of Obsession + Chapter 24
Were we ready for this? Maybe Zechs was--he was always responsible and so mature. He'd probably be able to handle anything.
But me? Clumsy, goofy, a bit air-headed . . . me! I wasn't sure that I was ready for a baby, even if I would only be helping Zechs take care of him "part time" or whatever. I would have to settle down, really start working and focusing on a future . . . maybe I would end up like Heero and Wufei on Perfect Lane, which was just about the last thing that I wanted to happen.
But maybe having a baby would be a good thing? Everyone always said that it would be an enjoyable experience, and the little guy had been pretty cute. I imagined taking him on leisurely walks in the park, buying cute little baby things, rocking him to sleep, watching his first steps, hearing his first words . . .
But then again, holding that nasty ass diaper in my hand wasn't pleasant, and although seeing him puke all over Relena's pale yellow expensive-looking jacket had been funny, having him puke all over my clothes would certainly not be. And then they would grow up to be little monsters, yelling and screaming and kicking in the grocery store, and then teenagers, drinking and having sex and breaking curfew . . .
Whew. Owie, my head hurt.
"Duo, what are you thinking?" Zechs asked softly, turning to look at me.
"That you're gonna have to convert the study into a baby's room?" I replied with a weak smile.
"This doesn't change anything between us." He paused. "Okay, maybe it does, just a little. I still want to be with you."
"And I still want to be with you."
"But this baby . . . Mill, I want him to be a part of my life as well."
"And I want him to be in your life."
"Which means that he will be in yours too. Are you ready for a baby?"
I laughed a bit shrilly. "I don't know! I'm young and hot and . . . But I'm willing to give it a try. Taking care of a child, I mean."
Zechs visibly relaxed. "Thank you."
I got up off of the couch and grabbed my coat. "I need to get out. Do you mind?"
He frowned. ". . . no. Just be careful, okay?"
"Okay. I'll see you in a bit."
I went down to the parking deck and got into my car. Unable to help myself, I let out a healthy scream, composed myself, and then drove off to Quatre's place. He and Trowa were surprised to see me, and even more surprised when they heard what I had to say.
"NOIN HAD ZECHS' BABY?!" Quatre exploded, eyes popping out of his head.
Even Trowa was stunned. "That's . . . damn. Just damn."
"Damn is right." We were lounging out on the living room floor. I rested on my stomach and sighed. "I'm so selfish. All I could think about was what this was going to do to me and my relationship with Zechs. I didn't even care that there was a little boy in need of his father."
Quatre looked sympathetic. "Don't be too hard on yourself. I think it's natural to feel threatened by this. I know I would be if some lady just barged in and told me that she had Trowa's baby." He hesitated before turning to his lover. "Is there anything I should know?"
"No, there isn't." Trowa's reply was quick and neat. "Do you think that you could handle a child?" he asked me seriously.
"I've been thinking about it, and I'm not sure. There are pluses and minuses to everything. Right now, I'm just not sure where raising a baby falls."
"Well, give it a chance, and if you don't like it, then . . ." Quatre drifted off.
"Then what? Break up with Zechs? I don't want to do that! I shouldn't have to do that!" I began to pout. "Life sucks!"
"It's all a part of growing up," Trowa said wisely. I just stuck my tongue out at him.
Quatre laughed. "Oh, I dunno. I think you'd be pretty good at raising a child, Duo. I mean, you're kind of child-like yourself. Zechs could be the parent, and you could be the baby's best friend."
"However," I replied dryly, "there is one notable difference. Mill still wears a diaper. I do not."
"I love Zechs. I really do. But do I love him enough to put up with a huge responsibility like a baby? That is the question."
Quatre patted my back. "I think you'll figure it out. Convince Noin to let you two spend some time taking care of Mill alone and see how it goes. Who knows, you may enjoy being a mommy."
Mommy! I wasn't a--my cell rang. Lucky for Quatre. "Yeah?"
"Duo, would you mind if Mill stays over for the weekend?" Zechs asked quickly. "I'd really like to try and see if I can do this parenting thing."
Oh boy. Here was the perfect opportunity to try it out. "Did Noin agree to it?"
"I haven't asked her yet, but I'm hoping that she'll say yes. I'm sure that she'd rather not have to go to the courts and have a custody battle, so I'm hoping that she'll cooperate."
"If she says yes, then that'll be fine."
"Great. I'll let you know what happens when you get back."
