Disclaimer: Regular disclaimer really. I am only writing this piece of fan fiction to practise my writing skills and to raise the awareness of certain deeds that should never be repeated through another medium. I own none of the rights to anything mentioned in the story following this disclaimer save for my OCs and the mobile suits the Z1 Respite, Z2 Constrict and the Z3 Frustration.

Notice: This is just a little preview of the sequel story arc, seeing as this is the first chapter of the next arc but as the Prologue. Hope this ties up some loose ends left over from the story's ending.

Epilogue/ Prologue

Better with time

Heero looked around the barren landscape taking in the vast emptiness of what used to be the buzzing hive of activity in Alaska, Garth Marco's prime research base. The orange sand flew across the plane gently on the wind, forming up in sand drifts all along the side of the collapsed cannon and the buildings that had once stood proud and tall. As he looked at the cannon, now swathed in the sand, he couldn't help but think of the suicidal attack that had brought it down. It had been one of the stupidest attacks Heero had ever seen, with only a slight chance of success to begin with. But, he had to admit, the kid had done what had been expected of him. He paused in his observations for a moment. Had he just referred to Tom as a kid? The guy had been older than him in years, and maybe even in mind a few hours ago. But something had changed inside Heero, an indescribable change that he was still wrestling with deep inside of himself and he was still unsure of the eventual outcome, or its effects.

The sound of a stone rolling along the fine sand of the hill behind him alerted him to Flay's intentions. He didn't even bother to act smug but rather just held up his hand to tell her to stop,

"Quiet Flay. I'm listening for any engine sounds." He said slowly, drawing each word out to make it seem mocking without actually mocking her, "I survived the cannon's destruction and even managed to pry myself free from the pile of rubble we were trapped under. Do you really think that a stone to the back of the head will do it?"

Flay stood, the stone held high above her head in shaking hands, and shuddered at the truth in his words. She was about to put the stone down peacefully but her fingers slipped and suddenly the large stone fell from her grip and onto the crown of Heero's head. A gasp escaped her and she watched as Heero's lifeless body fell to the ground, blood oozing lazily from a jagged line in his skull. Without another thought she turned in a random direction and ran away from the body as fast as her legs would carry her. With the red sand whipping up around her feet she sped down the covered mound of rubble. A faint glimmer of hope ran through her exhausted body as she spotted a large piece of black metal jutting up out of the ground. Without a second thought she hid behind it and gave a shuddering sigh of relief.

There was something else behind the sheltering piece of armour however. Five pieces of the same, black, metal were joined together in the shape of a coffin, with the fifth piece being the lid on top. Strangely coincidental as it looked, the resemblance to a coffin was remarkably uncanny. Suddenly one of the side panels shifted slightly and out of the gap that it made came a pale, human, hand. Flay slowly extended her hand and touched the pale hand's wrist, searching for a pulse. Not only did she find one but one of the hand's fingers brushed against her hand gently. In panicked hasted, she scurried backwards and gathered her breath for an almighty scream. A hand came from behind her and covered her mouth as she tried to let out the compressed air. Heero leaned in closed to her left ear,

"I forgot to mention Flay… don't touch anything." He said to her sternly. She was about to struggle when the hand twitched again. Once again showing that survivors' were being found was still a distinct possibility. Heero wasn't interested in the mystery of the coffin and the pale hand so much as mildly annoyed so her left Flay in her state of shock, and walked over to the side of the coffin. Flay looked at him expectantly. Heero kicked the side panel once and the 'coffin' caved in on itself in a cloud of red sand.

Flay gasped, half expecting a nuclear zombie to rear up and attack Heero. There was, of course, no zombie and hence no rearing-up and no ensuing brain eating. Heero shook his head and pulled aside the top panel from on top of the body. He looked down at the pale face, the sparkling eyes and the clean, white, teeth. And he smiled. Heero held his right hand out for the body and Flay watched, with ever mounting fear, as the body's hand clasped the offered hand and Heero pulled the man to his feet. The man turned to face Flay with his characteristic grin. Flay stumbled backwards,

"B-but… he shot you!" she exclaimed in horror. Duo Maxwell flung his head back, almost hitting Heero in the face with his matted braid,

"That he did. I am dead." He said, putting her at ease somewhat before laughing again, almost evilly, "But if you can see me then you are dead too!"

Flay clawed madly at her eyes, as if blinding herself would stop herself from being 'dead',

"No!" she cried with pain and terror. Heero frowned at his friend,

"Stop messing with her head Duo. It's already fucked up beyond all recognition." He said, breaking Duo's illusion. Duo frowned and glanced sideways at Heero,

"Killjoy." He muttered. Flay shook her head desperately,

"D-duo is… a-a-alive?!" she asked, tears tumbling down her face at this casual display that had shattered her perspective of the world around her. Duo rolled his eyes,

"Did you hit her on the head with a stone by any chance?" he asked Heero with a smile. Although it had been made with sarcasm in mind, Heero responded with the truth,

"No, an entire building."

