Disclaimer: I do not own these characters from Gundam Wing, nor make any profit from torturing poor Duo.

Duo's Demise

By: Dyna Dee

warnings: slight yaoi, heavy angst, Duo's POV

Sifting through the refrigerator, I'm looking for something, anything to alleviate the insatiable hunger I always feel after a mission. It doesn't seem to matter that I've eaten constantly since I've gotten up this morning, I'm still ravenous. Grabbing an apple and an orange from out of the bottom drawer, I note that Quatre has filled the place with wholesome food again and too few of the good snacks. I'll need to run to the store later and fix that little oversight.

I pause in the peeling of the orange to contemplate the two that are sitting in the living room, wondering what's up with them. We've shared the safehouse for several months and Heero and Wufei have been off on a mission for the last six weeks. Quatre and Trowa came back about three weeks ago and since then, I've sensed that something is definitely going on. Quatre seems to always be watching me from out of the corner of his eye, and Trowa in turn, watches Quatre. Not that he doesn't usually have his eye on His Blondness, but it's as if he watches him warily, not trusting. Odd not to trust Quatre. One day, I asked Q-man if something was wrong, if he needed to talk? But from across the room I saw Trowa shake his head and Quatre looked apologetic as he said nothing was wrong. Under my breath I quietly reassured him that I was his friend and if he needed any help or someone to talk to he could always come to me. For some reason, that statement seemed to make him feel bad as he gave me a tremulous smile and told me I could come to him anytime, too.

I just can't figure out if he and Trowa are having a lover's quarrel or not, and I really don't want to butt in where I not welcome. But I'll stand ready at the first sign of trouble to intervene if things get out of hand. We Gundam pilots don't always handle things rationally.

With a deep sigh I come to the conclusion that love is complicated, even with Heero and myself. I don't fall in love easily, but I guess that when I do, I fall hard, because I free-fell into Heero and he is everything to me. The last six months that we've been together have taught me what it is to have hope and joy again. It's been so long since someone has loved me, cared for me, or that I dared to love again after losing everyone I ever cared about. Yeah, Heero isn't very demonstrative, but I know how he feels, even if the words and motions are hard and foreign to him. But being the perfect soldier, I have some confidence that he won't die and leave me alone like all of the other people I've loved.

The beginning of our relationship was made easier, and we were both really relieved, when the other pilots seemed to accept our romantic involvement when it became apparent to them that our friendship had evolved. Even though it made things easier, Heero still isn't the easiest person to be with. His training and fixated focus on the mission make me less than number one on his list of priorities, and he keeps his emotions locked up much of the time.

I smile to myself though, as I think of those times when I am the center of his attention. Those rare smiles and gentle touches he gives to me, and only to me in the confines of our bedroom, make the cool, distant times more bearable.

These last six weeks have been hard, not seeing each other, but we have both been busy with missions. He e-mailed me just before I left for my last mission three days ago and said they would be returning soon and that he needed to talk to me privately. I chuckle to myself. Yeah, I want to "talk" to him privately, too. That was one of the phrases he always used to get me away from the others for a little alone time.

My musings were cut short when my ears pick up the sound of the front screen door opening, it has a loud squeaky hinge that grates on your ears.

"Where is he?" I hear Wufei ask, his voice suspiciously low. That's an odd greeting for the Chinese pilot, and I noticed his voice sounds strangely anxious. I guess he must be talking about me as Trowa and Quatre are in the front room. "Did you tell him?" was the next rushed question and my curiosity is definitely piqued. I wonder what they were suppose to tell me.

"No." Trowa answered rather firmly. "It wasn't for us to tell."

"This is going to be difficult." There was a worried tone in Wufei's voice. I didn't think Wu worried about anything other than justice. I moved closer to the door so I could hear more clearly.

"You should have thought of that before you took up with....." Trowa was halted suddenly.

"Shhhhhh!!!" Quatre ended the conversation abruptly.

Taking that as my cue, I walked through the kitchen door, letting it swing behind me. "Wufei! You're back." I tried to act normal and quickly embrace him. He's stiff and unyielding. "Where's Heero?" I ask and note that neither Quatre nor Trowa are looking at us. Odd again. Wufei looks past me with guilt written all over his face.

