+ Part 1
This was ridiculous. I'd faced
many obstacles far greater than this one-many. I'd been shot, jumped from
a thirty-eight storey buildings, survived situations that would give grown
men nightmares without batting an eyelid. But I couldn't do this.
I took a deep breath and edged around the door.
My target was in plain sight. He was lost in concentration, totally absorbed
in the metallic parts spread out around him. Sprawled on his stomach,
he still managed to be somehow graceful. His nose wrinkled as he bent
over some minute alteration, focusing on it-
My heart thudded painfully in my chest.
Duo was so beautiful and he didn't even know it.
I stepped cautiously towards him. I could do this, I could, I could-
"Hey, Heero, ya can't toss me the batteries while you're there?"
I could turn and run. Yes, that was a much more sensible plan.
I took one step backwards and he looked up, and I was powerless to move
any further. The warmth in his eyes, the life that sparkled within them-
Clumsily, I fumbled for the item he'd requested.
"Thanks man," he said, eyes sparkling at some hidden joke. "I'm almost
done here. I think I've managed to work out how to increase output without
showing signs of things being monitored but I haven't quite finished testing-you
want to give me a hand with that?"
I blinked, looking down at him. "I'm not in the right suit-"
"That's not a problem, Heero," Duo said, unaware he was splintering my
good mood beyond repair. "You can just unzip your left arm-I only to access
your UBD cables."
I complied, silently.
"Read out?" Duo asked, absorbed in the machine.
"0.5, 0.7, 0.54. 0.3." My voice sounded clipped even to me.
"Uh-huh. . ." Duo made a slight adjustment. "And now?"
"0.45, 0.15, 0.5, 0.17, 0.32-"
"That's good enough," Duo smiled, winking at me. "Give me a moment to
get cleaned up, and then I'm all yours."
I smiled in response, but it was an automatic gesture and faded as soon
as he'd gone. I didn't sigh, but my expression darkened as I caught sight
of myself in the mirror.
On the surface I looked like any human boy my age. Slightly more serious
perhaps, Duo often told me I was unnaturally neat-not to mention sexy.
I kept my hair ruffled to offset this. It was enough to allow me to pass
as human-as long as one did not look to deep.
Below the layer of artificial construct that was my skin, pistons and
cogs whirred, fed by my blood, self-renewing fuel. My internal organs
were mostly real, as was my face-if you didn't count the improvements
that had been made there-heat and UV sensitive filters, target lock, magnifying
glass to my eyes, increased processing and memory capability to my brain.
Despite my thin veneer of humanity, I was mostly machine.
Silently I opened the door to what Duo had christened 'the bat cave' for
reasons unknown. Bats were a form of vermin that swarmed around the underlayers,
fighting amongst each other and spreading disease. What relation they
had to mechanics was beyond me. Perhaps Wufei would know, but I would
never ask him. This was where we stored my other bodies.
I'd grown in the few years since I met Duo and we'd escaped together from
J's lab. My body had no longer fit me.
Duo had grumbled about having to stoop to kiss me, then dug out computer
spreadsheets, a tool box and a very large syringe ("This will hurt me
more than it hurts you, babe"-yeah, right), and built me a larger body,
outfitted exactly as the original had been, with only a few Duo-ifications.
Almost as soon as that body was finished, however, he began construction
on a second. Then a third.
Now I had five. The original suit, somewhere between cyborg and human.
Then an armoured battle suit, with more guns than a small war. My face
was half covered by a protective visor in this one, and although it was
useful, I disliked it. It made me feel like the war machine J had designed
me to be. Its only good point was the fact that it had allowed me to pull
Duo out of tricky places more than once.
The third was a stealth suit, with self-cloaking device. The material
used in it was lightweight and flexible, weapons minimum. I wore this
one when Duo needed my help in infiltration and retrieval. Duo seemed
very fond of this suit. I wasn't sure whether it was because it was because
the suit was fashioned out of black and form fitting material, or because
it was so useful. After mission activity had given me reason to suspect
The fourth was halfway between the heavy armament of the second suit and
the flexibility of the third, with the added bonus of allowing me to operate
The fifth was the one I wore now. It was designed to allow me to infiltrate
and communicate with people without them realising what I was-it allowed
me to pass as human in other words. At least, that's what I told myself.
I'd created the comfortable illusion that when I wore this suit I was
human-and without even realising, Duo had blithely shattered that.
I stared at myself in the mirror, my suits behind me.
This was my favourite-I needed to believe I was human if only for a little
bit. But was it only fantasy?
"Heero? There you are!"
Warm hands wrapped around me from behind. That was something I could not
replicate-Duo was always warm, was always soft.
"What was it you wanted earlier?" he whispered, cuddling into me.
The package in my pocket felt very heavy. It was impossible to give it
to him now. Mission Abort.
"It's past the allotted meal time," I told him. "You require nutritional
"Oh-thanks, babe. I guess I lost track of time." Was it just me, or did
Duo sound disappointed? "Although," he whispered pressing his body more
firmly against me. "I'm not very hungry-you want to help me work up an
My skin might have been a synthetic blend, but the sensory pads beneath
were very sensitive. I caught my breath as Duo ran his tongue along my
"I would like that very much," I whispered.
