Chapter 8:


By: Dyna Dee

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Gundam Wing nor it's characters. My stories are written for my own pleasure and not for any legal tender, darn it!

Warnings: A.U., yaoi, shounen-ai, some language, some violence but not too bad. Maybe some OOC, but I tried to stay with the personalities of the original characters as much as possible.


Part 8

Warnings: A little swearing and guy to guy hurt and coziness.

Two days following the return of Heero and Duo to their unit, the trainees in both Red and Yellow were surprised at the sudden advancement of four Reds into Yellow. Duo, Trevor, Layton, and Heero became full Yellows and were transferred to Captain Zechs's Unit 10. The trainees of both Yellow and Red speculated about the significance of such an event as it was unheard of for any trainee to receive an advancement in the middle of training periods or for one, much less two of the boys to advance as quickly as Heero and Duo had. Though sheltered from most events happening in the world outside the training facility, rumors were rampant among the trainees that war with the Eurasian based Allied Forces and their eighteen space colonies must be closer than previously believed if rules and normal practices at the school were being deviated from.

For decades diplomats from the free trade, capitalist countries that were a part of the U.F.S., United Federation of States, and its colonies and those of the Allied Socialist States that composed half of the planet and space colonies, tried to keep the two world powers from a repeat of the devastating war that had almost destroyed Earth sixty years earlier.

A tentative peace treaty that was created at the end of that war in order for both sides to lick their wounds and repair the major damage done to their countries, was shaky at best. Skirmishes broke out at least twice a year as petty grievances, usually over borders, were fought on a smaller, local scale rather than global warfare. Everyone on Earth and in the colonies believed that sooner or later one of the two major world powers would completely disregard the treaty and war would erupt once again.

The people on the Earth's sphere and those living in the space colonies high above the planet shuddered at the thought of the devastation that would be wrought on the planet should another war start. But, as Master Lo had taught his class that men with great power and the compelling urge to flex it usually cared very little for the pawns they pushed around on the strategic battle boards, much like a game of chess.

The political philosophy of the Allied government, commonly and humorously referred to by those in the Federation as ASS, was to cover the earth and colonies with their political ideology so that it would function more efficiently, with the lives of all the citizens being managed and cared for by the government.

On the other side of the political spectrum was the United Federation that wanted freedom for all at any cost, including the freedom to freely trade with all other countries and colonies and to tax the citizens enjoying a thriving commerce. This political ideology believed in letting the people work towards their own financial welfare and taking care of themselves. These were two diverse and opposing ideologies that in practice could not work together. Instead of compromising to maintain peace, they argued and fought against each other, each ideology supported by leaders who were equally as stubborn as their ideals, firmly standing behind the belief that their form of government stood as the most pragmatic way of life for all humanity. This global competition between the two mighty powers threatened not only each other, but in fact all the lives of millions of people living on the earth and in the colonies, not to mention the fragile ecological system, just to prove their determination to see it their way or no way at all.

Most of the children living in this day had grown up hearing stories of terror and destruction ostensibly wrought by the "other" ruling force that shared half of the planet and space. The boys living in the training facility were knowledgeable regarding the political situation, at least as far as they had been taught by their parents and teachers before they were conscripted, and they had their minds set on serving their government, sincere in the belief that their way of life was the one true way to live.

Many boys, however, were conscripted at an early age and were brought to the training center based on their abilities, mental and physical, along with their agility and intelligence usually before they fully learned the political reasons for their service. Some of the trainees had little to no interest in the political war that waged in a world so removed from the studies of the training facility. They accomplished their studies and sought for advancement as a matter of pride. It was deemed by their society, under the United Federation's promotion of its ideals, that being taken into one of the training centers, located in several of the many countries that formed that Federation, was an honor, a duty and a privilege to be chosen and removed from their homes to live in the training facilities, studying to become the soldiers of tomorrow that would protect home and country should the need arise.

Heero's adopted father was a professor of Political Science of Earth and Space. He was an actively vocal and prominent political activist on the world web. His political stance was that the two opposing world powers could be brought to work reasonably with each other without the threat of war looming constantly over the heads of Earth's people. He argued vehemently to a large following that if the Allied Socialist government would bend slightly from its rigid isolationist ways and work towards a more open trade agreement with the Federation, the relations between the two political factions would drastically improve.

