The Eyes Have It
by Dyna Dee
It's been a little over two weeks since that day in Paris and, though I constantly think about the puzzling conversation I had with that girl in the Louvre, my most irritating problem is that Ms. Preston is after me to cut my hair again as it's grown, a lot. For some reason she wants me to cut it really short, like it was at the hospital. I don't get it, there's no regulation haircut at the school. I'm going to stall as long as I can, just to be stubborn. After all, no one said I have to comply to her personal preferences for fashion.
She bought the "I must have been deprived of food at some point in my life" idea, as our last two sessions have dealt with that issue. She wanted to put me under, but I talked myself out of it, barely. This week I told her I was becoming obsessed with Medieval paintings and armor, the things I'd seen in the museum. I did really like a totally black armored suit I'd seen displayed in the Louvre. Truthfully, it reminds me of something.... I can't put my finger on it, but whatever it is I'm trying to remember, it feels important.
It's Tuesday, and classes are over for the day. I sigh as I approach my door, I've managed to make it through yet another day acting like the willing, perfectly obedient student. I think I'll change into my street clothes and take in a movie. Fishing into my pocket, I pull out my key-card to unlock my door, and with a click signifying the release of the lock, I turn the nob and enter the dark room. Tossing my backpack down on the floor, I reach for the light switch as the door shuts behind me. Before I reach it, I'm grabbed from behind. A feeling of terror envelopes me. Someone's been waiting for me, behind my bedroom door. A hand clamps firmly over my mouth and I struggle to break free. The vice-like grip is holding me tightly around my chest, the other hand has a hold of my head and mouth, holding me firmly against someone's solid chest. As much as I struggle, I can't seem to dislodge either hand and panic fills me.
"Shhh" the quiet command to be still sounds in my ear. "We're friends."
As if the words were magic, I immediately cease to struggle. How I've longed for those words, they are like a balm to my soul.
"If I let you go, do you promise not to cry out?" the person behind me whispers in my ear.
Now that I can hear his voice, which is deeper than mine, I realize that it has an odd effect on me, like hot chocolate warming me from the inside out on a cold day. I don't recognize the voice, but somehow, almost instinctively, I trust it, and my fear starts to slip away. I nod my head in reply. The hands are instantly gone, and the light switch clicks on.
I cautiously turn around to see that there are two of them. Two boys that look to be my age and are of similar size and build. I can feel an invisible aura of power that emanates from both of them. One is Japanese with shaggy brown hair, and the other Chinese with his hair pulled tightly back into a ponytail. From their eyes and stances, I can sense an intensity in them that I've not seen in the boys I go to school with, and that these two radiate a strong sense of purpose and determination. I study them both, and I'm sure that as I blink, that I resemble an owl as I can feel my eyes are wide with curiosity and maybe a little apprehension. "Do you know me?" I ask nervously as I see the both of them studying me with the same level of scrutiny as my study of them.
"Duo." The Japanese boy steps towards me and unexpectedly embraces me in a quick tight hug. "We thought we lost you." he whispers in my ear, a hint of emotion in his voice.
I stand frozen, not sure what to make out of all of this. Over his shoulder I see the Chinese boy watching me, I think for a reaction. I don't recognize his black eyes, nor the other's dark blue. There is an odd look on his face, like he is holding back some emotion.
The boy holding me steps back, releasing me. He's frowning as he searches my face. "You really don't remember me....us, do you?" he asks.
"No." I answer and see a slight hint of disappointment flicker over his almost expressionless features. "Can you tell me what you know about me? Who am I? Where I come from?" I can hear the pleading sound in my voice, a touch of desperation in it. At this very moment, I don't care. Damn my pride, these two could possibly have the answers to all my questions about myself.
The Japanese boy nods thoughtfully. "This is going to take some time," he begins. "and when we're through, you'll need to come to a decision. Do you need to be any where? Will you be missed if we stay here and talk?"
"No," I shake my head. "Just dinner in the cafeteria, but I doubt I'll be missed. I don't have any close friends." I told them honestly.
