Title: The Magnet Theory
Author: Sorceress Fantasia
Pairings: Mild 1+2/2+1
Disclaimers: If I owned GW, do you think Relena would have existed half as long as she had? So of course, I don't own the anime and the characters.
Note: This fic can get a little confusing, so it pays to pay attention to the change of scene. Anyway, this fic is about Duo recalling some of the things about him that he tried to change, and his thoughts are interrupted by flashbacks. And I stress, Duo is *not* stupid here. He's just unused to the changes.
Dedication: Well, this is for my birthday! Yeah, I'm gonna be one year older soon!
Somewhere along the way, I found out that sleep is expensive. All that time, when I could have done something better, more productive, I was lying in my bed sleeping like a log. I mean, just look at Heero! Man, he can fix Wing, hack into the systems of our next school and enter our profiles, type out a full mission report, eat, sleep, finish his school assignments in that span of time when I'm asleep! And he hasn't got an ounce of exhaustion in him! Jeez!
So I tried to be like him.
I stayed up later at night, and woke up really early. I slept only four hours every night, and I worked the rest of the extra time. I'll admit that I was a little tired, but I really got a lot of thing done. So I persisted. And then, *that* happened.
After an extremely demanding mission that involved all of us except Trowa, we found ourselves in one of Quatre's estates located in America. Nothing short of a Winner property, I tell ya. I remember one of the first things I did after arriving was to take a long soak in the Jacuzzi in my bathroom. Gods! I swear it felt so good, loosening my taunt muscles with the gushes of water beating onto my body. It was more than two hours before I left the comforts, and headed down for dinner for the guys. Well, after dinner, I did some repairs on Deathscythe, rerouting some of the wires and the ruptured cables. I can't remember what I did after that, but the main thing is that I slept pretty late that night. And the night after, and after, and after… I honestly have no idea how many nights that continued.
Anyway, after a few days, the guys started to get a little worried about me. I guess it was mostly because of the fact I had walked into a wall once or twice. Damn, it's not funny! I was tired, okay!? Although, I had to admit, four hours just wasn't enough. I needed a little sleep. So I started to sleep for five hours. Turns out that it *still* wasn't enough.
It was around noon then. We were all seated at the polished teak dining table, digging into our sumptuous meal. Actually, I think I was a little off to know what I ate exactly. But at Winners', it wasn't surprising to not know what I had eaten, since I can't recognize half the food there. It's the taste that matters, right?
Anyway, I was only half there; the other half of me was flying off to laa laa land in some first class seat. As it was, I had a hard time just holding the fork and knife in my hands, let alone eat. So I ate slowly, making sure I chewed the meat long enough so I wouldn't choke... if I fell asleep halfway through. Even so, my jaws were moving so painfully sluggish I'm sure the guys had been monitoring me like I was some OZ spy. My head was already halfway down my plate when Quatre spoke to me.
"Duo… are… are you okay? You…" He faltered, biting his lips. "…look pale."
His voice snapped me back into alertness… well, as alert as I could be. I looked up from my lunch, and saw a bleary blonde guy. I had to blink a couple of times before my vision was focused enough to see Quatre talking to me.
"Huh? Oh, I'm fine. Maybe I stayed up too late last night." I tried to speak zealously like I always do, but a jaw-splitting yawn ruined it. Thanks to it, I don't think he bought my story. But I wasn't lying. It's just that I've been sleeping five hours a night for the past two weeks, and I'm still not used to it. Imagine. Someone who used to sleep ten hours suddenly changed his sleeping patterns to five hours. It's too drastic a change, I know, but I can't wait.
"But you don't look so well…" Quatre added, frowning.
"I'm fine, really."
Wufei sighed there and then, fixing me with a somewhat annoyed look. "Quatre's too nice to say it, so I'll say it. Duo, you look like hell."
I blinked. Talk about me being blunt.
"We've noticed that you haven't been sleeping right lately. You've been sleeping late, and waking up well before breakfast. If you go on like this, the people of the World Wildlife Foundation is going to escort you back to China." He said, not batting an eye at the joke. He must have seen my confusion, because he elaborated, as he pointed at my eyes, "You look like a panda."
I would have laughed if I weren't the victim of Wufei's dry sense of humour.
Heero had been quiet throughout the whole conversation, but my doubtful expression must have prompted him to put his two cents in at that point. "Wufei's right. You are going to endanger us and yourself if this carries on."
I tried to laugh it off with an absent shrug. "Don't be ridiculous. Nothing's gonna happen. I've got a lot of things on my hand, I can't afford to sleep that much, you know? And I'm not *all* that tired." Of all the god damned things I could have done, I yawned.
