Part Three: Needs Must
The door crashed open; Wufei's hand was on his gun, weapon half drawn, before the echoes could start to ripple out toward the dark corners of the huge repair bay.
"Wufei! Where are you?!"
The L5 pilot turned back to his work. If Maxwell was stupid enough not to know where to look for Wufei when he'd been in the exact same spot for the last five days... He tightened the gasket carefully.
"Wufers!" The Chinese pilot's jaw tightened as much as the gasket but he was too busy to pick a fight. Maxwell's voice rang out from somewhere near Nataku's left foot, below Wufei as he crouched on the repair platform at chest height to the standing giant. "Get your ass down here!"
Wufei picked up his laptop and checked the connections to the reader's output device.
"Come on, man! We just got a message, Wing and Heavyarms are flying in from Thailand. They've both been damaged, badly! They should be here any minute!"
Wufei glanced at the clatter of normally silent boots on decking, and caught sight of Maxwell's back as he vanished through the door like a puff of braided smoke.
Wufei ran the program on the laptop. The hydraulics unit started to hum and grind under slowly increasing pressure. If he finished this, then there would only be the damaged elements in the right leg to deal with and then-
A second crash at the door made him look down. Maxwell again.
"Wufei what are you doing!? Come on!"
"Where?" Wufei increased the hydraulics output via the latpop, checked the data. Satisfactory.
"To the landing pad! They'll be here any minute! Wing's barely flying!"
"I should be finished here within the hour." Wufei informed him, shutting down the program. Now for that right leg.
Wufei glanced down again in annoyance. "I need to finish here if Wing and Heavyarms are to be manoeuvred into the repair bay, Maxwell, so I suggest you stop bothering me."
"But-but Trowa 'n Heero could be hurt, man!"
"I'm a terrorist, 02, not a doctor. I suggest you send them to the medical bay if-" The crash of the door closing again indicated he had the opportunity to finish his repairs undisturbed.
Wufei manoeuvred the mobile platform carefully, until he was level with the damaged right leg. He'd already stripped and cleaned out the broken parts, now he just needed to fit in the replacements and he'd be good to go. Less than an hour...
Wufei had been on Howard's ship for just over five days, with Maxwell. Nataku had been injured in a confrontation with a new type of mobile doll, and Duo had persuaded him to use the Sweepers as a repair base. You can't find Gundam parts in the local body shop so it wasn't as if Wufei had had much of a choice but to accept. He'd gritted his teeth and bowed down to the needs of Nataku. The necessity had been caused by his own weakness, his own failure faced with the new MS OZ had created. It was only right that his pride and honour be compromised by accepting Howard's charity.
At least the replacement parts and equipment were top notch, more than worth the price Howard had reluctantly agreed to let Wufei pay for them. He'd even managed to get his hands on a new set of weaponry circuits, he'd install them tomorrow after he'd finished the repairs and ran the appropriate tests. Then he'd be able to leave, with considerable relief. He didn't like the ship. Too many people, laughing, joking, kidding around... Maxwell to the nth degree.
Fortunately, these people had had previous experience with Heero, so they didn't even try to press the issue once he'd refused their help in his repairs. Howard hadn't even seemed too surprised when Wufei had turned down his offer to share a dorm with Duo and two other Sweepers. Wufei slept in Nataku, like he frequently did, it meant the only time he had to leave the repair bay was for the occasional shower and meal times. Nights were spent in silence and meditation, removed from the bursts of distant laughter from the upper deck. Nataku's cockpit was small but there was room in front of the command chair to curl up in a sleeping bag. The eighteen hour days he put in on the repairs, penance willingly accepted, allowed him to go to sleep quickly, eyes closing on the familiar view of the cabin dimly lit by the glow of monitors. From the curled up position on the floor he could see the few personal touches he allowed in his Gundam, carefully tied down and protected from impact. Above the secondary com console was the honorary stone tablet he'd engraved with the names of his ancestors, an inadequate replacement for the one that had been destroyed along with its shrine and any trace of his past, of the long road of the generations behind him. Underneath the chair was stored the small, carved wooden box with lacquered cover that contained a few memories of his parents, his master and Meiran. In the small compartment where he kept his duffel bag were stacked some books on philosophy, literature and religion that he'd taken with him when he'd left school to get married, intending to pursue his studies despite all annoying distractions... The books were the only things that ever left the Gundam, even when he was sleeping in a safe-house. The rest was always kept safe in Nataku's hold.
