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Drowning in Violets

K. Huntsman

Violet eyes are rare. In all of humanity there is no more than a handful of people who end up with the correct genes to possess them.

Duo has them.

But, then, he was designed with them. A beautiful little experiment, my Duo Maxwell, and utterly unaware of what he was intended to be.

I don't look up as he shambles out of the bathroom. I don't need to. I can hear his footsteps cross the room to me. I can hear the soft roughness of the towel moving through his knee-length hair. I can hear his breathing and feel his eyes on me. My fingers move across the keys of the laptop, hiding the screen I was working on and opening another.

"What'cha doin', Heero?" he asks me, sitting down on the bed. I risk a glance at him and see that he is charmingly preoccupied with shuffling the water from his hair.

I am a total sap as far as Duo Maxwell is concerned, and the worrisome thing is that even if I wished to stop this affair, it would be hard to stop wanting him.

The pheromones he exudes have that effect.

"Research," I say briefly, and turn back to the computer.

Duo, though he does not know it, is a product of the Zweigart genetic labs on the L2 colony. He was engineered to be a pleasure slave. I don't know how he got out of the labs; I suspect he was stolen at a very early age, or perhaps lost in transit. In either case, it seems little, if any, of the Zweigart's conditioning has remained with him.

"Heero," he coaxes--I hear the seductive smile in his words--"take a break?"

I look at him and find that he is lying seductively across the bed, towel draping in just such a way to tease about what it is covering.

Perhaps, I think, more of his conditioning is there than I had previously thought.

I go over to the bed and look down at the hair which spills across it, damp waves of silken chestnut; hair more silken than that of any naturally born human. Then there is the lovely translucent skin and the slender body capable of metabolizing any amount of junk food. Duo is not able to gain weight. Neither is he going to get any taller. It's not in his design specs. The only thing of Duo Maxwell which will keep growing is his hair. Unlike most humans' hair, his doesn't have a length limit. Some day that braid will reach to his feet and then beyond.

He smells sweet and musky and I don't ever intend to let him find out what I know about him. He has no idea that I took a genetic sampling--a strand of hair, a clipped fingernail, a trace of semen--and sent them to Dr. J to be analyzed. My guardian's suspicions turned out to be well-founded, and in return I received a mail about Duo's origins and specifics of his capabilities.

He grabs my hand and pulls me down on top of himself, and I don't object. I have never wanted to.


It isn't until after he is thoroughly rumpled and sated (not once but twice; this guy is amazing, I tell ya!) that Heero relaxes enough to cuddle with me. There's just something about being comfortably spooned with someone that makes me happy. Post-coital glow is the best feeling in the world. Well... second best.

His fingers whisper through my bangs and his other arms is a bar of iron around my middle. Romantic, him? Nah. Possessive? You betcha.

I still don't know why Heero started sleeping with me. I can flatter myself that it's because of the sheer Maxwell irresistibility, but this is Heero "the perfect" Yuy we're talking about here. It's not bloody likely. He has his own reasons and I don't pry.

But for some reason people have always liked me. They've liked looking at me, talking with me, touching me. Most have been polite enough to ask before taking, but some... let's not go there. Bad memories to be dealt with some other day. Still, that kept me through the years between the Maxwell Church massacre and hooking up with Professor G.

Heh, wonder how Wufei would react if I ever told him I used to take money for it? Might be amusing to see.

Heero knows. I told him before I ever started sleeping with him. And I told Quatre too. Some things you don't keep secret from lovers, especially when those lovers are friends. Both of them had the right to know the risk. I'm clean, or at least I think I am. But there are some things that'll lie dormant for years before you know about them. I make sure to get regular physicals and thorough tests, these days.

Though I certainly wouldn't mind if some of those OZ bastards had caught something from me. But noooooo, they had to be decent enough to wear protection. Ah well, at least I know I'm not carrying any OZ cooties.

I shift back a little closer into Heero and feel a faint hardness against the cheeks of my ass. I smirk to myself.

Sometimes I absolutely adore Heero.


Another day, another undercover mission for this special team of the Preventers forces.

At least, Duo thought, resisting the urge to paint a smiley-face onto Wufei's arm with the fake-tattoo ink, they got paid well for it.

Being with Sally for over a year had obviously mellowed the Chinese man.

And being without Trowa for most of the year obviously made Quatre hyper when he did get to see his lover. Which was why Duo, rather than the artist in their group, was doing the painting.

