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Soldiers and Fools
Part 01 -- Opening Doors
By LoneWolf
(kodoku na okami)

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(Sometimes soldiers and fools meet. Sometimes they annoy the living booger-snot out of each other.)

Heero opened the door.

"Heero Yuy, this is Duo Maxwell, your new roomate." The school's director waved the black-clad, braided boy into the room.

"o-HI-o, HEEEE-row-SAN." Duo dropped his duffel bags onto the floor with a loud thump and tired to grab a hand to shake. /Wait a minute. Did he say *Heero* Yuy.../ Violet eyes went wide as they spotted black spandex and a green tank top. /Ohshit./

"Hn." Heero nodded once, hands sliding behind his back. "Welcome." The ice in his voice belied the word.

The director patted a handkerchief to his sweating forehead. "Uh, Yuy, Maxwell is an exchange student from America. I'm sure you two will get along just fine." He didn't sound at all convinced, but he ducked out of the room and closed the door anyway, walking a little too quickly back to his office. Yuy had been at the school for only two days and, though the director would never admit it, he was afraid of the boy. He never would have put the poor gaijin -- exchange student -- in with him if he'd had another room available, but... Well, he didn't think Yuy was crazy enough to actually kill the American.

Heero's thin pretense of civility faded with the director's footsteps. "What are you doing here, baka?"

"And a good day to you too, HEEE-row YEW -- eep." Duo's hands flew up beside his head as he found himself nose to muzzle with Heero's gun.

/Damn your mouth, Duo. Where does he keep that in those spandex pants? And does he carry it to the shower?/

"Ah. Look. Um. I'm sorry I shot you the first time I saw you, but it really looked like you were going to kill that girl. And, um, I did rescue you from that hospital and then gave you a place to stay after you broke your leg and even saved your life after you tore Deathscythe apart for parts and--"

"Shut up." The gaijin baka's voice had been rising steadily in pitch and volume. It grated on Heero's nerves, and was getting dangerously loud. There were people in some of the rooms around them.

"Uh. Right. Yeah. Uh-- ulp," as Heero thumbed back the hammer on the gun.

The silence convinced him that he had the loud-mouthed fool's attention. "My name is Heero Yuy. Don't say it like a gaijin. What are you doing here, baka?"

/So, you're not quite as cold as you pretend. You can get angry. Good. This would be a boring assignment if you really were the ice-man./

Gingerly, Duo laid a finger on the gun and pushed it to one side. "Um. Orders?" He breathed as Heero allowed him to move the gun away. "My control sent me. He said I'd be roomed with a contact who I'd be, uh, working with for a while. I didn't know it was you. Honest. Ah, you should be getting instructions soon."

Heero turned, holstering the gun as he walked over to the computer.

/Ahhhh,/ Duo nodded. /Butt-holster. That may come in handy sometime. Hmm. He's got a nice butt for it too./

"They came yesterday. I hacked the computer to get you into this school." He sat down and turned the computer's monitor on, studying the building plans on the screen.

"Oh, good... Hey!! Then why did you just put me through Hell with that gun, you bastard?"

"I needed to know how you react under pressure." The slight frown reflected in the screen told Duo that Heero hadn't been impressed. "If you don't shut up, you're going to have to kill everyone in the rooms around us."

Duo considered half a dozen snappy replies, then realized Heero meant it. "Aaanyway," he said, surveying the room, "we're roommates, partners, comrades in arms, best buds ... Oh, dibs on the top bunk."

Heero turned to face him, hooking an arm over the back of the chair. Duo saw something in those cold, blue eyes that made him more nervous than any gun, but he held his ground this time.

"The top bunk is mine."

/Shoulda known,/ Duo thought. /Tactical advantage./

"That dresser and closet," he pointed, "are mine. Yours are over there. This side of the desk--"

/Facing the door, of course./

"is mine. I don't want a partner. I'm following orders. If you mess with my stuff, I'll kill you. If you become a liability, I'll kill you. If you get in my way, I'll--"

Duo raised his hands in surrender. "Yeah, yeah. You'll kill me. Lighten up, Heero. You're gonna have a heart attack and die before you're twenty."

"What makes you think either of us will live that long?"

