"Sign Me Up"
Heero and Wufei found a relatively quiet corner between two buildings... and then just stared at each other for a minute.
"Now what?" Heero said eventually.
One corner of Wufei's mouth quirked up in a humourless smile. "We seem to have a problem. Don't we?"
"Damn right we do," the Japanese pilot growled. "Do you have any idea how we're going to solve this problem? I don't think trying to beat each other's brains out is a good idea. For one thing, in the situation we've ended up in," he jerked his head at the base around them, and, by inference, the whole world, "we can't afford to be distracted."
"For another, there may be no point in quarrelling over Duo," Wufei pointed out dryly. "If he's only interested in one of us-- or neither-- the fact that we both want him won't matter in the least." He raised an eyebrow at Heero's surprised expression. "I see you hadn't considered that. Just because he's gay doesn't mean he's automatically going to find us attractive."
"...True," Heero admitted grudgingly. "After all, he hasn't... er... shown interest. I thought he liked girls."
"So did I," Wufei snorted. "On the plus side, that may be because he thought we weren't going to be interested and didn't want to... upset us."
Heero grinned, rather nastily. "I can believe that. I thought you were straight, too. Probably violently straight... that is, if you had any sexuality at all."
"So, now what do we do?"
"Show him we have an interest, and see what develops."
"If anything," Heero muttered. He rubbed at his face, stifling a yawn. "We should go wait for Duo, or get some sleep, or--"
"Not just yet," Wufei interrupted. "What are we going to do if he's interested in both of us?"
"What?" Heero looked incredulous. "Now I know you're already asleep, and dreaming!"
"It may not be out of the question," the Chinese pilot said seriously. "Remember what Jay said last night at dinner?"
"Her?! That nutcase?!"
"Either she really can read minds, or she does a very good imitation of it," Wufei insisted. "The General certainly believes her. She seems to be the main reason we're not locked up as lunatics or Theodorians. And she did ask Duo which one of us he was going to pick-- or both."
Heero was silent.
"She also thought we'd be willing to share."
"Well, that part has to have been wishful thinking, because I don't share anything important," Heero snapped. "Duo is definitely important!"
"Important enough for you to change your mind?" Wufei shot back. "What if he doesn't want to choose between us?"
"Oh, great. In thirty seconds, you've gone from 'maybe he doesn't want either of us' to a love triangle. Make up your mind!"
"I already have," Wufei told him, stepping forward. "I did a lot of thinking last night, waiting for them to get back. I want Duo, but most of all, I want him to be happy. If that means giving him up because he wants you, I'll live with it. And if he wants both of us, I'm not going to upset him by fighting over him, or making him choose between us. I'm going to do my best to get on with you... whether you cooperate or not." He smirked slightly, and Heero abruptly realised that he'd somehow been backed up against the wall.
"In fact," Wufei said quietly, "while I was doing all of that thinking, I worked out that sharing Duo might not be that bad... especially if we end up sharing each other, as well."
He leaned in slowly, giving Heero plenty of time to get away if he wanted to; but Heero just stood there, wide-eyed, watching the Chinese teen get closer. So Wufei kissed him.
It was just a light, brushing touch, the faintest of pressure, warm breath tickling over Heero's lips as Wufei pulled back a fraction.
"Well?" he asked softly. "Yes? Maybe? No?" Wufei chuckled. "'Omae o korosu'?"
"Ah... " Heero swallowed, clearing his throat. "I think I did a lot less thinking than you last night. I need to, uh, work out how I feel about--"
Wufei suddenly burst out laughing, nearly staggering into Heero.
"Oh, gods!" he sputtered, leaning on the other pilot's shoulder. "Sorry, I-- ha ha!-- I'm not laughing at you, I just-- just thought of what Duo would say if he heard you say that. You have to admit, for someone like him, it's a perfect straight line..."
It took a couple of seconds before Heero worked it out, but he had to snicker too. "Yeah," he agreed, half grumbling. "I mean it, though. Maybe you spent a couple of hours thinking about potential relationships, but I didn't! I need to work things out for myself."
"A reasonable request," Wufei said, still chuckling. "After Duo gets back from the medical center, you can sleep on it. And with that in mind--"
He kissed Heero again, more firmly this time, nipping lightly at his bottom lip before pulling away. "Food for thought," he explained, black eyes glittering with humour and something more, and walked off.
