Author's notes and disclaimer:
This story was written earlier this semester when I was feeling the crunch of school and my personal life. Therefore, it's a lot darker than many of my fics. So if angst and darkness and a some philosophical musings bother you, you'd better stop now and hightail it out of here.
Secondly, this story follows a certain format. Those of you who've seen Garbage's splendid music video for the James Bond movie, "The World is Not Enough," will see certain similarities here. Why? Because I wanted to see if I could follow the format of the video (very loosely in this case) and write a fic around it. For those of you who haven't seen the video, don't worry about it. This fic is reader-friendly in that respect.
I will warn you that the language in this thing gets to be rather strong in certain places. Again, if this kind of thing offends you, then don't read any further.
Neither Gundam Wing or its characters belong to me. I'm only bothering them...and torturing them...and angsting and... <Persephone decides to rope it in.> The song, "The World is Not Enough," belongs to Garbage and the nice people who keep making the James Bond movies.
Feedback is not only appreciated, but will earn you lots 'n' lots of chocolate. And Duo. Or is it chocolate-covered Duo? <Persephone grins impishly>
The World Is Not Enough
A 'Gundam Wing' story
'I know how to hurt
I know how to heal
I know what to show
And what to conceal
I know how to talk
And I know when to touch
No one ever died from wanting too much.'
--"The World is Not Enough."
Staring at his reflection in the mirror, he wondered how he had come to this. He should have been dead long ago, but every time death had seemed closest, he had escaped. And for what? For this? This wasn't a battle. What was about to happen was nothing less than a massacre. Innocent people were going to die along with the guilty and all because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was wholesale slaughter, pure and simple, and nothing anyone said could justify it.
He studied his reflection with a barely repressed shudder of revulsion. The plan was so perfect, so simple. All he had to do was get close to the target and in his current disguise that wasn't going to be a problem. I look like a damn china doll,' he thought grimly. A beautiful gamin face lightly dusted with blush and powder grimaced back at him and he resembled nothing so much as a pouty little girl. Not quite the look he'd planned on. He was *supposed* to be sweet and enticing or at least those were his orders. At the moment, pouty was just going to have to do.
What am I doing?' he asked himself, kohl-lined amethyst eyes large and watery. Great. The last thing he needed was to cry. He'd already had a hard enough time figuring out how to keep his eyes from sticking together with all the gunk on them. If he cried, he'd look like a damn raccoon. He pushed back a lock of hair, feeling his loose mane caress his shoulders as he fidgeted with his top. How did girls manage this?! It was like slow torture. He took a deep breath trying to calm himself, then noticed something.Damn, I almost forgot.' Gritting his teeth, he leaned down and plucked the missing earring from the still warm corpse sprawled across the make-up table before him. With steady, precise movements, he placed the small jewel in his lobe, checking his reflection once more for any flaws. With a quick nod, Duo Maxwell turned, the folds of his dress billowing behind him as he exited the room.
Life surrounded him. It spun and assaulted his senses until he was forced to take each sensation at a time. The whisper of silk against his skin. The sounds of voices upraised in laughter and the rising sing-song of conversation. The sweet smell of champagne and hor d'ouveres. Colors. God, there are so many different colors and each one with a different style,' he thought in wonder. It was wonderful and terrible; wonderful that there could be so much to enjoy and terrible knowing that this would be his last night to enjoy any of it. It wasn't fair. He wanted nothing more than to be able to mingle and talk with these people, all so different and interesting in their own ways. Instead, he was going to bring them death and buy his own personal cell in Hell. No,' he caught himself. You have to stop thinking like this...Like you're him. You're not him. You're not even real. You're nothing but a lie. Wasn't that what Heero had said?'
It hurt. Even now, it made his breath come in sharp jerks. Programmed reaction,' he thought. Not real. You're not fucking real, Maxwell. You're just wire and metal and synthetics. It's not blood that flows through your veins. You don't feel anything, not really.'
Oh, how he wished that were true. Professor G had done his job too well. His creation thought and felt far beyond the boundaries of his programming. He was an aberration or so he had been told. He was a just one big fucking aberration. Then again, according to some theories that was all life wasan aberration on a cosmic scale that the universe hadn't gotten around to sorting out yet.
Well, Duo Maxwell was alive and he did feel. He just wished to hell he couldn't. If he couldn't feel, then he wouldn't be experiencing fear curling up in his stomach--no, his sensors right now, like a giant snake in the sun. If he couldn't feel, then he wouldn't feel the sting of remorse or regret. And finally, had he been unable to feel anything, he would have been free of the hurt and sorrow the betrayal of his friends, his fellow Gundam pilots, had caused.
Even now as he weaved his way across the crowded room, he was still thinking about them. What the hell was wrong with him?! *They* had betrayed *him*. Tossed him out like an old shoe, as if nothing he had done meant a damn thing to them. Maybe it didn't. It wasn't as if he was really risking his life. At least that's what his teammates thought. Maybe that was what had made the others so angry. He considered the idea, slowing down as his mind took hold of it, testing it out for fallacies. Did they really think that he was just playing at what they took so seriously? That because he couldn't truly bleed, it meant less to him than it did to them? Did that make his life any less meaningful? Was that what having a soul was--the ability to bleed red? Is that what it all came down to?
That couldn't be it. Duo refused to believe that everything that made up the human soul could be defined by having flesh and blood. Wasn't the very antithesis of what a soul was?
He coughed, trying to choke down the hysterical laugh bubbling in his chest.Well, damn, I guess I listened to Father Maxwell more than I thought. Who'd have thought some of that philosophical-religious claptrap he was always going on about actually rubbed off?'
