Author: Kracken
Main: 5x2
side: 1xRelena, 1x2, 3x4, 6xNoinx12, Sallyx5xOC, HildexOC

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

Fatalistic + Part 2
Back Burner

Returning to our usual routine at Preventer headquarters, it should have been easy to school my mind to other things, to other people who were more suited to me. I dated, as much as I didn't like to. I rather preferred to spend my days either training or doing my work. When I was home, my time was in quiet pursuits; reading or, lately, doing a bit of art. These people that I chose, for their intelligence and their similar interests, seemed an imposition, though, some even more of a disruption than Duo. I couldn't understand why, but I was more than eager to end our brief meetings and to inform them that they didn't suit. I grew used to being called an 'arrogant bastard'. I didn't look on it as arrogance, though. I wanted a partner, a companion that would compliment my life and support my goals and interests. I called myself 'careful' and 'wise'.

"Fei? Redo this damn strap. I think the buckle's going." Duo half turned to me, pulling his braid out of the way. His slim neck dipped down into tight muscle and there was a small mole just along the jugular. He smelled like his leather gun holster, coffee, and onions from his lunch.

I grunted and rose from my desk. My fingers worked at the buckle, touching him despite my effort not to. Even touching him through a Preventer shirt, I felt my gut tighten and my temperature rise. "Going out on an assignment?"

"On my way to a bullshit session with Zechs," Duo replied with a groan. He rolled purple eyes at me. They were sparkling with humor. "That man could put the dead to sleep."

That didn't make sense to me and I raised an eyebrow. His snicker let me know that he had purposely teased me, so I refused to rise to the bait. I stepped back and sat again. He perched on the edge of my desk and looked down at me. He seemed uncomfortable for a moment and then he let out an exasperated breath.

"Okay, I'm just going to ask you." Duo said, as if he were about to face great danger.

"What?" For a moment I worried and then I wondered what my worry was, that he would declare his knowledge that I couldn't control my interest in him? Did I worry that he would tell me that my interest was unwelcome? It was what I wanted, after all, wasn't it? I wanted this fascination for him to end.

Duo rubbed the back of his neck, rolled his eyes up at the ceiling, as if it were easier to look there than at me, and then said, "The rumor is, that your teaming up with Larime next week."

I blinked, staring, my mind trying to shift gears to supply me with the pertinent information. Yes, I was going on a low level mission with Larime. It was easy, almost too easy for someone with my skill, and I hadn't foreseen any difficulties. "That's correct," I managed and then frowned. "Why is this of any interest to you?"

I expected him to tell me something about the mission, or to even say something unflattering about my fellow agent, but Duo rarely does, or says, what anyone expects.

"It's just that you don't have anything going on between now and then," Duo pointed out. "We could... hook up... just for drinks... or tea... whatever you want."

My hands tightened in my lap. My chest tightened as well. For a moment, I found it hard to see. I heard my cool voice answer him, though, as I turned in my chair to hide a reaction I never wanted him to see and that I didn't want to feel; elation, "So that we can make the same mistake that you and Heero made? I'm a little wiser than that, Maxwell."

There was a silence that I could feel at my back. I pretended to shuffle discs and chose one. I loaded it and stared at what appeared on my computer screen. In reality, I wasn't seeing anything at all.

Duo stood and waited, perhaps for me to say more, but more likely for him to regain control enough for what he had to say next, "I heard that you were dating, and that it wasn't going well. People keep calling you an asshole and a bastard, you know? I thought I knew you better, that maybe... Guess I'm not what you're looking for either. I wonder who is?"

When I looked back, he was already striding away, braid swinging behind him and head bowed. It was for the best. It would never work out. He would make me miserable. It would be sex, grief, and fighting to have the peace and order that I craved. He could never live as I did, or appreciate what was important to me. It wasn't only one sided either. I knew only some of the things that he enjoyed, but I knew that I, not only didn't like them, but simply couldn't tolerate them.

