A/N: Well here's Chapter 1. Still working on…everything else…so enjoy what I can post now that I am working nearly full-time and taking 5 four hour classes.
War…a terrible and tragic thing. War causes pain and suffering…but it is the loss of innocence that is often the most tragic thing of all. But what humans begin humans must end…no matter how young or how old…humans must finish what they start.
Scanning the streets of L2 violet eyes caught and registered everything going on around him. The second war had finally ended, and Deakim Barton was dead. Now it was said that peace could finally begin the new age.
Duo Maxwell frowned as he slipped onto the streets of L2, one of the most dangerous places left in the world. What was peace anyway? Slipping through the crowd with his head down and his hands at work he continued to think.
As far as he was aware peace was something that was unattainable, something that could never be. Sure some semblance of peace could come about but…
Duo easily dodged a pickpocket and rolled his eyes as the amateur proceeded to get caught.
It was human nature to fight and from fighting came wars. He had learned that years ago. He had learned that as he watched everyone around him die.
Slipping into one of the better parts of town and over to a small café he shook himself determinedly away from those thoughts. They would do no good now.
Looking up violet eyes lit up as they fell on a pair of happy teal eyes. Quatre looked the same as he had when he had last seen him four months ago. Still small, pale and blonde and still as happy and seemingly innocent as a child. But none of them were innocent anymore, were they?
Smiling at the other Duo made his way over and easily flopped into the chair in front of the little blonde, his braid slipping over one shoulder.
"How ya been Kitty Cat?"
Quatre smiled brightly at him from the other side of the table. Dressed casually as Duo had once taught him in faded jeans and a large blue hoodie he fit in with the general L2 populace more than he normally would have. Though his bright hair still made him stand out.
"Good Duo. How about you? Everything been okay here?"
There was genuine worry and concern in the others voice and Duo winced slightly. He had decided to come back to his childhood hell on a whim after the war. The memories and regret he felt over those he had killed or gotten killed drawing him back. He had left without a word and it was only when he finally felt the need for familiar human contact that he had contacted a frantic Quatre.
"I'm fine…everything has been…as expected here."
Quatre frowned but nodded and watched as his big brother looked out the window lost in thought. He had known something had been bothering the other for quite some time after the war. Duo had stayed with him in one of his homes for a time before he disappeared and during that time Quatre couldn't make anything of the chaos of emotions coming from the other. Now though he felt calmer…and looked ill.
Quatre frowned, looking closer at his brother. There were dark circles under dimmer than normal violet eyes and the usually pale skin was paler than normal. Wearing his customary black he was dressed in a pair of black leather pants over a pair of sturdy black boots and a tight black leather mid-drift tank top that easily showed that Duo had not been eating properly for quite some time. The black leather jacket that Duo had just recently thrown on the back of a nearby chair showed why Quatre hadn't noted the others thin state before.
"You haven't been taking care of yourself."
It was a statement and caused Duo to flinch once again as he looked at the smaller teen out of the corner of his eye. He knew there was no point denying it…it was painfully obvious but he just hadn't felt like eating really. So rather than discuss the topic he chose evasion.
"So have you heard from the others recently?"
Quatre easily saw what the other was doing but chose to ignore it for now, content that he would have time later to have a go at his friend and to get some meat back on his bones.
"Actually yes. Wufei had gone back to China for a time but he is back now and living with me, after some persuasion."
Duo hid a chuckle at that, knowing how stubborn their dragon could be when he wanted to be.
"And Trowa went back to the circus before becoming 'restless' as he said. So he is also living with me."
Duo didn't even bother to hide a chuckle this time and Quatre simply ignored him. Duo had been the one Quatre had gone to about his crush on the tall European pilot and despite what he had said about being sure the tall, silent pilot liked his little brother back Quatre still remained oblivious to the others attention.
…Actually…Trowa was pretty oblivious to his little brothers affections as well…oh well this certainly wouldn't do.
"And after hearing that Wufei was with me Zechs ended up living with us as well."
Quatre gave a light, half-hearted glare as Duo laughed. It had been obvious not even two minutes after formally meeting each other that Zechs had fallen for their temperamental dragon, and it was also clear that Wufei would not be giving in anytime soon. Not to say the other didn't like the attention, his pride just wouldn't allow him to give in without a fight. Duo had found hours of amusement simply watching them. And the look on Wufei's face when Zechs stole a kiss New Years Eve was priceless.
The blush that had stolen across their dragons face, even better. But suffice to say he stayed quiet; most likely in shock; for quite a while. And Zechs had been pretty smug too come to think of it.
"Oh. And Heero just sort of showed up one day. No idea what he was doing. But he did ask after you when he discovered you weren't there."
