Title: Who's That?
Pairing: Nothing too graphic, but ?x2, and 1x2, 3x2, 4x2, and 5x2 is implied at the very end.
Warnings: Duo-POV. Abuse. Angst. AU? Blood. Dark. Duo-torture. Language. OOC? Violence. Yaoi. I think I've crossed the line from "odd" to "just plain sick."
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing does not belong to Becka; characters are used without permission for a non-profit purpose. No infringement is intended.
Hiya! The name's Duo. Duo Maxwell.
That's what I tell everyone I meet. I'll plaster a grin on my face that stretches from one ear to the other and I'll stick my hand out with barely concealed enthusiasm and I'll laugh, "Duo. Duo Maxwell." Yup, that's me!
I started out a normal enough kid, you know. I had a nice house in a long row of nice houses, and a mother who smiled and baked me cookies, and a father who laughed and taught me how to catch a baseball. I had a room full of toys and gizmos and gadgets, and the boundless energy to use them all. I even had a dog named Spot.
And then one day while I was outside with my father, throwing a baseball back and forth as we played a demented game of "monkey-in-the-middle" with Spot as the third player, there was a curious noise. It sounded like the engine of a jet or a plane. Actually, it sounded like a lot of engines, and it got louder and louder until the sonic sound was deafening. I covered my ears and shut my eyes tightly and I wanted to cry, it was so bad.
But it got worse.
Thunderous booms and high-pitched whizzes filled the air, and the sky lit up bright orange. I had my eyes closed, but the light was still blinding, no matter how tightly I squeezed them shut. Something solid bowled into me, knocking me to the grassy ground and covering my child's body completely.
The ground rumbled furiously and the orange which penetrated my eyelids became searing white, then faded to pale red. Screams filtered through my hands as I tried to block all noise, but they were abruptly cut off with each bang and boom. The stench of burning rubber permeated my very cells, crawling in through my pores, and I coughed and spluttered. Then the very earth seemed to tumble beneath me and my forehead banged into something sharp, and the pale red that burned my eyes cooled to black. I heard nothing more.
When I clawed my way to consciousness two days later, the first thing I was painfully aware of was the throbbing in my head. It felt like a tiny person with a hammer and a pickaxe was excavating my very brain. Groggily, I opened my eyes and pushed at the cold, deadweight that pinned me down. With a heave, I managed to shove the thing off of me enough that I could squirm my way to freedom.
Relieved, I shook my head once to clear it, but that only made the pounding pain worse. Something warm trickled from my forehead and down my nose. I touched it and my hand came away red. Frightened, I looked at the thing that had kept me from moving and screamed.
It had my father's face.
I was five years old.
The next few hours were hazy. I remember scrambling back and looking around frantically. My house was a mountain of rubble, and the area around it was charred and dirty. Not just my home, but every single home on my street that I could see had been reduced to a pile of rock and twisted wood. I had to squint through the smoke, and my eyes watered from it. Even breathing stung.
There was a tiny whimper from behind me and I spun to see Spot, hind leg at an awkward angle and tail between his legs. I stumbled to him, horrified at the white bone which splintered his tender skin. He looked up at me with pitiful eyes and I… broke.
I limped away from his furry little body, tears streaming down my face. I wouldn't find out until much, much later, that he and I had been the only survivors.
I don't remember much of anything after that. I don't even know how long it was until a little boy who was just like me, found me and took me in. His name was Solo.
"Stay down, you little shit," an officer told me after I stole a loaf of bread. I glared at him with hate filled eyes. I don't know what would have happened if a scruffy little kid hadn't come out of the crowd, grabbed my hand, and yanked me for all he was worth.
"C'mon, stupid, run!"
Looking back, he probably saved my life.
I regret thanking him.
He pulled me into an alleyway and shoved me against the wall and slugged me, right in the mouth. "Are ya really that _thick_?" he yelled. I blinked at him, mute. He shook his head and muttered, "Stupid, stupid, stupid. Yer new, I guess. First rule 'round here is, if the Feddies grab ya, you _run_, shithead."
