Part Of The 'Rhythm Emotion Cycle'


"I never knew, I never knew that everything was falling through- that everyone I knew was waiting on a que to turn and run when all I needed was the truth; but that's how it's gotta be. It's coming down to nothing more than apathy. I'd rather run the other way than stay and see the smoke, and who's still standing when it clears."

~Over My Head, The Fray



Chapter One

Mission: Conspiracy Theory

Chang Wufei looked at the three story building in front of him. It was modest, but clean. Serviceable, nothing grand, but still lightyears more upscale than the surrounding buildings. The shape was reminiscent of the old southern churches of America. Simple, but intricate. The roof rose in a tall gable, with a single tower at the fore-front, adding another story's height to the building. The new building seemed out of place when set against the surrounding ones; it's warmth against the grimy coldness of the dilapidated, decaying city.

It was like a beacon of hope amidst a storm-torn sea. If nothing else, the Chinese Preventer thought, Duo Maxwell had taste.

The building was empty, as it would still be quite a while before the interior was finished and the Maxwell Orphanage officially opened. Yet apparently, despite having the funds to afford other, higher end accommodations, Duo Maxwell already resided here in a set of personal living quarters on the third floor. Reasoning had him guessing that most of Duo's rather vast funds went towards the orphanage, but there was still the financial aid given by WEI to consider. All in all, Duo could have been able to live in a nice house, or apartment, somewhere in the more upclass part of Miranda- one of the largest cities of L2.

Thinking back over it a moment, the former Shenlong pilot had to mentally laugh at it all. Duo's talents had taken him from being the poorest of the Gundam pilots, with the possible exception of Trowa (who was downright reclusive) to being the second richest, right after Quatre with his family fortunes.

Wufei remembered the day he'd asked the Shinigami to join the Preventers. Duo, working with Hilde at her salvage yard, had laughed, saying that he was retired. When Wufei had duly pointed out that Preventers paid much more than salvage work, and that monetary funds were required to live out ones life in any decent fashion, Duo'd laughed even harder and said not to worry. Actually, if Wufei's memory served him correctly, the conversation went along the lines of: "Money? 'Fei, I've got more money than you and Mr. Bullets-for-Brains put together."

"I realize that myself and Yuy are not 'well-to-do' by any standards, but that is clearly an overstatement, Maxwell. Exactly how much do your liquid assets total?" Wufei couldn't picture the braided boy being richer than him. Wufei had a sizeable inheritance, being the last of his family. And Heero had squandered enough money from Oz to get by for several years without working. Surely Maxwell was overstating things a bit.

"A total? Hmm... roughly enough to buy a whole colony, probably." He then rattled off a number far higher than Wufei expected. Face pale, he questioned the acquisition of such funds.

This received him a chesire grin. "Bullets-for-Brains Mr. Perfect Soldier Yuy isn't the only skilled hacker you know, 'Fei. Heero stole just enough to get by. Me... I was out for payback. Literally. So I liberated quite a bit from Oz. After diverting a healthy amount to various charities, you can see I still have more than enough to keep me in moderate luxury for the rest of my life. Especially since I had Quatre advise me on a few wise investments."

"If you've got that much money, Maxwell, then why are you sweating away in a salvage yard?"

"Easy. I'm sixteen, 'Fei. I'd go crazy within a month if I had nothing at all to do. I'm used to working for everything I get. I did my share of the fighting, but I can't just laze around and do nothing. I've gotta have something to keep me occupied. It just so happens that at the moment, I rather like helping Hilde."

And that moment hadn't lasted very long at all, Wufei thought. It wasn't long after then that he'd heard that Duo was puttering boredly around L2 after having left Hilde. Numerous other offers to join the Preventer's had been turned down. Duo refused to fight, refused to participate in anything that had to do with fighting.

Sometime during that span of time, the tentative camaraderie they'd formed during the wars, during their shared tribulations, drifted apart. Wufei criticized every move Duo made, and Duo didn't seem to care.

And yet... still here he was. Five years since the Marimaia Incident. He'd just turned twenty-one, just turned an adult in most legal ways, yet he knew more than most people could dream of. Life had changed, and in some ways, so had he. But in some ways... he had not.

And yet... still, here he was. There were countless other agents who could have done this, but Une had specifically designated it to him. Really, he thought, One coincidintial accident does not warant the paranoid woman to shout 'Conspiracy Theory!'

It was exactly forty six hours ago that he'd found out about the disappearance of Quatre Winner. It hadn't been surprising. With his soft looks, money, and political power, someone, someday was going to make a move against him, try their luck at kidnapping him. And just because Heero Yuy happened to be on the same hijacked shuttle, Une was screaming that it was more than likely a plot against all former Gundam pilots. She'd asked Maxwell and Barton if they would mind having 'Preventers back-up' just in case. A polite way of asking to stick them with babysitters slash bodyguards. Barton's answer had been a polite 'No Thank You.' It seemed he thought himself safe within the cloth walls of his circus tent. Wufei wished he'd have said 'yes' so that he would at least be able to get along with the person he was guarding. He and Barton, while not close friends, had a lot more in common than he and Maxwell. Wufei had fully expected Maxwell to do the same as Barton and refuse. Some boast about being the 'Shinigami' and being able to take care of himself.

The soft acceptance had startled him. Quatre had imformed him a few months ago that Duo was not the same person he once was, but until that moment a few days ago, Wufei hadn't questioned how much his former comrade had changed.

Maybe fatherhood really had matured the Deathscythe Hell pilot.


Author's Notes: Maybe you noticed, but this is 2x5. The first ever attempt by me at this particular pairing. This chapter was kind of short, but they'll get progressively longer as we move along. And please, leave me reviews. Feedback, please. Good or bad? Please let me know.

Oh, and How To Save A Life is not forgotten. Quatre's just being a little moody. The next chapter should be out soon.