by girl starfish
Wufei groaned and buried his head in his pillow. He should have known better than to drink so much last night. He should have known better than to drink at all--But Duo--
Duo had been gone for five days. And worse, Heero was with him. Wufei was beginning to think he'd been mistaken in assuming their relationship was temporary. Distressingly, Trowa seemed certain it wasn't, telling the blond who'd appeared rather inexplicably as Trowa's second shadow, at great length why he thought Heero and Duo were a couple. Wufei had drunk a bit more than usual, switching drinks with Trowa, in order to try to reassure himself, a tactic which had rather notably failed. He now had not only no guarantee that Duo was even interested in him, and a ringing head---
Wait a minute, that wasn't his head. It was the wall phone.
Wufei stumbled out of bed and managed to thump the wall panel.
"Have you heard from Howard?"
Wufei winced. Trust Trowa to go on a drinking expedition and still wake up early the next morning in time to make horribly loud calls to people. "No. Why?" Faint hope clutched at him, even through his hung-over state. "Has there been news?"
"Not the kind we've been hoping for. Something's wrong. I passed a man in a Sweeper's uniform this morning and I swear I've never seen him before."
"So? Maybe you made a mistake."
"I didn't. He walked right in front of me, and I was expecting him to say something to me--you know all the Sweeper's do--so when he didn't, I noticed. And that's not all."
Wufei's sarcasm went unnoticed.
"Quatre recognised him--as one of the men who was chasing him."
"Why was Quatre being chased?" Wufei asked.
"That's not important now. Only, Howard and the others aren't letting anyone inside the fort, and aren't answering their calls."
"Maybe they went out last night and want to sleep in," Wufei suggested, rubbing his head.
"Quatre and I are going to come over," Trowa said. "I think we should investigate this."
"Great," Wufei said as Trowa, taking silence for approval, hung up.
He mulled the situation over and decided the best course of action would be to go back to bed, and face the situation when his head no longer felt like it was housing an Ozzy Osbourne concert.
/ My eyes dilate, my lips go green
My hands are greasy
She's a mean, mean machine
Start it up /
I blinked, wincing at the light in front of me, blindingly bright.
Where was I?
My head felt strangely light, my thoughts somehow weightless--I would have thought I dreamed still if not for the harsh glare of the light. The pain was only too real. I shielded my eyes with a hand-- for some reason that brought back a faint memory.
For some reason not so long ago I'd been restricted--what had changed?
I tried out the rest of my limbs--none of them seemed to be tied back. Apart from a stiffness in my limbs and a slight dizziness when I sat up, I seemed to be fine. Sitting up I made two further discoveries. One, I had been draped in a sheet--my sitting up had dislodged it. The other-- an addition of some importance had been made to my hardware.
"Duo," I said immediately, as memories came rushing back. We'd gone to get help from a man who was disturbingly like J, and then--
Looking around I recognised I was in the room I remembered as G's workroom. I was alone, if you didn't count the humming camera bots crawling over the walls and through the corridors outside. Duo had explained them by saying that G was so paranoid he spied on himself, for which the scientist had pulled on his braid. That had been shortly before I'd been placed on the operating table--
I decided to locate Duo and discover from what had transpired while I was unconscious.
I kicked the sheet out of the way and startled several camera bots out of their set routes as I set off down the dimly lit corridor. I could smell a faintly burnt odour emanating from an open doorway and followed it, finding myself in a combined kitchen/ living space. While G scraped some sort of blackened substance from the bottom of a saucepan, Duo held up a small object up to the light.
"You sure this isn't anything important?"
"I'm sure," G said irritably. "Look, if it bothers you so much, why don't you take it apart it see what it-hello--"
"Heero!" Duo squeaked as he caught sight of me. "You're up! I mean-- oh god--"
G cackled. "Not quite!" he leered.
I looked from one to the other puzzled. What was so amusing and why had Duo gone red? "Is something wrong?"
"I think it's time to introduce the concept of modesty," Duo said, grabbing my hand and pulling me hastily out of the room. "Where's your sheet?"
"The workroom." I was rather bemused as Duo proceeded to wrap said sheet around my waist.
"Is something wrong with my parts?"
"No-- far as I can tell they're fine." Duo was still far from his usual hue.
