Author: Anria Lalumin
Disclaimer: not mine!
Warnings: language, Duo being mean for a good reason I will give out later, bit o' angst, Relena-bashing, humour?
Pairings: and we have a hint of 6+2. Don't hold your breath, though -- it'll be a while before it's reciprocated. Gotta get around Duo's bad temper. . . . Also 1xR. Ick.
Dedicated to: Karen from KanaDUH, because she's such a great pal. ^^

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

Trust + Part 2

"Oh fucking hell, why did I have to get stuck here with you?"

Zechs blinked at him. "Excuse me?"

Duo slumped against the wall, pressing the heel of one hand to his forehead as his memories returned.

Along with his intense dislike of one Zechs Merquise.

"Joy. Not only do I have to be captured by a bunch of whacked-out psycho terrorists who think they can use me to actually make Heero do something, which is about as likely as the devil going to work on ice skates, but I have to endure captivity in a gilded cage with the absolute last person I want to have anything to do with, which includes Quatre on one of his guilt trips and Wufei on a sugar high ranting about justice, which is one of the scariest things I have ever seen. There is no God!"

Having finished his tirade, Duo let himself fall to the floor, resting his elbows on his knees and staring morosely at the floor between his feet.

"Is it so bad?"

Duo shut his eyes and started slamming his head back against the wall over and over again, hard. "Come on . . . one of these . . . knock me out . . . please!"

"You know, if you keep that up you'll get a concussion and then I'll have to wake you up every hour."

Duo stopped banging his head on the wall. "Peachy," he muttered.

Silence reigned in the room.

Then, "Wufei on a sugar high?"

Duo snorted. "Yeah, the last time I spiked his tea with those energising tablet things exercise freaks take -- the ones that are just about sugar and nothing else."

"Huh." Zechs was silent for a moment, digesting that thought. "Why do you dislike me so much?"

"Personal reasons."

"We'd never spoken before this mission."

"So what?"

"Is it because I am ex-OZ? Because I would have thought such petty concerns were beneath you, as one of the Gundam pilots."

Duo sighed. He did owe the man some sort of explanation -- just not the whole truth. "OZ has something to do with it, but not all. Don't worry your pretty blond head over it." He opened his eyes, and for the first time voluntarily looked at the other man. Zechs looked back calmly, seeming unfazed by his irritability and just plain nastiness. "So, since they specifically wanted you and me as captives, what's betting that they're planning something to do with Sank?"

Zechs nodded slowly. "Most likely I will be leverage on my sister, and you on her husband."

Duo snorted. "Yeah, right. Like anybody can make Heero do anything."

"Well, they obviously don't know him as well as you do, then, do they?"

O-ho! Zechsy boy's startin' to snipe back! "And what do you mean by that?" Duo asked, slapping his manic grin in place.

Zechs raised one elegant blond eyebrow. Holy fuck, he even sneers elegantly! "I am told that you and Heero are somewhat closer than best friends."

Duo burst out laughing. He couldn't help it. "Relena got to you!" he gasped out. "Damn, that bitch is paranoid! No matter how many times I tell her -- Hey!"

Duo found himself on his feet, suspended by his braid, with a fairly pissed-off Zechs in front of him. "Don't call her that," he growled.

Duo grinned at him, not fazed in the least. Hell, when Heero was your friend you learned to take your fair share of deathglares without flinching. "Oh, come on, she's about as nasty to me as her wonderful upbringing will let her be. I'd rather she hit me and called me a whore than go about subtly snubbing me, just coz she thinks Heero likes me more than her. You wanna know the only reason she thinks me'n Heero have something going?" he said conversationally, willing to overlook Zechs' mistreatment of the braid -- for now. "It's coz he'll let me hug him. He lets her hang all over him, but she's still jealous because he'll let me hug him!" Duo laughed. "Face it, Z-babe, your sister's an idiot. Although now I think about it, who wouldn't be jealous of me?" He leaned back against the wall, fluttering his eyelashes while his grin took on a hint of snarl. "Now let go of the damn braid and back off."

Zechs didn't let go of the damn braid or back off. Instead he stared at Duo intently, glares clashing, before slowing relinquishing his hold and taking a step back. "So there's nothing between you and Heero," he said.

Duo snorted again. I seem to be making a habit out of that. "Heero's great, but I wouldn't sleep with him if you paid me. He's a walking machine. And why the fuck am I explaining this to you?"


"Oh, great, now he's imitating the guy. Sheesh! First you want to kill him, then you want to be him! Make your damn mind up!"

"Are you this irritating on purpose, or does it come naturally?"

Duo grinned, one arm behind his head. "Bit of both, I think. I have to try not to be irritating to the people I like."

