(Part 7 of the Road Trip Arc)
I had been in the hanger again, sitting in Deathscythe. He
spent so much time in here, his scent lingered, and if I sat with my eyes
closed, I could almost imagine him close beside me. I had spent several
hours here almost every day since he had left. No one dared speak to me
about it, though I knew my behavior was worrying all of them.
It was the fifth day; he was two days overdue, according to
the bare, useless information he had left. I had spent the first days attempting
to track where he had gone, and had come up empty. This was what he did,
and he was damned good at it. The trail led to more dead ends than I could
count and he was out there somewhere, on his own. His first mission in months
a solo one. All I could do was hope he had meant it when he said it was
an easy assignment, but the later he was, the less I was able to make myself
I knew that Quatre would be in the house, sitting by the radio
and monitoring the emergency frequency. He, Trowa, and Wufei took the day
shift, but I spent the night with the radio, alone; and after the first
couple of nights, no one tried to keep me company. I only wanted the company
of one person right now.
I opened my eyes, and climbed reluctantly down from Duo’s
Gundam. It was getting late, and I would be taking over the radio soon.
I would go and eat, because my body needed it, not because I was hungry,
and then go up to the radio room.
Half way up the walk to the house, I thought I heard the sound
of a car engine, and hard as I tried not to let my hopes rise, my heart
thumped hard against my ribs, and I broke into a jog.
When I rounded the corner of the house, he was there, standing
on the porch. I thought my heart would rupture in my chest. I stopped my
run at the bottom of the steps, but he never heard me. He was just standing
there, swaying slightly, and staring at the door. I saw him rub almost absently
at that scar on his right palm, just standing and staring. As he made a
hesitant, almost shuffling step forward, I finally found my voice and said
inanely, ‘It won’t open itself.’
He whirled, and I thought for a moment, he was going to fall.
His duffle bag did fall, but he didn’t even seem to notice. His face
was struggling and failing to cover the swirl of raw emotions coursing through
him. What I saw was naked need. And fear. His eyes searched my face and
found something that made the fear wash away and he staggered forward, falling
down the two steps as though he had forgotten they were there. I caught
him, and then his arms were tight around my neck and he was kissing me,
hard and deep, like he wouldn’t ever stop. I couldn’t keep my
hands from sliding up and down his back, not quite believing he was really
‘Don’t you ever…’
‘You wouldn’t have…’
I realized after a moment of knowing nothing but the feel
and sound of him, that he was shaking in my arms and I drew back to look
at him, really look, and his face was a road map of hell.
‘Heero…the nightmares…they came back.’
Five days; five days on a solo mission, without the luxury
of simple sleep, ‘Gods, love…’
He was sagging slowly in my embrace, and he looked up at me
with the strangest expression of mingled fear and trust, and then it was
like he just gave up and let go. His eyes slid shut, and he was suddenly
a dead weight in my arms.
‘Duo!’ I heard myself yell, and though it brought
Wufei, bursting through the front door, it didn’t bring Duo.
Then Trowa was there as well, and they were helping me lift
him and bring him into the house.
‘What happened?’ Wufei was hauling the damned
duffle bag, while Trowa joined hands with me to make the other half of the
fireman’s carry that was becoming so familiar.
‘I don’t know.’ I told him tersely, ‘I
was coming back to the house when I found him on the front porch.’
Quatre was at the top of the stairs, watching us begin the
climb. He wordlessly ran ahead to open the door to Duo’s room, and
hopefully to get the bed ready.
‘Was he passed out when you found him?’ Trowa
asked gently, perhaps understanding the fear that was running through my
‘No.’ I tried to think of everything I had noticed,
‘He was just standing there. Seemed dizzy; unsteady. Then he told
me…the nightmares came back…during the mission.’
Wufei, who had lived through several of those nightmares,
and may actually have appreciated their power more than I did, hissed in
agitation, bred of concern.
‘Nothing more?’ he asked.
‘No. Then he passed out.’
When we reached his room Quatre had everything ready and waiting.
The covers were stripped back, a basin of water sat by the bed, and the
med kit was out.
We lay him gently on the bed and I began to strip him. The
clothes were new; I’d never seen them before. As I pulled each article
off, I tossed it to Wufei for inspection. He was the one who found the pills.
‘What the hell are those?’ I growled, as he sniffed
and tasted them.
‘Caffeine pills,’ he informed me, eyes narrow,
‘as near as I can tell.’
I ground my teeth, and bent back to the task of examining
Duo’s limp body.
His breathing was fine, though his heart rate was elevated,
but that had just been explained. I was surprised to find his knee encased
in a spandex support under the jeans. We peeled that off too, and his knee
seemed fine underneath it, no serious swelling that I could find. Quatre
was checking his hands, finding only bruising and scraped knuckles. Then
we rolled him over and discovered the only serious physical damage to be
found. His back was bruised pretty badly, and there were several nasty cuts
across his shoulders that were quite obviously infected. Quatre bent to
cleaning them, dabbing first disinfectant and then antibiotics on the wounds.
It had to sting like fire, but Duo never so much as twitched.
Wufei had most of the contents of Duo’s duffle bag out
and spread on the desk. I heard the rattle of pills in a bottle and looked
‘Definitely caffeine pills; I found the bottle they
came from.’ Then he bent to count them. We were quiet until he finished,
‘There are thirty pills missing.’
Trowa looked down at the pale form on the bed, with a horrified
expression, ‘Six a day?!’
‘Or more.’ Quatre said softly, touching Trowa’s
arm, ‘He probably didn’t start taking them until the second
I left the bed to join Wufei at the desk. The pile of damp
clothes that he had dumped on the floor stank rather pungently of something
foul. We found Duo’s gun and several knives, and dear Gods; the makings
of a decent sized bomb. Wufei had his laptop out, but it wouldn’t
‘The hard drive’s been wiped.’ He informed
me with a grim frown.
I went through the pockets of the filthy clothes on the floor
so we could get the stinking things out of here. These were his ‘working
clothes’ as he called them. Black from top to bottom, and enough damned
pockets to cart a garage full of tools around in. I found a folded up scrap
of paper that proved to be part of a blue print. It appeared to show the
layout of a water treatment plant or sewer system. There wasn’t enough
left to tell much about it. I lifted one of the knives; something seemed
odd. There were two of them, a matched pair of old-fashioned military knives
that he had carried as long as I had known him. There was a cutting wire
stored in the hilt, and that drew my attention. I knew that Duo always kept
his tools in excellent shape, but the cutting wire was severely worn down,
and the residue of some kind of metal could be seen in the teeth
Wufei held something else in his hands and was examining it
closely. At first, I took it to be the other cutting wire. Then I looked
again and realized it was a garrotte wire with a faint trace of blood on
‘I thought it was supposed to be a simple infiltration
mission?’ Wufei muttered ironically, and tossed the garrotte onto
the growing pile on the desk.
Quatre was finished with Duo’s cuts, and rolled him
back over, pulling the covers up and gently tucking him in.
Trowa moved around the bed, and came to stand between Wufei
and I, looking down at the accumulated pile of clues we had unearthed.
‘It would seem,’ he said very quietly, ‘that
if it were not for the return of the nightmares, that this would have been
a fairly routine mission.’
I took it is a small reprimand, and if it had not come from
Trowa, I might have been…very angry. As it was, I almost demanded
of him how he would feel had it been Quatre who had just turned up days
late from a mysterious mission, shaking and scared and passing out on the
Quatre spoke softly from Duo’s side, ‘I think
he is only sleeping. I think he just pushed himself too far.’
Small comfort, but I had to agree. There didn’t seem
to be any new damage. The use of the pills and lack of sleep certainly explained
the state he was in.
‘Then we should let him rest.’ Wufei said, I suspect
as much to break the sudden silence as anything.
Trowa gave Quatre a look that obviously meant, let’s
go. But Quatre gave him a look right back, which clearly said no, his eyes
flickering back and forth between me and Duo. It was irritating me a little,
these things they exchanged as though everyone else in the room were blind.
Then on the bed, Duo moved, hands clinching on the bedclothes,
face contorted with a frown. A ripple of dread spread across the room as
though from a stone dropped in a pool. I moved instantly, pushing past Quatre
to take my place by Duo’s side. I slid one arm gently under his head,
the other hand smoothing his hair and stroking his cheek, letting my hands
tell him I was there. ‘It’s all right, my love, I’ve got
you. You’re…home. You’re safe. It’s all over. It’s
Ok…’ I wove the spell, spoke the magic. Reached out and laid
my soul, warm and trembling, against his. ‘I have you, I’m right
Duo drew a deep, shuddering breath in my arms and grew quiet
again. It sent a shiver through my heart to watch him calm and grow still
from just the sound of my voice. I bent and brushed my lips across his temple.
‘…he was so mad, just a minute ago.’ I heard
Quatre saying behind me, and then Trowas quiet reply,
‘Hush, little heart; not now.’ I could hear them
‘I never knew he could be like that. So gentle.’
The light went out, and the door closed, and they were gone.
I slipped free, just long enough to throw off shoes and shirt, and then
I crawled under the quilts and pulled him into my arms, wanting nothing
more than to feel his breath on my skin and the beat of his heart against
‘Don’t ever leave me again.’ I breathed
into the soft evening light, ‘I thought I would die when I found you
gone. You’re…all I have, and I can’t lose you.’
I told him all the things that I had found in my heart in the last five,
long days. I knew he couldn’t hear me, and I knew he couldn’t
make those promises even if he wanted to, but it didn’t matter.
At length, I dozed off with him curled on my chest, warm and
lost deep in the folds of peaceful sleep.
I woke at dawn to find he hadn’t so much as twitched
a muscle, still lying across me just as he had when I had finally fallen
asleep. I would not wake him for the world. I simply laid there and watched
him breathe for a bit, feeling his breath wash soft and shallow across my
chest. It eventually lulled me back to sleep. I woke in mid-afternoon to
find he had shifted only slightly, and was still sound asleep on my chest.
My muscles were screaming to be stretched and moved, but I would do nothing
that might disturb his rest.
It ended up being eighteen hours, before he began to stir
and show signs that he might finally wake up. His hand groped out as though
hunting for something, and I slipped my hand under his fingers. He squeezed
and muttered groggily,
‘S’ok Gramps. It won’t be long now. We’re
gonna make it.’
I stroked his hair with my other hand, and wondered what he
His eyes slid open, blinking in slow bewilderment, ‘Gramps?
Then his eyes found me, flying open wide. The look of joy
that filled his face made my heart swell in my chest. I leaned down and
claimed his sweet lips in a warm, searching kiss that I hoped told him everything
I couldn’t find the words for here in the light of day.
‘I made it.’ He grinned up at me when I finally
‘Just barely, from the look of things.’ I tried
for severity, but it didn’t wash.
‘You’re not…gonna kill me?’ he ventured,
lips playing with a soft smile, but his eyes revealing just how much of
a real fear this had been for him.
‘Oh,’ I smiled, ‘I would like very much
to kick your ass into the middle of next week. And maybe I will, once I’m
done holding you.’
He lay his head back down on my chest and sighed a great,
weary sigh. ‘I was afraid you’d be so mad you wouldn’t
even want to see me.’
I snorted, ‘Seeing you is all I’ve wanted for
the last five days.’
‘Sorry.’ He muttered, ‘I almost tried to
send a message. But…’
I tensed and pushed him up where I could look him in the eye.
‘That goes against all sane rules, Duo. Don’t you ever jeopardize
yourself on a mission just to save me from worrying.’
He grinned like an idiot, and wriggled against me like a happy
puppy. Well, a tired, stiff, and sore, happy puppy. I couldn’t stop
touching him, stroking his hair, tracing his cheek; I still didn’t
quite believe he was really back, safe and relatively sound.
He stretched, careful of sore spots, and my eyes mapped all
the places that he favored. His knee, the stretch didn’t travel down
his right leg, and the fingers on his left hand didn’t spread wide
like those on his right did. He was a little cautious of the still healing
gash in his abdomen, but I noticed him favoring the shoulder with the infected
cuts more than anything.
‘Gods, I’m stiff.’ He moaned, rubbing at
the hip he had been lying on all night.
I chuckled, ‘You didn’t move a muscle from the
time we got you in here.’
He grimaced, and rubbed at a temple, ‘How long?’
‘Eighteen hours.’ I told him gently.
‘Damn.’ He began rubbing at the back of his neck.
‘What’s the matter?’ I asked, concerned.
‘Got a screaming headache.’ He muttered, and when
he pulled his hand away from his neck, I could see it visibly trembling.
I frowned, ‘I’ll get you some aspirin, Ok?’
I was expecting an argument, but he just laid his head back down on the
‘Ok.’ He said meekly.
There were some in his bathroom, and I brought back a couple
of tablets and a glass of water, holding his head while he swallowed.
I went and dug out some clothes for him, and went to my own
room to change while he dressed. I could hear the others moving about quietly
downstairs. I went back to Duo’s room and found him dressed and sitting
on the side of the bed, holding his head in his hands.
‘Let’s go get you something to eat.’ I said
gently, and helped him get to his feet. He moved slowly, and a little stiffly,
and I watched him like a hawk on the stairs. But he made the kitchen under
his own power, going straight to a chair and pulling it out to sit so he
could lay his head down on his arms.
‘You’re finally awake.’ Wufei observed dryly,
and I didn’t bother to answer, going to the sideboard for bread to
make Duo a sandwich. Behind me, I heard the hiss of someone opening a bottle
of soda and then Duo’s voice muttering,
‘Thanks, Wufei; you’re a life saver.’
I whirled around, instantly angry, ‘What the hell are
you doing?’ I snapped, ‘That’s the last thing in the world
Duo was gulping the stuff down, probably guessing that my
next move was going to be to take it away from him.
‘Relax, Yuy.’ Wufei met my glare with one of his
own, ‘I’ve been doing some research while you two were…out
of it. Documentation shows that it’s not a good idea to cut him off
completely. With the amount of caffeine he was ingesting, his body is addicted.
You can’t cut the body’s supply off all at once without withdrawal
‘Like headaches?’ Duo asked wryly, head back on
‘Yes.’ Wufei looked at him with a certain amount
of sympathy, ‘Headache, fatigue, dizziness, shaking. The soda does
not contain near the amount of caffeine your system is used to, but should
help ease the symptoms.’
I was a little taken aback that Wufei had thought to do the
research, and touched as well; any kindness shown to Duo, was a kindness
shown to me as well.
‘Thank you.’ I muttered, turning away from his
surprised expression to resume making Duo’s lunch.
Quatre moved up behind Duo to gently peel back the collar
of his shirt to check the cuts on his back.
‘You know,’ he told him gently, ‘we’re
going to have to lance these and clean them out, don’t you?’
Duo sighed, raising his head to take another swallow of soda,
‘Yeah, I know. Been putting it off.’
‘How in the world did you manage to get it so infected?’
Trowa wanted to know, looking over Quatre’s shoulder.
‘Crawling around in scummy sewer water, probably.’
He grinned up at me as I sat his lunch in front of him.
‘Ok,’ Quatre pulled out a chair and sat down beside
him, ‘enough is enough; I want to hear all about it.’
Duo grinned around a bite of his sandwich, and the others
pulled out chairs as well. If nothing else, Duo could tell a damned entertaining
‘Oh, guys; I met the most amazing little man…’
and he proceeded to spin a tale that had everyone laughing, including me,
even though I could tell he wasn’t telling it all. There was, for
instance, no mention of the pills or nightmares. And when, in my mind, I
repainted the story, adding in that omission, it sent chills up my spine.
‘…under the damn truck!’ Wufei burst out,
at one point, horrified.
‘Well the pizza delivery driver ploy just didn’t
seem all that promising.’ Duo explained matter-of-factly, as though
that cleared it all up.
‘Duo!’ Quatre couldn’t help but interrupt,
as he got to the next part of the story, ‘Up six stories in the elevator
shaft? With your hand?’
‘I bought gloves.’ Duo justified, a little defensively,
before continuing with the narration.
I thought Trowa would choke to death when he got around to
describing what was instantly dubbed the ‘Duo Maxell Pizza Gambit’.
Then one Makoto Ito entered the story, and Duo’s whole
attitude changed, and I found myself admiring this venerable, spunky defector
who had so obviously won Duo’s affection.
