Alpha Target
By Famira Damaris

Disclaimer: I own nothing, much less any rights to any anime series including Mobile Suit: Gundam Wing. Sure wish I did though. I'd rule the world! *crazy laugh* Or at least I'd have a lot of money!
Author's Note: Wow! Last chapter of Alpha Target, folks! It's long, but I couldn't see any way I could break it down into more chapters (it's over fourteen pages on Word in eleven sized font! O_o Holy cow!) Thanks for all the reviews! I love it when people review me - it shows people actually took the time to read what I wrote! Brackets stand for thoughts,{'s for electronic stuff (like intercomms), \'s stand for remembering feelings, anything subconscious or bits of conversations. Also, this fiction attempts to show how no one is perfect, and show that the relationship between Quatre and Trowa isn't spontaneous, that Trowa might have some dark thoughts regarding it. A crapload of Trowa-torture here (jeez, I love character torture for some reason O_o), and Trowa finally confronts the man he has been hunting for, Ahrens Feldenheimer! It doesn't end as one would think, though, but I wanted it to be like that! There's also a little more information on the Rembrandt virus, which should lead into Beta Target (wow, I've been promoting myself for the past few chapters. Just noticed that. ~_~). My little Author's Note continues after the chapter as well, so I can babble some more. I've also begun reformating the story so it's easier to read. Thanks for reading! ^_^

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Alpha Target
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It was born to me of things
that are not of this land,
of kingdoms and kingdoms lost
that I had and I lost,
of all things living
that I have seen die
of all that was mine
and went from me.
- Gabriela Mistral "Land of Absence"

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Chapter 5 – I'm No Different Than He

AC 199, January 21
Pavilion Sector, Erich

I had called the Preventer's headquarters a night ago. Sally Po had picked up at the third ring, and I had brushed aside her astonished greeting. I told her that I was away on business, and wanted to speak to Wufei. As he picked up the line, I calmly told him where I was - that I would call him after my business in Erich was finished, and that I thought that any Preventer agents in this district should be recalled back to HQ.
Now that I was so close to my goal, I didn't want anyone else to interfere. I hung up after I had gotten the message across, not wanting to delay any more than I had to.

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AC 199, January 24
Erich, Edwin Space-dock Bay
11:03 PM

I took a bus down to the old space-dock. There were only a handful of passengers on at this time of night, the driver himself only glancing at me sleepily. I had been checking the small space docks for the past few days, but so far had come across nothing. I was prepared to keep looking until I turned up something. As always, I brought my handgun and extra magazines. I wasn't going to run out of ammunition any time soon. I had come to the conclusion that Ahrens Feldenheimer had probably not been trying to hide: the reason as to why I was able to find him to easily. [It's almost like he wants to be found.]

"Let me off here," I told the bus driver. He yawned loudly, easing the lumbering transport to a coughing stop. I stepped off, watched the bus disappear down another street. The wheezes gradually faded away, until the area was totally silent.

I prowled through the dark narrow alleys between the warehouses, fitting a fresh magazine into my weapon. My heart was racing in excitement, and I could almost picture one of my bullets ripping its way through Feldenheimer, fracturing something important, but not fatal. Might as well make him suffer. I was tensed as I strode from shadow to shadow, expecting to stumble across my prey at every corner. The minutes were passing by quickly – it was probably almost midnight now. Still no sign of the man.

[Come on out. I only want to put a bullet through your skull, that's all I ask]

I paused, as I came close to the blockaded ports leading to the bay. I hadn't examined this before, as I was doing so now. Looked secure enough; I was pretty sure no one had tampered with it, or I'd be looking at the evidence of it. I frowned [If Feldenheimer was planning to leave with a shuttle, I should be seeing some sort of damage to this…but this plate doesn't look like it's budged for awhile] I knelt down, passing a hand over the welding. Nothing wrong with that either. No one thought it would be worth trying to break through to the old docks and the ships gathering dust there.

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I stood up, my muscles knotting themselves up. Instinctively I glanced about, saw no one […Something's not right] I froze, my back to the rest of the small complex, straining my ears. There it was again – that peculiar, faint scuffling sound. [It's coming closer. A stray animal, perhaps?] I didn't want to harm anyone innocent just because I was getting trigger-happy; and I knew I *would* shoot if I were surprised. [Better to hide and see who or what it is] Glanced about, and spotted the low steel skeleton infrastructure swinging horizontally over the port's entrance, well shadowed. Probably construction that was never finished and never would be.

Another shuffling. I crouched down, tensing my leg, and leaped up. I felt my hands lock around the bars automatically – no different then the circus – and I swung myself through the gap and over the bars, the metal structure swaying slightly under my weight. I balanced myself, half-sitting on the steel. My muscles were trembling; I ignored them, my hand tightening its grip on the gun. Silence again. [Like Quatre's eternal silence…] A flare of anger, mixed with the bewildering one of affection [I'm alone because of him…]

The noises started up closer this time; my knuckles were turning a deathly white around the gun, gripping it even further. I caught my breath as I saw a tall form stride from one warehouse to the next. The few lights that were on illuminated briefly a haggard face, glinting on the shortly-cut silver hair. A fire was slowly building up inside me, one that had been suppressed into burning embers until now. I knew I was looking at Ahrens Feldenheimer, the man who masqueraded under his late wife's name. A red haze was quickly clouding my vision, and I was finding it hard to think.

…Break his limbs…torture him…gut him…strangle him…

…Make him choke on his own blood…kill him…kill him *now*…!

I had to wrestle to maintain control and not go leaping after the murderer. I was breathing raggedly, and I tasted the coppery metallic taste of blood; I had, in my fury, involuntarily bitten my lip. I slowly brought a hand to my mouth, still watching the man as I wiped the blood off with the back of my wrist. I slowed my breathing, the red vision slowly fading. Good.

