Author's Note: This is the first in a series of three fics that explore a few interactions between the pilots near the end of the series, mostly between Duo and Heero. All can be read on their own, but they are tied together.

Zero Fancy
by Tahlia


Heero's nuts.

That's the only explanation for it, really. I mean, what sane human being would ever willingly pilot a mobile suit with Zero as the cockpit system? Why, that's only utter insanity. What on earth and all the colonies could possibly make a system that shows the destruction of the things you strive to protect, the things you would give your life for, being destroyed as a simple means of performance enhancement? It's just plain nuts, I tell ya.

Let's look at the track record, shall we?

First, there was Quatre. Bless his soul, I know he was going through a rough time with the death of his father and all and was already a bit off his rocker, but with Zero in his hands and in his mind he destroyed a colony and nearly killed both Heero and Trowa.

Tro's still not really the Trowa we all knew, by the way, his memory being lost and all after his run in with Quatre. He remembers a few things, like how to fight and boil an egg, but he just doesn't remember everything yet.

Then there's Trente. That guy makes my blood boil, he really does. Once he got his hands on Zero, that was all she wrote. A crazy power trip in the pursuit of some kind of complete vision sent him off the deep end, and the remains of his scrambled brain ended up splattered all over the walls of his skull.

You'd think that would have been enough for him. Really, you would. But as it turns out, he just couldn't let Zero take him out before subjecting both Heero and I to it in an attempt to gain knowledge of its effects.

For the record, I wasn't there to see what happened to Heero firsthand, but Quatre was. The way he tells it, Heero ended up trying to take out the whole Lunar Base in a blaze of glory, regardless of who was inside at the time. Quatre ended up having to shield the two of them inside an insanity-proof bubble with the Mercurius' shield and threaten to blow the two of them out of existence before he was able to get through to Heero. At least, that's my version of the story. Quatre downplayed it a lot, not wanting to make anyone look bad, but I could tell the situation was a lot more severe than he made it out to be.

As for me, well, I - I don't really like to think of what happened with me. Let's just say that I was not a happy camper, and I put the things most important to me in danger by losing control. I'll never forget the feelings coursing through me when I saw... what I saw. Suffice it to say that it was not a pleasant experience in the least.

I know Zechs piloted Zero for a while, too. Howard told me. I don't know any of the particulars of his case, really. I just know that Howard said he was acting really weird after using it in a battle with Wufei. That just goes to show that even if you don't let Zero make you do anything you'd come to regret later on, it can still really mess with your mind.

If anyone else has used it, I don't know about it, but I'm sure the experiences would follow in a similar vein. What else can you expect from a system that is not meant for human beings?

And that's it in a nutshell. The system isn't meant for mortals. That's just all there is to it. There is a reason that the scientists decided not to use it in any of the original gundams, a fact Heero seems willing to overlook.

I still can't believe he brought that thing to Peacemillion. Not only that, but he's planning on using it. That just blows my mind. After I'd used it once, that was it for me. I never wanted to see it again.

Heero couldn't have known that, but still. When I saw Zero aboard Peacemillion for the first time, saw the suit that had been half haunting my dreams with its lingering voice in my head, it was a lot to process. I did a double-take, let me tell you.

I looked for Heero the day he brought it aboard to ask him why he had brought it here, hoping he was just hanging on to it until he could destroy it or something. Improbable, I know, but you can always hope, right? I found him on the catwalk, but I couldn't help getting distracted and just staring at the devil of a suit, my mind not quite focused on what I was saying.

"So you brought that troublesome suit with you," I started. I meant to ask if he planned on using it, just to find out for sure - nothing less, nothing more. But instead, "You'd have to be insane to pilot a suit like that," is what came out. I didn't mean to say anything challenging, really, but I just can't seem to keep my mouth shut sometimes.

"I never said you had to pilot it," Heero responded nonchalantly.

"Huh?" I asked, staring at him incredulously. Was he insinuating that I wasn't good enough for this suit, that I couldn't handle it? I'm just as good a pilot as him, if not better. He should know that by now. "You piloted it, though. In that case-"

"I can handle that suit," Heero cut in smoothly, confidently. "I have experience from piloting Epyon, which has the same system on it."

I think the guy was just trying to calm me down, soothe my ego, but that sure wasn't the way to do it. "Epyon? You mean the suit Zechs was on? What were you doing piloting that thing?"

