Still Breathing 1/?
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing, alas.
Notes: This story is a sequel to Breathing.
Heero left the hospital on a cold December day. Duo left with him, walking right behind him, still wearing the jeans and tattered blue tee-shirt he’d been wearing that day two months past when Heero picked him up. Every beat of his heart was Duo too, literally. He turned to look back at the big shiny blue glass building of the hospital. The rest of Duo’s body had been in that building... and had gone wherever bodies go. Heero hadn’t asked. Thinking about it now, he expected that Quatre probably did something with it. Non-living Duo didn’t interest Heero.
The moments he was sure he saw Duo smiling at him out of the corner of his eyes, heard his voice when he was somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, these things shook his understanding of the world. He’d always known that life was life, death was death, and the two didn’t really meet, not once you got firmly from one into the other. The therapist Quatre sent to talk to him had been no help at all. She’d believed that Duo’s ghost was watching over him. He’d asked her to point out on an MRI exactly where the ghost was.
She’d tried to touch his forehead. He’d almost broken her finger. Trowa thought it was a fair exchange. Quatre had just asked for more tea. Heero did not, now or ever, believe in ghosts.
Except that Duo hadn’t gone away.
Heero didn’t want him to.
Even if it meant having an imaginary friend.
“Mr. Yuy,” a hurried little man said, rushing up to him. “You are Mr. Heero Yuy?”
Heero stepped back, a knap sack over his shoulder blue eyes narrowed in a who-wants-to-know look.
“I’m Daniel McBride. I have the starport dock and ship for you. They belonged to Duo Maxwell.” He held out a paper envelope.
“Why wasn’t this included in Duo’s will that Quatre’s lawyer handled.” Heero took it, weight the heft of the envelope. Unlikely to be a bomb.
“Yes, well, Mr. Maxwell was working with some very delicate experiments that he felt Mr. Winner might find... uncomfortable, but you were to have everything he’d done. There are … contingency plans. Please take a couple days to review the property. If, for any reason, you don’t feel comfortable receiving it, please just contact me and I shall see that Mr. Maxwell’s secondary inheritor is given the offer. In either case, it is very likely that circumspection is an excellent course of action.”
Heero nodded, slipped the envelope into his inside jacket pocket. Whatever Duo was working on that he couldn’t tell either Quatre or Earth authorities had to be pretty spectacular. It made his heart beat faster and he could almost feel Duo’s fingers brushing over his cheek. He couldn’t wait to see this ship. Duo should have mentioned a ship.
A cab picked him up. Heero told the driver to just drive, while he opened the envelope, then requested the shuttle port. He had to get to Seattle to get to Duo’s pet project. There was a data card in the envelope and on that there were designs, schematics that Heero wanted to resist, wanted to not believe they were Duo’s, but the handwriting on the schematics was Duo’s.. the math, which made Heero’s brain feel like it was moving through molasses was also in Duo’s handwriting. There were enough advances in space ship design, in recording human memories as external memory... that the patents on those would keep a person set with an income that was more than Heero could imagine. As he scrolled through the pages of designs, notes, scribbles, he started to see his own name written over and over again. Then.. the strangest thing... the name of a dangerous mission he’d gone on when he’d been with Preventers.
It had been a smuggling situation, human trafficking... which he hadn’t remembered at all. To this day memories of that mission, of the aftermath, eluded him. Duo had never joined Preventers. The last thing Heero remembered before that mission was visiting Duo at a cafe, promising he’d be safe, feeling uncomfortable that Duo didn’t feel confident in his skills... Duo had been so strange that day, making him place this black glittery stone against his forehead. Wufei had suggested it was some kind of hazing and not to worry too much about it. Maxwell had always been unusual.
He’d read Wufei’s mission report, nearly twenty times. He and Wufei had been leads, bringing in a tactical squad. Wufei swore he was sure that Heero had not put on body armor. Body armor slowed one’s responses. There had been a major firefight. Nineteen of their people died. Four of ours. Wufei swore, under oath, that he thought he’d seen Heero take hits to both his chest and his head. He also swore he saw Maxwell in the same area. The investigation had ruled that their targets had released hallucinogenic compounds into the warehouse.
Heero had been found four days later, wandering five days later... thinking it was the day off the mission, but he couldn’t remember exactly where he was or when he was supposed to be some place. He also had his resignation letter in his pocket.
Reading these equations... he thought he had a better idea of the impossibility of those days.