Even though I had vowed to myself that I wouldn’t comment,
when he told about the mad scramble down the water outlet shaft into Gods
only knew what, I couldn’t help a sharp intake of breath, ‘Duo!
What if it had been a closed system?’
He looked straight at me, a touch of challenge in his eyes,
and shrugged, ‘You throws your dice, and you takes your chances.’
There was a moment of dark silence, in which all I could do
was sit and blink. Then he relented a little, ‘Based on the blue prints,
and the age of the visible part of the system; the odds were in my favor.’
He picked the account up where I had interrupted, and it took
me several minutes to realize that we were to the point in the story where
his wound had become infected, but we had yet to hear how his back had gotten
so battered in the first place.
He was grinning broadly when he finished, his eyes sparkling
merrily as he told us, ‘Makoto wants me to meet his granddaughter
when the war’s over!’
That left them all laughing, as I’m sure was his intention,
and no one questioned what were to me, obviously gaping holes in the account.
The garrotte, the pills, the wounds on his back, had somehow
never come up.
Then Quatre kindly patted his hand and said, ‘Take the
shirt off, and I’ll get the stuff.’
Duo rolled his eyes and sighed, but pushed his empty plate
away and pulled the t-shirt off, wading it into a pillow and laying his
head down. Trowa gently lifted the braid, pulling it to the side and out
of the way. Quatre returned with a basin of water and the med kit and then
we all stood around looking expectantly at each other.
‘Draw straws or something, guys.’ Duo said after
a long moment of nobody doing anything, and I moved forward, feeling it
was probably my place, but not really wanting to be the one to cause him
But Wufei surprised me again, climbing up to sit cross-legged
on the table beside Duo, where he could lean over him and work. Quatre pulled
a scalpel out of the med kit and wiped it down with alcohol before handing
it to Wufei. There was a slight tightening across Duo’s shoulders,
and nothing more, as Wufei carefully used the sharp blade to open the infected
cuts. The pus oozed out under it’s own pressure, and Trowa was there
with sterile pads, to wipe it away so Wufei could see to work. I sat down
and laced my fingers with Duo’s, giving them a reassuring squeeze.
‘No blood in the drainage yet.’ I let him know,
meaning it wasn’t in his system.
Then Wufei began to squeeze, pressing down hard, forcing the
infection out where Trowa could clean it away. Quatre suddenly found something
else to do.
There wasn’t a sound from Duo; Wufei might as well have
been working over the steak we would eat for dinner later.
‘Alcohol.’ Wufei warned, and liberally poured
directly from the bottle, while Trowa held a towel to catch the runoff.
After a moment, Duo muttered, ‘Damn ‘Fei; you
gotta use the whole damn bottle?’
‘Almost done.’ Wufei told him, more gently than
I would have thought, and didn’t even mention the pet name.
He let the alcohol sit for awhile, before nodding to Trowa
to blot it dry and then out came the tube of antibacterial cream.
‘Touch.’ He warned again, and used his fingers
to work the cream directly into the now open wounds. He sat back after a
moment, wiping his hands on one of the towels, before patting Duo gently
on the back. ‘All done.’
Duo sat slowly up, gingerly stretching his shoulders, and
grinned at us, ‘Thanks, feels better.’
Quatre returned, and began cleaning up, looking a little sheepish.
‘I am going down to the gym.’ Duo informed us
suddenly, ‘I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.’ He left
the room, pulling his shirt back on as he went.
‘He seems a lot better.’ Quatre ventured after
Duo was gone.
‘Outwardly.’ Wufei frowned.
‘He’s still holding a lot inside.’ Trowa
said softly to no one in particular.
‘He needs to deal with it.’ Wufei said, and suddenly,
I had the feeling that the whole conversation was for my benefit.
Quatre murmured soft agreement, ‘He has to face his
I got up and followed Duo; I was not going to sit here and
pursue this discussion down the road it was leading.
I found him downstairs already laid back in the leg press,
and I sat down beside him, absently watching the weights rise and fall.
‘Your story,’ I finally told him dryly, ‘seemed
to have a few missing chapters.’
He flashed me a grin, ‘Nobody wants to here the crappy
‘I do.’ I told him soberly, and he looked at me
for a moment before losing the grin and asking,
‘We found the garrotte.’
His eyes widened slightly, and he quirked me a grin, ‘You
guys sure as hell don’t miss much.’
I just waited.
‘There was a guard station on the laboratory level.
I had to get rid of him.’ He finally told me.
‘Is that where your back got gashed?’
He nodded, still pushing the weights up and down. ‘He
didn’t take too kindly to being strangled. Threw us backward into
‘How the hell did you lose your footing?’ I was
thinking about his knee, worrying that he had lost control of the struggle
because his knee had given out.
There was an almost irritated sigh, and he frowned, ‘Who
said I had any footing?’
Shit! His opponent had been so large that Duo had been completely
off the ground?
‘Why the hell didn’t you just shoot him?’
‘At that point,’ he said rather coldly, ‘the
installation was still not aware they had an interloper. I was trying to
keep it that way.’
I sat and digested that, trying to picture it in my mind,
but just ended up with a mental picture of Duo clinging to the back of a
ridiculously large giant. I shook my head to banish the stupid thoughts.
‘The…nightmares…’ I began, and he
abruptly stopped pushing against the weights, turning sharply and sitting
up to face me.
‘I arrived at the site the first night. Went to bed
around eleven, after spending the evening doing some reconnaissance work.’
His voice was tight and angry, his words clipped. ‘I don’t know
when the nightmare started. I woke around four in the morning. It was just
like all the other times. I woke screaming. I felt pain. It took approximately
an hour before I could function. It seemed unwise to sleep again. Especially
once I was in enemy territory. I bought the caffeine pills that day and
began using them that evening. After the escape, I dozed off one more time,
while we were on the road. Ito was driving. I scared the holy crap out of
him and apparently gave him a busted lip. I was able, between the few hours
sleep I got that afternoon, and the pills, to stay awake until I got back
I should have shut up, right then and there, but I couldn’t
seem to help myself, ‘You should have aborted the mission after that
He blinked at me, something washing through his eyes that
looked oddly like pain, and very softly he said. ‘I don’t second
guess every damn move you make.’
Then he stood up and walked out of the room, leaving me sitting
there feeling like an utter fool. I wanted to jump up and run after him,
or at least my heart did. My head told me to leave him alone for a little
while, give him some space. My gut curled up in a nauseous ball and whispered
that he would never forgive me, that I didn’t deserve his love, and
he was going to figure that out soon. And of course, there was that other
voice that sat back, smug and self-righteous and crowed, told you so! Told
After a while, I got up and slipped up to my room, not wanting
to run in to anybody. I didn’t want to talk and I didn’t want
to listen. I was miserable, and I just wanted to go sit by myself somewhere
in the dark. I was doing it again, treating him like he was made of spun
sugar and air, as Trowa had put it. I wanted so much to protect him from
everything; from his past, from this damned war, from stupid college kids
with a grudge, from himself. But who the hell was going to protect him from
me? With my stupidity, and my good intentions, all I was doing was undermining
his self-confidence, filling him full of bitterness and anger. Twisting
my own heart with my doubts and my fears. I trusted him; I would trust him
with my life, with my very soul. Why couldn’t I trust him to take
care of himself? Why was I so consumed with fear?
I sat in the chair by the window, in the dwindling evening
light, my head in my hands and tried to figure out what to do. I…I
needed to have a plan. I needed objectives, I had to figure out…I
needed to…Ok; I was really, really no good at this.
I heard him come into the room, and I jerked upright, my mouth
working soundlessly, trying to find the words to tell him how sorry I was,
how damned stupid I was, but his face stopped me cold and all I could do
was stare up at him as he came toward me.
His expression, so cold and angry when he had stormed out
of the house, was now soft and warm, his eyes sparkling with some strange
secret and his lips dancing in a suppressed smile. He came and slid himself
onto my lap, wrapping his arms around my neck and drawing my face up to
his for a kiss as tender and as gentle as any he had ever given me.
He moved his lips across my cheek, whispering softly in my
ear, ‘You are so…’and he kissed that place behind the
hinge of my jaw, ‘heartbreakingly…’ down the side of my
throat, ‘beautiful….’ Soft as a feather along my collarbone,
‘when you…’ a gentle pressure of his teeth at the join
of my shoulder, ‘worry.’
I was on fire; my blood thundering in my ears, my arms wrapped
tight around his waist. What was he saying? I didn’t understand; not
an hour ago, my worrying had made him mad enough to storm out of the house.
What had happened?
He brought his lips back to my ear, his breath washing warm
and making me shiver as he asked, ‘Know what I did?’
‘No…’ I managed to gasp out, ‘What?’
His teeth nipped playfully at my earlobe, and a soft sigh
‘The last time you changed my access codes, I set up
a motion sensitive recording session in Deathscythe.’
I froze; all the rising passion rushing away to be replaced
by the realization of what he was saying.
‘You…you did what?’ I croaked, the color
flooding to my face.
Oh. Dear. Gods. He had recordings of me, climbing into his
Gundam and…and…sitting there, curled up in…oh Gods…in
tears. Smelling his damn flight suit…and…whispering his name….Oh.
Bloody. Hell. I had talked to his stupid Gundam. I hadn’t been able
to talk to anyone else…and I had needed to…Oh, shit.
The blood that had rushed to my face, suddenly drained away
and I stared up at him in horror. He grinned with wicked delight, kissing
‘I love you so very much, you damned, pig headed, asshole.’
He traced the lines of my face with his fingers, his eyes brimming with
love, locked with mine.
What was there to say? If he had watched the recordings, he
had heard me pour out my heart, all my hopes, all my fears, everything.
Oh Gods; everything.
‘You really think I’m beautiful?’ he asked
softly, obviously knowing the answer.
I gave it up; ‘Devastatingly so.’ I breathed,
allowing my hands to slide up his back, that small thing and no more.
He couldn’t seem to stop smiling at me, ‘And after
the war; you really want to live together?’
I closed my eyes, seeing it in my mind, just as I had been
since I had first held him in my arms, ‘In a small house in the mountains,
where we can sleep outside on warm nights and see the stars.’
‘Can we get a dog?’ he asked abruptly.
My eyes snapped open, and I had to laugh aloud, ‘Anything,
my love, anything at all. An elephant, if you want one.’
He returned my wide smile and said, ‘That’s better.’
Running his thumb gently over the curve of my lips. Then his face clouded,
and he rested his head on my shoulder.
‘I didn’t mean to hurt you.’ He told me
softly, ‘I’m so sorry.’
‘No, love; I’m the one who is sorry. You’re
right, I can’t ask you to be anything other than what you are.’
His arms tightened around my neck, and I wrapped mine around
his waist, pulling him close.
‘We are so screwed up.’ I said softly into his
He chuckled, ‘Gonna need therapy for years.’
And we sat in silence, just holding on tight, until Quatre’s
bright voice called us to dinner hours later.
We went down to the kitchen, and I tried not to hover as he
made his way down the stairs.
It had been Quatre’s turn to cook, and there was steak,
rice and those delicate biscuits that he makes from scratch. All things
that I knew were favorites of Duos, who sat down and attacked his steak
as though he hadn’t eaten in days.
‘Hey, Quatre!’ he grinned, ‘Did you use
all those spices I like?’
‘Of course, Duo.’ Quatre beamed and passed him
Quatre truly was an excellent cook, and seemed to enjoy doing
it. I honestly did not understand why it was necessary to take turns…
‘Isn’t it your turn to cook tomorrow, Yuy?’
Wufei suddenly asked, delicately cutting his steak up into slivers before
‘Yeah, Heero!’ Duo piped up brightly, ‘Can
we have pancakes?’
‘For dinner?’ Trowa looked vaguely appalled.
‘Why not?’ Duo wanted to know, ‘Heero makes
Then Quatre cleared his throat and explained, ‘I guess
the two of you can have whatever you feel like fixing.’
‘The two of us?’ I questioned, looking up at the
three of them as they shared an odd, guilty look.
‘I have to go up to the main estate on…business.’
Quatre said blandly, ‘Trowa is coming with me, it should only take
us a couple of days.’
Wufei took a bite of his rice before quietly adding, ‘They
have agreed to let me accompany them; there is a shop near there that specializes
in Chinese imports that I would like to visit.’
‘Cool.’ Duo said, ‘We can have a party while
they’re gone, Heero. Dancing girls and everything.’
I had little doubt that this sudden absence was completely
orchestrated, and I was sure I knew exactly why. I was a little irritated.
No; I was a lot irritated. How dare they put their interpretation on Duo’s
sex life. On my sex life!
The conversation after that was a little strained. I didn’t
say another word. I attempted, more than once to catch Wufei or Trowa’s
eye to deliver a scathing glare but they managed to finish their meal without
ever looking directly at me. My gut churned, and I barely tasted my food.
What the hell did they expect me to do? Force him? Tell him I thought it
would be good therapy if we slept together?
It was Duo’s and my turn to do the dishes. With my arms
in dishwater up to the elbow, I found myself missing the kitchen staff for
the first time because I was not in the mood right then.
After a bit, Duo asked softly, ‘Heero? Is something
I blinked in confusion before realizing that I was scrubbing
the plates hard enough to strip the glaze off the porcelain.
I grunted dryly, ‘I guess I just hate kitchen duty.’
‘I can wash.’ He offered, taking a clean plate
from my hand to dry it and put it away. I flashed on the conversation I
had had with Wufei at this same sink in much the same position, as I asked
him to watch over Duo while I was gone.
‘Almost done, now.’ I grinned, ‘Though I
do seem to get stuck doing the washing more often than not.’
He smiled, seeming somewhat put at ease, but still looking
at me oddly.
‘You sure everything’s Ok?’
He didn’t have all the clues that I had. He had no idea
why the others were so conveniently vacating the estate, and I wasn’t
about to tell him. I wouldn’t allow that kind of pressure to come
to bear on him. They meant well, and the theory might actually have some
worth, but this had to be in Duo’s own time, and not before.
I flicked a glob of suds on his nose and grinned, ‘Just
He grinned back at me, seeming to decide that I was, as I
said, all right. We finished cleaning the kitchen and I debated hunting
Wufei or Trowa up to give them a piece of my mind, though the whole damned
plan smacked more of Quatre’s romantic idealism than either of the
other two. But I never could manage to go off on Quatre the way I wanted
to go off on somebody right now. The hell with it. Let them take their little
trip. It didn’t mean anything was going to happen. They would be leaving
in the morning, I just had to make sure that Quatre didn’t have a
chance to be alone with Duo before then. Just on the off chance that he
would decide to move things along a little faster by trying to plant ideas
in Duo’s head.
‘You want to go back to the gym and finish your work-out?’
I asked, realizing that the others had gone on to the informal living room
and were watching the news. I really didn’t want to be around them
Duo brightened, ‘You don’t mind keeping me company?’
‘No.’ I assured him, ‘In fact, I kind of
feel the need for a little exercise myself.’
We spent most of the next two hours there, Duo running through
his entire routine for both knee and hand, while I managed to do just about
everything I could find that allowed me to hit or kick something. I’m
not sure about him, but I felt a little better when we were done. Almost
like I could talk to one of the other three without belting them.
We were both hot and sweaty, my shirt was sticking to my back,
and Duo had long since shed his.
‘Showers?’ he grinned, allowing me to pull him
to his feet from where he lay on the leg press.
‘Most definitely.’ I agreed, and found his discarded
shirt to sling at him. He caught it and used it to wipe at his damp face.
I turned out the lights and we went up to the foyer to begin
the long climb up to the second floor. Duo seemed to be leaning rather heavily
on the rail, and I bit my tongue for several steps before working up to
saying, ‘If you expect me to not hover, I have to be able to count
on you asking for help when you need it.’
He stopped and turned to look down at me with a lop-sided
grin, ‘You’re really trying, aren’t you?’
‘Yes, I am.’ I agreed, tilting my head to look
up at him, ‘And it’s damn hard.’
He chuckled, flashing me the reward of his bright smile, but
it faded quickly and he confessed, ‘If it would be Ok, I’d really
like another can of soda. The headache is coming back, and I have the shakes.’
I grunted, surprised at his candor. ‘Ok.’ I said
after a moments consideration, ‘Wait here?’
