by: Shoori

The Beginning's End + Part 14

I drum my fingers impatiently on the table, waiting for the others to get here. It seems that I spend most of my time waiting for other people to arrive at wherever they're supposed to be. I've gotten used to waiting for Maxwell and Yuy, but this time even Quatre is missing. It irritates me.

Actually, I'm already irritated. I don't see why we need to have another of these interminable meetings before we leave, but Une insists. She claims that we have to be certain that we have covered the logistics of all phases of the operation before we embark

We're going to XV7889. We will refuel there, and use that place as a base to commence the attack on XV7870. All of our suits will be able to make it at least as XV7889, and we are going to evacuate the civilians and send them back to this base in our carrier.

We plan to wait until the carrier has returned to actually attack XV7870, but it's not imperative. If Barton wants to attack first, we'll be more than ready to meet him.

Truthfully, all the logistical problems have been solved much more easily than I expected. We can't be sure, but it seems likely that Trowa did at least some damage on his way out, and he did deprive Barton of the Gundam, which both work to better our strategical position considerably.

I don't expect the battle to take long. Quatre has planned our strategy. We will surround the colony. We will destroy the forces that attempt to protect it. We will isolate Barton and we will kill him. It all seems pretty straightforward to me.

I suppose I can't really argue with Une's desire to make a thorough check of everything, though. We have all been rather preoccupied for the last three days.

The last three days. Three days since Trowa unaccountably, miraculously appeared at the base. Three days since we discovered exactly what his ploy to buy the world time had cost him. Three days since I discovered what it is to hate.

I should say rediscovered, probably. For I have hated before.

I hated Treize Kushrenada.

I hated him. But…

Treize manipulated the emotions and desires of a fifteen-year-old boy to appease his own desires, his own needs for satisfaction and for power and control over those close to him. It took me many years to realize that he was himself a prisoner of those desires, that those hungers were so deep and so uncontrollable, despite his veneer of sophisticated authority, that had he lived, they would ultimately have destroyed him from within. The worst part is that he knew it, hence his efforts to find for himself a great and glorious way to die young, before he was devoured by his own cravings.

I thought at one time that what I had done with Treize, or what he had done to me, was the most shameful of all things. I believed myself weak, and unworthy, for having experienced it.

He was my enemy, and I was his. Yet I went to his bed. Unwillingly, at first. Despite my opposition, though, and to my great shame, my body responded to him, overcoming my will to defy him. In time, I came when he called, fighting no more, obeying his summons despite my overwhelming wish to refuse.

The sheer carnality of our - relationship? Association? Mutual vendetta? - was something that I was completely unprepared for. I could no more resist it than I could accept it. And so the more I struggled the more surely I was caught in the snare, and the more I hated Treize.

And the more I loved him.

I loved him because I hated him, hated him because I loved him. And the knowledge that I loved him, despite everything, shamed me even more than what we did together. But Treize…Treize was in some ways a pitiable figure. He loved me. And so he sought to bind me to him in the only way he knew how. He believed that if I could not resist him sexually, I would need him in every way. So he learned to know my body better than I did, brought me pleasure that I could not refuse. And so I hated him. But I sensed his need, and loved him.

However, I will never forgive him. I will never forgive him for taking me the way he did. For using me the way he did. For making me hate him, making me love him…making me kill him.

He did that on purpose. He needed to ensure himself the noble death that he yearned to die. And he needed to die at my hands. He needed to be killed by a Gundam pilot - the last victim of a force that came into existence because of him. He needed to atone for all that he had done to me, to show me his love. And he needed me to kill him so that he could be sure that he would own me forever. He knew that my feelings for him were as twisted and unclear as were his for me. He knew that I had wished him dead many times. And he believed that my killing him would ensure that somehow, he would always be with me.

In a way, he was right. He will always be a part of me. But I remember him to remind myself that, usually, those who seem the most evil are striking out at others only to hide from who they are themselves. Treize knew and despised the sickness in himself, sought to hide it in fancy manners and showy clothes and flowery fragrances, but ultimately he couldn't escape it.

