by Dyna Dee
Quatre nodded, pleased with Commander Reid and the doctor's agreement to Heero and Duo's concessions. Taking in a deep breath, he began to relate what he'd learned regarding the two, starting with the beginning of their friendship. "Heero and Duo have asked me to tell you what Duo previously related to me." He paused momentarily, glancing at the two. Duo's eyes were on him, looking unsure and apprehensive. Turning to judge Heero's current feelings, the young captain watched as Heero brought his hand up and began calmly stroking Duo's back in an effort to give comfort, obviously sensing his friend's unease at their past being told to yet another military official. The blond smiled in a reassuring manner to both boys as they put their faith in him to be their spokesman.
Turning to the older men, Quatre continued. "Duo and Heero encountered each other for what Heero believes is the second time about a year before being conscripted in the California Juvenile Detention Facility. Duo had been arrested for pick pocketing, auto theft and shoplifting, most of those had been past offenses that were tacked on when he was finally caught by law enforcement officers. Heero, as you know, was sentenced to the facility for illegally hacking into government files."
The commander nodded. This information he knew from the records that had arrived with the boys when they first came to the training facility.
"They first became aware of each other in the detention center's cafeteria. Amongst six hundred and eighty boys they sensed each other, or rather a feeling, an invisible, magnetic-like pull towards something neither of them understood at the time. Both were curious as to what they were experiencing, but Duo, being the outgoing one, sought out the source of what he felt to be a pull at his psyche. He followed the feeling as it grew and ebbed, walking around the room searching for a reason for it and ignoring the curious and venomous glares directed at him because of his close study of the other juvenile prisoners. Then the pull within himself grew stronger and he sensed he was close to whatever was causing the strange yearning sensation. That strong feeling brought him to stand behind another boy, one he didn't know or recognize, who was eating his meal at a table. Duo stood behind Heero for a moment and knew without a doubt that the boy in front of him was what he sought, though unsure as to why or what he should do. Then, without invitation, he sat down on the bench next to him, very much un-welcomed at his table.
Heero had also felt the "pull" though he didn't seek it out, but tried to analyze it. He came to realized while he was eating his lunch that it had been growing steadily stronger. He looked aside at Duo first with a warning when he sat down beside him and then with caution as he discovered that the boy who had unexpectedly sat down on the bench next to him was the cause of the odd feeling he'd been experiencing. When Duo's shoulder touched his, there was a jolt, a kind of physical and mental shock that they both experienced and one that seemed to somehow physically link them together. Duo explained to me that it felt like a connection was being made, like two currents of energy joining and an immediate sense of being coalesced. He told me that, for the first time in his life, he felt whole.
From that first touch, their..." He paused to come up with the right word to describe the need the two had to experience that feeling of wholeness they felt when they had physical contact and their need to feel that often. Really, there was only one word that summed it all up, "dependence on each other has grown. They slowly came to discover, especially as time wore on, that neither of them can be away from the other for a long period of time as the separation brings about a feeling of pain and discomfort. The slight pull they felt before that innocent first touch has over time has escalated into an overwhelming feeling of need and pain, much like a severe withdrawal from a dependent drug when they are apart."
"I've never heard of such a thing," the doctor interrupted, looking unhappy and skeptical. "Are you asking me to believe they are psychically connected? You want us to believe that this a physical or mental connection you're talking about?"
"Yes, and both types of connection, I think." Quatre answered, obviously still having a few unanswered questions of his own, then he continued. "Heero had earlier searched for his adoption records, and after his "connection" with Duo, his need to understand this unique phenomenon grew and led him to look into Duo's past also. A search of the closed public records showed that neither Heero nor Duo had any information that mentioned a mother or father. They both were brought into the same social services agency in California at the age of seven months and that's when their life on paper officially begins."
Pausing for a moment, the blond captain took a breath before getting to the crux of the matter. "Once Heero began to see some similarities in their pasts, his curiosity led him to delve deeper in investigating their origins. He discovered an article in a Miami newspaper of a police raid on a genetics lab off the shores of Florida just shortly before they made their appearance in the government's records. After the initial reports of the arrest of top genetic scientists were made, the case was hushed up, leading Heero to suspect it had been a covert Federal Program that had mistakenly been raided.