There was a heartbeat, and he said quietly, ‘I…I
think that might be best.’ He actually sat down on the steps.
I went back to the kitchen and fetched the soda, grabbing
a bottle of water for myself while I was there, and quickly returned to
Duo. He was sitting where I had left him, holding his trembling hands out,
and watching them as though they belonged to someone else. He stood back
up when he saw me, and resumed his climb, not objecting to my hand resting
lightly on his elbow. When we got to level ground, I handed him the can
and left him to finish the walk to his room while I went on to my own.
I showered quickly, but thoroughly, hurrying to get back to
him. What had Wufei said the symptoms of his caffeine withdrawal were? Headache,
fatigue, dizziness, shaking? We had worked out for quite a while; perhaps
he had overdone it. I was worried he might get dizzy and fall. I would have
to check his knee for swelling, see if he should ice it. He was supposed
to be using an ice pack after he did his exercises. I…
Damn. I was doing it again. I knew I was doing it again. And
I vowed not to act on any of it. I was done in the shower; long done, but
I just kept standing there, letting the water run off me, and trying very
hard not to rush back to Duo’s side. I lathered my hair up a second
time. I found some conditioner and used that. When I finally got out, I
took the time to brush my teeth. I toweled my hair until it was almost completely
dry. Then I rummaged around in my dresser until I found a pair of stretchy
cotton shorts, and a loose tank top. I was tired of sleeping in my jeans.
Finally, a good forty-five minutes later, I made my way to Duo’s room,
and tapped lightly, waiting for his quiet, ‘Come in.’ before
opening the door and venturing inside.
He was sitting in the middle of his bed, combing out that
thick mass of hair and dripping water all over the towels strewn around
him. I was surprised to find he had put on a clean pair of jeans and a clean
t-shirt. There was music playing. Again, not what I was used to hearing
Duo listen to. Upbeat, with a Celtic flavor, though the lead singer had
an odd Norwegian accent. It was strange, I had never noticed before how
much Duo surrounded himself with music. Sometimes, even in battle, I had
heard it blaring over the comm-link. The song playing was very energetic,
and Duo was unconsciously tapping his foot in time to it. The rich baritone
voice was singing the chorus of a song as I came into the room, ‘…our
arms are still as shiny, between the rusty dents, I never thought I’d
find you here, on the same side of the fence…’
He caught my eye and grinned, ‘Damn, Heero, we have
a theme song.’
I went to the desk to look at the CD case and noticed it was
‘This is a…departure for you.’ I couldn’t
help commenting, ‘New?’
‘I bought it…that day at the mall.’ There
was a slight hesitation in his voice, there was no doubt what day he was
talking about, ‘I just found it. I thought it got lost in the fight.’
‘I found it in your jeans pocket that day after I got
back.’ I told him absently, ‘When we cleaned your room.’
I was trying extremely hard to be nonchalant about the subject matter. I
really didn’t like talking about those days.
When I finally turned away from the desk and looked at him
again, he was grinning at me in obvious amusement. ‘Don’t strain
anything, love.’ he cocked his head and grinned, ‘I didn’t
expect you to change out of Mama-Yuy mode overnight.’
I snorted, ‘Help you with your hair?’
‘If you don’t mind.’ He ducked his head
and I moved to sit on the bed behind him, taking the comb from his hand
and beginning the job of untangling the waist length mass as the scent of
sandalwood surrounded us. Mind? Hardly; I loved the feel of his hair, I
loved having a reason to run my fingers through it, to hold the weight of
it in my hands, and to imagine it’s soft silkiness spread loose across
‘No.’ I said simply, ‘I do not mind.’
We sat in blissful silence for a while; I think he enjoyed
having me comb his hair as much as I enjoyed handling it. The act held a
‘Heero?’ he asked at length.
‘I need to ask you a favor,’ he seemed pensive,
‘and you’re not going to be happy with me.’
The comb faltered as I asked, ‘What, love?’
‘I need…I think I should sleep by myself tonight.’
He almost blurted it out, and he was right; I wasn’t happy.
I had to swallow hard to keep from raising my voice, ‘Duo,
I don’t think that’s a wise…’
He sighed rather heavily; I stopped talking and just resumed
‘Heero, either one of us could get an assignment at
any minute. I can’t count on you being here to hold my damn hand every
night. I have to find a way to…deal with this.’
I didn’t trust my voice, because all the thoughts swirling
in my head were…very loud. I would not yell at him again.
‘I just lived through the consequences of not dealing
with them. It…wasn’t pleasant.’
The breeze from the open window stirred the few dry strands
of hair in my quivering hands. I combed until I thought I was calm enough
to talk to him, then put the comb aside to begin braiding.
‘Duo, in essence, you are asking me to look the other
way while someone…attacks and rapes you.’ I tried not to make
the words too harsh, but he flinched anyway.
‘I said you wouldn’t be happy with me.’
He said very softly.
‘Duo…I don’t know if I can sit by and let
it happen.’ My fingers stopped their weaving.
‘That’s why I want you to go sleep in your room
tonight.’ He pulled the braid from my hands and finished it himself.
I felt cold all over. He finally turned and looked me in the
eye. ‘All we’re doing is holding it at bay. We’re not
doing anything to make them stop. I have to learn to…live with it.’
‘But love, I can…’ my heart was in agony,
but he cut me off.
‘I know you can.’ He reached out and cupped my
cheek, ‘And you have no idea how badly I wanted to come back to that
sanctuary every minute I was gone.’
I couldn’t speak, the idea of him, in pain, was causing
my stomach to tighten, and my head to hurt.
‘Heero, if we weren’t…what we are. If we
were just two people in ordinary times, maybe we could afford the luxury
of staving the nightmares off until they faded away on their own. But I
can’t. My inability to sleep is a major liability. I could get somebody
‘You have no guarantee that…letting them happen
is going to make things any better.’ I frowned, knowing that he had
already made up his mind, and I wasn’t going to sway him.
He looked at me with a great deal of sadness in his eyes,
‘Well, your soothing me out of them hasn’t gotten me anywhere.
I don’t know what else to do but try to face up to them.’
In my heart, it truly felt like he was asking me to allow
his assault. I knew we were talking about a nightmare, a resurfacing memory.
But when they happened to him, it was as though he went away to another
place, and when he came back, he felt the pain of it, sometimes ‘saw’
the evidence of it on his body. How could he ask this of me? How could I
‘Duo, Gods…please don’t ask…’
He gently pressed his fingers to my lips, ‘Hush, my
love.’ he said softly, his voice miserable, ‘I know what I’m
asking, and I’m truly sorry to do this to you. But I am asking. It’s
nothing that will…kill me. I’ve lived through it…several
‘But it hurts you.’ I begged him, with my eyes,
not to do this.
A small, grim smile, ‘Yes it does. Very much. I won’t
lie to you.’
‘Duo, there must be something we can do, something else…’
‘If you can tell me what,’ he looked at me squarely,
suddenly seeming very old, ‘I’d be happy to listen.’
And, of course, there was nothing I could say. I didn’t
have any ideas, and in the face of his stoic resolve, I only felt incredibly
naïve and very much out of my depth.
He seemed to sense me falter, and pressed his advantage, ‘I’m
not asking, Heero. I’m telling. You’re going to your own room
tonight, and I will see you in the morning.’
He came into my arms then, for a firm embrace, and a gentle
good night kiss.
‘I wish…’ I whispered into his hair, ‘I
could bear this for you.’
I meant it to be some comfort, but he shivered in my arms,
and when he pulled away to look at me, his face was clouded and almost angry.
‘Never.’ He growled, ‘I don’t ever
want you to know anything like this. Don’t say that, don’t even
His vehemence shocked me, and I found myself muttering an
apology, though I didn’t really understand what I had said that had
upset him so much.
He softened at my attempts to make things right, though I
hardly knew what I was saying ‘I’m sorry’ about.
‘It’s all right.’ He murmured, seeming to
see my confusion, ‘I just...can’t stand the idea of that hell
ever coming near you. L2 was…’ He was struggling hard with something
he didn’t know how to say, ‘That kind of world should never
touch someone like you.’
I was the one who was angry now, very angry, and I forgot
my earlier vow not to yell at him, ‘That kind of hell should never
touch anyone, Duo! Don’t tell me you think you deserved to have that
happen just because you had the bad luck to be born on that colony?’
His face registered shock, either at my stark anger, or my
words, I’m not sure which. He didn’t speak, but I could see,
a tiny little place far in the back of his eyes that told me that yes, somehow,
somewhere, that child deep in his heart thought that in some way this was
I moaned and pulled him back into my arms, wrapping him tight
in the only comfort I had to offer, ‘No, my heart; not for a minute.
Not for a bloody damn second. No child…nobody…deserves to have
something like that done to them. Those men were sick bastards and if there
was any way in this universe I could ever find them, they would both be
dead. Dead a thousand times over.’
He clung to me, a shiver running through his frame. I thought
for a moment I might have won the right to stay the night after all, but
then he sat up, face calm and gave me a tired, lop-sided grin.
‘You say the sweetest things.’ He kissed me lightly,
‘Good night, Heero.’
I didn’t have a choice. I returned the kiss and stood
‘Close the door, Heero.’ He grinned at me, putting
the mask back in place, and offering me an unconcerned expression.
I did as I was told and in the hall outside, with his door
closed behind me, I almost threw up my dinner all over the floor. I heard
the music change to the gentle, Gaelic female voice that I remembered falling
asleep to before, and the volume went up a notch. After a moment, the light
that had spilled out from under the door went out and I heard the sound
of the bedsprings.
I went to my own room, leaving the door stand wide, and just
lay on the bed, not bothering to turn back the covers. I lay with my head
at the wrong end, closer to the door and stared out into the hall. I could
just make out the soft sound of Duo’s music and the faint sound of
the television from downstairs. It was my imagination that painted in the
dim sound of whimpering that didn’t really exist.
After a while, I heard Trowa and Quatre coming up and going
into their room, and not long after, the sound of Wufei on the stairs. He
would have to come passed my door on the way to his room, and I hoped he
wouldn’t see me. I almost got up and moved from sight, but I just
didn’t have the energy. He walked past the open door, paused and stepped
back to look in again, peering at me in the dark room.
‘Yuy?’ he called softly, and then, as his eyes
adjusted, ‘What the hell are you doing over here?’
I didn’t respond, wishing he’d just go away, but
I might have known better; the tenacious Chang Wufei never, ‘just
‘Where’s Duo?’ his tone was getting angry,
and I didn’t want him bringing the whole house down on me.
‘In his room.’ I told him. My voice sounded dead,
even to me.
‘What is going on?’ He moved into the room, standing
just at the edge of the puddle of light coming from the hall.
I sighed, ‘He wants to try sleeping alone. He threw
me out.’ I could hear the pain creeping into my voice.
‘And you didn’t try to stop him?’
‘What was I to do, Chang?’
I thought for a moment that he might storm across the hall
to yell at the ‘damn baka’ for tempting the nightmares to come
and bite his head off. I almost wished he would. Instead, he was silent
for a long, long while. I couldn’t see his face, back-lit as he was
by the hall light, but I could almost feel him reining in his temper. Then
he surprised me by coming in and sitting quietly down on the bed beside
‘How very like Maxwell.’ He said with a heart-felt
sigh, and surprised a pained bark of a laugh out of me. Yes, how very, very
like Maxwell, indeed.
‘I don’t know how to help him.’ I breathed
into the darkness.
‘Nor do I.’ He confessed, leaning his elbows on
his thighs, his face turned thoughtfully in the direction of Duo’s
‘He’s forbidden me to interfere. He says he has
to learn to deal with them on his own.’ I hadn’t really meant
to speak of it, but he was sitting here, and he seemed willing to listen.
He shook his head; ‘He continues to surprise me with
the depth of his…strength.’
That finally pulled my eyes away from the doorway and made
me look at him. He was quiet for a moment before continuing.
‘Every time I think he’s come to the limits of
his endurance, he reaches a little deeper…’ a small shudder,
‘I wish there were some way to…to lift this from his shoulders.’
‘Be careful how you speak of that in front of him.’
I warned, remembering his anger.
Wufei looked at me with the question on his face.
‘I…’ this seemed almost as though I were
betraying a confidence, ‘I told him I wished I could…bear the
pain for him.’ I was quiet a minute, trying to put an explanation
to the strange conversation I had shared with Duo, ‘He became very
angry…He seems to feel that we’re above having something like
that happen to us. I think…I almost think…in his mind, he feels
that he deserved it somehow.’
I was expecting a reaction from him, anger, or shock perhaps,
but instead, he just nodded, as though it made sense.
I glared at him, a little angry, not really understanding
the reaction, and he frowned down at me.
‘Heero…haven’t you done any research at
all?’ he seemed a little irritated.
‘Research?’ I was caught rather by surprise, and
was a little annoyed myself, ‘Wufei, this isn’t a stinking mission.
This is Duo we’re talking about.’
All he said was, ‘Come with me.’ He got up and
went to his room. It took me a minute to make up my mind to follow him.
By the time I got there, he was at his desk with his laptop
booted up, winding his way down through an incredible layer of folders to
one titled ‘PTSD’. It was full of dozens of files. When I walked
in, Wufei got up and motioned me to the chair.
‘Sit. Read. All the files are password protected…with…uhmmm’
he looked away, ‘braidedbaka’.’
‘PTSD?’ I questioned, as I pulled the desk chair
‘Post traumatic stress disorder.’ Then he went
into the bathroom to prepare for bed.
And I read. I opened file after file. I was dazed by the amount
of research he had done. There were articles on surviving male rape, pages
of information on PTSD, child abuse, stuff dating back to something called
the Viet Nam war. I was so absorbed, I hardly noticed when Wufei came out
of the bathroom, and went to lie on his stomach on the bed, head propped
up, watching me. I forgot about everything while I devoured what he had
offered me. I was overwhelmed with guilt that I hadn’t thought to
do this for myself. Why the hell had it never occurred to me that there
would be information out there on just what we were going through? Duo was
a Gundam pilot, yes; but he was a human being too.
It was all there, the sleep disorders, the nightmares, the
flashbacks, the need to be held and comforted, but the inability to be sexual.
And the deeper things were there as well, the things I had just touched
on tonight for the first time; the guilt, the shame, the feeling that he
had somehow ‘asked for it’. I read for hours, under Wufeis watchful,
When I finally finished reading, I silently shutdown the system
and closed it up, staring at the wall in front of me as though I could see
through it to the sleeping Duo on the other side. I stared at the wall;
Wufei stared at me. The music from the other room had stopped long ago,
and the house was as still as death. So much information. An incredible
resource, a lot of it citing even more information than Wufei had downloaded.
I was sure that he had done the hard work of culling it down to the most
pertinent and useful, and I felt confident that were I to continue the research,
I wouldn't find much that he hadn't already.
He finally broke the silence in a voice that was automatically
low, 'Don't be too angry with Quatre. He means only to help, and the...theory
is not without merit.'
So; as I had suspected, this trip to the mountains was Qautre’s
I raised an eyebrow; 'I can't ever manage to stay angry with
Winner for long.'
He grinned back at me, 'He uses that damned innocent smile
like a weapon, doesn't he?'
I snorted and shook my head, 'And wields it well.'
He chuckled and fell silent again. The room was dark without
the light of the laptop screen, lit only by the light from the hall. I could
see Wufei on the bed, but couldn't make out his expression. I was reminded
of my blind conversation with Trowa, speaking through the dark of space,
one Gundam to the other, and it drew words from me I had not meant to speak
'I feel like I did that night we came back from the raid on
the station and realized that we had...abandoned him. I feel as though I’m
betraying him all over again.'
Wufei shifted, rolling over on his back to stare at the ceiling
instead of at me. 'I feel derelict in my duties.' he said softly, his voice
twisted with emotion, 'If you're not there to talk him through it; then
damn it, I should be there to hold onto him.'
I felt like he had punched me. It had not occurred to me that
anyone else would feel the guilt and hurt that I was drowning in. But Wufei
and Quatre had seen him through this a half a dozen times while I was gone
on my last mission. I had never actually witnessed a full-fledged nightmare;
my voice had always been able to soothe them away.
