Monday, May 23, 2016

fic: A Wrench to the Heart 15/?

A Wrench to the Heart 15/?
By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing



“Mayor Maxwell! You’re here!” Megs exclaimed, jumping up from her desk. “I heard you weren’t feeling well and might not be in this month. Are you okay?”

Duo rolled his eyes. “I’m fine. How many consults do I have this afternoon?”

“Only three, but there are seventeen visa applications.”

“Great,” Duo said, making a face. “Make sure the Tanakas are on the top.”

“Why,” she asked. “They’re file didn’t seem... exceptional. They’ve never even been off Earth before and they don’t have any specials skills.”

Duo pointed to Heero who was following him and had been unexplainedly sulky since visiting Ty. “They’re his parents. They’re going to be citizens if they want. Him too. Get me his visa application. We’re getting married. Can you please find me a wedding planner, in house. I don’t want any more externals than needed.”

“Married? You’re getting married? Duo! Can I plan it? Please?” She jumped around, grabbing his hand dancing and he gave in and danced with her, spinning her and giving her a dip before setting her on her feet. “Please? I’m so happy for you.”

“Yeah, Megs. Fine.  You can plan the wedding. No media. Everyone in Camelot is invited.”

“Everyone?” Heero asked.

“Yeah. I don’t wanna leave anyone out. We’ll have a big ass barbeque.” Duo pulled a large glass tablet from the drawer. “My consults are waiting for me?”

“Yup,” she said, focusing on Heero. “So! Hi! I’m Megara.Camelot, but everyone calls me Megs. Welcome to Camelot! We’re excited to have you as a citizen.”

Heero rubbed his temple. This woman’s eyebrows were pink and her pupils were slits like a cat. Neither he nor Alexander had any real context to put someone like Megara.Camelot. “Does everyone who is a citizen here have Camelot as a last name?”

She tilted her head, an eyebrow raising, an expression clearly picked up from Duo. “No. Why would you think that? Only those of us born here from ectogenesis do. I saw your file. You’re Alexander Tanaka, right? How did you meet the mayor?”

“I am Heero Yuy. We met when we were young. Why is that relevant to you?”

“I’m his assistant. I’m planning your wedding. Are you really this much of an asshole?” She pulled a screen up over her left forearm, scanned him. “Yer ID says yer Alexander Tanaka.”

“Yes. I need office space. Can you provide me with office space?”

“Yeah, I guess. Duo’s gonna be busy for a couple of hours.”

“Thank you.” Heero gave her a sweet and gentle smile. Duo saw him give that same innocent smile to an enemy guard before shanking him in the war.

“So what’s yer favorite color,” she asked, leading him to a room he could use.

“#7 Alpha 5 Delta Charlie 7,” he said, looking over the room. “Have a nice day.”   Then he shut the door and turned up all the security measures.

Megs made a face at the door. “Oh like that’s gonna be a durable marriage. Crazy bastard.”

<><>

In his own office, Duo put the final approval on Alexander’s parent’s. He assigned them land by his own estate and then assigned Heero another parcel near both.  With that he let in the first of his consults.

“Mr. and Mrs. Anderson,” he said reluctantly. “Didn’t we decide you guys were divorcing last month? I moved both of you to new parcels on the colony, didn’t I?”

“Yeah,” she said, “But you won’t believe what he did! He tried to take Mr. Jefferson!  That’s my dog and I will not part with him!”

“That dog likes me better.”

