Shinigami (cont)

March 27th

Heero stared at the box on his desk. He'd visited Dyad, just as Une commanded. Too bad Dyad wasn't ever awake when he went. He wouldn't be able to handle visiting if he was.

They just didn't understand though. It had been over a year and he still wasn't "over" Duo. Worse still, his heart wanted to know more about Dyad. He didn't know what to do. Anything he did would feel like betrayal.

Something skittered across his desk and he rolled out of the chair, dropping to the floor and drawing his gun. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a picture flop down onto his quickly vacated chair. Heero blinked as he realized the figure in his sights was Wufei.

"Jumpy are you not?"

Heero glared as he got to his feet and shoved the gun into the holster. He looked down at the photograph Wufei threw, then picked it up.

"I salvaged it before your rampage at the house." Wufei hesitated. "Une has ordered Dyad and I to L2. She wants to see if we can't locate Dr. G's lab. The departure is set for Saturday. You and Dyad have the week to tie up any mission plans you have and then we leave."

"Why?" Heero stared at the picture of the five of them on the deck with the setting sun in back of them.

"Une has her own ideas. I know I would feel more comfortable with G's lab known and destroyed."

"The picture, Chang."

Silence. Heero looked up from the picture to rest his eyes on Wufei's thoughtful face.

"I think now is a time when you need to remember all of your friends. We won't always be around, Yuy, but we will always be there and remember."

April 4th

Heero stared at the screen. Dyad managed to find G's lab. He'd looked for it himself out of curiosity and couldn't. And Dyad's figuring out how to make everything work. Not Wufei. He shouldn't be able to do that! Heero scanned through the rest of the technical stuff and stopped cold at the last sentence. 'Dyad guided me here, it was as if he knew how to get here, given his physical looks and the fact that he's had reconstructive surgery done for his face, can we get a DNA test done to find out if this is possibly Duo?'

He glared at the screen and shut the window to Lady Une's email. Wufei was crazy. Lady Une was crazy. Dyad wasn't Duo... Heero stared at the screen. He survived his own self-destruction only because he opened the hatch. Duo fought four other mobile suits and all five blew. It was impossible. Lady Une and the others had to know that. Heero flipped to another window and started pulling up records. They would have to prove it. If Dyad could find G's lab then they would probably make him run the pilot program. If he ran the program, he could program it to run a simulation of their flight to colony X-18999 during the coup with Mariemaia. He saved the data from the shuttle recorder. When Dyad failed, they'd know they wouldn't need to do further testing.

But how could they? They spent the entire past year reminding him that Duo was gone and now they're trying to find him in some civilian. Heero narrowed his eyes and closed down some of the running programs. He had a flight program to make.

April 21st

Heero heard Dyad coming down the hall, talking to someone. He contained himself and allowed a slightly malicious smirk. He turned toward the entrance to the cubicle and waited. Dyad laughed at something someone said- Quatre, Heero's mind supplied, and waved as he came into view.

"Flight simulator training." Heero said and stood. "Come with me."

Dyad blinked as Heero brushed passed. Heero strode down the corridor and he heard Dyads footsteps start again and follow him.

"How come I'm getting flight training, Yuy-chan?"

Heero glared down the hallway, refusing to look at Dyad. "You know what the proper term of respect is, Barton." He punched the elevator button. "Lady Une's orders." He leaned against the wall. He couldn't believe Lady Une actually took Wufei somewhat serious about this whole thing. She hadn't told him what Wufei told her either.

He didn't know what he would say if she did.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened. They stepped inside and Heero pressed the button for the correct floor.

"Why did Lady Une decide to toss me into the flight simulator? I don't know how to fly a kite much less a plane or shuttle."

Heero ignored Dyad's question.

"I bet you didn't even question the order." Dyad's sigh filled the descending elevator. "I bet you've never questioned an order in your life."

Inwardly, Heero began to seethe.

~"Always the mission, ne Heero?"~

The elevator doors opened and Heero quickly made his way out toward the lab door. He pushed open the doors and strode over to the control terminal for the simulator.

"It wouldn't kill you to talk to me, ya know."

