Author: Caroline
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: 1x2, 2+1, 4x2
Warnings: a little squick, non-1x2 stuffs *gasp*, angst
Spoilers: ep. 10
Comments: why not?
Disclaimers: Don't own it. If I did, it wouldn't have been suitable to air on US television.
Notes: Sequel to Cherished, which you may or may not want to read again. I had to change it just a little to make it fit earlier in the timeline, but nothing major. You probably wouldn't even notice.

Abandoned

I feel… cold.

Funny how one can be cold in the middle of a desert, but I seem to be managing it just fine.

Cold and numb and sick… I find myself staring out at the sun-drenched sand until I am almost blind from the brightness of the light shining off the dunes. Staring out the window has become quite a hobby of mine in the last two weeks. I'm sure Quatre thinks I'm a nut case, but I don't care.

I'm beyond caring.

Two weeks… two fucking long weeks since my world shattered. Two weeks since the walls I had so carefully erected around myself since childhood, walls that I have been hesitantly chipping away at these past few months, came crashing down in one blazing, glorious ball of white and yellow light, leaving me empty, bereft, and… cold.

May you burn in fucking hell, Yuy.

Just the thought of his name makes me double over in pain. My stomach clenches and burns and suddenly I can't breathe. My vision blurs, and all I can hear is the sound of the explosion as it echoed over the comm. I stumble away from the window, searching blindly for the cabinet I know is nearby. Violently throwing open the door in my haste, I grab the first bottle I come to, knocking several other over in the process. I don't care. All I care about is wrestling the crystal stopper from the bottle and pouring the bitter contents down my throat. The fiery liquid burns a path through my entire body, blocking out all other sensation until I am numb again. I set the crystal decanter down carefully - I don't want to break another one - then stumble across the room to the divan. I curl up at one end, this time facing away from the window, and bury my head in my arms.

I want to die.

Funny - death wanting to die. At any other time in my life I would have found that amusingly ironic. But not now. Not today. Today I just want to close my eyes and never wake up. As the alcohol continues to work its magic, fogging my mind into a lethargic state, the image of fire and smoke again plays itself against the backs of my closed eyelids. A feelings of utter despair courses through me as I fall asleep with the vision of fire and the echo of a scream in my ears.

+

The dream is always the same.

I was in Heero's room, just before… just before the Siberia mission. I'd received my orders to attack the shipment of mobile suits to OZ's Siberia base. I was pretty sure Heero had received the same set of orders, but I wanted to know what his plan of attack was going to be before I decided on my best course of action. And more than that… I want to say good-bye.

I'd never felt hesitant over a mission before. But this new one… it would be the first big mission since Heero and I had… since he'd told me… he loved me. And I was as nervous as a virgin on her wedding night. I wasn't sure how I could handle being apart from him. Damn him. I hadn't felt this self-conscious since those awful kids had teased me at the church - and now, I was nervous and hesitant and scared and it was all his fault.

A surge of anger had swept through me. How dare he! How dare he make me feel like this, stripping away my protective layers until all that was left was nothing more than a frightened little child. I wanted to walk right over to where he was sitting at that damned computer and punch him for changing me, for making me stop hiding behind my masks…

But then he turned and looked at me, h
is soft, sad gaze melting my anger and my heart along with it.

Bloody hell.

I turned my head away so I didn't have to look at him.

"They've got two supply routes," I said. "You want to take the air route? You're better equipped for it than I am. I'll take the land."

"One will be a decoy," he replied, standing to move closer to me.

I took a step back. "Aa…" Shit. I was even starting to sound like him. "All the more reason to split up. At least one of us will hit the target." I swallowed hard as he moved even closer. "Do you… do you think the others will show up?"

Heero shrugged and stepped closer still. I tried to step back, only to find myself up against the wall. Heero brought his arm up to run the back of his hand across my cheek before reaching around and burying his fingers in my hair.

"The others are of no concern to me," he said, casually leaning forward to invade my personal space. "I only care about the mission…" His lips ghosted over mine. "…and you."

I shivered. He pressed himself closer to me, molding his body to mine, not pressing hard, just leaning in to me so I could feel every hardened plane of his chest against mine. I had trouble swallowing as he slid one strong leg between my own. Had it been anyone else standing this close, effectively trapping me so I couldn't move, I'd have felt claustrophobic, slightly panicked, and severely pissed. But with Heero - my knees felt weak, my palms sweaty, and I could have sworn a rabble of butterflies had taken up residence in my stomach.

