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To Go That Far (Part 1)

Part One

The sky lit up in a welter of rapid-fire explosions that pushed against the chill darkness of the skies. It was almost beautiful, the play of smoking cannon fire and the ponderous ballet of the giant mobile suits locked in combat, darting through the air to twist and take aim, blocking heavy blows and returning fire.

Laughter crackled through an open comm channel, carrying more than an edge of manic glee.

"Looks like we've got these bastards on the run, eh Heero?" The pilot of Shinigami was still laughing softly as he scraped aside a fringe of jagged chestnut bangs.

"Duo, we still have half a squad to annihilate," the grim face projected ontto a corner of his viewscreen reminded him.

The cheerful boy made a face as he pivoted to crush a presumptuous Taurus with the heavy butt end of Deathscythe's giant thermal scythe. "You are *always* such a spoilsport, man."

Their open line fell into silence, punctuated only by the burst of weapons-fire and Duo's soft, pleased chuckles and occasional whoop of victory. He could practically feel Heero's frown at such unprofessional levity.

A sudden reverberating thrum caused them both to throw their heads up in surprise, hands darting over their control boards for augmented sensory information, as a giant carrier flew overhead. Its hatch gaped wide and another entire squad of suits spilled out, making rapid free-fall for the fight below.

"Oi, Heero, chotto matte!" Duo yelled. "You suicidal maniac!"

The violet-eyed pilot of Shinigami shouted hoarsely as Wing Zero sped at the line of descending mobile suits, the battery of one of his beam cannons cracked clear through, the other discarded as useless, replaced by the beam saber that blazed in the suit's right fist. Duo cursed and twisted the throttle viciously, sending Deathscythe-Hell rocketing after the other mobile suit.

Wing Zero slashed out with the beam saber, cutting one suit to pieces before it had time to retaliate, as another one was demolished at the same time by the discharge from his failing cannon. Heero's curse crackled through the open line and a reluctant smile tugged at his lips that blossomed into a shout.

"Oi, watch it!" he yelled, as the overloaded cannon blew up practically in Heero's face. Wing Zero flitted out of blast range, but two more Tauruses were consumed as neatly as if he'd planned it. He sighed and twisted the giant thermal scythe in a tight loop, taking out two more. "Ch', what's the point when you never listen to ME?"

Wing Zero was left with a beam saber in each fist, the second one shaken free from a hidden cache. Duo nodded grimly. Forty to two...not bad odds...

"Duo, on your left."

The comment was muttered off-hand in Heero's typical lack of inflection, and he swiveled to confront a three-pronged attack. "Thanks!" he tossed off, taking two out with a feint and a broad sweep, then backpedaling furiously to smash through the cockpit of the third with the handle of the scythe.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the glint of metal -- probably cannon-fire -- and he flicked a quick look at his sensors.

"Heero, watch out!" he yelled hoarsely.

Beam cannon fire rained through the sky thickly in torrents, piercing through glittering metal wings.

A giant steel feather rasped across his cockpit window.


* * *

He finished tying off the bandage, face taut, Heero's face betraying only a slight wince but no real depth of pain. Instead of plopping down onto the bed beside his lover as was his wont, Duo grabbed the medkit to return to the bathroom.

"You're angry with me."

The voice was drained of all emotion, pronounced as if Heero really didn't care for the answer.

"You actually noticed?" Duo drawled, voice dripping with bitterness. He turned away.

A hand caught his wrist, strong and inflexible, and he was forced to pause. Duo gritted his teeth a bit as the bones in his wrist twanged together.

"*Why* are you angry? This is a war. People get hurt, and killed. We should know; we've done it to them."

He glared into Heero's implacable cobalt eyes, refusing to feel sorry for the underlying pain he knew lay beneath that statement. "That's not why. You can't understand -- how can you know what it feels like to watch you try to throw your life away?"

Heero's eyebrows twitched, the only thing about his face that reacted to that. "Nani?"

"There's doing your job," he said softly, "and then there's going about it in a damnfool manner. What you did today--"

"Got us out of there alive, and destroyed our targets. Mission completed," Heero finished coolly.

"Damn it, you nearly died!" Duo snarled, wrenching away. He rubbed his wrist fiercely, dropping the medkit, accompanied by Heero's soft, surprised snort.

In the sudden barrage of beam cannon fire, Wing Zero had been completely enveloped. He'd thought in the flurry of metal wing-shards that had followed...but no. Wing had tumbled heavily to the ground, and kept fighting. He had gone directly through cross-fire to destroy the three massively-armed mobile suits that had been playing havoc with their cannons. Even with a breached cockpit.

Heero didn't know *how* to die, even though it seemed like he kept trying. He was one tough bastard.

"K'so..." He looked at Heero seated on the bed, bruised and battered and even burned a bit from the blast that had cracked open the cockpit, but alive.

Wearily he seated himself on the edge of the bed. Heero's hand touched his arm, then closed firmly on his elbow, tugging him against him. Silently Duo allowed himself to be pulled.

"Duo...I didn't mean..."

The pilot of Shinigami turned his head to exhale deeply onto the nape of Heero's neck. "When you throw yourself that far into battle...I see you expecting not to return. How can you be so ready to die, when..." His voice broke on him, and he buried his nose against the warm but unyielding skin.

"Duo..." escaped his lips, then Heero turned into him, threading him into his arms and closing his darkened blue eyes.

