Summary: Three young men with hidden secrets and huge responsibilities. Two more that are equally burdened with the goals they've set for themselves. One headstrong young lady with plans of her own. And two others who find themselves smack in the middle of the action when all these forces come together by chance and luck, and try their new, unexpected alliance against the largest force of all.

Author's Notes: An AU, but set in the Gundam Wing universe, just before the actual series starts. There are Leos, but no Gundams yet. Each scene is put in there for a reason, even if sometimes it seems pointless. And, er, watch out for copious amounts of sap in the last bit. grimaces I left a lot open at the end, so don't expect all the loose ends to be tied up.

Pairings: 1x2, established 3x4, 6x13


Author's Note: Ahahaha I bet you're all surprised to see me updating so soon after the last chap, yes? Especially after all that business with updating every few months, and how lots of people have railed at how my stories seem to be decomposing. Not anymore! I am Turning Over A New Leaf. I will be a Good Responsible Author.

Ach, who am I kidding.

Just that this is the last chapter of the first part, so my brain was running along the lines of 'heck let's get it over with'. Er, enjoy?


Unexpected Alliances

Part Twelve


Duo woke up warm, even though he was naked and covered with only a thin blanket – wait. He groped blindly at the sheets, and what he felt was enough to make him blink open his eyes. A familiar sight greeted him – the black starry-night blanket from his room on board Quatre's ship, and his clothes lay at the foot of the bed. Grinning, he dressed and went to the toilet. Once he was done, he went back to the bed and began to fold the blankets.

He heard Heero come up behind him and turned to grin at the Japanese. "Hey, how long to L5?" he asked.

"Half an hour," Heero replied. "You slept a lot." He nodded at the blanket Duo was setting on the bed and said, "We docked with Quatre's ship for a while – he wanted to see you, and he was mad that I blocked all calls from outside for two days."

Duo choked. "Two days?" he repeated, looking at Heero wide-eyed. When the other boy nodded, he burst out into laughter. "Man, he must have been flaming pissed! Let that be a lesson – never mess with Quatre in his mother-hen mode!"

Heero shook his head, a hint of a smile tugging at his lips. "Yes, well, he brought you a change of clothes since yours were bloody, and that blanket."

"And your clothes as well," Duo noted, seeing Heero was dressed in clean clothes too. "Oh, yes – could you set the ship to the Sweepers channel as well as Quatre's?" He rattled off a number, and Heero nodded.

"I will." He hesitated, then, and that was when Duo realized he'd held one hand behind his back all this time.

"What is it, Hee-chan?" Duo asked curiously.

Heero bit his lip and thrust a piece of paper at Duo. "Here," he mumbled. "I couldn't do much with only one shade of pencil, and I don't even know if I've gotten them right, but… just take it, okay?"

Duo took the paper, blinking at Heero's hastily retreating back as the other boy disappeared past the wall that separated the living quarters from the pilot seats. "What's this about?" he muttered, confused, as he turned the paper over –

– and promptly sat heavily down on the bunk.

Father Maxwell and Sister Helen smiled up at him from the centre of the paper, their faces serene and full of love. An eight-year-old version of Duo, smiling a brilliant smile was to the front and in between the two, and upon each of his shoulders rested an adult hand, Father Maxwell's heavy grip and Sister Helen's slim fingers. Solo was squatting in front of him, one hand gripping Duo's braid, which hung over Duo's shoulder, and the other hand in a victory sign. His smile wasn't as wide as Duo's, but it was equally delighted.

And there was Nish, and Fidge, and Tommy, and Heck, and Bess and Fins and Chat and Luke and they were all posing in varying positions around the centre four, and each had a smile unique to them and them alone, but content and happy all the same. Their clothes weren't rags, but simple outfits that Duo could just imagine them wearing if they had lived in the church.

They were exactly as Duo had remembered them, and they were a family.