Duo froze at that and Quatre sent the former street rat a knowing look. While Quatre had gone to Duo, Duo had gone to Quatre about his own crush. One he knew would never be returned. After all, the perfect soldier didn't understand emotions, nor did he need them. And besides, he deserved better than a dirty street rat. Quatre had berated him for hours when he had made the mistake of calling himself that in his presence.
And judging from the look he was receiving from the blonde Arab he knew what he was thinking now…and obviously didn't like it.
"So then what is everyone doing now?"
He wasn't trying to evade anything, really. He honestly wanted to know. …And if it kept them off the sole subject of the Perfect Soldier then all the better.
Quatre shot his big brother a knowing look before shrugging it off for now and answering the question. Eventually he could get the conversation back to the object of his brother's affection and attention. And no…he wasn't being hypocritical at all. Duo was just more important.
"Nothing at the moment. Zechs worked with the Preventers for a time but has since 'retired' and is spending his time trying and not necessarily failing to pursue Wufei. Other than that and me running WEI, no one is really doing anything. …Other than look for you of course."
Duo blinked in shock. And simply stared at the amused blonde in front of him.
Quatre smiled in amusement as he leaned back in his chair.
"Heero was the last to get in around two months ago. He asked after you and accepted it when I said I wasn't too sure. After all, none of us had really told anyone where we were going to be. But when you didn't show up in two weeks I think the silence got to everyone and they all came to ask where you were…at the same time. That was not a pleasant conversation."
Duo couldn't help it, he grinned. He could see it and while he felt for his little brother he also found immense amusement in the semi interrogation he knew the other must have gone through. And knowing how well Quatre; always the business man; could use words he imagined the interrogation had gone on for quite some time.
"Any way, I evaded it for as long as I could. Reminding them that none of them had let me know where they were going, when Heero stated that he had heard some of the staff talking about how 'Master Duo' had disappeared over two months ago. You can imagine it degenerated from there. Heero was quite pissed to put it simply."
Duo sniggered at the exasperated tone and look Quatre was giving him as he gestured for the other to continue.
"Eventually Heero agreed to give you some time to get there; which you have used up by the way; before he would search for you. The others agreed and they have all been looking for you since."
Duo smiled, feeling oddly happy about that. He had expected Quatre to look for him, they looked on each other as brothers since Heero's self destruct episode. Hell, he had even expected Trowa to look for him when he found him missing as the two of them were quite close as well. Both understood what it was like to feel like you simply appeared out of nowhere.
What it felt like to not have a name or a place to really call home. And they both understood what it was like to gain something and then have it torn away in bloody devastation. In an odd way, Trowa was to him what he was to Quatre, a big brother figure.
But for the others to look for him was…surprising to say the least. Zechs barely knew him at all; having only really met New Years Eve and Zechs having focused most of his attention on Wufei.
Wufei himself had taken every opportunity to insult him during the war and he really wasn't sure he could blame him. Jokes and such was a coping mechanism for him…something he had come up with to help him survive first his years on the streets, then the plague, the Maxwell Church Massacre, his imprisonment in the Alliance Military's L2 base after the Massacre and later the wars. His training had been nothing after all that; there really hadn't been much to teach him that he hadn't grown up needing to know.
What he had said to Sister Helen and Father Maxwell had been true and he had needed a way to cope with it all. And becoming the jokester was his coping mechanism. If he never showed how damaged and fragile he really was both inside and out, how desperate for human contact; even painful contact; he was, and how much companionship of any kind meant to him then he was safer all around.
"I don't believe in God. I haven't seen any miracles, but I've seen a whole lot of dead people. So I'll only ever believe in the God of Death."
So really; he didn't think he could blame Wufei for his opinion of him at all.
…Then there was Heero. What possible reason could Heero have to look for him? None that he could come up with. Sure they had spent a lot of time together during the war and Duo had genuinely tried his best to at least be a friend to the other while desperately hiding his crush on the other. But other than becoming less hostile towards him, there had been no change in the perfect soldier.
"Why would they look for me?"
The look Quatre gave him stated quite plainly what Quatre thought of him at the moment and Duo blinked in confusion; still coming up with no answers. Quatre sighed when he saw the blank look violet eyes were shooting at him.
"Idiot; we are a group of five –now six – and you have been missing. Of course they are going to worry and look for you."
Duo snorted in sarcastic amusement as he leaned back in his chair.
"Yeah right Kitty Cat. You and to an extent Tro I can understand. But Goldie locks barely knows me; 'Fei 'Fei hates me; and the Perfect Soldier couldn't care less."
Quatre blinked slowly as he stared at the other. He could understand to some extent where his brother was coming up with these notions, having everyone; save Zechs; together on Peace Million. But he could feel what others couldn't see or didn't allow to be seen.
