To Thine Own Self Be True
Standard Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing. This is just one of the many fan spawned writings of another crazy person. I also go to college and have lots of loans to pay off, so if you're looking for money, you've come to the wrong place! Oh, and 'Hamlet' was written by Shakespeare. That's where the title is from.
Author's Note: Yes, the title is from 'Hamlet'. There's a reason. And before you read further, this is not a pairing fic! I simply wanted Duo to have some good conversations with one of the pilots he probally connected to the least. This is a bit of a character study, so bear with me please!
Wufei pounded his fist uselessly on the now un-responsive helm. The tremor that had woken him up had apparently shaken his engine apart. Now, stranded several thousand miles from the nearest base, he could only wait for help to show up. He made a mental note to track down the last mechanic who worked on the shuttle and personally take him down a few pegs.
Some days it just didn't pay to get out of bed.
He had sent out a distress signal as soon as he realized just how bad the damage was, but it would probally be several more hours before he got a response, and then several days while a tow ship made it's way out to him. Well, he had been wanting a vacation. Not that a stranded shuttle was the best place for one, but at least he was alone. He didn't normally mind other people, espically in small doses, but he did enjoy spending time by himself. He had always been a rather solitary person, for as long as he could remember, and having to deal with a lot of unruly and rather annoying people day after day did tend to strain his personal resources.
He finished venting his anger on the now useless control board and took a deep breath. Not for the first time he wished he had more talen with machines. True, he had always maintained his own Gundam, and he was able to make general upgrades to current equipment, but he had never had the talent to make the instinctive jurry-rigs that a true master could. Which ment he was glad the environmental controls were still functioning. The temperature had started to drop a bit, but it wasn't anything he couldn't handle.
He had just decided to take a short nap when he heard an even tapping on the hull outside. The even, steady beat suddenly changed into a familar sequence. He knew only one person that had resurected the 'shave and a haircut' knock. He surpressed a graon as he headed to the airlock, readying himself as the he watched the lights cycle through their sequence.
"Hey Wufei! Heard you got into a bit of trouble!" Duo grinned at him as he stepped out of the airlock, removing his helmet as he did so.
Wufei simply nodded his head in acknowledgment. "Maxwell."
"So what are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?"
"Ah, the polite way of telling me it's none of my business." Duo smirked at him. "Oh well. Guess I should give you a ride in anyways, seeing as we're old buddies."
Wufei surpressed a sigh at that. So much for a quiet few days! Still, he did have some reports to file, and getting back sooner ment he could take care of them sooner. It was an odd fact of life that paperwork seemed to multiply when left alone.
"And I'm sure we can work out a good discount for ya, too!" Duo's blue eyes shone with innocent, but Wufei wasn't taken in with that act.
"What do you mean, a 'good discount'? Didn't you just say we were old buddies?"
"That's why I can give you a discount! After all, friendship is one thing, but business is another. Don't worry, I'll send the bill directly to the Preventers. It won't cost you a thing!" He paused to look around at the dimmed lights. "Ya know, why don't you get your gear and stow on my shuttle while we're going in? I can't tell exactly what damage you have, but you're missing a big chunk of your engine, and it's going to get cold in here pretty soon."
"Not that cold," Wufei replied a bit stiffly.
"Cold enough. No use sitting around freezing when you have a nice warm place to stay." Duo grinned at him. "Besides, even though I don't have a real kitchen, I always stock up with the best rations. It's gotta be better than the standard issue MREs you've got here!"
Wufei sighed as he nodded his surrender. He figured Duo would spend the next three days hacking into his com systme just to talk to him if he didn't agree.
Duo beamed at him and slapped him on the back. "Great! Get your gear and suit up. I'll take care of the tow lines, and meet you over at my shuttle!"
Wufei simply shook his head and pushed off down the corridor towards the sleep compartment. He wondered if he could get Sally to authorize hazard pay for this.
Duo cycled through the airlock, clipped his safety line back on, and set about attaching the tow lines. From this closer vantage point, he could see that the damage to the engine was more extensive than he thought. He gave a low whistle at the several meter hole blown out of the side of the hull. With this much damage, it was a good thing he had been in the area when Wufei's signal went out. He made a mental note to remind Wufei to get a new mechanic. And run a more through background check on his current one.
