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     Author’s note/ WARNING: Alright minna-san, I’ve been wanting to do something, well, a bit racier than my usual fare. So, predictably, I returned to the tried-and-true 1x2 fic. THAT MEANS YOAI / Shounen-ai (whatever you want to call it) Still, NO LEMON, however. Also, this is my first fic with an alternating present tense 1st person narrative along with my favorite omnipotent view. (that’s years of honors English classes peeking into my fun!) I hope it all makes sense. Anyway, if you like my little foray PLEASE let me know and I’ll write something more original. Also, this DOES HAVE A PLOT, it just takes a while to develop because I can’t write a short fic when it comes to GW.

     Disclaimer-I’m making no money off this fic. I own no one.

     ALSO: This is a kind of prelude to my fic Remember When. READ IT, PRETTY PLEASE??!! I’ll give you a Scooby Snack if you do. Oh, and as always REVIEW!!! It makes my day! Arigato gozaimasu, minna-san.


The Way Things Are

By NekoMegami-Chan

     Duo Maxwell crossed his arms above his head and pouted. He and Heero were standing in one shadowed corner of a secluded foyer of an OZ orbital fortress. The air vent sighed out fresh, cool air from the ducts overhead. The only other noises came from the officer’s lounge on the other side of the wall to the boys’ left. An OZ guard, a private by the look of him, appeared on the other side of the foyer, lazily smoking a cigarette as he made his rounds. With as sigh that stirred his long auburn bangs, Duo stepped into the guard’s line of sight as Heero moved into position.

“Hey, what are you doing here, kid?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out!” Duo smiled as Heero hit the OZ guard over the head with the butt of his handgun. The man’s cigarette dropped to the floor where it smoldered an angry red.

“Would you quit with those stupid clichés, already!” Heero growled as he pulled the senseless guard back to their hiding spot. They had rerouted all the security cameras in the area so that they would play redundantly on similar parts of the ship, but that didn’t mean they could not be discovered.

“Yeah, yeah!” Duo grumbled, moving to help strip the private of his uniform, which Heero promptly pulled on over his other clothes. A few minor adjustments and Heero was dressed and ready to infiltrate the main computer room. It was a good thing OZ issue uniforms did not vary much between rank and station or they might have been screwed, they didn’t have any time to waste waiting for another chump to come waltzing by.

“They just keep getting ‘em younger and younger,” Duo shook his head a bit sadly while noting how well the uniform fit Heero as well as the boyish guard. The fact that he, the Shinigami was only sixteen didn't occur to him.

“Let’s go,” Heero tucked his gun into his belt along with that of the private, after hitting the guy on the head again as he was just beginning to moan and stir.

“Y’know,” Duo mused as they made their way through the twisting maze of corridors. “It wouldn’t hurt you to smile a bit once in a while. Just like it wouldn’t hurt you to laugh at a cliché.”

“Shut up.”

 "No. And for another thing, why do you always get to play dress up, while I get to be the bait? It’s bad for my image.” His tone was playful and carefree.

Heero pulled up, and it took Duo a moment to realize he had stopped. Then he turned, his long braid rustling softly as it bumped his shoulder.

“I said ‘shut up.’ This is no time for stupid questions. The reason you are always ‘bait’ as you call it, is because you can’t keep your damn mouth shut long enough to pull off something like this. Now, can we continue or is there anything else?” Heero’s tone was clipped and icy as he spoke.

Duo said nothing but resumed jogging. Heero and been even colder and harder to reach than usual ever since that night, two weeks ago. He tried not to think about it, but Heero’s strong presence as the other boy ran alongside him brought vivid images of their. . . Duo tried not to blush as he remembered the feel of Heero’s small, strong hands on his body. . . . Maybe the Shinigami should change his name to The God of Sex. Then again, who was to say he couldn’t be both? If only Father Maxwell could see his little orphan now!

* * *

Heero walked into the Gundam Pilot’s current safe house, a small two-story affair with a Victorian facade. Leaving the others in the foyer, he mounted the richly carpeted stairs and disappeared.

            In the doorway, Duo divested himself of his hat and coat, content to let Rashid take them. The man’s presence had ceased to surprise him; the Captain of the Magunac Corps had an interesting habit of showing up when his beloved master Quatre needed him most. Duo spared him a brief thought of pity, the older man would probably be up all night once he saw the Sandrock pilot. He would have cracked a smile at this, but his lip was split and he was fairly certain that his right cheekbone was cracked where an OZ guard’s rifle-butt had caught him in the face. Damn mission.

            WuFei was the next one to step through the door. Slipping out of his shoes he moved stiffly into the guest bathroom and closed the door behind him. Moments later the sounds of the shower could be heard and steam began to roll out from under the door.

