Part 2

[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]


Quatre sighed as he approached the new safe house.  He hadn't given the owner any warning because he knew that if he had
given warning, the person would have bolted, and he felt that the others needed to meet the owner.  Especially Heero.

Quatre had been doing his checking when he had found Heero sitting on his bed gazing at his gun ... his loaded gun.  Quatre had
promptly taken the gun away and informed Heero of the relocation.  Now they were there and Quatre had sent his codes to say
that they were friendly.

He landed and made sure he was the first person to approach the stairs.  The hangar for the Gundams was in the basement of the
house ... which had several seperate entrances that were well disguised to remain undetected.  There were even micro
transmitters that showed nothing but earth to sattelites.

As he had expected, the owner of the house was standing above them.  Quatre smiled warmly as he approached.  "Hey."

In answer, the owner punched him in the jaw.  He stumbled a little and banged his head against a bar which made him see stars
for a few minutes.

*****

Trowa blinked as the strange girl decked Quatre.  He ran to steady the small blonde as Wufei pulled his gun out and aimed it for
the girl.  Heero, not having his gun, simply reached for where his gun was usually kept.  "What the hell did you do that for?"

The girl's deep blue eyes were full of anger and pain.  "I told him to wait.  I told him you guys weren't ready to meet me.  Damn
it!  This will complicate things more than they already are and you don't need this bullshit!"

Wufei seemed to ease up and put his gun away when he saw that the girl was doing nothing more, but he was tense enough to be
able to draw his gun again if she tried anything.  "What are you talking about?  Who are you and how do you know Quatre?"

The girl shook her head.  "I could tell you who I am, but you'd believe me in like ... an infinite number of years.  Suffice to say
you guys already know me.  Shit!  He couldn't stay away longer, could he?  Always one to try and fix things."  She took a shaky
breath.  "As if you guys didn't have enough to deal with ... damn."

Quatre chose that moment to come out of his light daze.  "What did you hit me for?"  He walked over and pulled the girl a little
away to talk to her.  They spoke softly for a few moments.

Trowa turned to Wufei and Heero, who both looked bewildered.

"Wait a second ..."  Quatre's voice was loud enough for the rest of them to hear.  "Repeat what you just said."

The girl was sobbing softly.  "I said ... that he isn't a doll like I was told he was."

Heero walked over.  "What are you two talking about?"

Trowa also walked over.  Quatre looked very pale ... like he was about to either faint or throw up.  "Quatre ... what is she talking
about?"

The girl shook her head and started babbling about training and someone that she thought was just a puppet.  He didn't catch
everything, but the words 'not dead' clicked.  "Who isn't dead?"

The girl suddenly clamped her mouth shut and looked away ... as if she wasn't sure how to answer.  Then she spoke softly.  
"He's in bad shape, and currently comatose due to his injuries, but the person you know as Duo Maxwell is still alive."

Trowa felt all the stress of the past few days leave him.  He glanced over to Wufei, who looked just as shocked.  Then he took a
deep breath.  "I think you should explain everything right now."

The strange girl nodded.  "There's a sitting area right over there with a fridge."  She motioned to a simple game table with chairs
surrounding it.

*****

Wufei took deep steadying breaths to keep from shaking the girl in front of him and demanding that she bring him and the others
to see Duo.  He'd been as devestated as the others at Duo's loss, but to know the idiot was still alive was a blessing.  He wanted
an explanation first.  He wanted to know what she was talking about when she had stated that he hadn't been a 'doll'.  What could
she have possibly meant about that?

They all sat around the table and looked to the strange girl.  She took a few breaths and nodded.  "I suppose it would be best to
start from the beginning."  She sighed and walked to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water.  "This could take a while.  Do
any of you want anything to drink?  I have various fruit juices, iced tea, energy drinks ... etcetera."

Wufei shook his head along with the others.  He appreciated the gesture, but he really wasn't thirsty.  Of course he wasn't going
to begrudge this strange girl something to keep her throat moist as she spoke.

The girl nodded and shut the fridge before sitting down.  "You all know about how Duo Maxwell grew up on the streets with
Solo, right?  And then how Duo was taken in by the church only to be homeless again when the church was destroyed?  It's
common knowledge in the colonies.  It was everywhere in the news."

Wufei nodded along with the others.  Duo HAD told them that he had been a survivor of the Maxwell Church tragedy/massacre.