Heero nearly jumped at the sound of Dyad right behind him. He never heard him follow. "Get in." Heero grated out. His eyes flicked up from the screen to watch Dyad stroll over to the simulator hatch. Heero keyed the door sequence and it swung open. When Dyad settled into the seat, he shut the door.

Heero brought up the internal lights and the control panel. He toggled the com. "Strap in."

Dyad looked around for the restraints. He fumbled with them for a few minutes before getting everything right. His hands settled on the controls. He poked a button. "So now what?"

He blinked. The com button wasn't labeled. "Headset." Heero replied.

Dyad pushed the button again, an amused expression on his face. "Where is that?"

"Look up."

He looked up toward the overhead cam and grinned. "Thanks." A chord swung in front of the cam as he pulled the headset off the overhead restraint.

Heero started the flight recorder and activated the simulation. Dyad blinked as the sim. module started to move. Heero watched as Dyad looked at the "external" display screens. "What the- space?!" What in the-"

"The recorder is active. Begin."

"But I- oh shit!" Dyad scrambled to control the module as the screens flashed at the beginnings of the flight.

Behind Heero the doors opened. He recognized the sound of Quatre's footsteps. "Heero?"

"Orders."

"So Lady Une told me. Shouldn't you be starting with a beginner course?"

"Hn." Heero watched the simulator readings and levels as Dyad struggled with, and continued to curse at, the module.

Quatre reached over to end the program. He keyed the stop sequence only to be denied. "What did you do?"

"It's one of my own programs. I wish to test reflexes and decision making before other exercises are used."

"But-"

"Lady Une wasn't specific. This is how I am doing things."

Quatre looked over at the monitors as Dyad yelped and swore again. He blinked. He looked down at the screen Heero studied. Both watched Dyad navigate the battle in disbelief. Even the swearing of the pilot retreated into the background as the "shuttle" successfully made its way to the "bay".

When the shuttle crash stopped, Heero killed the program and opened the door. He keyed the flight record analysis and the flight correlation program.

Dyad struggled out of the flight module and started putting down his performance. He pushed some of the escaped wisps from his ponytail back behind his ears and pulled out an electronic notebook. He continued to mutter and started making notes.

Quatre laughed as he looked away from the scrolling data screen. "Dyad, you did fine! That was a tough program."

"I crashed, got the shuttle shot up, blundered through that mess pushing buttons... I sucked!" Dyad pronounced. He made a couple more notations.

"Impossible." Heero muttered at the blinking screen.

"What?" Quatre asked as he looked over. His jaw dropped as he read the screen.

He toggled the comparison chart and two matching lines appeared. The original flight and Dyad's flight were the same except for the occasional steeper grade to some of the flight path angles.

April 24th

Heero trudged up the path to the Preventers housing. He'd just spent the last hour looking for the flaw in his program. There had to have been one. Dyad couldn't have done what he did if he'd programmed everything correctly. Even the shuttle had come to a halt in the same place. Off by two centimeters. Impossible.

He pushed open the main door and turned to walk up the steps. To make things worse, he still hadn't managed to find the flaw in the program yet. Maybe it was in the comparison sub directory that compared the shuttle flight to the sim. flight. It wasn't the graphics to program translation, he knew that.

He turned automatically onto the landing for his floor and walked down the hall. He fished out his keys as he turned the problem over in his head. He even did a test flight on it before Dyad ran the simulation. He unlocked the door and went in.

The room exploded into various shouts of "Surprise" and "Happy Birthday". Heero blinked and looked around. Everyone he'd fought with or associated with during and after the war was crammed into his Preventers apartment, except Duo. He looked down and realized he'd instinctively pulled his gun on the gathered guests and put it away.

"Only you would pull a gun at your own party, Heero." Relena said smiling. "Happy Birthday." She gave him a hug and took his laptop bag and keys away from him.

Dorothy came over, grabbed his wrist and drew him into his living room. "Come on, open your presents!"

"Don't worry about a thing Heero," Quatre shouted from the kitchen. "We have everything under control and we'll bring dinner in in a few minutes."

