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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 7

~*Wufei*~

The note was released by the media before Wufei and Commander Une even boarded the shuttle.

"This paper, hand delivered to Freedom Media by Preventer Agent Heero Yuy, appears to be a suicide note from Preventer Agent Duo Maxwell, who plunged to his death only a few short hours ago. Both young men served as pilots for the infamous Gundam mobile suits during the war. Freedom Media is the first to bring you this breaking news!"

The image of the anchorwoman was replaced by a piece of paper bearing Maxwell's strangely neat print. Incongruously, Wufei thought the breaks in the lines made the note appear like a poem.

People...

The words were simple and direct. No elaborate imagery, no artful references. Just the desperate loneliness of a war-broken man. Of his war-broken friend.

His eyes stung. Une put a hand on his shoulder.

It was a tiny, fragile dam against the flood of loneliness that answered the note. He'd tried so hard to pretend it wasn't there, he'd almost convinced himself.

He couldn't be angry at being called an asshole. Not in the face of Maxwell's certainty that he wouldn't blow up anything again, even after his role in the Eve War.

And anyway... he was an asshole. Especially to Maxwell.

Both Winner and Maxwell made him uncomfortable. They weren't what he expected warriors to be. They weren't what Meiran expected warriors to be. She wouldn't have liked them, he suspected, and if he was to be her replacement...

Well. Winner was courteous, a scholar of sorts, if not really a warrior, and an expert at defusing tense situations.

Maxwell, on the other hand, was an expert at blowing things up. Wufei's self-control was one of the most frequent targets of Duo's gift for demolitions. Duo had learned quickly how to push his buttons, and in time, he hadn't even waited for Duo pushes to unleash the worst side of his character.

After Meiran, after his defeat at Trieze's hands – he'd just needed someone to look down on so badly...

In the middle of the shuttle port, sitting next to his Commander with her comforting hand on his shoulder, in full Preventer regalia, Chang Wufei cried.


~*Duo*~

Duo had expected to find Heero in a hotel, or maybe Preventers HQ. He was still amazed Heero was on L2 at all. His plan to reconnect with Heero after he faked his death was hazy – maybe move into an apartment next to his and introduce himself one day. Heero might not even recognize him without the braid, with a new name.

They'd picked up Heero's tracking signal, and scrambled it. Duo was probably the only person on L2 who could find Heero. But the last place Duo had expected to find Heero Yuy was an abandoned ventilation repair duct. Duo wasn't sure this was Heero, no matter what the tracking device and most of his senses told him. Heero, kneeling, curled into himself clutching a mass of brown hair; Heero with a sable tail, soft little pointed ears...

"Heero?"

The harsh rasps of Heero's breathing echoed down the shaft, a hollow metallic sound. He didn't lift his face from where it was buried in the braid, but those furry little ears – dark brown, edges darkening to black, peeping up from the hair that was even more disarrayed than usual – twisted around to point at him.

Duo stood there in the doorway, his tracker slowly falling to his side. Heero, it couldn't be Heero on his knees holding the braid he'd cut off. That had to have come from the morgue. "Heero, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"

Heero's breathing sped up, and the fists clenched tight around the braid, and pressed it harder against his face, hiding his eyes. The tail -- the long, fluffy tail, the same color as Heero's hair, though it too darkened to sable at the tip – tucked in even tighter against the curve of Heero's ass, where it wound around his thigh.

"Don't tease me. You're dead. You're not allowed to tease me anymore. Yell at me if you want to, but don't tease."

"Heero," Duo said, cautiously moving closer. "Man, I didn't think you'd be this broke up. Is that my braid?"

Duo was not dealing at all with the tail and ears. It just didn't seem real. Only slightly less real than Heero crying over him though. Duo moved into a squat next to Heero and reached out to touch his braid. "Damn. I'm gonna miss that thing. Heero. I didn't die. I faked it."

Heero froze, and then slowly, carefully, without ever turning to face Duo, one clawed hand reached out to wrap gently around Duo's ankle.

