by girl starfish
This was ridiculous. I'd faced many obstacles far greater than this
one-many. I'd been shot, jumped from a thirty-eight storey buildings,
survived situations that would give grown men nightmares without
batting an eyelid. But I couldn't do this.
I took a deep breath and edged around the door.
My target was in plain sight. He was lost in concentration, totally
absorbed in the metallic parts spread out around him. Sprawled on his
stomach, he still managed to be somehow graceful. His nose wrinkled
as he bent over some minute alteration, focusing on it-
My heart thudded painfully in my chest.
Duo was so beautiful and he didn't even know it.
I stepped cautiously towards him. I could do this, I could, I could-
"Hey, Heero, ya can't toss me the batteries while you're there?"
I could turn and run. Yes, that was a much more sensible plan.
I took one step backwards and he looked up, and I was powerless to
move any further. The warmth in his eyes, the life that sparkled
Clumsily, I fumbled for the item he'd requested.
"Thanks man," he said, eyes sparkling at some hidden joke. "I'm
almost done here. I think I've managed to work out how to increase
output without showing signs of things being monitored but I haven't
quite finished testing-you want to give me a hand with that?"
I blinked, looking down at him. "I'm not in the right suit-"
"That's not a problem, Heero," Duo said, unaware he was splintering
my good mood beyond repair. "You can just unzip your left arm-I only
to access your UBD cables."
I complied, silently.
"Read out?" Duo asked, absorbed in the machine.
"0.5, 0.7, 0.54. 0.3." My voice sounded clipped even to me.
"Uh-huh. . ." Duo made a slight adjustment. "And now?"
"0.45, 0.15, 0.5, 0.17, 0.32-"
"That's good enough," Duo smiled, winking at me. "Give me a moment to
get cleaned up, and then I'm all yours."
I smiled in response, but it was an automatic gesture and faded as
soon as he'd gone. I didn't sigh, but my expression darkened as I
caught sight of myself in the mirror.
On the surface I looked like any human boy my age. Slightly more
serious perhaps, Duo often told me I was unnaturally neat-not to
mention sexy. I kept my hair ruffled to offset this. It was enough to
allow me to pass as human-as long as one did not look to deep.
Below the layer of artificial construct that was my skin, pistons and
cogs whirred, fed by my blood, self-renewing fuel. My internal organs
were mostly real, as was my face-if you didn't count the improvements
that had been made there-heat and UV sensitive filters, target lock,
magnifying glass to my eyes, increased processing and memory
capability to my brain.
Despite my thin veneer of humanity, I was mostly machine.
Silently I opened the door to what Duo had christened 'the bat cave'
for reasons unknown. Bats were a form of vermin that swarmed around
the underlayers, fighting amongst each other and spreading disease.
What relation they had to mechanics was beyond me. Perhaps Wufei
would know, but I would never ask him. This was where we stored my
I'd grown in the few years since I met Duo and we'd escaped together
from J's lab. My body had no longer fit me.
Duo had grumbled about having to stoop to kiss me, then dug out
computer spreadsheets, a tool box and a very large syringe ("This
will hurt me more than it hurts you, babe"-yeah, right), and built me
a larger body, outfitted exactly as the original had been, with only
a few Duo-ifications. Almost as soon as that body was finished,
however, he began construction on a second. Then a third.
Now I had five. The original suit, somewhere between cyborg and
human. Then an armoured battle suit, with more guns than a small war.
My face was half covered by a protective visor in this one, and
although it was useful, I disliked it. It made me feel like the war
machine J had designed me to be. Its only good point was the fact
that it had allowed me to pull Duo out of tricky places more than
The third was a stealth suit, with self-cloaking device. The material
used in it was lightweight and flexible, weapons minimum. I wore this
one when Duo needed my help in infiltration and retrieval. Duo seemed
very fond of this suit. I wasn't sure whether it was because it was
because the suit was fashioned out of black and form fitting
material, or because it was so useful. After mission activity had
given me reason to suspect the former.
The fourth was halfway between the heavy armament of the second suit
and the flexibility of the third, with the added bonus of allowing me
to operate underwater.
The fifth was the one I wore now. It was designed to allow me to
infiltrate and communicate with people without them realising what I
was-it allowed me to pass as human in other words. At least, that's
what I told myself. I'd created the comfortable illusion that when I
wore this suit I was human-and without even realising, Duo had
blithely shattered that.
I stared at myself in the mirror, my suits behind me.
This was my favourite-I needed to believe I was human if only for a
little bit. But was it only fantasy?
"Heero? There you are!"
Warm hands wrapped around me from behind. That was something I could
not replicate-Duo was always warm, was always soft.
"What was it you wanted earlier?" he whispered, cuddling into me.
The package in my pocket felt very heavy. It was impossible to give
it to him now. Mission Abort.
"It's past the allotted meal time," I told him. "You require
"Oh-thanks, babe. I guess I lost track of time." Was it just me, or
did Duo sound disappointed? "Although," he whispered pressing his
body more firmly against me. "I'm not very hungry-you want to help me
work up an appetite?"
My skin might have been a synthetic blend, but the sensory pads
beneath were very sensitive. I caught my breath as Duo ran his tongue
along my neck.
"I would like that very much," I whispered.
