Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warning:Male /male sex, graphic, language, slight mpreg, cloning, violence
Reflections of You
Duo remembered the day that they had all taken a physical for their Preventer badges. It had been a disappointment that had been hard to handle at the beginning of his new life after the war. The clinical, 'I'm sorry, but you are all sterile', had been delivered along with a report on their overall health. Yes, you had measles as a child, Duo... No, Heero, you didn't... I'm sorry, but you are all sterile and your DNA is unviable,... You, Quatre, need to be monitored for rather high cholesterol...
Duo supposed that fatherhood was easily come by in that day and age, and the fact that he was gay, hadn't gone hand in hand with, 'You'll never be a father.' Artificial wombs and test tube babies were the rage in the colonies, after all. Birthing deaths and defects were common for many colony born citizens who tried to carry babies to term. The question had only been, 'Who's egg, donor or friend?' not, 'Who will be the father and the mother?' He could go that route, adopt, but the pain of not having a child that was uniquely his DNA still hurt, and had continued to hurt for some time after the news had been delivered to him. All technical explanations aside, radiation in space from traveling in unshielded Gundams being the main culprit, he couldn't wrap his head around the fact that he was screwed down to a genetic level for the rest of his life.
Quatre had taken it well, he had sisters after all. Wu Fei hadn't, but he had poured his anger and loss into finding viable relatives as substitutes. Trowa hadn't seemed to care, but he had a sister as well. Heero... Duo remembered Heero's flat look. The man was a lot more human since the end of the war, but he still had that self sacrificing attitude that made Duo's skin crawl. Being asked to give up his genetic future had probably been acceptable for him, especially when the man was always ready to give his life.
Duo couldn't shake his disappointment and anger, though. He had always been willing to be the one to fight so that others didn't have to, but he had imagined some future free of that sacrifice if it didn't manage to kill him. That future had included family. The details of that family had been fuzzy, but it had included a sprawling home and children. Having it crushed out so abruptly, and replaced with an empty, quiet home with, perhaps, only a lover, seemed a cheat, a last stab of a god that had managed to make his life an endless string of disappointments. It seemed childish to scream, "Not fair!" but it was exactly how Duo was feeling. So, when Commander Une had given him a mission to take out an illegal biolab, it had seemed as if God were trying to redeem himself when Duo found the bioeggs marked with the names of all the Gundam pilots, including himself.
It was illegal to clone. The DNA flaws and the super viruses formed from clones with genetically created immune systems, had decimated thousands. Still, there were people dedicated to making perfect copies of themselves, or others, with genetic enhancements. Somehow, the group that Duo was trying to stop, had managed to obtain untainted DNA from all of them. It was possible. They had all been captured at one time or another. Studied, sampled, tortured, and interrogated, it was more than likely that filed material had survived the war.
The cloning machines had been damaged by the blast charges that Duo had used to get into the lab, though. Lights were flickering and going out. Mixing pumps had stopped. Artificial wombs were cold and hanging from their casings, broken beyond repair. Previous attempts were already dead in their containers. The bank of injectors, with their viable bioeggs, flickered and then went dead. Duo splayed a hand against the metal casings as his men poured over the rubble, looking for survivors. He read the vid chart over and over again, wasting precious time in chilled disbelief.
It was him... and Heero... and Quatre, Trowa, and Wu Fei. These artificial eggs contained their DNA. It was possibly the last bits of themselves, dying quickly and ready to become dust to dust.
"Sir?" One of his men said, snapping a salute. "The area is secure."
Duo took a shuddering breath as he fingered a long, metal insertion tube, meant to inject the eggs into their wombs. "Clean up, gather all files, and make a perimeter sweep," he ordered in a labored voice. "And..." He grabbed the tube and slammed it into his side without giving himself time to think any further. He shuddered all over at the intense pain, and the blood suddenly running down into his pants, as he hit the injection switch and felt two somethings squeeze into his flesh. Nano bots swiftly attached them, not caring what flesh it used as long as it could suck nutrition from it. Like tumors, Duo thought in some horror, or parasites. He barely recognized his voice as he managed to say, "And get me to a doctor... now."