Feldenheimer paused in his tracks, then continued walking down below. He had nothing in his hands; still hadn't found the navigator chip. He was armed, as was I, his weapon holstered in a hip sling. A former soldier? I hadn't considered the possibility, and I frowned. I knew I could hold my own in a close-quarters fight, but I had to hope that this man wasn't a marksman like Duo. I was only a fair shot, one reason why I wanted to be a little closer before I would use the gun. Paul had never said that he was a technician, like his wife – I merely assumed he was, foolishly. So I wasn't sure what I should expect from him – the only thing that I knew I had the advantage was in my age. I was almost twice as young as he.

[Where is he going? Perhaps there is another way into the ports. I'll follow him, at least. It's not determined if he's alone or part of some organization]

I waited until he disappeared down another alley, and stood up on the infrastructure, balancing on it. It was far wide than the tight rope, but less supple. Still, relatively easy to travel along, and I had only my safety to worry for. The steel bars shivered, but were fixed tightly against each other, not rolling under my feet like I feared they would. The steel skeleton wound about the bay's area, and I headed toward the direction that I last saw Feldenheimer.

He had stopped between a boarded-up warehouse and a flight control deck. I stared down, waiting. No one came to him, and I made up my mind. [He's alone at the moment. I've been awfully lucky with my search so far, no matter how sloppy I've been. I'm not going to let you vanish on me now that I've seen you with my own eyes] I clicked the safety off my gun, stepping from the thin bar to a stable slat of riveted steel. Feldenheimer suddenly glanced upward, as if he had heard the sound and sensed me.

At that moment, I jumped off the beam, sailing out into empty space.

For a moment I was in freefall, the air rushing past me. Instincts took over, and I rolled into a flip, landing in a heavy crouch on the ground. I had the gun out and in front of me, squeezing the trigger. With a crack, the bullet exploded out of the weapon - but I knew before it buried itself in the wall that I had missed my target. I had underestimated his speed and reaction time because of his age, I cursed. I caught a glimpse of his flapping coat around the corner, and I charged after him, my legs stretching to close the distance between us.

He was gone around another alley way, my bullet hitting the corner. I followed, dogging him in my pursuit. I tried to level my weapon at him as I raced down the straight space between warehouses, but my aim was heavily hampered by my movement. I was silent, yet somehow, I knew I had been looking forward to this confrontation with a sort of perverse glee. He or I would die tonight – there was no turning back now.

I ran out around a corner, and quickly back-peddled backward as the wall threw off splinters of woods, a round of bullets impacting sharply. Looked like he was fighting back finally instead of running away. I waited for a few moments, ducking down as I felt the shards shower down onto my head. The shots kept thankfully where my head had been originally, instead of following down. [He's packing a pretty powerful gun. Much stronger than mine. I'm going to have to chance it] I slid out of the alley, crouched down, emptying the rest of the magazine in the direction of the shots blindly.

[Dammit, he's running again!] I turned the corner recklessly, hearing his pounding steps retreating again. I jammed another fresh magazine into the gun, rejecting the spent one. I had lost ground, and I was barely able to follow Feldenheimer. I was considerably surprised at his agility – at his age, I would have thought he would be tiring out. I tried to think as I tried to follow. [I'm going to have to somehow cut him off. Try to go around the alleys? I might be able to catch him off guard, at the very least] I turned a left, sprinting as fast as I could.

I skidded, turning the corner.

Only a few feet away was a startled Ahrens Feldenheimer. Automatically, my arm rose, adjusted itself, and snapped off a roaring duo of shots at the same time the other returned the salvo. I was vaguely aware of a burst of pain as something splashed past my left shoulder, my slide turning into a stagger. I was barely able to hold onto my weapon, clutching my free hand to the bleeding wound that the grazing bullet had opened. I looked up, gritting my teeth. I wasn't surprised to see that he was gone. There was a small puddle of blood leading away – I remembered that I had been aiming at his knee-cap. I must have hit him.

I had sunk down to my knees involuntarily. My shoulder was throbbing right through my fingers, and I was dizzy for a moment as I stood up. Another stab of pain. [S...shit. His shot only barely touched me…nearly took off my whole shoulder. Damn…it] It was getting hard to think, the air making the gash pound. I refrained from looking over at the damage, instead just keeping my hand where it was. I was being stupid and unreasonable - I knew that – but I still wanted to pursue after Feldenheimer. I could see about tending the wound later – or not at all, if things took a turn for the worse. I was starting have doubts if this Ahrens Feldenheimer was going to be the pushover I had originally thought he was. With the firepower he had on him, I would probably have a poor time if I confronted him face to face.

[But I ca…can't turn back…he killed Quatre, he did this…and more to me…]

I broke into a ragged jog, my breath coming in hissing wheezes as my steps repeatedly jarred my shoulder. [I…shot him in the knee…he's…going to be slowed down. I've…have only my arm to worry about…I'm faster now. My advantage] I followed the trails of red splotches. Another wave of dizziness, and I was forced to stop for breath. The wound was probably more serious than I was estimating, but it was probably nothing that would be fatal – I was bleeding, but it wasn't flowing, thankfully. Only the shoulder. Could have been worse, much worse. I resumed my trek, at a brisk painful pace.

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\It hurts…God…my whole body…*hurts*…am I going to die? Quatre…did what he thought was right, as did…I…Heero…will watch over Quatre…\

\So many stars…all that's…between me and that emptiness is this space suit…hurts… I *am* going to die. Why, Quatre? Do you…hate me? …You did this…on purpose…you must have…\

\…I hate you…for this…\

\…But I still…care…about what…happens to you…Quatre……………\

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The blood led into the Carnival Field that Paul had mentioned earlier. The abandoned hulks of several stalls and metal beams were still here in the dirt lot, the only light now the moonlight traveling from the huge windows at the other side of the outer-rim of the Colony. I came to a stop, leaning my unwounded shoulder against a storage container's ribbed wall. I didn't need to follow the blood trail any more, for Ahrens Feldenheimer was standing several meters away, his back to me. Was he…waiting? I was probably the only person in the vicinity. He must have been, then.

"Drop your gun and hold your hands up where I can see them," I ordered; it was an effort to keep my voice level and expressionless. I had raised my left hand, transferring my own weapon to it. I raised it, propping myself against the container's walls. My arm was shaking a little, "Kick it away. At this distance, I won't miss."

