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An American Werewolf in Space (parts 1 - 4)

Bonne-Von Project

Even a man who is pure of heart
And says his prayers by night
Becomes a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms
And the autum moon is bright
                "The Wolf Man" - American cinema, 1941

The moon was beautiful. It was full, hanging like a bright silver disk just above the edge of the trees, and it was easy to imagine the Lady looking down on the dark Earth below, seeing every everything, even sensing the still forms of the hunted, frozen in the deepest shadows. A slight smile curved Duo's lips as he looked up between the branches, taking in the sight along with several breaths of needed oxygen.

Glancing back down, he noticed Heero Yuy staring up at him, a slight frown creasing his brows. Probably wondering what the hell I'm doing, he thought, lifting his arm to brush back his bangs, and the moisture beading on his forehead. With a silent, suppressed sigh, Duo shifted back against the tree behind him, sinking into a deeper shadow that had no view of the silver moon.

Stilling into immobility and near invisibility, Duo strained his senses, seeking to detect even the most distant of night sounds. After a moment he reluctantly acknowledged that they hadn't managed to completely shake the pursuit. Not close, but approaching... OZ would not give up on them quite so easily. They scented blood - seemed to know that they had wounded at least one of the quarry, and were counting on that to slow them and make them easier to catch.

Not this time, Duo growled mentally. We're not anywhere near ready to check out.

He dropped gracefully to his heels beside the other boy and began systematically running his hands over Heero to assess the damage. One moment it had looked as if they were going to complete the sabotage mission without incident, melt into the darkness and make it to the mountains where their Gundams were hidden. The next - there were alarms, lights, loud noises. Dropping over the fence at the same time, Duo felt Heero nudge into him with uncharacteristic clumsiness, almost at the same time he felt the impact of weapons fire through contact with the Japanese pilot's body. Reacting without time for thought, Duo had clamped his arm around Heero, pulling him, as they both broke into a run for the darkness under the trees. Duo registered the sound of tracking dogs baying and cursed as they dodged and wove through the trunks and underbrush. Ignoring the slight flexing of Heero's body that signaled his attempt to free himself from Duo's encircling arm, the self-styled God of Death concentrated on leaving as slight or confused a trail as possible, coupled with the greatest speed. Dodging, hiding, doubling back, doubling ahead, his tactics had managed to put distance between them and the OZ soldiers tracking them, and Heero had given up trying to get loose from Duo's glue-like grip and simply concentrated on moving with uncanny speed.

Well, it would have been uncanny to anyone less familiar with what the Japanese boy was truly capable of. To Duo, the strain and effort might as well have been shouted. Had they both been unscathed, they'd have melted like shadows and left the Ozzies chasing their tails. As it was, they had distance and a little bit of time, ebbing fast, but at a cost. With carefully controlled apprehension, Duo set about attempting to quickly confirm or deny that he'd felt more than one impact strike Heero's body in those frozen few seconds at the fence.

Heero felt the perspiration all over his body cool in the night air. He was aware that he was shivering slightly as he fought to concentrate. A small frown appeared on his face as he watched Duo Maxwell place his hands on his body. Something was off and this wasn't the first time Heero noticed. Apart from the colossal errors he had made in the escape, he felt that there was something about the braided pilot that was revealing itself in this hellish mission. He jerked suddenly as Duo's probing fingers touched one of his wounds. "Two shots, one right chest back, exit front, clean. The other a few centimeters down, no exit," he reported. Then, looking up at Duo, he said, "I've got enough rounds to hold them off for little while. Go."

Duo snorted softly, his hands not moving away. Instead, he lightly found the areas Heero described. "Nice report," he muttered. "Can you tell me how many liters of blood you've lost too?" Seeing Heero open his mouth in the darkness and hearing the near inaudible indrawn breath, he added, "That wasn't a serious question, Heero. Hold on to your rounds, we may need 'em before this is done. We're going together. Otherwise you can take your rounds and stick 'em where the moon don't shine..."

Heero's frown deepened, but he didn't protest. To do so would waste what precious energy he still had. "I've got about fifteen minutes left before shock and I pass out," he said, informatively.

Duo snorted softly, but he felt a chill bite his heart. He was surprised at Heero's frankness, somehow he hadn't expected the other boy to admit the possibility of weakness, but he realized that the candor indicated an advance in their relationship. He was being treated as a partner and an equal, at least Heero's conception of it. "So, like a soldier," he muttered, switching to vocalization in midthought, "You figure you'll die holding 'em off so I can complete the mission, right? Wrong. Pre-colony, they used to have a military unit called the US Marines, ever heard of 'em? There were hot shit professionals like you, but they had a rule - never leave a man down."

As he spoke, he pulled his black overshirt out and tore strips from the bottom hem to make a makeshift bandage and began wrapping it around Heero's chest. That done as well as it could be, he stood, pulling Heero up beside him. "Let's make the most of the fifteen minutes. We're in the foothills, we ought to be able to find a hole to hide in while they get good and lost in the woods."

"Hn," Heero replied, allowing Duo to bandage and guide him. He took a quick look behind them and then pressed on, forcing himself to concentrate on the terrain.

For a Colony-born kid, Duo had managed to become comfortable with Earth terrain in a remarkably short time. He wormed the two of them through the underbrush like a forest creature, looking closely for certain signs. He had Heero stop while he poked his nose into a couple of nooks that turned out to be merely vegetation over rock, but on the third occasion Heero actually noticed Duo's nostrils flaring. "Better than nothing and we're running out of leeway," he murmured, and ducked into what looked like a large bush, only to disappear completely. A moment later he popped out and grabbed Heero, pulling him into the 'bush'. It turned out to be a thick curtain of vines masking a low opening, which led to a cave beyond. There was enough room to stand, though it was darker than pitch inside. Duo guided Heero to a spot near the sloping cave wall and pressed his shoulders gently to tell him to sit.

Heero slid down to the floor of the pitch dark cave and leaned back against the sloping wall. His heart was pounding in his chest at the exertion and he closed his eyes to try and get his breathing under some kind of control. Swallowing hard, he felt his muscles slowly untangle and the throbbing pain ease a bit. Soon, he felt his body start to shake again and the numbness begin. A corner of his mouth lift in the darkness as his earlier fear of being hit in the lung dissipated.

Duo crouched next to Heero and took inventory by touch again. He didn't need to feel the sluggish moisture around the makeshift bandages to know Heero was still bleeding - he could smell it. Stripping off the black priest's tunic, he wrapped it around Heero's shoulders. That was about all he could to give the other boy some comfort, at least all he could do right now. A few stray thoughts crossed his mind, shoved down as unbelievably inappropriate, nevertheless they cheered him slightly. "Hold on for a bit, buddy," he said softly. Bending close, he took in a slow, deep breath, sorting the information it brought to him. It was bad, but it could have been much worse. With Heero's constitution, he'd live, as long as they could avoid an encounter with OZ that would add to his injuries with a few more holes in strategic places.

Then Duo heard a soft sound from deeper in the cave. It was so quiet he thought Heero might not have heard it, but knew it was something he had to take care of before he could go on to the next phase of the emergency plan.

Heero's eyes opened in the darkness as he heard something. Though he couldn't see him, Heero felt Duo move away. Remaining at alert, he concentrated, trying to hear Duo's footfalls. Frowning once again, he realized that the American pilot was almost as good as he was at near silent movement.

The cave narrowed, turned a little, and then widened, and when Duo moved around the slight curve he became effectively inaudible to the Japanese pilot. The silence lengthened. Straining against it, Heero thought he heard a sound. Possibly a quiet scuffle. A low vibration that gave him the impression of something.... animal? Focused as he was, he suddenly realized he was catching a scent, mixed in with the general earthiness of the cave, the green smell from outside... something musky, that seemed to increase in strength, and then slowly fade.

After several more moments he suddenly realized he could see a shadow, gray against deeper black, his eyes having adjusted enough to mark the shape of the braided pilot returning to his side.

"What?" Heero asked in the darkness.

Duo sat on his heels next to Heero - right next to him, touching. His voice when he spoke was quiet, but seemed to have taken a slightly rougher timbre for some reason. "Heero... I gotta go out for a bit. Check on the Ozzies, make sure they head in the wrong direction, that sort of thing. It shouldn't take too long, and you can get your wind back. But stay where you are, ok?" Heero felt Duo's hands fasten lightly on his shoulders. "Don't go any further into the cave, unless it's a real emergency. It's ok for the moment, but better not to push it. You smell... of fresh blood."

Heero blinked, trying to see Duo's face. He opened his mouth to speak, but realized that he needed more energy for the kind of questions he wanted to ask Duo about his last statement. Instead, he nodded. "Ok," he said, letting it drop, though his curiosity had been peaked. He now had definite proof that this was more than strange.

It was to get stranger still. Duo's hands hadn't released Heero, and the American leaned closer. Heero felt the brush of skin against skin as Duo touched his cheek to Heero's, and then rubbed his face along Heero's jawline, turning his head slightly as he did so. Suddenly Heero realized the musky smell was fresh and almost sharp. Duo's hair in the thick braid brushed against him. Then Duo repeated the odd action, rubbing against the other side of his face and neck. Without waiting for whatever Heero's reaction might be, Duo leaned back and rose to his feet, slipping off to the cave mouth. He paused, darting a look back over his shoulder. The cave was no where near as dark to him as it would be to Heero, still he hoped the Japanese boy would turn his head or close his eyes.

Heero's frown deepened even further as he felt the odd sensation of Duo rubbing against him. His mind raced for an explanation and the only he could come up with was Duo's actions reminded him of an animal marking territory. In the darkness, he shook his head because that was even more bizarre than he had first assumed... That Duo was trying to kiss him. Leaning back against the cave wall, Heero tried to fathom what the hell was happening and what was the hell Duo was doing.

Duo saw Heero lean back and muttered a silent prayer that he would be closing his eyes as well. Stepping as close to the concealed cave mouth as he could, Duo quickly stripped off the white undershirt, then his pants and boots and everything down to the skin. He unfastened the gold chain that lay against his chest, kissed the cross dangling from it, and tucked it into a pocket in the neat pile of folded garments. Before Heero could look over - or be sure what he was seeing, Duo hoped - the DeathScythe pilot pulled the fastener from the end of his braid, shook it out, and then slipped through the vines into the night air.

Movement at the end of the cave caught Heero's attention. He saw, or thought he saw a shape of someone with long, flowing hair move by. "Duo?" he said, softly, then leaned his head back against the wall, thinking that he might have been hallucinating.



The air had a chill to it, and Duo ran his fingers through the three thick strands of his unraveling braid to separate it fully, feeling hair drape his shoulders and back like a cloak. Slipping through the trees, he looked up, seeking a view of the moon through the branches, and found her. A little lower in the sky she was, but there were hours of good hunting before she dropped below the horizon. The full moon was the hunter's moon, and it had worked against them tonight. But that would change now. The hunters were about to get a taste of what it was like to be prey.

Cobalt blue eyes turned a darker violet in the reflected moonlight, and Duo concentrated on his lungs filling with air, on the sharpening input of his senses, and on the glowing disk above. The first time she'd taken over, it had been madness, he'd not known what was happening, but in the months since he'd come to Earth, Duo had learned quickly. He still didn't know why, but he'd learned to use it like everything else his life had thrown at him. Whenever you thought you knew the rules, some bastard changed 'em. Fine and dandy, more rules to break, subvert or otherwise turn to his advantage. And this could be one hell of an advantage.

His blood pounded louder and louder in his ears as the fever burned quickly through him. Colors changed, flattened a little, sounds sharpened almost unbearably at first, until things settled into place. Perspective shifted lower. The bite of the air receded under a warm covering, and the feel on the earth under his skin made him shiver with pleasure. The lost colors were replaced a thousandfold by a different spectrum, a hundred messages of direction, time, activity, environment and inhabitants coming in with each breath. Ears twitching, turning mobile to localize the sounds of the wood, and the heavy tread of those who did not belong to it, Duo turned his head, an evil grin splitting his jaws and showing strong white teeth. The hunt was on.



