Drums of Heaven

Part Twenty-Seven: Night Is The Cathedral

But night is the cathedral where we recognized the sign
We strangers know each other now
As part of the whole design
--- Suzanne Vega

Heero could feel the colony tilting on its axis, echoing the motion of fingertips running up and down his arm. His eyes fluttered open to see the ceiling. It was then that Heero registered he was lying down, with Duo crouched next to him, leaning into the kiss.

He wasn't sure where to put his hands, so he kept one at Duo's waist. Duo's hand had moved to Heero's chest, fingertips trailing back and forth across his stomach, under the edge of his shirt. Heero reached up with his other hand to Duo's cheek, startled when Duo shied away from the touch.

"Sorry," Duo murmured before continuing the kiss, his tongue slipping past Heero's lips to be greeted with Heero's own tongue. Duo's sweet heat and spicy tongue sent flames shooting down Heero's spine straight into his groin. Too busy moving his hips to ease the pressure on his cock, it slowly dawned on him that Duo was flinching under his hand's caress.

Or perhaps trembling, Heero thought. He wasn't sure. If there had been any such movement by his previous lovers -- if such a term even applied -- it was probably due entirely to the amount of alcohol consumed. The dark-haired man cursed his rambling brain and shoved it away, determined to focus entirely on the moment.

The first thing he realized was that Duo's fingers were undoing the button on his jeans. The second thing he realized was that he'd responded with a whimper. His stomach flip-flopped with every touch.

Encouraged, Duo's fingers pulled on the jeans, letting the buttons pop open, one by one. Heero gasped at the brush of the night air against his body, torn between fear that Duo would keep going and fear that Duo would stop. Moisture hit his belly; his cock was hard enough to be weeping. Duo's fingers were feather-light down his length, and Heero groaned, breaking off the kiss.

Duo smiled coyly, and leaned over further to nuzzle Heero on the cheek, running open-mouth kisses down his jaw. Duo began nibbling on Heero's ear, even as the dark-haired man clutched at Duo's shirt with both hands, biting his lower lip to keep from groaning out loud. Desperately, he bucked his hips, once, twice, trying to get more contact between Duo's taunting fingertips and his body.

"Breathe, Heero," Duo whispered in his ear. Heero blinked, exhaling in a sudden rush that ended in a moan. The soft sound became to a loud groan as Duo's tongue entered his ear, the teasing slickness withdrawing to trace the edge of the lobe. "Tell me," Duo coaxed, and his fingers settled down onto Heero's length, palm against the head of his cock. "Tell me," Duo repeated.

"C-c-can't," Heero finally managed to say. His hands were clenched tight enough in Duo's shirt to tear the fabric, and his hips were arched upwards, frozen under Duo's skillful hand. Duo's fingers were calloused from piloting, and the combination of rough fingertips with smooth palm was a contrast driving Heero past the point of articulate thought.

"Open your mouth," Duo said. "I want to hear you."

Heero gasped as Duo suddenly grasped Heero firmly, jerking along his length once or twice. It was rough and dry, but overwhelming pleasure at the same time. Heero writhed, his eyes squeezed tight as he bit down on his lower lip. The hand was withdrawn, and he whimpered. A second later the hand was replaced, but this time the palm was wet. The slick touches made Heero arch his back, thrusting upwards into Duo's touch. He cried out, a wordless shout.

"Oh, yes," Duo encouraged. "Just like that."

Duo's fingers tightened their grip on Heero, even as Duo nibbled on Heero's neck, licking and biting the taut tendon reaching from shoulder to ear. The young man thrashed under the combined onslaught, his body tensed as Duo increased the pace on his cock. Alternating between self-conscious moans and stifled gasps, Heero's body hovered dangerously close to the edge. He opened his eyes long enough to see Duo's deep blue eyes peering down at him, a pleased expression on Duo's face.

"That's right," Duo coaxed.

Heero moaned, automatically tensing even as the arousal drained from his body in a single heartbeat. One minute his muscles were thrumming, pushing him to the brink, almost there, and the next minute... nothing. Heero opened his eyes, panic starting to flood his mind. What happened? His thoughts were frantic.

Duo's hand had frozen in place, his brow furrowed as he stared down at Heero. The man's fists were balled in Duo's shirt; his back was arched in a bow of tension, yet he'd gone completely soft. Duo blinked a few times, and then looked down at his right hand, wrapped around Heero's flaccid cock.

