Last revised: 02/26/01

Disclaimer: (Full Disclaimers at the end) Gundam Wing is copyright of its respective creators and all distributors of their work and used without permission.

********** WARNINGS ********* WARNINGS *********

Alternate Universe, semi-darkfic
Mature Themes (violence, torture, abuse, non-consensual sex, etc.)

YAOI (male/male relationships)
LEMON/LIME (explicit/implied sexual content)

********** WARNINGS ********* WARNINGS *********

Pairings: 1x2
Rating: NC-17 (adult content/mature themes)
Archive: www.madamhydra.net/GW-DARK.html, www.fanfiction.net

NOTE 1: Duo's outfit comes directly from the "Stealth Duo" drawing by Kitsune and can be seen at my website (www.madamhydra.net/GW-FANART.html) ^_^ Many thanks to RoseArgent and Kenshi for providing much of the inspiration for Duo's wonderfully versatile hair!

NOTE 2: It has recently (January 31, 2001) come to my attention that there exists an old GW fic called "Memories" which shares a very similar basic premise to "Wicked Game". ^_^; I don't recall ever reading that story before 2001, so after a discussion with one of the authors, I'm pretty sure that "Wicked Game" and "Memories" were developed independently. <sweatdrop>

NOTE 3: Because of the addition of a significant subplot, the prologue to "Mechanics of Control" has been revised. You can find the revised version (v2) at my website (see above).

/.../ represents mental and/or subconscious dialogue

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MECHANICS OF CONTROL: WICKED GAME
A Gundam Wing ALTERNATE-REALITY fic by Madamhydra
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Part 10
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The world was on fire, no one could save me but you
It's strange what desire will make foolish people do
I'd never dreamed that I'd need somebody like you
And I'd never dreamed that I'd need somebody like you

* * *

What a wicked game to play
To make me feel this way
What a wicked thing to do
To let me dream of you

What a wicked thing to say
You never felt this way
What a wicked thing you do
To make me dream of you

-- "Wicked Game" by HIM
(originally by Chris Isaak)
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[ safehouse, location unknown ]

Duo finished closing the front door behind Sally, then cocked his head slightly when the doctor failed to respond to his greeting.

"Is something wrong, doc? Have I got a smudge on my nose?" he asked curiously.

Sally shook herself out of her momentary daze and muttered, "Nothing. It's nothing." (I hope....)

"You sure? You were looking mighty spooked there for a second," Duo said with a familiar-looking grin.

Normally, she would have uttered a suitably acerbic retort, but to tell the truth, she was spooked. And since they both knew it, there was no sense in pretending otherwise.

With a shrug, she said, "If you mean that something's bothering me, then you're right. Actually, there are a lot of things bothering me about this whole situation, but that shouldn't surprise you."

He chuckled ruefully.

She stepped back and gave him a thorough visual examination. At first glance, Duo looked perfectly healthy and normal, all dressed in black, his gaze bright and alert, as usual....

No... not normal. There was a subtle, yet unmistakable difference. She couldn't quite pin it down, but maybe it was the way that his sleeveless black turtleneck made him look as sexy as hell... something about the contrast of slim, but sleekly muscled bare arms contrasted with the utter darkness of his outfit.

"Like what you see, Sally?" Duo said nonchalantly.

Any normal person would have blushed, sputtered, then gone into hasty denials. That was almost exactly what Sally did, until she caught the cool, knowing gleam in his eyes and abruptly realized that was exactly the reaction that Duo intended to provoke.

He was deliberately trying to fluster her.

She couldn't do anything about her blush, but Sally refused to allow herself to be rattled or stampeded into backing off. She continued her observation, doing her best to separate her analytical observations from the personal ones that a decidedly more primitive corner of her brain insisted on making, especially about that gorgeous mass of long, chestnut hair cascading down his back....

(Get a grip on your damn hormones, Sally!)

"I've never seen you with your hair unbraided, Duo," she said finally, rather pleased with the calm, detached tone in her voice.

With a graceful shrug, he lifted his arm, gathered his hair up, and pulled over his left shoulder so he could look at it. He replied easily, "Most people haven't. Loose hair is a general pain-in-the-ass when piloting or in zero gravity, you know. And I won't even begin to tell about the tangles."

As she watched Duo give his hair an absent little pat, she tried to figure out why the simple act of wearing his hair loose made so much difference in his appearance.

