by: Kracken
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/Male sex,graphic, violence, language, drug addiction.


Crossing Paths + Part 12
Slices


Duo counted all of his pills yet again while Heero talked to him patiently and softly. Both of them were bruised and disheveled. Heero had a split lip and a black eye. Duo had bruised ribs and arms that felt as if Heero had almost pulled them out of the sockets. Sitting opposite each other, at the table in Duo's room, the pills and the pill bottles were between them. They had a truce of sorts, but it was tenuous at best. Duo's eyes were wild, manic, his mind already working out a plan to acquire more pills.

"You have enough for full doses for a week," Heero was saying, "after that, I will have you reduce your dose gradually until all the pills are gone."

"Two and a half weeks," Duo grated, fingers still busily counting and putting the pills into their correct bottles. "I have to visit the government doctors in two days. They'll prescribe me more."

"You will need to be at a full dose when they examine you. We don't want them to get suspicious," Heero told him. "By the time of your next appointment, if Quatre doesn't convince them to allow his own doctors to treat you instead, you will be cured of your addiction-"

"Or dead," Duo cut in.

Heero nodded. A soldier through and through, he didn't soften a blow when there was a dangerous mission to perform. "Or dead," he agreed. "If you survive, we will need to get you off planet before they discover what we have done."

"Well, Mr. Twenty Miracles Before Breakfast, Yuy," Duo snarled, "Unless you plan to chain me, I'm getting more pills."

Heero reached out to touch a bottle. Duo slapped his hand away and pulled the bottles closer to himself, the frantic fight still fresh in his mind. Duo wasn't proud of his complete panic attack, but Heero had shocked him to his core. He had expected something, a miracle, from Heero, some training technique that would have allowed him to give up his pills without pain. The last thing he had expected was for Heero to do something as brutal as dumping and flushing half of his pills down the toilet.

Heero was frowning, confused. "I thought that you had decided to trust me and to give up your pills?"

"Not like that!" Duo snarled back, amethyst eyes flashing with fury.

"Then, how?" Heero wondered. Duo suspected sarcasm and anger, but Heero's face showed only a raised eyebrow and a stony expression.

Duo frowned. He struggled with pride and embarrassment and then he admitted. "I can't stop taking them... I can't decide to do that. I'll fight you, Heero. I'll call you every dirty name in the book and I'll probably try to hurt you again. You may not... you may not care about me by the time this is over with."

Heero replied carefully, "Are you asking me to force you, Duo?"

Duo half turned away sourly, but he was scooping his pills into his bag while he was doing it. "That's the problem, Heero. I can't 'ask' you to do that. I don't want to give up the pills. That's what addiction's all about."

Heero nodded, not revealing what he was thinking. Instead, he simply began to speak as if Duo hadn't just spoken of refusing to give up the drugs, "We will need to start your training immediately. Strengthening exercises and physical control techniques will help you to regulate your body when the withdrawal symptoms begin to manifest themselves. You will also need to eat well for optimum functioning capability-"

"I'm not a machine Heero," Duo retorted, "Just tell me that I have to do the impossible and leave it at that."

"Not very precise," Heero complained.

Duo smiled, but it was a thin veil over his anxiety. "I think it is," Duo shot back, but then shook his head wearily. "I'll still go along with your workout program, Heero, that much I can do, but... the rest I can't, and won't, promise. I know what I want and I know what I hope for, but, right now, the drugs are stronger than those things." He flexed his shoulders and winced. "Today, I have to bow out of the program though. The stress, and the wrestling match we just had, on a hard tile floor, kind of soured me for any other kind of fun."

"I didn't hurt you?" Heero wondered sharply.

Duo flexed his arms and shoulders again "They still work, but they hurt."

"I was forced to immobilize you," Heero apologized, "I miscalculated. I didn't realize that you would attack me so forcefully. You are stronger than I imagined you to be."

Duo grinned, "I bet you say that to all the cute, scrawny guys."

"Hn," was Heero's dour reply, either not understanding the joke or not appreciating it. Duo thought that it might be both.

"Is your eye all right?" Duo asked, a little more serious.

"It will heal." Heero stood up, fingering his cut lip and his swollen eye as he added, "You were in a panic and not executing your attack in an effective manner."

"Meaning; I fight like a girl when I have a druggie episode?" Duo's grin turned hard all in an instant. "First a compliment and now insults. You're a fickle guy, Heero."

Heero thought about that, trying to determine Duo's mood. "You're frightened," he surmised at last.

