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Sub Rosa: Decadence
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Sub Rosa

Chapter Eleven


Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Duh.

After my once again dramatic exit, it was rather a pain to have to wake up to the most delicious smell ever.

I almost drooled.

Like Jerry the Mouse, I was drawn involuntarily to the galley, where I witnessed Wufei sail to another part of the room and grab some sealed eggs that I'd completely forgotten I had. Then he sailed back to the ship's stove. It was a complicated thing, so I hardly ever bothered with it. Or at least that was my excuse.

Wufei turned when I plucked out a bulb. I thought about the one I'd wasted, letting it float stupidly in front of Heero like a stuck yo-yo, and almost cackled. It wasn't here now; Heero must've sent it through the incinerator.

“Good morning, Duo,” Wufei said.

I shot him a sharp look – good morning? What was Wufei up to? “Uh, yeah. 'Morning.” I hated mornings.

“Heero caught you last night, I suppose.”

I turned to him completely. He had returned to the stove, but his innocent act wasn't fooling me. I wanted to scream. So, it was his turn, was it?

“Yuy didn't sleep much, so he's resting now.”

“Uh-huh.” What the hell was I supposed to say to that? I had no reason to say anything.

“Duo, did he tell you anything?”

Well, that was a scary start. Wufei seemed to be waiting for something, like maybe Heero had admitted he had a third tit. “Like what?”

Wufei sighed. “I suppose not,” he said. I was about sick of all the talking-to-oneself these two took part in. “Well, in that case...” He turned to me. It was the strangest thing to see Wufei holding some spatula-thing-y like a weapon while he glared hotly at me. I almost laughed. “Duo, we want you to come back with us after this.”

“The hell?” I muttered. The hilarity of his position was still there, but its humor had dimmed. “What, you mean like arrest me? No, thank you.” I knew damn well that wasn't what Wufei had meant.

“No, Duo.” Wufei let out a long-suffering sigh. It seemed he knew I was deliberately misunderstanding him. He turned back to the food he was preparing. “That's not it.”

I was a bit disturbed with all the first names Wufei was throwing. “All right, fine.” I dropped the stupid act and leaned against the table. “How about just 'no', then?”

“Why?” Wufei asked.

Dammit, I wanted to rip my hair out by the roots. Would that pose enough of a distraction? I played with the idea for a moment before rejecting it. I liked my hair. “Because I don't want to.” That sounded petulant. Shit.

Another sigh. “Could you be a bit more specific, Maxwell?” Wufei groused.

I grinned. There was the old Wufei. The nicey-nice act had to hit him hard. He always just went in for the kill. That was the kind of guy he was. Pussy-footing wasn't his style. “Whaddaya mean?” I asked sweetly.

“Maxwell,” Wufei warned. “I am trying to be nice.”

“I know. It's weird.” I slurped at my bulb of grape juice and grinned at the bunching of Wufei's muscles.

“'Weird'?” Wufei echoed. “How so?”

“Well, it's not like you to play around.”

Wufei was silent for a moment. “I see. That's astute of you, Maxwell.”

“Yeah, well, you know me. I've just got pearls of wisdom stocked everywhere.”

“Lost to the cobwebs,” Wufei muttered.

I laughed. “How mean, Woo-Woo!” It was so easy to fall back into this, something I'd enjoyed before and had sorely missed these past days as Wufei showed a more companionable side. Or was it that he only argued like this with his companions? Either thought was rather sobering.

“Maxwell, I thought you'd gotten out of that habit.” He sounded close to irritated, yet... amused, as well. That was new.

“But it sounds better,” I whined.

“Maxwell, 'Woo-Woo' does not sound good at all.”

I smiled. “Sure it does. Woo-Woo. Like a train, kinda. It doesn't make a 'chuh' sound, really, so why is it 'choo-choo'?”

“God, Maxwell, I will never follow your thoughts.” Wufei poked at something before speaking again. “In any case, I want to speak to you about your disappearing acts and not your wayward thoughts.”

Uh-oh. Back on-topic. That was Wufei, all right. “I didn't disappear, or at least not completely. I spoke to Quatre sometimes.”

“Winner never told us what you said. Apparently you never mentioned us.”

I laughed, but this one was more bitter than happy. “Of course not.”

Wufei stilled completely. “Why?”

I squirmed. “What would I say?”

