The Value of One
by Pinkwhirlwind, aka Max
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing
Notes: This is the matching fic to the Value of Two, both are side fics, back story to Santa Clarita.
Warnings: Heero POV, potentially bastard like Heero.
The sound of his own voice came back to him repeatedly, with a dependable regularity. The reasons for telling Duo no, that no they could not run away together, escape whatever justice society had for them, no they couldn’t ‘fuck like rabbits’ on their way to Mars, those reasons were sound. He hated them nonetheless.
Memories of Duo came back in almost every moment that he wasn’t intensely involved in some other mission. He’d been assigned to a nice family in Boston. Then he’d been assigned to a nice family in New York. There was talk about transferring him to Sanq. He got transferred to Seattle. He made very nice with that family. Painting their house may have been too nice. His foster mother suggested he take advantage of the therapy options available to him. He went to therapy. He was never late. He spoke of hurt and pain and he cried at the right moments. His therapist lit up with pride when Heero arrived for his appointments, feeling the carefully induced pride in himself and his value system.
He never got caught checking his illicit email, never let on that he was getting pages of messages from Duo every day, and he never replied to those messages, but he didn’t close the account either.
Heero was making great progress. So passed the months of Heero’s parole.
Until his foster mother bought him a chocolate colored poodle.
She promised him that they are supposed to be the smartest dogs in the world.
It stared at him.
He moved away from it. It seemed to smile and scoot closer, and gods, after a couple weeks, he could almost hear Duo’s voice coming from it. He lost control of his stomach. He doubted his sanity.
After he returned from the bathroom, he had a stare down with his dog and found that there was a second mammal on the planet that didn’t back down when he glared. It left his face deadpan and sparked an insecurity in him that he was never, ever going to admit.
Then the damn dog started laughing. Not laughing like a dog would bark, but laughing like Duo would laugh, in fact, exactly as Duo would laugh.
“Everything okay, Heero,” his foster mother asked, her voice approaching down the hall.
Heero grabbed up the red ball that had come with the dog, leapt onto the bed, arm around his dog, put on his most joyful smile, and ruffled his dog’s curly hair as his foster mom walked through the door. “Yeah, Mom, everything’s great. This is the best dog ever!”
Emily rolled her eyes. “And I’m Glinda the Good Witch. That wasn’t your voice.”
“I guess I just got excited or something,” he said, trying to gauge his expression just perfectly, modifying from her body language feeback, kind of like setting the volume just right. “Everything really is okay.”
“Yeah. No electronics. You know this. I’m gonna flip the EM switch.”
“Sure, whatever,” Heero said, shrugging, going back to playing with his as-yet-unnamed dog.
Right before she flipped the switch that was the bane of his life and the favorite natural disaster of the local underground electronics store, Heero was SURE that that poodle’s eyes had turned violet.
It took a week for it to happen again. By then Heero had made great progress on having Toto certified as a service dog, for his recently evident PTSD. This time they were at the park, and Heero didn’t even care if he was going insane, as long as something that was actively Duo looked out from those eyes.
On his knees in the park, under a shady tree, the summer crowd around him like the wild ocean, he focused completely on his dog. Telepathy could maybe be possible. He could just email Duo back, but he couldn’t really. Duo had been bending away from being himself and more towards Heero being the absolute center of his world and that just won’t work. Heero needed Duo to be Duo. If Duo were completely dependent and obsessed with him, they were both lost, but there is a limit to will and he just.. WANTED.
That want was more intense than any want he’d ever had, greedy and irrational. “Duo?”
Toto pawed at his collar and Heero moved to examine it more thoroughly. Of course he’d checked it over for bugs when the dog had first arrived, and any kind of poison or harmful thing, but he hadn’t really thought of looking for things he couldn’t actually imagine.
When his fingers touched the dog tag, an electrical storm went off in his head, like waking up, but much brighter. In training, he’d gone through a program using a variant of cocaine. This was a little like that and a little like the time he and Duo had tried ecstasy, but sharper and faster and gone, just like that, except that he could hear Duo’s voice very clearly in his head. “Hey, ‘Ro! I’m just a recording, but this thing’ll be able answer a couple of questions and send me a message back. It’s safe. Untraceable. So if you just don’t wanna hear from me anymore, I’ll know, yah know?”
“I love you. I miss you more than I can say. I’m sorry. Let’s go to Mars,” Heero thought, hoping that was the message Duo wanted to hear.
“I love you too, baby. I understand why you said what you said, least I think I do. Three more months, then we can get together, ‘kay? So... don’t take Toto to the vet. Some bits are solar powered. Don’t let his hair get too long, don’t let it get too short. Trust me. When yer in private, say, ‘There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!’ And try real fucking hard to be in that private place twelve hours from now.”
“How did you know I named the dog Toto?”
“Seriously, ‘Ro? One of us may have been talking too much medication.”
“Where are you?”
“About twenty miles outside of Cheyenne. My foster family is amazing. Can’t wait for you to meet them! Can’t wait to see you, baby!”
“I can’t wait to see you either,” Heero whispered out loud, knowing it was his thoughts that were being recorded and transmitted, though he didn’t know exactly how yet. “Will you run away to Mars with me?”
“No, Baby, we’re gonna take over this world and play by the rules, but just wait and see what we do!”
“No, just followed the path you set me on. An ‘Ro, why are you slumming in remedial math?”
“I am helping others.”
Toto started wagging his tail.
“Message is full, ‘Ro. See ya soon!”
Then Toto couldn’t stand to sit still and the ball in Heero’s pocket was more interesting than anything else the dog could imagine.
Heero could throw a ball. He needed time to think about how utterly freaking beautiful the world is.