Ch 1: "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall..."
Somewhere in the safehouse a door slammed, somewhat muffling the raised voices that rang throughout the thin-walled house.
Seated at the cheap card table in the kitchen, hands oily from cleaning his gun, Heero Yuy flicked a glance towards the aged staircase. Upstairs, a war was going on.
"Maxwell! Don't walk away when I'm talking to you!"
"I'll do whatever the hell I want to, Justice Boy!"
"What did you call me??"
"Butt out, Quatre. Not now. Why don't you try talking sense into mister stick-up-his-ass over there instead?"
"Maxwell!! I've had it with you!"
"Yeah? And what are you gonna do about it?"
"Duo! Wufei!" Quatre's strained voice broke in. "Stop it!"
Heero glanced up at the silent entrance of Heavyarm's pilot. The willowy young man was standing just inside the open back door, glancing upwards with an expressionless face.
"Aa." Heero returned his attention to his handgun. "They've been fighting all week."
Trowa nodded slightly, making his way to the cooler set on the stained countertop. He opened it and peered in at the coke cans floating in the icy water. "We need more ice," he pointed out dispassionately.
There was the unmistakable sound of someone stomping down the stairs, the old boards creaking in protest.
"I'll get it," Duo snapped as he stalked into the kitchen, face flushed with anger. Trowa managed to nab a coke before Duo snatched up the cooler and dumped its entire contents into the rusty sink, earning a dirty look from Heero at the loud clatter it made.
Ignoring them both, Duo marched outside, slamming the ripped screen door behind him.
Trowa exchanged a tolerant look with Heero, then looked up as Quatre entered the kitchen, looking helpless and more than a little frustrated. "They've been at each other's throats ever since the mission," he lamented, lifting up his hands in defeat. "I can't get them to calm down and leave each other alone."
"Staying together in the same safehouse all at once was a mistake," Heero said cooly, peering into the barrel of his gun.
Wufei stormed into the kitchen, and Quatre moved aside quickly. The Chinese boy's eyes were flashing, his lips pressed together so tightly they were pale.
Undaunted, Heero lowered his gunpiece and leveled a stern look at the other pilot as Wufei grabbed a coke from the sink. "Wufei." His voice was like steel. "These childish fights aren't accomplishing anything."
"'Childish'??" Wufei rounded on him, temper just barely held in check. "I, childish? That damn Maxwell is fifteen going on six!"
Heero's jaw tightened, his eyes narrowing. "Fighting among the team is just going to put future missions in jeapordy," he said stonily. "Get your act together and stay away from Duo."
"I don't see why you can't just let it drop," Quatre mourned, turning wide blue eyes on the fuming warrior.
"Why *I* can't let it drop?" Wufei repeated incredulously. "He's the one that keeps throwing it back in my face! He almost got us killed with his stupid stunt on that mission! And now he wants to get onto *me* for pulling his sorry ass out of trouble?" He snorted derisively, lip curling in scorn. "Just keep that idiot away from me," he snapped, and strode angrily from the room.
Quatre sighed helplessly and looked towards Trowa for help.
The stoic pilot shook his head minutely. "Let them settle this on their own," he said quietly. "They just need to stay away from each other for a little while."
Quatre switched tactics. "Heero," he wheedled, "go talk to Duo. He'll listen to you."
Heero didn't even look up from putting his gun back together. "That baka doesn't listen to anybody."
"He'll listen to you," Quatre repeated. "You two are friends."
Heero offered him a look that suggested Quatre was a lunatic.
"You're important to him," Quatre said stubbornly. "Just talk to him, will you? Calm him down and tell him to leave Wufei alone until they both cool down."
Heero frowned, glancing towards Trowa. The jade-eyed boy stared at him in silent if reluctant agreement, and after an irritable growl, Heero rose, clicking the barrel of his gun back in place firmly. Shoving it into the back of his shorts, he walked outside to find the braided pilot.
Duo strapped the cooler to the back of the dirtbike Trowa had confiscated at some point and plunked his helmet on, muttering darkly to himself as he tightened the strap under his chin.
Damn that Wufei. Damn him damn him DAMN him. Why did he have to be such an uptight, justice-driven bastard? He had managed to walk away before putting his fist in the other boy's face, but next time he might not have as much control. The stern pilot's lectures and degrading comments grated on his nerves like nails on a chalkboard, and pushed his tolerance to its limits. And all for one stupid mistake.
"You fuck one goat.." he muttered.
Duo turned, startled, as Heero walked towards him slowly, frowning.
"Oh, ah," Duo laughed nervously. "It's a joke I heard once," he explained quickly. "You wanna hear it? It's hilarious. Ok, these two old friends are fishing one day-"
"Be quiet." Heero stopped, crossing his arms over his chest and glowering at the other boy. "I want you to stay away from Wufei," he said bluntly. "These stupid arguments have gone on long enough."
