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[13]

Hilde sat by Duo's bedside, stroking his cheek as he slept. Sally's medical team did a swell job patching him up. Not a trace of injury remained on Duo after his banged-up body had undergone a twelve hour session in the rejuvenation chamber. Treize Khushrenada had funded the technology while OZ was at the peak of its power. Exaggerated rumors alleged that the machine was able to bring the dead back to life. Those in the know called Khushrenada a lunatic for pouring his fortune into something right out of science fiction. Love makes lunatics out of everybody. The machine gave a fallen lady back to Treize as it now gave Duo back to Hilde.

"How is he?" asked Une, startling Hilde out of her stupor. "Sorry, I didn't bother to knock."

"He's doing well," replied Hilde, standing to greet her superior. "Vitals are stable. I'm so sorry for all this trouble, ma'am."

"It was no trouble at all. What good is the rejuvenation chamber if we don't use it? It's just such a pity that only one prototype exists and ESUN refuses to release it to the public. Technology tainted by OZ..."

Hilde noted the bitterness in Une's words. The world was desperately trying to forget OZ, and it hurt them both. OZ may not have been perfect, but it was a family to all its soldiers.

"Anyway, enough about the past," said Une, changing the subject. "How did this happen?"

"Motorcycle accident. A gang with a vendetta against the Gundam pilots tracked Duo down. They chased him on their bikes, made him crash..."

"The war never truly ends," sighed Une. "Just about anyone can be lost at anytime. I do admit that Maxwell and I never really got along but he's one of my best agents. Tell him to hurry up and heal the next time he wakes up."

"Yes, ma'am. I'm quite sure he'd be happy to know you wish him well."

Une chortled. "Knowing him, he'll rub it in my face and say I'm going soft. I'll take my leave."

"Have a good day, ma'am," replied Hilde, returning to her seat by Duo's bedside.

As she lightly touched his face, she fought to keep her tears at bay. The first time he awoke, all he could do was apologize for crashing her motorcyle. He was such an idiot. A motorcycle was a mere thing. She couldn't care less if he burned the house down as long as he came out alive. Granted, she would find time to be angry later but rejoicing over the fact that he wasn't dead would come first.

"You're not good for me," she thought to herself. "You make me half-crazy with worry, make me laugh and forget about work, make me so tired at night I can barely keep my eyes open the next day..."

She leaned over him and kissed his forehead.

"No, you're not good for me at all. You're better than that. You're perfect."

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