Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing. Sotsu, Sunrise, and Bandai do, in whatever measure they do
Note: Young Duo, violence, drugs, injury, slight hints of Heero, swearing, ghosts, threats of death
Alone, a foot hooked under a slender metal rung in the maintenance tube held him in place where he floated in the zero gravity. His braid floated round him, curling like sentient good intentions. This section of the ship hadn't been listed on the declaration manifest, which he hadn't been authorized to read. He spun his lock pick around his fingers, daredevil, not even considering that losing it would be a terrible set back. He'd already added himself into authorized users of this passage, so the standard lock hadn't been an issue, but someone had taken extra precaution of adding a tumbler lock, which was damn dangerous in a space ship and meant there was something really good on the other side.
It really didn't matter what it was He wanted to see it. The lock really wasn't enough to keep him out either, neither of the locks.
The hatch open into the chamber beyond the undeclared maintenance tube and he lowered himself into a space of normal gravity. Hanging fifteen meters above a cluttered metal floor. Wasteful. A trap that made more work for the people defending a space, well, unless they liked blood on their shit, was just a pain in the ass. Right in the center of the chamber was a large mechanical object, like the cockpit out of something, maybe a flight simulator. He smiled, lips pressing against the picks between his teeth. It won't be a common flight simulator though. Those were on the training ship. He'd seen them and had a promise that when he was fourteen, or when he started growing a beard, they'd let him start learning to fly. He liked the Sweepers. They were out to use him, he them. It worked out good that way.
He inched his way around the portal, looking for the best space to make a controlled landing. Quiet too. He need to be quiet in case there was someone sleeping in here or if there were sensors. His stomach growled. His patience for strategy lost and he dropped, arms coming over his face, until he stuck the landing on an unlabeled barrel, arms out, like the God of Death that he was.
His picks went pliable in his fingers and he braided them back into his hair as he stalked towards the secret flight simulator. It was geared up with mining struts, but ass ones, like could shake a meteorite to dust for whatever it might hold. He squatted down by up rungs and touched dark splatters on the ground. Blood. Drops, but a lot, probably from someone being carried out of it. So why would someone make a flight simulator that could shake a body to death, or at least to severe leakage?
It was a simulator for a weapon. Violet eyes narrowed, his grin lifted more one side than the other, until it became toothy. The Alliance was going to get its ass kicked.
It never occurred to him that a powerful weapon could be turned on anyone other than the Alliance.
His stomach growled again, sharper, and hatred flared. He caressed the up rung that lead up to the simulator. The faintest hint of blood still clung to the air, mellow and dangerous, hungry.
Scratching behind his braid for moment, he bounced on the balls of his feet and fairly skipped around his new secret chamber. Engineers were high status. High status people got food. Food was good.
A quick search of the displays and the keyboards in front of them them turned up no food, but he did volume down and turn on the one that carried clues of being a journalling system.
Perched on the chair on the balls of his feet, forearms over his knees, he watched a female pilot climb up onto the simulator. A fungus of a guy with a huge nose ranted at her for a couple minutes. Duo thought about rewinding and listening to what the good doc had to say, but adults with useful things to say were already dead. The girl swung her feet, made a face at him.
Duo recognized the girl. She'd been the hot pilot who brought in the biggest take on the last job he'd only been able to help a little on. They were dumb for thinking he couldn't do shit. He'd been doing shit as long as they had so it didn't matter that he was short. It only mattered that they were stupid.
She settled into the cock pit, pulled the restraints on, ran her hands over the controls. Jealousy growled through Duo, bright and green acidic lust.
Standing just back from the simulator, the ugly little doctor started some tests and the thing started moving. Duo arched up on the balls of his feet, leaning forward. He moved silently, watched the screen with the sound down. When the nasty little doctor faced the camera, he could understand him just fine, but he kept turning his back.
They were making something bit. It was a go very fast. The girl came back out of the mock cockpit like a human shaped bag. Duo's stomach growled in reverse at the way she sagged in every way. He thought it might have better to just have hosed her out the grate. He set the record to fast forward. The doctor made a lot of adjustments. Two other pilot candidates swore off. Killing Alliance goons was all well and good, even dying was understandable, but not that way, thanks. Cowards.
Duo licked at the corner of his mouth, staving off hunger that way. Killing Alliance soldiers was worth doing.
