I Started From...
+ Part 4
Duo let out a yelp as his head
slammed against the brick wall. He didn't expect all the noise he was
making to bring help, but he didn't see any reason to suffer in silence,
The night had started out okay, he'd even turned a few quick tricks in
his new spot, but then Baldy had shown up again.
Duo had run this time.
Unfortunately, Randall's goons knew the area better than he did, and they
weren't all as out of shape as Baldy. They'd cornered him in this alley,
not far from the apartment his friends were holed up in, and they'd been
amusing themselves beating the crap out of him until Baldy returned with
Duo was doing his best to fight back, using every dirty trick he knew
to escape. Because he knew what was coming, and he just couldn't handle
Thought I was stronger than this, but man... One more day like today,
and I would go crawling to that bastard...
It was a very lowering experience to realize just how easily he could
fall back under the sway of heroin. After all the pain and misery he'd
gone through getting off it after he joined up with the Sweepers...
A fist slammed into his already-bruised stomach and Duo released a loud
stream of pained curses at the top of his lungs. His body involuntarily
attempted to curl inwards to protect his midsection, but the goons holding
him were strong enough and holding him so tightly that his feet left the
ground instead of his body sagging downwards.
Some cold, distant portion of his brain registered dimly that that meant
they weren't pinning his legs.
"Well, well, well. We meet again, eh, pretty boy?" Randall crooned
from a few feet away. Duo instantly froze, going limp in his captors'
grip as he turned to glare at the smug pimp. Baldy stood beside his boss,
puffing slightly from the short hike.
Duo snarled at Randall, which made the pimp laugh and take a few steps
Just a little closer, you bastard... I know you're gonna come closer...
"Boy, you just got one sour disposition tonight, doncha?" Randall
asked, sounding amused. He held up one thin hand, and a hypodermic needle
gleamed dully in the light from a nearby street lamp. Duo's eyes instantly
fastened on the tip of the needle, mesmerized, as Randall squeezed a few
drops of the clear liquid out to slide down the metal tip.
"Hold him," Randall muttered, all business now as he stepped
forward, reaching for the boy's pinned arm.
Duo's booted foot caught him neatly under the chin, and he flew backwards
in a fountain of blood and spit.
This distracted the two goons holding the American for a crucial few seconds,
and he managed to twist himself free of their loosened grips, stumbling
across the alley to the far wall, quickly pulling the concealed knife
from his hair. They'd been on top of him too fast when they'd cornered
him, but now he had some room to maneuver.
Of course, they'd also kind of beaten the crap out of him, and he'd had
better days in general, but he was at least going to go down fighting.
He held the knife in front of him and crouched defensively against the
Randall was sitting on the ground, cradling his jaw in his bony fingers
and swearing. His voice sounded thick and indistinct, and Duo hoped he'd
fractured the bastard's jaw.
"Fu'in cuh tha' bish!" Randall slurred at his cronies, and the
three large men formed up in a half circle in front of Duo, cracking their
knuckles and flexing their muscles.
Oh, for Christ's sake, what is this, some cheesy crime drama? Duo
thought exasperatedly. Are they going to start spouting bad dialogue
next? I don't think I'm up to that. Better nip it in the bud.
Without warning, he darted forward, straight at Baldy, who was in the
middle. As soon as he moved, he knew he'd made a mistake, let his anger
at the man who'd trapped him the night before guide his attack instead
of sensibly taking out the goon closest to the street so he could run
Too late now. At least I'll get one of them.
The sharp blade drove deeply into the flesh of Baldy's neck as Duo stabbed
it straight in, then he yanked his arm to the side and the knife sliced
outward, a spurt of bright arterial blood following and drenching the
goon unfortunate enough to be on Baldy's left. Duo grinned in manic glee,
knowing from the pumping fountain of blood that Baldy weakly tried to
block with his hands that he'd severed something vital. Baldy wasn't long
for this world.
Even as this thought crossed Duo's mind, though, the other two goons surged
forward before he could catch his balance, and grabbed his arms again.
He shrieked in fury and rage, but they just slammed him against the wall,
the one who held his knife arm nearly breaking his wrist with the impact.
