Author: Kracken
Disclaimer:I don't own this and I don't make any money off of it.
Warning:Male/male sex. Graphic, language, violence, rough sex, gritty....

Cadence + Part 1
Cool

Duo Maxwell had a trickle of sweat running down the side of his face, but that was the only sign of his nervousness as he crouched over an explosive device in the middle of a firefight. As he attempted to disarm it, Wu Fei could only watch him, guarding him with two glocks held ready, while men on both sides turned the large warehouse into a bloodbath. The Preventers bought Maxwell time with their lives. Wu Fei was ready to do no less.

"Time!" Duo barked, his bangs hanging in his eyes and his slim hands working on the spaghetti-like pile of wires in his lap.

Wu Fei replied and Duo's jaw clenched as he finally attached a handheld device to the wires and turned it on. Numbers flickered in endless streams on a small readout as it tried to discover the deactivation codes by process of elimination. His fingers flew over the keypad as he worked along side the micro computer to try and find them himself.

Bullets splattered the concrete all around them. Wu Fei flinched and turned to fire back. He felt a bullet thud into his side. He gasped, sat down hard, and then surged back to his knees to keep on firing. Preventer agents came charging to the rescue, but there weren't enough of them. Undetected scatter bombs had taken out many of their number early on in the fight. Reinforcements were yet to arrive.

"Time!" Duo demanded again.

Wu Fei fired off two more shots, checked his watch with blurry eyes, and gave it to him.

Another bullet slammed into Wu Fei's shoulder. He dropped one glock and it skittered over the floor as his arm hung numbly and began seeping blood. He had been thrown onto his side this time. It was hard to sit back up, harder to lift his remaining gun, and almost impossible to see where to aim.

"Got it!" Duo shouted in glee, but then snarled, "Secondary charge! Get the hell outta here!"

A hand hooked under Wu Fei's arm and hauled him to his feet. Duo shouted at their men. Wu Fei felt himself pulled violently forward. The rest was disjointed. He couldn't trust which parts were real. An explosion rocked him and drove him to his knees. He felt many 'somethings' bury themselves into the skin of his back as his eardrums threatened to burst. Hands. Shouting. The smell of jet fuel. Heat as if from a fire. Darkness. Light. Darkness again. A single voice, Heero perhaps, saying, "It's bad."

The world went away for awhile. Wu Fei dreamed. He was crouching by Duo again, guns held ready, watching that trickle of sweat track down Duo's face. Something told him that  they were going to stay like that forever; endless tension, endless fear, endless respect for a man who held a biological bomb in his lap, powerful enough to take out a nation, and dared to try and defeat it.

Was he dead, Wu Fei wondered? Was death nothing but an endless frozen moment of his time of death? Wu Fei couldn't help being disappointed. He had hoped for peace, for contemplation, for rest. It was a fine and honorable moment to live in, dying as a warrior, but forever? It gave him far too much time to contemplate regrets and that was weak. He had never liked being weak.

Duo's eyes were bright with adrenalin. Wu Fei studied them and then studied the curve of Duo's cheek, the one that made him still seem so young. That cheek led to his strong jaw and that wide smile, the one that was always dancing on his lips no matter what was going on. If he leaned closer, Wu Fei would smell grease, blood, sweat, and military khaki. Duo was all muscle. His shoulders were a little wide, surprisingly, considering how lean the rest of him was. Those long legs were drawn up as he crouched, as lean as the rest of him.

It had amazed Wu Fei to see Duo practicing his martial arts one day, to see that those long legs and arms didn't hinder his speed and grace in the slightest. Duo was deadly, masculine, and, at twenty three, one of the best agents that Wu Fei had ever seen. Spending eternity watching him would not be the hardship, Wu Fei thought. It would be, instead, the thought that he had died with so much of his life not lived and so many choices not yet made. Shameful. He could hear his old teachers disgust. Weak. Dishonorable. If he was dead, he had died as a warrior, saving those who could not fight. He should not regret that.

He drifted. Duo's image shimmered and then the dream spun away. That inspired a new regret, one that Wu Fei throttled and buried deep, refusing, even in death, to acknowledge it.

