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Habitat for Redemption (part 9)

Ravyn Fyre

Dutch was stunned. His sandwich sat unnoticed in his fingers, bits of it leaking onto the ground, as the black car peeled out and raced down the street after the fled Kenji.

He'd always figured that Kenji had a slew of personal demons to slay. He'd guessed they were probably pretty bad. But nothing had prepared him to discover that the kid he'd worked beside for the last three years, the kid he'd come to think of as another son, was an ex-Gundam pilot.

Dutch recognized the name. He doubted too terribly many of the others did, since the pilots' identities had been a pretty closely guarded secret after the war. Dutch only knew because of his old military connections.

Dutch shook his head. Kenji had been a Gundam pilot. That other man probably had been one too. And from the sound of their argument, they'd been close. Real close.

Dutch spared a rueful glance over at Axe.

With a shake of his head, he dropped his lunch in the dirt, and jogged over to Axe's motorcycle.

"I'll bring it back, Axe."

"Fuck the bike, man... Just find Kenji."

Dutch nodded and took off after his surrogate son, and the man pursuing him.



Six and a half hours later, there was still no sign of either one of the men. Dutch had already hit everyplace he'd guessed Kenji may have fled to, with no luck. He was so tempted to give up. This was getting him nowhere.

As he passed the riverfront, something made him pause.

There on the farthest levee, standing next to his racy black car, was the man who'd come to find Kenji. He was alone, standing in the early evening sun, staring out over the river.

Dutch watched as the young man suddenly collapsed against his car, burying his face in his hands. Even from as far away as he was, Dutch could see the his shoulders shaking as he sobbed.

"Guess you couldn't find him either, eh buddy," Dutch murmured to himself.

Revving the engine, Dutch drove away, heading in a roundabout way back towards the Habitat site.

Halfway there, he paused while passing a bar. "I need a drink. This whole day's gone to hell... I deserve a beer."

He pulled up to the bar, parked his bike and slipped inside.

The bar was still fairly empty, since it was only early evening. There were only a few people at the bar itself as he walked up and got a bottle of beer. He turned and leaned against the polished wood, surveying the rest of the darkened, smoky room.

In the far, back, darkest corner, what he saw almost made him choke.

Dutch scowled to himself as he approached the corner table. Sitting before the lone man, were two empty bottles of whiskey, and another bottle that was only two thirds full. Two empty shot glasses sat on the table, as well as half a dozen whiskey soaked napkins.

"Y'know, Kenji, it's pretty bad when yer so drunk you can't even hit the glass," Dutch said as he dropped down into the chair across from the Japanese man.

Reddened, bloodshot eyes lifted to meet his own blearily. He shrugged once, and clumsily filled the shot glasses."Where's 'e?" he asked, pushing the other glass at Dutch.


"Duo... I fig'red he foll'd you."

Dutch ignored the whiskey as he took a draw from his bottle.

"Nah. He's standing on the riverfront staring at the water. You mind telling me what's going on?"

Kenji eyed him for a moment before replying enigmatically, "Life."


"Life. Goes on... ne? Fuck yeah."

"You're drunk. Real drunk. Please don't tell me you drank all this shit by yourself," Dutch said, indicating the empty bottles with a wave of his hand.

"Nah. She help'd," Kenji replied, pointing at another empty seat.

"She? Who?"

"Her. Th' little girl... My pen'nce... my sin..." he murmured.

Before Dutch could say anything, Kenji looked up at him, his eyes almost lucid in a maddening sort of way.

"I kill'd her, y'know. I kill'd 'em all. My fault..."

"Man, I'm not entirely sure I understand what's going on, but I do know one thing... Soldiers kill. That's the way of things. That's why we're trained."

"Yah... but... soldiers s'posed t' kill oth'r soldiers... not kids... not moth'rs... fath'rs... I kill'd 'em all... S'why I made Habitat..."

Dutch snorted indelicately.

