They had both known that, one day, they would have their first major argument. That didnít make it any easier when it came. It came upon them unexpected and Heero watched all the careful plans he'd made to deal with any disagreement between them evaporate in a hot flash of anger.
"Iie. I have to do this alone." The anger was in his eyes, not his voice.
Duo didn't bother trying to hide his anger. "Like Hell you do!"
"No! I want to come with you. You shouldn't be going on this mission without backup."
Heero heard a hint of fear in his voice. He tried the hard way first. "Duo, look at where the target is located. It's over a thousand kilometers away. Trucking Deathscythe that far is inefficient, dangerous and unnecessary. I can take Wing and be done and back before you could get there." It was the perfectly rational explanation.
"I don't care! I want to go with you."
Duo wasn't being rational. "Iie." Cold voice, cold eyes. That was the simple way to handle it.
Duo knew he wasn't going to move Heero now. The anger that had merely sparked before caught in the dry tinder of his fears and burst into flame. "Damn you, you rock-headed, cold-hearted bastard! Damn you to Hell!" He stormed out of the room.
Damn him. Damn him. Damn him. Damn him. The words were a repeating bass line of frustration running through the bottom of his mind. He can't do this to me, Duo thought as he stomped along the sidewalk. He was just trying to protect Heero. Why couldn't he see that? He loved him. He didn't want him to be hurt or killed.
It was a dangerous mission. All of them were dangerous missions. He sighed. Heero could get into a situation where his meticulous plans would fail him. He might need to improvise his way out of it, and they both knew Duo was much better at that than Heero.
Oh, sure, he knew that Heero had been improvising well enough before they had teamed up. Well enough to survive. "With a little help sometimes", he mumbled, thinking of their escape from the hospital. Heero wouldn't have made it out of there without his help. Then again, maybe he would have.
He knew he shouldn't worry about him, but he did.
"God," he whispered, "everyone I love dies. I don't want it to happen again." Maybe he should quit loving people. Maybe he should just be a cold machine, like Heero had been before they met. Before that first, sweet night when Duo had seduced him out of his icy shell and into a warm bed.
Maybe if he quit loving people, he wouldn't feel it when they died. He knew it was a lie. Love wasn't something you could turn on and off like a switch. And simply because he didn't love someone didn't mean their death wouldn't hurt. He merely liked Howard, but he'd be sad if Howard died.
"I should become a hermit and go live by myself in a cave," he muttered. Then he'd never meet anyone to love, never know anyone he loved had died. Yeah. He snorted. Like Duo "The Mouth" Maxwell could live by himself with only a rock to talk to and not go stark raving mad.
Of course, sometimes Heero wasn't much more responsive than a rock. But the times he was, they were what made all the difference. A rock couldn't hold him in a tender embrace. He couldn't imagine waking up looking at a rock and thinking how lucky he was. And a rock could never be such a careful, attentive lover.
"Damn, I wish he wouldn't be this way." He wished that, just once in a while, he could get Heero to change his mind once he'd set it. But Duo knew Heero was right this time. Going alone was the only way he could accomplish the mission quickly and safely. Sometimes he hated it when Heero was right.
Damn, why couldn't they have made Deathscythe a flyer too? Stupid Dr. Mushroom-Hair had been in space too long. There you just pushed off in the right direction and, with maybe a few minor corrections mid-course, you got wherever you were going. In a gravity well, transportation was much more difficult.
He looked around him, angry, but not at Heero anymore. He didn't recognize this area. It was a run-down, nothing neighborhood. Probably why he'd never seen it. He knew the better parts of town. He'd crashed a few parties and acquired a few prizes in the process -- a nice hairbrush, a true-blue shirt that looked perfect on Heero, a bar of cinnamon-scented soap that probably cost more than his lunches for a week. Nothing expensive enough to get attention, just a little something here and there to keep in practice and have a little fun.
