Wordcount: 6,300 or thereabouts
Notice! What we have got here, ladies and germs, are a couple of teenage
killers, a lot of bad words and some extremely weird smut. Bon appétit.
Further Notice: For Dacia,
whom I've neglected shamefully. This fic is bits of eps 19 and 20 done
my way, and as y'all know, my way ain't real nice.
He has a trash mouth and
the gutter mind to go with it. He knows more about explosives than a
hundred spec ops demolitions teams combined. His aim is slightly more
accurate than mine, his reaction time almost equal to. He's a colony
brat, a killer and a certifiable lunatic. In other words, he's a gundam
He's nothing to me. He is me. He was the first person to draw a response
from me outside mission parameters. I was conditioned to hate the Alliance
and Romefeller, but until New Edwards I didn't feel much anything towards
either organization. They had threatened the colonies. They were targets
to be eliminated and I acted accordingly. At the time, that was the
extent of their impact on me. As for innocents, they are obstacles in
a gauntlet of avoidance. Maxwell, though, is neither target nor innocent.
And he's been annoying the living fuck out of me since the night he
Say you need new boots. You wait until you can feel the ground through
your soles because finding a pair worth the trouble of wearing is next
to impossible. But it's summer. The temperatures are all but melting
your skin and you know if they don't finish the job, your gundam's hide
will. So you hike to the nearest rest area, commandeer a car and go
looking for civilization. You locate something resembling then waste
an hour of what should have been controls calibration before you find
what you came for. By then you're so ready to get the hell away from
humanity in general and salespeople in specific that you put the things
on and as Maxwell would say haul ass.
Two days later you're inside what looks like a business complex but
isn't, dismantling someone's mainframe. Entry goes as planned; you could
sabotage this type of installation in your sleep. Extraction, however,
is a goatfuck of epic proportions. You memorized blueprints and security
rotation, but you didn't account for a stray lab rat looking for the
head in a restricted area. Sayonara stealth. Hello firefight. Seeing
as your feet are all that's keeping your ass from getting shot off,
it's a damn good thing your new boots fit so well, correct?
Correct. Except for one raw, square inch on your right heel, that is.
The one that stings like a bitch and is going to be with you for a month.
For all intents and purposes, Maxwell is that inch. On a 1=1000 scale.
He's the recurring blister created by not-quite-fitted trainers; the
coffee stain on an otherwise flawless schematic. He's also one of the
most persistent bastards I've had the misfortune to meet, which might
explain why close proximity to him is, for me, an exercise in control.
Sophistry? Maybe. When it comes down to it, I'll take reasoned delusion
over verified idiocy. I admitted to myself, once, that watching Maxwell
walk (or more often run) is pleasant. I never will again. I'm sure that
refusal says something about me. Don't ask me what, because I don't
know or want to know. Don't ask why I didn't pull the trigger in that
prison cell, either. I went in with that intention, but instead I stood
there while Maxwell struggled to his feet and I… didn't. Not couldn't.
I wanted to. But I didn't.
Now that Maxwell is sitting up, eating solid food and running me down
the OZ grapevine, I'm finding it hard to remember why.
"-anyway, I don't see it. I mean Kushrenada and Our Lady of Scarifying
Specs? I don't fucking think so." Maxwell leans into his supporting
pillows, chortling. "Shit, the guy takes baths in rose petals. Like
he's gonna go for a chick who sharpens her hair pins every night before
she gets her head down."
Yet another undesirable mental image two of them, to be exact. The
opiate-laced antibiotic I dissolved in Maxwell's so-called tea (fructose
and ‘natural' flavors) should take effect soon, but until then I'm a
captive audience to his speculation, the next target of which has, by
my calculations, an 89.63% chance of being our mentors' collective sex
I turn my attention from my computer's screen to his face and wait for
him to notice. He doesn't. I conclude that communication must be established
by verbal means, then implement the correct procedure.
