Relena tried.
"I never heard of a 'Wizard'" Zechs said.
"Neither have I," Une was frowning. "He might have been in the Alliance..." I looked at the note again and it clicked. I started chuckling.
"What?" Quatre scowled at me.
"I got it." I replied, the old movie I had watched a few months ago running through my head. "He's a former Ozzie."
"I just said..." Une started and I waved a hand at her, cutting her off.
"Trust me. He's from Oz. That is obvious from the note. The question is how far do we have to travel on the yellow brick road to find him?" They all stared at me for a moment.
"Heero, no offense, but have you gone insane?" Duo asked me in a conversational tone.
"No." I handed the note back to Hilde. "'The Wizard' is a movie reference. Specifically, 'The Wizard of Oz', a very old movie."
"The Wizard of Oz?" Une blinked at me. "Is it a war movie?" I nearly laughed again.
"Not even close. It's a fantasy. A little girl goes to a magical country called Oz and tries to find her way home again." I hid my grin. I shouldn't really tell her how she had reminded me of the wicked witch of the west in the film.
"That sounds- bizarre." Lady Une was still frowning.
"You should see it, my lady." I looked out the window at the crowd of reporters below. "Right now I'm reminded of the flying monkeys. That's quite a crowd out there." Relena joined me at the window.
"Do you want me to go talk to them?" She asked timidly. "I could create a diversion and you all could slip out." I looked at her, her words sending a little ripple into my head. A diversion...
"No!" Duo snapped, his eyes back on Hilde. "Do you want him remembering that you helped us? Or that some of the Oz officers are working with us now?" A plan had surfaced in my mind and I felt a feral smile form. I turned to Relena and lifted her hand up to my lips.
"Thank you, Relena," I said to her as I brushed a kiss over back of her hand. "You have just given me the most wonderful idea." She blinked nervously at me.
"Relena is not going to be a diversion!" Duo turned on me.
"Of course she isn't." I answered him coolly. "She is going to go back home, with her bodyguards."
"What are you planning?" Lady Une asked me, her frown gone.
"Wufei and Sally should stay here with Trowa until he can be moved," I answered her. "They have the most med training. Quatre and Duo should go back to my house."
"I'm not leaving Trowa!" Quatre snapped at me.
"You have to," I replied. "We can't leave all the pilots in one place. Trowa will recover better knowing that you are safe." Quatre opened his mouth. "It's only for a little bit, Quatre." I tried to reassure him.
"What are you going to be doing while we hide?" Wufei demanded. I gestured to the window.
"The Wizard targeted Quatre first because he's the most visible out of all of us former pilots. I'm going to change that."
"You're going to make yourself the target?" Hilde asked with a slight smile. "That might work."
"It will work," I smiled back at her. She nodded her agreement as Quatre and Duo exploded.
"You can't!" "I'll do it!" I took a deep breath.
"I am and you won't." I glared back at them. "You are still his first target, Quatre, and you need Duo as your backup. Fei and Trowa are injured. I am the logical choice." Quatre closed his mouth, but Duo was still fuming. I left the room. It was time to go off and see the wizard.
Running footsteps pursued me down the hall. It was no less than I had expected. I hit the elevator button. Hands landed on my shoulders and I turned around to face an angry Duo. Before he could say anything I pulled my keys out of my pocket.
"Keys to the jeep and the house." I took his hand and dropped the keys into it. "If anything happens to me, the house and everything else are yours. My lawyer's name is in my files- contact him. Everything's already set." Duo blinked at me. "And try to find a good home for Val?"
"Heero," he got his composure back. "You can't do this alone."
"I'll be fine." I gave him a small smile. "I'm the Perfect Soldier remember?" The elevator chimed behind me and I practically threw myself in it. "Make sure Quatre stays safe. I'm trusting you, Duo!" The doors closed before he could reply.
The reporters were jumping on anyone leaving the hospital. All I needed to do was mention that I had been visiting my fellow pilot and I was jumped on immediately. I easily admitted that I was in fact, the infamous Pilot 01.