Heero blinked and sat down on the couch next to Dorothy and Trowa, overwhelmed. Presents were piled on the coffee table in front of him. He looked around the room and spotted Dyad talking with Mariemaia in the corner. Michael laughed at Une and Wufei, while Sally smiled at him but continued talking to Noin, Zechs and Howard. He offered Sally a slight smile and started opening the presents. He noticed one from Dyad and set that one aside to open last. He felt almost... happy and given Dyad's last gift to him, it wouldn't do for him to excuse himself if he still had things to open. A plate was handed to him as he opened the gift from Relena and Dorothy. He took a bite of food and then thanked them both for the knife set. His first glimpse of sharp knives since Duo- he shook the thought off mentally. He really didn't want to finish that.

Heero set the gift aside in favor of eating something. He talked with Trowa, Quatre and Relena for a bit while he ate, occasionally smiling slightly at the jokes they made. Sally came and claimed his plate and ordered him to open up his gift from her. His slight smile flashed again as he turned back to the presents.

As he thanked Sally for the gift, he looked around, feeling someone staring. His eyes met Dyad and he looked down at the table. One gift left. He picked it up and unwrapped the uniform box. On top were two CD's, one of traditional Japanese music and one of tyko drumming. His heart practically stopped when he saw the book underneath. He didn't have to look to the bookshelf to know the title, 'Modern Society', matched the last gift Duo ever gave him. Dyad gave him... Duo... His head swam as his stomach sank as he lifted the book out of the box. He felt as though his hands were shaking though he could see they were steady. The room that had, a second a go, been filled with pleasant chatter now fell into silence. Someone whispered a question and someone else answered. He heard Duo's name.

Heero looked around the room for the source of the comment. His eyes caught Dyad's and he couldn't stand it. Those eyes, so similar, paired with a mind that thought so much the same- he got up and left, present set down and forgotten in his place.

April 30th

The door opened and the gathered people looked up. Trowa nodded and held up the slim electronic notebook.

Lady Une waved him in and toward a seat. "We've just discussed Heero's request for a new partner. He can't work with Dyad because of the fact that he is reminded too much of Duo." She took the notebook from Trowa. "Now, I want honest impute on this. Because of the L2 visit, Christmas, Heero's birthday gift and his performance in the simulator along with the physical evidence of hair, eyes and personality, Sally has made the recommendation that Dyad gets a DNA test. Dyad has agreed."

"Well... If Dyad is Duo, how is he, and Heero, going to react? And why didn't the hospital do the DNA test before?" Quatre asked.

"Dyad had chemical and radiation burns from the explosion and from the power sources used in that part of the city. He didn't have any tissue that could be used to test." Mariemaia paused. "The chance of finding a DNA match in this day and age with as many people as there are, it's near impossible. He would have matched 5 people if he was lucky and that was it."

"You managed to prove your background." Wufei stated.

"And you can prove yours. Aristocrats are a more select group. There is less of a chance of the genetic background matching with anyone else." She answered back.

"We're discussing Dyad, children." Mariemaia and Wufei stopped and looked over at Dorothy. "He's Heero's ex-partner. We aren't here to argue anyone's present pedigree or lack there of."

"Heero isn't going to believe it, though." All eyes switched to Relena. "The flight program. Heero said it was his program. Based on the flight data you told us about Quatre, I'm willing to bet Heero threw Dyad into that to prove he couldn't be Duo. Why else use a program that had Duo's old flight record on it? Which means he probably read an email of some sort. We will have to have solid evidence, and lots of it, to give him other wise he's going to find an excuse for it. If Dyad proves to be Duo, Heero is going to wonder why he never remembered him."

The gathering of ex-pilots and company went quiet. Lady Une hooked the notebook up to her computer and started a file transfer. "Heero will be the least of our concerns, I think. Dyad is the one who wouldn't remember. What would he do with the knowledge?"

Mariemaia stirred. "He already feels like he's competing against Duo's ghost. Living where he is and with Heero as his partner. Ex partner."

Une's computer dinged as the transfer completed. She unplugged the notebook and handed it over to Trowa. "Can one of you keep an eye on him?"

Quatre nodded. "I'd probably be the best."

"We don't know for sure, but if things turn out like we half expect... do it."

May 10th

Quatre tossed an eraser at Trowa and laughed as he squirmed in his seat, bright red. "You're so cute when you bl..." Quatre trailed off as a wave of emotion hit him.

