Still Breathing 4/4
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.
Warning: ghost story, mention of child abuse, some cussing.
Without making the choice, Heero’s perception shifted into Dr. J. Years gone, the feelings and experience in the memory struck him vividly, cutting the years between the past and present to dust. It was the lab where he’d received his conditioning. The hair on the back of his neck went erect like a forest of daggers. A large dog carrier sat on a metal table. Duo squatted on the table, behind the the carrier, wearing a blue tee-shirt, gray cargo pants, his braid clean and laying calmly down his back. He turned to look at Heero, his eyes completely black, no white, just wet shimmering white. “It’s just a matter of time,” he said.
A younger looking J, who oddly looked more like Heero than Heero remembered, approached the carrier, with a thick apron on, bicep length thick gloves. He nudged the carrier roughly. Heero felt his own vocal cords respond with a growling snarl.
“You are coming out of there,” J said calmly. “If you fight, the process is going to be much less comfortable for you. Do you understand?”
“I understand,” Heero said, feeling surreal as both his own adult voice and his terrified younger self’s voice said the words at the same time and they echoed through Duo’s lab.
J opened the carrier. “Come out. It’s hardly going to hurt at all.”
Ghost Duo reached into the carrier, took younger Heero’s hand, held onto him comfortingly. When J reached into the carrier to drag his subject out, Duo slashed, bringing an onyx scythe shaped blade across living flesh, taking J to the bone, sending black ink blood spraying across time, splattering against Heero’s adult face. He staggered back, left hand wiping still hot black fluid from his face. Duo’s words whispered in his memory, “It’s just a matter of time.”
“What the fuck have you done, Duo?” Heero’s fist dented the metal of the wall. The pain took the edge from his anger. “You will never hid anything from me again,” Heero said, very firm, very calmly.
He felt agreement in Duo’s ghost, contrition. Duo was trying to tell him. He gritted his teeth. It wasn’t a ghost. He did not believe in ghosts. It wasn’t some ephemeral specter of a soul. There was no heaven, no hell, and he sure as fuck was not going to allow that he was going insane. He ran through mathematical formulas in his mind, the comfortable and dependable patterns that numbers could make. It was just random flowing through the world that caught his reflection in a smooth tablet computer. There was nothing at all random about the changes that stared back at him. His eyes had deepened in color, a deep midnight blue. There was a rather pronounced scar above his right eye and he knew... more certainly than he pi that that scar had happen when Duo brought the blade down on J’s arm. Duo affected events in the past.
Duo was in the time stream.
Duo wasn’t actually dead.
Heero titled his head, still staring into the smooth black mirror like surface and felt at the base of his neck. The scar came into being right under his fingers. As soon as it was formed, it was as if it had always been there. Confused, he pulled up his shirt, expecting to find a long scar on his chest.. but there was only smooth chest, a bit of fine dark chest hair. Goose bumps rose over his arms, down his chest, and he wanted to puke, to lose the pizza he’d just eaten with Triton and Quatrine.
He staggered into a table, shook his main work computer with the impact and blinked. He was in his lab at the university.. of course he was. Where else would he have been? It was a clean and bright affair, smelled faintly of tea. He was Dr. Heero Yuy, a specialist in biochemistry. He sat down, hands shaking. It was the fourth of February, the anniversary of the accident that had killed his family. He knew better than to be alone on that day. He reached up to a stick spot on his cheek wiped away dark sticky something.
The voice sounded so clear, as he stared at the dark, drying smear. “I love you, baby. You deserve all that life can give you.”
That’s right. There had been an imaginary friend. Long brown braid, violet eyes that carried too much sadness sometimes.... they’d talked for years, every day, even before his family died. His Duo had been with him every single day, when he’d been afraid, when he’d been happy. When he’d started college, his therapist told him to tell Duo to go away, and he had. And he had.
“I’m sorry,” Heero whispered. “Please... can you come back?”
As real as if he’d been real, just slightly translucent, the pretty braided boy sat on the table. He’d never aged, never changed.. he was just exactly as he always had been, gray cargo pants, blue shirt, long brown braid, sad violet eyes. “Sure, ‘Ro.”
“You were real once.”