Three decades previous, new tensions arose between the two major powers. Intelligence agencies for the Federation reported to the media that they had detected a mass build up of weapons by the Allied force. This build up gave the Allied Forces a new sense of security and boldness, resulting in frequent forays into Federation territory. As these small unequipped and unprepared areas fell before them, more aggressive attacks we made upon the more distant borders that separated the two great powers. This aggression was not to be tolerated by the Federation. New weapons were created to fight the enemy and it was discovered that the newly re-designed armed mobile suit was the most effective weapon in battle against their encroaching and aggressive enemy.

As mobile suits were being constructed by the dozen each week, the government deemed it prudent to train its future pilots from the ranks of school children who were nimble of finger, quick to learn and respond, and more easily trained than an adult who was already set in their ways and not easily molded. And so began the practice of searching their society for the children mentally, physically and intellectually capable of becoming the freedom fighters for the future of the Federation. Once a system of testing had been proven, the government began to conscript children as young at eight years old to be trained towards piloting battle suits for any future confrontations with their century old enemy. The government promoted its program by raising the social status of the families who were privileged to have a chosen child for training. Monetary payments were also made to the family for each month that their child remained in the training facility to compensate for their personal sacrifice.

With this being the political arena, Heero's father had also raised his only son to be strong in mind and body, and trained him to be a potential soldier. With single mindedness, having been converted early to his adopted father's goals for him, Heero had pursued his studies and physical training under his brilliant father's watchful eye. That training had paid off even before he came to the training center, but even more now that his studies and physical strength helped him to succeed in many ways that the other students couldn't. He was advancing through the echelons of the training center at an unprecedented rate, held back only by the slower progress of the boy he couldn't live without.

The four boys that moved from Red to Yellow were immediately oriented by their tall bond captain as to their duties and his expectations of them. They assimilated quickly, and the fears of retaliation and jealousy on the four as they entered Yellow seemed unfounded at first. However, the quick rise through the ranks and high praise from the instructors naturally fueled the jealousy of the other students against Heero. His aloofness to everyone but Duo was viewed as disdain for his fellow students, which did nothing to help the situation.

Even though time had passed from his first introduction to Yellow, the Japanese boy found himself respected but not well liked. Captain Zechs, somewhat bitter and resentful about being held back as a captain for Unit Ten in order to oversee the progress of the new Yellows, further fueled the flames of dislike with the constant jibes regarding Duo as Heero's girlfriend in front of the other Yellows. Duo was forcefully pulled out of several fight, usually by Heero, and officially reprimanded for starting the wild brawls instigated by the teasing and pranks by some of the other Yellows, which Heero seemed more or less oblivious to as he dismissed it as childish jealousy. Later, everyone of those who had the moronic audacity to touch the long haired boy, even in self defense, learned rather quickly never to do it again. Those who enraged Duo to the point of fighting were found to be even more bruised or battered they had been from that skirmish hours after the initial incident. Heero had let each and every one of them know, in his own unique way, that they should know better than to taunt the braided boy and that Duo was not to be touched. Each threat was enforced with a promise that Heero would revisit them with his vengeful fists, in places where the security cameras couldn't capture their punishment, if they tried Duo's patience again. The teasing eased off almost completely within a short period of time.

Weeks of schooling quickly turned into months with Duo and the others rapidly moving into the evening classes, joining the other Yellows as their Sims scores proved their readiness. As Heero expected, Duo proved himself in the simulators. He was adept and sometimes proving brilliant in trouncing his opponent, bypassing many of the other Yellows, and not only those in his barracks, but all those within the Yellow ranks with the exception of Heero. His academics scores lagged behind his growth on the battle simulator, but his skills and natural charm won him the admiration and friendship from the Yellows, even those who had formerly teased or taunted him upon his arrival into their ranks.

Half a year passed by at an alarming rate as competition within Yellow was at an all time high as those having been there for a while earnestly strove to match the seemingly innate skills and talents of the newer Yellows, Maxwell and Yuy.

Though he studied diligently, Duo continued to fall short of the academic goals Heero had set for him, pushing him to advance as quickly as possible through the ranks of Yellow. As the scores for the latest series of tests were posted in the mess hall during the morning break, Duo's nervous smile faded as his name was listed as number eleven on the board, with eighty-nine percent of his answers being correct. He turned, looking nervously sheepish at his companion.

Heero frowned at the board that held the posted scores. He slowly turned his head from it to look at his friend whose shoulder was pressed up against his own. Duo flinched inwardly at seeing Heero's dark eyes blazing with resentment and his face pinched with repressed anger as he frowned disapprovingly at him.

