Perfection Breakdown- a GW fanfics- by masamune

Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing and probably never will.

Warnings: Yaoi and a little angst in this part

Archive: Available for anyone to archive, just e-mail me and I'll send you any of the earlier parts too.

Part 10

"Right behind you! He's right behind you!"

The Shenlong swirled around and with a quick swipe slashed through an oncoming Aries. The beam sliced cleanly through the metal as if it had been paper and the Aries burst into flame. The mobile suit hurtled to the Earth but exploded midway, disappearing into a nova of fire as the Shenlong turned away.

"You don't need to watch my back," Wufei said over the intercom. "Worry about yourself Winner, I'm a good enough pilot to survive on my own."

Quatre could only bite his lip at the stinging answer. Looking around he saw sections of woodlands ablaze from the battle that had just taken place. Small patches of flame seemed to litter the scene. Once mobile suits and human pilots, now they were nothing but ravaging fire that consumed the trees and brush as if acting in angry vengeance for their deaths. The minute squadron of Aries and Leos had attacked just before midday and although it had been an easy battle Quatre was still unsure of himself.

/OZ knows where we are/ He told himself. /Why do they keep on sending just small squads? There's only two active Gundams, why don't they just throw their bulk at us and annihilate us? Do they have something up their sleeves?/ With a sad shake of his head Quatre glanced at one of the many small screens in Sandrock's cockpit. /Seventeen dead… was there any real need for them to die? Iie, nothing is more important than life… seventeen dead… seventeen?/

A glimmer sparkled on his radar and Quatre's head snapped up. "Wufei! Watch out!" Screaming, as his instinct took over, he gripped the control sticks tightly. His sympathy was quickly washed away by fear and tension. Sandrock hurtled one of its curved swords through the air. Wufei didn't have a chance to react as the immense blade flew just over his Gundam's shoulder and into an advancing Leo, beam saber still drawn as it burst into an explosion of waste.

"We have to learn to work together," Quatre spoke gently but the Chinese noble could recognize how important it was to Quatre, there was a certain hint of passion in the Arab's voice. "A person can only do so much on their own, but if we work together we're much stronger."

"Ch'!" Wufei spat indignantly, but knew that Quatre was correct. They had to work together. "…maybe you do have a point Winner…" He eventually agreed. "Fine, I'll try it your way for a little while, but teamwork can never outmatch power and strength."

"You don't need to do everything on your own, nobody's expecting that from you," Quatre answered, pulling off his pilot goggles. "There are five of us for a reason, we must work together."

"Four," Wufei replied, bowing his head sadly, "There's four of us now that Duo's betrayed us. He's working for OZ now, that's obvious, how else could all they keep finding our locations? It's never happened before until now."

"I…" Quatre faltered, he didn't know what to say in response.

/Duo betrayed us to OZ… I still can't believe that, there has to be something more to it. Four of us left… maybe less…maybe only Wufei and I/ Quatre frowned and a wave of sadness washed over him as he thought about Heero and Trowa. All the signs and evidence led to the fact that more than likely he'd never see either of them again. When Wufei had returned there was no news of them. Nobody had heard for them since the botched mission. Even Abdul and Auda's attempt to locate them in the OZ base had failed…

/More than likely… they're dead…/

"…and that's how it happened!" Duo wound up his fantastic story of how Maxim had guarded him at the base and finally helped him escape. He had told Heero and Trowa everything from the night of the attack up through the early morning drive to the house where they currently sat. He had, however, left out the part about Maxim almost killing Wufei.

The three Gundam pilots and the former OZ gunman sat around the cramped kitchen table. When Duo had come upon his two partners and Maxim, all with guns drawn to each other's heads he had panicked at first but quickly gotten the situation under control.

"…I heard your panic signal go off and I thought for sure you and Wufei would be dead," Trowa recalled the fateful night's events with a slight shiver. He'd been deathly afraid for his friends' lives.

Duo flashed his award-winning smile, shrugged his shoulders and laughed, "You should know by now that nothing's ever going to kill Shinigami!"

"What about him?" Heero spoke up, throwing his gaze at Maxim. The two veteran soldiers had been silent the whole time and had only regarded each other with wary glances.

"What about him?" Duo echoed back, not catching on to Heero's words.

"What are we going to do with him?" Heero answered, his voice stone cold. "I don't think we can trust him, not at all. For all we know he could still be working for OZ. He jeopardizes the Gundams and our mission."

"Maxim's no spy!" Duo exploded immediately, rising up from his chair quickly. "He risked his life for me! He took care of me and helped me escape from OZ! There's no way he could be working for them!"

Trowa raised an eyebrow warily; he'd caught something in Duo's tone that showed there was more to his defense of Maxim then just those facts. Either way he didn't like the direction the conversation was taking. From potential shooting crisis, to joyous reunion, to suspicion and anger.

