by Aoe

…Is My Co-pilot

"Do you believe in God?"

The question startles me, breaking a silence that has lasted for nearly four hours. At any point during the first two hours, it would not have surprised me at all. During the third, I would have been slightly shocked. But after the silence has stretched so long, I thought, somehow, that it would simply last.

Nothing ever lasts.

I turn to look at him in quizzical continued silence. He is staring back at me, violet eyes not as wide as they sometimes are, when he's deliberately trying to look his age. He looks older gazing at me across the darkened shed, his irises luminescent purple embers, almost gleaming like cat's eyes in the dim light that oozes through the air vent in the door. The light falls in harsh stripes across my boots, across crates of ammunition and weapons, across the tip of his braid.

I blink and study the subtle tones of red the light evokes in his hair, even when it is only the barest sliver of unflattering floodlight. His hair always has that faint tinge of red to it in any light, as if it had been soaked in blood long ago, and he hasn't yet gotten all of it washed out.

Maybe it was, and he hasn't. Blood is hard to wash away.

Slight movement draws my eye as he turns his head away, back to staring at the door as he has been for the past four hours. He won't repeat the question.

Outside, booted feet tromp past at a quick march, but it has been much longer this time since the last squad trooped past. The alarm has been off for some time, and it has been a good hour since there were loudly barked orders ringing through the compound. They've nearly given up. They've almost convinced themselves that we've gone. The adrenaline has almost run its course, and soon they'll creep gratefully back to their beds, the floodlights will go out, and there will be only a bone-weary skeleton guard to slip past and set the explosives…

We won't be waiting here much longer. Why try to start up a conversation now, when he's been content to sit silently for hours?

Do I care why? Even I get bored.

"I'm not sure," I reply calmly. I am lying.

He turns back to face me, looking not that surprised that I finally decided to answer him. I'd like to surprise him, but I never get to see that look of shock, that comical expression of bafflement, that all the others do. I never seem to surprise Duo Maxwell.

Does he know me so well?

"Do you?" I ask him.

One corner of his mouth quirks in a grim sort of smile, adding to the heavy-lidded eyes to make him look older still. He could pass for eighteen right now. Perhaps a very underdeveloped twenty.

I'm sure he has.

"I believe in the God of Death," he replies glibly, making me frown. If he's not taking this seriously, I won't be bothered to talk to him after all.

The small crooked smile fades, his face serious. Older still. He could order a beer without getting carded, looking like that.

"I don't mean it like that," he murmurs softly, his voice seeming to fill up the empty space, smooth and slowly suffocating. "I don't mean it like a joke, I don't mean myself, or my Gundam," he continues, the voice sharpening slightly, the face tightening.

And like that, he is ageless. And for a moment, I believe in the God of Death myself.

"I mean the force of destruction," he continues, leaning forward slightly, his face intent. "The nameless, faceless power that tears down everything, beautiful or ugly, and leaves dust and blood behind."

His eyes are shining now, with an almost fervent light. He looks like some mad missionary, out to convert the natives. I raise an eyebrow at him.

"You mean entropy?" I ask calmly. I will not be unnerved by Duo Maxwell in an OZ storage shed. I've seen more destruction than he has. Caused more. He's got nothing on me.

For a moment, I almost think I've surprised him with my calm reaction, but before I can be certain, the crooked smile is back, so I must not have.

He chuckles softly. "Entropy, then. Do you believe in entropy?"

I frown. "Entropy is scientific fact," I point out flatly. "It's hardly a question of faith."

His turn to raise an eyebrow, but he can't quite do it. He should look foolish trying. If he were smiling his usual wide, dopey grin, he would. But he isn't, and so doesn't.

"Explain your scientific fact to me, Trowa," he challenges.

My frown deepens as I begin to suspect I'm being somehow either mocked or led into a trap. "It's a natural law of the universe," I reply slowly. "All systems naturally tend toward chaos. Everything breaks down in time."

"Cars break down, and people break down, and other things break down too…"(1) he sings absently, softly, to himself, his eyes momentarily vague. I don't recognize the song. Who knows what Duo listens to in his spare time.

