"SURFACE OF SLEEP"
A Mobile Suit Gundam Wing 1X2 "Blanket Scenario" fanfiction
ROUGH DRAFT: Preliminary copy, circa July 5, 2000.
Send C&C, death threats, warnings to repent now, and glittering praise to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate it all; /please/ don't hesitate to criticize my work.
This fanfiction was written with, as always, the help and support of Guildenstern Group and EMOTE empathy access networking.
Author's note: I've been recently disturbed by a fic trend. I'm really getting tired of reading Blanket Scenario fics where the entire thing is just a lemon trigger. The entire point of a blanket scenario is that the only way to survive is to have the two sleep together... and if the pair have enough energy to make wild, passionate monkey love multiple times (after being soaked to the bone in a snowstorm), having enough energy to survive is probably not much of a crisis. In my opinion the emotional emphasis in a blanket fic should be on the forced level of intimacy.
Now that I've stopped complaining, let me just remind any predatory lawyers that may be reading. Heero, Duo, the GW universe, et cetera, is owned by Sunrise and Bandai and used without permission. I do not own Gundam Wing or any of the creations within. If you paid anyone anything for this, you paid a thief. It's meant to be public domain and I have not made a cent off of it. Please feel free to post this fanfic anywhere you'd like, but you must keep the entire document totally intact and unmodified. I, Fractalforge, have sole author credit for this work. Please notify me at email@example.com if you see this anywhere without my name or without this warning.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2000 Fractalforge.
/.../ indicates character thought sequence
This fanfic contains:
Nude G-boys (no lemon, not even a little)
and oh-so-mild angst.
If you can't handle any of these then please don't waste your time reading. Leave now.
The cold would not have been that uncomfortable but for the wind. It seemed to be a flowing mass of icy water soaking Duo's exposed face and Heero's lolling, listless exposed head as the former carried the latter's semi-conscious body through the blowing snow. The sound the wind made resembled a long, neverending scream, the emptying lungs rattling about inside Mother Nature's chest. It was torture to be in and even more torture to walk in. It was twice as much torture as that to wade through snow in, and twice that again to drag someone through the snow in.
The compass that had been on the monitor within the slowly smouldering Deathscythe had marked the path that Heero and Duo were taking. It wasn't too far to an emergency cabin. Perhaps a mile. Perhaps half a mile. Not too far under normal mountain conditions. An easy walk for a seasoned climber.
And it was getting dark.
/So cold. Want to stop, want to sleep, want to sleep forever.../
/Have to go on./
Seasoned climbers don't even think about leaving the security of the lodge at base camp with this sort of weather, let alone going out to walk a mile... or perhaps half a mile; the Deathscythe's GPS rangefinder had been only sort of reliable after the missiles had fried the I-field reticle...
"You alright, Heero?"
"Try to stay conscious, buddy. It'll help you stay warm."
/Must've been some impact if the great Heero Yuy's unconscious.../
/Cold. Too cold. Want to sleep./
/Have to go on./
"We're almost there, man."
Twenty below zero with a forty-mile-an-hour wind. Gusts up to eighty. You don't even want to think about wind chill. Fortunately the wind was blowing sideways towards Heero and Duo, and often it would even turn so that it was behind them. Mountaintop winds constantly change direction. Especially at 10,000 feet up.
"I think I can see the cabin..."
"No, it's just a fallen tree..."
/What use is it? What point is there to it?/
Think. Don't stop thinking.
/For Father Maxwell./
Breathe. Keep on breathing.
/For Sister Helen./
Live. Never give up on living.
Walk. Well, stagger.
/Just keep breathing and keep walking and keep living and eventually it'll all be.../
/It'll be alright./
Step. Step. Step. Step.
/Is that it?/
/No. Can't be. Too low in the ground./
It was quickly getting too dark to see.
Step. Step. Breathe. Breathe. Shiver.
"Cold enough for you, Heero-man?"
Duo shifted the boy's body on his back so that his spine didn't cramp up. Cramping happens in that type of cold. And Duo knew that if his back cramped, he would have to stop... and if he stopped, he might not be able to start again.
"Heero... are you still alive?"
/He's alive enough to keep on ignoring me./
/It looks as though we may not make it out of this.../
/Smile to cover the cold./
/Smile to cover the pain in your legs, lungs, brain, head, back, feet, face.../
/Smile. It doesn't matter why. Whistle a happy tune. Repeat a happy phrase./
/Don't lose yourself. Don't lose him./
/IS that it? Maybe the snow's drifted... No... couldn't possibly. Can't be. Closer than the GPS said. Murphy's law says it can't be closer in this storm.../
/Smile because it's hopeless. Smile because you're dying. Smile because you might as well leave this world smiling./
/Smile because you're Maxwell's Demon and demons laugh in the face of death./
/I remember Sister Helen telling me that people's hearts break every day./
Duo grinned a rueful grin in the snowblown twilight, eyes shining like emeralds in the hopeless and desolate wilderness. They glittered even in the growing darkness.