A man carried a tray of sandwiches to the doctor and others working on fixing the cockpit. Duo's fingers shook as he reached out to touch the screen. Desperate now, he switched the play back to normal speed and started a search for food. It wasn't a huge space and the people who worked in here didn't come and go too often and they were powerful. Powerful people always had food.
These powerful people were a little too need and orderly for Duo's taste. He found designs for a rather maudlin mobile suit styled after a unicorn. A unicorn. No? Really?
He found some packets labeled 'Bath Salts', though they'd been poured out onto a plate and someone had drawn a wet figure through it as if it were candy. It didn't smell like candy. He leaned against the counter, eyed the plate of possibly edible crystals. He regretted not going after the food stores rather than the mystery, but maybe it felt that way now because he'd already solved the mystery. He poked the crystals, wishing they were made of sugar.
They weren't though. He wasn't sure what 'bath salts' were, but they didn't look good enough to eat. As he straightened back up though, he felt much better, more powerful, as if ever never in his body hummed with life. Grinning like a maniac, he jumped up onto the counter and started feeling the top of the shelves above it until he finally found something. Feeling a sense of righteous victory, he pulled the box down. Shivers flashed over his shoulders, made his hair stand on end. His sense of victory flared brighter as if there had never, ever been any doubt about him being smarter, faster, and more dangerous than anyone that worked on this ship.
Holding his new treasure box, he sat down on the counter, a crooked grin on his face, and poked those crystals again. This time here was no doubt at all that the colored crystals made his fingers tingle, filled the room with the rosy glow of safety and triumph.
Licking his lips, he opened up the box and knew that ever feeling of joy was validated. Chocolate. Chocolate covered round gray things, but one only put chocolate on stuff that was good to eat. He popped one into his mouth and gave it a good chew. Waste of chocolate as far as he could tell, bland mushy thing that even chocolate couldn't make better. Slightly dizzy, he leaned back stared at the ceiling. Blood pooled and gathered to drip, thick red potential. His mouth dropped open.
"What are you doing, you dumb ass," Solo bitched. "Didn't I tell you not to touch shit in rich people's houses?"
Duo leaned forward, wrinkled his nose and pointed at his best friend. "Didn't I tell you not to die? If you'd waited just a little bit longer."
Solo rolled his eyes, arms across his chest. "You were five. What the hell could you have done anyway? You're in a lot of trouble, Kid. You're completely sauced."
"I am not!" Duo said. He'd never felt better in his whole life and he wasn't a little kid like he had been when Solo died.
The room and time bent in on itself. The vile felt big in his hands, bright blue fluid, the brightest blue he thought he'd ever seen. Kneeling on the textured metal behind their favorite soup kitchen, Duo held it up so that Solo could see that he'd done it. It hadn't been so hard. No one expected him to slide through things, to just walk in and take it. "Ain't it pretty?"
Solo leaned against the wall, legs straight out in front of him. Eyes glassy, breath ragged and shallow, he didn't respond to Duo at all. "You're going to be okay, see?"
"That's not how it happened," Solo said over his shoulder. Both of them watched as Solo's body breathed out, and relaxed. "It's okay, kid. I knew you would do it. I wasn't afraid or anything."
"No! Don't go!" Duo's small hands shook as he forced the cure into the applicator he'd taken. "I got it!"
"What do you got there, you brat?" A man growled, grabbing Duo by the natted mess of his hair and jerking him up in the air.
Duo kicked, his feet just big enough to cover the distance from the man's jaw to middle of his now broken nose.
Flying. For a moment he was in the shuttle that brought him into the Sweeper ship. Devil. I'm a devil.
Just as suddenly he was back in the alley. An Alliance soldier stared down at him. One foot on his hand that clenched the stolen cure, the man smirked. "Anyone whose worth anything can just go to the clinic and get medicine. Little thieves aren't worth the time it would take to do the paper work on you."
"Bastard!" Duo growled, holding the vile tighter, until the boot closed his hand too tight, breaking plastic and bruising joints. "Owwww!"
Blood. Blood, every thing's blood. Blood rained from the ceiling and Duo danced in a euphoria so thick that he really didn't care about anything. The cut his from the vile stung. Tears and sweat washed away in the blood that was everywhere. The blood of the lamb!
"Duo! Stop!" Sister Helen held out her arms to him, smiling sweetly. "Come here, boy! I love you. Jesus loves you."