"Fei?" Duo's voice, calling from the darkness, rough and strange.

"Duo?" Heero's voice admonished, "Stop talking, idiot. The doctor said he'll have to operate if you don't shut up and let your throat heal. Breathing in 'acid dust' is usually fatal. You're lucky it just burned your throat.  Running back into the blast cloud to get wounded- "

"Didn't get any," Duo's barely understandable voice managed. His despair was still evident.

"If the evac hadn't come in with air tanks, you would be dead as well," Heero retorted.

"Too late for them," Duo sighed.

"Too late," Heero agreed and sounded sad as well. "You didn't fail, Duo. You disarmed the main weapon. The secondary bomb was to deter someone like you from deactivating it."

Duo didn't reply.

Wu Fei felt pain, grinding, throbbing, all encompassing pain. He mentally took his own status and decided that he was drugged, but then felt some trepidation as he wondered how badly he was hurt if there was pain reaching him even through the drugs. At least it told him that he was alive. Death could not possibly hurt that much.

"Fei," Duo tried again.

Wu Fei rallied all of his will and said, "Listen to Heero and shut up, Maxwell." He coughed in a throat as dry as a desert and wondered if he had managed to make himself  heard.

A sigh sounded almost in his hear, clear relief. A strong hand squeezed his and  lips gave his forehead a rough kiss.

That was... odd. Wu Fei tried to hold on to consciousness, desperate to open his eyes and see Duo's face, to know if he was just over come with emotion, if he was joking, if he was... but the drugs and his wounds pulled him back down into darkness.

+

"Stop!"

"Mr. Yuy?"

"He's waking up."

"Dear lord! What are you pilots made of? That's Acronzone 5 I gave him. It's the strongest anesthetic we have."

"Stand back. Don't be a fool."

"Mr. Maxwell!"

"Duo! Let him go! You're clear and safe! Let him go!"

Wu Fei rolled his head to the right and saw blurred shapes moving erratically. Something sailed past his face so close it sparkled from an over head light and rustled the loose hair at his forehead. That something clattered and clanged into other things beyond him.

"Duo!"

Wu Fei concentrated, blinked furiously, and then foundered in confusion as he made out a man in a white coat and Heero Yuy wrestling with someone on a bed near his own. His mind considered capture and torture before it remembered that the war was over. Hospital, doctor, firefight, biobomb came his next thoughts, replaying rapidly like a slide show behind his eyes.

"Fucking hurts!" the voice was strangled, a hoarse whisper that Wu Fei barely heard.

Yuy explained, "Caused by friendlies, though, not enemy troops. You've had several skin grafts. Let the doctor look at them and stop fighting the drugs. I'm on guard."

"Partner?" The strangled voice demanded.

Heero looked over at Wu Fei, studied him for a moment, and then turned back to Duo. "Awake and aware," he reported."Now, stand down, agent."

There was a pained sigh. "Hurts."

"I know," Heero said and his voice was suddenly almost tender. "Let the drugs do their work."

Hurts was exactly how Wu Fei felt. The bullets wounds were lumps of pain. His back was a rack of it, scattered in hundreds of pinpoints. Burns stung relentlessly. His eyes traveled up a plastic line to an IV. Drugs were being dripped into the line. It seemed that he was having his own trouble letting them work. He tried to sink into meditation and get beyond the pain. A face, suddenly close to his own, interrupted his attempt.

Gold curls, blue sky eyes, and a gentle smile. Quatre Winner was the sun bursting through a bleary gloom. "Chang?"

Wu Fei nodded, once. It was disconcerting how that simple motion made the world spin out of control. If there had been something in his stomach, he was sure that Quatre would now be wearing it

"Just relax," Quatre warned. "The doctor will be with you in just a moment."

"Good," Wu Fei managed. "Want out of here."

Quatre looked stunned and then very disapproving. "Of course not, Chang," he admonished as if he were talking to a naughty child. "You are seriously injured. You're scheduled for two more operations. The doctor may prescribe another transfusion. You nearly died, you know." He gently patted Wu Fei's uninjured arm. "Let the drugs work and go back to sleep. Heero is here to keep Duo from injuring himself, or the staff, and I'm here to watch over you."

