Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Warnings: Language. Like you haven't heard it before?
I don't know if it was because I expected to wake up screaming from a nightmare and freak out Heero, or if it was just Heero's presence, but the nightmare never came. I woke up the next morning secure in Heero's arms and knew that I had slept the whole night through without a screaming fit.
I would've jumped out of bed with the sheer joy of it, but that would've woken Heero up. He was curled up next to me, his head next to mine on the pillow, his arm thrown over my chest. I turned my head a little bit so that I could look at him.
I had missed him. It was so good to have him back with me. And now I had nothing to hide from him.
He looked tired, even while he was sleeping and I wondered how much sleep he'd been getting. I had never managed to wake up before him in the what- three? four? times we'd shared a bed.
My phone rang and Heero groaned. He rolled away from me and covered his head with the pillow. It made me grin. We may have only shared a bed a few times, but I had obviously rubbed off on him a little bit. I got to my feet and threw on a T-shirt over my pajama pants.
Hey- I live in a building full of bored Sweepers. Going to sleep in the nude is never a good idea. You never know when someone is going to fake a fire alarm or decide to come charging in at 2 am with an 'emergency'. It's worse than a college dorm.
Sally's face blinked into view when I hit the answer key. I smiled as she greeted me cheerily.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Quatre and Trowa said you called them? And Heero too?" She was smiling.
"Yep. I meant to call Fei, but Heero said he was on a mission..." Sally's smile got wider.
"Can I give him your number when he checks in? I know he wants to talk to you Duo." She sounded eager and I wondered how much shit Wufei had given her over this mess.
"Of course," I told her.
"Thanks. It will mean a lot to him."
"Is that the only reason you called? Trying to get on your sweetie's good side?" I teased. Sally lost a bit of her smile.
"Not exactly. You know that I told you I'd ask the doctors about- your problem?"
"Yes?" I felt cold.
"They won't talk to me. They want to see you. In person- or they won't say anything." I took a deep breath.
Could I do this? Why did they want to see me? Every reason that came to mind was a bad one. I reminded myself that they were in Preventers' custody, that there was no way these guys could hurt me again.
Then again I wouldn't put anything past them.
"Duo?" Sally questioned me, her face concerned. I realized I was frowning, and quickly adjusted my features.
"I'll come talk to them Sally. Can you set it up?"
"Of course Duo. When will you be heading down?"
No time like the present, right?
"Let's see- got to tell Howard I'm leaving, catch a ride down... tonight I guess?"
"We'll set it up for tomorrow then." Sally nodded.
Heero put a hand on my shoulder, nearly making me jump out of my skin. "Tell Fei he can reach Duo on my portable- or at my house tonight, okay?"
"Okay Heero," Sally blinked at him. "Didn't waste any time, did you?"
She laughed. "Good for you! I'll see you soon!" She hung up and I turned to Heero.
"Did you hear what she said?"
"The doctors want to see you," he frowned. "I don't like this."
"There's not much they can do to me now." I tried to be comforting. "At least- I don't think so." Yeah, that sounded real comforting. Good job Duo.
"You aren't going to see them alone," he informed me. I thought about protesting that I was a big boy who could take care of myself, but my good sense actually asserted itself for a change. I didn't want to walk into that lions' den by myself.
"All right," I agreed.
I sat in the copilot's seat of Quatre's shuttle and fretted. I didn't have anything else to do. What? You think Heero needed help flying the thing? Riiight.
I did wish for a few minutes that he did. Anything would be better than staring out the window and wondering why in the hell the docs wanted to talk to me in person.
And if I wasn't thinking of that, I had to wonder what the heck I was going to do with myself now. I didn't want to stay with Howard and the Sweepers any longer. It had been a great place to hide out- but that's all it had been. I missed my house, I missed my job.
Ah, but that was the thing you see. I had been away from my business for three months. Anyone that called my business got transferred over to one of the other delivery services in the area. I'd have to start from the bottom again, this time without my 'shadow partners'. Howard had paid me enough wage for me to keep up the payments on my house, so that was okay, but I'd have to build my business back up again and that took time.