He ran to her only barely aware of the expensive and unsafe engineering equipment he leapt and dodged, as if some of it would reach out to catch him. Demons, avenging angels that hated him, Solo's rotting corpse, but then she closed her arms around him, holding him, and for that moment the euphoria and the terror all stepped back from him. She ran her hand over his head, soothing. "I'm in trouble," he admitted. "I did something I shouldn't have done. I've done a lot of things I shouldn't have done. I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"
"Duo," she said gently, curling around him to hug him as if he were no bigger than on the day she died. "You are lovable and you are precious. You only want to protect people. I love you. Father Maxwell loves you. You're going to find many people who will love you for the beautiful soul that you are."
"It's my fault! You're gonna die and it's my fault!"
"It's not your fault."
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw gloved hands grab her arms. She struggled as they pulled her back. "Leave the children! Let them go!"
He hadn't been there. He didn't know what was said or done. He should have been there.
"You rebel shit don't matter!" The Alliance trooper shook her as he growled. "We own this colony! Nothing you do is going to change that!"
The scene shifted again with him kneeling on rubble by her body, her brains still wet on the broken stones. He was himself again, more than double the age he'd been when she died. "You're wrong, Sister. No one can love me. I'm death and no one loves death."
"Oh please," Solo's ghost quipped, "Could you get any more whiny? You're going to live, Duo. You're going to defeat the Alliance and marry a nice guy and you won't even remember this."
"Yeah?" Duo asked his friend. "Like you'd know anything about getting married or living."
"I know more than you!" Solo shouted at Duo as Duo walked towards the test cockpit. "I'm from another universe! A lot like this one, but different! In that one we both live! You marry some ass named Heero."
Duo, one hand on a rung leading up into the cockpit, looked over his shoulder and pointed at Solo's ghost. "That's one serious bad mushroom baby. If we both lived, and if I were gay, I'd marry you, but there's no god and there's no other universe."
"Duo, you don't wanna get in that thing!"
"See?" Duo said, leaning a bit so he could look at the number pad that would unlock the hatch, to see if maybe there were finger prints or something that could give him an advantage on guessing. "You even sound like me. How alternative universe is that? What this Heero do in your universe?" Duo asked, hoping that would shut up the cautious part of his mind that obviously liked to think up scripts for comic books.
"He's a doctor. You should be an artist. Don't get in that thing!"
Duo's first guess at the code was right. The hatch opened up and his feeling of euphoria flooded back to him. "You're dead because of the Alliance. They killed you. They killed everyone. I hate them."
As if it would shut up his ghost, Duo dropped down into the cockpit, which was sized way too big for him. A bit of adjustments though and it worked just fine. He hit the close hatch button, and then the big red button. The testing sequence started.
Dr. G blinked as his lab alarm went off, drawing him out of a deep sleep. He didn't go to bed often, but when he did he liked to stay that way until he woke up.
His alarm told him someone was in his workshop. At first he was sure that couldn't be possible, but then he thought about that damn stowaway he'd let on board.
He threw the covers back and grabbed his clothes. He'd fucking space him if he'd hurt anything. He really would!
As soon as he and his team got into the workshop, his plans changed all the way around. The video archive confirmed that it was that damn kid, damn thieving kid, stoned and hallucinating, but he'd made it to level three of the test run, further than anyone else.
"Should we get him out," Anyka asked.
"And damage my cockpit? Have you gone stupid?"
"He's a kid."
"He's going to be so much fertilizer if he doesn't make it all the way through the test run. I'm not stopping it." G said, lips pursing nervously, his eyes scanning data from the stupid little stowaway's response times and vitals. "The little shit has never piloted before, but he's managing it."
"That's not really true," Anyka said. "He stole one of the zippers a couple days ago, nearly broke it, but managed to pilot it. Corky put him on half rations for a week because of it."
The test cycle did finish. G climbed up to the hatch, keyed it open, and peered inside. Dazed violet eyes looked up at him. There was a very slight smile on the boy's face.
"You need a new lung," G pointed out.
"Shit," Duo hissed.
"You liked it though?"
"Want to destroy the Alliance."
"We'll get you a new lung. You promise to do everything I say, only what I say, and let me train you."
They stared at each other for longer than G would have liked with the injuries his new pilot had. "Okay, but you gotta make my mecha like me."
"Fine. We'll make it your Deathscythe."
Duo's smile lifted a little more and whatever universe bending drug he'd eaten made slipping into sleep so much easier. There was no god. There was no Heero, but he'd be okay if there was.