Crossing Paths Arc: Part 1

Part 1: Not Like You
by Kracken

Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.

Warnings: This and future installments will include some or all of these elements: Male/male sex. Graphic. Violence. Language. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Mention of abuse, mental and physical. Very dark and angsty. Very maladjusted Gundam boys trying to fit into society.

Takes place after the war. 1x2 mainly, some 3x4, 5XS, 6x2 on the side. It's going to be very long.

"Captain Maxwell..." The doctor took off his glasses as he closed the journal book in his lap, placing it neatly on top of an overlarge file folder already there. "The goal of writing a journal is to make LEGIBLE entries that I can evaluate periodically. A simple, computerized notebook would suffice. You can pick one up for very little money. Insisting on writing with a pencil, in an unintelligible scrawl, edited severely with scratch marks, and covered in... coffee?... will not be helpful when I make my report to the medical board." He tapped the journal with a firm finger, "It is also not a place for poetry and song lyrics, Captain Maxwell, nor your grocery or motorcycle part list."

"If you would just sign off and let me get back into space," Duo Maxwell snapped back, "I wouldn't be sitting in this chair bothering you!"

"You know I can't do that!" The doctor snapped back and then took a deep breath, let it out, and said more calmly, "Captain Maxwell, I take my profession very seriously. You were deemed unstable and a danger. I will not sign off on your file until you prove to me that therapy has corrected that diagnosis. If you would just cooperate-"

Duo sat forward in his chair towards the doctor, impish face marred by a hard edge around a generous mouth, a mouth that seemed more used to smiling. His amethyst eyes were serious, but dejected as well, hope having been lost long ago of his ever being allowed to return to space. Dressed all in black, like a military commando, and in an over large trench coat, he still appeared to be the too young Gundam pilot that had saved the colonies and Earth four years ago. Dark Shinigami. That's who the doctor and the other bureaucrats feared. That's who they wanted tied to Earth, within reach of their fighting forces; denied any weapon that could do damage.

"This is just a dance," Duo said softly and stood up, black coat swirling around him and eyes going intense with sadness. "A dance we have together twice a month. A dance I'm going to be forced to continue until... what? Until they get the guts to put a war hero in an insane asylum? Until they can make me ‘go away' without anyone noticing?"

"Paranoia again?" the Doctor sighed and made a note on his clipboard. "If you refuse to take your medication, Captain Maxwell, you will be committed. We won't have any choice."

"Six pills, twice a day," Duo said bitterly and pulled the pill case out of one pocket. "Twelve pills. Six are missing. I took them. I have to. They make me get a medical exam twice a month too, to make sure they're in my system and at the proper levels. Didn't you know that? I CAN'T cheat, doctor."

"I'm sorry that this is necessary," the doctor replied and did seem genuinely sympathetic.

"I'm sorry that this is all bogus!" Duo retorted. "I'm sorry that the government thinks they have to control me by drugging me up and sticking tags on me!" He lifted up one booted foot, even though the black boot and an inch of skin hid the locator device in bedded in his ankle. He lowered the foot with a loud noise on the floor, and glared as he continued, "I think they're the ones who need the psych exam if they're that afraid of a skinny, nineteen year old, orphan-"

"-Trained Gundam pilot," the doctor broke in pointedly, "who knows more about death, destruction, and ways of causing it than some of our best soldiers. Captain Maxwell, if you think you're being unfairly detained and medicated, there are channels you can appeal to. Might I point out though, that they will see the glaring flaw in your complaint as well as I do. You are the only Gundam pilot to be detained. All of the others were mainstreamed into society directly after cessation of hostilities in the war and the uprising afterwards. If the government is afraid of, and plotting against ex Gundam pilots, then how can you explain their selectiveness?"

Duo felt his face burn, but he replied flippantly, "Maybe I'm the most skilled?"

The doctor sighed and scribbled more notes. "There is a medical condition for having an over inflated sense of self as well, Captain Maxwell."

"I wish you wouldn't call me that!" Duo hissed, crossing his arms tightly over his chest defensively. "It's just honorary. They gave it to all the pilots just so the government could have a nice photo op. They wanted to fool everyone into thinking that they were forgiving and forgetting about everything we'd blown up during our short careers as terrorists. In reality, I know they would rather have had us standing in front of an execution detail."

The doctor raised an eyebrow. "The government has been very generous, Mr. Maxwell. They have been paying all of your treatment bills, you've been given a pension and a monthly living expense check, and they allow you to travel anywhere you wish on Earth."

"Gilded cages," Duo grumbled fretfully and then, strongly, "Times up, doc. Just do like you always do and mark the crazy box so I can go."

The doctor stood up in exasperation and handed Duo back his worn journal. "There is a penalty for not trying, Mr. Maxwell."

"Threats?" Duo bristled, purple eyes glittering angrily.

The doctor made yet another mark on his chart "It was a friendly reminder that your release is contingent on your cooperation. I'm sorry that you thought it was a threat."