There was a heavy thud, the gun spinning away into the darkness. His arms raised in the air.

"Turn around and face me."

He did so, hobbling. I glanced at his knee – the bullet had hit square on the kneecap and it was a mangled bloody mess, even through the improvised bandage he had tied around it. I probably had shattered the joint: he could be maimed for life. He was somewhat different looking than I had expected him to appear – a lean, almost handsome face, framing ice blue eyes under thin eyebrows. His long-coat fluttered, and I tensed, expecting to spot a flash of some other weapon he might have hid on his person. Nothing. I returned my attention back onto him. Ahrens had a strange expression on his face – a mixture of pain, sorrow, and a dark sort of relief.

I pushed myself away from the alley, forcing myself to keep my balance. The man stared back with no fear.

"I should kill you right now," I said, "Murderer."

Ahrens made no reply, hands still in the air.

"You killed *him*, Ahrens Feldenheimer, in cold blood," my voice shook slightly, but I continued, "And other people have died, because of you, at Indigo Falcon."

Ahrens lowered his hands, despite my motion with the gun to put them back up, and I almost shot him. His voice was low, probably once a warm sound.

"…My target was only him," a bitter smile, "I had no intention of getting others involved."

I started. Why did that sound so familiar?

"You might as well explain yourself, before I kill you," I said. For some reason, I wanted to hear what would justify the numerous deaths, and the one casualty that I actually cared about, "Remove the coat."

He discarded the clothing, wearing a thick t-shirt and khakis underneath. I swallowed hard, all too aware of my shoulder's wound. I was getting nauseous, my stomach roiling, but I kept my eyes on him steadily enough.

"You want to know why?" Ahrens flicked a glance at me, "Trowa Barton? Or do you also go under another name as well?" I kept my silence, uneasy for him to continue.

He licked his lips, continuing despite the fact that I didn't answer.

"…Because I hate him. I've hated him ever since that day," Ahrens sneered at me, "Just as surely as you've been despising me since I killed Quatre Raberba Winner. And you know what? I'm not even the slightest bit sorry I shot him."

My face flushed in fury.

"The one reason I *am* sorry is because killing him didn't do anything for me," Ahrens limped awkwardly a few feet past me. He was in obvious pain, but was willing himself to deal with it, "I'm still alone. His death meant nothing in the end. Nothing at all."

\Nothing to hold me back. Nothing at all\

His words jolted me, reminding me of my own. I was mesmerized by what he was saying. [Like what I had thought…]

"Jean Duval was only a low level technician, Barton. On her last day, the day we were going to go home together for the first time in months, she was killed in the collapse of the building she was in. It was one of the first attacks on the military installations by the Gundams, those damned things," Ahrens hissed, "I was there myself. I saw the Gundam - armed with twin sickles - destroy the buildings like they were made of flimsy paper, not concrete and steel. There was little resistance. I had been walking toward my wife's station to pick her up and surprise her, when I saw the Gundam slice through it diagonally. It instantly collapsed into itself," he swiveled, keeping most of the weight off his wounded knee, "It was a miracle that I, who had been standing in the open, got away unharmed. It was too late for Jean – she was long dead by the time we were able to remove the rubble, as was everyone else in the building. All because of Quatre Raberba Winner."

I felt my arm waver. [It…hadn't been on purpose…Quatre couldn't have known…] I stiffened my resolve. Lies! That's all it was. Just a handful of lies.

I started to say something in Quatre's defense, and stopped, watching silently as Ahrens limped past me again. He seemed to almost have forgotten I was there.

"Of course I hated him. My Jean was my life, my partner! She was a far better person than I could ever be – kind, caring, generous, honest – and *you* ask why I did it? Because Jean is no longer here because of him! Ironic, you Gundam pilots," another pained pace, hands behind his back, "You preach that you fight for peace, yet you kill as many innocents as you do those corrupt. Ha! A collection of hypocrites."

"Tracking down the pilot responsible became my life," Ahrens stopped pacing, resting his foot lightly on the packed ground, suddenly thoughtful, "My obsession absorbed every waking moment, and for those long four years, I allowed myself no time to think of my slaughtered wife. I had found something to fix my hate on, a solid, breathing being. I loathed him, felt rage whenever I saw his face on the TV or heard his cursed name mentioned."

\…I hate you…for this…\

\…Hate…you…\

\…It's your…fault…\

"And you want to know something interesting? I found that I *reveled* in this hatred," the silver-haired man turned again, going back to pacing, "Everything, focused in this fury at one person! An outlet, one that I could justify my anger in, for he had murdered my Jean; I could abandon myself to *hating* this one boy with all my heart! Forget my job – I found no pleasure in it. A family? Jean and I had never had any children, and now never will because of your Quatre!"

I had unconsciously backed a few steps as Ahrens approached me. [No…stop this! Why do you accuse him? He…never did anything!] But deep down inside, I was more than ready to keep on listening to Ahrens. I backed up until I could retreat no further, my back pressed against a moldering billboard, the images long since faded away. The accusations continued angrily, rising in tempo.

"Quatre Raberba Winner was a murderer, just like all the Gundam pilots! You all seek to put meaning into your actions, but in the end, it is nothing but cold-blooded killing. It doesn't matter if you did what you thought was right: it comes down to whose fault it was!" A leer from Ahrens, "My perfect Jean, whom I had shared my joy and anger and jealousy with, was killed at the hands of him. Her death meant nothing to your 'great' cause, just another casualty in a useless gesture to bring about your so-called 'peace'!" Every word hit home.

\…For what you did today…\

\…I…hate you…\

"I…I was angry at Jean for leaving me. I loved her even more, even as I wallowed in my own anguish that she had abandoned me. I could fantasize on the pain I would inflict on your Quatre, forgetting my own pain by imaging his!" Ahrens towered over me, the uneasy feeling growing deep down. I had clean forgotten that I was the one holding the gun, that I was the one that could end his miserable life with a pull of the trigger. Ahrens was still speaking, but I could no longer hear him, the loud roaring in my ears drowning him out as I realized…

\…I hate you…for making me care…so much for you…\

\ …Wrapped around…your little finger…\

\… Dependent…no matter…how…much I hide…it…\

\…I hate you…\

I was no different than he. I might as well have shot the bullet through Quatre myself.