"Maxwell?" Wu Fei demanded.

Quatre's _expression went guarded. "He's recovering, just as you are."

And he had almost died, Wu Fei thought anxiously. "Status?"

Quatre brushed long strands of black hair from Wu Fei's eyes, with little flicks of his short fingers. "Recovering," he repeated and then, "Mission successful."

Wu Fei's eyes closed, realizing that he wasn't going to get anything more and too exhausted and in pain to argue further about it."Keep the fool in his bed," he muttered as he fell off the edge of consciousness again. Quatre's chuckle was the last thing that he heard.

There was a slight banging sound, almost rhythmic in its' repetition. Wu Fei swam out of a dream that had to do with fields, poppy flowers, and blood, though he couldn't remember any more details than that . He opened his eyes and squinted at glaring white light and an antiseptic white ceiling. Memory came in puzzling pieces. He put them together haltingly until he had a fourth of a picture and then turned his head. Duo Maxwell was sitting in his own bed, propped up on pillows, slowly and repeatedly banging the back of his head against the wall. It wasn't hard, barely any force at all, but it must have stung.

"Maxwell," Wu Fei was embarrassed at the thin, hoarse sound of his voice. "Foolish to... to damage what... little brain matter you... possess."

Duo started and stopped his self abuse. He searched Wu Fei's eyes excitedly. "You really awake this time, Fei?" His voice was rough and whispery. Wu Fei had to strain to hear it.

Wu Fei gave himself a brief, self diagnostic, and then nodded, once. He felt sticky, unclean, and  full of a constant, throbbing pain. His hair was unwashed and it itched. He tried to lift a hand to it and was brought up short by the tug of IV lines in his arm.

"Careful there," Duo admonished him. "You're a pin cushion, but you need every one of those."

Wu Fei grunted.

"I've got 'em too," Duo told him. "We both lost a lot of fluids and they keep telling me that any infection'll probably kill us way before any of our wounds, if we're not careful. So, we're getting our drinks in a tube and our antibiotics." He flushed a little. "We also have catheters, so try not to move too much down there either. Fluids in , fluids out. A few more days of that, they said, and then we can unhook from all of this." He stopped and put a hand to his throat as if it hurt him, frowning.

Wu Fei felt the catheter and turned his face away in embarrassment. It was bad enough that he was that helpless, but to have Duo Maxwell witness it mortified him.

"I'm dying of boredom," Duo complained, his voice almost nonexistent now. "At least talk to me, Fei."

Memory surfaced and Wu Fei snapped as he turned to look at Duo again, "No talking, Maxwell. I heard... doctor's orders."

Duo looked angry and then he said shortly, "Then you talk."

"Only if you don't," Wu Fei shot back, but he needed water or he wouldn't be able to talk at all. Duo grabbed up a clipboard and used a pen to scrawl, ' Call nurse Yuy.' He pointed to the door.

Wu Fei was perplexed, but he did as Duo asked, "Yuy?!"

Heero came into the room at once, looking alert, one hand under his jacket and presumably on the butt of a gun holstered there. He looked first at Duo and Duo was already writing something else on his clipboard. He held it up. Heero read what he had written there and then turned to Wu Fei, startled.

"You're awake." The relief in Heero's _expression confused Wu Fei. They had never gotten along during the war and their paths rarely crossed, even during missions. Wu Fei had even imagined some animosity towards him when he had been chosen to partner with Duo instead of Yuy. Certainly Heero had seem cold and grim whenever they had chanced to interact after that.

Heero was pouring water into a cup with a straw. He gently adjusted the bed so that Wu Fei wasn't completely flat and then he held the cup while Wu Fei tentatively took small sips. He wasn't prepared for his body's instant rejection. He vomited forcefully and the world went black. When he came to again, hearing Duo shouting anxiously and Heero telling him to be quiet, he was also aware of someone checking his nose and mouth.

"Just water?" A disapproving voice asked.

"Yes," Heero replied. "I wasn't aware that he wasn't allowed any."

"In the future, Mr. Yuy," the voice told him angrily. "You will consult with me before giving this patient anything. We are lucky that he didn't pull any of his micro sutures open or drown in fluids."

