The Beginning's End + Part 5 (cont)

Une watched the suit out of sight, then turned and walked back into her office. She sat in her chair, her eyes narrowed contemplatively.

After a moment, she pulled the phone toward her, picked it up and dialed.

"Yes, this is Commander Une of the Preventers. I need to speak to Mr. Winner at once."

She paused. "It is an emergency, Rashid. Patch me through to wherever he is."

_____________________________________

"Yes. You did? Good thinking. Yes, we'll follow him right away. What? No, we'll take my plane. Yes, it's fast enough. Thank you, Lady Une."

I hang up the phone and stare at Wufei, knowing that the consternation I feel is apparent on my face.

"What's wrong?" he asks intently.

"That was Une. Heero just came in and took an Aries suit."

Wufei chokes on the breath he was inhaling. "He what?"

"He took a suit. Threatened to fire her if he didn't get it."

Wufei sputters. "He can't do that!" he protests.

"I know that, and Une does, and Heero does too. But most people don't and he was going to take advantage of that," I explain grimly.

"Where in the name of sanity is he going?" Wufei bellows.

I bite my lip. "Une said he told her he was going ‘back to the end.'"

Wufei growls in frustration, his hand tugging at his hair. "That's specific," he grumbles. "What's the latitude for ‘the end?'" His words are sarcastic, but I can tell from the worry in his eyes that he's got the implications.

"She said he was acting very strangely," I report absently. I'm starting to feel ill. The roiling in my stomach could be caused by worry for Heero, or…"

I look up sharply, and Trowa is standing in the doorway. "Trowa! What are you…" I falter to a halt as he continues to stare at me; I realize he's probably heard most of the conversation.

"Do you have any idea where he's gone?" he asks calmly, sounding for all the world like Heero's just late for lunch.

"Uh…Commander Une was able to put a tracking device on him," I manage lamely. "She's going to patch the signal through to my plane, so we can follow him."

He nods briefly, then turns. "I'll be ready in a minute," he says.

"What? Where are you going? I mean, you want to…"

He turns to look at me again, his green eyes utterly emotionless. "He's not getting out of it this easily," he says very quietly. "I won't let him."

Then he's gone, and I turn back to Wufei. I have to repress a smile at the look on his face - he looks utterly confused.

"Is Barton going to fight Yuy after all?" he asks.

I shake my head. "I don't think so, Fei-chan," I tell him, unable to keep the smile out of my voice.

"Then why does he care if he dies?" he asks. "I would think he would be glad - it would clear the way for…"

I sigh. "I think…I think he wants to keep him alive for Duo," I say unhappily.

Wufei frowns, then snorts inelegantly. That is the one habit I would really like to break him of. "He needs to…he needs to get a grip," he announces, looking rather pleased that he remembered the American expression of Duo's.

He's right, though. Trowa definitely needs to get a grip.

__________________________________________

I carefully manipulate the controls, bringing the machine gently down to earth. I hit the buttons in an automatically remembered sequence, and the suit shudders as the lights on the console fade off. I open the door, and once more allow myself to fall to earth.

I look around for a moment, not moving. It is…peaceful. Small trees are sprouting in many places, grass and moss and vines cover the exploded chunks of rock. I move about slowly. The piles of debris are hidden by the same coverings of greenery. I hear birds sing.

I shake my head in amazement. I remember the sounds, the explosions, the fire and the screams and the anger. But five short years have erased the most visible signs of the battle that raged here from the land. It seems that the land recovers more quickly than the people that walk it.

I walk on, until I come to the place I was looking for. A huge, square pit in the ground marks all that remains of Dekim Barton's impregnable stronghold. I stare down into the pit, remembering.

"You don't need him anymore, Heero," Duo says with finality, resting his hand on my shoulder.

I nod. He's right. I don't.

"Quatre and Trowa and I are taking Sandrock and Heavyarms and Deathscythe away," he says quietly. "Do you want to bring Wing…with them?"

I shake my head slowly. "No," I say. "I think…I think he'd rather stay here."

I continue to stare into the hole that holds the remains of Wing Zero. My Gundam. I reach into my shorts and pull out the box. I regard it for a moment, then set it on the edge of the precipice.

That box, and the activator in my hand, are all that I still have of Wing. I was able to remove them before he was laid to rest in the hole, and I have saved them all this time.

The self-destruct mechanism.

_____________________________________

"Are we close?" Duo asks. I hear the worry in his tone and try not to flinch. Since I turned my back on him when he entered the plane, he hasn't tried to approach me. I'm glad. I just wish I didn't have to hear his fear for Heero.

"Yes," Quatre tells him. "He seems to have stopped moving. We should be there any minute."

I stare out the window. Hopefully we will be in time. Duo must not suffer this.

______________________________________

Quatre brings the plane down in a smooth landing. As we all disembark, I see the huddled form of the deactivated Aries on the ground.

I rush forward, shouting for Heero. I'm aware that Trowa's right behind me, aware of what he must think. I'm probably hurting him again, fueling his suspicions about my feelings for Heero.

But the danger Heero is facing is more immediate. If…if anything happens, it is my fault. I didn't stop him from leaving yesterday, didn't contact him. I knew he was blaming himself for what happened, and I really didn't try all that hard to convince him it wasn't his fault. I was too wrapped up in my own misery to worry about his.

Heero is my friend. I was attracted to him when we were younger. Trowa was right in that. Then he married Relena, and I fell in love with Trowa. But I guess some of that feeling never went away, and when he offered me the opportunity….I was curious. It was irresponsible and foolish and wrong, but I was curious.

I love Trowa. But I love Heero as well. Maybe not in the same way, but they are not the same people. I don't see why loving one precludes loving the other.

But now, Heero could…God, I can't even think it. And it would be my fault.

I frown, trying to remember the lay of the area. Its been five years since I was here. I squint toward the West, trying to see through the glare of the setting sun.

"I think the compound was that way," Quatre calls, gesturing in the opposite direction.

We all turn to look where he is pointing. Its much darker over there, and the silhouette of a few trees stand out clearly against the twilight sky.

I nod, and we all begin to move toward the east…

…when a tremendous roar fills the air and we're all knocked to the ground by the force of the explosion that accompanies it. I look up, horrified, and stare transfixed at the rolling flames and shooting debris that now fill the entire skyline.

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