Taking a tight hold of the boy's braid, Heero effectively maneuvered the wide eyed, but silent teen out of the mess hall. Only a couple of the students remarked on their hasty withdrawal and the continued absence of the two during their final class before lunch. But no one truly thought much of it and dismissed any concern they might have had as the instructor called their attention to the front of the room to announce the daily scores of the upper class Yellows on the simulators.

A couple of boys from Unit Ten returned to their barracks just before lunch and to their surprise they found Duo alone, lying on his bed and curled up on his side. Trenton approached him and asked if he was alright. From Duo's silence and position of his body, the boy immediately sensed that something was wrong. He sent Layton to look for Captain Zechs and nervously sat next to Duo on the edge of his bunk, offering what comfort he could. Upon Zechs's return, a quick evaluation of the situation was made and the doctor was sent for and, under his recommendation, Duo was promptly removed to the sick bay.

Having returned from his afternoon classes with the Greens, Heero entered the mess hall at the beginning the evening meal and was greeted by silent, angry stares. Every eye in the room was focused on his movements as he proceeded to the food line and began to fill his tray. He then moved to the table where he and Duo habitually sat. Trevor, Layton and several other boys from Unit Ten acknowledged him with only a curt nod, then lowered their eyes to focus on their trays. The boys sitting at the table ate in unaccustomed silence as the murmur of low speaking voices sounded them.

His meal was nearly finished when Trenton, not able to hold it in any more, addressed Heero in a voice that spoke of his feelings of hurt and betrayal. "Why, Heero? Why did you hurt Duo? I thought he was your best friend."

"He's my only friend," Heero corrected him in a unemotional tone of voice.

"Then why?"

The Japanese boy raised his eyes to give a warning glare to the curious boy. "It's none of your business," he replied.

"He's our friend, too!" Layton bravely spoke up. "It is our business when you hurt him."

"Where is he?" Heero demanded as he stood from his seat, tray in hand.

"You're so smart, you figure it out," Hakiem, another boy from Unit Ten spat out at him.

Without further words being spoken, Heero took his tray to the appropriate place for clearing and cleaning, deposited it and then turned to leave the room. He was stopped abruptly by Zechs's sudden appearance in the doorway, who blocked his passage from the mess hall.

"Well, if it isn't the little wife beater," the tall captain said snidely, and though he had a disdainful smile on his lips, anger blazed from his light blue eyes at the shorter boy.

Heero tilted his head up slightly and glared back at him. "What do you want?" he ground out through gritted teeth.

Zech's strained smile faded as he attended to his duty. "Commander Reid wants to see you in his office. Now!"

Heero nodded and walked around the taller, older teen and left the cafeteria, which erupted into a cacophony of rousing discussion the moment the door closed behind him.

Commander Reid sat behind his large, clutter-free desk in calm contemplation of the boy who stood silent and at attention in front of him for the past five minutes. Mr. Yuy seemed completely unperturbed at the analyzing scrutiny his commander was giving him.

After a few more minutes, the older man broke the silence that hung heavy in the room. "Why?" he asked simply. Then seeing Heero's chin rise in defiance, the commander continued.

"You're quite an enigma aren't you, Mr. Yuy? You and Mr. Maxwell continue to be a conundrum." He stood from his chair and slowly walked around his desk to circle around the unfazed boy as if, by looking closer, he could figure out the puzzle before him. "You claim to need him, defend him against others and declare yourselves as lifemates, yet you physically abuse him. I'm quite aware that this isn't the first time this has happened, Mr. Yuy, and unless someone takes charge of the situation, it won't be the last."

At last the stoic boy that stood before him showed some slight reaction as Heero's eyebrows rose in objection to the last statement.

"Before I tell you of the changes I'm implementing to see that this doesn't happen again," the commanding officer continued, "would you care to speak on your own behalf? It might help if I could understand why you lash out so violently towards the only person you call a friend."

"It was necessary," Heero answered in a clipped tone.

"What did he do to warrant such treatment?"

The boy's chin rose defiantly once again, but no answer was given.

"Come now," the commander urged, reigning in his impatience. "I'm trying to understand."

"He is holding us back." Heero's eyes met the man now standing at the side of his desk, waiting for a full explanation. "He placed eleventh in the test scores, scoring at eighty-nine percent," he added. "That place and score are unacceptable."