I hung up. "Well, Q, now I'll have that chance. Zechs is trying to get his son for the weekend. We'll see how it goes."
"Duo," Trowa said gravely, "maybe you should pull out that whiteboard again. Don't you think we have a pretty damn good reason to suspect Noin now?"
Quatre nodded. "He's right. Maybe she wants you out of the way so that she can be a family with Zechs. She's looking to be a better suspect than Relena."
So we yanked it out and wrote down Noin. She was intruding way too much to be innocent, she had a solid motive . . . and I just didn't like her. Now she was first on my list--but how could I prove that she was the one?
Zechs was able to convince Noin to let Mill stay with us for the weekend--how he did, I will never know. He stayed home from work that Friday to finish making the flat "baby-safe" and whatnot, but I chose to go into work, simply to get away from all of that baby stuff. It was making me anxious and making my palms sweat, because later that that afternoon, the baby would be there, and Zechs and I would be roughing it on our own. Baby books as reference guides were all good and well, but nothing could beat the real experience.
I sat at my desk and stared at the fish that swam by on my screensaver, trying to think of what else I needed to do to prepare for the baby's arrival. How about throw myself out of a window? Hmm . . .
Sally passed by my desk, but then backed up and stopped. "Hey there. I heard you're taking care of Mill tonight."
"Uh, yeah. I am."
"If you need any help or if you two get totally lost and don't want to call Noin, you can always turn to me," she said supportively. "I'm more than willing to help you out."
"Thanks." That was really nice to know, actually. Neither of us wanted to have to run to Noin every five seconds for something--then she wouldn't trust us with the baby ever again. "We'll keep your number on speed dial, okay?"
As she began walking away, I remembered that little medicine bottle in the baby's bag. Noin hadn't mentioned anything about needing to give Mill medicine when she gave us the run-down of things that he liked, didn't like, and needed.
"Hey Sally? I have a question."
She came back. "What is it?"
"What in the world is Bi . . . Bi . . . Bipulomine?"
Sally gave me a weird look. "Why are you asking about that?"
"Um . . . some dude asked me if I'd ever taken it, and I'm just trying to figure out if it was an insult so that I can get back at him if I need to."
Laughing, she said, "Okay, well, I can see how someone might think that you've taken that drug before."
Oh, really? I looked down at myself. "Why?"
"Your eyes are very unusual, maybe unnatural." Seeing that I wasn't catching on, she continued. "We can do crazy things with technology today, you know. That medicine is for newborns who have bad some sort of genetic work done, you know, what people like to call test-tube babies, or maybe if a mother or father wants to achieve certain physical characteristics in their child, like brown eyes, which is actually growing in popularity these days. Then the baby would be prescribed it for six months after "birth," just to make sure that everything would be okay."
Could Mill have been genetically altered to have blond hair and blue eyes like his daddy? Was Zechs even his real daddy? Could Noin have had Mill created in a lab in order to pass him off as Zechs' in an attempt win him back?
What the hell had I stumbled onto here?
"Duo? Duo!" Sally called, waving her hand in front of my face. "Are you alright?"
No. I think I'm going to throw up.
"Yeah! Yeah, I'm fine."
"Okay. Don't forget to call if you need any help."
Ring ring! I'm calling! I'm in serious need of some help here!
Damn . . . if Noin was capable of passing of Mill as Zechs' when he really wasn't, the she very well could be capable of trying to off me. And if I could somehow prove that Mill wasn't Zechs', then I just might be able to get rid of her for good. Zechs would never take her back after that, no way in hell, and maybe she'd just disappear . . . or fess up. Or something.
There was one way to do it--a paternity test. If I could get my hands onto some DNA from Zechs, Noin and the baby, then . . . then . . .!
Zechs and the baby would be the easy ones. It was Noin that I had to worry about. But I was determined to prove this, because maybe then, this would all be over.
"--and that's his favorite blanket." Noin deposited it on top of the mound of other things that she'd brought by the flat for Mill and looked around. "I think that's it."
Zechs smiled as he balanced the child in his arms. "Thanks, Lu. I really appreciate it."
She looked very hesitant. "No problem. Hey, I heard something about mice being here? As a pet? I don't know about--"
"They are locked up tight in our room," I said quickly. Now get out.
"Oh, okay. Um, good luck. Don't be afraid to call."
