"Mom doesn't let food leave the kitchen."

I shrug, biting into the sandwich. Cathy's oldest son, Rafael, is sitting next to me, watching me work. I'm not going through anything that would get me in trouble with Cathy if she caught us, but I still angle the sheet away from his view.

"Are you supposed to be bugging me?" I ask him, turning the page over to start writing on the back. Until we had access to a new computer, I had to write everything out by hand. Heero wants a report on my 'incident' with Trowa, so that's what I'm working on right now.

Or trying to, but Rafael's making it hard to focus.

"Mom and the people who came with you are talking with Uncle Trowa, and I'm not allowed to be in there with them."

"Go bug your father then," I suggest, my words holding a harder bite than I intend. Rafael smiles, seeming to miss the insult levied at his dad.

"Mom says you're my uncle too. You're the one she keeps going to help, aren't you? Why haven't I ever met you before?"

"Because I don't get along with your parents very well, kid," I answer, chewing on the end of the pen as I figure out the most professional way to write "fucked on the office sofa" before shrugging and just writing it out that way.

"Why not? Mom and Dad are really nice, I like them a lot! And I like Uncle Trowa a lot, too."

"Your Mom doesn't like me much. So it's just fair play, I guess. It's not important."

"Well, that's stupid. You seem nice… I like being around you."

I bite my tongue, my pen pressing against the paper more firmly. It's hard to ignore the curious shining purple eyes though, so I give up, tucking the pen behind my ear and stacking the papers into a pile, stretching my legs out and giving him my full attention.

"You have my attention, brat, so make good use of it."

Wufei finds us in the yard, the brat pinning me to the ground and pulling on my hair. I'm trying to twist my body, to fling the small brat off of me, but he already buried my legs in a tipped over pile of firewood and it's hard to move right now.

"What the— What are you doing, Duo? You're supposed to be working, not playing with children."

"Does this look like I'm having fun?" I snarl, struggling to rescue my hair from the clutches of the nine-year-old strangling it. Wufei laughs, but helps rescue me from the brat.

"Okay, that's it. I'm done. It looks like they're done too, so please go bug your mother now," I say, grumbling as I run my hands over my hair, feeling how much damage it took. Rafael runs into the house, laughing, and as soon as the door slams shut, I drop my hands and turn to look at Wufei.

"Hey, can you do me a favour?" I ask, my words serious, and Wufei straightens his back, the humour in his eyes vanishing at my words.


"Good answer. I need to… get evidence. Evidence that I can't drag you or Heero along for, since the risk is too high. But if I can get it, I can prove who's behind all of this, who's been behind all of these fucked up cases. If you cover my ass long enough then it will be safe to return home."

"I won't lie to Heero, but if you don't tell me where you're going I can't tell him either," Wufei points out, and I grin.

"Knew I liked you for a reason, Wuffers. I'll see you… sometime soon. Just stay here with Cathy until I return, okay?"

I watch Wufei go inside, and I give the house one last, longing look before turning my back and closing my eyes.

I'm going to prove you're guilty, I swear.

"Duo! It's been quite some time since I've seen you here," Iria greets, a smile blooming across her face as I step into the room. I smile back at her gently, crouching next to her chair and placing a light kiss on her pale cheek.

"I'm sorry I've taken so long, work's been Hell," I tell her, coming to rest on my knees. I let my arms cross over the side of her chair, my hand reaching to hold hers.

"With your job, I'm not sure if you're jesting or being literal," she teases, her light blue eyes - so much like her baby brother's - dancing in mirth.

This was the dark humour I love to hear from her, and mainly the part of her that keeps drawing me back.

"Sadly, I am here on business," I confess, shrugging my shoulder in a sheepish gesture. "I'm looking for your brother. I was hoping he'd be able to help me with something."

"I haven't seen him here in a while, it's his off-month," she reminds me gently, her hand smoothing itself over my braid.

"I know, I was just hoping that if you see him, you could pass along the message. I'm on a tight schedule," I murmur. "I don't know how to get a hold of him."