At the sound of his name, Maxwell's mouth stops moving. He eyes me with
something approaching caution. A sign of intelligence, or mere self-preservation?
With Maxwell it's hard to tell. "Yeah?" he says, drawing the vowels
"I'm working," I tell him, a blatant prevarication. I'm playing Othello.
In place of silence, I receive the patented Maxwell helpless-baby-animal-abused-by-evil-huma
n eyes. "This is prime blackmail
material, Yuy!" he yelps. "I know people who'd pay to hear this
"Then sell it," I say, "to someone who wants it. Are you finished?"
He glances at the full plate of food on his lap. His lips flatten into
a frustrated line. "I guess."
"Good. Get some sleep." I remove the plate and set it on the floor before
settling back in my chair. I study the on-screen rows of black and white.
There is more white than black. Soon, I think, to be all white.
"Sex scares you, doesn't it?"
Maxwell's voice shatters my concentration, and I hit the wrong key.
I examine the unpromising new formation. "Intercourse does not… alarm
me," I inform Maxwell. "Others' preferences are not my business. Or
anyone else's," I add, since he's sure to miss the implication. Maxwell
isn't long on subtlety. Case in point: his next remark.
"So you're okay with doing it but not listening to me yap about it,"
he says, grinning at me. His voice is too clear, as are his eyes. I
must not have administered enough of the opiate. It's taking longer
than it should to work; longer, I should say, than it would on a normal
teenage male of Maxwell's height, weight and muscle mass. I don't know
what modifications J's associate might have seen fit to give Maxwell.
Thanks to J's tweaking, my resistance to controlled/chemical substances
is considerable, and if a pain threshold I am unable to extend exists
I have yet to find it. It is possible Maxwell has similar advantages.
I resign myself to another hour or so of Maxwellian noise. I have no
intention of continuing the conversation, though, so I give him my ‘do
not fuck with me' look, the one that used to scatter J's minions like
a pack of scared rabbits. Maxwell is made of sterner stuff than overeducated,
underdeveloped scientists, but after a minute of unblinking eye contact,
his gaze drops to his covered legs. His hands clench and unclench spasmodically,
as though he has lost control of them.
"C'mon, man, gimme a break," he says, quietly. "I feel like an MS stepped
on me then stomped me into the ground for good measure. Hurt and bored
is the suckiest combination I know."
He might be right. I have been in that position myself and dealt with
it worse than he seems to be doing. I don't tell him that, though. His
body is vibrating restlessness; he's working himself up to a spectacular
explosion, and I can't decide if I prefer to observe the detonation
or defuse the bomb. On one hand, I'm as bored as he is, but on the other,
he is still in poor condition. Yelling at me could further damage his
cracked ribs, and he can't afford more downtime than he's already facing.
Diffusion it is.
I shut down the laptop and close it. The game is a loss, anyway. Laying
the computer aside, I cross my arms and, "Why do you want to know?"
His head jerks up. His eyes are wary. "Know?"
"What I like."
His pupils are behaving oddly, expanding and contracting at random intervals.
If I didn't know for certain that he's sustained no severe head injury,
I'd think he had a concussion. "Look," he begins, "I didn't-"
"You asked," I interrupt. "I thought you were bored?" I let statement
trail into query and watch a line of red creep up his cheekbones. I'm
beginning to enjoy this. It's rare for Maxwell the Mouth to trip over
his tongue like a teenage kid. Then again, if you look at our bottom
lines from a strictly numerical standpoint, we are teenage kids.
Maxwell lets go his breath in a rush. "Fine," he says, sounding both
relieved and exasperated. "You wanna play it that way, I'll bite. Hey,"
he smirks, "it's all good by me. Just don't throw down on me if you
can't take the heat."
Although I understand little of what he just said, I've worked with
enough mercenaries to get the gist. "I won't kill you," I tell him.
"Gee thanks, Yuy. I surely do appreciate your consideration," he replies,
and this time his grin is all sharp edges.
