Title: Upside Down
Author: shanna seanachai (pulse2@crosswinds.net)
Part: 1-10
Warnings: angst, yes, major angst. If you are anti-choice you might want to skip this.
Disclaimer: don't own either GW the Tori Amos song this is named after.
Summary: Repost of parts 1 - 9 and an all new part!
Pairing: Heero. And someone else. Maybe. Eventually. - probably Quatre, sorry 2x1/1x2 fans *_*
Archive? You bet your ass.
Feedback: needed, desperately, oh, oh, oh SO desperately.

Beta Read by mayumi, you're the bestist ^_^

A cute little logo for Upside Down done by me: http://virtue.nu/seanachai/udown.jpg
My webpage, which is slowly being updated and moved from xoom: http://virtue.nu/seanachai

LOVE! shanna

 

Upside Down
Parts one through ten

--

"and i know you're still a boy/ still coming out of your mother/ upside down..."
-tori amos, 'upside down'

--

o n e .

The night seemed very small and dark, and he was the only person awake. The sheets he clutched in his fists were damp with his sweat and the bed seemed to swallow him up, engulfing him, trapping him, just as the man that had hurt him had. Now he swallowed hard, fighting off a wave of nausea as the month old memories attempted to resurface. It was not practical to keep
thinking about these things. It was not practical to cry, either, or get sick all over the bathroom, like he just had. The unpracticality of it all did not seem to stop it from happening, though, which frightened him tremendously.

He had to be quiet, in any case, because if the others heard him, one of them might take it into their heads to peek in and see what was the matter with him. They would stand in the door, all curiosity and sincere concern, and say, Heero, are you sick? And then he would have to tell them that he wasn't sick. Even though he was. Very. It wasn't practical to be sick, but he was, and if they didn't know he was sick, maybe he could pretend he wasn't.

His head was kind of swimmy now, like he wasn't inside it. He never got sick. Why should he get sick now? It was something psychological, maybe, and he was sick because he couldn't stop thinking about that...incident. He shut his eyes tightly and curled up in a ball, wanting to vomit again. How could it have happened to him? It was better to be dead than to have that happen to you. How could he have been so stupid?

A shiver ripped through, uncontrollably. Yes. It was his own stupid fault, and self pity was not practical. He felt wetness slide down his nose; he was crying again. Practical or not, he couldn't stop himself. What kind of a soldier was he?

--

"Eat something, Heero."

Heero brought a spoon of cereal up to his mouth but its consistency reminded him too sharply of what he had thrown up the night before. He put the spoon down. "I'll just have some coffee."

"Are you okay, Heero?" Quatre asked, concerned.

He flinched. "I'm fine," he muttered, and stood up, taking the cup of coffee with him. "I have some work to do."

"What's wrong with him?" Duo asked, after he had left. He picked up Heero's bowl of cereal and began to eat it himself.

"He looks like he's sick."

Duo blinked, licking milk from the corners of his mouth. "Sick? Heero? Is that even possible?"

Quatre sighed. "I thought I heard someone being sick in the bathroom last night. I was going to get up but then they went back to bed. It must have been Heero."

Duo slurped up the remainder of the milk in the bowl. "You'd think," he said, wiping his mouth with a napkin and looking for all the world like a prim kitty cat who was cleaning up after drinking some cream, "that someone as devoted to the mission as he is would give their health top priority."

"Heero's not always the Perfect Soldier, you know," Quatre said. "He has his weaknesses, too. He probably doesn't want us to know he's sick. He's too proud."

"Well, if he thinks he's going on a mission like this, he's got another thing coming," Duo said. "And he probably won't like it."

--

The others dispersed throughout the day, until he was left alone in the house. Working, or so he said. He couldn't concentrate on it, really, which was disturbing. No matter how much he colded himself, he couldn't retain anything; he couldn't even read. The letters swam around in front of is eyes. They didn't make any sense. His thoughts dwindled. It came to his mind again. His stomach lurched.

He needed to take a shower.

It wasn't very practical to think that a simple shower would wash it all away, but right now, his idea of practicality was askew. He clung to any idea, any possible solution, no matter how ridiculous, and goddammit, if he wanted to take a shower at two in the afternoon, he would.

Not that it helped; not that anything ever helped.

He stood there, under the spray, watching the water run into the rusty drain. He didn't feel clean. He felt filthy. He wanted to rip off his skin. His gorge rose again, and dizzy, he gripped the wall, protests rising in his mind. I'm not going to throw up again. I haven't eaten anything. I only drank the coffee. There is nothing for me to throw up anyway.

But he felt it come, and he stumbled out of the shower, and spewed up his coffee into the toilet. He paused for a moment, dizzy, and then the dry heaves began. Why was he so sick? Damnit, this was not the time to get sick. Why was he sick?

He turned off the shower afterwards, and pulled on some clothes - big baggy pants of Duo's because the thought of wearing constricting spandex made him feel sick again. Made him feel naked, too. He felt safe in these pants. Anonymous.

He was brushing his teeth when Quatre came home and walked past the bathroom. He stopped and went back. "Is that you, Heero?"

He nodded.

Quatre stepped inside. "Why are you wearing Duo's pants?"

Heero straightened up, rinsing the toothbrush off. "Because I feel like it." He put the toothbrush away and stepped past Quatre into the hallway. "Excuse me."

Quatre stared after him as he disappeared into his room. Something was very wrong. And he was going to find out what it was.

t w o .

The man liked it when he fought back, which he did, uselessly. His shouts were muffled by a hand, while his shirt was pulled up and his pants pulled down. A needle was taken out. Heero assumed it was a sedative, and increased his struggles. But he couldn't get away. The man plunged the needle into his lower stomach, injecting him with god knew what. Then the needle was thrown away, and the man paused. He smiled. And Heero knew suddenly what was coming.

--

Dream. It had only been a dream. It was not happening again.

He gripped the side of the sink, dizzy from being sick, and made a muffled sob noise. He felt like he didn't have any control over his body. And that was not...