"Damn, fucking right, I'm frightened!" Duo exclaimed and then controlled himself with an effort, nostrils flaring as he lowered his voice and finished tightly, "I'm going to keep fighting you tooth and nail, Heero, and I won't be able to help myself. Don't make the mistake of underestimating me again. I might hit you with something more deadly than a toilet bowl brush next time."

"Acknowledged," Heero replied ruefully and then, as if it were a part of the same conversation. "You should dress appropriately."

"For what?" Duo wondered. "Is there a special out fit for loosing one's mind?"

Heero shook his head impatiently. "No, for exercising."

Duo frowned. "I just told you that-"

"That you wished me to force you, since you are unable to make the decisions for improving your health on your own," Heero explained.

"That's not what I meant," Duo replied irritably.

"We have a limited amount of time," Heero argued. "You may be tired, but we cannot afford for you to lose a day resting."

"Fuck you, Yuy, because rest is exactly what I'm going to do." Duo stood up, intending to go and lie down on the bed.

Heero didn't touch him, but he did move to stand in front of Duo, tense, hands poised as if he were preparing to be attacked. Duo glared. Heero responded with an expression that displayed every ounce of concern and.... yes, love, he felt for Duo. Duo stared at that expression in fascination and disbelief. Torture, pure and simple, was ahead for Duo and he was finding it hard to force himself to begin it. Duo knew that. Heero was offering to strong arm him into the starting gate of the race to regain his life. Heero was giving him the choice to allow it.

Duo shuddered, gritted his teeth, and then let go of his fear. A hard core of determination, and undefeated endurance, inside of Duo, wrapped up in his love for Heero and the desire to have a future with him, forced the words from his lips and set his body in motion. "I'll put on some shorts and gym shoes." He was rewarded by a warm smile from Heero and, Duo thought, he would have done a lot more than face physical difficulties to see that expression become more familiar to Heero and himself.

It wasn't easy. Heero took Duo back to the mountain of rock, hooked straps to him, and simply told him to climb. Duo struggled, panted, saw the world go dim more than once, and cursed Heero whenever he could get a breath. Heero climbed beside him, not saying anything, helping and encouraging Duo by his strong presence and a steadying hand when he needed it. With that help, Duo made it a few yards up the sheer wall and then dropped back down, repelling with the rope. He still remembered his skill in that respect and he felt a flush of pleasure when Heero nodded approvingly.

Duo tapped his chest, sweating and panting as Heero unbuckled him again from the straps, and said, "Shinigami is still in here. He just needs some more room to operate." Meaning his alter ego needed a better body.

"We'll give him that room," Heero replied, as if talking about an imaginary God Of Death living inside of Duo was reasonable. "Weights next."

"Shit!" Duo swore as he wiped his dripping brow with the back of a trembling hand. "I hate weights!"

Heero led Duo through a door at the back of the echoing chamber. It led to an exercise room incredibly fitted out with every machine imaginable. It was strange that it was empty.

"Doesn't anyone use this stuff?" Duo wondered as Heero helped him sit on a weight bench.

"Quatre does," Heero said, "and I have on occasion. The staff is only allowed in during certain hours."

"No wonder Quatre is so built," Duo replied as he stretched out on his back and looked up through the barbell supports at Heero. "He works out all of his post war syndrome in here." Heero frowned and Duo explained.

"Come on, Heero, we all have it, right? We all have to deal with horrible memories of killing and destruction. Trowa flushes the bad feelings out by being a target for a knife thrower and sticking his head into the mouths of lions. Wu Fei, I'm sure, still practices his martial arts and kicks butt once in awhile when he can't hide in his studies any longer. I stayed drugged up and drowned myself in nightclubs and dance raves. You do impossible missions and pursue a cause. All of it keeps our minds from thinking about blood, guts, and dying people, and gives us that adrenaline rush we can never quiet get rid of the need for." Heero looked as if he wanted to avoid talking about the subject. His face just 'closed' and became that inscrutable mask Duo had been used to during the war, the one he had thought would never crack. Heero didn't reply. Instead, he put the lightest weights on the barbell and then stood at Duo's head and spotted him.