"Quatre?" Trowa studied him intently.

"It's... Dyad... Hold on." He leaned over and punched in Sally's extension. The line beeped a couple times then Sally appeared on the small screen.

"Hello Quatre, I thought I'd be hearing from you soon."

"Is he-"

Sally nodded. "I just got off the line with Dyad, Duo." She winced. "He was stunned. I don't think he took it well. He said he needs time to sort things out, so I imagine he's going to get Lady Une to give him some time off."

"Most likely he'll tell her he's taking time off." Trowa replied.

"Thanks Sally. Have you told Heero?" Quatre asked.

She shook her head.

"I think I'll tell him then. Can you send Une the results? That way she can back me up."

Again, Sally nodded. "Good luck." The line disconnected. Quatre stared at the darkened screen. "He's alive... Duo's alive!"

Trowa gave him an odd look. "He's been alive. He just isn't the same."

"I know-"

"Then be careful." Trowa warned.

May 11th

Heero stared in shock at the medical report. He couldn't breathe. How- it wasn't possible. It was possible. The evidence... Duo... Dyad... Duo... the name... everything... no mask... memory... he closed his eyes.

"Heero, breathe... you need to breathe."

Heero opened his eyes and succeeded in taking a dizzying breath. "Duo... I need to see... Duo." He passed out.

Quatre watched as Heero folded in his seat. He looked over at Lady Une. "That went well." Suddenly, he giggled. "Duo's alive."

Une smiled.

May 23rd

"I don't like it, I want to see him and I'm not going to wait any more. He gave me permission to visit long ago. It's been a week and he still hasn't answered, I know he's there."

"Heero-"

Heero spared his eyes from the road to glare at Quatre. "Don't push."

"But-"

Heero switched his eyes back to the road. "I can leave you by the roadside if you want to continue with this conversation."

Quatre sighed and leaned against the window, watching the cliffs whip past.

At some point he dozed off, for when he woke it was dark and he was alone in the truck. He looked out the window to see a light on in the house that they once shared. Quatre blearily sat up, undid his seat belt and got out of the truck. He walked up to the house and opened the door. "Heero?"

"In here."

Quatre walked in the main hall and into the master bedroom. Dyad- Duo- lay on the bed, asleep and sweating. Heero perched next to him, sponging off his brow with a washcloth.

"I called the others. Mariemaia told me I'd have to figure things out with Dyad before she'd help."

"Sensible. What's wrong with him?"

"I found him curled up on the couch, notebook on the floor, clutching his pillow and sweating. The housekeeper, Meg, she used to run a diner in town, said that he told her to leave and go back to town four days ago. Evidently he hadn't been eating much and she was worried, but he said he'd eat." Heero dropped the wash cloth into the bowl on the floor. He got up and moved the notebook on the chair and sat down again. "I've been reading his entries. Insightful."

"He's not going to appreciate that."

Heero looked back to the figure on the bed. "Hn."

August 18th

Sunlight streamed in the window, warming the side of his face. Heero frowned and rolled over. He didn't want to get up just yet. Things hadn't gone well between him and Duo. Every day he seemed to get a little more resentful or angry. He tried to help him. He wanted to help him regain what he lost. His actions kept going unnoticed. The worst of Duo's anger was ultimately after the psychologist appointments he didn't want to attend.

He opened one eye to check the time. 9:01am. Heero yawned and pushed back the covers. And thinking about appointments, Duo had one at 10:30. He made himself decent and went to wake up Duo.

Yawning again, he padded down the hallway and knocked on Duo's door. Silence. He wished he'd dare try and wake Duo up like he used to. He sighed as the silence continued. He'd just have to go in then. Heero opened the door, "Du-" he stopped. No Duo. He looked around. Still no one. He turned and started searching the house.

Fifteen minutes later, his laptop was booted up and searching and Heero was on the phone to Quatre's hotel room.

August 30th

Gone. Searching. Not him. Hack into the security cam. Not there. Not there. Not there either. Not there. Where? Not there.