Duo's face twisted bitterly. He turned and fumbled for the doorknob. "Thanks a lot, Doc, like it mattered anyway. We both know what this is all about. You know damn well it doesn't matter what you put down."

The Doctor was serious and his words followed Duo past the receptionist and into the hallway. "I don't know anything, Captain Maxwell. I'm just trying to help you."

Duo was more than glad to leave the medical building and step out onto the busy city streets again, even though he didn't find peace of mind there either. A dark figure, inside and out, moving through a landscape of color, Duo was aware of looks, of people changing course to avoid him, and some few, actually recognizing him and going pale. Gundam pilot. Terrorist. Shinigami. Dealer of death. His braid marked him and his unusual eyes.

Sometimes, Duo wished that he had grown tall and had sprouted a beard, like Trowa, become muscular and rugged, like Quatre, put on glasses, a casual coat, and shaved his head bald like Wu Fei, or, well, he hadn't seen Heero, but wishing that he had shown the same sense and made himself disappear, was an envy Duo carried as well.

It was just another cosmic joke that Duo Maxwell stayed the same, body refusing to grow, beard refusing to show itself, and hair untouchable and forever a marker of who he was. He couldn't escape the public eye, couldn't escape the constant news stories about his mental illness and his rumored bizarre lifestyle; doctored photos showing him in the strangest settings and doing things he had never imagined. He dressed outrageously to mock them, finding some perverse pleasure in looking the part of the bogeyman they had made him out to be, yet kept himself secluded, coming out mostly at night when faces blurred and everyone was dazzled by the city lights, including the reporters.

Duo slapped on dark sunglasses as the sun began to hurt his eyes and his steps dragged as he walked in a gravity he was still unable to deal with. The colonies had artificial light and the gravity wasn't as strong as the pull of a planet. Raised on L2 colony, Duo suffered on Earth. It made the decision by the government, to deny him space travel, not only unjust, but cruel as well.

It was time to get back to the anonymity and safety of his apartment, Duo thought. He could hide from the light there and walk on cushioned floors that gave his aching, gravity stressed, joints respite. It was lonely. It was a prison. It was a haven. A haven where Duo escaped the scrutiny of people who hated him, shunned him, worshiped him, and believed every story told about him. In his apartment, he was in control and safe from the whims of certain people who's motives he knew all to well. Those people patted themselves on the back for having caged a ‘dangerous' Gundam pilot, congratulated themselves on a revenge well executed, and felt satisfaction that they had brought a war hero's reputation down to the level of street trash, their envy and their own lack of self worth too great too allow excellence and self sacrifice in anyone.

"Hey! Aren't you that Duo Maxwell?!"

It wasn't the first exclamation like that. It rippled like a breeze on a lake from Duo's center, traveling swiftly, making the placid lives of the people around him shiver with excitement.

"Stinking nut case! Shouldn't be allowed to walk around!"

"I heard he does it with corpses. Calls himself the God of Death or some such crap!"



"His landlady said..."

"I read..."

"I heard..."

"Saw a photo of..."

Duo cringed inwardly, though he continued to smile a false smile, keeping his expression of slightly bored, good natured, young man firmly in place. He wasn't sure why it was important for him to appear disarming, non threatening, even amused by his own notoriety. Maybe, he thought, he didn't want to show anyone how much it hurt or how vulnerable he really felt. He hadn't lived so long, coming out of the sink of L2 and surviving a bloody war and an even bloodier uprising, by showing potential enemies his weaknesses.

Duo's apartment was on a main thoroughfare. It was noisy, the lights were always bright, and something was happening there day and night. That's the way he liked things, continuous pandemonium to keep himself distracted from his problems, both inflicted and self inflicted. It was also secure. Guards were at the main entrance, doors were pass key and thumb print protected, and a set of locks on his own door were good enough to foil even the computer hacker genius and sneak thief he had used to be on L2. So, it was a surprise, when he entered his secure apartment, to find Heero Yuy seated comfortably in a black, leather chair and reading a novel on a flat palm screen.

Duo froze, a hand slipping reflexively into a pocket and not finding the weapon he had carried there most of his life. They wouldn't allow him to have one now, not even a knife, and they diligently scanned him for such weapons where ever he went. Defenseless and hating it, Duo stared at his ex Gundam comrade and waited.

Heero continued to read. That gave Duo a chance to think and to study him. Heero had grown both taller and more muscular. He looked out of place in Duo's comfortable apartment. Duo preferred black leather furniture, had a warm, red carpet, several technical pictures of Gundams on the wall, his peace medals hanging from a coat rack, and cushions strewn about the floor where he liked to relax either by his video game console or by his large television screen. Clothes and half empty containers of drink or food were scattered here and there, testament to a casual bachelor lifestyle. It looked normal and broken in.

Heero Yuy, seated at the center of the living room, looked anything, but normal. Instead, he looked like a panther ready to strike, a volcano ready to erupt, a detonator waiting for the touch that would make it explode. Dressed in a black turtleneck, dark pants, and steel toed boots, Heero's hair was a dark, chocolate, uncombed, mess on his head and his eyes were intense, cobalt- blue windows to a mind that was constantly working, constantly analyzing, constantly planning. They weren't warm, those eyes, and they were reading the text on the palm screen as if it were a mission.

