by Maldoror


Chapter four: Outside

Duo lunges at me, his right fist aiming a vicious blow at my throat.

My arm jerks up, blocks - a blow that wasn't hard enough, has to be - A feint!

He's already spun into the momentum of his thrust, bringing his knee into the side of my hip with a thud. Another bruise.

/No permanent damage./

I twist and turn to the left, avoiding the lash of his leg straightening and sweeping towards my knee. He lagged a bit so I dodge it; an OZ soldier would have had the knee dislocated.

/No. Enemy soldier would have been -/

I swing in the direction I twisted, using my momentum, bringing my right hand in a chop to the neck-

/- disabled by the first-/

- which he dodges, my hand whistling over his right ear-

/-blow 02 landed on me./

- but my left hand has already darted forward to catch him on his right shoulder, spinning him around, out of control this time, staggering to catch his balance. He leaps back with the grace of a cat before I can take advantage of it and we face off once more.

"Ha, you shove like a little girl, Yuy!" He's trying to distract me.

He leaps back at me as he speaks, trying to catch me off guard. I am ready. It looks like he's trying for a flying tackle and I am poised to lash at his head.

No! He's coming in too low!

I try to jump back but I'm off by a second; he lands short of me on bent arms, flips over them and lands into me feet first. He doesn't straighten his legs, and I was already backing away, so the blow is only mildly bruising instead of crippling.

/Showy yet effective-/

I catch his right leg though before he can continue into his roll and get away -

/-but he needs to finish up cleaner./

- and slam my elbow into his knee to break the kneecap.

I do not break bone of course, I stop short of a small welt. Damage at this point is not acceptable. This is an exercise in control as much as it is a sparring match.

Duo twists and brings his other leg swinging over to hit me in the chest. Expecting this, my right forearm blocks him easily. He leverages against my block with that leg, though, shoving me a bit, and twists again-


- lunges and grabs my right wrist with both hands, trying to bend it down and back-

/-but he lacks upper body strength./

- trying to twist and dislocate my arm.

/Estimate a success rate of 80% against trained enemy soldier./

He throws his entire body weight onto my arm.

Which doesn't budge an inch.

I feel him sag in surprise.

"Bloody-!?" He's talking again.

/Always talking. Unnecessary./

I lift my left arm to punch him in the jaw-

/Control, 10% maximum strength only./

- to make him realize how badly he's exposed himself.

He lets himself drop bonelessly as my punch hits, avoiding most of the damage from the weakened blow. His move drags me forward slightly as he's not released my arm.

His right hand, straight-edged and deadly, sweeps up along my captured arm as I stumble into him.

/Cervical crush, parry./

But instead of chopping at the neck, the hand turns open-fingered towards my right cheek. My left hand is in place to parry the blow to my neck. I was not expecting him to strike higher-

/This is not a strike!/

- and his fingers flicker to caress my cheek, his thumb brushes my lips.


I straighten and jerk with the captured right arm, my entire strength suddenly released, and the slight form goes flying with a grunt of surprise, turning to a gasp of pain as I spin and connect with a sweeping kick to his shoulder that sends him crashing to the ground a few feet away.

I back off a step as he shakes his head dazedly. The kick was for real. He realizes this as he grasps his shoulder in pain. But not at my full strength, or his shoulder would be more than badly bruised. He realizes this as well.

/Just a warning./

/For now./

There's a slight pout on those sensuous, expressive lips as he glares at me. I scowl back. He should know better than to not take this less than seriously.

I know why he's behaving like this. This surprises me, I am not normally so perceptive about another's irrationalities. Duo has been an education in many ways, one that has helped me anticipate reactions from him, and, to a lesser extent, normal people as well.

The reason he's doing this is shifting in annoyance against the door jamb of the hangar we're using as hiding place for our Gundams and a make-shift training ground. Pilot 05 is scowling too. He's been wanting to spar with me for months now, and does not understand why Duo is the only one I accept as a partner. Duo is enjoying -*relishing*, my mind whispers unexpectedly, it's a word that seems to suit him- our closeness and is trying to flaunt it. I believe this is subconscious. It is if he knows what's good for him.