This place wouldn't have much to tempt him. They probably didn't have fancy parties either. It reminded him of the parts of his childhood he preferred to forget.
He looked at his watch. "Shit." Nearly three hours he'd been out walking. There was a small grocery store on the corner -- the kind you found on every third corner in run-down, nothing neighborhoods. He'd be able to get directions back to the school there and maybe acquire a beer to drink on the way back. As he walked in, he changed his mind about the latter. He had the money and the owner looked like a hard-working guy. He flipped through his wallet looking for his fake ID.
Besides, he told himself, paying was faster. He needed to get back to school so he could give Heero a ride out to Wing.
One more and... I'm in. The computer on the other end of the Net yielded to his touch on the keys, offering itself to him as freely and completely as Duo would have given the right hint.
"Where the Hell did that come from?" he mumbled. He was mad at Duo. "Ninmu." He had a mission to plan.
According to the inventory there were thirty Leos and a dozen Aries at the base. Not much of a defense force. Then Heero remembered Duo wasn't going with him and reconsidered. It was a respectable defense force, but nothing he couldn't handle with a little planning.
Why did Duo have to take some things so... personally? This was a mission. Heero didn't doubt his abilities, it was just more effective to take care of this one with Wing alone.
Here was the topo-map of the area. Mountains rose in furious concentric curves on the northern edge of the base. They would provide protection from the base's scanners on the way in. On the way out it would be best to fly low, fast and straight. Have they got any anti-aircraft artillery, he wondered and keyed the request.
Heero knew Duo could do the job, given the chance. He was a damn good pilot, almost as good as Heero. But this mission was clearly an air mission, something Deathscythe just couldn't handle. Duo would get over it. Heero would make sure he did. He let his lips curl into a faint smile for a moment. Yes, he'd make it up to Duo.
No AA on the inventory. He should be able to fly in undetected. Surprise was a powerful ally on any mission. He found a pass through the mountains and clicked a point on it, then zoomed the map on the base and marked the other end of the line. "Forty-five klicks at one-two-one." He noted the distance and heading in his mission plan. Twenty of those kilometers were inside the base perimeter -- a long stretch of empty desert. Exposed, but even if they detected him when he crossed the outer fence they would have less than five minutes to scramble. He should be able to take out most of the Aries on the ground.
Why doesn't he want me to do this alone? Heero considered that for a moment. Duo was probably afraid he couldn't complete the mission by himself. Conceited baka, Duo-koi. Heero had been completing missions before Duo had ever heard of the word. Why should he think Heero was incapable now?
That had to be the assembly hangar for the new transport prototype. The building was huge. The specifications said the new transport would carry twice as many mobile suits as the current models, but he'd never visualized exactly how big it was until he saw the building relative to the rest of the base. He scanned the layout again. There were fuel tanks buried all over the place. If he could detonate them they should take out everything. He'd save a few rounds for the hangar -- for insurance. There should be something explosive in there.
Maybe Duo was afraid he wouldn't come back. Heero thought about how he'd feel if Duo didn't come back from a mission, then stopped. He didn't want to think about that. It would be worse if he knew he could have made a difference but wasn't there. This wasn't like that, though. He was sure he'd come back. Probably. As sure as he ever was. The mission wasn't that difficult, just long.
He finished gathering the information he needed from Oz's computer. After noting the network address and the access codes he'd used to break it, he logged out and put the disk of aviation maps into the drive. He began building the flight plan, clicking out his route, marking a long diversion to the west to avoid the base's sensors before turning north again to come at it from the back way. Zooming the map, he followed along the path he'd marked, picking instrument and visual waypoints to track his flight. Finally satisfied, he printed the flight plan, map and a half dozen insets before cutting a disk with detailed information about the base, it's defenses and the locations of the fuel tanks. He slipped everything into his backpack along with his kneeboard and Whiz-Wheel. He wanted to fly the inbound route the old-fashioned way, just to stay in practice. The disk was for Wing. Once he cleared the mountains, he wouldn't have time for practice. He'd need everything the Gundam could give him.