Heero had changed into black, spandex shorts and a loose, white tank top that displayed his large, rounded shoulders to advantage. If Duo squinted, he could just make out the nubs of his nipples. It was strange, Duo thought, it was much easier to look at Heero and admire his body when Heero put on that soldier mask. For some reason, it dehumanized him and relieved Duo of the worry of bothering Heero or being judged by him. A face like that seemed impossible to offend or embarrass. A face like that didn't ask for the same considerations of any other man. Without the presence of the emotional Heero that Duo was still trying to believe in and come to terms with, it was easy to think more clearly, to consider the physical without getting knotted up about the emotional. Free to admire as he tried to lift the barbell, Duo came to a quick conclusion, one that had repeatedly come to him throughout his association with Heero Yuy. The man was absolutely hot!

Heero asked, startling Duo, as if he were reading Duo's mind. "What is it like to be bisexual?"

Duo almost dropped the barbell on himself. Heero steadied it automatically and Duo looked up past Heero's full, spandex covered crotch, past his washboard abs, his enticing nipples, up a strong neck, and into his handsome features. Cobalt blue eyes studied Duo as if he were a particularly intriguing puzzle.

"Are you trying to distract me?" Duo asked in a voice that threatened to crack and embarrass him. "Do you think that weird conversation is going to keep me from realizing that I'm stretching out every puny muscle in my body and that I'm going to hurt like Hell later on?"

Heero looked surprised and then he slowly shook his head. "I thought that we should learn more about each other. Lifting weights occupies the body, not the mind. If it is distracting to your concentration..."

"Well," Duo replied, coughed nervously, and then admitted, "Piloting a Gundam makes you good at multi tasking, but I'm way the hell out of shape..."

"Consider your reply then," Heero suggested. "You can answer my question when you rest."

"What specifically do you want to know?" Duo asked.

"Several things," Heero told him. "My first question is, what about women do you find sexually attractive?"

"Okay... Let me think and I'll get back to you," Duo replied, feeling a blush sting his face. He lifted the weights again and silence reigned except for his grunts and panting breaths.

"Enough?" Heero asked after three lifts.

Duo thankfully gave the weights into Heero's hands. "Are you that eager for an answer?" he wondered as Heero put the weights into their stand.

"Curious," Heero corrected. "You accused me of not knowing you. I said the same to you about me. We need to rectify our uninformed situation."

Duo relaxed, trying to get his breath. When he could think clearly again, he had a reply ready. "Well, it's going to sound sleazy."

"Sleazy?" Heero echoed.

Duo looked away and narrowed his eyes on the ceiling, finding it hard to look at Heero when he replied, "Yeah, well, it's not real high minded, the reason I like women. It's..." Duo scratched at his scalp. Partly to relieve an inch caused by his sweat and his own embarrassment. "I like between their legs. It just makes me warm all over... no, I'm not sure why. It's not even about doing them there, or anything. I just have this urge to..." Duo winced.

"What?" Heero prompted.

"Stick my face there and just stay for awhile," Duo managed to force out. "Stupid, isn't it? Guess I'm just a pervert or something. I've heard other guys talk. They like breasts and asses, mostly. As far as the whole feminine versus masculine thing though, I lean towards guys every time."

"I feel protective when I am with women," Heero revealed suddenly and Duo looked up at him and saw that Heero was distant and thoughtful. "I have never been sexually attracted to any part of them, though."

"Oh," Duo replied. "Then you are a hundred percent gay?" When Heero nodded, Duo asked, "and you're not a virgin?"

"Yes to the first question and no to the second."

"Oh." Duo was sounding stupid in his own ears. "So chalk one up for you, you have experience. I've come close, but, I'm afraid my only experience is some x-rated vids."

"How do you know that you are bisexual then?" Heero was looking at him intently then, worry in his voice. "Sometimes, with some of my sexual partners, they were curious and excited until we tried to initiate the actual act, then they reacted negatively and changed their minds. They discovered that they didn't want to experience sex with another male in reality."

"Oh," Duo winced and decided not to say that word again. "Well, I may be stunted physically to the point where sex is a bit of a non-starter with me, but," Duo found himself staring at Heero's crotch, the enticing curve and line of his genitals beneath. "I definitely get excited by men, Heero, so don't worry."

Heero was quiet, digesting the new data. Duo imagined Heero placing it in his carefully labeled mental file; Duo Maxwell.

"So," Duo asked, proud that he had thought of another word besides, 'oh'. "Is this a Heero Yuy way of asking if I want to have sex with you?"

"Yes," Heero replied simply and waited.