"You were how old when you piloted that Gundam? What, like fifteen, sixteen? Don't look now, but you were a kid yourself. Soldiers have lives outside of soldiering, you know. Soldiers can be someone's mother, father, brother... son. Shit happens man. You can't spend your whole life trying to serve some sort of twisted penance for doing your job. You gotta learn to get over it. You said it yourself. Life goes on."

Kenji shook his head and stared back down at his shot glass. Without even blinking, he tipped it back, drained it, and dropped it back to the table dully.

"So. You created Habitat, huh? Makes sense. No wonder you never took the money."

Kenji only shrugged.

"How long are you gonna run from this guy?"

Kenji froze, his hand half extended to pick up the whiskey bottle. With a defeated sigh, it dropped to the table.

"Until I'm clean."

"Fuck that, man. He loves you. I don't think he cares how 'dirty' you are."

Kenji blinked and glanced up at him tentatively.

"It doesn't.... bother you?"

"What? You an' him? What are you talking about, man? You mean you didn't hire Axe on purpose? I mean, you are the guy that ultimately hires and fires us all, right?"

Kenji simply graced him with a blank stare.

"You didn't know? You've got to be kidding me. Right? Well, don't that beat all? You mean you hired my dead son's ex-boyfriend without even knowing it? There's a laugh riot! I figured you would have done your homework a little better."

Given the dull, blank stare Dutch was being fixed with, he guessed that Kenji was a little stunned.

Dutch couldn't help the chuckle that burbled from his lips. He couldn't stop it from becoming a laugh, even when Kenji blinked a few times and then glared painfully at him. It just erupted out of him and carried him along. Kenji poured another shot and downed it.

Dutch reached out and took the bottle away after he was done laughing.

"Okay, man. I think two and a half bottles is enough for one seven hour drinking binge, don't you?"

Kenji simply scowled in answer.

"You never answered me, by the way. How long you gonna run from him? And don't give me any of the 'I have to be worthy' shit, either."

"I- I..."

Dutch sighed explosively.

"Damnit, man. You saved the whole fuckin' world.... Twice! Isn't that enough? Isn't damn near sacrificing yourself for all of humanity a few times enough? Doesn't that balance out a few mistakes?"

"You answer that for me... After all, I was the one who killed your son."

Dutch shuddered at the deadpanned tone that too-lucid statement was delivered in. He glanced up and met Kenji's eyes. There was a curiosity there, and a total acceptance of fate.

Kenji was deliberately baiting him, trying to make Dutch hate him as much as he obviously hated himself. Dutch refused to play that game. His hand slapped down on the table violently, making even Kenji flinch away for a moment.

"Damnit! I TOLD you... Soldiers know the risks they take when they sign on the dotted line!"

He took a deep breath and tried to focus his thoughts.

"He and I... We both knew that at least one of us... at least one of us wouldn't see the end of the war once it started. We accepted that. I just- I just always figured I'd go first..."

Kenji's gaze focused on the single drop of moisture that dripped to the tabletop from Dutch's eyes. It fascinated him morbidly. He cocked his head and studied it, reaching one hand out to touch it.

"Yeah. Even soldiers can cry. When's the last time you cried, Kenji? Or is that Heero? What IS your real name, anyway?"

"Kenji Lowe. Least that's what Odin call'd me. He rais'd me, y'know. Like a dad. Y'shouldda seen our fath'r son outings. Heero was jes' my code name," he replied with a slurred, tired chuckle.

Dutch couldn't make much sense of it, but he guessed that he wasn't really the one who needed it to make sense.

"Well, all I've ever known you as is Kenji, so Kenji is gonna be what I keep calling you."

Dutch finished his beer in a single gulp.

"Kenji? I know this probably don't make much sense, and it'll probably make even less sense in the morning when your hangover sets in, but, man, it's time to live your life for yourself. That guy? Duo? He needs you. I think you need him more than you'll admit to, too."