The commander failed to hide the shock he felt at the boy's cool rationalization of the harm he'd done to the other boy.

"So you slapped him repeatedly and broke his arm for not doing well on his test scores?" he asked, feeling anger replacing his former astonishment.

"Neither are life threatening," the seemingly cool and calm boy replied.

The commander fought to keep his composure as he made his way back to his chair. "You are one piece of shit work, aren't you, Mr. Yuy?" he managed to say in a chill tone as he resumed his seat. Turning to his right to engage his computer, he pulled up the file on Duo Maxwell. "Mr. Maxwell is at the top in simulation scores and scoring eleven out of one hundred forty in this last series of tests is excellent work. Why on God's green earth would you punish him so harshly for such excellence?"

"The goal is to be one of the top five and scoring at ninety-five percent or better. He failed to achieve his goal. The slaps to his face were punishment for his failure to reach his goals."

"His goals or yours, Mr Yuy?" The commander looked pointedly at the boy and clenched his fists.

"Mine," the boy answered him unabashed.

"So in effect, you are punishing him for not being the smartest trainee in this facility. We have students that are as intelligent as you, Mr. Yuy. Not everyone, in fact, hardly anyone can compete in the same academic arena as you and those very few are the only ones that come close to being your equals. Mr. Maxwell's scores are far above what I would have predicted when the two of you first arrived here, and he is competing in an arena with those considered intellectually gifted students. He will never be the top of his class; it's just not in him. But I, for one, am astounded at his accomplishments as much as I have been with yours. I cannot and will not allow you to assault him as you did today. With his arm broken, he'll not be able to practice on the simulators for several weeks."

"It will allow him more time for study," Heero said in a dry, unapologetic tone.

Commander Reid's eyes widened in realization. "God help you, you did that on purpose, didn't you? You broke his arm so he would not be able to play on the sims, but have time to devote to his studies."

Heero didn't reply verbally, but the smug look present on his face bore the truth to the answer of that question.

The commander fought back the shudder of revulsion he felt at the conniving, firm fisted control the boy in front of him exerted on the other boy's life.

He gave the teenager standing in front of him the full weight of his disappointed stare while he gathered his thoughts. After several moments he'd managed to calm down enough to be rational in dealing with the misguided boy.

"Do you realize, Mr. Yuy, that with each blow you inflict on Mr. Maxwell, you cause him to fear and resent you? And it's only natural that, eventually, those feelings will cause him hate and loath you?"

"Duo will always come back to me; he has to," Heero replied confidently, and the commander thoroughly despised the arrogant air that surrounded the boy at that moment.

Shaking his head in disapproval, the man continued. "He may physically be bonded to you, but his heart and mind are still his own. What he doesn't get from you in the form of acceptance and support, he will turn to others for. He will look to someone other than yourself for compassion, kindness and understanding. You might be able to dominate his body and his life by the force of your will and strength, Mr. Yuy, but his heart and mind will go elsewhere for comfort."

"I won't let him turn to others, he's mine." Heero's deep blue eyes blazed with fury at the suggestion the commander had spoken of.

"You cannot command the mind and heart with your sheer will, My Yuy," he countered. "Duo looks to you as a protector, and when you turn against him, even if you deem it as necessary, you become an enemy, someone to be feared, an abuser. Watch his eyes the next time you're together and see the fear in them as he looks at you. Is that how you want him to live? In constant fear that a sudden move on your part could be a harmful blow?"

Heero's eyes narrowed in thought and he frowned deeply. "No, I want him to be happy," he replied quietly, the harsh lines of his face began to soften and take on the look of being confused, maybe even a bit contrite. "I don't like punishing him, but there's no one else to do it. Duo is playful and sometimes lazy. If I don't push him, he'd never do all the work that is required for him to advance, and you and I both know why I need him to accomplish that."

The commander sat back in his seat, silently analyzing the dark haired teen's logic. "Well, there's a big difference between consequences and corporal punishment. But if you're willing to work with the base psychologist, it will at least be a start in correcting your behavior," he said, feeling slightly relieved that Heero didn't really appear to enjoy hurting the other boy. Taking a deep breath he went on to inform Heero of the changes he was making. "I'm going to require you and Mr. Maxwell visit our counselor, Ms. Noin, separately and then together. Obviously, your relationship is unique and you both need some guidance on how to proceed. Your perfectionist ideals will always find your friend falling short, and if we can't work something out, I have no doubt that you will one day kill him."