Suddenly his eyes focus sharply on me again and he frowns. "All right, scientific fact, then. So, let's take…this delectable bit of K ration (2), for example," he says, producing a crumbled fragment of something that might debatably be described as food, but more accurately as a lump of matter containing certain useful nutrients unlikely to actually kill you. We both peer at it hatefully for a moment, then his eyes pin me beneath a sharp gaze again. "What does your scientific fact tell you about the fate of this piece of crap?" he asks earnestly. "What will your entropy do to it?"

I frown at him for a moment, then shrug slightly. "Eventually, it'll go stale, and rot, and disintegrate," I reply flatly.

"Are you sure that's what will happen to it?" he presses, an odd gleam in his eyes.

I ponder for a moment. It is a K ration, after all…but even so… "It's inevitable," I agree.

"So, you're saying that because of the law of entropy, you know that in time this…thing…will disintegrate, will be destroyed, will fall apart?" he asks intently.

Again, I hesitate, wondering where he's going with this. "Yes," I agree again, reluctantly.

He grins widely at me, but it isn't his usual bright and goofy grin. This one is sharp and darkly triumphant, like a knife slash in the darkness. His teeth gleam at me, too white in the shadows, and I wonder if they're as sharp as they look.

"Then entropy is your God," he informs me smugly. "You just like to call it a scientific fact."

I take exception to that conclusion. I've never believed in any God, not since…

The crucifix…first gift, first trust, first mistake, first betrayal…

'God' is just a tool humans use. Just another lie. There is no higher power, it's all down to manipulation and the masses' unwillingness to accept that they bring about their own destruction.

"I don't believe in God," I say coldly.

Duo again attempts to raise one eyebrow, coming closer this time. "You said before you didn't know if you did," he reminds me.

"I was lying," I inform him coolly.

"Were you? Or are you lying now?" he asks, eyes no longer gleaming in the dim shed, but dark, almost black. "You say to me with utter conviction that destruction is the inevitable fate of all things. You tell me you know this because it is scientific fact. But that's not true. Scientific fact is only what can be observed to be true. You haven't observed this K ration rotting and disintegrating, but you're absolutely certain that it will. Do you know what that means?" he asks, leaning forward slightly, trying to coax an answer from me with his voice.

"What?" I snap, growing tired of this conversation. There haven't been any more squads, but the floodlights are still on.

His smile widens, sharp and wicked in the shadows. "It means you have faith," he informs me softly.

I blink, surprised by this twist of logic. Because I believe in the scientific principle that the natural order of the universe is chaos, I have faith?

"What is faith but an unwavering belief in something you can't see or touch, but know to be real?" he asks me quietly, his voice soft and warm.

I shiver slightly at his words. Faith. I've never had faith in anything.

Not true. I did once. But never again.

Not true either. Catherine…

Has been helpful, for whatever reason. I certainly don't expect her to go on helping me indefinitely. And sooner or later I'm sure she'll want something in return. Everyone always wants something.

That's another natural law of the universe.

I glower at Duo, smiling smugly at me. I wonder what he wants.

He stands slowly from his perch on a stack of crates and takes two small steps, which puts him directly in front of me. My eyes are level with his collarbone from my own sitting position, and I raise my face to meet his shadowed eyes.

He doesn't frighten me. Nothing really does, anymore. I am scar tissue all over, inside and out. There is nothing left to hurt, nothing left to feel pain.

But I have my pride, so I meet his eyes steadily until his face is too close and I can't anymore.

His lips on mine are soft, not harsh or demanding. His silver tongue slips into my mouth almost before I've realized that I've given him admittance.

Give him an inch and he'll take a mile. I forget which of our companions said this of Duo. Perhaps it was Duo himself, actually.

He is honest, in his way.

At any rate, having gained entry to my mouth, he apparently feels his advances are welcome, and his hands slide whisper soft across my back, up my arms, fingers digging briefly into my shoulders. It doesn't hurt, but it's the first really solid contact. It wakes me up.

He senses that I'm no longer dazed with surprise, and pulls back slightly, dark eyes searching my face. He looks so much older than he is.

I wonder how old I look to him.

"I want you," he whispers softly, still searching my eyes, my face, waiting for a reaction, a response. Permission, perhaps.

I stare back at him, startled again. He wants me? Since when? It's Heero he follows around like a hyperactive puppy. It's Quatre he relaxes with and smiles warmly at. It's Wufei he can't resist aggravating at every opportunity. Me? He's never looked at me twice.