"I- I... my mistakes... they.... Not ready..."

"Listen to me, Kenji. Yeah. You may have fucked up. You may have killed some people who- that... that didn't deserve it. Shit happens. But you know what? How many was it? A few dozen? A few hundred? Hell, even a few thousand? And how many BILLIONS of people did you save from total annihilation? I think the scales are balanced.

"You can't keep trying to make it all right with this Habitat thing. If you do, you're going to die, lost and alone a thousand years from now, and it still won't be done. I know your type. Nothing's ever enough. Even if you personally fix the lives of every human on this planet, there will still be something you'll 'need' to do. You're never going to finish.

"You've done enough, man. Keep funding the project, but.... Go live your life, man. You've earned it."

Kenji shook his head, still unconvinced.

"No? So you're just going to dishonor all those people you've already killed, is that it?"

Kenji fixed him with another blank stare.

"What gives you the right to steal someone's life from them, and then not honor it? Where do you get off murdering someone, and not then living your life to the fullest to honor their memory? They died, you lived. You have to live for them now. You have to do all the things that they will never do now. To do anything else... only mocks their memory! God Damnit, Kenji... What gives you the right to decide who's worthy of love and life anyway?! Last time I checked, you didn't have that kind of authority!"

Dutch held his breath, praying that this tactic would work. There were so many ways it could backfire on him, but it was the last thing he could think of. He only hoped that Kenji was too drunk to find the loophole of his 'logic'.

Kenji swallowed hard, mulling over what Dutch had said.

"Kenji... You gotta live your life for you now. You've sacrificed enough, man. Isn't it about time you found some happiness for yourself? Hell, do you even know what happiness is?"


Dutch let out the breath he'd been holding. It worked. Thank God. He smiled as he stood up and offered Kenji a hand. "Come on man. You're drunk. Let's go get you someplace to crash tonight, eh?"

Kenji glanced up at him, his eyes focusing and unfocusing on Dutch's hand. He swayed a little as he stood, extricating himself from the table and chair.

"Where's your bike?"

"Behind the bar... They said I could leave't there."

"Good. There's no way in hell I'd let you drive."

Dutch led him outside to Axe's bike and climbed on. He gave Kenji a hand climbing on behind him before he started the bike up.

"I hope you're not too drunk to hold on. Don't fall off, man. I'll get you to my hotel."

They arrived at the hotel without incident. At least not until Kenji tried to dismount. Dutch stifled a chuckle as he bent down to help his friend back to his feet. With a shoulder under Kenji's arm, Dutch helped the Japanese man stagger up to his room.

"You're gonna have to bunk with me tonight, man. Good thing I ended up with a double."

Kenji didn't protest when Dutch dropped him onto the bed. In fact, he barely seemed aware of the fact. Dutch yanked off Kenji's boots, and rolled him up onto the bed.

Kenji was asleep before Dutch even finished pulling the blankets up over him.



Dutch awoke the next morning to find Kenji sitting in the hair by the window, staring out over the dawning sun. He'd already showered and changed. Dutch frowned. How the hell had Kenji changed clothes?

"Kenji? How-"

"I borrowed Axe's bike and ran back to my truck."

"You came back here, then."

"Yeah. I figured it was time to quit running."

Dutch almost smiled as he sat up and swung his legs out of bed.

"So. You gonna go find him? That Duo guy."

Kenji nodded silently.

"Good. Hey. Just do me a favor."

Kenji turned his head, meeting Dutch's eyes for the first time that morning.

"Just come back and say good-bye before you let him drag you off into the sunset, okay?"

Kenji actually grinned. It was nothing more than a tiny twitch of his lips, but it was there nonetheless.

Dutch smiled and started getting ready for work. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, he nodded to Kenji and they headed out to Axe's bike.

Dutch grinned as Kenji took the front.

"I'm driving."

"Fine by me. Guess it's time to take control of your fate, eh?"