Heero's eyes slowly refocused, his mind groping past the way his body was screaming for a release that wouldn't come. Panting, he sat up, blinking his eyes rapidly to fight back the tears of frustration and shame, and pulled away far enough to make Duo let go of him. Heero kept his eyes lowered as he tucked himself back into his jeans and buttoned them up.

"Heero?" Duo finally asked, softly. Both hands were raised. It was as if Heero had simply crawled backwards out of Duo's grasp without shifting Duo from his position. "What... "

"Sorry," Heero muttered. "I... It just all stopped... Sorry."

"Hey," Duo said, letting his hands drop as he sat back on his heels. His shoulders were tense, and he smiled, relaxing with visible effort. "It does happen. It's okay."

"I guess." The Wing Zero pilot still didn't look up, but tugged at the bottom of his shirt, pulling it down as he perched on his shins at the edge of the futon. "Sorry."

"Heero," the longhaired man called, his tone gentle. "Look at me... look at me." When Heero looked up, hesitant, Duo smiled, a tight nervous expression but an honest one nonetheless. "This is where you're supposed to be all macho and say this never happens to you."

Heero wrinkled his brow, and then raised his eyebrows in a kind of helpless hint of a smile. "It hasn't," he said. "I... None of this has ever happened before... Any of it." Heero shrugged, a tiny motion. "So... I don't know. It just... all went away." He twisted the shirt under his hands as he tried to arrange his thoughts before speaking.

Duo waited patiently, unmoving.

"Maybe it was just too intense," Heero offered quietly. "Just... too much. Like it mattered too much."

There was a long silence. Finally, Duo sighed and gave a strange half-laugh. "Good to know it wasn't me, then," he said.

"It wasn't," Heero said, quickly. The need to reassure Duo pushed its way to the front of his brain, and he shook his head. "Duo, I'm just... out of practice."

"Out of practice," Duo repeated, puzzled.

"But I wouldn't mind more practice," Heero told him, cocking his head at Duo. A smile tugged at the corners of Heero's mouth as he watched the other man.

"That's the only way to make it perfect." Duo's responding smile was flirtatious, but tentative.

"Maybe I could practice on you, instead." Heero leaned forward, his nerve returning as he decided on a new course of action. If his body was tensing up to the point of undoing the sexual tension, the small voice suggested after a quick analysis, getting interested in Duo's body might be a good distraction.

"You don't have to... "

Heero was pulling himself off sitting on his feet and moving into a cat-like stalk when he realized Duo was leaning back nervously. Heero paused, bewildered. "Duo? What is it?"

"N-nothing," Duo said. "Just that... it's okay, if you... I mean, I'll understand if... "

"Hush," Heero said, closing the distance between them to press his lips against Duo's. The other man didn't respond for a second, then his head tilted to the side and one hand came up to Heero's cheek. The photographer smiled through the kiss, darting his tongue out before nibbling on Duo's lower lip, but the entire kiss was too chaste. Slowly Heero pulled away, a slight frown marring his expression. "Duo?"

"My turn to apologize," the other man said, ducking his head. "I guess... now I'm the one with nerves. Sorry."

"It happens." Heero gave Duo a crooked smile, then his eyes opened in surprise as he yawned. His jaw popped, and he flinched at the crack's echo in the silent room. "What time is it, anyway?"

Duo leaned over to the head of the futon and poked around under the fallen pillow to find the alarm clock. He sat up back up with a smile. "Two-thirty. Past your bedtime."

"But not yours. You never go to sleep before three," Heero replied, sitting back. He wished he could get up and turn on the light, to see Duo's true expression. At the same time, he suspected Duo would have his mask firmly in place by the time Heero had reached the light switch. He sighed. "Duo, are you sure you're okay? I really am--"

"It's alright," Duo said, flashing a quick grin. "These things happen... and you sound like you're ready for sleep anyway."

Heero shook his head, but yawned at that same moment. Duo chuckled, and got up to grab his black pajamas. He ducked out of the room and Heero could see the bathroom light illuminate the hallway before Duo closed the door.