"Well, I'll call him. Where can he reach you at?"

"The main office, I'll be there for a few days before I head back to my sister's house."

"I'll let him know. Thank you for coming to visit, Duo."

"You're welcome, my Lady," I say with a flourished bow, eliciting a giggle from her.

I leave the cottage-style home, my good humour staying behind with her.

Soon, all the pieces will be in place. I just hope I have enough time.

The office is covered in a layer of dust, the air stale and dust motes dancing in the sunlit strips that are the only source of light in the room.

It feels like a tomb, and I make sure to conduct my business as quickly as I can.

I pick up the phone, dialing in the number I memorized the first week I started working here. The sound of the phone being answered is short-lived, as Heero's livid voice sounds over the line.

"Duo Maxwell, where the fuck—"

"Look, I don't have much time. Please, just listen for a moment."

Heero goes silent, and I can hear Wufei in the background, closing the door and calling out to Heero.

"We're listening."

We. Well, that's great.


"I have a lead. I can't… I can't say much, in case things don't turn out well, but in three days, can you meet me back at the office?"

"Duo, what—"

"Three days!"

I hang up, hearing Heero yelling at me to not do exactly that. I can feel the guilt gnawing at me, but it's best if I do it this way. It'll be safer for everyone involved. Scrawling a note on one of the sheets of paper I pull from the printer, I leave it on the desk, weighed down with one of the fancy paperweights Relena's given me.

"Well, Betty, I'll see you around," I tell the plant, brushing my finger over one of the wilting leafs before walking out of the office, leaving it unlocked behind me.

I have three days to get all the pieces in place, and I'm not sure if I'll be ready.

"Hey, anyone home?" I call out, closing the door of the shop as I step in. It was a dank, sad-looking place, the smell of dust and parchment heavy on the air, and a crash from the back room answers my question.

"One second! Now where did— aha!"

I snort in amusement, shaking my head slightly. As footsteps come closer, I straighten up and push off from the door, taking a few steps into the ancient-looking bookstore.

"So, what can I— Oh! Duo!"

The girl in front of me hasn't changed in the ten years since I've last seen her. Her dark hair is cut short and spiky around her head, pale skin like the parchment which she worked with, and eyes glittering with an unnatural light.

"Wow, you haven't aged a day, have you? Fascinating…" she murmurs, stepping closer to grab my face. She turns it side to side, as if she can see anything better from two inches away.

"Hilde, glad to see you too," I mutter, though the words come out distorted, as her fingers are pressing my lips together oddly.

"Well, what brings your scrawny ass to my bookstore?" she asks me, stepping back and crossing her arms. I rub at my abused skin, eyeing her carefully.

"I need to pull something of mine from the archive."

The carefree, playful attitude is gone, and in its place is a seriousness only a Guardian can obtain.

"You know the rules, Duo. I can't allow you to take anything."

"I don't intend to keep it. In fact… I would like you to take it back as soon as I finish the entry."

"Which book?"


We stare each other down, her lips pursing in thought.

"You realize this is a horrible idea, right?"

"Yes, but if it can stop another incident from happening like Solo and I caused, it's worth the risk."

"And you are sure it won't fall into unwanted hands?"

"I'll bring it back myself personally. It will never leave my sight."

"I can get in so much trouble for this."

"I know, but I wouldn't be asking if it weren't necessary."

She sighs, turning around to stride behind the desk. Placing her hand on the surface, she mutters a few words in her native tongue. Dust motes fly towards her palm, spinning around in a vortex before solidifying and dropping to the table with a loud 'fwump!', sending more dust flying into the air.

"How soon will you have it back?" she asks me, and I pick up the book carefully, rubbing my thumb over the gold-embossed title.

"Three days, Hilde."

"I'm holding you to that."

It takes most of those three days to clear out enough space to unveil the room that had crumbled in on itself over the years. I have to say I made great time though, carefully shifting rocks and rubble so that I didn't scratch the stonework beneath my feet. After there is enough space, I press my hands to the floor, letting a sliver of my soul break free and rush through them.

