Author: CeeDee
see # 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Many thanks to Sakusha for super fast modelling the text ­ and to Ellimaru, who had a grammar feast. She still tries to poke the rules into my poor head... ouch, ouch. But I'll get it. Hopefully. Maybe. Sometimes.

Future of the Past - #15
Hamied

{(Miracles) The glorious angel of miracles. He is such a dazzling
white that you can only see his incredible eyes shining through.
As you feel his presence enfold you, open your heart to receive
his gift of intense love.}


+

I struggled to get my emotions under control as I piloted Ezgadi back to Bethor in a haze. I don't even remember docking. A strange numbness seemingly had taken hold of me. All I could do was sit and wait while everyone unloaded.

Thankfully, Bethor was in contact with Wing, but there was still nothing on the pilot. Wing's AI sent its position and some diagnostics, revealing slight damage from the explosion. But nothing on Heero, thus far. Not even the implant could be used to locate him; he was too far away. I'd tried repeatedly to get him to answer, while in flight. Nothing.

I jumped at a touch on my shoulder. Quatre was standing behind me, a worried look on his face.

"You got something new?" I asked anxiously.

He shook his head, eyes wide and far away. "Nothing. He's… either unconscious or…" he trailed off, bit his lip, and turned his gaze back towards me. I looked utterly defeated, I'm sure, because he hastily added, "but I would have felt it if he'd… died. I'm sure. He was just… not there anymore. Unconscious." He nodded, as if to convince himself.

I sighed and hung my head. I had to cling to the hope; I would fall apart if I didn't. We'd just found each other. It couldn't be over. I refused to believe that. We would find him. I would not allow that he would drift through the galaxies with the power of the explosion for all eternity. I couldn't let myself think that Heero hadn't reached Wing before the explosion. I couldn't think of the tremendous amount of shrapnel that would have torn through him if he had not. And I simply would not allow myself to think that we would bring a corpse back home.

He'd said we'd be good…

+

'Visual confirmed.' Trowa started me out of my haze. 'It's Wing. But it's drifting too fast for Heavyarms to close in. On its trail.'

Wufei had already gone out with his mecha to join Trowa in the search. Quatre and Sally were busy loading medical equipment aboard Ezgadi. Our Gundams already were stored. Bethor had calculated a rendezvous point, just ahead of where Wing was. We would need full speed, the mecha was already that far out. It was a small miracle that Wing was on a course where we could intercept, and not been blown clear in the opposite direction. I really didn't want to think about the possibility of Heero not being with his mecha.

As if on autopilot, I'd started Ezgadi again, and calculated the course without really noticing what I had done. It was as if I wasn't really there. Everything was a blur, and I couldn't remember piloting to the rendezvous point. A sudden sting on my cheek brought me back, and I blinked rapidly. Quatre had hit me.

"DUO." He was in my face. "Get a grip. We need you at your best. Heero needs you at your best."

I nodded, stunned, eyes wide. He'd hit me. I got up from my seat and took a deep breath, and then we raced through Ezgadi, mounting air tanks and fastening the helmets of our suits. I sat in 'Scythe and powered up at top speed, and we left the freight room on full power.

Deathscythe was the fastest of all the Gundams. I mentally prepared to catch Wing. The plan was to play it kinda like a relay marathon, starting out ahead and powering up to top speed, until the damaged mecha reached my position. Then, grabbing onto it, I'd slow it down with me. That was the theory, anyway. If I missed, there was no way to tell if we'd get a second chance.

I just hoped Heero was inside and okay.

+

I finally saw Wing on the screen, drifting in space, spinning towards my position. It was closing in, and… the hatch was wide open. Shit. Fuck. My heart sank and I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out in disappointment. He wasn't in his mecha. We'd never find him. I continued on my intercepting course, trying my best to adapt to the tumbling, but my eyes mostly were glued to the big mecha on the screen. Something nagged at me, seemed off, besides the open hatch. My eyes flicked from my controls to Wing and back, and then it hit me. I realized what it was that was nagging at my senses.

Wing's left hand, closed into a tight fist.

Unusual.

My heart hammered in my chest as I steered 'Scythe ahead of Wing at top speed until the space closed up and Wing threatened to go past me. I hit the thrusters and my mecha spun, reached out with both arms, and grabbed onto Wing. I could feel the metal screech under the stress, and the collision. I held on, so that Wing was tightly embraced by 'Scythe. The maneuver brought our suits off course, tumbling wildly. I compensated with the thrusters until we were stabilized again, finally coming to a stop.

