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20 December 2005 @ 08:30 pm
[Talk Shows...]  


EVERYONE LOOK AT MY USERPIC. *loves* Of course, can't take credit for it, but hey - if anyone else goes to chaoticdraconis's LJ and finds their own, remember - you heard about her from me! Oh, and do take a look at the HPDM ones... *waggles eyebrows* Rawr. And there's RyuichiShuichi ones, and Ryuichi ones (I left the blond-haired guy alone, can't remember his name, don't like him), and FFAV ones, and Gackt and Miyavi! Her Gackt ones look especially drool-worthy.

And the second squealworthy incident of the day is: I bought Pratchett's latest book Thud! which is, simply put, a masterpiece. A breathtakingly inventive, beautiful masterpiece. Like agreed before with keire_ke, his writing is getting darker, and this book is no exception, and I love that about it. It goes up there with Nightwatch as one of my favourite Watch books.

Third happy item on list: I had a great afternoon out with Fernie, Bernie and, uh... Elizarie? o.O; Bought a tote bag for next year, too. Now it'll make me happy until my dad gives me this 'WTF you bought a new something how dare you?' look, but that won't be until tomorrow so I'm safe enough to be happy today. Whee!

The fourth happy moment of the day... I finished inthefire2002's present. *grovels* I'm sorry for its lateness... and since it's long, I'm posting it here in two parts. I came up with this because I was thinking, well, since she's so worried over Joke!Duo, who hasn't gotten his happy ending yet... I'd give her another Duo very similar to Joke!Duo, but with his happy ending already written. ^_^ So here it is!

The only warning would be cliché-ness, I think. Sorry!

Your foundation
Is canyoning
Fault lines should be worn with pride
I hate to say, but
You’re so much more
So much more
Endearing with the sound turned off…

- Incubus, Talk Shows On Mute


“And then I broke into their communications channel and started blasting hard rock right into it, and it was the most damned amusing thing I’ve ever seen, or actually heard, because it was over a channel and I couldn’t see them, only hear them, so it’s technically the most damned amusing thing I’ve ever heard –”

Heero gritted his teeth as he tried to ignore the voice prattling on endlessly behind him – he didn’t know for how much longer he could take this…

“– were demanding to know who was, and I quote, ‘responsible for this infernal noise’, and the pilots were swearing they weren’t doing it, and there was a lot of shouting because they couldn’t hear each other over the music and all the other bits of yelling going on weren’t helping either, and it was only when I started blasting ships apart that they realized that hey, everyone was telling the truth after all –”

Dammit. “Duo!” he snapped, fingers freezing on his keyboard as he twisted his head to glare at his blinking partner. “You’ve been chattering for the past half an hour without end, don’t you ever just shut up?”

Duo’s mouth shut with a snap. “Er… no?”

“Well, do it,” he hissed and returned to his keyboard.

A few moments of blessed silence, and then – “Well, excuse me if you’re in a crotchety mood today because you failed your mission and your Perfect Soldier concentration isn’t up to par –”

A whirl of movement, and suddenly Duo found his shirt grabbed by white-knuckled fists and bodily lifted off the bed he’d been sitting on. “What part of shut up do you not understand, 02!” he snarled into Duo’s shocked face. “I don’t care how much you love to hear your own voice, just stop it or omae o korosu!”

A shadow flickered over Duo’s face. “That’s not it –”

“I don’t care what it is,” Heero snapped, dropping Duo. “I’m starting to get very tired of your voice, so just shut up.”

“Heero –”

“I said shut up!”

“What if I can’t?” Duo all but yelled back.

Heero leveled his most deadly glare at Duo. “Find a way,” he said forcefully.

“You don’t understand –”

“Find a way if it kills you, before I do.” He returned to his laptop, anger and frustration simmering, and hit the keys with a vengeance. Perhaps his mood was partly due to the failed mission, but it didn’t change the fact that Duo never stopped talking, and it was annoying him.

He heard a soft sigh behind him. “Alright,” Duo said, very quietly. “Alright. You win.” He heard and sensed the other boy going over to the door of their shared safehouse room, opening it – and pausing there. He felt violet eyes on him, but he refused to acknowledge them, back straight and body tense, fingers flying over his keyboard.