"You don't do things in half measures do you?"

"Nope."

"I hear the engines pf a transport ship Mr Yuy. Gunna get on it or do we need to bring down another building?"

"Nah Duo. I think we're good."

"Well that's good."

"Yes it is."

"Has anyone ever told you that answering everything literally is really annoying?"

"No."

"You would have thought they would have."

"Well they haven't."

"You're doing it again."

"Doing what again?"

"AH! Put me back in the coffin! My own company is better than this!"

"Why's that Duo?"

"Because I'm hilarious!"

"You're delusional with thirst."

"That too!"

The Frontier of Loss

Kira stood in silence, his hands clasped behind his back as the coffin was assembled. It was for the biggest funeral in the history of his home dimension, but it was still going to be the second biggest funeral of both dimensions. But he'd tried to show everyone her importance in the new ear that would immerge from her actions. And, as Lacus would say, it was the thought that counted. His shoulders sagged a bit and a delicate hand came to rest on his right shoulder,

"You did your best Kira and her actions will be known." Meer said, ignoring the irony of talking about her own funeral. The very fact that the coffin being assembled had her name on it sent shivers down her spine whenever she thought about it. And it was hard not to think about it with the shining, inscribed, piece of bronze staring her in the face, glinting mockingly. Kira nodded and put his arm around her waist gently. Meer shivered again. Every time he touched her it set about her skin crawling and her heart aching. She was his Lacus now but she wouldn't love him like she had. In fact the very idea of giving her love to someone, other than Heero, made her want to be violently ill. But she was broken out of her reprieve as the door opened and a distraught looking Cagalli stormed into the room, waving a piece of paper madly in the air,

"What the hell Lacus?!" she demanded, almost screaming at Meer. Meer sighed,

"You got the details of Tom's funeral then?" she asked, only asking the question to be civil. Cagalli, however, was in no mood to be civil,

"You booked it for the same time as the Meer funeral AND you've given it the smallest room you could manage!" she shouted at Meer, causing Kira to get slightly annoyed. But Cagalli continued, "He ended the war for us! He sacrificed himself! Don't you care about him?!"

With her angry attitude towards his Lacus, Kira snapped and spun round to face his sister,

"NO!" He bellowed, making Cagalli cower back for a few seconds, "No one cared about Tom when he was alive and no one cares any more now that he's dead Cagalli!"

Cagalli turned defiant again,

"That man that 'no one' cared about did more to help our people with one deed than a bitch who cut herself ever cou-!" she argued but stopped when Kira grabbed hold of her wrist tightly,

"Don't you dare say Meer was worse than that piece of scum human pawn you called a lover!" he warned her viciously. Cagalli slapped Kira across the face with her free hand as hard as she could,

"You bastard Kira! You were there! You saw what he did for me! You saw how much he cared for me! He loved me Kira!" she protested. Kira's cheek stung but he ignored it and shook her violently,

"Wake up Cagalli! He was a traitor and an evil bastard to boot! You were NOTHING to him!" he yelled in his sister's face. Cagalli's façade fell apart and tears ran down her face and she finally broke free from his grip and slowly walked backwards towards the door,

"I hate you. I'd rather die like Tom, a good person, than have YOU as my brother! I never want to see you again Kira! I hate you!" she screamed before running out of the room in a flurry of tears and wailing cries. Kira growled and turned to his Lacus,

"Can you believe that? She thinks I'm the bad guy here!" he said indignantly before returning to watching the casket being assembled. Meer, tears blurring her vision struck out, slapping him round the face just like Cagalli had,

"You are the monster Kira." She said quietly, "You defiled the memory of the man she loved Kira. You can't do that to someone that you love Kira!"

Kira gave a long sigh and rested his head against the wall, his eyes closed as he thought for a moment. He nodded slowly,

"You're right. I'm sorry. I've just…" he stopped for a moment, "Been getting this weird feeling inside me lately. It's… kind of emptiness but the only thing I can fill it with at this moment is anger. I need you to help me with it Lacus."

Meer nodded and the tears descended,

"Of course I will Kira. Come on. I'll show you how to fill it with love." She said softly before leading Kira off by the hand to their bedroom.

