Disclaimers and warnings still apply

SHATTERED GLASS
Ryu~Itsutsu

Part Nine : Made of Death

"‘You must know,’ he said, speaking from the back of his throat and roaring
like a furnace, "that I’m made entirely of death, from head to foot, and
that it’s a corpse that loves you, adores you, and will never leave you [. .
.] Look! I’m not laughing anymore, I'm crying . . . I’m crying for you!’"
~Erik (The Opera Ghost)
Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera

The report from the gun was more than Duo expected and he wasn’t prepared
for the recoil, hands snapping back and eyes shutting from the loud boom in
his ears. He heard a surprised cry of pain and he forced his eyes open,
locking them on Wufei who was caught in a death struggled with Maxwell. Upon
hearing the shot, however, Maxwell’s head snapped up, eyes wide and wild.
"Chang!"

"Fei!" Duo called and Wufei twisted, managing to throw himself back and toss
Maxwell over his body.

The shot hit its mark, though not where Duo had intended. Chang was thrown
back from the impact, blood flying from his shoulder as his hand fell dead
to his side. "Lover!" Maxwell’s voice rang as he pounced to his feet, violet
eyes narrowed. He surged forward, only to feel strong fingers grab his hair
and rip him back. "Wha-"

Duo smirked as he slammed the gun against Maxwell’s temple, the blow enough
to heavily daze his double despite the fact that it was so small. The
assassin went down to his knees. It took only moments for the assassin to
recover enough to smash a fist into Duo’s arm, sending the gun flying.
"Damn!!" Duo cried, scrambling after it, feeling Maxwell grab his own hair
and pull him back. He kicked, hitting Maxwell soundly in the chest. Chang
growled, leaping for Duo, only to find Wufei in his path, Maxwell’s knife
held at the ready.

"Back. Off."

Chang stopped, looking his opponent up and down with a snort of derision.
Wufei was clearly tired, hungry, and the sharp tang of sweat and nerves
clung to him. "Stand down and I won’t kill you. Yet. And when I do, it’ll be
fast."

"I’ve never been one to take the easy route," Wufei bit out with a smirk.

"No..." Chang smiled and Wufei swallowed, eyes hard. The assassin’s shoulder
was bleeding steady and hard and his arm hung useless, but he seemed
unaffected by that fact, face clear of pain. "No, you always take the hard
road." He stepped closer and Wufei held his ground, ready. His heart was a
steady, screaming beat in his ears. "If you didn’t..." Chang’s voice was
low, dangerous and immensely amused. "You would have fucked the bitch on
your wedding night and then killed her...like I did."

Wufei’s muscles locked. "You..."

"I only did..what you wanted to do..." Chang lashed out, knowing he had
Wufei off-guard. The ex-pilot jumped, barely avoiding a blow that would have
been lethal, directed expertly at the part of his temple that would crush
easiest. Wufei spun, then cried out as Chang’s fist landed in his back, just
a shade too high to destroy his kidneys. Thrown forward by the force of the
impact, Wufei slammed into the hard metal side of the bed.

"I..never wanted to kill her..." he gasped softly, the words automatic. His
vision was blurry and he coughed blood, blinking hard. Dimly, he could see a
dark shape moving toward two brown ones grappling wildly with each other.
"Duo..." //Koi...Don’t...//

Duo wasn’t aware of the danger coming for him, too caught up with grappling
with Maxwell. His double was faster and stranger than him; it was like
fighting Heero, only worse, a stone monster with the ability to move and
speak. Maxwell didn’t take pain as well as he would have thought though, and
he was slowing down. He landed a firm punch that smashed into the part of
Maxwell’s face that he had bitten previously. The assassin cried out and he
reached wildly for the gun nearby, praying it had a two-bullet chamber. A
shadow fell over him and his eyes snapped up.

Chang’s expression was pure fury and hatred. "You...touched...him."

Duo scrambled back, tangled in blood-matted hair. "I-"

"Don’t..you...fucking...*cough* fucking touch...him."

"Fei-!"

Wufei lurched forward, wrapping his arms around his doppleganger’s shoulders
and burying his nails in Chang’s chest. The world was fuzzy and he still
didn’t have his breath, gasping as Chang bucked back, slamming his head
against Wufei’s. White flashed across the Chinese pilot’s vision from the
force, bile rising in his throat. But he dug in, refusing to let go.
"You...you won’t kill him...not Duo...not him..."

"Bastard!"