/Demons never die of broken hearts./
/They die of cold instead./
Freeze. Freeze. Shiver.
Breathe. Walk. Shiver. Stop. Adjust Heero's position so he doesn't break your back.
Breathe. Walk. Shiver. Stop. Adjust...
/That IS it! It has to be!/
And it was. The square, secure shape of the low cabin was amorphous and misty in the blowing snow and late twilight, but it was there. It was a hundred yards away. Some romantics might describe it as a shimmering beacon of hope. In actuality it was barely visible and almost indistinguishable from the dark world around it.
But it was shelter.
/Don't give up now. The goal's there. We're almost there./
/I can't die now./
/I won't die now./
/So I'll breathe, and walk, and shiver, and stop, and adjust.../
Stop. Quickly now.
/Again. Close this time./
/Survive. You've taken enough charity to be able to survive on your own./
"Is anyone gonna help us, Solo?"
"We're gonna help ourselves."
/Help yourself survive. No one's gonna do it for you./
Five minutes, one almost-collapse, and five adjustments of Heero later, Duo Maxwell dumped his barely conscious cargo in front of the fireplace and crawled off towards the corners of the room to retrieve some of the firewood that had been conveniently stacked there. The cabin was altogether too big; and though it was meant for emergencies it had clearly been designed like the innumerable ski lodges that dotted the mountainside below it; a single, large sweeping, high open room with large plate-glass windows and an oversized hearth. Two other rooms, probably a storage room and a bathroom. Like the ski resort that it belonged to, the emergency cabin was ostentatious and seemed proud of its own elegance, concerned with form over function... in other words, it was a small ski chalet.
A small ski chalet that'd been converted into a safety cabin, probably because of some stupid safety regulation.
The most noticeable feature of this cabin was the constantly changing, ghostly note that permeated everything like a smell or a liquid. The sound of the wind whistling over the chimney, like someone whistling over a bottle, simply could not be ignored. It was there as surely as the walls and floor were there. And it announced its presence every waking second with a ghostly, astral wail.
Less prominent, though noticeable, was the cabin design's total lack of common sense. Though many architects would blanch at the thought, extravagant design decisions begin to matter in life-or-death situations. Open spaces allow precious heat to diffuse. High rooms keep the people near the floor cool -- the wrong thing to be-- while allowing the hot air up high. And only an idiot would put a window that was larger than necessary in an emergency cabin, for it could be shattered by a flying branch or even a large piece of hail. Thankfully it faced the least exposed side of the mountain...
So it wasn't surprising that instead of thanking Fate, or cheering, or being happy as usual, Duo Maxwell's first words were...
"What idiot designed this place?"
Duo, his back still recovering from toting Heero's 100 pounds over half a mile, listened to his voice fade into the wood paneling and sighed.
/Might as well walk around and see what we have.../
/Okay... ,ight as well _crawl_./
At least someone had done something right. The firewood in the corner seemed to be dry, and was cut into pieces ideal for emergency firestarting. Searching beneath the bin that stored the wood, the Deathscythe pilot was pleased to notice a full crate of StarterLoggs. Apparently the architects had been clueless but the staff was safety-conscious, stocking the cabin with the appropriate items. The American pilot muttered, "you get what you pay for," and took a few logs in his arms.
If Heero and Duo had been paying patrons, that statement would have been accurate. The mountain upon which Wing and Deathscythe had crashed was situated in the Swiss Alps, and the entire mountain belonged to a particularly ritzy ski resort, and people that wanted to get onto the mountain usually paid the ritzy resort good deals of money for the privilege of risking their lives speeding down mountainsides on fiberglas planks.
Thankfully for Heero, Duo, and their midair battle with an OZ patrol, a particularly intense storm season and an avalanche had closed the ski resort for a month while repairs were made, and they had dropped in smack dab in the middle of that month. The staff of "Gasthaus Alpenland" would probably never be aware of the mechs' presence there, that month or for years to come.