Then he stopped and really looked at me, then offered his hand solemnly. "Name's Solo. Who're you?"
I didn't have a name, so I took his hand and shrugged. He smirked at me and stuck his tongue out childishly. "Guess yer not that new, huh? Tell ya what. I got a couple 'a kids who I work fer… y'know, newbies to the whole orphan bit. I could use a hand. What'cha say?"
Something in his eyes made me want to smile, but I kept a stoic, blank expression on my face. I nodded once and he laughed. "So yer gonna' stick around, huh? Cool."
Maybe it might have been, if we were normal children.
I worked with Solo to take care of the kids. Stole food when I was hungry, and shared it when I couldn't eat because of the permanent taste of ashes in my mouth. Solo bothered me a lot. He'd grin, and he'd laugh, and he'd never shut up. There were times I hated him for that.
And then there were times where I had to respect him. How could he keep it up? The relentless smiles and cheerful laughter and idle chatter that said he was still a child when we both know he was anything but. Then one day, I found out.
But the price was so high.
A plague swept over L2. It was nasty and vicious because it broke a person's body before claiming his life. I remember feeling something in my heart die when I looked at Solo and saw the telltale blotches, like bruises, on his arms and legs. He could see it too, I think, but he just glared at me and asked me why I was looking at him like he had grown another head.
"Yer gonna' die," I told him. He blinked rapidly a couple of times. That was the first time I had ever spoken to him, to anyone, since the day so long ago when OZ wiped out my life in a rain of bullets and explosives.
"So ya can talk. I was wonderin' if ya were mute or somethin'," he said. I could see pain in his eyes. So I reached forward and I hugged him. That was the first time I'd ever touched him for no reason.
He buried his face in my shoulder for a moment, then pulled away. "Boys don't cry," he said in a gruff voice, as though that explained everything.
"Yeah," I agreed. "Boys don't cry."
But that didn't mean I couldn't do something else. So I broke into a Feddie base and stole the antidote and I gave it to him. It was already too late, though. He just looked at me with his eyes, old, old eyes, and I knew then why he laughed and why he joked and why he never shut up.
Because that was the first time I saw Solo. The _real_ Solo.
Looking at him, at his eyes, I though, "That's him."
He died in my arms, and even as the heat drained from his limp body and left it stiff, I said, "Duo. My name is Duo."
I gave the antidote to the other children, but something perversely insisted that I didn't use any for myself. In the end it didn't matter, because they all died, and I survived. That's about when I realized that I couldn't die. I didn't know why yet, but I couldn't die.
That's also when I met _him_.
He never gave me his name, and I never asked for it. I never gave him mine, so he called me, "baby." I used to think that was funny.
He was a member of the resistance force and a grease monkey to boot. He was the best at what he did, and I always figured that was why he was allowed to get away with so much. One day he just up and picked me off the streets and brought me to his apartment room and tried to feed me something. I told him I wasn't hungry.
"Why not?" he asked, grinning at me impishly. "You're so thin I can't see you when you turn sideways! You need to eat _something_."
It all tasted like ash anyway.
"Listen, baby," he smirked at me, reminding me so much of the boy I'd just lost, "I'm telling you to eat and I damn well expect you to listen. I don't pick up strays often, y'know."
So why pick them up at all?
He slid behind me, all hands as he touched my body and breathed on my neck. "Just 'cause, baby. I don't need a reason."
So I ate, and when I was done, he picked me up and dumped me, clothes and all, into the shower and turned the water on full-high. Scalding water burned me and as it ran off of me, it turned black.
"Well, what'cha know! There's a kid in there!"
And without preamble, he stripped me of my clothes and discarded his own, and not only was there a kid in there, but he was there in the kid.
The water mocked me. Wasn't it supposed to wash away the dirt? I was still standing there, and so was he. What a shame, I thought.