I was panting, sweating in my flight suit, beads of moisture ran down my back and my temples, plastering my bangs to my face. I snapped my harness and loosened 'Scythe's
grip on Wing a notch, opened my own hatch and got out. I pushed off hard, using my momentum to glide to Wing's closed fist, peeking through the spaces of its metal fingers.

And there he was.

Heero.

Protectively cradled in his mecha's fist, laid my lover. Unconscious… or dead. I tried to wriggle an arm through the spaces of Wings' fingers but I couldn't reach him. I let out a sob I couldn't hold. No way could I get through the spaces of the tightly closed fist.

'Duo? Status.' Someone demanded.

I shook my head and tried to wedge myself between two other fingers. Fruitless. I heard a whimper. Was that me?

'Zero two, status.'

Squeezing my eyes shut, I forced myself to respond. 'Found him. He's here' I reported.

'Status?' A silly question.

'Wing… Wing has him in his fist.'

'Status!'

'Can't get to him.'

Someone swore softly. 'Bring them to your ship, zero two.'

There was no way I could leave Heero alone. I clung onto Wing's fist and directed 'Scythe's AI by remote, as I had done in the Xetoins' ship, until we were safe inside Ezgadi's freight area. The doors closed, spacesuits floated all around me, and someone tugged at my arm, trying to pry me off Wing's fist. I couldn't let go. No way. What if… what if… crap.

I blinked several times and looked around. Wufei was beside me, still tugging at my arm. '… have to let go, Trowa can't get the hand to open up without injuring you if you're hanging all over it.'

Of course. Yes. I nodded absently, letting go of Wing's finger, and pushed away from it. My helmet cracked against Wufei's, and he jerked, prepared for a violent reaction from me. But I was okay, now. Composed again. Thinking. We floated away to the wall, and, clinging to one of the hooks there, I took my first good look. Wing's hatch still was open, and a spacesuit clung to its shoulder and I had a glimpse of blond hair through the helmet. Quatre. There was movement in the cockpit. Trowa. Okay. He'd get Wing to open its fist and then we can get to Heero. I exhaled heavily. Desperate for a distraction, for something to do, I directed 'Scythe's AI to move the mecha into its storage position. I pushed from the wall and floated there, so that I could secure the storage clamps.

I was too emotional to help, so I finished securing 'Scythe, but I watched every move they made to help Heero. I observed Wing's pinky slowly coming up, then its middle finger, and then the thumb. The remaining two fingers still didn't move. Wufei and Quatre were already on it, pulling and shoving Heero out of the hold. He was so still, his left leg floating at an unusual angle. I watched as they drifted with him to the airlock, where Sally was surely already waiting on the other side.

I turned away and fidgeted on my mecha, absently picking up a wrench, trying to distract myself. They didn't need me there. Heero was safe; I just had to believe it. Sally would… I blinked against the burning in my eyes and looked down to my hands, at the deformed wrench in them. Who was I kidding? I was terrified. I stood there, torn between the urge to run to my lover, shoving them all aside and to see for myself what state he was in, and the fear of discovering that he was beyond help. If that was the case, I didn't want to know yet. Hell, I didn't want to know ever. Staring over to where Wing was drifting in the freight area, I sighed. The mecha had to be secured, too.

I pushed and floated over to the hatch. And came up short as I noticed a spacesuit still in it.

'Tro?'

He turned his head and just stared at me.

'Tro? Talk to me, man."

He blinked and opened his mouth, then closed it and I heard him over the com. 'I should have found him earlier. Should have asked Bethor for help earlier. I…' He shook his head, 'I didn't even think about the possibility.'

I grimaced and climbed into the cockpit, hovering above him. 'I didn't think of it either. Nobody did.' I gripped the armrests and thumped my helmet against his. ' If someone should beat himself up because of it, it should be me. I should have thought of it first.'

He shook his head. 'It was your lover's life on the line; you're allowed to be distracted. We didn't let you stay and search…'

'Stop it.' I interrupted him. 'Just stop it. Just because Heero is my lover doesn't mean that I can become distracted. I'm sorry I was. It won't happen again. Things like that can cost lives in battle.' I closed my eyes and chuckled darkly. 'We've gotten soft these last few years.'

He snorted, and the discussion was over. We worked together securing Wing in the freight room, and as we stepped out of the airlock, my mood was better. If Heero were beyond saving, someone would have said something to me already.

Wouldn't they?

+

When I docked Ezgadi on Bethor again, there was already a medical team waiting, stretcher and all. They hauled Heero, still unconscious, away, with Sally hot on their heels, barking commands.

