After Colony 212
Earth, beginning of the year
"It's a good thing I was able to escape those boring meetings and watch your competition." Duo smiled as he drove both of them from Solo's high school. The wind from his speed caused some of his hair escape its bonds. "Nice match, I dare say! You're a great fencer, Solo."
"Thanks, Dad." Solo grinned in the same way as his father did, a big trophy lay on his lap. "As the first winner, do I get a present this time?"
Duo chuckled merrily. "Very well, what do you want as your present?"
Solo's violet eyes sparkled with joy. "Will you get me a laptop, Dad?"
Duo's smiled wavered at his son's request. Solo noticed it and quickly spoke up. "It's okay if you don't want to buy it for me, Dad. I know it's too expensive for a person my age ....."
"No, Solo." Duo sighed as he kept his eyes on the road. "I don't mind buying you the laptop. I know you'll make good use of it with the programming skills I taught you. It's just...... " Duo paused for a second as an image of a messy haired boy typing on his laptop flashed before his eyes. "He once had a laptop...." Duo murmured wistfully.
Solo blinked. "He? You're referring to Heero Yuy again, Dad?"
Duo nodded. Since Solo was little, he always told stories about the Japanese boy as his bed time stories. He bundled everything he knew about Heero into fairy tales. Of course as Solo grew up, he began to tell him about the true facts. To his delight, Solo liked hearing him speak about the Japanese boy. Almost everything he knew about Heero, Solo knew too. Almost... Duo didn't tell him about how close his relationship with Heero had been. Not many people knew about them anyway and to avoid any problems, Duo simply let Solo think that he and Heero had been best friends.
"Still no news about him?"
Duo shook his head. It had been more than ten years, but he still searched for Heero. Solo even had tried to help him hack all governments' secrets, but still the result was negative.
Solo was silent for a while. "You know, I still wonder how I can look so similar to him..."
Duo glanced to his son and smiled. "I want to know too." True to Solo's words, if he ignored Solo's shoulder length chestnut hair and his violet eyes, he could see Heero in his son. He didn't know how Fate was involved, but Solo's face really looked like Heero's. If they were the same age, Heero and his son could be twins. And as if inheriting Heero's genius, in his fourteen years, Solo had become a great fencer and programmer as well. The differences were in their attitudes. Heero had been a quiet and calm person while Solo was more like him, happy going and liked to joke.
It was as if Solo was Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy combined....
"Dad, have you checked his laboratory?" Solo's question broke Duo's thoughts. He needed a few seconds to process the boy's words before answering.
"Yes, but it has been two years since I last checked it. I'll go there after driving you home."
"Why bother? I want to see the lab too. I've never had a chance to go there before. Besides I maybe can find something you have missed." Solo spoke eagerly.
Duo smiled slightly at his son's words as he changed the course and headed toward the old laboratory. Sometimes Solo was more optimistic than him. He had searched the laboratory thoroughly, but still he found nothing. Well, maybe with Solo, he would be luckier this time.
"This is where he lived?" Solo asked in bewilderment as his violet eyes scanned the laboratory's main room. "Are you sure, you didn't change anything in this room since he left, Dad?"
"Yes." Duo answered as he walked around, trying to find something different, something that could give him a hint to where Heero was. He did this every time he visited the laboratory.
"I think he must have been every inch the soldier, Dad."
Duo stopped and turned to see his son eyeing the dusty bed. "What makes you think that, Solo?"
"Well, just look at this room." Solo gestured around the room. "It just consists of a steel bed, a plain wood table, and a cabinet to store his items. The kitchen we just checked was really mechanical based. No pictures or significant household accessories that would make it feel like a home rather than a soldier's barracks."
Duo cringed inwardly at Solo's every word. They were like knives stabbing his heart. He still remembered how Heero seemed relaxed, curling in a comfy blanket on their king size bed, how Heero set the flowers he had grown in every room of their small house, and how Heero liked to spend time cooking delicious snacks for him. Solo unconsciously made him realize how he had made the Japanese boy's life miserable by marrying Hilde and driving him out of the house. Here, Heero had no place to do gardening or cooking like he used to do. It was steel built laboratory after all. With his job as a freelance writer, Heero also probably couldn't afford a king size bed.
