Walking the Tightrope + Chapter 5 (cont)

+

'I hurt him'
Wufei thought in the stony silence of the car. A tiny thought, barely heard over the noise of the mission parameters he was reviewing and the concentration on his driving.

He mentally scoffed. 'I barely said anything to him. I've been meaner before. He never died or anything.'

'We weren't lovers…'


' 'Lovers' is too big a word for participants in a humping session,' he thought back with force, viciously shutting up the little voice under a downpour of mission specs.

It was not as if he had been more snappy than usual. He was always like that. Always. If Yuy couldn't cope, he could leave him alone, and that was all.

'I don't care for him. I barely even like him. Who the hell does he think he is, checking on what I'm doing as if he was the only one not able to make mistakes? Did I ask to be supervised? I love Duo. I don't need Yuy. He just makes me react because he's hot. Doesn't mean I care. Doesn't.'

He drove all thoughts of his comrade and his love life out of his head. They were nearly there; time to get serious about the mission.

+

For all the acknowledgement they gave each other en route to the enemy factory, they might as well have been walking alone.

They didn't look at each other when they stopped at the edge of the cover, just at the limit before they could be seen.

Heero didn't ask if Wufei remembered the coordinates and the time they were supposed to stay in, nor the margin they would have to get out before the explosions.

Wufei didn't ask if Heero had spare detonators with him, nor if his escape route had an emergency backup.

They just shrugged, and went to work.

+

The factory was built along a river, which meant that it was much longer than it was wide. They could have taken one side each and have met in the middle, but that didn't leave many options for escape from the explosions, that was why they proceeded in parallel.

They could catch glimpses of each other's progress when they darted in and out of the buildings and from between the crates, sometimes. The guards at the entry hadn't been much of a hindrance, and now, the visits to the laboratories and bureaus finished, they were planting bombs in the hangars.

The Mobile Dolls here weren't complete, just parts waiting to be assembled. There were crates of parts everywhere, in a labyrinth that most probably only the workers knew how to navigate. Well, maybe not that bad, but it sure looked like it, thought Wufei.

Nearly finished, a dozen bombs to plant, a hundred meters to go and they could get out and look at the fireworks.

If he didn't get sighted by guards before that, he realized, jumping back.

What the fuck were those guards doing, walking without a light on? He had barely seen them in time! He jumped back in silence to get out of the passage they were using…

...and realized that there was another group behind him, walking in the main alley. Shit! He was caught between the two! He glanced at the crates to see if he could climb, but the moon had decided that now was a good time to get out. If he tried that, he would be seen for sure…

...Yes, but if he didn't he would be caught for sure!

He got ready to jump...

There was a smashing of crates falling on the ground on the other side, and the men using his alley ran back to take another, more direct route to the origin of the sound, while the men in the main alley ran to block all escape routes, freeing the path for Wufei. He didn't lose time and jumped on top of a pile of wooden boxes bigger than him, hiding in the shadow of another, bigger pile.

And then, he realized that the crates couldn't have fallen alone. He swore. Had Yuy bumped into one? He was not so clumsy usually...

...Oh gods. He had done that to give Wufei a way to escape.

And now he was going to get caught.

The Chinese boy ran on top of the crates, jumping in silence, and slid his blade across the last guard's throat, killing him without a sound to alert the other, then took care of the second in quite the same fashion. He jumped back behind a crate just as one of the guards looked back to glance at his comrades.

"Shit. Kellers and Sanderson are down!!!" he shouted before Wufei could shut him up.

Ahead of them, the guards stopped trying to be silent and ran forward to close down on Heero. Gunshots exploded in the night. At the entry, a dog barked, and lights went on from place to place.

Well, to hell with secrecy. The Chinese pilot jumped down from the pile he was on, gutting the man before he could shoot him, and took off running to where the artillery fire had come from.

He arrived on site just in time to see Heero caught between two enemy parties. There was a slapping sound, and the momentum of the bullet threw him on one knee, leaning against a wood panel. He began to slide against the wood, slowly, and for a very long second, Chang thought that he might be seriously wounded, maybe fatally. Abandoning the safety of their shelters now that the intruder had fallen, the men were closing in, trying to get a better angle to shoot him.

Wufei threw a grenade at one of the groups, and jumped to the pile his comrade was leaning against.

"Your hand!!!"

He dragged the boy up, taking most of his weight on him, and, jumping in an alley just behind, began to run for the river. The grenade exploded and he heard a few screams, and piles of crates tumbled, blocking the path for the uninjured guards.

"Can you climb?"

Heero nodded soberly, his teeth clenched hard.

The Chinese boy threw the end of a metal bar that had been lying in a puddle on the wire fence. After the shower of sparks, the hum of electricity disappearing was deafening.