\…Break his limbs…torture him…gut him…strangle him…\

\…Make him choke on his own blood…kill him…kill him *now*…! \

No. There was no point in lying to myself; I was no better than this scum, I was as horrible and murderous as he.

\ …"I'm not even the slightest bit sorry I shot him"…\

\… "I'm still alone"…\

\ …"I had found something to fix my hate on, a solid, breathing being"…\

I found my true feelings were laid bare, an open wound of suppressed hate and frustrations.

\…Breaking my promise…why should I feel shame…? \

\…It was my little way…of rebelling…\

\…Against your kindness and my feelings…\

\…"Watching other people go about freely, doing what they want"…\

\…How could you…have faults? …You were in life so much…better than I am…\

My thoughts were swirling about, a confusion with the mixed emotions of self-deprecation, anger, sorrow, disgust and hate aimed at Ahrens and myself.

\…Like Quatre's eternal silence…\

\…Dammit! I want you to speak again! …I want to listen to what you have to say! …\

\…You…did this on purpose…\

\…I am just as responsible…I never showed you that I cared…\

\…Did you ever think that maybe, just *maybe*, the people that are the most expressive are also the ones that hurt inside the most? …\

I had never considered that Quatre might not feel the same as his projected emotions. I was so selfish…it had been only about me, not others.

\ … "Justice will be dealt"…\

\…That's a lie unto itself…\

\…It's all the same…there is no fulfillment at the end…\

\…There never was…\

\…I've been lying…\

\…Quatre…myself…Catherine…everyone…\

I was the same as Ahrens Feldenheimer. Just as guilty, just as selfish, just as cold, just as obsessed – no difference between us. I sagged against the wood of the billboard, staring at Ahrens with a horror that was not apparent in my face. I was used to wearing masks – I had as far back as I could remember.

"I'm still not sorry for your Quatre's death," Ahrens's anger had washed out of his face, and he looked down at me calmly, "But, if given a second chance, I wouldn't do it again. It simply isn't worth it."

I couldn't find anything to say. My mind was drawing a blank.

"I had always thought that his death at my hands would bring me a great relief, that it would give meaning to Jean's death and the years that I had spent in pursuit of him," his accusations had stopped, and he was sorrowful, "Those years wasted for *nothing*. I felt nothing when he died; only an emptiness within. No satisfaction, no pity, no mourning, no anger. Nothing. My feelings wouldn't have changed, in truth, whether he lived or died. There was no reward for my efforts."

He reached out swiftly, and grabbed my wounded shoulder mercilessly. I almost gagged, the gun nearly dropping to the ground. I couldn't see him for a moment, blinded by a curtain of pain. Ahrens didn't move his hand or squeeze the injury, but in a sort of queasy detachment, I could feel his fingers touching something hard. So the bullet had gone right through and hit some of the bone, I noted vaguely.

"The only reason I even bother to tell you this is because I didn't want others involved. You got dragged into this," I stared into his clear blue eyes, unable to look away. I was unable to reply, feeling sick as my shoulder pounded, "Even if you were to kill me, it would do nothing. No matter how angry you are, it's the same result. You're young – you've still got a lot of life ahead of you. Go ahead and kill me, if you want. It won't make a difference. It would be hard for me to recover lost years, to start anew. You're still a kid. You have the resilience of the youthful."

[There's no life…why should I be worthy…of it? I'm not any better…than you] But it was a feeble protest.

"You won't understand right now. Maybe you never will," he sounded absurdly like he was scolding me in his harsh warm voice, in an effort to teach me a lesson. I almost laughed, except I was hurting too much for that, "It's none of my business. It's your choice, your life, so it's yours to deal with."

He suddenly released me, turning his back. I slid down the wooden board, defeated. I couldn't concentrate my thoughts into words, and wasn't sure *what* I wanted to do anymore Ahrens stooped down and picked up his overcoat, slinging it over his shoulder. He started to limp away. I cradled my gun in my lap, like I had cradled Quatre's head weeks (years?) before.

"If you're going to kill me, you'd better do it now," Ahrens said, his voice sounding faint already, "I'm leaving; I already gave you more than enough time. There's nothing more I can do for you, nothing more to tell you. No apologies, just reality as it is."

I shakily raised the gun, and slowly let it drop, staring at it as if were alien. Ahrens's hobbling uneven steps faded away. He never turned around, his black form disappearing into the shadows. He was gone.

I leaned my head back, staring at the gray clouds overhead. I had failed. I hadn't accomplished what I had set out to do. I was mentally exhausted, steadily ignoring the steady pain from my shoulder. I was having a hard time concentrating, and I folded my arms limply about my legs, agony rushing up from my wound. [Why…didn't] Closed my eyes [Kill him…?]

I opened them again, in the same sitting position that I had been in at the hospital. Though it was dark, I see something black staining a good majority of my clothing, starting to pool out at my leg, where it had dripped down. Blood? Probably. Mine? I couldn't remember. I've killed so many people, and it was so hard to tell. It didn't matter, did it really? A low sigh, staring down at the bleak dust ground.

Funny. I'd fail in a carnival ground, similar to the place where I had made that silly promise to Quatre only to fail in keeping my word. But there was no laughter – it had no hilarity. Only irony. Sad that I couldn't even finish off a target now. And he hadn't been hiding at all; he had known I was following him, and had been waiting. So pathetic. A particularly painful twinge from my arm. Sort of dizzy, but it probably wasn't due to the blood loss. I hadn't lost *that* much yet.

[Quatre…I-I'm………sorry.]