I felt like a fucking school girl.

But then his lips were hungrily devouring mine as though he were trying to crawl into my mouth. At that moment, I would have cheerfully traded in my pants for a pleated skirt and bobby socks if we could have stayed like that forever and not have to worry about the stupid mission. I'd even have put my hair in pigtails. Maybe.

He pulled away all too soon. He gave me a little smile and rubbed his thumb back and forth across my cheek. "The mission will be dangerous."

"Danger's what I live for, Yuy," I replied with a smirk, then frowned as I saw a hint of sadness creep into his eyes.

"I'd rather you live for me," he said softly, searching my eyes with his own.

"I know. I'm… sorry," I finished lamely, looking away, ashamed that I still could not give him what he wanted.

He gripped my chin and forced me to look at him again. "Promise me something?"

"What?"

"Promise that you'll come back to me."

My eyes opened wide, stunned that he'd just asked me that - asked me something he couldn't give himself.

"You know I can't do that," I whispered, clutching his ugly green tank top in my fists. "You said so yourself. This is war. Something could happen and…"

"No," he interrupted, shaking his head violently. "Nothing will happen. Promise me you'll come back when this mission is over."

I smiled at him sadly. "I wish I could." For the first time in my life, it was a promise I really wanted to make. "But you know I can't."

He looked into my eyes for a long moment before he kissed me again. "At least - promise me you'll try?"

I smiled again. "All right. I promise I'll try real hard."

Heh - it never occurred to me to ask the same of him.

He bent his head to nuzzle my neck. His hands slid down my sides and under my shirt. I trembled but gave him access to my throat anyway. I moaned and clutched at his arms, leaning against the wall because I didn't trust my legs to hold me up anymore.

"I'll take the air route," my lover breathed against my skin. I inhaled sharply as his wandering hands found and teased my nipples. "You take the land. Attacking from a southern vector would probably be your best option."

"Is that… is that so," I murmured, grinding myself against the knee that was still pressed between my legs.

"Aa. Take out the Leos first if you can. Intelligence was vague on the numbers, but I'd estimate thirty to forty to be safe."

I tried to respond but the words caught in my throat. One hand had crept around to my back and then slid downwards, slipping beneath the waistband of my pants to grip my ass. God… I wanted him. Unconsciously I tried to make him move faster, but as usual, he was taking his own sweet time, doing things his way, showing me he was in control of my urges and desires.

"There may be an aerial escort following the train, but I doubt it will be much of a threat. Most of their air units will be with the second transport route," he continued, his finger searching for and rubbing against my entrance, causing me to buck wildly in his arms.

"I've left coordinates for a possible ambush site. The hills in that region should be able to provide you with ample cover as the train approaches."

I moaned with need, his fingers and lips driving me into a near frenzy. I whimpered as he continued to talk about mission strategy. Surely his mouth could be put to better use… elsewhere…

My eyes flew open. This wasn't right. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Something was wrong. Something…

It was bloody damn hard to think with one of Heero's hands on my cock, the other slipping teasing fingers into my body. Mission details continued to spill from his mouth as I writhed against the wall. Jesus, how could he continue to think of the mission at a time like this?

And then it hit me. This wasn't what had happened. After Heero had extracted the promise from me, he'd let me go and continued with the mission preparations. He hadn't held me against the wall, his hands down my pants. This was wrong. This hadn't happened. This wasn't… isn't real.

I open my eyes - when had I closed them? - and found myself staring up at the ceiling. I'm on my back on Heero's bed. Something warm and wet slides across my stomach. I look down to see Heero hunched over me, licking a trail up my chest. We're both naked, though I don't remember how we got this way. But then he takes my nipple in his mouth and all rational thought flees my mind. I spread my legs wider, inviting him to move forward those last few inches until - yes! - flesh meets flesh in one pure, electrifying touch and then he's inside of me and I can feel nothing but his touch, smell nothing but the scent of sweat upon his skin, see nothing but his beautiful eyes staring back into mine.

Vaguely I'm aware of this nagging feeling that I've forgotten something, that something's not right. But I push that thought away as I move my body in time with his. I close my eyes and arch my back, feeling the burning snake of pleasure race up my spine. I reach up with one hand to touch his face. I feel something wet come away on my fingers. I open my eyes and bring my hand in front of my face. My heart flip-flops in my chest. Blood. There's blood on my hands.

