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[ 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. ]

A GW fan fic: Immortalized - Part Two

By Stargem

Author's notes: I don't know if this one should get warnings or not… *sweatdrops* Dedicated to Ad-chan as a late birthday present ^_^;

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He had been staring at the mirror ever since the good doctor had released him from the series of tests he'd had to undergo to ensure that everything was working fine and there was no danger of a sudden shutdown. The clear, polished glass reflected his glowing violet eyes like twin stars from a face that was totally devoid of all expression. The pseudoflesh covering up the special alloys that made up his skeletal frame was pinkish in colour - the colour of new human skin - but there was something… off that marked it as clearly artificial. That wasn't what made him unhappy though. It was the hair. Or lack of it, to be more precise.

And that wasn't all. In this cyborg body, he had lost the senses of smell and touch, though his eyesight and hearing were at least a hundred times better. He pressed a finger to its reflection and the program registered the pressure, temperature and fed it back to him. Yet he felt nothing. The glass was simply glass; smooth, flat and evoking no sense of pleasure as he ran his finger down it like a slide.

Last night…

Last night, he had not been able to stop touching Heero, letting his hands roam freely all over the beloved face, cheeks, lips and body. More than anything, he missed the touch of his lover. They had done nothing else other than kiss and cuddle the entire night - the cyborg body Heero had acquired for him did not allow anything further. And he had not truly felt any of those kisses. It scared him badly. Bodiless and drifting as a mere presence in Heero's brain, he had at least been surrounded by the essence of his lover. There had always been the comfort of Heero's thoughts, the vague sensations that he was able to weakly perceive by experiencing it through Heero.

His internal sensors registered the presence of a human. He watched the door's reflection open and greeted Heero without turning his head. "Found anything?"

Heero shut the door quietly. "Not yet."

Duo stroked the surface of the glass again, trying to ignore the heavy taste of disappointment on his tongue. He did not speak, hating the cold, unemotional voice of the cyborg body he inhabited. Heero observed him silently for a while before pulling him away from the mirror. Duo could have easily resisted - his cyborg strength far surpassed Heero's - but he didn't. He didn't think he could take his reflection for very much longer without shattering the glass anyway.

"Dr. Peterson?"

Heero nodded. "He can begin the process of implanting the synthetic hair today."

"A wig. Never thought I'd ever need one, huh Heero?" The intended flippancy was lost in the robotic voice.

"Baka," said Heero, not unaffectionately.

***

"That's it?" Duo asked disbelievingly.

"It's made from material of the highest quality." Dr. Peterson's tone was injured. "It looks and feels exactly like normal human hair - only it's stronger and won't break."

They were looking at a pile of coiled up synthetic strands, all dull shades of brown and yellow. Duo hesitantly reached out and fingered one of the long brown strands, surprised to find that it was indeed as smooth and fine as human hair. Yet there was still that irritatingly minor difference in texture that defined it as unnatural.

Duo dropped the strand of synthetic hair. "Couldn't you have used bio-engineering?"

"It's still untested-" began Dr. Peterson.

"This is untested!!"

"…and past experiments have all failed. It's really not much different from cloning, and you know that clones don't last. They're just copies - and they start to break down almost immediately. Bio-engineered organs and body parts are more durable as they are technically natural cells grown artificially rather than copies. However, since they're artificially grown, the process is very delicate and the majority of the cells normally die before the end."

The doctor nervously cleaned his glasses on the edge of his white coat over and over as he watched the cyborg standing rigidly silent. "It's the best I can do, at least for now." he added apologetically.

Duo turned to him, his violet-tinted cybereyes glowing. "There's something else?"

Dr. Peterson nodded. "I have friends at Cyber-Tech that are working on a new project; fusing cybernetic parts with the human body."

"I don't have a human body, doc. Or at least, I'm missing most of it." Duo had crossed his arms, and was doing a fairly good job of looking annoyed though he had less control over his facial expressions than he would have liked.

The glare had sent the poor doctor into an almost-cringe, scuttling behind the table to make some distance between them. "W-well, you umm, don't need your body to be err… whole. You see, limbs and some organs can be regenerated…"

Duo tried to sigh, but couldn't quite produce the appropriate sound. "Alright, alright already. I'll go with the fake hair for now." He grimaced. "But only under protest!"

***

He looked a lot more human now. Dr. Peterson had finally come up with a suitable dye to give his pseudoflesh the proper cream-pinkish tint of human skin. And the synthetic hair, of course. Duo stared at his reflection, the hairbrush in his hand ignored. It was easy to believe that the face looking back was not a cyborg's, not a mere imitation. Until one noted the shine of the pseudoflesh, light reflecting off the polished surface.

The hairbrush was plucked from his hand. "You haven't brushed your hair."

Duo lowered his face slightly, the fringe of his bangs hiding his eyes. The silence stretched out between them as Heero gazed at his lover. He had not admitted to it out loud, but he missed the free and easy chatter that spilled so effortlessly from Duo's lips. He missed the spontaneity of Duo's ever-changing expressions, his constant animation. This Duo was a stranger to him. After a while, he lifted the brush and began pulling it gently through the waves of chestnut. The shining fall parted as easily as it had done the countless times he had done before, and he found comfort in the hypnotizing rhythm of each fluid stroke of the hairbrush. When the hair lay smooth against Duo's back, Heero set down the hairbrush and set to braiding it. Separating it into three different sections - fold, tuck, wrap and repeat.

When he finally tied off the braid with a rubber band, Duo spoke softly. "Thank you."

Not knowing the right thing to say, Heero fell back on his all-purpose non-committal grunt. "Hn."

It provoked a very slight grin, mirrored back at him though their reflection in the glass. "Thank you, Heero." The words were warmer somehow - less artificial.

Heero gave his lover a rare, soft smile. "Come to bed."

***

"Duo?"

The cyborg was standing frozen in the middle of the room, looking as though he had been about to take a step towards the kitchen but failing to complete the action. Heero frowned worriedly and brushed aside the long bangs to gaze at his eyes, only to find the softly glowing violet light absent. He pushed down the first disturbing curls of anxiety, needing to be able to think clearly. He had only left Duo for a few minutes to get a quick breakfast. Duo had not wanted to follow, as his cyborg body did not need food nor could it accept it for that matter. And it was just another reminder of his non-human status. There was no ready explanation he could think of for Duo's statue-stillness.

He swore. "Shit."

Heero flicked on the built-in scanner in his cybernetic eye, the crimson lenses adjusting with a soft whirring.

Cause of non-functional status: Power systems down.

Action: Recharge.

He shut off scanning mode and sighed. They had forgotten that Duo's power source needed constant recharging, as it was a fairly old model, though dependable. He would have to find a way to get some upgrades. For now, he needed to get Duo powered up again.

Flicking the braid over Duo's shoulder, he ran his hands along the smooth back until finding and depressing the hidden springs that bared the internal organs of the cyborg body to him. At the very heart of the snaking wires and shining metal components was a small transparent container that held a dull crystal. Heero frowned again. The crystal had been drained dry to the very last bit of power. Only a tiny sliver of glimmering blue remained; not enough to power the cyborg's body functions, but hopefully keeping the mind disk alive and running. Quickly and efficiently, he replaced the dying crystal with a new one from the small store of power crystals he had received from Dr. Peterson. He stepped back, held his breath and waited.

~ End Part Two

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(© March 2000 by Stargem)

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