"Isn't that thing pointed in the wrong direction, Karl?" one of the two young men called as they crested the hill where the old man was perched.

Leaning back from the eyepiece of the telescope - which was pointed towards to woods below rather than the sky above - Karl grinned wryly at the two visitors. As much as the old man enjoyed studying the stars, he had a weakness for spying on the activities of the village's intimidating neighbor, a military base that had once belonged to the Alliance, but which had been taken over by OZ in the course of their world-wide coup d'etat.

Coming up to take the old man's hand in a firm grip, the second of the two young men looked down over Karl's shoulder and into the area of the forest the telescope was pointed towards. "What's going on?" he asked, his low voice melodious and compelling, in contrast to his habitually distant demeanor. His dark hair was cut short on his neck, but long enough around to be disturbed by the night breeze. By contrast, his companion's blue-black locks reached below his shoulder blades and swung freely as he walked.

"Saelac," Karl greeted the second youth, and then the first, "Uli. Our neighbors seem to be having a bad night. There were some small explosions, and then alarms at the base," he explained. "That was a couple of hours ago. They sent out a search party after... someone, been beating the bushes for them, but something else is going on now." The old man peered keenly at the two. "If you weren't standing here, I might have guessed you were down there, having a little fun, or that's how you youngsters would think of it."

Saelac frowned slightly, peering down and across the valley, his nostrils flaring. Beside him, Uli sniffed the air, then regarded his friend quizzically. "One of the others? Renke?"

The shorter-haired eighteen-year-old shook his head sharply. "No." His frown deepened. He did not like the idea of something going on in his territory that he didn't know about. Watching him, Uli nodded slightly, his lips curving in a smile.

The old man suppressed a chuckle. Young bloods. "I won't tell you to be careful, it would be wasted," he remarked, turning to look back into the eyepiece of the telescope. "Something's sure got them stirred up and chasing their tails," he added.

"Thanks for the tip, Karl," Uli said, as he followed Saelac, already making his way down the trail into the valley.

"Don't mention it," Karl replied, with an absent wave to the already-departed. "Least I could do in return for yours about the telescope being pointed the wrong way. Heh."



By the time the officer in charge of the pursuit had lost half his men, he decided it was time to retreat. The eerie silence of the attacks wasn't as unnerving as the tracks left behind. Animal tracks. Something... big. It was ridiculous. He knew all the stories about wolves in the region, but something that could take an armed OZ soldier alone? Of course, that was the problem. It might not be alone. The tight knot of remaining soldiers pulled together, fear clearly written in their eyes. The officer hesitated, realizing the probable reaction to his report. He heard a gasp from beside him and then saw the reason the soldier had reacted. Eyes... a pair of eyes, glowing from the darkness between the trees. Too low for a man - and too wild, slanted in a shadowy triangular head. But too... too high off the ground for a... wolf... unless it was an ungodly big one...

The officer found himself backing up without any conscious decision. His few remaining men backed up with him, their eyes white-rimmed. Swallowing with a dry throat, he managed to form the words. "Re-retreat, back to base!"

As if in answer to his hoarse order, a sudden chorus of howls broke out from the woods on all sides. The glowing eyes were gone in the same instant, but the OZ soldiers weren't looking at them any more - they were running for the base and the promise of safety.

Duo's heart pounded in his chest as he headed back for the cave. He'd accomplished his mission - there would be no more pursuit this night, allowing him to return to Heero and see what he could do for the wounded pilot. His blood was already hot from the excitement of the hunt, but he'd been taken as much by surprise as the soldiers when the howling had broken out. He was aware of the scents of the others, they'd approached from a direction that kept the night wind from betraying their presence until they were close, almost on all sides. Another time he might have given in to the sudden burn of near irresistible curiosity, stayed, and risked a meeting with what must be a local pack in their own territory. But he had something more important to think of tonight. Ducking through the trees, he got one glimpse of a dark shape, the gleam of a gold eye, something about the size and shape of the beast, along with the intelligence in that golden look, sending a jolt of electricity through his senses.



In the cave, Heero found himself drifting in the darkness. Duo's tunic wrapped around him gave a comforting warmth, and his body was attempting to resist shock with its enhanced strength, but he was no longer sure if he was really conscious. Dark blended into dark.

Did he dream the soft sound from the back of the cave? Did he imagine the gleam of eyes watching him?

He wondered if the shivering that seemed to seep into his bones was also part of the dream. It seemed to go on for a while before something warm and soft pressed against his side. Something that had a musky, distinctive scent... Dream or not, it eased the shivering. He leaned into the soft warmth and rested his cheek on something silky, feeling oddly safe.



Duo woke to find light filtering into the cave from beyond the vine curtain, and to find Heero curled against his back, his face resting on Duo's unbound hair. Tilting his head to glance back over his shoulder, he felt a rather intense pang of longing, and felt a flush of heat through his body. This wasn't the time for it - there would probably never be a time for it. Taking a deep breath, Duo turned, realizing he needed to wake Heero and get them both on the move. "Heero..."

A small frown appeared on Heero's brow and he flinched in his sleep. Deep blue eyes blinked open and inhaled deeply, catching a trace of the scent from the night before. He felt himself relax a bit as he turned his gaze upward. "Duo?" he said, hearing his voice rasp.

"Yes," the answer was immediate, even warm. Duo tried to turn, still restrained by Heero's weight on his hair.

Information flooded Heero's senses as he became aware that he was resting on Duo's unbound hair. Swallowing and blinking his eyes to bring himself to some kind of order, he moved over slightly, feeling a flush of embarrassment color his cheeks. "Sorry," he said, quickly, then cringed as his stiff and sore body remembered its wounds.

Duo sat up quickly, the chestnut waves cascading around his shoulders as he turned to examine Heero. He looked pretty bad, reminding Duo of the second time he'd seen the Japanese pilot - in the Alliance hospital, with blood still dripping from the bullet grazes Duo had given him. Some hospital, they might have cleaned him superficially but they hadn't so much as bound gauze over those wounds.

"You look like shit," Duo said with forced cheerfulness. "Think you can travel?"

Heero looked up at the chestnut waterfall of hair, watching how it caught the light. He resisted the strong urge to reach up and touch it. His eyes moved over Duo slowly as he nodded in answer to Duo's question. "Your clothes," he said, thinking that he might be losing his mind. The night before, he could have sworn that he'd seen some of Duo's clothes drift to the ground. Looking up at the amethyst eyed pilot, Heero felt another wave of embarrassment and told himself to remain quiet and conserve his energy. Surely, he had a fever of some kind and was not thinking straight.

Duo watched Heero closely. "My clothes? You mean the shirt? I left it for you last night - it wasn't much but I hope it helped keep off some of the chill." The Japanese youth did look feverish, which wasn't surprising considering he still had a bullet in him. "We need to get some medical supplies, maybe even a doctor," Duo continued. "Remember the village we scouted, the one between the base and the mountains? We should be able to get what we need there. Think you can make it?"

Heero shook his head. "Don't have time for all of that," he said, biting back the protest he was about to make contradicting Duo's words concerning the clothes. He had been certain that it wasn't just a shirt Duo had left. "We just need to get back to the Gundams. I can take it from there," he added, then forced himself to stand.

Duo jumped up, reaching one, then both hands out to steady the other boy. "No, Heero," he said firmly, staring into Prussian blue eyes that betrayed how close Heero was to passing out. The Gundams were halfway up the mountains, and the trail back to them was difficult by design, as a crude extra layer of security added to the technological safeguards.

Heero felt the world suddenly slip as Duo's strong hands grasped his arms. He closed his eyes and opened them to find himself leaning against Duo heavily. Again, the aroma and the softness of Duo's hair assaulted his senses, steadying him. "Sorry, stood up too fast," he said. "I can make it. The bleeding has stopped."

"For the time being," Duo acknowledged. "Climbing in the mountains won't help that. For once, Heero, just do it my way, will ya? We can get some intel while we're at it - maybe find out what the local gossip is about base." Duo tried to keep his tone cajoling and not betray the concern he felt, nor the rush of warmth that resulted from holding Heero in his arms. He wished Heero wasn't hurt... but then if he wasn't, he'd never have allowed the braided boy this close, of that Duo was certain.

Heero nodded. "All right, Duo," he said, feeling a bit more stable. "Your way."

Both relieved and surprised, Duo grinned at Heero. He felt the Japanese boy steady on his feet and released him carefully, reaching down quickly to retrieve his black overshirt. "Better put this on," he said and assisted Heero into the garment. Then he quickly began plaiting his hair, pulling a fastener out of his pocket.

Heero felt the warmth of the garment settle him even further. He thought at first that he should give Duo back his clothing, but privately, he enjoyed the smell and feel of it. Looking down, he also tried not to watch Duo as he plaited his hair, but there was something hypnotic about the slow, steady movement of the pilot's hands that captured his attention. You need meds or you need to just die and get it over, because you have gone insane, Heero thought to himself.

Turning to find Heero watching him with a slightly odd expression, Duo blinked and then smiled brightly. "Sorry," he said quickly. He had a sudden urge to take Heero's hand, and thought he might get slugged, or at the least, glared at.

Fuck it, he thought. Grabbing Heero's hand in a firm grip, he moved toward the vine-cloaked cave entrance.

Without thinking, Heero curled his fingers around Duo's hand and followed.

As Duo felt Heero's fingers close around his hand, he squeezed them reflexively. Then Duo turned suddenly, looking back over Heero's shoulder. When the Japanese pilot turned to look, he saw something standing at the opening to the back of the cave. A pair of triangular ears were trained on the two, and a long muzzle opened, revealing white teeth as the wolf regarded them.

"No sudden movements," Heero said, quietly, feeling a surge of adrenaline. He kept his eyes on the wolf as he attempted to recall what he knew about wild animals. "If we take it slow, I think we can make it out."

Duo chuckled softly. "Don't worry, Heero," he said, his voice low as well, but with an odd note of affection. "She looked after you last night. You don't have anything to worry about." Meeting the wolf's eyes, Duo made a soft sound, part growl, part whine. The wolf's ears twitched. "Thanks for the hospitality," he said, "We won't disturb you any more." Then he gave Heero's hand a little tug and moved between the vines.

Heero looked from Duo to the wolf in astonishment. Moving with Duo out of the cave, he looked back and nodded to the wolf himself, just in case it could understand. However, he felt that he must be dreaming. It was the only thing that made sense.

Outside, their eyes had to adjust to the light, and then Duo took his bearings, plotting the best track to take to reach the village.

"All right, Duo. What was that?" Heero said, looking at him closely. "What's going on, here?"

"Huh?" Duo answered, blinking at Heero innocently. Uh-oh, the jig is up, he thought.

Heero's eyes narrowed a fraction. "Duo, I'm not feeling one hundred percent right now. I think I'm going insane or I'm dreaming. You've been really kind to me so far and I owe you. Don't make me shoot you," he said.

Still holding Heero's hand, Duo's innocent look faded to one of cautious acknowledgement. He turned fully to face Heero, without letting go of his grip. Looking into Heero's eyes, he considered for a moment, and then said, "Heero, we know very little about each other. For instance, I don't know how it is you were able to survive that fall from the Alliance hospital to the beach. And I haven't asked. If the time were to come when I really needed to know, I would, and then you'd decide whether to tell me or not. About this... if the time come when you really need to know, ask me. And I'll decide then what I can tell you."

Heero looked at Duo for a long moment. He nodded. "Let's move," he said, without further question.

Duo smiled brilliantly and gave Heero's hand a brief squeeze. He nodded and led the way through the woods and underbrush with the skill of a Gundam pilot... and perhaps a little more.



They circled around the village and approached it from the side nearest the mountains. It was a hike, not an easy walk, but it wouldn't have winded Heero had he been in better condition. As it was when they got fairly close, Duo told him to hunker down in some cover while he did a quick reconnoiter for the medical supplies and checked out the town.