"Baka yaro," Duo muttered, but he rested his arms comfortably slung around the small of Heero's back. As usual, just the touch of Heero in his arms was enough to reassure him that -- for now, at any rate -- Heero wasn't going anywhere.

"I don't do it to make you angry. I just..." He trailed off, and Duo stroked his back encouragingly. "The mission was all that I had. That was my life. It still is...but that's not all, not anymore. takes time getting used to."

He tightened his arms around Heero's waist, rubbing his cheek against the bared satiny skin of his neck. That was all the explanation or apology he would get, he knew, but it was enough.

Heero pressed him closer to his chest, one hand absently stroking over wayward straggles of hair that had worked free of his long heavy braid.

"I love you," Duo pressed ready lips to his cheek. "You know that, right?"

"Aa," Heero responded quietly.

After a long silence Duo tugged free, wincing as he flexed an arm and discovered a fresh bruise from being battered about Deathscythe's cockpit. "Saa, Heero, let's go to bed, ne?"

A slight affirmative grunt.

Duo smiled ruefully but he was amused in spite of himself. He pressed a quick kiss to Heero's forehead, then grabbed the medkit again.

"I do love you..." he whispered unhappily to himself, staring at the long-faced reflection in the bathroom mirror. "But...dammit, Heero." He made a face at mirror-Duo, who winked back jauntily, then dropped into a solemn expression again.

He loved him, but Heero had never said it in return. And if he felt the same way, why would he still go around pushing the limits with his suicidal stunts?

Heero acted like nothing in life mattered to him.

He sighed again and rubbed a hand over his forehead, massaging his temples to soothe away the painful throbbing that had started up. Battle aftermath, and from fretting himself to pieces over Heero's latest stupid trick.

Duo flipped off the lights and re-entered the bedroom, plastering a jaunty smile on his face. "Ne, Heero...just how hurt are you feeling?" he purred. "Injuries too much for a little fooling around?"

He climbed into his side of the bed and his face was seized between strong, curiously gentle hands. Heero's eyes burned even through darkness.

"You take the pain away."

* * *

Fingers clicked steadily and surely over the laptop as Duo roused, stretching lazily, groping through empty sheets.

Well...of course. If he was at the laptop, he couldn't be in bed.

"What'cha doing?" he mumbled sleepily, too satisfied from earlier to form a coherent protest. Heero's use of the computer was positively obsessive.

Ruefully he rubbed at another bruise he'd acquired, and not one from the battle. If it was one thing about Heero and near-death experiences that he couldn't complain about, it was that they invariably made him more passionate and fierce.

In private, of course. In public, Heero barely called him by name. Even as *he* had to struggle to keep 'koibito' and 'itooshii' from falling off his lips.

"Checking mail," Heero replied.

"Oh, anything interesting?" Duo bounced up out of bed, making a token grab at the sheets before they slid through his fingers. He wound his arms around Heero's bare shoulders. It wasn't as if Heero hadn't seen him naked before, and no one was going to walk in.

Besides, Heero was buck nude and typing away anyhow.

"Aa," Heero said, eyes narrowing.

Duo nuzzled his ear, feeling Heero's shoulders knot rock hard under his arms and chest. "What is it? Another mission, so soon?"

"It's an invitation from Relena."

* * *

Part Two

Relena nodded firmly to herself, clasping her hands as she received confirmation of the multiple-message delivery. It was a bit risky; sending mail to all five Gundam pilots might provoke at least one death threat from penetrating the mystique of their whereabouts -- but it had been the only way she could think of to have even a plausible chance of seeing Heero again. He'd made it heartbreakingly clear from their last meeting that he didn't expect to see her again -- indeed, might not even want to.

"Heero -- Heero, wait! Chotto matte!"

The slender back was taut as Heero halted. He turned halfway, the beautiful face obscured partially by thick brown bangs riveting her instantly, but his expression was closed and cold. The look he always turned on her.

"Relena, go back now. Go back to where you have a place. There isn't one here, for you."

He turned again, and this time would not look back.

"HEERO! Matte, Heero!"

She sighed, massaging the temples that had begun to pound as she contemplated the viewscreen before her. His words had stung, but she had realized he meant there was no place for her in the war -- no place on the front lines. Where he was. This latest gambit was a bit far-fetched -- her staff had eyed her with visible doubt in their eyes -- but at least it was a chance. And at the resort, they would both be away from the war that they despised.

"Heero...why are you so cold? me. I know if only you opened yourself up..." She sighed again. Heero's rejections had gone beyond mere coyness, and yet she knew he didn't really want to kill her. And if he didn't want to kill her...he must feel something for her. He *must.* "I have to try again."

He had to give her a chance to explain, to tell him her feelings and why she *knew* she would be good for him.

Relena knew, she absolutely knew, that Heero needed someone, and that he was capable of caring for more than just killing, that he had been a sweet, sensitive boy. Dr. J had said as much. She was equally convinced that *she* was the best candidate for the job of unsealing Heero's gundanium-hard exterior. And she knew herself to be persistent enough to accomplish the task.

With hesitant fingertips, she touched the letter he had refused to let her deliver, a letter that in one stroke would have absolved him of useless guilt or anguish. She still had the chance. She would be his savior.

Briefly, her heart emitting a tremor at the sweet image of the vision, she allowed herself to imagine Heero's kiss.

*She,* Relena Darlian Peacecraft, would be Heero Yuy's love.