It does the same thing to the floor that I did to Trowa's chest, except that I'm actively controlling the piece that leaves my body. It cuts through the stone floor in a brilliant purple wave, the 'blade' of light carving the image in my head.

The one that I would need, if I wanted to come out of this encounter successful.

"Now, to make you less obvious," I murmur, starting to move some of the rubble over the more obvious runic marks and designs. That takes up the last day of my three-day-notice, and now all I can do is wait.

The book I took from Hilde - not really a book, but that's what they always appear as in the mortal plane - is lying open on the rock beside me, a sharp quill resting on the age-worn pages.

I had taken to writing in it while resting, and the book is much larger now than it was before. I find the most fascinating thing about these books is that they never run out of pages. Since they're not actually books, it makes sense, which is why I can't use a regular pen on the book.

It needs my blood to make the ink stay on the sheet.

I hear the rumbling of thunder through the thick, stone walls, and there's a small trickle of rainwater seeping through the ceiling in the far corner of the room. It's just passing nine in the evening when the crunch of tires on gravel echoes in the basement.

"Showtime," I tell myself, closing the book and setting it aside. I step to the far side of the room, facing the door with a brilliant smile.

"Are you sure this is the right place?" I hear Quatre asking, and the smile grows larger.

Perfect. That means I won't have to wait too long.

The flimsy wooden door bursts open, Heero leading the pack into the basement. He pauses at the sight of me, confusion flickering in his eyes as they meet my passive ones.


Heero steps aside, letting Wufei step into the room as well. Soon Trowa and Quatre are standing on each side of them, and I can see Cathy's curly red hair. I also see a shock of blond, which twists my stomach a bit.

Damn, all the pieces came at once. I feel another's hand involved in this turn of events.

"Wow, we have a full house! Sorry, but it's standing room only," I greet, spreading my arms wide. I spin around in place, feeling my long, black trench coat and braid swinging out behind me.

"Duo, what do you think you're doing. Why did you pick here?" Cathy asks, and I soften my maniacal grin for her.

"I have to finish what he started, Cathy. I need to bring this to an end."

I squeeze my fist, feeling the sharp quill snap and slice into my skin. Cathy doesn't have time to shout a warning as my blood drips to the floor, illuminating the carved markings in a brilliant flash of purple. It spreads across the floor rapidly, lapping and rising up the legs of the six people standing over the ritual markings.

"Sorry, I really didn't want to have to resort to this, but… I had no choice," I tell them, a rueful grin spreading over my face.

"Duo Maxwell, when the Order hears about this—"

"They won't have anyone to persecute, Cathy. The Order of the Zodiac holds no power over me."

"You can't do this! Didn't you learn anything from Solo's mistake?!"

"I did. I learned why I will never let it happen again. And hence," I spread my arm out, gesturing to all of them, "why we're all here tonight."

"Why, Duo?" Cathy asks, her voice breaking. I laugh darkly.

"Did you think I wouldn't notice?" I ask, my voice echoing slightly in the dark, damp basement. It was a dual echo, both sounding from my lips and the walls around us, the only other sounds being the harsh breathing of the men caught in the trap.

"Did you think I would ignore you?" I flicker my gaze between them all. Heero, looking back at me determinedly, Wufei with betrayal, Trowa with passive acceptance, and Quatre with bewilderment. Cathy's eyes are overflowing with tears, and the blank eyes of her husband stare into the distance as if trapped in a memory.

"Did you think that you would get away with it?" A cruel smile flickers across my lips against my will, and I feel my feet moving forward, my body losing control. Power's coursing through my body, filling my veins and merging the gaps within my broken soul. I have never felt so whole, so complete, and now I know why. I've been broken for this purpose, and I will fulfill my reason for existing.