"Oh." Damn! Duo thought, grimaced, and then said more calmly than he felt. "I ,uh, well, I'm not a normal guy right now, Heero. Before I started taking the drugs, I probably would have laid men or women by the Gundam load. I had a pretty randy libido. Right now though, I put myself to sleep." He went on quickly, hating himself, hating to have to make that kind of declaration, but knowing that, if he didn't Heero was going to think that Duo was rejecting him when he said no. "I'm still a virgin for a couple of reasons, that being the biggest."

"What are the others?" Heero pushed.

Duo rubbed at his sore arms and sighed. "People have always wanted to do it with me for the wrong reasons. I'm not going to let some woman tell everyone that Duo Maxwell did her or have some guy shout to every news vid that he stuck it in my ass."

Heero frowned at that crudeness and Duo took note of it. Heero had admitted before that he wasn't experienced in relationships, only sex. It seemed odd that he would be uncomfortable about it.

"I wouldn't do that," Heero promised firmly. "It wouldn't..." he searched for the words to express his strong emotions and convictions. "It wouldn't be just sex between us. I think it will be much different than what I have had before. "

Duo stared and then, feeling a glow start in the vicinity of his heart, he said. "I know, Heero. I don't have anything to go on, but, I think it has to be that way, too."

Duo reached up to take hold of the barbells again. He smiled lopsidedly, trying to lighten the serious mood. "When I'm off the drugs, maybe we'll find out together what it's like." He began to lift the barbell, staring pointedly at Heero's crotch. "Until then, and before the real pain kicks in, I think I'll enjoy this exercise the most. It gives me a good view of part of my goal." He smirked.

Heero looked down into Duo's eyes and his hands closed over Duo's, stopping him from continuing. "Why wait?"

Duo frowned bitterly. "Don't make me keep repeating it, Heero. I already told you I can't-"

"It's not just sex," Heero repeated. He leaned under the bar and Duo suddenly found soft, warm lips devouring his own. "Say Yes," Heero begged around his kiss, "There might not be another opportunity."

Heero broke the kiss but his eyes were devouring Duo as thoroughly as his lips had. Duo felt weary, sick to his stomach from his physical efforts, and sore in every muscle. The drugs were in full force, keeping him lethargic, keeping him docile, keeping him almost non sexed... almost.

"Yes," Duo replied, doubts filling is head, but not strongly enough to disagree with Heero. There might not be another chance, Duo thought. He might die. Even if he couldn't do anything with Heero sexually, there were other kinds of closeness.

Duo sat up. He said softly. "We aren't a couple yet by a long shot," he told Heero. "We still have a lot of ground between us until that happens, but we may never get the time to do anything about that. I may not know who you are, Heero Yuy, but... I know I love you. That doesn't make much sense, maybe, but... we don't have time for sense either." Heero nodded resolutely.

Duo said, as Heero helped him off of the bench and they began walking towards the door, "Damned if I'll die a virgin, anyway!"

Heero laughed, but it was dark and wild; a soldier's laugh. They knew all about death, had lived with it as a constant companion for years. They both could appreciate Duo's irreverence when faced with it now. Heero's hand slid along Duo's hip. Duo had to lean on him, limping, but Heero was warm and his hard body seemed to have the ability to soften against Duo, emanating an erotic invitation that was almost subliminal.

It could have been easily intimidating because of Duo's inexperience, but Heero wasn't overbearing or grasping. He allowed Duo to rest against him, he didn't pull him close. It was an unspoken cue to Duo that he could change his mind and say no, if he chose. Heero wasn't going to force anything on him. Knowing that, Duo's uncertainty lost ground to his deeper need to find out what Heero was like body to body, what it was like to have someone touch him who cared so much, and to, finally, experience a part of his life that, had, since the confusing grope session with Milliardo Peacecraft that night so long ago, been closed to him.

"I want you bad, Heero!" Duo whispered hoarsely and he saw Heero smile, his dark features glowing with pleasure as he reached for the door to open it.

Someone on the other side of the door opened it first. Wu Fei stood there, dressed in a Nehru jacket of light green, black silk, Chinese pants, and soft, black ankle boots. He was as bald as an egg, his noble features carrying it off handsomely. His black eyes were like pools of ink under his scowling, thin eyebrows and those eyes took in Duo and Heero, and the way they were holding on to one another, in a sharp glance. His next words were clipped and irritated.

"I was led to believe that there was an emergency needing my skills," Wu Fei grated. "If I have been misled-"

Duo looked at Heero angrily and stepped back from him, the mood suddenly gone cold. "What's going on, Heero? Why did you call him?"

Heero nodded greeting to Wu Fei respectfully as he replied, "Wu Fei is going to save your life."

+

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