Author: pyrzm
Summary: The G-Boys hang tough in a world that's turned against them.

03+04, 01+02.

Lost Souls + Chapter 11
World Gone to Shit

Trowa and Heero had stockpiled provisions during their time in Mexico. Trowa took off for space in his stolen shuttle with enough supplies to hide out for at least a month.

He'd been lucky in his choice. The military shuttle had state-of-the-art communications capabilities and a kick ass onboard computer. He opened a secure channel, setting it to the secret frequency Heero always used. He wasn't expecting him to contact him, but felt better anyway. He turned the volume up and made sure any message would go to all speakers around the ship.

As soon as he was airborne he set in an autopilot course for L-3 and jacked his own laptop into the computer link up, scanning the OZ military channels for word of Quatre and the others. At last he found a news vid from Singapore. From the perspective and lurching movement, it must have been shot by a suit-mounted camera. There was unsteady footage of Sandrock and Maxwell's black suit fighting hard. At one point they seemed beaten, but then Chang showed up and it looked like they were going to make it out. Chang was a fearsome warrior. He chewed through Leos like they were made of tinfoil, but numbers were against him and the other two looked almost tapped out.

Trowa's heart sank as he watched Quatre take up a defensive position, covering the other two as they disappeared into the silo, then took off. Sandrock stood firm, firing furiously at the advancing OZ troops then. After a few minutes of this, clearly out of ammo, it raised its shield and walked slowly toward the enemy. Even over the din of battle, Trowa made out the distinctive throb of the self detonate alarm.

"No!" he gasped, his worst fears confirmed.

The vid feed ended in a brilliant blast of white light as the Gundam exploded. Trowa quickly replayed the last few moments, looking desperately for any sign that Quatre had somehow gotten out, but there was no sign of it.

He froze the last frame before the explosion and sat there, staring numbly at it. Quatre had stayed. He'd sacrificed himself for the others. He'd died alone, so bravely.

Trowa's eyes felt hot and dry. No tears came.

He sat there for a long time, his mind blank, overwhelmed, unable to structure any thought. At last, not knowing what else to do, he floated back to stow his gear in the small sleeping cabin. The world had taken on an odd clarity. Small details of his surroundings stood out, capturing his attention, even as he felt the pain building in his heart.

His predecessor had installed a decent entertainment system with a collection of games and porn vids . . .

// Quatre is gone. //

Unfortunately for Trowa, the guy had been straight and vanilla in his tastes . . .

//I left him in Siberia. I could have been with him! Should have been with him at the end!//

The guy's choice in music sucked, too . . .

// I want-I want- //


but the games looked good . . .

He wanted another chance.

Somehow, he found himself back in the cockpit. There was work to do, a war to be fought. He was a soldier, only a soldier,

// I don't think it's all you are //


and soldiers acted.

He scanned the channels again and hacked into OZ central communications, but found no sign of the other pilots, although there was a lot of chatter. It looked like they'd gotten away clean.

He sat and stared some more, still numb, still overcome by that surreal sensation. Slowly, a new thought surfaced. Heero. He needed to contact Heero.

They'd set up encrypted email addresses a while ago, choosing each other's screen names for easier memorization and establishing a simple code. TO: Stonewal1@blindnet.net

FROM: GrnIZ@blindnet.net

Blue skies. Freefall. Good luck.

In this way he let Heero know that he was currently safe and at large, at an undisclosed location.

A few minutes later a reply came.

TO: GrnIZ@blindnet.net.

FROM: Stonewal1@blindnet.net

Blue skies here. Heading for the hangar. Good luck.

Trowa let out a small sigh of relief. Heero was still safe and headed for L-1. It helped somehow, this brief contact. He wasn't sure why, but it did. He stared at the screen, wondering if he should tell Heero about Quatre, or if he already knew. Or if he'd even care. In the end, he didn't have the heart for it. He was about to shut down the link and search the shuttle for booze when a new message prompt popped up.

It was from Dr. S, with files attached. He ran it through the encryption program and carefully read the brief message.