"Heero."

He covered his mouth and turned around. Quatre stood in the doorway. They stared at each other, wordlessly, and then Quatre came over to him. Heero said nothing as Quatre wet a facecloth, removed Heero's hand, and began to wash his face.

"Are you still sick?"

Heero lowered his eyes. Quatre frowned. "Oh, that's right, I forgot - you *aren't* sick, huh?" He handed him a toothbrush and put his hands on his hips, raising an admonishing eyebrow. Heero remained silent as he brushed his teeth.

Quatre leaned over while he was rinsing his mouth out. "You have nightmares, too," he whispered into his ear. "I hear you talking in your sleep." Heero flinched.

"It's none of your business," he said, and started to leave. He was still dizzy and he grabbed the wall for support. Quatre took his hand and wordlessly led him out of the bathroom and downstairs to the kitchen. The small lamp on the table cast a warm, yellowy glow over the room. The shadows seemed deeper and more dangerous, and he wanted to cling to Quatre, golden and safe. The shadows did not bother Quatre.

"Sit down," Quatre said softly. He obeyed, surprised at himself. "Now tell me what is wrong."

He found himself opening his mouth, with words, secrets, ready to fall out; and he only just managed to hold them back, inhaling deeply, his eyes widening. "Nothing," he grunted through his desperately clenched teeth, and stood to leave.

"Oh, no you don't!" Quatre took him by his arms and sat him down. Quatre was strong, stronger than he looked, and Heero had found that, more often then not, he succumbed to his wishes. He sat down and put his head in his hands.

"Heero. Everyone has a breaking point. Everyone needs a rest sometimes. And that includes you, because you aren't superhuman, whether you like to believe you are or not. Will you just tell me what the problem is? I won't tell the others, if you don't want me too."

Heero lifted his head a bit. Just to one person...just once? Would it be so bad?

"Would you do that?" Quatre asked, as though he were reading his mind.

Heero nodded, slowly.

Quatre took a seat next to him. "Okay," he breathed, seeming to be amazed that he had managed to do this much. "We'll start off with - are you sick?"

Heero sucked in his breath and bit his lip. "I think so. I mean, I must be."

Quatre frowned. "Care to clarify that a bit?"

"It's a bit different than being...sick. I don't know."

"You're throwing up, though, right?"

Heero nodded.

"Do you have a fever?"

He shook his head.

Quatre questioned him several other ways, trying to pinpoint exactly what might be his problem, but the only problem seemed to reside in his stomach.

"How long?"

"Only about a week."

Quatre tipped his face to the ceiling. "You know," he said nonchalantly, "There are these things called doctors that, um, people see when they are sick..."

Heero growled. "I'm not going to the doctor, Quatre."

Quatre sighed. "All right, fine. You can't blame me for trying." He blinked as Heero started to get up. "Where are you going?"

"Back to bed."

"Who said I was finished?"

Heero stared at him.

"There's still something I have to ask you."

He sat back down.

Quatre stared his hands, at the table they rested on, for a moment, before he spoke. "Your nightmares. You've been having them for a month. I can hear you. Yelling, and - " He looked at Heero. " - and, um, shouting in your sleep."

Heero remained silent.

Quatre put his hand on Heero's arm. "Tell me," he said, "what is bothering you. What is giving you nightmares?"

More silence, and Quatre started to withdraw, when Heero spoke. The words were blunt and foul in the atmosphere in the room, cutting through the sluggish silence like a dull knife. They surprised Quatre; they surprised Heero, as well.

"You know they caught me. Last month - during a mission. I wasn't careful enough."

Quatre said nothing, only listened, his eyes warm.

"They had me locked up. They were trying to get information out of me. I wouldn't say anything." He looked at his owned hands, folded in his lap. "They said if they couldn't get the information out of me they needed, they would use me for something else. An experiment, maybe, and they talked out about all the experiments that went on in the laboratories. They performed them on prisoners. They'd taken the idea from the Nazis, in WW2."

Quatre blinked, and a wave of sadness seemed to pass through his face, as though he was remembering something.

"A few days later they came back. They handcuffed me and took me to the labs. They put me in a cage. There were a lot of other people there. They'd done a lot of...terrible things to them." He bowed his back, leaning over, feeling sick again. Quatre moved closer, and put an arm around his back.

"The next day they took me to a testing room. It was all made of metal, except one wall was clear, and there were a lot doctors and scientists on the other side. There was one guard with me. He had a needle and...he injected it in me. In the stomach. And then he -" He made himself breathe, shaky, feeling like he was going to pass out. "He raped me. In front of them all. They took notes. Then they brought me back to my cage and kept me there for awhile."

Quatre had gasped, a little, and Heero wondered what the expression on his face looked like. But he couldn't straighten up or turn his head to look; he felt frozen.

"They did some tests. They seemed very pleased. Then they brought me back to the cell I'd been in before. A little bit after that, Duo and Wufei broke me out - you know that, too. But that's what my nightmares are about. The laboratories." And what they did to me there, he thought to himself.

Then Quatre spoke. "Heero, do you think...do you think that what they did to you is the reason why you are sick?"

Heero nodded.

"What do you think they injected you with?"

"I heard them say something, when they were testing me, later. I don't know what it means: Ovamigradium. Or something close to that."

"What if I had my sister look at you? She's a doctor. She wouldn't tell anyone."

Heero shook his head. "No. I don't want anyone else to know."

Quatre sighed, looking frustrated. "Okay. Well, we wouldn't tell her. We'd just say you weren't feeling well, and have her check you out. How's that?"

Heero was trembling a little bit. "You wouldn't tell her?"

"No. I promise."

"I - I - all right." He nodded his head. "All right, I'll do it."

t h r e e .

He'd never liked doctors. He'd never liked the unclean feel of being inspected. Even of it was for his own good - he didn't like it. He let Iria check him; he answered her questions, albeit in monosyllabic form. He did everything she asked, but when she was done, she looked even more puzzled then before.