Heero watched him go, feeling rather stunned.
I have to pay more attention to people, Heero thought eventually. I thought Duo was straight, and I was sure Wufei was... um... He frowned, searching for the right word. Frigid doesn't quite fit...
* * * * *
"Um... Dot?" Christy looked quizzically down at the resin cast Dorothea was putting the finishing touches on. "Isn't it a bit long?"
"I didn't have this sort of cast the last time I broke my arm!"
"And you managed to pull the bones out of alignment twice before I got them properly fused. Obviously, telling you not to use it and relying on your nonexistent common sense to keep you out of trouble was a stupid idea; this time, I'm making sure you can't wreck my handiwork."
"Gee," Christy said sourly, looking at the fingertips poking out of the very end of her shoulder-to-cuticle cast. "Thanks."
"I would have made it longer if I didn't have to be able to check your circulation. Hush up and don't move, it's nearly dry."
Duo snickered quietly, and Christy glared. "Let's see if you're still laughing after she starts stitching up your leg. Dot doesn't believe in using anaesthetic."
"Er--" Duo looked nervous and the doctor snorted.
"Only when I'm treating people like you and Asuka. If I gave you two a local before stitching you up, you tend to escape out a window while I'm waiting for it to take effect."
"And this is bad how?" Christy enquired.
Ignoring her, Dot turned to Duo. "Are you going to make me chase you around the base with a dart gun, or are you more sensible than that?"
"Sensible," Duo answered hastily. "Very sensible, definitely. I'm not moving." He grinned. "Now, if it were Heero in my place, you might have an argument on your hands..."
"Well then, it's a good thing for him that he isn't." She pulled on a fresh pair of gloves and picked up a syringe and drug bottle.
There was a knock at the door.
"If you don't need medical attention, I'd advise you to leave before I can identify you!" Dot yelled.
"I have legitimate business!" Mel's voice called. "I brought your patients clean clothes! And you know perfectly well I'll get revenge if you do anything nasty to me."
"Fine, fine, come in. No hanging around, though."
Mel peered around the edge of the door frame. "All Duo's stuff is still in Deathscythe, so I got him some of yours, Christy. That okay?"
"Oh, right, like any of my stuff is going to fit him!"
"Even your biggest t-shirt and that pair of sweats you said were too baggy?"
Doing his best to ignore Dot working on his leg, Duo eyed Christy. "Maybe the waist measurement'll be big enough, but... how tall are you? Five foot one?"
"Five foot two."
"Well, it's warm enough that your ankles won't freeze at least," Mel pointed out, tossing the bundled clothes onto Christy's lap.
"You could've given him your stuff. Or Dan's," Christy grumbled.
"Mine?" Mel snorted. "Then he'd get to trip over them. And Dan wasn't around to ask."
"Neither was I!"
"He's already sharing your room, so I figured it was okay if he got a little closer," Mel said cheerfully. "Bye!"
"I'll get her for that," the Theran pilot muttered, sorting one-handed through the clothes. "Well, at least she got me a good shirt," she mused, holding up a loose t-shirt with 'BORN TO RUIN' on it.
"What do I get?" Duo asked curiously.
"Hold still!" Dot snapped.
"I am holding still!"
"Hold stiller then!"
Duo rolled his eyes, then couldn't help laughing as Christy held up a black shirt emblazoned with 'DEATH - NATURE'S WAY OF TELLING YOU TO SLOW DOWN!'.
"That's not still," Dot said crossly, pulling the needle back out of Duo's leg. "Do you want this cut to heal straight or not?"
"Yes ma'am! Sorry ma'am!"
"Three bags full, ma'am," Christy snickered, reaching around behind herself to undo the ties on her hospital gown; then she paused, looking uncertainly at the t-shirt and boxer shorts. "Hm. One working arm and bruises. Dot?"
"I'm busy," she replied, tying off another stitch.
"Hmmm... is Trowa still in the waiting room?"
"He'd better be, since he's supposed to carry this one back."
"Good!" Christy hopped down from the examining table, gingerly, and padded across to the door, opening it. "Hey, Trowa! Come help me get dressed!"
