by girl starfish
Hung over again?
Wufei groaned and buried his head in his pillow. When would he learn that this was a bad idea?
And he couldn't even blame Duo this time-- Duo had gone to sleep relatively early. He was safe, he'd seemed happy-- one might even venture to say that he was healing from recent events.
Wufei knew better.
He'd underestimated Duo once before and it had cost him the braided boy's affections. Now he thought he finally knew him, knew the depth of his emotions-- and why?
Because he'd watched Duo gift them to someone else. He was jealous, Wufei acknowledged it. He envied Heero, even given what had happened to him, what might be happening to him now. And there was the problem.
If Heero had been there Wufei would have accepted that he and Duo were together, with difficulty perhaps, but he would have accepted it.
But this, this not knowing was difficult. It was unlikely that Heero would return-- but would Duo see it like that?
Wufei doubted it. As long as Heero was alive, Duo would wait and hope. But if he wasn't? What then?
Wufei was acutely aware of the selfishness of his thoughts.
Duo needed his support right now, he needed attention and care and to know that he was not alone--
With that in mind, Wufei went downstairs. Aspirin was procured from Catherine, and stepping over unconscious Sweepers with care, Wufei began the preparation of a simple breakfast. Duo still wasn't recovered of course-- and taking place in the rescue hadn't helped.
He'd have killed himself if anything had happened to Duo because of his decision-- but what could he do? It had been so good to see him looking interested in anything again--
That's when Wufei made up his mind. They would get Heero back.
He carried the plate up to Duo carefully, already thinking of plans. They knew J's address-- it wasn't likely Heero would still be there but that would make a starting point--
His family had links with the other man involved, Treize Kushrenada. He'd once extended an invitation to Wufei to study at his school-- that could be a useful way into the organisation--
"Duo?" he said, pushing the door open. "I have breakfast for you-- and I--"
The room was empty. Wufei put the plate down. He had a bad feeling about this.
Trowa and Quatre were still asleep. Howard didn't remember seeing him since last night. Catherine went to check the other rooms while Wufei looked for Sally. The doctor was grumpy at being disturbed and lost no time in telling Wufei that Duo had not been so inconsiderate as to wake her up at some ungodly hour.
Wufei ignored the implied insult. Duo was gone. That was all that
I was not surprised when I drifted out of sleep to become aware of a warm presence next to me. I'd dreamed of this constantly for the last week or so, why should now be any different? Instead I slipped an arm around the body beside me, and cuddled closer.
A stray wisp of hair tickled my nose and I smiled. Duo--
I sighed. I missed him so much-- I would never see him again, it was useless to hope. I had no guarantee Wufei had got there in time--
Instead I rolled over onto one elbow, determined to enjoy this illusion while it lasted. Duo frowned as he burrowed into the empty spot I had left. I sighed as Duo relaxed under a gentle touch, marvelling at the warmth I felt, running a hand along his cheek.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered. "If I hadn't gone with you-- you would be fine now. J would have had no reason to shoot you-- Duo, I may have killed you--"
I gathered the dream Duo's hair and wept into it-- the realness of the hair against my face did not trouble me. My memories had always been vivid-- a spin off effect from my incredibly powerful computer memory.
I looked fondly at the sleeping face in front of me, tracing the outline of the familiar features with sadness. It was almost painful how beautiful Duo was, even in memories. I let out a sad exclamation of breath as my fingers ran over one smooth cheek-- wait--
There was a slight raised patch. I ran my fingers over it-- a scrape? But Duo hadn't--I lifted the sleeping Duo carefully. Now I could see there was quite a nasty cut on Duo's other cheek-- one that I knew Duo had not received while with me. There were other differences too-- his braid was not quite so neatly combed as usual, he'd lost weight.
Could this be--? I didn't know whether I was afraid that he was not real or feared that he was-- Holding my breath I gently separated the shirt Duo wore.
The pale chest was marred by a thick scar-- It was.
I choked. "Duo--"
"Mmph." Duo snuggled up to me. "Wanna sleep."
"Duo," I said, voice as firm as I could make it. "Wake up."
"---No," Duo said. "You may have got a full night's sleep, Heero, but I was climbing up this building for more time that I want to think about and I could do with some sleep, okay?"
Further argument was curtailed by Duo throwing an arm around me and resting his head on my chest. All this without waking up.
I smiled and drawing him closer, lay back down. There would be time for questions later, for now-- I would simply enjoy this miracle while it lasted.