All the Gundam pilots were attractive. There was no denying that. But in comparison to Heero's masculine beauty, Trowa's enigmatic grace, or Wufei's austere elegance, Duo, like Quatre, tended to be more on the cute and occasionally adorable side. Much of his charisma centered around his easy sociability and sense of humor, not his looks. Now she found herself wondering how much of Duo's 'cuteness' was real and how much of it was an illusion created by his boisterous and occasionally immature behavior. Because although nothing had physically changed, he was no longer cute. He wasn't even pretty.

He had become, to put it bluntly, beautiful. Alluring. Enticing. Intriguing. And so much of that transformation had to do with his hair.

It was fascinating, sensuous, almost mesmerizing. The way the colors shifted with every little movement... a rich, intoxicating combination of many shades of brown, both dark and light, mixed with tantalizing highlights of golds, ambers, and reds... almost as if it had a life of its own.

But there was more to the change than a simple difference in hair style. It was the change in his attitude. Duo had always been very self-confident -- at least he acted that way -- but now the confidence seemed to go much deeper. He looked calmer and more focused than she could ever remember. Sally found herself wondering how much of Duo's 'wild and crazy' behavior had been real and how much of it was an act.

Duo said nothing and allowed Sally all the time she wanted for her observations. She felt an odd chill when she glanced at his face and noticed the uncanny alertness in his gaze. Sally had the definite feeling that he was absorbing every little detail, analyzing every nuance in her words, her body language... everything. She didn't know quite what to make of this new, unnervingly intense side of Duo.

Finally, Sally said, "Are you asking me if I like what I see as a doctor, or as a woman?"

He shrugged again. "Either. Or both. Suit yourself."

She said slowly, "As a doctor, I'd say that you appear to be in excellent physical condition. Psychologically...." Sally paused, then said, "I think my worries about your mental condition are fully justified. You're not back to normal. Something's definitely changed."

"Doc, I never claimed to be 'back to normal'. Besides, normality is such a fuzzy thing. Everyone's got a different idea of what's 'normal'," he said with a wry grin.

(He's right. I really haven't got a clue what constitutes as 'normal' for Duo. It's possible that everything I think I know about him and his personality is completely wrong. I know practically nothing about his past, or any of the others' pasts. He only allows people to see what he wants them to see.... Wait a moment. If that's true, why is he allowing me to see all this?)

Rubbing at her forehead, Sally said, "Why, Duo? You're a damn good actor, so why are you letting me see the truth... or I should say, a little part of the truth?"

He sighed and leaned back against the foyer wall. "Because you're already convinced that there's something weird going on in my head. The harder I try to pretend that nothing's happened, the more certain you're going to be that I'm trying to hide some awful, terrible secret. So what's the point of wasting your time and mine trying to deny it, hm?"

She blinked. "That makes sense... I think. But what exactly are you trying to tell me? That there is something weird going on in your head, or that you are hiding some awful, terrible secret?"

"That kinda depends on your definition of 'weird', I suppose."

Sally threw up her hands in exasperation. "Let's just cut the word games, okay? So you're admitting that something... happened... since I last saw you and that this 'event' has caused a significant change in your behavior. Is that right?"

"That's right."

When Duo didn't say anything more, Sally snapped, "So what happened!?"

He absently ran his fingers through his long bangs, then said, "Basically, it boils down to this -- Heero and I had some major misunderstandings going on between us."

"And...?"

"So once we were alone and away from distractions, we finally had a chance to resolve those misunderstandings."

Sally waited. When it became clear that Duo wasn't going to say more, she muttered, "Is that it? Are you trying to tell me that everything that happened -- your attack on Relena, all that suffering, the uncontrollable sexual cravings -- had to do with some misunderstandings between you and Heero?"

With a shrug, Duo replied, "There's a bit more to it, but I'm afraid that's all you're going to get, Sally."

"Then do you mind if I ask you a hypothetical question?"

"Go right ahead."

"What if I told you that I intend to turn around and walk right out of here if I don't get more information and a satisfactory answer from you? Hypothetically speaking, of course."

"Of course." He gave her a faint smile. "I would answer with a hypothetical question or two of my own. Namely, what if I told you that I know that Relena are currently at cabin #15 in the Lake Moginokaq nature preserve 45 miles out of South Calvertville?"

Sally inhaled sharply.

"Does that answer your hypothetical question?"

"Surely you wouldn't... not after what happened the last time you tried to hurt Relena!" Sally sputtered, shaken by Duo's perfectly unruffled demeanor. "Heero would surely...."

"Like I told one of my prisoner's associates, there are worse things than death. And Relena's not the only one at the cabin." Duo gave her a sideways glance. "But all this is pure speculation. Isn't it?"