Eyebrows raised, Trowa walked across and held his hands out for the clothes; she handed him the boxers and tossed the shirt onto a chair. "Just hold those open so I can step into 'em, okay?"
"This isn't going to happen every time you get dressed until the cast comes off, is it?" he asked, holding the boxers out.
"Well, not exactly," she said, balancing with a hand on his arm as she stepped into the shorts. "I figure everyone can take turns. Blame Dot. It's her fault."
Over on the other table, Duo stifled a snicker as he imagined how Heero, Wufei and Quatre would react to any request of that type; then he nearly choked as Christy casually stripped off the gown, not caring that the only thing she was wearing underneath it was the shorts Trowa had just helped her into. He hurriedly looked away, fixing his eyes on the top of Dot's head as she continued to suture his leg, but not before he'd gotten a good look at the scars running across Christy's back.
Trowa's only reaction to his sudden eyeful was another raised eyebrow as he picked the t-shirt up off the chair. "Over the cast first, I think," he said.
"Oh, yeah," Christy agreed vehemently. "I learned that the first time I had a cast. It has to be the first thing into the clothes and the last thing out, otherwise you end up all tangled and strangling yourself. Not a comfortable feeling."
"Break your arm often?"
"Eh, every once in a while," Christy admitted, threading the cast through a sleeve as Trowa held it open. "Shit happens. Mel generally breaks ribs, I do arms, and Dan keeps breaking his feet for some reason. Jay hasn't broken anything worse than a nail, and if Asuka's broken anything recently--" A huge yawn cut her off for a moment, then she continued, "-- he isn't telling. Oh, except for the ribs. We all break ribs."
"I thought you said Jay had only broken nails?" Trowa pointed out, holding the other sleeve open.
"Yeah, well, we've broken so many ribs between us, only Mel bothers to count them any more." Christy yawned again, then scowled. "Dot! I thought you said those were the non-drowsy painkillers!"
"They were," Dot said smugly, tying off the last stitch. "I stuck a sedative in with the antibiotics, though. You should have enough time to get back to your barracks and into bed, then you'll be out."
"That's really low, Dot," Christy said indignantly. "Hitting below the belt."
"It's the best way to win, and I never said I was honest." The doctor stuck a sterile dressing over Duo's gash and straightened up, stripping off her gloves. "And I did the same to you, so no sitting up late telling lies about your heroic exploits. I want you to stay off that leg for at least forty-eight hours, and once your bruises stiffen up, you won't be able to use crutches, so Hair Man here or one of your macho friends will have to carry you if you want to go anywhere. In the interest of keeping travel to a minimum, I'm not giving you a wheelchair; live with it!"
"Dot, that's low!" Duo echoed Christy with a false pout, spoiled when he snickered then yawned.
"If you were officially transferred to this base I'd have your medical records. I don't, so that means you weren't meant to be on that mission any more than she was." Dot smirked. "You're behaving like Two and you're being treated like Two. You're birds of a feather, so get used to it."
Christy grinned. "Sorry, Mort. And he is Two, Dot, for your information... or a Two, anyway. Hair Man here is another Three, and the Macho Twins are One and Five. His Blondness is a Four."
Dot closed her eyes as if in pain. "Are you telling me I have five more insane maniacs-- excuse me, Gundam pilots-- to look after?"
"Shoot me now."
* * * * *
Asuka and Dan had already gone to bed when the little procession yawned its way into the pilots barracks, but everyone else was in the common area waiting for them.
"Party!" Jay cheered, waving a couple of small flags she'd produced out of nowhere.
"I don't think so," Trowa informed her, not stopping on his way to Christy's room. "They aren't going to be awake for much longer."
"Dot suckered us," Christy complained, staggering blearily after him. "Antibiotics in the sleeping pills... um... sleepibiotics in the... oh, screw it. G'night."
"Dot six, Christy two," Mel commented. "We've got to put up a scoreboard."
"Yeah, well, you haven't beaten her once yet," the shorter girl snorted, yawning.
"That's because we don't fight. I do what she tells me, up to a point, and she doesn't drug me."
"S'no fun that way. Boring."