I suppose that it was fitting that I, who knew the evil that was inside him, was the one to destroy it. He even thanked me for it, called me his friend as he died. I had saved him. I gave him his noble and glorious death.

He didn't destroy me. He could have. He almost did. I spent years running from him, and from myself. I eventually found my way to Quatre, who helped me to see Treize for what he was and helped me to rediscover myself. I don't particularly like the vision of myself as a hapless pawn in the hands of a twisted man, but it's better than what I believed before - that I was as twisted as he, and had invited and encouraged that treatment.

Slowly, I am coming to accept what happened all those years ago. I am coming to a point where I can find peace with the past.

But I can't imagine what would happen if that past were suddenly to reappear before me. I don't know how I would bear it if Treize were suddenly alive again, calling me again, wrapping me again in that prison that I believed I had escaped.

That's what happened to Trowa. And worse. Treize never felt the need to inflict physical harm on anyone - he sought to control through the emotions. In his own bizarre way he loved me, and everything he did was a test to see if I could return that emotion despite his machinations. He tried to offer love, but went about it in a way which perverted that emotion into something horrible.

Barton, though, felt no such conflicted emotions for Trowa. From what I can surmise, at one point in the past he used Trowa as a toy, an object to appease his need to hurt and destroy. Treize's evil was born of a need for love. Barton's evil, though, is intrinsic to him. He needs to hurt people. He gains his pleasure from the pain of others, and many years ago, when Trowa was a defenseless boy, Barton gained pleasure from his pain. And then he came back from the dead, when Trowa believed that he was finally free, and he did it again.

I feel the rage that I've been trying to contain for the past three days explode in me again. He did it again. He made Trowa into an object, a plaything to use, damage and destroy according to his whim. He beat him, he raped him, he tried to break his spirit and mind - just as he had tried to do years ago.

And Trowa knew - he knew - what would happen if he allowed himself to fall into Barton's hands again. But he let it happen anyway. He let it to happen to save us. Then he allowed himself to be tortured, and wouldn't let himself die, to save us. He defied death and endured what must have been an excruciatingly painful journey, to save us.

And what have we done for him?

I close my eyes, trying to keep myself from completing the thought, but it's there anyway. We let him suffer.

I despise my own weakness, that I didn't go stop his torment.

It was fear that kept me from doing so.

Not fear that I would be injured. If my own safety were the only issue, nothing could have stopped me from going to rescue him.

But I feared that any move on my part would definitely lead his captors to execute him. I was afraid that my interference would certainly mean his death. I didn't want to lose the hope that maybe he would someday come back. And I didn't want his death on my hands.

So, to keep my conscience clean, to keep alive my hopes that he might return to us, I let him live, let him be hurt and tortured, let him suffer.

I let it happen, because I wasn't strong enough to face the idea of again killing someone I loved.

But I will atone, Trowa. I will not let the one who hurt you go unpunished.

This time, his death will last forever.

I promise.

The door bangs open suddenly, and the others all filter through into the room. Startled out of my reverie, I'm unable to mask the rage that I feel. I stare at them, the anger and helplessness and the burning need for revenge that's churning inside me clearly visible on my face.

But I see no surprise, or disgust or recrimination. I see my feelings reflected.

Quatre's aqua eyes - usually so loving, so expressive - are cold, promising as they meet mine that he will willingly help me rain consequence down upon the one who has dared to so injure Trowa.

Heero's eyes burn with anger - as I stare into them I feel the fire of my own rage grow hotter, fueled by the flames of his. He will not rest until Barton has felt pain equal to and surpassing that which he has caused our teammate.

Duo…I actually feel myself shudder. I stare into Duo's violet eyes, and Death stares back at me. During the war he called himself Shinigami, but I always thought of it as an affectation, or as a brand by which he frightened his enemies. Now though…Now I see. Quatre and Heero and I will bring Barton suffering and consequence and pain. But Duo…Duo will be his death.