Sally clenched her jaw, then nodded slowly. She could tell that Duo was not bluffing. If she didn't cooperate, Duo would be paying Relena and the others a little 'visit'. She suspected that running wouldn't do much good, either. Aside from the logistics of trying to take care of two injured girls, she also knew that Duo could be absolutely relentless when he really wanted something. And if he really wanted to find them....

"Good. I'm glad we can agree on something." He turned to look directly at the doctor. "I don't want to hurt anyone, especially people I like -- yes, that includes Relena -- but I do have a mission to complete. That means that I can't afford to sit around just so you or someone else can pick my brain apart. And if I have to answer to Heero for actions taken in the course of accomplishing that mission, then so be it. I hope you can understand."

The patient, but implacable tone in Duo's voice told her that asking any further questions about his mental condition would be futile... and possibly even hazardous to her health.

She exhaled heavily and said, "Oh, I understand all right." (When I get my hands on Heero, I'm going have some SERIOUS questions for that boy....) Aloud, she said, "Just tell me one more thing, Duo."

"And what's that?"

"How are you feeling at this moment? I'd appreciate a honest answer." (Or as honest as you're capable of giving me....)

With a flash of his usual cheerfulness, he said, "Like I told you before. I'm fine." At her skeptical look, he added, "Really I am! I'm fine. You don't need to worry about me. Save your energy for the patients who need you, okay?"

Sally sighed and gave up. Hitching her medical pack a bit higher on her shoulder, she asked, "So where is this very important patient/prisoner?"

"Upstairs. Follow me," he said with a grin.

As they climbed the stairway to the second floor, he glanced back at her with a playful little grin. "And you still haven't told me whether you liked what you saw... as a woman."

Sally raised an eyebrow. It appeared that at least for now, the old Duo Maxwell was back in full force -- funny, mischievous, and mildly exasperating as usual.

"No, I haven't. And it's none of your business," she retorted crisply.

-------------------------------------------------

It didn't take a genius to figure out that Duo's prisoner was someone very important, but nothing could prepare Sally for the shock that awaited her in the bedroom.

"T-Treize Khushrenada!? You kidnapped TREIZE!?" she sputtered in disbelief.

Duo shuffled his feet like a little boy being scolded. "I didn't MEAN to do it. It just sort of... happened. I sneaked onto the base looking for some information, then Wufei showed up and tried to kill Treize...." he shrugged helplessly. "After that, everything basically went to hell in a handbasket."

Her eyes widened. "The explosions at the new OZ base?"

Duo nodded meekly.

"Are you saying that YOU did that!?" she exclaimed as she pulled off her jacket and dumped it on a nearby table.

"Hey, don't look at me! That was all Wufei's fault, not mine!"

"Of course it was," she muttered, then started to check her new patient's physical condition.

"Breathing's good. Pulse strong and steady." She pulled up an eyelid to check his pupils. "Hmmm... and he's definitely unconscious." She glanced at Duo. "So what did you use to put him under?"

"Well...," he mumbled, nibbling on his thumbnail.

She gave him a rather dubious look. "Please don't tell me that you've used some new, experimental drug on him, Duo!"

He gave her a quirky little smile. "Not experimental. Just call it a proprietary concoction, doc. Don't worry! I told you that I know what I'm doing. I've taken into account his body weight, metabolism, and all that other stuff. All you need to do is make sure he doesn't get dehydrated."

"Oh, really?" She lifted a semi-skeptical eyebrow.

"Hey, I'll have you know that pharmacology is a specialty of mine. I'll bet you a hundred bucks that he won't even have a headache when he wakes up." he said with a miffed expression.

"My, you Gundam pilots are simply brimming with unexpected talents." She said it lightly, in a half-joking sort of way, but she was startled to see Duo abruptly lose his playful attitude.

He said somberly, "You're right about that. And that's why you need to know what really happened back at that OZ base."

She froze, then quietly asked, "Why is it so important, Duo?"

"Because Wufei didn't use explosives to blow up the base." Before the doctor could say anything, Duo added, "And he didn't use his Gundam or any other mobile suit."

"Then what the hell happened?"

The pilot said evenly, "Wufei caused all that damage just using his mind." He stared directly into her eyes and said, "He's a pyrokinetic -- a person who can create and manipulate fire through willpower alone."

She stared at him for a long moment, then slowly said, "Are you certain, Duo?"