Yeah I could've just sold the house and moved in with the Sweepers permanently, but... Heero lived on Earth.
I snuck a glance at my lover. He was concentrating on re-entry and didn't notice my regard. Damn, but he was gorgeous.
At least thinking about him kept my mind off the other things- for a while at least. But thoughts of Heero led to thoughts of wanting to stay on Earth, which led to thoughts of how to do that... It was almost easier to worry about the doctors.
By the time we landed and got to his house it was late and my brain was still whirling through possibilities. If I had been plugged into Zero at least I would've been able to figure out what to do. I wondered if Une had taken it from the lab and what my chances were of her letting me near it.
"Are you all right Duo?" Heero asked me, as we were finishing up dinner.
"Fine," I told him.
"You haven't said much," he replied, his lips quirking in a faint smile. "Are you sure nothing's bothering you?"
Ah, oops. Guess I hadn't been talking much. I know Heero asked me a few questions during dinner, but I was still running the house-job-docs thoughts through my head with little variation and I don't really remember what I said to him.
"Duo?" He was standing next to me now, face concerned. "What's wrong?"
"Just thinking." I told him. He reached out and pulled me to my feet sliding his arms around my waist.
"The docs for one." His arms tightened.
"I'll be with you." He'd said that before, but now hours after my brain had been cheerily presenting me with all sorts of things the docs could do or tell me, that thought was even more comforting. Not that Heero could actually do anything if their little science experiments had fucked me up beyond repair, but I'm not all about practicalities. "What else?"
"My business. I'll have to start all over again. I gave all my accounts away. Probably will have to sell my house- or go work for someone else." That thought was distasteful. I'd had my fill of working for someone else. Of course, how many mad scientists could there be out there?
"Hn," Heero grunted, also thinking of my last employers. Well, I was glad to see he didn't have an answer for everything- made me feel a bit better about myself.
"It's late," I leaned into his arms. "Can we go to bed? I don't want to think for awhile."
Heero grinned. "Mission accepted."
Hadn't thought I was outlining a mission plan... But then Heero Yuy always takes things like that seriously.
Sally was waiting for us the next morning outside the Preventers detention facility. To my complete surprise, Trowa, Quatre and Wufei were with her.
"Hey Duo!" Quatre hugged me when we joined them.
"Duo," Trowa didn't hug me, it would've been weird if he did, but his handshake was firm and he did smile.
"Maxwell," Wufei stepped forward. "I want to apologize-"
"So do I," I cut him off. He accepted my outstretched hand and nodded.
"Thank you," he smiled as he let my hand go.
"You're welcome." I relaxed for a brief minute before I remembered that I was not here just to make up with my friends. "Hey, why are you all here?"
"We aren't going to let you face them alone." Quatre told me matter-of-factly.
Again I wanted to retort that three old guys in prison were not that much of a threat, but then again, the thought of facing them with this kind of backup was immensely comforting. I didn't want to have to hide things from my friends anymore.
"All right," I agreed. I looked at Sally. "Are they waiting for us?"
"Yes," she nodded, and led us into the building.
My stomach was starting to hurt and my temples throbbed. I stopped for a moment and blinked. This wasn't one of my 'psychic flashes' was it? Maybe it was just nerves.
"Duo?" Heero had stopped with me. He put his arm around my shoulders. "You okay?"
"Head's pounding." I saw the look he gave me and how his body shifted. He was going into 'soldier mode'- alert for danger. For some reason, that made the headache ease off a bit, knowing that Heero was ready for anything that might happen. Maybe it was just nerves.
The docs were waiting for me in a small metal room. That was enough to make me tenser. I didn't like small metal rooms anymore. Heero's arm tightened around my shoulders for a second before he let me go. I saw J eye him speculatively.
