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

Crossing Paths + Part 18
Death

Duo came to as someone's lukewarm coffee was poured over his face. He winced and groggily started, rocks and bits of ground debris digging into every point of his body. His head was in agony, from the cut on his forehead and the drugs he had taken and not taken, and his back was on fire from the blow against the ornamental stone. Every fiber of his body, his stressed heart foremost, was screaming at him for relief.

Duo throttled all of those sensations and dug down deep for the grit and determination that had enabled him to survive as an orphan on the streets of L2 and in the cockpit of a Gundam throughout the war. He forced himself to wipe the coffee from his eyes and to sit up.

He hadn't been out long. The sun was still shinning and the soldiers were still searching the estate for the last two Gundam pilots. "This what you want?" A hard voice asked, making Duo freeze in the act of raising his head and looking around, especially when a clear bag, filled with six familiar bottles, was thrust into his face along with an electronic pad.

"Confess that you, and the other pilots, were part of an anti-unification plot, and you can have these," the voice continued.

Duo was riveted on the pills. He reached out to them, touching the bag with both hands, but the person who was holding them jerked them out of his reach.

"I said," the voice repeated, "Confess and you'll get the pills."

Tears tracked down Duo's face. He couldn't help the surge of need at the sight of those pills, or the loud, gibbering mental voice that begged him to do whatever it took to get them. When the electronic pad was thrust at him again, he took it in shaking hands and stared down at the confession glowing on the screen. It was waiting for his voice and thumb print to authenticate it.

"I don't have a great deal of time, Gundam trash!" The voice lashed out. "If you don't authenticate it now, I'll shoot you dead."

Duo looked up, finally, with a sickly grin. "I remember you, now!" The big man glared back, one hand holding an empty, thermal, coffee mug, and the other gripping the gun at his belt. He had only one soldier behind him with an automatic rifle. Too confident of his power, Duo thought, as he continued to speak as if he were talking about a pleasant memory, "I cut your pig face when you tried to kill me during an Oz interrogation!" Duo laughed, but it came out harsh. "Did you do all of this to get revenge on little me?"

"On all of you," The Senator snarled. "You're a disease; the soldiers of the Unification forces. Once you fall, they will too."

"That sounds pretty delusional," Duo retorted, "None of us have fought for the government since the rebellion. Did you say that for the benefit of the guard behind you? Are all of these men following you anti- unification rebels? You're too stupid to want anything but revenge, but not stupid enough to think that you could go up against us alone. I bet that you told these troops everything that they wanted to hear, just so that they would fight for you."

"You're a drug addict," the man replied. His sneer made his scar twitch like a red snake across his face. "I think you are the one having the delusions. Authenticate the confession, or die."

Duo cradled the computer pad in the curve of his arm as he said angrily, "You're going to kill me, and the others, anyway. Why should I make explaining our deaths to the government easier for you?"

The man replied simply, "I can make your death last a long time if you don't cooperate."

Duo grinned wider, his amethyst eyes glittering with daring, "Oh, but you said that you didn't have time."

Senator Santoro let out a shout of anger and did just what Duo expected. He lunged at Duo, hands outstretched to strangle him where he sat. That position made it very easy for Duo to fling the electronic pad into Santoro's face and to slide underneath his guard to yank out the man's gun.

"Bye!" Duo laughed as he twisted sideways, landed a bony fist into the surprised guard behind Santoro, and yanked off that man's automatic as the soldier fell with the breath knocked out of him. Duo began running backwards then, raising both gun and automatic to fire at anyone close enough, including Santoro. But the man was gone already, gravel crunching to indicate which direction he was running, but various ornamental statues and shrubs hiding him from Duo's weapons.

"Shit!" Duo swore and turned on his heel, ignoring the violent pop of joints as he sprinted as best he could for Trowa and Quatre's last position. He didn't slow to even look as he rounded a statue. He knew that Santoro was already alerting his troops. He didn't have time for stealth or to second guess. As soon as he saw the groggy Quatre in the arms of a concerned Trowa, and the two soldiers, Duo began firing his automatic. The two soldiers fell in a spray of bullets, blood, and flesh without time to even realize what hit them.

"Fool!' Trowa snarled as Duo scrambled to untie him. "They are already coming! Run, now before-"

"Shut-up!" Duo snarled between gasps for breath as he finished untying the knots. "I'm saving you! Now, get your own ass to safety!"

Trowa snatched up Quatre and an automatic rifle. Quatre groaned and held the side of his bruised and bleeding face, only seeming to be half aware of what was going on, as Trowa dragged him away to dubious safety behind some ornamental rocks. Duo stayed behind and Trowa didn't question that. The soldiers were already streaming towards them from all points. Trowa knew the drill. Duo would draw their fire and Trowa would try to slip away with Quatre in the confusion. Straws didn't have to be drawn or coins tossed to decide who would stay and maybe die. Duo was the worst in health and the least likely to be able to escape and live afterwards. They didn't need a meeting or a medical opinion to realize that.

