by: Kracken
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/Male sex. Graphic. Duo and Heero torture. Violence. Language
Don't be afraid to email me. I love to talk and I'll answer any questions.

After The Rain series + Part 5
Animal

"Heero.... Hiiro... Hey- roh, What the heck does your name mean anyway?"

"What does it matter?"

"Humor me."

"No."

Silence.

"Why are you called Duo?"

"Why not?"

Wordless growl.

"I'll tell, if you'll tell."

"Acceptable."

"That's different."

"What is?"

"You aren't telling me to shut up. Aren't you afraid that Oz will detect my voice?"

Silence

"For once, you're not being loud."

"That's because I'm dying."

"True."

"You could lie to me."

"Why?"

"To make me feel better."

"A lie will make you feel better?"

"Yes."

"Lying is false data. It endangers the mission."

Silence.

"Let's not talk about me dying."

"Acknowledged."

Duo shifted in the mud, Heero a heavy weight on top of him. He could imagine bugs and leaches attaching themselves to his skin and he shivered from more than the constant, drizzle of cold rain. They had hollowed out a depression and used the mud to coat their skins, hoping to foil heat detectors. Oz had been close on their heels, were still close. One false move.. so it was strange that Heero wanted to talk, though they were nose to nose, body heat insulated in the thick mud, and Duo could whisper his words right into Heero's ear if he chose. That was too tempting though, so he refrained, opting to stare into the darkness and imagine Heero's invisible face an inch from his own.

"I guess that means, yes, " Duo said , his voice weak in his own ears. He had been joking about dying, but he began to wonder. There was a definite pain underneath his ribs and his whole body throbbed and ached as if it were about to ignite in fever. His broken arm was the worst. He had it tucked safely away from Heero and any chance touch. It was swollen near his elbow where Heero had set it and wrapped it in splints. The pain of that had been close to traumatizing. Duo didn't like to remember how Heero had gaged him to keep him from screaming and crying like a baby. He didn't like to remember how close he had come to losing it all together and running to Oz for painkillers of any kind. Heero had given him, not a painkiller, but the ultimate incentive to overcome the shock and agony. Heero had given him two choices. Make it to his Gundam and die like man, or stay in the mud and rain and be put down like an animal. The choice had been ridiculously easy. Duo's pride was stronger than any physical limitation or torture. When Heero had dragged him to his feet, he had forced himself to walk.

It seemed that he might die in the rain and mud anyway. Oz had them pinned down. Hiding places were being eliminated systematically. It was only a matter of time before they were discovered or kept in the weather until they both died of exposure. Duo didn't want to think about that. He didn't want to think about death, pain and misery.

"Two," Duo said suddenly.

He could imagine Heero blinking down at him, his breath warm on his face.

"Two," Heero echoed.

"My name," Duo replied. "It means, 'two'."

Heero made a very small, exasperated sound and Duo smiled. What better distraction was there than to try and get under Heero's skin?

"I know that," Heero said.

"Know what?" Duo needled.

"Know that your name means, 'two'."

"Then why did you ask?"

"I didn't."

"You did so," Duo argued maddeningly. "I asked you what your name meant and you told me to tell you-"

"You misunderstood," Heero retorted. "Your name is obviously not your own. It is a code name. I wished to know why that particular name was chosen."

"I didn't have a name. I chose it myself," Duo replied. "Everyone called me 'Kid' up until then."

"You chose it." Heero asked, "What is it's significance?"

"Does it have to have one?"

"No."

"Well, there is one," Duo chuckled and pulled Heero very close so that his lips were touching Heero's soft ear. "It's to remember the best friend I ever had, but that's between you and me."

"Solo," Heero guessed.

"Solo," Duo confirmed.

"Why confide in me?" Heero wondered.

"You're the only one who ever asked."

Heero felt a flush go over his cheeks. Duo's soft, hoarse voice, the feel of his wiry body beneath his, and Duo's breath at his ear made an odd feeling over come his stone like reserve, his perfect concentration on the mission. Heero felt shyness grip him once more, the same shyness that had plagued him, off and on, at the school whenever Duo had come too close, either physically or emotionally. The shyness had confused him then, but there, together in the dark without any other distractions, Heero understood. In the area of war, Heero was a perfect weapon, knowing every aspect of his craft. As a young man who had never had a 'best friend' or any friend for that matter, interacting for a long period of time with another person was uncharted territory. What Duo took for granted, a perfect understanding of other people and how to deal with them, Heero found completely unfathomable. The talkative pilot beneath him, was a mystery. He didn't know what Duo Maxwell would do or say next. That very unpredictable nature was keeping Heero off balance and making him feel... unsure of himself.

