Disclaimer: It's not mine! STFU!
His eyes were empty and cold, but he smiled warmly at me. “Duo. I knew you would come
I stepped forward, ignoring the gun he had trained on my forehead. “Is it really you?”
It was his face, his voice, his eyes. Still he seemed like something I'd created from my mind;
those eyes didn't match that smile of his. “Of course it is.”
My legs were unsteady when I forced them to move forward again. “Heero-”
“Stop right there, Duo Maxwell.”
I stopped dead. Those had been Heero's lips that had moved, and yet... “Heero?”
“They want you, as well.”
Heero didn't talk to me like that – like I was an enemy. It hit me, finally, that Heero's
arm had never moved, that his hand was still tightly clasping that gun of his. That he was not making any attempt to come
“Heero, what happened?” I stepped forward, hands out. “Why didn't you ever
come back? Why did you stay here without telling anyone?”
“You are no longer my master.”
I furrowed my brows. “Master?”
“Yes. I have accepted my true master. I am no longer yours.”
“Heero, I don't-”
I felt a presence behind me and turned, gun out. A skinny, fairly short man stood, perfectly
at ease, behind me. He placed a hand on his hip and cocked his hip to the side. “Quite simply, boy, he's mine now.”
Fury surged in me. His?! Heero was no one's! “The hell-”
But Heero's strong arms wrapped around me, grabbing my gun and tossing it. A ricochet bullet
slammed into the far wall as Heero's warm, hard hands grabbed my wrists and pulled my arms behind me.
I turned to him, shocked. “Heero, what the hell are you doing?!” I pulled forward,
but those steel arms didn't let me go.
“Come, Duo Maxwell, don't be so slow.” The man walked toward me as if two Gundam
pilots weren't right fucking there in front of him, smirking widely with thin lips and a long, giraffe-like neck. “Yuy
was captured nearly two months ago.”
“So what?!” I snapped amidst my struggles, but as soon as I did my brain clicked
the pieces together. I sagged hollowly into Heero's hold. My eyes glazed. “You mean he...”
“That's right,” Giraffe Neck gloated. “He's one of mine now.”
I stared at those big bug eyes behind those goggle glasses, at that thin-lipped smile, and snarled.
“He's not yours.”
The man had the audacity to laugh. “Of course he is. And now-”
“One moment.” Heero stopped the man's monologue, and I felt a surreal surge of hope.
Heero's hand dug into my collar and ripped out the mike. I looked at him in horror. “The other is listening.”
The other?! “Heero!” I snapped. “That 'other' is your partner!”
Heero tore the wire into pieces and dropped them all to the floor. “I have no partner.”
My heart skittered in pain. Was he saying he had no partner like in battle, or was he saying
that I wasn't...? “Heero,” I breathed, wholly disbelieving. This couldn't be real. Heero wouldn't... he would
sooner die than help the enemy. He wouldn't...
My hands shook.
“Bring him closer,” the man ordered Heero. It wasn't necessary; it would be a thousand
times easier for Giraffe Neck to walk forward. I clenched my teeth. He was showing off the power he had over Heero.
And he did have that power. Heero pushed me forward, moving steadily as if my heels
weren't dug into the ground. I seethed and glared at the man before me. My arms were tight bands within the manacles of Heero's
fists. Heero said nothing.
The man came a half-step closer, big eyes glittering, getting right up in my face. “He
would do well,” the man said. I wanted to rip those sneering lips off his face. “A nice piece to my collection.”
Collection?! I snapped forward, ready to devour. But Heero's arms didn't budge, not an inch,
that steel grip holding me where I was. Still, despite that, the man quickly jumped away and cowered behind one of his hands.
This man... this man was far too weak to have taken down Heero. There was no way he could have! Heero wasn't this
man's puppet! Heero would never...
My chest heaved with every rapid breath. My lungs screamed. It wasn't possible. This... this
roach couldn't take down a wolf like Heero. There was no way. Heero was...
When the man saw my efforts were futile, he smirked again and came back in front of me. I knew
what he would do before he even raised his hand. It was so clichéd, so expected – I hardly felt it when he slapped me,
but I was deadly aware of the degradation of status. And worse, Heero just stood there and let him do it. He didn't even react.
Utter panic seized my chest. Was it true? Had Heero really been changed? Was he...
was he not my Heero anymore? Was he practically a living corpse, dancing to my enemy's tune? Was he no longer... was he no
longer the man I loved? Was he... would I... have to kill him? With my own hands?
“Take him down to the laboratory, my dear little Heero,” the man ordered, snapping
me from my horror. I surged forward again, furious. Dear? Little? The hell!