I feel a surge of satisfaction. That is justice.

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I ease the door open carefully, and move silently through the dimly lit room to the side of the bed. I stop, glancing up at the monitors hanging from the ceiling. They beep faintly, and the sound and the steady green patterns assure me that Trowa's still alive, that he's breathing, that he's safe.

I lower myself into the chair by his bed. I've spent a lot of time in this chair over the past few days, just staring at him, willing him to hang on, keep fighting, stay alive.

And now I'm going to leave him alone.

I wince at the guilt that thought provokes. I have to go. We need to defeat Barton, to be sure that his evil is not polluting the world any more.

I feel my mouth twist in a wry grimace. Ok, so I'm not really that concerned about protecting the world from Barton. I just want to kill him. He deserves to be dead, and I'm going to make sure he gets what he deserves.

So I have to leave. We have to go, have to do this before Trowa wakes up. He'd try to come too, I know he would. He'd try to help, and he'd get killed.

I just got him back. I couldn't stand it if I lost him again.

I stand up and lean over him, gently brushing his hair off his cheek. He's lying on his stomach, of course, so I can only see one side of his face. He's still so pale, so gaunt. He looks so defenseless.

It makes me a little nervous, actually. Trowa's always been so strong, so capable, so collected. Seeing him like this is messing with my view of the universe. I don't like it.

At the same time, it makes me feel…protective. Noone will hurt this fragility again, if I have anything to say about it.

I run my fingers through his hair as I bend down and lightly kiss his cheek. "I love you, Trowa," I whisper. "I'll be back soon."

He doesn't move, doesn't stir. He doesn't hear me.

I sigh, and straighten up. I can't delay any longer. The army is taking off now.

I hear a faint sound from the door of the room, and whirl to see the doctor that took care of Trowa - Rushton? - standing in the open doorway.

I relax, even managing a faint smile.

"He's doing well, Mr. Maxwell," the doctor tells me, sensing my worry and not wasting time on pleasantries.

"Duo," I correct. "How much longer will he be unconscious?" I ask. I wish he was awake, though I know that it's good he isn't. I want to see his eyes, assure myself that he's still inside that body that lays so limply and so still in this sterile hospital bed.

The doctor shrugs. "We can't keep him out too much longer," he explains. "It wouldn't be good for him. We'll start decreasing the drugs soon, and wait for him to wake on his own."

I nod. "Can you wait five days?" I ask.

He frowns. "Why five days?"

"That's when the last relay will have left for XV7889. I don't want him awake before all of the transports have left from this base."

The doctor raises a faint brow at me. I chuckle.

"You've never seen him awake, doc, but you're going to have a bear on your hands. He's going to be pissed off that we went without him. You'll have a hard time keeping him in bed, and if there were still transports taking off, he'd get on one."

"Mr. Max…Duo…I knew I said he was doing well, but he's not going to be in any shape to be fighting battles…"

"I know," I interrupt. "But try telling him that."

The doctor stares at me for a minute, then nods. "I'll make sure he doesn't wake up until the last transport is gone."

"Thanks," I say sincerely, smiling at the doctor. I reach into my pocket and pull out an envelope, which I hand to the other man. "After he wakes up and has his temper tantrum, can you give him this?"

Dr. Rushton takes the envelope. "I will," he promises.

I nod my thanks, and turn back to the bed for a moment. I reach down, and run one finger along Trowa's cheek. "I'll be back soon," I promise silently.

I turn and walk purposefully away from the bed, moving to pass the doctor. He reaches out and grabs my arm.

"Be careful," he says meaningfully. "I don't want to be patching you up like him."

I smile, but this time the expression isn't pleasant. "Don't waste your worry on me, doc," I advise. "Save it for the guy I'm going after."

Barton.

I hope you're ready.

I'm coming for you.

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[cont]