Author: Anria Lalumin
Warnings: language, angst, sap, humour, shounen ai and yaoi later on

Lizards = thoughts/emphasis
::Lizards:: = sound effects

Trust + Part 10

The noise was deafening, the heat of the explosion washing over his skin. Zechs held still, his free arm over his head, until the last of the noise died away. And as it did so, he realised . . . there was no more gunfire.

The something warm that had landed on his back shifted and groaned. "Damn, I'm never doing that again," it muttered, and Zechs' eyes shot wide open.

"Duo?" he gasped out, rolling to the side.

Duo stayed slumped on top of him, slightly dazed blue-violet eyes blinking at his face, before the brunet man smiled. "Think something broke my arm, too," he said. "Now we'll have matching casts. Like matching hair, only less permanent and more of a pain in the arse to take care of."

Zechs barked out a laugh, relief washing through him. If Duo could joke, he couldn't be too badly hurt.

"Zechs!" Someone yelled, and the blond man realised it was coming from behind them. He managed to shift up onto one elbow, his white-blond hair spilling out of the back of his jacket to pool beside it, and blinked as Noin came running up. "Zechs, are you all right?" she said, eyes wide. "We were told you and Maxwell were being held here, but priority number one was taking the base back from the terrorists."

"I'm okay," Zechs said, grunting as he tried to hold up both his weight and Duo's. "I don't think Duo is, though. He shielded me from the blast, says he thinks he's broken his arm."

"I don't think I've broken it, when it hurts like fuck and has bone sticking out of it I know I've broken it," Duo muttered into his chest. "We saved the day, now can I go get this arm set? And do me a favour, if Heero's here, tell him to stay the fuck away from me. I know what he does to broken bones."

Noin blinked at where Duo was lying against Zechs' chest. "Ah ­ sure," she said, then raised her voice back to the other Preventers. "Agent Michaels! We've got some work for you here!"

"Lisa Michaels?" Duo asked sleepily. "She's nice. Good medic. Can relax now. . . ." With that, he passed out.

"He looks like he's taken a knock to the head, as well," Noin said, frowning, then smiled. "Well, thanks to you two it looks like we can handle things from here. Agent Michaels is the medic for my unit, she'll take care of both of you. Rest now."

Zechs half-smiled, looking down at Duo, resting in blissful unconsciousness. "Okay," he said, and passed out as well.

+

When Zechs came to, he was on a cot inside a cargo plane, straps dangling from the side of the bed. They must've been expecting me to sleep through the flight, he thought, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes. No wonder; I wasn't expecting me to pass out. Emotional exhaustion, most likely.

Gingerly, the blond man manoeuvred himself off the cot, wincing as a multitude of bruises made themselves known. Fun. He noticed that the Blackbirds' uniform had been replaced with Preventers standard-issue, and grinned ruefully. Somebody obviously didn't like the idea of someone mistaking their own for the enemy.

The floor was cold against his bare feet as he made his way towards the cockpit. Abruptly, a familiar laugh echoed down the metal corridor, and a small knot in Zechs' stomach loosened as he realised Duo was up and about.

"Am I intruding?" he asked, knocking on the frame of the door into the cockpit.

"Zechsy!" Duo said, grinning at him. "Good to see you up and about." He was a complete mess; his hair was coming out of his braid, he had a black eye, and his arm was encased in a large, white cast, which he waved at the blond man. "Look, we match!"

Trowa stood beside the brunet man, arms folded over his chest and a glimmer of amusement on his face. "Maybe if you were a foot or so taller," he told Duo.

Duo pressed the hand not encumbered by a cast to his chest, melodramatically grasping the folds of fabric there. "You cut me to the quick!" he declared. "I shall never love again!"

Zechs rolled his eyes. "Glad to see you're feeling better," he said, then turned to Trowa. "What's the situation, now?"

"Yeah, tell me already," Duo interrupted. He glowered at Zechs. "Tro-Tro here was being a bastard, and wouldn't tell me what was going on until you woke up."

"It's easier to debrief both of you at once," Trowa told him. "Falcon's been captured and is awaiting charges. We were able to identify him as Harold von Spitzberg, the younger son of a former Romefeller member who wanted the power he lived vicariously through his father back. All Blackbirds in the base have either been captured or killed, with forty-eight casualties on their side and nine on ours, including you two."

Duo blinked. "We count as casualties?"

"According to the official statistics, yes," Trowa said, shrugging one shoulder.

"What happens now?" Zechs asked.

"Now, Duo has a decision to make," Trowa said.

The afore-mentioned man blinked, looking surprised. "Me?"

"Quatre has decided to leave the Preventers," Trowa said, something approaching a snarl in his voice. "He says, and I quote, ‘My talents are better needed elsewhere. I can do more work as a part of WEI than I can as a Preventer, so please convey my apologies to Duo.' So basically, you're out of a partner, and I'm out of a lover."

Duo stared at him. "What? How does Quatre leaving the Preventers mean you two have split up?"

"If he's left the Preventers, he's not the person I thought he was," Trowa said, and abruptly clammed up, rising to his feet and handing Duo a sheet of paper. "This has the list of agents currently without a partner. Une's instructions are that you can take however long you need to find a permanent partner, but you're not to be without a temporary one at any time, and she wants to hear of your decision the minute you make it. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to help with the prisoners." He stalked past Zechs out of the cockpit, the metallic clang of his footsteps echoing back to them.

Zechs stared after him. "He . . . certainly seems upset."

Duo chewed on his lip, scanning the names listed on the sheet. "They probably had a big bust-up over Q leaving," he said. "If Quatre leaves him some time to cool down before explaining why he can do more as part of WEI than part of the Preventers, they should be okay." He frowned. "I think . . . I've not seen Trowa that mad at him before."

Zechs shrugged. He knew neither of them personally, so a lover's tiff between the two was, quite frankly, none of his business. "Who looks like a good candidate, from that list?" he asked, changing the subject.

Duo peered at it a moment more, before stopping halfway down the page and staring at one of the names listed there. A slow grin spread over his face, and he turned an angelic smile towards Zechs.

"Do you know . . . that you're on this list?"

"What?" Zechs blinked, snatching the list out of the seated man's hands and scanning it. Sure enough, there was his name. "I thought Une decided she wasn't going to assign me a partner, at all. Ever."

"Maybe she forgot to take you off the list," Duo said, his grin turning decidedly evil. "So . . . how about it, Zechsy? I seem to work well with blonds, and if you got any blonder you'd be a golden retriever."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Zechs said dryly. He eyed Duo critically, making a big show of looking him up and down. "Well, the hair could use improvement, and you're a little short for my tastes . . . but I suppose I can trust you to do your job, at least."

Duo laughed, grinning up at his new partner. "Only my job? I'd trust you to do a lot more."

[part 9] [part 11] [back to Anria's fic]