There is a surprised look on both boys' faces at my last statement. Then, the Japanese boy takes hold of my arm as if to lead me somewhere.
"Wait!" I call out and refuse to move, my feet are firmly planted to the spot on which I'm standing. The boy holding my arm turns to look at me with a slight trace of annoyance on his face. "What are your names?" I ask, with the hope that I'll recall the two in front of me if I have names to go with their faces.
"Heero..... Heero Yuy." The Japanese boys answers.
"Wufei." the Chinese boy says even as he makes a bow to me. The movement seems so formal. I study him for a moment as he slowly straightens up.
"Does that hurt?" I ask, just out of curiosity.
"What?" He looks surprised.
"Your hair." I reply. "It's pulled back so tightly, I just wondered if it hurts."
A small smile forms at the corner of his mouth and eyes. "No, it doesn't." he replies and I wonder what I said that was so amusing.
I allow..... Heero, such a different name, to lead me to my bed where we both sit on the edge. Wufei takes the chair from my desk and brings it closer to us and sits stiffly on it. I ease myself back onto the bed, kicking off my shoes so that I can bring my legs up and cross them Indian style, and turn slightly so I can see both of my "friends". There passes a few awkward moments of silence . I'm anxious to know about my past, but suddenly feel strangely fearful of the unknown.
Heero takes in a deep breath, maybe he is having a difficult time knowing where to start, or maybe what he has to say is difficult.
"You are Duo Maxwell." he states. "An orphan from the L-2 Colony. A Gundam pilot, one of five."
Well, I certainly, never in a million years, expected him to say that. I know of the Gundams from the newspapers and television. They're mobile suits made of gundanium sent from the colonies to oppose first, the Alliance, and now OZ, and they have wreaked havoc with the military installations on Earth. 'I'm the pilot of one of those?' I ask myself, disbelieving. I think I finally manage to blink, which seems to be the cue for Heero to continue.
"You were captured with another pilot, Quatre, and you were both put through an experimental procedure to reprogram you to civilian life. Through hacking into OZ and following account trails to the Winner Corporation files, I found that Quatre's father paid OZ an obscene amount of money to fund this program in order to reprogram his son to be the dutiful heir he's always wanted. Trowa, that's another pilot, he's following a lead on Quatre's whereabouts."
Heero pauses a moment and studies me. I think he's letting the information he's given me sink in and I can see a glint of hope flicker in his eyes that I'll remember something.
"Who has the blue/green eyes?" I ask.
He smiles at me. "Quatre. Do you remember him?"
I notice the other boy, Wufei, leaning forward, waiting for my answer.
"I see his face when I close my eyes. He's pleading with me to remember."
"That's good, Duo." Heero's words are like an encouraging pat on the back, and though he's reserved, I can tell there's an underlying emotion of excitement in him. "What else do you remember?"
I'd like to continue getting that verbal pat on the back, for some reason it's important to me to please the boy in front of me. "I...." I shrug and sigh. "Not much." I answer. "But, I'm curious. Why do I like the color black in my clothing, or eat so fast and hoard food? What am I missing back here." I reach behind me to touch the nape of my neck.
There is a wistful look in his eyes as he answers me. "Black is your favorite color, it's the predominate color of your Gundam, Deathscythe. You hoard food because you grew up on the streets of L-2 and you were always hungry." He paused as he looks at my hair. A sad look suddenly sweeps across his facial features. "Your hair," he says quietly. "you're missing your long braid?"
"How long?" I ask surprised, but now it makes sense.
He stands up from the edge of the bed and indicates the area just below his waist. "Your braid ended about here." he says softly, and his head turns to see my reaction.
I close my eyes and reach to the back of my neck. In my mind, I pull the long thick plait of hair forward and clasp it between my two hands. "I remember it." I whisper, emotion surprisingly in my voice and my head starts to ache. I think I've subconsciously missed it before, but now that I know exactly what I've been missing, there's a deep grief inside me at its loss.