In his black pants and boots, and just the white undershirt tucked in, with his sleeves rolled up, he looked rather unremarkable, aside from the long braid. He walked down the small side street towards the middle of town as if he hadn't a care in the world. His sharp eyes spotted signs for various types of business, and took the measure of the local people moving around on the street. Spotting a sign with a stylized mortar and pestle he ducked in, recognizing what amounted to an apothecary, or old-style 'chemists' shop. He nodded politely at the older man behind the counter and moved through the shelves picking up the items he needed. He made a note of the section that seemed to be for local holistic practitioners, shelves filled with jars of herbs, and other substances. A number of interesting scents on that aisle were almost submerged in an aroma that Duo found extremely pleasant. He followed his nose down that way without even thinking about it, then shook his head, mentally lecturing himself that he didn't have time for detours.

Taking his purchases to the counter, he waited as the old man totaled it up.

"I don't think I've seen you around here before," the man said pleasantly, as he gave the total.

Duo acknowledged this with a slight grin, pulling out the pan-Alliance currency that was still in common use in most places. "My buddy and me have been hiking in your mountains up here," he offered.

The old man began placing his items in a bag, making a point of noticing the antiseptic, bandages, and other medical aids. "Didn't have an accident, did you?"

"Well actually," Duo shrugged sheepishly. "It's my buddy. He's kind of stubborn about seeing a doctor, but it might just be necessary. Know where I could take him if it turns out to be?"

The old man studied Duo for a moment and then said, "Well we don't have a proper hospital, not much call for one, or folks go to the city about twenty miles south. There's an M.D. on the other side of town, but... if your friend is shy about doctors, mebbe you could bring him by here... I was a field medic in the local militia many years ago, and folks here still come to me for some of their scrapes."

Duo tilted his head and looked into the old man's face for a moment. He had a strong impression that the old man was pretty smart, and seemed to have an idea about why someone might want to avoid doctors, or at least have no problem with the idea.

"Or I guess you could go up to that OZ base, it's not far," the old man added shrewdly. "They have nice modern facilities and a clinic, and they're supposed to treat us locals if we ask. Though between you and me, we don't mix with 'em much. Nothing against 'em, you understand, but we keep to ours and, well, they ain't ours, you know what I mean?"

A slight smile curved Duo's lips. He'd been operating as a militant rebel for long enough to recognize the language the man was using. "I do indeed," he said. "My name's Duo. Maybe I'll see you later then...?"

"Karl," the man acknowledged. "I close up the shop for lunch, and it's almost that now. But if the door's locked, just come around to the back and ring the bell, if you find you've forgotten something."

"Thanks, Karl," Duo said, taking his package. He stepped out of the shop with a feeling of having found some good luck.

He headed in a circular route back towards the direction where Heero was hiding, continuing to study the town as he walked. A couple of streets from the chemist shop there was what looked to be a tavern, with the sign above the door bearing the carving of a wolf snarling, over the disk of a full white circle. "The Cunning Moon" was the name. As he moved past on the other side of the street, the door opened and a young man stepped out. He was taller than Duo, and looked like he might be around seventeen or eighteen. He had sandy hair cut about the length of his collar, but what startled Duo was the eyes that met his from across the street - gold. As gold as the eyes of the wolf the night before.

Catching himself from a misstep, Duo looked away quickly. Odd coincidence. He glanced back to find the young man watching him. He found his hackles raising for no reason, and had an impression of an irritating scent from somewhere. Since he'd been caught looking back, he nodded impersonally and continued walking away, annoyed beyond reason by the last sight from the corner of his eye of a slow smile on the young man's face.

He turned a corner and headed quickly for the outskirts, and therefore did not see the other young men who followed the first out of the tavern.

"What are you smirking at, Renke?" Uli said as he brushed by the blond with the non-chalance of long familiarity.

"Don't you smell it?" the blond returned. "Fresh blood... you just missed him, he turned the corner there."

"Here, in town?" the next boy was a bit younger than the others, and his red hair and wide eyes marked him for the 'innocent' of the small group.

"Down, Axel," the taller, dark-haired, blue-eyed Saelac emerged behind him. The last one to step out behind Saelac had paler, longer blond hair and a somewhat eccentric dress. He smiled slightly but didn't remark.

"Here in town," Renke repeated, his tone somewhat challenging.

"Interesting," Uli acknowledged. "Maybe he'll stop by for a visit."



Duo headed back out into the woods, finding the place where he'd left Heero. He whistled, and waited for the Japanese pilot to show himself.

A moment or two went by, then a small clump of greenery moved and Heero peered out. "Here," he said loud enough for Duo to hear him.

Duo weaseled over quickly and without much ado reached under the black shirt to test the makeshift bandage for seepage. It was damp. He pulled something out of the bag he was carrying. "Antibiotics - take 'em," he said, following the pills with a bottle of water. "Then I'm going to take you down where I can get you cleaned up."

Heero took the pills without protest. He glanced over the braided pilot, then downed the entire bottle of water without pausing. "Got a knife?" he asked.

Duo frowned. "You are not going to try and dig the bullet out yourself, Heero. Come on," he said, and rather recklessly grabbed the Japanese boy's hand in a firm grip. Without waiting to see if Heero was going to try and slug him, shoot him or throw him, he pulled the other boy along and headed down towards the town.

Heero gathered what energy he had and leaned against Duo as they moved. Abandoning his plan of taking care of his wound or having Duo assist him, Heero resigned himself to trusting Duo's better judgment.

Duo 'parked' Heero in the alley beside the chemist shop and checked the door. It was locked, and there was a sign with a smiling face on it that said 'gone to lunch - be back!'. Duo nodded and went back to the alley, leading Heero to the back of the shop where he rang the small bell.

The door opened and Karl looked out, a sandwich made of brown bread in one hand. He saw Duo and quickly opened the door wider, and Duo pulled Heero into the shop without giving him time to protest.

"This way," the old man said, leading them down a short hall into a large room. It was part kitchen, part workshop, and evidently part infirmary. Karl pointed to a chair as he put down his half-eaten sandwich. "Have a seat there, young fellow," he said to Heero. Then he pulled over a small rolling cart that had an assortment of medical instruments on it.

Eyeing the cart, Heero hesitated briefly, then sat down. He looked from the man to Duo and back again. Concentrating on his breathing, he waited to see what would happen.

Duo moved behind Heero and pulled the black shirt off of him, revealing the makeshift bandages. The old man nodded, and his hands gently but firmly directed Heero to turn, lean forward, and then he began carefully removing the bandages. His touch was confident and skilled. He removed the bandages and examined the wounds, glancing up at Duo once with a curious expression. It was obvious to the old man that Heero should not have been walking around.

With a soft grunt, he began cleaning the wounds, and preparing to remove the bullet.

Duo pulled a chair over beside them, where he could be close to Heero, and where he could watch Karl work closely, just in case. He dropped into the chair with a silent sigh, realizing that he was tired, and hungry. He eyed the old man's sandwich and then forced himself to look away from it.

"Go ahead, I can make another," Karl murmured quietly.

With a small grimace, Duo picked up the sandwich and tore what remained of it in half, pushing one of the two pieces towards Heero. He pulled two more bottles of water out of his bag and simply inhaled the sandwich as he watched Karl work on Heero.

It was a good deal easier to get the bullet out with proper instruments, but of course there was some pain, and bleeding, and Duo supplied the extra pair of hands where and when it was needed.

Heero felt the pressure ease a bit as the bullet was removed. "Water," he said, softly, feeling thirsty and tired. He calculated all that he needed was some rest and then he and Duo could be on their way.

Duo opened the other water bottle and handed it to Heero as he watched Karl stitch the wound neatly. The old man bandaged as neatly as he stitched and Heero was in much better shape very shortly.

Patting Heero on the shoulder, and secretly marveling at the boy's stoicism - he hadn't so much as flinched during the entire procedure - Karl poured some amber liquid from a bottle and handed the small glass to Heero. "Drink," he said. Getting up, he pushed the cart away and took the bloody scraps of cloth that had been the hem of Duo's old black shirt, he threw them in a waste bin. Reaching onto a shelf, he pulled down a dark gray t-shirt and offered it to Duo, who accepted it gratefully and pulled Heero's arms up gently so he could drop the shirt over his head.

Heero put the empty bottle down and helped Duo tug the shirt over him. He looked up at the medical man and nodded. "Thanks," he said, quietly, remaining as still as he could.

"Karl," the man identified himself, and offered his hand with a smile. "You are welcome, young man. I won't ask how you got that. You look like you could use some rest, hmm? And maybe something more to eat after that. I have a room you can stay in if you like."

"We don't want to be any trouble to you," Heero said.

"No trouble," Karl said. He nodded towards an open doorway. "The room is there. I have to go open the shop up again, young fellow. I won't know if you stay or not." He smiled again and got up. Turning to Duo, he nodded towards the kitchen part of the room. "Help yourself if you like."

Duo stood up and shook the old man's hand firmly. "Thanks a lot, Karl," he said simply. "If I can ever do anything for you..." he said, and left it hanging. The old man nodded, and then left them to go back to the shop out front.

As the man left, Heero relaxed somewhat. He got up very slowly then looked at Duo. "I'll be okay in a few hours. We can leave then," he said, as his eyes strayed to the offered room.

Duo nodded. "Works for me," he said cheerfully, feeling some of his own tension abate. He walked over to the indicated doorway and looked around. It was a small room with a cot and a couch, a lamp, a radio and a few books on a shelf. He also noticed a small lavatory next to it. "You want the cot or the couch?" he asked, stretching his arms up towards the ceiling.

"Whichever comes first," Heero replied, walking into the small room. He shook his head a little as he realized that he was feeling disappointed. Wherever he landed, the warmth wouldn't be there like in the cave. You have lost it, he thought to himself. You're still feverish.

Duo followed Heero, watching his face. It almost seemed as if he could detect a bit of.. disappointment? He blinked, trying to control the sudden surge of pleasure the idea gave him. Stepping into the room, he smiled slightly and closed the door. In the enclosed space, he felt as if Heero's scent was filling his nostrils. Well, it might be, he acknowledged wryly, they were neither of them fresh from a shower. But there was more to it than that. Since he'd been on Earth, since the moon had worked her magic on him, he found that even by day, his senses did seem keener, and some of them seemed more important to him somehow. He took a slow breath and confirmed that he could detect Heero's personal scent, and that it pleased him. It did more than that. It attracted him. Wondering if it was going to get him shot, he moved closer to the Japanese boy, taking another deep breath.

Heero felt Duo's presence nearby. He closed his eyes for a moment enjoying the feeling of pleasure and comfort it gave him.

Duo watched Heero's eyes close curiously. He must be exhausted, he thought. Putting his arms around Heero slowly, he drew him down onto the couch and somehow managed to maneuver it so that Heero was lying on the couch with his head resting in Duo's lap. He all but held his breath through the entire operation.

Heero looked up at Duo for a moment without saying anything. He hadn't felt safe since the beginning of the war, and never like this in his life. Every part of him felt tired. His body ached and throbbed in places, but somehow he trusted Duo enough to let it all go for awhile and just rest. "Experiment," he said, feeling the soft material of Duo's pants and breathing in his scent. "They did things to me. That's why I'm still moving."

Duo blinked, looking down and feeling an odd pang clutch at his heart as he observed Heero curled there like a small boy. He ran the words through his mind a second time, and then realized the Japanese pilot was telling him a part of his mystery. As he felt the slight shock, the meaning of the words came to him. It sounded like what Heero was telling him was that, whoever his backers were, they had done... experiments on him? Some kind of physical enhancement? It made a lot of sense given what he'd seen Heero survive. It also made Duo extremely angry for some reason. He felt a growl start in his throat and swallowed quickly. Without thinking, his fingers brushed the thick brown locks of hair. "Oh," he answered brilliantly. Then he added, "Well, it's ok to stop moving for a while, you know. Just rest a bit."