Curious at Duo's unexpected physical shyness, Heero pulled off his jeans and slipped into his sweatpants. He was just pulling his night shirt over his head when he saw the bathroom light shining on the floor. There was a click, and a few seconds later Duo was crawling into bed next to him.

The room was silent for several minutes as each young man shifted in place to get comfortable. Each was poised on the outer edges of the bed, uncertain about the new experience of falling asleep at the same time.

"Heero," Duo breathed a few minutes later from where he lay on his back. He turned his head to look at Heero. "You still awake?"

There was no movement, then the blankets rustled as Heero unwrapped one arm from around his pillow. Carefully, slowly, the dark-haired man reached out his hand, palm-down against the sheets, sliding it towards Duo.

"It was good," Heero said, softly.

A moment later Duo's hand was snaking out, palm-up, and he caught Heero's hand in his, a gentle movement. Duo's blue eyes glittered like icicles in the dark, and he turned to study the ceiling again, his fingers under Heero's, the barest of hand-clasps.

"It'll be better next time," Duo promised. A smile flitted across his profile. When Heero said nothing in reply, Duo's breathing deepened into faint snores. Under his hand, Duo's fingers twitched a few times, caught in sleep.

It was a long time before Heero fell asleep as well, and all that time Duo didn't let go of his fingers. When Heero woke up in the morning, they were still holding hands.


Heero was awake at eight, three hours later than usual but two hours earlier than he'd hoped. The idea of sleeping in was a luxury he'd allowed himself at irregular intervals once graduating from college, and he'd hoped the morning off would be chance to enjoy doing so again. Annoyed, he stretched in place, waiting until Duo's breathing evened out. Then he slipped his hand from Duo's and crept quietly from the bedroom.

Thirty minutes later he was dressed and trying to dismantle the laptop's connection so he could move it into the living room. There was a movement behind him, and a foot prodded him in the thigh. Heero glanced over his shoulder. Duo was awake, deep blue eyes blinking sleepily.

Heero smiled, shyly. His breath caught in his throat when Duo returned the smile, only the other man's was slow and secretive. Heero raised one eyebrow as it dawned on him that Duo had what his college roommate had called a 'bedroom smile.' Duo's expression spoke of pleasure. It was several seconds before Heero could find his voice.

"I made coffee," he said.

Duo nodded, yawned, and sat up for a long catlike stretch before grabbing his clothes and padding off the bathroom. At the door, he turned around to speak, stretching again as he did so.

"Leave the laptop there," he ordered. "You mind me joining you when you check in with these kids?"

"No," Heero replied, too startled to protest.


Duo was showered and dressed, with coffee in hand, watching as Heero logged into the hacker's forum. No one was around yet, so he posted a memo the team with a promise to check in again at the top of each hour throughout the day.

"Now what," Duo asked.

"I wait," Heero said, glancing at the time. "Forty-five minutes, and Rat should be checking in." He rubbed his forehead and stared at the screen for a second, sorting the information through his head. "First, though, I think we need to talk." The dark-haired man pushed himself around so he was sitting cross-legged, facing Duo. The other man's eyes were wide, surprised.

"Is this--"

Heero shook his head, tempering the response with a half-smile. "It's about this entire mission," he explained. "There are still things I can't figure out."

"Okay." Duo sipped his coffee. "Not making any promises that I'll be much help."

Heero ignored the longhaired man's flippant tone and decided to jump right into the questions. "Joe was killed after Une turned down the President's demand to shut down the investigation." Heero kept his voice flat, noting sadly Duo's perceptible wince at his deceased friend's name.


"So there's a direct connection between the President and Joe."

"That's one conclusion." Duo put down his mug, and pulled his braid around to the front of his chest, smoothing it with a preoccupied air. "The other is that the two are completely unrelated."

"You said it was a clear case of sabotage."


"But if the President, for whatever reason, wanted the investigation stopped, I've always thought he – or his minions – would have more sense than to make it obvious."

Duo shrugged. "It's also possible it was a competing team."

"Would they claim responsibility?" Heero leaned back on his hands, studying the longhaired man carefully.

"This is organized crime, not disorganized terrorism," Duo replied. "They don't go on the nightly news to boast. The only rumors we ever heard were that Joe was giving information to a competing syndicate, hence the retribution."

"Assume the President did order the ship's destruction," Heero suggested. "Such unmistakable sabotage was clearly meant as a message for someone. Who? Who stood to gain from having the mission ended?"