"Then what is the purpose of the sheet?"
"You-- well, you know. You can't just walk around naked, Heero."
"Why not? I have no need for heat and apart from aesthetic purposes, I see no reason--"
"Don't you feel a bit weird? You know-- naked maybe?" Duo sighed. "I guess without parts you didn't have a reason for modesty."
"So this is related to my parts?" I guessed.
"Mostly. Genitalia isn't something most people want to display."
I felt offended. "My parts do not appeal to you?"
"No, no they do! That's the problem!"
If Duo got any redder I would have to fetch him a glass of water. "How is that a problem? I thought they were designed to attract you into having sex with me."
"You don't mince your words, do you?" Duo sighed. "Attract me, yes. Other people-- no."
This was starting to make sense. Duo had said that relationships where partners shared their bodies with each other were usually exclusive and I had definitely not wanted to share him with Wufei--so perhaps seeing my parts was something that should be reserved only for Duo? That conclusion worried me--had I accidentally broken some sort of relationship rule? Would Duo be disgusted with me?
"I'm sorry," I said. "I did not know."
"Course you didn't," Duo sighed, stroking my cheek. "I forget sometimes what a lot you never got taught."
"You're not mad at me?" I said hopefully.
Duo wrapped me in a kiss so tight it was all I could think about. When he broke apart I was panting. "Does that feel like I'm mad at you? Man, Heero, I've missed you so much!"
I smiled at him shyly. "I think my parts are working."
Duo stared at me, then looked down my sheet. "Oh, yeah-- they're working all right." He looked up at my face again, also somewhat nervous. "Ya wanna do something about that?"
I blushed. "Thorough testing should form a part of any new developments," I said to cover my embarrassment.
"I think I can arrange that," Duo took my hand again. "Follow me."
/Start me up
Give it all you got
You got to never, never, never stop
Start it up /
I sat on the mattress on the floor of what Duo termed 'G's "guest" room'--I did not want to know what kind of guests G expected--watching as Duo methodically chased the roving spy-cams out the door. There were a few of them and they seemed reluctant to go. Judging by the names Duo was calling their creator, he did not think this was accidental.
"Do you think you got all of them?" I asked as Duo came to sit next to me on the mattress and began digging through his bag.
"Nah, but my jammer should take care of anything else G's got stashed in here--it blocks all kinds of recording devices. So take that!" Duo flicked a switch triumphantly and set his invention aside.
"I'm sorry," I said, as Duo began setting candles up on the spaces surrounding the mattress.
"What for?" Duo asked absently.
"For causing this," I waved towards the closed door and the spiders behind it. "G is interested because he saw my parts, isn't he?"
"Now there is an unwelcome mental image--thanks a lot, Heero!" Duo grimaced. "Ewww!"
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Why? We have an adequate light source."
"It's not about lighting, it's about atmosphere. Romance." Duo finishbed with the candles.
"I do not see the point," I admitted. "This is a pre-copulation ritual?"
Duo threw the matches across the room. "No! This is not about sex! Well it is, but its not just about sex, dammit! I want this to be special, not just sex because we can--and look at this place! A mattress on a floor in a store-room, for Pete's sake!"
I was touched. "You're talking about love and not sex then?" I asked, pulling Duo towards me and kissing his forehead.
"Yes," he replied. "Couples often do things to show each other how much they appreciate each other. Flowers, chocolates, candle-lit dinners, dancing, the works." He sighed, looking up at me with a wry expression. "I managed the candle-lit part."
I kissed him soundly. "I like them. They are a nice touch."
"You haven't seen them yet." Duo pulled away from me to turn off the light at the door.
Myriad tiny flames jumped in the dark, pools of light dancing across the room. I was delighted.
"Very much." I stood, admiring the light way he stepped among the candles as he made his way back to the mattress. "Can I get rid of the sheet now?"
Duo smiled, alluring in the half light. "Be my guest."
/ (Start it up)
You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry /
My body was fairly humming, both from the sensations rushing through it, and from the effort of cataloguing them all. I didn't want to forget a bit of this--sure, there'd been moments of awkwardness when Duo had had to explain what you did with certain parts, but they were of no importance next to the reality of being with Duo.