He realized he had tears pooling in his eyes, and he quickly set the paper on the bunk next to him, carefully, and then swiped at the moisture with his sleeve. He didn't even realize Heero was in front of him until a hand touched his shoulder. "Duo?" he heard Heero say fretfully. "I'm sorry, I thought it'd make you happy, I'll just throw it away – "

"NO!" Duo yelped, frantically waving his arms about and making Heero duck away. "No," he repeated, more calmly, the tears finally stopping and he blinked them away to grin at Heero so hard his cheeks hurt. "I can't thank you enough for that – it's what I've always wanted, though I didn't know I wanted it until just now – it's beautiful, and you're a damn brilliant artist – and thank you, thank you, thank you – "

Heero held up a hand, cheeks flushing red, and Duo felt himself go all gooey inside as Heero gave him another sweet, embarrassed smile. "I think I get it," he said teasingly.

"No, I don't think you do – there're no words to describe what I'm feeling right now!" Duo moaned as he looked at Heero – gorgeous, talented, sweet, caring Heero who'd come so far in such a damn short time, who was giving him that beautiful smile… and he realized suddenly that he was right, there were no words, and that feeling inside him had been building up ever since he'd met Heero, and now he couldn't contain it any longer or he'd cry again and he didn't want to cry, because even crying couldn't begin to express what he felt –

– and so he stood and tangled his fingers in Heero's hair and gently pulled Heero's head down even as he tilted his own face up, and his eyelids fluttered closed, and his lips brushed against an incredible softness, and even as he pulled slightly back, one hand cupped the back of his head and another rested in the small of his back and Heero drew them together and kissed him back.

Duo whimpered as Heero pressed a longer, lingering kiss to his lips, tongue flicking out to lap at them. He let Heero's tongue in, and then Heero was exploring his mouth, gently, claiming every surface, and he tasted like hot chocolate and smooth vanilla and that feeling you got when you woke up on a rainy storm-ridden morning cocooned under warm fluffy blankets with your lover snuggling up to you, and all was right with the world.

His knees buckled, but Heero's arms were there to support him, and the tongue slipped out from his mouth and lips pulled away and he whimpered at the loss. There was a chuckle, a rumbly sensation vibrating against his body, and Heero whispered, "Open your eyes, Duo."

He did, and blinked up into gorgeous blue. "Do you get it now?" he whispered back, mind half-hazy with pleasure, revelling in the feeling of being held. Then he yelped, coming back into focus as Heero swept him off his feet, ever careful of his wounds, and decided that the feeling of being carried and cradled was even better.

Heero sat down on Duo's bunk, Duo cradled on his lap, and enjoyed the kittenish way Duo curled up into him, face turned up to him trustingly. "I get it," he assured Duo, fighting a blush from his face. "I think… I think this might have been what I've broken my barriers down for. But I don't know… what this is. I've never done this before."

Duo blinked, and took a good look at Heero. He looked pleased, but confusion was there, and nervousness. Smiling, he caressed Heero's cheek with his knuckles as he looked into Heero's eyes. "Answer me truthfully, okay? I'll walk you through this step by step," he said softly. "Tell me, do you miss your control?"

Heero considered that. "No… my control isn't all gone. I think I can pull it out when I need to. But around you… around you, something's keeping me from hiding."

"Did you enjoy the kiss?" Duo asked, hand slipping from Heero's face to wrap both arms around his waist.

"Yes…"

"Why did you humour me all the times we've been together, and played silly games with us?"

"I… was attracted to you. I didn't want to disappoint you. I wanted to experience what 'fun' was."

"Okaaay. Why did you run after me when we first arrived on L2?"

"I was worried. You were upset, and I didn't want to see you upset."

"Why did you stay behind with me on L2 to hold the guys off?"

Heero stiffened, then glared down at Duo. "I couldn't leave you!" he said angrily.

"Whoa, cool it, Hee-chan!" Duo soothed, cupping Heero's face. "That's a good thing. It's just a question, I swear. I'm not going to leave – not when I've found you," he added, smiling cheekily. Heero relaxed as Duo's arms went back around him.