"Nah. I just like to drive."

"Whatever. Let's go get your bike."

"Can't," Kenji answered with a snort.


"Duo stole it last night."

Something clicked in Dutch's brain.

"You only came back to my room so I wouldn't be stranded... You weren't going to say good-bye, were you?"

Kenji turned and gave him an unrepentant smirk and a shrug.

"Old habits," he replied before starting the bike with a rumbling roar.

Dutch grabbed at Kenji reflexively as the bike laid down a strip of rubber and peeled out of the lot.



When they arrived at the Habitat house, the rest of the crew was already there and hard at work. Most of which stopped as Kenji brought the bike to a halt at the curb.

Axe sauntered up as Dutch disembarked from the bike.

From two blocks down, another machine rumbled to life. Everyone looked up to see Duo seated on Kenji's motorcycle.

"Looks like you got company, man," Axe said.

"I'll buy you a new bike, Axe."

Axe frowned as he regarded Kenji levelly. He spared a glance at Dutch who seemed calm enough about the situation. "What are you doing, Kenji?"

Kenji turned and looked at him, a small, almost wickedly mischievous smile playing across his face. "Getting on with my life."



Duo watched as Heero and one of the construction guys rode up to the curb. As the strange man climbed off the bike, he started Heero's bike, revving the engine loudly.

Heero looked up and locked gazes with him.

Duo swallowed hard. He wouldn't let Heero get away from him again. He didn't care what it took.

Heero turned to Axe and smiled. Even from the distance he was at, Duo saw the smile. Especially when Heero turned and focused the full brilliance of that grin on HIM.

Heero revved the bike hard, pulling away from the curb. Before Duo could react, Heero popped the bike up on the rear tire, spun it around, and roared off in the opposite direction.

Duo slammed on the accelerator and raced off after him.

He played the clutch lightly, downshifting to make the corners, and then pouring on the speed in the straight-aways. Heero wasn't too far ahead of him as they flew down city streets, heading for the country highways. Duo snarled and bent lower over Heero's own bike, lowering his profile and slipping through the wind.

In no time at all, they cleared the city limits; Heero really opened up the throttle on the bike he was on, and started pulling away. Duo threw caution to the wind and followed suit. Heero led him on a merry chase, the blacktop, pavement, and asphalt highways flying by below them both at a dizzying pace.

After a few miles, Duo suddenly realized that Heero wasn't trying to lose him. He was racing with him. That sudden comprehension seemed to free Duo from himself. He pushed Heero's bike to its limits and beyond, and slowly started making up the ground between them.

He gave up all sensation, save for the responsiveness of the metal beast between his legs, and the bite of the wind across his face. Freed from his fear of losing, Duo let more of his attention drift to the road rather than Heero. No longer fighting the highway, he quickly drew up even with the Japanese man.

Heero spared the briefest of seconds to grin at Duo before he hunkered down and slipped ahead some more. Duo's heart leapt in his chest.

Finally. Finally they'd come home!

In front of him, Heero slowed a little, and whipped his bike down a side road, leaving a rooster tail of dust and gravel behind him. Duo followed, dodging the flying debris, and letting off of the throttle a little now on the shifting gravel and dirt road.

Heero maintained his lead, guiding them down a vast array of back country gravel and dirt roads until Duo found himself utterly lost. He couldn't have told anyone which way town was, and he didn't really care. All he cared about was the man racing destiny a few dozen feet in front of him.

As Heero slipped around a corner, Duo followed, and Fate played her final card. Duo realized, even as the front tire lost its bite in the gravel, that he was going down. He had less than an instant to decide to try and ride it out, or ditch and pray. As the bike started to pitch to one side, Duo knew there would be no salvaging this situation.

He threw his weight into the slide, kicking the bike out from under him, and rolling free. The motorcycle dropped onto its side and slid to a halt, the engine automatically cutting out. Duo landed on the unforgiving ground and rolled to kill his momentum.