He looked around the room, expecting to see Duo and remembered Duo was mad at him. He should know I'll come back, Heero thought. He'd always come back before. This target was too simple to mess up. Duo just didn't think he could do it alone. That was easy enough to prove wrong. Then they could make up and make love and everything would be OK again.
He didn't know when Duo would be back and didn't want to wait. The flight would be nearly four hours each way and they had classes tomorrow. Duo wouldn't mind if he borrowed the bike.
"Heero?" Duo called as he opened the door.
That wasn't unusual. "Hey, Heero." The room was empty. Damn, he's gone. That could only mean he was riding the bike out alone. Duo raced back out the door, slamming it behind him in his haste.
When he reached the unused maintenance shed where he hid the bike, Heero wasn't there. Neither was the bike. There was no scent of exhaust in the still air. He was at least an hour too late. Heero had left about the time he bought his beer.
He sighed and started the walk back to the room, still breathing heavy from the run, wiping the sweat from his forehead. God it was hot out today.
Dammit Heero. Why couldn't you wait for me?
He had just wanted to see him before he left and wish him luck and apologize for shouting at him -- and tell him he loved him. That was the most important part. He knew he shouldn't worry. Heero could take care of himself.
But he couldn't help it. When they went out on missions together he had the mission to distract him. That and watching Heero's back was enough to keep his mind occupied. Now, he was alone with all the "what-ifs" and "might-happens". It was going to be a long night. He hated waiting. It was a Hell of a lot easier to fly off and blow up a base than to wait for someone to come back from flying off and blowing up a base.
"Be careful, you cold bastard," he mumbled. "I love you and I need to remind you of that. I can't have you dying on me wondering, can I?" When Heero got back, they would talk. Maybe more.
He was still twelve minutes from the target when the missile lock warning screamed him out of his last minute checks. They had spotted him.
Shit, why didn't they list those SAM's on the base's inventory?
He evaded the missiles and blasted the launchers to Hell, but he was sure they'd gotten a call off, warning the base. If nothing else the explosions in the pass would get someone's attention.
Fuel? Not enough to kick in the afterburners and make it back. He'd just have to do it the hard way. He remembered that there was a time when he had seen his life as just another tool to use to complete the mission. Expendable. Duo had changed that.
Eight minutes later he crossed the base perimeter. Warnings lights flashed, telling him he'd tripped the detection grid. It didn't matter now. He punched them off. A minute later, more lights and alarms. Aries taking off. He studied the constellation on his screen as they approached and laughed. "Nice of you to line up for me." So much for Aries pilots being Oz's best. He let them close for a minute more, then the beam rifle took out ten of them in a single blast. He turned it on a group of Leos clustered too close together and swept them into oblivion. "This is too easy."
The remaining two Aries were coming at him from different directions. They were smart enough to learn from their tactical mistakes, but they hadn't found the mistake in their strategy -- coming after a Gundam. Heero showed them their error when he dodged their fire and let them take each other out. It meant taking a few hard hits, shaking him violently against the safety harness, but he and Wing could handle it. The rest was a simple, but tedious exercise in mopping up. Enemies fell one by one before the beam sabre and guns, victims of the overriding imperative of the mission.
When it was over, the base engulfed in recurring fireballs as the fuel tanks exploded, Wing streaked south toward home, flying nap-of-the-earth. Heero pulled out the Whiz-Wheel, calculated the maximum speed that would get him home with a little fuel to spare, and adjusted the throttle. Then he punched the calculation through Wing's computer. Almost half a klick faster. It would only gain him two minutes. Better to save the fuel.
The internal clock told him was 3:14 AM.