I was pressing Duo into the mattress, wrapped in his arms as he tried to bring the two of us even closer together. He'd surrendered the dominant position to me, saying that he thought I should have control over how fast and far we went, given that I was the one whose parts we were testing, and so that I would not be overwhelmed by the whole experience. I found the suggestion more endearing than useful--I did not see what difference being in charge made. We'd been equals in the relationship so far, I wanted that to continue. Who was in charge of our sex-life didn't matter much to me, so long as there was more of it.
Duo seemed to think so too, gathering from the rather incoherent responses he made as we proceeded. I don't think anything could have made this experience better, than sharing it with Duo-- the fact that he'd chosen to wait to be able to share this with me made my heart fill with warmth--
I was Duo's equal, we were finally together, and I did not have to ask myself if I was worthy of him. This was the best moment of my life--
A beep sounded and a warning message flashed across on my internal sensors.
[Heart beat has exceeded appropriate levels indicative of rising stress. Suggest all activity is terminated and dormant mode activated to allow heart beat to return to normal.]
I did a quick scan of my internal components. Nothing seemed amiss. [Ignore] I commanded.
Duo thrust up against me, sending another wave of fire through me. I bent a desperate kiss to Duo's lips before resuming operations as they were before the interruption.
If anything, the feeling was growing. More and more intense until I felt that if it continued any longer, I would die-- and strangely, not in a bad way. Duo's movements against me were just as frantic, and I was forced to abandon all effort to catalogue this--
[Heart beat has continue to exceed recommended levels. System control has been instated, all activity will cease until heart beat returns to approved level.]
Shit, was all I had time to think before everything went black.
/ Ride like the wind at double speed
I'll take you places that you've never, never seen /
I opened my eyes.
First thing I noticed was that I was very cold. The second that the lights were on and Duo was swearing under his breath as he rummaged through his tool box. No--I was mistaken. He was inventing new swearwords. This could only indicate that Duo had used up all the words he knew--a feat that would take some time. I was concerned.
What had happened?
"Duo?" I said, hesitantly.
"Heero-- don't move-- you'll mess up the wiring."
I blinked looking down at my chest and realising that my chest plate was open, and most of my wiring strewn across the floor. That would explain the cold feeling. The rest though--
"Duo, why are my parts all over the floor?"
"Don't worry, I'll put them back later." Duo pulled from the tool box a few pointy looking objects that made my skin temperature drop a few more degrees. "You don't know if I brought the soldiering iron, do ya?"
I froze. "Do you really think that will be necessary?"
"I dunno. I can't see what the problem is, so I'm going to check your internal hardware first," Duo said with a shrug, waving about a dangerous looking device with nonchalance.
"Do you have too?" I didn't mean to sound so desperate and that-- it just happened.
"Don't worry, Heero, I know what I'm doing!" Duo flashed me a cheery grin. "I'm a born mechanic!"
"I don't think this is a hardware problem," I said quickly, as Duo spotted the aforementioned soldiering iron. "Before I ah--crashed-- this message came up on my internal sensors. System control took over command."
"System control?" Duo asked, leaning over to poke at my chest plates.
"That is correct," I said, wincing as his fingers touched a ticklish spot. "Duo, your fingers are cold."
"Sorry, honey, I'll see what I can do about that in a minute."
"What are you doing?" I asked as he opened up my interior control functions monitor.
"System control sounds like it would run your robotic parts so it's likely to be in here. Stop fussing, Heero, I know what I'm doing."
Only a superhuman grip on my self control stopped me from replying that I would like to see him lie quietly and not fuss while someone else rearranged his internal workings. Especially if said someone seemed entirely too enthusiastic about the whole process.
I was very relieved when Duo announced he'd found the problem.
"What is it?"
"There's a function here-- you're allowed partial control of your mechanical parts but they can be automatically overwritten by remote control or when you do anything that --goes against 'original programming?' What the hell?"
What the hell was right. "Duo, what are you looking at?"
"Shush, I'm reading," Duo replied absently.
I sighed. "Duo--"
"This is fascinating. It's like a bad sci-fi novel. You wouldn't believe what's in here--"
"Just tell me!"