"Boring equals peaceful equals lazy Mel," she said cheerfully, steering Christy towards her room by the shoulders. "The philosophy of my life in a nutshell."
Once she discovered there wasn't going to be a party, Jay was quite content to wander off towards her own room, but everyone else was determined to help get the wounded pilots settled, so it got quite crowded in Christy's room. Wufei held the door open for Trowa to carry Duo in; Heero pulled the covers down on the bed; Quatre fussed around asking if Duo wanted anything... it was actually rather surprising that none of them managed to accidentally trip Trowa before he got his yawning passenger safely onto the mattress.
On the other side of the room, Mel 'parked' Christy temporarily by her bed, untangled the covers, and pulled a small plush toy out from underneath the pillow.
"Christy, is there anything I can get you before... um..." Quatre trailed off uncertainly, blinking at the little fuzzy thing as Mel handed it to Christy.
"You sleep with a stuffed toy?!" Heero exclaimed, catching sight of it.
"This is no ordinary stuffed toy," Mel said haughtily, gesturing at it like the prize on a TV game show. "This is the Death of Rats, a semi-anthropomorphic personification. Show a little respect, why don't you?"
Everybody else stared at the fuzzy rat skeleton in a black robe, carrying a tiny scythe. A tiny fuzzy scythe.
Heero glared at Mel. "Respect?! It's a stuffed toy."
"That is way cool," Duo said. "Where can I get one?"
"Grrr," Christy growled, flopping on to her bed. "Mine."
"Yeah, but I want one for me," Duo insisted, yawning. "I'm not gonna steal yours..."
Christy seemed to consider for a moment, peering cross-eyed into the little skeleton's eye sockets, then held it out to Mel. "Gimme Anubis," she ordered. "In the closet. Death of Rats wants to sleep with Mort... just for tonight."
Pushing past a slightly stunned Quatre, Mel solemnly presented Duo with the plushie as Wufei and Heero exchanged bewildered looks; then she opened the closet door, scanning the stuffed toys lined up on the top shelf, and grabbed one. Wufei glimpsed a fuzzy Gundam Hades and something with tentacles as the door closed.
"She has a plushie of her Gundam?" he asked slowly.
"We all do," Mel said cheerfully, handing Christy a stuffed black jackal. "I think Asuka used his for target practice, but... anyway, they're very popular toys in the Alliance. There's a woman on base who made the prototypes for the company that produces them. She can make you plushies of yours if you want. They'll be all over the place as soon as your existence becomes public knowledge, anyway."
"Sign me up!" Duo cheered sleepily, waving the Death of Rats. "Wanna plushie 'Scythe. Yep."
Mel stretched, grimacing as her back popped audibly. "And on that note, seeing as I've been up for about twenty-seven hours straight, I'm going to bed myself. You guys can do as you please, but if Christy tells you to get out, I'd advise you to do as she says; she keeps a pistol under her pillow alongside the plushie, and she's been known to shoot at people who argue with her when she's drugged. Her aim sucked, but she might get lucky. G'night."
As the door closed behind her, Trowa and Quatre looked at each other, then at Heero and Wufei.
"She didn't 'feel' like she was joking," Quatre said, half-nervous, half-laughing. "Which fits with what I've observed so far. When these people say the most outrageous things, they're being completely truthful."
"And I'm not volunteering to take the gun away from Christy," Trowa told them. "I wouldn't advise you to try it, either. Good night!"
Left alone in the room with two dozing pilots, Heero and Wufei eyed Christy suspiciously. The object of their attention had her eyes closed, the stuffed Anubis toy tucked under her cast... and her free hand tucked under her pillow, presumably holding the rumoured gun.
"I can probably get it," Heero muttered quietly. "She's drugged, for gods' sake!"
Wufei shot a quick glance back at Duo. He looked asleep... "Maybe," he whispered back, "but I'd hate to have my competition removed by your getting shot-- by a tentative ally at that! Just leave it; if she's that drugged, she won't be trying to use it on--"
"Either try to take my gun or shut up, guys," Christy said clearly, not opening her eyes. "And make it quick; I wanna know if I can put the safety back on an' go to sleep."
"Yeah," Duo mumbled, tucking the skeletal plushie under his chin. "We're s'posed to be recuperating here. We'll tell Dot on you."