Wufei finished the repairs, leaving the panel unbolted. He could finish up after he moved Nataku to the upper hangar and allowed the other two pilots to take his place in the repair bay. If he pushed himself he could finish all the tests in the next few hours. Then tomorrow he could overhaul the circuits, and the day after that he could leave, the sooner the better.
Twelve exhausting hours later, tests finished, he headed towards the showers, and ran into Heero coming out of the kitchen with the usual tray of military rations, heading back to the repair bay. A cursory glance showed the L1 pilot to be no more than bruised. He had a patch of soot on his nose and traces of oil on his hands; he'd been dealing with Wing, who must have taken the brunt of it. Wufei nodded minutely in passing, and received a flicker of a glance acknowledging his existence in return.
That night, Wufei slept soundly for the first time in ages; if the ship was attacked his mecha could be easily evacuated in its present condition.
Wufei pushed the stuff awkwardly with his fork, mind running over the checklist that had run his life for the last week. All done. A few more non-essential tests that he could run while looking over the parameters of the next set of missions, and he could leave. The breaded brown shape beneath his fork slithered into a blob of congealed gravy. Wufei found himself wishing for a simple meal of rice and vegetables; the Sweepers believed it wasn't nutritious if it wasn't deep-fried.
He always timed his meals so that he arrived just as the last of the men were leaving the small mess hall. The cook probably hated his guts by now... he glanced up automatically at the man in the tiny kitchen area. He was ignoring Wufei, bored eyes glazing over a clipboard as he idly scratched his armpit.
The L5 pilot picked up his plate grimly. He was in Howard's debt, and also his guest, but damn it there were limits to just how polite and honourable he could be in these circumstances. He had a few ration bars left on Nataku, that would tide him over until he could leave tomorrow. He scraped the untouched food from his plate and dropped it in the bucket of dirty dishes and cutlery near the kitchen. He straightened fluidly, hand on his weapon as he suddenly felt someone watching him (besides the cook who was relieved his taciturn and unappreciative last guest was finally leaving him to finish cleaning up before going to bed).
Heero was leaning against the doorframe of the mess hall, watching him. Cobalt blue eyes flickered towards the cook, who was picking up the bucket of dishes with a grunt, then Heero turned and stepped back from the door. Wufei complied with the silent request and followed the L1 pilot a little ways down the corridor.
Heero turned and gave him the weighing look he was becoming familiar with and Wufei realized this wasn't going to be a request for his help with Wing (hah!) or for more of the training lessons that had been interrupted when their missions had sent them off in different directions a month ago.
"Do you wish to resume our previous arrangement?" Cold and abrupt, but there was a space around it, a nudge in the tone that gave Wufei plenty of room to refuse if he wanted to.
Wufei leaned a shoulder against the metal wall. Just as he was wondering if he *did* want to- the other part of him, the storm-wracked corpse, provided the answer. "Why, do you think you have a chance of taking me down this time?" A slight arrogant smirk lifted the corner of his lips.
Heero snorted and smiled coldly, answering the question with a flex of his hands balling into fists. He turned and walked away. Wufei, blood suddenly humming in his ears, felt a weight lifting from his shoulders as he followed.
A horrified mandarin swearword exploded from Wufei's lips; he violently wrenched his fist out of its path an instant before he severely injured his sparring partner. Heero's hand was up but it was lifted in a 'stop' gesture, not a defensive block as Wufei had expected; cobalt blue eyes were distant, pupils widening as he concentrated his senses on something other than their match.
"K'so!" Yuy broke out of the defenceless pose and leapt towards the worktable where they'd put their guns. Tension slammed through Wufei, eyes searching for danger as his ears picked up the small scramble from the back of the room. He twisted and caught the tail end of a braid disappearing out the back door.
"He's gone." Wufei said through lips rigid with anger as Heero spun around, gun ready. He noted with curiosity - he still kept some scholarly instincts - the interesting Japanese vernacular that ensued. There were a few terms there he'd never even heard of, he'd have to do some research later on. One should always seek to increase one's knowledge.
