The Game + Part 4 (cont)

Jimmy scowled at them and crossed his arms over his black t-shirt. "My ma used to sew bags of Nitro into my diaper when the feds raided our apartment," He said sullenly.

Jules rolled his eyes and toed one of the bags with his sneaker. "That's cuz your ma is a fricken' crackhead." He stopped toeing the bag when Heero practically growled at him.

Jimmy glared daggers at the other boy before smirking meanly. "At least she ain't a piece of ass like *your* ma."

Jules' back went ramrod straight and he looked about ready to pounce on the larger boy, when the quietest of the three grabbed the back of his t-shirt and held him back easily. "Both of you shut the hell up." He glared at his friends from under a messy fringe of bangs. "Now." The other boys shot each other dirty looks but instantly fell silent. "Sorry about your stuff, Mister. We didn't do nothin' but put it in the bags and haul it out." The apparent leader of the trio said to Heero.

Duo waved the apology off before Heero could comment. "Don't worry about it, kiddo. He'll just blame me for whatever damage you did anyway." Heero shot him a look that clearly stated that he would be doing just that.

"I have a name, you know." The kid muttered in an annoyed fashion.

"I know, kiddo," Duo said teasingly as he hoisted the heaviest bag onto his shoulder and began carrying it down the hall. Heero shook his head and carried the last two bags easily as he followed Duo to the spare room. He was still visibly irritated.

"I know your name, Smithie," Jules offered helpfully.

"Suck up," Jimmy muttered.

"Hey, you guys can get the hell out now," Duo said with no little amount of amusement in his tone. "Heero hasn't ripped my head off yet so I'm guessing you didn't break anything."

Smithie raised an eyebrow and held out one hand. "Pay up."

"And none of that two dollar jip business, either!" Jules put in.

Once again, Heero walked in just as Duo was walking them to the door. He was extremely annoyed at Duo but he didn't want to argue with the man in front of the kids. He leaned against the doorframe and watched as they joked back and forth. Duo's face began to soften and his eyes began to shine with genuine amusement and good cheer. The angry scowl was nowhere to be seen and for the first time since their reunion, he looked like his old self.

Heero remembered when he was the one who could put that sparkle in Duo's eyes; when he was the one who could make him happy. Now... now all he did was bring the longhaired man bad memories and anger. As he stood and watched, he began to feel less irritated and more wistful. Wistful and empty. When he had foolishly lost Duo... he had lost a part of his heart forever and now, now Duo was within reach but it was obvious by the way he acted with Heero, all guarded and angry, that things would never be the same.

"Do you treat all your friends like this?" Jimmy was complaining as Duo closed the door. "Nope!" The older man responded with a grin. "Only the special ones!"

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His lips curled into a sly smile and Duo leaned forward; extending his finger and nudging it between Heero's parted lips. "Eat up," He cooed teasingly.

Heero regarded the other boy through half opened eyes and licked the digit clean. "Is this how you treat all your food tasters?"

Duo laughed and his eyes twinkled as he gazed fondly at his lover. "Nope. Only the special ones," he murmured and leaned in for a kiss.

========

Heero blinked and shook his head slightly. He didn't need to be remembering these things now. He didn't need to be *thinking* these things now. He was supposed to be professional, all business with no feelings or strings attached.

Duo sighed and leaned against the closed door; all humor seemed to be drained out of him. "Is all your shit intact?" He asked somewhat wearily.

"Yeah." Heero cleared his throat. "I'm going to go shower, if that's okay with you."

"What, you're not going to rip me a new one? Tell me what a fuck up I am for letting innocent little babies carry around guns?"

"You just said all that needs to be said." Heero said flatly. Duo winced but Heero couldn't bring himself to feel bad. He didn't care if these kids had been to hell and back; Duo knew better than that.

"Smithie will be sixteen in a few months and Jimmy isn't too far behind him. Jules is the youngest but I really fucking doubt that Smith let him handle any weapons. Knowing you, they were in cases anyway so I don't see what the big damn deal is. We were blowing shit up when we were younger than they are now. You just look for any excuse to come down on me, don't you?"

Heero sighed and wiped a hand across his face; keeping his back to Duo. "Think whatever you want, Duo. I don't feel like arguing anymore." He didn't wait to hear the snappy comebacks or angry retorts; he just wanted to clean up and get some rest.

He continued on his way to the bathroom and after he was completely stripped of the uncomfortable pants, he got in the shower and let the surprisingly strong spray wash over his body. He was sore as hell and covered with old sweat and dried blood. The hot water was doing wonders for him at the moment. He pressed his palms flat against the wall and hung his head as the water slid over his body. This was so frustrating; everything was when it came to Duo. He still managed to say all the wrong things to the longhaired man and every time they seemed to make some kind of headway, the anger and the bitterness crept out and everything went downhill. He tried to tell himself that it wasn't professional and that he should just think about the mission, the plan... but they weren't in wartime anymore and he knew that the more he ignored it, the more it would bother him.

He closed his eyes and let memories and emotions wash over him with the water. Things had been so good between them, once upon a time. They had been best friends and lovers, they had shared so many things and then Heero had screwed it up. Screwed it up because he was stupid and confused and just a kid at heart.

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"Heero! You home? Sorry about dropping in unexpectedly but I left some files here the other day!" Duo's voice called from the foyer.

Heero's heart stopped and he shot the closed, bedroom door a panicked look. "Shit!" He jumped out of the bed and began yanking on his pants as his heartbeat started again at a sickeningly fast tempo.