"You don't have a stomach virus. You don't seem sick at all, except for what you've told me about the vomiting." She stared at her notebook for awhile. She had blond hair like Quatre, straight and fine. It hung across her face like a veil, and he could not see what she was thinking.

"Have you been taking any kind of medication? Anything for your...job?"

Heero shifted in his seat and shook his head.

She tapped the notepad with her finger. "Are you sure? Even if you took it just once? Because I can't really see any other possible explanation."

"If I had," Heero asked quietly, "what would it mean?"

"Well. It could be an adverse reaction to the medication. Or it could be a side effect of whatever the medication is supposed to achieve." She looked up finally. "Is that it? Medication?"

Heero kept his mouth shut.

Iria sighed. "As a doctor, Heero, I am obligated to help a patient in any way I see fit. If 'helping' the patient includes keeping certain things confidential in wartime, then that's what I'll do."

"Maybe something."

"Maybe?"

He shrugged.

"Do you know what that maybe something is?"

He shook his head.

"A name, anything?"

He paused. "O..ovamigradium?"

She frowned. "Never heard of it," she murmured. "Hm. Was it a pill?"

What was the point of lying? "Injection."

"How long has it been in your system?"

"About a month."

"Okay." She made a few notes. "I'm going to look into this...ovamigradium. Until then, eat lightly. Try to get some sleep. Don't take any kind of medication without checking with me." She opened the door for him. "And my lips are sealed. I'm not talking about this to anyone. Like I said, right?"

--

It was so cramped inside. Uncomfortable. The metal bars of the cage pressed against the skin of his arms. And the noises! All those people, screaming. There was a girl not too far from him. They'd been testing on her to see how much heat a human body could stand. She was entirely covered with stiff scar tissue. One morning when he woke up, he heard her crying. She cried all day. By evening, she was screaming. At first it was just wordless noise; then she began to repeat two words, over and over, like a mantra:

"My face! My face! My face!"

Even after he was taken away and put back in his former cell; even after he was away, far away, from the labs, from the prisons, he could still sometimes hear her, in his dreams and when it was very quiet: "My face!"

--

"What were you dreaming about?" Quatre asked him, the next morning.

He told him about the girl.

"You said they got the idea from the Nazis?"

Heero nodded. "That's what I was told. By one of the doctors. They were...very proud of themselves."

Quatre put his hands in his pockets and stared at the ground. "Did you know my family is Jewish?"

He shook his head. "I thought you were Muslim."

"I converted. But the rest of my family, and our ancestors were Jewish." He stared at the sky. "They used to tell us stories of the Holocaust. Passed down, from members of our family who survived it. After the War my family came back to the Holy Land. It's one of the reasons my father was such a pacifist. He hated war; he was so disappointed in me. First I left his religion, and then I left his ideals."

Heero didn't know what to say. What did one say in such a situation? He supposed a normal person would try to comfort Quatre, but he'd never been a 'normal' person. He didn't know how to comfort people; he didn't know how to comfort himself.

Luckily Quatre changed the subject. "Iria called me up this morning."

Heero jumped. "What did she say?"

"She couldn't find out anything about Ovamigradium in the standard medical texts. She ended up asking around about it - in a general way - and she heard something about a new experimental procedure Oz is trying out. She found some information about it. She's faxing it over this afternoon."

--

Subject: Ovamigradium, experimental medicine, classified information

Date Experiment instigated: -----

Results: ------

Description: Discovered three years ago by Oz scientists, it is hoped to be the solution to the recent population problem (see information about population) because the need for suitable soldiers has been rising steadily since the advent of the war. Ovamigradium is an organic compound, containing egg cells (harvested from female prisoners). Injected in a male in the
inferior abdominal area, most ovum will transplant themselves to a blood supply. If fertilized, an embryo should result. Further experimentation is needed for more information.

--

They sat in stunned silence.

"Holy shit," Heero said after awhile.

Iria had written on the bottom of the print-out: "This would explain it. Morning sickness. See me tomorrow?"

"Holy shit," Quatre agreed.

f o u r .

"Oh, there's no doubt about it," Iria said. "You're pregnant." She looked a bit shocked and incredulous herself, despite the confidence in her words.

Heero had his arms folded tightly around his midsection, his face carefully blank. He felt blank. Empty, like a sheet of paper. He breathed heavily. He didn't know how he felt! He was shaking a bit. How was one supposed to feel in such a situation? He didn't know. He didn't know anything about this.

Iria was writing some things down on a piece of paper. She finished and handed it to him. He didn't want to move his arms. Finally he reached out a little and took it. It had names of doctors and phone numbers written on it.

"What is this?" His voice sounded funny. It didn't sound like him.

"It's a list of doctors who perform abortions."

Heero jumped. "What?"

Iria folded her arms. "I'm not saying you should. I'm saying it's an alternative."

"I..."

"What would you do with a baby, Heero Yuy?" She raised an eyebrow. "Do you know anything about babies?"

He shook his head, slowly. His whole body was numb.

"Well," she said, "save those numbers. Take my words into consideration." She picked up her things and began to leave. "There may be a day in the future you wish you had."

--

"You can't be serious, Heero," Quatre said, sitting next to him in the car. "You are not getting an abortion!"

"I can't be pregnant, Quatre." Heero's hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly they hurt. "You don't understand, I just can't!" He looked at the directions he'd written down; he'd gotten them over the phone. They led to a small apartment on the other side of the city. The doctor whom he'd spoken too, had been surprised; but he'd heard of Ovamigradium. He was willing to
operate.

Quatre frowned. "How can you do this? How can you kill a baby?" He was angry. He was so rarely angry, and it was frightening. "Haven't you killed enough people in your lifetime, Heero?!"

Heero wanted to scream; he wanted to cry. "Just leave me alone."

Quatre grabbed the wheel. "Heero, I can't let you do this -"

Heero pulled over and braked. "Get out of the car."