* * *

"Fuck no!"


"NO fucking WAY!"

Heero fixed his lover with a quelling Look. "Duo, you're being--"

"Unreasonable? Stupid? Jealous?" the American pilot railed, white tee-shirt flapping as he waved his arms around madly.

Heero caught one of Duo's flailing hands. "Yes, all of that," he agreed, pulling Duo close with a sharp tug.

Duo's blue-violet eyes were smoldering at him from under the shielding fringe of jagged bangs. "She's just trying to maneuver you into the position of being alone with you. You *know* that. She's obsessed."

"I know that," Heero agreed irritably. He thought he had made it pretty explicit, last time, that he wasn't interested...yet still she didn't get the message.

Relena's mail had contained an invitation to a resort bought by the Darlian estate, which had no immediate connections to herself, having been bought under her adopted mother's maiden name. Asylum, she called it -- a momentary respite from the war, and a guarantee for a safe place to shelter from any searching militant factions.

After reading the message, Duo had exploded almost immediately...sparked by Heero's casual suggestion that they accept the offer. One of the first things the American had done was pulled some clothes on -- which more than anything indicated to Heero how defenseless his partner was feeling, if he didn't want to be nude while they argued. Heero had calmly considered the option of clothing himself, then decided not to.

If nothing else, he could *distract* Duo.

"I don't trust her idea of sanctuary," Duo growled, trying to pull away.

"But at least we know she won't betray us. And we'll have to abandon this place soon, anyway," Heero replied. Duo simply wasn't thinking this through, in the green-eyed fit that gripped him to view Relena as a competitor.

He exerted pressure on the wrist locked in his hand, and with a little wince Duo allowed himself to be pulled to the bed. Heero wasn't content with that small victory, however. He grabbed a handful of Duo's white sleeping tee in the other hand, drawing him across his lap. Duo's eyes were overshadowed by the screen of his bangs, but his lips were slightly parted.

Thoughtfully, he bent and pressed his tongue to the bottom lip, making an indentation, then flickered inside briefly.

Duo's breath was growing ragged as he drew back to use a finger to trace the sensuous moist lines of his lips. "We've had fun here. But it's time to move on."

"Time to move on..." Duo echoed, and ducking his head Heero could see the closed eyelids, and a faint sparkle at the corner of each. What...?

"What is it?" he asked quietly, removing the finger.

Duo's eyes glimmered up at him. "Nan demo nai...don't let it bother you." He sat up in Heero's lap abruptly, winding lithe muscled arms around his shoulders and neck, smile regained. "Saa, Heero, do you think Relena invited the rest of us...? Or just you?"

Heero scowled. "If she didn't invite you, I'm not going."

Duo chuckled but his eyes had softened, that faint hint of forced cheerfulness in his smile dissolving. Fingers traced a light path down his cheek, Duo looking almost quizzical as he touched him. Then his eyes acquired a glint of mischief.

The American pilot squirmed in his lap and pounced, and in a tangle of limbs they went down onto the bed rolling and thrashing. He grabbed Duo by the waist and shoulder and pushed, preparing to put him in a lock, then thought better of it. Duo broke free of his loose grasp and pinned him and he put up a good struggle, glaring for all he was worth. "Gotcha," Duo grinned.

"Yes, you do," Heero agreed.

Duo's eyes went wide and again Heero wondered what he'd said to bother him. He didn't have the opportunity to ask, though, as Duo smothered his mouth thoroughly, aggressive all of a sudden, hands roaming over torso and thigh to kindle a familiar ache his mere presence could invoke.

"How convenient," Duo murmured, fingers playing over and up his ribs to grasp a nipple gently, rolling it.

"For you," Heero raised an eyebrow, then he squirmed free with a few well-placed jabs. Duo yelped then blinked at the Heero suddenly slung over his hips. "Now *I* have to undress you all over again, baka."

Duo gave him a wide delighted smile. "Undress away, koi."

Suddenly Heero couldn't breathe, captivated by the beautiful face beneath him, the wide night-darkened amaryllis eyes, slightly up-tilted nose, and the lips that were, to him, eminently plunderable. He bent to kiss the flushed, expectant face, Duo's whole body rising to meet his famished mouth.

When they broke for air, gasping, he kissed the corners of his eyelids. Duo blinked, puzzled.

"You have nothing to be jealous of in Relena," Heero informed him matter-of-factly, gliding hands under the white tee-shirt, kneading the velvet-smooth, firmly defined muscles under his hands.

Duo arched against his hands and up against his hips, pushing his head back to cry out, then he started at the ripping noise. "Nani..."

"Oops," Heero muttered, poking a finger through the rip he'd accidentally made in Duo's shirt, in his impatience to push it aside.

"Heero! Ch', that was my favorite nightshirt!"

"*Was,*" Heero smirked, making a furrow upwards with two hooked fingers to tear it completely apart.

Duo opened his mouth.

He lodged his complaint with Heero's tongue, as the Japanese pilot took the parted lips for an offering and made use of it.

"So...I guess we're going to the resort?" Duo said breathlessly, as a hot mouth plied his skin, taking a downward journey.

Heero nipped at his stomach. "Might as well," he replied.

"Well then...let's see if we can't make the bedsprings squeak one more time in this old place."

Heero gave him a feral grin. "Just squeak?"