Relena looked up at him in confusion. "What's wrong with you? Why does he still have a key?" She reached for her bra, which had fallen on the floor and started to get out of the bed, but the door burst open.

"Heero, you--" The sentence trailed off and Duo froze in the doorway. Stunned indigo eyes slowly took in Heero's panicked expression and unzipped pants, Relena's naked form and finally, the messy bed. He blinked several times and shook his head slightly. "What the.. What the fuck?"

"Duo--"

"What the fuck is this!?"

Relena stared at him and a horrified expression slowly appeared on her face as realization set in. "You didn't tell him!?" She yelled at Heero.

Heero stared at both of them helplessly and opened and closed his mouth several times. "Duo I--"

"Holy shit," Duo uttered, it came out strangled sounding and pained. "Time apart, huh? Time my fucking ass!" He snarled and spun on his heel, storming out the bedroom door.

"Duo!" Heero shouted after him and started to run forward, but Relena grabbed his arm. "You said he knew! You said he knew and he understood! How could you do this, Heero?!"

Heero stared at her with wild eyes and yanked his arm out of her grasp. "Later," He growled and ran out the door, just catching Duo as he got into the elevator. He stood in the way of the door as it started to close and stared at his partner desperately. "Please listen to me, Duo--"

The longhaired man looked furious. His face was twisted into a hateful mask and his eyes were glittering in the dangerous way they used to during the war. His breath was coming fast and hard and his eyes were red rimmed. "Get the fuck away from me, you son of a bitch."

"I didn't know how to tell you! Godammit, Duo just listen to me!"

"How long have you been fucking her?"

Heero shook his head and raked a hand through his hair. "What!?"

Duo's hands clenched into fists. "How long have you been fucking her and then spending the night with me? All those times you had to stay at the office late, all of those bullshit body guard missions, it was all a fucking lie, wasn't it?!"

"I--"

"WASN'T IT?!"

"It wasn't like that; if you'd just listen to me-- I can explain!"

"Explain what, Heero?! What the fuck is there to explain?! You could have at least been... been man enough to tell me."

Heero slammed his fist into the wall. "I tried to tell you!" He roared in frustration.

"What an idiot, I was," Duo went on as if Heero hadn't said anything. "I trusted you, I actually fucking *trusted* you. I thought I fucking *loved* you. I knew... I always knew.."

Heero stared at him disbelievingly "You never told me!"

Duo was shaking now, his eyes were moist and his lips were trembling. "Get away from me, Heero. I'm warning you," He whispered softly, bowing his head and allowing his bangs to cover his eyes as he let loose a shuddering sigh.

"Duo--" He started to reach for the other man, but Duo exploded into a flurry of motion and his fist slammed into Heero's face. Heero fell backwards and landed on his back.

"I SAID GET AWAY FROM ME!" Duo screamed and stared at the fallen man with tearful, angry eyes. He slammed his fist against the close button.

Relena ran into the hall just as the elevator doors slid shut and she took in the scene before her. She looked down at her lover and shook her head sadly. "Oh Heero... what have you done?"

Heero looked up at her with dazed, sad eyes. "I... I don't know."

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Heero slammed a hand against the shower wall in anger. What had he been thinking? How could he have betrayed him like that? What an idiot he had been...

=========

The door slammed open and smashed against the wall; glass shattering as an enraged ex-Gundam pilot appeared in the entrance. "You bastard!"

Everyone looked up and stared at Duo. "Agent Maxwell this is highly inappropriate and--" Noin started but Duo cut her off with a venomous look.

"So first I'm not good enough to keep you from fucking that bitch and now I'm not good enough to be your partner?!"

Heero stared at him with an unfazed expression on his face. "I can't trust you to watch my back anymore. I can't have a partner that I can't trust."

Duo stared at him in disbelief, looking even more betrayed than he had that night several weeks ago. "That's real funny coming from you."

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"You wanted to see me?"

"It's about Agent Maxwell." Une sat behind her desk, the ultimate picture of professionalism as she watched her best agent grimace.

"What did he do now?" Heero asked in a voice that was more disgusted than anything else. Duo had become a real screw up after they had broken up. Couldn't keep a partner, couldn't stay out of trouble, couldn't--

"He's missing."

Heero's eyes narrowed. "What?"

"As you know, he stopped coming to work last week. I had Agent Donald and Agent Drake stop by his apartment last night and they said it looks as if Duo just picked up and left. Apparently nothing had been touched in more than a week. He left no clues as to where he was going and his bank account has not been touched."

"He could just be blowing off steam, you know how Duo I---"

"He's gone, Heero."

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After Duo disappeared, Heero had been really messed up. Angry at the world, surlier than ever and in an extreme state of regret and downheartedness. The Preventers had searched for Duo for months before finally giving up, and when they did, Heero had fallen into an even deeper depression. It had served to drive a permanent wedge between him and Relena and that's actually when things had started to go downhill. He knew now that things could never work out between the two of them and that they could be nothing more than good friends. Sleeping with her had been one of the biggest mistakes of his post-war life... and it had ruined them all.

Heero opened his eyes and raked a hand through his wet hair. In a sudden moment of clarity it finally set in that Duo Maxwell, the man he had been in love with for years and the man he had dreamed about for the past two, was really in the next room. He was really here, really alive and he was as breathtaking as ever. All of the practiced speeches that Heero had prepared in the early months of Duo's disappearance came rushing back and suddenly he had a renewed hope; a renewed drive to make things right. He didn't care if they never got back to the way they used to be, but if he could make the light that used to brighten Duo's eyes come back... that would be enough.

+

AN: I really dislike this chapter. *cough*

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