Santa Clarita 4
Parts typed by Gypsiewolf
All errors the responsibility of Pinkwhirlwind
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.
Notes: Gods, I don’t even know where this story is going. Like all my junk, my native language is 1x2, but it’ll probably be written a second time as original. And Holy Moly.. I so didn’t see what Duo did coming! I’m just playing, remembering how fun stories are.
Heero was too tired to think about how he hated press conferences. He hadn’t slept properly since the first missed reply from Duo. He knew he wasn’t really in fit shape for a difficult mission, but some poetic part of his mind knew that the thread of his fate had already been cut.
Wearing a nice black suit, showered and shaved, he stood at the podium, hands on the polished oak, and glared at the fifty some odd reporters who were there to listen to what he had to say. Staring at them, his throat went dry. Such a great bother, the lot of them. He sighed. “Duo Maxwell is currently missing, but his location is suspected. If I weren’t here, talking to all of you, I would already be on a mission to recover him. Ms. Peacecraft has impressed upon me that Duo would be very unhappy to return and find humanity at war again. Such an outcome would be the antithesis of everything he’s ever worked for. If my mission is successful, we will both be back within moments of the end of this conference, or at least there will be a message from us. If my mission is unsuccessful - I don’t care what you do, but Duo would want you to be kind to each other and treat each other with the love of Christ. I will answer five questions.” He pointed to a woman whose tattooed face and brightly colored clothes said she was likely from Sweeper dedicated media.
“Which Earth government is responsible for Duo’s disappearance?” She asked. One of her eyes was violet. The other a green so vivid it had to be synthetic.
“No Earth government is in any way responsible for Duo’s disappearance.” Heero pointed to someone who seemed American to him, wearing one of those ridiculous cowboy hats.
“Is it true that Duo’s disappearance has something to do with travel in time.”
Heero motioned to security personnel. “Please accompany my security personnel. They will answer your questions and check your clearances. Any further questions?”
“Are you arresting Paul for asking you a question,” a woman with a French accent asked, shock and maybe a little horror in her voice.
Heero’s brows drew together. “If I was having him arrested, I’d have said, ‘Arrest that man’. I simply need my people to re-check his credentials.”
“So there was some sort of validity to his question then? Is your center experimenting with time travel?”
Heero ran a hand through unruly brown hair. “Do you think that time travel is even a reasonable consideration considering the tension surrounding Maxwell’s disappearance?”
“Yes, actually. The Higgs boson has been a known particle for almost fifty years. Time travel has long been hypothetically possible. Is that what Duo Maxwell was working in?”
“Dr. Maxwell’s area of research is neocortex expansion in mammals. He wrote three papers last year. All of them were peer reviewed and well received. I suggest you attempt reading them.”
Another hand went up, an elegant black man, with eyes like midnight and a crisp expression.
Heero pointed to him.
“Are you always this rude, Dr. Yuy.”
“Yes. That’s why Dr. Maxwell handles these kinds of things for us when we need to do them, or Ms. Peacecraft. I understand the lot of you asked for me explicitly. Now you know why that was a poor choice. That was six questions. I wish a good evening to all.”
Protests erupted as if they couldn’t actually believe the person they’d waited ten hours to talk to was walking out after five minutes. Relena, now dressed in a somber gray suit, followed Heero out rather than talk to them. Security closed the doors behind them and left the nearly shouting reporters to deal with the center’s press secretary.
“Heero,” Relena said firmly, walking fast enough to get almost half a step ahead of him. “You must rest before you go. Whatever happened on the other end of the shift, you have to be at your best to deal with it. It’s thirty years in the past. It’s not changing over the next ten hours.”
The sound he made wasn’t quite a word nor quite a grunt as it ground up the rebuttal to her argument. “Will you pack a bag of our clothes for me? In a backpack? Make sure that period appropriate clothes are prepared... I guess not our clothes. Clothes that are right for the time and money?”
“Yes, Heero,” she said, nodding, smiling softly. “I’ll take care of it. Rest. Sleep. Whatever is on the other end of that portal, you’re going to need all the strength you can get.”
“I wish I knew what he was experiencing.”
“OH, and when I first came in, a recording said to remind you that he’d won the bet.”
Heero snorted, almost laughing. “Actually, that would be a draw. He bet that you would stalk me enough to break into our home. Your motive negates the bet.”
“Well, I never!”
Unaugmented kittens are very good companions, but they make very bad surgeons. Very good things become very bad things when used in ways that they were not intended for. The subcellular bots that kept Duo young, that were repairing the bullet wound, that had updated his data to a back up in his lab for a decade, that gave him a constant feed of Heero’s physical well being, always just humming like a comforting purr under his thoughts, all these very intelligent and autonomous processes were never meant to be cut off from their own grounding sources. They were not meant to deal with an intelligence as powerful and uncontrolled as Duo Maxwell while in full on panic and traumatic distress. His amygdala went into screaming overdrive, throwing the whole system into a frantic fight for survival.
