Author: BleedToBlue
Pairings: 6x2, 1xR, 3x4, hints of 5x2
Warning: R-ish, m/m, AU, Post War Preventor-ness
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to someone else and I make no profit from this.

Thanks to marasmine for betaing and for all her support. All mistakes are mine.

The Entropy of Memory + Chapter 10

The crashing noises coming from the woods grew louder, there was the sound of people thrashing and falling through the underbrush, what Duo assumed to be cursing, and lots of shouting. Duo wanted to finish the conversation he and Wufei had started so he rushed his words.

“So, you thought making, whoever these people are, that making them think that we are, um, together, was the right thing to do? Even though there’s nothing between me and Zechs?” Duo blurted out, thinking he'd somehow misunderstood.

Wufei nodded, he wore an odd, wry smile as he answered with a shrug. “Yes, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And I had hoped."

"You're wrong about Zechs and I don't..." Duo started to speak but Wufei stopped him with a look.

Wufei sighed and added, "Duo, don't deny what's so very obvious, you can't run and hide from yourself." Wufei gave him a one-armed hug that was nothing more than friendship and comfort. "You do feel something for Zechs. And, if I'm any judge, Zechs is in love with you, he's not going to want to put you in danger.”

Duo didn't know what to say and was thinking about how to refute Wufei when he was caught off guard, still leaning against Wufei, a bemused look on his face as Zechs and several armed Preventor agents crashed through the underbrush with guns drawn. So much for stealth Duo thought and wondered who was going to explain this mess to Zechs and exactly how he was going to react. Wufei been right; Zechs didn't look very happy; unhappy, that was an understatement if Duo had ever heard one.

One look at Zechs’ face and Duo knew that he’d never really seen Zechs angry before. Zechs had lost his usual cool and calm demeanor and was snarling at Wufei.

“Quatre is worried. Une's already demanding an explanation. You didn’t answer you cell phone and no one knew where you’d gone.” He’d put his gun in his holster and dispersed all but a few of the other agents. The last remark wasn't quite true, they'd passed more than one security person on their way to the river, someone had known where they were, and Zechs had been able to find them. Zechs was letting his irritation get away from him.

Duo realized then that he didn’t have his cell with him and that Wufei’s hadn’t sounded.

“The cell didn’t ring, maybe there’s something wrong with it?” Duo looked questioningly at Wufei who was calmly checking his cell, not in the least concerned with the growling man standing before him. He still had one hand laid possessively on Duo's shoulder. A fact Zechs was acutely aware of.

“Sorry, I seem to have neglected to turn it on.” Wufei said in a-not-at-all-repentant tone, his eyes fixed on Zechs. Zechs' eyes narrowed as his gaze raked over Duo and Wufei, taking in their relative positions, obviously closer and more intimate than Zechs thought necessary. Duo felt like a kid caught with his hand in the figurative cookie jar. Wufei just looked pleased.

Zechs' expression was grim and his voice icy as he continued. “Not terribly professional behavior, Agent Chang.”

Duo wasn’t sure at all that Zechs meant Wufei’s failure to have his cell turned on when Zechs continued, “There’s been a security breach.” The already strange day took an even stranger turn as Zechs spoke.

"Someone hacked into the security system long enough to allow an undetected breach in the perimeter fence. They left us a small gift." Zechs turned and started walking away, obviously meaning for Wufei and Duo to follow. He barked orders at the remaining agents who followed him as he moved.

"The security feed on one of the perimeter cameras was put on a loop, just for a few minutes before it was discovered." Zechs spoke as Wufei and Duo caught up to him. The 'present' was a familiar looking car and Duo knew the message was for him and Zechs.

Security had been out long enough for a section of fence to be cut and a car, the one that had followed Zechs and Duo, to be moved onto the property . Inside were two very dead men, shot point blank, and quite recently. As an added treat pinned over each dead man’s face was a picture, one of Duo and one of Zechs, along with a note that read, ‘next time.'