'How bad...does it get?' I finally ventured, not sure I wanted
I thought for a moment he wouldn't tell me, perhaps deciding
that it was information I didn't need to know right now while I struggled
to keep myself out of that room. But finally his voice came to me, soft
'True dreams are not really all that long.' He informed me,
'We call what he is having, nightmares, for lack of a better term, but they
are more like...flashbacks. They happen in real-time. When they... take
him, it's as though he is living through it.' On the bed, he sat up, pulling
his legs up and hugging them to his chest. I felt cold.
'He...Yuy, are you sure you want to hear this right now?'
He glanced at me sidelong, and though I wasn't really sure of my answer,
'Yes.' As firmly as I could manage.
He turned his face away again, resting his chin on his knees.
'He struggles. Fights...very hard. That first night, we weren't prepared
and he kicked Quatre so hard he hit the wall and almost...lost consciousness.
He has...clawed significant amounts of flesh from my back.' His voice held
Then he turned and looked at me squarely, 'He does not know
that part, Yuy. He does not need to know. Understand me?'
'Of course not.' I breathed. The fact that Duo had not noticed,
spoke volumes for his condition...afterward.
'He screams a great deal. Some of it is understandable; he
calls continually for someone named Solo. Most of it is not.' He lowered
his forehead to his knees, ‘That first night, every servant in the
house came running, I did not think Duo would...appreciate their presence.
It took a great deal of yelling to convince Rashid to make everyone leave.
His voice...is that of a child. Just a child'
He was quiet for a long time, then, 'When he...wakes up, he
is...drained; exhausted. And...lost. It is so hard to anchor him in the
present, to keep him from slipping back.'
My heart was thumping painfully in my chest, and I watched
Wufei, seeming to curl tighter and tighter into himself on the bed. I didn't
'For awhile, he seems to feel the pain of the...assault as
though it really did just happen. There's a scar on his right hand, he was
apparently cut on some glass...that night. He uses it to...focus, somehow.
He rubs at it...can't look down at himself...told me that first night, that
he could feel the blood running down his...thighs.' He had to take a moment
and collect himself; I could hear him drawing deep breaths. 'He is incredible;
you can...see him, wrestling it down, regaining control by sheer force of
I smiled a little, in the dark; so, my Duo had won Wufei’s
respect the same way he'd won mine; it was hard to witness that impossible
strength, that David against Goliath tenacity, without feeling a deep admiration.
'That first night, Quatre was so...unnerved. Duo wasn't even
able to sit up alone, he was shaking like a leaf, his voice raw from screaming,
and yet...and yet, he just...gathered Quatre up and...' He couldn't go on,
and just stopped, head still lying on his knees. I got up and went to sit
on the bed beside him, unsure what had moved me to do it, and not able to
do anything more once I got there.
His hair was out of its tail for the night, falling across
his face in a curtain, shielding him from my eyes. He was quiet for a very
long time, and at length, I put my hand on his shoulder, unsure if the comfort
would be accepted. He only sighed, and I felt tense muscles relax a little.
'It actually seems to help him stay focused a little. He tries
so hard to make us leave him alone...but I...I never will. The idea scares
me. It seems dangerous somehow.' There was a faint shrug of his shoulder
under my hand, 'I can't explain it; it's just a feeling. From reading, I
think it is the shame...and the guilt talking.'
He raised his head and looked up at me, 'Quatre is so very
good with him, after it's all over. He has trouble...during...he gets so
upset, but afterward, he seems to know all the right things to say and do.'
A look of pain flashed briefly across his face in the dim light.
'The worst was the second night, after the fight when he was...knifed.'
A shudder ran through his frame, 'Somehow...we were all naive enough to
think it was over. I hadn't started doing any research yet. We taped up
the gash and went to bed...nobody was expecting...it took all three of us
completely by surprise.'
I squeezed the shoulder under my hand slightly, offering what
reassurance I could, and he continued. 'The tape came loose, and he tore
the wound open. I couldn't hold him still enough for Quatre to do anything
about it. There was blood...everywhere. The whole thing lasts...most of
a half an hour.'
I hissed sharply; I had never realized.
'By the time he came out of it, we were all three covered
with blood, Quatre was near hysterical, we thought he was going to...bleed
to death. We had dismissed all the servants that morning; it was just the
two of us.'
He unwound from the ball he had wrapped himself in; turning
to face me, and my hand fell away.
'Then he saw the blood for real. I thought...I thought we'd
lost him. He just...came unhinged. Quatre, finally just grabbed his head
and...got right in his face and wouldn't let him close his eyes. 'Look at
me!' he kept yelling at him...and finally, he was just...with us, again.'
My arms slipped up and wrapped around my own shoulders, it
was very cold.
'Wufei...Chang, I can't tell you...you've been...' I struggled
with the words; I was really no good at this.
He smiled gently at me, 'Yuy, you don't have to...'
'Yes I do. I want to say, thank you, yes. But it's more than
that; I want you to know how much I've come to rely on you. My head hasn't
been...straight...since this started.' I glanced pointedly toward the laptop,
'That alone...that I never even thought to do the research...there's a lot
there that helps. There are things I understand now, that I didn't before.
You have been a very good friend to him, I am very glad...you were here.'
He nodded graciously, lowering his eyes, a little embarrassed
I think, and I saw the ghost of a grin behind the fall of hair, 'He is such
a bright spirit. He drives me to screaming rage at times, but...in my darkest
moments, he can...lift me up.'
We sat for a bit, side by side, staring in the direction of
Duo's room, and at length, I had to tell him, 'I don't know that I can do
He laid his hand on my shoulder this time, 'You have to, Heero.
He has to try this his own way.'
'I know.' I breathed, drawing more comfort from the simple
touch than I would have thought, 'But it still feels like a...betrayal.'
His fingers squeezed tight, 'Go to bed, Heero. We should be
sleeping while we can. He'll need us when the time comes.' He quirked a
sad smile at me, 'As Duo says; you won't sleep through one of his patented
There was a final pat on my shoulder, and I rose and went
back to my room.
I pulled the covers back this time, because I was near shivering
with the cold...or with something. But I still lay with my head at the wrong
end of the bed, staring out the door. I noticed Wufei left his door open
as well. Hours passed in utter quiet, and I was wound so tight, I couldn't
do more than doze. The faint glow of dawn found me wrapped in my blankets,
still staring out into the hall, waiting for the sounds of Duo's distress.
Could he have managed to get through a night without falling prey to it?
If so, it would be the first time since the memories had resurfaced, that
he had without my help. It was early, but not overly so, when I finally
couldn't handle it anymore and rose to pad across the hall to check on him.
The others would be getting up soon anyway to leave for the shuttle port
to catch their flight. I eased the door silently open, and froze. His bed
was still made, completely unslept in, and Duo was nowhere in sight. I think
I made a sound; I must have made a sound, because Wufei was suddenly at
my side, pulling on a pair of his loose white pants. We noticed the paper
in the middle of the bed at the same moment, and Wufei pushed passed me
and picked it up. In Duo's hand, in large dark letters, it said 'DON'T PANIC',
and then under that, 'I didn't want to wake everyone, I'm sleeping in the
I shot a glance at the open window, 'I am such an idiot.'
I growled; he had deliberately opened that window, hours before he went
to bed, so as not to alert me.
We turned as one and fairly flew down the stairs, slamming
out the kitchen door. I don't remember my feet even touching the steps.
I vowed to speak to Quatre about moving the thrice-damned hanger closer
to the house; seemed all I did any more was run back and forth between the
I hit the hanger door full tilt, and I may have cracked the
glass in it when it rebounded off the wall, I didn't slow down to look.
Wufei wasn't more than a stride behind me.
We found him at the base of his Gundam, braced on hands and
knees, heaving violently into an old, battered bucket. Above him, Deathscythe’s
hatch stood tellingly open; he had slept in the damned suit.
I threw myself down on the floor beside him, wrapping an arm
around his chest, giving him some support. Wufei ran on passed us to the
tiny bathroom in the back of the hanger, returning with wads of paper towels
and a cup of water. I held him until he was done vomiting, and then we cleaned
him up as best we could with what we had. When we were sure he was finished,
Wufei took the bucket and threw the whole thing away outside in the dumpster.
Duo was shivering so hard, his teeth were chattering. I sat
cross-legged on the floor, and pulled him into my lap to get him off the
cold concrete, wrapping my arms tight around him.
Wufei came back and damned if he hadn't found a blanket somewhere.
It was one of those scratchy, ugly green military issue things, but Duo
didn't complain when we slipped it around him, just curling toward my body
'Maxwell,' Wufei was right in his face, brushing his hair
aside and making him open his eyes. 'How did you get down from your Gundam?'
When he asked it, I looked and realized that the winch line
wasn't hanging there.
'Don't.... I don't remember.' Duo finally gasped out.
'You didn't fall, did you?' Wufei was speaking to him...not
harshly, but firmly, and I could see it was needed to keep Duo's attention.
'Dunno.' he told us, and I met Wufei’s eyes over Duo’s
head. The blanket came back off, and we began gently probing for injuries.
His hands were a mess, I swear there wasn't a knuckle that wasn't bruised
'Maxwell, open your eyes.' Wufei was looking hard at his face,
his fingers massaging over Duo’s head, looking for signs of pain;
I ran my hands down the length of his arms and legs, and as
long as I didn't touch him much above the knee or below the waist, he didn't
All we really found were bruises and scrapes that probably
came from his flailing about inside the cockpit of his mobile suit. I pulled
the blanket back around him, and we turned our attention away from his physical
condition and began trying to get through to him.
‘Duo? Can you open your eyes?’ I asked gently,
it worried me that he just kept closing them. I was afraid he was slipping
back into that other time.
‘I’m Ok.’ He gasped out, ‘Takes a
Wufei actually snorted out loud, ‘Takes a damn sight
longer than that, Maxwell, and you know it.’
‘I’m working on the timing,’ he tried to
make his voice light, but his body belied his words, ‘think we can
get it down to an hour?’
His voice was difficult to understand for the shivering; he
was still only wearing the jeans and t-shirt he had put on after his shower.
I stroked his hair, and it still felt damp.
‘We have to get him out of this damn hanger; he’s
freezing.’ I told Wufei, and he nodded tersely.
‘He’s always cold…right after.’
Duo started trying to struggle up, intent on moving under
his own power.
‘I’m all right. Just give me a minute.’
It was no harder to restrain him than it would have been a three year old.
He had no strength left at all, managing only to throw off the blanket,
before collapsing back into my arms.
‘Maxwell, you’re going to let us help you.’
Wufei told him firmly, and I allowed him to take the lead; he had more experience
dealing with Duo during these times. And, indeed, Duo seemed to respond
to the commanding tone, and allowed Wufei to take him from me until I could
get up off the floor. We came in from either side, lifting him up between
us and starting back for the house.
I had done more than just crack the glass in the door, it
was smashed all over the floor, and since all three of us were bare foot,
we had to work our way gingerly around the mess to get outside.
‘Come on, guys,’ Duo complained after we started
up the path to the house, ‘you can’t carry me the whole damn
‘Well, you certainly can’t walk.’ Wufei
‘Let me try?’ he asked us, softly, ‘Please.’
I met Wufei’s gaze, his look told me the decision was
mine. I nodded after a moment and we stopped, making him keep an arm around
each of our shoulders, and gently let him down to try his own legs. He managed,
at a slow pace, just under half the distance to the porch, but with each
step, his face became more drawn and pale, beading with sweat.
‘Enough.’ I hissed, and swept him back up into
my arms, ‘I’m not going to let you hurt yourself like this.’
‘Sorry…I’m sorry.’ He panted, and
I realized he was reacting to the anger in my voice.
‘No, love.’ I reassured him, ‘You have nothing
to be sorry for. I’m angry at those twisted sons of bitches who hurt
you. I’m not upset with you. Never with you.’
Wufei adjusted the blanket, and moved back in to help take
his weight; we made it to the back porch without another objection from
Duo. What little energy he’d had left was completely gone now, and
he just hung limp between us, his head lolling first against my shoulder,
and then against Wufei’s.
We found our partners in the kitchen starting breakfast. Some
unspoken communication passed between Wufei and Quatre, and Quatre dumped
the frying pan he had been holding into the sink, and darted ahead of us
up the stairs. When we got to Duo’s room, he was waiting with pain
meds and a glass of water, the bed turned back, and Duo’s music already
We put him down on the side of the bed, and Wufei and Quatre
moved in, obviously executing a well-rehearsed operation.
Quatre was indeed, good with him, as Wufei had said. His voice
took on a firm but gentle tone, almost hypnotic, and Duo seemed to focus
on him as though reaching for a lifeline. They worked him out of his clothes,
one piece at a time, and got him tucked into his bed. There were extra blankets
there and Quatre got the painkillers down him without so much as a whimper.
Then he set to calmly bathing Duo’s right hand, working for all the
world like he was dressing a fresh wound, even though I knew there was nothing
on the palm of that hand but an old scar. But, somehow, it seemed to help
him ground himself, and at length, the shivering began to subside.
Trowa and I stood out of the way, feeling oddly out of place.
When they finished, Quatre turned that same commanding tone on me.
‘Heero, get over here.’ He was holding the edge
of the blanket in his hand, and motioning me to crawl in with Duo. I hesitated,
feeling odd about it with everyone standing there staring at me in the stark
light of day. ‘He needs warmed up.’ Quatre informed me calmly
and I slid in under the covers without further prompting. Duo looked at
me with an apology written on his face, but came into my arms anyway. I
had to wonder how long he had lain on that concrete floor; his skin felt
chill wherever it touched me.
‘We’ll be here for another hour,’ Quatre
informed me lightly, ‘if you need anything.’
I could not believe they were still planning on making that
stupid trip. I tried to catch Wufei’s eye as they left the room, but
he didn’t look at me. I had to stifle the desire to yell after them;
you can’t leave him like this!
‘Heero,’ Duo’s voice was faintly hoarse,
‘I’m so sorry. I thought I could get back to the house before
you guys woke up.’
The tension of the entire night and the stark terror of the
morning were playing havoc with my gut, ‘Don’t you ask me to
do that again.’ I told him, and it came out a little more severely
than I had intended.
He flinched, just a tiny bit, but it drew my attention to
the feel of his body next to mine. His muscles were taut and tense, his
limbs cold as ice; though his shivering had eased, his hands still shook
‘I’m sorry.’ I told him, nuzzling my face
into his hair, ‘It was just a hideously long night. I can’t
do that again, love; that’s all. You may have the strength for it,
but I don’t.’
He pulled himself closer, though I wouldn’t have thought
it was possible, and sighed heavily. ‘I have to keep going.’
He told me simply, ‘I don’t know how else to handle it.’
‘Duo, I still don’t see how this is going to make
it any better.’ There was a panicky undertone to my voice that caught
even me by surprise.
‘I just have to get used to the pain.’ He whispered,
‘that’s all; get my head around it.’
He couldn’t have shocked me any more if he had sucker
punched me right there. I couldn’t say anything. He was trying to…to…digest
it, somehow? Take the memories and the pain into himself and…get his
head around it? Dear, sweet Gods. He might as well have said to me I’m
going to stick my hand in the fire until the burning stops.
‘Baby, you’re going to choke to death trying to
swallow this. Maybe…maybe we should…’ get help, get therapy,
go to your Doctor. It was all there on the tip of my tongue, but I knew
how he’d react to that kind of suggestion, and it died before it passed
my lips. They’d pull him off the active duty list, and as much as
that would ease my mind, it would kill him.
‘I can handle it.’ He said gruffly, and pushed
away, trying to sit up, trying to get out of bed. I didn’t pull him
back; I didn’t have to. His body betrayed him; I could see the pain
sweep across his pale face, and his arms shook where they tried to hold
him up. He collapsed with a moan back beside me.
‘Heero…it hurts. It hurts so damn bad. I can’t….I
He buried his face against my chest, and I turned toward him,
wrapping my arms tight around his shivering form.
‘I’m here, love, I’m with you. It’s
going to be all right, everything’s going to be fine. We’ll
What magic did he find in my voice? Nonsense words, simple
reassurances. But he hung on them, clung to me and listened to the sound
of my voice. After awhile, the shivering stopped, and his muscles began
It made my heart soar. I felt guilty for feeling it; but I
loved that it was my voice that could do this for him. Mine and no other.