The blade fell from nerveless fingers. Having learned from their earlier
mistake, the two goons each braced one of his legs with one of their own.
Duo squirmed mightily, but they weren't taking any chances with him now,
and he could feel their fingers digging hard enough to bruise into his
After a moment, he suddenly stopped struggling and hung limply in the
arms of the large men. He stared down at Baldy, whose glazed eyes stared
blindly up at the sky from where he lay in a puddle of dark blood. He
was on his back, and his ruined throat was clearly visible. Duo stared
down at the dead man for a second, and then he let a darkly amused laugh
escape his throat. He let it grow and grow, feeding all his terror and
fury into it until it bounced off the buildings, creating strange and
It was an unsettling sound, he knew. Unnerving. It made his captors fidget
slightly, their grips loosening a bit as they wondered if they really
wanted to be touching him.
Their grips loosened... but not enough.
He couldn't break free again.
Randall struggled to his feet and stumbled over, pausing to stare down
at the messy corpse of Baldy.
"Better kill me," Duo advised softly. The pimp looked up at
him, still holding his jaw in his hands, dark eyes flat and cold. "Better
kill me, or I'll come after you, Randall baby... Cut you up... Make you
bleed... Make you scream... "
"You one crazy muthafucka," Randall observed calmly. Then a
small, tight smile appeared on the cadaverous face. "I think I like
you," he added.
Duo fought a wave of nausea at the demented light in Randall's dark eyes.
Oh shit, did I fucking turn him on?
"You ain't gonna do shit to me, boy," Randall informed him,
the smile growing wider as his voice lost some of the thickness. Apparently
his jaw wasn't broken. He paused and spat a mouthful of blood onto the
pavement. A bloody tooth bounced and skittered in the discharge. Randall
stared at it for a moment, then turned back to Duo with a positively psychotic
gleam in his eyes and a wide, bloody smile spreading his swelling lips.
"I'm gonna own you," the pimp whispered harshly. He reached
into his pocket and pulled out a fresh needle, still wrapped in its protective
plastic seal, and a small baggie of white powder.
"I'll be with you in a minute," he promised darkly, gingerly
pulling his other hand away from his chin. Blood and spittle leaked from
one corner of his mouth, but he didn't seem to notice as he pulled out
a lighter and a metal spoon, slipping the needle back in his pocket for
Duo stared at the all-too-familiar preparations.
And he started to scream.
Heero was trudging slowly up the block toward the safe house, having given
up all hope of locating Duo, when the screaming started. His head snapped
up immediately and he pulled his gun from his shorts, clicking the safety
off, just in case he needed to shoot somebody in a hurry.
The screaming didn't stop after a few seconds, and Heero pinpointed the
source of the sound as the alley two buildings further up the street.
He frowned, wondering if he ought to just ignore whatever was going on,
and wait until things were quiet before going back to the apartment. Whatever
it was, it certainly wasn't his problem, and they weren't supposed to
do anything to draw attention to themselves.
But somewhere out in the city, Duo was alone, and possibly stoned or even
dead, because Heero had failed to locate him. He had failed. And
that was an open, aching wound right now.
So maybe he could do right by somebody tonight.
Firming his resolve, Heero slipped silently to the corner of the alley,
cautiously peering around the edge of one abandoned tenement. The scene
he saw before him fanned the banked flames of rage within him.
Two big, over-muscled men held a much smaller figure, dressed in a whore's
skintight, gaudy clothing, braced against a brick wall. The screaming
came from the... girl? Boy? It was hard to tell the figure's gender from
the end of the alley, especially with a long curtain of dark hair tumbling
down the front of the person's body. A moment after Heero arrived, the
screaming changed to loud, inventive cursing. There was a heavy-set body
on the ground, and Heero wondered if that was an earlier victim, or if
the captive had fought back.
A third man, this one dressed in an ill-fitting inexpensive suit of the
type Duo referred to as 'pimp-chic' was walking slowly towards the screaming
prisoner. The thin man held something in one bony hand. Heero squinted,
trying to make it out. The man held it forward, toward the captive, waving
it in front of the person's face, as though taunting him or her.
Heero's breath caught in his throat.
