Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning:Male/male sex, graphic, violence, language,
During the war there had been a definite 'spark' between them. It had grown stronger through every hardship, and tragedy, of that war. It had seemed unquenchable, yet something that had needed to be explored, thoroughly, later. That 'later' had seemed an unspoken promise, that after the war, there would be a time and place to find out if that spark could turn into a flame.The promise was broken, though, as soon as peace was declared, and Quatre Winner, decided to be selfless.
It was noble, of course, and something that Trowa expected of the young man, who had given up everything to create the new peace. It was something that he couldn't emulate, though. Trowa had been raised a mercenary, his reasons for fighting the war far different than the ones of the idealistic pilot of Sandrock. When the war ended, there had been time for rest, and time to indulge his new love of the circus, but, in the end, there had still been the need to join the nearest force and do what he had always done, fight. Preventers had hired him. As long as they paid, he would follow their orders, and fill that void in his psyche, the one that had been there as long as he could remember.
"You didn't say much back there," Duo said as he walked beside Trowa down the corridors of Preventer headquarters.
Trowa twitched a shoulder, a faint shrug that was meant to convey disinterest, but Duo wasn't buying it.
"How long has it been since you saw him?" Duo wondered. "Four years?"
"He's been on Mars colony," Trowa replied shortly.
"Working himself into an early grave, I heard," Duo snorted. "I don't know why he hasn't had a breakdown before this."
"He made his own choices," Trowa replied and then worried his lip as Duo gave him a knowing look.
"We all did," Duo agreed. "We were a bunch of idiots, though. We weren't used to having futures. Everyone changed their choices, in the end, except for Quatre. He was determined to give peace and prosperity to everyone."
"Guilt," Trowa muttered, cutting to the truth of the matter. "He never could forgive himself anything."
Duo sighed and nodded. "Me and you, we know when to forget it, and get on with life, but the other guys wear their past like a ten ton weight around their necks. Quatre is the only one who tried to give his life up for the future, though. The others haven't been that crazy."
"Noble," Trowa protested.
Duo smirked. "Ah, touchy, still, about Mr. Winner? You two should have a chance to clear the air, now that we're going to be on his guard detail while he's Earth side."
Trowa glared. "Clear the air?"
"There's been this fog around you, Trowa, since he left for space," Duo explained. "Don't try to say it's not true. You two have unfinished business. Finish it and get on with it, one way or another."
"Your advice, would be worth something," Trowa retorted, "If you followed it yourself."
Duo raised eyebrows. "Meaning?"
"Don't act stupid," Trowa replied.
Duo shrugged and jammed hands into the pockets of his Preventer uniform. "I know when the odds are against me. You, at least, know that Quatre is gay. Gundam pilots are rare. Three of them being gay, is one in a million. Four, would be one in a kazillion."
"Is that a real number?" Trowa asked with a snort.
Duo grimaced. "Getting struck by lightning, while the sun goes super nova, has better odds."
"So, instead of just asking, Heero, you'll just-" Trowa began, but Duo cut him off.
"I'll just go on living, thanks." Duo shuddered. "You never saw him bend steel with his bare hands. I'm not going to piss a man like that off by asking if he likes dick instead of chicks."
"Yours, especially?" Trowa chuckled.
"You try bringing that up, in conversation, with 'Mr. Glare of Death', right after the ballistics report, and before the forensics meeting," Duo grumbled. "You wouldn't find it so damned funny."
"Try after work," Trowa suggested.
"There is no after work for that guy," Duo lamented. "He only talks shop or clams up entirely."
Duo started and then gave Trowa a hard look. "You are changing the subject. This conversation was about you and Quatre."
"You were having the conversation," Trowa pointed out. "I was just listening."
Duo shook his head, "Avoid all you like, now, Trowa, but you won't be able to avoid Quatre when he's staring you in the face and giving you those big blues."
"You'd be surprised," Trowa bit back.
Duo snickered. "Somehow, I don't think I will be."
"Duo?" A man strode from a hallway, smiling and taking Duo by the elbow. "I haven't seen you around. If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were hiding from me." He chuckled, dark and lean, in his Preventer uniform, he was a head taller than Duo and had a white, flashing smile.