They all raised their eyebrows at me, even Heero.
"What?!" I asked indignantly, pouting slightly. "So maybe I *am* a little tired, but I like it like this, okay? I'm getting a lot of things done!"
"But Duo, you've not making good use of your time like this. You're using twice the normal amount of time you needed before to do a simple thing just because you're too tired to concentrate. Doesn't that defeats the purpose of staying up late?" Quatre tried again.
By that time, my eyelids were already drooping. Damn gravity. "Of course not!" I retorted, and was about to say more when I fell head first into my steak, snoring away.
After that, they seemed to have made a unanimous agreement to make me sleep earlier. Heero would switch off the lights in our room by eleven, and work only with a nightlight. Good ol' Quatre threatened to go Zero on me if I dared to stay up later than twelve, and he made Heero give him a report on that one every morning. For that reason alone, I would happily sleep before ten. But Wufei still didn't believe me. I swear by Shinigami he carries thing to the ultimate extreme. I'm pretty sure even the perfect soldier would have to admit defeat at his hands for that. For the first few nights, he took a perverse pleasure in slipping potent sleeping pills in my supper. And I *do* mean potent. Gods, I would fall asleep within minutes after finishing the food! And poor Heero would end up having to carry me to my bed, I heard.
So I made a conclusion. Heero is the energizer bunny. He can go on and on and on and on… Me? I'm just a plain ol' rechargeable battery, and if I don't get my appropriate electric currents after specific time intervals, I'd die out. So there.
I decided to try my hands at something else then.
One of the many things I admired about Heero was his tidiness. Whenever I roomed with him, I noticed that his side of the room was always nearly flawless. Every single thing was kept in their precise positions, not a thing out of place.
*My* side, was the complete opposite. If Heero's side were heaven, mine was definitely hell. In fact, it looked like a tornado had passed through the vicinity. All of my stuff was strewn all over like some burglar had rummaged the place in a rush. I could find my clothes in the most unlikely places, like inside my pillowcase. Or under the carpet… although I still have no idea how my socks got there in the first place. But I think the last straw was when I found my favourite black tee being used as a floor mat in the toilet.
So I changed. I made sure I folded all my clothes neatly, and stacked them in the cupboard. My textbooks and notes were kept in one corner of my work desk, and my pens and paper were in another corner. Generally speaking, I had to admit that my side looked as neat as it ever could be.
One thing I didn't consider in my tidying up, was myself.
It had been three days since I started to be neater, and I felt nothing but awkwardness in my own room. It was too orderly to be my room! My room was supposed to be messy, unkempt and what have you. Anything but the epitome of tidiness. That awkwardness ate at me, and I felt cold even if my room had a heater. It just didn't give me the feeling that I belonged.
However, compared to what was about to come, that was the least of my problems.
I fumbled in my drawers, occasionally let a string of fluent cursing out of my mouth. Not finding the things I wanted, I slammed the drawer back into its slot, and pulled out yet another one. Shoving the once lovely clothing of mine with an annoyed swipe, I frowned again when I still couldn't find it.
It was weird, really. Before, when my room was in a state of utter disarray, I could find my things in a jiffy and still have time to spare. So what if it was messy? It just *looked* messy; it didn't mean it *was* such. I guess there was a disordered order in there, somewhere in the way I made it. Somehow, once I tidied everything up, I started to lose my things, and had to spend absurd amounts of time just to find them. It's some cosmic law I'm not supposed to understand, I guess. It didn't mean I had to like it.
"Damn accursed gloves! Where in the friggin' world are you!? If I can't find you in five minutes, you're gonna be dead meat!" I muttered murderously under my breath. I couldn't believe it, and I don't think anyone else can either. The god of death was threatening a pair of leather gloves with bodily harm if it didn't turn up within the next five minutes.
I was so engrossed in my search, I completely missed the sound of the door opening and closing. I didn't hear the footsteps either.
"Duo, what are you doing?" Needless to say, I nearly jumped out of my skin.
"Heero?! When did you come back?"
He shrugged, putting his bag beside his bed. "Just. You were so busy you didn't notice."
"Oh." I replied sheepishly. I was a gundam pilot, for god's sake! I'm not supposed to lose my reflexes just for a pair of gloves!
"Duo, what were you doing?" He repeated firmly.
That reminded me, and I quickly turned back to my drawers to continue my search. "Looking for my leather gloves. You know, that pair I always wear when I go clubbing?"
"Isn't it under your blanket?" Heero asked wryly.
"My blanket? Can't be there. All my clothing are inside my cupboard, but I can't find it now."
