8-15-2000

Title: Stranger Things...
Author: Bevin Brand
Rating: PG-13/R
Pairings: 1x2 (eventually), 3x4
Warnings: Language, weirdness, OOC, AU(?), yuri hints, yaoi hints, angst, my weird sense of humor.
Notes: Okay, this is after EW (which I haven't even seen yet, but oh well), Duo and Heero aren't, nor have they ever been in a relationship thus far, and, uhhh.... I don't know what I'm doing. ^_^ C&C more than welcome! ^_^ Oh, and I added some stuff to the first part of this for those of you who read it before. OKAY! Done babbling. Oh and GOMEN NASAI for crossposting and all the shouting but I'm in a hurry! Later, MWAH!

 

 

No matter how hard I wish, that look on Sally Po’s face refuses waver into the ear to ear grin normally associated with good-natured ribbing and practical jokes. It’s starting to get on my nerves, that look of total and utter seriousness. It’s starting to make me feel very very uncomfortable, actually, and that’s not something I’m used to feeling. I’ve felt uncomfortable before, to be sure, but not quite in this way. Only two other times have I ever felt that shocky, sticky sickness that seemed to plaster itself to the underside of my skin and the last had been about two weeks ago. But I’m not going into that now, right now I’m still trying to convince myself that Sally’s developed a sadistic sense of humor and having a harder and harder time with it.

“You’re not actually serious, are you?” My tone is skeptical, controlled, never betraying the pit of fear that has steadily been engulfing my stomach for the past several moments.

“I couldn’t be more serious, Heero. I don’t understand it, I can’t even begin to imagine how....” She trails off, at a loss for words. I can understand that. “I’d like to run some more tests, if you don’t mind. Maybe find out.... I don’t know, we *had* to have made an error somewhere.”

“That seems to be the only logical explanation.” I’m definitely not amused by any of this and I’m damn well not going to hide it. I’m almost positive that this isn’t a joke now, and that doesn’t reassure me, but at least one more logical option remains open. I’m sure there was simply a mix-up somewhere and the retests will show no abnormalities whatsoever. There is simply no other logical alternative.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Duo looks nervous and uncomfortable sitting across from me. I don’t blame him. The last time we saw each other was under... unusual circumstances and my request to speak to him was, in retrospect, a bit ominous and ambiguous. Regrettable, since this meeting was going to be awkward even minus that fact, but there are simply some things even I can’t just state over the phone. Some things must be done in person. That doesn’t make them easier by any stretch of the imagination, and right now I’m hoping for some of my ex-partner’s inane chatter more than anything else in the world. The silence stretches for an eternity on all sides between us.

A quick assessment of his appearance reveals nothing new. Same impractical amount of hair done back in a braid that hangs just past his waist, wide eyes that seem violet in some lights and blue in others, primarily black clothing, and without my presence stopping up his normal routine I’m sure he’d have that same insufferable grin plastered to his face. I only saw him three weeks ago, but it had been such a long time before that when we saw each other that his more noticable changes are still new to me. He’s grown quite a bit over the past while, a good six inches taller already than when we first met. His face has lost its baby fat as well, his ‘chipmunk cheeks’ thinned out into features bespeaking more of someone on the cusp of adulthood than a child. Not that he had ever really been a child to begin with. None of the five of us had, but Duo’s body was finally catching up with his psyche. I wonder if I’ve changed that much and simply not noticed it.

Finally, he clears his throat and a brief look of relief passes over his features at having found something to say.

“You want some coffee, or something?”

I almost accept and then remember that I can’t. Shouldn’t. My condition doesn’t allow for it.

“No.”

The silence returns. Duo’s nervousness increases and he wets his lips before taking the initiative and diving headfirst into the subject I had been afraid to broach.

“So, Heero, what did you need to talk to me so urgently about?”

Not knowing if I should simply say it, or if I should ease into it more slowly, I opt for the latter. I need some time to get used to this myself.

“I had a physical last week.” I can’t look at him. I can’t look Duo Maxwell in the eye and tell him this. I almost run for the door in the mad desperate hope that maybe if I don’t tell him it won’t be true. But he deserves to know. I take a breath and continue. “They have no idea how it happened, how it’s possible, but--”

“Oh God.....” Startled at his interruption I look over at his pale, stricken face. In the three years I’ve known Duo Maxwell I’ve never seen him wear fear in so obvious a way. Something on my face must have betrayed my own fear because he’s suddenly hugging me with shaking arms, his head buried in the crook of my neck. And I find myself hugging him back, surprised at the realization of just how badly I needed a hug then. I had never needed one before, not in a year of war or any time before or since. But I needed one now and I never wanted it to end.

Finally he pulled back and his violet eyes locked onto mine with an intensity I’ve rarely seen in them outside battle. His normally happy smiling face is set in a stone mask of desperate determination making him seem far older than his age of seventeen. I briefly wonder if this is how I appear to other people.