I'm aware that I come across as emotionally stunted; someone once told
me I have the sensitivity of a rock. I'm sure she was right, but I can
recognize sarcasm when it's pouring over my head and dripping down my
face. "You started this," I tell Maxwell. "I have other things to finish."
I reach for the laptop, but, "No!" Maxwell blurts. I look back at him.
His face is flushed and his hands are once again performing their duet
of clench and release.
"I'm not trying to butt into your business," says Maxwell, "but I thought…"
He glances at me then away. "The blond. Relena, right? She's cute and
all, and she likes you, so... why not hit that? I was just, you know,
wondering," he mutters.
I watch him watch his hands, and consider my response. There are a number
I could make, most of them unacceptable. I reject all but two, debate
the pros and cons of both, then, "I don't find her attractive," I say.
"Okaaaaaay." Maxwell darts another glance at me. "That could get tricky.
She's not gonna like seeing you with another chick, that's for sure.
She's nice, but she's got jealous girlfriend written all over her pretty
"Relena Darlian-Peacecraft is a hindrance. She is also necessary." I
look past Maxwell and out the wall-length window. It's after eighteen-hundred;
the sun is almost down. "Gender isn't important."
There's a brief stretch of silence. Then, "Well," Maxwell drawls, "I
didn't see that one coming. You're just full of surprises, Yuy."
"A body is a body." And most of those within touching distance of me
are usually dead or about to be.
Maxwell has the strangest look on his face. "Uh, yeah," he says, "you
could put it that way. If you're you, I mean." He swallows, the convulsion
of his throat visible. "So. What kind of criteria are we talking, here?"
"Does it matter?"
He scratches his nose. His expression is shuttered, thoughtful. "This
is just for the record," he states, "but I'm pretty sure that if I told
you I'd like you to fuck me you'd turn me down. Yeah?"
An easy question with a simple answer. "Yes."
His mouth kicks up on one side. "No-go on the body type, huh?"
Unlike Maxwell, I have no trouble lying. In this case, though, I see
no reason to. "Physically, you comply with my specifications," I tell
him. Then, after he's digested that, "I don't like you."
"You don't… you don't like me?" Maxwell is gaping at me as though
I just notified him of my intent to destroy the L2 and L3 clusters.
"What is this, preschool? And what the hell's liking got to do with
anything?" he wants to know.
We stare at each other: I in my chair, Maxwell sprawled across his bed.
Then Maxwell starts laughing. He laughs until he's shaking, and then
he laughs some more. He appears to be in extreme pain, which, given
his ribs, he probably is, but he keeps laughing.
"Hell, Yuy," he wheezes, "only you could say something like that then
leave it standing alone in all its assholish glory."
Mirth fades slowly into ragged snorts. Maxwell pushes himself up on
one elbow and reaches out, fisting the front of my tank in his free
hand. I let him; it's all that's keeping him upright. "You don't have
to like somebody to nail ‘em, dumbass," he tells me.
"You don't," I agree. "But it's preferable."
For some reason, this observation makes Maxwell laugh again. "You trying
to kill me?" he gasps, and I wonder if I have. Not killed him but facilitated
further injury. Although he's moving without apparent difficulty, he's
nowhere near a hundred percent. His arm is straining with his effort
to hold himself steady. He shifts, trying for balance, but the arm gives
and he collapses backward, his grip on my shirt pulling me with him.
He takes my weight on his damaged ribcage. His breath leaves his lungs
with a muffled, "Whoof!" I'm already moving off him, but, "Wait," he
manages between sucking gulps of air. "Hold on, damn it, let me -- just
Curious, I stay as I am, propped over him on my hands. He lies quiet
beneath me, not moving or speaking. Getting his breath back. Watching
me. The rise and fall of his bandaged chest catches, slows. He rolls
slightly to one side, his movement bringing his groin flush against
my leg. I can feel his cock hardening and it occurs to me that I should
have followed through on my initial reaction.
