Ships in the Night + Part 7
Heero leaned back against that
wall, allowing himself to slide down it 'til he met the floor.
"I think I'm getting too old for this."
Every ache and pain that he
had been doing his best to ignore had abruptly come to the fore. He had
an uneasy feeling that underneath his utilitarian garb every inch of his
body was bruised and, as much as he hesitated to admit it, it hurt like
hell. Wufei's reply was as unexpected as it was consoling.
"You and me both."
The Chinese man collapsed bonelessly next to him. "I think when we
get home I'll take that vacation I've been putting off for..."
Heero. "I've never known you to take time off. "
"You're one to talk,"
snorted Wufei. "There were times I thought we were in some sort of
competition for who could work the hardest."
Heero knew better than to
deny the remark, though he had not consciously been aware of the truth
of the statement until now.
"It would be good to
get away," he said. "To not be beaten into submission for no
"To not see your lover's
blood staining his pale skin... Yes, It would be good to get away."
Wufei had the decency to blush.
He had not forgotten that not long ago Treize had been his enemy, nor
the fact that it had, after all, been less than a day since they had met.
"Hai. You know me, Heero. I never pull my punches."
"He appears to be a good man," commented Heero.
Wufei raised an inquisitive
In reply to his unspoken question,
Heero said one word. "Zechs."
"Ah, yes. The golden
beauty." His attempt to keep the jealous tone out of his voice might
have worked if he had been talking with anyone else.
"It's over between them. You must know that. It's been over for quite
some time. Zechs has set his sights on... another."
Heero choose that moment to
find his hands intensely fascinating. He studied them as if he had never
even imagined such a complicated joining of blood and bone could possibly
"Are you ok with that?"
"You don't miss a beat, do you?"
"It goes along with not
pulling my punches. But you didn't answer my question. Do you mind?"
"But don't you..."
"So much that it hurts."
Heero looked up just in time
to catch Wufei's wry smile.
"I respect you a lot, Heero. I even like you. But there are some
things about you I just don't need to know."
Heero couldn't help but laugh.
He laughed so deeply, it became a pain to add to all his others. He laughed
for the suffering he'd endured, the sorrow and the confusion. He laughed
until his eyes teared and still he could not stop.
Wufei watched Heero with what
might have been termed affection if they had known each other better.
"Was it something I said?"
Beside them, Dermail began
to stir, bringing both of the young men back to their senses.
"I would have thought
he would stay out longer," commented Heero as he stood, the picture
of grace and ease as he relegated his pain to some future time when he
could allow himself to give into it without endangering the lives of those
near and dear to him.
"He's a tough bastard," replied Wufei.
"I have no doubt of it."
He nudged the old man with his foot, none too gently. "Up."
Dermail opened his eyes....
and smiled. "Alpha. Beta. Omega."
His tone was not that of a
defeated man and it was this more than his indecipherable words that caused
Heero's shackles to rise. "What was that?"
"That, my dear Preventer Yuy, was me, winning."
As he spoke, the lights flashed
from white to red, bathing their surroundings in a bloody glow as an alarm
siren began to wail.
Wufei looked down on Dermail,
unfazed by the activation of what was, in all probability, a self-destruct
device that would blow them all to hell and back in the very near future.
"Why is it that you winning always amounts to death and destruction?"
Dermail shrugged. "It's amusing."
"Don't get too excited. We're not dead yet."
"Aren't you, Preventer
Chang? You have less than 15 minutes until a very powerful explosive renders
this station into unsalvageable wreckage. Even if you were not 42 levels
deep into its interior, you could not put enough distance between yourself
and San Rommel to survive."
"Shut him up, will you?" interrupted Heero. "He's beginning
to aggravate me."
Wufei nodded once in agreement
before sending a very stunned Dermail back to unconsciousness with a swift
and well-placed kick. He was satisfied to know that, if nothing else,
Dermail had not seen that coming.
"Damn. Just when I was
going to take time off, too. I do believe life is laughing at me."
"Not laughing at you,
Wufei. Merely goading you. Give me a hand." He leaned down to grab
Dermail's pinioned arms. "We're getting out of here."
"So we can die in the hallway?" wondered his Chinese counterpart.
"We're not going to die, Wufei. Duo will save us."
"Duo?" Wufei did not sound convinced.
"Aa. He's more than meets the eye."
"Even more than that? You're a lucky man, Heero."
Heero flashed him a shameless
grin. "I know."