Duo sipped Irish coffee from his coffee mug. The Andersons had married in 1951, after he’d come back from WWII, which was so long ago that Duo had a lot of trouble really conceiving of the concept. Like many of the folk living on Camelot, they’d been brought to him by Quatre’s people. He’d just been living along as well as he could while his mind decayed whilst he was still trying to use it, but sitting there looking at them argue over a dog he’d already told them he could clone for them, he realized he’d never really believed they were from that long ago. Remembering when they’d first arrived and they’d thought they were in heaven. Ernest Anderson had said he lived without cigarettes and whiskey for 30 years so he could to heaven and he damn well expected streets of gold. Duo had tried to explain that while they had that much gold, as they could synthesize it, gold was very heavy and it would destabilize the colony, make it much more difficult to maneuver, if he ever needed to. That had gone over well.... Duo had the streets in their neighborhood painted gold. It had been several years and they had come to accept that this wasn’t heaven. Sitting with them now, Duo realized they really were from fuck tons forever ago and that Quatre had been playing with time travel for a long time. That seemed so damn obvious now. How had he just glossed over it before?  Everyone knew time travel wasn’t real. Next he was going to find out that Heero was a werewolf. He propped his chin in his palm, nodding and staring as Mrs. Anderson expounded on the evils of doggie thievery. Heero... as a werewolf...  a foot taller, dark hair down to his shoulders, tight little waist, big cock, a big cock that knotted.. .Heero’s hands on his shoulders.. In the forest.. They’d be in the forest - there would be struggling and crying - Heero growling, something about being his forever.

“ARE you listening to me? Mayor Maxwell! Did you hear anything I said at all?”

“You should listen to her, boy!” Mr. Anderson said, “She was a teacher and she deserves to be respected!”

“Uh,” Duo said, “Uh.”

“That’s right. Now you apologize for not listening to Mrs. Anderson.”

She gave him this shy little smile, sweet and adoring.

“Uh. I’m sorry.” Duo said, really wanting another long drink of his ‘coffee’.

They reached out to each other, hands locking together. He smiled at her, this love like he’d fight through rattlesnakes to bring her a rose.

“So,” Duo said, having a sudden and he hoped, brilliant idea, “I was thinking about starting a militia. You’d have to de-age a little, but I’d love to have you in the squad, Mr. Anderson. We really need a sergeant with experience.”

“OH I couldn’t.. Not unless Agnes can also.. Have such an expensive treatment too. You understand, of course.”

“Oh yes,” Duo said, nodding seriously. “I’ll arrange treatment for both of you and Mr. Jefferson, of course. I know how important he is to you both. I believe, Mrs. Anderson, that you once expressed interest in being a nurse. You’re welcome to attend university here to become a nurse. The militia will need one.”

“Oh, Dearie, I’m much too old.”

“Well, take the treatment, because we really need Mr. Anderson’s assistance, for the protection of the colony. You know we have school children here too. There’s no pressing danger, but it’s never too early to be prepared! Maybe after treatment, you’ll feel more like taking some studies.”

“Well, maybe, maybe that would be okay,” she said as her husband took both her hand in both of his.

“Lovey, I think I’d really like to do this. To protect people, you know.”

“He was a police officer for twenty-five years,” Agnes said proudly.

“As I understand,” Duo said, speaking as much bullshit as he thought he could get away with,”he served with great distinction. I’d be honored to have you help me form the militia, Mr. Anderson.”

“Do you think it’s a good idea, Agnes,” he asked, a bit of light coming into his eyes, nervous energy about him.

“Why yes, I do think it’s an excellent idea. I think you should do it, Ernie! I do.”

“There. Then that’s settled. I’ll send a letter over within a few days with more information,” Duo said, standing and holding his hand out. “Thank you for coming to see me today, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson.”

Mr. Anderson took his hand shook firmly. “It was lovely to see you, Mayor Maxwell. I hope you’ll forgive me for being rough with you. I just had to protect my lovely wife.”

She tittered into her hand, snuggling close to  him.

Duo’s face was polite, professional. His lust for Irish coffee was high hand his dislike of antique gender roles higher. “Of course, I’m glad I could see you both. Have a lovely day!”

<><>


Saphron pointed at the small screen they were all watching the video on. “There, right there. Do you see dad’s face? What the hell is blondie saying?”

Jacob touched the screen, slowing it, zooming in. “He says, ‘I am never telling you that, ever.  I will not have you trying to rescue every waif in all of history.’ So.. you’re saying that Dad’s friend has actual time travel?”

“That’s what he said,” Saphron said. She pulled one foot up under her leg. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“I don’t know,” Jacob signed, thinking about law school a whole lot more than he thought she was thinking about prison, but he was pretty sure that was where they were headed. “What are you thinking?”

Roy sat under the desk, sucking his thumb, listening to both of them as if they were explaining the meaning of the universe.