Fourteen and half years had passed, but Heero's image still perched on his mind every now and then, adding his guilt more. Duo punched the wall in front of him, welcoming the pain as his fist crashed against the steel surface. If he had been able to realize how much his actions made Heero suffer, he maybe could have prevented Heero's disappearance.
Duo looked up to see his son frowning at him. For a split second, Duo saw the exact expression as the Japanese boy he loved so much on his son's face. He blinked when he realized Solo was talking to him. "What did you say, Solo?"
"The wall..." Solo tilted his head slightly. "It made an unusual sound when you hit it..." The boy stood next to Duo and punched the said wall. Both of them looked at each other as the wall elicited a hollow sound, a sign that there was an empty space or room behind it.
Duo narrowed his eyes at the wall. "Solo, go get the tools from the car while I check this wall."
Solo nodded and walked away, leaving Duo to study the wall thoroughly. What a fool he was, Duo cursed himself silently. He never thought of the possibility that there might be a secret room in the laboratory. The peace surely had taken the edge off of his stealth and surveillance skills. Luckily Solo was aware of the sounds since he was too busy blaming himself for what had happened. No more blaming himself, Duo vowed. It wouldn't do anything to get Heero back.
He found that only a certain part of the wall produced the same sound. After Solo arrived with the tools, they used a laser gun and worked together in bringing down the wall carefully, not wanting to mess up what was on the other side. Within ten minutes, they had entered the newly opened passage and arrived at some kind of control room. There were computers all over it's four sides. Duo looked around, noticing some of computers were still functioning.
"What do you think of this room, Dad?" Solo asked in awe, obviously impressed with the room although the machineries here were at least ten years behind.
"I don't know, but maybe these computers can give us some information about Heero." Duo approached one computer. "Help me with the other computer, 'kay."
"Roger." Solo grinned and quickly perched at the biggest computer.
They worked for half an hour and Duo got very little information about Heero and sadly nothing that he didn't already know. He sighed and walked to another computer, glancing at his son at the same time. "Any luck, Solo?"
"Hmm...wait a sec." The boy was busy typing on the big computer. After pressing some more buttons, the boy stopped suddenly and called out his father. "Dad, look over here."
Duo quickly changed routes and went to stand next to his son. His eyes fell on the screen where his son had been working before.
Terminating project SB0102, press P to enter the password or H to get a hint for the password. Please note that you'll be killed on the spot if you answer wrong.
Duo frowned as he read the text. He didn't know anything about the project. Whether it was built by J or Heero, he was totally oblivious. There was no record about this project. However it was obviously important, judging from its security and the threat to kill them on spot. It maybe would give him some information about Heero. Duo decided to take a chance and pressed the H button.
Hint for the password : 01's shoe size.
Enter the password : _
"What kind of the hint is this?" Solo's confused voice was dimly heard by his father as the long haired man stared unblinkingly at the screen. "What does it mean by 01 anyway, is it a codename or what? Dad, do you know about this?" Noticing his father was still silent, Solo nudged him slightly. "Dad?"
Duo blinked and looked at his son.
"Do you understand the hint, Dad?" Solo repeated his question.
"Aa ..." Duo nodded. "Yes, this is probably our codename during the war. Heero was pilot Zero One. I was pilot Zero Two."
"Zero One?" Solo's eyes widened. "So the hint means we have to enter Heero Yuy's shoe size? How the hell can we know that?"
Duo only half listened to his son. His eyebrows knitted together, a sign that he was thinking hard. Whoever made this hint obviously wanted the project to be terminated by someone who knew Heero very, very closely and he was probably was the only one who knew Heero's shoe size. Whoever this person was, they had intended the project to be terminated by him or probably other ex-gundam pilots only. His heart beat faster as he considered the possibility that this project might have something to do with Heero's disappearance. His mind ran back to the past, trying to remember what Heero's shoe size was.
"Their size is 39. Do you want to try them first, Sir?"
"It's too small for you, Duo. Your size is 41."
Bingo! Duo brightened as he finally remembered the size and wasting no time, he typed away the number on the waiting computer, not aware of his son's squeaking 'You even know his shoe size, Dad?'