"Of course I wasn't hiding, Yuri," Duo assured the man with a too wide grin. "I've just been really busy."
"Too busy for another date?" the man wondered. "I know a nice Italian restaurant.."
Duo blushed, glanced sideways at Trowa, and then replied, "Uh, well, let me check how things are, on my schedule, and I'll get back to you, okay?"
"Okay," the man agreed, but added with a squeeze of Duo's elbow, "Don't take too long, though. I'll be missing you."
"Okay...," Duo replied lamely and then watched the man continue on his way. "Don't say it," he finally said to the silent Trowa.
"He's damned handsome," Trowa replied, ignoring his plea. "Everyone wants him. How did you manage to get him interested in you?"
Duo glared. "I wasn't trying to, and that's probably why he wants me. I don't think any gay man has ever ignored him. I'm a challenge."
Trowa smirked. "He'd be good for a few roles in the sack. It doesn't have to be serious. Maybe then, you wouldn't be so wound up over Heero?"
"A good lay is going to make you forget about Quatre?" Duo shot back. "Is that how it works? Where do you hook up with your casual screws, at the backside of a bar?"
Trowa was hotly angry for a moment and then he grunted and looked uncomfortable. "I suppose that I deserve that."
"I don't want second best," Duo told him and then snickered. "Besides, I heard that Yuri likes to dress his guys up in skirts."
Trowa laughed a little too much.
"Why do I think that you just imagined me in a skirt?" Duo snarled.
"With pony tails!" Trowa laughed.
Duo gave him a hard shove. "Cut it, Barton! I don't go that way."
"Then you had better be a little more firm about getting rid of Yuri," Trowa suggested as they reached Duo's desk and he pointed to a red rose laying there.
A small note, in elegant script, read, Beauty for the beautiful.
"How sweet," Trowa snickered. "Maybe you should let Hilde help you pick out some feminine lingerie?"
Duo tossed the rose into Trowa's face. Still laughing, he caught it and then dropped it into the waste bin.
"What are you going to say to him?" Duo asked as he pulled at the collar of his dress Preventer uniform.
Trowa was keeping a blank expression firmly in place, hands locked behind his back, as if he were standing at attention. They were positioned outside of Quatre's suite, and had been for hours, without any sign of their one time war comrade. Aids went in and out, along with the occasional dignitary, but the door was always firmly shut after them, not giving them any clue about what was going on inside.
"You do have to talk to him," Duo pressed. "It is part of the job."
"Yes, sir, no sir," Trowa replied.
"Asshole," Duo retorted. "You are determined to hold a grudge, aren't you?"
"I wasn't the one who left," Trowa pointed out.
"See, you do care," Duo snorted. "Don't give me that 'poker' face. I know what's going on under that starched shirt. You want back with him."
"I was never 'with' him," Trowa replied with a hint of bitterness. "He's always had his goals firmly before him."
Duo sighed. "You should give him another chance."
Their relief arrived and Trowa gave Duo a sour look. "That was his second chance. He's made it clear that we are not a blip on his visuals."
"Maybe he didn't know that we were here?" Duo tried.
"He knows," Trowa replied and shrugged, as if letting emotions go, and began walking away.
Duo followed, with a last scowl at the door, and then gave Trowa's arm a brief squeeze. He began to say something in comfort, when they came face to face with Heero Yuy.
Heero was busy punching numbers into a handheld. He grunted as he passed them, his only acknowledgement of their existence.
Duo looked after him and jerked a thumb at Heero's retreating back. "See, you can't judge someone just because they ignore you. Heero may look totally engrossed with setting up a security grid, but, he really just grunted, 'Want your hot body. Love every part of you. Let's get together, soon.' Everyone has their code, Trowa."
"All of that from a grunt?" Trowa replied with a chuckle.
"Of course," Duo replied with a superior air. "What I'm saying is, don't judge Quatre until you've actually talked to him, face to face."
"You are under the impression that I care," Trowa replied. "I don't."