Heero's eyes widened at the commander's statement. "I....I couldn't," he gasped in denial.

"You are physically capable of seriously maiming or killing Mr. Maxwell, and you are obviously mentally unprepared for dealing with a one-to-one relationship with someone who is your opposite. Counseling is definitely called for."

Heero nodded his agreement. He didn't want the commander's prediction to come true. "I...I don't always understand him," Heero admitted a bit reluctantly, hating to admit to a personal shortcoming. "He is so... different than myself. I just sometimes lash out when he get to be too much for me."

"That's something Ms. Noin will help you work out," the older man assured him.

Several moments passed before Heero spoke up again. "Is that all, Sir?" He hadn't seen Duo since mid morning and he was beginning to feel the inward pull towards him and accompanying ache in his belly was in the beginning stages of the pain that would grow much worse if much more time passed and they didn't connect.

"No, not yet. I have stated that I'm making changes to protect Mr. Maxwell, so from now on and until I see a significant change in your attitude, you will only be allowed near him in classes and the mess hall where other people are present. He will spend his nights in sick bay."

"Sir.." Heero began to protest but was stopped when the other man continued.

"Your connecting will have to take place as you sit together in your classes and at meal time."

"Our performance levels will slip," Heero warned with a disapproving frown.

"Regardless, Mr. Maxwell will be alive and protected. Do you agree to these new conditions, Mr. Yuy?"

The scowl on Heero's face showed the man his unhappiness at the situation, but he nodded his head, realizing the reason for it. If what the commander said was true, he needed to change; he couldn't lose Duo physically or emotionally, especially by his own hand.

"May I see him now?" he asked the commander, feeling a deep need growing within him to do so.

"You need to connect?" The man asked and Heero nodded.

"And to apologize," Heero added.

Commander Reid stood. "Very well. I'll accompany you to sick bay so that I can check out his status."

Together the imposing man and the solemn faced boy walked through the Administration Offices . As they passed through the corridors of Yellow, the trainees that they passed, dressed in yellow, gave them a wide berth, eyes glaring angrily at their fellow trainee.

"You seem to have made more enemies and lost friends today," the older man said quietly, and having noticed the other trainees reaction to him, Heero knew his words to be true. Though he didn't really have any friends in Yellow other than Duo, he had found an easy association with some of the trainees in Unit Ten, especially those who considered Duo their friend. The long haired, outgoing boy was well liked within the ranks of Yellow, and Heero knew that his mistreatment of him would no doubt result in his being further ostracized and that he would not be forgiven anytime soon.

Entering the sick bay, the commander led his elite trainee to the curtained-off area where Duo lay resting. Heero stopped short and his eyes narrowed at the appearance of Wufei, now dressed in a green jumpsuit, sitting on a chair at the right side of Duo's bed, holding the smaller boy's hand as he slept.

Duo's face was turned slightly to the left and his eyes were closed as he slept. His upturned right cheek clearly displayed the bruised outline of Heero's hand print where his open palm had forcefully struck several times. The slumbering boy's right arm was propped on a pillow next to this side to keep it elevated for circulation and a thick, white cast covered the forearm from his knuckles to his elbow.

"He's sedated," Wufei informed them in a flat voice, his eyes shooting daggers at the Japanese boy.

"What are you doing here?" Heero snarled. His disapproval of Wufei's sudden appearance was evidenced by his scowling facial features and tense body language.

"Duo asked for me and I came to comfort him," Wufei replied, not deterred from leaving Duo's side by Heero's rude manner.

"You can go now," Heero dismissed him curtly.

"I don't think so," the commander stepped in.

When Heero turned to face the commander, a cross, questioning look on was on his face. The older man ignored it and looked him in the eye and continued. "You are here for only a few moments," the man told him. "Wufei has volunteered to stay with Mr. Maxwell as we know his separation from you overnight is hard on him."

Heero took in a deep breath, concentrating on centering himself and controlling his rising anger. His eyes leveled piercingly on the Chinese boy. "You don't understand, Wufei. I can't allow you to come between us."

"That's right," the other boy snapped back. "I don't understand. Duo is devoted to you like nothing I've ever seen before, and yet you intentionally hurt him like this. How could you do this to him, Heero?"

"I'm here to apologize," Heero said, ignoring the question. He moved his hand forward and gently paced it on the Duo's head, lightly stroking the warm brown hair.