Duo finished Wufei's mock-tattoo (a red Chinese dragon, of course), tied a black bandanna around his own head, and glanced over at Heero. He blinked as he saw that dangling among the other bracelets around Heero's left wrist was a handcuff with a broken chain.

Heero smirked.

Duo blushed.

It absolutely didn't help his case that Heero looked indecently good in skin-tight black leather.

But finally all of them were ready to head out to the club where they were supposed to meet their contact.


"Lookin' good, Q!" Duo teased. "Tell me, do you and Trowa have plans for this evening?"

Quatre smiled evasively, looking up and down Duo's form. Duo was the only one who wasn't all in black; he'd given up his clericals at the end of the war, Shinigami laid to rest. "You'll have to see on the dance floor," Quatre replied. Duo gave the other ex-Gundam pilot a wink--he knew a "yes" when he heard it--and gave Quatre a once-over of his own.

It occurred to Quatre, watching as Duo stood, that the other ex-pilot hadn't grown at all during the past few years. He still stood just over five feet while the rest of them had shot up at least six inches each. Somehow his petiteness of stature added to Duo's appeal. And Duo did have appeal. There was something about the braided young man that set hearts and hormones pulsing. Even loving Trowa didn't set Quatre immune from Duo's charm, and he knew for a fact that Trowa and Wufei (as well as anyone else Duo spent much time with) cast appreciative glances at the violet-eyed young man. But Duo was Heero's, and Heero had set an unspoken but unbreakable rule concerning Duo: look, but do not touch.

A pity, Quatre half-mourned with a smile.


It wasn't that far to the club, and this once it didn't matter if the five ex-Gundam pilots went as a group. Indeed, Trowa considered, they were expected as a group. Their witness couldn't come forward to them on his own, but was guaranteed to be at this club this evening with the person he needed to escape from.

The mission: kidnap and protect that witness.

The third-party informant who had set up the rendezvous hadn't been able to give Trowa and the others a picture of Integer Zwei, but a verbal description had included "short," "brown hair," and "pale." Integer had been given the heads-up to look for them as well.

So all they had to do was find the man, grab him, and get out without anyone noticing. He was apparently important; the only material witness to a "purging" of this colony's homeless. The man in charge of the crime, apparently, was the one Integer would be accompanying.

A quick scan around the rendezvous point revealed no person fitting their description. Or at least not one near the door. Without even needing to consult by this point, their team split into three parties; Heero and Duo went off to the left side of the club where the bar was, Trowa and Quatre went down the center to the dance floor, and Wufei went off to the left to check the private booths and men's' room.


Wufei sighed to himself and leaned over a railing, trying to pick out the two familiar figures he knew would be on the dance floor. Zwei had not been on his side of the club; he either hadn't arrived yet or was near one of the others.

Wufei smiled softly as Trowa and Quatre moved together, then apart, then together again as though connected. He'd long since gotten past his homophobia and could only be content that his four partners had found what they needed in one another. Himself, he was happy with Sally in a way he had never had the chance to be with Meiran. His fiancée never begrudged him that first wife, first love, and his memories of her.

But Meiran was gone, and she would have wanted him to have what happiness he could find with Sally. There was little conflict within Wufei these days.

Fingers touched on his shoulder, breaking Wufei out of his soppy reminiscences as he whirled around.

"Excuse me," the person before him asked, "but would you be Wufei Chang?"

Staring with wide eyes, all Wufei could think was


The one thing I never expected was for Duo to come face-to-face with the truth.

Integer Zwei is Duo's exact image. Perhaps not exact; Integer's hair is cropped to chin-length and their clothing differs, but their faces, their eyes, their bodies... the same. Integer knows what he is, knows what Duo was supposed to be if only he hadn't somehow escaped that fate. So now Duo knows too. We all know.

I know Duo; I love Duo. I live with him, sleep with him, kiss him to make him shut up. So the only thing I can do when we get back to the safehouse where we will be guarding Integer for the next three days is get my laptop and open the files which concern Duo.

He reads them silently, eyes flickering over the screen, a finger occasionally tapping a key to page down. Quatre returns with tea, serves the six of us. No one speaks a word and Duo doesn't look up.

It takes him fifteen minutes to finish reading. He turns the laptop off, then looks at me, anger and anguish twinned in his beautiful violet eyes. "How long have you known, Heero?" is all he asks.

"Several years," I reply. "Doctor J thought he recognized you that time at the lunar base. He had me send him genetic samples the next time I met up with you. Since then."