"Heero -"

"Get out of the fucking car!"

Quatre stared at him, hard, for one moment longer. Then he opened the passenger side door and got out.

"I hope you can live with yourself after this," he said, and slammed the door.

--

He parked outside the doctor's apartment building. He couldn't get out of the car at first. He sat with his hands in his lap, thinking. The urge to crawl up into a ball and cry himself to sleep was almost overwhelming. He couldn't let it happen though. He couldn't be impractical; he couldn't let
his own desires, his own feelings, get in the way of what was best. Best for what? Best for the war, best for himself, best for everything. Ultimately. In the end...in the end, he would see that this was for the best.

He opened the door. He felt his feet hit the ground. It was like he was in a dream. He put his keys in his pocket - he was still wearing Duo's baggy pants. He shut the door. He walked to the door, opened it, and entered.

--

"Just wait one moment, and I'll be with you."

He was sitting on a couch in the doctor's apartment. The doctor had a cot laid out, with his instruments on a table next to it. Heero fisted his palms, trying to steer his eyes away from the sharp utensils laid out. Unthinkingly, he laid his hands against his stomach; he thought about the life that was inside him.

He'd never had a childhood. He'd never had a mother, a father. How often had he wished he had never been created? His very existence was so complicated - as complicated as that of the baby he created? What kind of life would it have? Would it someday wish it had never been created?

It - no, he, she. When you said 'it', he or she was depersonalized. Not a real thing - not alive. Oh, god. He couldn't do it. He supposed some people could. He didn't doubt it hurt them just as much as it was hurting him. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't do it, he couldn't take more life. He stood up, shakily.The doctor was just coming in.

"I'm sorry," He gasped. "I can't, I can't. I have to go. I'm sorry." He stumbled out the door, deaf to the doctor behind him.

--

Quatre was standing in the driveway, leaning against the car. His arms were crossed and he was peering anxiously at the door. As soon as Heero emerged, he frowned, his eyes angry.

"That quick, was it?"

Heero moved him out of the way to open the door. "I didn't do it." He say down and started to close the door, but Quatre grabbed it, peering in at him.

"You - you didn't...?"

He shook his head.

Quatre put his arms around, impulsively. "God! Heero! You didn't -"

"I didn't," Heero whispered, amazed at the odd feeling of having someone hugging him. He'd never felt it before. No one had ever -

"Everything will be fine, Heero," Quatre was saying. "I guarantee you. Everything will be fine."

f i v e .

It was a nice night. The sky was so dark that the stars seemed to be punched out. It was very, very quiet, and very warm. He was sitting out on the porch with Quatre, holding a cup of coffee, feeling as though time had slowed down; viscosity. He heard a voice in his ear - it was Quatre.

"When are you going to tell the others?"

"What?"

"You have to tell them sometime."

He put his head down. "I don't know." He took a drink from his coffee, grimaced, and put it down.

"Heero?"

"Can't we just wait a little while? I - I don't want to say anything yet."

"It's not going to go away, Heero."

He sighed.

"And you can't accept any missions in this condition."

Of course. Why hadn't that occurred to him? What would he say to them? He was worthless without a mission. What was he going to do?

"What am I going to do, Quatre?"

There was silence. Then Quatre sighed. "Stay put: I won't say anything yet if you don't want me to. We'll hold off on telling them for awhile - but we can't put it off forever, Heero."

Heero stood up. "I know."

--

The morning sickness disappeared after a week or so, much to Heero's relief. He tried to forget about it. When missions came in, he fielded it to the others, trying to seem relaxed. He knew their downtime was approaching soon; he wouldn't have to worry about this for awhile. He was nervous though - they suspected something, didn't they? He was sure of it. Sometimes when he
entered a room, they stopped talking, and looked at him, and immediately started up with small talk. Sometimes, he would catch Duo or Trowa or Wufei staring at him; he would look at them and they would try to act normal. Sometimes they would ask him supposedly innocent questions; trying to poke it out of him, whatever he was hiding. He was nervous, yes. A wreck.

Part of it, of course, was his peculiar condition. After the morning sickness tapered off, he felt quite normal. But he knew he wasn't. There was something different - although he didn't always notice it. When he was laying in bed, trying to get to sleep, he couldn't help but think about it -
about the baby. It was strange to think of as really alive. He wondered what it looked like. Could it think? Could it feel what he was feeling?

He was sitting in the living room with Duo one afternoon, while the other watched television and he worked on his laptop. They were both studiously ignoring each other. Duo had been more quiet around him as of late. Not only unusual, but frightening. God only knew what he was planning. He didn't want to think about it though; he had to divert himself.

He thought for a second, and then he began to browse through his computer's encyclopedia. He paused, and eyed Duo. He wasn't paying attention. Carefully, cautiously, as though he were afraid that Duo would hear the word he was typing, he did a search for:

"Pregnancy: Ultrasound: pictures: 12 weeks (2 months)"...

--

"Hey, Quatre."

Quatre looked up from the book he was reading. "What is it, Heero?"

Heero was standing in the doorway of his room, a piece of paper in his hands, looking a bit shy.

"Anything the matter?"

Heero shook his head. He gestured with the paper. "I just wanted to show you this."

Quatre sat up and Heero came forward, closing the door. He showed Quatre the paper - a printout. "That's what the baby looks like..." he said softly.

Quatre took the picture, surprised. It was dark; he could see the outline of a little, bulging head, with faint facial features. Arms, legs, torso. Detailed hands and feet weren't visible. Beneath it were facts: Heart is beating. Most internal organs are developed. Sex still indeterminate.

He looked up at Heero. There was no expression on his face; at least not to the casual observer. But Quatre could sense a faint glow about him, and a sort of fullness of his face that had nothing to do with physical shape, but with emotion. Quatre smiled at him. He gave him the paper back, and Heero folded it, his fingers gliding over the surface, nervously sharpening the
edges.