"He's on the porch, waiting for you."

I feel a bit of relief flood through me as I'd begun to think something horrible had happened to Heero and they'd been afraid to tell me. I wave, fruit in hand, as I turn to the front door. "Glad you're back." I call out with a smile.

I find Heero sitting on the top porch step. His eyes are focused on the sidewalk, even as my booted feet announce my arrival on the wood surface. I sit next to him, draping my arm around his shoulders and offer him my apple and give him a quick squeeze, noticing he also is stiff, rigid, and unyielding.

"What's the matter, Heero? Did something go wrong on the mission?" I ask gently, growing more concerned by the moment by his rigid body language.

Heero turns his head and shoulders to face me, shrugging off my arm in the process. His cobalt blue eyes are distant and cold, he's in soldier mode. A tremor of dread runs through me. Heero opens his mouth, and in his own unemotional, rational, and concise manner, delivers the words that take the breath from me, sucker punch me is a more apt description. Both pieces of fruit drop from my slack hands as his words sink in.

I jump to my feet and off the porch steps to face him, my legs unsteady. I know my mouth is gaping open, my eyes are wide with dismay, and I find I can't think clearly or really hear what he is saying any longer. I'm stunned and rendered absolutely speechless. Though I'm dimly aware that Heero's voice drones on, and I can only grasp a few words as my word spins around me, a blur of sounds and colors cascading about wildly, and absolutely, completely out of my control. He and Wufei had slept together, this was now clear to me. Something about being lonely, exploring new avenues, new feelings. He hopes I'll understand. UNDERSTAND!!!!!

At some point, the shock wears off enough that I can think somewhat coherently, and then it hits, the pain radiating in me finally registers in my brain. I feel as if someone has taken a blunt piece of metal and is shoving it through my chest and impaling my heart. I let the look of hurt and betrayal show, for in all honesty, it's all I feel.

I look around me, dazed, my eyes unfocused, and almost distantly I hear Heero call my name concerned. Concerned? Yeah right! He should have thought of that before he........ Wait, the words that I'd heard from the kitchen now come back to me. I turn and stumble up the stairs and burst into the house to face the other three.

"I'm sorry, Duo." Wufei has the audacity to speak to me in an apologetic tone as I brush by him.

I stop to look him in the eyes, letting him see fully the impact of what his actions have done to me. "Go to hell, Wufei!" I scream and turn to look at the two accomplices sitting on the couch. "You knew, didn't you?" I shout, accusing them with a pointing finger, my angry voice rising. Quatre's hand is clasped to his chest and his eyes are apologetic. He nods his head.

"It wasn't for us to tell you, Duo. That was Heero's responsibility." Trowa informs me looking smug and totally self justified with his part in this mess called my life.

I look at them, pain enveloping my whole being by their betrayal. "I thought you were my friends." My voice has lowered to an agonized whisper, and cracks with emotion. Then an old saying pops into my mind and I speak it out loud. "But with friends like you, who needs enemies, ne?" I look at the three of them. "To me, your names are Judas." I turned, ignoring Heero at the front door, and bolt up the stairs to the safety of my room, slamming the door as hard as I can, cracking the frame as a result. Once inside, I crumble to my knees and bend over into a ball, letting myself fall to the floor. This is a similitude of how I feel inside; crushed and made small by the betrayal of my lover and my closest and only friends.

I cry silently, giving my grief and pain somewhat of an outlet. I love and lose, the cycle continues. I had erroneously thought I could only lose Heero to death, I never thought I'd lose him to another, a friend. In my stubborn pride, I determine not to let the others hear my grief and pain. But it hurts, unbearably so. At the same time that I am hollowed by my grief and feelings of betrayal, I was also filled and consumed by it. I channel it, letting it swell inside me completely, giving me the adrenaline and energy to pick myself up off the floor. I look rapidly, almost frantic around the room. My room, no longer our room. I run to Heero's dresser and pull out the clothing and items he'd left behind when he went on his mission, a physical sign to me that he would be coming back. I grab an armful, and running to the door I open it and angrily hurl them into the hallway, then return for more. Once his drawers are vacant, I turn to the closet and empty it of his few belongings. Then his blankets, sheets, pillow, and even his mattress goes flying out the bedroom door to crash onto the opposite wall in the now cluttered hallway. At last, every trace of Heero is out of the room. I slam the door on the sorry pile that represents Heero,.......and us.