He could feel Wufei's pain caused by the loss of his family. He could feel Trowa's emptiness caused by never knowing who he was and never having a home or anything else to go back to. He could now feel Zechs' pain over the loss of his family and friends as well as the loss of the ideals he had grown up learning. And he could feel Heero's desperate need; a need to be treated as someone rather than something. A need to be treated as more than just a weapon; to be treated as a human being with thoughts and needs of his own.
And he could feel as all of this lightened when Duo was nearby. He knew that Duo was not always a happy bundle of energy but when around the others he could tell that for a time he truly is what he portrays himself as. Duo was necessary for all of them; he lightened the mood and made them all feel accepted.
It was for this reason that the others had begun searching for their braided friend. They hadn't realized what they were missing until that had been gone.
"They miss you Duo."
Duo simply shrugged and turned to look at the clock on the wall of the café. Seeing the time he quickly stood and grabbed his coat, motioning for Quatre to do the same.
"It's getting late. The colony lights will go off soon so it is best if you get back to your hotel soon. It's not safe here at night."
Quatre too looked at the time and stood to follow his brother.
"So dusk will be coming soon? I forgot about the time difference."
Duo snorted as he led the other out of the café.
"There is no dusk here. There is day and there is night."
"Why? Dawn and Dusk should be programmed into the computer systems."
Duo snorted again as they stopped outside the café on the rapidly clearing streets.
"This is L2 Kitty Cat. Nothing is as it should be here. This place is nothing more than a floating hell in the heavens. Now go! Before the night life comes out."
Quatre frowned for a moment before looking up slightly into the others violet eyes.
"My shuttle leaves here tomorrow from private gate 04 at 0900 hours…please Duo…please come home."
Duo observed the sad teal eyes of the little blonde before giving him a little shove in the direction of his hotel.
"I'll think about it. Now go! You've got ten minutes."
Quatre nodded, accepting this before taking off at a run for his hotel. Duo watched him go for a moment before taking off silently after him. He knew there was no way the little blonde could make it all the way back to his hotel in ten minutes. And there was no way he was letting the night life get a hold of the innocent blonde.
Slipping through the shadows in silence was just another everyday thing and just another reminder of the past, but Duo kept it up until he stopped in a dark alley just a bit past dark. Stopping, still completely in shadows he watched silently as Quatre was welcomed back with frantic questions. Smiling slightly to himself Duo slipped away; never noticing the teal eyes that turned to his alley hideaway seconds later.
"I know you want me to see your world Kitty Cat. That you want me to have what I never could as a child. …But right now you're in my world…and while you're here I will protect you the best I can."
Quatre stood silently looking around the shuttle port. There weren't many people coming or going really. Which made him stand out just that little bit more. He should have expected Duo to return to L2 but for some reason it never occurred to him. Though even if it had Quatre had no doubt that he would have never found the braided pilot anyway. He had been their stealth expert back in the wars and L2 was his playground. He knew all the ins and outs of this place.
Behind him a clock chimed dimly and Quatre sighed. He had to leave now. He was expected back with the others soon. …But he had really hoped Duo would come home with him. Things really hadn't been the same back on earth. Once everyone had joined him at one of his homes with no Duo there it had been to quiet.
He had missed his brother deeply and had been worried when he had just up and disappeared without a word. But he had respected that perhaps Duo needed time on his own; and that he would come back only when he was ready.
Taking one last desperate look around the space port Quatre finally turned and made his way onto his shuttle. He had refused to have anyone escort him. …Actually…it would be more accurate to say that he had not really told anyone he was leaving until he was halfway to L2. He had however, neglected to tell them where he was going.
Closing the shuttle doors and setting his bag in the storage compartment Quatre silently made his way into the cockpit before his space heart had time to realize there was someone else on board.
"Going my way?"
Quatre jumped and automatically pulled the gun he still carried as he spun around to look at the pilots' seat.
Duo smirked, not at all bothered by the gun in his face as he leaned casually back in his seat, his single bag on the floor beside him. It had taken him an entire night of thought but he had finally decided what he wanted to do.
"We're expected at home in a few hours aren't we?"
Quatre stared for a moment before grinning.
"Yes…yes we are. You driving?"
Duo snorted and turned his attention back to the controls.
"Of course I am. I want to try out your new toy; see if I can improve on it any."
Quatre laughed as he sat in the co-pilots seat and watched as his big brother got to doing what he did best; and had fun doing it.
"Maybe things will finally go back to how they should be. Or they might even improve…who knows. But Duo's back and that's all that matters."
A/N: Hope it was alright. Thanks for all the reviews so far for my rather short prologue! Please Review.