"Status?" asked Wufei at the foot of the fence, turning around to brace himself against it. He offered his hands for Yuy to prop himself up.

"Bruised ribs, scratches," said the boy, jumping up to balance precariously on top of the fence. Wufei followed, using the hand his comrade was giving him. They fell on the other side and began to run, Wufei once again making Heero lean on him. He looked much too wobbly on his legs to walk alone.

"The bullet..."

"Kevlar shirt."

"Oh." Duh. He felt silly for having thought that Heero might have been killed by a bullet in the torso, now.

They jumped down the riverbank, in the water, but didn't try to cross, just walked upstream, staying in the shadows of the high bank. It would throw the dogs off their trail. And soon, they would have other things to do besides following them.

There was an explosion, then another, then, too close to really separate them, all the other bombs exploded more or less together. The light reflected on the river, casting deeper shadows on them. Earlier than what had been decided. Someone must have tried to defuse one.

"I hit my head," Heero informed Wufei after a few minutes, when the sound of explosions diminished and was replaced by the dull roar of a major fire.

Wufei gritted his teeth. If Heero took the pain of telling him about a bump in the head, then it was serious enough to get him concerned.

"Ok. I don't need to tell you not to fall asleep."

"With my feet in ice-cold water I don't think it will happen," Heero informed him idly.

He seemed to realize that he had been too chatty, had made a kind of joke, and closed off once again.

Wufei clenched his teeth.

Now that the adrenaline rush was going down, the "battle-mode" wasn't the dominant mode of thoughts anymore.

Heero had nearly gotten himself killed. To save him. And it was only now that his mind let him hear the violent denial it had screamed when he had heard the first gunshot. When he had seen Heero fall. When he had thought that he could be injured, he could have just been killed... What had the moron been thinking, attracting the attention of the guards to himself like that?!

He could have lost him. He could have lost him, thinking that Wufei hated him... and it was not true. He... Kinda liked him, in fact... Even if he pissed him off so much sometimes that Wufei wanted to strangle him, he...

...

...He could have lost him? Not, Duo could have lost him? HE?

Oh, crap.

In the silence of his mind, the little voice from before was clearly heard.

'It would hurt me to lose him. It would hurt me, and not because of Duo. Just because of him. Just because of me.'

This time, the voice of denial didn't find anything to answer.

+

Finally they arrived to the hidden car they would use for the return trip. The one they had taken for coming here had been rigged to explode with the bombs in the factory, in case someone had discovered it during their trip. Abandoning Heero against a tree, for the boy was not yet able to keep his balance alone, Wufei went to drag the camouflage net away from the car. He opened the door to the backseat wide.

There was a basket on the passenger seat, and Wufei blinked. The person who had put the car here for them was very thoughtful. Too bad he would probably never be able to say thank you for the gesture, the terrorist cells never having direct contact and anonymity being the number one rule amongst them. There were things to eat, a first aid pack, and a cover. He took the cover and spread it on the backseat, then got out to fetch Heero.

The Japanese boy was leaning against the tree with most of his weight, an arm around it, his cheek pressed against the bark as if seeking the roughness just to stay awake, and his eyes were closed in weariness. It was too dark to judge of the pallor of his skin, but he wouldn't look well either way.

"Heero?"

The boy opened his eyes slowly and glanced at him, expressionless. Wufei winced. He was still giving him the ice-prince treatment, but the Chinese boy had to admit that it was well-deserved. He had been so moody with him before, and without any warning. There wasn't any excuse, because Duo had told him, and he knew, that Heero had discarded his shields for him... but he just hadn't thought about that. He hadn't thought that the Japanese boy had given him access, and so, that his usually thick hide wouldn't protect him against verbal abuse.

It had always been Wufei's most despicable quirk, in Wufei's own opinion, the way he would forget about people's emotions and lash out when he was feeling out of balance, to forget to consider the repercussions when he delivered a scathing reply right in the middle of someone's weakness. It was what had made the young boys in his clan leave him alone to his books, what had made a love-hate relationship of his marriage with the only person he respected at the time. It was something he had never been able to prevent, and something he had always been ashamed of, when he was calm enough to consider other people's feelings. He had a very sharp tongue, and too quick for him to really control. But that was not an excuse; he just should have tried harder.

Wufei offered his shoulder in silence, too ashamed to look at him, and helped him to the backseat. He sat the boy down on the edge of the seat, then dragged the first-aid kit closer to him. He would make his apologies later, for now he had to take care of his comrade before they departed from the area. Once on the road, Heero would have to take care of himself and it was not something the Chinese boy really wanted.

"Ok, look at me," he said in a professional voice. "I'm going to look at your eyes."