From the detention center, Heero instructed his adopted father on how to search the net and break into government files with the purpose of looking for information on classified experiments conducted by the government during the year of their birth. His father's networking and connections led to a secured file within the Miami Police records which reported an investigation that had began after the death of a young woman who had months earlier filed a complaint against a supposed operation and detailed a subsequent raid on a suspicious lab located on the small island in an area called the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida. The woman told the police of a science laboratory and living quarters located under a crumbled ruin called Fort Jefferson. Police were to learn later that a handful of scientists with expertise in the field genetics were gathered from around the world by the Federation Defense Department to do research and perform experiments with the objective of altering the genetic code in fetuses in order to engineer the optimal soldiers of the future."
Quatre paused a moment to let his listeners absorb the amount of information he was giving them, seeing shock displayed in both the doctor's and commander's eyes. He continued, keeping his voice as calm as his demeanor. "The report which Professor Yuy found was highly classified. It stated that there were several areas of study that went on at this secret facility that was apparently government funded and operated with a cloak of secrecy that hid its controversial work from not only the public, but other government officials.
But the complaint lodged by a young Floridian woman, who reported to the police that she had been paid to be the carrier of twin babies at this secret institution, began to unravel what had been going on. The woman reported that after giving birth by cesarean section, she was treated, allowed to recover and then was promptly escorted to the mainland, her babies, which she never saw much less held, were left in the care of the questionable research group in exchange for a great deal of money deposited in her bank account.
Apparently the money did noting to appease her conscience. She waited a month before she went to the police and detailed to the investigator that the two children in her womb had been genetically altered and operated on while gestating inside of her. She definitely had second thoughts about her decision to leave the babies with scientists who were going to do further tests on them and wanted to see if the police would help her retrieve them. Her children, she confessed, were not genetically hers, she was not the maternal mother of the two she carried, but that she had served as a surrogate.
Her report was taken by a skeptical investigator who clearly didn't believe her. The report would have died in the files but came to the forefront of a new investigation when that same young woman was later found dead of a suspicious drug overdose. Her suspected murder led police investigators down a long, convoluted trail of leads that brought them to investigate the island and the activities going on there and to a subsequent raid.
The report filed after the raid, posted by police investigators, stated that they had found several young women who had been hired by the researchers from out of Florida's social welfare program. From interviews and some information gathered from the raid, the police found that all of the women hired by the scientists were young, single, healthy and desperate for money. Each young woman was interviewed and given a physical by the research doctors, and after she signed a contract for consent, they paid her for her unfertilized eggs. The eggs were harvested and then fertilized artificially with genetically engineered sperm. Another young woman, typically from the same background, was then hired at an exorbitant fee to carry one or two fetuses to full term while residing at the research facility. During gestation, the developing fetus's genetics were again manipulated and stimulated to form a child the scientists felt the military could use in its later years. When the child or children were successfully birthed, the surrogate mother was sent away as soon as possible, her pay for services rendered was deposited in her bank account."
Quatre took a deep breath and continued, aware of the disturbed looks on the faces of the two men and knowing that what they were feeling was exactly how he felt when he'd first learned of Heero and Duo's unbelievable beginnings, brought about by misguided men playing god. "There were several experiments in progress at the time of the raid, and some that were on-going. Heero believes that he and Duo were both products of this experimentation. They were both six months old when the raid occurred, and apparently, once it was determined that the government was involved, the Miami police were asked to step back and let the United Federation Security Force step in to investigate. The welfare and future of the infants were in the hands of the government.
Finding babies as test subjects must have disturbed all of the investigators involved in the case, and they most likely found that, in good conscience, they couldn't destroy the experiments that also happened to appear to be happy and healthy children.
Heero also theorizes that he and Duo might have been womb mates, though it's obvious they don't share the same ancestry. He believes this may be part of the reason they have this connection between them, though he knows through his hacking that the in-womb experimentation is more likely to be the true reason. There's no way to know for sure as the scientist managed to destroy a good part of the files pertaining to the identity of the egg and sperm donors and the surrogates. Also destroyed were the files of lab procedures, records of their blood work, and information that could lead police to more witnesses when the police landed on the island.