"Did you not realize that Death follows in my footsteps?" I can see the purple glow emanating from my feet in the corner of my eye, leaving behind imprints reflected in the terror-filled eyes in front of me. I lean forward, a hand extending and caressing the sweat-drenched and quivering cheek, my lips brushing against the shell of his ear.

"I can see you, Quatre Winner. And I am not pleased."

"Shinigami," Cathy breathes, her eyes widening in recognition. Wufei's head snaps towards her, eyes widening.


"Duo's possessed by Death…" the soft voice of her husband says, his eyes focused on my glowing form. I can see him out of the corner of my eye, but I keep my attention on the man in front of me.

The fear is gone, the confusion fading away on his face as his blue eyes grow cold.

"So, this is what it takes to have you come to me. If I'd have thought getting you laid would have worked this well, I'd have arranged it sooner."

I chuckle lowly, tracing my thumb across his cheek.

"Oh, silly child, did you think I came to grant your wish? Your darkest desire? To recreate the perversion you bore?"

"I just want her back," he hisses, his eyee shining in anger. "I want what you stole from me."

"I stole nothing!" I hiss, bringing my palm sharply across his cheek. Blood smears the white surface, a false flush forming from the impact. "I only took what should have never existed."

"She was just a baby!"

"A child born of siblings!" I say, my face twisting into a snarl. "An abomination, a creation of consensual incest. I saved that child from the suffering and misery she would endure because of you and your sister's foolish actions."

"You ruined us," Quatre objects. "You ruined my sister, you ruined my baby, and you ruined our future."

"No, Quatre Winner," I whisper, wiping away a tear with my bloody thumb. "You ruined them. I merely saved one innocent soul the suffering of two corrupted ones. You have broken the laws of reality, Quatre Winner. And for that, I must set them right."

I trail my hand up his chest, resting my palm against his heart. A deep purple hue glows between the fabric of his shirt and my skin, and soon it spreads, enveloping the two of us.

"You are mine, Quatre Winner. And I have come to take my payment."

The scream that's torn from his throat echoes loudly in the room, but it's not enough to stop the shattering of his soul, from it seeping to the surface and blasting through the room. It moves through the glowing lines etched on the floor, forming into a mass in the center of the room. The body in my arms slumps down, his eyes vacantly staring into nothing, his breathing shallow and rapid.

"Quatre Winner, you stand before me to be judged for your actions. I find you lacking."

The power ripping through my throat burns, but the words have an effect in this plane of existence. The room is rippling with the power, the five still trapped in the ritual not harmed as they are enclosed within my power. I raise my hand, pointing two fingers and letting my power build up on the tip.

"I find you lacking. For that, you now belong to me."

I bring my hand down in a vertical swipe, the power extending through the room to cut into the brilliant white soul of the boy in front of me. He screams, his image wavering before separating into two parts. Those halves break into a shower of sparks, glittery fragments raining to the ground and fading from sight.

"You knew it was wrong, yet you couldn't help yourself," I muse, stepping back and glancing at the others. I see Cathy's weeping form and move to her, ignoring her flinch as I gently rest my hand against her cheek.

"Thank you, Catherine Bloom, for your part in taking care of Duo."

"You're welcome, m-my Lord," she whispers, her voice catching.

I smile brightly, turning eyes to the blond man watching me with disbelief.

"Well, Sinner, what do you have to say for yourself?"

"I— I am sorry, my Lord. I—"

"I used you, Sinner, and I should have thought harder before I did such a thing," I say with a grin. "I forgot how weak the human soul is. It corrupted you, and you were never able to feel whole again."


"Don't disappoint me again."

"Y-yes, my Lord."

I take a few steps, my hand reaching out to hover over Wufei's cheek.

"You, you have been an invaluable help. You taught him to trust in another again, to expand and push his boundaries, and to stop hiding from the truth. For your service, I grant you a gift."

I rub a little blood into his skin, watching it absorb and sink through him into his soul. His eyes widen, and I smile widely.

"I… I can see…"

"Yes, those are the souls of the departed, the ones who cannot move on to the next life. You have a gift, Chang Wufei. Use it to help them come home to me."