His fingers are still tangled in my shirt. His eyes are on my face as
he raises his free hand to my shoulder. It settles there for a moment
before brushing the curve of my neck. When I do nothing to inhibit either
action he curls his hand over my nape and pulls me the rest of the way
towards him. My mouth is touching his but I don't move. I'm waiting
to see what he's going to do. Then his lips open under mine, and I subtract
possible injury from the equation. If he can stick his tongue down my
throat, the pain factor must be negligible. I wrap his braid twice around
my palm, tilt his head to a more satisfactory angle, and kiss him back.
Maxwell's hands slide down to curl around my biceps. His hips squirm,
grinding his erection against my thigh. He kisses sloppily, his mouth
open too far -- it's as if he hasn't done this before and isn't sure
how. Our teeth knock together, one of his canines cutting into my lower
lip, and a thread of blood winds between us, coppery on my tongue in
contrast to Maxwell's sour-sweet flavor. He tastes like yesterday's
takeout and smells like the backside of a three-month deep space haul.
His hair is gritty and greasy to the touch. He's so thin one his hipbones
is bruising me; its point digs into my muscle, and I want to shove his
knees wide and press into him, feel more of his bony edges.
I want to fuck him. He's only kissing me and already I'm hard enough
that the sensation of him rubbing against me is close to pain. I'm not
going to fuck him. He has fractured ribs, a fractured ankle, and torn
ligaments. He's one massive contusion, inside and out. Not even I'm
callous enough to engage in sexual intercourse with someone in his condition,
and besides. The opiate is finally kicking in. His mouth is going slack
under mine, his hands loosing their grip. He rolls his head against
the pillow and frowns at me, his eyes unfocused. "The tea. Son of a
bitch. Shoulda known you'd pull something like this," he slurs.
"Affirmative." He should have.
His eyes are closing. "Kill you later," he mumbles as his breathing
"You can try," I tell his unconscious face. I almost hope he does. Supplementary
training is always acceptable and Maxwell would make an interesting
Retrieving my laptop from the end of the bed, I walk over to the table
I've been using as a desk. I wire the computer into the power interface
then grab my jacket. I have op prep to finalize. I look back at the
bed before I leave. Maxwell is dead to the world and will be for some
time. I close the door after me.
When I open it approximately twelve hours later, Maxwell is awake and
furious. "Where the hell have you been, you fucker?" he demands, his
eyes narrowed to slits. "I can't believe you slipped me that shit then
I place the paper bag I'm carrying on the table beside my laptop. "You
were asleep. This place is secure."
"Yeah, well, you could've left me my piece," he shoots back.
"I did." I point to the automatic on the sill above his head. "Did you
want it under your pillow?" I inquire.
"Gah!" Maxwell's hands tangle in his ass-length braid and yank repeatedly.
His eyes are screwed shut, his teeth gritted. He's making a strange,
low noise I can only identify as a growl.
"You're going to rip that out," I observe. Not that I consider the idea
a bad one. There's no reason for Maxwell's hair. Half the time he doesn't
even have the means to take care of it. Now, for example. It's a knotted
mat of dried blood and sweat not even a rabid rat would touch, a conclusion
Maxwell seems to have just reached. He's stopped pulling and is looking
at the tangled mess in disgust.
"Jesus Christ on a stick that's bad," he says. "Gonna take forever to
undo this crap. And-" He sniffs the air, his upper lip curling. "And
I fucking reek." He looks over at me; he's still angry, but he wants
to be clean more than he wants to hurt me. "We got something besides
a can here?" he asks.
The head is one of the reasons I chose this flat. It opens onto both
the main room and this one, making it easily accessible to both Maxwell
and myself. The bath is separate, a fact of which I now apprise Maxwell.
"Thank fuck," he says, struggling out from under his covers. "At least
there is one. No," he snaps as I start towards him. There's a light
sheen of sweat on his skin and he's breathing too fast, but his face
is set in determined lines.
