Author: Caroline
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes

The Medallion: Part the Fourteenth
The Last Night

When they returned to their room, Duo tried once again to broach the subject of the curse, but Heero had other ideas. He silenced Duo effectively with his mouth, hands feverishly pulling at clothes until they lay against one another, skin to skin, Heero lying half on top of Duo, holding him close. Duo laughed at his lover's neediness, wondering if Heero were trying to somehow meld their bodies into one. Heero merely looked at him, kissed him again, and proceeded to do just that. Duo fell asleep just before dawn, sated, warm but with a heavy heart.

Their last week passed by quickly - too quickly for Duo. He tried everything he could think of to get Heero to talk about the curse. Tricks, seduction, even downright pleading, but Heero remained mute. When Duo dissolved into near hysterics on the next to last night, Heero sighed, gathered him up in his arms and held him close. "I'm sorry," he whispered against Duo's hair. "I just... can't."

"Can't?" Duo sniffled, pushing himself away. He beat his fists against Heero's chest. "Or won't? Damn it, Heero! Don't you want to be free? To exist in the sunlight? Be your own person? Or is that cold hunk of metal over there really preferable to living?" Duo took a deep breath and hung his head. "Why won't you let me at least try?"

Heero slipped his fingers under Duo's chin and lifted his head. He leaned in and brushed his lips softly over Duo's. "It's not that. I really... can't."

Duo blinked and rubbed at his eyes. A thought hit him and he gasped softly. "You mean... you can't talk about it? At all?" When Heero shook his head, Duo swore and beat Heero's chest again. Heero grunted, but took it. "Goddammit! What kind of sick fucking curse is that? There's *always* an out! Always! There has to be!" He grabbed the front of Heero's shirt and shook him. "Tell me there is at least an out. You can tell me that much, can't you? The curse *can* be broken, right?"

Heero hesitated before giving him a small, painful nod. Duo let out the breath he'd been holding. "Shit. I swear, if that bitch who did this to you were still alive, I'd kick her ass back to the Stone Age. Or rather, I'd hire Wufei to do while I sat back and laughed." He slumped against Heero's chest. "I don't want to lose you," he whispered softly.

Heero stood abruptly and tugged Duo off the sofa and in the direction of the bedroom. "You have me for right now," he said, pulling at Duo's shirt as they entered the bedroom.

***

The next day, Duo called Zechs in a panic. His friend came over, as Duo was in no shape to be seen publicly. He let Duo cry his frustrations out on his shoulder. He didn't even mind the blubbery, snotty mess his former lover left behind on his expensive Italian silk shirt.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Duo said, trying his best to wipe away the mess on Zechs' shoulder.

"Did you ask him about my idea yet?" Zechs asked, handing Duo a handkerchief.

Duo blew his nose loudly and nodded. "He said he didn't want to take the chance of the medallion falling into someone else's hands. He wanted me to throw it into the ocean, said that he wanted his last memories of being free to be happy ones." He screwed up his face and buried his head in his hands. "He said he'd been happy with me! So why won't he fight this curse?"

"Think about it from his point of view," Zechs said softly. "He's trapped, with little to no hope of escaping his prison. He lives for the brief moments of freedom he's allowed, but even then he's a slave to another's whims and desires. He's apparently had more freedom with you in this month than he has in two thousand years of existence. If I were in the same situation... I think I might choose the ocean as well." He reached out and pulled Duo into a hug. "Let his last moments be happy ones."

Duo sobbed on Zechs' shoulder. "You're right. He's right. But I don't have to like it!" He sighed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. "I just don't want to lose him. I love him so much."

"Have you told him that?"

Duo shook his head. "No. I don't know if he feels the same way, and I don't know if I should... if I have to lose him."

"Don't you think he'd want to know that at least someone in this world cares for him?"

"I guess." He sighed. "God, I feel like such a *girl,* blubbering on your shoulder like this."

Zechs chuckled. "No more so than I, then. Why just last night, Wufei moved me to tears."

Duo laughed, wiping his own away. "Really? What'd he do?"

"We were wrestling in bed and his knee made unfortunate contact with my balls..."

Duo punched his friend in the shoulder.

***

Duo decided to make the most of their last two nights together. After Zechs left, he ordered room service to deliver a meal consisting all of Heero's favorite foods. He laid Heero's robe on the couch and slipped into the other one. When the sun went down and Heero appeared, they spent the next couple of hours feeding each other pieces of steak and French fries. Duo then let Heero lick most of his hot fudge sundae off him, which turned out to be messier than he'd imagined, so Duo dragged his lover into the bath.