"Okay, er… why are you so concerned every time you see me injured?"

Heero frowned at the boy in his arms. "Isn't that obvious?" he asked, upset. "I don't want to see you hurting."

"I know, I know, just a few more silly questions, to reassure both of us, okay?" Duo said gently. Heero reluctantly nodded.

"Okay, rewind a little – that little episode back on the ship?"

Heero flushed, knowing exactly what Duo was referring to, and when his reply came, it was halting and embarrassed. "I – apologize, again, for… stepping out of line. I just – didn't like you paying special attention to Zechs. And when I thought of other people seeing you dressed like that, and maybe even touching you, I got – upset."

Duo grinned up at him. "So you were jealous!" Seeing the chagrined look on the otner boy's face as he slowly nodded, he added, "Don't be shy, Hee-chan – I like hearing you say things like that."

Heero looked doubtful. "Okay…"

"Right, so…" Duo took a deep breath. "Why did you let that – that man, that guard… die so slowly and in such pain?"

He was prepared for the tightening of Heero's arms, but even then he winced a little. Heero noticed, and immediately loosened his grip, but it was still tighter than before. "I… I just… I hated him so much in that moment," he blurted. "Seeing you about to be – violated… I was angry that he dared to such a thing to you, hurt that you were hurting, terrified that you were going to be taken away from me. I wanted to make him pay, dearly, because you – because you're precious, and meant to be treasured, and you're – you're mine."

Duo's smile was blinding, as Heero realized what he had just said and turned beet red. Light laughter filled the ship as Duo squeezed Heero lightly. "You can be so sweet without knowing it," Duo sighed happily. "Okay, one last question – what do you know about love?"

Heero tensed slightly. "Love?" he repeated, a disbelieving yet hopeful note in his voice.

"Yeah. Love. What do you know about it?"

"It's supposed to be – powerful. Overwhelming." Heero's brows furrowed as he tried to remember what he'd read about it. "It… overcomes all odds, and it feels like home. It makes you complete."

"And what do I feel like, Hee-chan? Here in your arms, or when you're kissing me?"

Duo watched as understanding slowly dawned on Heero's face, and he snuggled even further into Heero. "Lovers are two halves of a whole," he said dreamily, remembering tales spun by Sister Helen in front of a warm fire. "Love is friendship set on fire. When you love someone, you never want to let them go, and you want to be together for eternity. You might get jealous of others if your love pays attention to them, but you shouldn't, because if your love is strong you'd know that there's only one person your lover would ever dream of being with – you.

"You'd want to protect your lover, and make sure they never get hurt, or upset, and you'll comfort them when that happens. You want to be the only one they've ever been with, and you want to make love to them, and when you do you want to know that you're the only one to do this and forever will be the only one. You want to say silly things and do silly things that are supposed to be romantic, but just sound sappy, but neither of you will mind because it's you. You want to be yourself around your lover, and know that you'll be whole-heartedly loved for it. Though you know all your lover's faults, you still see them as perfect because of it."

He stopped there, feeling self-conscious and knowing that there was a blush on his face, but that feeling evaporated when he looked up to see Heero smiling that damn angel's smile at him. "I see you as perfect," Heero informed him. "Perfect even if you're stubborn and ornery at times."

"Hey!" Duo protested.

"Perfect and beautiful," Heero whispered, still smiling. "You're a friend and so much more, and I want to be with you forever, and never want to let you go, and though I know I'll get jealous sometimes I'll still trust you, and I want to protect you, and comfort you, and – and make love to you because you're irresistible and beautiful and I want to claim you as mine and let you claim me as yours. And I just said something sappy, but I don't mind because it's making you blush, and I know you don't mind because you're smiling, even with those tears in your eyes. I'm not only being myself around you, but it's because of you that I'm myself, and I want to discover my faults with you while you show me yours, and I'll embrace them all because it's you."