My eyes open as I feel a firm grip on my shoulder that seems to transfer some strength to me from the boy named Heero. "It's alright, Duo. It will take time, but it'll grow back." I see empathy in his face, and maybe a touch of sorrow. He obviously knew that the braid was important to me. I wanted to know why it was important, but I'm not sure I can handle the emotions the topic seems to well up in me. These guys might know me, but I don't know them, and I'm not comfortable showing my emotions to strangers.
"Duo, what kind of name is that?" I change the subject. "Am I an American?" I feel some of the emotions calming within me at the change of topic.
Heero sits down on the bed again and begins to tell me of my life on L-2, of a boy who had been my protector on the streets. His name was Solo, and being his little side-kick, I was named Duo, because we were always together. I sensed there was more to the story, but Wufei interrupted.
"How did you know you were an American?" he asked quietly.
I turn my head to address his question, and still mentally wonder if pulling your hair back that tightly doesn't hurt. "Because I speak English like the American tourists, and I dream in that language."
"You're right." Heero smiles at me again and I realize he's speaking to me in English. "Do you remember any other language?" he asks.
I tell him what I've discovered about myself, about the different languages I didn't realized I knew until I'd heard them on the streets. Heero's eyes sparkled as he turned to exchange a warm smile and a look of hope with the other boy. Wufei, I notice, returned the expression.
We talked through the evening, taking turns at asking and answering questions, changing frequently from one language to another. I tell them of my life now, of my routine, and the visits to the psychiatrist every Wednesday along with my suspicions about Dr. Preston. During the course of our discussion, I realize that a feeling of familiarity is growing within me. I don't remember these two, but I feel an affinity for them, like I fit with them. It's a feeling I haven't had since I woke up in the hospital.
The dorms had long been quiet and I rubbed my eyes and looked at the clock, it's after two a.m.
"Duo." Wufei called my waning attention to him as I yawn deeply. He has asked only a few poignant questions during the evening, leaving most of it to Heero. "You need to come to a decision now that you know of your past." he says as his eyes scanned my room. "You have a peaceful, safe life here with the promise of an education and a real future." he remarked calmly, his ebony eyes return to me, intensely serious. "The life we lead as Gundam pilots has no such guarantee. We need you to fight with us, but we'll not force you." His gaze turns to Heero, silently asking for him to continue.
Heero nods and turns to me, there's a fierce intensity about him. "You must make the decision if you wish to stay here, probably being monitored by OZ to keep you docile and impotent in the war, or you can choose to come with us and back to piloting your Gundam. We'll help retrain you if your memory doesn't come back." he assures me. "Hopefully, you'll remember how to pilot, just as you remembered the languages you know. We can always hope that with familiarity your memory will return completely."
Reaching out, Heero placed his right hand on my left shoulder, as if lending support or comfort. I look up at him feeling worried about what he seems to be preparing me for.
"There's pain in your memories, Duo." He speaks softly. "It would be kinder if we left you in this state of ignorance, giving you back your innocence." He paused for just a moment, his eyes searching mine before he continued. "But in good conscience, I need to let you make the choice. You and I are....friends, partners. I would have you do the same for me if our positions were reversed."
I blink nervously, trying to take in all that this boy, this stranger, has been saying to me. What had he said, that we are "friends", "partners"? I could feel a link between us. There is power in this boy warrior and I feel myself instinctively drawn to it, to him. At this moment, after learning about my past from him, and his giving me the option to choose, I feel that I should follow him, wherever he will lead me. I mentally shake my head in amazement. How could a single person have such an affect on others. Or is it just me? But would following him be worth the pain and hard life they both alluded to? With my thoughts in turmoil, I raise my head and look pointedly at him. "What would you do, Heero?" I ask.
Seeing weariness in his eyes, Heero slowly takes a deep breath and closes them. He pauses before he speaks again. "I can't answer that fairly." He replies. "I was raised for war, to achieve the goal of peace through conquering my enemies, to follow orders." He raises his eyelids to look at me, his gaze is softer. "You weren't raised like that, though you have been a fierce fighter. I'm truthfully surprised that OZ didn't just kill you rather than take the risk that we could reclaim you. This is a choice that you will have to make. Just follow your heart and your head." he advised.