Just a little while, Duo thought, as his men, shocked and then going hurriedly into action, stopped the flow of blood and kept him immobile while they transported him to the nearest hospital. He would have the things deposited into a working womb once he reached it, find a way to pay the exorbitant cost, and... Duo took shuddering breaths as the pain in his side became all encompassing, trying not to see the looks his men were giving him. Yes, it had been a crazy move, and it was very likely not going to work, but Duo had always been a risk taker and, he hated to admit, he was sometimes as self sacrificing as Heero Yuy ever was. For himself, for all of them, Duo had taken the hit. He had to wait now, and see whether that sacrifice was going to be worth it.
Bent over around the terrible pain in his side, Duo stared with disbelief at the surgeon. "You have to destroy them?"
"It's the law," the surgeon told him matter of factly as he studied a computerized chart. When a nurse walked by, he looked up and winked and smiled at her. "Join me for coffee at four, May?"
She smiled back and replied, "I'll be there."
"Hey!" Duo shouted angrily and then gritted his teeth as another wave of pain shook him to the core. He closed his eyes against it and tried to think. "Why? Why destroy them?"
"Cloning is illegal," the surgeon replied, bringing his attention back to his patient. "You're an agent. You know that." He punched through screens on his chart. "Now, I suggest an immediate surgery for removal. I have a three o' clock slot. A little skin regeneration and blood multiplier, and you should be on your way home by... eight. Sound good? Just put your thumb print here." He held out the pad. When Duo glared, he said impatiently, "Agent Maxwell, you cannot carry these eggs to term and no clinic will give you an artificial womb for them. In fact, your body is even now violently rejecting them. If blood loss from the open wound doesn't kill you, then infection most certainly will. Those bio eggs were meant for bioskin being fed with proper levels of nutrients."
Duo battled another jolt of pain, gasping and seeing darkness at the edges of his vision. His genetic future was within the curve of his arms and he was being forced to destroy it. He almost laughed in hysteria, devastated by yet another cruel trick played on him by life. He punched the pad with his thumb, putting the surgeon off balance.
"Go ahead!" Duo shouted as the man and the nurse backed away from him nervously. "Rip them out, kill them, and go have your fucking coffee break!"
The surgeon recovered angrily and said over his shoulder, as he and the nurse exited the consultation room, "They're just a bundle of cells at this point, Agent Maxwell. I'm not killing anything."
"Just a part of me!" Duo exclaimed to the closed door and then curled up around himself and his physical and mental pain.
The door opened again, though, and Duo was ready for violence until he saw that it was Heero. The man looked uncertain. "I saw the report," he said. His eyes went to Duo's side. "They're... there... still?"
"Shit yes!" Duo panted.
Heero seemed tense and anxious. He came to where Duo was huddled in his chair as Duo tried to hide how distraught he was, how close to tears. He looked everywhere but at Heero as he explained, "They're... They're operating... taking them out soon. I was stupid. I just... I should have known... The law." He had to stop, head bowed and hands covering his face.
"Termination?" Heero breathed.
Duo had to try twice before he managed, "Yeah."
He wasn't prepared for Heero's reaction. He heard a choked sound and then he looked up, startled, to see Heero's face running with tears. The man was gone then, rushing from the room and door swinging closed behind him.
"What the fuck?" Duo breathed, shocked and trying to understand.
They had both joined Preventers and their relationship had been a working one. Duo saw Heero during missions when they were partnered, but wasn't apposed to swinging by his office to talk to him when they weren't. Anything outside of that had seemed off limits, though, and Duo couldn't think whether that had been his decision or Heero's.