"I can do this," Maxwell insists, as much to himself as me. His eyes
flick towards the door then back to me. "Go play with your tech, Yuy.
If I end up on my ass, you'll hear it."
That's true enough, and I have a worm program to tweak. I open the laptop
while behind me Maxwell pushes to his feet, swearing as bruised muscle
and internal organs realign themselves. His profanity is an easy gauge
to his progress. He staggers into my peripheral vision, and from the
corner of my eye, I watch him drag himself a slow step at a time towards
the port. When he reaches it he pauses, his hand braced against the
frame. Then he's lurching forward, disappearing into the larger living/kitchen
area. Ten minutes pass, and I hear water running. I give the program
my full attention.
The quiet doesn't last long. The water goes off and on several times.
There's thumping and a heavy thud, and Maxwell's invective renews itself.
"Yuy, get in here!" he finally shouts.
Unsurprised by the summons, I leave my computer to its diagnostics and
follow Maxwell's previous path through the main room. I walk to the
bath's open doorway and lean against it, running a cursory glance over
a layout I'm already familiar with. Like the rest of the flat this room
is compact, with a tiled floor sloping towards a central drain, a shower
on the right-hand wall and tub situated against the left. Maxwell is
slumped on the stepstool positioned close to the shower. The showerhead's
detached nozzle dangles from his hand. His braid is partially undone
and his eyes are closed. The loose boxers and tee that are all he's
worn for the last two days are draped over the edge of the tub.
"You gonna stand there all day or get over here and help?" he snarls
without opening his eyes.
"Hair?" I ask.
A line of blue appears beneath one lid. "Yeah. I'm still too wasted.
Bastard." His disdain for both me and this turn of events is obvious.
I push away from the frame and walk towards him.
Maxwell's eyes open the rest of the way; he's watching my hands. He
hates this, hates having to ask for help. He does not want me at his
back where he can't see what I'm doing. Both his mind and his body are
screaming at him to stop me. He looks boneless, slouched on his seat,
but his hands are white-knuckled. He's strung tighter than a tripwire.
I stop a few feet from his left side. He wants to turn, to keep me in
full view, but he doesn't; I can hear his teeth grind. I hold my hand
out in front of his face, fingers spread. His eyes flicker, but he stays
where he is. I move closer, my hand barely touching his shoulder. He
tenses, and I ignore it. I dig my fingers into his unyielding subscapularis
and supraspinatus, and knead.
Maxwell groans. The shower nozzle slips from his slack hand, clattering
against the tile. "Ohshit. Fuck. Do that again."
I comply, easing behind him and stroking pressure points with my thumbs,
working my way over his shoulders and up his neck to the base of his
skull. I push my fingers into his hair, rubbing his scalp and loosening
caked dirt and blood as I go. Maxwell arches into my hands, sounds of
almost feline satisfaction pouring out of him. He's pushing into me,
rubbing against my hands and chest like an overgrown cat. I look down
his body, past bandages and tight abdominals. He is fully erect.
Naked, Maxwell is no prize. He's thinner than he appears clothed, his
body comprised of skin, bone and the wiry muscle holding them together.
His forearms are lightly tanned, but the rest of him is paper white
and crisscrossed with scars of varying ages. Some are shiny slashes,
some deep red indents, while others are the barest suggestion of lines.
His life is written on his body, and it's not a pretty story.
This is Maxwell, though, and I'm a perverse freak with a parsec-long
masochistic streak. Maxwell's personality leaves something to be desired,
yes, but there is one thing about him I do like, and that's looking
at him. What I told him earlier was true: gender means little to me.
It's also true that I prefer my own sex. Females are hormonally and
emotionally motivated, a definite negative. Sometimes I think they're
irrational for the sake of it. Then also, there is nothing attractive
about exaggerated attributes, and mammary glands are the ultimate exaggeration.
Strange thoughts for a professional terrorist and part-time assassin?