"Like an apology is going to fix this," Wufei snorted. "If you ever, ever hurt him again, Yuy," Wufei began in a low, threatening voice, "I will stand as his protector. He looks to me as his friend to be there for him, and I'll be damned if I'll stand by while you destroy the light within him."

"Is that what you think I'm doing?" Heero asked, honestly surprised.

Wufei nodded, looking grave. "You should have seen him when I first arrived. He wouldn't talk to me or anyone else, and the spark in his eyes had dulled; he looked lifeless. It seems you have the power to either make or break him, Yuy, and I won't let you hurt him again."

"He's mine!" Heero growled possessively as he reached up to grab hold of the long braid that lay over Duo's shoulder, careful not to pull on it.

"Then treat him like a person, not a possession," Wufei returned sternly.

Heero nodded, acknowledging to himself that some of what the other boy said, in addition to what the commander had spoken of earlier, made sense. He looked up to the older man who had stood silently as he and Wufei had exchanged words. "May I be alone with him for a few minutes?" he requested of the commander.

It took a few thoughtful moments before the older man, with obvious hesitation, nodded and with a motion of his hand he ordered Wufei to follow him out of the cubicle.

Reluctantly, the boy dressed in green let go of the sleeping boy's hand and followed the blue uniformed man out.

Moving closer, Heero bent over and whispered into his companion's ear as he stroked the hair that surrounded the oval shaped face. "Duo, wake up. It's me, Heero," he said softly.

With a slight moan, two heavily drugged eyes forced their way open and struggled to focus. As they did, Duo realized that it was Heero's face that was looming only inches away from his own and, with his reflexes suddenly kicking in, he flinched and drew his good arm up in a defensive move to shield his face.

Seeing his life companion react to him with fear, just as the commander had predicted, Heero felt ashamed of himself that he had caused Duo to react like he had. His friend was now obviously afraid of him and if he didn't change, the braided boy would come to hate him.

Bringing his hand up slowly so as to not startle him, Heero gently stroked the upraised arm. "I'm sorry, Duo," he began in a soft voice. "I shouldn't have hurt you, it was wrong and I'm going to see the psychologist to help me to not do it again. I don't want to hurt you and I don't want you to be afraid of me or hate me."

Duo's arm slowly lowered and the amethyst eyes searched Heero's for proof of his sincerity.

"I promise you, Duo, I won't ever hurt you like that again."

The braided boy's breath hitched and Heero could see he was fighting back his emotions. "I did try hard, Heero," Duo said in a tone of misery. "I can't help it if some else is smarter than me."

"I know," Heero rushed to say as he lowered his face to place his cheek next to the other boy's bruised cheek. He gently rubbed his face against Duo's. "The commander praised your scores and said they were excellent." With a turn of his head, he kissed the tender, slightly discolored skin. He pulled up a bit to study the face below him. "Do you hate me, Duo?" he asked, fearful of the answer.

"No," came the small reply. " really hurt me."

Moving cautiously, hoping to not startle the boy in the bed again, Heero brushed the long chestnut colored hair from out of the Duo's eyes, then tenderly cupped the face. Without rationalizing or planning, moving on pure instinct, Heero followed some innate need and drew closer to press his lips against Duo's. It was the first such touch either boy had ever experienced, and Duo's eyes opened wide with surprise as their lips met, then fluttered closed as he gave into the astonishing feelings the action produced. It wasn't a sensation of sexual arousal that stirred within the young adolescent bodies, but a powerful surge in the connection between the two. It was as if a burst of light and energy had sparked and continued to grow as their lips continued to press together. After moving their mouths across each others for several moments, mimicking the actions of actors and actresses they had seen in movies and television, they parted. Both pairs of eyes opened in wonder as they gazed at each other, and a growing, pleased smile gracing both of their faces.

"Wow!" Duo whispered with awe, keeping his voice quiet as he voiced his surprise. "You felt it too, didn't you, Heero?"

The Japanese boy nodded, equally awestruck, his hands still holding Duo's face. "That was ... a whole nights worth of contact," Heero said in amazement. "And the... warmth?" He tried to put a name to what he had experienced, and warmth seem to come close.

Duo nodded, agreeing with Heero's assessment and choice of words. Heero noticed an immediate change in his friend; his eyes were bright, his smile sparkling as he seemed to glow with renewed energy from the contact. "Can we do that again?" Duo asked eagerly.