"04: Bold move. Well done. My capture seems immanent so this may be the last time you hear from me. Mission assignment: Infiltrate Vayeate/Mercurius project. Deep cover, any means necessary. Repeat, any means necessary. Intelligence attached. After that, you are on your own. Suggest you combine efforts with any surviving pilots. Good luck. S."

"Mission accepted," Trowa muttered, then opened the files and scanned quickly through them. It looked like OZ was working on two new suit designs at a secret lunar base. They had some unusual capabilities, including serious defensive shields. From what he could tell, either one would be a threat to the Gundams. Between this and the Taurus mobile doll project, it looked like OZ, for all their talk of peace, were preparing to put down any resistance with an iron fist.

He had no appetite but forced down a protein shake, then lay in his bunk and turned on a vid, letting the sound and images wash over him, blocking out thought. Growing restless, he turned the cabin upside down but found no alcohol or drugs to kill the dull, persistent ache in his chest. He put in another vid, not caring what it was, hardly hearing the cheap music and moaning. Somehow, he fell asleep.

The proximity sensors woke him as he neared his destination. He rubbed his face, pushing away any thought of anything other than the mission at hand and went to the cockpit. In the distance he could see the shining silver ring of L-3 colony, bright against the backdrop of space. He realized his own stupidity: he hadn't altered his course when he'd learned of S's capture. Oh well, he was here now, and there'd been no sign of challenge. If he was attacked there wasn't much he could do about it in this little crate.

He made a wide circuit and touched down on a remote section of the hull, far from any access ports. He'd be safe for a little while here, hopefully long enough to digest S's files and come up with a plan.

He still wasn't hungry, but drank another protein shake and washed it down with a liter of water. He checked his email, but there were no messages. He was about to go investigate the music situation again when the channel set to Heero's com frequency crackled to life.

The voice coming over the speakers was faint but unmistakable. "This is Quatre-- Quatre speaking. To all of my good friends who have returned to outer space, let us work together to protect the colonies." A faint hiss followed. The channel was still open.

"Quatre! Quatre, it's Trowa! Do you copy?" But the com signal indicated that Quatre's radio was set only to send, not receive. Trowa listened tensely for a several minutes, willing Quatre to say more, but nothing came. He left the channel open while he replayed the message and triangulated the coordinates. He was somewhere behind Trowa, beyond the moon. He sounded very tired, but he was alive!

Something glittered in front of Trowa's face, catching the light from the com panel; his own tears, welling up at last. Thanking a god he didn't believe in, Trowa covered his face and wept a long time in pure relief. It made no sense, he told himself, struggling to regain control of himself. They'd only met twice, but until this moment, he'd felt like part of himself had died in that explosion. It was tempting to just throw everything aside and fly back to those coordinates, but Quatre hadn't asked for help and for now they were all probably safer on their own. Once again, duty won out over desire. He turned on the scrubbers to clear the air of his tears, blew his nose, and got back to work. He kept that channel open and ran video feeds from a dozen or more news sources constantly for the next two days. He lived in the pilot's chair, researching the lunar base where the new suits were being built and watching for news of his friends and the others. There was still nothing on Heero or Quatre, but Chang made an unsuccessful attack on the OZ space fortress, narrowly escaping.

And then there were the confused reports on Zechs Merquise. There had been some sort of incident after they'd all left Antarctica. The military channels were silent but thanks to his good looks and mysterious mask, Zechs was the darling of the mainstream media. Some reports claimed he'd been killed in a firefight at sea. Others suggested he'd defected or deserted. Whatever the truth was, he was out of the game.

Trowa didn't have much of an opinion either way, but smiled a little, remembering the way the man had treated them at the Barclay base. He even allowed himself some time with his pants down, jerking off remembering the feeling of that mouth on his cock, and those hands roaming his body and stroking his hair. Regardless of his politics, the man had been intriguing, not to mention multi-talented. If he had really defected, Trowa wished him well. Thinking of Zechs, recalling that hair, those eyes, the sound of that deep, cultured voice saying his name, Trowa came almost as good as he had then. He laughed out loud at the way jiz floated in perfect pearly orbs in zero g. It was sort of beautiful, and much easier to clean up.