A pause.

"Yes, Mr. Maxwell," The voice sighed. "You may stop writing. I understand that you are the one who suggested Mr. Yuy give the patient water. Yes, he will be all right. He didn't drink enough to cause any problems. When he wakes, we will give him a very limited amount of water under supervision and in a more upright position."

"Yes, Dr.," Heero replied.

"Mr. Wu Fei," the doctor called. "Are you awake?" Wu Fei managed a nod. "Good. It's very important that we get you up off your back and moving as soon as possible, but I warn you against any attempts alone or in the company of your companions. We have trained therapists who will make certain that you don't injure yourself. Also, no food or drink that is not approved by me personally. Understood?" Wu Fei nodded again, hating how the room seemed to spin sickeningly even with his eyes closed.

Wu Fei concentrated on bringing his senses back to order as Heero and the doctor talked. The doctor finally left and Heero said, the grimace apparent in his tone, "I'll need to change."

Wu Fei wasn't sure what the situation was, but it seemed that Heero was reluctant to leave them alone even long enough to change his clothes in a more private place. He heard Duo whistle appreciative, Heero's irritated reply, and the rustle of cloth. Wu Fei turned his head and blinked his eyes open, not sure why it was suddenly so important to see exactly what Yuy was doing.

Duo was still sitting up in bed, smirking and holding up his clipboard with a number ten scrawled on it. Heero cursed softly as he raised his arms above his head to slip into his shirt. Strong shoulders, a narrow waist, and arms that were beautifully defined. Wu Fei didn't have long to feel a rush of warmth before that handsome view was covered and Heero was tucking his white shirt into his black dress pants.

"Nice," Duo said and Heero glared at him. Duo made a foolish 'locking' motion to his lips and laid back into his pillows, smiling.

Heero retreated back to his guard post just outside the door as if Duo's teasing was too much for him. Duo looked over at Wu Fei. He rolled his eyes and wrote on his clipboard, 'Just like making him mad. He does it so well. Don't really mean anything by it.'

Wu Fei rubbed at his raw throat, hating the taste of bile on his tongue. He barely was able to say, "Disrespectful." Meaning that Duo shouldn't tease someone who was guarding them and seeing to their needs. He heard Duo snort, but Wu Fei was already following that thought and not liking where it led. Heero, Quatre, and Duo had all been watching him, seeing him weak, helpless, and unable to rise above his injuries. It wasn't a realization that Wu Fei accepted with grace. It made him angry, ashamed, and determined to recover enough to leave that place.

Duo tapped hard on his clipboard. When he had Wu Fei's attention, he wrote, 'Know what you're thinking, asshole! I'm stuck here and having to put up with this crap! You're staying here , too, so don't think otherwise, got it?'

Wu Fei scowled.

"I'll tell," Duo mouthed angrily.

Meaning drugs and straps would be used to keep Wu Fei in his bed. He was furious now. He tried to sit up, to make a lie out of what Duo was saying, what he was asking. His body refused to respond in the slightest, though. Wu Fei's face flamed in shame.

Duo tapped his clipboard again, but Wu Fei refused to look. He was weak. They all knew it. His body had betrayed him. All of his training refused to aid him. He was confined to his bed for the duration. He couldn't bear Duo's insults and his sarcastic remarks on top of that pain.

The clipboard came sailing over the space between them and it landed hard on Wu Fei's ribs. He hissed in pain as he picked it up, unable to keep from reading, 'I care a lot about you, Fei, I know you're strong enough to get through this. There's nobody stronger than you.'

Strong enough to get through this. It repeated a few times in Wu Fei's mind as he let it sink in that this was another type of challenge and that Maxwell was right. It would take strength to over come the severity of his wounds. A weak man... a weak man would have died before now, he was sure.

Wu Fei felt a wave of gratitude, but he was too reserved to show it. He clutched the clipboard tightly in his hands and then did his best to nod well enough so that Duo knew that it was a bow. He wasn't sure that Duo understood such respect or gratitude, but he did see Duo smile back at him.

[part 2] [back to Kracken's fic]