Heero's gaze fixes with mine, the boldest action any of them have taken with me yet.

"You, you have saved him. You offered him an escape."

"I had no ulterior motive."

"And for that, he is forever in your debt."

Finally, I find myself walking towards Trowa, looking steadily at the ground with dull green eyes.

"My tortured child, for you, I have a request."

I step forward, embracing the tall, lanky body that I had grown so familiar with, who had looked into my heart and soul. I press my lips to his, languidly and tenderly, before trailing kisses up to his ear.

"Take care of him. You will find forgiveness for harming what is mine. He will need you more than ever."

The glow from the ritual fades, and I find my eyes closing, my body falling to the ground.

I did it. I succeeded.

There's nothing in this void except the two of us. I stare blankly at Serena, who smiles at me with her gentle smile.

"You did such a wonderful job, Duo."

"Who are you, really?" I ask, and her smile never wavers.

"I am you, Duo. I am the part of you that you couldn't reach, because Death was in the way."

"Does that mean… I'm going to die?"

"One day, you will. Everyone dies."

"I… What did I do?"

"What was necessary, Duo. Don't hate yourself for this. Death did not want to hurt you, you are his Beloved child."

"…Are you going to leave me too?" I ask quietly, and her hand caresses my cheek.

"I could never leave you, I am you."

The darkness around us shatters into a brilliant light, her body fading into the white expanse.

When I open my eyes, all I can see is green. Blinking slowly, unsure of what I'm looking at, I reach up to feel the green.

Well, I try. I'm having a hard time moving though.

I feel like my body's trapped in a vice.

The green backs up, and I see a familiar face swim into view.

"Trowa?" I say.

Well, I try to say. All that falls from my lips is gibberish, quickly followed by a high-pitched cry of terror.

What the fuck is going on?!

"Calm down, Duo," Trowa whispers, rocking my - way too fucking small - body gently in his arms.

"You look just the same, just smaller," Trowa explains to me. "Your new body broke out of your old one. I'll tell you, it was sick as hell. Cathy threw up, and it takes a lot to make her do that."

I frown, not really understanding.

"Just rest. You're still tired."

I close my eyes again, the gentle swaying hard to resist and I slip back into the embrace of sleep.

"Come on, you've done this before," Trowa encourages, holding out his arms. I shakily take a step forward, trying to hold my balance on two limbs instead of four.

I manage to reach him and he draws me into a hug, his hand ruffling my growing hair.

"Good job! You'll be running around again before you know it."

I smile widely, and he returns it gently.

He's never treated me like a baby, or a toddler. He talks to me, knowing that I can understand him. Which, when I think about it, he does. He can read my thoughts, read my intents, and he knows that when he speaks to me, I can hear him.

He's been very patient and helpful with helping me relearn how to use my body, a lot more patient than I would have been in his shoes.

"Duo! How are you doing today?" Cathy greets, picking me up and tossing me in the air. I frown, twisting to try and get out of her hold.

"Cathy, don't manhandle him. He hates that."

"Except when it's you. He fucking adores you."

"He can understand everything you're saying. Come here, Duo."

I run back to Trowa, grasping his leg and glaring at Cathy.

"Well, come on then. The others are in the backyard. I think Wufei and Heero are arguing over who gets to use the grill again."

"I'll go intervene."

I follow closely behind him, eyes taking in the familiar surrounding from a different vantage point. The sound of children laughing is heard as soon as the sliding glass door is opened, and the cries of "Uncle Trowa!" are the only warning given before four children are latching onto his frame.

"Oi, brats, get off him!"

Wufei comes storming up, playfully swinging a spatula at them. They run off shrieking, and Wufei pulls Trowa into a half hug, patting his back.

"I didn't think you'd be coming."

"I didn't think so either. Duo had other plans."

Wufei's brows furrow before Trowa steps to the side, his hand reaching out and pulling me forward a little.

The yard goes silent, and I can feel everyone's eyes on me.

