by: Kracken
Disclaimer: Don't own them and Don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/male sex, graphic, violence, language, drug addiction, Maladjusted Gundam Boys.
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Crossing Paths + Part 9
Advances

Sighing contentedly, Duo snuggled into down comforters, a gel mattress, and fresh linen covered pillows. He ignored the troubled voice inside of himself that said 'this is wrong', for as long as he could, hiding underneath a flap of comforter from the rising sun streaming through picture windows. When the sun reached midmorning, Duo finally began to question the very fact that he was in a bed.

Opening his amethyst eyes, Duo blinked at his bedroom and the bright light pooling over the well appointed furnishings. He remembered... Duo sat up, rubbing at his eyes and then pushing his hair out of his face by raking it back impatiently with his fingers. He had fallen asleep last night in the solarium.

He still had his clothes on, and for that Duo was grateful. That meant that someone had carried him to bed, but had not treated him completely like a child by performing the embarrassing duty of undressing him and tucking him in. It still bothered Duo that he hadn't noticed those ministrations, but had slept through it. He was trained to have a hair trigger, conditioned to wake and respond to the slightest abnormality in his surroundings. That he hadn't was an indication of his condition. The stressful revelations, tension, and travel, had left him exhausted to the point where he was both not thinking clearly and not being alert. Soldier mode, Duo reminded himself and squinted at the rising sun. He had grown used to sleeping late, having nothing to wake up to unless it was one of his infrequent doctor appointments. Laziness, both intentional and a by-product of the drugs, had to be stopped. Duo didn't have time to sleep. Things were coming to a head, he felt, and he needed all the time he could get to figure things out before... before what?

Duo forced himself out of the warm bed and padded across the cold floor to a table and chair by the window. He blinked at his bottles of pills lined up there and a glass of water. Sitting down heavily, the ritual kicked in and Duo had a mindless minute where he accomplished the task of taking his pills. Ritual completed, Duo's mind took control again as if it hadn't occurred and Duo picked up exactly where he had left off in his thoughts.

Duo frowned and rubbed at his eyes, the sun stinging them. He needed to identify his danger before he could protect himself against it, he reasoned. That in itself, he knew, was going to be a hard task. There were levels of omissions, lies, and enemies. Sorting them out, and putting them in a list of posing the most danger, was going to be difficult, if not impossible, considering his lack of facts.

Problem Heero had been, or was, part of the Tiger Cell, the fanatic mercenaries that had given Oz, natives of Earth, and the Colonists, nightmares. Their past atrocities were a fact. Duo had seen some of them himself. Heero was claiming that there had been factions and that he had been a part of the good faction, if such a term could be used to describe the men who had made the wholesale slaughter of Oz troops their mission in life. Heero had come to Duo to evaluate him for his superiors. Finding out what he had been evaluated for, and who those superiors were, went on Duo's mental list. Until he had the facts of Heero's innocence. Duo couldn't trust him.

Duo felt a pang in his heart. He rubbed his chest and bowed his head, remembering Heero's warm lips on his. In the war, they had all learned the cost of personal entanglements. When a person might have violently died at any time, when self sacrifice had been the order of the day, and subterfuge had been the only way to survive, having to worry about another individual could, not only cost a soldier his life, but the lives of those depending on him. Heero had held to that philosophy like a zealot. If he was still doing missions, for whatever reason, it didn't seem likely that he would try to advance some sort of relationship with Duo now. It seemed even less likely that he would ignore his mission, and, perhaps, his superiors, to take the time to help Duo. Knowing that, the motivation for the kiss became even more suspect. Duo had found out Heero's secret. Distraction, like an unexpected kiss, and misinformation, would have been Duo's first choice during the war as well. Duo's hands squeezed his knobby knees hard and he glared at nothing for a very long time, hating himself, hating his weakness, and hating his heart that was hurting so much when he needed it to be hard and cold. He needed to be like Heero had been during the war. He needed to forget personal entanglements, forget his heart, and center his entire being on figuring out what the hell was going on in his life.

Next problem, Duo thought, forcing himself with a tremendous effort to go on with his mental list. How sick was he, how much was caused by the drugs, and how much of his health could be corrected after four years? Those question were almost as anxiety inducing as whether Heero was duping him or not. What would he do if Quatre's doctors told him that the drugs were causing his difficulties? What would he do if they weren't? What might happen if Quatre's psychologist were to make the same diagnosis as the supposed Oz sympathizer? How would he, Duo, cope if he found out that he really was paranoid and that Heero was only feeding on that paranoia for his own reasons? Worse yet, how much could he trust Quatre's doctors? Duo shook his head sharply at that, refusing to fall into complete paranoia. At some point, he had to trust, and he felt more comfortable trusting Quatre and his hand picked staff, rather than any alternative.