A pure and absolute sign of the depth of his love for me, that my voice
could ease his pain and suffering.
Then he went stiff in my arms, his head jerking up from where
it had been nestled on my shoulder.
‘Damn it; this isn’t what this is all about! You’re
doing it again!’
I was caught completely off guard, I couldn’t for the
life of me figure out what I had done to make him so angry.
‘Duo…?’ And I knew my voice sounded hurt,
though I hadn’t intended that.
‘You’re still getting me through this…I’m
still not managing on my own.’
‘Damn it, Duo!’ I was hurt, and tried to squelch
it, ‘What the hell do you want from me?’
The anger left his voice at the hint of pain in mine, but
he still pushed himself up and away, leaving me cold and confused and frustrated.
‘I’m trying to figure out how in the hell…I
need to…I can’t keep relying on you.’ He looked back at
me, his face full of a strange fear.
I calmed my voice, and took a breath; pushing my injured feelings
aside, ‘Can you, for just two seconds, put yourself in my place?’
His eyes filled with an infinite sadness, ‘Can you put
yourself in mine?’ he asked me quietly. ‘Heero, I am completely
and utterly helpless without you. I can’t function.’
I opened my mouth and shut it again, trying hard to do as
I had asked him to do; to turn the tables and truly put myself in his place.
Helpless. Unable to even sleep at night without the sound
of someone else’s voice. Totally reliant on another human being to
get from one day to the next. Not able to accept a mission without the underlying
fear of sleep. Measuring everything with the yardstick of ‘how long
can I go without closing my eyes’? Haunted by a memory half as old
as I, but fresh and strong as now. A memory that could reach out and strike
me to my knees in a heartbeat the moment I let my guard down to simply rest.
Having to view sleep as a demon that must be fought off at all costs.
‘I have never, in all my life, been at more of a loss.’
I admitted to him at length, ‘I don’t know what the hell to
‘Welcome to the club.’ He tried on a lop-sided
grin, but it crumbled quickly.
‘All I can do is what my heart tells me.’ I told
him gently, ‘But somehow it never seems to be the right thing.’
‘I’m losing myself in you.’ He whispered,
eyes letting me see a hint of the terror that was in him.
‘I want to be here for you.’ I couldn’t
come close to telling him what I felt, ‘I want to protect you, I want
to keep you safe.’
His hand reached out toward me, but drew back without touching,
and it stung.
‘I want that…’ He breathed, ‘I want
that too much for my own damn good.’
I took a long look at the picture his conflicting emotions
was painting across his face, and came to a hard, bitter resolution. ‘I
think I understand.’ I told him softly, ‘Whatever you need;
I couldn’t tell if he looked relieved or scared, sitting
there beside me, ‘I’ll go, but I won’t be far. You are…my
whole universe…you are…everything. All you have to do is call.’
He graced me with a bittersweet smile, and I climbed out of
his bed and left him alone.
I went to my own room and dressed, staying there until I heard
the car pull out downstairs. I could not have dealt with any of them, not
even Trowa. I felt as though they were abandoning us. I understood the reasoning;
I understood that it was meant as a gift of a little privacy. But I felt
completely alone, with no one to talk to, no one to help me work this out.
No one to talk to. Except the one I had been talking to all
week. Deathscythe. With his recording device. It was a bizarre, guilty,
hand in the cookie jar feeling. Did Duo think to turn it off last night
when he climbed into his Gundam to face his nightmares alone? I was going
to go find out.
I went back to Duo’s door, and heard the shower running.
I hesitated only a moment, and sprinted for the hanger.
Broken glass was still strewn all over the floor, and I made
a mental note to take care of it later. The hatch on Deathscythe was hanging
open just as we had left it, and I went straight to it, running the winch
cable down, and making the ascent. I pulled up the program, tied in with
the cockpit’s normal vid screen monitor; it was still active. I immediately
stopped it recording and then sat back. I had yet to witness one of these
episodes. The nearest I had come being that very first attack, but that
had been a strange slip into an almost catatonic state. Far, far different
from what Wufei had described to me. I felt faintly guilty, but damn it,
every bit of knowledge I had was an asset. I scanned the recorded files
for the one with the logical approximate time, and hit play.
I saw him climb into the cockpit, looking vaguely pleased
with himself, almost a little smug. Yes, he had given us the slip again.
He just sat for a moment, then reached out of view and faint music began
to play in the background. A soft smile touched his lips, and he seemed
to try to settle himself for sleep. A faint frown crossed his brow, and
he muttered, ‘S’pose restraint might be in order, huh, old buddy?’
He pulled all the pilots harnesses in place, belting down tight. He actually
made the effort to stretch his arms and legs out, checking to see what he
might hit, and shifted a few things around. Retracting the pilot’s
grips into the ‘docked’ position. Finally, he settled back into
the cushions and crossed his arms over his chest.
‘Guess it’ll have to do.’ He took a deep
breath and a last look around, ‘Night, partner.’ And he composed
himself for sleep like a man climbing the steps to the gallows. The scene
jumped, the motion sensors had stopped recording when he had settled and
gotten still, kicking on briefly a couple of times as he shifted in his
sleep. Then the screen showed me a Duo slowly drifting into nightmare. I
saw all the signs, and my fingers clenched on the armrest, wanting to reach
out to him. A tiny whimper escaped lips that were drawn back in a grimace
of fear, and then it was as though an unseen puppet master had taken control
of his limbs. He began to scream. He bucked in the confines of the harness,
arms flailing, hands clawing at air, smashing on the control panels all
around him. After only a few minutes, I found my hand clamped over my own
mouth, and my eyes misted to the point I had to blink to clear them.
It was everything Quatre and Wufei had said. It was brutal.
It went on and on and on. His voice, that of a young child, begged and screamed
and cried out for his savior; this Solo, who never came. He screamed until
his voice was lost, he fought until his strength was gone. When he collapsed,
gasping for breath like a drowning man, I thought the nightmare was over…but
it only began again. He had said there were two of them. I forced myself
to sit through to the end, until he was hanging limp and covered in sweat
in his harness, shaking almost convulsively, whimpering incoherently in
a broken voice, harsh as ground glass.
Slowly, he seemed to come out of it, head coming up, hands
moving to rub across his sweat drenched face. ‘Oh Gods.’ I heard,
hoarse and faint, ‘Oh Gods. Oh Gods.’
His hands fumbled at the harness buckles and couldn’t
manage them. They fell limp in his lap for a moment, then the left hand
sought the right and began rubbing at that scar on the palm. He brought
the hand up into his line of sight and stared hard at it, blinking it into
focus. His limbs were shaking so hard, I could see it even on the monitor.
He tried the buckles again, and finally won free, but then just sat limp
and shaking in the chair.
‘I can’t do this. Gods, ‘Scythe; I can’t
do this anymore.’ He reached for something, almost falling sideways,
and when he sat back up, there was a gun in his hand.
I gasped out loud, even though I knew he was in the house
right now, that he hadn’t done what it looked like he was about to
do. He was safe. My head knew that, but my heart lurched in my chest and
it was all I could do not to scream his name.
He sat back, closed his eyes, and calmly put the gun to his
right temple, and the look on his face was one of…peace. I could;
dear Gods, see his finger tighten on the trigger and then…soft and
‘Heero.’ The gun wavered, and the voice became
almost anguished, ‘Damn it, Heero.’
The gun lowered, and I released the breath I had been holding.
He sat with the gun in his lap for so long, the recorder shut off, starting
up again as he leaned over to put it away. Then he finally struggled out
of the chair and the recording stopped as he left the cockpit.
I reset everything the way I had found it, and climbed down,
suddenly terrified of being caught. I went to find the broom and dustpan,
giving my body something to do, while my mind ran in little yipping circles
of fear. I could not believe how close he had come. There had not been an
eighth of an inch more for that trigger to travel. What in the hell was
I going to do? I wanted Wufei with me so bad my chest hurt. I wanted his
calm, reliable voice. I didn’t want to be bearing this knowledge all
alone. I didn’t even know if I should let Duo know what I had seen.
I was angry as hell with the three of them for running out on us right now.
Duo was at the end of that incredible endurance that had so
awed Wufei. At its end, and passed it. While I had lain in my bed and stared
at his room, thinking that he was safe inside, he had been a damn quarter
mile away, with a gun to his head and had almost blown his brains all over
the cockpit of his Gundam. Would I have even heard the shot? Maybe…for
all the good it would have done me.
The last sliver of glass was swept into the dumpster, and
with nothing else to occupy my hands, my trembling legs took me to the wooden
bench outside, and I dropped onto it, head falling into my hands and it
was all I could do not to sob my heart out. Never before in all my life,
had I found myself in a situation with less of an idea what in the hell
to do next. I was lost in a featureless sea, under a featureless sky, completely
adrift. And if that was how I felt, how in the hell was Duo coping at all?
‘Heero?’ I had not heard him coming, but when
my head jerked up at the sound of his voice, he was standing right in front
of me. His expression said that he had been watching me as he came down
the path, watching me do nothing but sit here and hold my head and struggle
with my own out of control emotions. He knelt awkwardly, not able to put
weight on his bad knee, and took my face in his hands.
‘Heero…I’m sorry. I know it’s not
easy for you.’ His thumbs stroked across my cheeks, ‘I know
what I’m asking, my love.’
I stood, pulling him up with me and getting him off the knee.
The ache in my heart flared into a white hot pain and I seized hold of him,
crushing him to my chest, one arm tight around his waist, the other pulling
his head against my shoulder. The feelings that were writhing around in
my gut were fierce and harsh, and I knew I was being rough, and I knew I
was holding on too hard, but he matched me, grip for grip, need for need.
Could I have opened my chest and pulled him inside, I would have done it.
There would be bruises. Neither of us cared.
At length, he loosened his death-grip, and looked into my
face, ‘This fighting and making up cycle we’re developing is
getting out of hand.’
‘I like making up.’ I smiled shakily, and very
slowly turned his head to kiss the exact spot on his right temple where
he had placed the barrel of the gun. Then I turned him back and gently kissed
his lips. ‘You are everything to me.’ I told him, voice thickening,
‘You know that, don’t you?’
He blinked, eyes widening for a moment, unsure if that had
been an accident, but I gave him no further sign, and he didn’t speak.
I kissed him again, softly and tenderly; an antidote for my
‘I’m sorry.’ He murmured against my lips,
‘I wish…I wish I were stronger…’
I laughed out loud, it was such an absurd thing for him to
say, ‘Dear Gods, Duo; if you were any damn tougher, Wufei would have
to build a stinking shrine to you!’
He frowned at me, ‘What…?’
‘The man is in awe, Duo.’ I smiled at him, and
laughed again as his face slowly went from pink to red.
‘Don’t be ridiculous…I make Wufei insane.’
He grumbled, turning his blushing face away.
I pulled him down to sit beside me on the bench, ‘Well,
his actual words were ‘screaming rage’, but I suppose insane
is close enough.’ I let the teasing tone leave my voice, ‘Love,
you underestimate your importance to the whole damn lot of us.’
It was very important that he know that.
He ducked his head, ‘It’s really weird to find
out that you guys sit around and talk about me.’
‘They just want to help.’ I took his hand in mine,
careful of all the bruises and skinned knuckles, ‘But no one knows
‘Wish I had some ideas.’ He sighed, then looked
up at me, ‘Listen, Heero. I gotta have some kind of distraction, Ok?
It’s getting to the point where my whole life is nothing but…having
the nightmare, or waiting to have the nightmare.’
‘Of course; what would you like to do?’ I agreed
readily, having thought the same thing myself.
‘Don’t get mad…’ he grinned sheepishly,
‘but, can we go to the mall?’
I laughed, shaking my head in disbelief, ‘If that’s
what you want, but I would have thought you wouldn’t want to see that
place again for some time.’
So I took him to the mall, or he took me, as he insisted on
driving. The music that thundered from the stereo was more what I was used
to him listening to, and he rolled all the windows down until the wind whipped
away any conversation I might have tried to make. He drove a little too
fast, but he’s an excellent driver, and I let it go without nagging
him. I was content to sit and watch him, marveling how bright and alive
he could seem with the wind tugging loose strands of hair around his face,
fingers lightly dancing on the wheel in time to the music. I could almost
forget that gut-wrenching picture in my head of him with the pistol pressed
tight against his temple. I shivered in the otherwise warm day, but he didn’t
We spent the day wandering around, while Duo considered purchases.
He was almost irritatingly careful with his money, even though we could
appropriate funds damn near anytime we ran seriously tight. He spent most
of his time in the music store, hunting through scores of new issue CDs
of ages old musicians. There had been a recent revival of ‘true’
music, as they were being billed. Music made by musicians, not synthesizers
and computers. I hunted for, and found several more CDs like the one that
Duo fell asleep to at night. I liked them.
I surprised him with them when we left the store, and he beamed
at me, making me want to go out and buy him every damn thing he happened
to look at, just to make him give me that happy smile again. I shook my
head at my own behavior. I wish I dared walk with my arm around him, or
that I might take his hand, but I had seen where that kind of public display
led, and I wasn’t about to risk that kind of attention.
He went looking for some new shirts, having lost more than
one in the last couple of weeks in one manner or another. Watching him pull
the t-shirts off the rack to examine the print on the front, holding them
up for my opinion, checking price and size, I found myself smiling fondly
at him, almost…almost forgetting what we had yet to face at the end
of the day.
He held up two black shirts, each with a different Japanese
character etched delicately in silver on it. They were fairly dramatic looking.
‘Which one, Heero?’ he asked, and I didn’t
hesitate, taking the one from his hands.
‘This one.’ I told him firmly, ‘definitely
He bought it on my say so, not even asking until we were on
our way out of the store, ‘What’s it say?’
‘Long life.’ I translated, not looking at him,
but smiling softly.
From the corner of my eye, I saw his head whip around as he
looked at me sharply. I could see the suspicion in his eyes, but again,
I gave no other sign, and the moment passed as we came abreast of the pet
He had to fondle every puppy that was out where he could get
to it, letting them lick his face and nip at his fingers. His face was delighted;
I was enchanted, and it took every ounce of will power I possessed not to
pull him into my arms and kiss him breathless in the middle of the damn
store. I vowed to buy him a dozen puppies when this was all over.
We left the mall in the late afternoon, finding a restaurant
on the way back to the estate. I seriously was not in the mood to cook,
and Duo’s culinary skills…leave a great deal to be desired.
I insisted on choosing the place this time, and picked a rather
nice café. We enjoyed a pleasant steak dinner, drawing only a few
stares, more, I think from our jeans and t-shirt attire in the suit and
tie crowd, than anything. Though Duo did risk a light kiss on my cheek in
the parking lot.
‘Thank you.’ He told me warmly, ‘It’s
been a nice afternoon.’
We pulled back into the grounds in the early evening, and
somehow, the mood darkened almost imperceptively as soon as we got out of
the car. The distraction was gone. I was desperate not to lose the afternoon.
‘Why don’t you put your stuff away, and meet me
on the back porch.’ I suggested, smiling lightly, and he brightened
While he was upstairs, I went and fetched an afghan out of
the living room, and a couple of drinks out of the refrigerator. When he
joined me on the kitchen porch, I took his hand and lead him off through
the grounds up the slight hill on the west side of the estate.
There was a large rock there, at the top of the rise, and
I spread the afghan on the ground, sitting down with my back against the
stone, facing the distant horizon where the sun was just beginning to touch
the tree line. He stood for a moment, looking down at me, before settling
himself, not beside me, as I had expected, but between my legs, leaning
back with his head resting against my chest. I opened his bottle of soda
and handed it to him, receiving an impish smile in return as he sipped.
I opened my water, and squirmed until I was comfortable, pulling one knee
up, and Duo curled his arm around my leg.
I wanted to give him these things; the puppies, the dinner,
the sunset, just the day together. I wanted to say to him, See! There are
reasons to go one! There are reasons to live!
The sun dipped below the distant trees, casting up a wash
of rich reds and oranges, painting Duo’s face in a warm glow. He sighed
contentedly, watching the colors darken as the sun slowly disappeared below
the horizon, and I watched him. When the last rays of light faded, I leaned
down and kissed the top of his head. He tilted his head back, arching to
raise his face high enough to reach me, and kissed me softly, almost tentatively.