He had asked, though. I couldn't tear my eyes away from Duo's angry figure going into the elevator, punching a button furiously, and seeing the doors close. He had seen that I was open to the idea of having a companion and he had come to me, hoping for consideration, as if he had been waiting for just such a sign from me.

It took a few memories of his foul mouth, crude jokes, and imaging him writhing under Heero Yuy, to make me harden my heart and not go after him. He spread his legs for anyone, I told myself, as a fling, a sport, a great joke, and thought nothing about it afterward. Except when I flung it in his face, I thought, except when I pointed out that it had cost him... me. That look on his face, that I could still see in my mind's eye, as he had waited for the elevator doors to close, had been one of grief.
I didn't see him after that day. I didn't notice at once, we were often apart, passing only briefly in the hallways. When several weeks went by, and my brain had caught up with what my eyes had been telling me, I actively searched. When I still didn't find any sign of him, yet saw Heero at his usual desk, I couldn't manage not to ask him where his partner was. I wasn't ready for a grimace and a wariness that I wasn't used to seeing in Heero.

"Duo's on leave," Heero told me.

"Leave?" I frowned, growing anxious. "Is he injured?"

"Bad mission," Heero replied and I wondered if a man could use even less words to hold a conversation. I glared, refusing to let it go, until he looked agitated and added, "It was messy. He needs some down time to get his head straight about it."

"Ah, I see." I better understood that. Sometimes, people died in ways that could haunt a man."Give him my good wishes," I told Yuy and he seemed relieved to accept them.

"I will," he replied and went back to his work.

I had business with Une. There were mission details that needed fine tuning and we were still arguing about possible team mates that suited my higher standards. Une was out when I arrived, though, and her secretary had a handful of sealed and coded envelopes for me to take.

"She says that she'll touch base with you tomorrow," the woman told me, looking a little intimidated by my annoyance.

I growled something unflattering under my breath and took my information. When I returned to my desk, I decided that I would take the mission more seriously than Une seemed to be taking it. I was determined to get to work on it at once. I opened the first envelope and loaded the disc. The expected crime scene appeared on my computer screen in detail, but it wasn't of a munitions factory dealing in contraband weapons. It was a men's bathroom stall.

I checked the envelope in frustration and then saw the classified mark. It 's destination had been to records, not my desk. This was something that was to be secretly filed and kept from casual eyes. I suppose it conflicted with honor, but I've always had difficulty controlling my curiosity. I found myself looking over the bathroom stall, trying to determine what sort of crime had taken place there before I scanned the case details at the bottom.

There was blood, handcuffs, and a knife. A condom wrapper was on the floor. A rape? A crude murder... not enough blood for the latter. I settled on rape and wondered about the location of the stall. It seemed clean and not overly scrawled with graffiti. Not a dance club, then, or a bar, or even a rest stop somewhere, I presumed. It seemed familiar and then it hit me with crawling uneasiness when I realized that it was a bathroom in Preventer headquarters.

I reluctantly scrolled down to the case notes and saw a fellow agent pictured prominently as the perpetrator. Ty Rollings. I remembered him around Duo, perhaps seated at a desk near him. He was a very big man with a five o'clock shadow, small eyes, and a very imposing set of arms. He was someone who could easily over power most men.

My computer went blank as a hand turned it off, a very feminine hand. I looked up and saw Une looking down at me over the rim of her glasses. She popped the disc out and slipped it back into it's envelope. "This was giving to you by mistake, agent Chang."

No one could read me when I didn't wish them to. I sniffed and replied, irritably. "I realized that when I saw the scan. I was about to take it out and return it. Please consider retraining your secretary."

The woman can be somewhat frightening when she chooses to. She stared at me as if I were under a microscope, as if she were considering whether to have me eliminated, and then she straightened and said, "This is classified. Take very careful note of that."

"Of course," I replied.