"Ooo," Christy snickered. "Evil. Love ya, Mort."
"You can try to take her gun if you want," Wufei told Heero dryly, heading for the door. "She is drugged, after all. I, however, am going to obey my marching orders. Good night, Duo."
"G'night," Duo yawned. "Or g'morning... whatever." Another yawn, and he began snoring softly.
Christy slitted one eye open, watching Heero hesitate. "Last chance, Yui. Make up your mind before I fall asleep, or I may shoot you anyway, so I don't have to feel paranoid."
The Japanese pilot surprised himself almost as much as her by reaching over and patting her, a little awkwardly, on the shoulder. "Good night," he growled under his breath, and walked out.
* * * * *
Late that afternoon, when most of the pilots were awake again-- not Duo and Christy, who were expected to sleep the clock around-- a message arrived from General Petrenkovitch, informing the 'new' group of their computer log-in and password details, so they could do research and make an informed decision on whether or not to support the Alliance. More than that; he gave them the access codes to the Gundam hangar.
"...I wasn't expecting anything like this," Heero admitted, eyeing the sheet of paper suspiciously. "I thought we might get limited access to our Gundams, to get our clothes and other gear, but otherwise I expected them to be locked down until we declared our allegiance. They're showing one hell of a lot of trust, doing this." He scowled suddenly. "Or else they've set booby-traps to prevent us leaving unexpectedly."
"You're feeling paranoid all of the sudden, old chap," Jay said, popping up unexpectedly behind him. "What brought that on? ...oh, I see. No, no booby-traps," she said cheerfully. "I told General Pet that you didn't seem to be the sort of people who'd like the Theos, so he figures if he gives you access to information and treats you nicely, you're more likely to choose us. Of course, the Theos would treat you nicely, too," she mused, scratching thoughtfully under one of her messy buns of hair. "Maybe more nicely; they don't have any Gundams, after all. They'd probably do the booby-trap thing, though..."
Muttering to herself, she wandered off.
Heero squeezed his eyes shut for a second. "Did anyone see her coming?"
Trowa nodded. "Yes."
"Why didn't you warn me?"
*Shrug* "Didn't think I needed to."
Heero glared briefly across the table at him, then picked up the piece of paper again. "Anyway. What was I saying before the local loon did her Jack-in-the-box impression?"
"Booby-traps," Wufei reminded him.
"Right. We can check for those, and should. And I don't intend to stay inside the limits of whatever level of access they've granted us; I plan to find those limits, and then hack through them."
Quatre nodded reluctantly. "Their choice of what not to show us could be far more informative than what they do."
Quatre was perfectly right. The Alliance's choice of what information to keep from the 'new' Gundam pilots was very informative... because they weren't trying to hide anything. As the pilots found out over the next couple of days.
"We have unlimited internet access-- unmonitored, too, as far as I can tell," Heero reported, staring at his laptop screen. "That gives us access to public historical and political databases of every university and government agency outside the Theodorian Empire, and a few inside the Empire. They're remarkably consistent; they all agree that the Theodorians started the war and don't intend to stop until they rule the world. The only difference is in their explanations of the Theodorians' motives. Alliance sources say the Emperor is a charismatic megalomaniac, while the Theodorian sources say, and I quote, 'the massed Theodorian populace realised that the time had come for their destiny to be made manifest, and rose up."
"Bleah," Duo commented succinctly from his bed.
"That about sums it up," Trowa agreed.
"The military clearances and access they've given us are even more interesting," Quatre said mildly. "Do you realise we have exactly the same level of access they've given their own Gundam pilots?"
Heero looked up, startled. "Really? I knew they'd given us a lot, but--"
"Really," Quatre nodded, tapping at his own laptop's keyboard. "After you hacked into their personnel records-- which are the only things on this base we don't have free access to, by the way-- I checked."
"Hn. I was concentrating on the files they've started on us."
"Anything interesting?" Duo asked curiously. "I got sidetracked reading about our counterparts' backgrounds, which are fascinating, by the way."
"Notes on our observed capabilities and personalities," Heero informed him. "Copies of the very classified signal Petrenkovitch sent to his superiors telling them about us and telling them-- not advising, telling-- that we shouldn't be bothered or interrogated until after we've made our decision on who to support."