            Rashid waited anxiously in the entranceway, a fresh blanket and towels draped over his arms in anticipation of his master’s needs. Duo prodded himself into motion once more, limping (he had taken a hard blow to one hip) over to the kitchen to draw an icepack from the freezer, pressing it gingerly against his face.

The mission had been difficult; all of them had received orders that demanded their cooperation. Duo didn’t care to rehash the particulars for his own benefit. Most likely only WuFei would dredge it up so he could point out the dishonor of the enemy and to rant about the injustice of it all before slumping off to sulk in the garage with Nataku. Duo was just happy that they had done their job and none of them were dead, that was enough for now.

Unfortunately his poor Deathscythe was going to need a huge amount of work before it would be operational again. Against his will, the braided pilot remembered what had turned a successful mission quickly downhill. During some of the more intense fighting on their way out, the huge mech had taken a direct hit that had cut off all his visuals. Effectively blind he hadn’t dared to move on his own and instead opened every secure com-link he could, letting the others talk him through his maneuvers in a deadly game of Marco Polo.

Nevertheless, bereft of optical navigation Duo had been bombarded with intense fire and finally by an unidentified mobile suit that had been badly damaged and driven by a pilot bent on kamikaze heroism. Then he had felt the bone-jarring crunch as the chest of his Gundam had buckled under the impact. The main control panel had come screeching in, as Duo braced for the impact that would kill him. But the weakened Gundanium had held and it was only the fierce backlash that had managed to bring him in contact with the dashboard, bruising ribs and a few other things. At least he had somehow escaped any life-threatening internal injury. Still, it had been frustrating, and not to mention embarrassing, to be towed home by the Shenlong.

It wasn’t until he had wriggled his way out of Deathscythe that Duo found out Quatre had been seriously hurt. Trowa had dragged 04 Gundam and its unconscious pilot back to their safe house then, sedately as always, began the task of extracting the petite blonde. Blinking, Duo realized that he had been standing in the middle of the room for some minutes, staring without seeing as Barton had entered, half carrying a swooning Quatre. The little Arab looked terrible, blood streaked his face and stained his vest; his left arm looked broken. He was obviously concussed. Trowa handed Quatre over to Rashid wordlessly before following in Heero’s footsteps.

Fussing, ignoring his master’s protests, Rashid wrapped the Sandrock pilot up in the blanket and lifted him smoothly off his feet. “Wait,” Duo called, hobbling up, “I’ll go with you. I want to make sure Quatre’s alright.”

Rashid curbed his impatience, he knew Maxwell wasn’t questioning his ability to take care of his master; the boy was just genuinely concerned for his friend. Unaware of the pity Duo had allowed for him earlier, the captain had the decency to feel bad for the braided boy. Quatre was the only one who put up with, much less appreciated the amethyst-eyed pilot’s chatter.

“Hurry up, then,” the bearded man replied, mounting the stairs two at a time, his light burden moaning into his shoulder.

* * *

            I stifle a yawn and double click the send button; it is imperative that my e-mail go through. Left to my own devices I wander into the bathroom and turn on the shower. Lukewarm water sprays over the ivory porcelain with a hiss. I undress, refusing to look at myself in the mirror as I do so. I am not afraid of what I would see, nor am I repulsed by the sight of my own body. I simply choose to waste no thought or movement. I am the Perfect Soldier.

            My stream of consciousness seems to halt as I stand beneath the water. It smells and tastes faintly of chlorine. The blood and sweat of the last few hours’ work rinses clear and I finally take stock of my injuries. A few gashes I received in the hand-to-hand combat fought in the narrow halls of the OZ cruiser resume bleeding as the water breaks away the binding crusts of clotting. These are superficial, however. A bullet has passed through the fleshy part of my right shoulder. I remember the force of the shot had dislocated it, but I had fixed that with the aid of a wall not long after. I move my shoulder, the range of motion hasn’t been ruined so I discount the injury. None of us escaped this one unscathed, it seemed. Quatre was the worst, but even the stoic Trowa’s face had twisted in pain as he jumped down from the cockpit of HeavyArms. Rashid is here; he’ll take care of them. He would take care of me too, if I’d let him. I almost laugh at that thought. Almost.  

