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Title: The Bone Gate
Authors: Nix Winter and LunarGeography (Amy the Evitable)
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4
Rating: Mature adults only
Warnings: Angst, spooky occult stuff, and boys who are not what they seemed to be. Post EW
Archive: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3244342/1/, http://www.therck.org, http://www.gundam-wing-diaries.150m.com/gw/Single_Authors/gwsingleauthors.htm, all others please ask
Disclaimer:
No infringement of the copyright of Gundam Wing is intended. This story is purely for entertainment purposes.
Date: Posted 10 February 2008

Summary: After Endless Waltz, the pilots are separated by the fears of the new government. But all is not well with the G-boys. Old enemies may be pulling strings from somewhere unimaginably far behind the scenes, and old friends may not be what they seem.

*xxx*: Thoughts
[xxx]: Text on screen

Chapter 10

  ~*Trowa*~

Trowa took a deep breath and moved in closer behind Quatre. He didn't say anything, but the doctor and the med-bay behind her were very obviously Sweeper, which made sense. Trowa laid a hand on Quatre's back, just wanting the connection, waiting for the rest of the conversation to play out.  They hadn't known what to make of the call from the stranger, half-afraid it was someone from the media. 

"Please, is Duo well? Safe? Oh, yes, it's ok to talk. We're... Well, I don't know exactly where, but it's secure, ne, Trowa?" Quatre was vibrating with expectation, clutching at Trowa's hand.

Heero stepped forward into vid range. "He's alive."

"Oh, thank Allah. Where is he? Is he hurt? Is he with you? Can I talk to him?"

Trowa had to suppress a smile. Quatre wasn't giving Heero a chance to answer his frantic questions, but he wouldn't say anything that might interfere with the return of unfettered joy to his husband.

"Duo... He's not hurt but not entirely well. Une's been pulling his strings, threatening the rest of us to get him to see some..." Heero's face took on a look of cold fury. "...Some therapist, and her files indicate that she might have an underlying motive of which I would not approve. Of which none of us would approve. You two probably have tracking chips in you. Duo and I did. You'll want to have them removed."

A black rage spiraled up into Trowa like an impending tornado. He didn't think there had been an opportunity to put a chip in him, though he suspected Heero's information was good.  "We did not all work for Preventers, though. At least I did not do much for them."

"Remember the physical exams we all had to take, even for auxiliary Preventer status?" Heero gave a grim nod as Trowa felt his fury become more solid.

Duo peeked his head out from behind Heero, blue bangs falling over his face. "I'm fine. I just wanted a change of environment, permanently. Hi, Quat. Hi, Trowa. Sorry I couldn't tell you. If you all knew what I was planning... well, I didn't want you to get in trouble if I got caught."

Trowa leaned towards the camera. "I knew you weren't dead." He almost promised to kick Duo's ass too, but something about his friend looked fragile. He tried for a lighter topic, to assuage the fear lurking around violet eyes. "Your hair is blue. Were you thinking about joining the circus?"

In a rare breach of manners, Quatre interrupted. "Duo! I'm so glad you're alive! I was so worried, I didn't think you'd do something like that, but... Please don't ever scare us like that again!" He smiled up at Trowa. "My husband really was sure you hadn't really killed yourself, though."

Heero blinked. "Husband?" He seemed to ponder a moment. "That's good. But I thought L4 didn't recognize same-sex marriages."

"L2 is more comfortable," Trowa said, smiling. "I've changed my name. I'm Fluffy Winner now. We would have waited for you, but there was a sense of urgency."

"Fluffy?" Heero's look of bafflement would have been amusing in other circumstances. But Quatre was so pale, and he was gradually letting Trowa support more of his weight as they stood talking on the phone. Trowa just couldn't feel amused right now.

"Quatre gave me the name," Trowa smiled, but the conclusions he was reaching kept the smile from being genuine. Duo was behaving very oddly and it didn't take much to draw a line between Duo's strange behavior and Quatre's similarly strange behavior.

Duo held onto Heero's shirt; it was a child-like gesture. "I'm glad you guys got married. You guys should be happy... I'm sorry, Quatre. I didn't think it would worry you all that much. You weren't very upset were you? I mean, I didn't mean to upset you. I just, I just was, it was like I was getting headaches and I couldn't think and I ... I don't know... I just, uh," Duo said, shrinking just a little bit farther behind Heero. "I didn't mean to hurt you, ever."

As Duo spoke, Trowa noted Heero's hands clenching and unclenching until Heero reached around to pull Duo close to him. He tucked Duo's head under his chin and stroked the short hair and trembling back. Duo still was trying to hide from the camera – which gave Trowa more fuel for his fire -- so Heero ended up with his back to the vidphone, Duo held close to his chest, and had to crane his neck in order to watch Trowa as he spoke.

Trowa scowled. "Duo. Who hurt you like this? Heero? We need to talk. If there was a purpose behind this, it's not likely to stop just because Duo broke away."

