++Ch. 2++
"In the Garden"

"You should have let me kill him," Heero said, scowling darkly as he wrapped Duo's ankle. "He's seen too much."
"Ow- careful, man." Duo winced, gripping the sides of the chair he was seated in. "Naw, man, I couldn't let you do that."
Heero pulled tighter on the bandages, eyes flashing. Duo yelped. "Why not?"
"OUCH! *Watch* it! That hurts!"
It was early evening, and they were in their dorm room. School had been dismissed early, and there had been cops crawling all over the place all day. It was too dangerous to stay; the two pilots had already made plans to leave the next day. It would be too suspcious if they left tonight.
"Look, man..." Duo pulled his foot out of harm's way, making a face. "You heard 'im. *He's* the target. It wasn't us, it was him. Why on earth would someone send dolls to assassinate some weird, shy high school kid? I think we should check it out- besides, he'll keep our secret. I have a feeling the name 'Atreusio' is a dangerous one to know. We don't use his name, he won't tell on us. It's a trust thing. He offered an alternative to killing him bye giving his name." He grinned. "Smart kid."
Heero snorted, retrieving Duo's foot and finishing the wrapping. He released it when he was done, rocking back on his heels from where he'd been crouching at his room mate's feet. "How does it feel?"
Duo rose, testing the injured limb tentatively on a slow walk around the room. "Hurts like a bitch, but I'll live. It's better than it was- at least now I can walk on it. Thanks, man."
"Hn." Heero rose, picking up the first aid kit and tossing the rolls of bandages inside. He clipped the small white box shut and took it to the bathroom to put it away.
Duo sighed, easing himself onto the edge of his bed to take the pressure off of his foot. He reached for his bookbag, dragging out the comic he had stashed there for math class, flipping it open, looking over the colorful, violent pictures idly as he hummed softly to himself. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Heero emerged from the bathroom and made his way towards his computer. "Whatcha doin' now?"
"I'm going to see if there's any information on this 'Atreusio'," Heero replied calmly, sliding into his seat and powering up the small laptop. "And why someone is sending mobile dolls after him."
"You think it's OZ?" Duo inquired, frowning, comic forgotten. "What would they want with him? He's weird and all- especially his eyes -but I don't-"
"What about his eyes?" Heero asked sharply, glancing at Duo's reflection on the laptop's screen. "What do you mean?"
"Well..." Duo scratched his head, trying to figure out how to explain it, then shrugged. "It's prob'ly nothin'. They just.. kinda gave me the creeps, that's all. All dark an' shit. But shiny, too."
"...You're not making any sense," Heero informed him coolly, losing interest in his partner, eyes focusing on the data on the screen, fingers flying.
Duo stuck his tongue out at his back and returned his attention to his American comic. He knew it irked Heero that Duo could understand a language he could not; at least, in that, he had the 'perfect soldier' beaten.
For a few minutes there was only blissful silence. Then Duo's attention span shorted out, and he tossed the comic off the edge of a bed with a huff, eyes darting around for another means of entertainment.
"Pick that up," Heero intoned without turning around.
"I'll get to it, I'll get to it," Duo waved him off, rising carefully to his feet. He looked around, frowning at the close, oppressive room. It would be a little more bearable if *someone* would talk every now and then... he shot Heero a wounded look, then grinned and shrugged dramatically.
"Saa... I'm gonna take a walk, ne? Get some air. It's too boring in here. Wanna come?"
Clackclackclack.. "No." Clackclackclackclackclack...
Duo frowned deeply at him, making a few undignified faces at him before giving up on the unturned back and heading towards the door.
"Take the umbrella."
Duo paused, hand hovering over the doorknob. He raised his eyebrows in question. "The weatherman didn't say anything about rain."
"Take it anyway," Heero ordered, eyes glued to the laptop's screen, fingers flying over the keys. "As a crutch."
Duo blinked, unsure whether to be pleased by this comment; whether it was actual concern on his companion's part or a way of keeping him out of trouble. "Yeah, good idea," he said at last, hobbling over to the closet and pulling it out. He glanced over it dubiously, testing it. "Doesn't look too strong.." he thought aloud, then shrugged. "I dun' care. If I don't get out of here, I'm gonna explode." Using the unsteady umbrella as an improvised crutch, he exited the dorm room with a cheery 'ja!' to his unresponsive room mate.

He made his way through the halls and downstairs with little enough trouble and a few short hops. It was as he was pushing open the back doors, the cool evening air touching his face, that he felt a flicker of aprehensiveness on his nerves. As if he were being watched. He glanced over his shoulder, hesitating, but there was no one else in the foyer. Shrugging it off, he made his way outside.
He chose the path that led through the garden out back; it was darker than the rest of the grounds because of the shrubbery and the few scattered trees, but it was unoccupied and peaceful, and he needed a place to think. Besides, he didn't need to run into any of his classmates; he'd have a lot to answer to if any of them had seen him tumble out of the window.
He limped slowly down the path, deep in thought, nibbling on his lip and tugging his dark cap down over his eyes, a habit that drove Heero crazy when he wanted to look his partner in the eyes when talking to him.