"I was there when he created a three meter long whip of flame out of thin air, then used it to do this." He gently peeled back the dressing on Treize's leg. As she stared down at the long, narrow burn wound, Duo added, "I saw Wufei surround himself with a dragon made of fire, complete with head, jaws, tail, and remain completely untouched. Hell, he was tossing fireballs around like they were hand grenades. If you get the chance, take a good, hard look at the footage of the explosions, Sally. No normal fire moves like that... like it's a living, sentient entity. Yeah, I'm pretty certain."

"And you're saying that Wufei did this to Treize?" She gestured at the deep burn.

"That's right."

"But why? Not that Wufei talked about Treize much, but I had the impression that Wufei respected him, even though Treize is technically your enemy."

Duo sighed and muttered, "Oh yeah, Wufei respected him, all right, and more. Which makes this attack so fucking strange."

Sally opened her medical kit and started to work on Treize's leg. "Go on."

"I was snooping around in Treize's quarters when Wufei showed up unexpectedly. A seriously pissed off OZ general was waiting for him." He stared up at the ceiling. "It seems that Treize and Wufei have been seeing each other for some time...."

Sally stopped in mid-swipe and turned to stare at Duo. "....Excuse me. Do you mean 'seeing each other' as in...?"

"As in lovers."

She stared at him in disbelief. "This is becoming more bizarre by the minute."

"Sally, you have no idea. But to give you the quick summary, Treize really ripped into Wufei, accusing him of betraying his trust and that sort of stuff. That's when the weirdness really got started."

"And...?" she prompted.

"One second, Wufei was acting totally clueless. The next thing I knew, he made this nasty sort of chuckle. It was like he suddenly turned into a different person, someone a lot more...."

"A lot more ruthless, you mean?" she said, a bit more sharply than she intended. Sally was still smarting a bit from Duo's softly voiced threats against Relena and the others. She thought about apologizing, but he was already speaking.

"As Gundam pilots, we're all trained to be ruthless. Even Quatre," he said gently. "What I meant was that Wufei sounded a hell of a lot more vicious and flat out hateful than I could ever remember."

She nodded slowly, appreciating the difference.

"He knocked Treize unconscious and hung him from the chandelier like a side of beef, then proceeded to rant and rave about how much he loathed Treize, and how much he was going to enjoy to make Treize's death as slow and painful as possible. He then started with the fireworks and that's when I jumped in to rescue the good general."

"Duo, it... it just doesn't make sense! I can't imagine Wufei doing something like that...." Sally rubbed at her now aching forehead, then said slowly, "Wait a moment. You said that he started acting like a different person. Are you trying to tell me that you think that Wufei's somehow developed a split personality?"

He sighed, and threw himself into a nearby chair. "Hell, it's the best explanation I can come up with. This is a lot more than just losing one's temper. I'm talking about serious hatred here."

"Duo, there are such things as rage disorders. All of you have been under enormous stress. Isn't it possible that...."

"I don't think so. You see, I haven't quite finished the story yet."

"Go on."

"Wufei was doing his best to incinerate both me and Treize when he suddenly grabbed at his head and started rambling aloud, asking himself what the hell he was doing." Duo got up and walked over to the bed. Staring down at Treize, he said softly, "He didn't want to do it, Sally. He didn't want to hurt Treize. Shit, I think Wufei actually loves him. But he apparently couldn't stop himself. He couldn't control the anger, the hatred, and what they were making him do. He begged me, Sally. Wufei begged me to save Treize's life."

"Oh shit." She abruptly sat down on the floor beside the bed.

"Tell me about it. I grabbed Treize and hauled ass just before Wufei lost what little self-control he had and started blowing things to kingdom come."

When she didn't reply, he said, "I know all this sounds crazy, but you don't have to take my word for it. You can talk to Wufei yourself."

Sally glanced up at him, trying to figure out if he was bluffing or not. She watched as Duo removed her phone from her jacket pocket, flipped it open, and programmed a long series of numbers into its memory.

Handing it back to her, he said, "There you go."

"Wait a moment. If you managed to track down our hiding place through a phone call, then surely Wufei can do the same."

"I took care of that by added some special routing codes. If you don't talk too long, it won't be a problem. Besides, any trace will point to this location, and we'll both be gone within the hour."

He glanced back at the unconscious general. "And I've got a gut feeling that Wufei won't be trying his hardest to find Treize. As long as you don't rub his nose in it, Wufei's probably going to ignore any hints that you know about Treize's location. On the other hand, if you mention the general and set him off again, then you'd better watch out."

She exhaled slowly. "So Wufei's a pyrokinetic?" She paused, then gave him a hard look. "Don't tell me that you're some sort of telepath, Duo."

"Hell, no!" Hair flew as he shook his head vigorously. "Not me!"