It was a needle.
He acted without thought. The gun was raised, aimed, and fired before
he even realized his intention. The thin man's head exploded in a shower
of blood and skull fragments, the body slowly crumpling to the dirty pavement.
The yelling abruptly cut off, and all three figures left standing stared
in shock for a moment at the fallen man.
Then the captive suddenly sagged toward the ground, and Heero wondered
if... he? she? - Fuck that, until I know, I'm going with 'it' --
had fainted. But instead of just hanging there, the figure pulled loose
of the two large men and rolled away from them. Heero smirked. It was
smart, he'd give it that. It had used its captors' distraction to get
Such ingenuity ought to be rewarded.
Heero took careful aim this time, and with two quick shots, finished off
the goons who were still in shock from their boss's death. They slid down
the wall, leaving dark, wet smears behind them, and Heero moved cautiously
into the alley. He didn't know what he'd just rescued, but he knew it
was desperate, and he'd seen enough to be cautious.
He deliberately scuffed his shoes against the concrete so whoever it was
would know he was coming.
Duo had stared in amazement as Randall's head abruptly exploded. His mind
had immediately registered that the man had been shot. He must have missed
the sound of the gun firing what with all the hysterical yelling going
That thought made him suddenly stop yelling.
He then realized that the two men holding him, probably not the shining
intellectual lights of the community, were staring in surprise and confusion
at Randall's corpse.
Fighting down a giggle at his unbelievable luck, Duo suddenly went limp
in their arms, and the unexpected dead weight let him slip from his captors'
shock-loosened grips. He hit the ground and just rolled away, getting
clear of the men in case they decided to grab him again, or in case his
mysterious savior decided to shoot them, too.
Two shots rang through the alley, and the sound of heavy bodies sliding
to the ground followed.
Okay, one set of bad guys down, but who the hell is doing the shooting?
Duo wondered. Chances were, it wasn't a knight in shining armor, come
to rescue him. Probably a rival pimp, or something equally unpleasant.
Maybe if I lay still enough, they'll think I'm dead, too, and leave
me alone, he thought whimsically. He choked back a hopeless laugh.
He didn't really have a choice. After the beating he'd just taken, he
didn't think he could crawl, much less stand up and run away.
The scuff of shoes against pavement alerted him to the approach of the
shooter, and Duo froze in a huddled little ball. His face was turned to
the side, and Randall's single remaining glazed eye was in his field of
vision. The pimp's body was a few feet away, one arm stretched out towards
Duo in a twisted pantomime of supplication. The needle had rolled out
of the limp fingers and lay on the concrete not too far from his own outstretched
Duo watched in horror as his hand, apparently of its own volition, twitched
and scrabbled weakly toward the needle. He frowned, and with a supreme
effort of will, forced the hand to go limp again.
The shoes were getting closer. Duo stared nervously out through a veil
of bloody hair that covered his face and half his body. Finally, the shoes
came into his line of vision, stepping carefully around the puddle of
blood and brains that Randall's demise had left on the concrete.
The shoes were battered yellow hightop sneakers. He knew every scuff mark
and crease on those ugly, clunky, ever-so-fucking-efficient shoes like
the back of his own hand. Duo almost sobbed in relief.
Instead, he gingerly propped himself on one elbow and drew aside the stringy,
dirty fall of hair with the other hand to peer up at his stone-faced savior.
"H-Heero?" he murmured questioningly. Dark blue eyes locked
onto his bleary gaze, and after a moment, he saw them widen in shocked
Heero moved slowly around the body of the suspected pimp, halting a few
feet from what he could now tell was a slender young man, curled on his
side and half-covered by bloody, tangled hair. Didn't think there could
be two people in the world with that much hair, Heero mused to himself,
even as he wondered if the boy was unconscious. He was certainly still
enough, but something about the way he lay there, a certain tension in
the body told him the boy was awake, and nervous.
Just as Heero was wondering if he should say something or just leave,
the boy suddenly raised himself up on one elbow and pulled the dirty hair
aside to reveal an exotically made-up face.