"Agreed. We need to gather, along with Wufei. Is he on L2, as well? There are files of Une you should look through. They are on my --" Trowa was treated to the unique sight of Heero's jaw dropping open in shock. " -- My laptop. Which I left in the morgue."

Quatre took advantage of the shocked silence. "Duo -- of course I was upset. You're my dear friend! I don't want to lose you. You have headaches, too?"

Heero jerked his head to stare directly the camera at those words. "Quatre has had headaches? Barton -- I mean, Winner -- Fluffy? -- we need to centralize, and establish security. Pool data. And remind people that they should not tamper with my pack."

There was a low rumbling growl spilling out of Heero's chest, and Trowa thoroughly approved of the sentiment. Even if it had only been Duo that was targeted, redress had to be made. And since it damn well seemed to involve Quatre as well... Trowa found himself wanting to growl as well. "Where are you? If we join you they will track you through us. We must have the tracking chips removed."

At Trowa's tone, Duo finally moved around to face the vid camera with a look of distress on his face.  "Trowa, I really didn't mean to upset you and Quatre. Q... you don't look good. I didn't mean to do that to you. I'm so sorry!" Tears filled Duo's eyes. "I missed you both so much!"

"Oh, no, Duo, it's not your fault! I've just not been feeling well, that's all. And by doing what you did, you brought us back together, so I'm not angry! Just worried, and had a bad scare, that's all." Duo's tears seemed to trouble Quatre deeply-- Trowa's husband was starting to shake, and little lines of stress or pain were appearing at the corners of his eyes and between his eyebrows. It was extremely out of character for Quatre not to be offering an analysis of the situation, or suggesting plans. Extremely so.

"I'm so glad you're not mad at me, Q. You got married? I can't believe you got married! That's so wonderful! We should have a party!" Duo paused.  "I don't know if I should go out though. I mean, I went out to get Heero and no one recognized me. Maybe I'm just tired. I can't think real well. Heero? Do you think Quatre's place would be safe?"

Trowa suspected the cold in Heero's eyes  was a match to his own. Trowa knew Heero would be doing his own comparison of Quatre and Duo's symptoms, and not liking the result. "We are currently on a Sweeper ship at the port. They were able to somehow scramble my signal until they excised the chip. I don't know if the same trick will work twice, but it does not require a full medical facility to locate and remove the chips. We can change locations, but we will need rest soon.

"Can you have your chips removed at your current location, Trowa? It would be best to leave them functional and leave them somewhere you would be expected to gather. A Winner property, maybe. Wufei should do the same. We may wish to leave this ship as our safehouse." Heero scowled.  "Can you assure the security of a local Winner property? Once you have confirmed that it is secure, Duo and I can join you. We can take precautions to prevent being recognized."

"Maybe you guys could come here?" Duo offered the suggestion diffidently. "The ship is secure. Maybe you guys should come here? I don't know what would be safe anymore. I had it all planned out, but I was only thinking about logistics for just myself."

Trowa did not like seeing Duo so skittish. It was the same type of self-doubt and timidity that was in Quatre now. He was going to kill someone over this. He had several ideas about how to make the deaths painful and prolonged. "We will get our chips removed here. If Quatre is agreeable, we'll find secure means to join you. We'll leave the chips - there is no reason for anyone not to believe that Quatre and I would stay here for an extended period. I have not heard from Wufei yet. I am unsure of his loyalties. Quatre, what is your opinion?"

"I think we need to talk to Wufei. I admit, he's more closely tied to Une and therefore the Preventers as an organization than we are, but... He is one of us." Quatre gave a little shrug, and Trowa noticed how his thin shoulders shook as he did so, and how his pallor was worsening. "He was difficult on the phone just now, but he sounded upset, almost panicked. Earlier when I spoke to him, he was genuinely grieving over Duo, and was fully aware of what he owed the rest of us. He said he had information we ought to have."

Heero nodded. "There's a great deal I want to know about Une and what she is up to. I also want to talk to Wufei. If you doubt him, Trowa, why don't you and Quatre ask him to deliver my laptop to you? That would be a small test of his loyalties and give you a chance to evaluate him in person before you reveal any information about Duo. Once you have the chips removed, I have no difficulty with making this location the center of our operations, if Howard is agreeable. But we need to go. I am seeking information on Duo's health, and there may be an update available."

Trowa thought the data must have been secure or available from another source if Heero were willing to trust possibly compromised hands with it-- or perhaps Heero was absolutely certain of the security on his laptop.  He was still in shock that Heero had left the computer behind. "I will request that of him. We will all rest, then confirm plans before changing locations?"

"Agreed." Heero's nod was crisp. "Watch one another's backs. I am... uneasy."


~*Heero*~

Heero ended the phone conversation, and rapidly downed another bottle of sport drink while he processed his reactions. The conversation with Trowa and Quatre had been enlightening, worrying, and reassuring in almost equal measure. Quatre had looked terrible. Skinny and pale, with lips that were nearly colorless. Trowa was doing the balancing for both of them. Quatre had been quiet, rarely speaking except to reassure Duo, and had offered few suggestion on how to proceed.