"The syndicate," Duo replied, shrugging. "Obviously. But that doesn't apply if the bosses weren't even aware they were being investigated. Before you ask, yes, I have kept my eyes and ears open, as much as I can. None of the rest of us is under suspicion. No more than usual, at least. And if they'd thought Joe was a narc, there's no way we would've been allowed to take over."

Heero nodded, and stared at the laptop's screen saver for a second as he sorted through his thoughts. So far, Duo wasn't saying anything he hadn't already considered. The realization struck him as amusing, given how often he'd silently complained during the war that Duo was too irreverent and haphazard. Heero wasn't aware he'd almost smiled at the thought.

"What?" Duo's sharp eyes caught the quirk of Heero's lips, and the man was instantly on guard.

"Just... " Heero let the expression grow into a softer smile, if still a little crooked. "Thinking of what it was like, back when I first knew you. Always going in half-cocked. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."

"I never said damn the torpedoes," Duo retorted, but he was grinning. "That was Heavyarms."

Heero laughed softly, and sat up; letting his hands fall in his lap. "What if Joe's ship was blown as a warning to the Preventers?"

"To stop investigating? It's possible." Duo grinned. "But how stupid is that? Stop this investigation--" Duo feigned a demanding tone "--and if you don't, we'll end it for you right away."

"Did Une let anyone know the investigation was continuing?"

The room was silent, and Duo's eyebrows slowly lowered as he considered the question. Finally he raised them with a half-shrug. "No idea. I don't think so."

Heero nodded. "Maybe that was the point, and she got the message."

"Why didn't she tell us?" Duo scowled.

"What difference would it make?"

"It would've been nice to know."

"Technically, you're not a Preventer, so she's not obligated to tell you anything," the Wing Zero pilot pointed out. "And the less contact with you, the better. And the less you know... " Heero considered it. "I wonder if she didn't tell you because going in blind, you'd be on guard for anything."

"As opposed to finding exactly and only what we're looking for?" Duo's eyes twinkled. "I should've known that one was coming."

Yeah, Heero thought, amused, you should have, as the one who always reminded me that people only see what they plan to see. The security of that knowledge had given Duo the balls to walk into a number of missions as though he had every right to saunter down a hallway in a top-secret location. The same might be true for someone expecting to find gun smuggling. They could potentially miss all the signs of drug dealing, prostitution rings, or some other major syndicate moneymaking operation.

"She probably gets your mission reports," Heero finally said.

Duo shrugged again, but didn't say anything. He was agreeing with reservations; he didn't know for certain.

"What does the President have to gain from leaving the syndicates alone," Heero mused.

"If the President is in league with the syndicate, I'm not sure I'd believe that he'd have the syndicate doing the sabotage," Duo said, and flicked his hand at Heero's puzzled look. "I don't. Having the syndicate doing the dirty work is tantamount to admitting he'd let the Preventers investigate. And the syndicates are notorious about getting cranky if they're double-crossed."

Heero frowned. "Okay... Where are you heading with this?"

"To the kitchen, for more coffee." Duo flashed Heero one of those Cheshire grins, which grew from a small smile to a bright soul-consuming grin.

Heero raised an eyebrow, bemused, and the next thing he knew he was staring deep into Duo's eyes and there were lips against his. A quick tongue pushed its way between his lips, teased his tongue for a flicker or two, and was gone. Heero blinked, refocusing to see Duo kneeling in front of him.

"By the way," Duo said, that wicked grin still pasted across his face. "Good morning."

Heero narrowed his eyes and let a quick smile dart across his lips just before he sprung, tilting his head as he pitched forward. Both hands landed on Duo's cheeks, holding the long-haired man in place as Heero pulled Duo's jaw open just a little, slipping his tongue into Duo's mouth and swirling it around several times. The Wing Zero pilot smiled at Duo's quiet responding whimper.

He sat back on his heels with a satisfied grin. Duo's eyes were wide, and his hands were still up, as though to defend himself. Slowly Duo seemed to come to, and he lowered his hands, blushing. Heero chuckled, a low sound in his throat.

"Good morning to you, too," Heero said. "Now go get your coffee so we can get back to figuring out what the hell our mission really is."


On to Chapter twenty-eight

Back to chapter twenty-six

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