            I wash and step out of the shower. Tying a towel around my waist I move to stand in front of the counter. I open the medicine cabinet and take out the bandages. Deftly I bind my wounds that require assistance to stay closed and replace the first aid kit before reaching for a small, unmarked white bottle. Snapping it open I shake two of the nondescript brown capsules into my palm, then into my mouth. I screw the cap back on and tuck the bottle behind an old can of bath salts. Pulling a paper cup from the dispenser near the faucet I fill it from the sink and use the water to sallow the pills. They depreciate the strength of the chemicals and nerve signals that control the way my body processes physical discomfort. In short they deaden my sense of pain. I am almost certain they do more than that, but what it is I cannot tell. I don’t really care so long as they help me to fulfill my duties as a Gundam pilot.

            I search for my toothbrush and find Duo’s hairbrush instead. We’re sharing a room as usual. He’s a slob, I would much prefer rooming with Trowa. He’s quiet and clean, but he and Quatre prefer to ‘comfort’ each other at night. I would even choose WuFei over Duo, but my Chinese counterpart demands privacy for his meditation. I’m not fooling myself, I know I have an undeniable affinity for Duo, however our constant propinquity* distracts me from my work enough as it is. I don’t think of myself as a homosexual, I just happen to be attracted to the mind and packaging of the witty American boy. Of course, I was also very briefly physically attracted to Relena, as well. That was to be expected, she was the first female I had ever seen in close proximity since that little girl and her dog. . . . I shake off my lethargy; I haven’t taken my eyes off the hairbrush in minutes. The fatigue must be taking me. I hurry to brush my teeth; I still have a full report to write. I assume the others must write theirs as well, but I have never witnessed any of them doing so.

            I exit the bathroom and pause to examine the bedroom. It was a child’s in previous years. A bunk bed, complete with a ladder and slide occupies the wall directly across from me. Duo insisted on taking the top bunk so he could use the slide, he gives a shrill “Yahoo!” each and every time he goes down it. Along the wall beneath the window stands a low, white desk with a colorful parade of animals, numbers and letters marching along its edges. My laptop, with a blank screensaver sits atop it. On the third wall huddles a pair of twin dressers and the door to the room. Walking over to these I dress in one of Duo’s overlarge T-shirts and a pair of shorts. Ignoring the T-shirt, which bears the garish name and logo of some old punk-rock band, I sit at the desk. I should probably get some clothes of my own but I never seem to have the time. I just wear my own until they need to be washed or mended, then wear Duo’s spares in the meantime.

            With a flick of my wrist I revive my computer and set to work.

* * *

            In Quatre’s room I sit down on the bed, propping my back up against the cheerful yellow of the wall. Rashid hands him to me (you wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but the little guy weighs as much as I do!) and I lay him back against my stomach, his head resting limply on my shoulder. His breathing is strong, and I take it as a good sign even though I already know his wounds won’t kill him.

I want to puke. The sound of the bones in Quatre’s arm snapping back into place makes me sick. At least he’s not doing it to himself, not the way Heero does. I look up to see Trowa leaning against the doorframe, watching intently. I wish I could read him better. He’s the only one I can’t really seem to understand. I grin and tease him like I do the others, but I’m always careful not to push him too far. He may seem calm but I can tell he’s a time bomb just waiting to go off, and when that one explodes, its not going to be pretty.

It takes a while, but eventually Rashid gets Quatre patched up. Now he’s sleeping, no longer simply unconscious, tucked beneath the baby blue sheets. The summery pastel colors in this place are starting to get to me, but hell, he who owns the house gets to choose the decor. It’s nearing midnight and I’m tired and hurt. I’m hungry too, but that’ll have to wait until morning. Damn, do I know how to whine or what?  

Rashid turns to me and says something. My brains’ not working properly. “Huh?”

“I said, take your shirt off,” Rashid is getting short with me now that Quatre’s resting comfortably.

“Go for it!” I say, daring him to undress me himself, though careful to keep my voice low. The fez-man glares at me and I decide not to press my luck, for once. “Itai!” I hiss as I peal the tight leather of my jacket away from my body and again as my fingers stumble over the buttons of the priest’s shirt and collar beneath. Stripped to the waist, I look down. My torso is a sunset of bruises, blotchy and purple.

“Well damn! There goes my job as an underwear model!” I chuckle. At least there are no new scars. I know I’m way too vain, but hell, it’s a sin I’m willing to put up with. After all, it’s not like I’ve got much to be proud of, I kill people for a living. I still haven’t fully come to terms with that, but I’m not one for self-torture and existential quandary either. That’s right! I pride myself on my black humor as well.

I suck on my teeth to keep from crying out as the Captain of the Magunacs pokes and prods at me. He hits a particularly bad spot and I double over. Why can’t he be as gentle with me as he is with the blond kid in the bed? Bastard probably thinks I’m a bad influence on his Quatre. I say so and Rashid frowns but makes no reply until after he’s used most the roll of self-adhesive medical tape and elastic bandages to wrap my midriff and chest up like a mummy.

