-1Chapter 21: What's left
My eyes were burning and everything I could see was smoke. Someone poked me into my arm.
"Here, have some water, Duo. Good for your throat and you can use it to clean your eyes."
I took the small water bottle I was offered but continued running all the while doing as I was told.
The battle on the roof had been surprising - luckily for OZ - not for me. I had some notions that Zen would kind of show up and pull of some stunt as he usually did when I had been in trouble. But when I dropped onto the roof and I could only think about how to last long enough to shoot the main crew - you couldn't even begin to comprehend what I felt when I saw all the familiar faces which suddenly appeared all around me. It was as if I was one of them again and then I just stopped thinking until we blasted the roof to hell.
Now we were running from the firewall behind us. The whole building was one giant torch. My lungs ached from the smoke I had inhaled but we couldn't stop until we had reached what Solo would call the rats nest.
When we finally reached our destination Zen pulled me aside for a short chat. He grinned and winked at me. A situation like that was normal for this crazy guy. Nothing Zen would loose his humor about. "You can thank me later for my gracious help when you and your buddies won the war for us."
I scowled at him. An image of 01 popped into my head. "I wouldn't exactly call us buddies…" I said with a sour expression.
But Zen only laughed. "Well, I really hope that brat was worth it."
I threw him a quick glance but didn't answer. The brat was my business.
Zen of course wasn't faced by my attitude. "Looks to me like the kid hit a soft spot somewhere in all your blackness." He poked me into the chest and I rolled my eyes.
"The kid is business." I stated firmly.
Zen let himself fall on some blankets. "Hm, still you let him keep your cross for safe keeping." He looked at me sharply. "Don't even argue, I saw it."
I started to feel uncomfortable. Somehow I didn't feel like talking about just why the hell I gave my cross to Kenji - the cross I hadn't taken off since …- since a very long time. I still didn't know why I had done it anyway.
Zen looked directly at me now. "You're getting attached. Be careful. Kids don't tend to live long in a war as far as I know."
"He's not a kid." I saw Zen's eyes narrowing. 'Damn, I shouldn't have said that.'
"That's why I'm warning you."
We looked at each other for a long time. Zen knew what was going on. Of course he knew. He wouldn't have helped me save Kenji otherwise. The blonde knew that the small boy was in reality a valuable pilot to fight OZ.
I sighed rubbing my temples. I needed sleep, a headache was coming on.
I looked up at the serious tone to be greeted by an equally serious expression.
"Yuy and Kenji are one and the same person. Sooner or later Yuy'll be back. Don't get yourself too attached. 01 is nothing like Kenji. You will have to work with him to win the war. Don't make the mistake to loose yourself into hate when Yuy will be back. Kenji is of the past and we need Yuy to pilot Wing. The current situation is only temporary."
"I know. I hadn't planned on befriending the kid. I knew very well that Yuy might still be lurking in there but I cannot just look away when a kid needs help or comfort. You know me. I'm not like Yuy. I don't live for the greater deed. Every single one action leading to the end of the war counts. The end not always justifies the means. That's why I cannot work with Yuy. I just don't like the guy. He would sacrifice L2 without batting an eyelash if it would help that little Earth princess or his mentor's plans. The other pilots aren't any different. Well, maybe not Wu Fei but he has this whole honor and revenge thing going on. He's unstoppable when he thinks it'll bring back honor to his dead clan. Quatre is from an all out different world. Full with politics and strategies I do not give a damn fuck about. And then there is Trowa, a mercenary, I doubt he would care if one of us would go to hell. He doesn't seem to be connected to anybody."
I got myself really worked up about the other pilots and I realized that I might have been too harsh with them but I was missing my gang on L2 so badly, it really hurt to work in a close group and miles were still separating you anyway. I plummeted across from Zen on the dirty ground, holding my head in my hands. Life just wasn't fair. And the war had only just started.
"I wish I didn't hide in G's ship that one day. I wish it had been someone else." I mumbled quietly. "I never asked to be a pilot and fight in the damn war."
Zen's hand came up to caress my hair and I was grateful for him being there. It was so different from when I felt upset in the safehouses. I never had an outlet when I was down and I got everybody so worked up with my nervousness that I often provoked them with my behavior.
L2 was different with its endless streets and junk - one big playground for a street kid like me. Call me crazy but I missed my old home and all its street inhabitants. I hated it to be hold up in a safe house. Only in space I felt remotely free.
"I still believe it was a good thing that G found you that one day. Your talent and spirit is wasted here. Use it for the better and don't let yourself blind by hate. Yuy is only human. It's not his fault that his elders had turned the kid in such a cold stoic person."
I nodded. Still I couldn't help but feeling utter distaste against the Wing pilot. I didn't forgive or befriended people easily as soon as I hold a grudge against them.
We continued to sit silently for awhile until I got restless. It was getting late and it was time to leave. I tried to reassure the older boy.