Electric purple shadow on upper and lower lids emphasized the boy's brilliant
violet eyes, although mascara from the long lashes had run in black streaks
down the softly curved cheeks. The cheekbones, eyebrows and the tip of
the delicately pointed chin were accented with iridescent glitter, and
the full lips were tinted a dark red-violet. The wine colored lipstick
had been smudged on one side, looking like a smear of blood at the corner
of the boy's mouth. Despite the smears and smudges, the boy's face retained
an exotic, elfin beauty.
Heero noted all these features, but felt his gaze drawn quickly back to
the boy's eyes.
Violet eyes... just like...
"H-Heero?" the boy whispered uncertainly, and it was Duo's soft,
husky voice. Duo's bright violet eyes that watched him with wary hope.
Duo's tongue that darted out nervously to lick the painted lips...
"Duo?" he whispered in surprise and confusion. A weak smile
played around the edges of the full lips, but the violet eyes remained
He hadn't failed. He'd found Duo after all.
And now he had not the faintest idea what to do.
Heero's eyes slipped away from Duo's gaze to the ground at his feet, and
he saw the needle lying there.
Suddenly, he remembered the tableau he'd seen from the end of the alley.
He glanced from the dead man to Duo to the needle.
He was... threatening you with this... That's what you were trying
to tell me this morning, trying to explain, and I wouldn't listen...
Heero brought his heel down with a very satisfactory crunch on the plastic
casing of the needle. Duo flinched ever so slightly, but then just continued
to stare at Heero.
Heero turned back to his friend, and suddenly crouched down beside him,
wrapping his arms around his bent knees. Duo watched him, obviously confused
by his actions.
"Heero? What are you doing here?" Duo managed weakly.
Heero frowned, dropping his eyes once more to the concrete. It was easier
than meeting that violet gaze.
"Duo... " he began softly, not quite knowing what he wanted
to say, but knowing that he had to say something. Mostly because Duo needed
to hear it, but also because... he needed to say it.
Walking around today, looking for Duo, he'd come to accept that he wanted
more from this boy than simple friendship. He wasn't exactly certain what
that 'more' could be, but he rather suspected that Duo might know. And
Heero needed to know if he stood any chance in hell of ever getting what
He licked his own lips nervously, and determinedly met Duo's curious eyes
again. "Duo," he said again, more firmly. "The things I
said this morning -- "
"Heero, I understand why you -- " Duo began wearily, but Heero,
greatly daring, placed a gentle finger against the painted lips, stilling
them instantly. Duo's eyes went a little wider at the unexpected touch.
"Just listen for a second. The things I said... I was wrong to say
them. I shouldn't have jumped to the conclusions I did. You tried to explain
what had happened, but I wouldn't let you. I don't blame you for being
angry. I should know you better by now than to believe you'd... do something
like that, just on a whim. I should've listened. I... I'm sorry,"
he finished weakly, not sure what else to say, and hoping he'd gotten
his point across.
The soft shimmering of tears in Duo's eyes made him worry that he hadn't.
"Duo? Daijobu desu ka?" he asked nervously, the finger that
had silenced the braided boy sliding away from the mouth, his other fingers
joining it to gently caress the smooth cheek.
Duo's eyes slid shut, a few tears squeezing out, but there was a slight
smile on his face, and he pressed his cheek into Heero's hand like a cat.
"Daijobu," he murmured. After a moment, though, the eyes slid
open again, still filled with confusion. "But... why are you out
here?" Duo asked again.
Heero frowned at the question. "To tell you that," he said flatly.
Duo stared at him incredulously. "Heero Yuy," he said with slow
deliberation. "Do you mean to tell me that you've been wandering
around the city, endangering the mission, looking for me, just to tell
me you were sorry for yelling at me?"
Heero blinked and cocked his head to the side, considering the question.
"Yes," he finally admitted.
Duo burst out in loud, genuine laughter. Heero felt a small smile tugging
at his own lips. Duo could be very contagious that way.
The American struggled to sit up, and Heero slipped an arm around his
still-shaking shoulders to support him. Duo leaned back against his arm
and shook his head, smiling fondly at Heero. "Just when I think I've
got you all figured out," he murmured.