The words came in the same steady monotone as the threats, but watching him for a moment, Duo knew it was the first thing Heero had said that he might really believe. He frowned. The scary thing was, he was right. There was no reason to believe either of them would live that long. /Damn, you're depressing, Heero. I thought maybe you were just mad at me before, but this is how you really are./

"Why don't we try again?" Duo said aloud. "Ohayo, Heero Yuy," he was careful to pronounce the Japanese properly this time, though it disappointed him. He'd spent days perfecting the bad accent. "My name is Duo Maxwell, but my enemies call me Shinigami. I've been assigned to work with you. I'll take the bottom bunk." He held out his right hand.

Heero studied him for a moment. /Shinigami indeed. At least he's dropped the fake gaijin accent./ His head inclined forward ever so slightly. "The bottom bunk is yours, Maxwell."

"Duo."

Heero shrugged and turned back to the computer. He saw Duo's reflection in the screen. Something about the stance wasn't right. "Hn. What?" No response. /I really am going to have to kill him/, Heero thought, turning.

To find Duo's gun aimed dead between his eyes.

It was just out of his reach, but still close enough to be point blank. Heero stared impassively up the barrel, feeling his own gun pressed against him by the back of the chair, unreachable. A bullet was chambered... with a red tip? Explosive. This gaijin wasn't just a loud-mouthed idiot, he was crazy. The safety was off and the double-handed grip was excellent form. His stance was loose. He would have no trouble tracking if Heero tried to dive away. The kickback would deflect the bullet about a centimeter above the middle of Heero's forehead. Heero looked at the musculature of his forearms. No, he was stronger than that. If his shoulders were equally strong, it would be lower. Center of the forehead. Lethal even without the tiny explosion. He'd seen the smirk and the dark glitter in those violet eyes when Duo shot him at the docks.

/I'm not afraid of death, he thought. I've been waiting for it ever since I got to Earth. But not at the hands of this idiot./

"That butt holster's handy, except when you're sitting on it," Duo said. "You didn't assign the computer when you were divvying up the room just now."

/Maybe he's just crazy enough. He did get the drop on me. Twice. And he did identify a weakness quickly./ "We'll share the computer too... Shinigami."

"Duo," he said, smiling again. He flicked the safety on. The gun twirled on his finger and vanished so quickly Heero barely saw it slide into a baggy pants-pocket with a faint click. "I'm only Shinigami to my enemies."

The soldier made notes. /Good hands. Must have a holster in there. A small magnetic plate would make the most sense. Quick out, quick in. Nothing to catch the gun on. Maybe there's more to this boy than I suspected. Maybe he's less of a liability that I thought./

"Explosive tip?" /Are you really that crazy?/

"Only one way you can know for sure." The gun was before him again, butt first.

Heero took it, sighted on the boy's chest, slowly squeezing the trigger. Duo didn't blink, just stared that deadly stare. Heero stopped a millimeter before the trigger broke. "A blank." He returned the gun.

Duo shook his head, ejecting the bullet and tossing it to him. "Explosive tip. Keep it."

/Very crazy,/ Heero decided as he caught the bullet.

He turned back to the computer, watching Duo out of the corner of his eye as the boy dumped his duffel bags on the bed and gadded about the room putting things away. He could see his life was about to become a thousand times more difficult, but orders were orders. His eyebrows raised slightly as he saw Duo dragging an armload of bottles over to the sink.

"Eeeewwww! Heero, I can't believe you use this. It's /real/ poo, not /sham/ poo. No wonder your hair's such a mess all the time. Um, here," he waved a bottle, somehow sensing that Heero had been watching him. "This is the best stuff. It'll soften your hair and give it body and make it nice and shiny." He grinned, flipping his braid in Heero's direction. "Just like mine. Oh, and this comb. Gotta go. Entirely the wrong comb for your hair. Keep using that and you'll yank it all out by the time... you're... uh..." He trailed off as their eyes met. Heero's question echoing in his mind. /What makes you think either of us will live that long?/

"Well, um, I'll just leave your stuff alone," subdued. Then the grin again. "But you really ought to try my shampoo."

Heero ignored the prattling this time, giving his full attention to the plans in front of him. He'd only been here a couple of days himself and was still memorizing the building's convoluted maintenance corridors.

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Note: Duo didn't learn that Heero's name was "Heero" until the episode where Heero stopped the nukes at New Edwards. And all Duo knew then was Heero's first name.