"I don't know much about babies, Quatre," he began.

"Don't worry, Heero," Quatre said. "You've got plenty of time to learn."

s i x .

This was how a day began in the laboratories: you would wake, stiff and sick, impressions deep in your skin from the bars of the cage, cramped and claustrophobic. It was dark in there, no matter what time of day. The only sign of morning was the opening of the doors and the entry of the lab technicians. Sometimes you would wake far too early, and you would wait endless hours, thirsty, having to urinate, close to hysteria. Then the doors would open, and the relief that washed over you was so acute, it nearly brought tears. That was their power over you; they made the rule. They could punish you; they could save you. There was an ingrained instinct to worship them, to lap at their feet; like a dog. It was hard to hold it in place, when they finally came to you and opened your cage, to let you out for a walk.

When you stepped out, your legs folded; the technicians grabbed you, and you shuffled through the corridors, being held by the arms like a doll, until you could walk again. Then they guided you in a circuit, one, two, twenty times. When you had gotten enough 'exercise', they brought you back to your cage. You wanted to scream, to fight, rather than be shoved back in that
tight cramped space. Some did. But you didn't. You went back in the cage, and waited until they brought you a pill. The pill was your meal. It kept you alive. It didn't make you feel any better, though.

--

"Wow, Heero, you're really packing it away."

Heero stopped, a piece of toast halfway to his mouth. He blinked, and then slowly lowered it back to the plate and backed away.

Quatre frowned at Duo. "Heero, don't listen to him." He gestured to the counter. "There' s plenty of food."

Duo rolled his eyes. "I'm not saying there's not enough food. I'm just saying," he continued, ignoring the bad looks Quatre was shooting him, "that maybe Heero is...getting a bit...beefy."

Heero sputtered. "Beefy?"

"Well, really, Heero. You just seem a bit wider, and you certainly have been scarfing it up the past few weeks."

Wufei entered the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee, surveyed the tense scene, and seemed to consider going into the living room.

"No, Wufei," Heero said. "I have to say something. You might as well stay here."

Duo raised an eyebrow. "What's this?"

Heero opened his mouth, and realized he had no idea what to say. It was all a bit ridiculous, wasn't it? He looked over to Quatre, desperately.

Quatre sat up very straight and breathed deep.

"What Heero wants to say is..."

Trowa, for the first time including himself in the conversation, lowered his newspaper.

"Well, we may be increasing in number in a few months."

"Huh?" asked Duo.

"I'm having a baby," Heero said.

Wufei blinked. "Who did you knock up?"

Heero shook his head. "*I'm* having a baby. Me. Not a girl."

"That's impossible!" Wufei exclaimed.

"Not with Oz technology," Quatre informed them, and pulled the printout about Ovamigradium from his pocket.

They each looked at it, with varying degrees of emotion - shock, skepticism, disbelief.

"You are fucking shitting me," Duo cried.

"Are you saying you were injected with this?" Wufei said.

"..." Trowa raised an eyebrow.

Heero frowned at Duo, nodded at Wufei, and sighed at Trowa.

Duo sat there for a moment, and then pushed the plate at Heero. "What are you doing? Eat your breakfast!"

--

Maybe it was because he had been raised to obey orders that he had been so easily goaded and guided in the laboratories. And why he didn't question when they led him to the testing room. And why he was so shocked at what had happened.

Why hadn't he fought back more? He could have overpowered that guard! It would have been easy. He could have perhaps; until the needle was stuck in him, he had. Until the man looked at him in that way, he had. Then he had wilted; in horror, in disgust. He had laid there, frozen, as the suffocating, piercing pain punched him, again and again, all the way up to the pit of his stomach. While the strong fingers of his captor burned into his arms. While those cold, impersonal eyes watched them from behind the window. He heard the girl's voice, a hundred girls, screaming: my face, my god, my soul!

--

So how did he hold onto that part of himself that was trying to leave him? That had been trying to escape ever since that incident? That was what he thought about now; while the others watched him with sharp, marked glances and wonderment, he thought about it. He and Quatre hadn't told them he was raped. Let them think what they want. He wasn't letting that part of it come out. It hurt too much to think about it, and the idea of others thinking about it, as well, was sickening.

He let them think what they like. He didn't care.

s e v e n .

This hand, the hand of a murderer. It had been small once, and childlike, but it had always been a murderer's hand. And it had always been alone. Hands are made for other hands, he supposed, to hold and to squeeze - otherwise they look rather empty. But his hand had never been held by another, and it had forgotten how to be so receptive - if it had ever known.

But a child needed a hand to hold - a baby needed one to guide it. He was going to have to teach his hand to do those things, in the coming months. Teach himself.

He wondered suddenly - irreverently - if he would have ended up a different person if he had been raised by people whose hands knew how to hold others. It wasn't the first time he had wondered about it. Sometimes it made him feel heavy and tired, filled with times bygone and mistakes and unfulfilled hopes.

But it seemed to be haunting him more acutely now. He thought it was kind of corny but - he wanted better for his child. He just didn't know if he could give it.

He remembered, suddenly, being whacked across the head for not understanding something - he couldn't even remember what. It had been so long ago. He remembered - being left alone all night in a strange hotel room. How old had he been? Not more than four. He'd never admitted it, but he'd had a nightmare that night and had cried, afraid to move in the dark.

He sighed, and put his hand on his stomach. Four months, four months already. He shivered. The idea that there was something actually alive inside of him seemed...preposterous. Alive. Alive. He closed his eyes and remembered again.

Hurting himself - being taught to take care of the wound himself - no comforting words, no gentleness. Not being allowed to speak to other people. His first assassination - he'd been cool and cold, until he was alone. Then he'd thrown up.

How can it - how can it be alive? How can something as bare and cold as himself be making a life? He imagined, suddenly, of his body fighting off the little life, like a germ or an infection. Fighting it off, until it died inside him. He grimaced, and rolled over onto his side, drawing his knees up to his chin. They'd taught him to know his enemy, to kill it. And in the process, they'd made his own body the enemy - alien and unknown. Dangerous, even to himself.