About half an hour later Duo yawned, stretched, and promptly fell off the bed. "Ow . . . who put a floor there?" he complained, as he strove to untangle himself from the bedding he'd pulled with him.
I smirked. "Not exactly a morning person, are you?"
Duo gulped at me. "Heero! Heero-- I made it!"
Any answer I might have made to that was cut off by Duo enthusiastically throwing himself at me. It's somewhat hard to speak when there's another person hanging off your neck.
"I was so worried, I-- how are you, love? What has J been doing to you?"
"I'm fine. He's been attempting to overwrite what you and G did to me, but he's not having much luck. Whatever you did, you did it good-- he can't make me obey him."
"He can chain you to a wall though," Duo said unhappily.
"Forget that," I told him. "J has to do that because he can't control me any other way. I'm my own person now." I took his face in my hands and caught his eyes with mine. "I'm not afraid of him anymore. But I am afraid for you. He can still hurt you--"
"I'm not afraid of J either," Duo said, wrapping himself firmly around my arm.
"He can use you to hurt me," I said and I saw Duo pause. "I'm glad that you came but you must go, before J finds you."
"I'm not going anywhere," Duo said as I feared he would. "We're doing this together, no matter what."
"Duo," I growled. "Would you listen to reason for once?"
"I'm not going anywhere, Heero, so just give up and kiss me okay? We only have a limited amount of time before we're found and I'd rather spend it making out with you than yelling at you, mmm?"
He had a compelling argument.
Our kisses were somewhat frenzied, carrying out a check that all was indeed right with each other. We had barely enough time to ascertain we were more or less all right before I detected the sounds of J in the kitchen.
"J is awake," I said drawing away from Duo. "He will be here soon."
Duo pouted. "Again with the bad timing-- he just does it to annoy me, doesn't he?" He reluctantly straightened his clothes. "Got to make a good impression on the in-laws," he explained to my increased mystification.
Duo could do with some work on giving explanations.
A few minutes later J entered with my breakfast. "I don't know why I bother feeding you, for all your ingratitude. If you don't show some improvement soon--"
"Excuse me," Duo said, squeezing my hand surreptitiously. "I believe we ordered breakfast for two?"
J stared then pulled out his gun. "You! What are you doing here?"
"I came to check on Heero," Duo said coolly. "I've invested a lot of time into him, I don't want my hard work to go to waste."
I suppressed a shudder, keeping my demeanour as cool as Duo's. It disturbed me though to hear him speak of me as if I was a machine-- only the warm touch of his fingers on mine kept me calm.
"You're not telling me you're the one that made those changes," J laughed. "That's preposterous! You're practically a child, not to mention that I recognised some of the workmanship as that of a colleague of mine--"
"You mean G?" Duo stretched lazily.
"How do you know of him?" J snapped. "Where is he? Who's hiding him?"
"If you want to know you can stop waving that gun around for starters. And you might fetch me something to eat too."
I was worried. J was not the most patient of people-- and he already had good reason to dislike Duo--
"I've shot you once, cur. I can do it again."
"You do and you won't get anything I know."
J glared and left.
"That went well, don't you think?" Duo said.
"This is madness. Utter and complete madness-- you should go."
"Not happening," Duo said. "No lock on your manacles, no catch on the wall-- How was he going to free you once you'd started obeying him?"
"Treize owns a very powerful laser. I think they were going to use that."
"Well that helps us a lot," Duo sighed, tugging at my chain. "This sucks--" he brightened hopefully. "You're not into bondage, are you, by any chance?"
I stared at him.
He sighed. "Guess not. Damn."
"You are insane."
I laughed. Seeing Duo's face warm instantly, I knew that was what he'd been trying for. I held out my arms to him. "Come here."
He slid his arms around my waist and rested his head on my shoulder, as I slid an arm around him. "You're not mad at me?"
"I never was. Worried yes, but not mad--"
"We'll be fine, Heero."
Perhaps an hour later there was a brief noise in the hallway, and then the doorway opened. Duo and I pulled apart reluctantly-- although we hadn't been doing anything, it was nice just to rest in each other's company--
"Treize," I said, startled, as I recognised the figure at the doorway.
Treize nodded, holding up a picnic basket and a bottle of some very expensive looking champagne. "Breakfast for two, was it?" he asked, suavely.
Diplomacy, huh? I had to smirk at that. Treize had come to be charming and aristocratic--
"About time," Duo said, wriggling off the bed to look at the vintage. "Not too shabby. I suppose glasses are in the basket?"
--But he didn't know Duo.