“Well. Heero’s parents are going to be here for the wedding. Don’t you think it would be good for Dad to have his parents?”

“So, dad’s parents are dead. I don’t think it’s okay to bring corpses to weddings and how the hell are you sure that they’re getting married. Just cuz dad got laid, don’t mean he’s gettin married.” Jacob tilted his head and arched his eyebrows.

“Yeah? So why did Megs order 250 blue roses and 250 purple roses and 500 kilo of white cake?” Saphron smirked, victorious.

Jacob held up his hands, signed as dignified as one could when being herded by Saphron. “Just because Winner Corp has time travel, doesn’t mean we do. He’ll never agree to letting so and get some people no one has actually met. Maybe they’re perfect assholes or something.”

“Nope. Dad’s parents are good people. It’s genetic and they deserve to see how their son came out.”

“What if dad came from ectogenesis,” Roy asked around his thumb, “And he ain’t got no parents. I ain’t got no parents.”

Saphron ruffled his hair. “You got us. I’ll boss you around some, if you want.”

He sucked his thumb and ignored her, staring at Jacob.

“If that’s the case, then at least he’d know,” Jacob allowed.

“That’d be a good wedding gift, right?”

Roy nodded.  Jacob reluctantly nodded, “But how are you going to get the technology to do that? If Mr. Winner wouldn’t give to Dad, he’s not giving it to us.”

Saphron held up a finger, smirking with satisfaction. “Watch this!”

Jacob watched. Roy curled up under the desk.

“Julia!” Saphron yelled. “I know you’re here. I know you heard everything we said.”

Julia did, in fact, manifest in her youngest form, sweet and cute, looking a little like Shirley Temple. “Yes, big sister?”

“You wanna go to school with us and hang out with us and be our friends forever?”

“Yes,” Julia said biting her lower lip.

“So go get us the time travel control tech out of the L4 ship that’s docked.”

“I can’t! I don’t know how!”

“Sure you do. You’re more than half computer anyway. You wanna hang out with us all the time, right?”

“Yeah, but Daddy’ll be mad if I steal!”

“This is for Daddy. You want to meet his mum, don’t you? You want to make Daddy happy, right? I know you can do it! Just get in, get out, don’t get caught.”

“And then I can come to school with you? Everyday?”

“Everyday. You have to make an older body though. Can you get the tech for us?” Saphron gave her a worried look.

“Okay! I can do it!” Julia said, already dissolving her current body and heading into an infiltration into the ship's computer.

“We’re gonna get in so much trouble,” Jacob said softly.

“Naw! This is gonna work great,” Saphron said proudly.

Monday, May 16, 2016

fic: A Wrench to the Heart 14/?

A Wrench to the Heart 14/?
By Max


Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing. It’s just my safe space where I’m hiding.


Duo didn’t have perfectly clear memories of the day Ty had showed up in the backyard. He remembered getting into the car. He remembered waking up feeling really good.  Something - clearly - had happened in between. He did, mostly, remember promising to visit every day. So he was a few days behind on that promise.  

He couldn’t say he really had fond memories of The Center anyway. So he sat there in front of it, feeling memories coming back - memories he didn’t want. What he wanted was a novo sucker, to lick it and roll it in his mouth, as the world turned lovely and sweet and all the fear would go away, as if he’d never felt it at all.

The flashback slipped around him like water closing over his head while sinking.  He squatted in some alley. The gravity felt heavy, Earth gravity, or L1, but L1 had never been this dirty, his hair matted, a tangled braided dreadlock he petted in the darkness. Heero was dead. Dead. But Death hadn’t come for him. Again. It never came for him, because he was death. He brought death like the void brought cold.

Then he wasn’t alone. The man kneeling in front of him was so beautiful. Much more delicate than Heero, and his skin was darker, his eyes a dark brown rather than blue. There was something familiar about the man, like they’d know each other, like they were closer than friends. Duo remembered pulling back in that moment and he pulled back where he sat in his mustang, belly pulling back to his spine.

“Here,” the man said, offering Duo a blue sucker, “Just put it in your mouth. It’ll make you feel much better. I promise.”