"Three years?" Duo muses the time, seemingly to himself. "And you didn't tell me?"

There is no way to respond to that, and I can feel something start to crack... but whether it is in him or in me or in that space between us, I cannot tell. He stands and walks to the door. "Duo...."

"I'm not talking to you, Heero," he snaps, voice curt and harsh. "Not now. Maybe not for a long time."

I close my eyes with regret as the door bangs shut.


A clone. A fucking clone!

Oh, Sister Helen, Father Maxwell, Solo, I guess you really are as close to a family as I ever had.

A clone.

A genetically engineered pleasure slave.

God, that's rich! And it certainly explains a few things. Like why people have never been able to keep their hands off me. And it certainly explains why the Perfect Soldier started fucking me. Need for physical release, proximity of pilot of unit 02, throw some pheromones and hormones into the mix, why don't you!?

Now I remember why I refuse to believe in God. He's one cruel motherfucker. Not only does He take away the only people who ever cared for me, now He lets me find out that I'm not even one of His children after all. Man born of woman and all that shit. Christ, I'm a man-made human. God had nothing to do with me. It's not right. It's just not right!

Right on cue it starts to rain. And it's cold. Cold rain is only fun if you're on the other side of the window from it.

Still, even like this, I can't delude myself that everything is lies. I mean, sure, I never had any parents, but at least I had friends, right? I had Solo and Sister Helen and Father Maxwell, who were as good as a brother and a mom and a dad, right? And Professor G and Howard've been kind of uncles or something, if you ignore the fact that I slept with several members of their crews. Don't think either of them ever got too pissed about it, though. Probably thought it was good for their men to be working off sexual tensions like that.

But me, on the other hand... oh, great. It's enough to have been a whore, why do I have to feel like one as well? Cheap Duo Maxwell, who'll open his legs for anyone who wants 'em spread. My hand meets a brick wall and the cold rain is moving down my neck like icy slime and I've never, ever, felt so miserable in my entire life. No exceptions.

Duo the cheap whore. Duo who can't help but want sex. Duo who can't help but make others want sex.

Duo the fucktoy.

Hell, even my preferences were predetermined for me!

Was any of it real, I have to wonder now as I slide down against that wall. Were any of those encounters real?

Did anyone ever want me?

I bury my head in my arms.

Quatre, I decide. Quatre wanted me. Hell, I think he even loved me a bit. And I know I loved him. But we waltzed apart from that desert encounter to other times and other partners and somehow still managed to care about each other. Quatre's like the brother I never had.

But Heero....

Maybe I'm too tied up with discovery to think straight, but it keeps seeming less and less likely that anything with Heero was real. It was just cheap sex. It didn't mean anyth--


I look up and there is the object of my thoughts, looking as cool and distant as always, even with rain dripping off his hair and the end of his nose and the hand extended down to me.

"Come back to the house," he says. There's something in his eyes... concern? "It's cold out here."


Duo walked by Heero's side the half-mile back to the safehouse. He didn't look at his partner and didn't say a word. Water and doubt dripped off him with every step.

They went in the front way and barely paused to kick shoes off before leading a watery trail upstairs, looking neither left nor right.

"I'm sorry," Integer apologized softly again after the two had vanished from view. He looked at his folded hands. "I didn't know...."

"You couldn't have," Trowa absolved him. "None of us did."

"None of us except Yuy," countered Wufei, pulling a mop out of the storage closet.

"I hope he and Duo will be all right," Quatre said, looking up the stairs.


Duo sat on the hard wooden chair of the desk, a towel half-heartedly draped around his hair. "Strip," Heero told him, Duo's favorite blue robe held in one hand.

Duo didn't move, didn't look up, just shook his head.

"Do it or I'll do it for you," Heero warned with the certain tone in his voice that Duo had learned not to push.

Listless fingers, stupid with cold, moved to the zipper of the tiger-print shirt. Heero sighed and knelt before Duo, dropping the terrycloth robe onto the desk. He pushed aside Duo's fingers with impatient hands and unzipped the shirt for the other young man. He then unbuttoned Duo's skintight jeans and peeled the braided teen out of the wet clothes. They formed a sodden lump on the floor as Duo dully put on the robe.

Heero made much more efficient work of changing himself into a red robe with his initials in gold over the breast (a Christmas present from Quatre) before scooping up the offending garments and dumping them in the hamper. A refugee towel from the linen closet made short work of the floor's puddles. Then he sat down on the bed and glared at Duo. "So what's wrong?" he asked. "You're genetically engineered. Big deal."