Duo leaned in to kiss me, then pulled away with a grin I could only describe
as wicked. He caught my hand and pulled me in the direction of our sleeping
quarters. I hurried after him.
"Oh-Heero!" Duo had halted abruptly, in the entrance way to the dining/kitchen
area. Looking over his shoulder I saw the table laid and the candles burning-how
could I have forgotten?
"Some special occasion?" Duo asked.
"Research indicated that intimate dinners ensure good relationships,"
I answered, trying to keep my voice as calm as possible so he wouldn't
know how nervous I was about all this.
"Then perhaps we should delay-" Duo suggested.
"No," I said hastily. "It can wait."
Duo raised an eyebrow. "If you say so, sunshine." He slipped ahead of
me, hand lingering on the door handle. "Anything you say."
The promise made my sensory output feeders fluctuate wildly. I smiled
back at him, then abruptly remembered the rest of my plan. "Duo-"
Duo was standing, staring at the roses pooled around his feet with a very
surprised expression. "Uh-Heero?"
"I ran out of places to put them all," I said. "I'm sorry. I was using
the bench space for the candles after all, and. . ."
Duo had peeped round the door, to see our bedroom lit by a multitude of
tiny flames. "Sorry, Heero, but I'm still not getting it."
I felt a little desperate.
"You said it was romance." I took a breath and repeated his very words.
"Couples often do things to show each other how much they appreciate each
other. Flowers, chocolates, candle-lit dinners, dancing, the works."
Duo was giving me a somewhat stunned look. "I said that? When?"
"Yes. Precisely ten minutes twenty-eight seconds before our first sexual
"Oh," Duo said. "You remember that?"
Duo coloured, very attractively. "Hell," he said eloquently, before turning
his attention to the pile of flowers at his feet. "So, run by me what
these have to do with this again?"
"My sources indicated that of all flowers those most prized in romantic
circumstances were roses," I said worriedly. Had my research been outdated?
Was Duo allergic? Were these defective roses? I ran my internal catalogue
of Duo's expressions past myself swiftly.
Duo had picked up one of the roses and was turning it over, his expression
unreadable. "You don't mean to tell me these are roses? Where did you
get them all? There must be hundreds--"
"Six hundred and twenty eight," I answered. "I tracked down a greenhouse
upside-a few greenhouses."
"Shit," said Duo. I was alarmed to see a sliver of moisture escape his
"What's the matter?" I asked worriedly-I'd really wrecked things this
time. Duo never cried-
"You know, I've heard expressions like 'coming up roses' all my life,
right? The sister tried explaining flowers to me once when I was little-she
had a dried bouquet in her treasure box, from ages ago-but nothing grows
I frowned. Duo's expression was strangely still and serene-"You've never
seen roses before?"
Duo smiled at me, quietly, reverently. "Heero, you have no idea what this
means to me."
At last my catalogue had found a match. Duo had smiled that smile at me
before, two minutes fifty three seconds before hauling me into our room
for what had been some of the best sex in our existence.
Maybe I was on to something here.
Duo tucked the rose he was holding behind my ear and let his hand drift
gently down the side of my face. "You are too completely wonderful, you
"I believe you've mentioned that before," I agreed and was promptly pounced
It would appear that there was a relation between that smile and good
The flames flickering along the benches gave our room a dream-like aspect.
I sighed happily as Duo pushed me back into the mattress. He'd already
divested me of my clothes and now seemed determined to make every inch
of my body need him. The scent of the roses hung over everything. I knew
then that I would never smell them again without thinking of Duo and this
The vid-phone rang-three rings-that was the urgent signal.
"Damn!" Duo threw a sheet over us as I grabbed the phone. "I am so pulling
that thing out by its cord after this-"
I smiled as with the sheet safely around my shoulders I answered the phone.
"Who is this?"
Wufei's irritated expression flashed onto the screen. "Heero. A situation
has arisen that needs urgent attention."
"Couldn't agree more," Duo murmured softly and I realised that instead
of answering the phone he'd chosen to slip under the sheet, out of range
of the vid-phone. I had difficulty keeping my face impassive as I realised
what he intended-
Wufei seemed to be expecting something. A response perhaps? "Ah-is that
"Where's Duo?" Wufei demanded. "I need to talk to him."
I winced as Duo let me know exactly where he was. "He's rather busy right
now-can't come to the phone-"
"Well what is he doing?"
"Currently he's giving me-"
The sheet was abruptly in my mouth and Duo was draping himself over my
shoulders, hissing in my ear, "Subtlety."
"Yo, Wufei. What's up?"
Wufei looked-I don't know. One minute he was irritated and cross, the
next-just very sad. "We have serious news."
"Wufei?" Duo said, the smile leaving his face.
"Treize has made his move. At five o'clock this morning he led an attack
on the heads of state. They're hostages or dead, and he's fighting the
rest of the upside troops."
"What does that mean?" I asked, drawing Duo closer to me.
"He's bloody declared war on everyone," Duo said, slowly. "Hasn't he?"
"That's what it amounts to," Wufei said. "I'm bringing Quatre and Trowa
round. We'll be there soon."
The vid-screen flicked off.
I wrapped the sheet around both of us, and held him, trying to pretend
it was the room that made him cold.
[part 2] [back
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