Vaguely knowing the boring details of why the ski resort was closed and not really caring, Duo crawled along towards the fireplace, toddler-like, with the armful of wood and StarterLoggs. The tip of his water-logged braid dragged on the ground and sliced the puddles of water in half. Still in his heavy clothes, soaked through by the trudge through the snow, he left a trail of water behind him on the hardwood floor. When he reached the fireplace he sat upright with a painful grunt and a sickening CRACK. Duo shot invisible rays of menace from his violet eyes towards Heero, who had curled himself into a fetal position.
"Hear that, Yuy? That's what you did to my poor back, getting knocked out back there. Now I'm probably crippled for life... "
Rather than shoot back an equally... witty response, or telling Duo to shut up, Heero opted to moan and shiver on the ground. Duo's scowl became slightly less prominent as he hurriedly opened the fireplace door. Using a handy fireplace tool to open the chimney's damper and shaking with cold and dismay, Duo stacked the logs -- not too high, it might not start -- in a haphazard "log-cabin" form while considering his friend's condition: the motion and consciousness indicated that hypothermia probably had not yet set in. Shivering was a good sign that the nervous system was still up and running, as well as a way to warm up a degree or two.
"Can you move?"
".....no..." Duo could hear the castantet-like sound of Heero's teeth clicking together. /Heero Yuy's teeth wouldn't chatter for just anything./
"Shit. As soon as this fire's started, I'm gonna have to get those clothes off a' ya. So just sit tight and try to peel off whatever you can while I get this fire going." The cheerful and slightly insane edge had begun to creep into the Deathscythe pilot's voice again.
/He's really in bad shape./
A barely audible "Hn" was his only response. Duo hmfed slightly, as though he'd been slighted at some high-society function, and while building the fire, as he was wont to do at certain times, immediately became the British Socialite. Her voice resembled an alcohol-grated falsetto, the sort you'd expect a prudish, 50ish British woman to have, complete with an accent. "E-GAD! My DEAR Mr. Yuy! How Un-COUTH! When we are in so-CIETY we do NOT make such lo-QUACIOUS U-tterances!..."
Heero did not respond, but that was nothing unusual. Duo understood on some basic level that Heero could block out unwanted sensory stimulus at will, but he found it hard to consciously accept that /anyone/ could resist his spirited antics. And Heero seemed to be unaware of the funny voice -- he certainly didn't glare at Duo like he usually did. Perhaps Duo's voice had changed... again... and Heero now couldn't hear that frequency of sound, like dogs with those special whistles. That was one possibility.
Or maybe he was blacking out.
But regardless of the reason, it was indeed true. Heero, if he in his painful stupor, was listening to anything, he was listening to the one thing that could not be ignored: the screaming wind.
While musing over Heero's perceptive capabilities and continuing his British Socialite schtick half-heartedly, Duo held a long match to one of the StarterLoggs, which took a while to convince to burn. When it got started, though, the mixture of sawdust and flammable wax burned like a torch. Satisfied that the fire was starting well, Duo cricked his back again, stood up, stepped over Heero, rolled him towards the fire, and began to peel off his overcoat and mountain survival gear. The braided pilot discarded the garments on the floor nearby. Barely conscious, Heero's eyes were drawn together in an expression of intense physical pain...
/I guess I was lucky the missile hit my communications units instead of my cockpit../
Duo pulled off the boots first, then the soaked socks beneath them. Heero's feet seemed whiter than normal feet would, and they twitched of their own accord. His shivering was nearly uncontrollable. Parka came next, followed by scarf, thermal shell, and wool overshirt. All were drenched in water. Next came windproof pants, then thermal pants. Having stripped Heero down to his usual tanktop and spandex, Duo paused a minute to look at the convulsing figure. The British Socialite went silent.
/And he's turning blue./
/Shit. Shit, shit, shit./
Duo whistled a long modulating note in... in amazement. "Five more minutes, Mr. Yuy, and you'd be as blue as..." Unable to find an appropriate noun, Duo went on. "...well, you'd be blue.. You're lucky I got you here before you got frostbite. Man, I thought your lips looked blue earlier, but... wow. Still cold? REALLY cold?"
Heero's nod was barely distinguishable from his convulsive shivers, but he managed to express the affirmative. Then he fixed his trademark death-glare on Duo, which was dulled in no fashion by the cold or his condition, and intoned softly, "Shut up, baka."
Duo brushed his hand against Heero's remaining clothes and flinched. "Spandex soaked through, huh. Yeowch. Well, I don't imagine you're the type to be body-shy, so here we go. I'm gonna try and warm you up." With that remark and with an ever-so-slight smile on his face, Duo removed the tank-top (easy), the gun stuck into the back of the spandex (sort of easy) and finally /attempted/ to remove the spandex itself (damn near impossible). After no small amount of complaining and derisive comments about Heero's taste in clothes, Duo finally managed to pry the shorts off of Heero, roll them down his clammy and shaking legs, and toss them into the pile of wet clothes.