Duo closed his eyes. "None of it's real," he whispered obscurely. "I'm not real."

"Don't be stupid," Heero retorted.

Duo's eyes opened. "Is it real to you, Heero?" he demanded. "When we're together, is it having sex for you, or making love? I'm engineered to make people want me. I'm designed to be a whore. A slut. A cheap trick. How the fuck do you think that makes me feel, Heero? It means that nothing has ever been real, everyone I've ever slept with has only wanted me because of what I am, not who I am!"

Heero frowned. "I have never just had sex with you, Duo."

"How do I know that?! What you're feeling probably isn't even real, just a chemical reaction to the pheromones I give off. I'm not even a real person, Heero! I'm not a child of God, I'm some piece of meat that some scientist designed in a lab." Duo's eyes were wild and betrayed. "Why didn't you ever tell me what I was, Heero?!"

Heero stood and paced a few steps back and forth before stopping to look into Duo's exquisite eyes and answer.

"I didn't tell you because it doesn't make any difference." He glared when Duo opened his mouth to speak, then continued. "I've thought a lot about this, Duo. I thought a lot about it during the war, when I had to assess if you were a risk to me or not, and I've thought about it since. It does not matter. You are a set of genetic patterns which forms a body, and the mind which resides inside that body. It's irrelevant whether or not the combination that makes up 'you' happened by natural selection or human intervention. Only the end result matters, and I've been sleeping with that end result for years."

Heero took a step closer to Duo. "Couldn't God have guided the hand of whatever scientist chose those genetic patterns as easily as He would guide your creation under other circumstances? And wouldn't it have been He who set you on your path out of the labs and the conditioning? You're as much a child of that God that you profess to hate as the next mortal, Duo Maxwell. And don't you ever tell me you're a cheap trick again. You're not. You're mine."

Duo hung his head to hide from Heero's fierce eyes. "I'm not even unique," he muttered. "And I'm not free. I'm stolen property."

Fingers grasped beneath his chin and forced Duo to look up. "You are unique," Heero told him. "Maybe not in body, but in mind. The only thing you and Integer share is a genetic code. As to being stolen property... do you want your ownership papers?"

Duo blinked.

Heero reached into the desk drawer next to Duo's elbow and pulled out a folder. He rifled through it and pulled out a sheet of heavy, expensive paper. It was embossed and signed by three different people. Paperclipped to it were several sheets of regular printer paper which detailed the terms of the sale.

Duo read the top sheet and flipped through the rest. He looked back up at Heero. "You...."

"One thing you are not," Heero informed Duo, "is cheap. Keep those papers safe; I paid a lot for them."

"How much?" Duo asked.

Heero named a figure that made him blanch.

"Where the hell did you get that much money?!" Duo demanded, knowing both of their salaries to the penny. "Did you have Quatre float you for a loan?" he accused.

Heero smirked. "I hacked into OZ's finances during the war. They footed your freedom bill."

Duo had to bite back a snigger. "Okay," he said, setting the papers down on the desk, "I'm being an idiot. AGAIN," he added at Heero's prompting glare. "But that doesn't change things. I'm still basically a pricey sex toy and the only reason we're together is because of that."

"You're so sure that no one could love you because you exude 'come hither'-ness?" Heero asked.

Duo nodded, the corners of his mouth wilting.

"Then you are stupid," Heero decided.

Duo blinked at his lover.

"I don't care about anyone else you were with," Heero said, "I came into this with my eyes wide open, knowing all about you. I know more about what you are than you do, Duo Maxwell, and while you being a 'sex toy' is on the mark and gives my hormones regular wake-up calls, my mind is certainly still capable of thinking independently of your sex appeal. Don't try to insult me by claiming anything I feel for you is the result of your pheromone problem."

Quatre looked up at the ceiling with a faint blush as he heard a certain pattern.

"Well, that argument certainly ended quickly," Wufei commented, rolling the dice. He advanced his token five squares.

"They're both young and resilient," Trowa allowed, watching as Integer reached for the dice next.

"Is Duo always like that?" Integer asked, his tone wondering. He seemed to find such strong reactions in his mirror intriguing.

"Frequently," Quatre said, watching the roll. "Though Duo is usually more talkative. But I suppose he had rather a shock tonight."


"Ah, it so sucks that I'm never going to get any taller! I'm going to be short and skinny forever."

"Duo... shut up."

Two bodies, warm against each other, spooned for just a minute.


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