Having said that, Heero stops speaking and moving, and both he and Wufei wait patiently for me to come to a decision, most likely the biggest decision of my life. Despite this, I yawn and rub at my tired eyes. "Can I think about it for a while?" I ask and watch as the two exchange a communicating glance.
Heero nods. "We'll give you until dawn." He states. "If you decide to stay, we'll leave you to your new life. But if you choose to go with us, we'll leave after your appointment tomorrow afternoon so that you won't be missed for awhile, giving us a chance to leave France."
I nod my head, and we quickly decide on sleeping arrangements. Heero states that he will share my twin bed with me, and Wufei will use the spare blanket and pillow to sleep on the rug next to the bed. I sense the Japanese boy is use to giving orders and expecting them to be followed.
I agree, but only if I can have the outside edge of my bed. I don't want to feel trapped against the wall with Heero on the outside. For some reason the feeling of being cornered frightens me.
We settle into our respective places and soon I feel sleep overpowering me.
I awake suddenly and stiffen. It don't feel like I've been asleep long, but I do feel the arm that had come around me. Heero's pulling me up against him. My back to his chest. His arms hold me tightly, though not painfully so. I can feel his warm breath softly blowing against my neck, coming in slow, rhythmic patterns, telling me he's asleep. I realize there's no way I can free myself and not wake him, so I decide to let it go and try to go back to sleep. 'Did we always sleep like this?' I ask myself, confused by the actions of the other boy. 'What exactly is mine and Heero's relationship?' I wonder. I wasn't upset or repulsed by the close contact. Frankly, it was .....comforting.
I guess I finally managed to go back to sleep, because I woke again. This time it was Wufei's movements that awaken me. He is up and peering out through my curtains at the campus green below through the grey, predawn light. He turns and leaves the curtain slightly open, allowing the faint light into the room. I watch silently as he moves back to the blanket and sits. His hair is down from the tight ponytail, falling like flowing silk onto his shoulders. He raises his eyes and looks up, right into mine, and smiles reassuringly at me.
"He's hardly rested since you and Quatre disappeared." he whispers to me. "When we weren't on missions, he continuously scanned the Internet and OZ's systems trying to find you. OZ did very well at covering it's tracks concerning you and Quatre's disappearance. If it wasn't for your chance meeting with Relena, we might never have found you."
I nod and swallow nervously at him seeing me wrapped in Heero's arms. "Are we all this.... close?" I whisper back, making a notion to Heero's arms in front of me.
"We're each other's family now." he answers me solemnly. "We watch each others backs, patch each other's wounds, fight together, mourn together, and," he nodded at Heero's embrace, "we find comfort with each other. We can't trust anyone else, just each other."
I nod. It makes sense. From what I've read and been told, the Gundam pilots are, in effect, terrorists from the colonies, sent to wreak havoc with the Earth's military forces. Wanted and hunted by their enemies. Who else would you trust with your physical and emotional needs than each other?
Wufei stood and began to fold the blanket I'd given him just a few hours before. "We need to leave soon." he states. "Have you come to a decision?" He stops and looks expectantly at me.
I close my eyes to think. The arms around me are distracting, but I don't feel like I want them to ever let go. Heero obviously feels some affection for me. He has searched for me and took the chance of being caught to come and give me the choice to stay in my current life, or resume my old one.
"We're a family?" I ask, looking for a solid reason to make my decision.
"Yes." Wufei says quietly but firmly.
"I have no one in this new life except a psychiatrist, who obviously takes away any memories I regain." I sigh as I come to a decision I think I've known all along. "I'm going with you." I say out loud. It feels right now that I've said it, and immediately, I feel the arms around me tighten.
"I'm glad, Duo." Heero whispers into my ear.
"Easy fella." I gasp and tap on his arm. "You're about to crush me." I mildly complain.