Duo shifted and Heero was suddenly aware of Duo's crotch hard against his own. "Your turn," Duo prompted and Heero dragged himself back out of his thoughts to consider what that meant.

"Your name," Duo clarified, hating the silence that allowed him to think about his desperate situation and ready to drag Heero kicking and screaming into conversation if he had to.

"It's a code name," Heero replied.

"Duh!" Duo sighed. "Continue."

"I fight for peace. It was thought that carrying the name of a peace activist was fitting," Heero replied.

"Pretty simple," Duo muttered, wishing that it had been more complicated than that. He shifted again. "Uh, Heero. I'm not really the 'bottom' type. Do you mind if I get on top?"

Heero considered his defense options if they were suddenly attacked. "No," he replied. "I am more capable than you are to defend us."

"At least move over a little," Duo whined. "I don't want you to punch me or anything, but if you keep rubbing up against me, you can guess what's going to happen. I'm in pretty crappy shape, but a guy is a guy!"

Heero frowned. "I don't understand. Am I injuring you? Close contact is necessary if you wish to survive until we reach our Gundams."

"I'm bisexual, Heero. You, uh, well, even if I was straight, you'd still...," Duo fumbled in the face of Heero's naivete. "Well, shit, Yuy!" he finally exploded. "I don't want you punching me out because your crotch rubbing on mine gives me a hard on! Is that clear enough warning?"

"I still don't understand," Heero replied, but his hand had crept up to Duo's throat, "but you will lower your voice, or I will have to act to silence you."

Heero could feel Duo swallow against his fingers. "K," Duo whispered. "Just... Heero, you're stronger than a lot of guys. I don't want you to get uptight and decide to start punching perverts. I don't think I would survive it."

Heero was completely mystified now. "We are surrounded by Oz. I have been able to gather some food from the forest, but starvation is a possibility. You are badly injured. Hypothermia is a real danger. Completing the mission will mean your self destruction. Your sexual orientation, and involuntary bodily functions, have nothing to do with those difficulties and, therefore, are not of any concern to me."

"You act like you don't get hard ons," Duo replied softly, "and you sound like I'm weak for having them."

"I am in control of my body," Heero stated simply.

Sleep was death, Duo knew, and boredom caused sleep. He smiled in the darkness, his mind blessedly distracted from the horrible pain throbbing through his body, with every heart beat, and the growing chill of the mud all around him. Even if he didn't sleep, Duo felt, death would still come for him eventually. It was seeping up along his back and slowly encircling his body despite Heero's almost animal warmth. It wouldn't be much longer, he thought, and Duo kept talking, kept baiting Heero, kept trying to hide from death like a child pulling covers over his head to escape a nightmare. Pushing a button and knowing 'when' was much easier than waiting and wondering when he would take his last breath. The fear of that made Duo outrageous, dangerous, fearless.

"Are you trying to tell me," Duo said in patent disbelief. "That if I rub up against you, you won't get a hard on? Because that's what you're insinuating; that you're better than me."

"I am in control," Heero repeated with a hard edge.

Duo took up the gauntlet. He rubbed upwards, ignoring the tearing pain of arm and stomach, pelvis finding Heero's crotch and doing an obscene bump and grind. Heero ignored him, growled a warning once or twice and then... Duo felt it. He began to crow in triumph, but Heero's hand clamped on his arm at the same time and Heero cried out, muffling it against Duo's shoulder. Duo didn't have time to wonder whether the cry was pain or pleasure. Heero had squeezed his broken arm.

Duo tried to shriek, but Heero's free hand was clamped tightly over his mouth. He convulsed instead, chin slamming against Heero's head as he thrashed. The world went red. The pain had gone beyond what his mind could comprehend or deal with. Duo began to black out, but Heero was releasing him, saying in his ear with a voice ragged and hoarse. "Do that again and you die!" Duo was weeping, hallucinating too, he thought, because he thought he could feel Heero's tears against his face as well. That couldn't be. Duo couldn't imagine such an emotionless bastard crying.