"It used to always be under your blanket." Heero insisted, but he squatted down and helped me look in my drawers. "You seem to be messier than ever."
I blew my bangs as I rolled my eyes. "You don't have to rub it in! I'm making a conscious effort in keeping my things since you're always complaining about the, I quote, 'total wreck' in my side of the room. And now you're still complaining! Jeez!"
We found my gloves almost an hour later, and by then, I was already out of the mood to go clubbing. After that night, I decided to stop that new habit. It was less than an hour after I made that decision that my room went back into being the 'total wreck' it had always been. Heero had no complains. And my life went back to normal. Well, as normal as it can get.
That is, until, I tried to stop eating chocolate.
Thing is, I've always disliked that extra layer of baby fats on me. I look so chubby and kiddy because of that. How many times have my cheeks been pinched by women thinking I'm cute like some baby still in a crib? Trust me, I've completely lost count. It's easy to, when that happens nearly on a daily basis.
Another thing is Heero. My god. He's got such a firm, supple body you won't believe it. I think he works out a lot; he's got that six-pack, his muscles are clearly defined and there's absolutely no flabby skin on him. It's really hard to not be envious of such a body. Add that to the indignant torture of face pinching, and you have me trying to pinpoint the reason for my chubbiness.
Anyway, I've always had this inherent adoration for the brown, sweet stuff. With that innate adoration, I also came to believe that it was the thing that made me chubby. The next thing I did was, of course, to put a halt to my addiction.
I didn't count on the cold-turkey treatment, though. Damn.
By some unholy luck, we were staying at one of Quatre's estates… again. Keeping in trend with all other things that belonged to the Winners, the mansion was fully stocked with many things, one of them being food. And I do mean food. *Real* food. Not all those wholesome cereal and rations Heero Yuy eats, but sausages, bacon, and a whole lot of those fatty groceries. I remember seeing cakes and other delightful pastries too. Being me, I wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth and leave all those things go to waste. That is just so not me.
Of course, those didn't go to waste. But somehow, they went to *my* waist.
I sighed, switching to yet another channel. And another. And another. Damn! Wasn't there some remotely good television programs here? So what if this was some out-of-the-way, third world country whose people didn't have another better to do then to build sand castles on the dunes? Yeah, so we were in a desert. Okay, let me rephrase that. We were in some secluded, isolated, remote, far-flung, out-lying, far off, faraway desert in… god knows where. Jeez.
Seeing that I couldn't find a good program, I was pretty sure I'd have to watch quality static.
Suddenly, my erratic finger pattern on the remote control stopped, and my eyes were glued to the screen almost immediately. It was an advertisement for some creamy, velvety, smooth, delectable, palatable chocolate bar! My absolute favourite! And the food on the very top of my 'do-not-eat' list.
It was hard not to drool, though, and I was hungry for it. Extremely hungry. 'Chocolate~! Chocolate~! Chocolate~!' My mind chanted what seemed to be the holy mantra then, and I could almost hear the echoes resounding inside.
Quickly, I scrambled to my feet, body poised to dash to the kitchen; diet be damned.
Of course, Heero chose that moment to walk pass.
I shook my head. 'No, no chocolate if I want a body like Heero's!' My mind accepted that, albeit grudgingly. But that signal apparently didn't get to my mouth, because it was starving for something to bite into. So I still went into the kitchen and terrorized the shelves full of food.
It was amazing. To get rid of my hunger for *one* bar of chocolate, I had to stuff like… one whole pepperoni pizza, one cheese sandwich, one plate of bacon, and one bowl of onion rings into my tummy.
After eating my fill, I went back to watching TV like nothing had happened. I was halfway into some documentary about the making of chocolate when Quatre came over to me. He looked apprehensive, like he was gonna broach some sensitive issue with me.
"Duo, aren't you eating too much lately?"
I frowned, eyes still glued to the screen. "What do you mean, Cat?"
"Well, you've been eating a lot and emptying the refrigerator nearly everyday…." He trailed off, but quickly added, "Not that I'm angry or anything." He clarified quickly. "I know you've been abstaining from chocolate, but you seem to be eating even more than before."
I finally looked at him; it was the commercials. "I can't help it." I confessed, throwing my hands upwards. "It's like… every time I think of chocolate, I'd just get all hungry and well… you know the rest."
Quatre cast me a thoughtful look. He seemed ready to say more, when Trowa entered the room with some slips of paper in his hand. Walking over to us, he dropped the paper into my laps. "Wufei told me to give this to you. Says it's for your reference." Then he took Quatre's hand and gently led him out of the room.