Wufei turned and looked me straight in the eye. “You could perhaps ask how we are doing sometimes, Maxwell.”

“I got updates from Quatre without asking,” I said without thought, “and sometimes Une would give me information.”

Wufei slammed the spatula-thing down. “And did you not think that was unfair, Maxwell?” he snapped. I watched in shock. “Did you not think how we would feel, not knowing where you were or whether you were well?”

“I figured Quatre would tell you if he wanted.”

“Is it not Yuy who says that assumptions lead to mistakes?”

“Hey, it was no mistake,” I snapped right back. “If Quatre didn't want to tell you, that's his thing. It's not his usual MO, now is it? It's not my fault Quatre held back from you, okay!”

“So you want us to hate Winner?”

“What the fuck? I never said that!” I pushed myself up from my sitting position. “I never told you guys where I was or what I was doing because it was none of your fucking business! You had all disappeared – you especially, Wufei! No one knew where the fuck you were!”

“Quatre himself came to see me,” Wufei hissed.

“Because I told him where you were!”

I snapped my mouth shut. Shit! I hadn't meant to say that. Hadn't I told Quatre not to tell Wufei that I'd been the one to find him? Shit!

Wufei gaped for a time before pulling his jaw back into position. “You?”

I shook my head. “Uh-uh. I just said that-”

“Son of a bitch!” Wufei roared. He turned from me and seemed to glare at the stove. “Son of a bitch,” he said, quieter this time. “I thought it was Quatre... no, in a way it still was, but...”

“Um, what the hell are you talking about?” I asked.

“Yuy should hear this,” Wufei muttered.

“Hey!” I called. “You wanna clue me in here?”

“Winner came to us and pulled us together to make us three a team again. Then Trowa came in, and we were four. Perhaps if he'd come for just Heero and found me... it would have been the same...”

A rumpled-looking Heero sailed into the room and took away the small amount of circuitry that had still been functioning in my brain.

Dammit, it wasn't fair for that man to look good with bed hair and sweatpants. I stared greedily at his naked chest and stomach and back. I forgot about the smells of breakfast.

Those sinewy muscles moved like liquid steel as he grabbed a bulb from inside the fridge. I watched those arms move as he popped the drink open. My God, those pecs...



That's right: Heero was as much of a morning person as I was.

“Did you know that Quatre had only known of my existence in the Preventors due to Maxwell's intervention?”

Heero threw me a sharp look. I tried to peel my eyes away from that chest long enough to look innocent of evil thoughts. “No, I didn't. Did he say that?”

“In the middle of a screaming match, so it's more likely to be true.”

“I knew something had woken me up,” Heero said dryly. But his second look was even more intense.

I scowled. So they knew of my bad habit of blurting shit out when I was upset or pissed. Great.

“I suppose it was most likely on a mission,” Wufei continued.

“No. Quatre had told us that Duo had just left recently when he'd some to see us, and Black Strike arrived a week or two after that. Most likely Duo was doing work for Une before he was Black Strike.”

“I was handing out information,” I said with a sigh. I was tired of being talked around.

Wufei gave me a look. “What information?”

I tried to think back. “I dunno exactly what information it was. Smuggling, I think.”

“We got a smuggling case just before Quatre came to us,” Heero said grimly.

I almost laughed. It figured that Une would give my information to these two. It would serve her wacky humor perfectly.

“Figures,” I said with a snort. “That woman has a scary sense of humor.” I shook my head. “She's crazy. Still the psycho Lady Une.”

Wufei coughed. “Maxwell,” he gasped, “she is your superior.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said with a suffering tone. “She's a real pain in the-”


I laughed.

When the laughter in me quieted, I saw out of the corner of my eye the saddest look on Heero's face I'd ever seen. My smile disappeared immediately. But when I turned to him, he turned around and walked out.


We were on-course. We would arrive in about fifteen hours. We would most likely be landing straight into the enemy's hands. I could only hope that we were the only ones who had been targeted with an army. Then again...

Dammit, Heero and Wufei were definitely together, in one way or another. But wasn't that okay? Wasn't that like Wilson Phillips' song? Shouldn't I be happy that he's happy? And besides, it wasn't as if I had any intention of coming out without a scrape or bruise, and even if I did...

