3-28-2001

Category: Yaoi, AU
Pairing: 1+2, will be 1x2
Warning: vague hints at past angst
Author: Arigatomina
Email: arigatoumina@hotmail.com

Not Alone

Part 1

The readings were impossible, so he didn't check on the supposed intruder. Rather, he did a maintenance check on the system, methodical and swift, filled with disbelief when he turned up nothing. There were no faults to be found with the system, meaning there was someone aboard the ship. But that was impossible. Radar would have picked up any shuttle or craft within a very large diameter. Glaring, Heero went to the greenhouse to see what was going on.

Having been the only one on the ship for the last eight years, he knew it by heart. The twisting halls that had baffled him as a child were easily managed and he reached the greenery within minutes. Laying a hand on the scanner, he watched the door slide open, eyes moving over the grass and various plants as he looked for anything out of the norm. Walking down the cleared path, he passed row upon row of gardens till he reached the orchard. It didn't take him long to spot the intruder, but his logical mind simply couldn't take in the sight at first. It wasn't until he'd moved to stand over the creature that he admitted the diagnostics had been accurate. There was a person on the ship. And he was breathing.

Wide eyes moving over what looked like a boy about his age, Heero stepped in a small circle, taking in the boy's appearance with something akin to shock. He had a beautiful face, long dark lashes against his pale skin, thick bangs falling over his forehead. Long golden-brown hair lay on the grass where he was sleeping, and what looked like a black robe covered him. Flushing, Heero snatched his eyes away from the boy's body as the cloth was so thin he could see through it. Frowning, he forced himself to look no lower than the boy's face as he knelt beside him, hand hovering over his phaser on the off chance that he would attack.

Having been modified, Heero had lightning reflexes, but even he was unable to follow the boy's movements when he woke. One second he was staring up at him with wide violet eyes, and the next, the boy was gone. Standing, Heero's eyes flew through the area, spotting the boy crouched on a limb of a nearby tree. Not sure what to do, he didn't think threatening him was a good idea as the boy was obviously too fast to catch. Instead, he raised his hands, showing his empty palms as he took a few steps forward, stopping a foot away from the base of the tree. Sitting there, his long hair falling around him, the boy looked like a wild animal such as Heero had seen on the vids.

Not having any protocol for such a situation, Heero stared up at the boy, taking in the dark bruise on his cheek that hadn't been visible before. Catching the hostility and fear the boy radiated, Heero's eyes narrowed. "I won't hurt you." The boy's eyes narrowed at his words, but he was certain he hadn't been understood. He was debating on using his phaser to immobilize the potential threat when the boy's face turned white and he let out a soft moan, one arm slipping around his stomach. "Are you all right?" Heero asked without thinking.

"No."

Flinching, Heero's eyes widened as painfilled violet eyes met his. "You understand me." Blinking, he frowned. "What are you?"

Bending forward, the boy groaned before gasping in a deep breath. "What I am, is sick. But that doesn't mean I won't resist."

"Resist what?" Heero asked, confusion evident on his face. "What are you talking about?"

The boy didn't answer, his eyes closing as he pitched forward suddenly. Rushing beneath him, Heero barely managed to catch him, nearly dropping his hold when the boy let out a scream. Kneeling, he held the boy up with an arm behind his back as the long-haired boy drew in choking breaths, struggling slightly. Ignoring the weak movements, Heero pressed gently on the boy's stomach, hand moving to the side until the boy screamed again. Realizing it was an internal injury, Heero lifted the boy against his chest as he stood and quickly headed for the door.

"Did you hit something?" Heero asked as he carried the boy down the hall toward the ship's infirmary. "Have you had an accident?"

Eyes closed tightly, the boy had stopped struggling. "It wasn't an accident," he said through clenched teeth. "What are you going to do?"

"This ship has advanced medical facilities," Heero said, more to keep the boy conscious than to make conversation. "I think you've ruptured something. Barring complications, though, you should be fine."

"How can you tell?" Opening his eyes, the boy looked over Heero's face warily before groaning and closing them again. "I think I'm dying...I don't want to..."

"Even if there's internal bleeding, the machine can fix it. You shouldn't require surgery." Not liking the way the boy was shaking, Heero moved faster. "You'll be fine."

"Are you a...healer?"

Blinking, Heero frowned as he placed his hand on the scanner to the medical lab. "I'm not, but I do know how to use the equipment on this ship. I know its capabilities." Moving through the door, he lay the boy down on his back on the metal platform, his fingers flying over the control panel as the lights of the machine lit up. Glancing to the boy, he found violet eyes on him. "Just lie still, this shouldn't hurt, but I'm really not sure."

"What do you...why are you helping me?"

Tearing his eyes away, Heero pressed the sequence, watching as the machine moved to cover the boy, only his bare feet showing. "Because you're hurt." Glancing at the readings, Heero frowned as he wasn't sure what he was seeing. "The red light's off, meaning your injury isn't deadly. But the timer's set for twenty minutes so this'll take time. Just keep still and try to take deep breaths." Not receiving an answer, Heero moved to the boy's feet, ducking a bit as he glanced beneath the semicircular machine. "Did you hear me?"