Duo suddenly felt cold as ice; someone wanted Zechs dead. Duo stared at the photograph of Zechs pinned to the body. It was just a photo, a blow up of some picture cut from a magazine but for a moment it became real. The body in front of him became Zechs and he was dead leaving Duo with no chance to apologize for taking advantage, for taking comfort when he was hurting. No chance to thank Zechs for offering that comfort. No chance to make it up to him for leaving him without a word, for lying about his feelings; leaving Duo with no chance to let Zechs know what he meant to him. No chance to find out for himself what Zechs felt about him. It was more than sex; it was what Zechs had offered him.

Looking at the bodies Duo had a sick realization that he could have been seeing Zechs instead of a stranger who probably deserved his fate. Duo saw Zechs' face, saw ‘him’ not just a mock version and knew that no matter how hard he'd pushed him away, how much he'd pretended, Zechs mattered very much to him. But he knew he'd waited too long. After seeing him with Wufei, Duo knew he'd lost Zechs.

On the way back to the house Zechs had been distant and remote. It wasn't the time for conversation but Zechs managed to convey his feelings with his body language. Duo knew he'd lost his chance. Wufei would forever be a friend and nothing more but at least they could remain friends. Wufei had had the courage to tell him how he felt and was still willing to be his friend. Duo knew he hadn't been so honest with Heero nor as gracious. The realization of the guilt that Heero must have felt telling him those same words, that he only wanted to be friends, hit Duo hard. It had hurt Duo deeply to cause Wufei that pain. Heero would have felt that, too, when he'd told Duo he thought of him only as a friend, that he could never be in love with Duo, and again when Heero had told Duo that he was in love with Relena.

Duo knew he had been cruel and cold, wallowing in his own pain and never thinking about what it cost his best friend, Heero to say those things. He owed him a phone call and an apology to start with. Duo knew he owed Wufei an apology and Zechs an apology and an explanation, even though Duo didn’t think Zechs would want to hear it. But Duo knew he'd treated Zechs badly. Duo had used Zechs to make himself feel better, and had lied to Zechs when he said that it was only sex, that Zechs didn’t mean anything to him.

The atmosphere on the walk back to the cabin was positively frigid. Duo had lost something important, Zechs' face had become a controlled mask, and only Wufei looked unconcerned about the whole thing.

+

Solitude and a chance to talk alone with Zechs was a little hard to come by the rest of the day as they were surrounded by security; not subtle for the most part either, in the house, outside the house, agents everywhere. Duo took the opportunity to make a call he'd been avoiding. He needed to talk to Heero, and for the first time in a long time, he wanted to. Zechs was avoiding Duo and didn't speak to Wufei past the necessary security discussions; he'd barely acknowledged Duo's presence. Zechs had lost the angry aura and just seemed distant and aloof.

Quatre was upset and angry, thankfully Trowa was there to distract him. for some reason Zechs’ presence seemed calming. Duo wondered if Quatre didn’t think he was capable of taking care of himself. At least the whole affair served to take Quatre’s mind off matchmaking, or maybe he hadn't given it up at all. 'Nah,' Duo thought, not even Quatre could have arranged all that.

Lady Une had issued orders that they all stay where they were and Duo had to admit that it was good to get away even with all the extra security, and the reason that brought it. What to do about Zechs was a problem. Duo decided if Zechs didn't want to talk he'd give him plenty of space. The only problem was not being able to leave and that shared room.

Duo had a call to make; it was past time. He slipped into Quatre's private office to use a secure line and squared his shoulders as he punched in the number. This wasn't going to be easy, he'd made a mess of things. The screen lit up and he started to speak before Heero could even say hello.

"Heero, I.." He owed Heero an apology and he needed to be in touch with the man who had always been his friend. Heero hadn't changed that, Duo knew he'd been the problem, not Heero. But he didn't get that far, Heero interrupted his planned speech.

"Are you alright?" Heero's expression was filled with concern. It made Duo relax a little to see that his friend really cared.