"Mmm, Duo," I hear Heero moan above me, still thrusting as steady as a piston. "I love you."

I move my hand away, slowly, reluctantly, shifting my eyes to the man above me.

What I see is not a man - not Heero. It's a corpse - a blackened, bloody corpse… with the blue, blue eyes of my lover.

"I love you," the thing says again in Heero's voice. "I want you to be with me… forever."

The thing leans down to kiss me, thrusting what's left of a shriveled tongue into my mouth, gagging me. I panic, I struggle… but I can't move. It continues to move inside of me, but I can't move! Can't breathe! All I can do is wrench my head away and scream.

And scream and scream and scream…

+

I awake with the sound of my screams echoing in my ears. My throat is raw, I'm drenched with sweat, and I can't seem to stop shaking.

I glance at the clock, gasping for air and trying to calm my erratic heart before it beats itself right out of my chest. It's just after 3 a.m. Fuck. That's the third night this week… and it's only Tuesday. If this keeps up, I'll never get any sleep. And I need it. I already feel like a fucking zombie. And… when I'm asleep, I don't have to remember…

My stomach churns, rebelling against the alcohol I'd forced it to accept before I tumbled into bed. I feel sticky and clammy, and the sheets seem to be weighing me down, having become a wet, sweaty mess in the night. I roll over onto my side and close my eyes. But a vision of the blackened, burned… thing from my dream enters my mind - and I lose it.

I throw myself out of bed and out of the room, rushing down the hall, hoping to make it to the bathroom before I lose the entire contents of my stomach all over the hallway and Quatre's expensive-looking oriental rugs. I only barely make it, grateful that the lid to the toilet is already up.

I clutch the sides of the cold porcelain bowl, heaving until my stomach muscles begin to cramp from the effort. I gasp for breath and wipe my mouth with the back of my hand, grimacing at the sour tang that lingers in the back of my throat. My tongue burns with it, and I eye my toothbrush on the vanity but decide it's too far away and I don't have any strength to get up and reach for it.

I lean back against the wall and close my eyes. I'm so very tired - tired not just from lack of sleep, but from everything - fighting, the war… my life. How I long to just close my eyes and drift away. But Death cannot die. It can only take those closest to it…

I must have dozed a little, sitting on the cold tile floor, though I don't remember falling asleep. An urgent need to relieve my bladder forces me awake. I couldn't have been out for too long. One glance at the window shows that it's still dark outside.

My bladder twinges again, and reluctantly I pull myself up. I wince as I look down into the toilet to see what I had deposited there earlier. The smell of bile assaults my nose, causing my stomach to clench painfully. Hastily I flush the toilet, then relieve myself, flushing that away as well. The toothbrush is the next thing I go for. I load it with some of Quatre's spicy Arabian toothpaste and scrub at my teeth and tongue until I can no longer taste the bitter tang in the back of my mouth. Rinsing the toothbrush well, I glance up into the mirror and wince at what I see.

A section of hair that had come loose from my braid during the night hangs in a matted mess beside my face. I touch it gingerly, frowning as it crackles stiffly. I must have gotten some vomit in my hair when I was hunched over, worshipping the porcelain god.

I feel like shit and I have puke in my hair. My life is just so fucking peachy.

Knowing I wouldn't be able to go to back to sleep until my hair was clean, I shrug out of my clothes and turn on the shower. Stepping in, I make quick work of my hair, washing it twice before I'm satisfied. My eyelids start to droop as I rinse the last of the suds away. I'm so tired… I lean against the shower wall for a moment and close my eyes.

What a mistake.

As soon as I close my eyes, my mind begins to wander, playing back memories I've been trying so hard to forget these past couple of weeks. My chest tightens painfully and I can't breathe. I can feel the onset of another panic attack. I can't do this. I can't think - don't want to think. I want to be cold, numb, frozen… so the memories can't touch me… so I don't have to see.

Blindly I reach over and fumble for the hot water tap, turning it off. A stream of frigid, cold water pours over my body as I sink down to the shower floor. I curl up at the other end, letting the icy water turn me into a human popsicle until I can't feel, can't think.