He actually felt pretty good after that, until the following day when news broke that a Gundam pilot had been captured near Colony C1002. He watched intently, not wishing bad luck on anyone, but hoping it wasn't 01 or 04.

The initial footage showed part of a battle. Trowa instantly recognized Maxwell's black Gundam. None of the others were with him. 02 had put up one hell of a fight, but without support he was no match for the new Taurus suits and mobile dolls the enemy had thrown at him.

The reporter spouted the same anti-Gundam rhetoric Trowa had heard before. He shook his head, wondering at their blindness. Didn't the colonists realize the Gundams were their best hope for freedom?

The next footage showed an angry crowd screaming and waving their fists at the damaged Gundam as it was driven through the streets of the colony. Then came live footage of Maxwell being dragged into custody. He appeared to be unconscious, or badly hurt. His eyes were closed and he had a bandage across the bridge of his nose. He looked so small and young like that, compared to the two burly OZ soldiers who had him by the arms According to the newscaster, his name remained unknown.

This was bad. Very bad. Why the hell had 02 let himself get taken? Why was his suit still in one piece, more or less, and in enemy hands?

Heero was closer to that base than Trowa was. Trowa fired off an email.

"Bird 2 down."

Heero must have been watching, too, because the reply came in less than a minute.

"I'm on it."

Trowa acknowledged the message and sat back with a sigh. He had the impression that Heero and Maxwell had been friends, even though Heero had never actually come out and said so. But Trowa had sensed something whenever Heero had mentioned him. For a moment he pondered contacting him and offering to take over. After all, Trowa didn't know Maxwell. It would be easy for him to pull the trigger when the time came.

Trowa stared down at Heero's curt response. If he'd been in Heero's place and that was Quatre or Heero in custody he would do the same, or so he told himself. He studied a still of Maxwell. Yes, he'd been worked over already. It was a shame, really. He was a good looking kid and had been one hell of a fighter. Chances were he'd been with Quatre on Earth for a while, maybe even been his friend.

Trowa rubbed his hands over his face again. Fuck. No one ever said war was easy.

Leaving the matter to Heero, he turned back to the Vayeate documentation.

+

Heero scowled as he watched the vid of Maxwell. There was no choice to be made, no room for doubt. Once again Maxwell had made a mess that Heero must clean up. Just like in Finland. Only this time the solution was a foregone conclusion. Maxwell was being held on C1002 and had already been physically compromised. Rescue was not an option; Heero had no illusions about his own chances of getting out again once he was in. But that wasn't a factor.

He stowed away in the freight compartment of an inter colony shuttle and infiltrated the base within six hours of hearing the news. He wondered if 02 could hold out that long under interrogation, or if he was still alive. The story had dropped off the news almost immediately, shielded by military security. OZ was not gentle in their methods. Heero wondered how much Maxwell could take. As brash and off hand as he acted, however, Heero just couldn't picture him breaking. Not this soon.

Heero only had to kill a couple of dozen guards to get to Maxwell's cell. He checked his ammo level and opened the door. He already had the safety off.

Duo was slumped against the far wall. There were no lights in his cell and he blinked in the sudden glare from the corridor. Even so, he managed a grin.

"What a surprise! Hey, Heero. You really are superhuman."

He was badly injured. His face was swollen, both eyes were black and he was holding his abdomen in a way that spoke of internal injuries.

Heero raised the gun and took careful aim; one clean, painless shot between the eyes and it was over. He was doing him a favor.

Duo stood slowly. "Just in time. They were about to use me and Deathscythe for some more propaganda. If I'm gonna die, I'd rather it was you." Pulling himself up to attention, he closed his eyes. "Go right ahead. Shoot me."

Heero didn't waver. The gun was poised for a single lethal shot. Yet somehow, he couldn't quite pull the trigger.

Duo's eyes flashed open. "Hey, you're really gonna do it!"