Heero quickly moved to look around the edge of curtain that surround the enclosed area and listened for the sound of anyone approaching. He then quickly returned back to Duo, his face looking serious. "Alright," he answered quietly. "But we have to be very careful that no one sees us doing this. It's generally not acceptable for boys to kiss."

Duo nodded with a wry grin forming on his lips. "Is anything about us ever acceptable?" he asked.

"Good point," Heero replied, the corners of his mouth curving upward. With the gentle touch of his fingers to the bruised face, Heero tilted his bonded mate's chin upward and he kissed him again. The second kiss proved to be even better and more powerful than the first. Both boys were breathless but stronger in mind and body by the time they parted.

Heero repositioned himself to sit on the edge of the bed while holding firmly to Duo's hand. "They're going to keep us separated at night and you'll have to sleep here in the infirmary," he informed his bed-ridden friend. "We will only see each other during classes and meals."

Duo's eyes widened in alarm. "But that's not enough time," he said in near panic.

"It will have to be," Heero replied unhappily. "The commander is just trying to protect you from me. He told me it's just until I can prove to him that I won't hurt you again."

"You promised me you wouldn't do it again." Duo's eyes were filled with trust as he spoke. "And I believe you. That alone should be good enough."

Feeling a warmth spread through his entire being, Heero smiled at the boy who seemed to see only the best in him. "The commander doesn't know me well enough yet to trust my word," he replied. "But I'm glad that you do."

The sound of approaching footsteps alerted both boys that their time together was nearing an end.

"If you'll linger here in the mornings, I'll come to walk with you to the mess hall, then we can connect." Heero said quickly and winked at Duo. Both of them shared a knowing smile at the unspoken reference to their new-found form of connecting.

To say that Wufei was displeased at the two looking more than comfortable in each other's presence was sadly understating the truth. Duo lay relaxed on the bed with a smile on his face while Heero sat on the edge of the mattress close to his side, their hands entwined. He observed them with perplexed disgust. 'How can Duo look at Heero with such devotion and trust, especially after he abused him?' he wondered. The Chinese teen decided that Heero must have amazing persuasive powers to turn the hurt and abused boy into what now looked like a devoted lap dog.

It hadn't escaped the attention of the three who returned to the cubicle that not only did Duo look happy, but that he appeared physically and emotionally stronger.

"What happened here?" the doctor who returned with Wufei and the commander asked curiously.

"We just needed to connect," Duo answered, still grinning. "We're better now."

"I can see that," the commander commented thoughtfully. "Heero's told you of the new arrangements."

"Yeah," the boy answered, his smile fading.

The base commander then went on to explain the sleeping arrangements until further notice and that he and Heero were to visit with the base psychologist for counseling.

Wufei moved to Duo's side, opposite Heero and glared throughout the explanations at the two on the bed.

The commander's voice droned on. "Mr. Chang will be staying here at night to offer a comforting presence should you need it, Mr. Maxwell."

"But Heero gave me his word he'd never hurt me again," Duo interrupted, hoping to sway the commander's decision. "I can sleep in my own bed in the barracks."

"That's all well and good," the older man replied, dashing the boy's hopes with the frown of his face and a dismissive wave of his hand. "But I need to see Mr. Yuy make some effort to change. I know this isn't the first time he's hurt you, but if I have something to do about it, it will be his last. Mr. Yuy has agreed, and you will also visit the doctor to help you stand up to his domination."

"Ah....okay," the braided boy looked up confused. He did know how to stand up for himself, but Heero was the Alpha in their relationship. The stronger boy had explained to him in the beginning that the dynamics of their bonding required one of them to be dominant so they wouldn't constantly be fighting each other for leadership. He couldn't understand why the commander didn't comprehend that when it made perfect sense to him. He mentally shrugged and figured he'd just go along with whatever they planned so that he and Heero could be together again.

Heero was dismissed shortly after Commander Reid's orders were given and he went directly to his evening class. Wufei went to his barracks to gather some of this things for the temporary re-location, and he knew that Trowa and Quatre would be waiting for him, eager to hear about this latest turn of events in the lives of the two boys they had come to call friends before being separated months earlier. He really didn't understand most of what they said and the talk about connecting seemed odd. He just hoped his re-telling of what he'd seen and heard that evening made some sort of sense to one of them and then they could explain it to him.







On to Chapter nine

Back to Chapter seven



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