I brush my fingers across my face, rubbing at my eyes. My fingers come away wet. I convince myself the moisture is from the shower…

I don't know how long I sit there, huddled on the floor of the shower, letting the cold water turn my skin to an icy shade of blue. I sit there until I can't feel anything, until my body feels as numb and frozen as my mind.

Cold.

Numb.

Frozen.

Dead.

I can barely stand. I only just remember to turn off the water as I stumble out of the shower stall. My limbs are stiff from the cold. I can barely move, barely think…

Good.

My hair drips all over the floor as I languidly pull on the boxers and t-shirt I'd worn to bed, not bothering to dry myself first. My teeth chatter so hard I'm surprised I haven't chipped a tooth yet. I exit the bathroom and stumble down the dark hall as fast as my frozen legs can carry me, hoping I hadn't finished all the alcohol in my room. My body is numb, my mind nearly so. The liquor would finish me off.

And if I drank enough of it… maybe it really would.

But first, I have to get to my room. Concentrate, Maxwell. One foot in front of the other. Left, right left… turn the corner…

Something small but solid slams into me as I round the corner, sending me crashing to the floor, not like I had much balance anyway at the moment. I land on my back, staring up at the ceiling. Pain spreads outward from the back of my skull where it hit the floor, and the ceiling suddenly becomes interesting enough to stare at for a while.

A blonde shadow falls over my face, blocking my view of that oh-so- fascinating ceiling. I'd be cranky if I could feel anything besides the pain.

"Allah! Duo, I'm so sorry," Quatre stammers, worried blue eyes shimmering down at me in the near darkness. "I didn't see you! Are you all right?"

I blink and finally find the energy to focus on his face. "Y…yeah. I'm o…o…okay," I manage to reply through chattering teeth.

"You don't sound okay. Let me help you up."

He takes my hand and the world spins as I find myself sitting up and staring at Quatre's chest.

"Duo! You're ice cold!" he says, placing a hand on my forehead. "And soaking wet! What happened?"

"N…nothing. To…oo…k a sh…shower," I chatter, not wanting to explain myself. I'd managed to keep most of my misery hidden from him, or so I had thought. Of course, that wasn't too hard considering I'd been mostly avoiding him for the past couple of weeks. I don't want him to pry. If he starts asking questions… it would mean I'd have to think about the answers, and that's something I'm not ready to do yet.

He gives me a look, and I know he doesn't believe me, but bless him, he doesn't pry any further. He can be a cool guy like that.

Helping me to my feet, he props me up against the wall before disappearing. Before I can even register that he's gone, he's back, carrying a towel and a brush, which I assume he got from the bathroom. I wince and feel guilty for leaving it such a mess. But he doesn't say anything about it.

"Come on, Duo," he says, taking my hand. "Let's get you warmed up and out of those wet clothes."

I let him lead me down the hall and into his room. He sits me down on a soft, plush rug in front of a darkened hearth. With one hand, he reaches over and flips a button. Instantly, a roaring fire starts dancing merrily in the fire place.

Cool. I want one.

Sitting behind me, he raises my shirt over my head and tosses the damp garment away. I don't resist. I'm tired of resisting. He wraps the towel around me and begins rubbing it against my skin. When my torso is dry, he wraps his arms around me from behind and rests his chin on my shoulder.

"Do you want to talk about it?" he asks.

I stiffen in his embrace, silently damning myself at the same time. I've tried so hard to keep from dragging Quatre into my little self- pity party. I've even amazed myself with my performances over the last couple of weeks. Whenever I was with Quatre - and that wasn't often since I avoided him whenever I could - I slipped on my old mask. The Duo he knew was the cocky, smiling bastard I'd always been… I had been until… Well, I hadn't wanted Quatre to know about… about him. It was too complicated. Hell, I didn't even understand it myself some times. I still don't.

And now… I'll never get a chance to.

Poor Quatre. I'd tried so hard to hide my misery from him. He doesn't deserve to be saddled with my problems. I have a feeling he has his own to worry about. He's so innocent and naďve - something I never was. And I don't want to be the one to take any part of that innocence away. I had hoped to get through our "down time" without burdening him with this pathetic, broken shell of a person that I've become. But after my little performance tonight… I doubt that'll be possible.

"Duo?"

"Hmmm?" I murmur, still lost in my own thoughts.

"I asked you if you'd like to talk about it."

[cont]