A whisper made him look up, but the door was already closing. Frowning, he turned back to his latest mission report (J was going to be disappointed, not to mention furious), dismissing it as a figment of his imagination.

“If it makes you happy…”


“Okay, okay, I promise, Q, I’ll stop avoiding all of you, alright?”

Cerulean blue glared at him. “You’d better keep that promise.”

Duo sighed a little as the other three pilots entered the bare space they called a ‘living room’. He’d avoided the others because he was trying to train himself into not talking, but it was hard… he’d caught himself talking to himself a few times already. Now that he’d promised Quatre, he had to find another way. Ignoring his personal problems for the moment, he turned to watch Heero place his laptop on the only table there. With a few taps of the keys the Japanese pilot brought up a window showing some floor plans.

“Our new mission: infiltrate another OZ research facility responsible for engineering poisonous liquids, remove the few already manufactured samples that they are planning to combine into one solution, and then destroying the place. We have four prototypes: the first scrubs the retina, removing sight; the second destroys the ear hairs thereby destroying hearing; the third causes agony when the voice box is used, and the fourth numbs nerve endings when it comes into contact with skin.”

“And they’re trying to produce a liquid that combines all four functions?” Quatre whispered, his eyes wide and horrified. “That’s inhuman!”

“We have reason to believe that this is the work of Dermail or Barton, not Kushrenada.”

“This does not sound like his work,” Wufei agreed.

“The plan is to land nearby in our Gundams and walk the remaining distance on foot, infiltrate the compound and seize the samples while setting explosives, and then we retreat. The samples will be safer if we use the Gundams; there is a higher risk if we are in less secure transportation. Any objections so far?”

“Yes,” Wufei spoke up. “What if we just contacted Kushrenada?”

There was a pause, and the other pilots were vaguely surprised to not hear any loud exclamations questioning Wufei’s sanity. Quatre glanced at Duo, but Wufei had started talking again, and he turned to focus on the Chinese boy’s words.

“He is an honourable man, and would not tolerate such a despicable move,” Wufei was saying.

“If, let’s say, he is the man you say he is, even if he confronts Dermail or Barton, they would never admit to what they’re doing. And even if he visits their compound he might not find what he’s looking for; they’re bound to have their labs hidden,” Quatre countered.

“So we send him information beforehand, telling him exactly where to look,” Wufei suggested.

“But wouldn’t that require us to infiltrate, too? We might as well steal the samples and blow the place up, while we’re at it,” Quatre pointed out reasonably.

“Ah, but that is more dangerous than if we infiltrate, get the information without leaving a trace, and then let Kushrenada deal with the actual disposal of the gases, since we’ll have to find a safe way to do so if we are in possession of them.”

“He has a point,” Heero said thoughtfully. “Alright. This will not require all of us; for mere infiltration less is better. I propose –”

“I’ll go,” Duo said quickly.

Heero snorted. “And talk the guards to death?”

“Heero!” Quatre exclaimed. “You know how professional Duo is when he’s on a mission!”

The Japanese pilot had the grace to look slightly abashed. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Fine, Duo goes in to get the information. I’ll back him up from outside. Two of us should be enough.”

As the others left Heero and Duo to discuss the mission, Duo’s heart wasn’t fully in it as he answered Heero’s questions on automatic. His mind was racing as he formulated a plan.

Yes… it’ll work. It has to work.


The weight of the portable hard disk in his pocket was a constant reminder that he had to hurry up, because Heero was waiting outside. It had taken him a few minutes, but once Duo had found and saved the location of the labs, he’d personally made his way there.

If Heero asks, I can just tell him I wanted to make sure I got the right coordinates.

He moved silently through the laboratory, searching for the sealed samples that just had to be there. A minute later he found the airtight compartment containing four airtight cylinders, and smiled humourlessly to himself. Gotcha.

He quickly broke into the system, typed a few commands, and then hit enter. One of the cylinders slowly rose up, and a thin tube connected it to another smaller, slim cylinder. The computer flashed as part of the liquid was transferred to the smaller cylinder – 10%... 25%... 40%... 75%...

When it was done, the main cylinder sank back into its original position, while the slim one rose up. The glass slid back and Duo carefully took the cylinder; the platform retreated and the glass pane sealed the compartment again.