Heero moved against Duo's hand as he closed his eyes. "You don't have to go, unless you want to," he said, feeling himself on the twilight of sleep. Inhaling deeply, Heero felt himself relax even further. "You smell good," he said, quietly, nuzzling against Duo's thigh.

Duo felt his heart melt and his heat rise, and his fingers moved deeper into the thick locks of Heero's hair. What was in that drink Karl gave him?? he thought, but his lips curved in a smile. "I'm not going anywhere," he said quietly. "And... you smell good too, Heero."

Heero yawned suddenly, then drifted off to sleep.

A strange, bemused expression drifted over Duo's features as he gently stroked Heero's hair, watching him sink into sleep. He felt something happening inside of him that he didn't fully understand. It contained elements of the strong attraction he'd felt to the strange and difficult Japanese boy, but it contain elements of something else as well, something Duo wasn't quite ready to acknowledge. He only knew that if anything at that moment were to threaten the boy resting in his lap, he would have instantly torn the menace apart. His hands stilled finally and he rested, nodding from time to time but never quite falling fully asleep, ready to protect them both from any intrusion.



It was dark outside, a little bit of light coming from a single source in the large room beyond, the thread of it coming under the door. But far brighter was a light Duo couldn't even see, a cool silver light that he could feel rising outside, just beyond the walls. She called to him, as she had done each night, her voice the strongest on the nights of the full moon. Last night the mission had taken precedence, and even then he'd had a reason to answer her call. Tonight... A part of him wanted to leave the room, leave the village, run into the deep woods to run, to hunt.. but even as she pulled at him, something warm resting in his lap held him, a scent that filled his nostrils and quickened his blood. He still wanted to run, but not alone...

With a little shake, he found himself awake and looking down at Heero's face, tracing the dark crescents of his lashes with his eyes. Taking deep breaths, he felt his pulse slow, but not completely.

"H-heero..." he said softly, stroking the Japanese pilot's hair back.

Heero stirred in Duo's lap. His eyes blinked open, adjusting to the darkness. His mouth felt a little dry, but his body felt better. "Duo?" he said, moistening his lips.

"Yeah, how do you feel?" Duo asked, fascinated that Heero hadn't moved yet from his resting place.

"Better," Heero replied. He moved a little in Duo's lap, turning towards him on the couch. "The pain has diminished. I can make it."

"I never doubted it," Duo assured him. He stretched a little, arching his back. "I'm hungry - thinking of seeing what Karl has in his pantry before we hike."

For a moment, Heero watched Duo stretch. Still caught in the half-awake and half-dream state, he reached up, wanting to touch, then stopped himself. Blinking, he sat up, moving to sit next to Duo on the couch. "Fine," he said, looking away.

Noticing Heero's shift, Duo's mouth quirked slightly. Well, it's not like I didn't expect it, he thought. Getting up from the couch, he stretched again, working out the kinks of sitting there for several hours. He walked over to the small window and pushed back a heavy curtain. Craning his neck, he could see the edge of the moon beyond the tops of the nearby buildings. Again he felt a strong pull to go, to just leave Heero, forget everything. Heero was back on his feet, he wouldn't care...

Shaking his head, Duo dropped the curtain back. He wondered why the urge seemed so strong tonight. There were things tickling the edges of his senses that set him off the careful balance he'd worked out for himself.

Turning back, he gave Heero a slight, typical grin, which the Japanese boy probably couldn't see in the dim light. Then he opened the door of the small room, glancing back to make sure Heero really was doing ok.

Heero looked up, watching Duo outlined in the doorway. Taking a deep breath, he stood. Mentally, he assessed his mobility and strength. "I'm fine, really," he said, feeling his chest constrict with an unfamiliar emotion. "I owe you my life, among many other things. That and a shirt. Get yourself something to eat. I'm going to head back," he said. Then thought, that way I won't slow you down.

Duo turned around and frowned at Heero. "For a minute there I thought you'd decided to try being human," he said conversationally. "Look, you need to eat too. Fuel for the machine? And we don't know for certain if OZ isn't patrolling. Don't you think it would be better to stick together?"

Heero frowned, looking down as he considered Duo's logic. The words hit him on two levels and one of them he found that he couldn't afford. For some reason, he felt that he wanted to explain to Duo why he couldn't allow himself to be like him. All of his training had been geared towards maintaining discipline. As a soldier, he was dispensable. In many ways, he envied the easy-going L-2 pilot. Taking another breath, he looked back up at Duo. "Yes," he said, finally. Silently, he vowed to do what he had to do not to be burden to Duo.

Duo blinked, and then said, "Um... good. Ok, I'll... get us some food." He turned and went into the large room, feeling like odd things were continuing to happen. There was something going on with Heero... and it intrigued him. He felt again that something was both tying him to the young man he secretly thought of as the "perfect soldier", and at the same time shifting him off balance. And the strange thing was that he felt that he wanted to go with it.

Finding the coldbox, Duo quickly made sandwiches and wrapped them up, consuming half of one as he worked. He dropped them in his bag from earlier and pushed the other half of the first sandwich into Heero's hand. Checking the doors in the room, he knew they could get out the back, but he decided to check the other door that Karl had gone through earlier, just to have an idea what was what.

The door led down a short hall to the back of the shop itself, and the shop was dark, a few advertising lights glowing behind the counter. The front door appeared to be locked and Duo could detect no indication that anyone else was in the building.

Moving back through the shop to where he figured Heero was waiting, Duo passed the aisle he had walked by when he'd been in the shop before, and this time the scent assailed his senses even more strongly. It was enticing... it drew him... before he knew what he was doing, he found himself pulling down a jar from a high shelf and opening it. The scent came out even more pungently and hit him between the eyes. He wanted to rub against the dried flowers and leaves in the jar... to take them out into the moonlight and roll in them... plunging his hand into the jar, he pulled out a handful of the dried plants, unaware he was growling softly and had forgotten everything else.

Heero followed the sound. For a moment, he thought that Duo had been discovered and cornered. Walking into the shop, however, he saw the braided pilot and his frown deepened. At first, he couldn't believe what he was seeing, but he put that behind him. He needed to take action.

Reaching past Duo, he took the jar from him, wondering what it was. Raising it to his nose, Heero grimaced slightly. "Wolfsbane?" he said, quietly. Putting the jar down, he slid an arm around Duo's waist. "Come on," he said, pulling Duo back towards the room.

Vaguely aware of Heero pulling him, Duo clutched the handful of herbs in his hand, growling at being pulled away from the jar. He got a whiff of clearer air for a moment and a strong scent of... of Heero actually, and looked up, realizing fuzzily that something unusual was taking place. "Huh?"

Heero closed the door and stood between it and the shop. "It seems you have a little problem," he said, noting that Duo was a tad bit more coherent.

"I do?" Duo repeated, absently sniffing his fingers where the crushed herbs had left some of their oil. He looked at Heero, thinking how gorgeous his deep blue eyes were. He lifted his fingers to the other boy. "Want some?"

Heero turned his face slightly to save wolfsbane from being shoved up his nose. "No, thank you," he said, catching Duo's hand. "You keep them. You seem to like that stuff... a lot."

"Mmmm," Duo purred, inhaling. "It's... nice." He smiled at Heero. There was something about the Japanese boy's expression... with effort, Duo was slowly realizing that he might be acting a little... odd. A little alarm in his head finally went off, a bit late, and rather distantly, but odd behavior could mean miscalculations, which could mean being dead. "Oh....shit...."

With another great effort, he rubbed his fingers, a little regretfully, against his pants. "Uh... we should.... go..."

"Yes," Heero replied, then had a thought. "Wait here for a minute, then we'll leave."

Without waiting for an answer from Duo, he moved out of the door and into the shop again. Locating the jar of wolfsbane, he replaced the lid and put it back on the shelf. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind, which he discarded as impossible, improbable and certifiable. The only problem seemed to be that the facts were backing up the wild theories.

A short while later, he returned to the room and Duo. "Can you make it?" he asked.

Duo was having a somewhat confused conversation with himself, but he jumped slightly and looked over. "Sure!" he said with a little too much enthusiasm. "I mean, of course! Why wouldn't I? I mean I didn't get shot... er, not that if I *had* it would *mean* anything, I mean, you aren't... er, uh... yeah, let's go!" he finished, making another attempt to get his mind back into some groove it recognized. Get moving, hike up the mountains, find Wing and DeathScythe where they were hidden, evade detection while taking off and... and back to the business of sabotage and mayhem....

Heero placed his hands on Duo's shoulders. "Duo," he said, looking into the pilot's eyes. "For whatever reason, you are susceptible to wolfsbane. I'll help you get through this and back to your Gundam. Just remember that it affects you...ok?"

Duo looked at Heero, feeling rather pleased that they were standing so close together, but also feeling as if their positions had been reversed somehow when he wasn't looking. "Uh, yeah," he said. Then he added, "And I'll help you get back to your Gundam, too." He nodded, feeling a little more satisfied.

Grabbing Heero's hand, he headed for the back door of the shop, slipping the lock easily and stepping out into the night.

It wasn't until they had left the shop that Heero realized that Duo had his hand again. A part of him thought that it might be better if they were walking under their own steam, but the recent events indicated that perhaps it was better to go with the flow. He glanced around as they moved.

The alley was dark and deserted, but the moon provided enough light for Duo to see easily and then some. He moved confidently down the alley to the street. But as they emerged cautiously, something caused his hackles to rise and he froze.

A shadow detached itself from a nearby building and stepped in their path. It was the young man Duo had seen earlier that day outside the tavern. Around them, two other shadows moved away from doorways and corners.

Heero glanced up at Duo. The expression on the braided pilot's face told him that he hadn't missed the various movements ahead.

His head clearing quickly, if not completely, Duo found himself reacting almost primally, with the urge to attack the blond confronting him. Whoa, Maxwell, use your head, he told himself.

"Um, hi," he said. "You need something?"

The blond smirked slightly and crossed his arms over his chest. "Yeah, need to know what you were doing in our friend's shop. Robbing it, maybe?"

Oh great, Duo thought.

"No, we weren't robbing it," he answered attempting to keep his tone friendly. "We had permission to be in there."

"Sure," the blond answered.

Duo felt his temper flare, his control already a little frayed by the flora. "Check with Karl, if you don't believe us," he snapped. "Now if you will excuse us..."

"Never, " the blond replied, prompting a smile from the quiet Tavin who had moved up on their left. The last of the three, Axel, moved to their right and took up position.

Renke, the blond, tilted his head up and sniffed at the air. He looked directly at Duo and grinned again. "Oh, so that's why you were breaking into Karl's shop, eh? For a little recreation?"

Heero stiffened, beside Duo. To his mind, they didn't have time for this banter, but there was something about these three that set his teeth on edge.

Duo growled, audibly this time. His shoulders lifted slightly in a somewhat more aggressive physical posture. "I told you, we didn't break in." Then his gaze sharpened. "And stop staring at my partner!"

Renke's eyes flashed as his body mirrored Duo's. He liked to play and if this one wanted to go a few, he'd have no problem with it. His eyes moved to Heero and back again. Then he licked his lips, suggestively. "Yours... hmmm," he said, leaving the invitation to dance in the air.

Duo took a step forward, his hands curling, but not quite into fists. The alarms were going off again, still late and even more distant, but he took several deep breaths and forced his temper, and the urge to jump the guy, down savagely. Straightening, he said, "No, he's his, but you mess with him and you'll regret it. Why are you hassling us?"

"But he's ...scented," the smaller red head, Axel said, then looked away, slightly embarrassed.

Duo froze, realizing exactly what the redheaded kid was referring to. He felt a double shock - first, how could the kid detect it? And second... well... he hoped Heero never figured out what he'd done in the cave but he certainly didn't regret it, and in fact wanted to claim him as a possession even more than he had before.

Throwing a sharp, slightly confused look at Axel, Duo took another step - this one bringing him closer to Heero in an unconscious and blatant denial of his earlier words.