When Heero turned his eyes to him, he lighted the flashlight in his face, judging the way his pupils were constricting. Heero winced imperceptibly, but didn't turn his watering eyes away.

The pupils contracted to pinpoints at the same time. There wasn't one to go slower, or not constricting at all. It was a good omen.

"Dizziness?"

"A little."

"What else? Upset stomach?"

He just shook his head no, his eyes fixed on something far away over Wufei's shoulder. Still didn't want to look at him. Ok, Wufei could work with that.

Didn't even hurt.

"Do you like this shirt very much?" asked the Chinese boy, lifting the edge of said clothes. "Because I don't want you to lift your arms if you have a cracked rib," he added, showing him his knife.

"Go ahead," said Heero, still indifferent.

Wufei cut the shirt off, then unhooked the kevlar shirt under the cotton one and made it slide off Heero's arms. The boy didn't react, letting Wufei undress him as lifelessly as if he was a doll. It was slightly disturbing, to have him so pliant, when usually he was so stubborn.

Especially after this morning...

The skin was split and there was already a hell of a bruise all along Heero's left ribcage, but when he passed his hand on it, pushing slightly, he didn't feel any of the bones give or even move in a suspicious way. Heero had his teeth clenched hard, and Wufei could see a little muscle in his jaw jumping wildly, but the blue-eyed boy didn't protest the pressure on his hurt side at all. Sorry to have hurt him while searching for a broken bone, Wufei changed his clinical touch into a caress, lightly brushing against Heero's side before letting his hand fall on the boy's knee.

"Still dizzy?" he asked in a low voice.

Heero was staring at him, looking slightly puzzled. But then he shrugged and his eyes became blank once again.

"A little."

"Sleepy?"

"No."

"You should lay down on the backseat anyway, to rest your ribs."

Heero shrugged, glancing back at the seat. His bangs hid his eyes for a few seconds, caressing his cheekbones.

"Wait, let me see your head," asked the Chinese boy impulsively.

Kneeling up on the edge of the doorway, he hooked his hands behind Heero's neck and made him bend forward, until the wildest strands of his hair were tickling the black-eyed boy's collarbone. The raven-haired pilot took in a silent, deep intake of air when he felt Heero's warm breath insinuate itself between his tanktop and his skin, and slid his hands upward in the boy's hair.

He didn't ask where Heero had been hit, just explored the wild mop of hair with the pads of his fingers, softly, barely pressing on the skull, enjoying the light tickles of the rebellious bangs against his palms and wrists.

He found the damp, bumpy place, and grazed a finger over the already closed scratch. Heero sighed silently, discretely, and Wufei only knew because of the longer brush of air against his skin. Slowly, he transformed his already caressing exploration in a massage, rubbing at his temples and his fingertips drawing small circles against the boy's nape. Heero didn't move for the longest time, tense and making himself as distant as he could while being in his arms, but then, just like that, as if losing his resolve to keep up the icy demeanor under the warmth of Wufei's touch, he suddenly relaxed and leaned his forehead against the other boy's torso.

Smiling in Heero's hair, Wufei slid a hand down his nape and on the first bumps of his vertebras, idly following on his light massage. It didn't feel like touching a doll anymore, and it was great, because it meant that Heero was willing to let him try to make amends for his earlier behavior.

"Now lay down, we need to get going," advised Wufei in a whisper.

He guided the other boy down so that he wouldn't put strain on his ribs, one arm around his shoulders not to let him fall back too brusquely and one arm hooked over the back of the seat to prevent himself from falling over the short-haired boy. Heero crawled back a little so that his legs wouldn't hang out of the car from mid-thighs, his eyes hidden by his dark lashes. Wufei felt unsure of what was going on in his mind; Heero had let him touch him, but he was still not looking at him. That could mean that...

Then, he looked up at Wufei, who was still leaning over him.

Just looked. Just like that.

And Wufei was kissing Heero, and he was kissing back. And it was slow, and tender, and so sweet, saying so many things they couldn't say out loud, Wufei's shame at having been so cruel, Heero's hurt feelings, Wufei's apologies, Heero's silent acceptance.

But the Chinese boy had to make sure that Heero knew that he was sorry, he had to say it... he opened his mouth.

"Heero..."

A finger across his still tingling lips.

"Shh. I know."

Heero's hand brushed against his cheek, light as a feather, the caress of rough skin on his face making him shiver. Such a contrast, hard hands, soft gestures. Heero all the way.

"Now drive. Duo will be worried."

Wordlessly, absolution, forgiveness, just like that, no questions, no conditions.

Wufei nodded silently, then crawled out of the backseat, closed the door once Heero had bent his legs to have them inside, and got into the front. Revving the motors, he glanced at Heero, who blinked slowly, tiredly at him, then began to drive away.

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