Heero's dedication to his work was legendary. He lived and breathed Preventers. Duo liked to serve, but he had managed a life outside of that with friends, a simple apartment, and a few comforts. He'd often wondered what Heero did on his off time, but he hadn't crossed that line, he supposed, because Heero could be damned unapproachable when he chose to be and Duo hadn't wanted to threaten what little they had between them, even if it was just simple friendship. In all of their time together, though, Duo had never seen Heero show anything but a centered calm or a tightly controlled intensity. Seeing him weeping openly...
Heero had read Duo's report. He knew what was about to be destroyed. It was affecting him. He cared. Duo could only conclude that Heero had come to the hospital, sharing the same hope, that, somehow, their DNA could survive.
Duo wiped at his own tears and looked up at the clock on the wall. The second hand was ticking away, counting down the time until his future died. His future... Heero's... or perhaps it was Trowa's, Quatre's, or Wu Fei's? He tried to argue with himself, telling himself the odds that he had indeed managed to snag his own DNA... or Heero's. Somehow, just then, that seemed just as important.
Thirty five minutes. A long time to stand the pain he was in, a long time to wait for an operation, and a very short time until....
Duo picked up his electronic chart. It took only a moment to hack in the doctor's codes. He had automatically memorized them when the man had put them in, an old habit from the war that was about to come in very handy.
"Supply of antibiotics," Duo murmured as his fingers flew over the pad, "Supply of blood multiplier." He frowned. The eggs had everything that they needed in the way of development, except for a steady supply of nutrition. They were getting that from him now, sucking him dry, he thought with a shudder, and ordered a supply of nutrition supplements. He put his own name on the order, verified by the good Dr. Butcher, and then hung the pad back on it's platform.
"Time to go." Duo hissed in pain as he levered himself out of the chair. "I have connections still. I can find someone to get these out and put them somewhere safe."
The question was, he thought fearfully, was whether he could make it to those contacts alive.
Slipping out of the room, and down to where he could steal scrubs, was the easy part. Letting his natural charm, and a story about being confused and new, get him the drugs that he needed was harder. Duo knew that he was pale and shaking. It was hard to pass it off as a cold. He saw doubt. He saw some suspicion. In the end, the natural tendency for people to avoid trouble helped him to succeed. Supplies in hand, and scrubs safely hidden, Duo walked out of the hospital with his coat covering many sins.
His car seemed impossibly far. At one point, Duo sat down between two parked cars, his back against a wheel. With the asphalt hot underneath him, he closed his eyes and just tried to breath through the intense pain. When he felt that he could try a few more feet, he levered himself up, moved out from between the cars, and ran straight into Heero.
The man was just standing, looking hard at nothing, and Duo wondered how long he had been like that. His face still looked ravaged by tears, red and splotchy, but the tears weren't falling any longer. Sadness was replaced by shock as Heero grabbed Duo by the elbows to steady him.
"Duo? I thought...?" Heero began, but then cut that off sharply, waiting for Duo to explain.
"Not going to do it," Duo panted. "Getting out of here. You in?"
It wasn't much of an explanation. Duo expected 'By the Book' Heero to lead him back to the hospital and fine him afterward for trying to break the law. Instead, Heero's jaw tightened as emotions swam over his face. Duo couldn't name every expression that he saw, but he knew 'Mission accepted' when he saw it.
"We'll take my car," Heero told him. "It's less conspicuous and it's not registered."
Duo blinked. "What?"
Heero shrugged as he led Duo through the parking lot. "Old habit from the war."
"Down," Heero warned. "We're being scanned."
Duo clutched at his side and sank down into the well of the car's front seat. "Shielded doors?"
Heero smiled tightly and nodded, but then he frowned again as he took a turn off of the main street they had been driving down. He asked, "I need to know... why?"
Duo hooked a leg up onto the seat, past the stick shift, and into Heero's lap to give himself more room. He leaned his head against the car door and stared at Heero. "If you don't know, then why did you help me?"
