by 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 4
Masks


"Chang's been good, really," Duo was chuckling at Heero, but then he growled, perhaps not getting the response from Heero that he had wished, "I'm not going to stop my life because of what happened. I'm not going to feel sorry for myself. I'm not going to spend my life wishing that I hadn't walked through the men's restroom with my guard down. I'm freakin' not going to go to therapy either, because they'll want me to do all of that!"

"I think you should slow down, that's all," Heero replied. "You've been on a date with Chang every other night this week."

"Jealous?" Duo laughed, but it was edged. I could imagine Yuy blushing and being uncomfortable. "Don't worry ex-lover. He hasn't gone anywhere near as far as you have."

"I'm not-" Heero bit that off, refusing to be sidetracked. "I've talked to the psychologist," he admitted. "I've gone over all of her credentials. She's very good. She said that you were a classic case."

"Classic?" Duo grunted. "If that means, 'like everyone else', then she's wrong right from the start. I've seen it all, Yuy, and seen a lot worse than what happened to me. I firmly keep in mind, 'He could have killed me.', and it makes the rest of the shit seem like nothing."

"But Wu Fei..." Heero began, but Duo cut that off at once.

"He's been... nice... patient," Duo told him. "It's been good."

I decided to stop listening and came into the office. They looked at me then, Duo perched on the edge of his Preventer desk and Heero standing off to one side looking serious.

"Hey," Duo said cheerfully and stood up, hands in pockets and braid swaying. Yuy only sighed darkly and sat down behind his desk.

I wasn't about to romance Duo in front of him. I was a private man. I kept my demeanor professional, but I smiled at Duo and gave him a small nod. I should have known that Duo wasn't going to be satisfied with that. He hooked an arm behind my neck and pulled me in for a small kiss.

I felt hot with embarrassment and must have kept as stiff as a board. Duo pulled back, looked into my eyes, and then let me go. He half turned away and said, "I didn't know that you wanted it all hush hush. I told Heero, but if you don't want anyone else to know, he'll keep quiet." He eyed Heero and added, "If he knows what's good for him."

I glared. "Duo, I wrapped around you and kissed you in freefall, after jumping out of an air plane. I hardly think that demonstrations bother me." I decided to qualify that. "Seemly demonstrations at work are in order, of course."

Duo arched an eyebrow at me and snorted, losing his sudden angry tenseness. I understood, then, that he had made a wrong assumption, one that had involved me being ashamed of being seen with him.

"Ass," I growled and he blinked at me and then laughed.

"Okay, I was being one," he snorted, "but I have a lot of reasons to think it."

It was lost on Heero. He was looking confused, not understanding what we were referring to. He was Duo's friend, but he really did lack a deeper understanding of the man his partner was. I forgave him that lack, because his concern for Duo was genuine. I even forgave him that he had tried to convince Duo that he should 'shelve' any relationship with me for the time being. While it had sounded good on the surface, I at least knew how very fragile Duo's self esteem was. He didn't need to be told how much he had failed, and how he shouldn't pretend not to feel bad about it. He needed, much more, to know that he hadn't lost everyone's respect because of it.

"I came to take you to lunch," I told Duo, but added quickly, "No foot long sandwiches, this time, though."

Duo rolled his eyes. "No Bamboo shoots and greens I can't identify either," he countered."I need red meat in my diet."

"If you go to the cafeteria down the street, you both can get what you want," Heero snapped.

Heero was jealous, I decided, but jealous that I was taking so much of his friend's time. I eyed Duo, he nodded encouragingly, and I asked Heero, "Come with us?"

He had pride, too, and he gave it a bit of thought to save face before he grunted and stood again. "I suppose that I am hungry."

We took the elevator to street level. Duo loosened his Preventer tie and took the lead. Heero said aside to me, "You need to stop eating out so much. It isn't good for Duo's stomach. He won't say it, but he's been carrying around a large bottle of antacid. You can cook?"

"Can Duo?" I wondered.

"A little," Heero replied.

"I am right here," Duo snapped back at us, turning and walking backwards, a small wind picking at his bangs. "If you want to chew someone out, Heero, then do it to me. I was making the decision to eat out, right along with Fei."

"Then you should have said something," I complained unhappily.

"I have an ongoing battle with my stomach," Duo replied. "Sometimes, I don't want it to have it's way, especially when I'm having a good time."

That warmed me. We smiled at each other. Heero looked uncomfortable. Duo turned and walked beside his partner, realizing he was making Heero feel like a third wheel. "So, how's your pursuit of the most wanted woman on Earth and in Space?"

Heero looked sour. "It's always, 'not now'," Heero replied. "She's... selfless."

"Selfish, if you ask me," Duo grumbled. "You'll both be too old if she's waiting for everything to get peaceful. People just aren't geared for it. There's always going to be something for her to run and settle, some squabble, some pinhead aristocrat who thinks he should be in charge..."