Duo wasn't as physically ill as Quatre appeared, but the similarities in both of their behavioral changes were striking. Striking and ominous.

Trowa had looked stressed, but well. Err..  Fluffy. He'd been under the impression that people only changed last names when they were married. He suspected he had been misinformed.

Seeing them eased another heavy weight from his shoulders. It wouldn't be lifted until they were with him in person, to touch and smell and evaluate properly, but they were together and not dead. This was good. It was only Wufei whose status was completely unverified now, and Quatre had indicated they'd been in communication.

Heero turned to Doctor Kadowski, keeping an arm around Duo's waist. "Thank you for waiting. Do you have results?"

She referenced the papers in front of her, shuffling them without really looking at them, apparently nervous under the intensity of Heero's gaze. "You, Heero, appear to have just run a marathon or two, after fasting for a week or so. Not only had your blood sugar crashed, your body was on the verge of beginning to break down muscle tissue for protein. This usually only occurs after prolonged starvation, but your HbA1C shows no such problem -- your blood sugars have averaged perfectly normal for the last 3 months. You electrolyte levels were indeed off, and you've accumulated fatigue poisons like nobody's business.

"I suspect that with rest, food, and plentiful hydration, you'll be fine. I'm surprised that you've bounced back as far as you have with only a bit of rehydration. But there were other oddities in your metabolism that match with with Duo's told me about the alterations performed on you... " She shook her head, catching herself. "I would appreciate it if you could come in for a second check up before you go in case I'm wrong. Which I could be, as you are entirely anomalous and I have no baseline to reference."

Heero scowled. He truly did not enjoy being in a medical setting. But it took only one look at Duo to convince him to acquiesce. "Agreed. Any further news on Duo's condition?"

"Ahhh... At your suggestion, I took a closer look. His neurotransmitter levels are off, but I expected that given his report of depression and treatment... but they're not off in a way completely consistent with an episode of MDD, and the results are not quite what I'd expect from the meds he was prescribed. Nothing strange enough to set off any flags, just a series of small anomalies. And his toxicology results was the same. I'd like to analyze the pills Duo's been taking."

Duo was now crushed to his chest, wrapped in both of Heero's arms, and Heeo was glaring. He wasn't quite sure when his body had done these things, and he tried not to snarl at the Doctor. She wasn't the threat, he  reminded his instincts. "I will give you a sample. Duo, where are your pills?"

Duo straightened in his embrace. "Don't give my stuff away, Heero! My pills are in my bunk and I will give you some, Doc. Maybe we can replace them or I can just stop taking any. I didn't like the headaches they were giving me anyway." Duo smiled up at Heero then, taking away some of the sting of his chiding words, as well as a considerable fraction of Heero's cognitive capacity. Duo had the best smiles.

Heero knew Duo didn't like it when he was autocratic-- but there were some things he would not compromise on. "It is your choice to take replacements or not. But I do not want you taking any pills those people gave to you any longer."

Duo nodded. Despite the moment of annoyance, Duo was apparently very happy to be pressed up against him, and Heero was finding this extremely distracting. He had an erection to match Duo's and a rapidly shredding binding of self-control. One part of his head told him that he should be infuriated by this rebellious sexual desire, but it had no teeth.

"Duo, can we eat in your room?" He finished another sports drink in a long series of gulps, and he took the protein bar Doctor Kadowski's assistant was offering, and made quick work of it. The dizziness and fatigue were almost entirely alleviated. "Can we go there?"

Duo offered a smile -- bright, open, topped with violet eyes full of love. "Yeah, we can eat in the room," Duo wiggled a brown eyebrow. "We were having a conversation, if I remember. Important conversation."

"Oh, boys in love," Doc said. "Go. I'll have someone send up some food, so, uh, keep your pants on." She gave them both a grin worthy of any Sweeper kin.

Heero was blushing. Or flushing. Whichever was more appropriate to being teased by his Duo, with that utterly open look in his eyes. Heero hoped his own eyes were even a quarter as expressive as Duo's. He doubted it. All his eyes had ever effectively expressed, so far as he knew, was anger.

As they were exiting the door, the Doctor called out, "And Duo -- I expect you to drink the supplement I'm sending down. I want to get your weight back up."

Heero resolved to see that he did. Several options for rewarding compliance came to mind, and his face felt even warmer.

"My weight is fine. All muscle," Duo said. "I didn't lose that much weight... just a bit of fat I put on while living the cushy life of  a Preventer with an apartment to go home to. Heero, come on. I bet we could get a hold of a bathing room for a while too. Hot bath?"

The bath would give him an opportunity to evaluate that statement, Heero decided. And to further enjoy evaluating Duo...

He nodded. He hoped all of his staring wasn't bothering Duo.