Duo closed his eyes and let the tears fall, feeling Heero gently wipe them away. "God, Heero… how can you say all that without feeling embarrassed?"

The Japanese teen shrugged. "Why should I be?"

He looked up at Heero incredulously. "Are you serious?"

Heero looked unsure. "Why would I not be?"

Duo blinked. Repeatedly. Then he laughed, and nuzzled Heero's neck. "I can't believe this. You're so damn innocent and sensitive that you know exactly what to say without feeling embarrassed over it," he chuckled. "And coming from someone like you… you're a mercenary for god's sake!"

"Should I be embarrassed to show how I feel?" Heero asked solemnly.

Duo shook his head. "It's just that most people are. They think it makes them sound silly."

"Oh. Do you want me to stop?"

"Hell no! I like it. Don't you dare stop, no matter what anyone says. Heero – I know we've known each other for only a short time, but I think what we have – I think I lo – "

"Hello? Anyone there? This is Howard from the L5 Scythe base… Hello – "

"Howie!" Duo cried as he flung himself into the co-pilot's seat, having run to the small cockpit of sorts once he'd heard the other man's voice. Heero took the pilot's seat next to him and typed in some commands, but the screen glowed green and flashed the words 'No video'.

"Kid? Oh, thank god – wait, oh, SHIT! No, get away now, kid!" came the panicked reply. "Please tell me there's someone else with you."

"I've a small two-person fighter, Trowa and someone else has one more, and Quatre has his ship," Duo replied quickly. "Howie, what? Why?"

"I don't want you to see this…"

"What?"

"Duo, we have two minutes left, you're – wait, let me check, five minutes away at the speed you're going now, and there's a freakin' asteroid field in between you and us. There's no way you can take on the field at any speed higher than this one, kid."

The braided boy froze, staring blankly out the glass into the glittering expanse of space and the minefield of asteroids in front of them. Then he said quietly, forcefully, "Heero, move."

"It's a damn asteroid field, Duo!"

"Yeah, he's right, whoever he is. Listen to him, kid."

"I'm not going to sit here and do nothing!" Duo snarled. "Yuy – "

"I'll pilot," Heero snapped.

"You're both crazy!"

"Shut up, Gramps." Duo's face was set as the two of them buckled in, and Duo put the radio on headphones and put the headphones on, and then Heero upped the speed and they shot forward, the force pressing them back into their speed.

"Howie, try to stall," he murmured into the mike, gripping onto his seat for dear life as Heero wrenched the controls to the left, then immediately to the right, throwing them painfully against their seats.

"Don't kid yourself, kid, just go back." Howard's voice was shaky and pleading.

"Ow. Too late," Duo muttered as his head slammed against the headrest when Heero suddenly braked, then accelerated them to their previous speed in a mere two seconds.

"Kid… look, we've got a file here, with our last words – give the stuff inside to whoever it's addressed to, 'kay?" Duo numbly keyed in the command to download the file, gritting his teeth as Heero wrenched them left, then up, then flipped them upside down.

"Kid, it's you don't need to see this. Just – "

"I need to, Howie. Don't try to persuade me. I have to."

"You were always a masochistic bastard," the older man muttered. "It was worth a try, anyway. Listen, if you want to feel bad about this, take defeating the Alliance bastards as a sort of atonement, alright? Though god knows there's nothing to atone for."

"You know me too well, Howie," he whispered as a rock clipped the side of the ship, jolting them.

"Yeah, you and your guilt complex. I want you to promise me one thing, though. Find someone to love, to settle down with. Forget Shinigami when the colonies and Earth all have peace, and enjoy. You deserve it, kid, more than any of us."

"You've done so much more, been here for so much longer – don't you think you deserve it more?" Duo choked out, the pain of being jerked around ignored for the more intangible pain that had a grip on his chest and every breath.

"Nah, kid, I've seen enough. Most of the Sweepers aren't on L5, so the trade'll survive."