He's looking now, though. And he never said that he'd wanted me for a long time, or that he'd want me again after this. Only that he wants me…now.

And I understand that. Because 'now' is where Duo and I exist. We have no past, and probably no future.

So I wrap my hand hard around the back of his neck, twining my fingers through his thick, plaited hair, and pull him down into another kiss.

This kiss is different than the first, powerful, almost angry, definitely aggressive. There is nothing tender in it, nothing soft.

It is my kiss, and I choose to give it to him.

He meets my sudden forcefulness with equal strength, hard hands tearing at my clothes, teeth, as sharp as they looked and more, drawing blood from my lower lip. I continue to feel those teeth against my skin, biting, scraping, drawing blood to smear across greedy lips, as he pulls my clothes off. I undress him as well, more methodically, only my mouth and tongue and, yes, my teeth as well, expressing my own ferocity. I have more control. He has more passion.

We are both very well-acquainted with the swift removal of clothing while our mouths and hands are otherwise occupied.

A brief struggle, when we are naked enough. We snarl and snap in the darkness, like wild dogs fighting for dominance. But I grew up as part of a pack, as the omega wolf. He was a loner. I am more used to submitting in the face of a more determined force.

He bends me over a stack of crates, and tiny, sharp splinters embed themselves in my skin as he embeds himself in my body. He is rough and fast, but his hand wrapped tight around my cock takes the sting away, and I suppose he must have spit on himself or something, because I don't feel the tearing pain like I should. It hurts, but not like I have come to expect.

A part of me is almost disappointed. If he hurt me that badly, it would be the staking of a claim.

A part of me has always wanted to belong to someone. And this is the only way I have ever understood possession.

With a shudder and a soft whimper against the back of my neck, he is finished. He holds me almost too tightly for a moment, then pulls abruptly away. Warm liquid trails down the inside of my thigh, and my cock is still throbbingly erect.

I stare down at it dumbly, not sure what to do now.

I hear a shuffling behind me. "Well, come on," he gasps impatiently. "We don't have all damn night, here."

I turn slowly, looking over my shoulder in confusion.

His back is towards me, his legs spread. The light from the door grate stripes his pale skin, picking out the dark red marks left by my hands on him earlier. They will be bruises tomorrow.

He cranes his neck, looking at me over his shoulder. His eyes are gleaming, cat-bright again. His smile is sharp and curved like the blades Quatre's Gundam wields. He arches his back and moans softly, his eyes sliding closed. "Come on come on come on…" he chants softly, insistently.

Ungraceful for once, thrown off balance but unable to deny that half-desperate command, I stumble across the short distance between us. I wrap my arms around him, my hands pressing flat against his tight stomach, sliding down into the coarse hair, feeling his semi-rigid cock twitch at my touch. I coat my fingers with the fluids still clinging to the sensitive skin as he writhes against me, teeth clicking on air when he can't reach me to bite.

I release his cock and rub my slickened fingers on my own, drawing a shuddering breath at the contact. My hands clamp on his hips, the bones there sharp beneath the skin, and I squeeze tight enough to leave more bruises, pulling him back against me, guiding him into position.

I have never done this before.

He doesn't protest when I thrust inside him, although I am rough about it, and it probably hurts. I know it hurts. But he only moans and lets his head fall back as if his neck was broken, rolling heavily on my shoulder. I close my teeth around the soft, pale flesh of his neck. I press my tongue against his throat and feel his pulse beat rapidly beneath it.

His body envelops me, tight and hot around me, and it's so much better than a hand on my cock, so much more

I slam into him, biting down on his throat, hot metallic blood running over my tongue and the salty tang of sweat mingling with it… My universe narrows to the friction, the warmth, the tight grasp of his body on my straining cock and the vague thought occurs to me that even now he is in control, even now I am focused on, absorbed by, him…

And then there is no more room for thought in my mind as the world explodes.

When I come back to myself, we are huddled on the floor. I have no memory of how we got there, but I am curled against his chest with his hand shoved into my mouth and the taste of blood still on my tongue. He is making soft soothing noises, rocking me slightly.