Shrugging, I looked at what he gave me. It was a height and weight index. And at the very top were two things. One was a comical pig that looked very ready for the slaughterhouse, and the other was one sentence wrote undeniably by the Chinese pilot.
'Duo, have you weighed yourself lately?'
That question came to me like a punch in my face, and I hastily sped up the stairs to the bathroom weigh. And bingo. My fear had been well supported, and of course it came true. My weight had gone up instead of down.
I could only slap my forehead.
Yeah, sure, go ahead and laugh. Just wait till *you* try something like this!
The chocolate episode lasted only for about a week, and I had gained a record 3kg. But that didn't deter me. I was still willing to change. For the better, that is.
The next thing about me that I decided had to go was my habit to sleep with my teddy bear.
Heero knows about my habit, and he doesn't say anything about it. But I can almost see contempt in his eyes when I snuggle close to my teddy bear; like he despises the sign of weakness. He doesn't sleep with stuff toys! No soldier would do that! And when I heard his soft, nearly inaudible grunt, I knew that I had to change this aspect of myself.
It was truly a stroke of luck that I found one while living with Solo and the gang. The poor little bear had been sitting quietly in some dark alley, close to some trashcans. I swear, some people just don't know what is wastage. Must have been some pampered little sweetheart, the apple of her parents' eyes, who decided one day that she didn't like the bear anymore, and wanted another one. Young girls can be fickle that way. Except for the loss of its right limb and one of its eyes, the bear looked quite fine to me. I'd admit it wasn't clean, but it was hardly a problem for someone who lived on the street.
So I took it back with me. It warmed me when I slept at night, and kept my nightmares at bay.
Even when Maxwell Church was destroyed, the bear survived. I found it in Sister Helen's arms; her body must have protected it somehow.
So what if it was a little charred and dirtied? It was the bear Solo and I played with, the bear Sister Helen tucked into my arms before I went to sleep, the bear I used to hug when Father Maxwell told me stories. It was the last thing I saw before falling asleep, and the first thing I saw when I woke up. It made me feel safe when I was alone, gave me comfort when I was miserable, warmed me when I felt cold.
The bear is the embodiment of my memories.
All in all, giving up the bear must have been one of the stupidest ideas I've ever had!
It was at the end of a mission, and we took refuge in this small cabin in the doctors call a safehouse. Trust me when I say that the place is anything but safe. It was in a place of eternal snow, and I hated the sub-zero temperatures. A blizzard struck the area as soon as we got there, and the cabin got really cold.
I shivered involuntarily, and snuggled deeper into the little warmth the thin blanket provided. The flimsy thing wasn't helping much, but it was the best I could find. All the other thicker ones were soaked by the sudden snowstorm, as were my clothes. So I was forced to strip down to my undies and lie in bed, waiting to be frozen solid.
Feeling more than a little lousy, I looked across the room. The only thing that greeted me was the empty bed that was supposed to be the altar for Heero tonight. Straining my ears a little, I could faintly make out the sound of my partner typing his mission report outside. Ever since that sleeping incident that ended with me falling face first into my food, Heero has been trying to do his work somewhere where he won't disturb me.
I sighed. Damn, I missed those typing noises his laptop made. At least, it let me know that Heero was near me, inside our room.
Stifling another sigh, I went back to sleep.
Everything went by in a haze after that. I wasn't quite aware of what was happening, but I knew I was very busy on the cellular level. What else can explain me seeing Solo and the gang and Maxwell Church? I think I relived the old memories of my past in an instant. The next thing I knew though, I was doing a Relena, better known as screaming shrilly to others.
Heero barged into the room in a second, gun held tautly in his arms. His eyes scanned the area of any potential threat, and when he didn't find anything, his eyes fell on me. Tucking his revolver into the waistband of his spandex, he made a beeline for my bed.
"I'm… I'm sorry, Heero. I… must have been dreaming." I mumbled sheepishly, hands rubbing the rough fabric of my blanket together.
And he walked out of the room. To say I wasn't disappointed would be a joke, and Duo Maxwell does *not* lie. I had thought that he would show me more kindness, more consideration. I was his partner, damn it! I watched over his back, while he watched mine. I took care of him when he got hurt, as did he. You don't just leave your partner alone after a nightmare!
Even though I believed that, I also knew that Heero helping others outside of missions only happened once in a blue moon.
But when he reentered, I had to stifle the urge to ask him what the colour of the moon was that night, while still wondering if the moonbeams were blue.
"Here, take it." He shoved something at me, voice firm and yet, with a slight hint of affection.