Probably. But men can be just as irrational as women, a rule I'm about
Freeing one of my hands from Maxwell's hair, I reach down and cup his
jaw. He jerks in surprise, slamming the back his head into my diaphragm,
but I'm stronger and he's still a half-second of reaction time behind
me. I hold him in place, tilting his chin upwards until he's looking
at me. I see my dismembered body reflected in his eyes. "What the fuck,
Yuy?!" he yells. "God damn it, let go!"
"I won't hurt you," I say, "but if you do not stop moving you will hurt
Maxwell stills. He's panting, his muscles flexing in my grasp. I bend
until my mouth is parallel to his ear. I can see his pulse pounding
the base of his throat. "You're hard," I tell him. "Take care of it."
I release him in slow increments. My fingernails graze his skin. A whine
escapes his throat; a stifled, desperate sound. He wants to, needs to
wrap his hand around his cock, but I'm still here, an insupportable
threat. He can't get away from me or his body's weakness. His training
is warring with his instincts. I unravel another section of hair and
watch him unravel with it. "Maxwell. Now."
I know the instant he breaks. I feel it happen. Feel his shoulders shiver
under my hands. Watch his hands shake and clench. When he finally touches
his cock, it's like he's touching me. His groan of relief vibrates my
He strokes himself hard and fast, his free fingers cupping his tight-drawn
sac. His thighs and abdomen tense and strain, every muscle standing
out in sharp relief. His cock flexes in his hand; there's a thin line
of pre-come leaking from the crown, dripping down the shaft. When I
twist my fingers deeper into his hair he whines again, and this time
the sound is all desperation and no panic. I push his hair to one side,
baring the join of neck and shoulder. Leaning down, I touch my lips
to the skin there, breathing in the scents of soap and male. Then I
open my mouth, sinking my teeth into muscle and nerve, and Maxwell jerks
as though I just shot him.
His head falls back, his mouth and throat working. His eyes are wide
and sightless. I let go of him and circle the stool, dropping to my
knees between his spread legs. I take his wrist, pulling his hand away
from his cock. He whimpers but doesn't resist. His eyes snap back into
focus; the pupils are black holes, nothing left of his irises but thin
rims of blue.
This -- I think this is where I die. Where he dies. This is where his
legs seize around my head and break my neck; where I cut his oxygen
with my fingers and watch him suffocate. I know this. I'm seeing both
scenarios played out, dual images superimposed on the arch of his body.
But I'm still breathing. He's breathing. I concentrate on his face,
on the shock of black dominating blue, and then I'm leaning forward,
taking his cock in my mouth.
He strains against my hands where they grip his thighs. His hands are
in my hair, pulling, but I hold him down, suck him in. He's cursing
me, cursing someone else I don't know; his fingers knot themselves in
my hair, his hips jerk, and he's coming, his semen burning the back
of my throat. His mouth is a scream without sound. I can hear it in
my mind, if not my ears. His come is hot and bitter on my tongue. I
swallow it, swallow around his softening erection, and he chokes on
a sob of sound, "God!"
I'm not anything close to god, whatever that is. I'm not certain I'm
even human. I let Maxwell's cock slide from my mouth, wet with ejaculate
and saliva. His muscles quiver, rippling under his skin; his head lolls
heavy on his neck. His eyes are dark slits in his bloodless face --
I can't tell if he's looking at me. "Clean me up when you're done,"
he rasps. Then his eyes roll back in his head and I have to grab him
before he falls.
I prop him up on the stool then straighten to stand over him. I did
not intend this, but it's difficult to think past the blood pounding
in my temples and my cock. I bend down, wiping Maxwell's sperm off my
hand onto his skin, and press two fingers against his femoral artery.
His pulse indicates unconsciousness. His breathing is irregular enough
to be unfeigned. I unzip my jeans and grip my erection.