Duo snickered. "See? That's Trowa code for, 'I love him, but I'm too freakin' stubborn to tell him.' Quatre may not be getting that, so I suggest that you help him break the code, by actually telling him that."
"What's your code?" Trowa wanted to know.
Duo looked irritated and then replied sarcastically, "Grinning like an idiot and saying, How's it going Heero, really means, 'I'm too chicken shit to tell you that I like dicks, namely yours, and everything that's attached to it.' I'm hopeful that he will break the code... someday... without hurting me."
Trowa looked sympathetic.
"I don't need the pity, crap," Duo growled.
"Yes, you do," Trowa replied. "So do I. We are damned pathetic."
Duo sighed. "Yes, we are."
"You look worried," Duo noticed.
"He's not taking care of himself," Trowa growled back. "The doctor goes in, stays awhile, and then comes out looking pissed. Quatre won't stop working, even in a sick bed."
"That's Quatre," Duo sighed. "We sacrificed everything to fight in Gundams. He sacrifices everything by working at the corporate level until he drops dead."
Trowa gave him an angry glare."Don't say that again! Quatre is not going to die."
Duo was instantly contrite. "Sorry. Joking's my way of easing the tension." He thought for a moment and then grinned.
"What now?" Trowa demanded suspiciously.
Duo motioned to themselves, "We're his guards, right?"
Trowa snorted in irritation. "We've been doing this for a week and you just now figure that out, Maxwell?"
"Ha. ha," Duo retorted, but then more seriously, "All I'm saying is, that we're here to protect him from all danger. All danger, Trowa. Why can't that include visitors if they endanger his life with their business?"
"We'll get suspended," Trowa replied with sure knowledge.
"Maybe," Duo countered.
"We will," Trowa assured him.
"It would be worth it, though, wouldn't it?" Duo wondered. "For Quatre?"
"Quatre hasn't even acknowledged our existence," Trowa reminded him. He crossed his arms over his chest tightly and hid behind his hair. "We haven't seen him since we were given this assignment. He's made it clear that we are no longer his friends."
Duo shook his head. "You're wrong."
"How am I wrong?" Trowa wanted to know, pain in his voice.
"He's just as scared as you are," Duo surmised."He knows he hurt you bad, and he doesn't know how to make it right, so he hides and avoids you, just like you're avoiding him."
"I am not avoiding him," Trowa growled.
"You could go in there, then," Duo suggested. "You are allowed to check his perimeter."
"Are you being crude?" Trowa demanded.
Duo gaped for a few seconds and then snickered. "Nope, that dirty thought was all yours, buddy. Check his perimeter, as in check the room, not his body, you big pervert."
Trowa glared. "I don't intend to go where I'm not wanted, to check any kind of 'perimeter', so it doesn't matter what you meant."
Duo gave a long suffering roll of his eyes. "Yup," he said, "total avoidance behavior."
"Is that what the staff psychologist told you, about Heero?" Trowa replied sarcastically.
Duo frowned sharply, didn't speak for some time, and then growled, "Here comes somebody. Are you going to do this, or what?"
Trowa said nothing in reply, but, when the official looking man, with a heavy briefcase, presented himself with an ID card, Trowa told him flatly. "Quatre Winner can't see anyone today, doctor's orders."
The man looked annoyed. "Surely that doesn't include me?"
"Yes, it does," Duo replied firmly and even put a hand on his gun to emphasize it.
"I'll call and confirm that," the man countered and pulled out a cell phone, eyes nervously staring at Duo's gun hand. "I have very important business."
"All of you do," Duo replied angrily. "That's the problem. The guy needs rest."
The man looked guilty and lowered the cell. His eyes went to the door, as if he could see Quatre inside, and then he sighed as he pocketed his phone again. "I suppose that it can wait until tomorrow."
"Good man," Duo replied. "Once he's rested, he'll be ready for whatever you got."
The man nodded thoughtfully and then went away.
Duo grinned at Trowa. "See? That was easy."
Trowa frowned sourly. "Somehow, I don't think that the others will be that willing to come back later."
