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

Crossing Paths + Part 13
Dragon


Duo tried to stay alert. He leaned on one fist at the large, round table, the aftermath of a meal stacked at the center. Wu Fei was leaning back in his chair, sipping hot tea. Heero was next to him, talking in low tones as if Duo wasn't meant to be a part of the conversation. Duo, sitting across from them, was quickly losing his battle with his exhausted body.

The small state room they had chosen to eat and talk in, had been filled with servants long enough to set out the meal, but, after that, they had been left with coffee, tea, and simmering moods. Wu Fei had remained sour and uncommunicative throughout the meal and Heero had tried to fill him in on the details of Duo's condition with the air of someone waiting to be rejected out of hand. Duo had remained absolutely quiet, bewildered by Wu Fei's presence, confused by Heero's anxious attitude towards him, and still angered that Wu Fei had interrupted them at a crucial moment, a moment when their undefined relationship might have gained a sexual facet.

Duo's eyes slid closed. He didn't know how long he was asleep before a hand touched his shoulder very gently. Duo pried sticky eyes back open with an effort and found Wu Fei staring at him very close. He was crouching by Duo's chair, one hand on the arm.

"Hm?" Duo managed and sat up straighter. He felt muscles scream at him, having stiffened up while he had been asleep. He winced and hissed, rubbing at his shoulders. "Did I miss something?" Duo wondered.

"Only Yuy trying to convince me that you can learn a year's worth of high level, deep meditation techniques in the span of a few days," Wu Fei replied, but his tone was soft and his irritation seemed to have left him. His black eyes looked.... concerned. Remembering their of times stormy partnerships during the war, Duo began to wonder if he was really awake.

"Did you really come all the way from L4 on Heero's say so?" Duo wondered, still trying to wake up fully. Heero poured him some coffee, noticing his difficulty, and Duo took it and drank it gratefully, his eyes never leaving Wu Fei's.

Wu Fei shot an angry look at Heero. "He didn't trust my honor enough to explain. He simply told me that my skills were needed."

"What's honor got to do with it?" Duo wondered, puzzled.

Wu Fei seemed surprised by that question. "You saved my life on occasion. We shared confinement and near death. We were comrades fighting for a great and noble goal. I haven't forgotten those times. I haven't forgotten my obligations. Honor dictates that I respond when I'm told that an old comrade is in need." He frowned. "I'm not a complete bastard, Maxwell."

Duo didn't know what to say. He was grateful and yet he felt trepidation too, not sure what the man could do for him except be yet another witness to his messy, painful death. "It's not going to be pretty."

"And you're not going to be strong, mentally, for much longer," Wu Fei agreed incite fully. "We must begin at once, before you lose the ability to be rational."

Duo felt angry, his weariness short circuiting his gratitude all at once. "Well, you sound like Heero now, but I'm not backing down this time. I'm going to bed. I'm a skinny weakling, Wu Fei, just what you hate the most, and this skinny weakling has just had all of his reserves burned up in Yuy torture before you showed up. I'm not topping it off by enduring Chang Wu Fei's patented martial arts, mental mojo program, today too."

Wu Fei studied Duo intently and then he nodded gently, eyes going soft and understanding, something Duo had definitely not expected. "You will need to be rested and alert when we begin. What is the best time of the day for you to be in that condition?"

"Late morning," Duo replied, stunned that Wu Fei wasn't sneering at him, or tossing one of his usual, 'weaklings', diatribe at Duo's head.

"Then you will reserve that time, and most of the early afternoon, to my lessons," Wu Fei instructed him.

Duo looked at Heero, who was looking pleased and relieved. "If you make a decision like this again, without asking me...!" Duo snapped at him, "First the plane trip to Quatre's, the pills, and now this! I may be stunted, Heero, but I am an adult who can make decisions!"

Heero looked contrite suddenly, but he wasn't daunted. "You've told me what you want," he said. "You've also told me, and shown me, that you can't reach that goal by making the right decisions. Tell me again, Duo... Tell me that you really do want to go through with this."

"Of course I don't!" Duo snarled, hands gripping his chair arms. "I'm a lazy ass, druggie! I'd much rather be home playing video games and waiting for the pizza to show up!"

Wu Fei said quietly, face pensive, "You say that, but it isn't true."

Duo stared at him, narrowed his eyes as if to argue that, but then deflated in his chair. "Yeah, you're right, it isn't, but at least I felt in control doing those things. I can't help wanting that again and Heero, you are not helping me get over that feeling by leaving me out of the loop in decisions concerning me!"

Wu Fei asked point blank. "My discipline won't work unless you are committed to learning it. Once learned, it won't help you if you are not focused, committed, determined in your goal. Your enemies have attacked you, not by fighting bravely in open battle, but in the cowardly act of poisoning you slowly. They want you to die like a dog. You have to decide to be a dragon instead and not let them succeed."