I tried for surprise, pulling my body forward, as I snapped out a kick. Heero was faster than
me, always faster. He pulled me back, and my attack hardly even grazed the man. I saw his eyes flash in fear. Weak. He was
“I'll kill you!” I screamed at him, still trying to lunge forward. “I'll fucking
kill you!” If only Heero wasn't holding me back... if only I wasn't deadly aware of his hands on mine, restraining,
hurting. If only I couldn't remember, so clearly it was physically painful, those same hands pushing back my bangs. Protecting
me. This Heero, my Heero, the man I loved more than anything... this was what had become of him. Because...
of me? Because I hadn't been strong enough.
And because of this man, this man in front of me with goggle glasses and muscles thinner than
paper. He had the audacity to smirk at me, as sure of Heero's loyalty as I was of the sun's warmth.
If only I could reach him. Heero hadn't divested me of my weapons, being, as I was, properly
held steady. If he shifted to take my weapons, I would be able to harm someone. So I still had them. I thought suddenly, viciously,
of Wufei, and I wished he would show up. But of course Wufei would be fighting off the countless other clones this man had
created, or had had created. What were the chances of Wufei's surviving against them all? Would he be captured as well, same
as me, caught alive to be changed, as well? I thought of Heero's fate and roared in fury. I wouldn't let it happen. I wouldn't
let it happen!
Heero's hands tightened then, so cruel they cut off my circulation. And he started pulling me
The man waved good-bye. “I'll see you soon, little Duo.”
I screamed and pulled forward, but of course I didn't break free. Heero pulled me down the stairs
one step at a time, his arms never tiring. I struggled every inch of the way. I didn't understand why I was being pulled down
– the labs were on the floor we'd been on, and these floors were simply for show. But Heero pulled me past door after
door. When he got to the bottom, he turned to the wall. A very blank, very concrete wall.
I pulled back my teeth. “Heero, what the hell has gotten into you? Stop this!”
He didn't seem to have heard me – classic Heero, fully in Ignore Mode. He braceleted my
wrists and searched the wall for something.
“Heero!” I snapped, pulling and twisting my wrists. I could already feel bruises
on my arms from his hands. He didn't answer me. “Heero!”
A small beep sounded, and out of the corner of my eyes I saw a green light flash. The wall sank
into the floor.
My breath stuttered; sounds could be heard now, when before it had been deathly quiet. Screams.
Screams of despair, of horror, of agony. Pleas and cries and mutterings could be heard underneath the screams.
A holding room.
“Heero,” I breathed, imagining him in here, trapped. Helpless and furious... but
no, he had probably been taken straight to the labs, or wherever it was that they did the operation. He would have been bumped
to the top of the list. As soon as they caught Wufei, they would probably come back for me.
The Heero I knew would never allow me to be placed in here. Heero would defend me, whether I
needed to be defended or not. Heero would never let...
“Heero,” I started again, but I had to stop. How could I possibly reach someone
who didn't exist anymore? What could I possibly say to him now? I let him lead me down into the dungeon, into the dank smell
of dead flesh and human waste. No matter how strong I was, compared to Heero, it was nothing. I would forever be weaker than
him. There was no sense fighting.
So he led me silently through the place, past cells absolutely reeking. The screams and pleas
grew louder until finally I was surrounded by them on all sides. In the complete darkness, it was impossible to fully make
out faces and forms and shapes. But the screams – the screams I could hear just fine.
Heero placed me all the way in the back, leading me one-handed and opening the cell I would
be occupying, all the while keeping me trapped in his hold. He took all my guns and knives and grenades, finding mostly all
without trouble. Then he pushed me into the cell and clanged the door shut. His eyes, when they matched with mine for a split
second, were cold and empty. Heero's Perfect Soldier eyes? No, I'd been wrong, just a tiny bit. They were dead. Totally and
And then he turned away from me.
He stopped, but he didn't turn to me. It was hard to breathe. As if I couldn't get enough air.
What could I say to him? I still love you? But this wasn't the man I loved. I'll never kill you? But for Heero to be able
to rest in peace, he had to... no. I couldn't promise that. Even if just the thought was torture.
“I still...” I clenched my hands into fists and just shouted at that back. “I'll
always be waiting!”
He still didn't turn to look at me.
“Affirmative,” he responded. “You are waiting. I will inform my master.”
My heart wrenched at that last word. I couldn't stand to hear Heero call someone his master.
My fury waned as quickly as it had come, making my hands fall limply by my side. “Always,” I swore fervently.
“Even if you're gone. Even if it can never happen... I'll wait. It's my turn... after how long I had made you
wait for me.”
“Affirmative,” he said again.
“This message is for you!” I snapped, fists clenching again. How could he be like
“All messages for me are for my master.”
I'll kill him! I wanted to shout, but that would be a mistake. Heero would act to defend
the man, being, as he was, the man's... puppet. There was no more choice for him.
But there was for me. I could still finish what he had started. I could take down this organization
– what the real Heero wanted – and save both myself and Wufei. I just had to remain calm and let Heero
walk away from me.
Of course it was the hardest thing for me to do.