"Probably not," Duo snickered, "but we can be very persuasive, if we have to."
"We are definitely getting suspended for this," Trowa lamented as he stepped forward to stop the next businessman coming towards the door.
"Uh-Oh, busted," Duo muttered aside to Trowa as Heero stalked down the hallway with his phone to his ear. He lowered it as he reached them, his nostrils flaring unpleasantly.
"A simple guard detail," Heero growled. "Check ID, monitor for trouble."
Duo rubbed the back of his neck. "Well... it seemed to us-"
"To you," Trowa interjected.
Duo glared at him and then continued, "To US, that some of the people coming to see Quatre were.... way too hyped up on their own... uh..."
"Enthusiasm," Trowa supplied, straight faced.
"Enthusi- asa-what?"Duo tried to repeat, looking at his companion in confusion, and then plowed on. "Ass shine, I was going to say. ANyway, they were bothering Quatre into an early grave. He's here to rest."
"Check ID, monitor for trouble," Heero repeated, stepping close to Duo, almost nose to nose.
Duo swallowed hard, "We were," he replied plaintively.
"Did the people that you kept out have no ID or suspicious ID?" Heero asked, blue eyes glinting.
"N-No," Duo managed, voice almost cracking.
"Then your orders are to allow them in, until we are given orders to the contrary," Heero stated firmly. "You are not to 'hotdog' this simple assignment, is that clear?"
"Understood," Duo replied.
Heero gave him a long, steady look, and then turned that look on Trowa, before turning on his heel, putting his cell phone to his ear again, and stalking back down the hallway.
"I was so sure that he was going to kiss you," Trowa snickered.
Duo grinned and then sighed. "He smelled really good. Must be a new aftershave."
Trowa shook his head. "You're hopeless, Maxwell."
"No, I'm not," Duo shot back, "I could see, in his eyes, that he was searching mine to confirm how much we really love each other. Later, after we clock out, he'll tell me so."
Trowa's mouth opened and then closed as he looked after Heero. "Really?" he asked.
Duo replied dejectedly. "I wish."
Trowa clouted him on the shoulder and Duo shrugged and grinned.
"Well," Trowa said as he crossed arms over his chest and leaned back against the wall. "I guess that we have to let people in again."
Duo shook his head. "No, we don't."
Trowa raised an eyebrow. "Heero just said-"
"That they need a valid ID to get in," Duo agreed. "You'd be surprised how many people forget their ID, Trowa."
"Care to demonstrate?" Trowa asked as he motioned to an approaching business man.
"My pleasure," Duo chuckled and stepped forward to stop the man, acting bored and matter of fact. "Sorry, sir, but we've had a few threats called in. I'll have to pat you down for weapons."
"Oh, uh, all right," the man replied nervously and held still while Duo felt quickly over his three piece suit.
Duo finished and then asked, "ID?"
The man searched his clothing and then looked startled. "I seem to have forgotten my ID," he replied in embarrassment. He searched his clothes for a few moments more and then looked both embarrassed and exasperated. "I'll have to go and get it. I'll return shortly."
As he walked away, in a hurry, Duo waggled the man's ID at Trowa. "I don't think you will."
"Clever," Quatre's voice said at his elbow.
Trowa and Duo whipped around to see that the door was open and that a pale and thin Quatre was standing there.
"I wonder how you would explain the large pile of IDs, at the end of the day, though?" Quatre wondered. "I don't think Heero would miss it."
"You look like shit, Quatre!" Duo exclaimed.
"Well, good to see you again, too," Quatre returned with a wry smile.
"Good to see us?" Duo retorted. "As long as we've been standing here, I think you would have come out to say, 'hi', if you really thought seeing us was good."
Quatre's pale cheeks blushed pink and he suddenly found the floor interesting. "I didn't think... It's been a long time."
"For some people, that doesn't matter," Trowa replied, but his head was bowed, as well, and he was hiding behind his hair.
Duo looked from Trowa to Quatre and then rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Trowa's right, that, just because you took off to rebuild the universe, it doesn't mean that we aren't still friends. We need to sit down, have a few beers, and -"
"Mr. Winner!" a man exclaimed and stepped between them to shake Quatre's hand. "I have those building specs that you asked for."