He finished securing the lines and followed one to his craft. Shuttle didn't really do it justice, though it certainly wasn't big enough to be called a 'ship'. 'I really need to think of a better name for her,' he thought as he cycled through the airlock. 'Why the hell did I let Hilde talk me into Scuttlebug?' He took of helmet and grinned at Wufei, who was waiting in the corridor, duffle in hand.
"See? Isn't this nice and warm, 'Fei?" he said as he headed down the corridor, motioning Wufei to follow him. He heard a rather annoyed grunt behind him, and swallowed his chuckle. After a few meters, he stopped in front of the spare quarters and placed his hand on the wallplate. The door slid open and the lights inside came on, illuminating a small room, complete with bed and desk terminal. "You can stay here. It's not much, but at least you don't have to bunk with me."
"This will be adequate," Wufei commented as he moved inside.
"Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say." Duo grinned at him again. "I'm going up front to get this show on the road. If you want to come on up after you stow your stuff, it's a left and up the ramp. If you need anything, com's on the left. The grand tour itself'll have to wait a bit though." He waved and pushed himself off towards the con room, wondering just what he was getting into. 'Oh well,' he said to himself with a mental shrug. 'At the very worst, he'll strangle me, saving Heero the trouble of doing so when he finds out I borrowed his car.' He grinned. This was going to be an interesting few days.
Wufei took the time to shrug out of his bulky EVA suit he had put on when his shuttle broke down and pulled on a sleeker environment suit, one that was much easier to move around in. Getting dressed in zero-g is itself a feat of acrobatics, and once he zipped his suit up, he felt the thrum of the engines as Duo powered up. Curious about the modifications he had seen on his way over, he then headed up to the con room. As he moved up the ramp, he could hear Duo's voice, talking rather encouragingly.
"That's it baby. See? It's not that much extra weight. I know it'll take us a few extra days to get home. But with the shipment we just did, I have enough for the upgrades I promised you!"
Wufei entered the con room, where Duo was sitting with his back to the door. "Maxwell, who are you talking to?" he asked, wonder if the braided pilot had finally lost it.
"Oh! 'Fei! Hi!" Duo spun his chair around, looking slightly embarrassed. "Won't take us long to get back to L2. With the chunks of engine missing from your shuttle, it doesn't weigh as much as I thought. We can't go full speed towing something, but we might be able to go as high as 3/4."
"Maxwell." Wufei crossed his arms over his chest.
"Yeah?" Duo gave him a very wide-eyed innocent look.
"I asked who you were talking to."
"Well, if you simply must know, I was talking to the shuttle."
"Is there any particular reason I should know about?"
"Or have I finally lost my mind?" Duo finished his question with a smirk. "Well, just to ease your mind, I'm still sane." He paused a beat. "Well, as sane as I've ever been," he continued with a laugh. Wufei simply waited for his explanation. Duo shrugged. "Something I've noticed about machines. The longer you have one and work on it, the more you get to know it. How it handles, how it feels. In time, they can develop their own personality." He patted the console warmly. "Granted this isn't much to look at. But I've been working on her for a lot of years now. I've made a lot of modifications to her. I know ever belt and wire on her." His gaze traveled upward and around the room. "She's gotten me through a lot of stuff, and even saved my life a time or two." He shrugged, a little embarrassed. "I don't really expect anyone else to understand, but you did ask."
Wufei shook his head. "No, I do understand," he replied, remembering the feel of Nataku's controls in his hands. "Even a machine can develop a spirit. It's best to honor it."
Duo's eyes widened a bit at that comment, obviously startled at Wufei's agreement. Wufei felt a flash of amusement, and carefully kept his smile from showing. It was the first time he could remember really surprising the other pilot. Duo grinned at him again, his words a bit warmer. "Well I'll be. We might actually have something in common!"
Wufei rolled his eyes at that. "I'm not sure that's a good thing, Maxwell."
Duo laughed. "Wufei Chang, making a joke?? Let me mark my calendar!"
"I never said I didn't have a sense of humor," he responded, a bit indignantly.
"Only that I had a warped one." Duo snickered at that. "Oh well, if we were all the same, it would be rather dull around here." He unstrapped his belt and bounded to his feet. "You want the grand tour? Now that I've got the course set, I've got a bit of time to show you around."
Wufei shrugged. "I'll admit I am curious about some of your modifications."