As soon as he left, I turned to the back. There were no bones in my cell; for a place that smelled
like shit, it was disturbingly clean. I turned to the cell door and smirked. Good. A sophisticated locking mechanism, marking
the device within the keyhole to determine the exact shape of what was attempting to open the door. Perfect.
I was free in ten minutes.
I had to hurry; Wufei may have already been captured or killed. I had to act quickly.
The people in the cells screamed out to me, hands reaching out to try to grab me. I avoided
them. I didn't have time to save anyone; I felt like shit, but I had no choice.
The tinny lights of the security keypads, no bigger than periods, led me to the door. Another
five minutes and I was out.
I blanked my mind and pulled out two grenades from a secret place which I shall neglect to mention
and threw them inside. At least those people wouldn't be suffering anymore.
I raced back onto the first floor, knowing an alarm would have been set off as soon as the grenades-
And the explosion was immediately heralded by alarms and those old-fashioned, always-annoying
red lights. I knew I only had a short time; only a small portion of a minute before Heero – even mentally I had to pause
to wince – before Heero and the other... cyborgs (here I winced again, trying to place Heero in that group within my
mind) came to capture me again. I had to find Wufei.
I would not leave anyone else to be changed.
I only had one more grenade, and it wouldn't do me much. I already knew I wouldn't have the
strength to harm Heero, no matter what. At least not yet. I couldn't even let myself consider it. Still, I needed to find
Wufei in this maze of a place and get him out. I wondered if he'd managed to get past what I now considered the cursed fourth
I found an information booth in the middle of the first floor's hallway. It hung out in a small
niche, completely empty. I doubted it was ever occupied; another prop, most likely to conceal... and I hit jackpot when I
hopped over the counter. I wrenched out the radio from its place underneath the countertop and put the radio over the intercom
– a piece of technology I was wholly delighted to see. Then with a quick twist, the volume was jacked as high as it
would go. I stuck the mike up to my mouth.
“Chang Wufei! I'll kill you if you're dead! If you can hear this and are still free, get
yourself out of here, then send me a sign! If you aren't out in a minute, I'm coming to get you!”
I slammed the radio to the ground then, smashing it, and leaped back over the counter, back
out of the niche in which I'd trapped myself to send Wufei the message. I laughed at my luck; above the counter was a duct.
It was tiny; as an early teenager, I would have had no problem. I wasn't so small anymore; still, it was better than running
through the hall, open and unarmed. If I remembered correctly, the ducts closed off on this floor alone, getting smaller and
smaller until only a mouse – and a baby one at that – could fit through from the outside. I punched the thing
open and jumped in, pulling myself up. I had barely pulled up my legs than footsteps sounded down the halls.
I crawled silently forward, careful not to make any noise that would inform any of my pursuers
as to which direction I was heading. And still I froze when I heard him speak.
“He went up into the air ducts. Mirror my actions exactly.”
And bullets began flying.
Heero. Heero was shooting at me. I froze for a short second before my body moved on
its own, not waiting for any of my conscious orders. I slipped to the left the first chance I had and carefully lifted the
vent. After jumping down, I moved to the window.
And another explosion sounded, shaking the foundation a bit. It came from the left. Wufei had
given me his sign.
“Good.” A couple of guards who'd been standing outside my window ran off to investigate
the area. I took the chance to slip outside and run for the closest cover – the line of bushes around the perimeter
before I reached the gate. I dove into them and waited, carefully listening to the sounds of orders being given and carried
out, waiting for that one voice.
“He exited here. He won't be far. Spread out and search.”
And there it was: the voice I couldn't stand to hear just then. Of course Heero would be appointed
leader of the enemy forces. Of course he would find me quickly. His were probably the footsteps reaching ever closer to my
Imagining them to be his was too hard. I had to think it was the giraffe-necked bastard to be
able to let my grenade fly. Bullets ripped the air right before the grenade exploded. He'd shot it in mid-air to make it go
off early. That didn't mean it was Heero – just that it most likely was.
I used the explosion as a distraction to leap onto the gate and launch myself off of it. I rolled
as I landed and sprang back up as soon as possible, but Heero – or whoever – had already recovered and was firing
at me. Thank God, thank God, it wasn't him; I'd be dead if it had been him. Even on the brink of death, Heero would hit his
target. Whoever that was, it wasn't him. My heart fluttered in relief.
I saw Wufei running towards me then, safely in the cover of the neighboring parking lot. He
launched a grenade as he ran, covering me. I tensed for the explosion, used it to throw me forward, into the first nearby
line of cars. I hopped over one and landed next to Wufei. “I gave 'em more guns,” I gasped, and took the chance
to catch my breath.
“Are you all right?” he asked, completely ignoring my stupid comment.
“Yeah. I'm fine.”
“Good. Then we're leaving for now.”
I just grunted. “That would be for the best.”
Wufei threw three grenades, one in each direction from us – east, west, south. A couple
screams showed the intelligence in doing so. “Let's go.”
I let him lead me away from Caribol HQ without argument. Let him lead me away from Heero...
or what was left of him.