"Stop worrying, Zen. I don't think Solo told you to be my personal shrink." I winked at him and stood up. "I'm going to contact the other pilots for a rendezvous point. I'll be leaving as soon as I get the info."
Zen looked quizzically at me through his shaggy blonde bangs. "Who said something about worrying?" He smiled slightly. "Guess you don't need any help with getting off the colony…" I was already walking out of the room and waving to him over my shoulder. "Nah, thanks. Guess I owe you enough as it is." I grinned when I heard him chuckling.
It wasn't very hard to find a transmitter when you knew your way around on L2. In half an hour I had Quatre on the self-made phone. "Hey blondie. Hope you guys are safe and sound." I grinned when I heard Quatre's huge sigh of relief over the crackling in the line.
"God, you really are unbelievable. I don't believe you made it out of there alive. It was just like in a movie. Suddenly the place was swamped by those strange people. I thought- Hey, what are you-"
I frowned at the commotion on the other side. "Guys? What are you doing?"
I knew what had transpired as soon as I heard Wu Fei practically yelling into the phone. "You are one crazy idiot. What kind of stunt was that? Are you attempting to get yourself killed at least once a day?" Wu Fei breathed heavily into the phone.
"Oh, how sweet. I didn't know you cared."
"Don't overdo it! We are a team of five and only together we could even assume to stand a chance against OZ."
"You mean four and a half." I interrupted him with a crazy grin on my lips. I had missed talking to the other pilot. I could imagine how Wu Fei would take a deep breath getting ready to start another tirade. But obviously someone thought differently.
A shy voice called my name into the phone. "Duo?" I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the kid's voice on the phone. I didn't really realize just how worked up I've been about Kenji in danger. I knew he was safe with the guys now but it still felt good to hear his sweet little voice.
"Hey kiddo. I hope you're being a good little boy. Don't wreck too much havoc. Not everybody has such great nerves as I have."
Now Kenji was giggling with Wu Fei still grumbling in the background. "I'll be a good boy, Duo." I smiled hearing his sincerity. His next question threw me a bit off guard. "Will you still be my friend when you come back?"
I could clearly hear the worry in his voice. I was baffled; I have to admit that I felt touched that I was that important to the little guy. "Don't worry kid. You are probably the closest being to a friend I had for the longest time. You are carrying my cross, right!"
Kenji was quiet for awhile. Probably fingering the cross I had just mentioned. I still didn't get what came over me when I gave him my cross. It was extremely important to me. My only link to my past. "Okay. Goodbye, Duo."
I didn't get a chance to comment because Wu Fei was back on the phone. "Duo, I have to tell you something. The others thought it best to wait until you were back but-"
"Hold it, Wu Fei. Is Kenji, ok? He just got all serious on me."
"What! Ah, he seems a bit stressed since he's got back, keeps to himself. Probably the repercussions of the latest events. But listen this is rather important-"
"Gah, Wu Fei, can't it wait until I'm back? I have to go now. See ya in a while." I proceeded to hang up on the poor Chinese. Wu Fei was a great guy but when he went into lecture mode it was best to shut him up as soon as possible. Getting my things together it only took me a moment, and then I was off to find a way off the colony.
The travel to our new hiding point had transpired without any troubles. I had a small pack slung over my shoulder while I hiked up the way to the spot where our safe house was supposed to be. I was looking forward to see Kenji and the others again. Zen was right I had indeed been getting attached to the kid and the others as well. They were my new gang and even if it would never be like on L2 I had to live with them. If I really thought about it, it wasn't even that bad.
When I came onto the clearing I could see Quatre who was sitting on the porch talking to Trowa. Wu Fei was on the lawn practicing a round of katas.
"Hey guys. Here I am. The hero of the day." I laughed at their surprised faces.
"Duo!" Quatre jumped up and jogged over to greet me. "It's good to see that you are still in one piece." I embraced him and clapped him on the back when my eyes stopped short on another shadow inside the house which was momentarily lingering behind the mosquito-netted double door. A shadow of a young man. I didn't realize that I stopped breathing when the door opened. Everything was in slow motion when Quatre stepped back to see my frozen expression and Trowa turned to look at what I was staring.
The door opened and closed.
I closed my eyes and I opened them.
The picture before my eyes was still the same.
Heero Yuy. Fifteen once again. With my cross dangling from his neck.
And then I was already lunging at him. "What are you doing with my cross, you bastard! Give it back this instant!" I had Yuy under me on the porch. I think I was pretty much strangling him with the effort I tried to get my precious cross off his filthy neck.
I couldn't think rationally. Everything was just screaming at me how wrong it was. Yuy with my cross. Impossible.
"Duo. Stop it. You're chocking him." Quatre was yelling from far away at me. Suddenly I was being hold back by Wu Fei and Yuy got up from where I had thrown him onto the porch. That asshole was still looking strangely at me - touching my cross all the time. He probably did it just to rile me. Suddenly he came closer and stared coldly at me with hard blue eyes. He took off the cross and threw it against my chest.
"Liar." He spat at me before turning and walking back into the house.