Once she was finally gone, we stood around like we had no idea what to do (because we didn't), until Mill started making noises. Zechs placed him in the little rocking thing that we'd bought and while he began flipping through the phone book for take out, I nudged the rocker with my elbow. As long as it kept swaying, Mill seemed to be fine.
"You know," Zechs mused from the kitchen, "one of us is actually going to have to learn how to cook now."
I laughed. "It ain't gonna be me. Besides, we've got plenty of time to learn. Mill will be drinking from bottles and eating goo from cans for a while." I looked at Zechs--he was all smiles, and had been that way since I arrived him from work that afternoon. I could tell that having this baby around really excited him and made him happy. He seemed to like the idea of being a father, of having a son.
I glanced at my knapsack, which contained printouts about gathering DNA and about paternity tests. If my hunch was right, and he wasn't Mill's poppa, then his heart would be broken. Could I do that to him? Was the truth worth it? Or was I just being selfish again?
Well, gee, I'm sure Zechs didn't want Noin to put me six feet under, and maybe uncovering the truth about the baby's parents would scare her away, or get her to confess the other things that she'd done. Right. So I was gonna go ahead with my plan.
Zechs ordered the food and went to take an early shower. I leapt into action, taking out the direction from the bag, along with a swab and a plastic container that I'd . . . ah, lifted from the infirmary's storage closet.
"Okay . . . okay, open up little baby . . ." I bent down and tried to coax Mills mouth open. I made a goofy face and he giggled (awww)--then I swooped in with the swab and gently went against the side of his cheek. I took a few more just in case, placed them securely in their containers and labeled the sample "baby."
One down, two to go.
It was only as I watched Zechs play with the baby later on that night that I began to feel a bit like a monster for taking DNA from a helpless baby so that I could prove that his mother was a liar and a sneak. But you know that saying about desperate times, right? I had to do what I had to do . . . right?
Right. That's what I thought.
Bedtime finally rolled around, thankfully. Taking care of a baby was hard work. Sometimes cute, funny and really interesting, but totally exhausting! I climbed into bed and made sure that the baby monitor was on and up loud . . . oh, perfect. Zechs was brushing his hair out. Just what I needed.
He got into bed a few minutes later. We settled down for the night.
I waited until I was sure that he was asleep--his chest was going up and down in a steady fashion. Then I crawled out of bed and crept over to the dresser. There was his hair brush, sitting in the moonlight . . . There was no way that I was going to be able to sit there and pick out a hair and make sure that it was one that was what I needed, so I snatched the entire thing up and slipped it quietly into a plastic bag. I dropped it into my bag and placed it securely in the back of the closet.
As I slinked back to the bed, Mill's cries exploded in the silence, nearly causing my heart to leapt out of my chest. Zechs stirred. "I got it," I whispered and went back to check on the baby.
The room we'd set up for him was very nice by any baby's standards. You know, clouds and the sun and some animals and junk. Top of the line furniture, too, real nice stuff. Zechs had gone all out for Mill, which kind of made me hope that I was wrong about this entire thing. Kind of.
I turned on the light and went to see what was wrong.
Ohhh, dirty diaper.
Shit . . . no pun intended. If there was one thing I hater about this baby thing, it was the crap. And the puke.
I'd seen Zechs and Noin change the diaper a few times, and I'd seen it on TV, so it couldn't be that hard, right? So what if it took me, like, twenty minutes? I did it, yay for me!
I washed my hands and went back to sleep.
Two down, one to go.
"Excuse me, you need me to do what!"
"Alex, c'mon now! Be a pal," I hissed over the noise of the fan in the bathroom early the next morning. I was on my cell in the bathroom, pretending to take a crap, and trying to persuade the former cop to get one of his lab pals to do a paternity test for me, even though I didn't exactly have the permission of the people who's DNA I would be submitting for testing. "I might finally find out who the hell has been after me all this time!"
"How is finding out if Zechs is the father or not going to help you solve this stalker thing?" he demanded.
"I think Noin is the one! Zechs isn't going to want to be with a woman who tried to pass someone else's genetically altered baby as his own, and then she'll realize that she has no reason to want me dead because Zechs wouldn't want her even if I was out of the picture, and then she'll go away and leave me alone!" I took a deep breath. "Okay? Get it now?"
"Duo . . ."
"Please, please, please, please, please?"
"Okay! Alright! I'll find someone to do it under the table. Damn, the stuff I do for you . . ."
"Thank you so much. I'll have the samples as soon as possible, I've only got Noin's left."
"Don't get caught," he warned me.