Treize raised an eyebrow as Duo decorked the bottle with his teeth then poured a glass for himself and me. "May I offer a toast to the outcome of this meeting?"
"Depends," Duo said. "On what you want the outcomes to be. I like to know what I'm drinking too."
"A successful partnership, between yourself, Heero, and my party. I'm sure such a relationship would only benefit those concerned--" Treize put stress on the word 'relationship'. He was at his most debonair. I wouldn't have noticed before I met Duo, but now I knew what he was angling after and was amused. Did he really think that would work?
That he could buy us off with charm, and caviar, French champagne,
I sat back to wait for Duo to set him right.
He accepted Treize's compliments, listened to his speeches, gave ambiguous answers and ate most of the food.
When Trieze left, I was worried.
"He does go on, doesn't he?" Duo sighed. "What do you think, Heero?"
"What do you mean? You seem to have this all sorted out. Treize seems willing enough to take you on as another mechanic--"
"Oh that," Duo shrugged. "Well, it makes sense, doesn't it? I can oversee any alterations they make, and undo 'em, when they're not around-- Ooff! Easy Heero--those ribs are breakable--"
I had him caught up in an immense hug. I'd thought-- I couldn't say what I'd thought. But the little seeds of worry that perhaps Duo was more interested in my mechanical parts than me were gone.
"Duo-- I won't let them do anything to you, if they try," I told him. "You'll be safe."
"I'll be doing the same for you," Duo said. "They won't get past us."
That's what happened.
Amazing how soon anything can become routine.
The running machine squeaked as I continued to run steadily. I'd run ten kilometres, without showing any sign of exhaustion or strain. The same could not be said of the machine. I caught Duo's eye as the treadmill gave a particularly tortuous groan and smirked.
"Hey, Doc," Duo said, sitting on the bench. "You want me to upgrade that treadmill for ya?"
J growled, scanning the feedback he was getting from the monitoring equipment. "I don't believe this! How did you manage to improve overall performance by that much, where I failed?"
Duo took the lollypop out of his mouth to wave it at J. "Uh-uh-uh! I thought we'd covered this. You don't pester me for secrets, and I don't nag you about needing to retire."
"Damn you! Ungrateful cur! Flea-bitten brat!"
"Now, now," Duo began. I joined him with the end of the sentence.
"Flattery will get you nowhere."
J groaned. "You've wrecked my experiments! Destroyed everything!"
"Hey!" Duo protested. "I happen to think Heero's pretty cool the way he is."
"He was intended to be the perfect soldier," J said. "You've tainted him-- you with your feelings and your jokes--"
"Hey, what's a soldier without a witty rejoinder? Haven't you seen 'Rambo'?"
"No, I have not," J said. "Nor do I wish too. I have quite enough trouble trying to reconcile my experiments to the mess you've made of them. Do you have any idea how hard it was to acquire a child that was without any ties of human affection?"
"You don't mean we have to add adoption fraud to your long list of unsociable habits?" Duo said, voice hard.
J laughed. "In the pursuit of greatness sacrifices are inevitable."
There was a thick metallic crunch. I looked down at my feet, entangled in the remains of the machine. "Oops," I said. "I think I broke it."
"Do you have any idea how much that thing cost?" J stormed over to the machine. "It's ruined."
"It seems," I said, kicking the rest of the machine across the lab. "Well, what's next?"
"Let's see …" Duo said, consulting the list. "I think we're up to the part where I try to convince you to let me take off Heero's clothes in the name of science--"
J slammed the door.
"Getting better," Duo said, making a note. "We've reduced the amount of time it's taken to make J so mad he can't stand to be around us by 50%. Good work I think--" Duo slid off the bench and put his hand on my shoulder. "Are you all right?"
"I never knew my parents," I said. "But I-- I thought--"
"Hey--" Duo gently touched my cheek. "It'll be okay, I promise. Heero?"
I crushed him to me. "Duo," I said. "Never ever let me become like him."
Duo hugged me back. "Never," he said.
There were sounds outside the door and we drew apart reluctantly. Although Duo continued to tease me while J was around, we were careful not to let the scientists see how much we meant to each other. As long as they thought our relationship was based on lust and greed and self-advancement, they could not use our feelings for each other against us.