As he half-pushed, half-rolled Heero's soaked, cold, and naked body across the dry hearthrug towards the fire -- carrying him was simply not an option anymore--, Duo was unfortunate enough to remember a moment from a by now classic television show. However, he managed to avoid laughing by reminding himself of the seriousness of their situation, and all that escaped his lips was a sort of stifled chuckling cough. Luckily Heero didn't seem to hear it, or he'd be a dead man the next day...
/And besides, it's damn cruel to laugh at someone who's freezing./
/...Freezing to death./
"There, this ought to start warming you up..." Heero was now situated in front of the fire. "Now for me."
Duo was extremely cold himself. Not cold enough to get blue, not cold enough to freeze or get frostbite -- not nearly as cold as Heero might be--, but still extremely chilly. Forty seconds saw all his cold-weather gear tossed into the communal wet heap of plastic, synthetic fiber, wool, cotton, and spandex. Ten more saw the braided God of Death naked as the day he was born, with goosebumps over his entire body, and jogging about the cabin looking frantically for some sort of blanket. Though the cabin was insulated, the temperature inside was still somewhere near thirty degrees farenheit (Duo, being American, still thought in the Imperial system...) and Duo didn't enjoy his little jaunt one bit due to the low temperature. With the draft that seemed to be blowing in from /somewhere/, the effect was almost worse than with clothes on.
"Ow! Ghg! Wa! C-cold! H--huh? Th-they pack the c-cabin full of wood and l-leave us /one/ f-f-f-freaking b-blanket. Ah, man! And it's t-this little thin woven deal, too! They could at least leave us a s-stadium blanket or something... I take b-b-back what I s-said about the service here, Heero... cause this isn't a blanket, it's a f-f-fuckin' sheet!"
Having searched the entire cabin from top to bottom while wearing neither, Duo decided that straight body heat was probably the best option anyway and bounced, teeth gritted, his braid dripping ice water over to Heero, lying huddled up by the fire. The stoic pilot was still shivering and still conscious, albeit barely. The braided God of Death gulped once, though the noise was inaudible over the wind screaming across the chimney.
In his semiconscious daze, all that registered to Heero was: /Even when he's naked and freezing, that braided baka *still* bounces around.../
"Well, Heero pal, looks as though the staff was negligent in p-providing adequate equipment! I've got to w-warm you up now, so don't get any odd ideas about what I'm doing. This is s-strictly professional."
Duo grinned and made a few suggestive Elvis-esque pelvic thrusts while unfolding the blanket, knowing full well Heero could see him.
The anticipated response -- namely, a physical attack -- was not had. When he was done unfolding the blanket, he curled up on the soft (but still cold) hearthrug next to his convulsing companion. Heero was facing him, with his back exposed to the warm fire only a few feet away. Duo, eager to get warm and get Heero warm, plopped down on the floor facing Heero, gulped inaudibly again, and gripped his companion in a firm bearhug. Heero, almost as a reflexive response, gripped onto Duo and held him in his shaking arms.
Releasing Heero for a moment and throwing the blanket over them both, Duo formed a sort of four-sided "sandwich" of two heat sources and two insulators with Heero in the middle. On one side was the fire, on the other was Duo's warm body, pulled across on top of them was the blanket, and beneath them, on the bottom, was the soft hearthrug.
Normally Duo would have no end of helpful, insightful, and incredibly brilliant comments to make about the situation, but actually feeling how cold Heero was was sobering. Though Duo was no radiator himself, Heero, still shivering, actually seemed to /drain/ the heat from the other pilot and from the by now blazing fire.
But by and by the warmth began to permeate both of their prostrate forms. And as they warmed up,the feeling of being in each others' arms seemed to be less and less disagreeable. This sort of physical --candidness, not intimacy; Duo refused to think of it as intimacy-- was a decidedly new feeling to each of the pilots, as Duo marked from the start and Heero marked as he gradually became aware of his surroundings.
The two pilots liked this new feeling.
And it remained new for five minutes. Then ten. Fifteen, thirty, forty-five ticked by on their synchronized watches and the warmth itself was old hat, but the embrace was still full of new sensation; new things to notice; the slight tickle of Heero's hair against Duo's cheek, the rhythm of their breathing. Still full of things for Heero to notice and catalog, and full of things for Duo to lie still and enjoy.