Yet another problem; if there was a plot against him, then why? Old enemies from the war seemed the best bet, but Duo, cringing inwardly, had only to recall that he had killed most of them. The exception was Milliardo Peacecraft. Also known as Zechs, Duo knew that the man could be a cold-blooded killer when the need arose. A soldier through and through, Zechs' honor and his own morals, had never stood in the way of his duty. Duo recalled his hot tongue, his searching hands, and his very handsome face smiling with eager lust, tempered by a commanding, aristocratic bearing. Unfortunately, Duo could recall little else. His dealings with Zechs had been minimal to none during the war. It was true he had helped thwart Zechs from harming the Earth, but so had others. If the man had been looking for revenge, Heero would have been a more likely target. Duo didn't think that tumbling the virginity of, what had been, the least known of the Gundam pilots, much of a substitute or a starting point in any vendetta.

Duo was left with a more reasonable conclusion in the end and one that he felt inclined to settle on. He, and the other Gundam pilots, had been a problem for the government. Heero had disappeared. Quatre had been, and was still, the untouchable head of the Winner name and all that went with it. Wu Fei had retired to an eccentric, scholar's life. Trowa had wisely attached himself to Quatre and, therefore, had made himself just as untouchable. Only Duo had neglected to 'fit in' completely into society. He had accepted awards, tried to attend parties, and had attempted to live up to the name of war hero while celebrating peace in a string of rather wild and exuberant ways. He had been so young, Duo remembered, and there had never been a time in his life when he had been free, and monetarily able, to live a comfortable life full of possibilities. It had been like being drunk, he recalled; happy, full of anticipation, and ready to stretch his wings and be something great. Duo had wanted to live up to his reputation, had wanted to be the war hero, and had wanted people to look up to him and admire him. He had also wanted to forget his terrible life on L2 and to be the kind of man that children would want to grow up to be.

Duo put his face in his hands, elbows braced on the tabletop. He felt black misery overcome him and he wallowed in it, remembering the metal ward, the endless questions, the drugs, the therapy that had left him confused and doubting; doubting himself enough to do what ever he was told, take what ever he was given no matter what it did to him. By the time they had denied him space, called him a menace, issued their endless demands, and began creating the false image of an unstable, party-whore, freak, menace to society Duo Maxwell, Duo had lacked the will or the health to fight back.

Duo's hands gripped his own face hard, fingers digging into flesh. If he discovered that they had lied to him, that his paranoia was justified, that four years of 'treatment' had been a coordinated effort with the people who had smeared his good name to bring him down and control him, Duo felt that the sky was the limit for what he would do then. There was a brief knock on the door and it opened right after that, Trowa pacing into the apartment without waiting for an answer as Duo looked up from his hands. Marks from his fingers were livid on his cheeks.

"Will you sleep all day?" Trowa wondered softly. "I have been waiting."

"Waiting?" Duo echoed, trying to come out of his own thoughts and almost prevented from doing so by the growing haze of the drugs.

"To apologize," Trowa clarified as he went to a large window and looked out, a strong hand holding back the curtain as he continued nonsensically, "Quatre has set up tea on the gazebo. He would like you to join us there."

Trowa looked like a poem, Duo noticed as he tried to fathom those two trains of thought, a poem about soft angst and young men in love. Trowa's soft eyes were unaffected by the strong sunlight and he was seeing something that made them fairly glow with emotion. Quatre, of course, Duo guessed. The Gazebo must be in sight of the window.

"I shouldn't have judged you so quickly," Trowa said regretfully, but explained, "Quatre is too soft hearted most times. He doesn't, or won't, see that some men are too reprehensible to help. I try to protect him, now, by keeping those types of people from taking advantage of him."

Duo glared. "You thought that I was trying to take advantage of Quatre? It wasn't even my choice to come here!"

"I know that now," Trowa admitted. "Quatre and Heero explained that you truly are in need of help of one kind... or another."

"I'm glad that someone else isn't sure what kind of help I need," Duo sighed and stood up. He scooped his pills into his duffel bag and zipped it up. It was a nervous motion. He didn't trust his new accommodations enough to leave them just lying about. "Heero is convinced I'm a dupe and Quatre is convinced that I'm shell shocked from the war."

Trowa gave a slight shrug. "You look like a starved monkey with big purple eyes," he said as if it wasn't anything personal. "You're all thin arms and legs. You look nervous and your skin twitches once in awhile. I also heard about your... episode in the foyer. Many things could explain your condition, but I chose the most obvious, that you were what every news vid and story painted you to be, an out of control, perverted, drug addict, who had a penchant for graveyards, corpses, and attacking decent people in clubs."

Duo snorted in sour amusement as he levered himself up from his chair. He needed a shower, clean clothes, and a clean bill of health from Quatre's doctors, not to be sipping tea and enduring doubtful looks and potentially upsetting conversation, even if Trowa was deciding to be nice now.