The girl took a sip of water before continuing.  "All right ... Duo decided to get off the colony, only to be found by G and his
assistants.  At first, G seemed reluctant to train an orphan from L-2 ... it seems he had another pilot in training.  However, for
some reason, G changed his mind and started to train Duo."  Her eyes narrowed.  "Of course, not a lot of people wanted Duo to
be trained.  Duo was small and not what one would think could pilot a suit like Deathscythe."  She sighed and shook her head.  
"Still ... Duo was trained.  Then something happened ... Duo became ill and physically incapable to pilot."  She held up a hand to
keep them from protesting.  "Please ... let me finish."

She took another sip of her water before continuing slowly ... a look of anger starting to form on her face.  "So G presented Duo
with an alternative way since there was no time to train a third pilot.  Duo would sit in a VR chair and control a very complex ...
puppet."  She held her hands out.  "So ... that's what Duo did.  Naturally, Duo was shocked to see that this so-called puppet
looked more like Duo's old friend and protector, Solo.  There were enough similarities between Solo's appearance and Duo's that
Duo didn't make a fuss, but there was enough of a difference to show that Duo was not the first choice in pilot."

Heero's voice was low and dangerous.  "What are you saying?"

The girl swallowed before answering.  "I'm saying that I'm Duo Maxwell and the person you thought was Duo Maxwell, the
person I thought was a complicated puppet, is Solo."

Wufei growled in anger.  "Impossible.  How could one person control another?"

That's when the girl who claimed to be Duo turned bright red in obvious fury.  "That bastard put in several implants to connect
me to him.  It made him incapable of independent thought ... for the most part."  She glanced at Trowa as her fury abated to
embarassment.  "It wasn't my idea to uhmmm ... well ..."  She cleared her throat and sighed.  "And it sure as hell wasn't my idea
for him to press the button.  Although I'm kind of glad he did it now."

Quatre placed one hand over hers.  "Will he be all right?  I mean ... I was as gentle as I could be with an inanimate object, but if I
had KNOWN ..."

The girl shrugged.  "Only time will tell, Quatre.  The implants have all been removed by the doctors I have on staff."  She smiled
wanly at Quatre.  "Don't beat yourself up about not being as gentle as you could have been.  You didn't know ... and that's the
point."  She stood up and took a shuddering breath.  "I suppose you all want to see him?"

Wufei stood with the others.  "Of course we do."  He glanced over to see that Heero and Trowa were both nodding.

The girl sighed sadly.  "Come on ... although you have to be quiet.  He may be comatose, but ... I don't want any sudden noises
to startle him."  She stood up.  "Follow me."

Wufei fought the urge to yell at the girl to hurry up as she walked slowly through the halls.  Wherever they were going, Duo
would still be there.

After a few moments, the girl stopped outside of a room.  "In here.  The room isn't that big, so I'll stay out here."

Wufei nodded and turned into the room.  His heart leapt into his throat at the sounds and scent of the room.  As horrifying as it
was to see his friend in that condition, it comforted him to hear the steady beeping of the heart moniter.  It meant the person
lying in the bed was alive.

There was an oxygen mask over his face and several patches of hair were missing ... obviously that was where the hair had been
shaved in order to remove the supposed implants.  Granted he was covered with bandages, but the hair was what caught Wufei's
attention the quickest.  "He'll be furious about his hair."

Quatre chuckled softly.  "At least he'll be able to be furious on his own."  He turned out of the room only to gasp in alarm.  
"Duo!!!"

Wufei turned to see the girl slide down the wall a little, her face pale and damp with perspiration.  "What happened?"

Quatre had an arm around the girl's waist to steady her.  "She still isn't all that well.  She gets a relapse whenever she over-exerts
herself."  He carefully picked her up.  "Let's get her comfortable."  He turned his attention to the girl in his arms.  "Where's your
room?"

The girl pointed to the next door.  "It's easier for the doctors to keep tabs on both of us if our rooms are right next to each other."

*****

Quatre carried his friend into her room, which was done in very lovely shades of blue and white.  "Trowa ... would you please
turn down her blankets?"  He felt relieved to see that the others were willing to aid Duo in her time of need.  True they only saw
her as a strange girl, but Quatre had hopes that they would soon accept her for who she was.

Once Duo was tucked in, Quatre turned and left the room.  "Let's go back to the hangar.  I'll tell you everything I know there."  
He left the room and headed back the way they had come, only to stop when he saw that Heero was still in the room with the
young man that the others had known as Duo for so very long.  "Come on, Heero.  I'm sure you're as curious as the others are."

He walked steadily to the hangar, planning what he was going to say.  This would call for great tact on his part.  He motioned to
the seats around the game table they had vacated not too long ago.  Once the others were seated, he began softly.  "I never
wanted to keep this from you ... it was Duo's idea.  She felt you would reject her if you knew the truth, and I respected her
wishes enough to keep her secret.  We wouldn't be here now if I hadn't been so worried that one of you would cause harm to
himself."  He looked pointedly at Heero.  "And I can see why she's upset, for more reasons than I had originally expected."