This is it, Duo thought as he looked at the deceptively plain cylinder in his hand. Maybe I can finally stop talking now, like Heero wanted me to. This has to work.

Determined, he unlatched the cap of the tube. He looked at the clear liquid inside, and hesitated, but then thought, This is for Heero.

He swallowed the contents of the tube in one gulp.

There was a moment where he re-capped the tube and thought, hey, nothing’s happening. Then the tube dropped to the ground as his hands flew to his neck, where it felt like fire was burning its way along the walls of his throat. He didn’t hear the clatter of metal on cement as he dropped to his knees, doubling over, mouth open in a silent scream because even in agony, he still retained enough sense not to make sound. Not that people might hear him, but more that his headset was still on, and Heero could hear most sounds he made.

“Duo! What are you doing? I heard something drop,” came the furious whisper over his headset. He remained silent, knowing that Heero would take it as him not being able to answer at the moment, which was technically true. He couldn’t. His throat felt raw, and even swallowing was akin to a skinning.

After a while the searing pain subsided to a sensation like a sore throat. Slowly uncurling, Duo decided to test it. “Heero?” he whispered.

Agony flared with every syllable as soon as he spoke. He flinched as the pain lasted for a second, two, three, and then slowly faded, leaving the sore throat feeling. He became aware that Heero was speaking.

“…late, you’re still not done. How long more?”

“Ten,” he whispered, and even that one short word caused him so much pain.

“Hurry up then.” Heero fell silent, and Duo was grateful for that small mercy.

But if this is for Heero, if it makes him happy, then it’s worth it.

Slowly he got up again and replaced the tube, programming the computer to re-sterilise it and put it back. Setting everything back in their original states took another two minutes, and then he made his way back to Heero.

It’s worth it. I can do this.

But he’d overestimated himself.


“Mommy? Mommy, where are you? It hurts, mommy, it hurts…”

“Don’t kill me! Please, I have a family – I have a child – don’t –”

“Gundam! It’s a Gundam! Everyone – fight with all you’ve got, kill the murdering bastard!”

“My baby… my child… you killed her. You killed… kill me too. Kill me! You’ve already killed everyone else!”

“Save us, kid… save us… why didn’t you save us? Why are you alive when we’re dead?”

He curled up into himself, cowering on the ground, hands over his ears. “I didn’t mean to!” he whimpered, pain tearing at his throat, tears tearing at his eyes. “I wanted to die if only you’d live, but I can’t, not yet – I didn’t mean to kill innocents, I didn’t want to kill anyone – leave me alone, stop, please, leave me alone! STOP IT!”

His scream was a silent one as he jerked awake from his nightmare, drenched in cold sweat. He sat there panting silently for a few minutes, throat hurting with phantom pain from the memory of screaming, staring blankly into the darkness. Voices still echoed in his mind; new ones came to whisper their accusations every minute, every moment.

He’d been afraid of this, when Heero had first given him the ultimatum to shut up. His voice was his solace – when he rambled on he kept himself thinking happy thoughts, kept himself occupied, so that the other voices wouldn’t be able to make themselves heard. It was only two days after his mission, and the nightmares were already back in full force, as were the memories during the day. Without his voice to distract him everything came back.

He’d tried to explain it to Heero, that time, why he couldn’t and not wouldn’t be quiet, but he’d pushed Heero too far. It was his own fault that he had made Heero deaf to his words.

“I’m just weak,” he whispered to himself, and the agony flared again but he forced himself to continue, to ingrain the no-speaking reflex into himself. “None of the other pilots have to resort to annoying others to keep their minds occupied. I’m weak, and this is the only way to change that, so don’t be a coward, Duo Maxwell. Remember Heero – this is for Heero. Be as strong as he is, and things will be fine.”

He was glad that Trowa and Wufei had been called away on missions, and Quatre had been instructed to help them from base – without those three, he had little to worry about in regards to them being concerned about him, if they noticed his lack of speech. Lying back down on the bed, a thought suddenly occurred to him.

Hey – maybe music can help.

Lying back down to sleep, even the disembodied voices couldn’t keep him awake for long, though the visions that flickered through his mind did. It was almost dawn before he slipped into sleep.

