DISCLAIMER: No matter how loud I scream, they still won't give me ownership of Duo Maxwell, or any of the other pilots for that matter...*grumbles about injustice* Anyway, the fic is mine, the characters ain't. Comments are welcome and come to think of it, so are flames - I haven't done a Witty Rejoinders ( my series on fics bashing flames!) story in a while! Enjoy!

Rating: PG-13
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4

Into The Realm of Dreams
Part 1

This was definitley not going the way he planned.

Duo swore to himself the next time he followed Wufei into battle, it would be AFTER knowing the battle plan. Why? Because they currently had NONE.

" After I finish these Leos, you're next Wufei!" he shouted into the communicator on the dashboard of his Gundam. " I'll show you what REAL justice is!"

A smirk was seen on the normally solemn face of the chinese pilot.

" Are you afraid of a few Leos, Maxwell?" he asked. " This shouldn't take too long at all!"

" That's not the point!" Duo groused. " I can't believe you didn't have any plans past 'Blow it up'. Those are MY kind of plans - I expected more from you, Wuf-ster."

" Do not call me that!"

Duo grinned and fired his thrusters. With a wicked swipe of his thermal sycthe, he completely obliterated two Leos in his path, mini-explosions rocking his Gundam slightly as he moved through the line.

" Aaahh, this is the life!" he chortled, violet eyes flashing. " Me an' Shinigami--" he thumped the padded wall affectionatley."--a few Leos to blow up, and Wu-man to annoy! Life don't get much better then this!"

" And I'll be sure to see you depart it if you persist in calling me those vulgar nicknames," Wufei growled as Nataku plowed through another line.

Duo's maniacal laughter filtered through the audio and Wufei resolutely vowed to ignore the Deathscythe pilot until the mission's end.

" Which cannot come fast enough to suit me," he grumbled. Why had the fates decreed that Heero be away on another mission when Duo came rocketing through Quatra's mansion demanding he be his partner? " Why not Trowa? Or Quatra?"

" I heard that!"

The two Gundams finally breached the outer security and Duo's eyes lit up with a positively fiendish light.

" Time to rock and roll!" he yelped and with a little help from Wufei, watched the OZ lab explode into a mushroom cloud of smoke and debris.

" Piece of cake," commented Duo. " Time to--what the..?"

Wufei heard the alarm in his partners voice and flicked on one of the side cameras to get a more complete view. Deathscythe Hell was poised over a small glowing object. Curious as the proverbial cat, Duo manouvered his Gundam into picking it up. Wufei started.

" Duo! Put it down! You don't know what it is!"

" Well, how am I supposed to find out?" Duo asked reasonably. He magnified the view and found himself peering at a strange staff, somewhat similar to his scythe only made of wood, with jeweled ornamentation decorating the ends, and intricate carvings ran along the length of it. Duo could vaguely make out a figure in swirling robes that encircled the staff. The glow was coming from a dazzling blue diamond on the tip and it was growing. Duo found himself mesmerized by the brilliant light.

" Maxwell! Maxwell!" Pause. The resignedly. " Duo?" Wufei's voice filtered in, and Duo blinked.

" Wu-man, this is like some valuable antique or something..."

" Put it down!" Wufei's concern was growing--the light was pulsing now and Duo's face in the moniter was of stunned amazement. The Deathscythe pilot did not put down the staff. Wufei let loose a string of curses in several different languages that normally would have Duo applauding his fluency but failed to garner even a twitch from the braided pilot. Wufei began moving towards Duo, fully intending to make him drop it by force when the glow coalesced into a beam of light that completely engulfed Deathscythe Hell.


" Holy shi--"

An implosion without sound. Shenlong was thrown headlong amongst the destroyed Leos, rattling the chinese pilot. Wufei scrambled out of Nataku's cockpit in time to see Duo's Gundam disappear into thin air. The staff it had held, hung in mid-air, light still gently pulsing, emitting small beams of light. Wufei flinched as the light passed over him, but nothing happened. Then the light went out, and the staff hit the ground with a thud. Wufei stared in amazement.

" Duo?" Taking a hesitant step forward, he scanned the area for some sign of the black Gundam. There were no pieces, no shards of debris and Wufei allowed himself to hope that the long-haired pilot was still alive. Cautiously approaching the staff, Wufei licked his lips nervously and reached for it. Fingers gripping the wood solidly, he raised it up. Nothing. For all intents and purposes, it was a very nice, very decorative, hunk of junk. He shook it gently. When no light threatened to swallow him up, he hefted it up and went back to his Gundam. Whatever had happened, this staff was the cause of it and therefore would probably aid in the retrieval of his friend. Starting Nataku's engines, Wufei hurried back to Quatra's as fast as he could. Along the way, a thought hit him and he groaned aloud.

" Merciful Nataku, please let Heero still be away!"

The man foremost in Wufei's thoughts was exhausted. Heero Yui touched down in the Maguanac Hanger built for their Gundams and drifted towards his designated spot. After shutting down Wing, Heero all but fell out of his Gundam, catching himself at the last minute. It had been a hard mission and all he wanted was sleep. Well, his mind amended, sleep and Duo. Heero gave a tired smile at the thought of recieving one of Duo's exuberant welcoming hugs when he walked in the house, and shook his head wonderingly.

When he had fallen for the braided pilot, he couldn't guess. It had snuck up on him, only manifesting itself when Duo had been called away for an extended mission a few months back, and he found himself missing the American's incessant chattering, the way he would fuss over Heero's injuries, or the irritating talent he had for making Heero laugh.

It had been inevitable, and when he voiced his new feelings to Duo upon his return, half-afraid the American would push him away in disgust, he had been shocked to see the look of relief on Duo's face. Heero had barely managed to finish stuttering out his half-formed thoughts when Duo had barrelled into him, wrapping his arms around his waist and hugging for all he was worth. Since then, the two had been nearly inseparable and up until this recent mission, neither of them had been alone for more then two days at a time. Heero sighed as he pushed open the door, intent on recieving Duo's greeting, acknowledging the other pilots and then dragging the braided baka to their room where Heero fully intended to sleep for a week. Heero grinned. He always slept better when he had a firm grip on Duo's braid, like the American was his lifeline out of the nightmares that sometimes plagued him after particularly nasty missions.

He heard the murmur of voices and followed them to the large living room of the Winner Estate. Pausing in the doorway, he watched Wufei, Trowa and Quatra staring at what appeared to be some kind of jeweled scepter. He also noted Duo's non-presence and alarm began to creep in and settle in the pit of his stomach. He cleared his throat.

Quatra's head shot up.

" Heero!"

Wufei and Trowa traded worried looks. Heero noticed everything.

" Where's Duo?"

Another exchange of concern. Heero felt his stomach begin to knot up but his face remained blank. He stared evenly at Quatra who began to sweat.

" We, uh...aren't sure," confessed the blond, shooting a sharp look at Wufei who nodded slightly and rose.

" Heero, something...happened on the last mission," the black-haired pilot said gently. " Duo's missing."

on to part 2

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