Absolute Zero by Cassima
Disclaimer: I put them through crap, so they refuse to belong to me, damn them.
Warnings: Angst, shounen-ai, nothing graphic (except perhaps language).
Pairings: 1+2, 1+5
Rating: PG-13 for oh-my-goodness, that would be a swear word! And another, and another, and...
Summary: While Heero and Duo are on a mission, something goes wrong.
Story Notes: This is part one of the Trilogy "Survival".
The parts include:
I. Absolute Zero
II. To Build a Fire
III. January Thaw
ABSOLUTE ZERO: The name comes from the temperature scale Kalvins (K), which is used in scientific measurement. It represents the Celsius scale plus roughly 273 degrees, or K=C+273. This measurement is used for calculations involving temperature because the absence of all heat--absolute zero--is different than simple "cold". Absolute zero does not occur naturally on Earth, but space is this cold all the time. Now that you've had your science lesson for the day, on to the fanfiction! I started out with nothing and still have most of it left.

Absolute Zero + Part 1

Two to the left, three to the right, but clear straight ahead. Heero snuck a glance up at his partner, who looked a bit odd. "Ready?" he mouthed.

Duo nodded and gave a cheerful thumbs up from his position on the catwalk. Holding up a pen-shaped detonator, he pressed the shiny red button with a certain amount of undisguised glee.

A rushing BOOM resounded through the base, and the soldiers stood up straight and looked at each other with surprise. "Fire in Area B-23," crackled a voice on their radio. "All available hands report."

"Group C-9, acknowledged," the tallest of the three on the right confirmed, and the group shouldered their firearms and trudged off.

"C-8, roger that," one of the other group responded as they joined their comrades. "We're on our way."

"Acknowledged, C-8," the voice crackled again.

"Over and out."

Like taking keys from an Oz guard, Heero thought rather smugly before pulling himself out of the shadows to examine the cargo. Sending a self-explanatory nod to Duo, he began to move, panther-like, towards his prey: the giant wooden crates spread out pell-mell around the warehouse.

Duo landed with a light thunk on the crate to his right. "Heh, heh, heh," he chuckled throatily. "Putty in my hands." His voice was a little rough.

Heero glanced at him warily, but Duo was too busy hopping to another crate and reading the tag to meet Heero's eye. "You take this section," he said, turning around.

"Anything you say, Yuy," the other responded cheerfully, chuckling a little.

Curbing another urge to stare at the Shinigami pilot, he turned his mind to the task at hand. He would not stare at Duo Maxwell. He would not fret about Maxwell like a baka mother. He would stick to the task, and finish the damn mission, and go back to their temporary home and try not to think about killing Relena Peacecraft, or the whirlwind that was Duo Maxwell. No, he was going to find the damn weapon, and blow it up with a vengeance, and wait for Wufei to zap the sensors and swing by to pick them up. Yes, he, Heero Yuy, would wait. Patiently.

Maxwell was unnaturally quiet.

Heero resisted looking back to make sure he was still alive. "It's not over here," he said reluctantly.

No response.

With a stoic face perfected from long practice, he turned. "Well? Did you find it?"

Duo shook his head, silently dropping off his current crate to the floor. His face seemed unnaturally pale in the fluorescent white overhead lights.

"Hn," Heero responded, eyes flickering around the room for suggestions as to the placement of the weapon.

"If I were a 20 ton laser capable of some serious death and destruction, where would I hide?" Duo mused absently, looking around.

Heero glared at him.

"Not here, that's for sure," Duo continued, oblivious to the Death Glare Version One-point-Three. "Virgin Islands, all the way. None of this snowy sub-zero crap. When this war is over, I'm going to buy a nice island in the Caribbean and stay there with three hula dancers and couple dozen monkey-butlers to serve me piña coladas with little flowered tissue-paper-and-toothpick umbrellas until I die of alcohol poisoning." He sighed happily, picturing it. "That's the life."