--

"Is that enough? Are you sure you don't want anymore?" Duo was waving the plate around in front of him. "There's plenty left!"

Heero shook his head.

"Okay..." Duo looked at him dubiously. "So, Heero," he went on as he put away the food. "Do you want a boy or girl?"

Heero blinked. "I hadn't really thought about it."

Duo rolled his eyes. "Of course. You would be the only expecting parent who wouldn't."

Wufei sighed. "Duo, ever heard of the saying 'don't count your chickens before they hatch'?"

"Why do you say that, Wufei?"

"It's just not good to get your hopes up."

"What that's supposed to mean?" Heero said, a slight edge in his voice.

Wufei looked a bit taken aback. "Nothing. It's just -" He straightened himself. "This is a very...experimental procedure. Who knows what might happen?"

"Are you saying you think I'm going to lose it?" No, no, no, Heero thought. He remembered his thoughts from last night. His alien body. Lose the baby. No.

Wufei looked uncomfortable. "I'm sure you won't, Heero. But it's a distinct possibility."

"I don't even know why we are having this conversation," Trowa interjected. It was the first he'd really said on the subject - the first full sentence, anyway. "The thing should already have been taken care of."

Quatre frowned. "What do you mean?"

Trowa glared. "I mean he should have gotten rid of it the moment he knew about it. There's no place for a baby here. Now it's too late, and we're stuck with it until it's born."

"Only until it's born?" Quatre was staring at Trowa strangely.

"Of course." Trowa narrowed his eyes at Heero. "You *are* giving it away, aren't you?"

Heero was silent for a moment and shook his head.

"Are you insane?" Trowa said.

Heero didn't look at him. He looked at the table. He looked at the grains in the wood. He looked at his hard, unforgiving, grown up hands. He tried to curl them into a more appeasing shape but they wouldn't budge.

"You, taking care of a baby? That's the craziest -"

"Shut up, Trowa," Wufei said suddenly. He looked kind of guilty for having brought up the concept of a miscarriage.

There was silence, and then Trowa stood up and left.

"Don't let it get to you, Heero," Duo said. "I'm behind you, one hundred percent."

"Whatever happens," murmured Wufei, and flinched.

Quatre reached an arm under the table and took Heero's right hand in his own. It took awhile, but he coaxed it open. It opened, and it held another hand in it, and Heero smiled.

e i g h t .

It was coming to him, more and more often. His thoughts would wander off; wander away from the images that had been haunting him for the past five months, and would come to a halt at the feet of a sweet, quiet, honey colored boy. When he'd taken his hand, there, under the table, smiling slightly, encouragingly, Heero had felt something small and tentative and nervous inside him wake up. How long had that part of him been asleep? He knew what part it was. It was the part that could open up to people, that part that could love, and laugh, and understand, and open up doors.

It was growing in him, and he couldn't help but think about the person who had opened this - whole new realms of feeling and expression and ideas - to him. He often did. The thought of his face made a flutter in his head. It made him dizzy, because he didn't know what it was he was thinking; he didn't know how to categorize it, or make it sensible.

Each day was tracking down, like a raindrop. Heavy and impending. He was nervous, a lot, lately: he stuttered, hands sweaty, eyes restless. He was self-conscious about his stomach. He often crossed his arms over it, or leaned over, or turned away. It was stupid, of course. They all knew why he was getting so large. And he was only going to get bigger.

Sneaking down, at night sometimes, and eating three bowls of Cheerios - it was very strange to be sitting there, all alone, being very quiet and dark, like the room, silently eating cereal. It was pretty funny, he supposed. Duo would have thought it was. Once, when he was creeping back upstairs, he paused at the open door of that boy's bedroom. He could hear him breathing. He wanted to peak in, and see him, maybe with his blond hair spread out all over the pillow. Pale eyelashes against his cheeks. Pale, fine arching brows capping his sleep smudged eyes. He could see it all in his head, but he did not open the door. He stood at the entrance, listening to him breath, and then he went to bed.

--

"Pull up your shirt," Iria told him, holding the ultrasound transducer in her hand.

He was laying back against the painful white pillows, his shirt up to his chest, stomach vulnerably exposed. Quatre sat next to him, his chin propped up by his hand, smiling at him.

"You nervous?" Iria asked. She was spreading conducting paste on his stomach.

Heero shrugged a little. Iria raised an eyebrow. She began to move the transducer over his stomach, watching the screen near them.

"Now," she said softly. "At five months, the fetus is almost completely formed. Hair and eyebrows are actually apparent. I can tell you the sex, too, if you like."

Heero swallowed hard. "I..."

Iria looked up.

"I'd rather find out...later."

Quatre smiled at him a little.

"There it is," Iria said, nodding towards the screen.

It was much like the picture Heero had printed out - dark and shadowy. The faint, moving shape in it was larger and more human looking. Heero stared at it for a moment, and then it suddenly hit him that this was his baby; that it was inside him, right now, moving its hand, just like that...

He must have inhaled, suddenly, sharply, because Quatre took his hand just then. "Are you all right?"

Heero nodded, blinking. Iria was pointing to the screen.

"Let's see. From this position, you can see the front of the face. That's the chin, there, and the nose - those are the eyelids..."

Quatre leaned closer. "Don't cry," he whispered.

Heero blew his breath out shakily. "I'm not."

"There's hair all over the body now, it's called 'lanugo'. Also, the baby can hear things now." Iria turned around to face him, smiling a little. "It can hear you talking and it will respond to your voice and to music and other noises."

Heero hadn't known that.

"I didn't know that," Quatre murmured, and Heero looked at him, startled.

Iria was beginning to put away the instruments of the machine, and Heero managed to get a good look at the baby before it was turned off. He fixed it in his head.