"You don't know that," Heero replied to Duo's outburst in a calm manner. "There's no way you know why he's with you. It is highly possible that he's just using you to…"

"I'm not using Duo for anything!" Maxim broke into the conversation suddenly, cutting off Heero and keeping his light red eyes looked on the Asian boy's. "Not all people are heartless and evil. Not everyone in the world would take advantage of others for personal needs. I wouldn't ever take advantage of Duo or harm him in any way."

Heero's eyes narrowed and the tension thickened in the room as Maxim's red stare seemed to burrow into the Perfect Soldier; the Wing pilot's unnerved cobalt flickered back with equal intensity. It was like a gray sky before the storm broke. And then Maxim turned away, his eyes resting finally on Duo, who was about as speechless as anyone had ever seen him.

"If you don't mind handing over your gun to us and letting us search you, I have no problem with you staying here," Trowa said, turning all three pairs of eyes on him.

"Trowa…" Heero said softy. "But..." He began to protest.

"If Duo trusts him," Trowa said firmly, "it doesn't mean that I trust him; but, I do trust Duo's judgment on this. After all, he knows this stranger better than we do." He looked at his braided comrade for a moment and then switched his gaze to the OZ sniper.

"You can trust him!" Duo spoke up before Heero could get in a word. "He risked his life for me, and…" His voice faltered and Duo didn't know whether or not to continue and say what he felt.

/Should I tell them?/ He questioned himself, glancing at Heero and Trowa. /How could I tell them that I'm in love with a guy? Will they just think I'm some messed up queer? I don't want them to hate me, but I don't want to hide my feelings either…/

"I don't want to cause a great big scene," Cooly, Maxim took the pressure off of Duo, causing the boy to breathe a sigh of relief. "There is no way I can make you trust me, you can never trust anybody fully. However, there's also a certain thing called giving a man a chance to prove himself. I agree to whatever terms you'd like," He addressed Trowa, putting his silver pistol on the kitchen table.

Duo noticed Trowa nod his head in agreement but Heero made no such gesture to show that his dislike of the situation was gone or even waning. Trowa stood up and his chair scraped across the floor.

Still with his calm demeanor Trowa addressed Maxim, "Come with me, I'll check you for anymore weapons now, if you don't mind."

Maxim followed Trowa off to the bathroom and left the room intensely quiet, yet thick with an air of wariness and tension that wouldn't go away. Heero seemed to be deep in thought, completely ignoring Duo and staring down at the kitchen floor.

/What a happy reunion THIS is!/ Duo sarcastically thought. /You'd think they'd be happy that I'm alive and even helped gain an ally. I wonder though… why would Heero and Trowa still be all the way the hell out here in the middle of nowhere? It's been almost two weeks since the mission blew over, and it looks like they've just been here all this time. Maybe I should ask Heero, or will he just bite my head off?/

He looked at Heero, who was still deep in thought, his arms folded across his chest. After a minute, Duo decided to risk the question. "So what've you two been doing out here all alone in the woods for the past two weeks?" Duo said the question in an innocent manner, hoping Heero would take it as one of his normal, 'annoying', urges to end periods of silence. Heero looked up at Duo, his cobalt eyes crackling, obviously unhappy to have been broken from his concentration.

"I was sick," Heero said simply. Then he immediately turned away from his braided partner, the action filling Duo with sadness and reminiscence of days not long past.

/He doesn't seem to have changed one bit at all/ Duo decided to himself. /Stoic, impassive, it's like he never was taught what emotions are. I don't know what in the world I could have ever seen in him… Iie! I can't think like that now! I'm with Maxim now, I love him, he loves me…I…/

"Duo?" Heero's voice came unexpectedly. "I'm sorry that I didn't trust you earlier, but I just want to avoid any future conflicts with OZ. I…" His voice broke and Duo saw a the unmistakable impression of pain flash through Heero's eyes. "I don't want to fight anymore, not right now… I don't, I don't know if I could kill anyone…even if they were an enemy."

/Heero was a second away from killing Maxim just a few minutes ago. How can he say that he can't bring himself to kill now? Why is he saying something like that?/

Duo let all of his thoughts roll away; they'd be answered in time. But Heero's actions and words were something that made even Shinigami frown. The normally stoic soldier was not acting like himself at all. For a moment Duo was motionless, unsure of what to say or do next. He'd only tried to console Heero in mock sympathy in the past; Heero never really needed things like that…

"Heero… What's wrong?" Genuinely concerned now, Duo thought that Heero was looking close to tears.

Heero looked up from the floor, his cobalt eyes consumed by sadness and pain. His brown bangs fell in a mess over his forehead, only slightly shading his face. Duo had never seen his friend so emotional and upset.

"I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry," Heero said finally, the words spillign out in a rush of words like water being released after its been dammed up for a long time. "I'm sorry for how poorly I always treated you, how nasty I was. I thought you were dead…I…I was scared, for you, for everyone. You're a great person, I need to tell you that, at least once. … Gomen, I'm babbling. I'll just be quiet now."