Dead-end. No. No. No. No. No. No. Frustration! Heero continued to search. An email! He traced Mariemaia's email message and retrieved Duo's new email address. Web mail. Damn! He hacked into the server files for the street address. He swore. Single digit everything. The name wasn't even Duo's. Or Dyad's. At least he could send an email.

Heero settled down with a bit more resolve and started typing.

October 3rd

Quatre looked in on Heero's sleeping form. He still sat in his chair at the desk, but his chin lay on his chest and his hands in his lap. Things hadn't gone well on the search and email front for Dyad. Heero still couldn't believe he managed to hack into his laptop and steal all the files about him.

Quatre smiled. At least his emails to the wayward wanderer had more success. Duo vented about how everyone reacted to him being discovered. Dyad vented about how certain people wouldn't give him the time of day unless Une ordered it until they found out.

He wondered how everyone liked that email. Duo sent it to everyone. Quatre's slight smile faded as he remembered Heero's reaction all too well. The unearthly control he exhibited was admirable. He knew Heero was angry, hurt and stunned. The old Duo wouldn't have minded Heero Yuy, mother hen.

Quatre looked at the glowing screen with the cockpit view of an aerial show screensaver. He padded over and jiggled the mouse. He smiled at the sight of an email to Duo on the screen. He scanned the email for any threats or anger and was pleasantly surprised. For the first time, there weren't. In this email, he explained things.

Quatre smiled down at his slumbering friend and typed a quick note on the end and sent it.

October 4th

The next morning Heero awoke to find himself covered with a blanket on the couch. He didn't remember going there. He looked over to see the screen was turned off on his laptop. He pushed the blanket back and got up. He flipped the screen on to see his email inbox and a text box.

'Heero, next time you decide to fall asleep at your computer, finish what you're doing enough and then fall asleep on the nearest soft surface.- Quatre.'

Heero smiled slightly and closed the text window. He refreshed his inbox and was surprised to see an email from Duo. He hadn't been responding to many of his emails. He could count the emails he'd received from Duo on the fingers of one hand. And not use all his fingers.

He read through the email, taking his time. Duo was surprised. Heero smiled a little to himself as he came to the realization that he would have to woo Duo back if he was ever to see him again on friendly terms. He could do that. Duo's response cleared a couple things up for him. He understood why he got upset when he insisted on attending to him. It's one thing to have the vaguest of memories, it's quite another to have someone treating you like you were someone else. That was what he'd done.

Heero stretched, then settled down to write his reply.

November 17th

"You're in a good mood." Quatre watched suspiciously as Heero strolled into the kitchen.

Heero smiled slightly and walked over to the coffee machine. He poured himself a cup of coffee, mixed in some cream and walked back to the table. He set the cup down and slid into his seat.

"If you looked any more smug I'd start searching your room for feathers." Quatre stated. "What's going on? Did you find him?"

"I'm meeting him in town at ten."

Quatre looked over at the clock. 8:50 "You just got the email?"

Heero nodded and took a sip of his coffee. "I've learned these past few months. I've been given another chance. I'm not going to let the best thing in my life go because I can't let go of who they once were."

"Like our pasts... Being who we are."

Heero nodded.

"Are you nervous."

He nodded again.

"A word of advice?"

Heero looked up.

"Apologize. Use which ever name he's more comfortable with."

Heero half smiled and got up, mug in hand. He walked back to the master bedroom and changed. His usual dress code was set aside for a dark, ocean-blue tank top, white over shirt and jeans. He finished off his coffee, grabbed his sandals, wallet and keys and left.

The trip into town went quickly, faster than it ever had. He parked his truck in front of the diner and went in. Heero nodded to Meg and Kay and sat down in one of the booths, back to the door. He didn't want to see Duo walk up, he'd looked at the picture of his new face often enough. If he would be surprised, he would let Duo see it.

"It's been a while since you've been in here." Kay stated as she walked to the table.

"I have a reason. Eggs, scrambled, toast and coffee."

Kay blinked, realizing she wasn't going to get an answer. "Comin' up." A moment later, the food arrived and he ate his way through the meal not really tasting it. His mind too preoccupied with the upcoming visit. He was free to love Dyad, free to love what was left of Duo, free to love the new person that unfolded to his eyes through email.