"Oooh, I almost felt that, Heero. What's the matter, did I tickle you or something? Can't the big bad Perfect Soldier take a little ribbing?" This is for Chang's benefit, Duo knows better than to try to fool me. But Chang does not know we are intimate. He does not need to know.

The smile curves and hardens, the violet eyes narrow. Duo made a mistake. That doesn't mean he's going to take my reprimand quietly. That is not his nature. I have provoked him.

The smile turns into something that makes a small shiver of anticipation unexpectedly run up my spine. He says nothing this time. The man who launches himself at me means business now. Shinigami, my mind whispers, but I crush that fantasy ruthlessly. I will learn what I want from Duo but I will not let him influence me beyond that. I don't need an imagination.

A rapid frontal attack, I can't fault him on speed. A flurry of punches rain on my arms, that I crossed over my chest to block them-

/Estimated 30% stronger strikes. 70% of 02's full strength./

I think I made him a bit angry, but the blows are still controlled.


His smile sours as I block all his blows, though I am temporarily unable to retaliate, which is a feat unto itself. He has learned from me as well.

I am not so concentrated that I lose sight of what's around me. My 'danger zone', as Duo insists on calling it, stretches to the doorway, where I can feel Chang shift again. He's frowning, In the flashes of sight/feeling I allow myself to keep aware of my surroundings, I can see his fists twitch. With his extensive training in martial arts he might be able to do a better job in a straight-out confrontation than Duo. He's longing to try, anyway.

He doesn't understand. Though my control is good, I would only do this with Duo. After three months of intimate contact, my body has slowly adapted to treating him as something that is a bit less than a threat. Even if one of his blows slips my guard and stuns me, my body will not retaliate automatically.

If it did, I could kill him.

I doubt, though, that the pilot of Shenlong would be willing to consider changing our working relation to a sexual one just to be able to spar with me. I doubt Duo would accept this either. I have few thoughts either way, but as this would add to the degree of complexity in my relations with yet another pilot -not to mention Duo- I would prefer to avoid it as well. So Chang will have to accept sparring with Barton instead. He is a valuable resource. I do not wish to accidentally kill him.

There is a good probability that Duo has also evolved a tolerance to my own presence. He has a different way of handling physical contact than I do. In fact he's quite a tactile person. But I know he has the reflexes of a killer as well, and he does not handle physical pain as well as I do. This would make him dangerous to spar with as well without prior contact and habituation.


I suddenly lean back, bending and twisting at the waist, my left hand dropping from defence to snatch at his fist and drag it quickly forwards. I slip into his guard, right fist up and swinging, but he's already twisting, diving - damn he's fast-


-escaping - nearly!

I catch the long braid as it slithers past my fist, and he no longer has the leeway to dodge me. After two tense seconds I end up with a choke-hold on his neck, braid taut in my other hand; he's on his knees and I'm pinning his legs down with my own, half-kneeling right behind him, pressed against his back. He grunts as he realizes that he's lost this round, but I still let my grip on his throat tighten a little, to remind him of the cost of losing in a real fight. He snorts and wiggles against my hold. He already knows.

I release him slowly, all but the braid. As he twists away from me and struggles to a crouch, it tightens between us. I lift it up and glare at him along its length.

"When are you going to finally cut this off, baka?"

He sticks his tongue out at me -I hear Chang snort dismissively near the doorway as he turns and leaves- and pulls the braid from my hand, leaving with a swing of the hips that was probably not destined for a mere sparring partner. It's seductive. The glare he darts me is not, he's favouring his shoulder. It's a small dirty look, before the jester's mask returns and he follows Chang. I deduce that I am going to be teased later in private, but I doubt I will get any sexual gratification from him tonight.


I guess it is.


On to chapter five

Back to chapter three


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