Heero was quiet, his eyes on the road, and then he said, "I never expected to survive the war. I had nothing... no one... I was ready to accomplish my mission and then die. Now... I started thinking about... a home... a family... When they told us, when the doctor..."
"I know. That's how I felt," Duo replied. He closed his eyes against the pain and felt blood trickling down along his skin. He pressed his side tighter with his hands, a useless, instinctive move to stop a wound that he couldn't reach. He pulled out a booster injector and slammed it home into his arm. It would keep his blood multiplying at a rapid rate, but it was anyone's guess whether it would be enough. It was time to call in his favors.
"Take a right at Hutchinson," Duo told Heero. "Left at Monroe. Five miles. Exit two. Sixteen miles. There's some old worker squats there. I busted the owners for what amounted to slavery, but it wasn't that long ago. The water and electric are probably still running."
Heero gave a nod and made the turn.
Heero glanced down at his lap as Duo's boot rubbed as he shifted to reach his cell phone. His voice sounded uncomfortable and tight as he warned, "Better not."
Duo gave a sickly grin and waggled the cell phone at Heero. "Secure beam and false resonators. I talk and anyone listening gets to hear Grandma Esther complain about her boils."
Heero laughed, short and abrupt. Duo grinned more honestly then.
"I like that laugh," Duo told him as he put the cell to his ear. "Do it more often, Buddy."
"Hey, Phil?" Duo said when a voice answered the phone. "It's Duo. Ah, don't act like you don't know me, man!" He shuddered and gritted his teeth for a moment, but his voice didn't reflect his agony as he continued, "Remember L4 and that underage piece of ass you were dating? Yeah, yeah, she didn't tell you her age, but I stood up for your damned character in court. You could have been dating a two hundred pound man named 'Bull' for ten to twenty, instead of sitting nice and pretty in that office chair, so you owe me big time."
He didn't get much, but it was enough.
"Got it," Duo told Heero. "I've got a surgeon on line who won't ask any questions. He owes Phil."
Heero's expression went dark.
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Duo hissed. "It's too illegal for you. Just let me out here and pretend this never happened, okay?"
Heero took a long minute to think and then he said distinctly, "No. When can we get the surgeon?"
Duo felt acute relief. He wasn't sure that he could have gone two steps if Heero had decided to dump him. "Tomorrow. We need to figure out the rest of it before then."
"Quatre," Heero suggested and Duo nodded.
"Yeah, I didn't want to, but I don't see any other way," Duo replied.
"Risky," Heero warned.
"He's kind of tight," Duo agreed. "Who knows how he'll act when I tell him I made myself pregnant and now I need to un-pregnant myself."
"Pregnate," Heero corrected.
"Yeah, whatever," Duo said irritably and then groaned as a wave of pain hit him hard.
"Call him now," Heero urged.
"Worried about me or our kiddies?" Duo ground out, trying for some sort of joke and failing.
Heero gave him a curious glance and then looked back at the road.
"Okay," Duo sighed and punched in Quatre's number. When he reached the man, he told him instantly, "Secure this."
"Done," Quatre said and then quickly, "I've already been told what happened, Duo. Have you lost your mind?"
"How bad is it?" Duo asked.
"Bad," Quatre replied worriedly. "You're high profile. They can't let you flaunt the cloning law. They'll have to make an example of you. Even if you do secure a womb, they'll call for any offspring to be immediately terminated."
"They can't," Duo said with an evil grin.
"May I ask what you have in mind?" Quatre wondered.
"Relena Peacecraft passed a law to make certain that there will never be human extermination orders passed by government decree," Duo explained. "I am the inspiration for that law. I told her one night about my theory that the L2 government had attempted to kill their street people by poisoning them. The law, by default, covers birthed clones as well."
"Birthed clone," Quatre repeated. "They'll make certain that they terminate it before birth."
"Them," Duo corrected him. "I don't know who's though. One of them could be yours, Quatre."