Duo blinked. "But...the security deposit...mmph--"

* * *

"Trowa, come look at this," a blond young man frowned down at his computer, raising a cup of tea thoughtfully to his lips.

A tall lanky shape unfurled from a tangled pile of bedclothes, and Trowa padded with lazy grace across the huge room barefoot, brushing long bangs out of his eyes. Quatre's eyes wandered over him appreciatively as he approached, then Trowa was bending over his shoulder, eyeing the screen, still smelling of musk and sweat.

"Relena Peacecraft...? How'd she find your account?" Trowa inquired, frowning.

Quatre shrugged helplessly. "Money and power have their way with things."

Trowa's lips quirked. "Of course." He brushed a light closed-mouth caress over the soft cheek next to his. "*You* certainly do."

Quatre flushed. "Trowa," he objected. "Be serious."

"So Relena-san is offering us asylum, at this resort place?" Trowa's green eyes pierced consideration.

"This complex is quite secure," Quatre said stoutly. "The Maganacs have seen to our safety."

"Yes, but if Relena-san can discover your whereabouts..." Trowa trailed off, running a finger over the back of the blond boy's neck.

"There is that," Quatre agreed absently, tilting his head to expose more skin to the search.

"This sounds like bait to lure Heero in, by offering the invitation to all of us," Trowa observed wryly, then replaced the finger with his lips, nibbling along the exposed curve of neck.

"Aa," Quatre agreed, closing his eyes and leaning back. Trowa's arms encircled him, one hand slipping down the open neck of his green shirt.



"Put your teacup down."

* * *

"Kisama," Wufei glowered at the computer screen. He would have to ditch this provider now that Relena had traced it, and go to all the trouble of arranging a new mail dump. His lip curled. The silly chit would cost him hours of work.

"Sanctuary?" he huffed, drawing his chest up proudly. "Chang Wufei has no need of a woman's aid, much less *her* asylum." Absently he wondered what Relena would be gaining out of this offer.

Uneasily he expelled the breath he'd drawn. If Relena could find him... Treize could probably find him...

Suddenly his high cheekbones flushed. Perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing to accept a woman's hospitality, after all. That was their purview anyhow.

Wufei allowed himself to consider other options. He couldn't just stay here holed up alone with Nataku; he'd start talking to the walls and taking the shadows for *real* kenpo opponents. But it was too soon to seek out Khushrenada for another...rematch. And he didn't want Treize taking the initiative and finding him, himself.

He took note of the address Peacecraft's mail provided, then deleted the mail.

He could, perhaps, even use this opportunity to test his strength against the other pilots. By doing so he could possibly gain the edge he needed to finally, at last, defeat Treize Khushrenada.

* * *

Part Three

The battered freight truck pulled up to a ponderous stop in the wide circle driveway in front of the complex of low-slung, gracefully appointed buildings. Duo skimmed them over with an appreciative eye, while Heero merely twitched an eyebrow.

"Sugoi! Relena does know how to pick a place, I have to give her that," Duo commented, bouncing on the seat. He looked eager to explore.

A tall thin man approached the bulky freighter, looking groomed to within an inch of his life and very conscious of the fact.

"Relena-sama has instructed me to greet you," the man informed them, nose upturned.

Heero eyed the man coldly. "Where can we park?"

The man blinked. "We have valets for that job."

Heero didn't blink. "I'd prefer to park it myself."

"As you wish," he returned stiffly. "I believe Relena-sama intended for be parked in the underground lot west of the complex." He lifted a hand to point.

Heero nodded acknowledgment and shifted the truck into gear. With a jab to the accelerator, he spun the truck down the driveway with enough momentum to leave the man behind, coughing in a cloud of dust. Duo grinned at him.

"You're feeling positively wicked today, aren't you?"

Heero grunted. "Just wait 'til we meet up with Relena."

"Oh, I am," Duo replied mischievously. Then he lapsed into silence in the passenger seat, tucking a leg up under him and chewing on the end of his braid. His large violet eyes fixed almost absently on Heero, misleadingly expressionless. Heero failed to notice as he maneuvered the truck down a gravel road two sizes too small for the freighter, and finally located the entrance to the underground lot.

Heero pulled to a stop at a space near the end of the lot, a frown of concentration fixing his brow as he backed the oversized vehicle very carefully into place. "Well, that's it," he pronounced, shifting into park. "You ready?" His face was fixed firmly in his most blank non-expression, but Duo could tell from the tightness at the corners of his eyes that he wasn't particularly pleased to be here.

Well, neither was *he*.

Duo scooted over the interval of seat between them, eyes overshadowed by the bangs falling in his eyes. "Not just yet," he muttered, voice catching. He slid his arms around Heero's waist, pulling the other boy taut against him, fitting himself securely to Heero's backside. Heero was stiff for a moment, caught off-guard, then he relaxed into the hug.

"Duo," he pronounced, a bit surprised. "You're not still--"

Duo cut him off, grabbing his chin fiercely, pulling his head around and stretching to cover the open mouth with his own, meshing his tongue against Heero's, tasting him until the Japanese pilot responded to the turbulent insistence and thrust his own tongue against Duo's. Heero wriggled a bit and Duo frowned in the midst of the kiss, but the Wing pilot only freed his hands to clasp at Duo's thighs, stroking them with his palms.