Zechs snorted, seating himself gracefully in the chair. Looking at him move, Duo began to feel like an awkward, gangly teenager again. "I think we should be more concerned over what our captors are planning to do than family arguments."

"Since when am I part of your family? Okay, okay," Duo said, holding up a hand to forestall Zech's arguments, "I'm sorry. We'll focus on what these whackos are doing, right? Truce?"

Zechs eyed him for a moment. "Truce."

Duo slumped down onto the floor again. It was nice and comfortable there, with a thick plush carpet, even if his back could do with a cushion or two behind it. Oh well. He'd suffered worse. "Most likely they'll have some demands like the release of politic prisoners or a change in the law to target The Peacecrafts. Or some demand for money. S'not likely to be anything militaristic, with the possible exception of allowing someone other than the Preventers to have mobile suits as something other than a museum exhibit."

Zechs nodded. "Yes. Although it could have something to do with Preventers -- Une is, after all, appointed by Relena."

"Yeah, but what d'you think would happen if someone tried to replace Une?" Duo grinned. "All of us pilots would revolt, at least."

Zechs' eyebrows flickered upward. "You would?"

"Hell yeah! Trowa especially. If Tro-Tro wasn't such a card-carrying faggot I'd have said he and Une had something going. As it is, every time I go into his office I see him and Quatre doing things I didn't know were anatomically possible." Duo shuddered. "And some that were just plain weird."

"You know, I really didn't want to know that."

"Neither did I!" Duo's levity faded. "There's too many options to pick from," he said. "We've got no way of telling what it is they're gonna demand."

It silenced both of them.

Then Duo stretched and yawned, breaking the mood. His stomach rumbled. "Damn, is there anything to eat around here. . . ?" He got to his feet and padded in the direction of the nearest door. Zechs stood and followed him.

"Hm . . . looks like a full apartment! Now, do they have any food around here . . . what the fuck?! Since when do you put a kitchen in a hotel room?!"

Zechs chuckled, leaning against the door frame and crossing his arms. "I don't think this is a hotel room, Duo," he said. He felt that it would be possible for him and Duo to get along, if it weren't for the other man's seemingly ungrounded dislike of him.

"It damn well looks like one! Ooh, look, fully stocked!"

And really, Duo could be so cute when he wasn't concentrating.

Zechs took in the main apartment with a quick sweeping look. The first doorway led into a large sitting room, with a slightly less ornate and far more comfortable-looking sofa and two armchairs, facing a large, black television. A doorway on the left of the room led to the kitchen, which was where Duo had disappeared, and the two remaining doors on the two remaining walls led to a bedroom and what appeared to be a study.

Whoever these people were, they certainly hadn't done themselves any favours by allowing the two pilots access to potential sources of communication. Zechs walked over to the door to the study in his usual ground-eating stride, peering inside and feeling a grin light his face when he registered that yes, there was a computer inside.

Swiftly booting the machine up, Zechs noticed an ordinary video tape carefully placed beside the PC. Picking it up, he read the label -- To Misters Maxwell and Merquise.

"Hey, Z-babe, whatcha got?"

The tape was suddenly snatched out of his hand, and his vocal cords atrophied when he couldn't decide whether to protest the demeaning nickname or protest the removal of the tape. Duo grinned insolently down at him, holding a thick sandwich with a large chunk taken out of it in one hand and the video tape in the other. "If they've left us a message, it would only be kind of us to do them courtesy of watching it, wouldn't it?" Without waiting for a reply, the braided man swung around and quite literally flounced out of the room, Zechs staring after him with his mouth still opening and closing like a landed fish.

He could do nothing else. He followed the American.

When he entered the central living room, he was treated to a very nice view of how well Duo's uniform pants fitted his ass as the man bent over to insert the ancient tape into the equally antiquated video player.

If only he didn't dislike me so much. . . .

Zechs barely restrained from slapping himself on the forehead. Yeah, great timing, he told his hormones.

The shorter man had now stretched out on the sofa, feet dangling off one end and braid dangling off the other. "You gonna watch or not, blondie?"

"Don't call me that."

"Sure thing, Z-babe."

"Don't call me that either." Zechs seated himself in the nearest armchair, grateful that before the braided man could answer, the tape cut him off.

::"Mr Maxwell, Mr Merquise,":: the same man who had escorted them from their cell that day said from the tape. ::"If you are watching this, I assume you will now have discovered the apartment we have laid out for your convenience. It is well-stocked with food and clothing, along with a washing machine, so for the duration of your stay with us. Once again, I apologise for the necessity of this, but our cause has proven it requires such measures as this."::

"Great, dedicated psychos," Duo muttered.