I slid an arm down to support him. I couldn’t keep from deepening
the kiss, the tenderness of the whole afternoon, turning to something a
little stronger. I felt his lips part under mine, and the delicate brush
of his tongue. He turned in my arms, the better to reach me, and his hips
slid across my groin until he was facing me, his taut stomach pressed against
me, and I was instantly aroused, gasping with the suddenness of an aching
erection. I broke the kiss, meaning to let him go; he had to be aware of
my hardness, swelling against him, but he was just looking into my face,
searching hard for…I’m not sure what. Then he very deliberately
slid upward, pressing himself against my groin, his eyes never leaving my
face. It pulled a moan from my throat, and my eyes fell closed as I savored
the feel of him in my arms. I forced my hands to remain still at his sides.
‘Still testing, my love?’ I managed with a wry
chuckle after a minute of that sweet contact, and he kissed me lightly again,
before scrambling up and walking several paces away to stand with his back
to me. I almost laughed; I wasn’t sure, but I think he might have
been struggling with an erection of his own. That seemed a great victory
to me; a progress.
I rose and found the night air was suddenly chill. I retrieved
the afghan and shook it out, throwing it around my shoulders and going to
Duo’s side to open it wide in invitation. He came slowly in against
me, and I wrapped the blanket around us both as we walked unhurriedly back
through the dark to the house.
‘I think I’ll go down to the gym.’ He told
me, once we were back in the harsh light of the kitchen, and I knew he was
just staving off the night.
I put the afghan back before going down to join him. We all
kept workout clothes down here, and he was changed into a pair of loose,
black shorts by the time I got there. I changed as well, going to the open
end of the gym to begin a rather demanding jujitsu routine. I worked to
the rhythm of the clink of his weights, and caught him, more than once,
gazing at me from his end of the gym. I lost track of time, caught up in
the stress relieving exercise, stopping only when I realized that all sound
had stopped from Duo’s area. I turned to find him watching me openly;
sitting on the bench press, body glistening with sweat. I was surprised
to see that three hours had passed. His shirt was in his hands, and he was
wiping his dripping face with it. He looked completely drained. I was angry
with myself; I should have been watching him closer; he had pushed too hard,
perhaps trying to wear himself out enough that he might sleep.
I went and straddled the bench beside him, ‘You Ok?’
I asked, tempting his anger.
But he just grinned shamefacedly, ‘You know me too damn
‘Can you make it upstairs?’
‘Not…not right now.’ An embarrassed duck
of his head.
‘Then I get to carry you.’ I grinned at him and
he looked at me in mock horror.
‘You are disgustingly sweaty!’
‘And you are not?’ I demanded, indignant.
He laughed, wrinkling his nose, ‘You need a shower!’
He was smiling again, and I would do anything to keep that
look on his face. I stood and pulled off my shirt and kicked off my shoes,
bending down to pull off his shoes and socks.
‘What…what are you doing?’ he sputtered,
and I swept him up in my arms.
‘You need a shower too.’ I told him simply, and
carried him into the locker room, with the wide-open shower stalls. It took
a bit of work to get the water turned on, with him clinging to my neck,
laughing like a child. It spurted out, icy cold at first, and he yelped,
ducking his head against the shelter of my shoulder. He groped passed me,
and got the temperature adjusted, and I moved us both under the warm spray.
He was delighted, laughing and splashing me, the water running over us in
a torrent. We laughed together, turning under the spray, and then he sobered
slightly and reached for the soap. Gently, he began to massage his fingers
through my hair, and I had to close my eyes to keep the soap out. It was
the first time he had ever done anything like that for me, and it felt incredibly
intimate. I sighed, enjoying the feel of his hands, ignoring my screaming
‘Put me down, you idiot, and just hold me up before
you drop me.’ He chuckled next to my ear, and I complied, setting
his feet on the ground, and wrapping my hands around his waist. I could
feel the faint trembling of his weakness under the palms of my hands, but
his face was happy, and I liked the feel of his fingers working through
my hair, so I kept us there a little longer.
‘Rinse.’ He finally commanded, amusement in his
voice, and I did so one handed, wrapping the other arm around him for support.
When I was finished, I looked at him critically.
‘Want to wash yours?’
He shook his head, and the tiredness was finally overcoming
his enjoyment, ‘I don’t think I can stand here that long.’
He said, almost a little sadly, and I shut the water off and lifted him
back into my arms. There were benches out side the stall area, the whole
set-up reminded me of nothing so much as a school locker room, and I sat
him there while I went and found towels and fetched our dry jeans. I gave
him a few moments of privacy, to change out of the sopping shorts into his
dry pants, while I did the same, and then I returned to get us both upstairs.
My own arms were trembling with fatigue now, and I was afraid to trust them
on the long climb up the stairs.
‘Sorry.’ I muttered, chagrined, ‘Think you
can make it?’
‘Between you and the rail.’ He grinned, and we
started slowly up. It was frightening to me how easily he still tired. But
we made it, and I helped him to his room. I found him clothes for bed, and
left him sitting there while I went to my own room and dug up the gray sweat
shorts and tank top that I had adopted as pajamas. I spent a minute in the
darkness of my own room, taking deep breaths and preparing for the battle
I knew was about to come.
When I went back to his room, he was changed, and the jeans
were tossed into the corner, but he was sitting on the side of the bed with
the beginnings of a faint frown on his face. I decided to cut right to the
heart of it and not dance around the edges of the issue.
‘We have to come up with a compromise.’ I told
him flatly, moving briskly passed him to dig the new CDs out of the sack
he had dumped on the desk earlier.
‘Heero…’ he began, but his voice already
sounded tired and defeated.
‘I’m not leaving. Period. End of that part of
the discussion.’ I turned with the CD in my hand to look at him, but
he was just sitting there staring at me, a little wide-eyed. I think he
was just too tired to work up to angry.
‘That’s my one point of non-negotiation. What’s
He looked at me sharply, the defeated look changing to something
remarkably like hope.
‘You…you can’t talk the nightmare away.’
He ventured, obviously gauging my reaction. I gave him only a curt nod;
having known that one was coming. I bent to tearing the cellophane wrapper
off the CD.
‘Would you consider my allowing it only every other
night?’ I tried, against all hope, ‘I’m concerned that
you’re wearing yourself out.’
He frowned but shook his head, ‘No. Heero, I’m
afraid we’re running out of time.’
I sighed, I’d been pretty sure of losing that one, but
hoped to use it as a bargaining chip for the next one, ‘All right.
But I get to hold you through it. Like…like Wufei does. So you don’t
hurt yourself thrashing around.’
He chewed on that, and his response surprised me, coming so
low I almost didn’t hear it, ‘Can…can you leave your shirt
I turned wide eyes on him, understanding instantly, and he
saw it in my eyes and got scared.
‘Please don’t tell him, Heero! Please don’t…it
I nodded, ‘All right, love. I promise; not a word.’
He looked relieved and bent doggedly back to the negotiation,
‘Afterward though, you have to let me…be.’
‘I won’t leave. I told you that’s the one
point I won’t give in about.’
‘That’s…Ok. Just…you just have to
let me get myself together. You can’t put me back together.’
I worked studiously at loading the CD into the player, sighing
heavily. ‘Within reason, Ok? I’m still not convinced this is
the way to deal with this. If it gets too…rough, I’m going to
intervene and we’ll just have to try something else tomorrow night.’
‘What else is there, Heero?’
‘I don’t know, damn it! Hypnosis? Acupuncture?
Aromatherapy for Gods sake! I don’t know, and I don’t care!
Anything else. I hate this, it’s killing me by degrees, and I’m
not going to sit by and watch you…’ kill yourself. It was right
there in my mouth, and I almost let it pop out. Almost. I’m not sure
where I lost the calm I had walked into this room with, but it was completely
shattered and I had to take a couple of hard, panting breaths to win a measure
of it back. ‘Sorry…I’m sorry…’
‘It’s all right.’ He whispered, ‘It’s…it’s
‘All right then.’ I tried to lighten my voice,
‘We have a deal…of sorts.’ I hit the play button on the
stereo and went to get my mattress to the sound of an oddly sprightly tune.
He chuckled as I drug it in, already sprawled out on his back,
arms behind his head. ‘I had to make Wufei bring his in here that
first night; he had planned to sit in the hall on a desk chair for the entire
I shook my head, ‘That’s our Wufei.’ And
on the bed, Duo chuckled again.
I turned out the lights, and threw myself down on the mattress,
pulling my blanket up.
Duo giggled across the room in the dark, ‘Good-night,
‘Go to sleep, baka.’ I muttered, and he laughed
The CD played softly, and despite everything, his exhaustion
caught up with him, and I could tell by his breathing he was asleep before
the third or fourth track. I hadn’t slept much the night before either,
and I felt myself fading somewhere around the sixth or seventh.
I came awake, my heart lurching in my chest, a booming male
voice was proclaiming, ‘O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue to
drown the throat of war! When the senses are shaken, and the soul is driven
to madness, who can stand?’
From the bed, there came a whimpering, terrified cry, and
in the next moment, I heard Duo struggling up. It took me a twisting, blood-pounding
moment to realize the sound was the stereo. I couldn’t have slept
more than a matter of minutes, and it had left me disoriented. I rolled
off the mattress and staggered to my feet.
‘…When Sin claps his broad wings over the battle,
and sails rejoicing in the flood of Death: When souls are torn to everlasting
fire, and fiends of Hell rejoice upon the slain, O who can stand? O who
hath caused this? O who can answer at the throne of God?…’
I heard Duo fall, tangled in his blankets, ‘Turn the
Gods damned thing off!’ he wailed, and I knew just how he felt. There
was a whole other level of nightmares being drug out by this thundering
voice, and I found the damned switch in the dark and hit it hard.
‘Duo? Where are you?’ I panted, staggering around
the bed, the voice still ringing in my ears as though it had been talking
to me…right to me.
He was fighting his way out of the blankets, and we found
each other in the dark, clinging and holding on for dear life. I could feel
Duo’s heart pounding in his chest every bit as hard as mine was.
‘New rule;’ he gasped out, ‘no more music
at night unless we’ve already heard the whole CD before hand.’
‘Agreed.’ I muttered, ‘What the hell was
‘I have no bloody idea.’ And he began to giggle,
‘I thought it was the voice of God and we were both on our way to
I couldn’t help laughing with him, though there was
a note of hysteria in both our voices, ‘Nothing like a guilty conscience.’
‘Shit!’ he wheezed, ‘I can’t believe
how bad that scared me.’
‘You?’ I panted around helpless snickers, ‘If
I’d been in a real bed, I would have fallen out of it!’
‘I did fall out of it!’
The laughter died quickly though, and we sat wrapped around
each other on the floor, each of us lost in our own battle memories. I held
him until I felt his heart rate return to something akin to normal, and
then we pulled ourselves up on the side of the bed.
‘No more music tonight, Ok?’ He said as he climbed
back into bed, and I straightened his blankets back around.
‘No problem.’ I assured him, making my way back
to my own bed, ‘No problem at all.’
I threw myself back down on my mattress, hunting for my own
blankets, feeling strangely chilled and wishing I hadn’t been evicted
from Duo’s bed. We lay in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts,
but I could tell by his restless turning, that he was as wide-awake as I
was. It seemed like I stared up at the ceiling for hours, but my internal
clock told me that only about a half an hour had passed, when I felt eyes
on me. I turned to see Duo sitting on the side of his bed, his sheets wrapped
around him like a mantel, the black puddle of his shorts on the floor.
‘Heero?’ His voice was a deep-throated, tremulous
thing. ‘Love me.’
My breath caught, and the blood sang through my veins with
just that simple request. I suddenly felt myself standing precariously on
a landscape of eggshells. He was asking me to give him the one thing that
I had been aching to share with him for months, the one thing I didn’t
think I dared.
I pushed down the sudden wave of heated desire. This was a
plain full of landmines, and I had already hit the first one; my very hesitation
was causing the form on the bed to hunch up in pain, fearing rejection.
‘Duo…love, what are you asking me?’
‘I want you to love me. I want you to wash me clean
with…with your body.’
How in the hell had Quatre gotten to him? That was all I could
think. How else had this idea, which so correlated with Quatre’s plan,
I couldn’t do this; couldn’t have this bizarre
conversation from across the room. I rose slowly and padded the few steps
to the bed, then stopped. I needed to be able to see him, but I didn’t
think this…moment would survive the harsh light of reality.
‘Duo, where did you put those candles you had?’
I asked calmly, and he pointed to the drawer in the nightstand. My questing
fingers found both candles and matches, and I lit several, setting them
about the room, bathing us in the warm glow that I remembered from before.
Then I went and sat on the bed beside him, not too close, but where I could
see his face.
‘Duo…you know how much I would…like that.’
I tried to keep my voice level and calm, ‘But I have to ask you; why
He ducked his head, ‘I…I don’t know…’
I sighed; I didn’t know how to ask him if Quatre had
put him up to this. If he hadn’t, the question would hurt. But if
he had, if this wasn’t Duo’s idea, then I couldn’t be
sure he was ready for it.
‘This afternoon…’ he continued, looking
off at something other than me, ‘watching the sunset…I felt
something…it just got me to thinking about it…that’s all.’
I believed him. I remembered his face in the last rays of
the sun, and I believed him.
‘Duo…what are you asking me to do?’ I was
flustered, but there could be no mistake.
His head dropped, and I had no doubt that he was blushing
furiously, then he cocked his head and peered up at me through the veil
of his bangs. His eyes were fever bright, ‘I want you to take me.’
My heart lurched. ‘Duo! I…I…don’t
know that I can do that…not this first time…’
But his voice was firm, ‘Heero, it’s important.
Please? It’s what I want.’
Gods. I was so aware of the burden settling on my shoulders.
I was in the center of the minefield now, without a damn map. I could do
so much harm. I could mess this up so very, very badly. All complicated
by the fact that I wanted him so much I ached with it. Did I have the control
‘Duo, if we do this…it has to be slow. It has
to be at your pace.’
He nodded, hearing in my voice I think, that he was near to
winning the argument.
‘You can not let me hurt you. More than anything, I
do not want to hurt you. We…could make this so much worse, you understand?’
I made him raise his head and really look at me.
Again, the tight nod.
‘Duo?’ I put a hint of warning in my voice, ‘tell
me you understand.’
‘I’ve thought this through, Heero.’ There
was just a touch of annoyance in him, ‘Don’t think I don’t
understand how this could all go to hell, and don’t think I don’t
know what I’m asking of you. But…I …I trust you.’
I went to the bathroom to find the bottle of massage oil;
not thinking my voice was steady enough to answer him.
He trusted me. How the hell could three little words make
your heart soar like a hawk and plummet like a stone all in the same breath?
The weight of responsibility settled over me, and at least, served to dampen
some of my own aching desire. I didn’t know that I could do this.
I was terrified.
He was still sitting there on the side of the bed, his good
leg curled under him, the bad one dangling, the sheet had fallen around
his waist in a sea of white, leaving his chest and arms bathed in the warm
glow of the candles, and despite his reassurances, when I came back from
the bathroom, his eyes were wide and fearful. I pulled my tank top off and
tossed it on my mattress, but left my shorts on. Slow, Yuy; slow.
I put the bottle down on the nightstand and sat beside him
again. ‘Love; are you sure about this? Absolutely sure?’
He met my eyes of his own accord, this time, and I could hear
a little desperation in his answer, ‘Yes. It feels right…something
inside me is telling me this is…this is the answer.’
I reached slowly out, and gently placed my hand on the curve
of his shoulder, and felt the muscles there tighten. He lowered his head
again, looking up at me with a vaguely guilty expression.
‘Understand me, Duo. Nothing happens until you say it
happens. All right? I will lead, but you are in total control. No surprises.
His eyes lost a little of their wide fearfulness, and he smiled
at me, soft and warm…and trusting.
‘You need to relax.’ I returned the warm smile,
‘Lie down and let me rub your back a little bit.’
He managed to turn and stretch out in the bed without ever
letting the sheet slip away from his waist. It was…tantalizing. It
was ridiculous; I had helped bathe him in the hospital, I had seen him naked
before. How could this be so different? This was the same man I had been
roommates with for…forever. But knowing there was nothing but that
sheet between me and the sleek rise of his hips was driving me crazy.