Of course, normally Heero and Duo wouldn't have been in a position anywhere as intimate as this one. Normally friends -- colleagues, actually; not exactly friends -- ah, well, yes, friends... were never this close to each other. Normal people... that weren't romantically involved... simply /didn't do this!/
But then again normal people didn't keep a running total of the number of weeks they'd been Public Enemies Number One. Nor did they live double lives as high-school students and super-assassins. Nor did normal people blow up mobile suits for a living. Heero and Duo had grown up, or at least been forced to deal with grown-up matters, at such a young age that such comparisons were moot.
In other words, after learning to kill at six and blowing up Alliance mobile suits at eight, it was pretty tough to frighten Heero and Duo. If one had asked them, they doubtless would have replied that this intimacy was as "advanced" as everything else they'd ever done.
...Regardless of all the evidence that this was, in fact, more than keeping warm...
Yes, regardless of Duo's earlier innuendoes; or Heero's tight, almost possessive grasp on his partner... Or the fact that though they were both warm enough after a while but made no move to leave... Or the fact that the fire had required immediate attention for some time before Duo threw another log on and returned as fast as he could... Or the fact that Duo's usual false chatter and Heero's usual frowning visage seemed to become mute and satisfied smiles as they became, after hours, shakily accustomed to the sensations wrapped around them...
Regardless of all these things, the embrace was to them not intimacy beyond casual comradeship and trust. It held no pretense of commitment, it held no meaning beyond warmth. It wasn't desire, it wasn't passion.
It certainly wasn't foreplay.
And it wasn't love either.
Of course not.
No, this intimate moment, this dead weary and yet strangely sleepless pair, were locked in each others' arms for something that compared to these others might seem, by turns; caring, innocent, or mechanical.
Naked, vulnerable, slowly getting warmer and warmer, holding onto each other's bodies in front of a fire...
They were simply watching out for each other.
Protecting each other.
/What friends are for./
From somewhere in the back of his mind, Duo recalled through a haze of sleep what he had told himself in the last maddening steps towards the cabin.
/"We're gonna help ourselves survive."/
Duo smiled despite the memories that soon followed.
It was as if the pilots' all-too-rare rare protective instinct was magnified by all the time it had waited dormant. Perhaps that was why the two pilots were more than reluctant to release each other. Heero felt warm enough to heat him for a lifetime, Duo felt comfortable and cozy in their little oasis from the cold in the cabin, the cold outside, and the wind screaming over it all. But neither left or made a move to leave because of mutual concern and care.
They could have easily and comfortably survived and slept apart. But for the rest of the night, both pilots silently waited for each other to terminate the warm union. And neither did.
And when both finally floated, dry and warm and getting warmer, off to a blank restful place; they remained so close to consciousness that they did not dream. Rather, they remained near the surface of sleep, giving and giving, but ready to end their happiness at the slightest command.
/When you tell me, I'll let go./
/But until then, I'll stay with you for a little while more./
/For as long as you need./
/And if you need forever then I'll stay with you forever./
/I'll help you survive./
The next morning, when they woke up and found themselves wrapped in each others' strong arms once more, and the sunlight came into the cabin at shallow angles and the ashes of the fire needed to be relit, everything was as it had been between Heero and Duo. It was almost as if the previous night had occurred in some forgotten year, or as if they were reluctant to acknowledge the events that had occurred. However, in truth it was neither: new and different things were business as usual for the two. It is the job of the soldier to adapt, and they adapted well. They always did.
The past was behind them and the undetermined future loomed. They were quite safe, they needed food and needed to repair the Gundams, they needed to make radio contact with Mission. They needed to get a cellular linkup to the laptop and hack some more cash out of OZ and Romefeller accounts. They needed to check their mail. They needed they needed to dry their clothes to go outside again. Serious and cheerful, respectively, Heero and Duo busied themselves about their tasks and talked about little things and important things. But not last night.
Yes, what had happened last night had been business as usual. It wasn't important.
When the taciturn Wing pilot wasn't looking, Duo thought he could see something shiny and brilliant and different about Heero's brown eyes.
Heero seemed to notice, when Duo was distracted, that he smiled less and less...
But when he did smile it was as brilliant as the stars and as radiant as the sun.
And there's my first Gundam Wing fic ever. Hooray for me! I was hoping to include more character interaction, but writing Duo is hard without getting goofy, and flippant stuff wouldn't have fit with the tone. Here's the best cut line... if you didn't get that classic television reference, this is it...
Hey Heero, guess the word I'm thinking of. I'll even give you a hint.. nine letters, and it starts with 'sh'..."
"Duo, this is dumb."
And by the way, if Keen is reading this for some odd reason (you know who you are) then please accept our greetings. Get well soon...