Heero blinked at the bizarre image of Duo being served anything by monkeys in little tuxedos. Masking his confusion behind impatience, he glared again. "Stop chattering; you're giving me a headache."

Duo stuck his tongue out at him. "Fine then, I won't invite you to my Paradise," he replied huffily, and jumped up on a nearby crate to sit.

Heero growled deep in his throat. "Omae o korosu."

The other boy smirked. "If you say so."

There was a pause as Heero considered what the hell they were going to do now.

"Ne, Heero?" Duo asked quietly.

Heero implemented Yuy Death Glare, Version Two-Point-One.

Duo swung his legs absently, unperturbed by Heero's ill nature but still somber. "You think this was just a decoy? Maybe it's already there." His voice was hoarse again.

"Impossible," Heero denied. "The carriers leaving here after the project was finished were all too small to hold it, and a fighter would be too conspicuous."

There was another pause. "Ne, Heero?"

Yuy Death Glare Three-Point-Five.

"Maybe they disassembled it."

"Their scientists are all still here," Heero pointed out grumpily. "We saw them on the way in, remember?"

There was another short pause. "Ne, Heero?"

Yuy Death Glare Four-Point-Two.

"Maybe they have it loaded up already. You know, in preparation for shipping?"

"The carrier arrives tomorrow."

"I know, but what if that one is a decoy? I mean, they received their bi-monthly order of beef yesterday, right? So, it could be going out in that, couldn't it?" Duo watched Heero's face for any signs of agreement or disagreement. "They wouldn't be that stupid, would they, Heero?"

Heero was already making his way towards the shipping lot. He could here a muttered curse behind him as Duo scrambled to catch up, pulling himself back onto the catwalk, and after that only the light smacking of the Shinigami pilot's tennis shoes on the thin metal surface above him.

But, honestly, who would've thought that Maxwell baka would have a good idea?

When they arrived at the Holding, Heero easily identified the airship by the reek of bloody meat. The carrier was being rinsed out in preparation for the carefully sealed bomb a couple hundred meters away.

"Man-oh-man," whistled Maxwell softly as he dropped with feline agility from the catwalk. "That is one big mother of a bomb!"

Heero frowned at this intrusion of his thoughts. Through the screen of Yuy Death Glare Version Four-Point-Seven, he watched his fellow pilot. He was panting--too out of breath for his condition--and the slightly glassy look in his eyes made Heero want to purse his lips with thought, but that was too out of character, so he didn't. Heero settled for turning his mind back to the explosives equipment in front of them. It would be simple to--

"Ne, Heero?"

He quickly perfected Yuy Death Glare Version Five-Point- Two.

"Does it seem odd to you that they keep their most powerful weaponry out in the middle of their loading docks where any half-decent terrorist could get it?" He wiped at the light sheen of sweat on his forehead with the back of one hand. "Man, it's cold in here."

"Hn." Heero rolled his eyes. The people were idiots. If Maxwell could figure out their plan... "You create a diversion, I'll set the trigger. Give me five minutes. I'll meet you at the contact location."

Duo flashed his trademark evil grin before spoiling it with a wink. "Give me three minutes to set up, and one more after I begin." Snickering to himself, he jumped up, melded with the shadows, and was gone. Heero snorted almost silently before turning his attention back to the carrier. Minimal security, too. Idiots, all of them.

Heavily armed idiots, though. And if Maxwell's suggestion hadn't been a last resort for Heero, he never would have found out about it. ...Maybe the secrecy was their plan. Or, maybe they had a secret weapon.

He narrowed his gaze at the soldiers and growled silently. It would be just like Maxwell not to plan for that contingency.

He carefully began to plan his route to where he would plant the explosives. Of course, it would all depend on the diversion Maxwell planned, but it was always good to have a plan. He could come up with backup plans, too.

Hell, if Maxwell didn't start soon, he was going to start his own little diversion. Heero looked at his watch, feeling his characteristic ornery nature rear its ugly head. If Duo didn't start soo--

"How dare you?" A deep, rough voice spoke softly, resonating through the speaker system.