Nothing keeps me together, at the seams

Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell stepped out of the shuttle and onto the main corridor of the Luna base's conference wing in the tattered and charred remains of their flight suits. The ones that's they'd fought, lost and were finally buried in. But the fact that you could see their skin through the tears and cuts just made it look more and more like something that could be turned into a fashion statement. Well, the photographers, interviewers and other forms of media dogs certainly liked the fact that their live feeds to earth and the Plants was full of tall, handsome and well muscled young men. They surged forwards to meet the new arrivals but the thin line of military personal held them at bay. Heero and Duo looked out at the vast sea of reporters and cameramen. Heero shook his head dismissively and Duo only gave them a fleeting grin before pulling on the cord that he held in his right hand. Flay walked out of the shuttle behind the two of them, flanked by two more military personal, her hands bound by the cord that Duo used to lead her around like a leash. Flay spat angrily at Heero's back as the media managed to let loose a collective shout of different questions, only succeeding in making a wall of sound that almost blocked Flay's words,

"You didn't tell me that they'd parade me around in front of the media Heero. You promised me a fair trail and a sentence. Nothing more Heero!" she shouted at him as Duo handed her leash to one of the soldiers. Heero turned to her and bowed his head briefly,

"I know Miss Allster. I didn't expect this welcome anymore than you did. But I am sure that the trail will be private and the judgement just." He said with another curt nod before Flay was slowly led away by the soldiers. She cackled madly and camera lenses clicked shut repeatedly,

"You fool Heero! This is exactly how it always starts! Even Garth started like this! First, the media is used like baying puppies, and then the people who are a threat are eliminated! Then comes the dictator! He'll sweep all of your democracy away Heero! He'll be the end of you all Mr Yuy! Mark my words!" she screamed above the roar of the reporters and the camera men. Duo looked at Heero as Flay disappeared from sight, slightly unnerved by her rant,

"She's… got a point there Heero." He said slowly, "Dictators do start out this way."

Heero shook his head, equally as slow,

"Kira wouldn't be able to. With Lacus and Meer by his side he'll always do what's right. They'll make sure of it." He said soundly, sounding a lot surer than he felt. Duo bit his lower lip,

"Only Meer would really steer him in the right path… I have a feeling that Lacus would let her feelings get in the way." He said, eyeing the armed soldiers nervously. Heero patted him reassuringly on the shoulder,

"But Meer will be there as well Duo. He'll be fine." Heero said with a faint smile. Duo frowned and the two of them were slowly led away by two of the soldiers.

They were escorted around the media area and into a series of long corridors lined with large, marble, archways. Each archway led into its own, large, and luxuriously furnished room. Duo busied himself by looking inside each of the rooms as they walked by them. He was starting to get bored of this activity as well until her noticed Cagalli at the far end of one of the rooms, knelt down on the floor. He stopped and stared, trying to see what it was that she was looking at. Heero looked to his right and didn't see Duo there. With a frown he turned and saw Duo standing in front of the open archway,

"What are you doing Duo?" he asked his friend and stopped walking too. Duo frowned and beckoned for Heero to come closer,

"I think I see Cagalli in this room Heero." He told his friend. Heero shook his head but walked over to the archway as well. He nodded slowly as he too saw Cagalli hunched over something, her shoulders rising and falling with jagged movements,

"She's crying Duo…" he whispered before slowly walking into the room. Duo followed his friend and they made their way over to Cagalli who was indeed crying. Duo placed a hand on her shoulder and she jumped at his touch,

"Hey, hey Cagalli. It's just me… the loveable Duo." He said with a small grin. She looked up at him with blood shot eyes, her cheeks soaking wet,

"Duo…? You and Heero came back for Tom's ceremony?" she asked, her voice weak from wailing and crying. Duo opened his mouth to respond but Heero spoke before he could,

"Yes Cagalli. We won't miss a ceremony dedicated to a friend like Tom. He was the hero of this war, it is the least we could do." He said, staring hard at Duo over Cagalli's head. Duo nodded as he got the message. The truth would hurt more than any lie at this point. Cagalli tried to chuckle but her throat was so sore that it came as a croak,

"Well we three here are the ceremony… and that is his thanks." She pointed down at the floor, just in front of her feet. Both Heero and Duo stared down with a heavy feeling in their stomachs when they saw what Tom's thanks had materialised. A single, unremarkable and badly polished bronze plaque. It didn't even have his name on it, only a poor quality engraving of the Frustration. The heavy feeling grew hot inside his gut and Heero clenched his fists,

"How could they allow this? This man gave his life for us!" he bellowed, this being enough to let his emotions rise to the surface. Duo nodded, his own face twisted in rage,

"A man gives his life to end a war and this is thanks he gets?! We need to take this to them guys, for Tom's memory." He concluded grimly. Cagalli nodded and Duo helped her to her feet,

"Come on. I know exactly where to find Kira. And we can make a big scene about it in front of the cameras. Follow me guys."