Duo’s heart was in his throat as he whirled, grabbing the gun, kicking at
Maxwell, sending the assassin falling backwards. Breathing a quick prayer
that he’d been wrong about the chamber, Duo aimed for Chang’s chest. The gun
was too low-caliber for the bullet to pass all the way through...

*BANG*

Duo’s aim was perfect.

Through the heart.

Instant death.

Chang remained suspended a moment as the last call of the gun settled, dark
eyes wide with shock, then crumpled abruptly into a blood splattered pile of
white cloth as if someone had severed an invisible string. Duo’s hands shook
as he lowered the gun, not quite able to accept that the beloved face that
had looked at him in pain and shock wasn’t beloved at all, that his Wufei
was behind him. Wufei’s eyes were shocked. His double had slipped from his
grasp, warm blood splashing the ex-pilot’s arms...his blood. The low voice
giving one grunt of surprise as he fell...his voice. Duo met his bank gaze,
catching his lover’s eyes and seeing the shock there. To see yourself
die...even if it was nothing more than a mirror image, was still horrifying.
"Fei . . ?" Duo whispered, reaching out grabbing for the firm bronze hand
too far away to touch.

"You..." Maxwell lay frozen where Duo had kicked him for a long moment,
voice hesitant. Suddenly he launched forward, movement half run and half
crawl, and grabbed at the crumpled form, shaking him. "CHANG!"

Duo quickly crossed the room, reaching for Wufei and pulling him away
shakily. The Chinese boy’s eyes were somewhat glazed from the suddenness of
finally seeing his double and then seeing him die; Duo pulled Wufei flush
against his own body, needing the reassurance of feeling the strong, steady
heartbeat against his chest as his beautiful lover dumbly allowed himself to
be held. "It’s okay, Fei-chan, you’re safe, we’re safe..."

Maxwell’s eyes were wild as he shook his long-time lover again, silently
willing him to speak. There was no answer as the Chinese assassin’s head
lolled to the side, wide unseeing eyes still staring straight forward. Fury
rolled through Maxwell’s veins in waves as a droplet of blood welled up from
corner of the dead boy’s mouth, marking a crimson line across the smooth
line of his jaw and the arch of the still-warm neck. Leaning down, his eyes
closing, he touched his tongue to the bead and slid it across the smooth
skin, retracing the little path of red until he reached the slack mouth and
sealed his lips to those of his dead lover, tongue delving in and tasting
the familiar, erotically metallic tang of blood that he sucked veraciously
into his own mouth. //Your blood to feed my anger, lover// Hands wandered
restlessly over the familiar planes of the dead boy’s body one final time
before he pulled his mouth away, tongue twining behind a moment before he
looked up with death in his eyes. His prey watched him with disgust over
Wufei’s shoulder and his hands curled into claws. If they had killed Yuy, or
another of his "pets," he would have been satisfied with slitting their
throats and having done with it. But no, they had killed his *lover,* they
had killed *Chang,* his equal and companion, and for that...oh, for that
they would *suffer.*

Dark violet eyes were almost black, dark and inhuman. With a low,
animalistic roar, he leapt on all fours, slamming into the two of them,
sending them all rolling. Strong hands wrapped immediately around Duo’s
neck, slamming the ex-pilot to the floor with a gasp of pain. "I’ll kill you
slow...I’ll never kill you at all..." Maxwell hissed, fingers tightening as
his eyes widened to crazed circles of pure purple, pupils no more than
pinpricks. "I’ll kill you forever!"

Wufei shifted, panting, head pounding with agony that coincided with each
beat of his heart. He barely heard Maxwell’s words as he shifted, lifting
his head slowly. //Duo...Duo...where...//

Hands shifted restlessly through the carpet, finding something smooth and
familiar. The sword. The one he had dropped earlier. His hands closed on the
hilt and he lifted it, but his coordination was all off and he smashed it
down hilt-first into Maxwell’s temple.

Duo’s world was filled with black spots, hands scratching desperately at
Maxwell’s arms. Suddenly the other boy went limp, falling heavily on his
body with a low, astonished grunt. "What-?" he croaked, eyes widening, sight
clearing.

Wufei knelt beside him, eyes dark and wild, confused. The hilt of the sword
he held was bloody, several long strands of hair wrapped around it. His hand
shook and the sword fell harmlessly to the carpet as he fell backward,
barely catching himself before his head hit the bed’s metal side.

//Maxwell...!// The assassin’s eyes were closed and Duo threw him off with a
surge of adrenalin. The assassin’s chest moved in shallow, uneasy breaths
but breaths none-the-less. //Not dead..?//

"Duo...oh, gods, Duo, I can’t..where are you...?"