"I feel like shit!" Duo exclaimed and hid behind his bangs by ducking his head.

Heero came around the table in concern. "I'll take you back to your room if you're feeling-"

Wu Fei stopped him with a gesture. "Why do you feel that way?" he asked Duo.

"Everyone's helping me," Duo replied guiltily. "I didn't think much about you guys or even wondered how you were getting along after the war. I know some of you had trouble, well, if I can believe the news vids, but... I didn't run to the rescue or anything. I could have done something, at least made a phone call..."

"Do you wish to atone for that?" Wu Fei wondered.

Duo shrugged uncomfortably. "I guess, yeah."

"You can't do that if you're dead," Wu Fei told him brutally. "Survive and pay your debt to us, for helping you and for not helping us when we needed you. As for myself, I ask only for you to seek revenge on the ones who did this to you. I ask that you bring them to Justice. Men who do such cowardly things should not be allowed to triumph."

"Wu Fei," Heero growled, not liking Wu Fei's words at all.

Somehow, Wu Fei understood what motivated Duo, or, perhaps, it was understandable. Wu Fei had fought during the war for revenge too, or 'justice' as he had called it. Heero had touched on it, but had left it alone, not believing, maybe, that it was a stronger motivation than the feelings they had for one another and the need to survive and be together. That way of thinking was a mistake, Duo knew suddenly. Heero's love would forgive Duo if he backed down, refused treatment, and went back to enduring his captivity. Revenge and justice weren't forgiving at all. Revenge, especially, demanded it's due and it didn't accept anything less.

"I can't let those bastards win," Duo said quietly from the shelter of his hair. "And I can't make things right with you guys from a pine box six feet under." Duo thought about all the physical and mental trauma he had endured for revenge during the war. There had been torture. There had been terrible confinement and wounds suffered that still ached in body and soul. He had survived it, suffered it, and come out on the other side of it with Oz defeated, his ghosts satisfied, and at least some justice served. Now that he was soon to be the ghost, Duo thought, why couldn't his determination, to make the ones who had done that to him pay, be stronger?

"I'll tell you what I told Heero," Duo replied at last. "As long as I'm in my right mind, I'll cooperate. I want to survive this. I don't want to be an addict. I don't want to die slowly and have those bastards laughing over my grave without a care in the world. Problem is, though, I won't BE in my right mind for long, Hell, sometimes I'm not too stable right now, am I Heero?" Heero nodded, jaw tightening.

Wu Fei said firmly, "Heero spoke earlier of forcing you to be treated. I will not force you, Maxwell. You wish to believe that the drugs that are killing you control you and take away your ability to decide your life. That, I will show you, is a lie. You will not be able to use it as an excuse when we work together."

Duo didn't believe that for a minute. He smirked, but it was an angry, dark, and bitter expression. "Yeah, you keep telling yourself that, Wu- Man, but, when you see old Duo Maxwell not get his pills, you'll be singing a different tune."

Wu Fei straightened and looked down at Duo sternly. "Lessons begin at ten o' clock tomorrow morning. If you are not at my room by that time, I will be on the next shuttle flight back to L4. You complained of not being able to make decisions. That is a decision, Maxwell."

Wu Fei turned and left the room with the assured, quiet bearing of a man used to getting his way. Heero sighed and looked at Duo as if he were disappointed. Maybe he was. Duo shivered and could find only one word to encompass everything he was feeling. "Crap!"

"We could try to have sex again. That might make you feel better," Heero said as he came to stand behind Duo, touching Duo's shoulders lightly.

"I didn't know that you had such a sense of humor, Yuy," Duo shot back sarcastically. He tilted his chin back and looked up at Heero. The man was frowning ever so slightly and Duo realized that it hadn't been a joke. He should have known better. "You are such a weirdo!" Duo sighed. "Here a huge decision was just made, I'm handing myself over to Wu Fei. Let me repeat that, Wu Fei! and you're already past it and thinking about..." Duo left his chair and stood dejectedly. "Sorry, Heero, but I can't even work up enough libido to stare at your crotch right now."

Heero thought about that, thinking of the weight machine, probably, and how Duo had said how much he liked it. "Sex relieves stress," he replied at last. "It was the only reason I allowed for it during the war. A soldier can't function without relieving stress periodically."

Duo flushed. "You were doing that during the war, screwing guys to relax, and you didn't think to ask me?"

Duo turned and saw Heero's tight, annoyed expression. Heero was a romantic. Duo saw it clearly just then. The perfect soldier had a poet somewhere under that granite like exterior. Duo knew what he was going to say before he said it. "I wanted more than sex from you. I wanted all of you, mind, body,... heart," he added, stumbling at such an emotional revelation. "Knowing that, I knew that I had to keep a distance between us. No entanglements."