I had to blink several times before I registered his words, and I began to recognize the soft, cuddly feeling in my arms. I couldn't believe it, but the familiar sensation told me it was real.
"You can't seem to sleep well without it." Heero grunted, pointing at my beloved teddy bear.
He had noticed! He had noticed that it was hard for me to fall asleep without my bear in my arms at night, that I had been tossing and turning in my bed every night since I ceased my habit. Of course, my occasional nightmares must have woken him up too.
Still somewhat shell-shocked, I gazed up at him, agape. Finally, I smiled. "Thank you."
Yeah, so that stopped too. I just couldn't give up my teddy bear. It's my link to my past. And I'm glad that Heero brought it back for me. Actually, I was surprised that he noticed my reliance on my bear.
Honestly, by then, I had noticed that the changes I tried were all connected to Heero one way or another. Maybe I had gotten a tad attracted to him.
I mean, who wouldn't? I swear that he's got to be one of the most striking male species in the universe! His body is a temple that only the chosen ones can worship and pray. His unruly hair entices you to run a finger through and attempt to soothe it, even if you know they can never be tamed. His cobalt eyes draw you into an endless swirl, leaving you to drown, yet without complain.
…Okay, so maybe I had a crush on him then. But I was pretty unsure of myself. I was constantly on the move, so I did't have the time to get emotionally attached to anyone. Except my allies, a.k.a. the Gundam pilots. It was impossible to deny that I felt strongly for every one of them. For Quatre, I feel some sort of brotherly love towards him. It's like he's the little brother I never had. Something in him makes me wanna protect him and make sure he's alright. Trowa… well, we're both referred to as a clown sometimes… him by those who buy a ticket to watch the circus troupe, and me by my teachers in school. So I guess it's some familiarity, and camaraderie. My relationship with Wufei is certainly the most interesting. We are the best buds when we're not at each other's throat, but when we are, we seem to be Sank and OZ. Archenemies. Contrary to popular belief, his hobby is not stuffing my braid down my throat, and mine isn't painting Nataku or his katana pink either. We are actually very good friends. That is, when I'm not the victim of *his* pranks. Who says that Chang Wufei does not play tricks on others? But obviously, I retaliate. His hobby is strangling me with my braid, while mine is painting Nataku and his katana neon orange. Washable paint, of course. So what I felt for Heero could very well have been friendship. I had no intention of straining our friendship for a warm body in the war.
Apparently, he didn't think so.
It was around… half a year ago, when we were hiding in a safehouse several kilometers away from the nearest town. I had gone into town earlier, and Heero had left for a short solo mission while I was away.
But he had left something for me.
I walked into the room I shared with Heero, throwing my bag onto the ground. I had just returned from a trip from town to get groceries, and I was tired beat. Those women surely reigned supreme at the supermarkets and shopping malls. With all that fantastic pushing and shoving skills they displayed there, I was surprised that some of them were still plump. The weather wasn't any kinder to me. It was a friggin' cloudless day, and the sun was on full-blast mode, like he wanted to toast us.
The tiredness caught on with me, and I was starving for a hot shower, then a really long nap to recharge myself. However, what I saw on my desk made that thought the furthest thing from my mind.
It was a couple of magnets. Two ring magnets were speared by an upright pencil held in position by some blue tack, and while one of them was lying on the table top, the other was floating in midair. Beside it, were two other ring magnets stuck to each other.
Curiously, I walked up to it and picked up the white slip of paper left on the table. It was an anonymous note, but I recognized the handwriting to be Heero's. It's just as neat and prim as he is. Besides, he's the only person whose handwriting looks as though they're printed. Shrugging, I read it.
[Duo, look at the magnets. Like poles repel, but unlike poles attract. Two people that are too alike will only result in them repelling.]
I looked away from the note, and glanced at the ring magnet on the pencil. The south poles were facing each other. That explained the floating. They were repelling each other because they were alike. What was Heero implying? Frowning, I continued to read.
[On the other hand, those who differ will be attracted to each other.]
I glanced up at the two ring magnets stuck together, and I finally understood.
[Don't try to be alike. You are who you are. ]
Looking at his note and the magnets, I smiled, and tried not to give his choice of using ring magnets another meaning.
Nothing really happened that night after he returned. We never said anything about that. The magnets were something like an unspoken gift.
Subsequently, I stopped trying to change. Like he said, I am who I am, and all those quirks are what make me Duo Maxwell.
I can't be Heero, and neither can Heero be me.
We are different.
That's why we attract.
Sorceress Fantasia @ 24th August 2002
Proud member of 1x2ML, SDDI, HDML and GWML