There he went again. Acting as if he were real. *Duo Maxwell* had listened to Father Maxwell, not *him*. He hadn't even been created when the child had been taken in by the priest. All the things he remembered, everything he felt--none of it was real. His whole life was a lie. No, worse, it was a program. Just a set of logarhythms and data coded in the right sequence to achieve the desired effect. He was just a high-tech version of Heero's laptop. At least the laptop wasn't having delusions of mortality despite all the attention the Wing pilot lavished on it. Attention that Duo would have given his right arm to have just a fraction of. Now it was far too late.
How pathetic am I?' he wondered. Here I am, just minutes away from oblivion and the only thing I can think of is Heero.' Heero who had been his friend and who had betrayed his trust in the end. You were my first real friend that wasn't a programmed memory. I let you in, wondered and worried about you each time you went off. Is that why you were able to hurt me so much? Because I cared so much? Because I...'
No,' he stopped himself. If simple feelings for a machine were unthinkable then his feelings for Heero were impossible. Duo knew better. Impossibilities didn't hurt. And Heero had hurt him. Heero had killed him or signed his death warrant. Because he hadn't understood the truth, despite how hard Duo had tried to explain it to him. Maybe he would never understand. Or forgive Duo for being less than human. And because none of the other pilots would work with him now, the scientists had decided that it would be in their best interests to procure a pilot they would work with. That left only one loose end to tie up...
Which was why he was here, in a damn dress, about to take out a whole room full of Oz officials. 'Not exactly the way I pictured going out,' he snorted.
Heero would be all right, he decided. He was a survivor. Hell, he'd probably come out of the war, marry Relena, and live out the fairy tale. Duo was fairly certain that the Wing pilot harbored little to no romantic inclinations towards the girl, at least not at the moment. That could change over time. Relena was nothing if not persistent and Heero would get tired of being alone one day. People like Heero didn't need to be alone; they needed others to draw them out of their shell and back into life. He had so much to offer if he could only realize that. There was a gentle soul behind those cobalt eyes and hardened mask, even if the wearer didn't realize it himself. With Relena at his side, Heero could conquer the world and help the Peacecraft realize her dream of peace.
Duo clenched his fists, then made himself loosen up before he drew unwanted attention. Damn it. *He* wanted to be the one at Heero's side. He wanted to lay the world at his feet and watch Heero open up to all the possibilities that were out there. He wanted it to be him those hard eyes softened for and sought out.
And that would never, ever happen. Maybe once, but not now. Not now that Heero knew the truth. Not now that he'd seen those beloved eyes widen with revulsion, then anger, and finally, nothing at all.
The ball was over, the Prince had fled, and Cinderella found herself in mud-splattered tatters.
Would I have been better off if I had just killed you that day on the dock, if I had never met you at all? To have never known just how much I could be hurt by a human or how I could be betrayed by my own hopes and dreams?'
It was pointless to wonder about such things now. He had a mission to perform and if Heero Yuy had taught him anything at all, it was that the mission was above personal consideration, above ethics, above everything. It was the only thing he had left.
Briefly, he wondered what the real Duo Maxwell would do in situation. Another pointless exercise. *That* Duo Maxwell had gotten the hell out Dodge while the getting was good. That Duo would never have let himself trust anyone long enough to be hurt the way he had been by Heero and the others. An android had only been necessary in the first place because Professor G hadn't been able to produce the real Duo Maxwell. He was just the next best thing; a last minute replacement because unlike the other scientists, Professor G hadn't been able to keep a hold of his test subject. Duo Maxwell, the real Duo Maxwell, had escaped and all those precious hours of work might have been wasted if the good Professor hadn't kept careful records.
Duo blinked back a stinging in his eyes that felt suspiciously watery. This was the moment he'd been moving towards since the moment of his inception. He was a weapon and now he was about to be put to his ultimate use. When all the chips fell into place, he was alone--no friends, no tricks, no hope... Take all that away and what was left?
Just an android with delusions of mortality. How poetical. He laughed humorlessly. Maybe he was more human than he thought. He *did* share one thing in common with the mortal herd surrounding him. He was going to die. Only it wasn't going to be in some far off, unknown date. No, he knew the time of his death down to the exact second, could feel the explosives inside him ticking ever closer to fulfilling their destiny. The people around him were fortunate enough to not know. The knowing, the waiting... That was far worse than the thought of death. He had lived with death for a long time; it was part of Duo Maxwell's make-up but impatience was equally part of that makeup and he had been given both. The least G could have done was given him some sort of switch to shut off all these ... feelings. It would be better to face this a mindless, uncaring robot. Then he wouldn't have to remember or if he did so, it would be with the cold precision of a machine. It wouldn't sting, it wouldn't bleed, it wouldn't hurt the way humans hurt. And he wouldn't be afraid. Oh God, he longed for this to be over with. He had flirted with Death so many times, but right now he was afraid. His limbs were shaking (all part of his programming) and he felt cold. He was going to die, he was going to die, he was going to die. He was going to die, alone (metaphorically speaking) and unloved. No one was going to lay flowers on his tombstone. No one cared and what God would be waiting for him? He wasn't even fucking real.
Better to be Shinigami. Being Duo Maxwell was too easy and too hurtful. Better to bring death and destruction. Better to just fulfill his mission parameters and just let go. He wasn't equipped to handle human frailties and the tears he longed to cry were simulations of an emotion he felt he could touch but would be cheapened if he tried. He would die as he should, a cold unfeeling machine with no heart that could be tread upon and ripped out by people who should have loved him, who should have understood.
Heero, I would have...'
Raising his head, Duo Maxwell fixed a smile upon his perfectly constructed face and headed out for the last dance.