Duo leaned in to kiss me, then pulled away with a grin I could only
describe as wicked. He caught my hand and pulled me in the direction
of our sleeping quarters. I hurried after him.
"Oh-Heero!" Duo had halted abruptly, in the entrance way to the
dining/kitchen area. Looking over his shoulder I saw the table laid
and the candles burning-how could I have forgotten?
"Some special occasion?" Duo asked.
"Research indicated that intimate dinners ensure good relationships,"
I answered, trying to keep my voice as calm as possible so he
wouldn't know how nervous I was about all this.
"Then perhaps we should delay-" Duo suggested.
"No," I said hastily. "It can wait."
Duo raised an eyebrow. "If you say so, sunshine." He slipped ahead of
me, hand lingering on the door handle. "Anything you say."
The promise made my sensory output feeders fluctuate wildly. I smiled
back at him, then abruptly remembered the rest of my plan. "Duo-"
Duo was standing, staring at the roses pooled around his feet with a
very surprised expression. "Uh-Heero?"
"I ran out of places to put them all," I said. "I'm sorry. I was
using the bench space for the candles after all, and. . ."
Duo had peeped round the door, to see our bedroom lit by a multitude
of tiny flames. "Sorry, Heero, but I'm still not getting it."
I felt a little desperate.
"You said it was romance." I took a breath and repeated his very
words. "Couples often do things to show each other how much they
appreciate each other. Flowers, chocolates, candle-lit dinners,
dancing, the works."
Duo was giving me a somewhat stunned look. "I said that? When?"
"Yes. Precisely ten minutes twenty-eight seconds before our first
"Oh," Duo said. "You remember that?"
Duo coloured, very attractively. "Hell," he said eloquently, before
turning his attention to the pile of flowers at his feet. "So, run by
me what these have to do with this again?"
"My sources indicated that of all flowers those most prized in
romantic circumstances were roses," I said worriedly. Had my research
been outdated? Was Duo allergic? Were these defective roses? I ran my
internal catalogue of Duo's expressions past myself swiftly.
Duo had picked up one of the roses and was turning it over, his
expression unreadable. "You don't mean to tell me these are roses?
Where did you get them all? There must be hundreds--"
"Six hundred and twenty eight," I answered. "I tracked down a
greenhouse upside-a few greenhouses."
"Shit," said Duo. I was alarmed to see a sliver of moisture escape
"What's the matter?" I asked worriedly-I'd really wrecked things this
time. Duo never cried-
"You know, I've heard expressions like 'coming up roses' all my life,
right? The sister tried explaining flowers to me once when I was
little-she had a dried bouquet in her treasure box, from ages ago-but
nothing grows downside. Nothing."
I frowned. Duo's expression was strangely still and serene-"You've
never seen roses before?"
Duo smiled at me, quietly, reverently. "Heero, you have no idea what
this means to me."
At last my catalogue had found a match. Duo had smiled that smile at
me before, two minutes fifty three seconds before hauling me into our
room for what had been some of the best sex in our existence.
Maybe I was on to something here.
Duo tucked the rose he was holding behind my ear and let his hand
drift gently down the side of my face. "You are too completely
wonderful, you know that?"
"I believe you've mentioned that before," I agreed and was promptly
It would appear that there was a relation between that smile and good
The flames flickering along the benches gave our room a dream-like
aspect. I sighed happily as Duo pushed me back into the mattress.
He'd already divested me of my clothes and now seemed determined to
make every inch of my body need him. The scent of the roses hung over
everything. I knew then that I would never smell them again without
thinking of Duo and this perfect moment-
The vid-phone rang-three rings-that was the urgent signal.
"Damn!" Duo threw a sheet over us as I grabbed the phone. "I am so
pulling that thing out by its cord after this-"
I smiled as with the sheet safely around my shoulders I answered the
"Who is this?"
Wufei's irritated expression flashed onto the screen. "Heero. A
situation has arisen that needs urgent attention."
"Couldn't agree more," Duo murmured softly and I realised that
instead of answering the phone he'd chosen to slip under the sheet,
out of range of the vid-phone. I had difficulty keeping my face
impassive as I realised what he intended-
Wufei seemed to be expecting something. A response perhaps? "Ah-is
"Where's Duo?" Wufei demanded. "I need to talk to him."
I winced as Duo let me know exactly where he was. "He's rather busy
right now-can't come to the phone-"
"Well what is he doing?"
"Currently he's giving me-"
The sheet was abruptly in my mouth and Duo was draping himself over
my shoulders, hissing in my ear, "Subtlety."
"Yo, Wufei. What's up?"
Wufei looked-I don't know. One minute he was irritated and cross, the
next-just very sad. "We have serious news."
"Wufei?" Duo said, the smile leaving his face.
"Treize has made his move. At five o'clock this morning he led an
attack on the heads of state. They're hostages or dead, and he's
fighting the rest of the upside troops."
"What does that mean?" I asked, drawing Duo closer to me.
"He's bloody declared war on everyone," Duo said, slowly. "Hasn't he?"
"That's what it amounts to," Wufei said. "I'm bringing Quatre and
Trowa round. We'll be there soon."
The vid-screen flicked off.
I wrapped the sheet around both of us, and held him, trying to
pretend it was the room that made him cold.