It's late in the evening, and a timid knock sounds on my door. It's Quatre, of course. "Duo, I've left some food here by the door for you, if your hungry. Duo?"

As if food or his gesture is going to assuage my pain, or lessen his betrayal. I wait patiently until his footsteps retreat, and then I open the door. No one's in the hallway and Heero's stuff is gone. I pick up the plate of hot food, balance it in my hand, and throw it as hard as I can so that it smashes against the door at the end of the hallway, Wufei's room. The dish breaks and falls to the ground, the food is splattered in clumps and streaks down the wooden surface with more landing on the carpet along with the shatter pieces of the plate. I feel a minute sense of satisfaction at the mess that reminds me of my life, shattered and smeared. Calmly, I shut the door and turn on my portable t.v. and let the sound drown out any noises the others might make.

Sleep eludes me most of the night, and what little I got was fitful As the sun shows faint signs of rising far beyond the eastern edge of the forest surrounding the safehouse, I begin to feel hungry, despite the hurt and anger I still feel. In the predawn light, I open my window and climb out, taking my wallet and black backpack with me. I walk to the 24-hour convenience store several miles down the road. I can't ever remember feeling this dispassionate about food before, it's always been one of my obsessions. I wander up and down the isles, dully looking for snack foods, things that don't require refrigeration or cooking. I end up selecting breakfast bars, granola bars, can and dried fruit, beef jerky, water and fruit drinks, snacks heavy on the sugar and salt, and some fresh fruit. Satisfied that I have enough to last a few days, I determine that I'll probably have to leave often as I did this morning to have a meal in town to keep up my stamina. A nice big breakfast sounded good right now. I will starve myself before I share a meal with THEM (as I have come to refer to my former friends).

After eating a very early morning breakfast at a local café, I begin the journey back to the safehouse. I arrive around 8:30 a.m. hoping to avoid the others. The Chinese traitor is on the lawn in the front of the house practicing his ritual morning exercises. I walk past him like we have no past, no present, and definitely no future. He watches me, but doesn't say a word. I'm glad. I have nothing more to say to him.

Entering the house I go straight to my room and lock the door. On goes my music system and the t.v. The call for breakfast went unheeded, as did the one for lunch and dinner.

Days pass in relatively the same way as a pattern develops. I wake up and turn on my music and t.v., eat in my room, and turn on my laptop until lunch time. The call to lunch means the others are downstairs so I feel safe in making use of the bathroom, showering and general personal maintenance.

I eat a sparse lunch and return to reading or hacking into the Alliance financial systems, pilfering funds and transferring them through a web of false trails to a safe account.

At dusk I leave for town to spend my time with strangers in restaurants, movie theaters, and an occasional party. If I come back earlier than midnight, my music and t.v. are turned on until I feel sleepy enough to fall into oblivion and when there are so other sounds of activity in the house, usually around 2 a.m.

On the fifth day of my self-imposed confinement, Heero knocked on my door, informing me we had a mission. I tell him to "Go to hell." that I wouldn't be going on any mission with anyone I didn't trust, and that meant all of THEM. With as few words as possible I tell him that Professor G will be giving me any further mission orders.

Heero tried to argue with me through the door, but it's hard to argue when the other person doesn't respond. 'My, how the tables have turned', I thought ironically.

During the weeks that followed, I did a couple of solo missions. Nothing as spectacular as when several of us hit a base. But the missions served to enlighten me. I discover that my heart just isn't in it anymore. Gone is my righteous indignation against the Alliance and OZ. I just don't care. I feel like my heart is dead. I feel dead. I can't forget nor forgive the others. I still ache and, at times, I've had my gun in my hand wishing it would all end, the curse that plagues me, the pain and the bitter emptiness that envelopes me. My world is grey now, no colors or brightness to be seen, I'm lifeless and listless. I remember a saying, Sorrow looks back, Fear looks around, Faith looks upward, and Hope looks forward. I can't seem to look up or forward any more.

