Author: Kracken
1x2, 3x4

Opposites + Part 1
Duck and Cover

"Say something."

Duo jumped and then glared at Sally Po. "Don't sneak up on me!"

She laughed. "I was just walking down the hallway. I was hardly 'sneaking'."

Duo jammed his hands in his overall pockets and hid his blush under the brim of his hat. At eighteen, he still looked the same as when he had been a fifteen year old Gundam pilot: Long in the leg, a little wide in the shoulders, and a face that was cheekbone and all smile. That smile, for once, was twisted into a grimace.

"Why don't you talk to him?" Sally urged.

"Because he doesn't want to talk to me," Duo retorted. "He never did. I'm not his kind of people."

She sighed in exasperation at his shyness and odd lack of self esteem, at least in this area, and peered around the corner of the hallway to look at the object of Duo's scrutiny. She ducked back not a moment later, looking guilty. "He saw me and he's coming this way," she warned breathlessly, but when turned, she found Duo already retreating quickly down the hallway with his armload of packages.

"Something wrong?" Heero asked in his cool voice.

"Uh, no," Sally dissembled as she turned to him and gave him her best 'innocent eyes'.

Heero had grown taller, since the war, and his face had settled into more mature lines. His dark gaze was still brooding, though, and he looked very dangerous and capable in his crisp Preventer uniform. Imposing, Sally thought, and could easily put herself in Duo's position; afraid, but appreciative of the man's dark, good looks.

"Are you waiting for someone?" Heero persisted, as if Sally's actions were suspect. Perhaps they were. As head of the terrorist task force, looking for anything out of the ordinary was his job. His gaze swept past her and down the hallway. "I thought that I saw Duo..."

"He's delivering packages," Sally said quickly. "He has clearance."

"I know that," Heero retorted softly. His eyes stayed on the end of the hallway as if he could see Duo in another part of the building somehow. "Security logs tell me that he delivers packages almost every day. I find it strange that I almost never see him, though."

Sally stifled an urge to look surprised. She kept her voice casual as she asked, "Did you want to see him?"

Heero suddenly brought his dark blue eyes back to her. Something flickered across his face. Sally was almost sure that it was the barest hint of embarrassment.

"I'm almost certain he's avoiding me," Heero finally replied.

"Well, you are..." Sally searched for a non threatening descriptive word. "... rather... intimi... imposing... in your position."

Heero frowned, but then his face smoothed out into something that was an attempt at blankness. "I see," he said softly.

"Do you?" Sally wondered in a knowing voice, quirking an eyebrow at him.

Heero looked at her in confusion, "Is this... Are you hinting at something?"

Sally crossed her arms over her chest and glared in exasperation. "Apparently not. So, why do you think Duo is avoiding you? Do you think he's secretly pursuing his terrorist ways and is afraid you'll get wind of it and arrest him?"

"No," Heero replied with certainty.

"Because...," Sally prompted.

"He's on a regular schedule of observation," Heero replied matter-of-factly, "Everyone with high level ties to the war is on the list."

"Including me?" Sally asked with some trepidation.

"Of course," Heero replied.

Sally grunted sourly, "can see why Duo's afraid of you now. Maybe he's better off..." Sally stopped and then sighed, attempting to keep her temper under control. "You really out to sit down and have coffee with the man, Heero, instead of planting listening devices and hidden cameras."

"I..." Heero's _expression was almost vulnerable and then it closed shut like a trap and became as blank as stone. "I have work to do."

Sally snorted as she watched Heero go. "Idiots."

+

"Running from Yuy again?" Wu Fei asked as he passed Duo in the hall. Duo ducked down under his hat brim and clutched his packages tighter. Wu Fei sneered. "Coward."

"Asshole," Duo growled back as if his response was automatic and well used, but then he shoved two packages into Wu Fei's arms. "These are yours."

"Interesting service approach," Wu Fe observed dryly. "Insult your customer and deliver an hour late."

"It's in one piece," Duo snapped back. "Try another service and see what you get."

"Duo," Wu Fei sighed, suddenly becoming more serious."This fascination with Yuy is unrealistic. He is a war hero, celebrated in space and on Earth. He is a top Preventer agent with a very important position. You can't expect someone... even though you were a Gundam pilot... to be interested in..." He let the sentence end unfinished, knowing that Duo knew what he was trying to say. It was, after all, an old argument.

Duo looked pained, but then his _expression firmed defiently. "Okay, so I didn't stay in Preventers."

"You were discharged," Wu Fei reminded him.

Duo's jaw worked, "Okay, yeah... but..."

"You are a delivery man," Wu Fei pointed out. "Without any claim to fame in even that respect. You are mediocre, and that's being kind, and you have squandered all of the opportunities afforded to you. You can't expect Heero to want to associate..." Duo's hot glare made him stop. Wu Fei finished strongly, wanting to drive his point home hard enough to stick, "and you don't even know his sexual orientation."

"Yes, I do," Duo replied with heated certainty. "Whatever you think, Heero's only human. Guys 'look', Fei, and Heero wasn't giving the 'look' to any women that I saw."

"Was he 'looking' at you, then?" Wu Fei wondered in distaste. This was not the way that he wanted the conversation to turn.

Duo shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, but he answered honestly, "No, Danforth in accounting was bending over to get some water from the cooler. Heero was admiring the view."

"And you were hiding behind a corner again, or was it a potted plant that time?" Wu Fei wondered sarcastically.

"Ha, ha," Duo bit out. "Think I'll be going now, Fei. It hasn't been fun."

Wu Fei said, very serious, "Duo, it's been years since you were discharged. You are more mature. I do believe that you could attempt Preventers again and do well, if you applied yourself. You could make yourself worthy of Heero's notice."