"Yeah, and I can prove that the carpet doesn't match the drapes." Duo wiggled his eyebrows and moved to take Heero's hand, to draw Heero along, moving down the unmarked corridors with easy familiarity "We have big tubs on this ship too. I spend a lot of time on this ship, like before, before the war."

Heero followed. "Is this where you were trained to pilot?"

It was very different than J's laboratories had been. People here smiled, and chatted, and wore colorful and sometimes impractical clothing and hairstyles. People had probably smiled and chatted somewhere in J's labs, but never in front of J and rarely in front of his pupil. They had not much liked Heero, and Heero had not much liked anyone or anything at all. But here... Duo seemed to have been given a variety of nicknames, and all of them, even the ones that sounded derogatory, were said with affection. And people seemed to want to touch Duo -- to hug him, or gently hit his arm, or just squeeze his hand.

Heero could understand that. It made sense that everyone would want to touch Duo. He was beautiful and magnetic and did not frighten people away most of the time. He didn't mind the patting or the hand-holding so much, although he found himself moving closer to Duo when these things happened, as if to reaffirm his connection.  But he did not like watching Duo hug people. When Duo hugged others, he let go of Heero. When Duo hugged others, he was encircled by somebody else's arms, and they might sweep him away, out of Heero's sight.

No, he didn't like that at all. But Duo liked hugging people. Heero thought it would be a great sacrifice to ask Duo to stop hugging people, and saw no good reason why Duo would agree to do so.

Heero wasn't entirely left out of the welcome, though. The feeling seemed to be that Duo was family and Duo had brought Heero... so Heero was family too, even if he were a little intimidating. Smiles were directed warmly toward Heero as well, although no one but Duo seemed to want to touch him. In Heero's opinion, this was just as well. He didn't like strangers touching him.

As he followed Duo, his eyes were repeatedly drawn to the rounded ass (the cheeks fit in his hands as though they'd been engineered), to the paired arcs where neck became shoulder (the skin there felt like peaches, fuzzy and smooth at the same time), and the tiny shadowed hollow at the top of Duo's neck, right before the hair began to spill down (Had anyone ever seen this part of Duo before? Heero wanted to claim that hollow as his alone, and explore the contour with his lips and tongue.)

It made it extremely difficult to maintain alert awareness of his surroundings.

The bathing room was a  unexpectedly large, sparkling clean, and improbably contained a small inset waterfall. Shampoos and other bathing finery was set around. For a room on a ship, it was luxurious -- almost decadent -- but Heero knew Sweepers spent a lot of time in space, and would see no reason to be deprived of home comforts. Perhaps this place contributed to morale. Perhaps it had been constructed as an engineering challenge -- a waterfall in a ship's erratic artificial gravity!  In any case, the room was warm and humid, and felt safe. It was nothing like any of J's space facilities.

Duo closed the door and smiled at Heero. "We're safe here, Heero. As safe as anywhere in the Earthspere. Now we can talk, talk about what ... about, god damn, you had a tail! Are you sure you're okay?"

"A little tired, still, but I am much better after having had those sports drinks. Not shaky anymore."

There was no immediate reply. The expression on Duo's face indicated that he'd been asking for more than an update on Heero's physical status. Unfortunately, he really didn't have much information.

"J said to me more than once that I wasn't entirely human. That was the reason he selected me to be a pilot. I had a different metabolism. I was stronger, even before he started tampering, and I healed faster than normal." This was uncomfortable for him. He wasn't ashamed of his differences -- he'd never have survived half of what he'd survived without them -- but he'd never wanted to talk about them. If other people knew, they might be curious, like J, and look at him as a puzzle or a project. He hadn't liked that, and now that the colonies were safe and peace was established, he saw no reason to endure any more of that treatment. "J did some theorizing about where the differences might have come from, but his focus was on finding them and making use of them. Not explaining them. When I was younger, and was upset or angry, I would grow claws. I cannot remember ever having the tail before, or the ears.

"I remember J complaining frequently when I was very young about oddities in my behavior -- in how I tried to interact with people. He tried to modify the behaviors through training. I do not remember much of that. Eventually he chemically suppressed them. He was pleased with the results. Apparently the chemical regime suppressed many behaviors he found counter-productive in a soldier."

Damnit, he'd returned to speaking in a flat monotone, and he knew Duo did not like it when he spoke like that. He wanted Duo happy with him, so Duo would take off his clothes, and they could touch again. He stripped off his own shirt, hoping Duo would do the same.

Duo obliged. Heero stared at the pale chest that was revealed to him, captivated by the pink points of Duo's nipples, by the dark hollow of his navel. And bracketing it were the faintest shadows where Duo's hipbones protruded slightly, and he wanted to follow those twin curves down, so see where they met, where Duo's cock would be standing. He should be evaluating Duo's condition, to see if Duo's claims about his weight loss were true. He should be searching for the scars from Duo's self-inflicted injuries, so he could detect any additions. But for all that he was captivated by single features upon Duo's body, he couldn't manage anything like a clinical appraisal. There was just the sensual whole that was Duo.