During this time, each of THEM has come to my door, one by one, entreating me to talk to them, asking forgiveness. I couldn't, I can't. I don't think I'll ever be able to trust them again. My replies to each of them all were in short, concise sentences, all containing one particular word. "Get the hell away from me. Leave me the hell alone. Go to hell...." well, you get the picture. I figure if I'm in hell, they might as well share a part of it with me. As they continue to entreat me, I simply turn up my music and t.v. to drown out the sound of their voices. I almost feel a smug satisfaction knowing that I'm bugging the hell out of them.

Another day comes and goes and I'm miserable, my existence is becoming unbearable. I know I can't go on like this and realize that what I'm doing is a slow, torturous form of self-destruction. I'm losing weight, I look skinny and gaunt. My eyes are ringed with dark circles and look haunted. I hate THEM, myself, the world, my life and the war.

It's late now, and the house is still now that I've just turned off my music and t.v. to rest, I lay in my bed half awake, half asleep. This is generally the time of day when I'm calm enough to think, when my best ideas and reflections come. I think of Sister Helen and of the many prayers I'd heard her utter on my behalf as she tucked me into bed at night. She nightly raised her gentle voice as she reverently bowed her head in the posture of prayer to God that I would find happiness, a good and productive life, and someone to love me. Anger and remorse courses through me at the realization that I have let her down. If I keep going on like this, I will make all her prayers on my behalf nothing but wasted breath, and each breath that she drew had been a blessing to me. She meant more to me than that, I determine. I suddenly remember a saying that she often quoted to me. She had it was cross-stitched on fabric and hung on the wall in the orphanage to remind us of it daily. It was by someone long dead person named Goethe. It said simply, "I find the great thing in the world is, not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." I feel ashamed. The words were meaningful to her, living on a poor colony, in a run down building, and living at poverty level. Still, she and Father Maxwell were moving in the direction they had chosen and loved, caring for the thrown away children had brought them joy that they shared freely. Guilt overrides me. I have spent these past weeks in a murky, muddy mire, not entirely all of my own making, but I realize that I'm the only one who can change it, change my direction. I wonder when was the last time I truly had control of the direction I was moving. I think not since I took up the role of Shinigami. On this night, a night of long reflection and with the memory of the past of where I had wanted to go in answer to a nun's fervent prayers, a solution to my dilemma comes to me, a plan begin to form. I get up, turn on the light and my laptop, and begin to work, adjusting accounts, seeking information. By the time the sun rises, my plan is formed, only a few major details need to be worked out. But if I still have any luck at all, then Duo Maxwell and Shinigami will soon die in a memorable blaze of glory.


During and between missions I've managed to complete a couple of the major obstacles that have kept me from implementing my plan. I know our time at this safehouse is nearly at an end, so I have to move quickly as I will not be moving with THEM.

I received another mission. This should be my last one if I can only find the last item on my list that will set everything in motion, and end my life with definite finality.

This is a fairly easy mission, but as I do my surveillance with my night-vision binoculars, I catch a glimpse of what I need, the final piece. It's dark and there are soldiers set around the perimeter of the fence. My heart quickens as I see my new target. I feel only a slight twinge about what I'm about to do, but I realize when I attack at dawn, all the ground soldiers will no doubt die anyway. The night is nearly black, with only a sliver of a crescent moon lighting the heavens above. Leaving the safety of Deathscythe, I make my way to the far right perimeter. I'm grateful once again that my favorite color is black as it effectively hides me in the night's shadows and makes it easy for me to sneak up on my prey. I'm surprised when he seems to detect me, I must be losing more of my edge than I thought, and he turns in my direction, instinctively scanning for something, crouching in a defensive pose. I leap and tackle him. We both struggle desperately with our weapons, both of us seemed to prefer knives this night. We're relatively the same height, short and I can see his hair is as close to my hair color as I have seen during my search. We battle silently and hard, grunting the only sound in our struggle. He is a better soldier than I had anticipated. In the end, though, he lies dead at the end of my knife, and I have a deep slash to my outer right thigh and my left shoulder has been pierced. It hurts like hell lifting the dead body up on my good shoulder to carry him back to Deathscythe. I ignore the pain and fatigue for this is the beginning of Duo Maxwell's end. I sigh in relief that the end to all my misery is near and soon, I can truly rest.