Heero did learn that the children, who were clinically cared for and treated like experiments, were given numbers instead of names for the purpose of identification and to keep the scientists from becoming too attached to their test subjects. He also found on one of the few confiscated records taken from the lab, that two children, whom he believes were Duo and himself, were selected for specific experiments and tests to form a perfect team, engineered to work together, in tandem, to achieve their objective.
During their gestation in the womb, the doctors performed laparoscopic surgery and opened the soft skulls of the forming fetuses and removed small pieces of their developing brain matter. After manipulating it, they replaced it into the other fetuses' brain tissue. Heero believes this is the main reason for their connection and their reliance on each other's presence as well as their differences in personality and temperament. The scientists evidently succeeded in achieving their goal of linking two unique individuals together as a team even before they were born. Had they not been rescued in the raid, Heero and Duo would move likely have been raised to be trained soldiers, working as one to achieve whatever task they were appointed to by the government that owned them."
Quatre stopped for a moment and saw that the doctor and commander were listening with rapt attention to his every word. With a nod from the commander, he continued with the unbelievable history of the two boys remaining silent on the bed. "Once seized by the police and then turned over to the Federation's security force, government officials debated as to what they should do with the infants, of which there were a dozen that remained alive. To all appearances, they seemed like normal, healthy babies. It was decided to place all of them in the care of the Social Services Agency from which they were put into foster homes and were made available for adoption. It was then that problems arose."
Quatre's eyes turned to the two sitting shoulder to shoulder. "Heero obtained and read the earliest records regarding his well being as an infant. The social worker's report stated that he was a quiet toddler, focused on tasks at even a tender age. He was tested and found to be extremely intelligent and was quickly adopted by Professor Jay Yuy and his wife Yoioko. Though he was a morose, withdrawn and apparently unsmiling baby, he thrived in his new home with parents who loved him and kept him busy with stimulating activities geared towards accelerating the mental and intellectual growth of an exceptional child."
The blond's eyes turned to the long haired boy and gave him a somewhat sad and sympathetic smile. "Duo's sealed records from foster parents were also illegally obtained by Heero and his father. They showed that he'd come to a much different life than what Heero had experienced. After his first placement in a foster home at ten months old, Duo was reported to be unbearably miserable, crying day and night. The foster parents struggled to cope with his incessant state of fussiness for only a month before he was returned to the agency. From there it was a continuous series of short-termed placement homes he was shifted to, plus numerous visits to various doctors to determine the reason for his miserable state. Of course no one could diagnose that the real reason he was continuously fussy was that he was missing something and he didn't understand or know how to articulate what he was feeling. Heero now believes that Duo missed his bonded brother."
Dr. Harrigan halted Quatre's narrative with a raised hand. "So you're telling us that these two boys share a part of the other's brain and that is why they need to be together? That they formed some sort of link in the womb and missed each other after being separated. Even in their toddler years?" he asked, astonished at the science fiction type story they were being told and needing clarification to sort it all out in his head.
"Heero?" Quatre alluded to the stoic boy to answer.
"There wasn't enough information to find out exactly why we feel connect or the severe pain we experience when we're separated or the great sense of emptiness inside that fills us when we don't connect, but evidently there were quite a few experiments performed on us while still in the womb to make the two of us act as one and making us dependent on each other," he replied. He looked aside to Duo and with a nod, signaled for the other boy to continue.
"If you knew us better," the long haired boy began in a somber tone of voice that seemed out of character for him, "you'd see the two of us as opposites. Heero tells me he thinks with the left side of his brain and I think with my right. I'm outgoing and creative, he's socially backwards and analyzes everything to death." He rolled his eyes to show how exasperating that trait was to him. "I'm the optimist and he's the pessimist. He's a typical anal retentive and I'm told I have a...a Peter Pan complex." He stopped only to give an amused smile to his stoic looking friend. "We're two separate people, opposite enough that if you put the both of us together we'd be one normal kid. Heero thinks we're designed that way so that we can use each other's strength or counter any weakness we might have as we work together."
"And as you've witnessed," Quatre spoke up again. "When they are separated for as long as they were the night Heero was placed in the brig, it becomes unbearably painful, and Duo seems to feel the effects more sharply of the two. Heero says that the link between them began from the moment Duo first touched him in the detention center, and it's becoming stronger and increasingly more difficult as time has passed for them to be apart for longer periods of time. As they grow older, according to Heero's study of their relationship, he predicts that they will become more and more dependant on each other and separation for any amount of time will be nearly impossible; they will eventually become inseparable."