Several times that night, Duo tried to tell Heero how he felt, but the words seemed to stick in his throat. He couldn't bring himself to tell Heero that he loved him. It wouldn't be fair to Heero, not on his last nights of freedom. And if Heero loved him in return, he didn't want Heero to hold on to that regret in his cold, lonely prison. Better for him to think Duo simply cared for him, without the emotional attachment of love. Or so he tried to convince himself... but in the end, he was simply too scared to say the words out loud.

He slept fitfully that last day, waking up in a cold sweat over the thought of never seeing Heero again. In the end, he retrieved the medallion from its spot on the dresser and managed to fall asleep clutching it tightly in his hand.

Duo was waiting for Heero when the sun set on their last night together. He'd awoken early, taken a long shower and picked out the best of Heero's clothes. He stood at the window, watching the sun go down while waiting for his lover to appear. Strong arms wrapped themselves around his waist as the last sliver of golden sun sunk below the horizon. Duo swallowed the lump in his throat and leaned into the embrace.

"Hello," he whispered, reaching up to hook one arm around Heero's neck.

Heero's lips ghosted briefly across Duo's throat. "Waiting on me long?" he asked, inhaling the scent of Duo's hair.

"All my life I think," Duo replied, turning in his arms. Their lips met and Duo was lost in the heat of Heero's mouth. After a long, long moment, maybe an hour, maybe only a minute, Duo pulled away.

"I've got your clothes laid out," he said, moving out of Heero's embrace. "I thought we could go to that sushi place you liked so much. It's too cold to walk on the beach, but maybe we could go to the boardwalk and play skee ball or..."

Heero reached out and pulled Duo back to him, holding him close. "I don't want to go out. I just want to spend every moment with you, here, alone." Another long, deep, wet kiss. "Is that all right with you?"

Duo took a deep breath and nodded. Heero smiled, kissed him again and drew him to the bedroom, leaving a trail of Duo's clothing in their wake, tossed forgotten to the floor.

They made love slowly at first, as Heero seemed to want to explore every inch, each nook and cranny on Duo's body. He pulled the band holding Duo's braid in place, unwinding strands of hair and pulling Duo on top of him until they were covered in it, blocking out the rest of the world, leaving only the two of them in their own private haven.

Lips met and Duo tried to commit the taste of Heero to his memory. And then Heero rolled them, slipping between Duo's legs and sinking slowly into his body. Duo arched and met him halfway, clutching his arms and using his legs to bring him in deep. They moved together slowly, bodies meeting in an ageless dance. Duo drew his legs up and slipped one hand down Heero's back to urge him on, but Heero would not be rushed. He took his time, savoring the small cries and whimpers of pleasure he wrung from Duo's throat. And when Duo thought he could take no more, that we would die of pleasure, Heero stopped. He gave Duo a chance to catch his breath... then began all over again.

It was well after midnight before Heero finally allowed Duo his first release. Duo lay helpless beneath him, Heero still deep inside him as his body trembled and his limbs fell bonelessly to the mattress. Heero kissed him lightly, pushing his sweat-dampened hair away from his face, whispering things to him in that melodic language Duo didn't understand. But he didn't need to. He knew what Heero was trying to say.

Heero pulled away and rolled to the side, bringing to Duo to curl up next to him. Neither spoke; Duo was unsure of his voice and Heero... well, Heero just seemed content to lie there with him, entangled in each others arms, sharing a kiss, exchanging a caress until Duo had recovered enough and the fires of passion rose again.

Heero took him from behind the second time, with Duo crushing Egyptian cotton in his fists and muffling his cries into the pillow. The second time was as rough as their previous bout had been tender. Heero growled like a beast and Duo wailed as he gave himself over to the raw, primal pleasure of the act. This time he could feel Heero drawing strength from him and Duo gave all he could. And when he came, he thought he saw stars.

Heero spooned up behind him when they finished, kissing the back of his neck. Duo clutched Heero's hand in his own, molding the other man along his back, trying to be as close as humanly possible.

Words caught in his throat, but he tried anyway. "Heero, I..."

"Shhh. I know," Heero replied, breathing in Duo's scent. "Me, too."

"But..." He couldn't speak it aloud. The words wouldn't come and Duo found himself panting, trying to swallow around the lump in his throat. Heero rolled him over, kissed him and used his body, his mouth and his hands to distract Duo from his distressing thoughts.