Heero looked from his Duo, that only he could see, only he knew to the dark black stain on his fingers. Everything had changed that day, when his family had been attacked. He’d been abducted, taken in a dog carrier, but his Duo had been there protecting him like some religious figure. Everything had changed. The Heero Yuy that he had been named after brought peace to the Earth Sphere. “Oh my god.”
For just a single breath, he was in Duo’s lab, a nasty and nest like place with weapons and desperation written all over it, dark and violent, a completely different world, then Duo’s fingers brushed over his, a hand laid over Heero’s heart, over the scar that was and wasn’t there. “You did, Duo.”
Duo smiled, a brilliant smile, that broke Heero’s heart. “Almost did. It’s almost done. Just let me go one more time and it’ll be really done.”
Straddling the alternative time lines, Heero’s mind raced. “Fuck you, Duo Maxwell,” Heero snapped, pulling away.
Shaking, completely uncertain of his own sanity, he rushed as he peeled off his own shirt, sending buttons flying as he did. Sterile gloves on, he took the longest needle he had and slowly pushed it in, using the strength he had, focusing on the strength he had in the dark timeline that he didn’t have in the light timeline. Tears of pain slipped down Dr. Heero’s face, but Preventer Heero drew blood and tissue from his own heart before letting go, giving the world to Dr. Heero.
Dr. Heero sequenced the DNA from his sample in moments. Smiling as if sanity finally found the right connections in his brain, he stared at DNA that wasn’t his at all. Caucasian, spacer strain, probably L2, brown hair, violet eyes... he saved it and spread a back up of the data to a hundred different locations.
“Have you kept up with what I’ve been doing, Duo Maxwell?”
There was no answer. He suspected as the timeline changes solidified, overlap would minimize, but as that happened, he found himself feeling smarter, more connected to his world, to the years he’d spent immersed in technology, trying not to have an imaginary friend that he couldn’t live without. Still half naked, he carried the all important data chip to his very fancy new molecular printer. He hadn’t known why, but he’d built it for just this moment. He slide the data in and activated it.
Only then did he step back, cover his face with both hands and feel the gravity of having just told his developmental piece of technology to print a human being. He’d build fusion, without telling anyone. He’d found plans for building a machine that could fabricate the complex cells of a living beings in his dreams and he’d built it. Now, putting all the clues together, he wondered if his imaginary friend hadn’t given him those dreams, stolen data from time that hadn’t happened yet.
Around his neck... he suddenly found a ring, heavy and black and he knew that he’d worn it every day since his friend saved him from Dr. J and that he’d never had it until that moment. He pulled it from around his neck, stared at it. He held Duo in his hand.. and he knew it.
The printing didn’t complete until well past dawn and nearly fifteen unanswered calls from his friends. They were worried about him, but for the first time in all his life, maybe.. maybe they didn’t need to be.
The cover of the printer broke its seal with a hiss, lifting up to reveal a man, hairless, naked, but perfect. Shaking, Heero placed the dark ring on the living embodiment of his imaginary friend, the friend who had been with him almost every day of his life.
As soon as he pulled his hand back, the body jerked, violet eyes snapped open. He took a long slow, ragged first breath. Heero cried, emotion so intense he didn’t even know a name for them.
His imaginary friend smacked the ring harder against his head, hissed in pain, his face twisting up in an expression unlike anything Heero had ever seen.. and yet... like seeing home.
He sat up, ring still held to his forehead, swayed a bit, then swung his legs over the edge of the table. Violet eyes rolled back in his head and Heero reached out to grab him, holding him gently upright. “Can you talk? Say something.”
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, you fucking did it, Heero!”
Heero’s mouth dropped open.... he had printed a living man.
“Oh don’t look so freaked out, man. That’s creepy. Get me some clothes, you bastard. You ain’t married me yet.”
“Uh,” Heero said. “Are you real?”
Duo dropped the ring, grabbed Heero’s face, drew him down and kissed him, the kiss he’d been waiting to give him for two lifetimes. “Yes, Heero. I’m real. Get me some clothes, will ya?”
“You’re Duo Maxwell.”
“Yeah, yeah, in the flesh. You’re Heero Yuy. This is us, free and safe.”
“Free and safe. What are we safe from?”
Duo laced his hands behind his currently bald head, smirked happily. “Ghosts and war, man, ghosts and war. We’re both still breathing and that’s how it fucking should be!”