"Well, I suppose that's a relief," the doctor muttered.

She debated what to do. It basically boiled down to whether she believed Duo or not. True, he had tried to kill Relena. True, he refused to discuss what really happened between him and Heero. But still... she got the distinct impression that he was trying to be as truthful as possible about this situation with Wufei. And to be honest, the need for trust went both ways. He was entrusting her with an extremely valuable hostage.

Sally turned the phone over in her hand. "Will those routing codes work anywhere?"

"Yeah."

Finally, she tossed the phone onto her jacket and said, "All right."

"Thanks a lot, Sally."

She shrugged and turned back to rewrapping Treize's wounded leg.

"Oh, and you'll need this to wake him up." Duo tossed her a small, pre-loaded injector.

She examined the clear liquid inside and asked, "What is it? An antidote for the sedative?"

"More like a neutralizing agent. Give that to him in about 42 hours, unless I call you and tell you that it's okay to give it to him sooner. It all depends on when Heero gets finished."

She frowned. "And what happens if Treize doesn't receive this in 42 hours?"

"Nothing, really. He'll wake up on his own without it... in a couple of weeks."

Sally ran her hand over her face and muttered, "You don't play around, do you?"

"Can't afford to."

Tucking the injector safely away in her belt pouch, she stood up and said, "I'm finished. Now all we have to do is get him to my car. I'll take his arms and you can...."

"Don't worry about it. I'll do it," Duo said cheerfully.

To her amazement, the Deathscythe pilot lifted Treize off the bed and held the man in his arms with no apparent effort. Sally stood and gaped as Duo briskly carried Treize out of the bedroom and down the stairs. Hastily grabbing her gear and some bedding, she quickly ran after him to open the front door.

In the driveway, Duo said, "The trunk, I think."

After they tucked the prisoner in the car, Sally said casually, "I never realized just strong you were, Duo."

He grinned at her and said with a smirk, "My body is strong because my purpose is righteous and my heart is pure."

Sally smiled back at him, but the words also make her stomach lurch uneasily. Memories of her first disturbing impression when she saw him in the hallway gave her the unhappy feeling that he wasn't entirely joking.

(.... saints and fanatics....)

-------------------------------------------------

Duo watched as the tail lights of Sally's vehicle disappeared into the darkness, relieved that she had been willing to give him the benefit of a doubt. He was glad. He liked Sally a lot and didn't want to resort to more forceful means of persuasion. Besides, he wanted her genuine cooperation, not just blind agreement. Luckily for her, the truth, combined with the very lightest touch of pheromones -- ones that subtly whispered things like 'calm down', 'be sensible', and 'believe me' -- had been enough.

As long as Treize or anyone else wasn't in obvious danger, Sally would probably follow his instructions. That was all he could realistically expect from her. He understood her concerns, especially after his most recent screwups. Unfortunately, the truth would do absolutely nothing to reassure her. Instead, she and others would undoubtedly consider him sick, obsessed, deranged... insane. They would be yelling for the guys in white to come take him away. Yes, Duo, here's a nice, comfy straitjacket just for you.

He didn't blame them for their blindness. They meant well. In fact, he would have agreed with them if the situation had involved anybody else.

But between Heero and himself... ah, THAT was an entirely different matter.

How could any ordinary person understand how he felt? How could they know how much he loved and adored his Master for his kindness, for taking the trouble to save his unworthy self from an eternity of horrific suffering? How could they comprehend the soul-deep joy and utter sense of fulfillment he received from pleasing his Master?

Duo delicately raked his nails along the length of his crotch and sent a deep throb of pleasure/arousal bouncing around his brain. He touched himself again and smiled, happy that he had the opportunity to carry out his Master's command. For the next few minutes, he teased and tormented himself, just enough to resharpen the edge of his desire and need, just as his Master ordered. He knew that there was no hope for release, but that didn't matter. Obedience in the face of discomfort was proof of his devotion.

No, the world wasn't ready for the truth.

He turned away from the window and began a final sweep of the house, removing any trace of his or Treize's presence. Once he was satisfied, he locked the front door and drove away to a new location.

It was now time to deal with Wufei.

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Wufei Chang had only the vaguest memories of the last six hours since the destruction of the OZ base. All he could remember clearly was fleeing the hellish inferno that he had somehow created. But no matter how fast he moved, he couldn't outrun the demons who had taken control of his mind and heart. At some point, he found himself pacing furiously in a small clearing in the woods, his clothes singed and reeking of smoke. But even as his body moved, his mind remained in a state of near total paralysis from the conflicting desires raging in his skull. Bloodlust warred with honor, hatred wrestled with love....