I sat beside him, even though it made it awkward, because
I didn’t think straddling his thighs was a good idea. I poured a little
of the oil in my hands and rubbed them briskly together to warm the cool
liquid. Then I gently began working on his tense shoulders, careful of the
cuts, stroking the length of tight muscles, moving down his spine, down
his arms, staying clear of all the places I thought would make him uncomfortable.
Slowly, he began to relax under my hands, groaning softly when I hit a particularly
tight place, where I had to work at it to loosen the muscles.
At length, he moaned under my hands and sighed deeply, ‘You’re
very good at that.’
I nudged him, ‘Move over a little, lazy.’ He scooted
over to the side, and I stretched out beside him.
‘Talk to me?’ I asked softly, laying where he
could put his head on my shoulder, and he came into that familiar position,
though I noticed he cocked his hips away, not comfortable with laying against
me full length in his nakedness.
‘What?’ he asked, sounding apprehensive.
‘Tell me what not to do?’ As gentle as I could
He sighed, and had it not been so important, I would have
‘Not…not from behind.’ He whispered at some
length, and it cost him, I could feel it.
I let my hand slide soothingly up and down his back, and waited.
‘Don’t…pull at my hair.’ And there
was a tiny shiver. I kissed his forehead.
‘Is that all?’ I asked against his brow.
He managed a husky chuckle, ‘As long as you’re
not planning on bringing any knives into this.’
I chuckled for him, ‘No knives. Got it.’ I traced
small circles on his back with my fingertips and felt him shiver.
He gave me one of his lop-sided grins and I raised a finger
to his lips before he could speak.
‘Rule number one; no masks. It all has to be out in
The grin changed subtly, became more real, ‘All right,
then. I think I’m Ok. That’s the best I can tell you.’
I smiled, ‘Vague, but honest. It’ll do.’
I ran my hand up and down the length of his spine, ‘Relax,
love.’ And I could feel him make an effort.
‘Duo?’ I breathed softly, kissing the top of his
‘Hmmmm?’ he asked, sounding contented under the
brush of my fingers.
‘Touch me.’ My voice sounded husky to my own ears,
and he froze beside me.
‘What…what do you mean?’
‘Calm down, little one.’ I chuckled, ‘I’m
not pressing for that. Not yet. Just… explore me. Aren’t you
‘Maybe a little…Ok; maybe a lot…but I don’t…’
I raised his face to mine with a hand under his chin, and
kissed him. I kissed my way across his cheek, finding his ear and letting
my breath wash warm across it, then nibbling my way down his throat. Duplicating
the path he had taken when he had teased me the day before. He shivered,
and gasped, eyes flying wide as he realized what I was doing.
I chuckled as I ended the trail in the hollow of his shoulder,
‘Don’t tell me you don’t know what to do. You’ve
been very inventive in the last couple of weeks.’
He laughed and shivered all at once as I nibbled at that hollow.
I lay back and offered myself to him again. This time, his eyes sparkled
in the candle light with just a hint of mischief.
His hand reached slowly out, almost seeming to act without
his knowledge, and simply came to rest on my abdomen. He was propped up
on one elbow, his head tilted to the side, watching me. I carefully tucked
my arms behind my head, giving him the promise of complete control.
For a heartbeat, his hand just lay warm and rough on my skin,
and then gentle fingers began to trace the line of muscles, brushing feather
light across my stomach. I closed my eyes with a sigh and just lay back;
losing myself in the sensations he was giving me.
He was cautious and hesitant, his fingers heart-breakingly
gentle. But once he started, his curious nature got the better of him. Soon
his hands were wandering about my stomach and chest, stroking up the length
of my arms, caressing my face, tangling in my hair, and I let him hear my
pleasure; sighing and moaning as he found the sensitive places. He never
violated the border made by the waistband of my shorts, though I thought
once he might when he slid his hand down my side, eliciting a gasp from
me as he reached the top of my hip, but instead, he turned his hand and
simply trailed his fingers across my stomach.
Then he surprised me, his hands slowed, and I became aware
that he was shifting beside me. Before I realized what he was up to, my
right nipple was enveloped in the warmth of his mouth, and he was suckling
gently at my chest. My breath went out in a deep-throated groan, and it
was all I could do to keep my hands where they belonged. He jerked back,
I curled an arm around him to keep him from pulling any further
‘Don’t be sorry,’ I panted, ‘Do it…do
He blinked at me, eyes wide in the flickering light, and then
slowly lowered his lips back to my chest, finding me again, pulling me into
the moist heat of his mouth and suckling gently at first, and then with
‘Oh Gods, Duo…’ I moaned, having to pull
my knees up a little to keep my hips from bucking up off the bed. I allowed
my hand to stroke up and down his side in gentle encouragement, but nothing
He became fascinated then, with my chest, noticing my nipple
becoming erect and hard, and had to experiment with both of them, warming
them with his tongue and then blowing cool air across me until I thought
I would lose my mind. At length, I had to catch his hands in mine and draw
‘Gods, love…stop that or we’re going to
be finished before we ever start.’
He was delighted, grinning down at me, drinking me in with
his eyes. Seeing me, I knew, flushed and panting and completely aroused.
I remembered his voice from several days ago wickedly informing me of his
‘New found power.’ I had to wonder, not for the first time,
if I truly had the control for this.
I gently pushed him back, bringing myself up on one elbow,
mirroring his earlier position, ‘My turn.’ I smiled as gentle
and warm as I could manage. I began as he had begun, by merely laying my
hand on his abdomen. I felt his stomach tighten, and his expression went
just a little pensive.
‘It’s all right, little one.’ I told him
softly, kissing his temple, ‘No more than you can handle. I’ll
stop any time you say.’
He nodded, eyes still betraying a hint of fear. I simply started
with a placid massaging of his stomach muscles, cautious around the still
healing scar of the knife wound, savoring the firm planes and taut curves,
nothing more than getting him used to the feel of my hand; just giving him
a chance to relax again.
‘That…feels nice.’ He told me after some
moments, and I took it as permission to expand my range. I slid my hand
up his chest and began working the hard muscles there, careful for now to
avoid the sensitive nipples. Working across his shoulders and chest until
I felt him begin to loosen up. Then I slid my hand down, never breaking
contact with his skin, and gently cupped his nipple into the palm of my
hand. Just letting it rest there, and gauging his reaction.
Where I had closed my eyes, and just lay back and enjoyed
the feelings he had invoked in me, he lay with eyes wide open, watching
every move I made like a deer poised to bolt.
‘All right?’ I breathed softly next to his ear,
kissing his throat.
He hummed a soft affirmative, and I drew back to watch his
face as I gently began to massage the nipple under my hand, feeling it harden
and draw tight. He moaned softly, with an underlying fear in his voice,
and I started to pull my hand away, but his eyes caught at mine, as his
hand touched the back of my hand.
‘Don’t…stop.’ He sighed, the need
to trust me burning in his eyes.
I bent to kiss his lips, feeling their faint tremble.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes…I want to feel…I want to know…’
He stumbled with the words, but I understood, and kissed him again, deeper
and a little harder. This was safe. This we had done; was known territory
for him, and he met my kisses with a certain desperation. I allowed my fingers
to begin stroking his chest again, finding the nipple and rubbing it gently
erect. He moaned under my mouth, and I released his lips to begin a slow
trail of kisses down his arched throat, lingering in the hollow and then
continuing down his chest. I raised my head at the last minute to find his
eyes following my every move in the flickering light.
All he could do was nod.
I lowered my head, and as slowly and gently as I could manage,
took his nipple into my mouth, letting my tongue wash gently across it.
He was as sensitive here as I was, and his back arched off the bed at the
first contact, a harsh cry escaping his throat. Before I could even think
to draw away, to check and make sure he was still all right, his hand clutched
at the back of my head, tangling in my hair, firmly holding me in place.
I suckled at him, relishing the feel of him in my mouth, his
taste, his scent, the sound of his cries. It was almost overwhelming, knowing
that he had never experienced this before, that each sensation I gave, was
a first for him. My own body was on fire.
I let my hand trail down his ribs, down his side, and back
up again; slowly traveling farther with each sweep, until I was tracing
the curve of his hip with the palm of my hand and the sheet was falling
I withdrew my mouth, and raised up to look at him, he was
watching me still, very aware of what I was doing, and very clearly not
objecting, though I had felt the thunder of his heart under my kisses.
‘Love…’ I ventured, ‘Are you ready
for me to finish undressing?’
He stared at me for a long moment, caught, perhaps by surprise
at the question. ‘I…think so.’ He finally ventured, face
I rolled away and pulled the shorts off, dropping them with
his on the floor by the bed, and lay back beside him. Letting him see me
tuck my hands away behind my head again. Giving him the same unspoken reassurance
I had given him earlier. There was nothing for an incredibly long time,
and then he tucked himself against me, pillowing his head on my shoulder
in that way we had when we slept together, but with his hips tilted uncomfortably
away from me. He just lay like that for a bit, and then softly said,
‘Doesn’t feel right….hold me?’
My arm went around him, the way it would have normally if
I had not been working so hard to keep it to myself.
He sighed, snuggling his head in the hollow of my shoulder,
and then slowly, painfully slowly, he adjusted himself to lay completely
against me the way he would have normally had he not been working so hard
to keep his distance. Finally, his leg was twined with mine and I could
feel him pressed lightly against me, not yet hard, but not completely flaccid
I kept my hand still on his back, just curled around him,
leaning down only to kiss the top of his head as I often did when he slept.
At long last, he placed his hand, hesitant and trembling on
my abdomen, just as he had begun before. I thought I would explode waiting
for him to begin his explorations anew. I was so stimulated, I began to
fear I might climax with the first brush of his fingers, and started working
mental calming exercises, stilling my breathing, and forcibly bringing my
heart rate down to something near to normal. This had to be for Duo; had
to be at his pace.
His fingers began their slow caresses again, though this time,
I noticed he mimicked my own massaging strokes. I hadn’t covered myself,
but I could tell he was avoiding looking at me, his hand tracing my ribs,
running down my side, making tentative forays down my hip before returning
to safe ground. I wanted to laugh; even unconsciously, his lovemaking had
such a teasing style. If he ever came into his own, he was going to be an
…interesting bed partner.
He found that impossibly sensitive concave at the join of
hip and body and I swear he giggled when he drove me, with a gasp, rearing
off the bed. His fingers danced around me for what seemed like an eternity,
before he finally allowed the first brush of fingertips down my length.
My head lolled on the pillow and my arm tightened around him,
despite all my efforts at control.
‘Oh, yes…’ I hissed, my heart thundering
in my ears again.
But instead of frightening him, it seemed only to encourage,
and I thanked the Gods for that, while kicking myself for my lapse. I bit
down hard on my own tongue and forced myself to concentrate on keeping my
desire under firmer command.
He touched with light strokes, using just his fingertips,
feather-soft and intoxicating. I felt myself throb under his ministrations.
At length, his curiosity overcame him and he raised his head to watch what
he was doing to me. My reactions were fascinating to him, I could see him
losing his shyness; his touches becoming more adventurous, until he finally
wrapped his hand around me with such suddenness that I couldn’t stop
the upward thrust of my hips and the moaning cry that burst from my throat.
He was mesmerized, and had I left him alone, would have used his hands and
finished me within minutes.
I panted out a shaky laugh, and caught his hand, ‘Slow
He hovered over me for another moment, glittering eyes locked
with mine, and then he lay back, carefully, deliberately, tucking his hands
behind his head.
My heart lurched with a painful thump at this conscious display
of his complete trust in me. I let my eyes travel his length, finding that
somewhere in there, he had completely lost the sheet, and his position now
was not just an invitation, but also a display. I drank him in and then
leaned down to claim his lips, ‘You are so beautiful.’ I breathed
against his parted lips and then slid my tongue into his yielding mouth,
plundering his depths; tasting, touching. Somewhere, under all the fear
and tension, he was ready for this; ready and needing and wanting to the
point of bursting.
Not breaking the searing kiss, I rested my hand on his abdomen,
keeping to the pattern we had developed, so he would know what to expect.
I resumed my massage of his stomach and chest, a little firmer this time,
and not bothering to avoid his nipples when my hand slid that way. He moaned
softly, tremulously, into me, his own mouth and tongue rising hungrily to
meet mine. This was as aroused as I had ever seen him, and this little bit,
still sheathed as it was in his trepidation, was enough to make my groin
draw tight and I was suddenly awash with the need to be buried deep inside
I broke the kiss, slowing my hands to a gentle stroking of
his firm abdomen, closing my eyes and concentrating hard on harnessing my
mushrooming desire. I could not lose control. I could not lose control.
I let my mind pull up the image of him, harnessed in his cockpit, screaming
into the night, and was able to bank the fire that was raging almost…almost
out of control inside me.
He was watching me, breath coming in panting gasps, and I
smiled tenderly for him. My hands had not wavered, while my heart had, and
he was oblivious to my inner struggle. As it should be. As it had to be.
Eyes locked with his, I let my hands drift lower than I had
yet, brushing down his flank, and I found a place where hip turned to thigh
that brought a choking gasp of pleasure to him, and I grinned wickedly,
‘Turn about’s fair play, love.’
And he rewarded me with a wry chuckle in return.
My fingers trailed and brushed his inner thigh, causing his
legs to jerk and draw together for a moment, before he fought the impulse
off and forced them to relax again. He was strung tight as a bowstring,
and I slowed my caresses.
‘Still with me, my heart?’
‘Yes…oh yes.’ The pupils of his eyes were
huge in the faint light, and I thought I might fall into them for a moment,
‘Heero…what are you doing to me? I’ve never felt like
I let my hand come to rest on his hip and smiled down into
those bottomless, ravenous eyes. ‘It’s Ok, my little one. That’s
how it’s supposed to feel. Part of it is…giving over control
to someone else. Part of it is because you’ve been holding this inside
for so long.’
‘I’m scared.’ He whispered, a tiny voice
that sounded young and vulnerable and lost.
I pulled him into a simple, comforting embrace, and he clung
‘Don’t be. I’m here, and I’ll never
hurt you.’ I sighed, close to his ear, and in that moment, I knew
it was true. He was the heavens and the earth to me, and I was nothing without
him. Not even entirely human. I could do this for him; this simple, complicated
thing that he wanted so badly and feared so much. ‘Don’t be
afraid. I’m here for you. We have all the time in the world and nothing
has to happen if you don’t want it.’
He eased away from me, and never taking his eyes away from
mine, he whispered, ‘I love you.’ And then he caught my hand
and carefully placed it back on his hip and said, ‘Touch me, please?’
My desire was still there, but it was tempered by the glow
of love and trust in his face. I would not betray that, not for anything
in the universe.
I stroked firmly down the length of his thigh, massaging the
unyielding muscles, down on the outside of his leg, and then up on the inside.
The breath hissed through his teeth, but he kept his body under control,
not letting his legs clamp together, not letting his body block my touch.
I did it again, slower and with a lighter touch. On the third round, I didn’t
slide my hand back to his hip, but continued upward and gently cupped the
globes of his testicles in the palm of my hand.
He yelped and bucked and flushed, embarrassed by his inability
to stop the reaction, and I let my hand slide away, down the other thigh
until his breathing wasn’t a gasping pant. Then I went back and did
it again. His reaction wasn’t as extreme, and I kept my hand there,
gently beginning to massage the cool skin, enjoying the weight in my fingers.
Watching the play of emotions on his face, going slow and careful, I was
delighted when after only a few minutes, he intentionally spread his thighs
for me, allowing my fingers to stroke and wander wherever I pleased.
I took it slow, doing nothing more yet than the gentle kneading
of his sac. Though his arousal was building, he was still not fully erect,
his deep-seated reservations not allowing that just yet. My fingers found
a spot of satin skin right behind his testicles, and when I stroked it with
but a single fingertip, he cried out and I saw his cock twitch in response,
his back arching him off the bed.
He whimpered and caught at my hand, ‘Too…too much…too
I removed my hand immediately, and he curled in near anguish
beside me. For a moment, I floundered.
‘I…I don’t know…I want it…Gods;
I want your hands on me. But…it’s so much…it’s so…strong…’
I pulled him into my arms, ‘We’re going too fast.