"Baka." Heero's voice was low and scratchy. The hand around Duo's ankle tightened into an unbreakable grip. And only then did Heero lift his face and look at Duo, and his expression was full of confusion, lips set in a determinedly neutral line, brows lowered in a scowl over eyes that still looked lost and abandoned.. "You... faked it? But it was you. I saw. Smelled."

"What good would it do if it wasn't realistic? Damn, Heero, don't break my ankle."

"Hn. Realistic." Heero shuddered, the motion traveling down his entire body, as though he was trying to shake something off. "Realistic."

His grip on Duo's ankle eased slightly, though he gave no sign that he was going to let go anytime soon. The lines of his face eased into a more familiar expression.

"What the hell's going on with your ears and, Dude, do you have a tail? I'm sorry. I didn't think this would get to you this much. Man, Heero...?" Duo didn't want to ask 'What's wrong with you?'-- he was maybe the sole cause of this distress and he wanted to fix it, not make it worse.

At the word "tail," Heero looked down to where the appendage curled over his thigh. He blinked, and his other hand let the braid fall into his lap in favor of running his claws through the fur. The tail unwound and swung around behind his back. He then reached up to gingerly touch an ear.

"Oh." It was the mild surprise of a man who takes a sip of his coffee only to realize he's added more sugar than he'd meant.

"Yeah. Oh. So, you are the real Heero Yuy," Duo asked, light, playful, and yet really wanting to see the response. "I don't even know if you like me or not, but after you sent me that message, I realized how miserable I was, how it was getting worse. I was going to come find you and maybe see if we could start over. You know, if maybe I wasn't such a loser?"

Heero arched a brow at the 'real Heero Yuy,' as if wondering who else he might possibly be, or perhaps who would have the balls to impersonate him. As Duo finished speaking, however, the almost playful gesture disappeared. He gave Duo a long, hard look – a Heero Yuy mission look – and scowled. "I thought you didn't lie."

"I don't lie. What did I just say that you think was a lie? I was really going to come find you and see if we could start over. I love the sound of your voice, Heero. God, I can't even say how much I've missed you," Duo said, smiling, his eyes trying to find a way to study the ears on Heero's head that was more subtle than out-and-out staring.

The ears that were pointed straight at him, part of the laser-focus of Heero's attention. Heero finally let go of Duo's ankle, only to run the hand up Duo's leg, up his side, to cup the pointed chin. He stared directly into the violet eyes, nostrils flaring as he caught Duo's scent.

"You realized how miserable you were. After I sent that message, you realized it."

"Yeah. I just wanted to see you so badly and everyone was telling me that I was bad for you and that I'd hurt you if I saw you and," Duo paused, biting his lower lips softly. "I just couldn't live like that. It was either fake it or do it and I figured if I faked it, I could see my friends again. Forgive me? I'm sorry I'm a dumb shit."

Claws bit into Duo's cheeks, as the hand that held Duo's chin twitched, and then dropped away entirely. "Forgive you for what? Faking your death?" Heero bent his head, eyes hiding behind his bangs. "Stand up."

"Okay," Duo said, standing up, taking a step back. "I'm not sorry for faking my death. I guess I'm sorry that I'm a pain in the ass and I'm just... I'm sorry. I'm sorry I hurt you." Duo's stomach shrank as tears slipped down his face, stinging over the scratches on his cheek. "Please be okay, Heero. You're a good person."

Heero stood as well, matching Duo's step to the inch, not allowing Duo to retreat from him. "You're sorry you hurt me."A clawed hand seized the back of Duo's head, palm at the nape of Duo's neck, fingers twining in the shortened hair. "Me." A sharp tug forced Duo's head forward, to rest against Heero's chest. Heero turned his head, rubbing his cheek along silky strands. "My baka."

"Wha'da'ya mean your baka? Heero, we gotta talk. You have claws? Is this something new or have you always been able to have claws?" For a moment he just stood there as he talked, letting Heero hold him, afraid to touch Heero back, then he gave in to his instinct and wrapped his arms around Heero's waist.

If Heero wanted to kill him, he was going to do it anyway and Duo figured he might as well do what he wanted beforehand. "So? You happy to see me?"