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AC 195

I could see out the gaping hole in the side of the Vayaete. Sparks where flickering about it, like little broken blood vessels. Just beyond was the endless sea that was space, the pinpoint stars twinkling weakly. [This Mobile Suit is going to blow up any minute] I was calm. Shouldn't I be worried? I was going to die! But, giving it a little thought, I had been facing death since I had been able to become a mercenary. It was only a matter of time before it would have caught up to me. [But then again, it *had* been suicide to put the Vayaete in front of the Mercurius like that]

The tri-panel of view-screens had long since died, shorting out the moment I had been hit dead on by the Wing Zero's buster rifle. The only way I could see was through the rip in the Mobile Suit, as the boosters sputtered for a second and strengthened. I didn't want the blast from the coming explosion to hit the other pilots, and I somehow had managed to retreat from the battlefield. I was probably far enough now – the blast radius couldn't reach to the Colony. Only some harmless debris would float away. By some miracle, the comm unit between the Mobile Suits was still functioning, still set to a frequency that only we, as Gundam pilots, were privy to.

I couldn't see where the Wing Zero and the Mercurius were now. I leaned back in my seat – I had said a farewell of some sorts (what had happened to Quatre?), and was waiting fatalistically for the Vayaete to succumb to the damage. Not long now. Only a few seconds had passed since I had finished speaking. I supposed that the Heero had forced Quatre to confront him; did Quatre try to go after my Mobile Suit? I thought so, but I might have imagined it. But he wasn't here now…

I reached over to my left, and pulled at the plates curling away from the hole in the Mobile Suit. It came away easily, and I tossed it out into the zero gravity of space. I could easily fit through it, if I saw any reason to.

I unbuckled the restraints of the pilot's seat. Useless now, just as it was useless to try to abandon the Vayaete – I would never make it away safely, and the chances of me getting to safe ground in my pilot's space suit were low. Closed my eyes, bidding my last few moments of life.

Quatre…it wouldn't take a genius to figure out that something was wrong with him. I had noticed the change the second I had heard the crazed strain on his gentle voice. I hadn't known what to make of Quatre when I had first surrendered to him, but I did consider him to be a friend. It had been a nasty shock to hear him demand to kill, that he didn't want to deal with the Colonies, that they were his enemies as well as OZ. [Please, Heero, make sure Quatre is alright. I'm sure he didn't want to do this on purpose. And how could he know that you and I would be the ones that would go after him? I hadn't known he was piloting the Wing Zero myself] Not even half a minute had passed.

My eyes flared upon as soon as I heard the comm unit start to crackle and squawk. The panels were sparking viciously, and I could feel the whole body of the Vayaete shudder. I grunted, shutting my eyes again. I had the feeling I didn't want to have them open when the Mobile Suit blew.

"{-let me go, Heero! Tro-o-o-w-w-wa!}"

Quatre's voice cut off, as the world exploded. A wave of heat roared by me, and I felt myself flung out into space violently, tumbling. Pain erupted everywhere, as I was surrounded by a bright light that penetrated even my closed eyes. Opened them involuntarily; I was blinded, spots jumping across my vision. Debris was rocketing past me, and I could feel several large and small impacts across my legs and upper torso. The glow had grown into a huge fireball as the Vayaete was suddenly *gone*. I was jostled about the melted slag – more little bursts of pain. I must have hit a larger piece of the destroyed Mobile Suit, for my progress slowed, though I nearly passed out as I helplessly collided with something I couldn't see. My body went numb, as my careening halted, until I was gently drifting at a lazy pace.

I…I'm…still alive?

\It hurts…God…my whole body…*hurts*…am I going to die? Quatre…did what he thought was right, as did…I…Heero…will watch over Quatre…\

I couldn't move my body – it simply wouldn't obey my commands. My eyes ached horribly, my whole body alternating between going numb and firing up in pain. At least a few ribs were cracked or broken. My breath was puffing out in little gasps, every one clouding the faceplate of the space helmet. I was going to lose consciousness soon; I could tell as soon as I saw my vision go gray, like so much static filling up my eyes. I wasn't even aware of what was going through my head; there was so much haze…

\So many stars…all that's…between me and that emptiness is this space suit…hurts… I *am* going to die. Why, Quatre? Do you…hate me…? You were…so angry…\

\…You did this…on purpose…you must have…\

\…You abandoned me to die…\

The stars in the blackness were slowly passing me, thousands upon thousands. I was only semi-conscious, my eyes starting to close as I began to pass out. I gritted my teeth as my legs suddenly reminded me they were still attached to my body in the most painful way.

\…I hate you…for this…\

\…I hate you…because of you…I'm…going to die…all because of *you*…\

\…I…hate you…\

\…But I still…*care*…about what…happens to you…Quatre……………\

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AC 199
Erich, Carnival Field

Sirens.

[I…didn't even know that Erich would even have…have…?] I couldn't finish the thought. Still quite far away, but some dutiful soul had apparently heard the gunfire and thought it the right thing to do to call the local authorities (surprising they'd even have any).

"So t-the…police are coming," I said out loud, mildly astonished at the hoarse tone. Let them come. I didn't give a damn if they found me here, with the spent gun at my feet and a suspicious little puddle of blood. I just wanted to go to sleep, by now used to the heavy throb in my shoulder.

…Just…

…Leave me…alone

…I…don't understand anything…anymore…

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AC 198, February 2
L2 Colony

[Looks like Hilde and Duo are doing well here with their business] I noted. I wasn't here on business – not only I was, for some reason, invited here, I was coming just for the sake of it. I couldn't even remember when was the last time that I had ever done anything that didn't serve some greater cause, whether it be piloting Heavyarms or working as a mercenary. Actually, both Quatre and I had received the invitation from Hilde via the phone, but Quatre suddenly had to deal with some family affairs, promising to catch us later.

The high walls of the junkyard were devoid of any graffiti, topped with barbed wire. Today, there was little traffic going through, but as I understood it, their services were much in demand, and there were even a good number of people working under them, acting as salvage teams. [Of course, knowing Duo, he's not going to sit around and let others do the work for him. He doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.] I didn't know much about Hilde – the young woman was only an acquaintance – but she had seemed pleasant enough, lively and cheerful, as much a personality as Duo.

"Hey, Trowa!" A boisterous bellow from the yard. Hilde jogged out, waving, "You made it! And good timing, too! Duo! Hey, Duo, stop fooling around with that engine!" The young woman turned, smiling, "Glad you came. We've just gotten some good stuff in, so we've got a lot to do."