"Why not hassle you?" Renke said, noting the exchange. He was beginning to form some ideas about the newcomers. "You're new. Why are you here?"

Next to Duo, Heero watched all of the young men. There was something odd about them that was familiar at the same time. Absently, he noted that he felt better when Duo moved closer. The blond was beginning to make him angry.

Duo took a couple of breaths and mentally lectured himself. He was in their town, he was the stranger, they had every right to ask... but he still had a very strong urge to take the guy on... it would be fun to show Heero how good he was in a fight. And a distant little voice pointed out how terrifically out of character that thought would have seemed a day or so ago...

"We're just passing through," Duo said, keeping his voice calm by sheer, frazzled willpower. "We'll be out of your hair before you know it... in fact if you'd just step out of the way, we were on our way out of town this very minute." There, that sounded reasonable, he thought triumphantly. However he didn't stop himself from eyeing the blond in a measuring way. He was taller... a couple of years older probably... and likely figured he could wipe the mat with the skinny kid with the braid, but Duo was a mean infighter, on top of which he'd found himself to be faster and stronger lately - especially under a full moon...

Tavin, the quiet one, winced at the exchange and was impressed by the young stranger's aplomb. He glanced over at Renke and gave him another shot at being civil. If not, he was prepared to step in, even though he was sure there would be consequences.

Renke smiled suddenly. Opening his arms wide, he looked at the two. "Well now, if that's the case, then you won't mind joining us for a pint, then," he said, thinking what a boon it would be for him to drag the newcomers back to Saelac.

Duo blinked at this about-face. He shot a look at Heero quickly. He wanted to decline, but that might rile the guy again, and, while Duo had no concerns about he and Heero getting hurt or even seriously delayed by these guys, a ruckus in the nearest village to an OZ base they just raided was not the most low-profile way to run a rebellion. In addition, he wasn't quite ready to let it go, truth to be told... and there was something distinctly off about the blond, maybe the other guys too, now that he was calming enough to sort some of his sensory impressions.

Heero glanced around at the group, then back to Duo. The last thing his body needed was alcohol, but if it would satisfy these strange villagers without alerting OZ, then he would do it. He nodded to the braided pilot in agreement.

Feeling both relieved and slightly annoyed, Duo turned back to the blond. "Lead the way," he said, with a sweeping gesture. The gleam in his violet eyes let the other know that he wasn't deceived by the sudden show of amiability and that he was still sizing the guy up for possible future opportunities.

"Come then," Renke said, turning to lead the way. He looked up at Tavin and winked.

Axel, who was privately relieved that the situation had resolved itself peacefully, looked at the 'scented' one. Trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, he gently sniffed the air. Then, he smiled catching yet another scent around the deep blue eyed guy. He's going to be very popular, he thought, turning to leave.

Duo noticed how the blond led the way, and his two friends continued to flank he and Heero. It was casual and natural, but they moved together like a... like a pack. Taking a deep breath, he walked beside Heero and became aware that a very pleasant aroma seemed to be moving with the Japanese pilot. He glanced at Heero with a slight, curious smile. "You're... holding?" he murmured for the other boy's ears alone.

Prussian blue eyes moved to Duo quickly. "You liked it," he said, as if it explained everything.

Remembering Renke's comment at the beginning of the confrontation, Duo growled softly. "I may not be the only one," he muttered, trying to resist the very intense urge to grab Heero's hand again.

"Hn," Heero replied. "Who knew there would be someone else who could smell the stuff? Are you related?"

Duo blinked and then grinned briefly at Heero. "Good question," he answered quietly. "I have no idea." The remark pointed up several things that had puzzled him, things that were starting to accumulate. He shot another glance at the redheaded kid, wondering again how he had known that Duo had scent-marked Heero the night before.

"Well, I'm not, that's for sure," Heero remarked.

"Not what, related?" Duo replied. "Yes you are," he said, a slightly fierce undertone to his voice. "You're my... my partner," he finished, looking away. Let Heero draw his own conclusions what *that* meant, he could always claim it was just a Gundam pilot thing.

Heero turned his head to look at Duo for a moment. Then he smiled very slightly and placed his had on Duo's arm. It felt like the right thing to do.

Duo felt a warm surge in his blood when Heero placed his hand on Duo's arm. If anyone else had reached towards him just then he'd have snapped their arm off.

"Hey, you guys have names?" he asked, lifting his voice above the intimate register he'd used with Heero.

"I'm Axel," the red-head answered.

"That's Tavin and I'm Renke," the blond answered without turning around. "And who might you be?"

"I'm Duo," the braided boy replied. He hesitated to name Heero, not sure if the other boy would object.

"You can call me Heero," Heero replied.

This time Renke did stop. He glanced over his shoulder at the pair, then chuckled. "Why am I thinking, those will be perfect for the both of you? Hmm," he remarked, then turned around resuming his trek.

Because you're an asshole, Duo thought grumpily, but kept his lips shut. The truth was he had an uncomfortable feeling that the blond was starting to grow on him. Hmmph.

Idiot, Heero thought, uncharitably.

The red head behind them giggled, but said nothing.

The tavern was close by, only a couple of streets down. Duo glanced up once more at the sign with the moon and the wolf's head on it as they passed beneath and mentally shook his head. This was getting altogether weirder every single passing moment.

"You guys have a lot of wolves around here?" Heero asked.

Three heads turned to look at him, but none of them spoke.

"Our fair share," the resonant voice came from the open doorway of the tavern. Saelac leaned in the opening, a drink in his hand and a look of mild curiosity on his face. "Pick up some strays, Renke?"

Renke smiled fully. "Meet and greet," he said, obviously happy with his accomplishment. "They're new in town. I thought, why not?"

"You 'thought'?" Saelac commented wryly. "That would be a first. Well bring them in, introduce..." He stepped back to clear the way. The tavern was spacious, and while it was not empty, neither was it terribly crowded. The tall, dark-haired leader led the way to a corner of the room they used as a hangout, with several tables. The long-haired Uli was sitting at one of them, also with a drink.

"This is Duo and Heero," Renke said. "Gentlemen, meet Saelac, and that one is Uli."

Duo looked the place over quickly, and likewise the two young men. He was a little startled when Saelac walked up to him, circled them both, and Duo felt a light touch like a finger running down his braid. Stepping back, Saelac pinned him with his cool and brilliant blue eyes. "Nice hair," he commented. "Have a seat. Axel, get them something to drink."

Axel nodded, then moved to the bar.

Tavin took a seat on Uli's other side.

Heero frowned, looking up at the blue eyed Saelac. For some reason, him touching Duo's hair... bothered him. In fact, the almost too pretty man raised the hair on his arms a little too much. He was a little overly familiar with his... partner.

Duo's nostrils flared as he looked at the dark-haired man. Those brilliant eyes missed absolutely nothing. This... this is the leader, he thought distinctly. He realized he had very little desire to take this one on, unlike the blond Renke. He had, in fact, a very strong urge to be as civil as possible to this one. The thought irritated him. He was a rebel, an outsider... he didn't need the approval of anyone, certainly not this... without thinking, the hair on the back of his neck began standing up.

Heero felt his wounds itch. His brow furrowed in complete irritation at Duo's regard for the blue eyed stranger. "Thanks," he said, unceremoniously grabbing Duo's arm and sitting them both down.

The long haired one, Uli, smiled slightly. The others took seats more or less around them. As Axel returned with drinks for the two 'guests', as well as himself, Tavin and Renke, Duo and Heero found themselves the center of attention.

"Where are you from?" Saelac asked, leaning on the back of his chair casually. "Nowhere around here."

Heero took the drink and downed a mouthful. "Hai," he replied, unaware that he had slipped into his native Japanese. "I think we'd prefer not to say. Why does it matter to you?" he answered, looking up at the blue eyed man.

Saelac shrugged nonchalantly. "Everything that happens around here matters to me," he said. "Wherever you are from, you must have some different customs... Manners?"

"Yeah, we don't round up strangers and interrogate 'em," Heero replied, downing another mouthful of the drink. It warmed him and calmed him at the same time. He looked up at Duo.

"Then you aren't OZ," Uli said, his look sharpening.

Duo looked up. He studied the expression on the faces around him, as well as other input from his senses. "So you aren't friendly with the Ozzies," he remarked.

"No more than we have to be," Saelac replied. "However... we do have to live with 'em," he added pointedly. "Unlike exotic strangers who blow into town and then leave... so yeah, we ask questions. It's called survival."

Duo nodded and suddenly smiled, the engaging grin that had warmed many a cooler audience than this one.

Heero drank down the rest of the drink. "OZ sucks," he said quietly into the empty glass and unconsciously leaned a little closer to Duo.

Duo blinked and looked at Heero sharply, noticing the empty glass - he hadn't tasted his own yet. Whoa, Heero! he thought. He reached out and carefully pushed the empty glass away and moved his own full one out of Heero's immediate reach. He glanced at the guys sitting around them. "Heh... yeah, what he said," he remarked.

Saelac smiled. "Yes they do," he said. "But they're just a patch of bad weather. It'll clear eventually."

Duo titled his head. "You think so?" He smiled, wondering how he was going to avoid talking politics here. "Well I guess that's one way to look at it."

Heero nodded. "You're right about that," he said, then looked around the tavern. "So, you guys are local resistance?" he asked.

Uli chuckled. "We don't resist anything - except boredom. We're just local - they're not. Leave it at that."

Duo found himself placing a hand on Heero's leg. He was surprised by the Japanese boy's talkativeness.

Watching them both, Saelac smiled again, that slight, cool smile. "I'm less interested in what you did than in how you did it," he said calmly. His eyes fixed on Duo. "You, in particular."

Heero felt Duo's hand on his leg and placed his hand over Duo's. His eyes narrowed slightly as found Saelac watching Duo again.

Duo felt a desire to be somewhere else, but the warmth of Heero's hand over his was steadying. He shrugged. "In, out, you know. Nothing special."

Renke snorted, and took a sip of his drink.

Saelac leaned forward a little. His gaze switched to Heero. "You're hurt," he said quietly. "Karl fix you up?"

Heero looked at the man for a moment, then nodded. He then looked over at the blond. "Which is what we were doing in his shop," he said. Einstein, he added mentally.

"Karl's a nice guy," Uli said. "Sometimes people take advantage of nice guys. We try to keep an eye out for him."

Saelac was still focused on Heero. His nostrils flared slightly. "Something... odd about you," he said, continuing to look into Heero's eyes.

Heero looked back. He noticed the man sniffing him, though not obviously. "Yeah," he said, wondering what was the deal with the smelling thing. "I'm not the only one."

The dark haired man smiled slowly. "Yes you are," he said. He looked around, collecting answering smiles from the rest of his 'gang'.

Duo felt his hackles rise sharply and in fact tensed to rise from his chair. He stayed seated with an effort. "We have no idea what you are talking about," he said, his voice a little sharp, with an undertone of a slight growl. He was torn between a very strong urge to get Heero out of there, another strong urge to issue something more in the way of a challenge, and the more logical curiosity about what the *hell* was going on here.

"I'm what?" Heero asked, looking at the blue eyed man.

Saelac looked from Heero to Duo and back. "The only one. You aren't one of them, not completely. And you aren't one of us." He tilted his head. "In fact, it's rare for one of us to pair with one of them... I don't think I've ever seen it before."

Heero's expression changed from irritation to slight confusion. "Pair?" he said, then looked to Duo.

Duo was sitting in a strange sort of shock. The words he was hearing didn't make sense on the surface, but then, they did. He knew what the man was saying. The clues had been all around him but he still couldn't quite believe what it added up to. Taking a deep breath, he twined his fingers with Heero's deliberately.

"He could give any of you a run for the money any day of the week - or any night," he said distinctly. "The shots were bad luck. But I don't suggest you test it out." He left the challenge in the air.

Saelac smiled and simply leaned back, picking up his neglected drink and taking several swallows.

Heero, who had been listening carefully, nodded to himself. He looked at Duo, squeezing his hand under the table. "You're like them," he said.