"Yes. I am happy to see you." Heero's other arm wrapped around Duo's shoulders, began to slowly stroke Duo's back, using the pads of his fingers. "I have had these claws before. Not often, and it was a long time ago. J gave me a medication to suppress them, along with other things that might interfere with my mission. They will probably go away in time. They have before."

The slow strokes on Duo's back stopped as Heero's hand settled between his shoulder blades. The other hand pulled at Duo's hair, tilting the tear-streaked face up to him.

"They aren't my concern right now."

Now this was his Heero, and life felt a little more normal. Heero sounded like Heero, smelled like Heero and he had been gently rubbing Duo's back. It was almost like Duo'd really fallen off his balcony and gone to the only heaven he could imagine.

"Oh god, Heero? I'm happy to see you too! I missed you so much!" Heero's hand in his hair made goosebumps dance across his shoulders. "What are your concerns right now?" Duo looked up at Heero, feeling utterly vulnerable and open.

"You have been depressed. You are taking medication. You have been engaging in self-injurious behavior. You were hospitalized." All of this in a flat tone, as though he were listing off items on a menu. Then his eyes narrowed, his expression as furious as Duo had ever seen it, and the hand in Duo's hair tugged sharply. "You did not tell me any of this."

New tears filled Duo's eyes. "I didn't feel depressed when she made me start. She threatened Trowa's citizen status and said they'd try you as a terrorist and she said it was just talking, but he wanted me to take these drugs and it just made every thing look crazy. Heero, so I carve a little? I did that in the war and no one even noticed! That doctor was just looking for ways to get me in trouble with Une. They said I'd hurt you if I were near you and look what I did! Heero! I'm sorry!"

Duo was nestled into Heero's chest again, as Heero rubbed the line of his jaw over Duo's face and hair, seemingly marking Duo with his scent. He waited until Duo's distress subsided a little, and then again pulled Duo's head back to meet his eyes. "Listen to me. All the hurt – yours, mine, Quatre's, the others – is because you were not near me. None of you were near me. I could not ascertain your status and did not know you required assistance. I failed you."

He scooped up Duo's braid, hung it around Duo's neck. "You are alive. But do not try to tell me that the loss of this was not a partial death." Blue eyes blazed with intensity, mission-type intensity. "I failed you. I will do better now. You have been damaged by solitude, Une, this Cromwell person and his drugs. You are not currently capable of protecting yourself. I will monitor you closely until you are well, and I will not forget again how deeply you need Pack."

Claws bit into Duo's scalp and tore his shirt between his shoulder blades, painful, but not deep enough to draw blood. "But if you ever again fail to appraise me of your status when you are doing so poorly, you will not like the consequences. If you do not want me to restrain you for your own safety right now, you will inform me of the slightest problem with your mental or physical health. You will inform me of any need to injure yourself before you do so. Give me your word. I know Duo Maxwell will not lie."

"Controlling bastard," Duo said, but his voice and smile were full of affection and acceptance. "Heero, you have never been able to just talk like a normal person, but you say the sweetest things. My need for Pack, uh? And I can too  protect myself. I got myself out of there, didn't I? And you're here. By the way, you were tagged with a homing chip. We scrambled it, except for letting me track you by it to here. The scrambling won't last forever. We're masking it by the surge of data flowing through the system right now. If you want to stay in good with the Preventers, you'll want to keep that chip. If you want to get rid of it though, I got some friends who can help you out with that."

He shivered in Heero's arms. "I like you touching me, I do. I will advise you if I'm feeling any serious need to do myself permanent bodily harm, okay?"

Heero gave Duo a little shake. "I understand your need to downplay your recent emotional difficulties. You have never been comfortable admitting vulnerability, especially to me, and you are probably confused and unsettled by my current behavior." He scowled, pausing for a moment. "I am having difficulty finding words sufficient to the task. I do not know slang, nor was I  taught the vocabulary of interpersonal relationships."

He thought for a moment. "I require you to inform me, for at least the duration of this mission, if you are feeling any need whatsoever to do yourself any harm at all. Or if you are otherwise distressed. We are both enjoying our current proximity. If you continue to dance around the issue without giving me your word, I will have to resort to communication techniques that will likely displease you. I calculate it would be some time before we could enjoy this proximity again. Do you understand me, Duo?"