"I wondered why we hadn't been descended upon by military intelligence types," Wufei said dryly. "Do you have any idea how he made that stick, though?"
"The signal also reminded his superiors that he has total command over the military side of the Gundam program, and he has declared us to be part of it."
"Nice of him. Anything else?"
"One more note, dated this morning, mentioning that although the Twos seem to be getting along like a house on fire--"
"--causing panic, screams, and the occasional minor explosion, right?" Duo grinned.
"-- and the Ones, Threes and Fours are at least tolerating each other," Heero continued, shooting a wry glance sideways at Wufei, "the Fives seem to be heading towards killing each other."
"It's none of my doing," Wufei said sourly. "She seems to alternate between barely tolerating my existence, making bad jokes at my expense, and hating me. I swear, that woman spends at least half of every night glaring in my general direction!"
"There's nothing in her background to account for it," Duo muttered, puzzled. "At least, nothing that made it into her file. If anything, she should like you because you're Chinese; the Aotearoan royal family was allied with Han until the Theodorians rolled the country under, and they took in what was left of the Han royal family."
"I'm sure it will work out," Quatre said hopefully. "She seems reasonable enough on other subjects... and she doesn't 'feel' as if she hates you, Wufei. She feels confused, and resentful for some reason, and... er... sad."
"We can't do anything about that right now," Heero cut in, getting the conversation back on track. "Anything useful or informative in their backgrounds?"
"Well, I know where Christy got half of her scars, now," Duo told him, "not to mention the split personalities. She was badly injured in a Theodorian attack on a research base when she was eleven years old, and had her parents killed in front of her eyes."
Quatre's eyes widened. "That would be a significant trauma, yes. I'm surprised she's as well adjusted as she is!"
"Well, now we know why she fights for the Alliance," Trowa muttered.
"More than that; it's why she's a Gundam pilot, and not just a soldier or MS pilot," Duo went on. "Apparently she decided to become the biggest threat around, so the Theodorians could never ignore her again. She certainly managed that. Her psych evaluations are kind of scary, actually. No two alike; I think she deliberately sets out to create a different diagnosis each time."
"From the little I've seen, that sounds like something she'd do," Wufei sighed.
"Maybe even the multiple personalities are a put on," Quatre suggested tentatively. "They do 'feel' a little... off. Especially when she switches."
"That would fit with something she said on the mission we went on. She was listing the coping mechanisms her lot use and finished off with 'and I'm clinically insane'. So, she could be faking it, using it as a mask... Whatever." Duo shrugged. "Nuts or not, I like her."
Heero sighed. "Moving on...? What about the others?"
"They all have really sketchy official histories, and I don't think they're really accurate. I mean, Christy probably has the most comprehensive records, and we just agreed she could be faking insanity. Asuka doesn't even have a surname, for crying out loud! As far as his history goes, he hatched out of Morkeleb's hangar at age ten or so. Dan's file lists him as an orphan, but doesn't say anything about who his parents were or what happened to them. Jay has a very complicated extended family listed in her file-- it goes into second cousins-- but all it says about her, um, mind reading abilities is 'cerebral anomaly, class four unknown ability, records sealed.' And Mel's psych evaluation says 'lazy' is her dominant mental trait, but she regularly ties with Asuka on endurance tests, which shouldn't be possible unless she works out obsessively." Duo waggled one eyebrow at his audience. "I think our opposite numbers are keeping just as many secrets from their military minders as they are from us. Maybe more."
Trowa snorted. "So, is that good or bad?"
Duo grinned. "I think it's good. I mean, I didn't tell G everything... It certainly indicates that they aren't puppets, anyway! Think about it, guys. If this OZ Alliance was as restrictive and controlling as our OZ, would they tolerate anybody in positions of responsibility with holes that big in their histories? Hell, every time we sneaked in as cadets, we had to come up with way better records than this!"
Wufei grinned back, almost against his will. "Point. Good point."
"I hope that means you're voting for 'stay and help', Wu-man, 'cause I've made my decision," Duo said, shutting his laptop with a loud 'snap'. "Whatever you guys end up doing, as long as we're stuck here, I'm working with OZ."
End Warped Mirrors
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