"Oh, sorry, Heero. Let's see-- if you don't follow J's orders he can overwrite your command of your body and make you do them--he can control your brainwaves with another remote device--I guess that was the baby G and I removed--and controls your mechanical parts with this here-- Heero? You with me Heero? Heero--"
I came to, suddenly realising Duo had abandoned his inspection of my wiring to stroke my face worriedly. "I'm okay, you don't have to worry," I told him.
He smiled, kissing me on the forehead, making feel ashamed for even thinking of being nervous about entrusting him with my repairs. He loved me, he would not harm me.
"Good, you had me worried there. Did you hear--?"
"I heard. I want you to get rid of it."
"Turn it off!" Duo was staring at me--I don't think I'd ever yelled at him before. Truth was I was near panic. J had crossed the line before--but I would not be his puppet! "Please," I repeated in a softer tone.
"If you're sure," Duo turned back to my internal controls again.
It took him awhile. He had to overwrite a lot of complicated code some of which was password protected. I helped with the programming aspect and together we succeeded in giving full control of my body--organic and mechanical parts alike--to myself.
"You know," Duo said, as he carefully put my wiring back in place. "We haven't been giving J enough credit."
"What?" I said.
"I mean, yeah he's a cranky, pervy, selfish old bastard. And you would put a program in place that would cause you to crash just at that precise moment--"
I slipped my hand over Duo's. "Would you like to try it again?"
Duo laughed. "Do you even need to ask?"
/ Start it up
Love the day when we will never stop, never stop
Never stop, never stop /
Duo was engaged in kissing me passionately, and I was just as passionately engaged in trying to get his clothes off, when there was a thump at the door. A very persistent thump followed by more. Apparently J wasn't the only evil scientist with bad timing.
"What?" Duo demanded.
"I want the two of you out of here now!" G yelled back, on the other side of the door. "There are coppers crawling the downside and to be caught with J's precious prodigy is more than my life is worth!"
"You're going to turn us out knowing the coppers are looking for us?" While Duo reasoned with G I put my clothes on. I wasn't exactly the optimistic sort.
"Fine!" Duo was forced to yield eventually. "But if they catch us, I'll tell 'em you hid us."
"Don't get me started G," Duo said with a long suffering sigh. 'I know a lot more nasty words than you do, and I'm not afraid to use them either."
G cackled. "I'll bet you do. And you can use them all you like on the coppers. Now get! You too--" He leered as I passed him with Duo's toolbox.
I hurried after Duo. "What will we do?"
"It was about time we left," Duo said. "In fact if G throws us out now, it will be rather lucky--means I don't have to work on that laser for him."
"But the coppers--"
"We hid from them before, we can do as much again. Come on, Heero! I was born down here--I know this place better than any upside copper--it'll be as safe as hitching a ride on the underside of a shuttle.
"Um," I said not sure that the aforementioned pastime was really that safe. But the camera bot had arrived to lead us through the tunnels from G's laboratory and we followed.
/Tough me up
Never stop, never stop, never stop /
"See? See? And you thought we were in trouble!" Duo crowed happily.
I had to admit I was slightly startled to find ourselves back outside the Sweeper's fort without any mishap. Duo had managed to lead us through the downside avoiding all contact with copper patrols, thanks to his jamming device and extensive detours through an underground network of tunnels that Duo thought might once have been a train station. "I should trust you more."
"Yes you should," Duo said smugly.
I snorted as he led the way towards the Sweeper's fort. I was beginning to see why Wufei kept telling us we shouldn't encourage him--
Duo stopped suddenly.
"Is something--" I fell quiet as Duo put up a hand.
For a few long moments we stood in silence.
"It's too quiet," Duo said. "Far too quiet."
"You think something has happened?" I asked.
Duo shook his head. "This is Howard," he said, though whether to reassure himself or me I wasn't sure. "Nothing ever happens to Howard or the guys . . . he wouldn't let it."
"What do you think we should do?" I asked.
"You wait here. I'll go in and see what's going on--" Duo turned to leave me but a tug at his braid halted him.
"I'm not waiting. If anything has happened, I should be with you."
"Let me guess," Duo sighed. "Arguing with you won't help at all?"
"Not a bit," I said.
"Didn't think so." He quickly pecked my cheek and then turned around. "It's probably Howard taking dire revenge for me running off again--"
As we progressed inside the fort the feeling of wrongness increased. No one was around, no sound was heard.