~*Wufei*~

He chose to accompany Une to the Preventer branch office before he went to the Winner suites. He wasn't at all certain that he'd received all the relevant information from the vidphone briefing en route, and cherished a hope that they'd found something new. Preferably Yuy's location, rather than a trail of bodies he might have left behind him.

It was the right choice to make, because he was able to stop the IT department from trying to hack Heero's laptop. Which Heero had left behind at the morgue.

He rubbed his temples. Winner had been right. Leaving Heero alone here to do whatever investigating and...

He sighed and faced up to the situation like a man. Leaving Heero alone to investigate and carry whatever retaliation he felt necessary would have been dishonorable. Leaving Winner and Barton to contain Yuy would have been an act of cowardice.

He held the silver case gingerly, not putting it entirely beyond Heero to have equipped his favorite piece of technology with a self-destruct of some sort. The idiots had been trying to crack the first layer of protection with a password-bypassing program designed by Yuy himself. He'd explained the folly of this action to them in very small but pointed words. At length.

Just in case they hadn't taken his point, he'd taken the laptop with him. Yuy would want it back, and he didn't want to see Preventers L2 HQ blown up by a hacker's misstep.

Not quite. Not yet.

By the time he'd returned to the conference room that had been converted into Une's office, she'd finished speaking with the L2 top brass, and was sitting alone at the desk. Ready to tell her that he was going to have the chip removed whether she and Senate approved or not, he was caught by a sense of wrongness before the first word was uttered. She had her back to the door -- What was she thinking? -- and her posture was rigid. On the desk in front of her was a vase of flowers; roses, it looked like, dark red ones.

That was odd. The Preventers were not the sort of organization that would waste money on decorating, and even if some idiot thought the arrival of the Commander justified an attempt to make the building more attractive, roses were far too extravagant. They sent the wrong sort of message  Was one of the local agents attempting to court Une? Perhaps to avoid a reprimand for the bumbling at the scene of Maxwell's...? If so, he hadn't done his homework, because there was no way the roses wouldn't remind her of Khushrenada.

Frankly, they didn't make him terribly comfortable either, and it didn't help that Une had yet to acknowledge him hovering in the doorway. He entered, closing the door behind him, feeling an unpleasant sense of deja vu.

"Commander?"

He was ignored, again. She was staring fixedly at the roses, hands clenched into fists on the table in front of her. Her breathing was fast and shallow. The cloying scent of the flowers was filling the room, and Wufei felt his stomach twist in nausea. The last time he'd smelled that scent, there had been the clash of blades and the burning humiliation of having his life spared, of being found unworthy of an honorable death.

"Commander!" He didn't know what memories held her trapped or where in time she was lost, but they could not afford to have her break again as she had on Earth.

He couldn't afford it.

He laid a hand on her shoulder. How long had it been since he touched another person outside of a sparring match? Or an emergency? It was a ridiculous question to have sprung to mind, and furious, he banished it from his head. This was an emergency, of sorts, and that was the only reason he was touching Une. Touching the Commander.

A long moment, and her eyes moved to focus on him. Her lips shaped the word 'Chang,' but there was no breath behind it to give sound to his name.

Then she inhaled, a pained gasping noise, and she curled in on herself, chin to her chest, and her hands pressing between her breasts. The motion reminded of him of Winner's attacks, when his space heart caused him pain, and he recalled how Barton had touched Quatre, looked him in the eye and spoken softly, grounding him.

The laptop hit the cheap carpeting with a dull thud as he reached with both hands to lift Une's face, to direct her eyes to him. His fingers brushed her cheeks as she straightened of her own accord, and an inexplicable, horrifying sense of wrongness held him frozen. It was a moment out of his nightmares, and he was certain that in a moment the person before him would cease to be Une, and that the face that was tilting up to view him would be Treize's.

So certain he was of the impending transformation that when the eyes that met his were brown, Une's rich brown, it jarred him out of his paralysis. With a cry -- certainly not a shriek, just a noise of startlement, that was all -- he jerked backwards, hitting the wall behind him.

"Did I scare you, Wufei?"

His voice was still lost in the nightmare-terror. It's Une, he told himself. Just Une. Just Une. Just Une.

"I must apologize." The posture of the woman in the chair was perfect, the military exactitude he associated with Une. But she was resting her elbows on the chair arms, and steepling her hands before her face in a gesture he'd never seen her use before. "I was distracted when you entered, a most unforgivable lapse. The situation before us -- well, let us say it was handled without the proper degree of elegance."

It was Une before him. But the smile, full of amused superiority, that wasn't Une's. The tilt of the head, that wasn't Une's. The smooth-toned sensual speech containing too many unnecessary words, that wasn't Une's either. It was madness to think so, foolishness, but all these things belonged one someone else's face. Was he dreaming? Was this all one of his nightmares?

He wanted to wake up.

"You pilots deserve better than Maxwell's end. That was not a fitting death for a warrior, much less one of the greatest warriors of our time."