When Wu Fei let me go I practically flew to the ground to pick up my fallen cross, fingering and rubbing my cross like crazy as to clean it from his presence. The feel of the cross calmed me down enough to think rationally again. Realization hit me like a bucket of cold water. Yuy was back that meant Kenji was gone. Forever. Changed back into that asshole what was probably enjoying the horrified look I had plastered on my face right now. I felt tears gathering in my eyes and I pressed my index finger and thumb into my eyes to help the pain that I felt building up behind my eyes.
I felt Wu Fei coming up behind me while I sat hunched over on the ground. He squeezed my shoulder. "I tried to tell you but…" He sounded helpless and I shook my head.
It wasn't his fault. I was dumb enough to get attached to the little bugger even though I knew he would only be there temporary. That in reality Kenji was Heero Yuy.
I felt eyes on me and I knew instantly that Yuy was watching this little display of a breakdown. Right in this moment I hated the other boy with every fiber of my being. He had taken away the only person in the world I had come to care for more than a comrade. No matter how irrationally it was to blame Yuy for the situation. I didn't care, I felt empty, furious and embarrassed that my emotions went through with me like that over someone like Yuy.
Looking up and seeing Quatre's confused glances and Trowa's calculating look, I got up. I could see that Yuy was still watching me from the window but I didn't care what he was thinking about me right now. All I knew was that I needed to be alone right now. I went to sit on that big stone in the backyard. While wallowing in my own misery, I heard slowly approaching footsteps as to avoid scaring me away. Looked like Wu Fei was still nervous about my mood.
"I hate you." I spat out when the steps stopped. I knew I was being childish and unfair. I now knew what he had tried to tell me on the phone. "Why didn't you wait? Why did you take him without my knowledge to J? I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye." That was what I regretted the most. I had always thought I'd get to say goodbye. So I could be prepared to be confronted with Kenji's older self again. And that was even stranger. Kenji was Yuy and Yuy Kenji. The world was cruel. How could such a sweet kid turn into such a cold bastard? But that didn't matter now anymore. Yuy was back. He had killed Kenji with his mere presence.
The anger felt so unbearable, I snapped when the one behind me touched my shoulder blade. In a mere second I turned and swung my fist. It was caught in a strong hold and my eyes widened slightly when I stared once again in those familiar blue eyes. It pained me to see those eyes now glazed with coldness. Right now they bored questioningly into mine and I gritted my teeth. What was Yuy thinking? Couldn't he just stay away from me? But of course he had to rub things in. He was probably just here to make fun of me and my sentiments for a child that was long since dead.
"You." I spat out. "Isn't it enough that you got your body back? I don't want to see his eyes with the expression of a cold bastard."
Yuy's lips only curled and he snarled right back. "Well, I can only advise you to better accept the fact that I am Kenji. That we are one and the same person."
"Liar! You are a liar. You are nothing like him."
"You are calling me a liar?" Heero Yuy looked at me like I was crazy. "You are calling me a liar?" Yuy was almost whispering with a voice that could have cut steel. The hairs on my back stood on end but I didn't give way. "If I remember correctly you were the one who said that we would still be friends when you come back."
As soon as the words left his mouth all the blood drained from my face. His blue eyes were still piercing into my own shocked eyes and if I didn't know it any better he looked hurt. His hand let my fist go and my arm fell weakly to my side. I tried to form words but all my thoughts were jumbled in my mind. "How…how could you know that?" I already knew the answer but I think I just had to cut deeper into my own flesh. Yuy tilted his head to one side and his eyes flashed at me. My world was reeling. My headache returned full force and my body rebelled against the overexertion of the last days.
"You seem to forget Duo that I am Kenji. I do remember. You said you would still be my friend. But you lied. You don't deserve to be anybodies friend if you cannot even uphold a simple promise. And here I thought you were different. Thought that I knew you better than that but I guess all you will ever be to me will be one ignorant little street rat."
With that the Japanese turned and almost flew from the scene. His words had been bitter and hateful. Never had Yuy said anything comparable. The Japanese boy had admitted that he remembered. At least his last day as Kenji. Who knew how much more did he remember? How couldn't he have given them a sign that he was still lurking in Kenji's mind? I had told him a lot of things about myself. I felt utterly betrayed. Even if Yuy hasn't ever been my friend, I felt like a friend had ratted me out on a secret. But instead of trying to hunt him down and make sure he stayed quiet, I just felt numb. Numb and cold. I sank to the ground and clutched my cross as I curled up like when I was a small kid.
To be continued….
A/N: Sorry that I could not write a proper end. This is only the end of the first part. (Some of you might remember that it was planned out as a trilogy.) I do not know when I will continue writing. But after a review from one of my longest readers I decided to make an epilogue which will either appear at the end of this story or stand alone. Anyway it will clear some things up between Duo and Heero and show how they will come to terms with some things which will eventually even lead to real friendship. I hope this is satisfactory enough for you until I will get on with the next part.