He ended up sitting on his butt in the dirt, a dumbfounded expression on his face, almost fifty feet from the fallen motorcycle. Miraculously, or rather, thanks to his martial training and his ability to take a beating with grace, he wasn't even really injured. Of course, the grassy bank beside the road that he'd initially landed in might have had something to do with that.

Heero had seen Duo go down out of the corner of his eyes, and had slammed on the brakes, spinning the bike around the front wheel. Before Duo had even slid to a halt, Heero was racing the three-block distance back towards the American. Heero pulled up to Duo and hopped off of the bike. Not even engaging the kickstand, he let the motorcycle drop with a painful crunch to its side. "Duo?"

Duo glanced up at him, blinking in astonishment at his own uninjured state.

Heero dropped to his knees in front of Duo, reaching one hand out to tentatively caress Duo's face.

Duo groaned at the touch, shutting his eyes at the first real contact in far too long.


Heero was cut off as Duo suddenly opened his eyes and lunged forward, seizing Heero's lips in a crushing kiss. He leaned forward, pushing Heero over backwards and pinning his body down with his own as he ravished the sweet lips under his own.

Heero's eyes went wide at first, surprised, before he surrendered himself to Duo's kiss. He felt Duo's tongue firmly probing his lips, demanding entry. Heero complied, groaning into Duo as the other man plundered his mouth.

Heero's arms came up, wrapping around Duo and crushing him tight. Duo moaned and broke off the kiss for a moment, staring down into Heero's slack face. Heero's eyes popped open and blinked up at the man above him.

Duo found himself drowning in those languid Prussian pools. He leaned forward again and claimed Heero's mouth in another crushing, probing, soul deep kiss. Shifting his weight, he freed his hands long enough to fumble with the buttons on Heero's flannel shirt. Finding bare skin under the shirt, Duo gave himself up to his most cherished fantasy, and let his hands wander all over the flushed skin.

As his fingers closed over one pouting nipple, Heero moaned into his mouth, his body arching up against Duo's. If Duo had any doubts about Heero's desire, they were quelled when the firm bulge held in check by Heero's jeans thrust up against Duo's thigh.

Duo couldn't keep his hands from clenching; his short nails raked along Heero's chest, eliciting another soft moan and gasp from the man pinned below him. Duo broke the kiss, ducking his head and resting it in the hollow of Heero's throat. "God, Heero... I've missed you... so much."

"I'm... sorry..." Heero panted, his breath ragged and quick as he tried to cool his rapidly overheating body.

Duo glanced back up into Heero's eyes. He saw the sorrow and the fear and the shame buried in those deep blue pools. But what brought the strangled growl from him was the unabashed lust plainly displayed in those indolently half-lidded eyes.

"Damnit... You're mine, Heero Yuy... I'm never letting you go again!" He hissed fiercely as he sat back.

Heero started to smile tentatively. Until Duo's talented fingers started fumbling with the button of his jeans.

A wave of heat rushed through Heero's body as Duo ripped down the zipper and savagely pulled the jeans low on his hips. He reached up, whether to try and stop Duo, or simply to touch him, he wasn't sure. Duo wasn't either. He grabbed Heero's wrists and slammed them to the ground, pinning him again.

"No way, Yuy. I've been waiting for this too long. You're mine now," he growled, levering a knee against the sensitive bulge in Heero's underwear.

The touch sent a shockwave through the Japanese man, forcing his body into an arch and a ragged cry from his lips.

Duo growled again, and releasing Heero's wrists, he almost angrily yanked the last layer of clothing from Heero's groin. Duo almost bit his lip eyeing Heero's erection as it sprang out, demanding attention.

"You're mine," he growled again, bending his head to lap at the tip.

Heero squirmed, a small, wet moan caught in his throat.