"Mm."

Blinking, Heero took that as an affirmative and stood up, moving to where the readings were. It was true that he knew how to work it, but he'd never actually used the machine. He knew it would find and heal the injury, but he couldn't make out what the data meant. The pictures were easier, and it was obvious that the boy had a broken arm and a fractured leg as well as a number of cracked ribs. The internal injury, by far the worse, wasn't visible on the x-ray, so he was left guessing what was wrong. //It doesn't matter, though. The machine will fix his injuries. What matters is how he got onto the ship without my noticing.// Frowning, Heero folded his arms over his chest. //I wonder what happened to him.// Glaring, he moved to check the time, sighing when he saw how much was left. Walking to the door, he accessed the main computer, doing a check on the surrounding area.

//If he came aboard a ship, it would have registered. I haven't seen a ship in years, but the computer's on-line. There's no way one could have gotten past the radar.// Frowning, Heero called a visual of the system they were in, pulling up the information on any planets that had life signs. There was only one. //Judging by the distance, that's the best possibility. But how did he get onto the ship?// The sound of the machine withdrawing broke him from his thoughts, and he turned to see the boy slowly sit up.

Blinking, the boy's brows drew together as he stared at Heero, one hand moving over his side. "It doesn't hurt at all," he said softly. "Thank you, I think."

"Who are you?"

"Duo. I'm surprised, why did you help me? And why would you want to know my name?" Shaking his head, the boy lifted a hand to brush back his hair. "I don't understand your people. First you try to kill me and then you heal me? Why?"

"My people?" Eyes narrowing, Heero took a sharp step forward, halting when the boy flinched. "Where?"

"You don't know?" Duo asked, eyes watching him warily. "I managed to get on this ship, so you must have passed close by the planet. Although," frowning, he shook his head. "They didn't seem to notice your ship."

"Who? What are you and how did you get on the ship?" Feeling impatient, it was all Heero could do not to shake the boy.

"I...teleported? I'm sorry, I'm still not sure about your language, but I did this." Standing, he disappeared, reappearing on the other side of the room and giving a weak smile at Heero's shocked statement. "Your people didn't understand it either." Eyes growing shuttered, he glared at the floor. "They..." Blinking, he smiled at Heero. "What's your name?"

"Heero."

"Thank you."

Frowning in irritation, Heero shook his head. "For what?"

"Your name," Duo said, eyes shining. "And for asking what mine was. For caring what my name is, like it matters."

"I have to call you something," Heero said, disgruntled by the boy. He wasn't sure how to get answers, whether or not to simply ask.

"But you'd call me by my name," Duo said, "I thank you for that." Crossing the room, he boosted himself onto the platform, folding his legs as he looked at Heero. "Do you mind if I ride with you for awhile? You said you wouldn't hurt me and I'd really like to get out of this system. It won't be for too long, just till I find something else to ride on."

"Ride? Where are you going? And what are you?"

"I don't actually know where I'm going, I'm just searching for nice people. I made a mistake with that planet. I'm not really sure what I am, but I'm sure I'm not like you. Although we do look the same." Giving a slight grin, Duo tilted his head to the side, blinking wide violet eyes at Heero. "You're really not going to hurt me?"

"No. Why would I?"

"I don't know. I don't understand why people hurt others." Glaring suddenly, Duo crossed his arms over his chest. "But I'm not going to take it anymore." Flushing at Heero's raised eyebrow, he smiled. "Anyway, you got anything to eat? I'm starving."

Blinking, Heero frowned. "I have food. Come on." Gesturing to the door, he watched the boy hop off the platform, eyes trying to follow him as he remembered his revealing robe. "I'll get you something to wear."

"Huh?" Glancing over his shoulder, Duo frowned. "You too? They had a problem with my clothes too, but I figured they were just looking for an excuse to hurt me. They gave me this when they took mine away. Why does it matter what I wear?"

Keeping his eyes off the boy, Heero shook his head. "It doesn't. Wear what you like. Come on, I'll get you food, then we talk."

"That's nice," Duo smiled, walking at Heero's side. "I haven't eaten in...days? Well, it's been too long. I feel like there's a hole in my stomach."

"How do you know my language?"

"It just came to me," Duo said, shrugging his shoulders. "I guess it's a gift."

"Hn."

"What's that mean?"

Blinking, Heero frowned, "Nothing."

"Then why did you say it?"

Glaring, Heero moved faster down the hall, not knowing what to say.

* * *

"You said you were traveling, do you always stow away on passing ships?"

"No," Duo said, leaning back in his chair. Having eaten enough to make Heero stare, he was feeling much better. "I had a ship, but it died. That's when I fell on that planet."

"Died? Do you mean you had a living ship, or that it quit working?"

"It died because I didn't have any fuel to give it. It wasn't really alive, no more than yours is, and it was very much smaller. Where did you get such a big ship? When I first saw it, I thought it might be a meteor it was so large. And you have it all to yourself? What do you need so much space for?"