Duo had managed to convince them he was as self-interested as they were, although his interests lay in me, and me alone. He was allowed to work with J as a kind of glorified lab assistant. During the day he and J worked on 'improving' me, at night, Duo tampered with the alterations so that the results were rather less than what J had intended. Duo had given J even more grey hairs by flatly refusing to undo the changes he and G had made to giving me freedom of thought, or the parts relating to sex. But they were trying to boost the power of the laser, and streamlining my machinery. Duo told me late at night that he suspected that Treize and J were preparing an army of soldiers like me--
The thought made me cold.
It wasn't J though. A man in a uniform pushed the door open. "In here, boys," he said.
"Look here!" J's voice rose angrily. "You can't do this-- I demand an explanation!"
"We're removal men. We move things from one place to another. Will that do?" More men followed, packing J's equipment into big boxes they carried into the lab.
"Stay here," J instructed Duo and me. He raised his voice angrily as he expostulated with the removal men. "Who gave you the authority to just barge in here? That is delicate scientific equipment--"
"We just got told t' come in here an' move it all out. If you've got problems, then you see whoever ordered this. We've got a deadline to meet--"
That sounded like-- I turned to look at Duo, who was standing up, with an expression of alertness on his face.
"Who ordered this? I'm sure there's some mistake--" J snatched the paper. "What can Treize be thinking?"
"You want the phone?" Duo offered, boredly.
J snatched it and went into the office.
"How'd you know we'd doctored the phones, kid?"
"Lucky guess?" Duo high-fived Howard. "Nice to see you, old man."
"If we could perhaps behave with something approximating decorum?" another familiar voice cut in smoothly. "We're not out of the fire yet."
J re-entered the room swearing. "The phone's engaged," he said. "I'm going around to see Treize at once. Don't--" he waved his finger at Duo, "think you can pull anything funny. There are armed guards at the door."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Duo shrugged, throwing J a mocking salute. The scientist stormed out of the apartment angrily. And then--
"Now," said Wufei, taking off his cap. "I think we can abandon decorum."
I would have hugged him then, if Duo hadn't beaten me to it.
"Wufei, you're a life saver! If I had to listen to that old toad tell me I needed a haircut one more time, I would have strangled him with my own hands."
"It's good to see you," I stated to Howard. "You've come to get us out?"
Howard patted the crate by his side. "Easy as pie. We're here to move the contents of J's lab are we not? And you are contents of J's lab, right?"
Wufei lifted the top off a crate the Sweepers, wearing the removal men disguises, had just carried in. "After you," he bowed to Duo.
Duo made a face but complied.
"Your box is this one, Heero," Howard said. I took one last look at Wufei sealing the top of Duo's box. He smirked at me as he plastered a 'This Way Up' sticker on it--upside down.
I had a feeling we'd be hearing all about that at length later. Still--
"Wipe all the information on the computers," I said. "He was going to make more like me."
Howard's eyes widened, then he nodded. "Will do."
I climbed into the box, gingerly. Howard closed it and I felt it shift as it was carried out of the room--and presumably the building.
I remembered the security of our apartment complex from my infrequent trips beyond the confines of J's workroom as being very tight. I couldn't even imagine how bad it would be after my escape--I calculated the amount of time it would take us to reach the check point and waited anxiously for discovery--
There were shuttle noises and a lot of being shifted and bumped around--and then the box being opened.
"Cramped?" Duo asked. "Let me help you up."
I was glad to take his hand. "We did it?" I asked. "We got away?"
"I think we did," Duo said, his own voice hushed. "We did it."
"Why so surprised?" I asked. "You said we would."
"I have to hand it to you, kid," Howard winked at us. "That jammer of yours is something else."
"Told you so!" Duo was triumphant. "Didn't I, Heero?"
There was a dry cough behind us. Wufei leaned against the wall. "We've got some refreshments in the bridge," he said. "And I have something important to say."
I slid my hand round Duo's waist. "After you, Wufei."
Trowa and Quatre were also waiting in the bridge. After the usual fuss of reunions--which mainly consisted of everyone telling Duo off for being so reckless and then asking me how I got on-- we settled down enough for Wufei to make his announcement.
"I think it's obvious that Kushrenada and J will still pursue Heero," he said. "Loathe as I am to suggest this, I think we need to find them somewhere safe, as far away from here as possible. I recently invested in some property in Old Hong Kong--I suggest its time to expand our operations. With that in mind, I'd like to invite Quatre Winner and Heero Yuy to become partners in our operation."
Duo squeezed my hand.
"I'd be honoured," I said.
"Same with me," Quatre said, beaming. Trowa couldn't say anything, Quatre had him in a hug that somewhat resembled a deathgrip.
Wufei smiled. "We can discuss the details later. For now-- let's go celebrate."