Okay, looks like the inspiration has slowed down, but it's still there. This chapter's a little shorter, but it's sort of the conclusion to the big 'something's up with Duo' talk, so I hope it's interesting. Enjoy!

Grim looks were traded all around the small kitchen table as Heero methodically listed the conclusions that the group had come to.

"So, what now? What do we do?" This time, it was Quatre who broke the long moment of silence that descended after Heero finished speaking.

"We observe, and find out more," Wufei responded before anyone else could.

"This could significantly endanger-" Heero began to protest.

"Whatever Maxwell is hiding, it is clear, to me at least, that he is unquestionably on our side and remains a valuable ally," Wufei interrupted firmly. "I might have questions about his allies and what he is capable of, and possibly his intelligence on occasion, but I have no doubts as to his loyalty. Months of fighting along side him should have proven that to all of you."

"I agree," Quatre seconded quietly. "I have never felt anything but total dedication from him regarding our missions."

Heero's glare intensified. "We need to know what he is concealing from us. If he has allies, which is more likely than his having abilities that would make him capable of what we saw on this mission, then we have no idea what information they have regarding us, what their security is, and what they might let leak out to OZ or any other hostile organization. This is a significant security breach!"

"If OZ were using any information this entirely hypothetical person or persons have on us, then we would have seen indications of it before now," Wufei retorted. "Thus far, any security breaches have been explained, confirmed, and eliminated. We know how all leaked information has gotten out. Nothing has been lost through an unexplainable route, as would have happened if your theory - an entirely unsupported, purely hypothetical situation, I might add- were correct."

"I agree with Wufei and Quatre," Trowa murmured. "We only have confirmation that he's hiding something. We need more than that to determine a course of action."

Heero's scowl deepened, but he gave a curt nod.

Wufei looked thoughtfully toward the hallway where Duo had disappeared. "So, everyone needs to be alert for anything other irregularities in Maxwell's actions. That being said, he should be nearly finished with his Gundam; we need to reconvene after he goes to sleep tonight to finish discussing any other topics that we feel merit consideration."


Duo hummed happily as the stats from Deathscythe finished printing out. Just being around the Gundams was supplying him with enough ki to start building up his reserves again. Not that he didn't still feel like crap, but some rest and purely physical energy would fix that in a day or two. It was his pretty much nonexistent reserves of ki that would take time, a week of time at least, to build up again.

That was a definite cause for concern, since he used his demon abilities nearly nonstop in most of the battles and piloting that he was required to do. Without those reserves, not only was he going to become physically exhausted much faster than usual, but he wouldn't be able to do what he normally did with his ki: the constantly monitor and correct all of the small structural errors that occurred in any complex machine as its various parts and components were put under stress. That process was one of the things that made him such a good pilot- he made sure that his Gundam (or shuttle, or plane, whatever he happened to be flying or driving) was always operating at peak efficiency, even after several hours of heavy- battle heavy- use.

Now that his ability to do that was impaired for the next little bit of time, it was more vital than ever that he kept up Deathscythe's stats the old fashioned way- by printout, wrench, and elbow grease. And he wouldn't be able to pull of of his usual fancy flying- the kind where he had to use his energy to either convince the metal to do what he wanted or to actually hold the metal together- until he had a safe amount of ki built up again.

He grabbed the finished printout sheets and headed back toward the kitchen. With a little luck, he could convince whoever was in there to make him a sandwich before he headed up to bed like a good little demon.

Then end for now, gentle readers! I promise, something plot important and angst creating will be in the next chapter. 'Til then!