Heero slammed the gun down with a clang that brushed the air around Wing and Heavyarms, a little ways off. Nataku and Maxwell's machine were on another level, Trowa was still in the infirmary, the Sweepers were carousing on the upper deck... they should have remained uninterrupted. But Maxwell had become notoriously curious about their sparring in the last safe-house they'd occupied together...
Heero glanced at Wufei, a question. The Chinese man shrugged minimally, then winced. He growled as he rolled his right shoulder in a tight arc; he'd wrenched the muscles pulling out of the blow so suddenly. His gruelling repair work had left him stiff and out of practice.
"I'm going to have to concede this one." He muttered stiffly. He had to leave with Nataku the next day, he couldn't afford to stress his body too much.
Heero was silent for a second then shrugged and -Wufei looked at him in surprise- bowed slightly. "Thank you for the match." He picked up his gun again and started towards the door, holstering it.
"Wait." Wufei felt hot embarrassment shoot through him as the L1 pilot glanced at him. He could just let Yuy leave, but... that wouldn't be very fair. "I conceded. You won."
Heero was silent again, then said, in his cold, precise voice. "You injured yourself because I stopped-"
"Because of Maxwell." Wufei interrupted. "And I should have better control over my movements. I shouldn't injure myself because of something unexpected."
Heero shrugged and took another two steps towards the door.
"You would have won anyway." Wufei snapped, briskly overcoming his reluctance. "You've improved considerably."
Heero glanced back again, eyes carefully neutral but surprise in the line of his shoulders, the tilt of his head. But it was the truth. Wufei could hardly believe that half a dozen training sessions had been enough for Heero to integrate the few simple but effective blocks Wufei had taught him into his defence. It had been obvious from the first two blows how this was going to end. Heero really was the perfect soldier, Wufei thought, the usual mixture of reluctant admiration and slight resentment tingeing the thought.
He'd... missed this, the feeling of being challenged by someone who was probably better than he was. He didn't like this need, anymore than he liked being beholden to Howard for his help. But both seemed out of his control.
He never thought of it as a need before, more of a luxury. Then they'd gone their separate ways, almost a month ago. Since then they'd both been in dogfights, ambushes and the occasional reconnaissance mission. A lot of stress accumulating. Wufei had been in several battles with Nataku but they were soul-crushing mechanical affairs, mobile dolls swarming over him like a pack of rats, mindless and belittling. The sheer numbers had proven difficult, though, and Nataku had been let down by the abilities of its pilot once again. Now that Nataku was repaired, the bleaker feelings he'd suppressed to better deal with his mecha's maintenance had resurfaced, and started to eat at him. He'd needed the release of the black battle-storm blowing through him and before that blasted Maxwell had crept up to watch them he'd been getting it.
"Fair's fair." Wufei grumbled. Heero also had his needs. "I told you before, I'm as good as my word, Yuy."
In response, Heero merely jerked his head towards the back entrance to the repair bay, looking glum.
Wufei's eyes narrowed. "He saw you go for your gun, he wouldn't *dare*-"
Now that was a dilemma. He didn't really care what Maxwell thought of them but...
Even when they'd all been living in each other's pockets back in the last safe-house, both of them had been getting along a bit better with the braided L2 pilot. Wufei found he could ignore, if not tolerate, the annoying flirting once he had an outlet for his tensions. And suddenly, and much to Wufei's surprise and relief, the flirting had virtually stopped, in both his case and Heero's. Their weary forbearance to the attentions was less interesting than their stressed annoyance; Duo had apparently concluded that they were both straight after all and had stopped bugging them, transferring his attentions to Quatre and Trowa who, though not particularly interested, endured them with good humour. Or complete indifference, in Trowa's case. Heero and Wufei's mood had improved overall as well. As a result the joint mission with Maxwell, followed by his stay on the ship, had been tolerable. The whole... arrangement had had knock-on effects on the group's stability that had been considerable.
Heero was a strategist and a dedicated soldier, and he wouldn't compromise that for his own need. Wufei could only imagine what Duo would do if he found out about the arrangement. It made the hardened warrior shudder.
When he looked up again, Heero was a foot away and looking right into his eyes. Wufei started, from surprise and from the weighing look he was being subjected to. And more. Heero hadn't suggested the revival of the arrangement on a whim, he was definitely in need of sexual relief. The look in his eyes was hotter than the beam of his buster rifle.
