Toy Soldiers

Prologue

[Won't you come out and play with me?
Step by step ... heart to heart
Left right left ... we all fall down
Like toy soldiers]

Heero heard the braided baka before said baka entered the hangar, and promptly moved to one side to avoid getting glomped. He
didn't have the time, energy or patience to deal with his exhuberant pseudo-partner at the moment. "State your wants and get out
of here."

Duo made a face and bounced up. "And if I said I wanted YOU?" He draped his arms over Heero's shoulders.

"I'd say not a chance. I'm straight Duo ... and although getting you in a threesome WOULD have its advantages, something tells
me you're a more one-on-one kind of guy." Heero watched as Duo withdrew. For the past month the Deathscythe pilot had been
shamelessly flirting with both Wufei and Heero. Both managed to deter him with the honest truth. They were both straight.
Although Heero knew that Duo was just too seductive for his own good, the pilot never went beyond the flirty remarks and the
innocent touches. A quick hug or a chaste kiss was as far as Duo would go before backing off. Heero knew that Duo was in
love with him and Wufei. To tell the truth, if Duo ever really pressed, they'd have to give in due to the simple fact that they loved
him too ... in their own way.

Duo shrugged as he pulled back. "Can I keep that threesome idea in mind?"

"Go right ahead and leave me alone for now. I have a few adjustments to make ... and you should be making some on
Deathscythe unless you want your ass handed to you."

Duo laughed and wiggled said body part. "Then you'd be denied the pleasure of seeing it." He yelped as a rag was thrown at him.
"Okay! Okay ... I get the pic!" He ran to his Gundam.


*****

"How many?"

Heero heard the tone in Duo's voice ... it was resolute. "About 50. Duo ... what are you going to do?"

Duo's voice answered him in a mechanical voice. "I'm going to cover your asses. Get the hell outta here. NOW!"

Quatre's voice was oddly undistressed. "We'd better do as he says. Good luck, Duo."

Four Gundams shot away from the fifth. Deathscythe stood its ground.

Had any of the other pilots seen Duo at that moment, they would have not recognized him. His face was lacking in expression
and his eyes were empty. "Well, Deathscythe old buddy, we fought the good fight. We did our best." With a resolution never
before seen, Duo punched the self-destruct button.


*****

Quatre frowned at the explosion. Whenever one of the others had been gravely injured, he had felt it. Even as the explosion
blossomed and the disbelief of the other pilots flooded him, he felt not one bit from the American. He wasn't surprised ... he
knew the reason why.

"DUO!!!" Heero couldn't believe it. Although the possibility had always loomed over them, he was not expecting the sting he felt
in his heart. Duo's smiling face flashed in his mind's eye and he clenched his hands into fists. 'Duo no BAKA! You didn't have to
do that!'

Wufei's subdued voice spoke. "Heero ... there's nothing we can do for him. The idiot knew what he was doing. Let's get back to
the safehouse."

Quatre spoke up. "You guys go ahead ... I have a promise I have to keep." He flew Sandrock back to the remains of Deathscythe
as the others flew ahead. He landed and walked over the the form lying in the rubble. Quatre took Duo's dagger from where it
was hidden and sliced the braid off of the still form's head. "Heero will be pissed at me." Quatre placed a few explosives around
Duo and walked back to Sandrock where he detonated them. He sighed as the smaller explosion destroyed the remains. "I'm
going to miss him in a way." With that, he climbed into Sandrock and flew off.


*****

"You did WHAT?"

"It's what he wanted Heero. He made me promise that if he was ever forced to self-detonate that I should finish the job." Quatre
was holding the long braid like a talisman. "He didn't want a funeral and he didn't want Oz getting their hands on him. He figured
his best bet was to get someone to finish the job."

"What if he was still alive Quatre? I survived a self-detonation!" Heero knew he was grasping at straws. Duo hadn't been molded
into the 'Perfect Soldier' like Heero had.

"He wasn't alive, Heero." He shuddered. "And I don't think he would have wanted to be alive in that condition." He fought down
the urge to soothe the hurting soldier. "Duo will be with us again ... I'm sure of it."

Wufei closed his eyes. "Maybe ... we should have caved in to his teasing, Heero. He sounded ready to die. Maybe we refused him
once too often."

"No!" Trowa glanced at where Quatre was paling. "Duo would not want us to blame ourselves. Quatre did the right thing. Who
knows what some of those sick bastards would have done to Duo's body. And at least we have a part of him with us."

"I'll ship it ahead to the next safehouse. After this new mission, we move on." Quatre again fought the urge to comfort Wufei and
Heero. He knew they'd get angry at him for recognizing their weakness. 'I wish I had time to make a call.' He sighed. "Come on.
And Heero? Don't self-detonate. Duo had to do it in order to save us. This is routine."