The docs were sitting in a row behind a long metal table. There were a few chairs on the opposite side, facing them. I sat in the middle one and Heero sat next to me. Quatre sat on my other side, but Wufei and Trowa remained standing, hovering behind us. Behind me, I should say.
It gave me the feeling that they were on my side, no matter what the docs did. Silly, I know, but it helped me. I was able to meet G's eyes and pull up one of my annoying grins.
"Here I am, as requested."
"So you are. Looking well too," G responded, his own annoying smile on his face. "Hear you're having some problems, Duo?"
"You could say that," I replied, managing not to snarl. "I seem to be getting little psychic flashes these days. You wouldn't know anything about that- would you?"
"It's just a little side effect of the experiments," G responded. "I'm surprised that's the only one you're having."
"What do you mean?"
"You haven't noticed anything else?" He leaned over the table and studied me closely. Master O was also looking me over, but J's eyes were still on Heero. Well, as far as I could tell with those little creepy goggle things.
"No." I snapped. "Should I have?"
"Maybe," G was still looking me over. I tensed up.
"Just tell us what you did to Duo!" Quatre demanded.
"Pretty much the same thing H did to you," J spoke up. "With a few modifications of course."
"Duo isn't picking up on emotions!" Quatre snapped back.
Huh? This was news to me. Quatre's empathy had been H's doing?
"Like we said, we modified it. It would've been better if H had still been around to help us; he was the expert after all. We had to kind of wing it." G grinned at me and I suppressed a groan. This wasn't reassuring.
"In order to make the pilot more fully one with his machine, he has to feel what it feels right?"
"Machines don't feel," I pointed out.
"But humans do. If we create a connection between the man and the machine, then the machine can be said to feel, because the man does."
"Circular reasoning," Heero lifted an eyebrow, "and not the answer that we asked for. Quit playing games and tell us what you did to Duo."
J was looking at Heero again, a faint smile on his lips. He was severely ticking me off.
"Certainly." Master O spoke in a calm voice. "We gave Duo a drug that was based off the empathy drug that H created for Quatre. It is designed to stimulate certain portions of the brain and increase mental activity. By using this drug we hoped to create an empathic bond between the pilot and his suit. It worked- if you remember- Duo 'felt' everything his suit did."
I shivered. I definitely remembered that. Heero placed a hand on my shoulder and I saw J's smile increase.
"You said that was the effect of the neural net," Quatre countered.
"In part it was," Master O agreed. "But the drug allowed for a greater integration with the net of the suit and with Zero. It also made it easier for the pilot to interact with the new Zero system."
"But then why am I getting these flashes?"
"We think it's a side effect," Master O shrugged. "Like G told you, we made several modifications to the drug."
"A side effect? Then how do I make it go away?"
"You can't," J's eyes didn't leave Heero. "The drug is in the process of rewiring your brain- or burning it out. We can't be sure unless we perform some tests."
Let them play around with me some more? That was the last thing I wanted to do! I'd rather just burn out, thank you very much.
Heero slammed his hand down on the table, half rising to his feet.
"You aren't touching him again!" He snarled at J. "I will not permit it! You can easily instruct someone else to run your tests if they are truly needed."
To my complete shock, and the rest of the guys too, I was sure, J started to laugh. Heero was still staring at him, furious and I felt Quatre tense beside me.
"Perhaps you need to tell us what is so funny?" My blond haired friend asked in that nicely threatening tone only he could pull off.
"What an effect you all have had on my 'Perfect Soldier'. I am very pleased." J replied.
"He's not yours!" I was on my feet now. "He's not your experiment! He's not your puppet!" The metal table hit the wall with a resounding crash and crumpled. There was a huge dent in the wall. For a moment, I thought Heero had thrown it.
Judging from the startled look he was giving me however, I realized that I must've thrown it.
"That would be another side effect," G commented, looking at the huge dent the table had made in the wall. "I'd watch that temper of yours Duo."