He pulled some bills out and set them on the edge of the table, held down by his empty coffee mug. Kay came over and gathered up the dishes and the money and thanked him.

He heard the bell ring as it hit the glass door and then the sound of dishes hitting the floor. Heero turned around and got up out of his seat at the sight of the figure, dressed in black, at the door. He walked forward and enveloped Duo in a hug. "I'm sorry Dyad, I was wrong in the way I treated you."

"You- you understand now!"

Heero nodded and pulled back to study the figure in front of him. All black clothing, hair in a ponytail, no bangs, same eyes, same hair color, same new features. A small smile surfaced on his face.

"Shall we?"

The figure nodded and grinned. "It's Duo. It always did sound more right than Dyad."

Heero spent the rest of the day just watching and talking with Duo. Most of the mannerisms were different, but a couple were still the same. One's he adored like the way he ran his hand over his hair, or smiled back at him when he reached for his hand.

They spent the day in one another's company and he could tell Duo noticed the change in him. Though just when he thought he wouldn't be surprised any more, Duo showed him where he'd lived for the past few months since he left the house. He swore as he now pieced together the reason why the town's newest artist John Davidson was rarely seen.

Duo started to laugh. He continued to laugh as Heero glared. "Quit laughing."

"I'm sorry," he gasped. "I'm sorry, it's just that Trowa found me last week!"

"All right, that's it." Heero lunged forward and started tickling Duo's sides.

To his surprise, Duo just looked surprised and stopped laughing. "I'm not ticklish there."

He frowned. "You used to be. I'll have to find someplace new."

Duo grinned. "Like you could!"

Heero smirked and darted forward, attacking the backs of Duo's knees.
Duo yelped and started to laugh and squirmed, trying to get away without falling. Heero kept after him and tried the small of his back. Duo kept on laughing and tried even harder to squirm completely away. He stumbled and fell down on the front steps, starting to turn purple from the lack of oxygen.

Heero nodded, satisfied and stopped, sitting down next to Duo on the step. He watched as Duo slowly sat up, struggling to breathe. Hair escaped his ponytail and before Heero knew it, he reached over and tucked it back behind his ear. Eyes wide, Duo turned toward him as Heero's fingers traveled down along his cheek and along his jaw. He wasn't sure who moved closer, but the urge to kiss Duo was overwhelming.

~Always follow your emotions.~

He kissed him, gently. Duo leaned into the kiss as though to say "none of that light stuff". Heero slid his eyes shut as half a dozen memories of kissing Duo rose in his mind. Before he knew it, their tongues were intertwined as they explored one another. Slowly, the need to breathe forced them apart. "I'm sorry Duo- Dyad."

Duo blinked at him, the dazed look disappearing. He looked away. "Before, I decided I'd go by Duo Maxwell Barton, for who I used to be and am now. It still doesn't sound quite right."

Heero thought a minute. Duo wasn't upset that he kissed him. He was confused, instead, about his name. All day he'd avoided calling him by his name. Either of them. He agreed with him that Duo Maxwell Barton sounded wrong. "How about Duo Maximillian Barton? That sounds better." He looked over at Duo. Suddenly it hit him. "Are you going to start braiding your hair again?"

He shrugged.

"You kept your braid to remember those at Maxwell Church and your name to remember Father Maxwell. If you changed the name, you could keep the braid as your visual reminder of that."

"Would it make you more comfortable to see a relic of the old Duo Maxwell?"

Warning bells sounded in his head. "You used to be more attached to your hair than your name. The braid is a logical method of confinement for long hair." Heero smirked suddenly. "That and I have a mild hair fetish, Duo Maximillian Barton."

Duo over at him, startled, as Heero's smirk eased into a small smile. Heero leaned over and kissed him again, lightly. "Can we go out on another date soon?"

Dazed, Duo nodded and smiled lopsidedly.

Heero felt the smile on his face grow as he stood up. "Until then, Duo Maximillian Barton, until then." He turned and walked slowly off down the street, feeling like he walked on air.

For the first time in almost two years, everything felt right in the world.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(1) "put a coin in the box and lit all the remaining candles."- So... you're only supposed to light one but Duo had quite a few folks to pray for. And I do know people who have personally done this... snickers My Father, for one... grins

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