The soldiers aimed their guns in various directions, searching for the source of the disturbance. Duo no baka!

"Kisama!" Heero hissed softly. What was the idiot doing?!

"How dare you?" the deep voice spoke again with a touch of anger. "Petty children."

"Who's there?" one of the more bold guards said into the silence. His voice broke the brittle air, and a certain tension entered Heero's opponents. "Show yourself!"

"Who are you to demand anything? You have murdered. There is blood on your hands."

"Spy! Show yourself!"

A deep, raspy chuckle. "You hold sacrilege on your neck. You murder and pray for the sins of others. Where is your sin, my son?"

"You're not... you can't be--"

"Put down the gun and go home, Andrew."

The man frowned nervously. "This is Jacobsin, isn't it? Stop messing around, Jacobsin."

"Go back to St. Petersburg."

"Jacobsin, I'm going to kick your ass. Get off the intercom."

"Go back to your family."

"I swear, Jacobsin--"

"Put down your gun and be a father to your child."

Heero began to sneak around the crates.

"JACOBSIN, SHUT THE FUCK UP NOW!" Andrew shouted, sweat trickling down his face and gun trained on the observatory window where officers directed traffic.

"Don't let your child grow to be murderer, too, Andrew."

The panicked man let loose a volley of bullets at the window, shattering the glass.

"Kisama!" Heero spat again, diving for cover under the bomb, eyes wide with panic. Duo no baka, going to get them both killed!

The large darkened panes crashed to the ground, slow-motion like, only to reveal an empty room.

"You can't kill me."

All the soldiers were sweating now, beginning to believe in their fellow soldier's God. The silence was deafening. They looked around for the source of the voice. Suddenly, as one, they began to cover the area with gunfire, desperately working to stop the ragged chuckles.

Duo must have a hell of a hiding place, Heero decided, finishing the touches on his bomb and rolling silently out from underneath the bomb. Finished, damn Duo's methods. Was he trying to get killed? Was he trying to get Heero killed? If it happened, it would be solely by accident at this point.

The guards stopped shooting, looking around the room for any sign of the intruder, but the shipping bay was still.

Suddenly, the gunfire returned from all sides; this time, however, the guards were the targets. Ammunition from all over the room began to come to life--and just barely skimmed the shaking soldiers.

"You can't kill me," the raspy voice continued, hoarser than before but not lacking the amused undertones.

"Who are you?!" one of Andrew's companions demanded in a squeak, flinching as a bead of sweat just missed his left eye.

"I am Shinigami."

The three guards gulped.

Overhead, a thick cord snapped and electricity crackled dangerously. "I am the Great Destroyer." The lights flickered into emergency mode as three more cords were cut by something and began to sizzle with electricity."I am the beginning and the ending. Alpha and omega."

Heero nearly rolled his eyes with impatience. "Note to self," he decided, "don't let Duo do anymore distraction missions."

"Put down your weapons and get on the carrier."

With a clatter, the guns fell to the floor. The youngest man looked as if he were about to wet his pants. Gulping shallow breaths, they herded themselves onto the carrier.

"Live your life," the voice told them as they shut the door.

With a gentle hum, the carrier, still filled with melting animal blood, took off. Duo jumped down from the catwalk to land lightly next to Heero. With a slight cough, he began picking small dust bunnies out of his hair, and grinned at Heero. "You can plant the bomb now."

With a deadpan statement, Heero lifted the detonator and pressed the red button right in front of Duo's face.

"SHIT!" Duo yelped, diving for cover amidst the explosion. "When did you--never mind." He shook his head, a mixture of awe and disgust in his eyes. "I don't want to know."

"Ninmu--"

"Kanryou," Duo chanted with him with a grimace and a shiver, "and all that jazz. Yeah, whatever. Let's go."

His disgruntled, ruffled appearance made Heero smother a grin. The stupid shit was so cute at times. Heero blinked, stupefied. Where did that thought come from?

+

[part 2] [back Cassima's fic]