"There has to be something to let us know what happened to them all," Duo said as we approached the main hall. The electronic doors sprang apart for us but Duo didn't step through them. "Howard would never leave the fort with the power running," he said. "Heero--be ready for anything."
I nodded and followed him into the hall. At first glance it was deserted. The light's were off, no sound came from the shadows--and Duo, in front of me, tensed.
"Heero-run!" Duo pushed me towards the doors. He was too late. A humming sound, and then before I knew what I was running from I was pulled backwards violently. There was a sharp metallic bang, and, when my head cleared, I found myself held fast to a huge magnet.
"Heero!" Duo was tugging ineffectively at my wrists, trying to free them.
"It's no use," a too familiar voice said coolly. "That magnet is powered by a considerable charge, it's beyond human strength to break it. It's even beyond Heero's strength."
"You-- bastard! Complete and utter bastard!" Duo growled, desperation in his face as he gave up his attempt to free me.
J smirked, signalling to someone out of sight. "Now, now--you don't want to insult me. Not when I have your friends captive."
The lights went on to reveal the Sweeper's, bound, most somewhat battered looking, and under the armed guard of the upside's law enforcement officers. Two more had moved to take the entrance as we spoke so we were now effectively trapped. I vainly tried to pull myself from the magnet but had the same success as Duo.
"Now that I have your attention," J continued, climbing down from the bridge with an officer beside him, "I suggest you surrender to us without any tricks."
Duo's face darkened. "I suggest you get a life you old--"
"Kid!" Howard interposed urgently. "Don't piss him off--please! He means business." Half of his face was swollen--it was clear what sort of business J meant.
"Please Duo--Don't put yourself in anymore danger," I whispered, just loud enough for him to hear.
Duo wavered but with a scowl held out his wrists to the officer.
J came over to stand at my side while this took place. "You've caused me a great deal of trouble Heero. My investors are not at all happy."
"And as usual my views on the situation count for nothing?" I scowled back, regretting that words were the only weapon I had at my disposal. Ironic, isn't it? I was fitted with enough weapons to level the enitre fort and could consciously use none of them.
"Now, Heero, you've been through a horrible ordeal, so I'm willing to cut you a little slack--"
"Don't patronise me," I spat at him. "I ran away of my own free will, to make my own life-- to get away from your control! You want me to be your machine-- and I refuse! And what's more, if you take me away now this won't solve anything." I felt calmer suddenly, stronger. J could not stop me, not if I was determined. "I can always run away again, you know-- and I will. I'm no longer your toy."
J studied me a long moment. "I see the rot has spread farther than I anticipated," He said at last. "Still, there is one method of treatment still left to us." He turned to the officer handcuffing Duo. "Give me your gun."
I laughed. "That won't work, J. I'm not afraid of you."
"Good," J adjusted his hold on the gun. "I expect no less from you, Heero. However, the method of treatment I had in mind was something different--doctors often recommend the best way to curb an unsatisfactory behavioural pattern is the removal of the source of the behaviour--" The gun was hefted and spun around to meet its target-- Duo. "Which in this case I take to be you."
My stomach dropped. J couldn't--how could he--
"Sir!" the officer protested. "He's unarmed--he surrendered to us."
"I believe I have jurisdiction over this manoeuvre," J replied just as calmly as before, letting the gun travel from Duo's pale face to his chest.
"But--" the officer hesitated still, turning towards a uniformed figure leaning against the bridge.
"All command over this operation belongs to J," the man said and I tugged at my wrists again. If I could get just one of them free--
"What-- no last words? You don't want to insult me again?" J smirked, nocking the gun. "This is your last chance after all--"
"Heero's right, you know," Duo said. "This won't work."
J's face blazed with anger. "Watch this, Heero," he said. "This is what will happen to every person who interferes with your mission."
And I watched, frozen with horror, as he shot Duo.
/ You, you, you make a grown man cry
You, you make a dead man cum
You, you make a dead man cum /
Note: Lyrics are the property of the Rolling Stones. Oh, and the last two lines are not in anyway indicative of what will happen to Duo, they just happen to be the last two lines of the song. Don't panic.