Disclaimer: I don't own Rockman or any other intellectual property referenced here: Capcom and the other rightful owners/holders do. Please don't sue. Oh, and I also don't own the wonderful movie Labyrinth.

Aaand I finally update this! Tales of the Abyss has eaten my brain. Okay, now where was I…

And it's done!


X had seen the virus as hate, destruction, and corruption, not as, as Zero. The virus he could hate. Zero he never could. He wanted to reach back, he couldn't help but want that.

"Yin and yang. X virus has a bit of a ring to it. You might be able to. Your system nanties are nowhere near the level of mine, but if I draw you in we might be able to pull it off, even though you're an android instead of an android master. You're a century old and you're X, after all." Zero wanted it to, trying to hide how much in the slightly false light tone.


Perhaps, if he could infect (he still hated that word) Zero back (he hated this…) he could do, do something? He knew Zero knew X was thinking of this, and still Zero worked carefully. X let him do as he willed. Why resist what they both wanted, for reasons both right and wrong? Just as X wished Zero would hold him like this forever, a traitor part of Zero wanted X to stop him. "They won't leave you on your own," Zero apologized, numbing the pain sensors on X's lip before biting there, where the altered nanites had gathered.

Oh, this was very odd.

"No more than that for now. It's a little hard to adjust to the first time. We didn't know what was wrong so Sigma brought me to Cain on the chance he'd do something helpful. I snapped out of it on my own, but by that point Cain had given me a cover identity and so I decided why let Sigma be the one to keep an eye on you?"

Zero was mostly babbling there: X didn't really note anything but Zero's voice at first. Oh, yes, there was an outside. It wasn't important to do anything there, though. Zero would keep him safe. Far better than Sigma.

Vast. Easy to get lost in, but then he already was lost. This was Zero, though.

"You're so trusting."

They'd kept saying that to him, various mavericks, and now he knew what they'd been hinting at. Of course he hadn't gotten it. Zero was Zero. How could he not trust him?

How to describe this, how to simplify this and put it in terms his mind could handle? Warm, warm, warm. Like a fireside, cooled by X''s presence, and he wondered at fate, that he froze and Zero burned apart. Opposites. Zero was feverish. Another human metaphor. Overheating, overstrained, and he was so worried. Now he knew how Zero had felt, watching X and wondering if he would break under the pressure.

Just like X had longed for Zero when Zero had revealed that they were enemies Zero longed for him. Wanted to know that X didn't hate him, that they wouldn't have to fight, and seeing this X truly couldn't blame Zero. He never had been able to. He should have tried to say that this was wrong, he should have rejected Zero, but he never could. Not rejecting him was one thing. Comforting him was another, and just like he'd broken when Zero had done things meant to comfort him Zero knew X loved him when despite everything X tried to comfort him back.

Zero almost wanted him to find a reason to hate or a means to attack, letting him explore all of his systems except for one area. The children are there, Zero told him. Can't have you getting lost in Alia or something.

Are, "Are you implying that you were jealous of her? Is that why you said she was dangerous?" Maybe if X had someone to go to besides Zero… But Signas was Dr. Cain's last creation, X's youngest stepbrother, and he hadn't been able to distract X.

I didn't want you to do to her what I did to Iris. She's back with her formerly ex-boyfriend, anyway, and you're too honorable to poach.

"I'm yours now," X told him, opening his eyes to see that Zero's were closed. He'd never seen Zero calm, not that he was inside. So many burned places that X couldn't soothe yet. "Take more."

"You're recovering quickly." Zero opened his eyes and met X's with a proud smile. He'd always been proud of X, they saw those memories, although he'd known he shouldn't be happy his enemy was strong and getting stronger.

"It's much easier with you than it would be with a stranger."

"Neither of us are fighting it," even though they should be, "and you already know what my self feels like, so there's no shock. You're still amazing."