He forced his knees to take his weight, pushed away from the wall. He was not going to allow this unreasoning fear, this ridiculous nightmare-inspired delusion, to unman him. He was Chang Wufei, and he could manage his Commander's shifts in personae. He had thought she was cured of them, but he had apparently thought wrong. He needed to consult with someone, to determine if he was overreacting to a small shift in behavior, probably brought on by the recent tragedy. Yes. He needed to consult with Yuy, Barton, and Winner, and they would assure him he was overreacting.

Yuy. Laptop. Check.

He bent down to pick it up.

"I will see to it that appropriate action is taken, Wufei. I regret what has happened, most deeply. Rest assured that I will look into the situation and make remedy. Gather with your fellow pilots, my friend, and give Maxwell a send-off appropriate to a fallen warrior."

"Ah... Yes. Yes, I'll do that, Commander."

Right. Go to Winner's suite. They would find Yuy, and he'd realize this was all a delusion brought on by stress. He overrode the instinct to back out of the room, but couldn't find it in himself to offer his back to the Commander, so he ended up exiting the room with an awkward sideways shuffle. He closed the door behind him with a sense of relief that did not befit a son of the Dragon Clan.

On his way out, he asked the guard at the post about the roses.

"Oh, no, no, we don't have that sort of thing around. Are you crazy? We don't have the budget for  reliable phones, forget flowers. Crighton said some guy delivered them earlier, for the Commander. Didn't say who they were from. She got a boyfriend back on Earth or something?"

Wufei informed the man that the Commander's personal life was not either of their business. He asked what florist had provided the roses.

"Dunno. Wasn't my shift. The guy would have signed in, if you want to check to log."

Wufei scanned the data pad. There were multiple deliveries that arrived earlier that morning -- office supply stores, inter-colony package delivery, data courier services -- but no deliveries from any florists. He scanned the list of individuals who had logged in -- there were many, and most of them had indicated a particular agent with whom they had an appointment. There was only one name that had no company or appointment associated with it, and Wufei took note of it -- Peter Cromwell.

The name seemed familiar, somehow.


~*Duo*~

A bath! Duo grinned. He'd been just slightly worried, for no reason that he could really pin down. At least Quatre and Trowa didn't hate him for what he'd done. And Heero! Duo almost felt like he was in a dream. Heero was being so nice. He almost felt as if it couldn't be real. He'd rested though, just gotten up a few hours before he had gone to find Heero. Duo really needed some time to think, but he didn't want to be alone to do it.

Heero was talking so much, talking about his past, and Heero never talked about any of this stuff before. It was amazing, but he could hear and see how difficult it was for Heero to do this -- he was getting stiff -- not in a good way! -- and talking in that robotic monotone.

"I love you, Heero," Duo said, wanting to bring Heero back to the warmth and away from the programming. "I think you're so beautiful, like this now, and in the other form too." Duo moved close, kissing Heero's shoulder, then down toward a nipple. "I love you so very much." Duo shivered. "I've never wanted anyone like I've always wanted you. You've got such beautiful eyes and I always felt like you were the only who would really understand me."

"I don't understand you at all. I am trying, though."

Duo could feel Heero's heart pounding beneath his lips. Heero brushed a quick kiss against his neck. Duo was fairly sure his neck was the most sensitive part of his body. Duo's moans were soft though, fluttering, hushed by instinct, even though this room was soundproofed and made for intimacy as well a bathing. 

Heero's voice was equally quiet. "Would you take off the rest of your clothes? I... I would like to look."

"Okay," Duo whispered, shifting his pants off, nervously brushing the bits of hair back which had found their way to his face. He didn't have anything on under his jeans and he'd pushed his shoes off as soon as he was through the door of the bathing room. He blushed, shy and self-conscious. "You want to look because you... uh, like to look, or because you want to take inventory of me? Heero, I'm not so head bent as to actually do myself any kind of long lasting harm. You've got more self inflicted scars than I do. You trust me, still, right?"

"I trust you. I am worried still. I should be..." Heero swallowed hard. "Should be evaluating your status, but I cannot. You are too... I cannot see you as something to evaluate. I can only see you as someone I want to look at. Want to touch. Someone amazing. I..."

Heero fumbled his own pants off, removing his briefs with them. He left them on the floor, and stepped toward Duo, resting his hands lightly against Duo's sides. Sliding them down, gently, cautiously, he brought them down and forward to stroke the jutting hipbones, and let his palms slide down, stopping just shy of the short chestnut curls. "Can I?"

"Yeah," Duo whispered, "I'd like that."

Sex felt different this time. It wasn't as if he'd never had sex, but this time, here with Heero... 

Duo laid a hand on Heero's bare belly. "So who do you think will be top this time?" Duo grinned. It was said as a joke, a slight challenge, and brought light into violet eyes. The mood and intensity from the tunnels was back, no hesitation, no being self conscious.