Then his phone rang. And rang. And rang.

Finally, he dragged himself out of his trancelike stupor to answer.

"Took your sweet time, Wufei."

The sound of Duo's voice sent a jolt of predatory excitement up his spine. Before he could stop himself, he snarled into the phone, "WHERE IS HE, DUO!?"

The Deathscythe pilot made no attempt to act innocent about which 'he' the Chinese pilot was talking about.

"I'm not going to answer that. All you need to know is that he's alive and secure."

"Damn it! Tell me where the HELL he is!" Behind him, a fallen branch began to smoulder.

"No." The answer was perfectly calm and perfectly adamant.

"Duo...!" he growled ominously.

The other pilot coolly responded with, "Wufei, tell me something. Is that really you who's doing the talking?"

Duo's words was like a bucket of icy water in the face. The momentary shock gave Wufei a chance to grab a tenuous control over his temper.

"I... I... I really don't know...."

He came dangerously close to crushing the phone with his bare hands as he took several long gasping breaths.

"I don't understand. I don't understand why I'm feeling this way. But I do. And I can't make it stop," Wufei whispered hoarsely. "I care about him. No, I love him, Duo. One of our most dangerous enemies and I love him." He paused, panting heavily. "And I absolutely LOATHE him. I want to kill him, tear him to pieces with my bare hands. I want him to die slowly, in the most painful ways imaginable. I want to hear him beg and scream in agony. I want that SO badly."

He sagged against a nearby tree and slowly banged the back of his head against the hard trunk.

"I must be going insane. What else can explain the way I feel? The last thing I want to do is hurt him... and yet I do."

Duo said in calm, firm tones, "I know it's hard, but you've got to get a grip on yourself. Otherwise, a lot of innocent people are going to get hurt. I saw what you can do."

"Don't you think I know that!? I had no idea that I could manipulate fire in such a manner. And the rage makes it so easy to lash out at everything in my way.... I know what I need to do, but I just don't know HOW...!"

With a mixture of bemusement and near hysteria, Wufei thought about how truly ironic it was that he, the one who constantly berated the Deathscythe pilot for his lack of mental discipline, should end up looking to Duo, of all people, for sympathy and advice about self-control.

Thankfully, Duo didn't laugh.

Over the phone, the American's voice softened. "Listen to me, Wufei. You can barely think straight because your feelings about Treize are jerking you in too many different directions at once."

"I love, I hate.... I don't know what to do about... him."

"I'll tell you what you can do, Wufei."

"Wha... what's that?"

"Nothing. You can do nothing. And do you know why?"

"....why?"

"Because you don't know where he is. And if you don't know where he is, you can't hurt him. The anger and hatred inside you won't be satisfied by anything less than a personal, hands-on confrontation. Right?"

"....Yes, that right." He began to get a faint inkling of what Duo was trying to do.

"And short of a direct order, I'm not going to tell you where he is. Got it? So there's nothing that you can do about Treize at the moment. So use that mental discipline of yours and try concentrating on something else."

The Deathscythe pilot waited patiently as Wufei wrestled with his unruly emotions and struggled to restore some semblance of order to his thoughts. Finally, the Chinese pilot heaved a great sigh and said, "You're quite right, Duo. I can't do anything about it, so I'll just have to turn my attention to something more constructive."

There was a low chuckle over the phone. "I'm glad I could help. Emotions can be hell at times."

That careless comment abruptly reminded Wufei of Duo's own situation. And since it was always easier to deal with someone else's problems, he asked sharply, "And how are YOU doing? Are you all right?"

He could just picture the Deathscythe pilot casually shrugging as he replied to Wufei's question.

"I'm fine," Duo said in an unnervingly serene voice.

"You're... fine," he repeated back in decidedly skeptical tones.

"Yes. You don't need to worry about me, Wufei."

He gritted his teeth and bit out, "Don't worry!? Am I supposed to ignore the fact that Heero, for some unfathomable reason, decided to abduct you...."

"He didn't abduct me. He asked me to help him on a mission and I agreed."

Ignoring Duo's protest, Wufei continued furiously, "Then explain why the hell he knocked Sally Po unconscious to do it?"

"Oh... that," Duo said in sheepish tones.

"Yes, THAT!" Wufei shouted into the phone.

Duo sighed before saying, "You know how single-minded Heero gets about missions. He had an urgent mission that required two operatives and he just didn't want to deal with Sally's objections. I'd admit that he got a little carried away but...."