By the time he got to the spaceport, he was no longer content getting a commercial flight. He chartered a private shuttle and made it to Seattle in under an hour. Quatre and Trowa called. He didn’t answer. He’d never liked Seattle, but now he couldn’t wait to get there.
Trowa texted, bluntly asking if Heero intended to harm himself out of grief over Duo.
Heero now sitting in another cab, heading towards the hanger that Duo’s spaceship was in, sent a reply that he was fine. It was curt. He hoped it kept them satisfied, at least for a little while longer.
His hand rested on the messenger bag next to him, over the data that filled him with an emotion that was very far away from grief. He’d never believed in second chances. Hell, he’d never even believed in first chances for him until he’d met Duo. Duo made everything possible. He paid the cab when they got there.
His mouth had gone dry by the time he reached the secure door, typed in the code he from the data he’d been given.
As soon as he stepped in, the lights came on, and he appeared. “Welcome home, Duo. Oh. you’re not Duo.”
“No. I’m not. Are you artifical intelligence?”
“I’m intelligent. Artificial seems so.. demeaning. Where is Duo? He hasn’t been home in a very long time.”
“He’s dead,” Heero said firmly, trying to keep his hopes from getting too inflated. “I want to see this regen chamber. Have I been here before?”
The translucent hologram of him winked, a motion that was much more Duo than Heero ever would be. “Why yes you have, Mr. Yuy. Would you like me to change form?”
“Yes. Become Quatre.”
There was a slight frize of static and then Quatre stood before him, still smirking like Duo though, way too close to Duo for Heero to find it comfortable. “So you wanted to see where you were born,” the hologram teased. “I’m not the only artificial thing running around Seattle.”
“Hn.” Heero said, knowing where that lead, but not ready to really confirm it yet. “Regen chamber.”
“You’re so demanding,” the image of Quatre said, throwing a hand up. “There’s not enough energy to run it anyway. It was only designed for one use.”
“Bring me all the data on its usage, any video. Were you active when Duo regenerated me? He did, didn’t he?”
That took him back a moment. He could just hear Duo teasing him that he was a zombie. There must have been a very good reason Duo didn’t tell him what had actually happened. Duo told him pretty much everything, well, perhaps with the except that they were attracted to each other.
The best way to find out why Duo hadn’t told him was to ask him. Heero set his bag down on Duo’s work bench and accepted how he felt. “It can be fixed,” he said, determinedly. Duo couldn’t have built such a cunning little AI, as space ship, actually brought someone back from the dead without being able to be brought back himself. “How much energy does it take to power it?”
Simulated Quatre named a figure that would black out the Pacific seaboard for a day.
Heero started at the nondescript looking security door. The whole world felt fuzzy, harder to decipher. He was in a fog. Duo’s ghost whispered in his ear that this was a side effect of just finding out that one was a zombie.
“I wish you’d just tell me what I actually need to know,” Heero snapped at the ghost.
Quatre gave a pained look. “How am I supposed to know what you need to know, Heero?”
“I wasn’t talking to you.” Heero said, running his fingers slowly around the keypad, testing for some of Duo’s less obvious security measures.
“Then perhaps I can suggest an antipsychotic drug?”
“Thank you for the offer,” Heero said, pulling the real keypad from other the other one.
“Where did he get the energy last time?”
“That information has been deleted.”
“Hn.” Heero got the door open and stepped into a small antechamber. The door closed right behind him, giving him a panicked for a moment. His beloved could be a murderous bastard to people who were trying to get into his things. A palm scanner emerged from the wall. He placed his hand on it and hoped with his meager hope reserves that Duo would have set it up to let him in. Why he really thought that, he wasn’t sure... He hadn’t even confessed he wanted him. The warm light of the scanner crossed under his palm. A video display lit up on the wall. “Heero Yuy, what the hell are you doing here? Uh? If you’re here with law enforcement, you better not be bringing anyone else past the next door or I ain’t gonna be responsible for’em.”
“I’m here to get you back, idiot.”
Heero stepped through into Duo’s inner sanctum. He the little antechamber had to have been an elevator, even though he hadn’t felt it move. Now he knew how Duo had generated that much power. What he didn’t understand was how he’d built a hundred gundam reactors in a bunker below Seattle. Someone was going to have several heart attacks in a row. “Duo Maxwell, you are one bad, bad boy, and utterly sexy.”
He was never going to think about engineering the same again.