He felt boneless as he put on his jacket and walked to the car, Quatre looming behind him, one hand pressed to the small of his back. He wondered why he was doing that. He wondered why him doing that made him feel very safe.

All the way home he sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window, thinking. One hand rested on his stomach. Quatre wasn't saying anything. Heero could just hear him breathing. He thought Quatre breathed in the nicest way. He sighed, and leaned his head back. They were almost home, and the sun was going down over the houses and trees and telephone polls, giving
everything a quiet, sad look. The fading light hit Quatre's hair and made it look like it was on fire; and a thought suddenly came to him. He wished the baby was Quatre's. He looked down, his face burning, confused. He was thinking a lot of crazy things like that these days. He felt very, very alone, even though Quatre was right beside him. He wanted to lean against the other boy and close his eyes and go to sleep. He just wanted to feel like he was being taken care of. He'd never felt that way before. He was very tired. But he couldn't let himself give in. He leaned against the door and closed his eyes. The distance between them felt like miles. He shivered,
and sank into sleep.

n i n e .

Don't you remember it? The way the streetlights used to make patterns all over the floors and walls of the room? It looked alive, to you, a little boy. Something beautiful, that could protect him. Fairies, or angels, but he didn't know what either were then, and so he had no name for it. They held him, though and kept him safe. Nice to be held. Nice to be safe.

Until they woke you up and began to test you again. This is a test, they would say, to define the parameters of your remarkable abilities. Sure. But when they found the parameters of his remarkable abilities, they didn't seem so remarkable anymore. They left him. Left him there. How could they - ? He knew then that the angels had never been there. He wasn't safe, he never had been. It was impractical to believe in them. He was not safe.

I will touch you, as the angels used to say. as Quatre's eyes seemed to say to him now. I will make you safe.

--

"All right now," Duo said, his voice rife with anticipation as he opened the door. "Here it is!" He jumped inside the room, his arms spread. It was empty, with deep mahogany floorboards, cream walls, and a large skylight dominating the swooping ceiling. It was in the attic.

"It's wonderful, Duo," Heero said, and he meant it. It felt right.

"Great!" Duo said, beaming. "So, I was thinking, we could put the crib over here, you know, right under the skylight, and the changing table against this wall, and..."

Quatre stepped in, laughing a little. "Don't you think you are going awfully fast, Duo?"

Duo flushed and shrugged. "Well, it's exciting, you know." He rubbed his hands together nervously and tucked loose hairs back into his braid. "I mean, there's a lot of preparation...aren't you - aren't you excited, Heero?"

Heero walked over to the window and looked out. He could see the backyard, two big, winter bare maples leaning against each other in companionship at the perimeter. "What I feel..." It was strange to talk like this. His mouth was not used to forming these sorts of words. "What I feel is more like...dread."

"Dread?" Duo repeated.

Heero nodded, looking away.

"You aren't...you're not scared, are you, Heero?"

He shrugged.

"I think I would be," Duo murmured. "If I was in your position. But..." He reached out, and touched one of the walls surreptitiously. "I still kind of wish I was."

Heero turned around, surprised.

"Don't you know how lucky you are?" Duo said. "I'd give anything to have the chance you are getting. To try to do something right...to give somebody a life, a real life, a perfect childhood, things we never had..." He looked down. Quatre had moved over to him, and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Is that what this is all about?" he whispered.

Duo hugged himself and nodded slightly. "I..." He looked up at Heero. Heero couldn't believe what he saw in Duo's eyes - jealousy. But not in a vicious way. In a sad way. He reached out.

Duo moved toward him, and quite to Heero's surprise, bent over so that his head rested on Heero's full stomach and his arms looped around Heero's waist.

"I guess," he murmured, "I guess I just want to feel needed."

"We all do, Duo," Quatre said, cracking a smile.

Duo laughed a little, and straightened up. His eyes looked slightly red. "Sorry about that," he said. He flicked his head, so that his bangs fell diagonally across his forehead. "Sometimes I get a little -"

Heero pulled him forward into a hug. Quatre had been the first person to hug him, but before this he'd never hugged anyone himself. It was different - there was a feeling of responsibility he had not been prepared for. It was odd to feel Duo relax against him. It was odd to feel him sag against him. It was odd to feel him begin to cry against him.

Over Duo's shoulder, he saw Quatre smile at him.

--

Following orders, even when they were just made up, had always been important to him. The whole ritualistic fine tuning of it - right down to the letter, perfection. It was an obsession, but as time wore on, it got harder and harder to adhere to.

He was slipping, well, he had slipped. It didn't take a genius to figure that out. There were things going into motion now, inside of him, that he was powerless to stop, and really, he didn't know if he wanted them to. Oh, not all of it was the baby. Part of it was...him. Quatre. He felt as though his limbs had been tied, and now he could move them; he felt like he was thawing out. It was disconcerting but it was breathtaking. His world was being turned upside down; what had been black, white, and gray in his monovision was bleeding red, blue, bright colors that told him: you are alive. And this is what being alive is: being upside down. Nothing is practical, but you are
really alive. What you were before was not alive. It was waiting to die.

t e n .

He thought less and less about what had happened as time went by. He did not dream about
it, anyway. The dreams he had now were of a different nature. They woke him, covered in sweat, his face flushed, hard. He'd never had a wet dream before. He knew what they were, of course. It was just very different knowing of them, rather than having actual experience of them. He could only lay, slightly stunned, staring up at the ceiling, until he had the nerve to slide one hand down around his stomach to touch himself. Jesus.

Other than that rather disturbing development, things were settling down to a steady, throbbing pace. They were fixing up the attic room. He was taking trips to the doctor. He was growing, growing, so big he barely fit any clothes anymore. He stayed inside, mainly, because it was a bit hard to explain an seven months pregnant man; the only time he went out was in the backyard, sometimes. It was cold, though there was no snow yet; so he stood on the back step, wrapped in a sweater and a large jacket, watching his breath cloud up the air in front of him.