Duo's grin widened. "C'mon then, 'Fei! Curiosity killed the cat, and we wouldn't want that to happen to you!" He pushed off down the ramp and Wufei followed him, wondering how he was going to manage to survive three days with the over-eager American pilot. This was defiantly going to be an interesting few days.
"And last, but certainty not least, the galley!" Duo's palm activated the light senor, illuminating the small but neat space. "Now, I don't know 'bout you, but I'm starving!"
"Somehow, that doesn't surprise me," Wufei commented dryly, settling into a plastic seat.
Duo laughed again as he opened a cabinet, searching for the right box. He always enjoyed showing off his ship, especially to an interested party. Wufei seemed to have an eye for picking out some of the important modifications he had done, and it was fun to explain things to someone who's eyes didn't glaze over when he started going into detail. "You hungry, 'Fei?" He looked over his shoulder to catch Wufei's absent nod while still rummaging. 'Gotta install that cabinet set when I get back,' he reminded himself. He dug out a couple of his favorite MREs and tossed one to the other pilot, noting the distant look. "So, is something bugging you, 'Fei?" he asked, starting into his meal with gusto.
"Hmm?" Wufei looked up. "No, nothing's bothering me. What gave you that idea?"
"Oh, you just seem distracted."
He simply shrugged and started on his meal. "I was thinking about what you said about my shuttle."
"Did you get a good look at it when you transferred over?"
"No. How bad is it?"
"Let's put it this way," Duo said seriously. "You'd've probably froze to death if you'd've had to wait for someone from the nearest base." Wufei's eyebrows rose a bit as he continued. "From what I could see, it didn't look like simple engine failure. You had a hole in the side of hull about four meters wide." He shook his head as he stuffed his empty meal wrapper in the trash. "I'm amazed your entire engine didn't blow completely up. I know you didn't miss the debris trail you had out there. Most of that was your propulsion system."
"You think it was a bomb." Wufei's tone made it a statement rather than a question, and Duo nodded in response. "Yeah. If you want, I'll check it out when we get back and I can get into it for a good look. If you want to do it yourself, though, you can use my dock space. I've got some new scanners that would help, and you can use them too."
"We'll both check it over," Wufei replied. "There's less of a chance of one of us missing something that way."
Duo nodded. "It's your call. Anyhoo, hate to eat and run, but I got some work to do on the gravity generators, so I'll leave you to your own devices." He grinned at the other pilot, unable to resist a bit of teasing. "The computer console in your room gives you access to most of the system. Just don't try hacking into the rest. I don't think you'd like my surprises."
"I'm not in the habit of hacking into computers for no purpose," Wufei responded, not rising to the bait.
Duo laughed at that, and headed out of the galley towards the engine room. He suspected it would take him the rest of the evening to fix the generators, and he wanted to get an early start. While he was sure Wufei could, and probably would, help him out, he just didn't want anyone else working on his ship. Not even Hilde knew exactly what he had done.
When Wufei woke up the next morning, it took him a moment to register where he was. He had spent the evening writing up a report on what happened, then turned in early, rather tired from the stress of the day. He had slept better than he usually did in unfamiliar surroundings, so it took him a moment to realize what was different. He pulled himself out of bed, completely amazed that he was in full gravity. He knew Duo had intended to fix the gravity last night, but he had only expect the normal half-g that was standard on space vehicles.
He quickly got dressed and headed down the corridor to Duo's quarters. He stopped outside the door, hearing a very faint thumping sound. He frowned in confusion as he laid his hand on the wall plate. The door opened, and he was greeted with rather loud rock music. It took a moment for him to understand some of the lyrics being whispered into the microphone. 'I'm not afraid of tomorrow, I only scared of myself, feels like my insides are on fire and I'm looking through the eyes of someone else...' He wondered briefly if there was any significance to the lyrics, or if the other pilot simply liked the music.
He crossed the threshold, expecting a rather cluttered room. "Maxwell?" He raised his voice above the music, looking around the room. The small sleeping space was packed with various odds and ends, thought it was surprisingly organized. Everything was stored neatly away in clear cabinets, except for a small stack of books and notebooks on the corner of the desk. Various posters covered the walls, most of them old and faded relics of times and movies past. A glint of silver under the desk light caught his eye, and he moved closer to the desk. The little silver cross Duo always wore dangled from the light switch, and underneath it on the desk was an old and tattered Bible that looked as if it had survived several wars.