I sat back and glared at my monitors. I wanted another fight, another battle. These two were killing me, stalking me right and left. After Heero's exit, I'd made a hasty retreat as well. We'd all eaten Wufei's delicious food, but we hadn't eaten together. Heero sailed back into the room he shared with Wufei, and Wufei had followed. The sense of a relationship between them seemed even stronger. I had eaten in the galley alone, then had saved the rest of the food and cleaned up. The two had never emerged.

Now here I was, back in the fucking cockpit and staring at nothing. My eyes turned to that poem on the wall. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to accept the pain that beat hard inside me when I thought of Heero and Wufei together. I only had a few more hours. I had to get ready. I had to be strong.

I closed my eyes and wished I was alone. It was safer alone, even if it was so very quiet and lonely.

I hadn't realized I'd curled up into a ball until someone sat in the co-pilot's seat. My head snapped up like a shot.

Heero was watching me carefully.

I rearranged myself immediately. “Heero. What are you doing here?”

“Why do you curl yourself here in this chair? Wouldn't it be more comfortable on your bed?”

That was a fucking weird question. “Uh... it's kind of like Deathscythe.”

Heero seemed surprised. “Deathscythe? That brings you comfort?”

“Didn't Wing bring you comfort?”

Heero looked ahead into the dark abyss of space. “Yes, I suppose so.”

I looked into space, as well. Maybe I was like space – not empty, but filled with so many things – asteroids, meteors, suns. Maybe I was like that, too. Vast and never fully understandable. “I loved Deathscythe. It was like I was cleaving a hole in myself when I sent him off.”

“Yes. Sometimes I find myself thinking of Wing.”

“Exactly,” I said fervently. “I miss him.”

Heero turned to me. “He's not needed anymore.”

“I know. That's why I sent him off. When something isn't needed anymore... especially if it's potentially dangerous to keep it... it's best to just get rid of it.” Even though I had trouble doing that.

Heero paused. “Like you?”

“Huh?” I turned to him, my eyes wide with surprise. “Like me what?”

“Like you. You were no longer needed, so you left?”

“Uhh...” I thought about it. I hadn't thought of it like that. “Huh.” I shrugged. “Maybe.”

“So you thought that the four of us together was enough.”

“Kind of like a fifth wheel?” I looked back out to space. It was strange to suddenly feel calm while Heero dissected me. Had I made a decision without even realizing it? Maybe I had – that it was okay if Heero was in love with Wufei, if they were happy together. That it was okay if they wanted to come, if only I made certain they lived. That it was okay to be a martyr, but only if I didn't act like one. And maybe... maybe I really, really wanted Heero to see. To see the real me, just in case he never got the chance to see me again afterwards.

They were right to be afraid of my disappearing. Because if I did survive...

Wouldn't it be cruel to shove your love on someone who is already in a perfect relationship?

I shrugged again. “I suppose, maybe a bit. Quatre and Trowa are one axle, and you and Wufei are another. There isn't room for a fifth.”

“Wufei and me?” Heero repeated, stunned.

“Hm. I guess.” I didn't feel like shrugging again, so I curled myself back into a ball on the seat. How immeasurably beautiful was space? I wanted to see. I wanted to see it all. “Whatever it may be, I've always seen it as the four of you... and me. I don't care if you want to argue it. That's what I saw.”

“But how? If it weren't for you, I never would have acknowledged the others.” Heero curled up into the co-pilot's seat. I wondered if I should kick him out, but I figured it was probably too late for that.

“You know,” I said randomly, “when I got this ship, I had sworn that no one would ever sit in that seat.” This time when Heero looked at me, I continued staring out into space. “I swore I would never have a partner. That no one would ever come near me again, and no one would be put in danger because of me again. I never wanted anyone to sit in that damn seat. After a while, I figured it would curse whoever sat in it.” I chuckled. “Guess we'll find out, won't we?”

Heero was quiet for a long while, just sitting there staring at me. “Why are you telling me this?” he asked finally.

“I guess it's okay to spill one secret,” I said, not really answering the question. “Call it a present.”

“In case you don't come back?” Heero asked. His voice was even quieter now. With the Heero I knew, that meant he was getting angry. I wondered if he would lose his temper, and if he did, whether he would still say “omae o korosu” when he did. I wondered where his gun could possibly be hidden with only those sweatpants on.

Or maybe it was better to not wonder about that.