The man had been Sung Chang. He’d been right. That candy had made Duo feel much better. Novo’ll do that to ya, but it’s a very expensive better.

Almost fifty years later, after being clean for forty years, the sudden craving was enough to make throwing his whole life away seem worth the price.  After all, how long did he really have? They weren’t going to get an uncorrupted mind file. He was going to continue to have seizures and lose a little more of his mind each time. Novo offered bliss and car racing.... Then Heero could go back to Alexander and be safe. The idiot wouldn’t be risking his life to save a life that was mostly gone anyway.

A knock on his window caught him and he nearly jumped in his seat. Heero waved. He was on one of Duo’s motorcycles, black helmet on, visor lifted.

Duo waved back, feeling sheepish for the thought’s he’d just been harboring. He wanted to be so much better for Heero, so much stronger, healthier. He didn’t deserve to be loved like this.

Heero motioned for him to roll down his window, which he did. “Hey. You didn’t have to come.”

“You didn’t say I couldn’t,” Heero countered.

“You shouldn’t have risked your life last night,” Duo said, suddenly angry as hell that Heero had done that without even telling him. “You have no fucking idea what you being dead did to me!”

“Yes. I do,” Heero said forcefully. “Yesterday I remembered you saving my life and telling me that you were dying, that you’d take care of everything for me. You created Alexander because you knew I couldn’t live without you. Last night, Quatre and I used time travel for the first time, as far as I know. We saved your life. If we hadn’t done that, your entire life since The Rage is gone. All the kids you’ve helped, everything. When we found you, you had more bullet wounds than I counted, had had two strokes, a heart attack, serious burns and abrasions over 40% of your body. You described yourself as hamburger and you weren’t wrong. When Quatre and I picked you up to move you, you screamed in pain for the whole trip to the life pod. I am never going to forget that. So today, and for the next few days, you’re going to live with me tagging around after you.  Is that okay with you?”

“Yeah,” Duo said, deflated of his anger, but washed out, like all the internal structures holding him up had become a house of cards. “I... I’m sorry.”

Heero set the helmet on the magnetic rack in the back then leaned into Duo’s window, giving him a gentle kiss. “I love you. Love is a great mystery, but in you I find all that is valuable in life. Will you marry me?”

“Woah.. you mean like more than we already are?”

“I have all my memories,” Heero said as he tugged on one of  Duo’s bangs. “We have been friends. We have been lovers. We have lived together. I was going to ask on The Rage. I never got the chance. Will you marry me, Duo Maxwell?”

“Yeah,” Duo said, coming up out of the window, hands moving into Heero’s hair.

Heero wrapped his arms around him and pulled him the rest of the way out of the window and onto the black motorcycle in front of him. The kiss sent shivers through Duo, but Heero held him, biting gently, tongues touching. Duo shifted around, straddling the motorcycle backwards, thighs pressing to Heero’s waist. “The bike has insta shell. Take me around my loop, fast, please, then we’ll go in and see Tyla.”

“Hn,” Heero agreed. The bike rumbled to life. Heero revved it hard, making it growl like a monster. Duo snuggled against him, face hidden against Heero’s neck. Heero  held the bike in check as it reeved and when he released it, the front wheel lifted off the ground for a moment.   Duo’s loop was used by other people as well, but infrequently. Most people used the train or the public loop.  The colony’s AI which was related to Galen, kept all other traffic out of their way when Heero roared onto it. Due to the slightly lower gravity on the colony, the ideal road conditions, and Duo’s insane engineering, the bike was faster than any bike should be. Near the completed circuit of the colony, they broke the speed of sound. Both the bike and the enclosed roadway generated a shield around them that protected them from unpleasant temperatures and friction. There was the pull, the speed, increased (but not uncomfortable) G force.

As Heero decelerated, slowly bringing them back off at the same exit they’d entered. The loop only went in one direction, so there was only one  portal at each exit. They rolled up to The Center with the same direction they’d had previously.  

“Better,” Heero asked.

“You’re perfect,” Duo said softly, kissing Heero’s cheek. “Still wanna marry me?”