It was much, much later before either of them spoke again. Duo was on his back, his legs wrapped around Heero's hips, arms around his neck with Heero rocking gently inside him when his lover breathed words into his ear he did not want to hear.

"It is almost dawn."

Duo looked up at him in a panic. "No..."

"I'm afraid so. I can feel it." He pulled up a little, angling for a better position, movements more precise and determined.

Duo reached up to him, holding himself closer, his body matching Heero's, but his mind whirled, frantic to stop what would happen.

"Please, don't!" he cried, burying his face in the crook of Heero's neck.

Heero shuddered and smoothed one hand down Duo's flank. "Do not mourn for me long, my Duo. Know that you brought me joy in these last days."

Tears started to stream down Duo's face even as he let out a soft cry as their bodies continued moving together. "Don't go, don't go, don't go..." he chanted, tightening his hold on Heero.

"The sun is rising," Heero said gently, rocking his hips.

"No!" Duo scratched his nails down Heero's back, determined to hold on, to not let Heero go. "Don't leave me, please! I need you! I..." He choked even as his body shuddered, clenching, holding tight to what it wanted. "I love you!"

Heero let out a long, drawn out breath, hissing as his arm gave out and he plunged forward. Duo let out a soft cry, holding his lover as his body spasmed and he felt a wet heat sweep through him. Heero groaned, long and loud, then collapsed on top of him, their bodies melded together, two souls in one being.

Duo lay silent, staring unseeing up at the ceiling, holding on tight, dreading the moment, when it came, of Heero slipping from his grasp like a wisp in the night as if he had never been there.

Heero's breath was hot and heavy against his shoulder. Gradually Duo began to notice the weight, but he dared not speak, holding his breath waiting... for a moment that never came.

He moved one leg as it began to cramp. He whimpered and dropped his eyes to the golden shoulder laying across his own. He blinked and let out a startled cry as he realized the patch of gold in front of his eyes was from the first ray of dawn creeping in through the bedroom window.

"He-Heero?" he stammered, pushing at his lover.

Heero moaned, but did not move. Duo pushed at his shoulder, shifting his body beneath Heero's dead weight. He felt Heero inside him, slipping out. He felt a dampness between his legs and his breath caught in his throat.

"Heero?" he asked again, pushing against the body on top of him. "Heero!"

The man groaned again and lifted his head. "Duo?"

"Oh god, Heero!" Duo said, managing to roll Heero off him enough to catch his breath. "Did I... did you just... come?" His voice squeaked on the last word.

Heero blinked at him sleepily, shifting his leg between Duo's, bringing their groins into contact. Heero gasped, stiffened and cried out again. This time Duo felt his across his stomach, wet and warm. He clutched at Heero's shoulder. "Heero!"

Heero shuddered and he blinked owlishly at Duo before lifting his eyes to the window behind him. "Is that... is that the sun?" he asked, his voice full of reverence.

Duo glanced behind him, then turned, his large grin threatening to split his face in half. "It's past dawn! You're... you're still here!" He pulled Heero to him, kissing him hard. "God, please don't let this be a dream," his whispered against Heero's lips some moments later.

"It's not a dream," Heero murmured back. "I'm still here and I can see the sun."

"Did we do it? Did we break the curse?"

"Do you love me?"

"What? I..." Duo hesitated, his face flush with embarrassment. Slowly, he nodded. "Yes. I love you. I have for some time now, but I was too afraid to admit it."

"That's what broke the curse, Duo," Heero said, blinking sleepily at him. "The one who cursed me, she said the only way to break the curse was for the one who possessed the medallion had to love me, but no woman born could ever fall in love with me." He sighed softly, making Duo shiver. "I think she thought it was an impossible curse to break. I don't think she ever meant for anyone but a woman to possess the medallion."

"And I'm not a woman," Duo breathed, hardly daring to believe it would be that easy. "So... that's it? Are you..." He swallowed hard. "Are you free?"

Heero smiled at him. "I'm here. The sun has risen, and for the first time in centuries, I'm exhausted." He kissed Duo again, then lay his head on Duo's chest. "I just need to close my eyes for a bit..." he said softly, before his breath evened out.

Duo held Heero for hours, before his body and his bladder demanded that he move. He slipped out from underneath Heero without waking him, hurried to the bathroom to do what needed to be done, then returned to the bedroom where he watched Heero sleep until night had fallen. When the sun went down, Duo felt a weight lift that he hadn't realized had been on his shoulders.