"I see," I said.

Hilde held out her hand and I accepted it, shaking it as I noticing the little glittering band around her finger. So Duo and Hilde were going steady. [So he's finally going to be serious about something. They make a good couple. At least it's a fact that some of us former pilots are living happy lives…]

Hilde beamed, and it was infectious – I was soon returning the ghost of a smile myself, "We didn't have any introductions during the war, so I wanna make this formal," She gave a mock curtsey right out in the street in her work jeans and sweatshirt, "I'm Hilde Schbeiker. Pleasure to meet you."

I gave a small bow, "Trowa Barton. The pleasure's mine."

"Hey, Trowa, don't be hittin' on my woman!"

Hilde and I turned toward the voice. Duo was swaggering over, throwing a worn rag over his shoulder, his characteristic wide grin crossing his face. He pretended to throw me a look of jealousy and put his arms around Hilde's thin shoulders. Hilde giggled, shaking her head.

"I'm not your *woman*, Duo Maxwell!" A playful punch to the shoulder. Duo made as if he was reeling over from the pain, "If it's anything, you're *my* man."

I watched all this with amusement, but deep down inside me, I felt sad, and somewhat envious. They had such a happy life together, with the one they loved. [Sometimes I wish I could be a part of something like that] For moment, I thought of Quatre, and I was startled at my reaction: a nervous longing, but a dislike as well. I pushed his image out of my mind, not knowing what to make of it. Best to ignore it – I didn't particularly want to start trying to sort and catalogue my various emotions at the moment.

"Glad to see you again, Trowa," Duo said, Hilde leaning her head on his shoulder, "So, welcome to our business."

"It's quite an enterprise."

"Yeah. We got a buncha workers now, and we just got this huge-ass order from this big employer. It's gonna be a little hard to fulfill what this guy wants, but we can do it."

I glanced over at the junkyard. Hilde gestured.

"We'll show you around," a sunny smile again.

I followed the couple as they turned around and entered the junkyard. It was an asphalt lot, with neat sections of various parts. I'd been expecting a pile of junk, to have to wade through the broken metal. But it was all neatly organized. Duo pointed out anything of particular interest, Hilde joining in every now and then, with a friendly jibe or little tidbit of information. They were both enjoying their work and each other's company. I hadn't thought it was possible for human beings to be so happy.

But then again, I had never been truly happy as far back as I could remember, had I?

Hilde excused herself, saying she'd make a cup of coffee for all of us. Duo and I were alone, the braided young man making some small talk to which I replied to softly for a while, until we both fell silent. It was a sunny day in the Colony – no rain, snow, or hail from the weather controllers. The "sky" was cloudless, and one only had to look up to see the rest of the Colony curving overhead.The air was clean, due to the filters. It still lacked that special "crispness" that the Earth atmosphere possessed in the areas with no air pollution. But then again, the Colonies were only imitations of Earth.

"How's Quatre?" Duo asked.

I put my hands in my pockets, "He's doing well. He said he would come by later."

"Heh, guess he had some business or something. Well, that's the Quat-man for ya!"

"I suppose."

Duo fixed his dark purple-blue eyes on me, the gentle breeze ruffling his chestnut bangs, "How's it between you two?"

"We're friends, if that's what you're asking." I replied, puzzled. What was he getting at?

"I dunno…" Duo looked thoughtful, folding his hands behind his head, "That's not really what I meant. God, it's so agonizing to see you two just sitting around. So slow!"

I shot him a strange look, "And what do you mean by that?"

"Nothing." Duo was silent again, before he said, "You were probably thinking how Hilde and I looked so happy together, huh?"

I was startled, and I did my best to hide that I was. I couldn't have been that obvious, could I? Duo must be sharper than I had taken him for, "…Yes."

"They always say that where there is light there is darkness, Trowa. If I can be happy with Hilde, I can be just as upset or mad," Duo stooped down, picking up a small part for a car, and turning it over in his hands, "It's all a big gamble."

"Then why do you risk it?"

"Because having happiness even for a small period of time is better than never experiencing it at all. It's always worth the risk of all the negative stuff. You risk it all: you can either win it all or lose everything. But then again, you lose more when you have something to lose," Duo stood up, flicking a sideways glance at me, "They even used to have a question for some award-winning essay years ago dealing with these type of things."

"What was it?"

" 'If you had the chance to be utterly happy for a year'," Duo held up a finger, straining his memory, " 'And as soon as the year was over, you would lose all memory of it, would you still choose to have that year, even if you forgot everything that happened, or would you chose not to have it'?"

I didn't say anything. Duo was obviously trying to tell me something, but I didn't (or pretended not to) know what it was. I cast my eyes on the ground. I suddenly wanted Quatre to be here; if he had been here, I wouldn't have to feel so awkward. Duo kept that maddening stare on me, until I asked:

"And what did the author write?"

"That he'd and almost every person he'd asked would take that year of complete happiness, despite the fact that no one would have any memory afterward. He said that he thought it was better to have the experience and remember it all during that period of time," Duo changed the subject cheerfully, "Well, enough with lecturin'. I must be boring you."

"No, it's alright," I said automatically. But I was still troubled about it.

Duo looked at his watch. He was probably counting how long the Arabian was going to be late and start bagging him for it when he arrived.

"Quatre's too damn nice sometimes. I heard he was sponsoring a bunch of these fundraiser type events. He probably got mobbed by some of the people he helped."

"I hope not."

"Y'know, you and Quatre are *almost* total opposites. Yet you're still friends," Duo was approaching a sensitive topic, "It's hard to imagine that only four years ago he almost killed you. And yet you saved him from the Libra."

I only grunted. I didn't really want him to be bringing that subject up. I had forgiven Quatre, hadn't I? So what was there to discuss? No harbored negative feelings, I was pretty sure. And Quatre hadn't really meant it. He couldn't have.

"-You rarely say anything; when you do, it's carefully thought out. But Quatre's so expressive," Duo turned narrowed eyes on me, "You can't be so damn cold all the time. Be spontaneous for once and stop being so careful."