X kissed him, only realizing afterwards what he was doing. This was his first kiss. It had half been, well, affection, and half that he wanted Zero to take more of his nanites from the patched-but-not-healed over place. Their lips lingered there for awhile, in shock, and X could tell that he wasn't the only one blushing before he blushed harder because he'd just checked Zero's readouts to see if he was blushing and that wasn't exactly…

Zero blushed harder and took a little more, thinking it might be too much too soon but this way the kiss could be ended without being any more awkward than it was and…

So much chaos and hurt and confusion, so much need for him. X realized that just as he couldn't push Zero out neither could Zero even though Zero was designed for this. As long as Zero loved him he couldn't take back the freedom within his systems, the control he'd given X.

How could X abuse that trust? Zero couldn't, and Zero had been created to.

Zero's ability to sense X and what he did was, once X found it, so much more acute than his own sense of Zero. Of course, Zero had been made for this. Oh, knowing he made him feel this way was almost too much. X's heartbreak, X's love…

The knowledge of what X should do, and a prayer… Zero. "You're mine," X told him. "I will never leave you, or even really want to, as long as you are mine and I am yours." Bound together like this, how could they separate themselves without dying? How could they want to kill the other?

X, was the answer, and an infinity in that name. "Love me, worship me, and I will be your slave."

It took a moment for X to make the connection. "I thought you hated that movie." He couldn't help but run his hands through Zero's hair, even knowing what was hidden there. His head in the lion's jaws, his hands in its mane, and if Zero wanted him dead he would be. If X wanted Zero dead he would be.

"It hit a little close to home."

"What do you mean?" It took another moment for X to realize why Zero had referenced that line of that movie.

"It was a little eerie. I was half wondering if it were a test or something."

"So I'm the young pure-hearted girl with an overactive fantasy life," the peace X wanted, Zero had thought, was always and ever only a fantasy. "Beloved by the goblin king, who is trying to rescue a child from being turned into one of his subjects."

"And in the end she rejects and destroys him. The peach was also a decent metaphor for the virus I wanted to offer you. Let me in, and you can have whatever you want, even a dream of peace, forever."

"He wasn't destroyed."

"He wasn't?"

"He's alive in the next part of the story, and the white owl that showed up at the end, after you left the room, was also him."

"I'd just seen myself killed by you. You know, we really are alike. Although I have better hair." Zero was trying to be Zero for his sake, the old habits of little comedic things to take the edge off.

"I love your hair." He always had, although he'd thought Zero wouldn't like it of X was overly familiar like this. It would have been awkward. He hadn't know if Zero had liked him that way, he hadn't known he'd liked Zero that way, and there had always been this sense of necessary distance…

"I hardly ever see yours." Zero reached out, permission asked and granted without words, and removed X's helmet. "You won't need armor or weapons anymore."

"It's been so long I feel naked without them."

"Well, you are naked under them. I'm going to get you some new clothes, it's been years since you've bought any and you gave away the t-shirts I gave you."

"Zero, they were offensive."

"That was what made them funny." Maverick hunters had to wear armor on duty and X never considered himself off duty. Zero just liked how his looked. Humans and their gender nonsense. Androids didn't have gender: he wasn't male or female so who cared which he looked like more?

No one would, now. X sighed.

"You do look a lot like Rock." Zero kept going, trying to recapture that almost-normalcy. "Well, his older brother. Your eyes are green, for one thing, and there are other things, but you were obviously made to be family." He realized he'd misstepped at the end, his voice trailing off.

"I do want to hear about them, but not now." Bringing up murdered family really wasn't going to help them forget what was happening.

"Sorry, I was just thinking of what you would look best in, and that led to thinking of how great you look, and who you look like… I don't know, green? Maybe aquamarine, nearer your body armor color, if you want to stay blue."