Duo frowned at him, giving the helmet strap one last tug. "Tell him to stop being such a tightass," he said primly, "and I'll think about it."
Heero's eyes narrowed. "Duo," he started warningly.
Duo sighed, rolling his eyes dramatically. "Fine, fine," he grumbled. "He stays away from me, I'll stay away from him."
"Good." Heero turned to go.
"Ah- matte," Duo said quickly. Heero paused, turning slightly to look at him over his shoulder.
Duo hesitated, fingers curling by his sides nervously.
It wasn't often that Heero actually sought him out to have something even resembling a conversation with him. And lately things had been so hectic mission-wise he hadn't had much time to goof off around the unresponsive pilot and try to figure out exactly what made Heero Yuy tick. Studying Heero was a hobby of his- he liked to think he understood the other boy more than the other pilots did. Certainly no one had ever tried to get close to the enigmatic boy before. Well.. except for Relena, but she didn't count. Snivelling, lovesick little brat that she was. He was a little jealous of Trowa, who had had the opportunity to have him to himself when he had nursed the perfect soldier back to health at the circus that one time; but Trowa was certainly no threat, being the emotionless rock-face that he was.
Duo reached up unconsciously to touch his cheek, where Heero had decked him just following the mission that Wufei so insisted on ragging him about. He couldn't help but wonder if Heero's sudden violence towards him directly after hauling him from Deathscythe's smoking hull had been a result of frustrated worry for him. He had, after all, almost gotten himself killed...as Wufei was quick to point out every time the subject came up.
He realized Heero was still impatiently waiting for him to say something, and cleared his throat. "Uh, never mind. Be back in a minute."
"Hn." Heero turned away and walked back towards the kitchen door.
"Real smooth, Maxwell," Duo muttered under his breath, throwing his leg over the seat of the bike and twisting the key savagely. "How about 'Thanks for pulling me out of that wreck last week'? 'We should hang out sometime'? 'Nice weather'....'Nice ass'." Sighing woefully, he twisted the bike's handlebar and tore out of the shed towards the gas station down the road.
Duo flipped through his wallet as the old man behind the counter rang up the bag of ice he'd grabbed. The man was likable enough, and seemed to recognize everyone who entered his little convenience store, even if not by name. "Still camping?" he inquired easily, sliding the ice into an extra bag to prevent leaking.
"Yup." Duo handed over the correct amount. "Nice in these hills." He smiled winningly.
The old man nodded sagely, watching Duo with knowing but kind eyes. "Yes, all types of people come into these hills. You'd be surprised."
"I'll bet," Duo agreed, grinning. He picked up the bag. "Thanks. See you around, ojiisan." Waving, he strode out.
His temper was better by the time he got back to the safehouse nestled in the woods covering the hillside they had chosen. A good, fast ride on the dirtbike always did wonders for his attitude. Pulling into the shed, he shut off the engine and dismounted, grabbing the cooler he had filled with ice in the gas station parking lot and setting it on a shelf to remove his helmet. It was as he was turning to hang it on the bike's handlebars that he saw it.
The handle of what looked like a trapdoor was partially hidden by rusting cans of paint in the far corner of the shed. Curious, he plucked a flashlight from the shelf and walked over, toeing the cans aside with his boots, revealing a cellar door in the floor. Holding the flashlight in his mouth, he grasped the handles and heaved upwards, grunting. The double doors swung open ponderously, squealing in rusty complaint, and when he let them drop open, dust flew everywhere. Duo removed the flashlight from his mouth, coughing, and aimed the beam downwards, peering into the darkness. A flight of stone steps led into the earth, disappearing out of sight. "Curiosity killed the cat," he reminded himself, but stepped inside anyway.
The steps went down for what seemed like ages before his feet finally encountered firmly packed earth. Fumbling around, he found a string hanging by his head and jerked it. A lightbulb somewhere overhead flickered and came to dim life, casting eerie shadows on the forgotten cellar. It was filled with old junk: trunks, barrels, rusting bicycles, tools, and other odds and ends. Wandering around slowly, he began rooting for anything useful, scanning over the room with his flashlight in the poor light. Turning to examine an open trunk, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and froze. He glanced slowly over his shoulder, eyes darting around, but nothing moved or made a sound. "Prob'ly a rat," he muttered, and turned back to the trunk.
There it was again. Whirling, he aimed the flashlight towards the movement, his free hand flying instinctively to the gun at his waistband. Across the room, a boy was staring at him warily, also aiming a flashlight at him.
Duo snorted in disgust at himself. It was just his reflection. Stepping over the miscellaneous things scattered on the floor, he walked over toward the cracked mirror leaning against a wall, covered in dust, the frame already rust-eaten. He lowered the flashlight and made a face at his relection before turning to examine himself over his shoulder. "How could even a perfect soldier resist a cute butt like this?" he mourned, unable to stop a grin from touching his face. He turned to face himself again, leaning in to check his face for blemishes. There was dirt on his nose and he moved the flashlight to his left hand, reaching up with his right to rub the dirt off. Satisfied, he turned to go.