"Listen Duo, I'm sorry." Heero said. "I made things harder than they should have been." Duo thought Heero looked truly glad to see him.

"Nah, it was my fault. I called to apologise for that and for avoiding you for so long. I was trying to work things out in my mind." Duo offered.

"So I heard." Heero wore a small smile, with just a hint of smugness that spoke of inside information. Duo knew where Heero had got that!

"Heero, you know you can't believe everything Quatre says. The guy's got a vivid imagination!" Heero's smile grew.

"I missed you, Duo. I'm glad you decided to stop being an idiot about this."

"Yeah, so I'm forgiven?" Duo asked and wasn't surprised but was relieved when Heero nodded. One apology down, one to go. He had no illusions that apologising to Zechs would be easy or have a positive outcome. But it needed to be done. Maybe now Une would see the light and find them new partners. There was no way Zechs would want to work with him now.

Heero added, "Wufei doesn't have a vivid imagination and he says the same thing Quatre does. That you are in love with Zechs."

Duo blinked, he needed new friends. "Heero..." Duo started while Heero stared hard at him from the vid screen.

Duo sighed and gave in. "I like him, a lot...but it doesn't matter. I blew it." Duo’s sigh covered the noise of a lock clicking.

+

Security breach, the whole trip had gone wrong Zechs thought to himself. First they'd been followed, then Chang had shown up and put himself firmly between Zechs and Duo, now a security breach. He was a friend, a cherished old friend of long standing with the freedom only an old friend could have. Zechs intended to wipe that smug look off Chang's face. No more waiting, no more being patient, or hoping Duo would come to his senses or ever be overcome by lust. But first he had to find them and make sure Duo was all right.

By the time he caught up with the security detailed to Chang and Maxwell and found that those assigned to keep track of Duo and Chang had been ordered to stay put by Chang, Zechs was angry and worried. Duo and Chang had gone down to the river, the security problem was in another area/quadrant as far as they could tell Zechs reminded himself. Protocol went out the window as Zechs rushed through the trees and underbrush in the shortest way to the river, rushing to find Duo and make sure he was safe.

He exchanged angry words with the detail head as they rushed in the direction Chang was last seen headed towards. Zechs knew they were both armed, both lethal and more than capable of protecting themselves. He had visions of a bloodied and injured Duo despite his confidence in Duo's abilities. Even a Gundam pilot was not invincible, even two Gundam pilots.

The scene that met him at the falls was horrible in a way he hadn't imagined. Wufie's arms were around Duo and Duo was leaning into Wufei. Duo with a small smile that underscored the possessive stance and expression on Chang’s face, a gleam of triumph in his eyes. It was quite obvious to Zechs what he had interrupted, they both wore a just been kissed look. Zechs felt a sinking feeling in his gut as an ice cold sense of loss settled over him, leaving him feeling angry and very much alone.

Trieze had admired and respected Chang and Zechs knew Chang returned those feelings and had only done what Trieze had asked of him. Zechs had accepted that. But he didn't intend to lose anything or anyone else to Chang Wufei without doing something about it.

"Chang." Zechs had snarled to himself. "It won't be this easy."

After yelling at Chang, Zechs recovered his composure and led them to inspect the car. Along the way Zechs resigned himself to doing what was best for Duo, what made him happy. But seeing Duo ‘dead’ even if only in his mind’s eye, feeling the sharp stab of loss however unreal, firmed his resolve that he was best for Duo and that he deserved to be happy as much as anyone else.

He was going to punch Chang in the nose and handcuff Duo to the bed if that's what it took. When Duo left the room Zechs decided to follow and have a chance to talk. Eavesdropping wasn’t really his style but he’d felt the need to know, no matter how bad the news was. As Duo finished speaking Zechs stepped into the room and locked the door behind him before crossing the room in a few long steps and wrapping his arms possessively around Duo.

[ch. 9] [ch. 11] [back to BleedToBlues' fic]