Duo broke the kiss and nuzzled at the corner of Heero's mouth, tasting him again, pulling him taut against his body as the other hand slipped down possessively to cup at the junction of Heero's thighs, brushing over the bulge of his jeans. He knew why he was doing it, he just couldn't stop himself...and Heero felt so very right.

And Heero didn't seem to have any objections.

He listened to Heero's labored breathing fill up the cab of the truck as he teased at the zipper of his jeans, making a downward progress. And with his other hand he cupped and kneaded at the tensing stomach muscles under his palm, and kissed his neck, a moist trail of fire making Heero's skin rigid beneath his fingers.

The Japanese pilot's throat released an explosive groan, the first noise, as Duo's hand gained entry, pushing aside the opened folds of denim, hand moving in slow beats until the rhythm quickened to Heero's breath and sudden twist of his hips.

"Duo, you..."

He silenced him with another kiss, Heero's head thudding against his shoulder as his whole body strained up, chest rising in pants as Duo moved faster. He held Heero's lip in his mouth, ran his tongue along its wet swollen line and then sucked on his neck as he tucked Heero's body firmly against his lap and rocked to the same cadence of his hand.

"Heero..." he mumbled, a low groan struggling to escape as their bodies vibrated to the same feverish pitch. His hand dug into Heero's lap, evoking a startled cry from his lover, and an answering shove. Heero's hands tightened on his thighs, painfully tight, flexing to draw him closer and Duo obligingly sped his thrusts, a whimper escaping his lips. He whispered into the mouth that strained back to meet his, "You're mine. *Mine.*"

Heero's breath stuttered over his parted lips, as his hard length throbbed violently in Duo's hand. Duo kissed him thoroughly as he came, his hand continuing to pull until Heero's hips had stilled, spent.

Then he closed his own eyes and hugged Heero tightly in his arms and rolled his hips against his lover's tight denim-clad bottom until he reached his own release, sobbing out Heero's name into the fragrant thick dark hair.

They relaxed for a long moment in silence, letting the dark cab wrap around them with its suddenly musky scent. Heero was limp in his arms, head thrown back against his shoulder, and he rested the side of his head against Heero's.

"Feel better?" he finally asked, rubbing a hand over Heero's stomach. It trembled under the pads of his fingers, still sensitive.

Heero's hands brushed lightly back and forth over his legs. "Shouldn't I be asking you that?" he replied quietly, worming free of Duo's arms to face him, shadowed dark face confronting him with intensity.

Duo plastered on a wide smile. "Why, Heero, whatever are you talking about?" He lifted an inquiring eyebrow, still smiling jovially.

Heero cocked his head, lips and brows united in a small considering frown.

Before he could say anything, however, Duo popped open the door, scooping his bag out of the backseat. "We'd better get going. I'm sure Relena is waiting anxiously."

"Fuck Relena," Heero growled, zipping his pants before he reached to grab his bag, too.

Duo shot him an astonished look over his shoulder. "God, I hope not."

* * *

She brushed at the long green skirt of the dress she'd carefully selected, then tucked a strand of golden hair behind one ear. Finally. She was almost breathless; the air in her lungs had left in a rush when Haruka had informed her that two of the Gundam pilots had arrived...Heero and Duo, by the description.



She blushed a little, then scanned the road with her eyes.

Surely it couldn't take *that* long to park a car.

After a few more minutes of twisting a fold of the dress in her hands, she frowned. Were they parking the car, or had they gotten lost? Well, if Duo was driving, maybe that wasn't so implausible. Why Heero saw fit to hang out with the long-haired chatterbox had always been beyond her. She'd been against him ever since she'd laid eyes on him, when he had shot Heero -- twice! Swiftly she brushed by the accompanying thought that he'd done it because Heero had had a gun leveled at her head at the time.

This was taking *way* too long.

Finally two figures trudged up the road, bags slung over their shoulders. Heero was some five feet behind the bouncing, upbeat American pilot, one hand shoved deep in his pocket, his head down. When he lifted it, and their eyes met, a frisson shivered through her chest. His eyes were burning...intense... He shot a look at his companion, then his eyes dropped again.

Duo was smiling at her, bowing extravagantly. "Konnichiwa, Relena-san. Thank you very much for your so-kind invitation to take some time out at your extensive resort."

She nodded at him, lips lifting in a perfunctory Company smile. "Think nothing of it, Duo-san." Her eyes fixed on Heero.

Heero barely looked at her. "Yo."

Her smile crumbled a bit, then she maintained it firmly. "Why don't you two come in?"

They followed her into the building, looking around curiously at the lavish surroundings. She had seen to the refurbishment of the complex upon its purchase, and had inspected it personally...everything should be perfect.

"What took you two so long?" she asked, to cover her confusion at Heero's almost-snub.

Duo blinked at her, eyes wide. "We were coming."

"We were parking," Heero replied simultaneously, then blinked at Duo. He coughed a little.

If she didn't know better...she'd say Heero's cheeks were faintly red.

"Aaaah, such a long drive," Duo exclaimed, throwing his arms wide and stretching, turning in a circle to look at the fountain, the columns supporting the ceiling, the richly detailed carpet, the hangings on the walls. "Where are our rooms?"

Relena smiled modestly. "Everyone has a suite on the upper floors." She caught Duo glancing at Heero, the Japanese pilot's eyes still turned down.

"Do we get to pick our rooms?" Duo asked with interest, blue eyes bright.

Relena smiled diplomatically. "I took the liberty of choosing a suite for everyone."