"S-S-Sorry," Duo stammered through the waves of receding pain, his senses still on the verge of unconsciousness. "D-Don't hurt me again, p-please! K, Heero, K?

Heero had responded to Duo. His body had betrayed it's training. The mild erection had merited a mild shock of pain. It was already fading, leaving Heero hating himself and hating Duo most of all. That generated a sense of well being hot on the heels of the pain and Heero let out a long breath against Duo's neck, letting his full weight rest on the pilot of Deathscythe while he tried to recover.

"Just trying to distract myself," Duo explained at last, was quiet for a moment and then finished, "Dying sucks, Heero."

Heero had watched many men die. Some had taken it well, but not many. Most fought it until the end, screaming, begging, and crying out. Most didn't handle it as well as Duo was handling it now. Heero understood what Duo had been doing. The pain Heero felt was a tool to keep his mind focused, to eliminate distraction, and to punish failure. Duo had his own kind of training. Unorthodox, dangerous, and disruptive, it had still been effective, keeping the young man focused on his goal and strong, instead of becoming swamped in the fear of his approaching death until it made him hesitate, or worse, refuse to carry out the end of the mission; his own destruction. As Heero realized this, his hatred of Duo slowly dissipated and respect began to replace it.

"Acknowledged," was all Heero could find to say, but it said volumes and Duo understood what he was offering. He felt Duo relax. Heero shifted his weight to give him some relief.

"You're a bastard, you know that, Yuy?" Duo said suddenly, his voice a little clearer as the pain began to become manageable again. "If I get out of this... If we get out of this, I'm going to beat the crap out of you... Torturing a wounded man is pretty low!"

Heero didn't explain himself. Everyone was a potential enemy, even a broken boy stretched out beneath him, and he didn't tell his weaknesses to enemies. The pain of his training was also a point of humiliation. It meant failure to perform, and Heero wouldn't easily admit to that either. It was easier to tell another kind of truth, one that didn't carry danger or a loss of pride in himself.

"I don't wish sexual relations of any kind," Heero told Duo. "I understand that you felt it necessary to stimulate and distract yourself, but you will not make me a part of that objective again."

"Just say so next time," Duo snarled, low and vicious. "I warned you and you ignored me, remember? You can't blame me for acting my age."

"You can't afford to act your age," Heero replied. "Not with the colonies and Earth depending on you."

Duo grinned in the darkness. "Depending on me... depending on me to blow my old buddy Deathscythe up along with me in it?"

"If you are unable to pilot it, yes," Heero replied.

Duo chuckled. "Was that optimism I heard in your voice, Yuy? I didn't think you had it in you. I thought that you had already written me off."

"You have unpredictable determination," Heero replied.

"Must be love," Duo laughed softly.

"I don't understand," Heero replied, confused again.

"Never mind, Yuy," Duo sighed and then, "I've run out of things to say. Please keep me awake... without squeezing on broken bones again."

Heero sat up instead, dislodging himself from the mud. His sharp senses had been monitoring their surroundings without pause, despite his interaction with Duo, and they had come to an abrupt decision. The search planes had stopped flying over head.

"What?" Duo wondered wearily, hating the cold that was suddenly overtaking the warm area that Heero had vacated.

"I don't know," Heero replied. "Make yourself ready to move. I'll scout the area."

Duo heard Heero moving away and he managed to sit up, arm protesting, body screaming at him to lie down and stop fighting the inevitable. He wondered how Heero could see anything in that pitch blackness or why he had suddenly thought that it was time to go. They had been pinned down in that area most of the evening and the night. Oz knew that they were somewhere within their grasp. They wouldn't just give up and go home.

"U-Useless," Duo chattered as he hugged his arms around his body, shaking with cold. He couldn't move, couldn't even reach out to pull their pack towards him and pull down the coat they had propped up on low branches to shield them from some of the rain. He waited for Heero instead, but the smell of smoke came to his nose long before Heero returned.

"Aww! Fuck!" Duo groaned. "They're trying to burn us out!"

"Yes," Heero said at Duo's shoulder, causing Duo to start badly and whimper at the pain it caused him. "We have to move, quickly. They've torched the forest on the three sides, trying to drive us towards them." He sounded strangely respectful of Oz tenacity and innovation.