I manage to finish my last mission with no enthusiasm at all, signaling to my tired mind that I'm making the right decision. I can't do this any more. Putting on the cloaking device and auto pilot, I let myself sleep until I arrive at the safehouse several hours later.

It's late morning as I enter the house through the front door. I'm weak from the loss of blood and so little rest. I must look terrible as Wufei looks up at me in alarm and jumps up from the couch and runs to my side.

"Maxwell, you're hurt!" he exclaims, his eyes scanning the tears in my clothing and visible wounds and moves to help.

"Don't touch me." I hissed through my gritted teeth.

"Don't be ridiculous. You need medical attention." He snaps back, irritated by my refusal.

"I'd rather die of gangrene than have you pour salt into my wounds." is my cold reply. "Now get the hell away from me." I had to get "hell" in one of my sentences, it was a tradition now.

"Duo!" Quatre appears out of nowhere and cautiously reaches out his hand to me. I ignore him and limp up the stairs, quietly shutting the door behind me.

I manage to patch myself up and take the penicillin pills Sally Poe regularly sends to us. I need stitches in my leg, but I don't have the stomach for it, so I press the skin together with butterfly bandages and wrap it tightly in gauze. I finish up with my computer and put a disk of all I've copied from it into my back pack. I then delete all my computer files and programs and put in a virus, just for good measure.

I can hear activity in the kitchen below and decide that its time for my shower. The hot water calms me and soothes the aches in my body. I pay special attention to my hair, using my favorite and expensive shampoo and fragrant conditioner. I stay in the steaming shower until the water cools noticeably.

Leaving the bathroom with only a towel around my waist, my wet, towel-dried hair trailing down my back, I'm taken off guard as I see Trowa standing at the top of the stairs leaning against the wall, his arms folded. He's poised as if he's been waiting for a while.

"Any hot water left?" he jokes with a slight smile.

I ignore him and move to my room.

"Come on, Duo. Snap out of it already. Haven't you punished us enough?" he asks quietly. "It's been five weeks."

My back stiffens at his words and I turn to cooly face him. His smile immediately fades. "Is there a specific amount of time allotted for recovery for a heart that had been pulled out of your chest and trampled on?" I ask venomously.

"We're sorry, Duo. All of us." he says in earnest.

I shake my head. "Sorry is an empty and meaningless word, just a word." I look him in the eye. "And yours is too little, too late." I turn and enter my room, locking the door.

I wonder as I lean against the door why I stayed at the safehouse and didn't leave on the first day. Was I punishing THEM or myself? If the truth be known, it was probably both. I don't really know. But I realize that it was for the best that I'd stayed, as my exit from the world would not have the impact I needed if THEY weren't around to witness the final scene that would be played out in the morning.

Everything is set. I just need to bide my time. I move to turn on my music and loudly play my favorite. The t.v. is on also, though the sound is down. I sit in a chair by the window and look out on the green meadow that separates the country safehouse from the forest where our gundams are hidden. I drag my fingers through my damp hair, bringing a handful up to my face. I deeply inhale the scent I put in it, a sweet musk smell. Memories that my hair conjure up come to me now, all the people I've lost. They are all remembered each time I braid the long, thick mass that is, in a way, a visible memorial to them. They had each touched and combed my wild and tangled mane of hair when they were alive. The lower part of my braid represented the point in time they were alive. I suddenly break down and weep into the moist mass that is such an intricate part of Duo Maxwell. I mourn my loved ones, past and present once more, one last time.

Time lost all meaning as I grieved and my memories washed over me again. But I'm abruptly brought out of my reverie when I hear the loud banging on my door. I'm surprised to realize it's dark inside and out of my room, and I turn my head to see the clock read 1:58 a.m. As if in a trance, I turn back to look at the meadow now awash in the soft glow of the waxing gibbous moon.

Suddenly, the door crashes open, the lock broken and the door frame cracked further. Heero stomps over to my stereo and shuts it off. He stands by the dresser, his hands on his hips.

"Enough of this Duo. We need to talk." he demands, exasperation in his voice.

"Get the hell out of my room." I reply harshly and look away from him.

"Look, I'm sorry." he begins, his voice softens and I can see out of the corner of my eye that he is moving towards me. Reaching out, I place my hand on the gun that I've kept on the windowsill, letting it scrape against the wood surface as a warning to him. I quickly turn and raise it to aim at his chest.