One of the women outside the bathroom banged on the door and it sounded like mortar fire. Duo growled a scream out, reliving a hand to hand battle that won’t happen for several decades. He punched, this nanite system adapting into an energy barrier around his fist that dissolved the flimsy wood of the door as his fist made a hole on its way through. One of the women screamed.
Duo heard Sister Helen. Just like a hundred thousand dreams, played out according to different scripts and always ending the same. In that moment, he was an ageless child, full of enough rage to burn down the whole universe, but he wasn’t powerless like he had been. He was a man, a pilot, a scientist, a lover who watched Ironman movies with his mate, an augmented intelligence that was only human by the fragile volatility of what it is to be human, and he knew that if he could get there in time this time, he’d save the woman who had loved even if he was a dirty, half rabid little street rat. The door splintered, near evaporating under his attack.
The taser pins hit his chest, discharging the highest charge. Internal nanobots reconfigured, using what was left of Duo’s reason to push for the best possible outcome, for saving Sister Helen. Actual brain matter succumbed to being rewritten by rapidly reproducing nanobots. The machine part of him soaked in the taser charge, using it to expand the rapid retyping of intelligence and presence.
Words were screamed, but they weren’t words that made sense to a mind processing extreme L2 slang. Scanning for his Sister, finding only aggressors, it was easy to come to the conclusion that the dream had already passed the point of changing it. Further enraged, what was left of Duo ripped the taser pins from him, sent newborn hostile nanobots down the cables at the speed of light. Duo under any conceivable conditions would never attack an innocent person, rewrite their DNA to turn them from who they’d been, into being Sister Helen or Father Maxwell, Solo, or Heero, but Duo wasn’t even close to being in a situation he could have foreseen.
The cop dropped the taser, but too late. Her hand rippled, the flesh shifting and swelling as machines so small they couldn’t be seen by less than an electron microscope, these small machines, running only on the directive of a damaged boy’s wildest dreams remade her, forcing the world to give back his mother figure.
The doctor grabbed the pistol from her friend’s holster, pointing at at Duo, screaming at him in a language he didn’t understand anymore.
It was the gun though, that woke up an older part of him. Fucking Hansel. Time worked on a different rate when one’s thoughts cycled thousands of times faster than an unaugmented human’s did. He watched the nice new Dr. Sally screaming, understood her now, but she was right... he had become a monster in these circumstances, doing things he’d never want to do, but had very few ways of undoing. Given a bit of time in his lab, he could sort out all the things his illegally augmented bots had done, re-write nice cop lady’s DNA, maybe fix a few things for her in the process, make up for it, maybe laugh about it over a pizza and a beer. But this wasn’t his time and he didn’t have a lab and he could explain what he’d done to her. Hell, Sister Helen was probably alive somewhere in this world, a young woman - maybe she was too young to have taken vows. L2 wasn’t even in the planning phase yet.
Sister Helen’s face was being written into the nice cop woman’s face and it broke Duo’s heart. One life could not be traded for another and someone loved that nice woman. There were all the lives she was supposed to touch, to heal, to protect, and he felt the path of his tears more intensely than any tears he’d ever cried. He had finally found a connection to the data stream, but it was deeper and more organic, connecting straight into energy patterns that wove through time and space.
Sobbing, Dr. Sally shot him, and he forgave her before the bullets even passed through him. His body opened and allowed the bullets to pass through. He had grief already and while there was pain he liked, that was private and didn’t involve bullets. With all the power he had in that moment, he knew he couldn’t save himself and that the greatest strength he had was in bond of friendship and love he shared with those he’d left behind.
“Don’t worry,” he told the women, the one that he’d killed and the one who was trying to kill him. “I know how to help Heero find us. He’ll come for us. Everything will be okay.”
Duo concentrated as hard as he could, which in that moment was a very considerable lot. Nanobots spread at the speed of light, investing the surrounding block, sending every living thing to sleep, and then, all in one blow, the city block exploded, sending a distinct cloud up, odd and shaped like buildings that hadn’t been there, like giant men that would never stand there, falling over on each other. The explosion lasted only a few moments, reliving Heero’s worst mission, their shared icon for epic failure. Every life in that block was extinguished, but Duo’s thought was that Heero would know where and when to find him, and while Heero was good at saving the world, Duo expected he was mostly just good at standing by Heero. The last thought he had before his own thought process dissipated into the settling dust.. thought with a bit of irony and mostly full of hope and trust... “Heero! Come find me!”
Quatre paused, his fingers light above the microfiche newspaper on his tablet. “Sweet Abraham,” he hissed, holding out the table to Trowa. The explosion was the oddest explosion, but both of them recognized the base that Heero had been responsible for destroying. “How did he do that?”
“I told you he was dead,” Trowa said without emotion one way or the other.
Quatre leaned forward, kissed his husband’s cheek. Their eyes met for a moment and there was all the connection possible, the meaning of life, but then Quatre was running off to see if Heero was up yet. Now they knew mostly where and when.