“Yes. We should do it while my parents are here.”

“Does it really feel like they are your parents?”

“Yeah. I don’t know how you found them or how you did it, but when I run their genetics and mine, there is a 95% likelihood that they are both my actual parents. For a man who doesn’t like lies, you did a really good job with that one.”

“I don’t know what happened, but I don’t know that I’m capable of doing all that. These days just not fucking my life over sideways is about all I can manage.”

Heero powered the bike down behind Duo’s car, scritched the back of Duo’s neck. “Things are going to get better. We will find the uncorrupted mind file.  We will enjoy the hell out of being alive for a very long time.”

“That is the best plan I have ever heard,” Duo said. “You gonna wear white in our wedding?”

“If it would make you smile,” Heero said, tugging Duo’s braid. “You came here because one of your kids has an addiction problem?”

“Yeah. Novo is some shit. I’m never going to be really free of it.” Duo said, his thumb brushing over Heero’s lower lip. “Sometimes I want it so bad... there’s no me left, only just wanting that damn shit.”

“There isn’t any of it on Camelot, is there?”

“No. It’s not allowed,” Duo said, climbing down from the motorcycle.

“And yet you have The Center which treats Novo addiction,” Heero asked, curious. “What substance was Tyla using?”

“Novo,” Duo said, frowning, before he shook his head, letting go of the question.

“Where did she get it,” Heero asked.

Duo felt a sharp pain in his head, right behind his eyes, which darkened. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” Shinigami hissed.

“That’s interesting,” Heero said.

“What is,” Duo asked, rubbing his arms, feeling suddenly chill. “I think maybe we should do stew for dinner, with biscuits. What do you think?”

“I think you’re an accomplished engineer and a solidly passable medical doctor. You should let Charlotte and the house AI do the cooking.” Heero said, keeping a straight face as he hooked an arm around Duo’s arm.

“Ouch,” Duo said, laying his head on Heero’s shoulder. “My food hasn’t poisoned you yet.”

“Not since that one time when we were 15.”

“I had limited resources and no net access. How was I to know it would make us sick, slightly sick?”

“Duo, you cooked a road kill skunk.”

“You ate it.”

“I was hungry,” Heero admitted, “At least I wasn’t hungry for a few days afterwards.”

“There are no skunks on Camelot,” Duo said, but then, just as they walked under the arch and into The Center’s grounds, “They’re kinda cute. I should put some.”

“No thank you,” Heero said, brushing a bit of bang back out of Duo’s face. “How about some racoons? We could download into little bandit bodies and knock over trash cans.”

“No trash cans on Camelot, but we could make our eyes glow and look in folk’s windows.”

“Someone would shoot us.”

“Possibly. Probably. Might still be fun.”

“Hn,” Heero agreed, and then the door opened and a nice person, gender not easy to tag, but the person was wearing a Catholic sister’s black and white garb, so Heero decided sister would be okay. “Hello, Sister. We’ve come to visit Tyla....”

“Tyla Maxwell,” Duo added. “And I could stand to stand in the light for a few minutes, myself.”

“Welcome, my children,” she said. “Come into the light. All are welcome here.”

Duo leaned close and whispered, “The light is also a little bad for some kinds of cognition.”

“Really,” Heero hissed, wrapping his arm around Duo’s shoulders, pulling him close.

They were shown to Ty’s room and she stood on a soothing blue light circle. A lovely chandelier hung above her, sending glittering fractured blue light down over her. She stood on it, wearing a yellow robe that draped around her, a little like an old fashioned  Buddhist monk.  

“Hey,” Duo said, loud enough to get her attention.

Her eyes fluttered open. Confusion clouded her face for a moment then she was flying into his arms. “Dad! I’m so glad to see you! Where have you been? I was afraid Dash killed you!”

He rubbed her back, patted her head. “I ain’t gone ta see’im yet. No worries.”

“Then where ya been,” she snapped, accusing, pulling back, arms across her chest. “You said you’d visit me everyday, Dad! Who’s this sucker? You got a new boyfriend?”

Duo grinned brightly, smiled at Heero.

All the irritation Heero had been feeling with this girl disappeared when Duo smiled at him.