"Of course, Thomas, come right in," Quatre ushered the man past his guards and then said in an undertone, "You are my friends, and I'm sorry that I've become so distant, but they need me."
The door closed and Trowa leaned his forehead against it. "I need you too," he whispered.
"It's about time that he had the doctor check him again," Trowa commented as he and Heero stood outside the examination room.
Duo had called in sick, that day, and Heero had taken his guard duty shift. Trowa had found him dead quiet, unless he was in communication with the many agents in, and around, the building. Trowa might as well have been non existent.
"I really have missed the little shit," Trowa experimented, bored and wondering how far Heero would let him go before he was told to shut up. "Seeing him the other day, made me forget everything, though, except how much I want to be with him."
Heero was looking down at a handheld computer, frowning in concentration.
Trowa tried again. "It was his innocence that made me trust him. He seemed to think that no one would kill him, if he just talked honestly and with reason. Maybe, if they had let him talk sooner, the war wouldn't have happened. He would have had all sides in a group hug within an hour." He chuckled darkly, though and suddenly didn't care about goading Heero into responding. "He really wasn't so innocent, I found out. He could be tough and deadly. He could kill, wholesale, for the cause. He's always had two sides, but those sides were never split, because the goal never wavered. Embrace peace or die. That's like angels, who slay demons, while staying pure; without sin. Quatre isn't without sin, of course, but his higher purposes have always been selfless and that pure. A man can wonder if he can aspire to love someone like that, if he's worthy. It's harder to accept that Quatre won't allow anyone to have that chance. He lives for others. He'll die for them, too, and never allow himself his own peace, his own slice of humanity."
Silence. Heero spoke to an agent, on his cell, and then went back to his handheld. Trowa decided to change his mode of attack, determined to get some response out of the man.
A woman walked by, skirt short, and breasts barely staying in a silk shirt.
"Nice boobs," Trowa commented, watching Heero intently. The man never glanced at the woman.
A few minutes later, a well dressed man walked by.
"His pants are so tight, that I can tell he's wearing briefs instead of boxers," Trowa commented.
Heero's eyes flicked down the hallway and then back to his handheld. The barest response, but a telling one. It changed the thrust of Trowa's attack again, but this time it was about a friend instead of boredom.
"Too bad about Duo," Trowa said. "He seemed very sick when he called."
"Headache," Heero finally responded.
"Hm?" Trowa prompted, excited and hopeful.
"Duo said that he had a headache. He's not ill," Heero replied. "He'll be back at his position, tomorrow."
And that was work related, and worthy of a Yuy report and clarification of agent status.
"Some people will call off about even a hangnail," Trowa said, faking disgust, and trying to goad Heero into more of a response. "Sometimes, I wonder just how dedicated Duo is to his job."
Heero's jaw tensed ever so slightly, and his head began to turn towards Trowa, a frown beginning, but Quatre chose that moment to exit the examination room.
"You have my orders, Mr. Winner," the doctor was saying in exasperation."If you don't follow them, I can't be held responsible for the consequences."
"No one will hold you responsible," Quatre replied. "Everyone knows that I make my own decisions."
Trowa forgot about Heero and Duo, his whole attention on the too thin and worn looking Quatre."You can't help the universe if you fall down and die," Trowa told him.
Quatre's eyes were warm and welcoming, but they were shadowed with exhaustion as well, his mouth a tight line of endurance. "When things settle down, then I can rest," he replied and began walking back towards his suit of rooms.
"Trowa Barton, you are out of line," Heero warned.
"It's all right," Quatre told him. "We're all friends. He can speak freely."
"Not on duty," Heero insisted.
Quatre looked amused, and resigned, as they continued to his suite, but Trowa was seething, hating Heero, just then, for his anal attention to regulations. If he continued to badger Quatre about his health, Yuy would report him, for certain. It was almost pure pain, walking behind Quatre, and feeling helpless to stop the man, who he couldn't deny, had his heart, work himself to death.
On to chapter two