Duo looked over at Heero a little helplessly. His expression was both confused and disturbed.

Uli leaned forward. "You don't know, do you?" he said softly. "You don't know what you are. Where are you from?" The question was repeated as if the answer were of some special significance.

"Why?" Duo returned, trying to get a handle on the situation and not having much luck.

"Because there aren't that many of us around," Saelac answered. "More here in this village than half of Europe," he added. "We know where there are a few others... but if you were from any of those places, you'd know... things you apparently don't know."

Heero looked into Duo's eyes. He nodded, trying to reassure Duo that whatever happened with these people, had no effect on what he was coming to think of as the two of them. It was odd, but Heero couldn't ignore the facts or what his senses were trying to tell him. It would be both dangerous and non-productive to do so. He squeezed Duo's hand again.

Duo felt somewhat overwhelmed by the information that seemed to be coming to him. He wanted to know more - a lot more, but he felt uncomfortably vulnerable here and it went against his nature to play the game with so many cards in the other player's hand.

Weighing the odds as best he could, Duo stared into the eyes of the dark-haired man across from him. Now that he wasn't resisting it, he could tell clearly that the five young men around them had a distinctive muskiness to their scent in common, something he'd never noticed in another human, something that his instincts identified as animal, primal, and powerful. There were answers here... to questions he'd had since arriving on Earth and falling under the moon's spell for the first time. The question was, could he afford the time - and the risk - involved in getting answers.

"I'm not from Earth," he said finally, leaving the only other alternative hanging there.

This answer was apparently the last thing the five young men were expecting to hear. They stirred, exchanged looks, Renke even mouthed the word, 'Colony?' silently, his expression incredulous. Even the cool Saelac's eyebrows lifted a little.

"Interesting..." he murmured. As if his curiosity was getting the better of him, he began, "How do you..."

Before he could complete the question, someone came into the tavern in a hurry, looking around, drawing the attention of the group. The newcomer, a man in his twenties, came over to Saelac and whispered in his ear, then moved into the tavern, passing the same message to a few others.

Saelac stood up, his expression cool and closed off. "Apparently the anthill isn't settling down - OZ soldiers are in town, doing a search. Seems a new officer arrived today as a result of the security breach last night. Some guy in a metal mask. He's got them combing the town, and the woods around."

"K'so," Heero swore. "It's Zechs." Looking at Duo, he squeezed his hand again. "We've gotta move. Now! Otherwise, these people are going to be in real trouble."

Duo jerk to his feet, gripping Heero's hand tightly. "Son of a bitch..."

Saelac's eyes flashed. "You can't," he said, his tone like quiet steel. "This one's smarter than the others. They've already got troops searching between here and the mountains. That *was* where you were going, right?" He looked around the circle, collecting a consensus. "The town they can have, but not the woods. We've warned those at the base about the... dangerous wildlife around here. It won't do to have them think we were lying. You'd be best off if you join us - him too," he lifted his chin at Heero. "They won't find what they're looking for... and you might get the opening you need."

Duo blinked as he thought about what the pack leader was suggesting. He'd never for a moment considered confiding his secret in anyone... somehow they'd sniffed him out... there was so much he could learn from them, but no time. But Heero.... Heero would see him...

Turning to the Japanese boy, Duo looked into his eyes. "It's a good plan... but... you might... it'll be very... weird, Heero..."

"Better weird than dead, Duo," Heero replied. "Besides, it's been weird for about forty eight hours now. I'll adjust."

Duo took a deep breath. In fact he was starting to suspect Heero was adjusting faster than *he* was. "Ok, fine," he said, turning back to Saelac, knowing time was short.

A real smile stretched the dark-haired man's lips and he simply acknowledged with a nod. Then he stood, and led the way through the tavern to the back, through a short hallway and out of the building.

Once outside, Duo could hear the sounds of heavy booted tread on the streets close by, and the sound of military vehicles. Saelac led them through a small maze of alleyways that ended at the edge of the town. Around them, the five had begun unbuttoning clothing as they walked. Ducking out of the alley and into the woods beyond, Saelac stopped at the edge of a fence where a set of clotheslines were strung on poles. Tossing his tunic onto the lines, he finished stripping, left the garments hanging, and pointed in different directions to the others. Melting into the shadows under the trees, flanked by Uli, he beckoned once to Duo and Heero. The others had already disappeared.

Taking a deep breath, Duo pulled his shirt over his head, stripped off his pants and boots and rolled them into a small ball, without looking at Heero. He dropped the garments into the bag he was still carrying from the chemist shop and pushed it into Heero's hand, still not meeting his eyes. Moving under the edge of the trees, he turned, and lifted his hands to the gold chain at his neck. Dressed only in the gold cross, he looked oddly spiritual. Removing the necklace, he placed it in Heero's hand. "Keep that for me," he murmured, still not quite able to meet Heero's eyes.

Heero placed the necklace around his neck. Taking Duo's chin in his hand, he tilted the braided pilot's face up to his, meeting his eyes. "I'll keep it safe," he said. He had a strong urge to do something he'd never done before. Instead of fighting it, he leaned forward and kissed Duo lips. If necessary, he could blame it on the alcohol later. Once done, however, he had no regrets.

Duo blinked, his eyes meeting Heero's with a shock. Licking his lips, he smiled, and then his head turned sharply, as a howl broke out from the woods close by. "Outta time," he muttered. Looking back, he said, "Stay close to me, Heero. I'll protect you, no matter what. Got it?"

Without waiting for acknowledgement, he turned, reaching back with an automatic, sinuous gesture to pull the fastener from his braid. Shaking the thick plait of hair out so that it covered his shoulders and back, he looked up, seeking a glimpse of the full moon high above. Taking a deep breath, he let the change come.

Clever eyes were watching him from between the trees, some gold, some blue, gray.... with some surprise, and not a little pleasure, the pack leader observed the smoothest transition he had ever seen. One body seemed to melt into the other, not the movie caricature that seemed grotesque and agonizingly painful, but a flow from one shape to the next. This /were/ from space *was* somehow different, even as he was clearly one of them.

The figure of a wolf turned and circled Heero once, rubbing deep, thick chestnut fur against his legs, deep violet eyes looking up at him intelligently. The animal was fully twice the size of the wolf Heero had seen back in the cave, which he guessed now was a real, wild wolf. Nudging at him, Heero could feel the power in the body and then saw the rows of ivory fangs as the wolf's muzzle opened and panted for a moment.

Unable to wait, Duo pushed at Heero again, and urged him into the deep woods.

Heero shook his head in amazement as Duo transformed. Duo naked was enough to cause him serious doubts about his own preferences and when the braided pilot unlaced his hair, Heero felt his heart stop. However, when the chestnut haired pilot rubbed against him, Heero could only think one thing. "You're going to be insufferable about this, aren't you? How the hell am I gonna top this?" he said, moving deeper into the woods. "We need to talk."

The wolf bumped into his legs again, deep violet eyes seeming to laugh for a moment. Then triangular ears rotated, catching a sound, and he lifted his muzzle, tasting the air. Moments later Heero caught it - the sound of heavy feet under the trees. Licking Heero's hand once, the wolf turned and darted into the underbrush, one ear cocked behind him, but trusting the Perfect Soldier to follow on his heels.

Heero moved, keeping pace with the wolf. Inwardly, he was beginning to enjoy himself. This would test his skills in totally different ways.

Suddenly, he had a thought. It became clearer to him what had happened the previous night. He guessed that Duo had left him in the cave and transformed. He recalled Duo saying something about going out to take care of Ozzies, but thought that was a part of a dream. The thought of being met in the dark by a large wolf when you were hunting a man would be enough to unnerve any human being, let alone a patrol. Not seeing them, but knowing they were there, Heero smiled ferally as he thought of being met by a pack of wolves. He didn't envy the OZ patrols even if they were led by Zechs Merquise. He seriously doubted that Zechs would fare much better.

Heero got a chance to see more than a sample of what had happened in the woods the night before. As Saelac had said, there were patrols in the woods above the village, between them and the mountains where the Gundams were hidden. That would have been Zechs's order - being a mobile suit pilot himself, and having his experience with the Gundams' tactics, he knew the mountains provided the only place where the big war machines could be concealed. So far so good, but when he'd read the report that the patrol of the night before had given about being attacked by wild animals, Zechs had chalked it up to incompetence.

That night, he got the surprise of his life.

After disrupting, dispersing, and disorganizing the patrols, with the help of the others, Duo showed Heero new ways to travel through the thick underbrush and the wood paths. Leaving mayhem in their wake, they got the opportunity to catch a glimpse of their old enemy, platinum hair flying as he fended off an attack from an incredibly large, black wolf, with piercing blue eyes and a menacing, but melodic howl. Much as he wanted to stay and watch the fight, Duo realized this was the opening they needed. A brindled wolf with gold eyes - the same one, he realized he had seen the night before, pointed them towards the mountains and all but snapped at their heels, seeming to laugh as he turned back to help the chaos.

I guess Renke wasn't such an asshole after all, Duo thought, and then rubbed against Heero, heading up into the mountains. It felt good to run in the cool air, with the moon looking down on them, giving her approval of their exploits. It was a long run, and a hard climb, and Duo supported Heero as much as the Japanese boy would allow.

When they finally made it to the crevice where Wing and DeathScythe were concealed, they were both panting in the thin air. Ducking under the camouflage netting, they rested at the Gundams' feet, as the moon set, leaving only a short time before dawn.

Lying beside where Heero sat, catching his breath, Duo found himself reluctant to change back. There was a wonderfully enticing aroma coming from one of Heero's pockets, and he leaned over, nuzzling it and breathing deeply.

Heero chuckled. Feeling fully awake, he reached around and stroked Duo's head, enjoying the feel of the chestnut colored hair in his hands. "Oh, you want something? Is that it? Found my surprise, huh?" he said, hugging the huge wolf with one arm.

My, my how *you* have changed, Duo thought, his processes pleasantly fuzzed by the effects of the herb as well as the exhilaration of the night's events. Huh, almost as much as me, no, more so, he decided, lapping at Heero's face. He felt sneakily pleased at what he could get away with in this form.

With moonset, he felt a natural lethargy creep on him, and realized he needed to change before he fell asleep. A little concerned about Heero's condition after the strenuous climb, he nuzzled the Japanese boy's back and side, sniffing the wound. There was a little fresh bleeding but not a lot, indicating the stitches were intact, and the wound smelled clean. Heero's miraculous healing ability at work again, no doubt.

"Okay, okay," Heero said, reaching into his pocket. "You've been a real good...bad.. wolf. Reward." He crushed the wolfsbane flowers in his hand and held them within Duo's reach. "You know, Duo. This is not so bad... Not bad at all."

Practical thinking departed as the strong scent of the crushed flowers reached Duo's nostrils. He pushed his muzzle into Heero's hands ecstatically, rubbing until the herbs were disintegrated. Rolling slowly over onto his back, he looked up at Heero, giving in to thoughts about how gorgeous he was. Whining softly, he crawled closer and placed his head in Heero's lap. Glancing up with a slightly wicked, slightly silly expression, he gently nuzzled the contours of the Japanese boy's lap. Talk about smelling good... heh... how long could he get away with this...

Heero, who had contented himself with rubbing Duo's head, suddenly became keenly aware that the wolf had moved from playful to ... "You dog," Heero said, feeling his himself strain against the spandex shorts he had peeled down to for camouflage and navigation.

Looking out over the terrain he said, "Okay, I'm not going to ask just how *long* you've been thinking like this or were like this. Doesn't seem relevant. Besides, you have no lips right now. Course, that in itself is a pity, but.. what the hell?"

Sitting up as if stung... well sitting up as if someone with a mild drunk on had been stung, the violet-eyed wolf looked at Heero reproachfully. How he managed to look reproachful after his shameless behavior... well...

Taking a deep breath, and feeling more than a bit of regret, Duo closed his eyes and focused his thoughts as best he could, and slowly flowed back into human shape. Ugh. Cold. Shaking his hair around him, he reached a hand for the bag that held his clothes among other things.