"I said get the hell out of my room." I grind out as I release the safety.

Heero puts his hands out to show me he is unarmed. "Duo." he growls in warning and takes another step.

I lower the gun and pull the trigger, shooting him in the left upper thigh. I look at him dispassionately as he falls back on his butt, clutching his leg.

The sound of running feet announce the arrival of the other three who stand silhouetted in the doorway. Wufei moves to kneel by Heero. In the glow of the t.v. screen, I can see his look of angry accusation.

"Get out of my room." I say again, each word pronounced slowly and singly.

"What are you going to do, Duo?" Trowa asks as he and Quatre enter to stand behind the other two. "Shoot all of us?"

"No, just one of us." I answer as I stand, turn towards them clad only in my boxers and loose hair, and put the cold barrel of the gun into my mouth even as I meet their disbelieving and horrified faces with a cold, blank stare.

"By Allah! We're going, Duo. Don't, please, don't." Quatre pleads with his hand out and all of their eyes are trained on me as they rush to pick up Heero and pull him back out the door. I follow them, gun still in my mouth as I use my foot to shut it firmly behind them. Pulling the gun out of my mouth, I make a funny, screwed up face. "Yuck, that tastes terrible." I mutter and releasing the trigger on the gun, I move to go to my bed. I hadn't planned on this happening, and now I won't be able to sleep at all as I can't trust the others not to try and take me down as I rest. I leave my music off in order to hear the movements around the house. I only have a few hours left to wait.

Taking a deep breath, I pause for a last look around my room. The clock states it's almost 10:00 a.m. I heard breakfast being prepared a while ago, so I know the others are in the kitchen. My bed is piled up with all my personal belongings in the middle of it, and I'd rigged a special, small incendiary device under them. "Goodbye." I whisper thoughtfully to my past and walk out the door pulling my black cap firmly down on my head and shutting the much abused door behind me.

Entering the kitchen, I'm not surprised to see them all at the table watching for me. I'd made a point of letting my footfalls be heard as I came down the stairs, warning them of my approach. I can see Heero and Trowa have their hands under the table, probably pointing a gun at me should I make a wrong move. Suddenly, I feel nervous, even though I've practiced what I want to say. I rub my sweaty palms against the hip of my black pants. I'm wearing my black priest's outfit.....for the last time. I'm acutely aware of my surroundings and myself. My braid hangs purposely over my right shoulder, and I can feel my switchblade, keys, and remote detonator in my pocket. My gun is in my shoulder holster in plain sight.

"I have something to say and I don't want to be interrupted. After that, I'm outta your hair." I tell my captive audience in a somewhat calm and cool voice.

Trowa and Wufei nod.

I have planned my speech carefully, but somehow, my emotions begin to rise to the surface. I have to fight them back, both the tears and the heaviness in my heart. I thought I'd exhausted both in the last five weeks. From under the brim of my hat, I turn my gaze to Wufei first.

"You broke one of the golden rules of friendship, Wufei." I begin. "Never go after your friend's lover, past or present. It always ruins a friendship" I manage a sick, thin-lipped smile. "Congratulations, you managed to kill two birds with one stone." then my smile, such as it is, fades, and I know a look of sorrow replaces it.. "How could you, Wufei?" I ask softly. "I've had so little in my life. Did you have to take away the only thing that made it worth living?" I shake my head sadly. "There is no honor in what you did."

Wufei's head bows, his eyes no longer able to hold my watery stare.

I turn to Quatre and Trowa. "I'll address the both of you since you're joined at the hip." I snort derisively. "You betrayed my friendship as surely as Wufei and Heero. You should have told me. Your silence made you co-conspirators in their betrayal. Quatre alone probably knows how I feel." I look at the small blonde whose eyes were blood shot and ringed with dark circles. He looked thinner. Yep, Quatre knows how I feel.

I slowly turn my eyes to Heero who sits at the end of the table dressed in his usual tank top and shorts. His wounded thigh is wrapped and stretched out stiffly in front of him. I force myself to look into his eyes and my heart constricts painfully knowing that I still love him despite his betrayal. My voice catches in my throat as my emotions resurface. I close my eyes, trying to gain control and quickly rub away the errant tear that escapes with a quiet, muttered curse.