"If that's what you want," Heero growled, but looking into those wide violet eyes, he knew he couldn't. More disgusted with himself than Duo, he tossed him his gun. "You're right hand still works, right?"

"Yeah."

He grabbed one of the dead guard's machine guns, then went over to Duo. Pulling the wounded boy's left arm around his neck and wrapping an arm around Duo's skinny waist, he half carried, half dragged him out of the cell. "This is getting to be a bad habit, 02."

"So where's your Gundam?"

"I left it on Earth. It would stick out too much here in space and I'd get caught. Like you did," he added pointedly.

"Well excuse me! So how do you plan on getting us out of here, anyway?" Duo demanded.

"I came here to kill you," Heero growled. "I hadn't planned on needing an escape plan."

"And if we don't make it?"

"Then it's as simple as silencing the two of us."

Of course, he had made some plans for the trip out. Taking out an electronic detonator, he set off the charges he'd planted all the way from the freight dock to the cells. As chaos broke out, he went to a barred doorway, bent the bars and dragged Duo through to the deserted corridor beyond, heading for the mobile suit hangar level.

Staggering along beside him, Duo actually managed a laugh between pained groans. "It's always the quiet ones who do things the flashiest way!"

Slumped on the floor of the elevator on the way up to the hangar, Duo filled him in quickly on his capture and the failure of his self-detonation unit. Knowing the details, Heero felt better somehow. It hadn't really been Duo's fault, but an equipment problem.

"Those suits that brought you down were mobile dolls," he told him, offering a bit of comfort. "Once they lock onto you, there's no escaping."

"Then how are we going to get away?" Duo demanded.

Heero glanced down at him and shook his head. "I'm not planning to escape."

Those eyes widened again. "What?!"

There was no time to explain. The elevator reached the hangar level and armed men were waiting for them. Heero handed Duo another detonator and returned fire. Duo pressed the button and the charges Heero had planted here went off, mowing down the enemy and clearing the way to the hangar bay.

Once there, the two boys looked around at the ranks of evil looking black Taurus suits.

"Mobile dolls," Duo said, shaking his head weakly. "War by wire. No pilot means no pain, no blood, no conscience."

"That's right, and a computer speed reflex time."

"A computer brain, eh?" Duo glanced around and discovered the control room empty. "That gives me an idea. Can you get me to a terminal?"

Heero helped him to the closest one and they looked over the controls. Duo scrolled through the command files, then let out an dark chuckle. "Bingo. The 'set target' command. The thing to remember about computers is that they only know what we tell 'em."

Heero saw what he was getting at. "Not bad. Let's do it."

It was an amazingly simple matter to set the target prompt to "Leo suit." Heero launched an empty suit into space and the Taurus activated and followed. As they'd hoped, when manned Leos appeared to contain the attack, the Taurus dolls decimated them.

"Hot damn. It worked! I'm tellin' ya, Heero. I'm just not ready to die yet," Duo gasped happily, holding his side.

"OK, then let's try this." Heero set the attack mode for "pressure suit", using one hanging on the wall as a scan model. By the time the real controllers showed up, wearing those same pressure suits, he and Duo were already gone in a stolen shuttle, which was not on the Taurus's radar at all. The sounds of heavy fire inside the hangar sped them on their way.

Once they were safely away, Duo let down his mask. It was clear he was in considerable pain. "Damn, I can't stand leaving Scythe behind with those bastards!"

"It doesn't matter now," Heero told him, floating him back to the cargo hold and folding down one of the cots bolted to the wall. He strapped Duo in, then found the ship's med kit and gave him some painkillers.

"Where are we headed?" Duo whispered, fighting to stay conscious.

"The OZ lunar base. The scientists who designed the Gundams are being held there. OZ has somehow coerced them into working on two new suits, the Vayeate and the Mercurius."

"And you're going to liberate them?"

"Not feasible. I'm going to eliminate them. It's the only logical course of action."

"Jesus Heero! You and killing!" Duo groaned, then struggled against the straps. Then he was fighting for breath and coughing out blood. The spherical red droplets floated out around them, some bursting against Heero's face and the front of his pressure suit.