I've been riding the edge since Maxwell first touched himself. One,
two, three twisting pulls are all that are necessary. I come hard, white
streams spurting from my cock onto Maxwell. I hang over him, my hand
braced on my thigh, staring at the starburst pattern of my semen on
his skin and listening to my slowing breath.
In the aftermath of orgasm details are sharp and clean. I see the faint
string of freckles sprinkled across the bridge of Maxwell's nose. I
see the fraying end of a bandage that's worked loose from around his
chest, and I think of how I will have to rewrap his ribs before I leave.
There are water droplets caught in his eyelashes and a smear of ejaculate
on his cheek. His abdomen is painted in drying streaks of my semen.
He is drooling, his saliva gathering in the corners of his mouth, and
he looks like he's going to fall off the stepstool any second.
I retrieve the shower nozzle and reach for the soap.
"What're you doing?"
Maxwell's sleep-scratchy voice momentarily distracts me from the black
letters on my white screen. He's sitting up, scrubbing a hand over his
face. I type a few more lines and save. J will have to wait for his
report until this op is, one way or another, over. "Oi," Maxwell yawns,
"quit ignoring me." He shoves his fringe out of his eyes and glares
at me. "God, you're a pain in the ass."
"You're not the first to say it." I push my chair back and stand. "Here."
I flip one of a stack of satellite images at him.
He catches it between thumb and fore and squints at it. He frowns, first
at the picture then up at me. "Trace Massing Incorporated. They're haulers.
Deep space mining, right?"
"Yes." I cross my arms and lean against the table. "The manifest includes
a shipment of gundanium alloy."
Maxwell taps the photo against his palm. "This is a lunar installation.
New MS, you figure?"
"Affirmative." I glance at the rest of the pictures sitting on the table.
"If I'm wrong, it's still an OZ base."
"You're gonna blow the place."
It's not a question, so I don't bother answering. I close my laptop
and tuck it under my arm. "You should stay here," I suggest. "The rent
is covered for two months. Rest. Heal. Go to school if you want."
Maxwell grimaces. "I don't think so, Yuy."
"Why not?" I ask, amused by his disgruntled expression. "I've already
registered in your name."
"Damn, you've got a brass pair." Maxwell's tone is easy, but his eyes
say he'd like to gut me. "I'll work something out. Always do. Wish you'd
hold off a week so I could come with."
"You'd be in my way," I tell him, and it's the truth. He's a liability
and will be for some time. I don't need backup that could fail me at
a crucial moment, something Maxwell is aware of.
"Guess so." He glares at a point somewhere around my right ear. "Watch
your ass," he growls. "Don't get caught like I did."
There's nothing I can say to that. I don't make promises. Of any kind.
I pick up my jacket and walk to the port.
"Hey Yuy," Maxwell calls.
I turn my head to look at him. He seems paler than earlier, but I think
that's just the difference between clean and not. He's pulled his still-damp
hair forward over his shoulder; he is separating it into three strands,
grinning at me as he works. I must be getting better at interpreting
his grins because I can see the sardonic humor behind this one.
"It didn't piss me off," he tells me. "What you said."
I think back over four days' worth of sporadic conversation, recalling
several comments he could be referring to. Maxwell rolls his eyes, annoyed
by either my lack of comprehension or response, or perhaps both. He
finishes his braid and secures the end, then flips it off his shoulder.
"For all your smarts, you're damned dense sometimes," he says. "I bet
you drive Blondie up the freakin' wall."
He's watching me like a raptor over a scut hole, his grin turned feral.
I maintain my silence. He likes pushing buttons and he obviously thinks
Peacecraft the younger is one of mine. I ignore his prodding and wait
for him to make his point.
An emotion I don't recognize crosses his face. Anger? No. Respect. Grudging,
but there. His shoulders lose some of their rigidity. He leans back
on his hands, his gaze still on me. "You are one crazy bastard, Yuy,
I'll give you that. Don't know why you decided to suck me off, but,"
he shrugs, "I ain't complaining. I'll pay you back one of these days."