"I am utterly sick of blue. It is my signature color, or some nonsense like that, it turns me into a symbol, it reminds people of my legendary brother, and no one but you ever buys me anything that isn't that color. Whenever I went out wearing an outfit that wasn't blue, no one recognized me but you. It's wonderful for when I want to go off base without being mobbed, but I have a face, it's a nice one, and it's a little disheartening that all people see when they look at me is the symbol."

"X, why didn't you tell me you hated blue?"

"I don't hate it, I'm just sick of feeling like I have to wear it all the time. Whenever I asked anyone but you how I looked in something else they said it 'just wasn't me.' I am me, I do not need a color to be me."

"Wow, you really needed to get that off your chest." His partner was half-amused, half-concerned, so very Zero and just like always.

"Yes, I am X, I do not gripe."

"Not in front of the ids, but what about me?"

"It never came up."

"X, seriously, that's what I'm here for." Among other things that they were refusing to think about. "So, green?"

"Yes, maybe bringing out my eyes will make people notice the color. I've seen them described as blue, I'm not kidding."

"I'm amazed you still have the same eyes. I've done blue, yellow, and I've got red ones for scaring the hell out of people with."

"Normal people have haircuts." Most reploid hair was 'grown' or constructed by nanite clusters in the scalp, and could be grown out and then cut into the desired shape. Some hunters didn't bother and just got helmets shaped to look like hair, like Alia.

"No one touches the hair. It's not ornamental. I've got monofilaments, shockers, and more sensors than you can shake a stick at in here, you know that." Among other things. "All that and a note from Cain, and there was still such a fight over letting me keep it when I joined… Sure, it can't fit into a standard helmet, but I come with a non-standard one."

"So it's okay because you can shock anyone who tries to grab it?" X had missed that part of the drama that came from a hunter-killer joining the hunters. But he did know that ornamental work that could be a handicap in combat went.

"And I can move it. Most of the strands don't have that capability but the ones that do move others by wrapping around them or hooking up to the backs. Very nice engineering."

"Why didn't you use that?"

"Because I liked having a secret weapon and I didn't want tentacle jokes."

"Oh. Is that why you didn't want a radio for the holidays that year?"

"Forget radio, I can pick up TV channels from the other side of the planet. Although I didn't let on quite how good it was. I caught the finale of Tesseract during the last inauguration."

"You were watching TV during that and you didn't hook me up?"

"I thought you'd make me pay attention."

"As though anyone could pay attention to her without wanting to be watching a slightly less fictional performance." X would not have said something like this about anyone to anyone but Zero, but Zero was the one he could say things like this to in the knowledge that it wouldn't go any further so he didn't have to worry about hurting people's feelings or ruining his image.

"Yeah. I mean, really. She talked about equality, but do you know how many willing converts I got because of the addendum to the Conley-Marsh Verification Act she pushed through until the courts overturned it? And to do it they had to invalidate the whole act! So we had sixteen months before reploids were covered by due process again while her party blocked any decent legislation. I really wish I'd thought of that, but it was all her. Humans. Suicidal, the lot of them."

Zero talking about how bad a strategic move something was had once been normal. Now that he wasn't hiding anymore… "Zero…" You spent so many years undercover and now you suddenly weld your foot into your mouth?

"Sorry. Before, it would have just been tasteless."

"Now it's…"

"Sadly true." An armored hand ruffled X's own hair.

"It's not that I don't want to face it, to understand everything, it's just too soon." Or even with Zero he might really break.

"What if you… What if I show you everything, we debate it rationally, and you still don't agree it was the right thing to do? That's what our mutual half-brother did."

"I think I would still love you even if it had been nothing but murder for the sake of convenience." Dealing with humans was hard, X had refused to believe it was impossible. But Zero believed it, and…

"We don't choose who we fall in love with." Zero, too, wished it had been someone else. Anyone else. He'd won, but he still could lose X, and…

"I've fallen for you." A very apt metaphor. The red demon had destroyed the world, for good this time, and all X could do was lie here and wait to see if Elysium would rise from the rubble of Armageddon.