He was exhausted. He hadn't been sure he'd be able to make it up the stairs to the room. The long flight in and out. The fire of battle. The jarring hits the Aries and a few lucky Leos had gotten in. The wrenching that ran from his hands, up his arms, through his shoulders and into his back and chest as the beam sabre tore through metal. The mental strain of tracking dozens of targets, managing the cockpit and manipulating the controls all at once. They conspired to drain him of his strength. He wanted to crash into bed and sleep for a few hours before he had to go to class.
Duo? What was he doing up this late?
"Heero, you're back!"
"I'm tired, Duo. I need to sleep." He could feel his knees struggling to bend and straighten without giving way as he walked toward the bed. He could feel his brain already beginning to shut down on him.
Duo grabbed him. Hugging him. "I was worried. Are you alright?"
"You thought I couldn't handle it without you." Part of him knew that the anger came so easily because he was so tired, but that part was buried deep under a mountain of fatigue and could do nothing to stop it. "You thought I'd die. Disappointed?"
"Heero, what are--"
"Damn it, Duo. Just leave me alone and let me get some sleep." He pushed Duo away and pulled off his tank top.
"Leave you alone?" He heard an answering flare of anger in Duo's voice. "Is that what you want?"
"Hai." He sat on the bed. A moment of vertigo swayed him as he bent to untie his shoes.
"Damn you, you bastard!" Duo snapped. "I've been sitting around for over twelve hours waiting, worrying, hoping, damn, even praying that you'd come back so I could tell you I love you one more time and you want to be left alone?" He stalked toward the door shouting, "Go to Hell!" and slammed it behind him.
"Duo?" Heero said, too late. He forced himself off the bed and to the door, legs screaming at him with every step. The hallway was empty. "Shit! You blew it, Yuy," he mumbled to himself as he closed the door again. He pulled off the Spandex pants and his underwear as he stumbled back to the bed and fell on it. Duo had to go walk off his anger now. Heero knew there was no way he could catch him and doubted he could do any good if he did. His body was betraying him with every step. He couldn't think clearly. He desperately needed to rest. I'll fix it in the morning, he thought as consciousness crashed into sleep.
Duo walked along the sidewalk toward the dorm. Dawn was tinting the east with rose and gold. A good stomp around the campus always helped him clear his head. He had been angry. Heero had rejected him -- again.
He knew that wasn't what had happened. Heero was just beat from the mission. He'd seen the flight plan and the other notes Heero had left on the computer. If he'd been there, it would have been easier, but the distance stretched Wing's fuel reserves for itself alone. If he and Deathscythe had been along, they never would have made it to the base in the first place.
Heero was going through the classic post-battle crash they both knew so intimately. The adrenaline vanished. Your muscles felt like they had been stretched out and run over by a truck as all the post-surge toxins flooded them. You had trouble seeing straight, much less thinking straight. Tremors came and went as memory dodged in and out and you weren't sure if you were safe or still in the battle. It was a horrible feeling, far worse than any hangover. You just wanted to fall onto any vaguely flat surface you could find and sleep it off.
Duo had been tired too -- still was. He'd been awake for almost twenty-four hours now, most of them spent worrying about Heero or angry at one or the other or both of them for being such stubborn idiots.
Well, Heero had had his few hours rest. He needed to get up if he was going to his first class. Duo opened the door and walked into the room, about to say, "Ohayo," when he saw Heero was still asleep. He must have been more worn out that Duo thought. He never slept through the door opening.
Closing it didn't wake him either.
Duo walked over to the bed and stood, looking at his naked lover sprawled on the sheets. He smiled. He knew the perfect way to wake him up and apologize and tell him that he loved him all at once. He went over to his bed, the bed they usually shared, and began unlacing his shoes.
Naked, he knelt beside Heero and gently coaxed his legs open, sliding his hand in to reach the soft pouch of skin with the treasures it held. He rolled them tenderly in his hand. This was Heero's favorite touch in foreplay. He heard Heero's breathing shift and looked at his face, expecting to find cold blue eyes watching him. They were closed, but he could see them moving under the lids.
A dream? Duo grinned. It was going to be a very good dream.