Heero was alive. Almost frozen through, though. His left leg was broken and he had a few lacerations and bruises. But the reason he hadn't woken up yet was a crack in his skull and the resulting swelling of the brain, Sally had said. She came to the cockpit after she had done everything she could while on Ezgadi. She gave me a pat on the shoulder, trying to assure me that everything would be fine. The guys had to fly back to Bethor in their suits, so it was only us two. There was not enough room in Ezgadi's freight area for the rest of the Gundams.

I so wanted to believe her. She'd looked so very earnest, but then she could tell you the moon was made out of cheese and give you the same look too. If I hadn't known her from the war, I'd be convinced everything would be fine with Heero. The thing was, I'd seen her this way before. I've seen her give the same look to patients while on their deathbed. I briefly wondered if her expression had been the same after the attempt on my life, and if Heero had doubted her words as well. But, she'd also said we were very hard to kill, with the alterations our bodies had undergone. The serum and the nanites.

I rubbed my hands over my face after I shut down Ezgadi and hauled my ass out of the seat. Stripping out of the spacesuit, I used the solitary to get my head in order. Then I went to the helm and took a shower and changed into fresh clothes. Stopping in the galley, I snatched a ration bar and wolfed it down. I needed the protein boost. Still braiding my hair, I left Ezgadi and made my way to medical; prepared to stay until Heero woke up.

Had it really only been a few hours?

+

"What do you mean, you still don't know?"

Sally sighed. "The scans show he's healing fast, the bones are already mended, but until he comes to, I just don't know."

"But I had brain damage, too. I recovered. And he's always healed faster than any of us."

"Yes, and I hope that'll be true this time as well. But we have to wait."

I huffed, frustrated. We stood in Sally's 'office', observing Heero's still form over the monitor, while I grilled Sally. Or tried to.

It'd been three weeks, and Heero was still out of it. His body had healed so far, but he still hadn't reached consciousness. He'd had a few violent reactions, so we had to restrain him to prevent him from injuring himself, and I'd more or less camped out in medical. The few times I'd left to shower, eat, and tend to duties I hadn't delegated away, I'd been hounded by Athyr-Rem. He was the first Karem I encountered on the Xetoin ship, and who'd looked for our company every time he was on board Bethor. It was his ship that had exploded and now his group was on board permanently.

Unerringly he found me every time. He latched onto me, accompanied me to the cantina, and everywhere I went. He talked constantly, reminding me of an overexcited, naive child. He chatted about all the new things he was learning. The ship, our culture, Bethor. He wanted to know all about Earth. And he was eager to learn our language. He… hell, all of them soaked up knowledge like sponges. He reminded me of members of my gang, when I was a child, back on L2. I liked him. And I wanted him to feel accepted. So I humored him.

The guys had interviewed a good portion of the Karems. It turned out that the women knew a great deal more about their culture, their planet, and their past, than the men. It was clear, after a while, why that was. They had stayed together with their mothers during their imprisonment, and they were told the stories and repeated them to their children, while the boys were taken away at a young age.

We'd gotten a great deal of knowledge about them during the flight back to our solar system, and Bethor filed it and analyzed it.

And Athyr-Rem was so excited about everything, he usually provided a good distraction from my worries about Heero. As he had done earlier, before I went back to medical. But just now I was frustrated again, because Sally still could not provide the answers I wanted from her. I'd sat at Heero's side, holding his hand and talking a mile a minute about everything going on, before Sally came in and I joined her in her small office, and started demanding answers.

Something made me take a closer look at the monitor displaying Heero's still form. I got a feeling as if… narrowing my eyes, I watched a few moments, holding my breath. I turned, quietly walked to the door, leaned against the frame, and then had to smile.

"I see you've got no choice but to lay there. I'm sure a talented guy with your skills would be able to read my lips. Well, can ya? Your acting's just amazing. You've regained consciousness without increasing your pulse or your brain waves. I've got a few questions I'd like to ask you. If you're feeling up to it, I thought I'd help you break out of here." A long ago memory.

The corner of Heero's lip twitched.

"Time to liven things up." I stepped close to the bed and Heero opened his eyes, looking up at me. "How do you get these things off?"

Heero smirked now. "Hand me your knife. I'll cut them."

"You've got some guts, buddy." I frowned down at him and gripped his hand. "Geronimo, huh? Are you crazy? Were you trying to kill yourself? It was like when you jumped out of that building all over again, but this time without a parachute. I'll have nightmares over this one, too. I thought we were too late." The last line was a whisper.