Ever a Broken man

Kira stood in front of the hundreds of assembled guests and the billions of viewers watching at home on their television screens. He didn't sweat and he wasn't nervous. This was no time to sweat and no time to be nervous. This was a time to mourn a tragic passing, the like of which he never wished to be a part of ever again. He shuffled his speech notes quietly before gripping the edge of the podium and staring through the mass of microphones to address the people,

"My people, this week has been full of news of triumph and the final victory over the oppressive Garth Marco but I want the entire universe to know the cost of our victory! The price of triumph!" he shouted into the microphones. A switch was flicked and the casket slowly raised itself up so that it stood vertical, Meer's face the only visible part of her body. He coughed slightly as several of the guests wept loudly, "One of our own, a figure of enlightened kno-"

Shouts and screams from the rear of the room attracted everyone's attention, including Kira's. One of the double doors to the room suddenly swung inwards and two soldiers flew into the rearmost rows of seats. Kira gritted his teeth and his hand slipped into her jacket pocket and lightly rested upon his revolver. His eyes widened as Duo appeared in the open doorway. Duo shook his head,

"And who's funeral is this?!" one of the soldiers rushed to him but Duo put him down with a savage kick to the gut, "Who gets a lavish funeral while the hero of our time is marked by a mere plaque?!"

More of the soldiers came rushing down the gaps in between the rows of seated guests and Heero stepped into the doorway, throwing an unconscious soldier to the floor in disgust,

"You people sicken me!" he roared at the guests and media alike. Kira growled and gripped one of the microphones,

"Heero! Duo! Now is not the time for petty complaints!" he said, his voice amplified beyond the level of their shouts. Duo retorted but Heero wasn't listening anymore. He'd noticed whose face was staring at him from the casket. Without even caring that there were at least a dozen soldiers blocking his path he slowly, in a daze, made his way down the aisle, his hands out to his sides as if thanking some higher power instead of damning it with every fibre of his being. The shouts and threats of the room dulled to him and he suddenly couldn't hear anything anymore. What's more, the colour in his vision disappeared, leaving black and white as something caught in his throat. The soldiers rushed forwards to try and stop him but he saw them as if in slow motion. The first one to come near him got a knee to the gut as Heero gently sidestepped past him. The others tried to grab hold of him but he flitted under and over their grasping hands before breaking into a sprint as he broke free of their ranks. The colours of the world swam back into his vision as he reached the impressive casket. His tears doubled and he never even remembered starting to cry. He pulled at the casket lid and it tore away from the coffin with surprising ease. Meer's body fell out of the velvet lined box and Heero caught her in his arms. His tears splashed down onto her neck and face before he flung his head back and wailed deeply from his lungs. He rocked backwards and forwards on the balls of his feet before he heard the click! Of a revolver being cocked. His head turned of its own accord to look at Kira, his hand visibly shaking as he aimed the handgun at Heero's head,

"Put Meer back in the casket Heero!" he commanded, his voice even shakier than his hand. Heero wailed again,

"There's no one else who can make me feel so alive! I searched the universe and found myself in her eyes!" he shouted, not to Kira in particular but to the universe as a whole. Kira shook his head, his teeth gritted,

"Put her back in the casket Heero!" he shouted at his friend. Heero lowered his head into Meer's neck and wept with utter abandonment for five seconds before his sobbing abruptly stopped. He raised his head, his face glistening wet with his tears as his now steely eyes came to rest on Kira,

"Who are you to dare tell me what do?" he asked, his voice low. Kira frowned,

"I am the commander of-"

"You are NO ONE!" shouted Heero, shocking the entire room into silence, "You can give yourself whatever titles you want Kira but at the end of the day you are a little boy who got lost one day. You are a pilot Kira, don't forget your place."

Heero rose to his feet, still holding Meer's body in his arms as he did so. He gave Kira a spiteful look before turning to walk away with his lover's body. Kira growled and fired a shot off at Heero's feet,

"Don't you walk away from me Heero Yuy!" he demanded. Heero ignored his warning shot and carried on walking down the aisle towards the door where Duo and Cagalli where waiting. Kira roared violent and emptied the revolver's chamber into Heero's back. The bullets ripped through Heero's flesh, bone and muscle before tearing into Meer's body, tearing it into a bloody mess. Heero dropped the defaced corpse. He slowly turned on his heel and simply pointed at Kira,

"I'll be the end of you Kira Yamato. No matter who you think you are, you will always be just a second rate pilot. Nothing more. And I'll be the one who stands over your lifeless body in victory. You will never be rid of me."

And there it ended. And there it began anew.