"Fei?" Duo sat up shakily, crawling over to the other boy, drawing him
close. "I’m here, I’m here..."

Wufei blinked, too tired to reach out in return. As his lungs regained the
air they needed his vision was slowly clearing, color returning in the form
of fuzzy mismatched shapes. "I...hurt."

Duo laughed softly. "Yeah, Fei-chan, I hurt too."

"You’re...all right?"

"Hai! Hai..." Duo winced. His ribs were screaming for attention and his
throat felt like it had been crushed in a vice, but he could breath again
and his vision was clear. "Can you stand up?"

"If it’ll get you the hell out of here, I will," Wufei replied tiredly. Duo
smiled and wrapped his arms around the other boy’s shoulders, both of them
using the side of the bed to stand shakily.

"It’s like a war zone..." Chang’s body was crumpled where he had died, dark
eyes glassy and unseeing in a pool of blood. Maxwell was unconscious,
breathing but barely, an odd gurgle in the breaths.

"Then we’ll need...prisoners of war..."

"What?"

"I can hear one of them breathing," Wufei said shakily. Colors were
sharpening slowly and he shook his head hard. "We’ll need to take that one
back with us."

"Are you NUTS?! We don’t even know if *we* can get out of here-"

A shimmering black box appeared in the air in front of them.

Duo’s eyes flew wide. "What the hell-!"

"It seems," Wufei said softly, "our silent guardian angel has struck again."

"What-?"

"I’ll tell you later, Duo...for now we need to go home." Wufei sighed,
reaching out toward Maxwell’s prone body and kneeling to check his pulse.
"He...won’t be waking up anytime soon. Between the two of us, we should be
able to carry him."

"I still say you’re crazy."

"Do you want *more* of them coming through? We still don’t know what
happened to Quatre’s double. He’s still out there somewhere..not to mention
another Noin, Sally, Zechs, *Trieze*..."

Duo gritted his teeth but leaned down, grabbing one of his unconscious
double’s arm. "You’re right, damn it."
"Of course," Wufei said with weak humor.

"Egotist."

"Exactly. But...here." Wufei stepped forward, grabbing the silk sheets and
tearing a strip loose with his teeth. "Stand still."

Duo stood still, strangely light-headed. Wufei ran the cloth over his chest,
wiping away the excess blood around the wound carved in Duo’s skin. "Good
gods..."

Duo felt suddenly ill, his head spinning and bile cramming his throat.
"I...I don’t want to know, Fei. Give me some time, okay?"

Wufei looked about to argue, but he nodded. Duo was in danger of going into
shock already. No reason to make it worse. But after they got the
information from Maxwell that they needed...Wufei was going to kill him.

With careful motions, he began wrapping his lover’s chest. Duo looked up,
steadfastly avoiding finding out what was carved in his skin, what would
stay with him his entire life.

It was Maxwell’s signature.

Maxwell’s passion, carved into Duo’s flesh forever.

In smooth, graceful strokes was the kanji for "itami."

Pain.

"We’ll find a way to get rid of this," Wufei said softly. "We’ll just keep
it covered until then. You won’t ever have to see it."

Duo looked at him in surprise, then slowly nodded his agreement. He didn’t
want to know, didn’t want to have something so real to hold him forever to
this nightmare. It all seemed like a dream already, even as the two of them
lifted an exact copy of himself between them. Wufei paused then reached out,
snagging the rest of the sheet and wrapping it loosely around their captive.
"....Ne, Fei-chan?"

"Hai?" Wufei paused, about to step through the portal.

"....I love you."

Wufei smiled, tired but real enough to take Duo’s breath away. "Hai...wo ai
ni."

And they left the nightmare behind.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

In the silence of an arctic field, dead silence was torn by an explosion
that rocked the skies and painted the world the orange of dancing flame.
Silent and deadly, flames tore free and unfettered through a Project of
unparalleled success. Nothing escaped their cleansing heat.

Computers.

Carpet.

Files.

Drugs.

Devices swift and deadly, designed to create the perfect assassin.

An infirmary that housed two silent bodies, blond and brunette.

The flames slipped through the hallway and roared into rooms.

They licked across and devoured red silk sheets.

Walls of metal toys.

A drawer of cremes, lotions, and oils.

A blood-stained sword.

And a boy forever eighteen with eyes of ebon glass.

Until finally, there was nowhere for the flames to go and they died out
silently, leaving no more than a pile of blackened rubble and cold, pristine
snow.

~END PART NINE~