Heero shook his head. "I knew you'd find me."

"Yeah," I grumbled, "good for you. But what about me? Or the others? You scared us."

Heero looked me in the eye. "I'm sorry. Do I get a kiss, now?"

I sniffed indignantly. "If you think you're forgiven that fast…" but I leaned down and kissed him gently. "Okay. Forgiven. But don't do that again, you hear me?"

Heero nodded and tugged at his restraints. "Can you get me out of these now?"

"Sure." I leaned over to unfasten the restrains. "How do ya feel?"

"Fine. I want out of here."

"Oh no," Sally said, pushing me aside. "If you think you can wake up and walk away after three weeks, you're madly mistaken, young man."

"Three weeks?" Heero looked wide-eyed up to me for confirmation. "That long?"

"You almost ended up a space-popsicle, and if Wing hadn't grabbed you…" I shrugged, trailing off.

"And we have to run some tests, now that you're awake." Sally added.

I sighed. I'd done that a few times already. She tested me from hair to toenail, and I knew what awaited Heero. "I'll just get outta here then, okay? Ping me if you're done."

Scooping up all of my stuff that had piled up over the weeks, I left medical. And promptly ran into Athyr-Rem. Again.

"Oof," I exclaimed as I hit the floor. Sitting on my ass, I peeked over the pile in my arms at him. "Sorry. Didn't see you."

"I excuse for walk in your path." He answered, standing up and holding out his arms. "I help carry things."

+

"You're thinking of staying here on Bethor." Quatre leaned forward on the table. "After this is all over."

I sighed. "What if they find out about my ability? It's not as if it's a harmless one. As paranoid as they were about Bethor, can you imagine what they'll do to me if this gets out? I don't ever want to be a lab rat again."

"Just the five of us know, and Sally. And she understands."

I shook my head. "The kids know. They saw. They will talk eventually, if they haven't already. It'll spread. And what if I lose my temper over the ignorance of these politicians? Kill someone accidentally?" I rubbed my hands over my face. "Hell, we enhanced almost the whole crew. They'll be lucky if they're not used as guinea pigs if we come back. And we have to tell them. They… we won't age like normal people, it will come out eventually."

Quatre looked down at the table. "I'm not ready to give up my company, my life, yet. Not if we've won. We can still…"

"No. You can. I won't." I leaned back in my chair. "I won't lie for the rest of my life, hiding. I am who I am. And they're not ready for the truth. So I'll stay away. Go…"

"You'll go and seek the Karem Planet."

I nodded. "I've thought about it these past few weeks. It's a possibility. With all the data from the Xetoins, we can backtrack their course. And who knows, maybe it's something worth doing."

Quatre sighed. "Duo, have you talked with Heero about it?"

I shook my head and stared at my hands. "Haven't had a chance, yet."

"He needs to know. Needs to know what you think. You can't just go and expect him to…"

"I don't expect anything. He's his own man. He will do what he thinks is the right thing to do, even if…" I bit my lip. "Even if it means we go separate ways."

"Talk with him, Duo." Quatre grabbed my hand. "Just don't do anything rash. We still have time to think about a solution."

I chuckled darkly. "Just as long as it doesn't end with me as a lab rat."

Never again.

+

I woke, with Heero clutching at me like a drowning man, silently sobbing in his sleep.

Sally had let him go after two days of observation in medical, and it was his first night back in our quarters. We'd made gentle love to each other until we fell asleep, exhausted.

"Heero?" I carefully stroked his face. "Heero. Wake up. It's just a dream. Everything's okay."

His eyes opened and he blinked at me, swallowing. He furrowed his brow. "You'll leave me."

"What?" Guilt shot through me. I still hadn't talked with him about the whole mess of returning to Earth.

"In my dream. You leave. And I can't do anything about it. You drift away, further and further, and I can't reach you. I try so hard, but…" He closed his eyes. "You still leave."

"I'm right here." I rolled us around, lying on his chest, and gazing in his eyes. "You feel me?"

"Promise me," he said, still holding me tight.

I blinked. "You want me to make a promise?" I took a deep breath. "Okay. I won't leave you of my own free will. I promise." And so my fate was sealed. If he absolutely wanted to stay on earth… I closed my eyes and lowered my head to his chest. Then I would stay on earth, too. Despite the fear I had. I could already see myself in a small cage, poked and prodded at, injected and tested.

A lab rat. What a career.

[part 14] [part 16] [back to Singles a - k]