Duo took a moment to translate that: Duo, I just saw you plunge off a 30th story balcony and smelled your corpse. For all that I am playing it cool, this disturbed me enough that I ran away with critical evidence from the scene, and grew claws, a fluffy tail, and pointy ears. It is going to be a while before I unwind and am able to believe you are sane. Keep pushing me, and I'll have to restrain you, which will make it difficult to cuddle. It will also piss you off, making cuddling difficult for the forseeable future..

Right. 

"Okay," Duo said, more concerned for Heero than for himself. "I like this proximity and I'm sorry for upsetting you, Heero. Really am. I'll tell you every little detail and you can stay as close to me as you like. The first time you tell me to shut up though, I will. Understand? "

A curt nod was offered in reply.

"These changes," Duo asked, reaching carefully to touch one of Heero's little pointy ears, "Are you in pain? Are you hurt, injured physically?"

Duo's other hand went around Heero's waist, holding him gently, rubbing, welcoming him, maybe letting him know that Duo liked this proximity and didn't want it to go away.

Beneath Duo's hands, rigid tension began to ease out of Heero's spine. He did not protest as Duo touched one of his ears, though the ear twitched at the first brush of contact as though it were ticklish.

"I am uninjured. This state is not painful. My senses are enhanced, however, and until I grow used to processing the information, it will be distracting." A flash of sharp canine tooth was visible as Heero bit his lip, and then continued. "I do appear to have some psychological ... alterations. It is better now that you are here, and I can smell my scent upon you."

Heero sighed, as though he were exhaling months of pent-up unhappiness. "I understand why J felt it was imperative to block this shift and these behavioral imperatives, even at the cost of the enhanced senses. I could not have functioned as required during the war like this. Tell me how long we have before your scrambling of locater chip ends."

Heero's ear felt so soft, and Duo wasn't sure that he ought to find that pointy little thing attractive. But damn! His belly went tight though and he pressed himself to Heero. It was forward, daring, but everything about Heero felt welcoming right then.

"Wow, just wow, Heero. The chip, should give us another hour, at least. So would wanting to kiss you count as a desire to self injure?" Duo asked, his fingers moving from Heero's ear to his hair. Duo held his lip between his teeth as he watched Heero's face for any expression, any answer.


~*Quatre*~

Trowa turned, arm around Quatre's shoulders and guided them out of the port toward a black motorcycle. Trowa threw one leg over and lifted the bike off the kickstand. Quatre watched Trowa mount the cycle, nearly hypnotized by the easy way  the taller man moved. Lust and nostalgia burned in his throat, choking off any attempt at speech. Just breathing was hard enough. He was so unbalanced as he swung up on the cycle behind Trowa, he was amazed he didn't fall flat on his face.

"Helmet's strapped to the side." Trowa's helmet was already half on. Quatre noticed that built into the helmets was a local communication system – knowing Trowa, it was scrambled, just between the two helmets.

The headache was still present, dull pain clamped to the base of his skull and around his temples, threatening him with a return to nearly debilitating pain. He couldn't afford that, not if he was riding with Trowa. Trowa on a motorcycle bore more than a passing resemblance to Trowa on a trapeze, all swooping turns that depended on perfectly timed shifts of weight.... and an iron grip.

Quatre grabbed another two painkillers from his pocket when he bent to retrieve the helmet, and tried to dry-swallow them. They seemed to catch on the lump in his throat, and made him cough.

From within the sleek and aerodynamic ferring, Trowa pulled a water pouch. "Here."

It was hard to tell, but from the intensity Quatre's space heart was feeling, Trowa was absorbing Quatre's every movement. He didn't think Trowa was pleased; there was a feeling of almost-grim resolve. 

Taking the water with a grateful smile, Quatre drank. "Sorry," he choked out as soon as he could. "I'm ready now." He wrapped his arms around his lover's waist.

Trowa's voice was filled with tenderness. "Where do you want to go, Quatre?"