I disengage my jaws from his hand, and he lets me sit up, pulling away from him. I stare at him in the darkness. Where we are now, the stripes of light fall across his face, revealing a few smears of bright blood and sweat-darkened tendrils of hair plastered to his forehead. His eyes almost glow in the light, the pupils contracted in the glare. He is grinning.

"You started to scream," he informs me, holding up his somewhat mangled hand in explanation.

I nod, not knowing what to say. It doesn't exactly surprise me. I know very well that I repress a lot.

"Still, that was…nice," he says thoughtfully, cocking his head to the side with a wicked grin as he studies me, searching my eyes again.

Nice? Of all the words I might have used to describe what just happened, 'nice' would not even have made the really, really long list, much less topped the short one.

"If you like that sort of thing," I reply flatly, out of irritation.

He grins at me and winks.

And the floodlights go out.

In the sudden darkness, his low chuckle is unnerving.

"Time to go to work," he points out in a low voice. I pull myself to my feet and dress as best as I can, while my eyes adjust to the dark. I can hear him doing the same. We collect our gear from the floor by the door in silence, and he opens the door, stepping cautiously out into the once more sparsely lit compound. He pauses in the doorway and glances back, but there's not enough light to really make out his face or expression.

"See you in a bit," he says cavalierly, with one more knife-sharp flash of teeth in the shadows. And then he is gone, silent as a ghost.

Our mutual task takes a little over an hour to complete, and I am the first to arrive at the rendezvous point on the hill overlooking the base. He melts out of the shadows a few minutes later. He slips an arm around my waist and offers me a small black object. "Would you like the honors?" he asks. "A sacrifice to your God?"

"My God?" I ask slowly, meeting his eyes with a detachment I don't feel at the moment. His arm is like a burning brand against my side. His eyes glow like fallen stars in the moonlight, white-hot and dangerous. "Don't you mean our God?"

He looks up at me for a moment, then he laughs. It is a child's laugh, carefree and joyous and innocent, and I realize that Duo Maxwell is quite insane.

Not always. But at that particular moment.

And I am entranced.

And I wonder if Heero, or Quatre, or Wufei has ever seen this madness. And I know they haven't.

This is mine.

I have always wanted to belong to someone. But this, this moment, this part of Duo Maxwell…this belongs to me.

He falls silent again and closes his hand around mine on the black object. "Together, then?" he asks, in a warm, husky, intimate tone.

I can only nod in reply, and his thumb presses down on mine, pushing the button.

I stare into his wide eyes, his broad grin, his bright and childlike expression as it is illuminated in red and orange from the explosion.

Gone now is the too old face of earlier, the solemn seriousness. He is the child again, the smiling prankster, the laughing, carefree daredevil that everyone else knows.

Shinigami is locked away inside him again. But I have seen, now. I know.

And I have faith.

The memory ends. It flickers into darkness inside my mind as I watch the missiles curve through the vacuum, dead on target.

I haven't seen Duo Maxwell since that night. But I haven't forgotten, either. He gave me something, then. Not something I could hold in my hand, but something real, just the same.

Faith is a funny thing. It comforts as it cuts you.

At least it does when your faith is in destruction.

There is a connection between us, I know. There is a part of him that no one will ever understand, no one will ever know, except me. If I were a different sort of person, I might entertain dreams of what might happen if we were to meet again. If we survive the war.

But I am not that sort of person. Duo Maxwell and I have no past, although we have memories. We have no future, although in our own twisted way we have hope. All we really have, though, is right now.

Right now, I'm alone in the cockpit. But still, he's with me. He's always with me. He always has been and always will be.

So I know that I am calm, as I sit and wait for the missiles to reach their target. As the fireball blossoms like a flower in the darkness, outshining the stars, I am content. Because I can feel him beside me, inside me, in that moment.

And so, as the melted shards of Deathscythe arc lazily through the void, as I sit, relaxed, in the cockpit of the OZ mobile suit, I cannot understand why I am crying.

I should, I suppose, laugh.

Forgive me, Duo. I know not what I do.

+

1 - This line is from "Down Together" by The Refreshments, from their album Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy. I highly recommend them. "Banditos" on the same album is my all-time favorite song, and the inspiration for an unwritten fic of mine. But then, what isn't?

2 - Don't tell me it's the far future. There will always be K rations. And don't tell me K rations are not sea biscuits, because they are in this story. So nyah.

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