"Sou ka," Duo nodded, his eyes narrowing.

Heero remained silent.

"Would you two like the tour of the facilities?" Relena inquired, smiling in Heero's direction, hoping to provoke some sort of reaction from him.

"Actually I'm pretty tired from the drive...screaming in terror from Heero's driving, and all that. Could I see my room, please?" Duo answered, still smiling, tucking hands into his pockets. He shot another look at Heero, indecipherable.

She smiled in triumph. "Of course," she replied, motioning to Haruka, who approached at once. Haruka could show the braided boy his room, and she could have Heero all to herself.

Duo began to walk after the seneschal, hitching his pack higher on his shoulder.

She turned to Heero, opening her mouth to comment on how pleased she was that he'd accepted her invitation.

Heero was walking after Haruka and Duo.

Relena gritted her teeth. Well, she'd get him at dinner. She'd orchestrated the seating arrangements, too, as well as room accommodations.

* * *

Heero turned at the knock on his door. Suspiciously, he approached the wooden panel, and opened it a crack, sticking his eye through to ascertain that the persistent blonde menace hadn't followed him...again.

A blue-violet eye peered back at him. It blinked expectantly.

He exhaled through his mouth, shut the door, and undid the guard chain. Duo pounced on him immediately, smothering him with open-mouthed kisses as he struggled to shut the door behind them, staggering away from the door.

"Hiya!" Duo chirped, then kissed him again. "Boy, she certainly didn't waste any time separating us, ne, Heero? Our rooms are so far apart it's going to be awfully hard to sneak in at night. And I thought Haruka would *never* leave, honestly, you'd think he was *paid* to watch me like she thought I was gonna steal the silver or something..."

"Duo," Heero inserted forcefully, "Shut UP." To soften the words he kissed the rambling mouth.

Duo grinned at him, unabashedly cheerful again. Heero was glad...if that quick session in the car had relieved the tension, somewhat, so much for the better. He wondered how far he would have to go, sometimes, to reassure Duo that Relena wasn't going to be able to steal him away from the American pilot, no matter what she tried. And that he wasn't going to leave him. He tightened his arms around Duo. Not again, he would never leave him again.

"Do you think she suspects?" Duo chuckled quietly, tracing a finger over the light bruise on Heero's neck.

Heero raised an eyebrow. "That certainly would make things much harder." He dug his fingers into Duo's back and kissed him again, softly. "If she suspects, then she'll probably be that much more persistent to prove that we're not...that I'm not--"

Duo put a hand over his mouth, grinning. "Not shacking up with another boy?"

Heero bit his finger. "Exactly. I just don't think she can handle reality."

Duo bussed him swiftly and enthusiastically, then tried to flip him in the direction of the bed. Heero resisted and glared. "Duo. Not now."

The American pilot gave him mournful puppy eyes.

Heero sighed. "Not *now.*"

Duo blinked and gave him another one of the piteous looks in his repertoire. He snuggled up to him and tried to kiss his ear.

Heero did the only thing he could under the circumstances.

He punched him.

* * *

Relena blinked in surprise as Duo descended the stairs, holding a large ice pack to his nose. "Duo-kun, what happened?"

"My nose bet with an ibbovable object," Duo replied dolefully.

"Is it bleeding?"

"Iya," Duo replied, trying to shake his head and wincing. "Just a bit swollen."

"You had your own ice pack?" Relena was astounded. Was the boy a complete klutz, that this happened so often?

"Ano...this kind of thing happens frequently..."

* * *

Part Four

Duo tipped his head at the statue and looked at it, then a detailed, exquisite oil painting, out of the corner of his eye. He was absently toying with the idea of stealing something only because it seemed like it was *expected* of him.

Haruka had been following him all afternoon.

With a slightly maniacal chuckle, he began to walk down the large curving hallway with the firm intention of losing his shadow. Haruka paused for a moment, dusting off a tapestry, then turned to follow, trying not to look too obvious and failing profoundly.

Heero was still holed up in his suite, avoiding the plans Relena had scheduled for the afternoon. Her face declaimed reluctance as she was forced to give only Duo the grand tour of the resort, and the rounds she had made with him had been perfunctory and fairly graceless.

He dodged into a side door, wedged a chair under the knob, then climbed out through the window. If *that* didn't stop the valet, nothing would. Dusting his hands off, he ambled peacefully through the forecourt of the resort, admiring the lush greenery that sprawled out in well-tended beds. Then, pausing to dip a finger into the fountain, he flipped a penny into its still waters, looking up at Heero's window, before moving on.

He chuckled to himself as he heard a frustrated voice raised in irritation at some hapless servant; Haruka's baritone.

Stuffing hands into his pockets, Duo meandered back into the building proper. He felt a bit remorseful for being so persistent with Heero, so recently...but sometimes, it felt like getting into Heero's pants was the only way to be assured that Heero's attention was firmly fixed on him. And besides, sometimes if *he* didn't make a move, he wouldn't be getting any at all...he'd tried waiting for Heero to take the initiative, before, and ended up very frustrated for three whole weeks.

Not to say that Heero couldn't be spontaneous.

He blushed a bit as he recalled some of the times -- and strange places -- Heero had surprised him.

But usually, it was he who had to get things started. He frowned. More and more lately, he knew he was doing it for the reassurance...that Heero was still *here.* Still his. He knew that he would always belong to Heero...but Heero, in return, had never even said that he loved him. A frown tugged at his brow that he wouldn't allow to reach his lips. And more and more, as he said it to Heero in bed at night, or on the spur of the moment, the lack of response was starting to eat away at him.