"If you ask me," Duo went on, "Noin, or Sally would be a lot better for you... maybe even Une."

"Do you think so?" Heero asked me and I glared back.

"They all have their... charm," I replied neutrally. I had dated them all and found them lacking, before I had decided that it wasn't a woman that I had wanted at all.

Duo didn't seem bothered by my past. He had enough of his own. We had decided not to trade tales. I didn't like the barb from Heero, and felt as if he were accusing me of not being truthful with Duo. I suppose that I was just being sensitive, but I didn't want Duo disturbed in anyway, especially not by fighting with his friend.

"Down, Heero," Duo told Heero with a dig into Heero's ribs. "We both know each other's stats, so stop doing the big brother thing and let me be the adult here, okay?"

Heero looked apologetic. "I'm sorry. I just can't imagine the two of you-"

"And I can't imagine you with Relena," I countered before he could voice my own doubts, my own confusion about my attraction to a man who really was so very different from me.

"Sometimes, opposites work," Duo interjected, but then shrugged and grinned. "If it don't, it don't, but me and Fei are giving it a shot, Heero. So, let's all shut up, and get food."

It didn't go too badly after that and I found myself, actually, dealing better with Yuy than we did on assignment, or in the office. The man had a definite switch when he wasn't working. He was relaxed, smiling a bit even, and more like a human being. I understood his friendship with Duo better, then, and then wondered if I were the same way. Was I different around Duo, when I was away from my well ordered life and job? It was something to consider, especially as an answer to our perplexing ability to actually have a relationship despite everything.

Once in the diner, Duo avoided ordering anything fried, settling for a simple chicken sandwich with a side of greens, and he drank water with his meal. Heero ate the basic four food groups and seemed content to mix them up into one food before eating them. I contemplated my turkey club sandwich and tried not to notice the stares.

Three of the most notorious men on Earth or in space, couldn't sit in a diner without attracting stares. I suppose it was Heero, more than Duo or I. His face had been plastered all over the vids after he had risked his life to save Earth. The media never seemed to tire of running documentaries and commentary about every aspect of his life. I doubted that the man could take a piss without a camera man capturing it on vid. The mental image made me snort in amusement. My companions looked at me, confused as to which one of them I was laughing at.

"I was thinking about our notoriety," I told them and they both relaxed, as if they had been ready for a pointed barb from me. It made me think about something entirely different, about our relationship up until then. I suppose that I had not been the friendliest man.

"You learn to ignore them," Heero replied with a shrug.

Duo glanced around us and looked uneasy. "I hate them," he growled. "If they knew..." He stopped that, too aware of listening devices that could pick up a heartbeat, let alone a dark secret inadvertently let slip.

"They never will," I assured him with conviction. Une would see to that. The man who had committed the crime would spend a very long time in a secret prison, where he would be warned that bragging about his crime on his release, might possible cause his unlamented death at the hands of Shinigami.

Duo looked troubled and then I saw him 'clamp down' mentally. He put his emotions, memories, and whatever the incident had spawned within him, into an inner box and closed it tight. I could see the danger in that, the consequences of someone accidentally opening that mental box. Heero was right. Duo needed to see a professional. Despite his assurances, he wasn't dealing with what had happened to him at all.

My own inner emotions were divided. They saw the trouble ahead, saw how difficult having someone like Duo in my life would be. I had searched for someone to complement me. I had wanted a perfect companion who wouldn't disrupt my career, who shared my likes and dislikes, and who would give me peace in my home life. Duo was none of those things and I doubted that he ever would be. My life with him confronted me at that moment, as crystal clear as if I owned some clairvoyance. It was unsullied by emotions and sexual attractions. It was cold and clinical. I saw arguments, emotional upheavals, mental unstableness, long years of recovery, of supporting and caring for Duo, of putting my career, my personal pursuit of perfection, behind me.

"Hey?" Duo said and I realized that they were both watching me, Heero with a dark, understanding look of irritation, and Duo with concern.

"Sandwich not to your liking?" Heero asked and I knew that he wasn't talking about my sandwich at all.

"You should send it back to the kitchen," Duo told me and, when I looked up into his eyes, I realized that he wasn't talking about my sandwich either. How perceptive of them both. I really didn't give them enough credit for intelligence. It was another facet of my personal arrogance.

"I am an arrogant, self centered, bastard, aren't I?" I heard my voice say and then blinked as I smiled at my own self judgment.

"Uhm, yes," Duo snickered. "But that can make you fun to be around, you know?"

I snorted, hurting and perplexed. "How?"

Duo grinned. "Makes it easier to play jokes on you and get you pissed off. Loads of fun for all."