"Of course she'd bloody well object! Anyone would do so, considering everything you had just been through! And with your highly questionable mental state...."

"Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, Wufei."

Wufei ignored Duo's sarcastic remark and continued, ".... no rational person would consider you fit to carry out the garbage, much less a supposedly critical mission!"

The Deathscythe pilot said in rather miffed tones, "I was doing fine until YOU showed up and decided to toast everything!"

"Don't... remind... me...," Wufei growled.

"Whoops. Sorry about that. All right, I freely admit that my head was in a real mess when you last saw me, but that's not a problem anymore."

"Do you mind telling how this minor miracle came about?"

Duo sighed again and said, "It goes like this. This whole fiasco was basically caused by my own insecurity."

".... Go on."

"I didn't know where I stood with Heero and things finally snapped. I took out my frustration out on the most obvious target, which happened to be Relena. A really stupid move on my part. You can't blame Heero for being pissed off at me."

"But... all the things that happened to you...."

"I know that it sounds really crazy, but most of that shit was my own fault. Self-inflicted misery, you might say. I misunderstood what Heero really wanted, but we managed to get it all straightened out."

"Straightened out... just like that," Wufei said, doubt dripping from every syllable.

"Yeah. You see, once we were alone and away from distractions, Heero and I finally had a chance to sort out our relationship. And once that happened, everything else fell into place. Now I know exactly where I stand and where Heero stands. You don't need to worry about me. Honestly."

Wufei scowled. If he hadn't seen with his own eyes the agony that the Deathscythe pilot had endured, Duo's story would have seemed quite plausible. But given what he knew, something else had to be going on -- something much deeper and complicated than a simple heart-to-heart talk. Obviously Duo wasn't going to tell him the truth, so there was only one other person who knew exactly what was going on with the long-haired pilot.

"I want to talk to Heero. In person."

Duo said smoothly, "And Heero wants to talk to you. But not right now. He has his own mission to complete first. I'll get in touch with you when he gets back. Until then, try to stay out of trouble, huh?" And with that parting admonishment, the American hung up.

"Now wait a moment! Duo? DUO!?"

Wufei stared blankly at his unresponsive phone before slipping it back into his jacket. Then suddenly, he dropped his head into his hands. He sat amid the damp leaf litter for a long, long time.

-------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------

As he drove away from the Catskill Mountains in a stolen truck, Heero pulled out his phone and dialed. He got an immediate answer.

"Yes, Heero?"

He said sharply, "Duo, report status."

The other pilot's response was uncharacteristically concise.

"Sally's keeping an eye on Treize. Relena, Noin, and Dorothy are with her at the moment. I got in touch with Wufei and managed to get him calmed down a bit. He's in pretty shaky mental shape, though."

"Did she observe anything abnormal about your behavior?"

"She knows that something unusual's going on. Considering the way I was acting before, there's no point in attempting to deny that. However, she has no idea of the true situation."

"She will comply with your instructions?"

"I believe so, as long as she feels confident that she's not endangering her friends and associates. She understands how important Treize is."

His eyes caught a glimpse of a passing road sign.

"My ETA at the designated safehouse is...," he checked his watch, "13:30."

"It'll take me at least six hours to get there from my current location."

"Acknowledged."

"What about Wufei? He really wants to talk to you."

"We'll talk after I file my mission report. Notify him."

"Your wish is my command."

"Yes, it is."

------------------------

That flat assertion of control and dominance sent a sharp jolt of happiness through Duo's brain. He wanted to purr just like a stroked pet cat, but managed to keep himself quiet. And although he craved some hint of approval from his Master, he ruthlessly suppressed the impulse to beg, scolding himself for that presumption.

(I am a slave. A slave is owed nothing. A slave deserves nothing. A slave expects nothing. A slave accepts whatever the Master chooses to bestow, be it reward or punishment, attention or neglect. I am a slave.)

As always, that thought gave Duo a wonderful feeling of comfort and security. As his Master controlled and as long as he obeyed, he was safe.

"Anything else you want me to do, Heero?"

"Arrange Treize's release. I've gained access to the access code master
list and completed the modifications to the OZ security net. Any investigation of subsequent irregularities will produce evidence that Lundquist's security codes, not Treize's, are being used."

"Release Treize, got it. What do you want me to do about Sally, Relena, and the others afterward?"

"If she doesn't press the issue regarding your true condition any further, do nothing. However, if she asks too many questions or otherwise attempts to interfere with your duty to me, it may become necessary to terminate her."