Both the doctor and the commander showed shock and abhorrence at the information presented to them.
"How can you lead a normal life, have jobs, wives and children when you can't be separated from each other?" the doctor asked, trying to regain some of his professional decorum.
Heero looked pointedly at the doctor as he answered his question. "We were engineered to have none of those things. Remember, the scientists were designing children as future weapons. However, since their experiments were halted before they were finished, Duo and I are left to figure out on our own what was done to us and we're basically working in the dark, trying to understand this bond between us that is still very much a mystery. The chances that we even found each other are beyond my calculating. But we will survive and live a normal life, despite our differences from everyone else. We have the same desires and needs as most people: the need for acceptance, love and productive work." The firm tone of his voice told them of his determination to make his statement a fact. "We will work as one in a chosen vocation and perform whatever task is needed. As for wives," he paused, taking a wary glance at the commander, "there will be none. The experimentation included changes in our physiology to ensure that we would be mates for life. We were also made sterile."
"Mates?" the commander questioned, his thick eyebrows lowering as he speculated as to what Mr. Yuy meant.
Both boys turned their eyes to the man who ultimately held their futures in his hands. Heero simply clarified his statement. "Life mates."
"Body and soul," Duo added, a faint blush rising on his rounded cheeks.
"I see," the uniformed man answered, obviously none too happy at that piece of news. "Are you presently active in any form of sexual activity?"
"We are not mature enough, nor physically or emotionally ready to move into that aspect of our bonding." Heero replied in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, sounding much more mature than any boy his age should be. "We have agreed to remain celibate until we are sixteen years old."
"You're certain you can wait?" The doctor looked pessimistic.
Duo nodded. "If Heero says sixteen, then that means then and not any sooner. Besides," he wrinkled his pert nose with apparent disgust, "Heero's explained it to me and I think it sounds ... gross. Someone sticking their dick into.."
"Enough!" The commander interrupted quickly before the boy could finish his description while the doctor frowned deeply "If what you've told me is true, then it's imperative that you two stay together as much as possible to avoid yesterday's affliction."
Both boys nodded, looking grim.
Quatre spoke up next. "And what Heero said about not being able to advance without Duo is literally true. They can't be separated by different barracks or ranks for a long period of time."
"What if one of you is injured, incapacitated or killed?" The commander asked thoughtfully, his hand stroking his cleanly shaved chin.
"I am able to function alone for a period of time as long as I connect with Duo immediately after." Heero offered. "But our bond is changing, evolving, and though there is now data to support it, I have an idea that there are even more changes in store for us. I might, in the future, be able to tell if he's injured or sick. I've never experienced him being unconscious so I'm not sure if I'll be able to function satisfactorily or not if that happens. There is no proof as to what will happen if one of us is killed, but the stronger our bond becomes, our dependence on each other grows. After the reaction we both had at this last separation, I have little doubt that if I should die, that Duo will also, if not immediately, then shortly after."
"What about the reverse?" Commander Reid asked thoughtfully. "If Duo were to die now, before your bond grows stronger, would you survive?"
Duo gasped and turned in alarm to clutch at the sleeve of Heero's undershirt. Quatre and the doctor looked to the base commander in shock, understanding where his train of thought was going, as did the two on the bed.
Heero's arms encircled Duo's body protectively, his eyes narrowed in dangerous warning to his commander. "No one and nothing will bring harm to Duo," his voice was as cold and threatening as a steel blade. "If Duo should be killed now, I would live only to exact revenge, then I would follow him. We are one!" he said coldly emphatic.
The commander put up his hands to appease the boy. "Just a question, no need for the barely veiled threats, Mr. Yuy." Yet the other four knew the truth. The commander had wondered if Heero could be emancipated from Duo, who he judged to be somewhat weaker and less brilliant than the training facilities most promising trainee, thus freeing Heero to work independently and further his apparently bright military career. Would he have acted on the knowledge if indeed Heero could survive his mental and physical severance from his friend? Quatre silently prayed that it would never come to that, believing his commander to have more honor than to commit such a heinous act on the boy with the angelic face and long braid.