Wufei stepped outside, his thin white hands twisted up together like a knot against the cold. "Are you coming in? It's almost time for dinner."

Heero nodded. "I'm just getting some air."

Wufei made as if to go inside, and then paused, his hands coming apart and hanging at his sides. "Not too long...you don't want to get sick or..." He trailed off, looking away.

Heero stared at him strangely. "Wufei," he started, and wrinkled his brow, thinking. What he was wondering was why Wufei's thoughts turned so quickly and treacherously to the worst - to a miscarriage - to an accident. His words were like a reminder to himself; but Heero didn't know what the memories were. He wanted to. He didn't know how to ask. He tried again: "Wufei -"

"It's just," Wufei barged in suddenly, "so many things can happen. I'm - we're worried. We'd be devastated - you'd be..."

"What's wrong?"

Wufei sighed, and stepped down outside, shutting the door behind him. He just had a sweatshirt on, and Heero frowned, resisting the urge to scold him. God. He was turning maternal already.

"My...I was supposed to have a younger brother. But he was born dead - the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and it strangled him."

Heero put out a hand; it hovered over Wufei's back for a moment, undecided.

"My mother never fully recovered; my father was impatient with her. It created a division between them. It changed everything."

His hand decided, and he put one arm around Wufei's shoulder. The other boy sighed.

"I'm sorry," he muttered. "It's just that you're such a good - a good - you've got such potential, you know, and if something happens, I don't want it to wreck you, to change everything..."

"I understand," Heero said.

Wufei peered up at him, squinting. "You're different, Heero. So different, these days..."

Heero nodded, smiling. Then he felt something wet against his hand; then again. And again. He looked around. It was starting to snow. He gestured for Wufei to look. Wufei smiled.

"It doesn't snow where I come from," he said. "I never saw snow until about a year go."

They stared at it for a moment; it had begun in a light powdering, but now it was coming down in thick, fluffy layers; sticking to the grass, speckling Wufei's dark hair. Heero just watched, taking it in. Within him, the baby shifted and then settled down.

"We should go in," he said finally. "We'll both get sick if we stay out much longer."

Wufei nodded, standing up, reached out a hand and pulled Heero up, who stood up, unbalanced, top-heavy, and awkward. Wufei grinned, a sharp, mirthful grin that was unusual for him, and reached out to put a hand on Heero's stomach.

"She's dancing," Wufei said, opening the door.

"She? How do you know it's a girl?"

"I just know."

--

The room was almost completely done. Duo had gone out and bought the crib and everything a few days before and he was spending all of Christmas Eve night putting it together. It had been meant as a surprise, but Heero figured it out from the muffled thuds and swears coming from the attic.

"What's Duo doing up there?" he asked Quatre jokingly, "Building a Gundam for the baby?"

Quatre punched him gently on the arm. Then he smiled at him. "Isn't this just surreal?" he asked. "I mean, look at us. We're like the Brady Bunch or something. When did we get so domesticated?"

"You've always been domesticated," Heero said. "We caught it from you. Like a disease."

"Oh, thank you," Quatre murmured. His mouth was in a little half smile, gentle and happy. He was sitting cross-legged on the couch in the living room; he had a little paperback book open in his lap.

"What are you reading?" Heero eased himself onto the couch, putting a pillow behind his lower back to support himself. He leaned his head back against the arm and sighed. It was so hard to get comfortable like this. Upstairs, Duo pushed something across the floor, grunting, and set to work on it with the hammer.

"Oh, it's a story my sisters used to read aloud to me when I was a kid...a little strange, but I've always been fond of it. 'The Little Prince'."

Heero smiled. "Read me some of it."

"Uh, let's see..." Quatre flipped through the book. "Here's a favorite bit of mine...

" ' "My life's very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me.All chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it'll be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that'll be
different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

" 'The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time. "Please---tame me!" he said.

" ' "I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I've not much time. I've friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

" ' "One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there's no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me..."

" ' "What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.

" ' "You must be very patient," replied the fox. . .

" 'So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near---

" ' "Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."

" ' "It's your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."

" ' "Yes, that is so," said the fox.

" ' "But now you're going to cry!" said the little prince.

" ' "Yes, that is so," said the fox.

" ' "Then it has done you no good at all!"

" ' "It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields. . .And now here's my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

" ' "What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

" ' "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."

" ' "It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince so he would be sure to remember.

" ' "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose..."

" ' "I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember. . ." ' "

Quatre put the book down. Heero was staring at him quietly, his eyes sad.

"I know why you love that book," he murmured. He put both of his hands on his stomach and looked down at himself.

Quatre moved closer. "You'll be a good parent, Heero."

"How can I take care of a baby when I can't take care of myself all that well?"

"No one can take care of themselves, Heero. Everybody needs someone else." Quatre put a hand on top of Heero's, on top of his stomach, on the baby.

"I need..."

"We all need each other."

Heero looked at Quatre hard. His eyes were quiet and receptive; calm and understanding. "Do you remember when I came out of that doctors office, and you were waiting by the car? And you...you hugged me?"

Quatre nodded. His thumb moved back forth over Heero's hand reassuringly.

"That was the first time anyone hugged me...Why did you do it?"

Quatre pulled himself up closer and put his arms around Heero in a loose hug. "Everyone should be hugged, Heero..."

Heero leaned his head against Quatre's shoulder. "Look at me, Quatre. Look at what's happened to me..."

"Heero..."

"I'm changed and I don't know if I like that change. But I can't go back to being what I used to be. I'm changed and I'm alone..."

"You aren't alone..."

"I don't want to be alone..."

Quatre kissed him. His lips were soft and careful, eating up the sorrowful words; Heero felt himself melt against them. His first kiss. His dreams...

"You aren't alone," Quatre repeated when they broke. "And you won't be alone, ever again."

--

to be continued. . .

 

*disclaimer again* Portions from The Little Prince belong to the estate of Antoine De Sainte Exupery. Isn't that book the great?