"Baka," he told himself, fiercely. It was stupid to doubt...Heero loved him. Didn't he? He must. He hadn't said it but that didn't mean... Suddenly he felt helpless. "Baka yaro."

He broke into a jog, rounding a corner, and bumped into someone shorter than him. Piteously Duo rubbed his nose. That poor organ couldn't take too much more abuse in one day.

"Ouch," Quatre rubbed at his own nose, staggering back a pace.

"Quatre-kun!" Duo grinned widely, then spotted the tall figure at some distance behind the blond Arabian. "Oi, Trowa, man!"

Quatre beamed at him, blue eyes alight, and Trowa turned, lifting a slender-fingered hand in acknowledgment. "Konnichiwa, Duo!" the pilot of Sandrock replied, smiling happily. "Such a nice thing of Relena, to invite us all!"

"Yeah, very nice," Duo agreed, fitting a wide smile to stretch the corners of his mouth, hiding the tight ache that sprang up.

Quatre's eyes were knowing. He gave Duo a gentle nod. "We should have fun while we can."

Duo shrugged. "Has Relena given you the grand tour yet? It's quite a place," he grinned, gesturing widely.

"No, we just got here," Quatre replied, body language unconsciously inclining towards the lean pilot of Heavyarms, including him emphatically in the plural.

Duo grinned. They were such a sweet couple. Approaching on seven months, they were...and Duo had no doubt that they'd finesse their way past Relena's 'room arrangements' just as he had every intention of doing. Besides, for all Trowa's distance across the room, with a good ten feet between them, the way he shifted every time Quatre moved indicated quite clearly to Duo that the tall pilot had no intention of letting Quatre out of his sight. He wondered if anything had happened recently.

"Well, let me volunteer," he nodded cheerfully.

"We should put our bags up first...what arrangements did Relena make for our rooms, Duo-kun?"

Duo smirked. "Separate ones, of course." His eyes flicked briefly between the two pilots.

Surprisingly, Quatre blushed. "A-ano..." he stammered. "I figured that." His face was bright red.

Duo gave him a naughty grin. "But you're not going to let it stop you, eh?"


"Stop teasing him."

It was the first time Trowa had spoken since he'd entered the room. Duo met Trowa's calm green eyes, not particularly fierce or challenging, but matter-of-fact. He gave Trowa a grin and a thumb's up.

"Well, I dunno which rooms she picked out for you, but..." Duo half-turned, sensing a flicker of motion. As he'd suspected, his shadow had returned. "*He* knows!" He pinioned Haruka with an almost accusatory finger.

Haruka jumped. "Sir?" he inquired, striving to maintain an air of diffidence.

Duo smiled cheerfully at him. "Show them to their rooms, my man."

A tic pulsed in Haruka's cheek. "Very good, sir."

* * *

A soft, timid knock sounded on his door. Resolutely Heero ignored it. Duo's knocking was much more forceful, less...hesitant, just like the bold cheerful boy himself.

"Heero...I know you have to be in there." Relena's voice was determined.

For a moment, Heero contemplated the havoc replying 'no, I'm not,' would produce. With a tiny sigh he switched off the laptop, eyes working over his surroundings, and started for the window.

"Heero, onegai...I'd like to talk to you."

Heero muttered something under his breath.

If he wanted to talk to her, he would've let her drag him on the 'grand tour.' What would he have to do to get her to realize he didn't want to take any of those opportunities to be alone?

Hm...they were on the second story. It wasn't *too* high of a drop. Heero climbed over the sill and let himself fall, just as he heard Relena calling out again, knocking more strongly. His eyes snapped open and he landed on top of a bush, breaking his fall. Damn, that penetrating shrill, he'd even heard it in a half-daze falling off a thirty-story building, snapping out of it to tug open the parachute that should've broken his fall.

Duo had been with him back then, too. Only...

He gritted his teeth and climbed out of the bush, ignoring the various cuts and scrapes. Absently he wondered where in this extended resort his lover was. Back then, though, they hadn't been had only been at one of the various private schools he and Duo had toured while scouting for possible missions, after an abortive visit from Relena, that he'd realized who he *really* wanted.

A vague smile crossed his normally stony lips.

And Duo had taught him an entirely new way to consider the alphabet.

Heero dusted off his hands on the back of his jeans. After a shower and a change, he was feeling less awkward about what had happened in the truck earlier. Normally, Duo had a fairly high libido...and he had to admit, it didn't bother him one bit...but this was a little unusual even for him. Even after talking two nights ago, Duo still didn't feel completely sure of him. And though they'd been together for what was very nearly a year, Duo still wasn't convinced... Well, *he* still hadn't said... Heero frowned.

With Relena ditched, he was now free to pursue other matters.

The Japanese pilot set off to prowl the complex with a determined expression.

* * *

Relena frowned at the closed door, her hand falling back to her side. Heero had to be inside -- he hadn't come down the stairs. She had waited patiently enough, for awhile, until waiting was no longer an option. Her fingers twisted as she bit her lip.

