Touch the World
- 20 -

Relena seemed enthralled by the tales the old man could tell, and it seemed to keep her from asking too many questions that Heero didn't want to answer, so he was content to let things be.  Duo was also content after he noticed the coffee maker on the kitchen counter, and the coffee beans that went with it.  As expected, Lady Catalonia was a woman of discriminating tastes, and purveyor of a brand even finer than Pargan's.  He figured that, as their hostess, surely Dorothy wouldn't mind sharing some of her fine brew with him.

Rather than listening in on story time, Heero decided to roam the estate, making sure it was secure.  It was a nice place, if classically aristocratic.  An intricate rose garden outside made him think of Treize, and of the war.  Thinking about the war just made him moody, so he turned his thoughts to the present.

Duo caught up with him when he was almost done.  "Find anything else coffee-like?"

His lips bloomed with the briefest of smiles at the thought of looting Dorothy's estate, but the amusement quickly died.  "Do you think...?"

"Hm?  What?"

"I..."  He shook his head sharply, trying to dislodge the strange disconnection he was feeling.  "I was just thinking... contemplating... musing.  Exploring the possibilities."

"Alright already.  I get it.  Don't take what you say seriously.  Go on."

And yet it was a curiously serious matter.  "What if I really am suffering from post-traumatic stress?"

It wasn't uncommon.  And since its definition was sufficiently broad, Duo wouldn't be surprised if they were all suffering from a bit of it.  "So?"

"So... what if..."  He paused in his passage down a hallway to run his fingers through his hair, then slumped against a nearby wall.  "What if... That is, wouldn't it be..."

Duo raised his eyebrows as he calmly sipped at his coffee.  This was highly unusual for the Yuy.  "Just spit it out, man."

Easier said than done.  "Wouldn't it be... 'something'... if they were right?  Not just PTSD, but... it gets weird to think that it's possible I imagined being attacked in that alley."

"Whoa," he agreed placidly.  "That is weird."

"What if I just had some violent PTSD reaction, and in a paranoid delusion, I imagined someone trying to kill me.  What if this tracker I had implanted in the back of my neck was just another part of that delusion?  That happens, right?"

Duo snorted.  "To you, maybe.  How do you explain the wound on the back of your neck?"

He touched it almost reflexively, as if to make sure it was still there.  It was almost completely healed now, giving him a moment of fright, but it still had a slightly different texture from the rest of his skin.  "Maybe I fell.  Maybe a cat scratched me.  Maybe some neighborhood kid threw a brick at me.  Maybe it really was just a mugger."

Duo leaned in close, close enough for his stage whisper to waft the gentle scent of coffee to his nose.  "You're crazy."

A corner of Heero's lips lifted.  "That would only confirm my hypothesis."

"Oh, I get it.  You've been missing your regular dose of medication or something, haven't you?"

"Hmpf.  The only thing regular about my 'medication' I've been missing is the way I faithfully flushed one pill down the toilet every day."


"Sleeping pills, too."

"So, anti-depressants and depressants?  How is that supposed to work?"

He shrugged.  They probably would have thrown any drugs at him to pretend they were doing their job.  Or maybe they just wanted him to overdose himself one day.  "Anti-depressants were the ones to go.  They cared more about that one."

"Unexpectedly rebellious of you, Yuy."

"Maybe just another part of my paranoid delusions."

"You're just trying to be difficult now, aren't you?"

He shrugged.  "I was just musing, I said.  Just... thinking about how close their fiction is to actually being a reality."

"You think about weird things, Yuy.  Did you actually take the sleeping pills?"

"Not regularly.  Only a few times.  When things were... bad."  He glanced away.

"I never took you for the depressed type."

"Doesn't mean I lie around in bed all day crying."

"I know."  Wasn't as if he hadn't done his own research into the matter before.  And the diagnosis was the product of a government shrink being paid to oppress his patients.  Not exactly the sort of thing he was inclined to put his faith in.  "You still seem sorta... normal."

"I'm out of the situation that caused it in the first place, remember?  Besides... I've never been a very cheerful person to begin with."

"No, that you haven't.  You don't believe all that shit, right?  I mean, not that it actually did happen, but that it could?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, if you think that bull could really happen to you, then you're falling for all that shit they've been spewing at us for years.  You really think you're that easy to break?  You really think we deserve to be locked away from the rest of the world so we don't hurt anyone but ourselves?"

"That wasn't what I signed on for."

"Me neither."

Heero pushed himself off the wall and continued his path toward the kitchen.  "Hey... I guess I haven't asked lately.  You still in?"

The question surprised Duo.  He got a little warm inside thinking that his opinion was actually being taken into consideration, and understood how utterly annoying it must be to Yuy that no one ever asked him.  "In on what?"

"I don't know yet.  But we're not going to stay here forever.  It'll probably be dependent on Relena, what she wants to do."

"Guess we should go find out then, eh?"

Heero wouldn't have minded going to Tibet.

Duo wouldn't have minded going to Tahiti.