The other pilot came out of the bathroom then in dark jeans and white shirt, tying off the end of his braid. "Oh! Morning, 'Fei!" he said, thumbing down the music. "Sorry, didn't realize it was so loud. I'm not used to having other people on board." He shrugged into a black flannel shirt and sat on the edge of the bed to put on his boots. "And sorry 'bout the mess," he commented nervously, noting Wufei's interest in the room. "Was going through some stuff last night and haven't gotten around to putting it back up." He nodded at the stack of books on the desk and Wufei picked up the top one. His eyes widened in surprise as he read the title. "Hamlet?" he asked, setting the book back down on the desk.
"Yeah, I picked it up at a market a few months ago. I'd read it before, but that's a rare edition, so I just had to get it. Got it for a good bargain, too. I don't think the guy knew what he had." Duo grinned at him as they left his quarters. "You seem a bit surprised."
"I'll admit I never saw you as a Shakespeare reader."
"I dunno," he shrugged. "I've read several of his plays. He's very poetic, even if you are sometimes left wondering what he's saying. 'Taming of the Shrew' cracked me up, but 'Hamlet' is probally my favorite play."
"Oh?" Wufei glanced at him as they detoured into the galley to satisfy the other pilot's never-ending hunger. Duo seemed a bit pre-occupied as he rummaged through the MREs.
"Well, it is the first one I read. And besides, it's a really interesting character study." He pulled out two granola bars, tossing one to Wufei. "I mean, here's a guy who's uncle killed his dad and married his mom, which itself is probably enough to make anyone goofy. But in his scheme to force his uncle to confess to the murder, he ends up accidentally killing the father of the girl he loves, driving her nuts, and eventually she ends commiting sucicide. His uncle also wants to kill him, and I'm not sure his mother would be to upset if he dies, considering the fuss he's causing. In the end, he's left with nothing but his revenge, which kinda backfires because he dies too." Duo tossed his empty granola wrapper in the trash and hitched himself up on the counter. "I really feel sorry for Horatio, though. Not only does he have to watch all this happening to his best friend, who while playing the part of someone mad with grief has really started to go nuts, he also watches him die. And he wants to die too, but Hamlet wouldn't let him. He basically told him to stay alive and keep his story alive, which means he has to relive the worst memories of his life over and over again, all for love of his friend." He paused and cocked his head to the side with a grin at Wufei's look of surprise. "You're just surprised I know how to read, ain't ya?"
Wufei shook his head with chagrin. "No, it's not that. I'd just simply never thought of the story in that light before. When I read it, I didn't get very much out of it."
"Well, you probably had tutors and teachers telling you what they thought all of it meant, right?" Wufei nodded. "That's probably why," Duo continued. "While I admit it would've been nice to have someone help me through it the first time simply because the language is so confusing, having to figure it out myself meant I could form an unbiased opinion. There's times I wish I could've just gone to a normal school, but I think on the whole, I've learned a lot more on my own, mostly because I can learn what I want or what I need, instead of a lot of things I don't care about." He shrugged and hopped down from the counter. "Hang on, I just thought of something I forgot. Be right back!" He ambled out the door, whistling aimlessly.
Wufei watched him go while he started readjusting his thinking. He had a feeling he had seriously misjudged the other pilot, a rather uncomfortable thought. Duo's cheerful talk had always seemed somewhat random, a way to fill empty spots in a conversation. After spending some time with him, he had simply thought of the American as a cheerful, somewhat surface person. True, the other pilot could be serious if the situations demanded it, but he had believed it was simply a response to a situation rather than an integral part of Duo's personality. Now, with a few insightful comments, Duo had neatly fractured Wufei's conception of him, with even knowing or trying.
He looked up from his thoughts as Duo came back in, carrying a book. "Here, thought you might like to take a second look," he commented as he carefully handed Wufei his copy of 'Hamlet'. "This time, forget what anyone's told you, including me. You might actually like it." Wufei raised an eyebrow at that and got a wide grin in return. "Anyhoo, I go some work to do on the computer, so if ya need me, I'll be in the con room." He waved as he sauntered out, the light catching on the silver cross around his neck; the same cross that had been hanging on the desk lamp.
Wufei opened the well worn volume after a moment and started reading. He had to admit, he had nothing better to do, and he was curious just what else he might have missed in the story.