Enter the password : 39
Duo hit the enter button and watched as text rapidly appeared and scrolled down on the screen. It contained some phasing parameter for terminating the project. After one minute the text stopped and a hole suddenly appeared on the floor next to the computer, lashing cold air out.
"Wow, cool." Solo exclaimed in enthusiasm and approached the hole. "There's a stair here, Dad. I'll go down to check it."
Duo was about to follow his son when some italic text on the screen caught his eyes.
This SB0102 project is a beta project where I intended to make a human-freezing system, which is more powerful than cold-sleep system. It will freeze the human body to a condition that equals to halted time condition. This system will totally stop all functions of human's body and mind without killing them. However this system has never been tested until now.
I have set the hint for one person only. If you are who I think you are, this is your last chance to make up. Don't hurt him anymore.
But if you aren't the intended person, please help my boy below. I used it on my boy because there was no other way to save his life. The terminating process will take half an hour to finish. Please get paramedic here in the mean time.
Duo's blood had run cold and his face went as white as snow after the second paragraph. So many things went on his head and in the end only one mattered. What had happened to Heero??!!! He was about to reread the text once more when he heard Solo's horrified shouting. "DAD! DAD!! COME DOWN!!!"
Without thinking, Duo trudged down the stairs in a flash, ignoring the cold air in the room, and met the wide eyed and shocked Solo at the foot of the stairs. He felt relieved when he saw his son was alright, however he stopped short when he followed his son's gaze. If he felt his blood was cold before, now it was as if it had stopped flowing and his heart stopped beating as well. He wanted to deny what he saw before him, to deny the sight of a blood covered Heero Yuy. The Japanese boy, still as young as he last saw him, was floating in a glass encased giant ice cube that filled half the room. Frozen blood covered his arms, legs, chest, and stomach and more pooled on the floor beneath him. Duo was shocked, really, really shocked, but he couldn't help but approach the giant cube. He felt sick when he noticed Heero was naked beneath all that blood. Not rape, please not rape, Duo trembled as he studied the Japanese boy further. And that was when he noticed the bloody gaping wound in Heero's stomach. Duo let out a strangled gasp and could only stare in disbelief.
"Dad?" Solo's alarmed voice thankfully penetrated Duo's shocked mind. It reminded him of the current situation and what J's message had told him. Half an hour. No time to waste if he wanted to save Heero. Duo found his mind shoving away all the shock and surprise from the sight his eyes just saw. He closed his eyes and concentrated. Saving Heero. That was the top priority and the most important thing now...
Duo turned to his son and barked. "Call Dr. Philip, Solo!! I'll call the paramedics. They all will have to arrive within half an hour!!"
Never seeing his father so focused and shaken, Solo, who was also as shocked as his father, quickly went upstairs and made a call with the videophone on the lab while Duo had taken out his cellular and dialed the nearest hospital. After barking and nearly threatening the nurse on the other, Duo disconnected and shoved the cell phone back into his pocket. Calmly he approached the glass encased cube and pasted his trembling hand on the glass. "Heero..... " Duo choked, trying hard to maintain his calmness. He couldn't afford to break down now. Not when Heero's life was at stake. "You must live." Duo whispered. "...live and let me make everything up to you........ "
"Dr Philip will arrive within half an hour, Dad." Solo shouted as he walked down the stairs.
Duo nodded slightly, eyes still on the frozen boy. However when the boy wanted to approach him, Duo held up one hand. "I'll stay here. You better go wait for him outside, Solo."
".......... Okay..." With that Solo turned away and went upstairs.
Duo heard his son's footsteps fading before focusing back to the ice cube in front of him. From the humming around the room, Duo knew the ice was melting. He would have to retrieve Heero out of the ice before it melted totally. Whoever did these horrible things to Heero would pay. They would pay it dearly.
Dr. Philip arrived twenty minutes later and saw Solo waiting for him in front of the laboratory. "Solo, what's up?"
"It's an emergency, Doc. Come, follow me." Solo spoke as he walked into the lab.
Dr. Philip followed Solo to the main room as the boy explained what happened. "We found a secret room and you won't believe what we saw in there."
"What did you see?" The doctor tightened his grip on his medical bag.