It’s all right, love, I’m sorry.’
His hands clutched at me, ‘No!’ He was floundering
as well, clinging to me like a drowning man, and he didn’t know I
was as lost as he.
‘Heero, I’m on fire! I…I don’t know…’
he butted his head against my chest, ‘I want you. I want you now.’
Could he be ready? His body was sending me so many conflicting
messages, I couldn’t judge. I ran my hands up and down his back; he
seemed so tense, so tight. I honestly didn’t think he was ready, but
maybe the path I was taking wasn’t the right one. I had eased him
into a certain relaxation, and then attempted to excite him, to arouse him
to the point that his body was ready to except what he was asking for. Perhaps
I had gone too far. Stimulated him to the point of tension again. I had
to remind myself this was all uncharted territory for him.
‘All right.’ I soothed, gently rubbing circles
on his back, ‘Just relax. We can’t manage it if you’re
tensed up. It’ll hurt.’
He tried; with one of the oldest, most basic techniques I
knew. I felt him take a deep breath and hold it for the count of ten, letting
it out slowly, and indeed, some of the anxiety went out with the breath,
but only the surface tension; I could feel the underlying stress still there.
I pulled away from him, and his arms were reluctant to let
me go. I pushed away the bedding and brought the oil bottle into bed with
us, within reach, and then settled myself with my legs folded under me.
Deliberately in a position that I knew would become more uncomfortable as
we went, one that I was hoping would help me keep control of myself.
‘Come here.’ I commanded, gently, and he moved
toward me, letting me guide him into the position I wanted. I pulled him
into my lap, facing me, his good leg folding easily beside mine. I had made
sure we were close enough to the side of the bed that he could stretch his
bad knee out and let the leg rest on the floor. He was still back away from
me, keeping my straining erection from brushing against his.
‘Tell me one more time this is what you want?’
I asked, having to look up at him, as he was almost a head above me now.
His arms went around my neck and he was trembling, ‘Please.
Gods, yes. Please don’t tease me anymore. I…I need you.’
‘Not teasing.’ I smiled tenderly, ‘Trying
to make sure you’re ready to open to me.’
He shivered again, his eyes closing for a second. I glanced
down and saw him, for the first time, fully hard and glistening with pre-cum.
I wrapped my arms around his waist and slid him toward me, belly to belly,
savoring the leap his cock made against mine.
His eyes snapped open as he gasped, looking down into my face
with the most incredible expression of trust and need, and I saw the exact
moment when he let go and gave over complete control to me.
‘Take me…please. Make me yours.’ I almost
didn’t hear it.
‘Slow, love. Has to be slow and gentle or it will hurt.
It’ll be uncomfortable at first; but it should not hurt. Not if we’re
careful. Understand? You are not to try to bear it if there’s pain.
He nodded sharply and I found the oil. ‘I’m going
to put this on both of us now, Ok?’ Again the silent nod. I smeared
a liberal amount on my throbbing cock, and then slowly reached around him,
gently spreading his ass cheeks to apply more all around his entrance. He
stiffened and jerked and then settled back on my thighs with a groan.
‘All right?’ I asked, wiping the excess oil on
the bed sheet, and he nodded again. ‘Duo; talk to me.’
He whimpered; a soft mewling sound, his eyes closing, ‘I’m
sorry; I’m Ok, but this is…this is…’
‘The hard part. I know, love.’ I worked my fingers
up rock hard back muscles, ‘You have to relax.’
I pulled his face down to kiss him gently, ‘No more
than you can handle, my heart. Remember that. All you have to do is say
stop, all right?’
‘All right…I promise.’
I wrapped my hands around his waist, ‘Raise up a little.’
And when he complied, I positioned myself, positioned my cock against his
I think he might have impaled himself instantly, in an effort
to get that part over with, had I not been half expecting it and caught
him around the waist, holding him off me.
‘Wait for it, love.’ I commanded; not harshly,
but understanding, ‘Wait for the muscles to relax, once I’m
passed the opening, it’ll be easier.’
My cheek was pressed against his chest, and I could feel the
mad pounding of his heart. Above me, his head was resting against mine,
and his breath was coming in sporadic gasps. I pulled back a little, and
looked up to find his eyes still squeezed tightly shut.
‘Duo. Open your eyes and look at me.’ He was frightening
me a little bit, as though he might be drifting toward that nightmare world
that was always waiting just around the corner in the dark to overtake us.
‘Stay here with me.’
He slowly opened them, and they shone feverishly in the candlelight,
and our eyes locked. I could see the fear, I could see the desire, I could
see the confusion warring in the depths of his beautiful eyes.
‘It’s me. It’s us. Don’t be afraid.
I’m here and I won’t hurt you.’ And as though my voice
had eased the way, in that moment, the entrance to his depths spasmed open
and the head of my weeping erection slipped inside.
We both cried out with it, and I tightened my arms around
his hips, keeping him from taking me to the hilt all at once. His body tightened
around me, shocked at the intrusion. Doubt crossed his face; a flash of
fear and his eyes were begging me for guidance.
‘It’s Ok,’ I gasped, feeling his hot, satiny,
muscle squeeze tight around me in panic, ‘Relax, calm down, let yourself
adjust to it, just relax and then take a little more.’
It took a minute before he could manage to loosen enough,
and then I slid a little deeper. I was holding my hips still with an iron
will, and let my voice be the outlet I had to have.
‘Gods! Oh Duo! You feel…unbelievable!’
The sound of my passion seemed to help him, and with a sudden
shudder of opening, I was seated completely inside him, enveloped totally
in his body, lost in his exquisite heat. I cried out, incoherent and on
the verge of a quaking orgasm.
I pulled him tight against me, ‘Oh Gods…don’t
move…just hold still…I need a minute.’ And I gasped and
panted and bit my tongue and wrestled the fire-breathing dragon back down.
This was not for me. This was not for me. This was…Oh Gods.... fucking
‘Heero?’ His voice, small and scared, was what
brought me back from the brink of sweet oblivion.
‘I’m all right,’ I chuckled for him, ‘More
than all right. I just…almost…finished this. Are you Ok?’
A tiny nod, and I became aware of him trembling in the tight
circle of my arms.
I looked deep into his eyes, ‘How does it feel?’
I asked softly.
‘Strange…’ he ventured at length, ‘I
don’t know how to describe it.’
There was a moment of just being, and then he softly asked,
‘What’s it feel like to you?’
‘Incredible. Unbelievable. More than I ever imagined.
You feel…’ I closed my eyes to concentrate on it, ‘Like
satin and silk…hot, Gods it’s so warm.’
I opened my eyes to find him staring at me in bewilderment,
‘I thought…you mean you’ve never…?’
I hadn’t really meant to let him know that. I blinked,
‘Uhmmmm…no.’ I flushed, afraid that he would lose confidence
in me, but unable to lie, ‘This is…my first time.’
I was afraid he’d be angry. I had never really said
one way or the other, but I knew that I had implied more experience.
He laughed, leaning down to kiss me hard, ‘You fake!’
he grinned at me, and then he sobered, ‘I’m…glad.’
I grunted, embarrassed, but found he wasn’t shaking
so hard, and when I thought about it…I was more than just glad.
‘I love you.’ I told him, voice husky with sudden
‘And I, you.’ He whispered against the top of
my head, pulling me against his chest. ‘With all my heart and soul.’
I listened to the sound of his heart and sighed, ‘Move
for me now, love.’
His body had adjusted to me while we had talked, I had felt
him molding around me, and I looked up now to see him realize it as well.
He tried a gentle twitch of his hips, and I let myself moan.
‘Yes,’ I sighed encouragement, ‘like that.’
He was watching me, experimenting with movements that brought
gasps to my lips and his own pleasure crept up on him, unaware. I saw him
as he suddenly found a rhythm, I saw the shock register on his face as his
body started to dictate his movements.
‘Let it go, my love.’ I whispered, enthralled
with watching him, ‘Let it happen. Don’t fight it.’
His back was bowed away from me as his instincts led him into
a dance as old as time, his hands were clinched on my shoulders, and I still
held him by the waist, but no longer had to guard him. I held him loosely;
let him ride me, there only to catch him.
His breath was a moan, rising with each thrust of his hips
against mine, I allowed myself no movement, holding still as a stone and
letting him do it all, letting him come to grips with the past and the present,
with the fear and the reality, and when he faltered, when he moved near
to what he had never experienced, and started to panic, I was there to guide
‘Heero?’ His voice was a rising wail, out of control
and frightened by it.
‘It’s all right. It’s supposed to feel like
that. Let it happen…don’t fight it. Let it go ..just let go…’
And when he was almost there, I released his hip and caught
his throbbing erection in my hand, stroking and squeezing and leading him
over the edge, falling immediately after.
His orgasm took him like a convulsion, wracking his body,
and wringing harsh, primal cries from his throat; near screams that almost
frightened me. His seed exploded from the circle of my fingers, washing
over both of us in an unending stream. My climax claimed me then, pulsing
deep within him, and I knew nothing for that moment of almost unendurable
When I struggled back into focus, he was still lost in the
pulsing after effects, his eyes didn’t see me, and his hands were
limp on my shoulders. I caught him, wrapping an arm tight around his waist,
pressing his hips to mine. I was still buried deep inside him, and it would
hurt if he pulled off too fast. I lay the other arm across his back, supporting
him as he lay boneless against me, body trembling and spent.
‘Duo?’ I whispered, but he didn’t respond,
and I rubbed gently at his back, ‘Love?’
He was tensing in my arms, slowly drawing inward; fighting
something, I didn’t understand what.
‘Duo? What’s wrong? Please…you’re
‘S…sorry. S’ok.’ He murmured, and
his voice was thick with unshed tears. I knew in that instant what he was
I tightened my arms around him, ‘No, baby; don’t
try to stop it. Let it out. It’s part of it, you have to let go of
all of it…please…’ I stroked my hand over his braid and
down his back, all the while keeping our hips locked together.
He was trembling again, and all I could do was hold on tight,
‘I’m here, it’s all right, let it go…let it go…no
one’s here but me…it’s all right. Don’t fight it…don’t
fight it any more.’
I felt the damn break, the last defenses of a beleaguered,
besieged soul and the trembling turned into broken sobs and he was clinging
to me so tight I could scarcely breathe.
‘Heero! Oh Gods! Heero…’ There were some
words, but mostly not, and the tears ran hot and scalding down my shoulder
and chest and the last shreds of his incredible, iron control shattered
into a million pieces all around us.
I held him, tight and anchored, and when, finally, I felt
myself slip unnoticed from his body, I lay us down and folded him as close
as I could manage, rocking him gently in my arms and just let him cry it
out. Let him give in to the release that he had not been allowing himself
for so very, very long.
He sobbed in heart-rending, gasping torrents, like I had never
heard a human being cry in all my life. Had I not known how badly he needed
it, I would have been moved to try and soothe the tears away, but this was
the true catharsis we had worked toward all night. His physical release;
his body letting go first of his control, then of his pent up desires had
only been the doorway to this…this final purging of the poisons in
He clung to me bruisingly tight, arms around my chest, head
tucked in under my chin, breath coming in great hitching sobs. He became
a child in my arms, the child that had received no real comfort all those
years ago. The child that had been forced, by circumstance, to pick up the
pieces of his own shattered spirit and go on, alone, armored in nothing
but his own fierce will. He wept until I feared he couldn’t stop,
until his body was drained of strength, and his voice was gone.
‘Everything is going to be all right now.’ I told
him, at length, when he began to wind down, when the sobbing slowed and
the tears were running silently down his face and across my chest. ‘This
is the start of the healing, love.’
‘I’m sorry…’ He whimpered, trying
hard to regain control.
‘No, don’t be sorry.’ I told him gently,
‘I’ve wanted this for you…for so long.’
He twined around me, not able to get close enough to suit
either one of us. We were a horrid mess, covered in oil and sweat and semen
and tears, but I didn’t care and as near as I could tell, neither
did he. His breathing grew calmer after awhile, and I thought for a moment
he had slipped into sleep. I hoped so, without having to argue my position
here. I was not leaving his bed tonight; not tonight. Tomorrow, if he still
wanted me out, I would go, but I would have this one thing.
‘Heero?’ His voice, when it came, was hoarse,
and very soft.
‘What, my heart?
‘Don’t…don’t ever ask me to go on
My heart stopped, and I knew he felt it with his head resting
on my chest. My mind leapt to the image of him in the cockpit of his Gundam
with the pistol pressed to his head and I felt my gorge rise. But I had
to think it through, had to turn it around, and I knew, no matter how much
it tore me apart to think about his death, that were it me…if I were
the one left behind, I wouldn’t want it either.
‘I won’t ask, if you won’t.’ I finally
managed to tell him, and knew it was true. If he didn’t come back
from a mission someday, I wouldn’t be very far behind him. These are
the things that warriors say to each other in the afterglow of lovemaking.
‘Thank you.’ He whispered a bit later.
‘You’re welcome.’ I chuckled, using my foot,
now that I had feeling in it again, to drag the blanket up where I could
reach it and wrap it around us both. We fell asleep as the first rays of
the morning sun began to creep in at the window, coated, uncaring in each
other’s essence, wrapped in each other’s arms.
Wufei, Trowa, and Quatre pulled into the estate in the early
afternoon several days later, tired and more than just a little apprehensive
about the outcome of their little plan. Though it had been Quatre’s
idea to begin with, he had started worrying almost immediately about leaving
Heero to deal with Duo’s nightmares alone. Especially when, having
realized that Wufei knew something he wasn’t sharing, the other two
had badgered him into telling them about Duo throwing Heero out of his room.
‘We shouldn’t have gone.’ Quatre said, for
probably the hundredth time just that day, as they unloaded their bags from
‘Quatre,’ Trowa sighed, not wishing his mate to
be this upset about it, but honestly getting a little tired of the comment.
‘If something had gone seriously wrong, Heero would have called us.’
They made the climb up the front steps, and as Quatre opened
the door, Wufei paused, cocking his head to the side, ‘What is that
noise?’ he frowned.
The other two hesitated, turning in the direction of the faint,
‘This way.’ Trowa declared, suddenly seeming to
have an idea what the noise might be, and he lead them through the house
to the formal dining room, a place they seldom went. The grand, French doors
stood wide open, and there was the beginning of a trail of clothes that
lead out to the patio.
Looks were exchanged, and the trio crept forward, listening
to the sound of water splashing and the sudden exuberant sound of Duo’s
bright, delighted laughter.
‘He’s in the pool?’ Trowa whispered and
they moved outside onto the tiny balcony that overlooked the in-ground pool
nestled in the formal gardens below them. The trail of discarded clothing
continued down the narrow side steps and finished on the lawn.
Below them, they could see Duo, bobbing in the center of the
pool, his hair loose and floating around him like a silken cloud in the
water. He was wiping water from his eyes and looking wildly about, for all
the world like someone expecting a shark attack; the picture belied by his
ringing laughter. Then the water exploded upward and a second sleek figure
joined his, a second, strange laugh coming on the heels of Duo’s sharp
‘Heero?’ Quatre said with wonder, looking to the
others for confirmation of what his eyes were telling him.
The pair in the pool vanished from sight, and the three on
the balcony exchanged disbelieving glances.
‘What then…a group hallucination?’
The surface of the water broke again, not with the suddenness
of before, but with little more than a ripple as the two came up, twined
around each other, Duo’s hair streaming around them, locked in a passionate
‘Oh…’ Quatre sighed, reaching for Trowa’s
hand, ‘they’re…they’re beautiful together.’
Trowa smiled down at his lover, ‘I guess you can count
your plan as a success.’
Wufei grunted, ‘It’s about damn time.’ And
turned his back on the scene below them, giving the other two a pointed
Quatre couldn’t quite seem to tear his eyes away, ‘They
look so…fey…so surreal. Beautiful.’ His eyes sought Trowa’s,
‘Do…do we look like that?’ he breathed.
‘Exactly like that.’ Wufei grumbled, ‘Now
stop staring and give them some privacy.’
The three turned for the house, Quatre stealing glances over
his shoulder while Wufei steered him by one arm and Trowa by the other.
‘Heero Yuy; skinny dipping…who would have thought?’
Go to Chapter Eight:Sanctuary
Back to Chapter six
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