Heero blinked and turned away.


*****

Heero almost wished that something would go wrong. Anything at all to give him a reason to follow the only person he'd
considered a friend.

~Flashback~

"Dammit! Heero, we've had this argument about your suicidal tendancies 267 times! When are you going to get it through your
thick skull that killing yourself won't stop the war?"

Heero watched as Duo sighed. "The mission might call for it, Duo."

Duo straightened. "SCREW THE MISSION! HEERO NO BAKA I CARE ABOUT YOU AND I DON'T WANNA LOSE
ANOTHER FRIEND TO THIS DAMN WAR!!!"

Heero blinked as Duo started sobbing. It was odd watching someone crying without them shedding tears. "Duo ... gomen. I
didn't know." He was suddenly pulled into a bearhug.

"Damn you, Heero! Damn you for doing this to me! I SWORE that no one would make me feel this again!" Duo tightened his
arms.

~End Flashback~

Heero closed his eyes briefly. He could still smell the Jasmine of Duo's shampoo and the steel-like muscles in Duo's arms. 'Duo
... gomen! I did love you. Just not enough, it seems.'

"HEERO!"

Heero looked up to the monitor to meet Quatre's concerned gaze. 'No! I won't do that to Quatre. He's like Duo ... he considers all
of us as his friends. He's just lost one friend to the war. I won't add to that.' He took a deep breath. "I'm okay, Quatre. Just a
little ... distracted."

"Heero ..." Quatre felt a wave of sympathy as he wondered if Heero even realized that tears were running down his face. "You'll
see Duo again. Don't let grief get in the way. Duo wouldn't want that."

Wufei was lost in his own thoughts, but he kept his mind on the battle as well. 'Why did you do it? Maxwell ... why? You were
the most alive of us!'

~Flashback~

"Wu-MAN! You the man! Gimme five!"

Wufei frowned at Duo. "Five what? And why are you holding your hand up like that?"

Duo slumped. "MOU! You never gave someone a high five? You hit my hand with yours so they clap together. Like this ..." He
clapped his hands. "See? It's a slight way of celebrating a victory."

"Ah! But the war is not won."

"There are no winners in war, Feifei ... unless you count Quatre." He quirked a grin. "Both sides lose. One side may suffer fewer
losses, but in the end ... nothing is proven." He shrugged. "Any time we come back from a mission alive ... THAT'S a victory for
me. It means I escaped my curse yet again. So gimme five!"

With a rueful smile, Wufei complied.

~End Flashback~

'Maxwell ... you really were an idiot! Didn't you see how we cared?'

Quatre frowned as they finished the mission. Heero was lagging behind as if he WANTED to get caught. "Heero ... you're falling
behind." He shook his head. 'Sorry ... I know that we'll be unexpected, but ... they'll compromise the mission!' He changed
direction after letting the Maguanac corps know that they were heading for the new safehouse. "I'll have our stuff sent to us."


*****

A slender hand shaded wide eyes as the four suits approached the estate. "What the hell?" The person frowned ... something had
to be wrong if Quatre was bringing the pilots to this estate. "Why am I surprised? I should have expected it!"

Quatre walked towards the house with the other three pilots not too far behind him.

"GUYS!!!" A slender form was running toward them from the garden area.

Quatre smiled warmly and again put himself between the pilots and the swiftly approaching figure. "GIRLFRIEND!" He held his
hand up in a greeting. The girl high-fived him.

Both Heero and Wufei were stunned by this girl's exhuberance. She was wearing deep purple short shorts and a royal blue halter
top. Her chestnut-colored hair was pulled into a short ponytail and around her neck was a dream-catcher on a leather thong. Her
shoes looked a little like leather ballet slippers.

"DUDE!" The girl hugged Quatre tightly before giving him a look. "What the HELL are you doing here? GOD! I wasn't expecting
you here for another WEEK!"

Quatre laughed. "Well ... something happened and I thought it best if I brought them here sooner. How have you been?"

"Great since you got your medics to take a look at me. You were right! Someone was poisoning me to keep me stuck where I
was." She stepped back and sobered. "What brought you here early?"

Quatre nodded to indicate Heero. "He seemed to take every opportunity to get blown up in a mission that was standard routine
infiltration."

The girl blinked and turned wide amazed eyes onto Heero. Then she ran forward and hugged him while smiling. "Hee-chan ...
you DO care!"

'Jasmine?' Heero stiffened at the girl's familiarity. "Quatre ... you KNOW this girl?"

The girl pulled away and met Heero's deep blue eyes with her own violet colored ones. "Quatre didn't tell you?"

Quatre cleared his throat. "I never got the chance. Guys ... this is the REAL Duo Maxwell."