Did it matter? I sighed, not really giving him a chance to respond. I was jumping too easily into frustration and wasn't thinking straight. I turned to walk away in an attempt to prevent myself from saying anything stupid, but I couldn't help but let out a bit of my internal frustration in my parting comment. "I almost forgot what you were like. You're about as far from normal as they come."

In hindsight, I realize that was a bit rude. Not untrue, mind you, but rude nonetheless. There's not much I can do about it now since I'm still unable to turn back time, despite my best efforts. I'll just have to avoid the subject matter in the future. Zero puts me in a sensitive place, and I should just stay away from it.

Besides, what Heero puts himself through is his own business, as long as he doesn't decide to blow up a colony or one of us. I can't go telling him he can't do something just because there's no way in hell that I would do it. This is the guy that sets his own broken bones, after all. Maybe he's just immune to the creep-out factor of normal human beings. Who knows?

And wouldn't you know it, in the name of irony, just as I came to the decision to drop the subject for good, Heero chose that exact moment to engage me in a discussion of the matter. Heh.

He came into my room and leaned against the wall, just staring at me. I'd retreated there after the little episode on the catwalk to collect my frazzled thoughts. I still don't know what was wrong with me that day.

Anyway, he just stared at me as if I was the one that had walked into his room for no apparent reason, like I was the one that was supposed to say something. When it was obvious he wasn't going to speak first, I tried to get the ball rolling. "Uh, hi."

"You piloted Zero." Just a simple statement. Not a question or a request for elaboration on the event, just a statement.

"Yeah," I agreed. I didn't say anything more. If he wanted a conversation, he would have to start one. I wasn't going to do all the work.

I think he got the message because he took a seat on the chair nearest the wall and began to speak. "You had a bad experience when you piloted Zero for the first time."

I didn't negate his statement, nor did I confirm it verbally. I just stared down at the floor for a second before reestablishing eye contact. If he had come here to get me to talk about that experience, he was going to be sorely disappointed.

Luckily, he only paused for a moment, his eyes moving to concentrate on his hands, a slight frown forming between his brows as he went on. "I did as well. The shock of a machine interfering in your thought process, manipulating what you see before you, is not something I think anyone could walk away from unaffected, especially when you are not warned beforehand that this will happen." He paused again, making eye contact and waiting.

I nodded. I didn't know what else to do. I still didn't get what he had come for, and he hadn't told me anything I didn't already know.

He continued. "After Zero, I went to earth with Quatre. There I acquired Epyon from Treize. I-"

"You what?" I exclaimed, cutting him off and jumping up from my seat on the bed. "You accepted a twisted suit that messes with your mind from the former head of the OZ organization, the chief guy we were working against?" I was in shock.

"Yes," was his simple reply.

I waited for an explanation, some sort of elaboration that would answer the multitude of questions whirring around inside my head. It became very apparent I wouldn't be getting anything of the sort. I sat back down on the bed and waited for him to continue, suddenly feeling very tense.

Once I'd reclaimed my seat, he went on. "I piloted Epyon and became very confused. I wanted it to show me who my enemy was. After a few excursions, Epyon gave me an answer, and now I no longer loose control when under the influence of the Zero System. I have mastered it."

I waited for him to go on, but he seemed to be done speaking. I favored him with a curious expression. "You came all the way down here just to tell me that?"

He nodded. He must have read my confusion because he seemed moved to speak once again. "You seemed upset. I wanted to assure you that you don't need to worry about the Zero System being used by me. It won't be a problem."

I snorted. "It won't be a problem that a system that twists and distorts human mortality into the mindset of a hyped up mobile doll is being used by an already dangerous Gundam Pilot with enough firepower in his gundam to blow up an entire colony?" I asked sarcastically. "Forgive me for being a little skeptical."

"Zero enhances a receptive pilot's performance. The negative consequences come when it's used by someone that rejects it or can't manage it. Like I said before, I can handle it," he countered and then stood and moved to the door. Apparently, he was done with this conversation.

He stopped at the door and looked back at me. "You could handle it too, if you took the time to understand it. Any of us could." And with that, he exited the room.

Maybe he's right. I don't know. I'll trust that he can handle the Zero System. He wouldn't lie about something that important, something that could end up hurting a lot of people if he screwed up.

As for believing that I could handle it if I really wanted to, that I will never test. Even if it is possible to master the devil system, what price do you pay for it? Heero was willing to pay that price, apparently, but not me. I get by just fine without being a doll, thank you very much.

To think that I once assumed I understood him. I probably never will. It's impossible to gain complete comprehension of any human's psyche. At the very least, I understand this much: Heero Yuy is insane.

And really, that aint so bad.