“So this is Heero Yuy. He’s moving in. We gonna get married.” Duo shoved his hands into his back pockets, rocked onto the balls of his feet and back. “Maybe you’ll be well enough to come.”

“Uh,” she said. “Dad, you know he’s not really Heero Yuy, right?”
“Now, I know it’s a bit of a shock,” Duo said, hands up kind of defensively. “I’ve been single for a long time.”

“You’re not single,” Ty snapped. “What did you tell Sung?”

“Wuulll,” Duo said, fighting off the pain in his head.

“Duo,” Heero said gently. “I thought I saw you put a gift basket in the car when you left. Why don’t you go get it and give Tyla and I a moment to get acquainted,” he asked with authority in his voice, smiling and kind, but not really making it a question.

“Yeah, okay,” Duo said, brow furrowed, lips thin and twisted. “I did put a gift basket in the car. I’ll be right back.”

As soon as Duo was far enough away, Tyla turned on Heero, nose wrinkling. “You better run, you fucking pretender. Sung’ll make mince out of you, just like he did the real Heero Yuy. He showed me the real one’s body once. So I know you’re not the real one.”

“Perhaps I’m not the original,” Heero allowed, and given that he’d re-spawned less than twelve hours before, he knew he wasn’t the original,  “but a man is the kah not the coat. I will also tell you this,” he said in words cold enough to dim the sun, “That if you do not speak kindly to Duo, with love and gentleness, I will make sure that you regret your existence, and do not wish to live. There is a great deal of difference between wishing for death and wishing for Nirvanah the way you’ll wish if I chose to make it so. He has done nothing to harm you, only to help you. You are an adult now, so your problems are of your own fruit.”

“You think you’re a badass, but I’m telling you, Sung will kill you. Shinigami is his,” Ty said, face pale, clearly afraid of both Heero and Sung now.

“No one owns anyone else,” Heero said firmly. “I am Heero Yuy and I have brought down whole armies. I think I can deal with one asshole. You will speak more nicely to your dad going forward, will you not?”

“Yup,” she agreed.

“How do I find Sung Chang,” he asked, smiling politely.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Ty said softly. “He’ll come for you.”






Friday, May 13, 2016

fic: A Wrench to the Heart 13/?

A Wrench to the Heart 13/?

By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.


Warning: Okay... so on this chapter I had planned a fight, a lemon - I got to none of them.  Next chapter Duo’s gonna visit Ty, have a flashback, and maybe there will be that lemon!




“What the living fuck,” Duo hissed, hands raising in emphasis, “was that all about?  And Q? Fifty fucking years of ‘Ima gonna grow old’an die cuz I wanna be with Allah’ and now you’re stridin up in here like a sheriff in Armani?” He spun on Charlotte, pointing accusingly, “You didn’t put that Preventer shit on yer resume!”

She clicked the safety on her weapon and gave him a look like she was expecting a raise.

Quatre sniffed the tea pot, set the lid back, tugged at his cuff and turned to Duo with an amused smirk. “I have, most definitely, spoken in such a manner in my life. Heero and I went adventuring last night and I had a change of heart. Far be it from me to run Allah’s business. If he wishes to call me home, I shall be happy to go, but in the meantime, I have tasks here which need attending to.  Duo, I never believed you about Heero. I was wrong. I’m very sorry. Will you please forgive me?”

“Fuck, Q. There’s nothing to forgive. I didn’t always believe me either. What did you and Heero do last night?” He asked suspiciously.

“Miss Charlotte, would you please fetch some fresh tea for Duo and me? I would really like some danish as well.”

Charlotte gave him a long expression - the kind of expression that says you get that you’re not getting a raise, but your job description has also been altered and not for the better. There was going to be medical school. Yes. Yes, there was. “Of course.”

“Thanks, Charlie,” Duo said apologetically. “Wanna check on Julia too?”

For a very small moment there was a look like there wasn’t enough money in the heliosphere to make a big enough raise. “Yeah, Duo. If something is going on here though, I have a right to know what it is. My job description does not include confronting mad scientists in the livingroom.”