Heero demonstrated some of his own prowess by moving the bag around and just out of Duo's reach. Leaning over, he slid his arms around Duo's human form, pulling him against his chest for a long embrace. "You look sleepy," he said, leaning his head down to inhale the scent of Duo's hair. "And a little drunk."

"And cold," Duo murmured, wrapping his arms around Heero - for warmth! That was it... Burying his nose in Heero's thick locks of hair, he muttered, "Who are you, and what have you done with Heero Yuy?"

Heero chuckled. "Heero's still here. I just put him to bed for awhile," he said, softly. "So, what do we do now?" he asked. "Our secrets are pretty much out, don't you think?"

Duo nodded, shivering slightly. "Mostly," he murmured, with a slight chuckle in his voice. "Let's see, what do we do now... um, we give Duo his clothes, or most of them, we get in our Gundams, get the hell out of here before Zechs decides to fly Tallgeese up here, we find someplace warm, and we get into bed with Heero Yuy?"

Heero sighed, then nodded. "Hai," he said. Leaning back, he looked into Duo's face. "Thanks for taking care of Heero," he said.

"No problem," Duo said, looking back almost shyly. His mouth quirked to one side. "He can be a pain in the ass, but between you and me, I like him. And he's... not bad looking either... ahem..."

Heero smiled. "Duo's better looking though. He smiles more," Heero said, then pressed his mouth to Duo's without waiting for a rebuttal.

Duo became very still when Heero's mouth pressed against his. Holy cow, is this happening? he thought wildly. His arms tightened and he parted his lips a little and let his tongue run along Heero's lips. Hey, he can only kill me once...

Heero shivered, grateful that Duo hadn't just decked him. Tilting his head slightly, he opened his mouth, sliding his tongue out to meet Duo's and then more to take Duo's tongue into his mouth. It felt different, electric and shameless at the same time. But, it was the right thing to do.

The taste of Heero's tongue against his caused Duo more shock than the wolfsbane had. Before he knew what he was doing, he had thrust his tongue deeply into Heero's mouth and was kissing him wildly, pressing their bodies together. His heart was pounding fast and he wondered how he could be freezing his ass off and flushing through the roof at the same time. After many long wonderful moments, he leaned back, panting.

"Heero!" he breathed, a world of shock, desire, delight and fear all crowded into the two syllables.

"Heero, I will gladly freeze my ass off for you, but wouldn't this be more fun in a room somewhere?" Where I can see just how far you'll let me get...

Heero looked over at Duo. His heart was pounding too, but fear or injury played no part in it. Reaching up, he touched Duo's face, then placed the bag with his clothes in front of him. "You're right," Heero said, "Let's find that room."

Without taking his eyes from Heero's, Duo groped for his shirt and threw it on, then pulled his pants up his legs. Stepping closer, he slid a hand behind Heero's neck and kissed him deeply, tasting the Japanese boy's mouth as if it were like nectar. Pulling back slowly, he murmured coordinates into Heero's ear where there was a Sweeper house that was currently unoccupied. Leaning forward again to nip gently at Heero's lower lip, he moved back finally, praying to the Lady of the moon that this was not some wolfsbane induced hallucination and that he would not shortly wake up to find Heero with a stick up his ass and back to treating him like a minor annoyance.

Heero smiled again. Reaching up, he touched the precious necklace around his neck he'd kept for Duo. "I'll be there," he said. "I need to return this to you, remember?"

Touching the gold cross with gentle fingers, Duo looked back. "Yes, you do," he said, swallowing. If he let Heero get in Wing with that cross around his neck he knew it meant something extremely profound, something he wasn't quite ready to think about yet. It scared him a little. But he was not going to stumble on this one. Stepping back, he smiled. "Let's blow this popstand, eh Heero?"

"Roger that," Heero replied. Almost reluctantly, he moved away, preparing to lift off. "Hey Duo," he called over his shoulder as he stepped onto the cockpit lift. "No wolfsbane while piloting. I'll expect you there and not joyriding around the universe in DeathScythe," he added.

Duo grinned. "This from the guy who slams drinks in the tavern! You're lucky you climbed it off or I wouldn't let *you* pilot, Captain Yuy. Hey, flight model, let's just see who gets there first, hmmm?"

Turning, he dashed for DeathScythe's cockpit. Throwing his hair around his neck like a scarf to keep it out of his way, he activated the big Gundam's stealth mode and faded like a summer dream.

Heero watched as the Gundam faded. He laughed as he activated Wing. Reaching into the jeans he'd been wearing, he pulled out a couple of small dried flowers and placed them on his console.



The house was on a coastline, which made sense for a Sweeper abode. There were docks and a couple of small warehouses close by, suitable for concealing the Gundams. The sun was high in the sky when Duo secured DeathScythe in one of them. He was humming, having snatched a drink and some food on the way, from his cockpit supplies. The humming had overtones of pleased anticipation. "See ya later old buddy," he murmured to DeathScythe. "Hey cross you fingers for me, ok? I just might get lucky..."

Strolling to the cottage, he checked the outside and then let himself in.

Hearing the door, Heero stood to one side and let Duo walk inside. Moving quickly, he locked his arms around the braided pilot from behind and kissed him on the neck. "What took you?" he asked against Duo's ear.

Duo jumped and his pulse skyrocketed. Turning in Heero's arms he shook his head, grinning dazedly. "When you go, you *go*." he said. "Where were you hiding all this, Yuy? Tell me?"

"Down my right pant leg," Heero answered. "I thought you were complimenting me on beating you here. I had to save my reputation some way, now didn't I?"

Sliding his hands slowly around Heero and letting them drift downwards, Duo smiled. "Yes, I guess you did," he admitted amiably. "Since the rest of it is going to be irredeemably tarnished very soon, if I have anything to say about it..." He smoothed his fingers over the curves of Heero's rear suggestively.

Heero smiled. "That feels good," he said. "You're probably going to hear that a lot. This is all new to me, Duo. I had no incentive before." Closing his eyes, Heero leaned forward, inhaling Duo's scent deeply.

Duo leaned forward and returned the gesture. "Mmm... nice," he said. "New, huh? You seem rather forward for someone who claims to be inexperienced... Heero, I had no idea you even... well, liked... boys... or, people for that matter," he added, thinking of the cold brush-off Heero had given that girl, what's her name, Relena.

"That's just it, Duo. I don't like many people. Doesn't matter which sex. As far as liking boys... well, again, I don't like most people. I like you. I've been trained with women, but it wasn't extensive. It felt all right, but I got the impression there was more to it," Heero said, realizing just what a lab experiment he must seem like.

Duo listened closely, feeling himself flush and harden at the pictures Heero's words conjured up. If he were telling the truth - and Duo couldn't see any reason he would have to lie - then...

Leaning over to kiss Heero's neck, Duo ran one hand up Heero's back and squeezed his rear gently but firmly with the other. "Um, yeah... I would say there is more to it," he murmured, feeling every nerve in his body go on alert. "So you have... incentive, huh?" Leaning back with a final lick, he grinned somewhat wickedly at the Japanese boy. "Why Heero... are you a... wolf-fetishist?"

"Hn," Heero said, looking down. He turned the phrase over in his head a few times, before answering. Frankly the touch of Duo's lips on his neck and the violet eyed pilot's caresses on his body, left Heero flushed and definitely excited. Looking back up, he shook his head. "No. Because that would mean that I was attracted to wolves in general. Renke and the others held no attraction for me. In fact, I felt like shooting them at one point. I guess they were all right. They didn't smell like you do, though."

Duo blinked and looked at Heero to see if he were having him on. Shaking his head, he found his arms tightening. "You are... too much," he said finally. "I thought they were pretty nice looking, well in general. Not that I wanted to do anything about it." He hadn't. He'd been focused on Heero. "So it's just me?" he murmured, not quite believing it. Suddenly he placed his fingertips on Heero's mouth. "Forget it. Whatever is going on, I like it. I like it a lot." Leaning forward, he kissed Heero thoroughly, feeling a surge of heat, and also of possessiveness. Mine, he thought, even as part of his mind laughed at him for it.

Heero felt himself sink into the kiss. This was almost ten times better than anything he'd been taught in training and much more enjoyable. He liked the way Duo felt in his arms and how Duo's arms felt around him. For some reason, he didn't feel as though he had to pass some test or get anything right. Combined with that deep, musky aroma, Heero felt as close to heaven and perfection than he'd ever had.

He found himself kissing Duo back, gliding his hands over Duo's body and liking the way it felt under his fingertips.

Duo made a soft sound between a growl and a purr as he felt Heero touch him. He felt like he was being drowned in the wolfsbane stuff, only it was much headier. Some unaccustomed twinge of conscience woke up and told him to be careful. Careful with Heero's body, which was hurt after all, and careful... with Heero.

Sighing, he leaned back. He rubbed his nose against Heero's for a moment, delighting in the soft caress. "I hope this place has a bedroom. I want to get you... naked...hmm?"

Heero leaned his forehead against Duo's for a moment, smiling. Bending his legs, he lifted Duo from the floor and over his shoulder. "It's in here," he said, carrying the braided pilot to the bedroom. "I was just checking it out, when you got here. Nice bed. Big. Sturdy too."

"Hey put me down you idiot!" Duo yelped. "You trying to bust a stitch or something?"

Heero complied by tossing Duo on the bed. He dropped down beside him. "I'm fine. The stitches are holding well," Heero explained.

Duo glared at Heero and pushed him back, kneeling on the bed beside him. He began pulling the gray t-shirt off Heero, trying to be careful, but having a somewhat different motivation that he had a few moments ago. He wanted to make sure that the bandages weren't showing fresh blood.

"I'm fine, Duo," Heero said, allowing himself to be inspected. "Relax, I'm not that easy to break."

Duo ignored Heero's words and examined him carefully. Taking a deep breath, he relaxed a little, running his fingers lightly over Heero's chest and sides. "Ok," he said. "So you're made of Gundanium, or something. Geez." He smiled and leaned over the plant a warm kiss on Heero's stomach, to see how he would react.

Heero was just about to protest, but the kiss on his stomach caused him to gasp instead. Looking down his body, he placed his hand on Duo's head, stroking back the errant chestnut colored bangs.

"No, not of Gundanium," he said softly.

The gasp caused Duo to smile. He leaned into Heero's fingers, nuzzling them, and reaching up to lick Heero's fingertips. Then he placed his fingers under the edge of the spandex shorts, looking up to meet Heero's eyes as he began peeling them down and off.

Heero looked into Duo's eyes as he lifted slightly to help him. Toeing off his boots, Heero felt his world shift slightly into something more quiet, more intimate as he found himself naked on the bed. His manhood was stiff and proud against his stomach, indicative of the way Duo made him feel.

Duo's gaze fastened on Heero's lap, taking in the state of his arousal and feasting on the sight of something he'd pretty much never expected to get a look at, certainly not under these conditions. Heero was as beautiful in his genitals as he was everywhere else, and Duo felt his own body tighten and throb with heat. He also caught the scent of musk from that part of the Japanese boy's body - the smell of sex - and it incited his already stimulated reactions.

Without thinking about the next action, he curled his fingers around Heero's erection and bent low to inhale the scent. Watching a bead of fluid begin to form on the slit at the top, he leaned forward and licked at it, tasting the musky, salty flavor of the precum. Feeling a deep shudder through his body, Duo looked up at Heero with a very naughty smile on his lips. He began licking Heero's cock slowly, first around the head, then the shaft, sliding further and further into the land of no return with each taste.

Heero's mouth opened at the first touch of Duo's tongue against him. His back arched as he felt the mounting waves of pleasure wash over him. "Duo," he whispered into the air as he felt his body tense and flex with desire. None of his former experiences could come close to comparing with what Heero felt as he watched Duo taste his body. What Duo was doing felt incredible, but the fact that it was Duo and not some volunteer touching him, deepened the entire experience.