Heero looked confused and then he managed a tight smile at my expense. He turned those dark blue eyes on me once more, waiting for me to choose, wondering if he would be spending longer than his lunch hour consoling Duo.

I reached over the table and took Duo's hand; broad, blunt fingers, calluses, and a few small cuts from what, I wasn't sure. That contact, and his uncertain smile, made my concerns and my life goals small and inconsequential. Was that healthy? Was it a bad thing that I would later regret, letting my heart over rule my head? I didn't know. I didn't want to know. I blinded myself to my view of the future. It was too cold, too unemotional. It didn't understand that that life had it's own fulfillment if the one you shared it with was someone deeply cared about.

"I think we just made the evening news," Duo told me in a stage whisper and winked.

I felt a deep, hot flush, realizing my indiscretion. I glanced around us and saw curious faces. I steeled myself and glared at them until they looked away. I was a private man, I didn't want to be the subject on everyone's nightly news cast, but I wouldn't allow them to make me think that my life was a shameful thing, either.

"What we have is honorable," I told Duo firmly and saw him almost 'glow' with relief and affection for me. It made me resolute in my decision and it made my flush of embarrassment turn into a warmth in my heart.

Heero made an uncomfortable cough and then said with a more genuine smile, "At least I'll be out of the news for awhile."

+

Dinner was at my place. Duo expressed doubt that he could 'pull off' anything that would please me, so I volunteered to attempt it. I could make small meals; rice, pork, and steamed vegetables mainly.I wasn't sure that such a limited menu was suitable, but I was as worried as Yuy about Duo's stomach, and the effect our constant take out meals were having on it.

Duo appeared at my door so close to the appointed time, that I was almost certain that he had been waiting outside my door, staring at his watch. The curious stare of a neighbor supported that feeling as I let him in and took his coat.

"Smells good," Duo said as he settled on my couch.

"It's nearly done," I assured him, and then nervously, "I hope it's to your liking."

Duo grinned at me and stretched out. "I'm sure it will be."

I felt odd as I went into the kitchen to finish cooking. I tried to pin down the feeling, analyzing it like any good agent as I plated the sticky rice and poured the pork stew into a large bowl at its center. Placing colorful, steamed vegetables around the outer rim, the design was distinctly flower shaped. Pleasing to the eye and, hopefully, pleasing to the stomach as well.

Of course, I decided at last, I was feeling committed. I had brought Duo into the sanctuary of my home and had cooked him a meal. Something inside of me was acknowledging that I had something else planned as well, something that included inviting Duo into the bedroom.Unconsciously, I had chosen the course of my life, a life at Duo's side.

My choice presumed a great deal, of course. It was sheer arrogance. There was a probability that Duo had not chosen me, that he had, instead, decided on friendship, at the very least. Certainly, we hadn't gone further than kissing, though that had been my decision, not his. Still, he hadn't made any attempts, lately, to transgress on that decision.It made me nervous, knowing that I was going to be the one to offer and face a possible rejection. I have never dealt with failure well, but I was determined to stay honorable and calm this time.I would have what I could of Duo Maxwell, even if it was only friendship.

"Did you see the Net news?" Duo wondered.

I grimaced as I decided on chilled spring water for drinks. "Yes," I replied, remembering our restaurant hand holding caught on someone's palmtop, and replayed over and over again on a variety page.

"Mad?"The question was loaded.I wasn't ready for emotional confrontations before dinner, though. I neatly sidestepped by bringing the food platter to the low coffee table, since my small place didn't contain a dinning room table, and centering it before Duo. He looked surprised, and then hungry. "This looks good."

"I hope it is," I replied and then went to get our drinks. I tried for a bland answer to his earlier question."I'm not angry about our actions, simply angry at a media who finds such things worthy of news."

"People are bored," Duo said dismissively. "They'll do anything to get a little pizzazz in their lives."

I laughed lightly as I set out the drinks and then sat down beside him. Bowls and utensils were already present. Duo stared at everything expectantly and then served himself when I gave an encouraging nod.I waited for his first bite, before serving myself. He made pleased sounds around his mouthful of stewed pork and rice.

Some tension left me then, but not all. The meal was the least of my challenges that night. I had to consider my next actions carefully. I was dealing with a man who had faced a brutal rape. I had every intention of asking that man to allow me to have sex with him.The potential for failure was high.

"Something wrong?" Duo asked after a swallow of water.

"I'm glad that you're enjoying the meal," I hedged.

Duo blinked and then looked suspicious. "Is that why you're sizing me up like a crime scene corpse?"

I felt a chill. "What? I wasn't! I was merely concerned..." That wasn't what I had wanted to say, but he had startled it from me.

"Concerned?" Duo repeated and then snorted. "I have a touchy stomach, Fei, but I'm not going to hurl your dinner."