He bit back the first answer that wanted to escape him – "Away!" He had responsibilities. He had to see if Wufei had arrived, had to find Heero, had to begin looking into Duo's death... Had to deal with Amihan. He was so tired.

"We should go to the Winner suites, I suppose."

"Winner suites it is," Trowa said, voice completely neutral. But the ache in Quatre's chest whispered to him of his lover's disappointment, and Quatre wondered why Trowa was being so close-lipped about his own desires. Through the intercom between the helmets, Trowa whispered, "Hold on to me, Quatre, please, like you're never going to let me go again."

His shaking arms wrapped around Trowa's waist, and then Quatre squeezed tight. Then even tighter, and his hands took a white-knuckled grip on Trowa's jacket, shaking a bit as he whispered, "Never let go again. Never."

After Trowa started the engine, Quatre asked, shyly, "Have you eaten? Should we stop and get something to eat on the way? Wufei will be annoyed if he has to wait, and so will my sisters, but if you're hungry..." He didn't know what Trowa wanted, and hoped the open-ended question would get his lover to open up.

"I'd love to eat with you," Trowa said, a hand caressing one of Quatre's. "We should talk. They can wait. We need to find Duo and kick his ass too, or find the person who murdered him. Duo didn't kill himself, Quatre-my-heart. I know he didn't."

Quatre tried to suppress his tears. He couldn't help the trembling that ran through his body, though, and nodded, letting his head rub against Trowa's back, not trusting his voice.

The motorcycle could have been a bat out of Hell, sleek and lean, given to the merging of man and machine, black lightning under Trowa's control. Riding behind Trowa was flying, the only flying that Quatre craved, and he'd been plodding for so long. He tried to make his body flow with Trowa's. He never had been as good at flying as Trowa, and he was painfully aware each time he failed to synchronize into a turn.

Trowa navigated the twisting streets with great familiarity. If someone had been following them from the port, Trowa  lost them. He idled a moment to let Quatre get a look at the establishment. The time was well worth it – their destination was a garishly lit place with neon clowns and dice that flew up in the air and rolled around in colored lights before dropping back into the clowns hand. It was retro and shrieked of expensive, as far as L2 went.

Amihan would hate it. "It's wonderful," said Quatre.

As they went around the back and down into a spotless garage,  Trowa explained the place was owned by a former member of Catherine's circus and a friend of his. Said friend was also the owner of the bike. Trowa backed into the bike's slot, boots pushing against the floor.

"I hope you don't mind. We can eat here, have a private room while we do it. It's secure." Dismounting with more economy than flourish, Trowa asked, "Love, let me hold you now?"

"I don't mind, not at all." Slowly, carefully Quatre approached Trowa as though Trowa were an injured animal. "Please hold me. Please." His voice sounded pathetic and hollow to his own ears..

Both of Trowa's arms opened and pulled Quatre into a warm strong embrace..  "I want to stay with you always," Trowa held on tightly, as if trying to give back all the moments they'd missed, caressing his soft golden hair, rubbing his arms and back. "No matter what it takes. Tell me your heart, Quatre. Speak to me."

Quatre leaned into Trowa's strength, leaned into the firmly-sculpted chest and reassuringly powerful arms. He was aware, with a sense of shame, that while Trowa had added muscle and bulk, beginning to fill out his lanky height, he himself had lost weight. Lost muscle. He'd managed to keep a daily jog in his routine, but he was too easily found in his weight room, and troubles had sought him out. Eventually he'd stopped trying. He hadn't been so hungry lately, either. He'd had problems keeping food down, from both the headaches and the ibuprofen he'd taken trying to subdue them.

He hoped he wasn't too unattractive in Trowa's eyes.

"I've missed you so badly, love. So badly. I can't--" No. He wasn't going to pressure Trowa. "I don't want to be away from you any more. I don't know what you want to do or where you want to be, but I want us to be side-by-side. I don't think you'd be happy on L4, but there's got to be some way to make this work. I'm not going to lose you. When I couldn't reach you before I got here, I thought I'd waited too long."