"Let me up!" Duo gasped. "Can't stand being held down-- I'm choking!"

"We're weightless, Duo," Heero reminded him.

"Let me up! Please!" Duo gagged, then coughed some more, wracked with pain.

Heero saw the panic in those wide eyes now, a look that hadn't been there before, not even when he was pointing a gun at him.

Relenting, he undid the straps and pulled Duo upright. Duo curled in a ball, braid floating up behind his back. "Man, I don't feel so good," he rasped out. "Maybe you shoulda shot me after all."

"Probably. But you did have the bright idea of reprogramming the Tauruses."

"Yeah, that was pretty good, wasn't it?" Duo let out another bloody cough, then closed his eyes. "Fuck I'm cold! Why is it so damn cold . . ." His voice trailed off and he went limp as the last of the adrenaline that had carried him this far gave out and shock finally overcame him.

Having brought Duo this far, it seemed wasteful to let him die now. That's what Heero's training was telling him. Deep down inside, he felt something else, something that he'd managed to smother and ignore until now. He didn't want Duo to die.

He found a blanket strapped under the cot and wrapped Duo in it, then floated him back to the cockpit and belted in, holding Duo awkwardly on his lap.

"Where we headed?" Duo mumbled, wrapping a hand around Heero's chest belt. "Gonna go kill J now . . ."

"You need medical attention. I'm taking you to L-1. There's a group of resistance fighters there, and some of them are doctors. You'll be safe with them."

"No! Gotta go with you . ." Duo muttered.

"In the shape you're in, you'd just be in the way," Heero replied bluntly.

"Mmphf! Guess I will need some time to heal up." Duo's eyes fluttered open as he fought a losing battle to stay conscious. "OK. Whatever you say, 'ro . . ."

Heero programmed in the course, working around the bundle of unconscious boy in his arms. Duo's braid writhed against his cheek and he grabbed. He'd taken his gloves off and the feel of that silky hair under his fingers, together with Duo's familiar, still slightly unwashed smell, brought back a rush of memories, things he tried damn hard not to think about since that strange night in Finland. Having Duo asleep in his arms again, wrapped in a blanket and wounded, it was almost like a flashback. Only this time he hadn't tried to . . .

An odd pain filled Heero. It wasn't physical, nothing he could explain. A deep sadness came with it and he was surprised to feel a telltale prickle behind his eyelids. He didn't cry. He'd been trained not to cry, or care about anything but accomplishing his goals. But once again he'd broken training, gone against his own mission, and once again, it was because of Duo Maxwell. Duo, the only person who had the power to make Heero wish so vainly that his life had been something other than it was.

He was still holding Duo's braid, he realized, and told himself it was just to keep the damn thing from floating around. But that didn't explain what possessed him to stroke Duo's bangs back from his bruised forehead with his other hand to see that little pink scar at the hairline. And it didn't explain why Heero suddenly wanted to kiss him.

++

**Author's comments:

Whew! Covered some ground with that one! As I said before, I'm 1) assuming that the majority of readers are familiar with the events of the series and 2) that you're anxious to get to that "first time" scene and don't want me to go into every intricate detail of the action between here and there. Feedback welcome regarding this (or anything, of course!) Too much so far? Too little?

To anyone who thinks it's odd that Trowa would be weeping for Quatre in one scene and go "remembering" Zechs with his pants around his knees in the next, that was intentional. He is, as Quatre later states, an odd, complex guy, especially when it comes to matters of the heart and body. Trowa simply wouldn't see it as a contradiction, especially at this stage in his life.

And, on a completely different note, in case you haven't seen the series in a while, check out the opening scenes of Ep. 19 in which Howard recruits a maskless, out of uniform, rather tousled Zechs. Reminds me all over again of why Wufei fell so hard! *g* And I take the following detail as further canon proof that Zechs is gay: When he goes out on deck with Howard to look at the Tallgeese, he rolls the sleeves of his (red!) tee shirt back, no doubt to avoid getting a "farmer's tan" (i.e. pale shoulders, brown arms). No straight guy would care. *GG*

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