"I…" I was further surprised by this turn in the conversation. I trailed off.

"Are you afraid you're gonna be hurt if you don't constantly wear a mask?" Duo's voice sounded so deceivingly cheerful, but I knew he was angry and frustrated, "Did you ever think that maybe, just *maybe*, the people that are the most expressive are also the ones that hurt inside the most? You ever think about that? Of course not. It's always about you, you, you," Duo fiddled with the end of his meter-long braid, "Quatre still feels terrible. He cares about you, Trowa! Not only that, he misses his father, feels regrets for all the death he caused. He may be polite smiles on the surface, but he's hurtin' a lot still. He needs someone to support him, someone to be by his side. You should…you should…I don't know! Do something! At least acknowledge his existence."

\…But I do…I don't know what I want…\

More uncomfortable silence. We had circled around the whole lot, and the trailer that Hilde had disappeared into was in sight. Duo snorted, shaking his head.

"Look, I'm sorry about baggin' on you like that," he said, "I had just gotten into thinkin' recently. Ignore what I said. Truce?" He suddenly beamed roguishly, so unlike the angry braided American that had been only a few moments ago been admonishing me. [What could have brought that all about?] But I only nodded.

"Hey, Duo! Trowa!" Hilde's head poked out of the trailer's side window. She pushed unruly dark purple bangs from her forehead, "Coffee's ready!"
Duo headed toward the temporary building, I following. I did my best not to let Duo's words get to me, tried not to think of them at all. I kept thinking of Quatre, however, and this was shaking me up.

\…I…hate/love you…\

\…But…I care for you…more than I hate you…\

A glaring yellow mug was placed in my hands, steaming with coffee. I sat down at the loveseat, while Hilde straddled one of the wicker chairs, Duo opting for slouching at a desk adjacent to the kitchen space. They both fixed a concerned eye on each other.

"You slob," Hilde commented.

"You're a lazy bum yourself," Duo retorted. Hilde laughed at him.

"You wish! I can be a *hard* worker when it's necessary," Hilde said, shifting sensually. Duo's eyebrows rose at the invitation, and his grin grew wider, if that was possible. Friendly banter, it seemed, which probably led to other sorts of exchanges. I didn't say anything, but once again I was envious.

"So, did Duo talk your ear off?" Hilde stuck her tongue out at Duo, leaning her chin on the back of the chair and regarding me, "He's so full of himself – he's obsessed with the sound of his own voice."

"Damn right!"

"He didn't talk my ear off," I sipped from the mug.

\…What a lie. He wouldn't shut up…\

"That's good. So, how's it been? Now that there's peace for both the Colonies and the Earth Unified Nation, people can achieve their dreams."

\…You can't achieve a dream when you don't have one…\

"I heard that all the biological weapons labs are turning to looking for cures," I said, "It's quite an undertaking."

"Yeah, we have one huge one right here in L2," Hilde replied, "I'm so glad that those labs are doing something useful. There's so much hope now that a lot of diseases will become curable and less dangerous."

Duo gulped his coffee down, and promptly began to cough. He nodded, waving away help from Hilde, "Yeah, I heard they're gonna start on this weird space disease thing. The local nuts named it after some old dead guy."

"It's Rembrandt! And he's not just 'some old dead guy', Duo! He *was* a famous artist." Hilde shook her head at Duo's apparent tendencies to idiocy, "This virus was gonna be used by OZ, but they quit productions on it, at least that's what I heard when I was still a soldier for them. But some of it got out during the war and this lab's gonna start working on cures for it. It's really scary though."

Duo had recovered from his coughing fit, nodded to what Hilde was saying.

"Yeah, it only affects those born in space. Since OZ was based on Earth, they could use it to scare and threaten the Colonies, while sitting safe on Earth. Even if an infected person confronted someone native of Earth, he wouldn't even give a single symptom of it. Real scary shit -" he suddenly cut off, and leaped out of his seat, "The Quat-man's here!" He bounced out of the trailer. I couldn't remember any time that I had seen him this energetic.

Hilde gulped some coffee from her mug, "Jeez. I still don't see how he's able to sense people coming like that. He's so weird sometimes." But it wasn't serious.

Duo came in, chattering to Quatre. Quatre looked tired, but he was valiantly trying to listen to Duo and say greetings to the rest of us. The poor Arabian was rescued by Hilde, who stood up and dragged Duo away, making him sit down in the desk again. Duo started to say something in protest, but he received a playful whack upside the back of his head by her hand.

"That is *so* uncool," Duo mumbled in reply, rubbing the back of his head ruefully.

"It's good to see you both," Quatre spoke up. He glanced about for a place to sit (he looked very much like he just wanted to lie down and take a nap). The other wicker chair was piled high with various books and blueprints, as were almost all the chairs in the room. I suddenly realized that the only available space…was next to me. I felt uncomfortably hot as Quatre trudged over, flopping down next to me. It was right that Quatre should fill the empty space. I suddenly caught myself at this. [What am I saying? I can't be thinking this!] I bit my lip, feeling an electric shock every time I came into physical contact with the Arabian.

"You look exhausted!" Hilde leaned haphazardly in her chair, nearly tipping over, as she offered Quatre a cup of coffee. He took it gratefully, "You look like you're going to fall asleep any moment."

"I'll be fine. I didn't interrupt anything, did I?" Quatre sat back. The loveseat was rather small, and we were both squished together. Quatre didn't notice anything; he was too tired.

"Not really. We were just talking about some of the positive things that are now happening because of the end of the war," Duo answered, kicking back his feet onto the desk and folding his arms behind his head, "What kept ya?"

"Some people insisted that they had some problems that must be dealt with immediately," Quatre stifled a yawn.

"There's always people with problems," Duo grunted, "Say, anyone have any idea what happened to the other guys?"

"The other Gundam pilots?" I asked. Hilde shot Duo an odd expression
.
"I'm not really sure myself. I do know that Wufei joined the Preventers," Quatre said.

"I last heard rumors that Milliardo Peacecraft traveled to Mars for that terra-forming project," I added, "And I suppose that Heero is in the company of Vice-Foreign Minister Darlian."