"No entanglements," Duo agreed. He fiddled with his braid and then tossed it behind his shoulder as he confronted Heero, admitting, with teeth gritted in a vicious smile," I on the other hand, given the slightest encouragement, would have been doing it with you like rabbits and to Hell with 'entanglements'."

Heero stared, wide eyed.

Duo reached out and touched Heero's tank top. He knotted it into his hands as if he wanted to tear it off and said bitterly, "I was a virgin because too many people wanted to fuck my head as well as my body, Heero. Too many users, too little opportunity where I came from. The sweeper ships weren't exactly full of gentle, accommodating lovers just wanting a little stress relief. Most of them were like hounds after fresh meat and I... well, I knew I didn't want to be the fresh meat that they tore up between them. After that, well, I was on my own in my Gundam and, even after we all hooked up, there wasn't much chance for whoopee during a war, even with five horny teenagers locked up together in a safe house." Duo watched Heero's nipples press against the fabric as his hands pulled it even tighter. "What I'm trying to say, Heero, is that I'm willing, I just haven't been able. I know where it goes and how to do it, I just haven't had a chance to implement the knowledge with anyone but my right hand, if you know what I mean."

"You are not shy," Heero concluded.

Duo smirked. "No. You probably spent as much time as I have crammed into a cabin with a troop of other guys during training and the war. You get rid of embarrassment and prudishness pretty quick when they're almost doing it on top of you in a bunk only a foot away from your own."

Heero nodded, remembering. "So, I know I look like a kid still, but you don't have to treat me like one, k?"

Heero nodded again and then looked contrite. "I'm sorry. You are so small next to me, Duo. I don't want to offend you... or insult you, but I feel protective and unsure when I am with you. You seem so young... It feels wrong, almost, to-"

"Get more than G- rated?" Duo finished angrily. "Yeah, well, I guess I can see why you would think that. Kind of brings me back full circle to why the Hell you would want to have sex with me in the first place. I know you said it was because love is blind, but you're going to have to deal with what I got sooner or later. You may be a romantic, but, I'm not. I know reality is going to stick it's big nose in sooner or later."

"I thought that you didn't lie," Heero replied, and Duo was given that warm, startling smile that Heero seemed to be saving just for when he was the most off guard. "Duo, you don't have to be afraid of being inexperienced. You don't have to be tough. You don't have to forget about love and tenderness to try to please me. I did not mean that it seems wrong to have sex with you. It seems wrong to rush and to treat you as if you were just another fuck, I meant. "

Duo felt a blush, but he joked. "Uh-oh! Heero said a bad word!"

Heero snorted in amusement. "Don't try to fool yourself into believing that 'just sex' is all right in order to please me," Heero continued seriously. "You deserve more and so do I." His hand trailed along Duo's body sensuously. "You are too thin. Your bones do stick out alarmingly. You do look exhausted, pale, and unmatured-"

"You're going some where with this?" Duo cut in sourly, but he was mesmerized by Heero's soft touch along his side as well.

Heero leaned close, his breath warm on Duo's face. "You're beauty shines through, Duo, it can't be hidden. It glows through your skin and through your eyes. You have a mature beauty and a mature mind, not a child's. You are very... masculine, and I find that very attractive, indeed."

"It's all attitude then?" Duo grinned, only half believing him, but amazed by Heero's loving words. It didn't seem possible that they had come from a man who had mainly stuck to three words throughout the war; 'hn', 'baka', and 'shut up'. "Well, I do have a lot of attitude, I guess," Duo added self deprecatingly.

Heero kissed him, just a brush against his cheek as he said, "Yes, you do."

Duo broke the mood by yawning hugely. Embarrassed, he muttered, "To bad we can only talk about sex and romance. I need to sleep Heero. I don't think I can even make it back to my room on my own two feet."

"Lean on me," Heero told him and hooked an arm around Duo's thin waist to help him, "I will show you that love isn't synonymous with sex, Duo."

Duo was nervous, but he smiled and felt a deep thrill in the vicinity of his heart. He had never been given the chance to love. He didn't know the first thing about it. "Finally!" Duo sighed as they limped back to his room, "A lesson I want to learn!"

Heero sat Duo down on the bed and then knelt to take off his shoes. "Stink alert!" Duo chuckled and Heero grimaced, agreeing.

"You need to shower," Heero said.

Duo started to lean back into the bed. It felt as if it were calling him and reaching out for him. All he wanted to do was to close his eyes, sink into the gel mattress, and forget about his rankness from exercising. Now that he wasn't distracted, he wonder how the other two had been able to sit through a meal with him without a protest.

Heero caught Duo by the elbow and kept him seated. "Shower," Heero insisted.

