Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning:Male/male sex, graphic, violence, language

After the Rain

"I told you to leave that at home." Duo caught Heero's hand before he could draw his gun. He forced the gun back into it's holster at Heero's back and tucked Heero's black jacket back over it. "It was just a car back firing. Bad power return, probably."

Heero was stiff, adrenalin pumping, trying not to throw Duo's hand off of him. It was almost a full minute before he was able to convince his mind that he didn't need to shoot and kill something.

Duo smiled, "Better. It took a lot longer last time."

Heero agreed, but he still wasn't happy with himself. The war was over. He was with Duo. They had a small apartment in a high rise on Earth. Duo was working on cutting edge engines for one of Quatre Winner's companies, and Heero was testing computer designs for another. They made good money, had a comfortable life, but Heero couldn't stop being a soldier.

Heero had tried to think of it as another mission, undercover, but Duo had figured that out after the third day and had taken away that comforting security blanket. Now, it was like suddenly being naked, or walking on a tight rope without a safety net. Life had been necessary during the war, planned, and lived without many variables. Duo tried to guide Heero, tried to teach, and tried to make him be something that he didn't know how to be... Human, normal, like everyone else they passed on the street.

Heero looked sideways at Duo, who was looking about them as they walked. He was smiling, eyes sparkling, and not the least bothered by Heero's lapse. It made Heero wonder what kept Duo with him. He was understanding emotions more and more now, but there were still aspects that eluded him. Duo was handsome, outgoing, and everyone they met liked him. Before they had recognized their feelings for each other, Duo had displayed a healthy libido and an interest in many people. Sex for him had been casual and fun. Heero still expected him to look at the handsome men and beautiful women that passed them by, but he didn't. His eyes touched on the shops, on some of the sportier cars that drove by, but never on anyone with more than minimal acknowledgment. Heero, in a moment of frustration when he had failed, yet again, to show his feelings for Duo, had suggested that Duo have sex with other people. Duo had frowned and looked angry, and Heero hadn't suggested it again. Duo was with him, it seemed, and he was committed.

A tall man, with dark sunglasses, reached into the breast of his coat. Heero touched the butt of his gun, but fought to keep from drawing it. He had to grit his teeth, every muscle tense and shaking, as he ignored every bit of his training and allowed the man to pull out a handkerchief and wipe at his nose.

When they had passed the man, Duo looked at Heero with a grin. "See? Progress." But then he saw how pale Heero was and he grabbed him by the elbow and settled him onto a bench. Heero sat, hands between his knees and head hanging. "Love?" Duo asked worriedly.

"Duo..." Heero didn't want to say it, but he was too used to dealing with facts and consequences. "I don't think that I can stop reacting."

Duo crouched in front of him and refused to let him hide behind his messy bangs. His purple eyes met Heero's blue ones and he said, "You were wired to feel pain every time that you felt a strong emotion. You over came that. You beat it. Sure, things aren't perfect. They never will be, Heero." He motioned around them without looking. "If you think I want you to be like these people, you're wrong. I just want you to be yourself, not what some screwed up scientist tried to make you." He poked a finger into Heero's chest. "I know you can manage that."

Heero wasn't that confident. He knew what he had been put through during his training. It was in his blood and bone.

"Heero?" Duo cocked his head at him. "What are you feeling... right now?"

Heero thought about it, turned the emotion over and over, trying to understand it, but couldn't. "Afraid," he replied at last.

Duo raised eyebrows, but then understood. He settled on the bench next to Heero, his long legs stretched out. "Anything else?"

Heero thought about it, delved past that fear to an emotion that was sitting at the level of his heart.

"Say it," Duo whispered as if they were sharing a secret. "No one is going to hurt you now, because of it."

Heero tensed, hunched, and then said, "Pain."

"Pain?" That caught Duo by surprise. He studied Heero for a long moment and then he cautiously said, "That makes me afraid."

Heero looked at him quickly in concern. "Why?"

"Because... " Duo put a hand over Heero's and squeezed tight. "I care about you. I love you. Isn't that what you really feel... not pain, but... love? Sometimes, it hurts when you're afraid that the person you love is going to... reject you."

Heero thought about that. Love. Pain. Fear. "You don't need me," Heero told him. "I'm a liability."

"If we were in a life or death situation, trying to win a war?" Duo snorted. "Yeah, you would be. Out here, where we only have ourselves to answer to... no."

Heero licked dry lips, not sure how to put his doubts into words that weren't clinical or precise, something Duo had been trying to discourage. Duo smiled and his hand squeezed tight again.

"For now, just say it any way you have to, Heero," Duo encouraged.

"I..." Heero squared his shoulders and asked stiffly, "I don't see how I contribute to... to our life together. What makes me an asset?"