Heero hooked an arm around Duo and pulled him to his feet. Slinging their pack on his shoulder, he began a nightmare rush towards safety, dragging Duo behind him.

Duo tried not to scream, tried to stifle his choked sobs and whimpers. It was almost impossible to keep his feet, to keep his senses, as he tried to navigate the rough terrain. He would make it, he chanted to himself. He had to make it. Falling down and dying wasn't an option.

His legs were leaden, his blood ice, his head full of cotton, and his eyes filmed with a red haze. Duo's world reduced itself down to the sound of his heartbeat and the rasp of his breath. When he couldn't feel his feet anymore, he knew even his strength of will wasn't going to be enough.

The world whirled, pain shot through every part of him like lightning, continued to arc through him as he realized that Heero had picked him up, the super strong young man, carrying him as easily as he carried the pack. But, Duo thought, that burst of strength was deceptive. Even Heero could only last so long like that, especially as the thick smoke gathered and began to clog their lungs.

The flames were around them so suddenly that Duo didn't have time to react, to think that it would be better to die in a mud filled hollow than to burn up alive in a forest fire. Heero took the choice from him as he began to run, Duo' weight jogging on his shoulders, inhuman, piston like legs pumping as he ran straight into the flames.

Duo cringed. He felt hair and skin singe. He began to quickly confess his sins, wishing for a priest of any kind, hand clutching at Heero and his gold cross, as they tried the impossible, jump through a thin wall of flames and land safely on the other side.

They hit the ground rolling Duo felt Heero's hands slapping at him, trying to put out the flames, the wet mud doing the rest by coating them both and putting out the smoldering parts of clothing and hair. They came out of the roll and, as if it were a strange sort of dance, Heero was coming to his feet and throwing Duo back onto his shoulders, without a moments pause. Incredible! Duo thought as he sobbed and clung, wishing for the oblivion of unconsciousness, but knowing that he didn't have the luxury. He had to stay alert. He had to endure until he could reach his Gundam. He had to hope that Heero would continue doing the impossible and get them both there.

Heero stopped, lungs working like bellows, sweat running down and steaming the cold air. He shifted to pull a remote from his pocket. He punched buttons and the waters of a mist covered lake erupted. Deathscythe came walking from the depths like a demon from Hell, water cascading everywhere and hydraulics and machinery making a noise that anyone could hear.

"You have my codes!" Duo wheezed as he tried to crane his neck to see his beloved Deathscythe coming for him. "How the Hell did you get them?!"

"Simple," Heero panted. "Braid. Spell it and give each letter a numerical value in the alphabet. You are transparent."

"Did you just call me an idiot?" Duo demanded weakly, but Heero was already programming Wing to follow Deathscythe.

"No, time," Duo hissed as he saw search beams cutting through the darkness towards them. "Get us in Deathscythe and we'lI blow up Wing."

"No," Heero grated as he sprinted for Deathscythe, punching in the command to lower the lift. It lowered as Deathscythe and Wing continued to walk. Heero ran to meet it.

There was only room for one at a time. Heero hooked the lift to Duo's belt and then gave it the command to lift him up rapidly. Before Duo could leave the ground, Heero leapt onto him, wrapping legs tightly about Duo's waist and hands locking onto the lift line itself as it pulled up both of their weights at a dangerous speed.

"Any other time, Yuy," Duo groaned. "I'd be appreciating this position, but right now, all I wanna know is, what the shit do you think that you're going to do now?"

Heero didn't reply. He kept punching buttons on the remote, commanding Deathscythe and Wing to walk towards the now raging fire while he opened hatches and brought Wing very close to Deathscythe.

"G-Good idea," Duo said when he noticed, but bullets began pinging against the Gundanium hull of Deathscythe all around them. Oz had found them.

The lift reached the hatch. Heero scrambled inside, unlocked Duo, and dragged him, crying out, into the cramped confines of the cockpit. He then threw Duo into the command chair and sprinted for the hatch again without hesitation, leaving Duo to do the rest.