Duo shook his head sharply. "No! I couldn't keep pulling that trigger, Fei. That's why I was discharged. I'd rather deliver packages to bastard agents."

Wu Fei looked irritated and then he waved a hand curtly in dismissal. "Then perhaps you should hurry? I think that top package is for Noin."

"I've been trying to go, but someone keeps talking," Duo growled back and then took off down the corridor.

+

Noin was walking around her office, nose in a report. She gestured to her desk without looking up from her work and said distractedly, "There. Thanks, Duo."

Duo put her package down on the desk top. "Welcome, ma'am," he replied, tipping his hat with a nervous twitch of his fingers as he hurried back out of her office. Noin always made him nervous. She seemed so much older than he was and so much more self assured. He couldn't forget that they had once been enemies as well.

At the front security desk, Duo began to breathe a sigh of relief. Once again, he had managed to get his job done, catch a glimpse of Heero, and avoid having the man see him in return. He considered that a good day.

"Duo?" An elderly security officer called just before his hand touched the front, glass doors of the building. He looked back. The woman smiled at him sweetly. "Heero Yuy would like a package delivered. He requests that you see him in his office as soon as possible, please."

Duo cringed inwardly. "Uh..." Words failed him. He wiped his suddenly sweating hands on his uniform. "O-okay," he was finally able to squeak, and began walking back into the building, his mind scrambling for what to do next.

He knows, Duo thought... or he doesn't. He glanced up at the security cameras along the corridors and wondered if Heero was watching him. It made his shoulders twitch. In and out of the war, he'd never liked being watched, recorded, and filed away somewhere for future reference. It went against everything that he had learned in his rough life to be a blip on anyone's map.

Heero's office. The door was open, like a trap ready to spring. Duo swallowed hard and tried to banish that impression. Heero was just a man, like any other man... who could kill with every part of his body, blow up thee installations in an afternoon, and snap metal in half like rice paper. Duo stopped walking. He wondered if he could just quite his job and run for it.

It wasn't as if he were afraid, physically, of the man, Duo thought. More like... intimidated. He seemed larger than life... powerful... handsome... secure... absolutely sure of who he was and where he was going in life. He was the letter of the law. Super Preventer. Une's star. Heero the hero.

Duo straightened his clothes self consciously and raked fingers through his tangled bangs. He'd been a lot more cock sure during the war, so sure that Heero was as much of a nobody as he was. Things were different now. He'd tried to climb that same ladder of opportunity, but he hadn't been cut out for rules and regulations and wearing a tie and a badge every day.

Duo cleared his throat and stepped into Heero's office.

There was a small box on the edge of Heero's desk, lined up with the corner as if he had taken a ruler out and measured. Duo felt a bit of relief, but Heero's dark blue eyes were regarding him and they were as hot and as unreadable as ever.

"Do you have something for me?" Duo asked and then stammered, "A-A package? Do you have a package for me..? Uhm..." He stopped and blushed, his mind filling in a dozen innuendos to go along with his words. He choked out, blushing furiously, "A delivery? They said you had a delivery?"

Heero was frowning and then he said, "The package isn't very large, a quick delivery..."He stopped and there was a faint blush on his cheeks as he reached out and touched the box. He cleared his throat. "Here."

"O-okay," Duo was looking down at his feet, anywhere but at Heero. The man must think that he was a class A idiot now, if he didn't before.

Duo picked up the box and tucked it under his arm. "Will do.... uh... later." He turned and began to walk out of the office, but Heero's voice stopped him.

"Delivery service... It just doesn't seem like you," Heero said, puzzled. "Are you... doing well?"

Duo's smart mouth engaged, trying to save him from death by embarrassment "Yeah, I'm at the top of my field," he replied with a chuckle, "Nobody takes packages, from point A to point B, like me. Really, it's the best career move I ever made."

Heero stared at Duo's back, at the long braid that trembled slightly with the tension in his shoulders. Duo wasn't joking, no matter what his tone implied, Heero decided. "I didn't mean..." he began, but Duo was already walking away. He sat back in his chair and swore under his breath. Why had it been so hard to talk to Duo?

Wu Fei, who had been standing near the door, followed after Duo and said, "Pathetic."

Duo glared back at him, but didn't stop walking. "So, you're the office snitch, besides being an agent?"

"Only on my coffee break," Wu Fei replied, "and especially when Heero Yuy asks if I have any packages to deliver. You can give that back to me by the way. It's a stapler."

Duo tossed the package over his shoulder and Wu Fei caught it deftly.

"You are going to ask me why he wanted to see you?" Wu Fei pressed with a raised eyebrow.

Duo's jaw worked as he was forced to stop for the elevator. "I know why. He wanted to see what a loser I was up close, just like you do."

Wu Fei sighed and then asked in exasperation, "Do you consider yourself a loser?"

Duo glared sideways at him. "No."

"Then what does it matter what we think?" Wu Fei wondered. Duo was silent. "Maybe it only matters what Heero thinks?" Wu Fei pried.

Duo looked down at his feet. The doors of the elevator opened and he stepped inside. He reached back and kept the doors from closing. "Okay... why?"

"Why?" Wu Fei echoed in a mocking tone, enjoying his moment of power.

"Why... Why did Heero want to pretend to deliver a package?" Duo wanted to punch Wu Fei, especially when the man refused to reply until he looked at him.

Wu Fei sighed and then replied, "Maybe he just wanted to see you."

"I already said that!" Duo retorted angrily.

"No, you didn't," Wu Fei replied.

Duo made a frustrated noise and then let the doors close.

Wu Fei muttered, "Pathetic."

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