Heero grunted. Then he frowned slightly. "So... anyway... about what
I said... do you?" he asked warily. Duo frowned back at him, confused
by the question.
"Do I what?" he asked.
"Do you... forgive me?" Heero managed, feeling like he was choking
on something. The unfamiliar words, perhaps.
Duo grinned widely. "Sure I do. After all, you just saved me from
Randall-baby's tender mercies," he muttered, waving one hand at the
thin corpse. Then a frown crossed his face. "Speaking of which, we
probably better get out of here. It might not be cops, but somebody's
sure to show up soon to see what all the shooting was about," Duo
declared ominously. He rolled over onto his hands and knees, and Heero
stood up quickly, taking a few steps away.
Duo forgave him. That was one load off his mind. But there was still the
Duo's interest suddenly fastened on 'Randall's' body, and he crawled over
to it, pawing through the man's pockets. Heero frowned, until Duo made
a noise of triumph and pulled out a thick wad of bills from the inside
pocket of the man's jacket.
"Yes! Pimps always carry cash," Duo informed Heero happily,
shoving the money into his shorts. "These things really are damn
convenient for storage," Duo mused, patting the lump in the spandex.
Then he pushed himself slowly to his feet... and immediately staggered
as his legs buckled.
Heero caught him around the waist, pulling the barely dressed but obviously
battered body close against him. The sensation of Duo's body pressed tightly
against his produced a burst of confusing warmth and an odd tingling inside
"Um... sorry, Heero. Don't think I can walk," Duo muttered against
Heero's shoulder, where his head had landed. He sounded embarrassed by
Heero considered the situation for about half a second before pressing
his gun into one of Duo's hands and sweeping the boy up in his arms like
a child, cradling Duo against his chest. That strange warmth intensified,
and he wanted to hold the other boy even closer, tighter, wanted to bury
his face in the long, loose hair... He very carefully maintained a neutral
expression, not allowing any of his unusual thoughts to show. He rather
suspected this was not the reaction one should have to holding an injured
friend in their arms.
Duo blinked up at him in surprise. "Heero?" he said hesitantly,
glancing at the gun.
Heero did his best to smile, realizing it probably came out as more of
a smirk. "My hands are full. You'll have to guard us," he explained
"Oh," Duo said softly, turning the gun over in his hands. He
stared down at it instead of looking at Heero as he asked quietly, "You'd
Heero winced internally, realizing that his little morning outburst would
not be so easily smoothed over after all. He'd hurt Duo badly by questioning
his trustworthiness and loyalty.
Heero stared down at the bent head and answered, quietly but very firmly,
"With my life."
Duo looked up at him in surprise, but then a rueful grin twisted his features.
"Yeah, well, you're always saying that life is cheap, especially
yours, Heero. So that doesn't mean much, does it?" he asked, striving
for a joking tone, but the bitterness in his voice was undeniable.
Heero frowned, and abruptly dropped his own gaze to the gun, uncomfortable
under Duo's bright and fragile stare. "I... had sort of hoped that...
my life might be worth more... to you," he said softly, not quiet
believing he was actually voicing the forbidden thought aloud. He heard
Duo give a small gasp at his words, but didn't dare look at his friend's
terribly expressive eyes as he nervously added, "I know yours is...
worth a lot to me."
At that, Duo made a choking noise, and Heero did look at him in sudden
concern. But Duo was just staring at him, the violet eyes wide in surprise
"Really?" Duo whispered almost inaudibly.
Heero felt a real smile warming his face slightly. "Really,"
he murmured, his eyes holding a promise that he only hoped Duo understood.
Feeling greatly daring and more than a little reckless, Heero bent his
head down and placed a gentle kiss against Duo's forehead.
It was an echo of all the little teasing gestures Duo had been making
It was a response.
Duo's smile was brimming with incredulous joy when Heero pulled his face
away. Heero grinned down at his fiend. "Come on. Time to go home,"
he said, starting to move slowly toward the end of the alley. Duo obligingly
turned to watch the street ahead of them, clicking the safety off the
gun. But he settled his head comfortably against Heero's chest and murmured
quietly, "I think I'm already there."
[part 3] [part 5]
[back to Aoe's fic]