"You know, this is what I get for hanging around with Preventers.
I could be home discussing metaphysics with the toaster oven's AI but
noooo, I'm deep in the middle of a sugar-spun hellhole that's
about to explode into a fiery ball of twisted metal."
"I've been a good boy,
done everything a good hologram should do..."
"Can't a guy get a break?"
Duo had been ranting nonstop since the sirens had started and it was only
after considering all the options laying before him that Zechs made his
decision. Leaning past Treize, who still lay dead to the world in Duo's
arms, he kissed the braided boy with every ounce of feeling he could muster,
effectively cutting short his tirade.  Quatre looked on, literally
seeing sparks fly in the red-tinged darkness where the two met. When Zechs
finally pulled away, he was panting from the effort it took to remind
himself firmly that now was not a good time.
"What was that for?" Duo asked as he licked his lips. Zechs
tasted vaguely of... watermelon? He doubted he had ever known anything
"It was either that or slap you," answered Zechs. "Kissing
you promised to be more fun."
"No argument there. I'm guessing this means I'm supposed to save
the day again."
"If you wouldn't mind," said Quatre sweetly.
"It's not that I mind, Kat, it's that I don't know if I can."
"Quatre, do you remember
me saying something about having fried Wing Zero's circuits? Well, that
was a necessary understatement. Wing Zero is toast. But not dead toast.
Living, breathing toast."
"I'm afraid you've lost
me there," frowned Quatre, raising his voice so as to be heard over
Duo grimace, growling as he
jerked his head smartly to the left. The resulting silence echoed in their
ears nearly as loudly as the sirens had.
"Think of Wing Zero as a brain. A human brain whose higher
brain functions have been effectively terminated. But just because she
can't think doesn't mean she's defenseless. Hacking into her was the
hardest thing I have ever done. I swear I will see you die slowly
if you ever tell Heero this, but I barely made it out. Now that she's
been compromised, she'd little more than an undeveloped child, but one
that will strike out at anything she sees as an invader with all the force
she can muster. Going into her the first time, I didn't know what I was
getting myself into. Now I know exactly what it is that I left behind.
I... I don't know if I can do it again, Kat."
Quatre and Zechs were stunned
and belittled by Duo's heartfelt confession. Both of them, in their own
fashion, cared for Duo, of that there was no doubt, yet still they had
relied on him to such an extent that he might have been just another handy
tool that they might use if ever they had need. While there was no denying
that Duo was a force to be reckoned with, somewhere along the line he
had become human. And he was scared.
approached him slowly, noting that even in this hellish light Duo's eyes
were the shade of spring violets. He motioned for Duo to lay Treize down
and, after he had done so, nestled into his arms. "Oh, Duo, I'm sorry.
I didn't know. I thought it was all easy for you. I had no idea..."
Duo wrapped his arms around
his friend and rested his chin on his shoulder. "It's ok, Kat. I
wasn't going to tell you. You didn't need to know and I thought it wouldn't
matter. I thought it was over. Going back into her... I know I have to
do it, Kat, but, my god, I don't want to. If it were just me, I think
I'd rather die." He held the blonde tighter, careful not to hurt
him yet needing this closeness now more than ever. "But it's not
just me. It's you and the beauty over there whose touch is more electrifying
than I am. Hell, there's even this unconscious man at our feet who's apparently
the true love of a guy I've only met once. And..."
Duo pulled back. "Hai.
Don't give me those puppy dog eyes, Kat. I'll be fine. You know me. I
can do anything." He winked slyly and Quatre could not help but smile.
"But do me a favour, will you kitten? If... well... if I'm not around
to do it, could you give Heero this for me? I'd have blondie over there
do it, but I think it'd just confuse Heero. He's... he's too sweet for
his own good, believe it or not."
With these words, he leaned forward and gently covered Quatre's lips with
his own. The kiss was so tender and loving that Quatre felt he might cry.
The moment eventually had to end. When it did, both wished it might have
"Give him that, Kat, and tell him... hell, tell him whatever you
want. You were always better with words than I was. Maybe you won't even
need to. Maybe I'm getting freaked over nothing and it'll be a piece of
cake. And if I do catch you kissing Heero there'll be hell to pay
cuz you are just way too damn good at it."
He released Quatre in such
a way that the smaller boy might never have known exactly how much it
cost him if he hadn't noticed the difference in Duo's wreckless grin.