Duo listened intently as she spoke, his hands sliding up the sides of his head, fingers pushing brown hair up so it was almost like little cat ears, which he then wiggled with his fingers while smiling playfully. “This house is full of mad scientists. Have you seen Kay’s homework?”

She held her breath for a moment then laughed. “You’re insane.”

“So they keep telling me. You’re pretty handy. Wanna extend yer contract for an extra year?”

“Nope. I’ll get that tea.”

Quatre sat down near Duo, pulling his chair closer. “Use the Moroccan granite method.”

“That takes twenty minutes,” Charlotte snapped.

Comfortable in his chair, Quatre tapped his fingers one after the other on the arm, “Yes. I know.”

She threw her hands up over her head as she walked away.

When she was out of the room, Quatre dropped a privacy circle on the floor and when it was large enough to encompass them, he activated it. “As you know, I have companies working with many cutting edge processes. Using information from Heero’s recovered memories, we were better able to triangulate both the location of The Rage and your location. We need a copy of your mind file in order to restore neural integrity to your mind. You are very resistant to going to a younger mind file.”

“Q,” Duo said patiently, “Mindfiles are in the past. Unless your folk cooked up a fukin TARDIS, there is no mindfile to fix me. I’m going to die. It’s just a matter of time. I’m a greedy shit. I should have left Heero being happy as Alexander.”

“Nonsense. Heero is much happier as Heero and here with you. As it happens though, I do have the ability to do time travel.”

“Oh yer shitin’ me!” Duo said, scooting forward until he was on the edge of his chair. “Really? I wanna go look for Jesus!”

“That is incredibly risky and frivolous and no, you can not go back in time to look for Jesus. Heero and I went to get your mind file from The Rage. We were successful.”

“Let’s fix me then!” Duo said, arms over his head, fingers wiggling.

“Yeah. About that,” Quatre said softly. “While we know that we succeeded. We don’t know where we secured the mindfile.”

“Wait.” Duo said, eyes narrowing. “You and Heero did this super risky thing to get something you need to save my life, getting you both killed in the process, so both of you respawned - in my house - without even telling me you were doing something that dangerous, and while you completed your mission and got the thing I need to not - you know - fucking die, but you don’t know where you put it?”

Quatre tilted his head, nodded appreciatively. “Yes. Exactly.”

Duo leaned back in the queen anne chair, scratched his ear. “So.. how does the time travel thingy work, exactly?”

“I am never telling you that, ever.  I will not have you trying to rescue every waif in all of history.”

Duo wrinkled his nose.  “It’s not like I can’t figure it out on my own. I’m glad you respawned. Are you going to be here long enough to race a bit, do some fun stuff?”

Quatre pressed two fingers to his temple and sighed. “You are Peter Pan. I’ve been gone from my office for more than a week, counting the trip to L1 and back. What kind of car do you have that I could race?”

“I’ll let you use the Camero,” Duo offered, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Really,” Quatre replied. “Well, maybe another day or so. Heero hasn’t had a chance to see the raceway yet.”

“No, he hasn’t,” Duo said, wiggling his eyebrows.

“What raceway,” Charlotte asked as she wheeled in a cart with tea and pastries.

Duo quickly picked up a pastry and had some in his mouth when he answered, “Uh, I built a raceway, for cars, cars with combustion engines.” He swallowed, smiled sweetly, “It’s pretty cool.”  He grinned extra, kinda defensive as she glared.

“Do you mean ... cars that burn fossil fuel?”

“Yeah,” Duo said, chewing, “I got a Mustang that I kitted out to run on jet fuel!”

“That’s dangerous,” she snarled, “and illegal! Fossil fuels were banned for reasons!”

“What reasons,” Duo challenged as he made himself a tea. “Come on, tell me.”

“They’re bad for the air! They’re explosive! They’re rare and difficult to get! Wars were fought over them. Oh and they’re explosive. We’re on a space colony. Did I mention they’re EXPLOSIVE?”

“You, clearly, haven’t driven one,” Duo said, using Quatre’s fancier dialect.

“Mr. Winner! Tell him!” Charlotte looked entirely distressed. The dead do not go to medical school.