“Heero, whatever it is you can fight it, okay? Don’t give up, promise me that you’ll fight it, you can *beat* it. Promise me!” There’s a cold panic behind his determination connected to something that runs deeper and farther back than this one incident. Part of me wants to ask him about it, to forget my own problem for a few minutes, anything to keep from thinking about it. But I know he won’t let me.

“I can’t.”

“Dammit Yuy!! That’s not fair!! That’s not fucking fair, you can’t sit there behind your brick wall and tell me you’re just giving up! I won’t let you, I won’t lose another one, do understand me??” He’s yelling directly into my face now, his hands pulling at the fabric of my shirt and his eyes wet with tears that don’t fall. I’ve never seen him cry before, or come this close to it. A part of me is touched that he cares so much for my well-being, but the rest of me is concentrating on finishing what I had come here to tell him. “Duo.” I surprise even myself with how gentle my voice sounds and how easily my hands fit over his. I had always thought I wasn’t able to be like this with people, but I guess peace changes a person. His eyes close against mine, refusing to see, refusing to acknowledge that I have more to say. “Duo.” My fingers tug gently at his chin until his face is towards mine again, his eyes still closed. “I’m not dying.”

His breath catches and those purple irises become visible once more as he blinks in surprise. Yet another first for facial expressions I hadn’t seen on him before.

“What?” he finally manages to choke out.

“I’m not dying.” I say again. His face as it slides from grief to shock to utter relief is amazing in its sheer variety and range of expressions. Maxwell is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a living cartoon character, a fact that made me want to kill him before I even knew what a cartoon was, but now helped cheer me up at least somewhat momentarily. It’s sad, but I have to shatter his relief before it overwhelms me to the point that I can’t tell him. His emotions have that effect on me anymore.

“Oh Heero, that’s...” His voice hitches and he can’t find the words for once. Then the look in my eyes sinks in and he knows there’s something else coming.

“Duo...” I closed my eyes again, still unable to look at him as I tell him this. “I’m pregnant.”

I can feel those enormous eyes staring at me, though with what in them I can only imagine. Inwardly steeling myself against whatever might meet my gaze, I open my eyes back to him while keeping up a carefully neutral front. Having honed this particular mask to perfection over the course of my life I find it all too easy to slip back into even now. I guess I haven’t come as far as I thought since the war.

Duo hasn’t budged an inch and is staring at me in undisguised shock. If his jaw dropped any lower he’d be in danger of dislocating it. I honestly can’t say I blame him, about a week ago that was my perpetual expression. Well, internally, anyway. How easily will he be convinced of this? He’s been quiet for several seconds now, so there must be something happening under all that hair.

It’s about here that Duo starts laughing. Not the half-crazed Shinigami laugh that all of us heard over our Gundam comlink from time to time in the heat of battle, but an honest-to-goodness genuine laugh. Sure, I shocked it out of him and more than a little of it was tinged with the relief that was probably rolling off of his nerves in waves at this point, but it’s not quite what I was expecting. Frankly, it’s getting on my nerves a little. Still, another pang of guilt hits me at the thought of silencing the first authentic reaction of mirth I’ve ever seen from him, but it’s vital that he take me seriously.

Before I can open my mouth to speak, though, he does it for me.

“Oh man!” A tear that had only moments before nearly been shed in grief is now being wiped in mirth from one rosey cheek. “I’m sorry for laughing like that but I totally never expected this.”

Tell me about it.

“I mean, I never woulda figured you for the type!”

That one catches me off guard a bit. “The type to do what?” The irritability I’m feeling is coming through a bit more clearly than I prefer, but there’s not much I can do about that now. This isn’t going at all how I predicted and the amount of anger I’m starting to feel is vastly out of proportion to the level I usually have, which only makes it worse.

“Y’know, go in for the ‘Mr. Mom’ procedure. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that,” hands up in the universal sign of surrender, “if that’s what you wanna do, it just surprised me, is all. Ooo! Can I see your scar?” My shirt is thrust up to my chest before I can even think of how to respond to that. “Hey! There’s no scar! Neat! Can they heal ‘em that quick now? Ahhh, modern medicine is a wonderous thing these days, isn’t it? So did it hurt?” He’s poking at my midsection as if expecting an alien to jump from it and grab him at any moment.

“No, not exactly.” His normal behavior is just as annoying as his unpredictable one a minute ago and I’m reminded once more of why we never see each other outside Quatre’s parties.

“Helloooo? Helloooo in there little fetus!” He’s not even pretending to pay attention to me now, and is instead speaking directly to my stomach. “Listen to your Uncle Duo; Don’t grow up to be like your daddy, whatever you do! He’s no fun at parties, has a singing voice that makes children and small animals cower in fear, and his socks smell like cornchips! Ewwww!”

It’s about at this point that I start to wonder if my coming here at all wasn’t a big mistake. A thought that only gets more persistant when he begins tapping on my navel.

“Testing! Is this thing on?” Tap tap tap.