"Heero," I begin, and I'm dimly surprised at how my voice is shaking. "I didn't deserve what you did to me." I shake my head. "I gave you my heart, my soul, and my body...," I swallow hard. "and you threw it all away like yesterdays garbage." I turned my hurt and horrified eyes to him letting him see what he had done to me. "I helped you find a bit of your humanity, and you thank me by taking up with another without letting me go first. Guess we never had a talk about fidelity." I tried to smirk, but failed miserable.

"Duo, I...." Heero reaches out to me, a look of desolation in his blue eyes.

"Shut up! Shut the hell up!" I yell as my emotions explode. To my amazement I find myself openly crying now. It was time to end this. "You four broke me more effectively than any Oz interrogator could have." I sniff, and let the tears fall unattended as I reach into my right pocket and palm the switch blade in my right hand. "I only have one thing left of value to me." I say, pulling my braid with my left hand, and removing my right hand from my pocket, I flicked open the blade in a quick, smooth movement and brought it to my neck. In two deft strokes and in less than three seconds, I severed my braid at my shoulder and flung its length onto the table to have it land in front of Heero. Four disbelieving faces stare at it.

"That's the last thing I have to give you. Keep it as a trophy, or toss it away as you did me." I say sadly. "It doesn't matter any more. I won't need it where I'm going."

With that said, I turn and run from the room, pushing the detonator in my pocket as I reach for my duffel bag.

I hear Heero's voice call out to me, sounding desperate, but dead men don't answer, do they? My heart is pounding furiously in my chest as I run across the short meadow, looking behind me to catch a glimpse of Wufei standing on the porch in front of the house, and the flicker of a growing fire from my open bedroom window. I turn and run into the forest where the final scene is yet to be played out.

I arrive at Deathscythe with my heart racing. This is it. There's no turning back now. I ride the foot cable up to the hatch and key open the door to the black killing machine. Ugh, it smells like death warmed over in the cockpit. Just as it should be, since there's a dead guy sitting in the pilot's chair. The soldier I killed yesterday sits slumped over in the loosely strapped chair. I'm glad I'd taken the time yesterday to dress him in one of my priest outfits. Man, he's ripe!

Bending to unzip my duffel bag, I remove my backpack from it. Off comes my hat, shaking my new shoulder length air to get a feel of it. I remove my gun and holster and then my outer clothing, for underneath it all I'm wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt. I throw my trademark outfit into the C-4 loaded cabin and place the duffel bag on the corpse's lap. There is only one thing left to do. I reach up and around my neck and unfasten the clasp of the gold chain that holds my crucifix. I gently, almost hesitatingly, lay it on top of the duffel bag.

"I'm sorry." I say in all honesty to the dead man that vaguely resembles me. "I promise you that I'll never kill again."

Taking the remote detonator switch I had left in care of the corpse, I pick up my back- pack and ride the cable down. I'd left my new motorcycle behind the heel of my gundam for the last few days. This was one of my last purchases and the others knew nothing about it.

Putting the key in the ignition, I turn the engine on and it purrs quietly to life. I carefully navigate it away from Deathscythe, dragging a tree branch behind to hid my tracks as I move in the direction of the nearest highway not far away.

Checking my watch, I see the whole episode has taken only 10 minutes. I reach the road and let the motorcycle go, picking up speed nicely and sending a ripple of excitement through me. It's a thrilling sensation to be speeding down the deserted road. My newly cut hair whips around my face as if it, too, relishes its new freedom. Reaching into my pocket, I bring out the detonator and depress it. The sound filling the air is deafening and the road beneath the bike convulses from the shock of the explosion. Slowing down, I look behind me and see the dark smoke and some falling debris from the explosion that marks my passage into a new life. Duo Maxwell is dead, as is his other half in the war, Shinigami. I've taken the first steps to leave my past behind me, the war, and any hope for a return. I will now take charge of the direction of my life, create a new past, and with it, a new future. As a line from an old song said,. "I ain't gonna study war no more". Just maybe, someday, I'll learn to smile again, to trust and care again. But for now, I'm glad to be free and looking ahead as the road of possibilities stretch out before me like the road under the wheels of my motorcycle.