~*Heero*~

The moment permission was granted, Heero's trembling fingers brushed up the length of Duo's shaft, with an unintentionally teasing flick at the head as his hand shook and slipped. Then he pulled up with a loose grasp, and his curious thumb ran over the slit, spreading dampness over the head. Heero felt hyperattuned to Duo's response, hanging on every twitch, every hitch of breath, wanting desperately to please Duo, to bring him to moans and writhing and desperation for the feel of Heero's skin against him.

"Top?" It took a moment for Heero's sensation-addled brain to process the word, but a cascade of information he'd been provided with crashed into his mind. J had made sure his Perfect Soldier knew what kind of damage to expect during torture, including sexual assault. It was so easy to cause pain, even possibly fatal damage, anally penetrating someone. Could he risk doing that to Duo? No... but...

At the same time, his hips wanted to thrust, and thrust into Duo, and the back of Heeros brain, where ancient reflexes lived, demanded to feel Duo beneath him, moaning at a welcome invasion; to feel hotwettight around his cock; to push his way deep inside of Duo; to fill him with come, joining the neck mark he'd made earlier with ineradicable scent inside Duo, to finish his claim.

Words. He needed words. "Won't hurt you. Won't."

"Damn straight," Duo said, moving closer, a hand sliding around to cup Heero's ass. "Heero, I like being bottom. I think it feels good and I'd really love to have you moving inside me." Then, as if his mind were just clicking, "Has anyone hurt you that way, Heero?"

Warm. Firm. Duo's hand was on his ass, and somehow that touch was making his cock throb unbearably. Duo's cock was in his hand, and he was stroking it, hot suede shaft and slick tip, when Duo moved closer, causing him to give it a firmer, faster pump. Duo liked being bottom and wanted to have Heero's body slide deep inside his own, wanted to be impaled on Heero's cock, and oh, gods, he wanted...

One hand let go of Duo's cock, abandoning the exploration in favor of pulling Duo all the way against him, chest to chest, a thigh slipping between Duo's legs, and he'd never realized how much skin Duo had, and how desperately he wanted it against his own skin. He knew he should answer Duo's question, but he needed to nuzzle at the ear and neck, and suckle again at the mark he'd left on Duo's shoulder.

"Bite me again. Oh, Heero! Not as hard as that time, but just nibble me, Oh, wow, yeah, come on, Heero," Duo panted, "We need oil. By the bath, and there's towels, we can, ohhhhhh, ahhhhhhh!" There was a moment of nothing but panting, then: "Lay one on the, aaahhhh, ground!"

Perfect. Those gasps and catches of breath, they were perfect. The flower-petal texture of the neck beneath his tongue and lips, it was perfect. The rich scent of Duo's arousal, rising from between their bodies, it was perfect, too.

A nip, then a tracing of tongue, and a harder nip, and it made Duo jump a little in his arms. He ran fingertips down from the nape of Duo's neck, slowly, between the shoulder blades, down the small of Duo's back, feeling the raised lines of scars, memorizing the geography of his lover. His love.

Tentative, he explored further, between those firm cheeks that he wanted to massage and knead... but now he was touching the valley between them, caressing the hidden skin surrounding Duo's entrance.

Oil, Duo had said. And towels. He wasn't going to hurt Duo.

His hips thrust forward, almost of their own accord, and his cock rubbed against Duo's and against the thick curls surrounding it. Arm around Duo's waist, he guided them both toward the water, toward the stack of towels. Toward the oil.

"No, never been hurt that way." He had to pause, to pant, as the dripping head of his cock slid so slickly against Duo's belly. "You? Don't want to hurt you."

Duo shivered in Heero's arms."You wouldn't hurt me, Heero. I promise." Duo pulled a little away, winking, his hand lingering over Heero's cock as he fairly danced towards a stack of towels and waterproof yoga-style pads. It was seconds only as he threw one on the ground and a towel over it. He grabbed a bottle of oil and dropped to his knees. "Let me take you in my mouth? Kiss you here," Duo asked, fingers reaching for Heero's cock.

Knees failed at the question, and without the slightest hint of grace, Heero fell, landing on his hands and knees.

"Please," he heard himself whisper, his mouth suddenly dry. "Please." He dipped forward to bestow his own kiss on Duo's cock, and found himself licking the salty liquid off the tip as though it were candy coating. He sat back on his knees -- would this work for what Duo wanted? Was he allowed to touch Duo while Duo did... what Duo was going to do?

"Please, Duo. I want to feel you."

"Touch me, Heero, any way you want to. Anywhere," Duo said, voice warm against Heero's belly as he said anywhere. The tip of Duo's tongue trailed down over Heero's belly, and he blew in Heero's curls. Then Duo went back to gentle, loving tongue-caresses along the vein of Heero's shaft, swirling his tongue around the head.

The muscles in Heero's belly rippled with each caress, each breath of air. He remembered what Duo had said earlier, and placing one hand behind him to brace him, ran the other through that short, blue hair, making sure to touch Duo's sensitive nape.