"We did give you some muscle stimulants when we determined that we couldn't free you from the Zero system test. We didn't want you to collapse. So I gave you a version of the stimulants I used on Heero. Adrenaline-based obviously." J said smugly, still smiling.
I was tempted to toss him into the wall, but Heero placed a retraining hand on my arm.
"I'm glad to see you leap to Heero's defense, boy," he continued. "He learned that loyalty to his friends from you. He's learned quite a bit from you, actually." That last sentence was uttered in such an insinuating tone that I saw red again and only Heero's hand kept J from getting his face smashed in.
"If we could return to the topic, gentlemen," Quatre's voice was reprimanding. "We will not allow you to perform tests on Duo."
"He doesn't need tests done. The drug has rewired his brain so to speak. He will have headaches until he has grown used to the flashes, then they should stop. Just like yours did- according to H." J said and I saw Quatre's eyes widen.
"I don't remember having headaches!"
"You were actively using your gift, that's why you don't remember the headaches as well. If Duo uses his, then the headaches will stop sooner."
"Then why say you needed tests?" Wufei spoke up for the first time, and I heard the dark anger in his voice.
"To see Heero's reaction," J replied.
"You sick, sick bastard! He's not yours anymore!" Did I mention I was still furious?
"No Duo, you're right, he isn't." J blindsided me and I had to sit down. "Heero was trained to be the Perfect Soldier- to act always for the greater good. That was what he needed to be in wartime. Now, he needs to be himself- to act selfishly when needed. To protect what is his."
"We could've just told Lady Une that the drug was a part of your system now and what you needed to do to work with it, but J wanted to see how Heero reacted to you." G smiled at my expression. "You can't kill us Duo. If war starts up again, you'll need us."
I hated to admit that he was right, so I just got myself the hell out of there before I smashed his face in.
I stood outside, in the sunlight, and let the heat soak into me. Okay, so I was going to have psychic flashes for the rest of my life- and apparently be able to hurl metal tables around when I got mad.
I had been a gundam pilot. I had dealt with hell itself.
I had been a deliveryman. I had dealt with things worse than hell.
I could handle these new developments. Really.
Arms wrapped themselves around my waist.
"You okay?" Heero whispered in my ear.
"Just ducky," I replied, leaning back into his embrace. "Apparently I am now a psychic ex-gundam pilot unemployed deliveryman with a Bruce Banner complex. Think I could set up a hotline to dispense love advice?"
"Who'd want to ask you for that kind of advice Maxwell?" Wufei teased, and I realized the others had come out to join us.
"You'd be the first one calling in Fei," I countered.
"And who said you're unemployed?" Quatre raised an eyebrow at me. "I already drew up the papers to become your new partner- Winner Enterprises always needs things delivered as you very well know." He grinned at me. "And you know I'll support your side business as well."
"As long as you always make sure you contact one of us for backup," Trowa added.
I had to take a deep breath to steady myself. I'm sure I've mentioned before that these guys are the best group of friends anyone could ask for? And they were mine.
"Thanks guys," I managed, and I felt Heero's arms tighten around me.
"C'mon guys," Quatre grinned. "We have to help Heero pack."
"Huh?" I turned my head to look at Heero. "Why are you packing?"
"I'm moving in with you," he told me. "You need someone to keep an eye on you."
"And you don't?" I countered with a grin. He shrugged.
"All the more reason for me to move in. If that's okay?" He lifted an eyebrow at me.
The others were grinning at this little exchange. What the hell, let them.
"Only if you agree to do the laundry, cause I'm sure as hell not ironing all of those Preventers uniforms of yours."
"Agreed." Heero smiled.
Okay, so I may be a psychic ex-gundam still-employed deliveryman with a Bruce Banner complex, but it seems that Heero loves me anyway.
And as sappy as it sounds, that's all I need.
And that is the end of Deliveryman! Thanks for reading! I'm sure my muse will find something to do with this Duo again- so keep a lookout for sequels, okay? (After I do that one for Reckless...)
Thanks to all of you who reviewed and encouraged me along the way!!