/This isn't the Heero Yuy I know…apologizing? I never thought I'd live to hear that/ Even though he was being cynical, Duo knew something inside Heero had changed.

Heero's cobalt eyes were fixed on the floor. Thoughts were tumbling over in his mind endlessly, more questions forming than he could possibly answer. He didn't want to make a fool out of himself in front of Duo, his heartfelt apology a quivering mumble of idiocy. Why would Duo even accept an apology after all the terrible treatment Heero had made him suffer? Forgiveness is a thing made in time, there was no reason to prostrate himself now, it would take time…

"I forgive you Heero," Duo said, his voice made Heero's head snap up.

Duo smiled and noticed that Heero would not make eye contact with him. Even despite the confidence that Heero was comforted by his words, Duo felt that he had done the right thing. One thing he didn't want on his conscience was Heero's pain.

"You can't do anything about the past," Duo tried to provide a little solace for his afflicted friend. "Don't get bent out of shape by it. Change what you want and keep on living."

"I hope you don't mind," Trowa said calmly as he checked Maxim's groin region for weapons. "I just have to make sure you aren't carrying anything."

/Just wish you'd be a little more gentle…/ Maxim thought bitterly to himself. /I can't stand being searched like this, it's such a blatant violation of one's body… but at least this guy keeps it professional/

The two experienced soldiers were cramped in the tiny bathroom, the only real concealed place in the miniscule house. Maxim had his hands on the firm rim of the sink, his legs spread wide apart. Trowa had begun the search without a word, more of a mutual understanding between them. Not a word had been spoken between them.

"What's your real reason for helping Duo?" Trowa broke the silence, an awkward first.

"What do you mean?" Maxim asked in response, shifting so that Trowa could more easily gain access to his arms. "Duo explained to you just earlier didn't he?"

The returned look in the Heavyarms pilot's eyes spoke for Trowa. As he finished patting down Maxim, the former OZ soldier noticed the icy, suspicious stare he was receiving from Trowa through the mirror. After a short time more the search was finished and Trowa let Maxim turn around.

"You don't trust me do you?" Maxim asked, keeping calm, not wanting to start a conflict with what seemed to be his new partners. The two just stood still, measuring each other up and then Maxim asked, "Where are you from?"

The change of subject didn't throw Trowa for a second. "Don't try that, it won't work."

"Then what do you want?" Maxim snapped back, his limit being tested. "You know my story, you searched me. What else do you want from me?" His intense red eyes flickered like a fire as he spoke, his anger directed at the silent clown standing calmly in front of him. "You want to hear me say that the real reason I'm here is to turn you over to OZ, ne? You want me to tell you that I'm planning to betray Duo and send him back to OZ so they can kill him? That's not the way it is."

"Why did you help him?" Trowa repeated his earlier question, his demeanor still stoic and calm.

"Did you ever do something so illogical just because you felt like you couldn't live another day if you did otherwise?" Was Maxim's reply, making Trowa's features soften momentarily. "I don't know if you can relate, but people sometimes need to do crazy stuff just to help someone they really care about, even if it's something they've never done and that goes against everything they've ever known."

/The real reason I helped Duo is because when I found out he was scheduled to be executed I felt like I couldn't lose him/ Maxim was thinking to himself, the truth smoldering him and increasing his urge to simply confess all. /There doesn't need to be logic behind helping the one you love/

Trowa was caught up in his own thoughts, so much had happened since the fateful mission, he'd fallen in love for the first time in his life and Heero had even fallen for him. The grief of failing the mission and of possibly losing two comrades and friends had quickly been dwarfed by the pressing need to take care of Heero, at the time, nothing else mattered.

"I have another question," Said Trowa, his voice still calm and flat, but with a softer look on his gamin face. "Does OZ monitor radio waves in this area?"

"Nani?" Maxim replied instinctively, not having really heard the question, buried deep in his personal speculations. "Oh that… Iie, iie, not from this base. I know that they have rather sophisticated radar but they don't monitor radio transmissions at the base."

"Good," Trowa nodded and spoke his thoughts aloud, "then it's time to contact the others."

He turned and unlocked the bathroom door, motioning for Maxim to follow him. The red eyed soldier complied and the two went back to the kitchen where Heero and Duo were.

-end part 10

Note: End part 10? End part 10! By the Gods I finally finished this part!!! **insane laughter**

But seriously, I am terribly, terribly sorry to all of the people that have been waiting for this part to come out. Sometimes life throws you a few curves and guess I got smacked upside the head by one… but anyway the reason this took so long was because for a long while I basically abandoned writing. It's a long story and whatnot but at least I'm back in action (though I'm not too sure if that's a good thing) and the next part shouldn't take nearly as long.

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