Quatre closed his eyes.  "Maybe I should start from when I found out the truth about Duo..."

FLASHBACK ...

Quatre was miserable as he observed the desert.  Just the previous night, one of the pilots, the one known as Heero, had
self-destructed.  There was confusion and despair hitting Quatre from every quarter and he had to get away.  He caught a
glimpse of black on the horizon and recognized the suit as friendly, so he took his lamp and started signalling.  In almost no time,
the dark suit had approached.  He smiled fondly and hopped into the suit's offered hand before pointing the direction in which
they should go.

A sandstorm had started, so they had headed for the secret Maguanac base.  They'd had only a brief time to talk, but Quatre had
enjoyed conversing with the pilot known as Duo Maxwell.  He found he liked the young pilot even better when Oz had attacked
the village and Duo asked to fly around just once as they were escaping.  Duo's actions had saved probably ten of the Maguanac.

Then they had landed, and Quatre could tell something was off about the pilot.  For one thing, Duo seemed to get distracted
easily.  For another thing ... Quatre suddenly realized that he couldn't sense a single emotion from Duo.  It was as if the other
youth wasn't really there.  Even Trowa had given off a faint aura of emotion kept firmly in check.  Duo was like a black hole.  
Rather than beat around the bush, Quatre pulled Duo aside.  "What are you?"

Duo tilted his head.  "What are you talking about?"

Quatre narrowed his eyes.  "I'm empathic.  I can sense emotion.  You ... you're empty."  He pulled his gun and aimed it at Duo's
head.  "Now tell me what you are, or I'll shoot you here and now."

Duo glanced at the gun and then at Quatre.  "Okay ... okay chill!  Look I'll tell you, but you won't believe me."

Quatre shrugged, not lowering his weapon.  "Try me."

Duo sighed.  "All right ... I'll tell you.  First ... give me the number for this house."

Quatre frowned as he handed over the number.  "What are you going to do?"

Duo looked around before setting his gaze on a nearby sofa.  "I'm gonna let this body lie down before it collapses.  I know you
have no reason to right now, Quatre ... but please trust me.  You'll get your answers soon enough.  Just answer the phone when
it rings."

Quatre watched as Duo walked over to the sofa and curled up on it, confused about Duo's last statement.  A mere moment later,
the phone rang just as Duo had said it would.  Quatre frowned when he saw the caller was identified as someone from L-2.  He
touched the accept button and was taken aback by the caller.

The girl was about his age with straggly brown hair that was dull.  Her face was pale and almost skeletal and her deep blue eyes
were as dull as her hair.  Still, she managed a wan smile.  "Hey there, Quat ... nice to see your face with my own eyes, although I
doubt you'd say the same.  Now ... to answer your question.  I'm Duo Maxwell and the body that was sent to Earth was a very
complex android that acts merely as a puppet."  She rubbed her forehead with two bone-thin fingers.  "As you can see ... I'm
much too ill to pilot Deathscythe myself, but my doc didn't have time to train anyone else.  He barely had enough time to put the
'bot together."

Quatre swallowed against the pit of worry.  He somehow knew that the girl was telling the truth.  "Are you well enough to
travel?  Maybe all you need is a change of environment."

The girl who had identified herself as the real Duo Maxwell gave Quatre a warm smile.  "I can, but ... there's no way for me to
get off the colony.  I don't have the creds, personally.  Nor do I have any connections that will get me off colony right now."

Quatre sighed and looked at the sofa.  Testing the story, Quatre walked over and shook Duo a little.  There was no response and
it was eerie at how still Duo was.  He returned to the screen.  "Look ... I know a few people on L-2 who owe me favors."  He
started typing on his own laptop while talking.  "DO you have any special equipment you need to bring?"

The female Duo shook her head.  "No ... I just need the VR helmet that connects me to the bot."  She looked unsure.  "Of course
I have my own quacks and their crap that we have to bring ..."

Quatre nodded in understanding.  "Bring everyone and everything you need with you and be at the shuttleport at ..."  He checked
the reply he had gotten over the net.  "Be at gate five at four twenty two.  It's a private shuttle that will bring you straight to
where I am, and it will depart at four thirty sharp.  All you have to do is give your name and you'll be rushed through.  I'm in the
system now and telling it that your departure is a medical emergency.  They won't hold you up."

The girl nodded weakly.  "I guess I'd better get packed then.  Later, Quatre ... and thanks."

END OF PART 2