His smile is brilliant, his eyes empty, and I know if and when payback
happens one of us may not walk away from it. That will come later, though,
if at all. At present, the moon is a more pressing concern than Maxwell.
"Are you done?" I ask him.
Maxwell blinks. "Yeah. Yeah, just about," he mutters. "Kind of got off
track there." His eyes meet mine and I see that the killer has gone,
leaving his brainless counterpart behind.
"I suck at goodbyes," the brainless counterpart informs me, "but I guess
what I want to say is… right back atcha."
I raise an eyebrow. I am used to not fully understanding Maxwell, but-
"Out to lunch. Figures." Maxwell shakes his head in mock despair. "Leave
it, Yuy," he says. "You wouldn't get it anyway."
He jerks a thumb at the port. "Beat it. Try not to get dead," he adds
around another of his jaw-cracking yawns. Then he flops down on the
bed and rolls over.
Idiot. I would tell him what an idiot he is, but he's already snoring.
Instead, I leave the room, the flat and this pointless shard of existence
behind as I've done so many others.
It's a short walk to the bus stop. The one I want is at the curb; it
should reach the space terminal with enough time left for me to make
my transport. I mount grungy steps and maneuver my way past a hugely
pregnant woman, three screaming kids and an old man's grocery bags.
The bus lurches forward. I grab a strap to keep from lurching with it.
Once the ride smooths, I take the closest empty seat and open my laptop.
While I'm waiting for it to boot up I stare at the codes flashing across
the screen, turning Maxwell's words over in my mind. They're still gibberish,
though, so I content myself with OZ encryptions. On the whole, they
make a hell of a lot more sense than 99.999% of what comes out of Maxwell's
The twenty minute bus ride is uneventful and exact to the second. The
terminal is crowded. I walk through the security check points without
trouble. When I reach my gate boarding is all but over; the attendant
barely glances at my ID. My assigned seat is a window -- not my preference,
but the transport is full. I look out through thick plas, feel gravity's
familiar sucking pressure, then the sky is gone and there's only space.
It's strange being a passenger when you're used to having control. I
shut my eyes so I won't be disturbed, and mentally scroll through the
itinerary affixed to the black behind my closed lids. Maxwell's parting
shot intrudes, but I shut it out and down, and resume my internal calculations.
I drag them out as long as I can, and after that I'm left with the choice
of Wing's jagged pieces or Maxwell's cryptic remarks for company. I
opt for the latter. By the time I've isolated the pertinent conversation,
the shuttle is preparing to dock.
Smiling isn't easy for me. It's not that I try to ‘freak people out',
something of which I've been accused many times and always by the same
person. I just don't have a pleasant default expression. And I have
no need or desire to locate one, not when Romefeller is a hairsbreadth
from achieving its goals and I'm en route to an infiltration that could
mean my death. I think even Maxwell would agree that the situation is
nothing to smile about, especially as he's stuck in the same substandard
airlock. But is Maxwell's or my understanding relevant to the main issue?
Even if we survive this war, even if the colonies win free… so what?
The shape of my face and personality won't change. I will still be that
same emotionally stunted bastard who likes weird shoes, understands
machinery better than humanity and keeps his weapon closer than his
friends—not that I have or want any.
Odin Lowe told me to act on my emotions. My training aside, I don't
think it's in my nature. I am always going to analyze every move made
in my direction, no matter the source. I will always need a reason beyond
the fact that I'm breathing to put my inner self out where anyone can
see it. That's what I've believed for most of my conscious life. Now,
though, I'm thinking I should reevaluate my position on one object,
at least. And I am thinking this because I'm sitting in a cramped cabin
two hours away from my target with Maxwell's voice echoing through my
skull… and the corners of my mouth keep twitching upwards. So I'm also
thinking that I might have a slight edge on the smile phenomenon. Because
apparently, Duo Maxwell and I annoy the fuck out of each other in equal
measure. And that is reason enough for me.
to Ravengirl's fic]