She gave me another long look and then walked away, heels clicking on the hard flooring. A crime on Preventer grounds, I thought, well imagining why Une and the victim would want to keep that fact a secret. Aside from the blow to moral, and confidence in the organization, an agent would find it hard to work in an environment where everyone knew what had happened.

Don't ask my why I was such a fool. Perhaps I had it in my mind that Duo was invulnerable, a skilled agent, a killer ex Gundam pilot like myself. Whatever the reason, I found myself eying my other fellow agents, wondering which one of them had been the victim. My mind was on secretaries, cleaning crew, file clerks, and not on the best of the best. It wasn't until Duo reappeared the next day, that I began to emerge from my self imposed blindness.

He was thin, and pale, his expression tight. He passed me in the hallway and, as I turned to call after him, I noted a parting of hair at the back of his head and several new stitches. My call died in my throat and my blood went cold. He turned to me, instead, gave me a cocky smile, that was as hollow as his next words, and said, "How's it going, Fei?" He didn't wait for a reply, simply turned, and continued to his desk.

I followed, as if drawn by a magnet. I was shaking and my pulse was racing. My brain was in a nightmare, misfiring and tangling thoughts. Heero stood up from his desk, angry and shouting, "Why are you here? You know you're on leave for another month!"

"I don't need it," Duo replied as he plopped down into his own chair and turned on his computer. "So, give me the newest case and shut up about it."

Heero looked tense, not wanting an argument that they obviously couldn't have there. He ran a hand over his face and then asked softly, "Want some coffee?"

"Yeah," Duo replied and then poked at a few disks. "This the case? Looks fun. I'll get to blow some things up. It'll help get out some of my... pent up aggression."

I found myself standing at Duo's desk. He looked up at me as if he couldn't see me properly, or perhaps he didn't want to, intent on the strength that had brought him there. I didn't know what to say, how to admit that I had been such a fool. I wondered at my urge to apologize, as if I could have helped, as if I could have been there to stop it. I wanted to kill that man, the one who had dared touch him. The crime scene was more clear, just then, than Duo, and I wondered if he were seeing it to. I didn't know what to say with that image so prominent. How did I ask something that was classified, that I was never supposed to know to begin with? My loss of words made me desperate, floundering for something meaningful.

"I would like to... go out with you...if you will allow it?"

I was given Duo's sudden sharp focus, surprised out of his inner pain. "What?"

It was hard to realize that the voice that had just asked Duo Maxwell on a date, was my own. Was it a way to apologize? Was it a way to ease my guilt? It seemed utter, self absorbed nonsense. How could I dare to ask a man, who had suffered as he had, to think of such a frivolous thing, with a man who had so soundly rejected him before?

I heard Heero snarl something, but Duo held up a hand to reassure him. He leaned back in his chair, regarding me, trying to figure out motive."What's with you?" Duo asked. "What makes you think I've got time for your shit now?"

I began to leave, murmuring, I'm not sure what, and then knew what was spurring on my need to forget every argument that I had made to push Duo away. It made me stop and say over my shoulder, "I've been a bastard to you, because I didn't understand why I was attracted to you. Now I think that I know." It was his strength, that steel that took him through every mission, no matter how difficult, and brought him back into work despite what had happened there. I couldn't help admiring it, being attracted to it... and him.

"You are such a weirdo," Duo growled.

I turned back, almost forgetting and getting angry, but then reining myself in. "To agree to see you, yes, I must be," I replied, "but it is something that I want to do."

"Okay, but not now," Duo told me, looking suddenly weary. "I need... some time to get back into things here."

I bowed my head, respecting that. Maybe it was more than just knowing what I suddenly wanted in Duo, and maybe it was more than guilt, that had made me blurt my proposal. I had this deep down sense that I had almost lost him, lost him to the foul deed of a fellow agent. The man could have just as easily killed him afterward. It was that sense of near loss that had suddenly made me want him closer, perhaps close enough to ask him what had happened. I wanted that chance, and a chance to comfort him.

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