“Calm down,” Quatre said, making patting motion with his hand. “The raceway can easily contain full nuclear explosions. We had a full Gundam battle in there before we moved any colonists in. It’s solid as the sun.”

She rubbed her temples firmly, taking a deep breath. There might have been some adrenalin left over from trying to arrest one of the top ten wanted men in the heliosphere. “Now let’s be clear, and I don’t mean to put my employment in any kind of actual jeopardy, but you can’t have had a battle with actual Gundams. They were destroyed after the wars and the only people who could have really piloted those machines are the five saints. They’re all dead.   I have personally been to Emperor Chang’s mausoleum and viewed his body.”

“Oh that’s gross,” Duo said, wrinkling his nose. “Did Wu-boy agree to that,” he asked Quatre.

“Apparently,” Quatre said, sipping his tea. “So, if I understand you, Ms. Charlotte, you sound like you don’t think that Duo is the Duo Maxwell nor that I am also one of the five war pilots.”

“How can you be? The wars were a couple hundred years ago. Serious life extension wasn’t even available then. Even now it takes nearly a lifetime of preparation embrace the Long Path.  Duo’s only forty-five and it’s just not reasonable that you are THE Quatre Winner. I’m sure the name is popular in  your family.”

“I bet you think the ‘real’ Duo was taller,” Duo said, tucking his still bare feet up under his knees.

“I don’t mean to hurt your feelings,” Charlotte said softly, “But you are a little short.”

“Come on, I’m 5’5”. There were nutritional deficiencies in my childhood.”

“See? The Five Saints were all engineered to be perfect pilots.  You know the stories. We all learned them in elementary school.”

“Really,” Duo asked, grimacing. He glared at Quatre.

Quatre shrugged. “It was Trowa’s idea. It has kept people from actually looking for us.”

“Great,” Duo deadpanned. “Galen! Give me a copy of a textbook with the story of the Five Saints.”

Galen walked out of the wall hands on a book that was still manifesting. “You do realize I have important work to do, do you not?”

Quatre sighed. “Why do you let him talk to you like that? My computer is still strutting around claiming to be Pikachu. I really do blame you for that.”

“Never mind that,” Duo said opening up the book, “Look at this shit! It says I’m six foot two with one blue eye and one purple eye and that I’m a girl. This book says I’m a girl. Galen! Is this a legit textbook.”

Charlotte leaned over it, smiling with nostalgia. “Yeah. Looks just like the one I had in school. I forgot about Duo being a girl. She was never my favorite. I always dreamed about Saint Yuy.”

“That’s funny,” Heero said from the doorway. He wore Duo’s old grey Preventer’s workout gear, his hair wet from a shower, blue eyes smirking with amusement. “The most surreal thing is that I remember reading that book as a child, as Alexander, but I know I didn’t. Duo was always my favorite.” He winked.

Duo blushed, swallowed. “I still don’t like this. It’s all a lie. I don’t like lies.”

“Do you want media people from Earth on your doorstep every other day?  You got bug nuts crazy that year they showed up here on Heero Yuy Day a few years ago. If I remember, that’s why you go camping every year. Don’t second guess Trowa’s work. No one is better at camoflauge than he is.”

Charlotte sank down to the floor, her hands in her hair, staring up at the three of them as heero leaned to kiss Duo’s neck and Quatre sipped tea, cool as fresh ice cream in July. All of them were smaller than she would have expected, but as she thought about it, that actually made some kind of sense. All of Duo’s behaviors.... My god... it made sense. If anyone was going to have access to life extension it would be the Winner family and gods knew they were well disposed to Duo Maxwell, her boss, who god, it all made so much sense that she felt like a complete idiot for not seeing it sooner. “I really want a raise.”

“I’ll include support during your residency period, on condition that you sign binding non-disclosure agreements,” Quatre offered.

“I’ll let you practice on Camelot,” Duo said smiling, leaning back into Heero’s touch. “I’ll let you drive my Mustang! Once.”

“The one that runs on jet fuel," she asked as if he'd offered her cyanide.

“Yeah.”

“I’m very excited about medical school,” Charlotte said firmly. “I’m going to be a fantastic doctor.”