Last major revision: 06/16/99
Last modified: 06/24/99
Okay guys! This is the VERY rough draft of Part 3. As you might have noticed, I've renamed this story. ^_^ It's short, but Real Life (tm) has not been kind to me. My esteemed parental units AND my sister *would* decide to pay me a visit at the end of the quarter which is one of the busiest times at work! ARGH!!!! <banging heads against wall>
Anyway, with all these doubles running around, things might get confusing, so I'd appreciate any criticism or comments you guys might have! ^_^;
Earlier parts of this fic can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/~madamhydra/GW.html
DOUBLE VISION: A Gundam Wing fic by Madamhydra
(formerly titled "P.O.V.")
Part 3: Truth in a Strand of Hair
Short Disclaimer: (Full Disclaimers at the end)
Gundam Wing is copyrighted by its creators and all distributors of their work and used without permission.
After a quick scan confirmed Trowa's findings that the duplicate Wing Zero wasn't broadcasting anything suspicious, Heero warily glanced inside the blood-splattered interior of the cockpit. When nothing tried to blow up or otherwise kill him, he sat down and accessed the Gundam's systems.
Heero stared at the password request for a few seconds. His thoughts flashed back to the scene of the Duo impostor messing around with his laptop. Prodded by an odd impulse, Heero tried his own password for *his* Wing Zero.
Heero frowned as he scanned the file directories. In organization, they were exactly the same as his own. That couldn't be mere coincidence. After quickly verifying the status of the duplicate Wing Zero's operating system, he turned his attention to the mission logs and data files. Heero kept records on each of his fellow Gundam pilots and other important people. Given the similarities so far between the information in the two Wing Zeros, it seemed only natural that the duplicate Wing Zero would have a matching set of personnel files.
But perhaps more importantly, he wanted to know more about the Duo impostor.
It didn't take long for Heero to locate the most recent cockpit log. He scowled as he watched the video of the short-haired Duo impostor on the Wing Zero's monitors. The flat intonation, the brooding stare, the tousled hair, even the green tanktop... all these things were very familiar.
Heero had no illusions that his own behavior was anything except withdrawn and cold by most people's standards. But to see *Duo* -- or someone who looked nearly identical to Duo -- acting that way made his stomach churn. As he stared at the video of the fake Duo on the monitor, he abruptly realized what bothered him so much.
The hair... or rather, the lack of hair.
It wasn't just the simple cosmetic difference between short and long hair. No, it went much deeper than that.
No matter how much he complained how much trouble Duo's hair was and no matter how many times he threatened to slice the damn thing off, Heero seriously doubted he could ever bring himself to do it. It was as if the braid was an integral part of the violet-eyed pilot. Although Duo usually acted like it was just an odd quirk of vanity, Heero knew that that long rope of hair was important to Duo -- not because of its aesthetic appeal, but rather for what it symbolized.
Some people cherished certain scars as a reminder of important events in their lives, both good and bad, but leave to Duo Maxwell to pick something different as his own particular memento -- a mass of long, silken hair that was no single shade but was a dazzling cascade of rich chestnut, mixed with darker browns and golden highlights... something that shimmered and flowed between one's fingers as if it almost had a life of its own.
It was an oddly appropriate sort of reminder -- one that was both a burden and a pleasure, just as the memories that it represented held both sorrow and joy. Heero knew that from the times when he brushed out, then braided Duo's hair. His lover would always grow quiet and end up snuggled up against Heero, a faint wistful smile on his face as he seemed to drift into memories of happier times... rare moments of contentment and total trust.
Duo's braid was much more than just a pretty, but inconvenient mass of hair. Almost more than his smile or the brightness of his eyes, that silken rope represented Duo's willingness to remember... to feel.
And it was the absence of that visible symbol that made the fake Duo seem like such a travesty of the real Duo Maxwell. He was like a hollow shell of a human being... a person stripped of nearly every human emotion or feeling, leaving only the perfect soldier....
....just like Heero himself....
In the bedroom, Quatre sat up as Duo stirred and mumbled sadly in a hoarse, barely audible voice.
"Heero... I hate it when you get that empty look in your eyes...."
As he skimmed through the computer files, a particular one caught his attention. The filename was apparently meaningless jumble of letters and numbers... but he had a file with the exact same name on *his* Wing Zero. He was not surprised when the file required a separate password before it could be accessed. Without thinking, he typed in a word....
The file was another video file showing Deathscythe Hell in a familiar-looking hanger area. There was nothing that would seem to justify putting a secondary password on the file, but Heero had the strange feeling he knew exactly what was coming. The picture suddenly shifted downward as the camera focused on the back of a slim, black-clad figure who stood on the catwalk staring up at Deathscythe Hell. The black clothes were familiar, as well as the long braid... except the hair was the wrong color. Instead of the rich chestnut brown, the person's hair was much darker, but not quite black.