"Mind you, I'm expecting
one hell of a reward when we get home." He looked down to Zechs who
sat on the floor with Treize's head cradled in his lap. He moved closer
to Quatre once more, breathing in the scent of him. "And tell blondie
there I like to be on top."
It was as a pair of hazel eyes finally opened that Duo faded away, almost
as if he had never been.
Duo's face was an emotionless
mask as he strode to the room housing Wing Zero's main terminal. Despite
the assurances he had given Quatre, he was sure that there was no way
he would make it out of this alive. He could have traveled faster through
the air, spreading himself so thin that by the time he left a place he
was already where he intended to go, but just for a moment he wanted to
feel the solidness of living. To feel, to breathe, to move -- these
were things that connected him to life, things he would soon be forfeiting.
He used his fingers to program his message into the system, assuring that
those he was giving his life to protect would survive. His hands ghosted
over the circuitry with the speed of thought for now, at last, there was
simply no more time.
Wufei and Heero made good time,
in spite of their burden. Any guards they came across were too busy running
for their lives to bother with them, whether or not they recognized the
man being manhandled by the two as Dermail. The cutting sound of the alarm
had broken off only a few minutes after it had started and both knew they
had Duo to thank for this slight reprieve.
Wufei straightened to stretch his back. "Even unconscious, he's a
pain," he commented. "If I were a lesser man, I'd just kill
him now and spare myself all the trouble his trial will inevitably cause.
"That's what you get
for having principles," replied Heero. "Come on. We're almost
Wufei bent with an nearly
inaudible sigh and grasped Dermail's ankles. He had not until this time
considered Dermail to be a large man, but bearing his dead weight was
wearing down Wufei's already depleted reserves. By the time they reached
the shuttle bay, he was literally running on autopilot.
Heero turned to find Quatre speeding towards them.
"You made it! Are you
ok? What happened?"
"I think perhaps now is not the best time for this discussion, Quatre.
When we've made it back to Earth, after I've had 12 hours of uninterrupted
sleep, six cups of coffee, and at least two bouts of mind-blowing, scream-inducing
sex, then would be the time for this discussion. Right now, we
just need to leave."
His declaration was met with
a ringing silence and, as it turned out, an audience of three men with
slightly raised eyebrows.
"It was the mind-blowing,
scream-inducing sex part, wasn't it?" He shook his head fondly. "I
think Duo's starting to rub off on me."
Quatre's expression turned from amused to stricken in the blink of an
"Damn it, Heero. Why did you... Why now? Why did you have to become
"Am I missing something here?"
Zechs could not bring himself to meet Heero's intense gaze. Not now. Later,
when this was all over he would be glad to lose himself in those cobalt
depths, but now... "Duo's not coming back, Heero."
"What do you mean, Duo's
not coming back." Heero's voice was static and cold, more than ever
like the machine he had always seemed to be. "Duo always comes back."
"Not this time. He... He gave his life to save us."
As Quatre spoke the damning
words, Heero felt his heart stop in his chest, his breath freeze in his
From somewhere far away he
heard the sound of laughter.
"It just gets better
The four looked up to see
Dermail, unbound and upright, holding a gun pointed in their direction.
"It really doesn't pay to be a good guy," mumbled Wufei. "Although
I am tempted to wonder why you're even endeavoring to escape, given the
"It was a gamble, I warrant," said Dermail. "I knew that
you had compromised Wing Zero, but I didn't know how. It really
should have been impossible. It was only a calculated guess that what
could be done once could be done again. Thanks to this Duo, poor brilliant
damned soul that he is, it seems I have won after all."
"And so you go..."
Wufei's voice was defeat itself as he watched the man who had darkened
his life back way.
"And so I --"
Dermail blanched and clutched
his hand to his chest, thick red blood oozing between his fingers as he
fell to the floor. His eyes were wide and disbelieving as the last of
his life slipped away through the hole in his heart.
The red lights began to strobe
just as Heero dropped his gun which skittered away as if it had landed
on ice. Without a word, he began to run.
started after him only to feel Zechs' restraining grip on his shoulder.
"Let him go, Quatre. Let him go."
Heero had yet to feel his
heart resume beating. He had shot Dermail not in a fit of rage or from
a need to see justice served, but simply because he was standing in the
way. The others had spoken of Duo as if he were already lost, but there
was a way. If he could get there in time... If he were not already too
His mind was too busy calculating
to feel. It was rather a relief. The past 48 hours had seen him thrown
headfirst into a whirlwind of emotion. It had been an exhilarating and
terrifying experience for which he'd had no preparation and in which he
no longer wanted to take part. A heart wasn't supposed to be able to break...