He took one step and froze, a chill going up his spine.
Something was not right here.
He turned slowly to stare at his reflection again, eyes skimming the mirror's surface warily. Something... something was off. Something was tugging at his mind, telling him there was something distinctly *wrong* with this mirror. He stood there for a long moment, staring suspiciously at the mirror before he began to feel like an idiot. Sighing, he raised his hand to scratch at his scalp....
In the mirror, his reflection was also scratching its head with its right hand.
Duo leapt back with a startled cry, his flashlight clattering to the ground. Whirling, he ran upstairs to get Heero. In the mirror, his reflection watched him go.
"Heero, just come LOOK, will you??" Duo exclaimed, leaning on the table in a desperate attempt to get his partner's attention. "There's something wrong with that mirror!"
Heero blithely ignored him, fingers flying on his keyboard.
Quatre looked over at Duo curiously. "I don't understand," he said hesitantly. "What's so wrong about it? If you scratched your head with your right hand, of course your reflection's going to do the same."
"NO," Duo said shortly, shaking his head. "Everything in a mirror is reversed. If you wave your right hand, your reflection waves its LEFT. It looks like YOUR right, but if you were looking through your reflection's eyes, it's actually its left hand."
Quatre blinked. "Duo," he said slowly, but Heero cut him off.
"Quit gibbering nonsense," he snapped, eyes never leaving the laptop screen. "The poor light was just playing tricks on your eyes." He leveled a pointed look at his partner. "I thought you got ice."
Duo opened and shut his mouth several times, and suddenly felt foolish. Turning on his heel, he stalked outside, embarrassed.
Heero was right. The light had been bad, and the mirror was in poor condition. He must have been seeing things.
As he walked, he caught a glimpse of movement and spotted Wufei coming down the hill, shirt thrown over his shoulder, chest glistening with sweat from his workout. He saw Duo looking at him and his eyes narrowed. Duo stuck his tongue out at him- immature, but satisfying -and hurried into the shed to retrieve the ice. He grabbed the cooler and hurried in ahead of the Chinese warrior, ignoring the other boy's dirty look.
That night, Duo couldn't sleep.
He tossed and turned on his cot restlessly, unable to stop thinking about the mirror. He turned onto his back and stared up at the ceiling, giving a loud sigh. Well, there was only one way to settle this once and for all. Rolling out of bed, wearing only a t-shirt and boxers, he slid his feet into his shoes and tread carefully down the creaking steps and outside into the chill night air. Shivering a little, he wrapped his arms around himself and trotted to the shed.
Once more he descended the cellar steps, flashlight in hand and hair standing on edge. He approached the old mirror hesitantly, watching his reflection warily. He skimmed over every inch of it with his eyes before settling down in front of it cross-legged. Almost timidly he raised his left hand.
His relection, with an identical look of trepidition, was raising its left hand.
"So I wasn't seeing things," Duo murmured, quickly lowering his hand. He stared at his reflection hard for a minute, but nothing happened. "Must be a warped mirror or something," he concluded at last, sighing. "Weird. No wonder it was thrown down here. You could get confused trying to braid your hair." He snickered, then yawned. He pulled a lock of hair over his shoulders, examining it for split ends. He liked to wear it down when he slept, if he could. He so rarely got to take it out of its tight braid that it was like a treat to have it cascade freely down his back. Besides, it made it easier to just stumble straight for the shower in the morning.
He grinned mischievously at his reflection, and it grinned back. "Saa... aren't I pretty, though." He flicked his hair over his shoulders. "Heero must be blind." He nodded so that his reflection nodded in agreement, and laughed quietly. Leaning forward, he shared a conspirital smile with his other self. "Want to know a secret?" he murmured. He tapped the side of his nose, lowering his voice as he finally admitted his deepest secret aloud. "I like... Heero Yuy." He watched his lips in the mirror move with his almost breathlessly, as if now that the secret was out in the open, his wish would come true.
But something was wrong.
He blinked, staring at his own puzzled eyes. He hesitated before repeating himself. "I like Heero Yuy." No.
The lips of his reflection... they were moving differently from his- forming different words from those he had uttered.
His body went cold, but he couldn't make himself draw away. His heart was pounding madly. Swallowing, he whispered once again, "I like Heero Yuy."
The lips of his reflection moved with his, forming silent words:
'I like Chang Wufei.'
To be continued...
Author's Notes: Yes, another mirror fic. @_@ Amiko is weird.
Daijabou, this is nothing like Harvest Moon... ^.^;;;
If anyone wants to know what joke Duo's talking about, I can put it in the author's notes of the next chapter. A friend from work told it to me once. XD
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