"Trowa, I didn't know you had a son!" a light, cheerful voice that haunted my dreams exclaims, and I slide behind Trowa's leg, my hands grasping them tightly.

"He's afraid of strangers," Trowa says, not trying to pull me out again.

"Oh, Quatre! I need your help in the kitchen," Cathy calls out, and the blond passes us to disappear into the house. It's all the motivation I need to step out onto the lawn and face the eyes watching my every move.

"Your body finally matches your maturity level," Wufei finally says after another moment, bending down to look at my eye level.

I stare back at him ruefully, my nose curling.

"Have you learned to talk yet?"

"No," Trowa answers, even as I shake my head. "He's walking quite well though, and he has a habit of getting up into places he shouldn't be able to."

"He's also made you quite talkative," Solomon says, slinging an arm over his brother-in-law's shoulder. "How has parenthood been treating you?"

"I don't think this counts as parenthood," Trowa says ruefully.

I snort. No, what we had wasn't a family at all. Trowa was just watching over me until I could manage it myself. We both know that, but it still hurts to think about too hard.

"So, what's on the menu?" Trowa asks Wufei, and I find myself trailing after them, partially forgotten. Trowa does helps me up on one of the chairs though, handing me a cup. I still have issues holding it and drinking from it, but fuck if I was going to use one of those 'sippy' things. Diapers had been hard enough to accept as a necessity. I think both Trowa and I were happy when I no longer needed them.

The barbeque continues, the laughter and chatter never ceasing. I just sit in my chair, holding my cup and watching everyone else. From the group of children one breaks off and comes running towards the table. He pauses on the way, though, and his bright eyes catch mine.

"Uncle Duo?"

I blink, not having expected Rafael to recognize me. But he did, a smile widening on his face.

"Oh wow! You're smaller than me now!"

I frown, dragging my legs up the chair and curling into myself a little.

"Hey, I don't care how big or little you are. I still like you."

"Rafael, leave your uncle alone," Cathy scolds, setting a pasta salad on the plastic table.

Trowa cuts up some food for me into bite sized pieces, and I quietly eat my food.

"But he looks lonely, and I want to play with him. I beat him wrestling before, when he was still big."

"I remember that," Wufei adds in, giving me a smirk. "He had you half-buried in the wood pile and was trying to yank your hair out.

"Fuck off," I mutter, my voice high-pitched and childish. The table goes silent, but it's broken not long after by Trowa's deep, rich laughter.

As he's helping me into bed that night, I let my touch linger on his hand, hoping he can see how happy today made me.

"We'll have to go again, won't we?"

I nod, snuggling under the covers and closing my eyes.

Maybe this is my second chance, too.

"You're sure you want to do this?" Trowa asks, hesitating at the entrance. I nod, reaching up and grabbing his hand. He pauses, tilting his head to the side, and then shakes it once.

"You and that plant, I swear. I should be jealous."

He opens the door to the office, the inside looking very different from when I had last set foot in it ten years ago.

The two sofas have been replaced with leather loveseats, the carpet is now a dark brown instead of tan, and the walls a lighter shade of brown compared to the stark white it used to be.

But what hasn't changed is more surprising.

"Betty," I whisper, rushing over to pet the plant. Trowa chuckles, handing me a bottled water I brought just for her. The door to Wufei's office opens, and he sticks his head out.

"We're not ope— Oh, it's you two. Well, shut the door before someone gets the idea we're accepting clients."

"You're getting cranky in your old age, Wu-wu," I tease, throwing the bottle into the trash bin next to my desk. The computer on it's gone, but there's still plenty of papers, files, and the picture Howard managed to scrounge up for me all those years ago.

"You're getting more obnoxious the longer you're able to speak," he retorts, but his words hold no heat.

It's familiar, and comfortable, and the smile on my face is the first real one I've shown since I was 'born' again.

The glass cabinet that holds the pictures, certificates, and knickknacks is still up against the wall between Heero and Wufei's offices, and I wander over to see what inside of it has changed too.