Duo smiled wickedly, his tongue dancing across the surface of the engorged skin, tantalizing it with small, firm strokes. He nibbled his way down its length, and then back up again. He watched Heero's face avidly, drowning in the way the Japanese man alternated between gasps and soundless moans. He smiled evilly as Heero's face clenched, demanding more, yet unable to voice the thought.

With no warning, he took Heero fully into his mouth, sliding down with a firm stroke and a soft growl. Heero's body spasmed, a cry wringing itself from his constricted throat as Duo's hot, moist mouth enfolded him.

Duo suckled at Heero's shaft like a calf, his tongue playfully massaging the firm flesh. His hands gripped Heero's hips, flexing them in time with his strokes. Heero tried to thrust up against Duo's mouth, but Duo held him firmly. This would be Heero's punishment. Duo would control him.

With an ardent snarl, Duo quickened the pace, alternating between lapping at Heero's firm flesh and stroking its length with his talented tongue. Heero's hands closed tightly over Duo's shoulders, the grip roughly begging Duo to take pity on him.

The almost painfully desperate cries issuing from Heero's throat drove Duo over the edge. He picked up the pace one last time, drowning Heero in sensation, and driving them both to the edge of sanity.

He could feel Hero's body tense up below his own. His hands flexed into Heero hips, his fingers digging into the yielding flesh there with fierce abandon. Heero exploded into his mouth, his body jerking below him, and a hoarse, tattered cry bursting from his lips.

Duo swallowed, taking in everything Heero could give him. He lapped at the tip, gathering every drop, and tantalizing the overly sensitive flesh. Heero rode the wave of pleasure and joy as it broke over him, driving all thoughts from his mind. He let it drown all sensations save itself from him, and surrendered himself to Fate.

As Duo's tongue started teasing him again, he squirmed, his breath shallow and panting.

"Please... D-"

Duo climbed, cat-like, up his body and fastened his mouth onto Heero's. His tongue probed deeply, exploring every nook and crease of Heero's mouth. He felt the tension and apprehension drain out of the Japanese man as he wrapped his arms around him. Heero collapsed into his embrace and submitted to his ministrations.

Duo started to chuckle softly as he pulled his lips away from Heero's. "Good thing this road must not be too popular."

Heero twitched, his head rising to glance about them. He'd been so overwhelmed by Duo, that he'd completely forgotten that they were lying in the middle of a backcountry road.

A gravel backcountry road, his back angrily reminded him. He groaned painfully.

"Duo... could you-"

"Ack! Sorry Hee-chan," Duo quipped, scrambling off of Heero and helping him to his feet. As Heero pulled his clothing back together, Duo slipped around behind him and pulled the flannel shirt out of his waistband. He ran his hands up Heero's tight skin, feeling the small divots the rocks had left there. He wormed his way under the shirt, dropping gentle kisses upon the skin, and running his hands over Heero's stomach.

"Hee-chan? Hn."

Duo giggled into his back, his tongue darting out to give the salty skin a swipe. Heero arched back against him, his hands coming around to hold Duo firmly close.

"Duo, I-"

Duo squirmed out of the shirt, turning Heero to face him and wrapping him into an embrace.

"No. No more apologies. No more words. Let's let the past lie where it falls, okay? Just- Just promise me you'll stay with me forever, and it'll be enough."

Heero searched Duo's face, his eyes darting over every feature, drowning in Duo's every breath.

His jaw quivered, trembling as he nodded haltingly.

"Ai Shiteiru, Duo. I-"

Duo's arms tightened around him, and he seized Heero's mouth in another bruising kiss.

When Duo finally broke the kiss, he leaned back to cast an amused look over Heero.

"You talk to much, Heero Yuy."

His tongue darted out and caressed Heero's lips, gently. Heero's eyes closed and he moaned softly.

Everything up until this moment had been worth it. After all of these years, he'd finally found his redemption. He smiled and gave himself over to Duo, wholly and completely.

"Ai Shiteiru, Heero Yuy. Ai Shiteiru."


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