Perspiration formed all over Heero's body as he felt himself begin to move with Duo's rhythm.

Seeing and feeling Heero's reactions pushed Duo further along the path of lust. Settling his grip firmly around the base of Heero's cock, he began swallowing it, sucking and licking around it with each engulfed inch. Once he'd taken it all the way into his mouth, he pulled up slowly, letting it escape with a soft wet sound. Then he bent lower and tongued the ovals in the soft pouch below.

Heero moaned as his body was caressed by Duo's warm, moist mouth. Leaning back against the bed, he licked his lips and closed his eyes. This was something he vowed to remember as long has he lived. "Oh Duo," he cried out as his hips rose and fell against the bed rapidly. "Duo... I... I can't stop it," he breathed, feeling his body move towards its peak.

Heero's words caused a low growl to emerge from Duo's throat, which further vibrated the tender flesh he was swallowing yet again. He captured Heero's cock once more, moving with the helpless rhythm of Heero's hips as he brought him to pleasure. His hand stroked Heero's side and thigh with surprising gentleness as he urged him to release and surrender himself fully.

Heero closed his eyes tightly as he felt himself release. Gasping for air, he felt his essence move from his body as pleasure stole his senses away. Moments later, he looked up at the cottage ceiling, spent and shivering slightly against the bed. Swallowing, he stretched his hand down. "Duo," he whispered. "Come here."

Duo licked his lips, leaning over on his side next to Heero and gathering him against his body. He stroked Heero's hair back, wiping perspiration away from the damp strands. Gently he kissed Heero's forehead and then his lips. "You are beautiful," he said softly. "Amazing."

Prussian blue eyes looked up at Duo for a long moment. "Never been like that... before," Heero managed. "Ever."

Duo felt something inside his heart rip into little shreds and wondered why it didn't seem to hurt. He bent closer, nuzzling Heero's neck. "Well, it's gonna be like that again... or even better, I promise," he murmured softly. Unable to help himself, he rubbed his body against Heero's side. He was still wearing his white shirt and pants, although his boots had never made it back onto his feet since before the trip here. He licked Heero's ear, his hands moving restlessly over the Japanese boy's body.

Heero closed his eyes, feeling Duo's tongue against his ear. He smiled as he felt Duo's hands travel over his body. Reaching up, he slid his arm around Duo's neck, bringing the violet-eyed pilot down for a deep kiss. Moving around, Heero found the hem of Duo's shirt and pulled it up over his head.

"Duo," he said, urgently, kissing Duo's neck and mouth. "There's something you've got know... about me."

Duo lifted his arms, helping Heero remove his shirt. Listening to the intense note in Heero's voice, he lifted one of Heero's hands to his mouth and kissed the inside of his wrist. Then he reached down and started unfastening his pants, pulling them off and dropping them off the bed. "Tell me," he said quietly.

Heero's eyes traveled over Duo's body with great appreciation. "You're.. you're damned hot, Duo," he said, punctuating his words with a deep kiss. Sliding his hand down Duo's chest, Heero felt the taut muscle and soft flesh of Duo's body.

"I'm different," Heero continued, reaching further down. He wanted to feel Duo in his hands, discover what it was like, how Duo would react.

At the 'you're damned hot' remark, a slightly predatory smile slipped onto Duo's mobile features. He leaned back on his elbows, giving Heero full access, recognizing the look of almost innocent curiosity with another wash of heat. Heero's hands were strong, precise in their touch, and the sensations they brought were very pleasant. "You're different," he repeated, his voice husky. "Uh... okay..."

Curling his fingers around Duo's hardened flesh, Heero smiled ferally at the answering sensations in his own body. "I can...god, I promised myself I'd never tell anyone... but I need to tell you. Duo, I was trained and enhanced to... to.. be able to serve in times of crisis. I can ... perform.. uh.. multiple times."

Duo choked slightly, and then put his hand over his mouth. Realizing his outburst could be easily misunderstood, he pushed Heero back and moved over him, placing his hands on either side of Heero's body to prop himself up. Bending down to look into the Japanese boy's eyes he spoke, his voice low and intense.

"Heero, there's something I want *you* to know," he said. "Whatever we... do... it's not 'performing'. Not for either of us. We can kiss, touch, lick, eat, ball, you name it, but it's not a performance. You don't have anything to live up to, Heero. This isn't a test and you can't fail. But if you are trying to say it takes a lot to satisfy you... well... I'm willing to give it my best shot," he said, ending with a fierce, wild kiss.

Heero felt himself willingly drown in Duo's kiss. His hands moved around Duo's back and slid down around his rear. He felt his entire being respond to Duo and for once felt all constraints evaporate. A short while late, he looked up at Duo with slightly swollen lips and smiled. "I wasn't talking about me, Duo. About you... if you should need me," he said.

Duo leaned down and licked Heero's swollen lower lip, and then his upper lip. He looked deep into Heero's deep blue eyes. "I need you..." he said. "I need you to cut it the fuck loose and just enjoy yourself. Don't worry, I'll let you know what I want. There won't be any doubt in your mind, Heero. But if you *can*, uh, do it multiple times, then you might just decide sometime that you *want* to. And if, when you do, I'm gonna be there to make it happen, lover."

Leaning back, Duo ran his hands over Heero's body from shoulders to chest to stomach to crotch and down his thighs, then slowly moved his hand up the same route. Bending, he kissed the hollow at the base of Heero's throat, feeling the blood pulse under the skin.

Heero growled under the assault. He buried his fingers in Duo's thick hair, lifting his chin to allow for better access. There were no words to describe how he felt. Suddenly, everything was thrown into perspective for him. In a short time, he found and established a link that he'd never had before.

Duo growled softly, licking Heero's neck and then swiping his tongue along the curve of his pectoral. There are so many things I want to do to you, he thought, his pulse pounding heavily. Running his hands down Heero's body, he licked his lips, and then murmured, "Turn over, ok?" And then guided Heero over onto his stomach.

Heero moved without question. Stretching out on the bed, he closed his eyes, waiting for what was to come.

Duo smiled, looking at the incredible sight of Heero's sculptured back and hips. He bent and kissed the bandages gently, and then ran his hands over Heero's hips and the back of his thighs. I bet I know something your training didn't include, he thought wickedly. Spreading Heero's legs apart a little, he bent down and began licking along the cleft between the curves of his rear. Using his hands to spread them apart a bit more, he found the puckered opening there and began teasing it with his tongue, darting and pressing at the opening, his tongue squirming to seek entry.

Heero's eyes widened as he felt the moist, wet tongue touch him. Nothing had prepared him for this. He'd had no training in this whatsoever. For that reason alone, it was intoxicating and exciting. He felt his cock react almost instantaneously. Panting, he felt his body move back, wanting and desiring more. "Oh.. damn Duo!" he exclaimed, breathlessly. "You're going to kill me."

Duo's low chuckle was slightly muffled. His hands coaxed Heero up on his knees and the attentions of his tongue became more insistent, penetrating and causing deliciously wet and strangely nasty sensations inside Heero's body. Duo continued this assault for a while, feeling Heero squirm, and then he withdrew, leaving the area very moist. Sliding his finger into his mouth to wet it, he reached down and pushed it against the wet opening and then slowly into Heero's body. Sliding an arm around Heero's waist, he held him there and began slowly thrusting the finger in and out in a rhythm that needed little interpretation.

Heero's eyes widened even further at this latest assault to his person. He had never imagined this or believe how it felt. He felt taken, invaded and manipulated on the most intimate of levels. He had certain names in his head he thought he was, but even those descriptions could not encompass all of what he felt. Again, if this were any person other than Duo, they would be staring at their entrails by now.

Gripping on to the bedsheets, Heero felt his body rock back against Duo's hand wantonly. He wanted more... everything and anything Duo had to offer.

Duo growled as Heero thrust backwards. It inflamed his already strained control still further. He hadn't intended to try and take Heero all the way, not this quickly, but the things Heero had said about himself, as well as the reactions he was having, pushed Duo to the next level. "Heero," he muttered. Shifting, he moved behind the Japanese boy, sliding his finger out and closing his hand around his own throbbing member. Moving slowly, trying to keep at least a corner of sanity to notice if Heero seemed to reject what was happening, he rested the hard, heavy shaft along the cleft of Heero's rear and simply rocked there for a few moments, sliding it along the skin and enjoying the teasing sensations.

Everything clarified for Heero in those moments and finally he understood the implications. For the proud Japanese young man, a corner had been turned. Panting he rocked back against Duo's hard flesh. "Duo..." he said, urgently. "I want you... now."

Bending, Duo kissed and nipped the skin of Heero's back. He wanted to answer, to say something that would convey his feelings, but he could barely think, let alone form words. Spitting into his hand, he moistened his cock, and then placed it at Heero's entrance. He pushed himself inside, slowly but firmly, until he was fully seated. The sensation caused another low growl to leave his throat. It was maddening and it was heaven. He felt the tight muscle squeezing him strain to adjust to the intrusion. Stroking Heero's hip and thigh soothingly, he rotated his hips, seeking to feel by Heero's reactions where the possibility of pleasure was, even as his actions caused his own body to shudder with the heat.

Heero bit his lower lip hard, tasting blood. His body shuddered with both pleasure and pain as he felt Duo completely inside of him. He could tell through the contact that Duo was attempting not to hurt him. Willing himself to relax, Heero filled his mind with what was actually happening to him. The reality of it caused his temperature to skyrocket and resulted in his body adjusting to the exact position it required for maximum pleasure. Moving, he gasped as Duo's cock angled against the pleasure point inside. Heero smiled, then began rocking back against Duo, impaling himself over and over again.

Duo's hands fastened on Heero's hips as soon as he felt the other boy begin to move and react, and took over the rhythm. There were no more thoughts in Duo's mind any more, just need and heat and sensation, and a relentless pulse that quickened with each wave of pleasure. The low growl turned into a cry, a spiraling call of possession and surrender, need and desire. Duo felt the tide rise with unbearable speed and was lost in the explosion, losing himself more completely than he ever had, buried deep inside the one who had found a way into his dark and private soul.

Heero leaned his head against Duo's on his shoulder. He was once again spent, his essence splattered onto the sheets below. His body tingled all over, but he paid it no attention. All that was present for him was Duo. Somewhere in the depths of his mind he thought, We're going to make a hell of a team.

Taking in air with deep breaths, Duo moved back, sliding from his lover's body. Without a thought, he turned Heero around and pulled him against his body, wrapping his arms around the other boy and snuggling his face into Heero's neck. "Oh.... god..." he murmured after a while.

Heero reached up, sinking his fingers into Duo's thick hair. "Yeah," Heero replied in agreement.

Duo smiled against Heero's neck and reached up, licking his ear and nibbling the lobe teasingly. "Hey Yuy... you finally did it..." he murmured, his voice a soft, husky purr.

"Yes I did, but what do *you* mean, wolf?" Heero answered.

Duo chuckled. "Aaarooooo!" he called softly. "You killed me, you bastard. You know, omae o koruso? I'm as spent as a beggar's last dime."

"Hey, you spoke that very well," Heero said. "And for the record, I think it was an evenly matched duel... if you wanna call it that. Results are, we're both dead. I was right, of course. You are hot."

Duo sighed and his hands stroked Heero's skin. "Yeah... only thing... if I'm dead, why do I feel so damn alive? Nevermind, don't answer that." Nuzzling Heero's neck again, Duo settled. "Nap..." he murmured, his voice slightly muffled by a yawn.

"Hai," Heero replied, closing his eyes to sleep.

Duo shifted just a little, feeling so relaxed he hardly knew where he was. He knew who he was with, however. The scent of his lover filled his nose, and followed him into a dream that was both erotic and rather strange, but somehow no stranger than life had become recently. And even Duo didn't know where that dream would end and waking begin. Experiment... he thought, as he snuggled just a little tighter. Mister Gorgeous, an experiment. Then a sleepy chuckle escaped his lips. "Frankenstein... meet the wolf man," he murmured as he fell into a deep, contented sleep.



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