"Howie…"

"Just remember – it's not your fault, alright? You did the best you could; hell, you're braving an asteroid field at killer speed! That's one fine pilot you got there, by the way – "

"Oy, old man, I wanna talk too! Hey, kid, you're damn stubborn, you know that? You're not responsible for everyone and everything. Share some of the damn burden!"

"Jake – "

"The old coots are both right, kiddo. It's not your fault, and it's not your responsibility. You did good already by coming here, it's not like you could've predicted this."

"Marie – "

"The gal's right, boss-man! Ow – 'kay, sorry, boss! Leader-man, then. Find some nice soul t' settle down with, an' don't keep your guilt t'yourself – makes the hair dull."

Tears were prickling his eyes. "Nestor…"

"Hey, kid! Tell the others not ta mourn too much – if they wanna do something, tell them ta fight on!" There was a chorus of ragged cheers in the background. "That said, you're one helluva good kid, kid. Take care of yourself."

"Alex…"

Suddenly the ship's flight evened out, and he looked up to see L5 – and a huge ship with a beam cannon, already powered up.

"No."

Howard was back on line. "Hey, kid? Take care. Not your fault, Duo, and I mean it."

Heero said tersely, "Missiles fired." He saw the white streaks silently explode from beneath their ship, heading towards the large ship. Too slow. Much too slow.

"No."

The cannon fired soundlessly.

"NO!"

The missiles impacted with the ship.

The huge beam impacted with L5.

A white light so pure, so blinding, a supernova. Their ship was thrown backwards by the explosion. He was smashed around in his seat, restraints cutting painfully, as the ship shuddered with thousands of impacts, the only sound coming from the ship itself. Sounds that were drowned out by the huge, white silence.

And then everything was quiet.

"…Howie?"

Violet eyes opened.

Debris floated all around, shredded metal and charred ashes and blackened flesh and melted glass. There was no large ship with a beam cannon. There was no L5.

He reached out to shakily flip a switch.

"Meiran! I'll kill you all, Alliance bastards, I'll kill you! I won't stop until you're all dead, DEAD, dead and gone and Meiran, mother, father, all gone, god, where's the justice in this! I swear revenge on all those who planned this, I swear, I'll kill you all…Meiran…no…"

He flipped it off.

Arms, undoing his safety belt buckles, gathering him, pulling him to the ground. Safe, warm…. Heero.

"Duo?"

"I'm fine," he said dully. "Really."

"Duo… I'm here. You don't have to bottle it in, don't have to hide with me."

Silence.

"Duo… let it out. Let me in."

Silence.

"It's not your fault. They told you that, didn't they?"

"…My people…"

Heero rocked him, back and forth, back and forth. "Not your fault."

Not your fault, Duo, and I mean it.

He began to tremble, and then shake, and then he broke down into sobs so painful, so grievous that he made no noise except for a keening wail, fists clenched white in Heero's shirt. Again… again… why? He didn't want to be Shinigami. He didn't want to watch everyone he loved die…

A warm, soothing murmur. Warm, safe, loved. Heero. He wasn't dead. Heero was strong; he survived a meteor shower, an asteroid field, a crazy old scientist…

Find someone to love, to settle down with. Forget Shinigami when the colonies and Earth all have peace, and enjoy.

"…it's okay, Duo, it's okay, shh, cry it all out, I'm here, I won't go away…"

Heero.

They still had so much shit to sort out, but they loved each other, and that was a pretty damn good start.

I will, old man. Rest in peace.

It took a while to stop the tears, but he managed it, and pulled his head back to look at Heero. "Thank you," he whispered.

Heero smiled gently. "It's what I'm here for."

"No." Duo waved his hand vaguely. "Not – that. For going through the asteroid field at suicide speed. For making it in time to – witness it. For humouring me, and trying to get here on time when you knew it was impossible. I just feel that it's more right, that someone was there to watch, and honour it."

"Again – that's what I'm here for."

