Author: Ravengirl
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclamer

Deconstructing the Myth

Ignorant Supposition #5: The Loudmouthed Baka

The first time I saw Duo Maxwell, he did his damnedest to kill me.

Alright, so maybe that statement's a bit dramatic, besides being somewhat inaccurate. It is true that his near-flawless aim helped put me out of commission long enough for the Alliance to ship me off to one of their military hospitals.

Whenever this subject comes up (which is more often than one might think), he is quick to point out the fact that -- while he might previously have punched a few negligible holes in my limbs -- he also pulled my ass out of said hospital and gave Wing back to me the second time we met.

Which point brings me up-to-date on today's Monday-morning quarterbacking session.

"Wish I'd been there for the final act. Watching the pair of you plummet several hundred feet would've made my day."

Chang smirks at me over his coffee mug and I am seized by the very Maxwellian compulsion to stick my tongue out at him. I resist.

"You mean Heero's attempted swan-dive into eternity," Duo mutters.

"Almost anything would have been better than listening to you run your mouth non-stop for the next day-and-a-half," I retort.

Unlike myself, 02 sees no reason not to descend into puerile crudity, and I am promptly treated to an exceptionally vulgar gesture.

"Whatever, Yuy. At the time, I wasn't aware that a vow of silence was the fastest way into your spandex."

A sputtering wheeze directs my attention towards Wufei, who has managed to spray coffee in a ten-foot radius while laughing his L5 ass off. I roll my eyes towards the ceiling in supplication.

At this point, nothing short of divine intervention will save me from being tag-teamed by the Dynamic Duo. And in case there's some confusion, that means 02 and 05 together in obnoxious harmony.

The gods must be listening, though, since Barton sticks his head in the doorway while Chang is still snickering, and hikes his one visible eyebrow in my direction.

"Off and on Yuy. We're active."

I look back at Duo as I walk out. His wide, warm mouth is stretched in a gamine grin and I am gripped by the sudden, almost irresistible desire to go back and kiss it right off him.

He knows it, too. His tongue swipes his full lower lip, leaving glistening flesh in its wake. His eyes promise laughing retribution but his lips are an open invitation to luxurious sin. I duck through the port before my unruly hormones coerce me into taking him up on it.

"Bring him back in one piece, Tro," my lover calls after us and 03's quiet chuckle sounds in response.

"Maxwell loves getting the last word in," my partner remarks in amused affection and I silently concur.

It is only the truth, after all.

+

I am obsessed with Duo Maxwell's mouth. I have been for years and a variety of reasons.

The third time I met him, I saved his life, told him we were even, then left before my L2 nemesis could shoot off one of his wise-ass comebacks. I was determined, in that instance, that the final word would be mine.

Our previous encounter had left me confused by his easy camaraderie and smarting from his carelessly cutting remarks. I was a fifteen-year-old boy who'd no idea how to interact with others of his age-group and to me, Duo was as exotic a creature as a jungle-dwelling panther... and infinitely more terrifying.

With the cat, at least, you knew where you stood. Kill or be eaten. Duo offered no such assurances.

None of my training had covered razor-tongued, perpetually-in-motion, frighteningly-intelligent American bakas, and when life suddenly presented one, he scared the hell out of me. The only thing I could do was study this new threat and decide how best to combat it.

So I watched while he wasn't looking. I listened when he thought I was ignoring him. Slowly-but-surely... I learned.

I learned that there is both rhyme and reason to Shinigami's rhetoric. I listened for the carefully chosen silences between random words. I discovered the subtle language of motion for which no words are necessary. And I became fascinated by the expression and shape of the human mouth.

With all these brilliant insights and observations, it still took me years to realize that my fascination was solely for one particular pair of lips. Duo refers to my inability to see the forest for the trees as 'book-smart, life-dumb'.

He forgives me my ignorance, though... forgives me for making him wait while I watched and deliberated and slowly drew my conclusions.

Duo's absolution is more overwhelmingly satisfying than any priest's benediction. The first time his mouth touched mine, I finally began to comprehend the reality of the peace we'd fought and bled and almost died for.

Today, I sit at this table in one of Preventers many conference rooms, observing his interactions with our team, following the eloquence of his body, watching the movement of his mouth with the same single-minded intensity of six years ago, and I learn him anew.

Duo Maxwell, Pilot 02, is the stuff of legend. He is every outrageous tale, every myth... every fantasy ever dreamed. Every single piece of him, from his 'no guts, no glory' war-time heroics to the shining tip of his chestnut braid, inspires awe and controversy wherever he goes.

He is an eloquent, ever-shifting enigma looking out from behind the most gorgeous pair of violet eyes I've seen. More than any of us, he has adapted to our strange, new existence with the grace and perseverance of a true survivor.

Duo is many things to many people: loyal friend, trustworthy confidant... steadfast partner in a world where peace is still a fragile, easily shattered commodity. Whatever ill-informed speculation clings to him -- however he may be perceived by humanity as a whole -- he moves through life with the confidence of a man who knows precisely who is he and where he wants to go.

Across the table from me, he suddenly looks up, his eyes searching. They meet mine and something indefinable in him settles, calms. The heated glow of those eyes caresses me silently, telling me without words what I already know.

Over the years I've known him, Duo Maxwell has worn a multitude of faces. The joker, the siren, the God of Death... he is all of these things and none. But whoever and whatever he might eventually become, there is one thing he has always been. Will always be.

Mine.

Fin.

+++

A/N: Okay, everybody, 'Deconstructing the Myth' is now technically finished. However... this does not preclude the possible addition of further parts. So I am issuing an invitation. If anyone has a 'Duo Myth' you want deconstructed, feel free to email me with the idea and (if you so desire) the person whose perspective you'd like to see it told from. If it fits with the tone of the series, I just might pick it up. And, of course, give you credit for the idea. ^__^

For those of you who've sent feedback and encouragement, thank you so very much. It means a great deal to me that you enjoy reading my scribbles. I am presently working on 'Wet' and 'Remember', but, due to an onset of chronic illness, things are going rather slow. I have not given up on them, though, and will hopefully be updating within the next few weeks. Thanks again, all.

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