Why on earth would a pack of mobile dolls come after Atreusio? Who had sent them in the first place? OZ? He had never heard anything about an 'Atreusio' during his time in the OZ dungeons or his encounters with Zechs and Treize. It must be something they were careful not to mention. Then who would know? Who could he possibly squeeze the information out of?
He paused in the middle of the path, looking up suddenly, a half grimace on his face.
If anyone knew, it would be her. Zechs was her brother- besides, she had tons of information at her fingertips in her position. And of course he knew how to get her to talk.
That twit would tell him anything if she thought it would enlighten her in his eyes. She had such a huge crush on him it was pathetic. And painfully obvious.
Duo made a face, continuing with his walk, shoving thoughts of the blond from his mind. No time to think of his rival for love this night. He had more important matters to consider.
The quiet gasp caught him off guard, so deep in thought he had been. He came to an immediate halt, free hand flying to where he usually kept his gun. Gone.
Kuso- he must have forgotten it when he'd changed into his priest outfit. What a stupid mistake. He glanced quickly around, finally picking out the form sitting on a bench to the side of the path. He relaxed marginally, quirking an eyebrow.
Atreusio. Just the guy I was thinking about, he mused silently. What a coinsidence. He offered a smile, hobbling over. "'Sup? Am I bothering you?"
"Oh..no," the boy said quickly, offering a smile. "You just startled me." He was still in his school uniform. He sat straight and slim as a statue, the moonlight trickling through the overhead trees and giving him an alluring look. Duo mentally shook his head at himself. Appreciating a pretty boy was fine, as long as he remembered exactly who his heart belonged to.
"Here for a little fresh air?" He grinned, plopping down next to the boy, grateful to get the weight off his injured foot. It was beginning to throb dully.
Atreusio glanced away, fingering a wisp of hair from his face. "Hai.." he said evasively, not quite meeting his eyes. "Just... thinking, that's all. Is your foot all right?"
"I'll live," Duo assured him, patting the bandaged appendage and wincing reflexively. "It'll be awright in a few days."
"That's good." Atreusio smiled with quiet warmth, meeting his gaze calmly. "I hate that you were hurt on my account."
"Well this is from clumsiness," Duo laughed. "Fallin' in that ditch like a retard. So don't worry about it."
"But... you got banged up pretty bad distracting that.. that thing from me," he insisted. "Your shoulder..."
"It's good as new," Duo quipped, shrugging to demonstrate. "Jus' a little sore. Don' worry about it, man." 'Thing'? Did Atreusio not know what that doll had been? Hmm..
"So what's up? Whatcha thinkin' about?"
"N..nothing, really..." Atreusio gazed upwards, towards the moon, leaning back on his hands. There was a moment of silence, then.. "Taka-kun, you and Yuu-kun are the gundam pilots that are on the news all the time, aren't you? There's people out there trying to kill you, you know." He looked Duo straight in the eye, his expression solemn. "I'll bet your name isn't Taka, is it?"
Duo quirked an eyebrow. "Don't give Yuu any more reason to kill you," he said quietly.
Atreusio blinked, then nodded slightly. "You're pretty for a boy," he said abruptly, tilting his head a little, hair slipping over his shoulder and framing his delicate face. Duo stared, caught off guard by the comment. "When I first caught sight of you in the hall, I thought you were a girl wearing a boy's uniform," Atreusio laughed quietly. It was a nice sound. "With that braid of yours." He reached out, the paleness of his hand contrasting sharply with the black of Duo's priest outfit as he carefully picked up the end of the long braid, fingering it thoughtfully. He glanced upwards at the other boy. "Why do you wear such clothes? They're so strange. Aren't they religious?"
Duo felt a small shiver run up his spine as those eyes met his- dark and fathomless, with something sparkling hidden in them. He reached out, tugging his braid gently away. "Yeah... religious. Look, Atre- er, Ran." Duo rose abruptly to his feet, wincing a little, leaning heavily on the umbrella. "You've got to remember not to mention any of what you saw to anyone. I mean it. It could--"
"Look out!"
The old umbrella buckled suddenly, weary of supporting his weight, and he fell forward heavily.
Atreusio leapt up, catching him quickly, slim arms wrapping around him, his yielding body tumbling back as he took Duo's weight and was knocked helplessly back onto the bench on his back.
Duo yelped as he landed on top of him, pushing himself up instinctively, cringing at the thought of accidentally crushing the boy. "Ouch- g-gomen, man! Careful- you're not too strong." He managed to rise, favoring his bad foot, and offered a hand, his grin crooked. "Thanks."
Atreusio smiled weakly and accepted the hand. Duo hauled him easily to his feet.
"No, I'm not very strong at all," the boy admitted quietly, dusting himself off. "I've never been very strong."
"Well, you're real skinny," Duo teased, trailing a finger across the other's middle. Slim. Like a girl...
Atreusio flushed unexpectedly, glancing away. "I don't eat much," he said lamely, crossing his arms across his chest in a clumsy attempt to keep his hands occupied. "Um.. do you want me to help you back to your room? Unless you have an extra crutch up your sleeve."