Unfortunately, life was rarely that simple.

It seemed that Relena and Pierre had moved on from story-time to an actual assessment of the political situation.  Comparing notes, they had compiled a decent picture of what was going on in the world capital.  When Pierre excused himself to go back to his groundskeeping, Relena immediately tugged them over to the kitchen table and reported, cautious of making Heero flee the room again.

"The wedding was a trap, you said.  I'm worried about the two of you.  They won't hurt me, but they'll keep going after you."

"Don't be so sure of that," Duo muttered, speaking more loudly after his words were noticed.  "They can hurt you easily, Princess.  All they have to say is that we killed you.  We're crazy, after all."

The notion had not occurred to her.  "Is that sufficient justification for my murder?"

Heero chuckled darkly.  "I always did mean to kill you during the war.  I just never got around to it.  Maybe in my post-traumatic break, I decided to finish the job."

She didn't like to think about that.  She'd always been sure that Heero wouldn't hurt her either, but some of her certainties had been unraveling lately.  "Maybe.  But you're their primary target, I think.  They've released more 'new' information on the two of you."

"Oooh," Duo cooed.  "Do we eat babies now?"

"You're getting there.  Pierre tells me that your pictures have been released to all the major authorities, though we guess just not to the media because you don't really look like nasty terrorists very much."

Heero rubbed his smooth chin thoughtfully.  "Guess I'm glad I shaved."

"That look was terrible for you.  They're saying that you were soldiers in the last war, and that you haven't been able to live in this peace, so you're trying to start another war.  And that taking me was an act of protest or some such nonsense, a terrorist act."

"Well, most of that is right."

"Heero, I'm serious!  They said they were talking to your old comrades to try and figure out your next move."

"Trowa's left them."  Not that it mattered.  Even Trowa wouldn't be able to inform them of anything when Heero himself didn't have any clue what the next step would be.

"Not him.  I overheard them when I was at the Jurgensen's.  They said something about Chang, about how he's proving cooperative."

"Chang..."  He wondered how Wufei was doing these days.  "Do you know where they keep him?"

"It sounded like they were keeping him in the capital, somewhere not far from the Senate."

"Hm.  I bet Quatre would know for sure."  Or Pargan.  Hell, even Pierre, probably.

Though Duo had never really had a chance to get to know the enigmatic L5 man, he knew enough of the basics.  "Chang wouldn't turn on us."

"What if he believed them?" Heero countered calmly.  He half believed the story himself, after all.  "Then it would be for the good of the peace."

"Dammit, Yuy.  Why do you have to be so believably off your rocker?"

"Don't delude yourself into believing that you're not as well."

"Hey, I might blow shit up, but it's just because I feel like it.  None of this PTSD stuff."

Heero shot him a look that clearly advised him not to delude himself into thinking that as well, but he held back on the comment out of deference to the other person in their presence.  "It's been almost two weeks since I got out.  Either they've been talking to Chang for a long time and getting nowhere with him, or this is a recent development."

"Well, you weren't threatening them before recently."

"They threatened me first."

Duo rolled his eyes.  "Oh, good excuse."

"Either way.  We should go see him.  See what he's up to these days."

Unused to their ways, Relena protested.  "He's in a secured compound, Heero."  When he blinked at her as if he didn't understand her point, she elaborated.  "They see him as the first of the pilots to have gone rogue, all those years ago during the Barton uprising.  They've been keeping him under a strict house arrest."

"Aha," Duo interrupted.  "So he's the inspiration for this little story of theirs, is he?  Okay, I guess in the light of having done it himself before, I could kinda understand if he thought you were doing it, too."

"All the more reason to see him, then," Heero decided.   Chang was a vision of what could become of him if the EUW got their hands on him again.  He'd already been down that road before; he was, in fact, still on that road.  He had no intentions of going all the way back to the beginning again.

"Take me with you," Relena said.

"Why do you want to talk to Wufei?"  A few things clicked in his head and he frowned.  "We are not taking you to the capital, Relena.  Stay here.  You're safe here."

"But..."  She nibbled on her lower lip for a moment.   "But what if I'm not?  What if someone comes here looking for me?"

"Then don't open the door when they knock.  I'm sure Pierre will be able to take care of you."

Not unexpectedly, Duo sniped from the sidelines.  "Oh, sure, you don't trust the old guy on sight, but suddenly he's an enemy intelligence officer and you're buddy-buddy with him."

"He knew Pargan."  And that was apparently recommendation enough for him.  Duo shrugged.  It was better not to argue some things.

Relena tried again.  "But surely they'll be expecting you."

Heero blinked at her in more incomprehension.  "They were expecting us at your wedding, too."

And what could she say to that?

This piece of fiction is the intellectual property of the little turnip that could. The basis for this fic, i.e. Gundam Wing, Kyuuketsuki Miyu, et al., is the property of someone else. The author can be con tacted at jchew at This has been an entirely automated message.

last modified : 1/19/2006 00:27:14 PST