"I won't! Again, thanks a bunch." I hung up, pumped my fists and added a grunting noise, just in case anyone was listening.
When I came out of the bathroom, I found Zechs waiting for me. At first I was frightened out of my freaking mind, he must've overheard and now he was pissed that I was testing his "son"--until I realized that he was holding Mill and laughing.
"What? What happened?"
Zechs held the cooing baby up, "You put on his diaper wrong last night."
Indeed I had. It was on inside out and backwards.
"I can't figure out how you did that. I even took a picture," Zechs said. "It'll be great to show him when he grows up--Look at what Daddy Duo did to you one night, Mill. And we can show it to all of his girl or boyfriends that he brings over and embarrass him. Isn't that right, Mill?" He walked off to fix my mistake, presumably.
I sighed. Yeah, he was gonna be devastated . . .
I'm sorry, Zechs. I am so sorry.
Quatre's mouth was nearly at the floor. "I cannot . . . oh my . . . that's just so . . ."
"What?" I demanded defensively. "Are you going to try to talk me out of it?"
Quatre got up from the couch and walked over to me. "You better be glad that Mill is sleeping just a few rooms over, or else I'd tell you whatI really think."
I downed my can of Mountain Dew and glared at him. "What would you do if you found out what I did? Why in the world would Mill have had some lab work on him when he was just a bunch of cells or something unless Noin has something to hide?"
"I don't know! Couldn't you just ask?"
"And let her know that I know? NO!"
I began to wash some carrots out in the sink for my pet mice. Zechs had been called back to the office for an emergency, and Quatre decided that he would come over and help me out with the baby. Maybe telling him about my plan hadn't been such a good idea, though.
"You are crazy."
"Yeah, well, you won't be saying that when I come back with those results in my hand, okay?"
Quatre frowned. "Are you sure it was that Bi-whatever stuff that you saw in the bag, and not something else?"
"Okay, okay. But if Zechs finds out what you did, he'll be livid. No doubt about it."
"I know. That's why he won't find out. Not until I'm one-hundred percent sure. But I'm in a bit of a pickle. How the hell do I get my hands on some of Noin's DNA? Ask her to bleed over a cup or spit in a dish?"
"Oh, no! You are not roping me into this crazy scheme of yours!"
"You're my best friend! Come on, I just need some advice!"
"No! Leave me alone!"
"C'mon, Q, please? Please? Please, please, please!"
He threw up his hands. "Damn it, you are so annoying when you want something."
I smiled. "You know it."
"I really have no idea, Duo. You're gonna have to . . ." He eyed the carrots, and then looked up at me. "Hmm. You know what? That just might work. But you'll owe me big time, I swear. Next time I need something, you better do it, no questions asked."
My eyes grew big and round. "Okay, okay! Tell me about it."
"Now do what?"
A few days later, I cackled to myself as I watched Noin squirm. The mice had "escaped" from their cage (with a little help from me, of course), and now she had one of them cornered--Shinigami, to be exact, and he was a little vicious around strangers.
"Just grab him," I instructed calmly. "He's really a nice mouse."
She sighed and bent down, snatching up Shinigami in her hand. A few seconds later, she screamed and dropped him. Her hand was leaking blood like the Niagara falls--apparently, Shinigami hadn't taken being yanked up from the ground very well and had ripped her hand to shreds.
I was conveniently there with a tissue. "Oh damn, I'm so sorry! I don't know what got into him! He's usually so--here, let me help you with that, okay? Okay?" I squeezed her hand to make sure that plenty was coming out . . . there, that should be enough. I dropped the tissue into a wastebasket and rushed her into the bathroom for first aid.
She left with Mill half an hour later, and I fished the bloody tissues out of the trash. Hopefully it would be enough.
The next day, I met Alex at the mall, where I passed him my goody bag full of evidence. In three days, he said, I should have my results. We chatted for a bit before parting ways.
On the way back to the flat, it was pretty obvious that I was being followed. Despite a bunch of random twists and turns, I couldn't shake the white van with tinted windows, so I pulled into a crowded gas station and parked.
The van slowed down and cruised by in what was supposed to be an intimidating way, I guess. And then it was gone.
Had that been Noin? Did she know?
Three days, Duo. In three days, the truth would come out.
Author's Note: I had a good time writing this. A slightly selfish Duo who means well but is a bit misguided . . . it was very interesting to try and capture that.
[chap. 23] [chap. 25] [back to Singles a - k]