Heero sat frozen as the figure started to whirl around as if sensing he was being watched. His breath clogged in his throat as the figure completed its turn and on the monitor, Heero Yuy saw *himself* glance up at the camera with an easy, cheerful grin and a mischievous gleam in his dark blue eyes. He watched as the other Heero shouted something, then winked impishly at the camera before strolling away with his hands clasped behind his head and that playful little waggle of the hips....
He had seen the same still contemplation and the same sudden transformation into movement many times before... had seen the same long braid flicking through the air in response to the sharp turn of the head... only in *his* video file, it was Duo with his long, chestnut braid. It was Duo who shouted 'Heero!' and who winked teasingly at his lover sitting up in the cockpit of Wing Zero....
That video of Duo was one of Heero's guilty pleasures. Like a cherished snapshot, he would often pull it up when he was alone to watch it over and over again, just to see Duo's smile and laughter. No, it was better than any photograph. A still picture couldn't possibly capture his lover's energy or his vibrancy.
As the video of the other Heero Yuy looped and started over again, Heero felt an odd twinge inside him as he watched the other Heero's cheery grin and the warmth in those blue eyes. If things had been different... if he had had a 'normal' childhood... could he have been someone like that?
He shook his head angrily. There was no point in wasting time in thinking about what-ifs and things that might have been.
Heero spent the next two hours grimly scanning every file in the duplicate Wing Zero's database. What he found, especially in the personnel files, nearly made his jaw drop.
He had always had a talent for evaluating information -- an instinct for telling whether a chunk of data or a piece of intelligence was genuine or whether it was fake. And no matter how outlandish the information in this duplicate Wing Zero appeared to be, his instincts told him that it was real. No one had cooked those data files up.
That led to one inescapable conclusion.
This Gundam came from somewhere else... not just another city or colony... but an entirely different *universe*. An universe that was almost identical to his own, but flawed like the reflection in a slightly cracked mirror. So much was familiar -- OZ, the Earth government, the colonies -- but that only made the differences all the more jarring....
....a warmly smiling Trowa Barton, who was the heir to the fabulously wealthy Barton fortune and whose family consisted of his father Dekim Barton, a noted pacifist who was recently murdered, and his sister Catherine, who was currently running the Barton family business while her brother was fighting....
....an expressionless Quatre with dead blue eyes, of whom virtually nothing was known except that he had worked as a member of a desert mercenary unit before becoming a Gundam Pilot....
....Wufei Chang, looking every inch the elegant and charming nobleman of the Dragon Clan, as he held a rose in one hand....
....Trieze Khushrenada, OZ general, his ginger hair severely drawn back in a ponytail and his blue eyes glittering with purpose and an angry, almost fanatical dedication... a widower whose young wife had died in a rebel attack....
....Milliard Peacecraft, platinum-haired diplomat and noted pacifist....
....a masked female Mobile Suit pilot with long, golden hair who called herself Zechs Marquess, who had been given the nickname of the Lightning Countess, and who had once been known as Relena Peacecraft....
....the now familiar image of a short-haired Duo Maxwell, in tanktop and biker shorts, staring at the camera with a cold, dangerous gleam in his icy violet eyes, and who stood next to and tried his best to ignore....
....a cheerfully grinning Heero Yuy, complete with dark brown hair braid that reached past his waist and bright blue eyes, who stood with his arm carelessly thrown around the glowering Duo's shoulders....
For several moments, Heero could do nothing more than stare blankly at that last image. When he finally leaned forward to pull up another file, his knee bumped the front console. Suddenly, something soft and furry slithered across his leg. For a startled moment, he thought it was a snake. Heero whipped out his gun and pointed it the dark, long coiled shape lying on the cockpit floor. When it didn't move, he cautiously took a closer look. When he realized what the object was, he inhaled sharply, then slowly bent down and picked it up.
It was a braid... a braid of dark brown hair over a meter long. The thick end of the braid was crudely tied off with a torn scrap of cloth to keep it from unraveling. That particular end of the braid was also jagged, as if it had been hastily hacked off. As Heero ran his hand along the braid, little flecks of dark reddish brown flaked off onto his fingers and he caught the unmistakable metallic smell of blood.
Heero knew instantly where that braid came from because its color exactly matched his own... just as it exactly matched the hair color of the laughing Heero whose image was now frozen on the cockpit monitor.
And in that moment, the Wing Zero pilot knew that the other Heero Yuy was dead.
The Full Disclaimer
All rights and privileges to Shin Kidousenki Gundam Wing are trademarks and property of Sunrise, Bandai, Sotsu Agency, and associated parties. The characters of these works are used WITHOUT permission for the purpose of entertainment only. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit.
Original portion of the fiction included here is considered to be the sole property and copyrighted to the author.