Heero moves his hand, lessening the grip only to ruffle my messed up hair in a friendly manner.
"We need to go." Wufei says nodding towards the window and indicating the sky is lightening.
Heero sits up, letting me go completely and turns to me. "We'll meet you at the bus stop after your shrink's appointment."
Funny, now that his touch and warmth have been withdrawn from me, I feel strangely bereft. "I'm usually done at four o'clock." I tell him. "That is if she doesn't fill me with drugs, then it's closer to five."
Wufei frowns at me. "What kind of drugs?" He asks as he forces his hair back into its previous tight ponytail.
"The kind that make me forget." I answer him, then continue to explain. "I usually come up with some lame memory, so insignificant that it's not worth the cost of the drug to administer it. I've been avoiding it for several weeks now. I couldn't chance her learning about Blue Eyes, and taking that memory away from me."
"What will you say today?" Heero queried
"Hmm." I pause to think, unconsciously tapping my index finger against my cheek at thoughts go through my head. "I'll tell her that I've had a dream about falling, and tell her that I've wondered why I like boots instead of tennis shoes. That should keep her slightly busy." I smile mischievously.
Heero nods in approval. "We'll meet you then, one block south of her office at the bus stop. Just get on the bus and we'll meet you on the inside."
"Do I get to take anything with me?" I ask and see their questioning look. "My clothes?"
Heero sighs audibly, shaking his head with a trace of humor on his face. "If you pack a light bag now, we'll take it with us. You can't take the chance of someone getting suspicious because you're carrying a suitcase around." he explains.
I jump up from the bed and move to my closet. I open it and take out my four favorite shirts and pants, some underwear and socks, almost all black, of course. I'll wear another favorite outfit after school and leave my school uniform behind. Putting them all in the overnight bag I'd been given by Ms. Preston when she picked me up at the hospital and drove me to the school, I zipped it up and handed the slightly bulging bag to Heero with a sheepish grin, hoping he wouldn't object to the amount or weight.
Wufei cracks the door open and looks up and down the silent corridor. With a nod, he signals it's all clear.
Heero turns to me and quickly embraces me. "Be careful today." He admonishes me. "Don't do anything that may lead anyone to suspect that you're leaving."
I nod and watch them silently leave. The door shuts behind them and once again, I'm all alone. Wrapping my thin arms around myself, I try to recapture the warmth and feelings I felt only a few moments ago. I realize their leaving has caused an emptiness inside me. 'I just have to make it through one more day.' I tell myself. 'Then I'll never have to be alone again.' That thought gives me enough comfort that I can move, preparing for the day ahead of me.
Somehow, I made it through the day, going through the motions of a regular student, like I've always done. It's an odd feeling to realize my life here at school and all that I'd been told of my former life had all been a lie, and it leaves me feeling angry. I've accomplished very little here, like treading water in the middle of a large lake. But not having any close friends now has it's advantages, it will allow me to slip away unnoticed from a life I was never meant to live. After class, I put on my black jeans, teal t-shirt, boots, and black leather jacket. I take my wallet and put it in my jacket pocket, taking a last look around the room. I'm somewhat surprised that I'm feeling excited to leave this false life behind and move into the unknown on the word of two boys I didn't remember.
After a short bus ride from the school to Ms. Preston's offices, I find myself sitting in my usual chair across from her desk. She seems to be studying my every move today and I begin to feel nervous under her close scrutiny. I wonder anxiously if she notices the excitement I feel as I anticipate meeting my two friends.
"You seem off today, Michel. Have you remembered something?"
"Remembered?" I ask as innocently as I can. "No, nothing." I let a little irritation seep out. "Shouldn't I be remembering something?" I ask frowning. "I thought you were suppose to help me remember. Why can't I picture my parents?" Now agitation comes out and I can see it settles her suspicion on why I was acting different, that is if I was.
She sits back in her chair and crosses her legs and I notice her shoes and stockings perfectly match the solid navy blue pant suit she's wearing. She presses her two manicured index fingers against her painted lips as she looks at me like an object worthy of study.