His hand continued massaging as he lowered his mouth to the growing flesh before him, tasting the tip, touching it with his tongue, gentle teeth grabbing the head and tugging on it.
Heero's body begin to stir in response. A soft moan. "Duo."
He glanced up again. Still asleep. Still dreaming.
Inch by inch he swallowed it, teasing the throbbing mass with his tongue and teeth, moistening it, moving his head up and down to massage it with his lips, preparing it for the next step, sucking out the sweet, liquid precursor of pleasure. Heero's sighs grew more frequent, louder. Duo thought he would wake up any minute, be surprised, then go along with the pleasure, but he was disappointed. He stopped as he felt Heero begin to buck against him. Just a little more and he'd be too far gone for what Duo had in mind.
He climbed onto the bed, careful so he wouldn't wake Heero, straddling him. One hand slipped a quick finger into himself to open the door, another squeezing Heero to keep him enthralled in his dream. They both liked watching each other as they made love. This position was Heero's favorite.
Duo knew he hadn't prepared well enough, but he pushed Heero's hardness against him, remembering how Heero had always been gentle with him, even in the rush of passion. Even that first night, when Heero hadn't been sure what to do, he had followed Duo's lead, carefully stretching him until Duo had finally told him he didn't have to get his whole hand in, just the thing between his legs. He'd caught Heero off guard with that, but only for a moment.
He knew this time, for the first time, it was going to hurt.
He didn't care. He willed himself to relax, the muscles to open. It still wasn't enough. Supporting Heero, lest he injure him, he pushed again and let his weight carry him down.
He felt the tearing and hissed. A small whimper escape his throat. SHIT! That hurt! It had been a long time since he'd felt that pain. It was worse than he remembered. He moved his hand and the burning continued its way inside him.
He felt the blood -- his blood. He didn't care. He wanted Heero to enjoy this. He'd endured worse than this for people he didn't give a damn about. He could take a little pain and bleeding for Heero. He waited, tensing and releasing the muscles to fit them around the welcome intruder that was inside him, each pulse drawing another sigh from Heero. He watched the hidden blue eyes fluttering rapidly under their lids as he slowly raised himself up and slid back down. It didn't hurt as much now. A few strokes later he was enjoying it as he moved Heero inside him.
Heero's breathing was rapid now, gasping, calling his name. His eyes opened, blue clouded with ecstasy. He saw Duo. "Duo? Nani... O. Nnn. Tsu. Nnnnn. Aaaaaa!"
Duo loved it when he came in Japanese. He felt the warm, liquid explosion inside himself and squeezed, drawing more and another "Aaaaa!" from Heero. His face was beautiful as he poured out his pleasure.
When the release ended, Duo leaned back catching himself on his hands, head thrown back, feeling Heero inside him, pressing against him, then shrinking. He grinned and looked at Heero's face.
And met horror.
"Shit, Duo, you're bleeding on me. Oh, shit! Get off of me!" He grabbed Duo and pushed him off onto the foot of the bed. "Get off of me!" An edge of hysteria twisted Heero's voice.
"But Heero--" He was speaking to Heero's back. Heero was running for the bathroom.
"The blood! Duo! Shit! Get away! You raped me!"
Duo didn't understand. "Dammit, Heero," Duo stood, heedless of the red and white mixture of himself and Heero that dripped onto the sheets, the floor. "I was just--"
Heero slammed the bathroom door. Duo heard the shower start. He tried the door, but it was locked. He beat on it, but there was no response. "Open the fucking door, Heero!" Was that the sound of vomiting? Then the hiss of the shower changed as Heero moved under the spray.
Damn him. "Damn
you, you fucking bastard! I bled for you!" Nothing. "Shit!" He
felt the tears on his face and raced to his bed, telling himself that boys don't
cry, but crying nonetheless. He jerked on his pants, then ran, shirt unbuttoned,
belt undone, hair flying free as he slammed out the door again.
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