by Kracken
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this
Warnings: Violence. Language. Guys maybe having sex with guys (Or maybe just thinking about it real hard) Graphic. Bad Heero. Confused Duo. Manic depressive Zechs. Slightly ooc.
To Miki, who is always so enthusiastic, but I can't thank, because I don't have her email address. Thanks for buying my book! :)
Thanks to all of my fans who are still sticking with me in my moment of 6x2 madness and thanks very, very much to everyone who bought my book. If anyone else is interested, please got to my bio for information.
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The Lost Soldiers series #2
Burning Brightly

"No, don't call the police," Zechs said into his cell phone. "Let him do what he wants within reason. Charge everything to my account."

Zechs lowered his phone and met the puzzled, bored, and annoyed expressions of the dignitaries seated all around him.

"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, for the interruption," Zech apologized smoothly. "We were talking about subchapter nine alpha and how it could be improvised to cover the law one eight four Zero. I think..."

+

Duo lay on his back amid piles of dirty dishes, tumbled glasses, and expensive pillows. He burped and giggled, smiling inanely at the ceiling as he waited for the police to arrive. The opulent hotel room, the abused wait staff, the loud music from the room stereo system, and the continuous, empty promises to pay, were all culminating, rising higher and higher on the strength of his boldness, but destined to tumble and fall and wash up on the shore of outrage.

"Shinigami is at least going to be warm and have a full stomach before he gets locked in a cell," Duo sighed and then giggled again.

It was a definite rush, being daring again, being the outrageous, death defying young man who had been the thieving terror of L2. Duo had pulled the same stunt there several times, but then he hadn't used the name of one of the most famous dignitaries in Outer Space or on Earth as his credit, and he hadn't waited around for the consequences to catch up to him either. That was just self destructive, yet it was exactly how he was feeling at the moment.

"Damn Heero anyway!" Duo growled, found a comfortable place in the pillows that didn't bother his bandaged wounds and bruises too much, and then tried to sleep without dreams; the sleep of the innocent, the sleep of the child he had never been.

+

Heero Yuy paced the small, two bedroom apartment.

"Why doesn't that baka call?" He grumbled and glared at the phone as if it were the phone's fault. Three days to cool down, and Duo was always ready to apologize and try again. It was day four now. Heero was beginning to worry. A distraction. He hated it. He had an important job and important duties in the Preventers. He didn't need to be worrying about an irresponsible, long haired, ex pilot.

Heero rubbed at the bandage on his knuckles. It was still raw from beating Duo. Maybe he had been too rough? It was often hard for Heero to tell. He had been trained to kill, not to coddle and be wary of breaking bones. If only Duo hadn't argued. If only he hadn't lost yet another job. If only he hadn't been so damned unconcerned, irreverent, flippant, and imperfect. Heero supposed the last bothered him most of all.

Heero was neat, orderly, on time, and conscientious about every detail of his life. He hadn't wanted to be saddled with a young man who was the complete opposite, yet, during the war, they had often found themselves forced to be on the same missions, in the same houses, and even in the same rooms. They had found a balancing point, of sorts, and they had managed to live in relative peace... peace, that was the root of their problems now. Duo still acted as if he were in the war, on the edge, ready to die with each rising of the sun. He couldn't bring himself to care about every day life. He couldn't get past the old habit of living what life he thought he had left to the fullest. Doing that didn't include laundry, dishes, jobs, and most responsibilities. Heero had slipped, with surprising ease, into his new life as a Preventer, transitioning smoothly from outlaw freedom fighter to responsible, law abiding citizen.

Heero rubbed at his knuckles again and glared at the phone once more. Where was Duo now? How badly was he hurt? They were friends, as much as he sometimes wished that they weren't, but the silence of the apartment was growing unbearable. Heero was finding that he didn't like it, hated it enough to even put up with Duo despite what he now knew about him. Besides being the irresponsible slob that he was, Heero had also figured out that the young man was gay. He didn't even think that baka Duo knew it himself. It had enraged Heero at first, finding Duo ogling him as he had come out of the shower, but it had been the double combination of that shock and seeing Duo counting money that he couldn't possibly have gotten in his unemployed state. Duo had taken to stealing again. Heero had snapped at that and he had lost control.

Heero recalled clearly coming down from his adrenalin rush of anger and finding Duo broken at his feet. The frantic call to 911 and the wait had been the longest in his life. For some reason, that small space of time, until the paramedics had arrived and assured Heero that Duo was going to live, had seemed more frantic, painful, and desperate than when he had blown up a rebel stronghold with Relena inside and had been forced to wait until confirmation that she had survived it. It bothered him that Duo could mean so much more to him. It seemed a weakness and, to Heero, it was completely unfathomable.

He should be glad that Duo was gone for good, Heero thought. He should be tossing out the young man's things for real, not just saying so out of anger, yet Heero didn't make any motion to do so. It came to him that, if he kept those things, Duo would have to, at some point, come back for them. Heero was uncomfortable with self knowledge, knowing that he longed for that very thing.

Heero picked up the phone and began calling hospitals again. He had punched Duo in his damaged ribs. He remembered the impact of his fist, wanting to shut the baka up and stop his pathetic attempts to explain why he had lost another job and why he couldn't get his head out of the war and into regular life. Maybe he had done the young man some real damage.

Heero had heard all of Duo's excuses before, time and time again, and Heero had swallowed them, nodded sympathetically to them, and tried to help Duo as best he could. That last time though, he had stopped listening and his fist had expressed his anger and frustration. He had been glad to see Duo leave... or so he had thought. He didn't want to admit to himself that, if Duo walked through the front door, then and there, he would gladly forgive and try and help the ex Gundam pilot once more. Duo was his friend, almost his only friend, or at least one of the few that had lived the life he had and could understand him because of it. Heero knew that he would find it hard to live without that. He had to find Duo. He had to bring him back home.

+

Zechs looked slowly, unbelieving, over the disaster of the hotel room. How could the young man eat so much and cause so much damage in so little time and... where was he?

Zechs stepped over the trash, over the plates, cups, and snack bags, walked around a television that had been placed on the floor, stepped over a childish attempt to stack furniture, and almost stepped on Duo snuggled deep in a mound of pillows and blankets on the floor.

Zechs blinked, startled, and then cautiously crouched, ready to spring back. He was facing a Gundam pilot with hair trigger reflexes. Zechs was a soldier, had lived with nothing but soldiers for as long as he could remember. He knew how to behave around them. A person startled a soldier out of sleep at peril of his life.

Duo was very pale and his bangs stirred with every labored breath. There was a trickle of blood at the corner of his lips.

Zechs straightened as if he had been shot and he flipped his cell phone open. Quickly, he called for an ambulance. That done, he crouched again and pulled the blankets off of Duo cautiously.

Duo had his arms wrapped around his ribs as if he were in pain even in his sleep... but he wasn't sleeping, Zechs realized with a chill. He was in shock.

"What has happened to you now?" Zechs wondered angrily. He unwrapped Duo's arms and unbuttoned the young man's shirt. Underneath a gold cross was the same crisscrossing of bandages Zechs had seen at their first encounter, only now there was blood seeping into the bandages.

"It looks as if you need me again," Zechs said grimly, but couldn't help the warmth of pleasure that mingled with his concern. The scale was tipping his way. Duo owed him a great deal now and Zechs intended to collect that debt fully.

+


[cont]