"These things can't be rushed, Michael." she replies calmly. "You've been through a traumatic incident, and while your body has healed, the mind takes time."
I nod in agreement. "I know." I sigh. "But it's very frustrating not to remember anything."
"Have you discovered anything new about yourself?" she asks as she formally begins the session.
"Well...." I drawl, and then proceed to tell her all that I'd rehearsed with Heero. I tell her of my curiosity about boots, and make up the dream of falling and then decide to add a little drama to it. "I never hit the ground when I fall," I tell her, "but, it sure scares the shit outta me." My eyes widen as I see her's do also.
"I'm sorry." I gasp slapping my hand over my mouth. I don't usually swear, but that came out quite naturally. "Where did that come from?" I say embarrassed as I see her frowning at me.
Her eyes then narrow in suspicion. "You don't usually use profanity so freely Michel. Are you sure you haven't remembered anything new?"
Even as I shake my head I wonder if swearing is a part of the old me. "Some of the guys at school swear when the teachers aren't around. I guess I'm kinda susceptible. I'll be more careful. Sorry." I apologize sincerely. All of a sudden I felt a lot of curse words in my head, ready to be used. Was the real me coming to the surface?
Ms. Preston is studying me again. Her eyes look dubious. "It's been a while since I put you under." he says slowly. "Maybe we should see if I can help you remember something more." As she stands and moves toward the cabinet that holds the medication she uses on me in our sessions, my heart starts to race in my chest; panic starts to well in me. What if I spill my guts about my visitors and what I'm about to do?
"Ms. Preston." I call out hesitantly. "Can we do that on my next visit?" I ask hopefully.
She turns to look at me, suspicion still there in her eyes. "Why?"
I look at my watch and note the time, three forty-seven. I needed to hurry. "A couple of guys at school invited me to go to the cinema with them this afternoon." I explain, lying through my teeth, and continue when she turns around fully to face me. "The show starts at four thirty, and I don't want to stand them up or they might not ask me to go again."
She lifts her delicate wrist and glances at her own gold, expensive watch to confirm the time. I decide to push a little more to drive my cause home. "No one has ever asked me to do something with them, and I'd hate to blow it." I say, hoping I sound convincing.
She looks at me and I'm relieved when she smiles. "Really, Michel? That's wonderful." She looks sincerely happy for me. "It's about time you made some new friends." Coming to a decision she smiles again. "Alright, we'll wait until next week." she moves back to her chair and I feel a sense of relief surge through me.
"I would like you to write down any new feelings or impression you have this week." she tells me. "We'll see if we can't trigger something to help you remember your parents."
'What a liar.' I think to myself. I hate it when people are two-faced. They're the people you have to guard yourself from. They're dangerous.
"Ah...., can I go now?" I ask. "I need to catch the bus if I'm going to make the show." To my surprise, she opens the large drawer in her desk and pulls out her wallet. She hands me several bills. "Here." she presses the money into my hand. "Treat the guys to pizza after the show. That's bound to help in making some friends." I'm confused. She actually sounds and seems sincere. Maybe she isn't all bad.
I smile and take the money with my thanks and leave as quickly as possible. I race to the entrance and run down the street to catch the bus. I'm a little winded as I flop down on the bench. Ten minutes later, the bus arrives and I get on, dropping the correct change into the collecting container. At a quick glance down the nearly empty bus, I see Heero and Wufei sitting in separate seats across from each other by the back door and halfway down the length of the bus. I move awkwardly down the isle as the bus speeds up and moves into traffic to sit in the seat just in front of Heero. I give he and Wufei a nervous smile as I fall loosely down onto the bench and heave a sigh of relief.
"No problems?" Heero asks as he moves forward and his hand clasps my shoulder.
"None." I reply and feel the reassuring squeeze he gives me.
"Good." he replies and his hand releases me. I slump down and rest the back of my head on the top of the seat and sigh, the journey to the past and present have just begun.