The next day Duo locked himself into his room and turned on his CD player, using the portable speakers to fill the room with music. It works! was his happy thought as the melody calmed most of the memories. He could ignore the faint murmurs still stirring in the back of his head, if it meant he’d get most of his peace of mind back.

He was lying on his bed, eyes closed, letting the music lull him to sleep – when it stopped. Duo shot upright, but the indignant exclamation died on his tongue when he saw Heero standing there glaring.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

He had no answer to that but the obvious, and so he kept silent.

Heero seemed satisfied with that and settled for saying curtly, “To be alert at all times is the prerequisite of being a pilot. Our lives are in danger every second. You didn’t even hear me pick the lock, and that sort of mistake can lead to death. Having your hearing blocked isn’t acceptable.”

Duo nodded mutely. Heero was right, as usual – he’d stupidly given up safety for comfort. One word ran through his mind: weak.

He would change that.

As he watched Heero leave, he had to smile a little. See? Now Heero’s not yelling at me anymore, he thought. Be grateful, Maxwell, grateful and happy for it.

He was grateful, really. But… he paid the price for Heero’s non-aggression. From then on, without anything to distract him… every night he saw carnage and death played out in his dreams, heard the accusing voices screaming and saw the accusing eyes. It got to the point that he heard them, saw them, even during the day. His nerves were stretched taught, and he was exhausted, having little energy since eating hurt his throat too, but he hid it.

Quatre’s so busy with Fei and Tro, he doesn’t suspect anything. Heero notices, but he’s happy. And that’s good, he told himself firmly. You wouldn’t want to worry anyone.

Though some small, bitter part of him wondered… did they really not care? Didn’t they wonder, even a little? Or had he really been such an annoyance that everyone was so glad not to hear him speak, that they didn’t bother mentioning his increasing silence?

That night, he awoke with images of the other pilots standing around him, laughing at his pain, playing through his mind’s eye – his physical eyes were blurred with tears.

“They’d never do that,” he said aloud, using the pain to bring him back to reality. “Never.”

But throughout the day the voices laughed at him, and threw his denial in his face. He couldn’t eat much either – his voice box was taking more time to heal after each time he used it, and so even swallowing brought pain.

It was then that he began hating himself for the failure he’d been, and the wreck he’d become.

The only good thing was that Heero now seemed content to let him sit around when he was working, since he was quiet. That was all he wanted, really. But lately he couldn’t last five minutes in Heero’s presence before the images and voices in his mind began to overwhelm him, and he had to leave.

I’m ruining the best thing I’ve ever gotten… Duo Maxwell, you utter idiot. Can you never, ever do anything right?


[Ashen][...On Mute.]
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Shiina Ringo
hellfire_angel/Hells-angel8hellfire_angel on December 20th, 2005 07:23 pm (UTC)
So sad. Duo'd so willing to do anything for Heero and he's certainly paying the price now. I hope there is a way to reverse the effects. You said there was a happy ending though, right?
Ashenashenskies on December 21st, 2005 02:10 am (UTC)
Yup! Definitely a happy ending for this one. Though I'm not sure how happy is 'happy', but Heero's nice in the end. ^_^
inthefire2002 on December 22nd, 2005 12:18 am (UTC)
Though I'm not sure how happy is 'happy'
Happy = Duo and Heero falling deeply in love with each other and living happily ever after...

*glomps you* Thanks Ashen, this is wonderful and well worth the wait!
Ashenashenskies on January 1st, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)
*hugs* even though you said it's worth the wait - I still apologise for it. *_* no excuse! but yeah, the ending is quite happy I think.
inshadowsandlightshadow8light on December 21st, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I am just very confused (it happens), but you said that this fic is finished and you are posting it in two parts . . . I was wondering when we can expect the second part? I am really enjoying your story, though you are the only author in this fandom that I read and I have never seen the actual source material. It is impressive that you write so well that it is unnecessary to have knowledge of the original material. Thanks.
Ashenashenskies on January 1st, 2006 04:21 am (UTC)
Hello! *waves* I'm very glad to know you like the story - and yes, it's done, in two parts. I just couldn't post the second part because of bad timing on my part - I left for an overseas trip. But I'll post it right after I clear my inbox! So no worries. (: Thanks for letting me know you, uh, exist? ^_^; And I hope you enjoy the rest of the story.