“I’m no doctor but those bruises aren’t only skin deep. At least nothing was burst, if it were you’d be dead by now. You got at least two cracked ribs as far as I can tell but the rest seem alright. So does your face. We’ll just bandage you up for now, keep everything in place.”  

           I’m almost speechless. That was the most I’ve ever heard come out of the big man’s mouth at one time. “Alright, jabber-mouth! Who are you and what have you done with Rashid? Answer me!" 

He sighs and turns away, shoving the clothes into my hands. I leave, seemingly unhurried and of my own accord and Trowa moves aside to let me pass.

* * *

When Duo arrived at the room he and Heero were sharing, he was mildly surprised to find the Zero pilot lying on his side in Duo’s old shirt, his eyes closed. Nevertheless, he sincerely doubted the other youth was unaware of his presence. His suspicions were confirmed when cobalt eyes met amethyst.

“You would think they could find something a little better for us Gundam pilots. It’s really rather insulting!” Duo complained half-heartedly in reference to the bunk beds.

“You liked them fine all this week,” Heero didn’t know why he had even bothered to grace Duo’s absurd comment with a reply. He made a point of rolling over to face away and was silent for long moments, hoping the Deathscythe pilot would take the hint and go to bed.

As he was unraveling the thick locks of his hair for the night, Duo found himself staring at Heero’s quiet form. He was suddenly almost overcome by his intense need to reach down and stroke Heero’s pale cheek, to see those sharp features grow soft with longing at his touch. If only Heero understood how much he cared! If only. But Heero took him for granted; the somber, dark haired boy cared only about his missions. Angry at himself for letting his emotions run away from him, fully aware he wasn’t going to get anything out of Heero, Duo put his hands on the top rung of the ladder to the upper bunk and made to pull himself up but stopped short. Then again, perhaps. . .

Duo hugged himself and tipped back with a groan that wasn’t entirely faked, wobbling were he stood. In an instant Heero behind him, supporting him with his own body.

          “Daijoubu? What’s wrong?” he added in English to speed Duo’s answer.

          “My ribs,” Duo said though clenched teeth, “I just went to climb up and. . .”

         “C’mon,” Heero half picked up, half supported Duo until the long haired boy was comfortably stretched out on the narrow bed. Then Heero sat down on the edge of the bunk and with only the slightest hesitation pushed aside the unbuttoned folds of the other boy’s shirt to reveal the bruised and bandaged ribs below before his fingers began to run questioningly along them, feeling for the cracks and soft spots. “What caused this?” he asked.

Duo felt his love and his lust for Heero swell inside him, pound in his ears and he nearly missed Heero’s question. Hopefully the other would take his momentary lapse as having been from pain. “My control panel was smashed in when that suit hit me.”

“Hn,” was Heero’s only response, though he leaned over a tiny bit further so he would be able to get a better feel of one fractured rib.

Duo flinched in real pain but his plan was going better than he had hoped. Without warning he reached up and pulled Heero’s head down to his, their lips met and Duo’s tongue made it into Heero’s mouth, searching, tasting the sweet minty flavor of toothpaste. His cheek throbbed with the force of his advance, but it only added to the rush of kissing the object of his desire. Heero’s almond shaped eyes narrowed in anger as he pulled away and only barely restrained himself from punching the American sprawled beneath him.

He spit on Duo’s chest. “Damn you!” Each word dripped venom, the cold exterior had suffered a crack and Heero was trying desperately to patch it back up. “Damn you!”

* * *

                I hadn’t meant to hurt him. I didn’t think I could. I suppose it only proves that the Perfect Soldier is human after all. I’ve never felt this miserable in my life.

I watch in silence as he pushes himself off the bed and exits the room. I know he won’t be back tonight. He probably won’t eat or sleep either, it’s a wonder he survives with how little he takes care of himself.  

I shouldn’t have tricked him. He didn’t deserve that from me. Why do I always end up screwing over the people who genuinely want to care for me? Because I’m a selfish son of a bitch, that’s why.

I wish I had just let it go. I shouldn’t have pushed. When we did it that one time we were both rested and healthy. . .Do “normal” sixteen-year-olds have these sorts of problems? I doubt it. But they’re not Gundam pilots either. Damn! C’mon Duo, crying isn’t even an option. You’re not some jilted little girl. In a way, I wish were that simple.

At least I’m still not crying.  

I know we don’t have one of those fiercely tender, passionate relationships where you’re always falling into each other’s arms. I don’t expect, or really even want one of those. We’re not like that. I keep thinking ‘we.’ After this, whatever ‘we’ existed doesn’t anymore.  

            I hadn’t meant to hurt him.