He sat down on the bed and bent over, placing his lips on Heero's. Heero's brow furrowed in his sleep, but gradually wakefulness returned and he opened his eyes to see Duo smiling down at him.

"Hello, sleepyhead," Duo whispered, lying next to him.

"Good... evening?" Heero blinked at the clock beside the bed. "How long was I asleep?"

"About twelve hours," Duo replied.

Heero groaned and threw an arm over his eyes. "It figures. My first day of freedom and I sleep through it." He moved his arm and looked up at Duo. "I did sleep through it, didn't I? I didn't disappear?"

Duo shook his head. "You didn't. I watched you all day. You were here the whole time."

Heero pulled Duo down to him and kissed him. Duo melted into the embrace, his heart soaring with the knowledge that Heero was still there and still in his arms.

He drew back after several long minutes of tasting each other and grinned at his lover. "So, Mr. Incubus. How do you want to spend your first *night* of freedom."

Heero pursed his lips. "I do believe I am... hungry." He sat up and stretched.

"Hungry?"

"Quite ravenous in fact." His stomach chose that moment to make its thoughts on the matter vocal. "I'd forgotten what a wretched feeling that is."

Duo laughed and sat up as well. "I think we can take care of that. Anything else?"

"I also feel the need to urinate. I hope I can remember how that's done."

Duo made a face. "Well, don't ask me to hold it for you. You'll just have to relearn that on your own." He bit his bottom lip and looked down, picking invisible threads off the duvet. "Heero, now that you're free... what do you want to do? With your life I mean."

"I'm not sure. I haven't thought about being free for centuries. There is so much to learn..."

Duo took a deep breath. "You're... you're welcome to stay with me until you can find your own place if you like. I have to go back to work on Monday, so you'd have the place to yourself during the day. I could help you find somewhere to live..."

Heero reached out to cup Duo's cheek. "Do you not wish me to stay with you?"

Duo blinked. "I... yes, I do. But... you're free. I thought... you might want to get out on your own, see how the world's changed."

"I want to do that, but only if you're there with me." He pushed Duo's hair off his shoulders, leaning in to kiss him softly. "I meant what I said. I love you, and I never want to leave you."

Duo blinked, his heart pounding in his chest. "When did you say that?"

Heero smiled and said something in his native language. Duo recognized it as the words Heero had whispered into his ear the night before. "You really mean it? You love me, too? You want... you want to stay with me?"

"If you'll have me."

Duo launched himself at Heero, sending them crashing off the side of the bed and onto the floor. Duo laughed and tried to cover every inch of Heero's face in a thousand tiny kisses. "Of course I'll have you," he breathed between kisses. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too. But Duo..."

"Yes?"

"You're sitting on my bladder..."

Duo laughed again and rolled off him. Heero got up and headed for the bathroom. He was in there so long, Duo thought he might have to send a search party in after him, but finally Heero returned, room service menu in hand. "May we eat now?"

"Yes!" Duo placed their order, and the two of them moved out to the sofa to wait on the food.

"God, I still can't believe you're here, that this is real," Duo said, tracing random patterns across the front of Heero's terry cloth robe. "I feel... numb. Like the reality of you being here hasn't sunk in yet."

"I feel the same way. I've been a slave to the medallion for so long... I wonder how long it will take me to realize that I won't disappear in the morning, I can watch the sun rise and bask in the mid-day sun. And that I'll get to be with you long after this month has ended."

"Doesn't matter how long it takes, as long as you are here with me." He laughed out loud.

"What's so funny?" Heero asked.

"Nothing. It's just... for once, all my prayers have been answered."

"I never took you for a religious man, Duo. What have you been praying for?"

"Oh, the usual. Love. Life. You." He sighed happily. "You know what I'm happiest about?"

"That you've gotten that pink harpy off your back?"

Duo chuckled. "Nope..."

"That I'm free of the curse and can make mad, sweet love to you any time of the night *or* day?"

Duo felt himself flush, but shook his head. "No, though I'm looking to that, after we work on your newfound lack of stamina."

Heero snorted. "You try not having an orgasm for over two thousand years and see how long you last." He kissed the top of Duo's head. "So what are you so happy about?"

Duo grinned at him, leaning up to kiss him on the tip of his nose. "I no longer have to worry about finding a date to Zechs and Wufei's wedding."

"Ah. Good thing you broke the curse then."

"Yes, it is."

[part 13] [epilogue] [back to Caroline's fic]