"Is someone targeting the pilots?"
"Are you bringing the gundams back?"
"Do you feel guilty for killing so many people?" Ah ha. Now this was unexpected. I turned towards the last questioner, a man in a dark coat, a hat pulled low over his forehead. The eyes that glinted at me were sharp with anger. Unusual for a reporter.
"I don't know if someone is targeting the pilots, no we aren't bringing the gundams back, and no, I don't. It was war. Oz chose to fight me."
The odd reporter's lips twisted in a snarl. Bingo. I had to admire his audacity- hiding out with the reporters. Now all I had to do was get him to chase me.
Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, I thought ferally.
"How is Mr. Barton?"
"Is Mr. Winner here?"
"Don't you think you brought this on yourselves?" Whew- watch it mister- even the other reporters are looking shocked at your tone. Don't want to give yourself away this early.
"Mr. Barton is recovering well. No, Mr. Winner is not here. And no, I don't. This is obviously the work of a madman, out of touch with reality." I smiled for the rest of the reporters. "I really need to go. Thank you." I eased out of the crowd and walked down the street. A quick glance back confirmed what I had thought.
He was following me.
I turned into an alley some blocks from the hospital and waited. Sure enough, a minute later he appeared at the entryway. He paused when he saw I was waiting for him.
"Well, well, do you have another question for me?" I asked him. "Or are you delivering divine justice?"
"You know why I'm here," he growled and stepped further into the alleyway. He had his pistol out and ready, pointed at me.
"Ah- the Wizard I presume? Or just one of his flunkeys?"
"I am the Wizard," he proclaimed and I nearly laughed in his face. He was missing the smoke and floating head, but he had the pompous-ass tone down perfectly.
"And why are you after us?" I knew he'd tell me. They always want to. The flash of pain that flitted over his face surprised me.
"You killed him." The smarmy tone was gone.
"It's possible. I've killed a lot of people." I met his eyes evenly. "That's what happens in war. Who was he?"
"Steven," his voice ached with a pain I recognized when he said that name. "He was the pilot of an aries."
"Your lover?" I asked quietly.
"No," the pain flared up again. "It wasn't like that. He had a wife- I was just his friend. His best friend."
"But you loved him all the same." He was making it hard to hate him. It was hard to hate yourself. Wouldn't I have gone after someone who killed Duo?
"What do you know about it?" He snapped at me and the gun's safety clicked off.
"More than I want to," I told him tiredly. "Which battle did he die in?"
"He was stationed on the OZ Endurance." I nodded.
"It was me then. I took out that ship." He let out a soft breath. "I'm the one that's responsible." I looked into his eyes, seeing his fury and hurt. "Kill me and avenge him." Sheesh, I was turning into Relena.
"Aren't you going to fight back?"
"No. But- promise me something?" He looked startled. "After you kill me, leave the others alone. Your revenge will be complete. I'm sure Steven wouldn't want you to waste your whole life avenging him. He'd want you to live for him- wouldn't he?"
"He would," the man's lips turned up slightly, then he shook his head, grip tightening on the gun. "Are you trying to stall me?"
"No." I closed my eyes for a moment, knowing what I had to do. It was easy to call the Perfect Soldier to the surface totally. I opened my eyes and gave the man my coldest look. "Go ahead. I'm the one that killed your friend. He probably died screaming- in agony as that aries blew up around him- a lot of them screamed as they died-" The gun went off, repeatedly. I was on my knees before I knew it, my body collapsing.
I felt cold. I looked down, seeing my blood run over my shirt and down my jeans from multiple places. He'd emptied the damn gun into me. I looked up at my killer, his eyes wide, his gun shaking in his hands.
"Thank you," I managed.
"What?!" He was looking startled, shaky and altogether not well. I almost laughed. I wasn't feeling altogether well either.
"You need to go. Get away while you can."
"Why? Why did you let me do this?" He dropped the gun, reaching out his hands to me.
"I'm tired of being alone," I told him as the blackness swirled up behind my eyes.
[part 4] [part 6] [back to Merula's fic]