Duo chuckled. "You want a logical, reasonable explanation? Love isn't like that Heero. It's like me, spontaneous and unreasonable. I can tell you that you're strong, steady, and committed. I like that and I need it. Those are assets." Duo leaned in close, draping an arm over Heero's shoulders. "You also understand me... well, most times." He waved with one hand at the people walking by. "They will never understand me like you do." He lowered his hand and leaned back into the bench. "Bottom line, though? I love you and I don't want to leave you. I also don't want you to leave me. I'm not going to stop wanting that because you can't stop thinking that everyone's a potential bad guy. I just want..." Duo went thoughtful and then he continued, "I want you to do it, though, not because someone's psycho training is forcing you to. I want you to be able to decide when to put down or pick up the gun yourself. Those people will be a lot safer when you can, especially poor, old Mrs. Hanover down the hall. I doubt she thought that coming over to offer us cookies would get a glock put in her face."

Heero winced. Duo hugged him and then stood up, pulling Heero up with him.

"Come on," Duo said cheerfully. "The more you walk around the neighborhood, the quicker you will start to relax."

Heero doubted that. He was even now looking around them and making numerous mental notes about each person within shooting distance. Short, fat man: limp, coat big enough to hold a large rifle, hands in pockets, probable communications device. Young woman looking their way; High heels, liability, restrictive skirt, easy take down. Angry older man: large bag in one clenched fist, arm arching for a throw, possible bomb.

"Heero!" Duo shouted in alarm.

Heero was already in motion, though. The man was throwing the bag into traffic. A terrorist, Heero's training told him, target; civilians and infrastructure. The man's eyes went wide as Heero caught the bag in mid air and punched the man solidly with his fist. The man went down, unconscious. Heero placed a foot on his throat and then looked into the bag, ready to diffuse or dispose of a bomb.

A black puppy peeked out looking anxious, a bare handful of velvet fur and liquid, brown eyes. Duo caught up to Heero just as Heero was about to drop the bag in surprise. Duo put a hand under it to steady it, and understood the situation at once.

"Bastard!" Duo spat at the unconscious man. "He was going to toss the dog into traffic."

Heero looked from Duo, to the man, and then to the puppy. It wiggled pathetically, yipped, and pleaded with it's eyes.

"Better get out of here before the cops show up," Duo warned and Heero was automatically following Duo without question, a part of his mind slipping back into the war. Undercover. Keep quiet. Keep hidden. Don't call attention. The man was left on the sidewalk, but the people who had witnessed Heero's attack were unsympathetic and beginning to walk away from him.

"You're holding him too tight," Duo grunted. He slipped into an alley and then stopped. Heero followed, still looking down at the puppy. "You can dump him here," Duo told him.

"Here?" Heero looked around them. His mind easily calculated the odds for the puppy's survival. Zero. "No," Heero replied and held the bag tightly against him.

Duo looked perplexed. "No? Why not?"

Heero was at a loss. "I don't know."

Duo looked from Heero to the puppy. "He's homeless. You bought him some life, but..."

It startled Heero to suddenly see a lack in Duo and to know that here was something he understood that Duo didn't. "He needs to be cared for."

"Yeah?" Duo looked as if Heero had grown an extra eye. "So did I, but I made it on the streets. He's got his shot now, so let him go."

Patiently, Heero took the puppy out of the bag and held it more gently. The puppy licked his nose. It stirred something in Heero. It wasn't dangerous. It couldn't suddenly attack him. He didn't have to be on constant guard. It... liked him. He petted the soft fur, trying to place it's pedigree. Cocker Spaniel? A mix?

Duo cleared his throat. "Heero," he said, "You going to tell me what's going on in that head of yours?"

"How do you... How do you take care of a puppy?" Heero wanted to know.

Duo shrugged. "I don't know. I only know how to catch and cook them."

Heero felt alarm. He held the puppy protectively. "You won't eat this one." It wasn't a question.

Duo quirked an eyebrow. "Does this mean he's coming home with us?" Heero nodded. Duo was still puzzled, but he suddenly laughed, "Look at you!"

Heero blinked at Duo's laughing face. "What?"

"After everything I tried, a little bit of fur did something I couldn't," Duo told him.

"What?" Heero repeated, feeling stupid.

"Brought back some human in you," Duo replied."For that, he gets a new home."

The puppy licked Heero's nose again and then curled up against his heart. It wasn't a mission parameter. It didn't fit a spec. It didn't have a military purpose. It was just a puppy and... it needed Heero. "Duo?"

"Hm?" Duo replied, bemused as they left the alley and began walking back home.

"The pain is gone," Heero replied.

Duo smiled and leaned against him. He rubbed the puppy's ears and whispered, "Good dog."


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