"Are we safe here anymore, Heero?" Duo whispered in a voice laced with fear, his face turned away from the other three in the room and pressed against Heero's shoulder, seeking the reassurance the other boy's strength always gave him while asking the question the doctor and Quatre were silently asking themselves.
Heero's eyes never wavered from the commander's face as his hand soothingly stroked Duo's braid in an effort to reassure the boy pressed up against him.
"You are safe here," the commander answered firmly, having heard Duo's softly spoken question. "Neither of you will be put in any undue danger or caused any harmed. I already promised you that what I learned today would not be used against you and I pledge it to you again."
Heero felt some of the tension ease out of his companion's body and felt Duo's head tilt up for a visual confirmation from him. Heero had watched the commander's demeanor and eyes as he reiterated his promise, and he came to the conclusion that the man spoke truthfully. Looking down at his companion when Duo pulled away slightly so that his large, trusting eyes met his own, Heero nodded. "We're safe," he told him. "No one will harm you, Duo. I promise."
A small, fragile smile appeared on the braided boy's face and he moved his body back to assume his position at Heero's side. Raising his eyes to the commander once again, his smile faded. It was clear his faith in the man had been shaken.
The man that commanded the training school ignored it. "If you can't be separated, then we need to continue with a compromise in your training schedule," he stated. "How close is Duo to moving up to the next level?" He turned and questioned the blond captain.
Quatre quickly responded. "His academics still need improving, but he is doing very well and his scores on the lapdesk games are extremely high. He even managed to beat Wufei."
The commander's eyebrows rose in honest appreciation of that fact. "Not an easy feat," he stated, obviously approving of the news.
"No shit!" Duo smiled once again, then winced and frowned at his companion as Heero elbowed his side.
"Watch your language," the more serious boy growled.
Duo nodded and looked up sheepishly at the others. "Sorry," he muttered.
Quatre cleared his throat to get everyone's attention, then continued. "There are a few other cadets that are probably closer to advancing than Duo in academic scores and there may be some resentment if he should be advanced before them without an explanation as to why he was promoted and they weren't."
"Advance the top two with Duo," Heero suggested. "If there is any backlash, he won't be singled out."
Quatre nodded in approval of the suggestion. "That could work. I do think, however, that they will be the object of jealousy and resentment in the ranks of the Yellows. Some of the trainees there spent four or five years in Red before advancing to Yellow, and to have a handful of Reds be pushed through as quickly as you, Heero, as well as the other three is bound to have an effect them."
"I'll guard them," Heero stated simply. "The Yellows know what I'm capable of and they leave me alone. Put us in the same Unit and I can keep an eye on all of them at the same time."
"You can't be there all the time, Yuy," the commander spoke up, voicing his concern. "As you advance to Green, I would imagine that, in order for you to be with Mr. Maxwell, your routine will need to be similar to how it is now. You will spend the morning in classes with your Yellow Unit and, in the afternoon, you will be attending training with the Greens in the mobile suits. We can arrange once again for you to return and dine with the Yellows and attend the on-going evening classes on tactical strategy. After a month of training on the simulators, if their scores are acceptable, Duo and the others will be allowed to attend the evening class also."
"Then we'll only be separated for a few hours?" Duo asked, his eyes sparkling with anticipation.
At a nod from the commander, the braided boy looked to his friend with a brightening smile and an excited look in his eyes. "I can do it Heero, I promise. I'll do well with the Sims and advance as soon as I can."
Heero nodded at the boy sitting at his side and his eyes sparkled, reflecting the optimistic excitement Duo was displaying. "That sounds like a good plan," he said, agreeing for the both of them to the outlined plan.
Then looking back to the commander, Heero sobered as he delivered the next bit of information, thinking that he might as well broach the delicate subject as long as they were discussing their future. "There will come a time when Duo and I will require a private room," he stated in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. "We will need to reconnect our bond at night just as we did last night. I'm aware of the rules and don't wish to appear to flaunt them if anyone should discover Duo or I in each other's bed. They won't understand why we have the need to be close, why we need to touch each other in order to connect, and they might take it the wrong way," he explained.
"The Greens have semi-private quarters," Quatre informed the two. "If you can advance to that point together, then your sharing quarters shouldn't arouse any suspicion."
Heero exchanged a look with the violet-eyed boy at his side, his expression telling the slightly smaller boy it was his duty to make that advancement happen in order to bring about the soon-to-be necessary shared accommodations.