I waited a while, wondering if I should tell him the truth. Finally I just thought to hell with it. “Yeah.”

Heero looked back out through the viewscreen, perhaps trying to see what I saw. “Why do you think you'll die?”

“I don't. Not really. But maybe I will.” I wondered if that made sense.

“...I see. So just in case?”

“I guess.”

There was another silence between us. “You have no intention of coming back, do you?”


I saw Heero's fists clench. “Why?”

His anguished voice hurt me. I didn't want him in pain, but... “I can't.”

“Duo.” He turned to me again, his gaze adamant. I focused on the blackness before me even more. “You're welcome with us. We won't hold your disappearance against you. We just want you back!”

I didn't ask why, because I knew any answer I got wouldn't be one I was looking for. I just kept looking out. Maybe that was me, too. No, I knew a lot more about myself, so I wasn't outside looking in when it came to me... when it came to the others? Maybe, maybe not. They were sincere enough about wanting me back, but how could I return? Not just because of the humiliation of saying I needed to be alone and then sheepishly returning with my tail between my legs, but also...

Also because I was very much afraid that the person that they wanted back was the Jester, the me they thought they knew. Always afraid, wasn't I? I was such a coward.

“Duo, look at me?”

It was the pleading sound that had me turning. Heero's eyes were as piercing and beautiful as ever. A man as strong as him would probably be furious to hear me think of him in such a way.

“Duo, why can't you trust us? That's the answer I want more than anything.”

It wasn't fair to say that. Of course I couldn't say no to something Heero wanted so much. Not if it was so simple for me to give it. I turned back to the monitor and spoke. “With my life, I trust you. With... with my heart, I don't.” I closed my eyes and put my head back. Why did it hurt so much just to say that?

Heero seemed unable to move from his position. Or at least I didn't hear him move. And I listened hard. “I... why?” His voice was almost a whisper.

“It's the Jester you wanted to see.”

I said it without thought, naming my mask. I opened my eyes and stared. I hadn't meant to say it. I hadn't meant to say any of this. Maybe I was just hitting a low in my depression. After all, I had given up my last thread of hope of having Heero love me. He looked far too comfortable around Wufei.

“The Jester...?” Heero frowned. “You mean the you that's always smiling.”

“The Jester,” I confirmed. “That's his name.”

Heero said nothing to that, only sat and thought. I knew he was piecing things together. Sometimes I wondered how the man could remember such tiny, specific things from the past and pluck them out for study. He was amazing.

Once this thing was over and Heero and Wufei were done their mission, would I still be around? Would my Demon's Wing? And if I did, what would I do? I didn't want to continue being a bounty hunter forever, after all, but I couldn't go into business or anything. It wasn't my thing at all. And I would always be a threat, just in case anyone ever found out I was Black Strike. I couldn't really settle down anywhere, either, just in case Heero and Wufei started digging around a bit too deep. Joe could help me get some fake ID's and backgrounds.

Of course, all that was based on the idea that I lived and managed to dump Heero and Wufei off without them hogtying and dragging me back. There was a disturbing thought.

“So he's not you at all,” Heero murmured.

“And the Perfect Soldier is you?” I countered.

“A little,” Heero admitted. “He is integral to me. He is the soldier inside me, my logic and reason. He's what helps me understand you when you don't want to be understood.”

“I never said I didn't want to be understood,” I said softly.

Heero looked over to me. “I wish... I had the strength...” He shook his head. “I'll take your curse, Duo. If it's yours, it's mine.” He turned to space again.

I looked to him with enough speed to whiplash, suddenly frightened from my lethargic movements. “You'll... what?”

“Your curse of being alone. I accept it. And I'll show you that it's all in your head.” He gave me a piercing look. “I won't let you be alone.”

With a lurch, my heart burned itself to agony. I hoped. I hoped so hard it hurt to breathe. I didn't want to hope. Not anymore.

I turned away from him and stared out and felt my heart rip itself inside me. It hurt so much to hope. With Heero and Wufei together, it was stupid to want. With what we were about to face, it was ridiculous to dream.

Heero got up from the seat and left the room. With a glazed look, I turned to the poem.

Forgive these broken wings...

The wings may be broken, but that only meant it hurt to fly.


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Every story unless otherwise claimed is Kayura's, and is copyrighted 2006 under her name.