"I saw a bleeding boy around my age, frozen in a giant ice cube, Doc. He has the same face as mine, so I think he is Heero Yuy. Dad often told me about him. Someone must have frozen him since he was bleeding all over."
Unknown to Solo, behind him Dr. Philip became pale. His steps faltered as he followed Solo to the revealed secret room and stepped down the stairs.
"Right in time," Duo exclaimed as he lifted the bleeding boy from the melting ice cube. "He has started bleeding again! Doc, you must help him. He has to live!"
"I'll.... I'll try." The doctor knelt shakily on the floor next to where Duo lowered the bleeding boy. "He has lost a lot of blood. I need to give him blood transfusion while I patch up his midsection."
"Take mine, my blood is O." Duo said quickly. The doctor nodded and took out the equipment he needed. "Solo, help me with connecting these between your father and Heero. I have to work fast to stop his bleeding."
Solo quickly took the equipment and worked on his father who had shed his jacket and looked at him in astonishment. "You know how to do it, Solo?"
"I once helped him tend a patient when I visited him." Solo answered.
For once, Duo felt grateful that his son liked visiting the doctor. During fifteen years since Hilde's pregnancy, the man had become their family doctor and was kind to Solo. Duo looked at the doctor who was busy bandaging Heero's wounds. The doctor was good at his job. He could see exactly where the wounds were, even though they were covered in blood. As Solo finished connecting both of them and the blood started flowing to Heero, the doctor started patching up the gap in Heero's midsection.
Duo stayed silent during the process, not wanting to disturb the doctor's concentration. Not wanting to look into Heero's stomach for the second time, Duo turned his gaze to his face. Those once Prussian blue eyes were closed and his face was so pale and lifeless. Duo felt himself tremble as he realized he could lose Heero anytime. Forgetting about his son's presence, he reached for Heero's hand and twined their fingers, gripping it tightly.
No! He wouldn't let Heero disappear again. After fifteen years of loneliness and desperation, he finally found Heero. He wouldn't let Heero slip away in front of him. He would do anything to save Heero's life. With the determination, Duo turned to Dr. Philip and saw that the man had finished. "How is he?"
"Thankfully the bleeding has stopped." The doctor answered him while at the same time wiping the remainder of the blood from the Japanese boy. "His condition seems stable, but I can't surely state he is out of the danger yet. I need to examine him more thoroughly in the hospital."
"I've called the ambulance. It will arrive soon." Duo then turned to his son. "Wait for the ambulance outside, kay?"
At Solo's nod, Duo turned his attention back to Heero, not realizing that his son glanced at their joined hands curiously before leaving the room. After Solo went out, Duo stared straight at the doctor. "Use whatever medications that are needed for him, I don't care about the price. I want him alive, Doc. I won't accept any failure on this one, you hear me?"
The doctor gulped and nodded.
Satisfied, Duo looked back at the Japanese boy. Now that Heero was clean of blood, Duo could see he was still the same Heero as the last time he saw him. Duo had grown up in a few years after the war and now Heero looked so small to him, just like his son. Heero didn't age during these fifteen years since Dr. J literally stopped his time by freezing him. Heero looked so fragile and vulnerable like this. Noticing that Heero was still naked, Duo put his jacket on him. That was when noticed bruises on Heero's cheeks and stomach and also the bandages on his arm and thighs. "Was he raped, Doc?"
"What?!" The doctor was surprised but he quickly answered when he saw Duo's face darken. "No, no, he wasn't raped. All were external injuries."
Duo was slightly relieved at that fact. He couldn't bear it if Heero had been raped. He would never be able to forgive himself if that had happened. "Tell me what weapon was used to injure him then."
The white bearded man looked hesitant before telling him. "...... gun shots on arm and thighs and sharp weapon like knife on the stomach...."
Duo tensed and his face turned cold at hearing the words. Gun shots. Someone dared to hit and shoot his Heero, thus causing him to live without Heero for fifteen years! Oh the person who had hurt Heero would surely regret it. His violet eyes blazed with fury as he thought about what he would do once he got Heero's attackers in his hands. He was lost in his thoughts and missed the fear in the white bearded man's eyes near him.