Dreaming of Heero, these past months, had been quite sweet...his smoldering stare, the softly uttered words framing her voice, or the refrain of a threat she knew he simply didn't have the heart to follow through...when his heart was hers. He'd always been hers, from that moment she had reached to touch the thick dark hair of the boy who'd been washed up on the glittering sun-sparked sands of a beach. She had been the first to mark his passage on earth, the prince fallen from the sky to pierce her loneliness.

With the reality here, though, only a panel of wood between them...dreams were so empty. They had only been a spur urging her on to truly find him, and grasp the happiness she deserved.

"Heero. HEERO! I *know* you're in there!" she cried again, frustrated. "Unless you jumped out the window, you're trying to avoid me again...but now that you're here, I won't let you. And I know you have to care, at least a little bit, or you wouldn't have come."

She waited again, expectantly.

No answer.

Relena ground her teeth and considered what words might have the power to draw Heero out of his seclusion. She couldn't tell him she loved him -- not yet -- because although his feelings might --must!-- lean in that direction, men were timid that way. She might cause him to draw further away with those words.

Because above all, she knew that Heero was trying to protect her. That was why he tried so very hard to drive her away.

She smiled grimly. She wasn't fooled, and she refused to let him protect her. Not from him. "Heero!" she called again. "Unless you're afraid to face me..."

Now, no *real* man would be able to turn down that challenge. Surely.

She waited expectantly.



With a disgruntled noise, Relena turned away from the door. Either he was sleeping -- unlikely, for what could have exhausted him so? -- or he had somehow managed to slip past her unawares. Relena was disappointed. She'd set Jarvis at the other staircase, but perhaps he'd been remiss. Heero was like the shadow itself.

Heels clicking over the polished floor, Relena set out to find the object of her affection.

* * *

Wufei approached the complex stealthily, like a panther adhering to the long shadows that clung to the ground in the waning sun that lit up the horizon with molten bronze and ruddy fire. Nataku was secured in the thick surrounding forest, and he disdained to do things conforming to Peacecraft's ideas of protocol. He wanted to know what he was getting into here before he decided to do this.

Besides, this was more fun.

His eyes flickered over the ground floor, then the second. Deciding which to penetrate first.

The second would be easier. Who would suspect such an approach?

Wufei dug fingers into the ivy-wrapped trellis that bit into the brick wall, and heaved himself on it experimentally. His slight, lean frame shook the tenuous structure and he paused, then resumed the climb swiftly. It should hold long enough. Groping for a sill near his ear, he latched on with one hand, then the other, and with the sheer strength in his arms hauled himself up. His head popped over the sill.

Wufei's eyes widened, then narrowed.

The long, slim line of Trowa Barton's back confronted him -- he recognized the hair -- and beside him was a golden-haired youth. They weren't touching; they weren't even particularly close, but somehow the look on Quatre's upturned face made his chest grow tight with an unnameable ache. The lines of Quatre's mouth softened, and his blue eyes were bright and clear. Trowa's posture shifted ever so slightly and Wufei frowned, trying to pinpoint the difference. Ah...he recognized it...the tension had seeped out of his shoulders and back.

The taller, silent pilot lifted a slim hand, tapered fingers coming to rest against Quatre's cheek. A thumb brushed over the flushed, trembling lips and they parted for him, Quatre's blue eyes closing. A small sigh fluttered through the room -- Wufei wasn't sure if it was Trowa or Quatre, it was a low, husky noise filled with longing, yet somehow...completion.

His grip loosened on the windowsill.

Flushing a little, Wufei allowed himself to drop back to the ground, bending his knees to soften the impact and tumbling at the very end, to make sure he didn't break a leg like that idiot Yuy. What was between Trowa and Quatre was personal, and private, and none of his he had to make himself scarce there. He felt guilty for witnessing as much as he had.

Wufei skulked around the curve of the building, then found a marvelously convenient, open entrance to a garden enclosed within, a fountain playing a stream of glittering sun-kissed drops over the broad lip of a marble pool. He nodded with satisfaction and adjusted the pack over his shoulders. Finally, he was getting somewhere. It was quite a nice place the Peacecraft girl had here.


Voices splintered into the courtyard from a nearby hallway, Relena's resounding tones among them, and Wufei jerked, diving for the nearest shelter -- underneath a trio of huge, thickly-leafed potted palms set beside a large marble column.

He blinked into narrowed, flat cobalt-blue eyes.

"What are you doing here?" Heero Yuy hissed at him, curled up beside a potted palm and trying obviously to cover up the fact that he'd been hiding.

From Relena?

Wufei stiffened, individual vertebrae in his back popping upwards as he drew himself to his full height, seated. "I am doing an initial reconnaissance before plunging into possibly hostile territory."

Heero's eyebrow twitched. "I should've done that," he muttered, almost to himself. His eyes flicked in Relena's direction.

Wufei snorted. "I'm surprised you didn't think of it yourself."

The voices grew louder, and Heero shrank back into the dubious safety the leaves of the palm could provide him. "She's coming."

He blinked at the pilot of Wing Zero. Yuy, afraid of a mere woman? Was the world coming to an end? He'd thought Heero was afraid of nothing; he had unflinchingly self-destructed when faced with threat to the colonies, so why would the sound of Peacecraft's voice send him running for the nearest cover?

He blinked. "She's chasing you, isn't she?" It dawned on him. "So *that's* why she invited us here."

Heero glared at him and didn't answer.

Wufei smirked. "I suppose she must be extraordinarily persistent, for you to have resorted to such tactics, Yuy."

"You have no idea."

* * *

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