"So we go through with the arrangement?" Heero asked softly. Wufei nodded, suddenly uncertain. Not about keeping his side of their bargain, of course, but not sure exactly what he was agreeing to.
A hard hand grabbed his and jerked him forward. Heero spun and glanced around carefully - no Maxwell to be seen but that didn't mean this blissful state of affairs would continue for more than five minutes, which was generally the time it took for one of Heero's death threats to fade from his volatile mind. The L1 pilot grunted and dragged him off towards the side of the cargo bay. Wufei stared at the hard back, puzzled.
He was even more confused when Heero stopped at the foot of Wing, grabbed the zipcord and slipped a foot in the loop. Wufei's hand was abruptly released and he watched as the cord lifted Heero to the cockpit where he input his code, opened the hatch and walked in without a backward glance. Wufei hesitated, then grabbed the next loop of cord and hit the up button, supposing he was to follow. If he arrived and found a gun in his face he would know he'd guessed wrong. Heero was as protective of Wing as Wufei was of Nataku.
Wufei entered the cockpit hesitantly, wondering what they were doing up there. The space was way too tight at the best of times for... anything, and now it was full of tools as well. Everything was covered in dustsheets. Heero was doing a lot of work changing some burned-out panels, and soot and pieces of charred wire were littering the cockpit. What-
A hard hand grabbed him by the arm -he hissed as his wrenched muscles protested- and jerked him fully into the cockpit. He ended up stumbling against the sheet-protected command chair as the hatch hissed closed behind them.
Wufei didn't have time to turn around, hard hands shoved him forward again. He landed awkwardly on his knees in the seat of the command chair. A strong body slammed into his back, pressing Wufei's chest against the backrest, two arms pinned his shoulders forwards as they grabbed the back of the seat.
"Hey wait-" He started to panic, he still didn't know all that much about how men did these things together but this position was ringing alarm bells.
"No penetration, we agreed." A cold voice growled in his ear. The body pressing him to the back of the command chair ground against his... then again. Wufei swore and squirmed his arms from the tight hold. He grabbed the top of the chair to give him some leverage and feel a bit less helpless. Heero was kneeling on the seat of the command chair just behind him, hard chest squeezing Wufei against the backrest, locking them into position with his grip on the chair's back, but with his arms free the L5 pilot at least had the opportunity of lashing back with an elbow if- not that he would. Winner's privilege, he reminded himself grimly. Anyway, how was this any different than having Yuy slam him down on his back and hump him like a dog?
Actually there was a difference, he realized very quickly. Staring at the back of the cockpit and squashed against the chair was giving him a moment of plain honest insight. The three previous times the arrangement had come into effect, things had happened as a continuation of the fight, Wufei pinned down by superior force, held down... somehow not responsible. Not rape, of course, but not fully a participant either. Whatever physical reaction he had was due to adrenaline and friction, no more... This... was somehow forcing him to fully accept the arrangement he had entered into; it was removed from the heat of battle, much colder and deliberate.
And of course, in this position -and squashed against the command chair- his own body was not really getting into the act. Not that he missed that part of course. No, that was actually really embarrassing, so he was glad to be spared that. Right.
The smell of burnt plastic and sweat was cloying in the small space. Heero's breathing was rasping in his ear, stirring the hair that had gotten loose from his ponytail when he'd been slammed forward. He could feel more, that was distasteful; he could feel Heero's hardness thrust against his ass, just along the top of the split near the base of his spine, grinding the material of his pants into-damn it man hurry up and finish already! Heero's head dropped as the movements became more pronounced, Wufei could feel hot breath searing the flesh of his shoulder, near the thin strap of his black shirt. If Heero put his mouth on his skin at this point Wufei was going to go berserk, arrangement be damned!
Heero's strong hands ground the back of the command chair he'd been using for support. The only remotely good thing about all this was that Wufei wouldn't have bruised wrists this time. Heero gasped, going rigid against the Chinese man's back for a few thunderous heartbeats. Then he leaned back a bit in the chair, panting. Wufei, grumbling internally, scraped himself off of the back of the command chair with some relief. Damn, Dr J had certainly not spoiled Yuy with any comfort here, the thing was like a board.