I don't know why, but I decided to stay with him. Probably because I knew he'd never let me leave. And he started to rub off on me because pretty soon I could do the same things he did. I could fix anything and everything. Except, of course, myself.
The only other thing to know about him was that he was a heavy drinker. He came in every other night completely trashed and he'd call out, "Baby, c'mere." In the beginning I did, and he beat the shit out of me for it. While I knew nothing could kill me, he really, really hurt me. After the first couple of nights, I stopped coming when he called and started hiding instead.
In the end, he always found me.
One morning after he'd been really rough with me, I woke up to see him above me, tears streaking down his face.
"Boys don't cry," I told him.
"Baby…" His eyes were pitiful. He looked at me with the same eyes as Spot, so I sat up, ignoring the blood on me, the bruises and the aches, and I did what I had done all those years ago. I snapped his neck.
Right before he died, I looked into his eyes and I thought, "That's him."
And his death showed me something else, too. I knew why I could never die. I _am_ Death.
I left the body and the apartment and I lived on the streets for a while. There were men who wanted things, who paid me cold cash, and I did them because I wanted things too. I wanted to eat. Even if it always tasted the same.
And somewhere along the line, I found that I got more money if I smiled.
It was amazing to me, you know. To smile and laugh and joke about came to me so easily, and I suppose I had Solo and him to thank for it. And just like Solo and him, I soon found that the façade took on its own life, and I no longer needed to concentrate on pretending. Always a quip. Always a smile. And you couldn't shut me up even if you gagged me.
Trust me, they've tried.
A man dressed in black came up to me on a cold and bitter night, maybe two years after I started whoring, looked at my wide eyes and my wide smile, and asked me if I liked what I was doing. I told him it didn't matter.
"Why?" he murmured, staring at me intently.
'Cause as long as other people liked what I was doing, I got paid.
He nodded, slowly, and asked me if I'd be willing to try something else. I laughed and told him that I was always up for something new.
His name was Father Maxwell.
And the "something else" was Maxwell Church.
It was... nice. Definitely a change from what I'd done before. I was fed because they felt like feeding me. I was given a bed, and it was strange because I'd never actually slept in one before. They tried to get me to pray. They never succeeded.
Father was a kind man, I think, but he was very focused. He wanted children to convert and to raise in His own likeness. He wanted to save us all from the darkness. He only spoke to me once after I arrived at the Church.
"What's your name?" he said, pen poised to record it in a large book.
"I don't have one," I told him.
He stood, slapped me once across the face, and hissed, "Don't lie. I detest liars."
My only thought at that moment was, "That's him."
I grinned and rubbed my cheek. "My name's Duo. Duo Maxwell."
He looked startled, then laughed. He recorded it and sent me on my way. He had other sinners to save, after all.
Click. Bang. Boom.
And Maxwell Church was no more. The Feddies blew it up, and it came as no surprise to me that I was the only survivor. Standing in the rubble that was the Church, I looked up at the heavens and laughed. There was a God, all right. The God of Death.
Shit happens. After that, I stowed away on the wrong freight, got caught and paid the price. Then they went and made me a Gundam Pilot.
From street scum to elite. It's funny how nothing really changed.
I met the other pilots, and I wanted to laugh. I did, actually, a lot. They're so open, so easy to read and understand.
Heero, just like me when I lost everything for the first time.
Trowa, just like me when I lost everything to the rebel who beat me and fucked me and in his own way loved me.
Quatre, who's not like me but reminds me of Spot with his pitiful, broken look.
Wufei, just like me but not, because he's a survivor, and I'm a survivor, but I'm Death, too.
I play their fool. I give them what they need. It's no biggie. In the end, they're going to die, just like everyone else, so why not get some fun out of it? I play Solo to Heero's Duo. I play baby to Trowa's _him_. I play owner to Quatre's Spot. And I play sinner to Wufei's Maxwell.
Funny, isn't it? I don't think I've ever played who I really am.
So that's why I grin at everyone as I introduce myself.
"Duo. Duo Maxwell. I run, I hide, I never lie."