He smiled wanly. "How did I ever luck out with you?"

Heero just have him a small smile in return, and gently lifted them both to their feet. Duo leaned against his chest, with Heero's arms wrapped around him, his own hands on top of Heero's, and Heero's head resting on his shoulder. They stood there in respectful silence, watching the giant graveyard.

"…Heero?"

"Hmm?"

"I love you."

"Love you too, Duo."

"…Heero?"

"Hmm?"

"Will you fight with me?"

"Aren't I already?"

"…Heero?"

"Hmm?"

"Q's going to be pissed that we're not answering him now, either."

Blink.

Pause.

"You're impossible, Duo." Heero's lips quirked in a small smile.

"You bet."


Owari.


(ARGH the sheer SAPPINESS of it all.)


Whew. Finally done! Man, it's a good feeling to finish a fic… this is the first I've actually completed, save for the one-shots. Um. That doesn't sound very encouraging for my other fics… oh well.

So… how'd you find it? Good? Bad? Er, if you want to complain about the sugar coating forming on your computer screen right about now – would it help if I tell you the ants and icky bugs have already started on mine?

Come on, if you've been lurking around the past few chapters, come out, come out, wherever you are and review! Please? Just let me know whether you liked it … oh yes.

Who's up for a 'sequel'? This isn't the real ending, just the end to part one. I have a sequel, which – if you guys still want it – will be continued to be posted under this title to save you guys the trouble of finding it again. So… if you want to read more, review, let me know, and keep checking this title for updates!

Thanks for all the support-huggles- To everyone who has reviewed this story at least once – I couldn't do it without you. Thanks for sticking with me so long, everyone!

And to those who reviewed the last chapter:

MB (aka tink998?), Lady-Friselle (backgrounds of Tro and Quat come later, as well as Zech's relationship with Relena in here, if you stay around long enough…), Memme, serena429: thanks so much, all of you, for reviewing and liking!

ahanchan, Windy River, camillian, ZmajGoddess, SoulSister: you guys always leave short but sweet reviews, and I keep seeing your names – so thank you for staying with me, and hope you like the (sort of) ending!

Precognition74: Yeah, the last chapter was kind of a lead up to this last one. I hope the not-as-interesting-ness of the last chap is made up for in this grand finale? Because, er, there's no more left… unless you count the second part. Hope you liked?

Silver Cateyes: Well, last chap – do you like it? I hope so. -sheepish grin- Would hate to disappoint such a great friend, especially one who bothers to send a few extra song lyrics my way. Take your time with that, by the way. Hope you enjoyed the story!

Yasei Raiden: I used one of your quotes below-grins- Hope you liked this last chapter, and thank you for all the support you've given so far!

fieryicicles: I keep seeing your name on the review list – thanks for sticking around! Hope this chapter was good enough?

Nikkler: Another familiar name. -beams- Really grateful for all the encouraging reviews you've given, and I'll try to stick in a good long lecture from someone to Relena, just for you. Thanks!

chibidark angel: one of the newer names, but ever since you've appeared on the review list you've been consistent with inspiring questions and constructive stuff that really helped me think and find holes in the story, and come up with new ideas. Hope you liked this last chapter, and hope you'll stick around!

Hells-angel8: believe me, I wanted to describe more of Duo's gang, but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to capture the image well enough and end up with a whole boring paragraph. Gackt is Good. Hope this chapter was good, too, and thank you for always reviewing and being so supportive!

Dark Nuriko: hey, don't belittle yourself – I've read your fics and liked muchly. You've got great ideas, develop them! And thank you for thinking so well of me, and always reviewing – hope this last chapter was as good as the rest!

Merula: whee, the ending, finally, yes-catches plotbunnies and throws back- Nonono, you should have more plotbunnies than me,what with all the time and imagination you have, as well as seeming tireless fingers to type with. -grins- Wasn't it just recently you churned out four stories in four days?

-Ashen Skies-
" Philosophy begins in wonder…"