::"It is my hope that your stay will be a short one. We have no reason to harm either of you unless you try to escape. The windows in the outer rooms are made of ten inch thick glass with steel bars lining them. The telephone lines have been cut, and the computer has been rendered incapable of doing anything other than playing simple games already installed and running a word processor. Also, this television does not have the capability to receive or transmit to a satellite, and all the potential parts required to make such a device have been removed from this apartment, as has anything more deadly than a bread knife. Don't think to break out of the apartment via the front door -- there is a group of ten of our soldiers with machine guns waiting outside.":: The man on the video smiled thinly. ::"I do not underestimate either of your capabilities. Until Mr and Mrs Peacecraft-Yuy accede to our demands, you will be staying here. I have gone to great pains to ensure that. Please do not make it any harder on yourselves than you have to.":: The screen went black.

"Great," Duo said, then threw his head back and sighed. "He's right about the direct approach, at least -- I counted way too many people in this place to be able to fight our way out with a bread knife, which is, incidentally, the only knife in the kitchen with an edge. And none of the others could possibly carry one. I doubt he's right about the transmissions, though -- I've spent way too much time around Heero, and I'm a mechanic. I can make anything do anything I want, given enough time."

"I wonder why he left the games on there, though," Zechs mused.

"Probably to try and be 'civilised' and give us something to do," Duo said thoughtfully.

Zechs sighed and stretched. "I think the first thing we should do is figure out where we are and contact the Preventers," he stated, then yawned. "First thing tomorrow morning."

Duo jerked his head in the direction of the bedroom. "You take the bed. I'll sleep out here."

Zechs frowned at him, wondering what had to be wrong with the bed for Duo to give it up. "You sure?"

Duo snorted. "It's a queen size double bed, which might just contain you, but the sofa definitely won't. I haven't put any explosives or unwelcome surprises in there," he added when Zechs still hesitated.

"Won't you get cold?" the blond man persisted.

"I'll be fine, damn it! Now get!"

Zechs got.

Sometime into the night, however, he was woken by a loud thump in the next room. Rolling his eyes and wondering what Maxwell had managed to get himself into, he went out of the bedroom, shivering in the cold -- it appeared the users of the building forswore central heating at night -- to find a semi-conscious Duo curled up in a ball on the floor shivering madly.

Zechs barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes again. He leaned down and tugged on Duo's arm, muttering, "Come on, you can't sleep out here and not get hypothermia. Come with me."

"Wuzzat?" Huge, sleepy blue-violet eyes blinked up at Zechs.

"You're sharing the bed with me before you freeze."

"Wha? Why?" Zechs had Duo on his feet now, still shaking like a leaf, and was leading him to the bedroom door.

"I just said that. You need to get somewhere warm before you freeze."

". . . stood worse," Duo mumbled.

"So what's the point if you don't have to?"

Duo fell silent and allowed Zechs to guide him, wondering at the trust he was shown for all that the braided man didn't like him. If he tried this with any of the other pilots he was certain they wouldn't have allowed themselves to remain half-asleep, at the least. Most likely he'd have had a lovely black eye for his trouble, but Duo allowed him to manoeuvre the American through the doorway and to the bed.

Once there, however, he started struggling faintly. "'S embarrassing," Duo muttered.

"What is? Sharing a bed with me? Nothing's going to happen, Duo, don't worry."

"S'not that. . . ." But he had already fallen backwards into the soft mattress and duvet that Zechs held up for him. "Don' say I didn' warn ya. . . ."

"Didn't warn me of what?" Zechs asked him, only to find Duo fast asleep, limbs slowly uncurling from his foetal position as warmth seeped back into him. The blond man sighed, rolled his eyes, shoved Duo over a bit and clambered into the bed beside him.

It wasn't long before he found out what Duo had supposedly 'warned' him of.

Strong arms clamped around his waist, a braided head nuzzling up under his chin. One of the other man's legs threw itself over his, and then Duo relaxed totally, leaning into Zechs' warmth. All done before the man could move.

Duo Maxwell was a cuddler.

Bright blue eyes stared incredulously down at the dark head snuggled under his chin. The American looked for all the world as though if you stroked his back or patted him on the head he'd start purring.

This has got to be as embarrassing for him as it is for me, Zechs thought. Or at least, it will be once he wakes up. That thought in mind, he gently tried to edge himself away from the other man, only to find that even deeply asleep and completely relaxed -- which was another thing he never expected Duo to do around him -- he had a grip like an octopus, and seemingly as many arms. Every time Zechs managed to move a few inches away from one of Duo's limbs, another one joined in. Sometimes it even seemed like his braid had a mind of its own.

Eventually Zechs gave up and leaned back into the bed, resigning himself to the American's warmth snug by his side.

He might as well try to get some sleep.

~ End Part 2

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