A hand slid into the space he'd made between himself and the backrest, pressing him against a hard chest, dragging him a little further back, while the other hand dropped from the back of the chair to his belt.
"That's okay, I don't require anything." Wufei snapped, pushing away harder. But Heero had put one leg down on the ground and was bracing himself, it was like pushing against a wall, and the hand slid down the front of his pants.
"Yuy!" Wufei snarled, putting his own hand down to catch Heero's. "I said I don't-"
"Fair's fair." A voice, still husky from his own pleasure, growled in his ear.
"We have an arrangement. I also keep my word."
At that point Wufei could have explained that his side of the arrangement was the battle that preceded it, but then if that was entirely true he would have said something the last two times... damn. He had a feeling Heero knew this anyway-... He didn't want to think about that. At all. So instead he tried to find a curt, down-to-earth and manly way of saying 'I'm not in the mood' that didn't make him sound like some damn whimpering woman. He continued to push away from the command chair, and Heero continued to lean back into him, one knee blocking him in the back and body braced and both hands-
Wufei realized that there was something else different about this position. Heero didn't need his right hand to pin him down - and Wufei realized just how strange it was that Wing's pilot had continued to play along with the illusion he was somehow forcing Wufei into taking pleasure when it had to be obvious to both of them that this wasn't the case. It had never occurred to him.
Wufei was making a lot of discoveries at that point, staring blindly at the back of the cockpit. One of those was... Yuy was even better with both hands.
Wufei's mouth was free. He could have protested, shouted, or just calmly told Heero to stop, and the other youth probably would have. The only thing he managed was a half-vocalized protest that ended in a moan. He was still shoving against the back of the chair with arms that were beginning to shake, Yuy was still grinding into his back with equal and opposing force, a savage test of strength, but his hands were definitely free... Damn it! This was all because of Maxwell! If he hadn't come snooping around - oh!- then Heero would have eventually pinned him down after a proper - Wufei gaspedand flinched forward - match and... Wufei savagely bit his lip to stop himself from completely tearing away whatever shred of dignity and appearance of self-control he had as his whole body shuddered and melted into the hard, certain touch.
All Maxwell's fault. His arms were trembling as they barely stopped him from sinking back against the command chair. He tried to focus, his heart hammering in his ears. He'd have to-... he'd definitely have to go and-... do *something* horrible to Maxwell... later...
"Use the dustsheet to clean up. And bring it with you, I'll wash it." The voice was practical and uncaring behind him, and he suddenly realized he was alone on the command chair. He heard the hatch hiss behind him, and Heero take a step out, waiting for him. Wufei glared around the interior of the cockpit. Right at this moment Wing seemed more responsive and considerate than its owner. At least a Gundam only did what was asked, and didn't try to outguess-...
"Next time we'll find a place we can spar uninterrupted." Heero added as Wufei gathered the dustsheet and rearranged his clothes.
So next time it would be back to normal, although using the word normal in the context of their usual warped relation was probably an offence to anybody who'd ever opened a dictionary.
Back to normal... Wufei, body still shaking a bit, ruthlessly crushed the small curl of disappointment that twisted down at the bottom of his mind. Just as he tried to ignore the way his body was humming, or what it was that Heero had done to him exactly... He was definitely trying to forget that. Right, back to normal.
But next time he wouldn't have bruised wrists at the end of it. He had the feeling that Heero was through catering to his professed reluctance to the entire arrangement. Wufei shook himself. It was stupid anyway. He was doing this, he might as well get the full benefit and no bruises. And, to be perfectly honest with himself... having Heero's rough hands on him wasn't quite the distasteful inconvenience he wanted it to be.
He thought he caught a look out of the corner of cobalt blue eyes as Heero grabbed the zipcord and descended. But Wing's pilot didn't say anything. Wufei thought Yuy understood the reluctance he'd had to bow to the needs of the flesh. It was infuriating, to be distracted by the body that should obey them; Wufei knew Heero found it so as well. At least they could both get rid of the urges as efficiently and quickly as possible, with no emotional wastage.
Maybe this was, all in all, not such a bad arrangement.
By the time they reached the cargo bay door they were discussing a detail for a joint operation in two weeks' time, and completely ignored violet eyes spying on them from down the hallway.
The war against OZ continued unabated.
End Part 3
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