When Duo's mouth began the slow slide down his cock he sucked in a lungful of air, ragged and noisy. He tried to moan out his appreciation, remembering the fire that had run from his belly to his groin at the noises Duo had been making. Instead of those melted chocolate sounds, his noises seemed to have to claw their way out of his throat, and emerged short and sharp and guttural.

Duo held Heero at the back of his throat, suckling, stroking, and then he pulled back. "I love the sounds you make, Heero. Love the honesty of them, the uniqueness of them. Tell me how you want to do this? Do you want to lay down and I'll slide on to you? How would it be perfect for you?"

How could Duo be so coherent, so fluent, when he was unraveling into nothing more than a need to thrust, to stroke, to taste and hear and smell?

"You... are perfect. Don't leave." He couldn't get any more words out, not when Duo was his at last. So instead he reached for the bottle of oil, poured a splash into his palm, and crawled behind Duo. He took a moment to nip at Duo's ass, then to suckle, pulling a deep burgundy mark to the surface, then poured the oil from his hand down Duo's crevice, then pulled the cheeks apart. Heero stroked down the hidden ravine -- almost hairless, gleaming with oil -- until he was caressing Duo's heavy balls,and then pressed his way back up. Running his finger around the edge of Duo's entrance, he awaited a response to his inquisitive touch.

Duo leaned forward, looking over his shoulder. "Never leave you," Duo moaned, wiggling his ass, slowly, inviting, "Oh yes, Heero, I want it, please. It'll be hot, feel good." Duo arched his back. "I love you! Oh, I want you! Heero! Please! Hold me while you take me, tell me you love me and you'll never change your mind?"

Checking that his forefinger was still slick, Heero pressed it inside of Duo. He could feel Duo relaxing, allowing him entrance. Willing. Opening. Yielding.

Heero shuddered at the thought, at the sight of his finger penetrating Duo's ass. Duo was sauna-hot inside, impossibly smooth and slick from the oil. He slid it in and out -- Duo didn't seem to be in any pain. The opposite, maybe. But Heero's cock was much thicker than one finger...

He slid two fingers in. "I'll hold you." His own voice was unrecognizable to Heero, it was so low. "I'll keep you by my side. My pack. My lover. Won't let anyone take you." His fingers encountered a nub inside of Duo, and he rubbed over it.

Duo went to his elbows. "Please, take me? I'm ready for you, I want to hear you making those sounds again, feel your arms around me. I want you to pound me till I cum! Please, Heero, Please?"

Sliding his fingers out, Heero took another palmful of oil, slid it over his cock. Holding himself at the base, stroking Duo's ass with the other hand, he rubbed his cock-head against Duo's pucker. Would it really fit?

He pressed forward, felt the flutter around his tip as Duo relaxed for him. There was still resistance, and he had to hold his cock in alignment until the broad head popped in. He caught his hips as they tried to jerk forward, to slide in and impale Duo completely all at once. He was shaking, panting aloud -- Duo was so hot, so tight, and Heero's cock was inside him, filling him....

Duo reached back, as though he were trying to find his braid, and froze a moment as loose, short hair met his fingers. He paused, took a deep breath. "I'm so glad I'm here with you! It's more important than anything!"

Heero leaned forward, cock nestled in Duo's ass, and placed a kiss on the back of his neck. "Beautiful. Short or long. Even blue. Want you."

"Heero, hold me, please! I'm yours, always yours!" Duo thrust back as he spoke.

Duo's push back made Heero arch his back, and another choked cry fought up from his belly. Panting loudly, uncaring, he slid out, the grip of Duo's ass delicious torment to his cock. He drove back in, smooth and forceful, then laid forward, chest against Duo's back. He wrapped one arm around Duo's chest, used it to brace himself as he pulled his hips back and thrust forward, forcing his way deep into Duo again and again. At the deepest moment of each plunge, he heard himself make a noise, sharp and guttural. He wrapped the other hand, still oiled, around Duo's cock, and hoped Duo was at least half as excited as he was, because he was not going to last long.

Long strokes, pausing for a moment within the welcoming depths, then pulling nearly all the way out -- he tried for that, to slow himself down, but nothing was going to hold off his need for release for very long. "Mine," he growled again. "Won't let you go."

"Could melt into you, Heero, live forever like this. I love you! For so long! Hard! Fast, God,Heero! So good!"

Words were beyond Heero. He felt everything begin to squeeze tight, low in his belly, hot and heavy. His grip on Duo tightened, as his thrusts became short, fast, brutal. He indicated his love, his promise to remain, the only way he could think to at that moment -- biting down on Duo's neck again, re-enforcing the mark he'd put there mere hours ago.

The heat and pleasure built until they exploded, nuclear fission within his body. He howled as he came, planting himself deep inside of Duo, the sound scarcely muffled by Duo's flesh in his mouth. It felt like heat was pouring out of him into Duo through his cock and his mouth, creating a circuit of pure pleasure. He kept thrusting, continued stroking Duo's cock, determined to bring his love with him.

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