Duo made a face at the bent umbrella. "Ch'... I knew this was a piece of shit..." He tossed it aside, shrugging and sighing dramatically. "Looks like I need an escort. I'll take you up on that offer. Lead the way, Francois."
Atreusio gave a small smile and took Duo's arm, throwing it over his shoulders and slowly beginning the walk back down the path.

They walked for a few minutes, holding a murmured conversation, until they reached a bend in the path. Atreusio came abruptly to a halt, his lips tightening as he shot a nervous glance around. "Gomen," he muttered apologetically, carefully releasing Duo and steadying the protesting boy against a tree. "I..think I'd better go."
"Huh? Hey, wait!"
Atreusio disappeared into the trees, leaving Duo leaning against the tree, baffled and breathing a little hard from the walk. His ankle was throbbing and hurt like a fuck, and his shoulder ached, as well. Just freaking perfect. What was wrong with Atreusio? Why had he run off so fast?
Sighing, he pushed himself away from the tree and tried to hobble onwards.
"SHIT!" He immediately stumbled, falling heavily to his hands and knees and ranting curses under his breath. "DAMN, that hurts!" Taking a deep breath, he climbed painfully to his feet and tried hopping.
He managed a few wavering hops before he lost his balance and tumbled forward once more. "Gahh- oomph!!"
He fell against a lean chest, strong wirey arms wrapping under his arms, and he clutched instinctively at the shirt he was pressed against, wincing as he swayed and staggered, catching his balance with the help of the boy who had caught him.
Duo blinked.
He knew that smell anywhere- the lingering scent of gunpowder and blood...
He looked up into Heero's intense cobalt eyes and offered a guilty grin.
"'Sup, Heero? Takin' a liddle walk in the moonlight?"
Heero grunted, pushing him away, holding him at arm's length, recovering his personal space. "Where's the umbrella."
"Tch.. the stupid thing broke." Duo waved it off. "Thanks for the save, man. I was just on my way back."
Heero's eyes shot around suspiciously, untrusting. "Who were you talking to? I heard you farther down the path."
"Don't lie to me, either- you have a loud mouth, I heard you from a ways off," Heero said impatiently, ignoring Duo's offended look. "Who were you with?"
"Uh.." Duo glanced away. He knew Heero would be angry if he knew... That must have been why Atreusio had run off. But he couldn't lie to Heero, and the frickin' bastard knew it. He learned quick. He dodged the question instead. "Hey, Heero, let's go back and pack, ok? We're leavin' tomorrow, y'know," he said cheerfully. "Gotta be ready!"
Heero's eyes narrowed impatiently, but he didn't drop it. "Duo.." he warned.
Duo glanced away uneasily, trying to pull away. Heero's hands only tightened on him, and he began fighting back indignantly, twisting and pulling until there was a silent but almost-violent struggle going on between them. Duo resorted to hitting him in the chest as hard as he could, trying to wrench away, his breath coming in gasps of anger and frustration as the steel grip on his upper arms only became more painful and unyielding, the blows seeming to have no effect on the glaring pilot, who was also struggling, dodging some of the more accurately-aimed hits and tugging at Duo.
"Let GO!" Duo finally almost-shouted, shaking his head hard, hoping his braid would smack something. "Quit being an ass!" he snapped. "It's none of your *business*!"
"Duo-" Heero growled, eyes lighting up with smouldering anger. "Stop behaving like a *child*-"
"I'll bite you," Duo warned, glaring back, trying to pull Heero's hands from him. "I mean it-"
"Duo, you could jeapordize the mission talking to that boy!" Heero exploded. "That's who you were with, isn't it? Stay away from him-"
"Don't tell me what to do, god damn it!" He reached up suddenly, seizing a fistful of dark hair and jerking his head forward, hoping to headbutt him.
Lips parting in a noise of surprise brushed against his, and hot breath filled his mouth. Cobalt eyes widened in shock.
They released each other simultaniously, taking a quick, wary step away from each other.
Duo was breathing hard from the struggle, but his face was hot for another reason. He stumbled backwards, heart pounding, hand flying up to cover his mouth. "S-sumimasen-" he breathed, reaching out blindly with his free hand to grab a tree for balance. "I-"
Heero's eyes were no longer hard, but wider than normal, and blank with surprise. He reached up almost heistatingly, touching tanned fingers lightly against his lips.
"Sumimasen," Duo repeated, almost too quietly to hear, his eyes burning a hole into the ground. He swallowed hard. "Let's.. go back, now. I'm tired and my foot hurts."
Heero was silent for another moment, then finally he nodded slightly, coming forward to help his partner, draping one of his arms over his shoulder the way Atreusio had done and walking slowly so that Duo could hop slowly alongside him.
The hand resting against Duo's side for balance felt like it would set his skin on fire, and Duo had to fight not to shiver, for once holding his tongue as they made their way back to the dorms in uncomfortable silence.

Back to Amiko's fics
Ch. 1
Ch. 3
Ch. 4
Ch. 5
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Ch. 10
Ch. 11
Ch. 12
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Ch. 15
Ch. 16