"My people, not the ones on that planet, but the ones I traveled with, they came from far away, I'm not sure where since the reports were destroyed. All I know is that there was a war and I guess we were either the only survivors or the only ones to run. If there were others, I never saw them." Frowning, Heero was surprised to have said so much, but the boy was very easy to talk to, and his smile was almost...endearing. "There were many people on the ship when it set out, but the last one died when I was ten, about eight years ago."

"Were they all old?"

Blinking at the boy's naiveté, Heero slowly shook his head. "Their bodies weren't old, but their minds were. The computer says they had a shared mental illness, but I think they got sick of the blackness of space. It overwhelmed them and they got tired of living only to see the same thing day after day. I've spent my entire life in space, to me it's home, but they were...planet-bound."

"If they were sick, couldn't your machine fix them like it did me?" Duo asked, horrified at the thought of 'many' people dying and leaving Heero alone.

"No. It only fixes physical ailments. Besides, they didn't want to be healed." Not wanting to give the boy the wrong impression, Heero frowned. "They just didn't want to live anymore."

"I don't understand. No matter what, I've always wanted to live. I'd hate to die, to be surrounded by nothing but silence. I love living, is that the way you thought when they died?"

"I don't think it was that. I just didn't see a reason to die. I don't fear death, I just don't believe in dying for nothing." Not liking the sympathetic look he was receiving, Heero shook his head. "Do you know, you are the first being I've seen since they died? I've passed planets with lifeforms before, but never a ship so I assumed they weren't technologically advanced. I'd rather not interfere with such a planet."

"It's good that you didn't," Duo said, still getting over the boy's sad story. "They didn't understand my ship or why I wasn't like them. Besides, they were not nice at all. If you'd gone there, they probably would have tried to burn you, too."

Eyes widening in shock, Heero glared suddenly. "They tried to burn you?! Why the hell would they do that?"

"Because I was different. Some of them argued, but most agreed that they should kill me. That's why I jumped to your ship. I'm really glad you passed by when you did, my stomach was really hurting and I didn't think I'd live long enough for them to burn me."

"What kind of people were they?" Heero asked, eyes narrowed slightly. "You didn't do anything to them, did you?"

"No, I didn't. They were violent people. They did look a little like you or me, but they were big. Tall and strong and ugly." Smiling, Duo nodded to Heero. "They weren't pretty like you, and their language was...coarse. They shouted a lot."

Flushing at the compliment, Heero cursed himself and forced his eyes up. "How did they find out you were different? Was it that obvious? I was thinking that maybe they saw you disappear and that scared them."

"You're right," Duo said, sighing. "But I wouldn't have disappeared if they hadn't hurt me. I'd just gotten away from my ship before it exploded when they showed up. They didn't say anything at first, they just sort of stood there, looking at me. Then they started hitting me for no reason." Hurt and anger evident in his eyes, Duo glared. "So I disappeared. But when I came back, they grabbed me and hurt me so much it was hard to move. They said something about a master or God and how I could be a sacrifice. I'm not really sure, but they were going to burn me for him. I guess they didn't know they'd hit me so hard. You know, I think that's the first time anyone's ever hit me." Frowning at the table, he missed Heero's furious statement, one hand moving absentmindedly in his hair. "I still don't know why they did it."

"It doesn't matter."

Frowning, Duo met Heero's gaze, ignoring the anger there as he shook his head. "You mean they didn't need a reason to hit me? I think they should have had one. Maybe you don't know, but it hurt. A lot."

"No!" Fists clenching the edge of the table, Heero's eyes narrowed to slits. "That's not what I meant. What I meant was that it doesn't matter why they did it. They shouldn't have. I don't care what reason they had in their minds, it's not good enough."

"Oh." Calming, Duo sighed. "I didn't think the reason mattered either, and I made up my mind that I would fight when they tried to burn me. But I couldn't walk. And I really didn't want to escape somewhere on that planet and risk being found. I really didn't want to die."

His left eyelid twitching at the thought of someone abusing the slender boy, Heero decided to change the subject, quickly. "Where did you come from originally? Where did you get your ship?"

"Actually, I don't remember." Looking embarassed, Duo gave a weak smile. "I've been traveling on that ship for as long as I can remember, stopping at planets with oxygen long enough to search for nice people. I guess my ship couldn't go on forever."

"Why were you looking for people?"

"I was lonely." Looking at the dark-haired boy, Duo's eyes widened. "Don't you get lonely, never having anyone to talk to?"

"No. I guess I never thought about it."

"Oh. Do you like being alone, then? I'm sorry I intruded on you when you don't want anyone around. I'm different. I like life, but it's so empty without someone there."

"I don't mind your being here," Heero said quickly, vaguely surprised to find that it was true. "I guess I've just been alone for so long that I never thought about being lonely. Duo, you said you didn't actually have a destination in mind. If you want, you could travel with me until you find a planet with people you like rather than leaving without checking first. There's an unlimited supply of food on this ship, and facilities here to produce fuel so you don't have to worry about the ship...dying or your presence being a burden."

"Yes, I'd like that." Grinning suddenly, he laughed. "Actually, I don't have much choice, but I'd like to travel with you. After all, I did want someone to talk to."

* * *
TBC

--notes--
I think there will only be two or three parts to this.