He kissed Trowa's throat, kneaded his lover's back. Trowa's muscles were so tight beneath his hands... Had Trowa been as miserable as he? He desperately hoped not. He didn't want to be responsible for so much pain in his lover. His headache was escalating with his pulse, rhythmic spikes of pain. Very bad pain.

"Are you sure Duo didn't kill himself? Heero wasn't sure, when I talked to him. He seemed really worried that Duo had." Deep breath. He was rambling, but couldn't seem to stop. "Poor Duo. He was alone, too, and couldn't even look forward to being with the man he loved. I could... could understand, if he did. If he was so alone, and under pressure. I can understand."

"Duo didn't kill himself," Trowa said slowly, one hand reaching up to catch Quatre's chin, to lift his face so Trowa could look into his eyes. "You are not alone. You will not be alone. I love you. I need you. Let's get married. Here. On L2, we can get married. Marry me, Quatre? Let me tell the world that you are my soul?"

It was for the best that Quatre's body was already pressed to Trowa's, because at Trowa's proposal,  his knees buckled. As he tried to regain some stability amidst a growing dizziness, he was overwhelmed with a wash of insecurity, paranoia, and almost unbearable loneliness from his lover.

"Quatre, I'm sorry, I don't want to rush or push, and I will follow you in any way you wish. I haven't made you angry, have I?"

"I... I... How could I be angry? You're asking me to marry you, you're willing to get dragged into my mess, following me... Yes. I want to marry you. Can we really do it now? Do we have to register, or get witnesses? Do we need blood tests? Should we..." Trowa believed. That was faith enough for Quatre. "Should we find Duo first and make him be our witness?"

"Duo will be found when he wants to," Trowa said. "We can get married now. Within the hour. No blood tests, and we can find witnesses. We can have another one later, fancier, but let's legally be married."

"Yes. I want to marry you now." Quatre shook his head, trying to shake out the fuzz, and winced in pain.

Trowa was examining him closely, face lined in worry. "Are you hurting?"

Apparently he'd noticed Quatre's wince. That was no good, he didn't want Trowa to worry. He smiled for Trowa, the first smile he'd wanted to make in what seemed a long time. He hoped it was a good smile. He was starting to feel very light-headed with pain, and the world was spinning. "Just a headache. Nothing to worry about. Let's go get married."

The lines on Trowa's face grew more pronounced.

The throbbing was getting worse. Noisier, and the world was decidedly spinny. The thud-thud in his head might start to drown out Trowa's words, and he really didn't want that to happen. Trowa's words were precious, rarer than diamonds and more unbreakable. It would be a crime to lose any. He unwrapped an arm from around Trowa and slammed the palm of his hand into his head, right above his ear. It jarred the thud-thud out of his ears, and into his eyes, where it became a swirling bright light that grew, and then diminished back into a pinprick.

That was better. He pulled out two painkillers. They might help.

"Did you need to eat before we got married? Or do we go now?" He fumbled, lifting the pills to his mouth, and Trowa had to catch them before they fell to the floor.

"No more painkillers. We will find you a doctor, then we will get married," Trowa said, holding Quatre very close, very tenderly. "We have friends here, Quatre."

Quatre pouted as Trowa pocketed the pills away. "I need those! Please. I don't want to miss any of your words, if the thuds go back to my ears." He wrapped his arms around Trowa's neck as Trowa scooped him up and began carrying him through the garage. "Are you allowed to carry me like this before we get married? I didn't think you were."

Chills made him shiver,and he wasn't sure when he had gotten so cold. He wasn't sure what was wrong, but something was, and he thought it was probably wrong with him. There was lots wrong with him. He'd been finding that out the last few months. It seemed everyone had something new that was wrong with him that he needed to know about.

"Trowa? I think we should get married first. I'm not sure I'm making sense, but I want to be married. I need you to be the one who would make decisions for me. I don't think I'm feeling quite well."

"We will get married first," Trowa said, pressing the elevator button.

"You're frowning. Are you angry? I'm very sorry. I know it doesn't count for much, but I'm sorry. I know it's my fault."

Quatre held on tighter, in case Trowa realized it was his fault and dropped him.

Not that Trowa would do that. Allah, he wasn't making sense, and he didn't know why not.

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