Duo grinned from ear to ear, the adrenalin rushing through him as he kneeled and placed his hand gun on the ground. Hefting his rifle, he said, with a dark laugh as he watched the soldiers running towards him and lifting weapons, "Come on! Time to meet Shinigami!" Duo wished that he had more than an automatic. He wanted his life, and the lives of Quatre's people, to cost those rebel soldiers dearly. When his hand was pulled off of the rifle and something cold was placed into it, Duo jerked and tried to bring the rifle around with a shout of consternation. He froze when he saw Heero's grimly smiling face.

"I think that will be far more effective," Heero explained. "Be my guest."

Duo recovered and looked down to see what Heero had given him. His smile took on demonic proportions. "Ooo la, la, Heero! You give the nicest presents!" Heero had given him a detonator.

"Hurry," Heero urged him.

Duo's eyes shimmered. He blinked against tears and leaned to kiss Heero full on the mouth as he hit the detonator switch. Heero caught Duo as he fell, Duo's borrowed strength running out of him like sand as the earth jumped and shuddered, the air reverberating from the sound of multiple explosions.

"Duo!" Heero called frantically. "Don't die! You can't! I won't let you!"

Duo felt Heero lifting him up and holding him against his warm body. Duo smiled gratefully, but he couldn't hold his eyes open. His limbs were useless weights, the rifle falling from his trembling fingers. "Sorry," he whispered. "We didn't even get a chance..."

"Duo!" Heero sounded angry now, or on the brink of hysteria. He was walking. Duo could feel the jolt of it in his body as Heero ordered, "Use Wu Fei's techniques. Do it! You have to slow your heart beat! You have to steady your pulse! You're going to blow blood vessels and die if you don't!"

Duo could feel it, his wildly beating heart and the pounding blood in his ears, but he replied sadly, "I had to take a little 'soldier's helper', Heero. You know what that stuff does. Nothing can help now."

"No!" It was a choked sob. Heero was crying. He had stopped walking and Duo felt himself lowered, yet cradled close. Heero had sat down, ignoring his own danger, concerned only for Duo now. "Why do the people I care about keep killing themselves?!" Heero exclaimed in anguish.

Duo snorted. He wished he could see Heero's face, but his eyes refused to open. He felt as if his muscles were being slowly paralyzed from the neck down, yet he was still thinking clearly. "So, you did care about David," Duo sighed.

"I didn't love him!" Heero retorted and Duo felt Heero push his face against his own, kissing him and smoothing a hand over his cheek, "Not like you," he finished. "Please, don't die."

It sounded so plaintive, so tender, so lost. Duo couldn't imagine Heero saying such things. He almost doubted his hearing, his sanity, and that it was even Heero holding him. But those strong arms, banded with muscles that could bend steel, were unmistakable, so too that certain scent that Heero always carried, not an aftershave, but something particular to himself. It was a masculine scent, undefinable, indescribable, and it reached down deep within Duo and told him plainer than words, that Heero was 'the one'.

"I'll do my best not to die," Duo whispered, even then not willing to lie outright and give Heero a false hope. "You have to try and escape, though, Heero. We can't just sit here and wait for them to regroup and come after our blood."

Heero was very quiet. He didn't move. He kept his face pressed against Duo's and held him even tighter. "It's already too late," he admitted. "I stopped because they've surrounded us. I- I love you, Duo. I wish I had broken my training when we were in the war and told you that. We could have been able to be together-"

"No good in dreaming what could have been," Duo sighed. "We only have right now. Guess... Guess I love you too Heero. I always did. Always will." He chuckled bitterly as he began to slip away, "Such a damned shame! I'm dying a virgin after all, in heart and body!"

"Don't shoot!" A voice shouted.

Heero stiffened and Duo knew that he was going to disobey that voice, yet he stopped moving suddenly and Duo wondered why. "Milliardo Peacecraft," Heero said in surprise.

"Heero Yuy," Milliardo replied in acknowledgement. "Drop your weapons. I can save Duo Maxwell's life."

"You can't." Heero stated flatly.

Duo heard the sound of a plastic bag being shaken and the rattle of pills. "I know what these are," Milliardo said. "I have contacts with the lab who made them. If we act quickly and stabilize Duo, I can get him the treatment that will cure him of the addiction without killing him."

"No damned tubes and breather machines!" Duo groaned in protest, but he couldn't move and his voice was as thin as a ghost's. He doubted the two even heard him. "I won't live my life like that!"

"Why help him?" Heero asked suspiciously. "What do you have to gain? If you help Duo off of the drugs, you'll be breaking your own government's laws."

"He doesn't have time for us to argue!" Milliardo shot back. "My troops have secured the area and captured the rebels. My shuttle will fly us directly to a place where Duo can be placed in stasis. If he dies now, it will be your doing!"

"Why?" Heero repeated. "Why would Milliardo Peacecraft help Duo Maxwell, a convicted anti- unification criminal, off of his government mandated medication?"

There was a pregnant silence and then Milliardo said simply, "Because I love him and it's past time that I did the right thing."

+

[cont]