Duo nodded, his face grave as he understood what was expected of him.
"Very well," the commander straightened his jacket's sleeves with a quick tug at the cuffs. "We seem to have come to an understanding and agreement. Captain Winner," he addressed the blond teen again. "I'll want the names of the two boys to be advanced to Yellow on my desk within the hour. We'll closely observe the transition of the three plus Mr. Yuy into Yellow into their new barracks." With a nod of satisfaction, the imposing man then turned to the doctor. "Are they ready to return to their Units?"
The doctor studied the two boys carefully. "I'd feel much better if they each spent the day here. I want to research in more detail their medical history that Mr. Yuy found and see if we can gain access to the files he spoke of."
The commander nodded. "As you wish, doctor." He then turned slightly and re-addressed the young captain. "Tomorrow at six a.m. they will rejoin their Red Unit and continue with their schedule while awaiting further orders."
"Yes sir," Quatre answered crisply as the commander turned and promptly left the room.
After a few moments, and hearing the retreating footsteps grow more faint, the blond turned back to the sober looking faces of the two left on the bed. "Well, I think that went about as well as I could have wished," he said with a pleased smile on his face.
Heero nodded and Duo gave him a nervous smile. "Thank you, Quatre," the braided boy said softly.
"What's the matter, Duo?" the blond captain asked, seeing the usually smiling boy frown and a crease of worry forming between his eyes. Suddenly, Duo looked tired and worn out, and Quatre believed he had put on a good face for the commander when he still need to rest in order to recover from the painful day before and the anxious feelings he'd experienced during Quatre's telling of their pasts. "It went well, really," he assured Duo who was now leaning more heavily against Heero's side.
Duo nodded. "I know. It's just... well," he hesitated and looked from Heero to Quatre. "It's unsettling, knowing someone else knows your Achilles' heel. What we just told you guys was something we never told anyone other than Heero's Dad. We kinda trust him because he was outraged at what had been done to us, even though he couldn't accept me." With that admission, Duo's eyes lowered and his shoulders slumped with weariness. He continued in a small voice. "They wouldn't take Heero back because he wouldn't ...no," he quickly corrected himself, "he couldn't leave me behind in the detention center." He sighed deeply before continuing. "Ya see, they live in a very conservative, upper-class part of society and though they loved and cared for Heero, we were seen as an abomination, an embarrassment, a science experiment gone wrong." Raising his large, violet-shaded eyes that were glistening with extra moisture and his exhaustion accentuated by the dark circles beneath them, he looked into his young Captain's face to find it filled with sympathy. "We were only twelve," he choked out, fighting to hold back his surging emotions. "How can you be those things when you're only twelve?"
Heero turned slightly to put his arm around his upset friend. "I thought I told you not to worry about what others say," he told him in a softly chastising tone of voice. "We are what we are, and we'll prove them all wrong one day." He leaned his cheek against the soft brown hair at the top of Duo's head. "I guess they can't help being narrow minded and cruel, but we can't help what we were born to be either."
Duo nodded his head and sniffed back any unwanted tears against Heero's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Heero. You had a home and parents." He hiccupped loudly and closed his eyes.
"It couldn't have been that wonderful if they could turn away from me, from us like they did," Heero reasoned as he stroked his hand across Duo's shoulder. "This is our home now, Duo. We'll do well here if we can trust the commander not to retract his promises. We'll be together and we'll do well and have a future." He could feel Duo's head nod, just barely in agreement, then slowly the slight body resting against him seemed heavier and Duo's pattern of breathing became soft and even as he drifted into a relaxed state of sleep.
"Duo and I need some more sleep," Heero looked up and spoke to the two remaining people in the room. "Can I answer your questions later, doctor?"
"Very well," the man answered and lowered his clipboard of notes. "I'll come back after lunch.
"I need to get back to the Unit," Quatre said softly as Heero began to ease himself and his armful back down onto the bed. "I'll have Wufei or Trowa check on you regularly." He turned to leave but paused as he heard Heero softly say, "Thank you." With a satisfied smile, Quatre turned away from the two and continued his walk out of the sick bay, feeling a sense of relief at having shared the weighty secret he'd held to himself regarding the origin of the two friends with two adults who could help make the path in front of them a bit easier.