"Okay, okay!" Duo mumbled, yawned again, and stood up. He swayed on his feet, regained his balance, and staggered for the bathroom. When he felt Heero following him, he felt a flush hot under his skin. He wanted to protest, but they both knew that passing out in the shower was a real possibility.

"Just, uh, just stand by the door, okay, Heero?" Duo asked. "Don't look or anything."

Heero raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't intending to try and engage you in sex, Duo, I was only concerned for your safety."

Duo blinked and tried to think of an excuse that didn't include, 'I hate my body and I don't want anyone, especially the guy I love, seeing it.' he ended up simply saying, "Okay." and felt like an idiot. He had tried to establish that he wasn't shy, that he wasn't a prude, that he was ready for sex, at least mentally, and that Heero was to treat him accordingly. Now that Heero was treating him that way, intending to go into the bathroom and help him shower, Duo was mentally back tracking and feeling flustered and ashamed because of it.

Heero said thoughtfully, "There are dynamics to this that I was unaware of."

Duo blinked, coming out of his own thoughts abruptly. "Huh?"

Heero searched for words to explain, "With another man it would be simple. I would either treat him as a sexual partner until we were both relieved of our needs, or his sex wouldn't be of any consequence and I would treat him accordingly. Being with you, feeling the things that I do for you, I find myself unable to be objective and unmoved. I think you are having the same difficulty?" he frowned, continuing even when Duo didn't respond. "A shower cannot be simply a shower, even if we don't engage in any activity other than bathing you." He struggled and then finished uncomfortably, "With you, there is an intensity to everything, a response from within me that I can't describe. Every one of my senses, all of my emotions and thoughts, center on you when ever we are together. I don't know how to proceed Duo. Emotionally and physically, I am knowledgeable and experienced, but interacting in a relationship is unknown territory for me. You will have to tell me what I should do and what you wish to happen or not happen."

Duo raked his fingers through his hair in frustration. "This should be easy!" he lamented. "We're both guys! We both want each other. We should just be able to get each other off, grin, and start the torture at ten tomorrow morning. It's so much more complicated than that, though, and I'm just as confused about it, maybe even more so, than you are, Heero! No, I don't want you to see me naked. No, I don't want you in the shower with me. Why? I don't even want to tell you, but you can probably guess."

Heero nodded, jaw working, and then he replied, "You are dissatisfied with your body. You think that I will be critical of it. You are also afraid, that if something sexual were to happen, that you would be unable to perform the act."

Duo ducked his head. He couldn't reply to that. Heero was blunt. He had always dealt in bald facts. Duo couldn't be that way. His personality was more fragile than Heero's. Instead, Duo said, "I have a lot on my plate that has to be dealt with before I can get my head straight about 'us'. I don't really know what I want or what I want you to do or not do. I want to rush it. I wanted you for so long... but... I don't even know why this is so hard! Why I can't just let go and HAVE you! If I don't know anything else, I at least know that I DO want that!"

Heero warmed to that, but he didn't take advantage of the revelation. Instead, he took a verbal step back. "I feel it too," he replied. "It isn't just sex. It's..." he met Duo's eyes and Duo saw a flaring intensity that made Heero's next words the most important words in Duo's life, "It's giving the other person half of yourself. " He seemed relieved now that he had defined it, "You can't do that lightly, no without complete faith in the other person."

"And we have so many blank spaces to fill in yet," Duo agreed, nodding and feeling relieved himself. In the gym room, he had felt that time was short, and that he might not survive to have a real relationship, a real 'first time' with tenderness and passion. He had been willing to just have sex with Heero because of that fear. Heero's words were making him rethink that. Sex wasn't what he really wanted and it would have meant nothing if they had gone through with it. Heero may have given half of his soul to him, but Duo was still clutching his and uncertain about giving it up, even though he knew that he loved Heero. The life he had led up until then didn't make that kind of trust come easy.

Duo grimaced, wanting to retreat back to safe ground, uncomfortable with the emotions flaring between them because he was still so unprepared to deal with them and everything else in his life just then. "Rain check," Duo said and Heero looked puzzled. "Heero Yuy is entitled to try and have a relationship with one, Duo Maxwell, after said Duo Maxwell gets his shit together."

Heero smiled only slightly, sensing a deeper, painful, meaning to that flippant announcement. Duo might die. They might not get the chance for a life together. Duo was willing to risk it, to hope for something more precious than a handful of minutes of sex, with perhaps an embarrassing failure on his part, and maybe some resentment and bad feelings afterwards. It was a declaration of how Duo felt for Heero and Heero didn't misunderstand that.

"We will make it through this," Heero told him, as if he could make it true by sheer force of belief. "We will have our chance."

Duo nodded, wishing he could be as certain as Heero, as he went into the bathroom to shower alone.

+

[part 12] [part 14] [back to Kracken's fic]