"Understood," Duo replied easily. Although he liked Sally a lot and had no desire to harm her, he also felt absolutely no guilt or distress at the thought of killing her or the others. His Master indicated that such action might be necessary and anything the Master considered necessary was, by definition, the right thing to do.

-------------------------------------------------

When his phone buzzed, Wufei nearly tore a hole in his jacket in his rush to answer.

"Yo, Wufei!"

"Duo!? What the devil are you up to? Stop playing games with me and let me talk to Heero! Right now!" he demanded furiously

Duo chuckled and said, "You're still bit hair-triggered, aren't you?"

The Chinese pilot sputtered incoherently in outrage.

"But never mind that. You're in luck, Wufei. Heero just finished his mission. Like I said, he wants to talk to you, too."

Although the American's tone was quite casual, Wufei sensed an undertone that was both serious and disturbing.

".... All right. Where and when?"

After rattling off the safehouse address, Duo said, "Be there in six hours."

Wufei opened his mouth to object to the delay, then realized that he would in fact barely make it if he started immediately.

With a frustrated growl, he said, "All right. In six hours." He paused a moment, then said, "Will you be there?"

"Sure thing, Wufei. I wouldn't miss this little chat for the world."

-------------------------------------------------

At precisely 13:28, Heero strode through the front door of the safehouse. He ignored the expensive furnishings and painstakingly crafted woodwork in the room. He headed straight for the desk, booted up his laptop, and started typing.

He worked nonstop for over a hour, then stopped abruptly. The Wing pilot stared at the screen for a second, frowned, then quickly deleted the sentence he had just started.

His report finished, he then began to enter a long, complicated series of communication codes. After a few minutes of waiting, he received an answer.

> QUERY MISSION STATUS

Heero responded by typing:

MISSION COMPLETED
PRIMARY GOALS ACCOMPLISHED
SPECIAL CONDITIONS NOTED

He then sent off a small file describing his modifications of the new OZ security module and waited.

> QUERY PRIORITY OVERRIDE STATUS

ACCESS CONFIRMATION REQUIRED

> TIME TO TALK OF CABBAGES AND KINGS

The Wing pilot stared blankly at the monitor, then almost in slow motion, he typed:

ACCESS CONFIRMED
GATEWAY OPEN
PRIORITY OVERRIDE STATUS IS --ON--

> PRIORITY OVERRIDE TERMINATED

RECONFIRM PRIORITY OVERRIDE TERMINATION

Two words appeared.

> CELESTIAL GEHENNA

The Wing pilot took a second or two to process the code phrase.

PRIORITY OVERRIDE TERMINATION CONFIRMED
GATEWAY CLOSED

> DATA RECEIPT CONFIRMED

ACKNOWLEDGED

As the secure connection terminated, Heero blinked a few times, then leaned back in his chair and exhaled heavily. It had been a long time since he felt so tired. Every muscle in his body ached, especially his shoulders and chest.

(Why am I so sore? This last mission may have been high priority, but it certainly wasn't strenuous.)

He rolled his shoulders, trying without success to loosen the knotted muscles.

(Damn, this is not doing any good. I could use a good backrub. Where's Duo when I....)

Heero's mind froze in mid-thought as the Deathscythe pilot's name triggered a massive cascade of memories.

~~~~~
What... what are you DOING to me!?
~~~~~

Duo....

~~~~~
Please.... stop... Heero... don't... do this... to me....
~~~~~

....Duo....

~~~~~
This... this is... all... wrong... please... Heero....
~~~~~

Oh god... DUO.

He remembered....

He remembered what had happened to Duo... what HE had done to Duo....

He remembered Duo begging him to stop....

He remembered destroying the last traces of Duo's resistance without hesitation....

He remembered the horrible desperation in Duo's voice as he begged to serve, to obey....

He remembered glazed violet eyes shining brightly with mindless love and adoration....

He remembered reprogramming Duo to become his perfect slave.

Heero remembered *everything*.

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(end Part 10)
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Author's Notes:
------------------------

"Mechanics of Control" is the title for the overall alternative-reality storyline, with sub-stories for each pilot. ^_^ The sub-stories are titled as follows:

"Wicked Game" - Heero and Duo
"Brilliant Disguise" - Trowa and Quatre
"Dragon's Fire" - Wufei

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Keeper of Duo's Dark Side ~~~ Duo no Seishi
Co-Keeper of Duo's Scythe & Bat Wings (w/ Death)
Co-Keeper of Little Grim Reaper Duo (w/ Kitsune)
Saitoh no Koibito ~~~ Corruptor Extraordinaire
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madamhydra@aol.com /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/:E
http://www.madamhydra.net/
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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.
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