He ran faster than he ever
had before. It seemed to take no effort at all. As long as he concentrated
on the pumping of his legs, he felt he could fly, though the sensation
was not as freeing as he would have supposed. Zechs' office came into
sight and it wasn't a minute after that he threw himself in front of Wing
Zero's main monitor and began to work furiously at the keyboard.
He knew now what Duo was facing.
Underneath all of Duo's unforeseen and unpredictable eccentricities lay
a solid foundation of logical programming. In order to completely disable
it would call for extreme measures. He couldn't quite fathom how he had
failed to see it before. Duo had beaten Wing Zero, but only barely. For
Duo to return to the ruined remains of what had been the world's most
advanced computer was no less than throwing himself headfirst into a blender.
To bypass Wing's defenses, he would have to lose himself in the chaotic
noise that was now Wing's interpretation of input.  He would retain
enough of himself to do what had to be done, but then he would be unable
to reintegrate himself. By that time, he would have been spread too thin.
It was inevitable that he be lost...
Unless he had an anchor.
The amethyst-eyed boy had
once referred to Heero as a 'Duo magnet'. At the time, Heero hadn't paid
much mind, allowing Duo's usually idle chatter to filter harmlessly into
and through his mind. But nothing Duo had said, no matter how trivial,
had ever been ignored by Heero and it was this one concept that had lit
a bright spark in his brain.
It was simple, really. Every
fiber of Duo's being had its own personal signature. It had been necessary
in order for Duo's body to have any sort of cohesiveness that the light
atoms which made up his matrix recognize and gravitate towards one another
as cells in a human body would do. Unlike his mortal counterparts, Duo
could cause his molecules to separate and rejoin through will alone as
long as he held on to some fragment of his own identity. To prevent the
self-destruction of San Rommell, he'd had to forsake his own sense of
self and, with it, any hope of becoming whole again.
But Duo wasn't the only one
to hold the key to his identity in his hands. Heero, after all, had been
the one to create it.
It was child's play to insert
the marker into Wing's damaged core. Disguising it as random interference
should have been impossible -- it would have taken any other man
weeks to generate the matrices alone -- yet Heero accomplished
the task in a few minutes.
It was a foolproof plan. Or
it would have been if it weren't for one small detail. The self-destruct
mechanism was still activated, and Duo was still their one and only chance
of survival. He would have to wait until Duo completed his task to put
his scheme into effect. If he acted too soon they would all die, yet if
he waited too long Duo would become inseparable and indistinguishable
As the red warning lights
continued to flash, Heero observed that the heart he had thought stilled
forever was now beating wildly in his chest. Every second that passed
saw Duo farther and farther from him, and he felt the rift as if his own
body were being torn asunder. His fingers were poised over the keys, kept
from shaking only through the force of his will, and he began to move
a split second after the lights flickered back to normal.
With a few keystrokes, it
was done. Every part of Duo that still bore his mark would be drawn to
the algorithm now meshed into Zero's system and then, in turn, to each
The room was so silent that
Heero absently wondered if he could still hear at all. Perhaps he was
deaf. Perhaps Duo had failed and he was dead without even knowing it.
Heero had never been given to flights of fancy, yet in the silence of
that cold and lonely room he was assailed by every imaginable possibility.
Sitting so motionless that he hardly seemed alive, his mind was spinning
out of control until he became aware of one thing.
A ragged breath being taken behind him, a whimper of pain.
Heero stood slowly. At first
he could not make himself turn, yet after an eternal moment he couldn't
help but look. As he found himself sinking deeply into amethyst eyes,
Heero came to a decision. He took one step forward and then another, his
eyes never leaving those of the boy before him until he stood bare inches
away. With a courage greater than he had ever known, he leaned closer
to Duo and kissed him, for the first time of his own accord. It was not
a passionate kiss, hardly even a romantic one, merely the slightest touch
of flesh on flesh before he pulled back. As he did so, Duo once again
did the impossible -- he fainted dead away.
 Yes, I know. It's an
old trick to shut Duo up by kissing him, but it's just so much *fun* ^_~
 I have *no idea* what I'm talking about. If I hadn't told you, would
you have been able to tell?
6] [part 8] [back
to Dacia's fic]