There, in the middle of their certificates, is the one Heero had made for me.

It still has my 'editing' on it.

"You never quit," Heero says from behind me. "So I figured it would be rude to remove you from the staff."

"What, a very long medical leave?"

"That's what the records say. You'll always have a job here."

"If you do decide to turn it down, though," Wufei says, "give us a cipher for your filing system with your resignation. It's been ten years and I still can't find shit."

I stare in the mirror, not understanding the face staring back at me.

Before, I was stuck as a fifteen-year-old, never aging a day no matter how many years passed by. I was twenty-nine when I wound up as an infant again, and now it's been another seventeen.

It's scary, to watch myself get older.

Trowa's knocking on the door to the bathroom, his voice giving away his concern. I've been in here for twenty minutes, just staring at the mirror as if it could share all my secrets.

Finally the door is opened, a set of lock picks in his hand, and he pauses as he catches sight of my face.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm… older."

"You've been getting that way for years."

"I've… I've never aged past fifteen before. I look different now…"

Trowa wraps his arms around me, his chin coming to rest on my shoulder.

"Different doesn't mean it has to be bad."


My words are cut off as Trowa leans up, pressing his lips into mine, his hand grasping me firmly as he thrusts into me erratically, pushing me over the edge. I dig my hands into his hips, my back arching as I feel my release splatter across my stomach, Trowa pushing into me and reaching his peak as well.

Panting, I reach up with a shaky hand to push Trowa's sweaty bangs aside, letting me see both of those passion-filled green eyes.

"That was… really… good…" I pant, pulling him down into another kiss. He chuckles, resting his head on my shoulder as he catches his breath.

"You planned this, didn't you?"

"Well, our first time was right here. Figured why not the second-first time?"

"You realize Heero's going to kill us."

"Nah, he'll never know."

"Except he has cameras installed in here now."

"…Well, shit. Want to go to Jamaica for a while?"

"No, I have better plans."

I never thought that his death would hurt me. But as they lowered his coffin into the ground, I couldn't help but feel the loss deep within. Even though the piece of soul I rescued from him no longer resided there, I think he still had a part of him inside of me.

I rested my hand on his gravestone, a dim white light carving a symbol on the back.

This was the grave of the greatest Necromancer to ever live; it deserved to be known to the world.

Hilde scratched a few words into the last page of the book before closing it with a gentle reverence. Duo had kept his word, the book returning on the counter of her shop three days after he had left with it. The words he had written were startling, but enough to not make her regret the decision.

All of Solo's knowledge, research, and results had been penned by Duo's hand, and she knew that this was the last source of knowledge for them. When Duo passed on from the mortal world, he would take that knowledge with it, only the archive ever holding a record of the evils the two had committed in the name of power.

It was redemption, in its purest form.

The remaining pages had been filled with the events following that dark day, where Solo Maxwell became Solomon Bloom, moving on from that disaster to fall in love, have children, and live a full life. It was a happier tale that Hilde had taken pleasure in writing, as it was a tale befitting a broken man.

Even Hilde, the deity of Fate, hadn't been able to stop him.

Only Death could… and he had.

The Winner Case Files: Closed (CLASSIFIED)

A/N: That's it. That's the end. No mas. Oh my god, don't kill me. Please. Don't. I'm delicate.

I'll probably end up doing some oneshots based off WCF, but as for the story of Duo… it's over. This last chapter was particularly hard to write, and I feel as if Duo broke my soul along with it.

A big thanks to Ro, for always kicking my ass into shape and motivating me to keep going.

Also a big thanks to Haytang, who I'm putting out a restraining order on so she doesn't murder me in my sleep (not that it'll help, but it's all about peace of mind). Thanks for being such an awesome fan :D

Thanks to the Regs, who's reviews kept me motivated to keep writing and not abandon the plot.

And thanks to my 2x3 Club. You guys rock! All three of you! (there is not enough 2x3 love in the world…)

So once again, please don't kill me…