"Beer?" Duo said, trying to break Heero's control of the situation. Heero was definitely in control. There was the bulge of a gun along his side and the loose sleeves of his turtleneck were hiding other weapons, Duo was sure.

Heero turned off his book and looked up. His eyes appraised Duo, studying him minutely. "No," he replied at last.

"K," Duo said and then moved into the apartment, closing the door behind him. "Guess I should have a guard dog. I thought this building was secure."

"The building isn't secure," Heero replied, "and your guard dog would now be dead."

Duo frowned. He tossed his journal onto the couch. As it bounced, he walked into the kitchen, opened his refrigerator, and took out a beer. He leaned against a kitchen counter, popped the top, and began drinking very slowly, eyes on nothing. If Heero had been there to hurt or kill him, he would have done it already, Duo thought, not indulged in replying to his target's chit chat.

"You shouldn't drink alcohol with medication," Heero said from the living room.

Duo felt his face go hot. Heero knew. Duo took out his last six pills and swallowed each one between sips of beer, doing exactly what he usually did when confronted by someone trying to control him; he rebelled. Sourly, he finished the beer, crunched the can, and then threw it at a waste bin. It missed and clattered on the floor. Duo left it and walked back into the living room.

Heero was flipping through his journal, his rapid reading skills having taken him halfway through it all ready. Duo strode to him, yanked it out of his hands, and asked viciously, "I've had enough of your fucking mind games, Yuy! Tell me why you broke into my apartment, what the Hell you want, and then get the Hell out! I thought I made it clear to Quatre that I never wanted to see any of you again."

Heero's expression went stern at Duo's distortion of facts. "Your exact words to Quatre Winner were, ‘Not seeing any of you is one of the conditions for my release, so leave me alone, Quatre. I'm getting back into space any way I can.'

"Did he tell you that or did you put a tap on his communication?" Duo demanded.

"Both," Heero replied without evasion. He looked Duo up and down again, as if noting differences, however slight, and adding them to some mental file titled, Duo Maxwell.

Duo balled a fist, anger rising up and nearly overwhelming him. "Tell me why you are here!" he insisted, measuring out each word.

Heero came to the point then, his mental notes complete and some inner decision reached. "I'm here to gain your release."

Duo felt a chill. He rubbed at his arms as if he could actually feel one, though it was the inner chill of mental turmoil. He hated to hope, but Heero didn't really play head games. He simply didn't observe the niceties and pleasantries of civilization. Conversation was for a purpose. Visits to ex Gundam pilots was for a purpose too.

"I was given the assignment to watch you, live with you, assess your competence in many areas, and to report back to my superiors," Heero explained.

"Who are your superiors and why are they taking an interest in my case?" Duo wondered. He was a child of the streets. He knew gifts weren't handed out for free. There was always a catch, whether emotionally, physically, or monetarily. Sooner or later, the giver wanted some payback. Duo knew the game. He also thought he knew how much he was willing to pay.

"Classified," Heero replied.

"Then fuck off," Duo said simply and turned away. He plopped down on the couch and picked up the remote. Turning on the television, he pretended to watch whatever drivel was on, while he watched Heero's reaction out of the corner of his eye.

Heero turned for the front door. Duo imagined him going back to his superiors and repeating his ‘fuck off' to them exactly with a dead pan face. Duo said, wanting him to stop, not really wanting him to leave, "So, where have you been all of this time?"

"Special ops," Heero replied without slowing. His hand went to the door locks.

"Space?" Duo wondered hopefully, listening to Heero key the codes expertly, the codes only Duo should have known.

"Yes," Heero replied and opened the door, looking out cautiously, one hand on his hidden gun.

Duo bit his lip. He chewed viciously and then asked, "These superiors of yours, the guys who want to help me.... if they're colonial government... if you can get me back into space, I might..." Duo looked towards the door. Heero was gone.

Duo scrambled up from the couch, fell, regained his feet with a curse at the heavy gravity of Earth, and ran as best he could for the front door. He looked frantically both ways down the hallway. It was empty. Picking the end of the hallway that led to a roof access, knowing that Heero hadn't taken the front door of the lobby, Duo hurried to catch up.

An iron hand clamped over Duo's arm as he began to turn a corner. Heero was standing there, intense eyes lively with some emotion and a smirk of satisfaction on his lips. It was his hand that held Duo still as Duo panted and glared at him.

"Will you cooperate?" Heero wondered.

Duo wiped the sweat from his brow, trembling. He was a whore, he realized, all pride and posturing aside. The doctor had crushed his hope again of being released through normal channels. Heero was offering an alternative, secretive and shadowy on the details, but hope of freedom nonetheless. Duo was suddenly discovering that he was willing to do almost anything now to gain his freedom, hating himself, hating his weakness, as he said, "Okay, come on. Let's... Let's talk."

Heero nodded with a self satisfied air and followed.

Go to Part 2: Undertow

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