The remote could make Deathscythe walk and open hatches, but it couldn't make it fight, Duo thought. He turned on outside monitors and watched in amazement as Heero made the incredible jump between Gundams. He landed safely, steel toed boots scrambling on the slick metal, as he dived into the cockpit of Wing. The hatch closed and Duo sighed in relief. That relief lasted only a second as he tried to lift his broken arm and found it lifeless. He needed it, absolutely needed it to pilot Deathscythe and make it fight. There were too many controls for a crippled man to operate. Even his good hand was shaky and uncertain.

Self destruct? Duo licked filthy lips and stared hard at the control that would rip Deathscythe from the inside out, making it useless for Oz. Not yet, he thought. He wanted to make them hurt before he died.

They made it to the fire, but other suits were waiting for them, undeterred by the flames. Duo, ever resourceful, flipped off his boots. Wrapping one ankle around a critical lever, he tied the other into the straps of the seat as best he could one handed. It was his only security. He needed full movement of his body to at least put up some fight. That slender strap had to hold, had to keep him from being a bloody smear against a wall or ceiling of the cockpit.

"I hate gravity!" Duo snarled as he jumped Deathscythe, knowing that the odds of landing safely without being able to operate half the controls, was nil. Still, it would give him fighting room he needed. The only effective strategy for the lesser suits was to get inside his defense and bring him down by sheer numbers. He couldn't let that happen, not before he self destructed and eked out a little revenge.

As the Gundam seemed to fly through the air, Duo had a quick site of Wing truly flying, arrowing away to safety. It was something, Duo supposed, that at least one Gundam escaped, but he still couldn't help the dark feeling of being abandoned.

The ground was coming up. Duo frantically fumbled with leg, ankle, and shaking hand to navigate Deathscythe's limbs properly. He did good, Duo thought, allowing himself a moment of pride, before he realized that it hadn't been good enough. Deathscythe slid in mud and came down hard, Duo unable to move quickly enough to compensate. The shock of returning gravity threw Duo up towards the ceiling. The strap held, but Duo was tossed like a rag doll, first up, and then down onto the controls with violent force. Almost instinctively, Duo hit the gyros and shoved down with his free leg on the control that would cause Deathscythe to compensate using the computer, dangerous and nowhere near perfect, but... Deathscythe went down. Attempt unsuccessful.

Duo was thrown again and everything shuddered. He blacked out and then came to moments later with a bloody face, Deathscythe half on its back and a hand already reaching for the self destruct.

The monitors flickered with the white yellow light of a beam canon. The suits beginning to surround Duo were suddenly not there. Heero had returned. Heero was giving him one more chance.... or coming back to make sure that, if Duo couldn't blow Deathscythe, he would be there to do it for him.

Duo wiped blood out of his face, snorted it from his bleeding nose, and grinned. "Not done yet," he hissed and flipped the controls. He opened a secure com link to Wing. "I have an idea. I can get Deathscythe out of here, if you stay and cover me."

"Unacceptable risk," Heero stated coldly and Duo could see the beam cannon aiming for him.

"Fucker!" Duo screamed, feeling as if his head was separating into painful chunks. "I can do this! Let me do it!"

Silence. Duo ignored the cannon aimed at him and concentrated on loading all of his power into the thrusters. If it worked in space.... There was just a chance....

"Once I do this, Heero, I need you to back me up," Duo explained. "I'm going to blast a wide radius and those suits aren't going to be able to take the heat. If it doesn't work, if Deathscythe can't take the heat either, I'll be doing what you want, self destructing, okay?"

"Acknowledged," Heero replied, neither yes or no, but an answer of some kind.

Duo didn't wait to figure out Heero's intentions. He hit the thrusters, full force, and fuel mixed with flame. The forest around Deathscythe was incinerated instantly. The mobile suits closing in cautiously, fried. Deathscythe shot upwards and angled towards the south, an incredible leap that possibly wouldn't have a survivable landing.

Duo calculated and worked the controls as best he could through a haze of blood, mind turning numb and as unresponsive as his arm. Maybe he was dying anyway, Duo thought, but the grin didn't leave his face as the adrenalin rushed through him. He pictured the spectacular way he was going to die if everything didn't go right. It suited Shinigami.

The ground rushed up, rocks and hard packed earth. Good and bad. Duo made a last adjustment and then braced himself. At the last moment, he felt Deathscythe shudder and come up short, and then he was being tossed up high and then brought crashing down into oblivion.

[part 4] [part 6] [back to Kracken's fic]