I don't know what possessed me to use that name. Out of all the vast entirety of human nomenclature that spanned a planet, five colony clusters, a moon, and a space fortress, it was the only one I could think of. I sat at my computer, adjusting the files responsible for getting me enrolled and paid-up for classes, and there was only one damn name chorusing through my skull like a corrupted soundfile. Duo Maxwell. I could have been Tom Smith, Jon Li--hell, I could have been Jesus if I wanted to, that would still be less questionable than using my own name.
But the only one I wanted to use was his.
I think I was a bit fixated. Okay, who am I kidding, I was fixated. It wasn't entirely the way those intense deep eyes held me while I tried to decipher the secrets I was sure were hidden in them, or the way his hair fell so adorably into his face, or the little pout that twisted his lips when he was hurt...though that was part of it. So was the lingering memory of his fingertips brushing my face, and the way he looked so small and fragile when he turned and walked away. He wasn't fragile, he was probably the strongest person I'd ever met, and that was what attracted me to him. He was beatiful, unbelievably so, with a surreal beauty that wasn't quite masculine, wasn't quite feminine--hell, I wasn't really sure it was quite human. But Duo...he was human, exuberantly so. He embraced everything I had been taught to condemn, reveled in his mortality, indulged an almost psychotic addiction to feeling. Yet, while this should have made him the grossest of liabilities, he was as capable a soldier as I was. In some ways, he was better. He could appear from the shadows and fade back into them, no lock was safe from him, and the manic gleam in his violet eyes when things exploded around him was enough to send a shiver down even my spine.
I had no idea what had happened to him when he left me. I might have told him--and myself, for a while--that I didn't care, and it was better we didn't keep track of each other anyway. Nobody can give away information they don't have, right? But I wondered. I wondered every night, in that dazed stupor between being awake and being asleep, if he was thinking about me. If he regretted what he'd said, or what I'd done, or if he'd given up and moved on and forgotten all about me. It would serve me right--after all, he couldn't possibly know. How could he? He had no way to tell that everything I'd said still haunted me in the private moments I couldn't defend myself from, mocking me like the trite recitations of ridiculous propaganda that they were--how many times I'd thought I'd seen him, as I turned a corner, disappearing into a crowd, or the way anything in that particular shade of purple would make my stomach tighten with longing at the memory of his eyes.
It was so easy. For a while, I would be him. Laughable, now--as if anyone else could ever be Duo.
I tried, too. I remembered how easily he'd fit into our last school, how girls waved at him and boys clamoured to be seen with him, how he had a smile for everyone and a wave as he passed. His smile was always brighter for me--he made no secret of it. I thought it was because of what we were, the only two souls in our shrinking world that understood our mission. But it was more than that; I think it was even more than what he claimed it was. He recognised that I more than anyone else needed that smile, needed to feel accepted. He wanted to make me feel like less of a monster, and that terrified me more than his tentative kiss. And now when the fading memory of both the smile and kiss still lingered in every wayward thought I did my best to emulate him. My greeting speech to my new class was a sermon of battle and peace, and I could feel their eyes burning holes through my skin as I read it--I forced myself through until the sensei stopped me. She said it was inappropriate. I wondered if she would have said the same, if it had been Duo? But he wouldn't have said it like I did. He wouldn't have to. He didn't need to plan speeches, he just opened his mouth and words came out, and sometimes they were ridiculous and other times they were profound, but you knew damn well that it was what he really believed right then.
I could imagine it, if I closed my eyes--Duo, braid swinging, radiating sensuality without realising it, prancing up to the front of the room with a smile that took over his entire being.
No...there was no way I could ever be Duo, not even for a day. I'd borrowed his name, but I could never hope to even understand him. After last time, he probably wouldn't even give me a chance to try.