"That's good," Hilde was frowning at Duo, who was trying to disappear into his chair. It was probably something private. Hilde didn't seem to particularly like hearing Heero mentioned.

Quatre sensed that there was some tension, and he - the peace maker - spoke up.

"So, you two are working partners?"

"Yeah," Duo said, and the next was obviously directed to Hilde, "But I do all the work."

Hilde let her misgivings go, easily slipping back into the insults between the two, "Eventually. You're such a lazy bum, Duo Maxwell! I always do all the work for you!"

Duo chortled at her in mock derision, "My ass!"

"It's a big one at that. I'm sorry, sir, but that's just the truth."

They bantered back and forth, completely forgetting us. I abruptly felt a heavy weight on my shoulder, and looked over. My heart jumped: Quatre had fallen asleep, and was now supported by my shoulder as he drooped. He was softly snoring, his breath warming my shoulder. [Oh, Quatre…] I glanced over at Hilde and Duo. They were still in a heated exchange, and hadn't noticed anything. Quatre looked so worn out…he must have had a real hard time. I gently caressed Quatre's chin and pulled away. [I should probably get him back home or at least where he can get some rest. He's dead tired.]

"Hilde. Duo. Thank you for having us over," I said, standing up. Quatre was half-asleep, and leaning heavily against me for support. I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing, but I slipped my arm under Quatre's, so he could have something to hold on to. I didn't want him slipping down my shoulder and getting thrown to the ground.

Hilde and Duo looked up, waved cheerfully, and went back to bickering, standing up one after the other and taking their "argument" into another part of the house. I helped the weary Quatre down the steps, my heart thudding. Could he feel it, the beats vibrating? He mumbled something, but I didn't catch it.

"Come on, Quatre, let's go home," I whispered softly.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AC 199
Erich, Carnival Field

I was suddenly awake. I hadn't even realized that I had fallen asleep, but I was getting light-headed, and for a second I didn't know where I was. I had stared about wildly, before recognizing the forlorn, abandoned field. The sirens were closing, wailing their distinctive screams.

I laid my head on my unwounded arm, closing my eyes. My other arm was caked in drying blood, the air making my wounded shoulder a mass of pulsing agony. Let them come.

\…You can't achieve a dream when you don't have one…\

Thankfully, I was only semi-conscious now. I didn't have to listen to the irritating voices of people approaching. My screen of hair was blocking my darkening vision, a mask from which to hide myself from the world. Hide the pain, hide the anger, hide the jealously, the fear.

\…I…now know how I think…\

\…That I had loved and I had lost…\

\…I had you…and I lost you…forever…\

\…" 'Till death do we part' "…\

\…I…found what I…came for…\

\…I finally think…I understand what I felt for you…Quatre…\

\…But there will be no happy ending…\

Fin
>>>>>
Well, that's the end of Alpha Target, folks! Thanks again for all you wonderful people that reviewed my first fanfic! I've started working on Beta Target (third person, Chang Wufei and Sally Po on a Preventer mission on Earth, haven't gotten too far because of my sudden interest in Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 and 08th MS Team). It's not really a sequel, though it takes place almost immediately after the end of Alpha Target. It will detail what happens to Trowa after his story, and will start to focus on the Rembrandt disease introduced in the first part of the series I want to do and the incidents occurring with it (like what really happens in the L2 Colony it infects - the very same one that Hilde and Duo were living in during Alpha Target)

Also, for some reason in my English class, I had to write a short story based on the good novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I did put it up (It's called No Longer Am I Needed; mild angst, a quasi-happy ending) just because I sort of wanted to, and I think it's actually alright, considering its length (only seven pages on Word, pretty short stuff). But I doubt anyone's going to read it. But I like to put my writing up. What can I say? I'm cruising for a bruising.

Anything else I want to say? We're not sure yet, but my sister Wyna Hiros and I might be planning to write a MST (Mystery Science Theater 3000) on the horrible movie "Dungeons & Dragons" (in case you don't know, MST is a television show on the Sci-Fi channel that takes horrible films and bashes them in a funny way. A lot of people on FF.net have also applied "MSTing" to fanfics and games). I'm having a lot of trouble finding the damned script, so if anyone actually happens to find it, could you send it to me? The movie was so bad, it's asking for a MST! And I'm thinking of actually MSTing Alpha Target here, but I don't know how people would react. Some of the parts in it are unintentionally funny, but I'm unsure if I should MST it. I'll hurt my own feelings. :P

I kind of want to write for other anime and genre (some of the video games, or Ranma 1/2 or something), but I have all these ideas for Gundam Wing based fanfics! It's a terrible world when all one can think of is fanfic plots. I wanna write something for Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast game), and I'm working on my first attempt at a yaoi (big step for me; plus I'm on a dare with my sister Wyna for a pair of batteries if I win, but if I lose, I have to go buy her a small manga. But I also think it's a challenge to write). Uhm, anything else I wanna babble? Jeez, I say some weird stuff. I wonder what it would sound like if Trowa and Quatre had different voice actors...I personally think the Japanese voice actors for Chichiri and Tasuki in the Fushigi Yugi dual song "Aoi Jiyuu Shiroi" would sound really good! The voice actor for Chichiri would make a cool Quatre, and I think the actor for Tasuki would sound pretty neat as Trowa, even if he'd be a little deep voiced. But then again, that's just me, basing it only on the *singing* voices. Chichiri sounds strange when he talks tho (like he's on helium)...and Tasuki sounds a little crazy. ^_- But I guess that's all I gotta say here...

Flames, rants, reviews, threats, whatever! Feel free to e-mail me at shampoo_famira@yahoo.com or IM me at S Duo Maxwell 02! I love feedback (it would be great if people actually e-mailed me about what I write, but sadly, that's not to be. O_o)! It's the life force of all fanfic writers! Keep our kind alive e_e! Thanks for reading and for dealing with my strange babbling at the beginning and end of my fanfics!

- Famira Damaris
*Yamcha fan
*Wufei supporter and cosplayer
*Glomper of Bright Noah and Char Aznable "Look, they're in the same scene! YAOI!"