"No!" I bit down on frustration. "I..."

"Trying to think of a way to let me down easy, then?" Duo wondered and then shrugged as he filled his bowl with more food."It's okay. I knew it was coming. It's nice that I get a good meal with my 'Dear John'."

"Duo Maxwell!" My temper startled him and he sat, poised with a spoonful of food halfway to his mouth, and eyes rolled sideways at me. "That isn't it at all, so shut up and eat."

He chuckled, relaxed, and began eating again.

The meal passed pleasantly, at least on the surface, but we both knew that something was going to be said afterward. I felt annoyed at myself for not being able to say it clearly, then, but I needed the time to gather my thoughts, and my courage.

I cleared the table, Duo murmuring in contentment about how well I cooked, and looking almost like a sleepy, sated, cat. I could see the excuse miles away. He would beg weariness and leave, everything unsaid.

I settled on the couch again, steeled for rejection. My body echoed my mental tension, sitting ramrod straight, face like stone, and shoulders squared. Duo looked ready to deliver the excuse, but I forestalled him, reaching out and taking his hand.

"I wish to make suit for your continued companionship," I said formally.

Duo looked confused. "We're friends, Fei," he replied. "That's not going away any time soon."

He didn't understand and I was being an idiot. I tried again. "I would like to request..." I swallowed, gripped his hand hard, and borrowed some of his simple brashness. "I want you to move in, Duo. I want you to be a part of my life."

He looked shocked and then clamped down on emotion. He replied, as if suggesting a military exercise, "I don't think you know what you want. I think you just want in my pants so bad, it's screwed with your head. Let's fuck, and then, after, you can rethink the whole moving in business."

I went white, I was sure of it. My hand tightened on his until he winced. "I will never 'fuck' you," I retorted, shocked at my own crudeness, at the harsh certainty of my tone. "That's not what I feel for you."

It made him angry and I wasn't prepared as he jerked his hand away and stood, snatching up his coat. He looked wild as he shouted at me, "What makes you so special? Everybody fucks Duo Maxwell! Can't you get it up? Is that why you won't take your turn? What do I have to do, suck you hard and spread my legs on the floor to get you going? Or maybe you're into bathrooms and handcuffs, too? That is what got this all started, right? You seeing good old 'fuck me' Maxwell getting it on in the Preventer john."

He was crying and turning towards the door to hide it. My world turned upside down as my heart clenched. Why hadn't I realized that my constant rejection of sex was making him feel just as used as his rape? I had been rejecting him, a man who was sensual and enjoyed being with others. I had been confirming his impression that he wasn't good enough for me, that he was marked by his rape, and that I didn't want what his rapist had discarded after the act. A man had told him that he was a whore, and that he deserved what had happened to him.I had been the ultimate snob, the final confirmation of those words.

I left the couch and caught him by the jacket, anchoring him to my life. I pulled him toward me and embraced him. He fought briefly and then relaxed against me suddenly, sniffling and hot with shame.

"You are my world, now," I told him. "I simply don't wish to show you disrespect, to push when you aren't ready."

Duo looked up into my eyes. His were red and watery. "I am ready. I... please?"

That he should beg me... I held him tighter and replied, "I cherish you. I have always wanted you. All of you."

Duo took hold of my shirt with both hands and gave me a small shake as he said firmly, "Then let's fuck."

He pulled me into the bedroom and I laughed at myself. Duo was loud, crude, and the bravest man I have ever known. If I couldn't accept that, then we didn't have any business being together. He was heat personified; sensual and open about his feelings and needs. An attack on his body hadn't changed that. I was the one who had been making him doubt himself.

"So," I said as we discarded clothes and stretched out on my bed. "Was Yuy any good?"

Duo grinned at me as I smoothed hands over his tightly muscled body. "Things are always good when it's hot and heavy," he replied with a snicker. "The laugh factor was a lot better, though. I'll be able to use it on him for the rest of our lives."

I chuckled and kissed his skin. We had needed a moment to lighten the mood. I think he knew it. Now, we turned more serious.

Duo Maxwell was hot, handsome, and very good in bed. When I sank my heat into him, and he opened his legs to me, it was far from submission. We rode each other, a powerful rhythm, giving and taking with equal abandon. It was everything that I had hoped for, and all my fears laid to rest. Fear had no place with us, or the shadow of an attack in a Preventer restroom.That was Duo, strong to the core, and always looking forward, forgetting consequences and past mistakes.It could make him an infuriating man, as well, but that was something, I knew, I could live with.

Tangled in the sheets afterward, I kissed him and then whispered my vows against his lips. He accepted with a smile and then rolled me over onto my back, kissing me and making his own. Nothing is perfect, and there would be days of anger and frustration, but, I knew, they would be small price to pay for having Duo in my life.

 END

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