There was a long silence.
"Quatre? I don't have much time," Duo begged. "Come on, man! I don't wanna die doing this, okay? It would make a shitty plaque on my grave, 'Died trying to have babies'. I'd never live it down in Hell, ya know?"
Another silence and then Quatre, sounding very unsure, said, "My father had his own facilities for the Winner family... but they'll be watching for that very thing, Duo!"
"Which is why we won't use it," Duo told him, trying to keep him calm. "I need a layout of some cash, though. We need to get one of our own and the set up for it."
"This is madness!" Quatre exploded. "You are not a doctor, Duo, or a cloning tech! This can't work!"
"It will work," Duo replied firmly. "I just have to call in enough favors."
"And break a lot of laws," Quatre guessed. "You're destroying your life for this, Duo."
"Yeah," Duo replied, quiet and resolved in his course of action, "but, I figure it's worth it."
"Is that Heero's choice as well? Is he with you?" Quatre wanted to know.
"Nope," Duo lied and had to pause a second to grit his teeth, hating that he was forced to it.
"Liar," Quatre sighed, "and a bad one at that. They won't hear it from me, Duo, but they already know that Heero is missing."
"I am not a bad liar," Duo told him.
"On the job, no," Quatre agreed, "But to your friends, yes, you are."
"Still my friend?" Duo wondered.
"Yes," Quatre replied firmly.
"Good," Duo snorted. "I didn't want to have to remind you about the time I tossed my Gundam on a train to save your ass."
"I remember," Quatre chuckled, but then said more seriously, "Be careful."
"Never," Duo snickered. "I'll call back with delivery details."
"I'll be waiting."
Duo closed his cell and said breathlessly. "Need... a minute..."
"We need a place, " Heero told him as he pulled in between two squat buildings sitting precariously on the edge of a sea of scrap metal.
"This is our place... if we can secure it," Duo told him. "There's enough crap going on here to run interference for any machine signatures we put out. We just have to figure out how to get everything hooked up and running."
Heero looked skeptical as he climbed out of the car and came around to the passenger side. When he opened the door, Duo almost fell out onto the ground. Heero caught him and held him. Through the pain and the trepidation, Heero's strong arms were a comfort and Duo allowed the man to carry him into one of the buildings without feeling too embarrassed by his weakness.
It was filthy. The beds were scrap, tumbled over and broken by the raid that had cleared the place out. A food covered hot plate on a makeshift counter, also had a utilitarian plastic sink A toilet was on one wall without any privacy. Booze bottles littered the floor and a few bugs scrambled for safety. Heero's shoe crushed one as he checked a bed. He grimaced at the rough blanket with it's stains, and then put Duo on it.
"Four star, huh?" Duo joked, but his voice shook.
Heero looked as if he didn't know what to do or say next, though Duo knew that every instinct that Heero owned was telling him to secure the building.
"C-Can't take pain killers, Hurt the little guys," Duo explained. His mouth was dry and his stomach wanted to throw up emptiness. "J-Just have to grin and bear it... Like that time Oz tagged and bagged me. Snapped my ribs... a-and other stuff... but I just.... didn't hurt like this, though. This is shit!" Duo cried and curled up as he sobbed around the pain. A hand slowly touched his forehead, pushing his sweaty bangs out of his eyes.
"I don't know what to do," Heero told him quietly from where he was crouched by Duo's bedside, hand still poised over Duo's forehead. "Anything... Tell me what to do."
"Ignore me," Duo told him as he closed his eyes. "I just gotta get to tomorrow. I can do it. Maybe... Maybe if I sleep, it won't hurt any more?"
"We have plans to make still," Heero reminded him. "You can't..." but then he stopped and looked as if he had made up his mind about something. Duo saw his intense, blue eyes a moment before Heero's hand moved from his forehead to his neck. Then, everything went dark and Duo fell into merciful oblivion.
On to Chapter Two