“DUO!!!” The swat on the hand and the force of my voice as I actually, literally scream at him are both harsher than I had intended on being with him but my temper is short and his antics aren’t helping any. Ignoring the wounded and surprised look he’s giving me, I press on before he can shrug this all off and dive into another one of this prattling monologues. “Will you SHUT UP for TWO SECONDS and listen to what I’m saying?? I never got surgery. I never planned this, I never thought about it, it never entered my mind as a possibility of anything even remotely connected in any way, shape or form to me until my physical results last week.” He’s staring in mute confusion and fear from the floor in front of me, though whether it’s from my uncharacteristic tantrum or the words I’m speaking I don’t know. “Do you understand me, Duo?? This was an *accident*!”

His mouth works itself open and closed a few times before the right synapses fire to allow speach, and even then he doesn’t know what to say. “But...” He’s trying to find the catch, the loophole, the explanation as the implications of what I’ve said sink in. I can see it in his eyes, the frantic search for something that makes sense, that one clue that makes all the other peices of the puzzle fall into place. Which is precisely what I’ve been doing for the past week with no luck. A large part of me is screaming at him to find it, to find that missing piece that somehow I, Sally, and every colleague she contacted could not. It’s a futile hope at best, but right now it’s all I have.

“But... how... is that possible?” He finally manages to pull enough coherent words together into a sentence.

“It’s not.”

“But... But...” He doesn’t believe it. Hell, I don’t believe it and I’ve seen the tests and run through the possibilities myself. There’s no reason in the world for him to take my word for it other than he’s never known me to lie before and no discernable reason for me to start now.

“Are you joking? Is this one of those ‘trick the trickster’ things? Is it revenge for that one time I stashed all those twinkies in your pillow and forgot to tell you before you went to bed, ‘cause if it is, man, this is totally over the to--”

“This is not a joke, Duo, I’m as serious as I have been about anything else.”

One look at my face confirms it. “Well, nice to know some things never change, anyway. So,” a slender hand runs through his messy bangs as he asks, “who’s the proud papa-to-be? I mean aside from you. At least tell me you have one of *those*...”

“Yes, I believe I know who it is. That’s what I needed to talk to you about, actually.” He still doesn’t believe it, and frankly neither do I. How can we? But this part right now is the hardest bit to swallow for me, so I can’t even imagine how hard it will be for him to accept. If he even can. “You remember three weeks ago at Quatre’s New Year’s party?”

“Yeah, most of it, I got kinda blitzed and blacked ou-- ohhhhh no.” His eyes are huge and getting wider, pinning me with a furious, accusing glare that seemed to dare me to even try to say what he knew I was implying.

“And you remember the morning after?” I know full-well he did. I don’t think he’s seeing me anymore though, as his head shakes from side to side in vehement denial, as if he could shake the words from between his ears.

“Oh no no no no no no no...”

“Duo, Sally and I would like for you to come in for some tests to determi--”

“NO!” Startled by his sudden and enraged outburst I rock back in the chair a little bit and simply watch as he surges to his feet and rants. “No way, there is no fucking *way*! This isn’t *possible*! Look, Heero, I’m sorry if you’re sick or deranged or... whatever it is that brought this on, but I won’t be a part of this. It’s just not possible and I refuse to get dragged in and blamed for whatever it is that’s wrong! If you need a kidney, or a lung or something you’re more than welcome to one of mine. Hell, if what you’re after is a sperm donation give me a dirty mag and point me to the bathroom, but this... This is not my fault! It’s... it’s sick! It’s weird, it’s unnatural, it’s....”

“Impossible.”

“YES!!” Upon reaching an agreement, he finally looks at me, really looks for the first time since he was personally dragged into my medical nightmare. I don’t know what he sees that puts that look on his face, but I don’t care as long as I have his attention now.

“You and I both know this is impossible.” My calm is back, hopefully to stay this time, but it’s been harder and harder to hold onto in light of this situation. He nods once at me, focused completely on what I have to say now. “Then prove it. Come with me to see Sally, do these tests so we can get that much closer to finding out what *is* going on.”

I can see the war going on behind those shielded eyes of his, the temptation to run away and pretend like none of this is happening versus the desire to help someone he thinks of as a friend. Finally, he nods once, solemnly but resolutely, making the only decision he *could* make, being who he is. Gratitude and relief washes over me briefly, surprising me at how unsure I was over his decision, and I tell him I’ll be back in a few hours to get him. He needs time to pack and I need to call Sally and confirm the penciled-in appointment we’d made before I left. Plus, we both need some time to decompress; there are a lot of issues between us that should probably be dealt with before we can ever be completely comfortable around each other again, but neither of us has the energy or desire to think of tackling them right now. I doubt that we ever will, frankly, there are just some things that come between friends that can’t be dealt with. With this situation added on top of those, simply being around him is not an experience I look forward to, and I’m sure he feels the same about me. I can only hope that whatever this is that’s happening right now works itself out soon. Duo and I need to get on with lives that have been too late in starting as it is.

 

(TBC...)