"I'm not going to tea," Duo explained. "I have too much to do. Thank Quatre anyway."

Trowa simply inclined his head and headed for the door without arguing, without trying to persuade a too thin Duo that he needed to eat. Duo felt a bite of anger, until he caught a glimpse of Trowa's relaxing shoulders and a brief expression of relief. He hadn't wanted a tense brunch in the gazebo any more than Duo.

Duo let out a small sigh as Trowa quietly closed the door behind him. Duo felt relief, and a bit of gratitude, as the anger slipped away. Sometimes, silence and acceptance worked wonders and Duo wondered how long it had been since anyone had so quietly accepted his will about anything. It felt good. Duo's gratitude towards Trowa deepened as he tucked his pack where he could easily get to it and then went into the bathroom to shower. He needed to hold onto that good feeling as long as he could, Duo thought, knowing that anything Quatre's doctors could tell him was probably not going to be news he wanted to hear.

After his shower, Duo found sweaters and coats in a closet purposefully left open to catch his attention. Taking a cue from Trowa, Duo slipped into a black, close fitting turtleneck and a pair of dark blue jeans. Putting on his low cut boots, Duo ignored the wall of mirrors in the bathroom. They were always going to be his enemy, he felt, and he wasn't going to spoil his mood by being confronted by his reflection; a stick figure wrapped in clothes, an over meter long, chestnut braid, it's only saving grace.

"Hate you," Duo whispered to the mirrors as he passed them, feeling foolish, but needing to reassert himself, even if it was to inanimate objects.

Opening the front door of his room, Duo found Rashid standing outside as patient as the mountains, face unreadable and burly arms crossed over his barrel chest. He nodded to Duo sternly, his desert weathered features so commanding that Duo knew better than to argue his presence there. He was only following orders after all, Duo thought bitterly, Quatre's orders.

"So," Duo asked tightly. "Were you the one who found me last night?"

"Everyone was ordered to search," Rashid replied in his deep voice, "but it was Heero who told me that you liked the stars and that he would search outside. I took his information and deduced a different outcome. Knowing your weakened state, I surmised that you might have gone to one of the solariums or the observatory."

"There's an observatory?" Duo replied. When Rashid nodded, Duo made a note to visit it. Turning his mind back to his growing embarrassment, prickling anger, and bitterness, he felt the need to ask, "You carried me back to my room and put me to bed?"

Rashid nodded again. "I also informed Quatre that you didn't look well and that it might be wise to stand by in case you needed assistance-"

"A guard," Duo interrupted, riding over Rashid's last word. "You thought that I might be crazy and dangerous. I bet you're about to follow me around today, aren't you?"

Rashid inclined his head yet again and said nothing. There definitely was not going to be an argument about it, Duo understood from the look in Rashid's stern, black eyes. Duo decided not to press it, not to sink any lower into depression by having Rashid show him just how powerless he was. Trowa's silent kindness was even more appreciated now that Duo was given a refresher of how things really were for him.

"I'm going to the doctor today," Duo said quietly, looking anywhere but at Rashid. "I hope that you're not intending to go into the examination room with me or sit and listen in while I talk about my personal business with the psychiatrist. I would really...," he swallowed the bile of disgust at himself for the slight, begging tone to his voice, "I would really appreciate it if you would trust me and not- not do that."

Rashid developed a small crease between his eyes. It seemed forever before he said, "I will stand at the door as I did here. I will not go in."

Duo let out a small breath of relief, but he didn't thank Rashid. The man was granting him a small favor, but that didn't rectify that he thought that Duo was unstable and a danger to his Master Quatre and others. Stiffening his shoulders, unconsciously trying to stand taller next to the large man, Duo decided to ignore him and continue with his business. It was hard not turning around though. Rashid was silent for such a large man and, just knowing that he was a trained soldier, was enough to set Duo's awakening soldier instincts on edge. Those instincts were sending warning alarms, reminding him that a man who wanted to live to a ripe old age didn't turn his back on a potential enemy.

Some of Duo's nervousness seemed to communicate itself to Rashid. He suddenly lengthened his stride and moved ahead of Duo saying, "I'll show you the way." Duo noticed that he didn't rate an honorific even as small as Sir or Mr. Maxwell. With Rashid and his men, such honorifics had to be earned. It told Duo where he stood in Rashid's estimation.

"I want to see Heero first," Duo told him. "Is he out having tea with Quatre?"

"No," Rashid replied. "Trowa informed me that he had declined."

"Are you having him watched as well?" Duo wondered.

"Not as closely as you are, but he is at odds with Master Quatre," Rashid replied with a patient, 'of course', tone to his words.

"Over me," Duo clarified all on his own and Rashid gave another one of his too noble nods; condescending to answer. "Let's see if Heero is in his room then."

Rashid adjusted their direction, backtracking to another hallway and then pacing sedately while Duo had to hurry his steps like a child to keep up. It hurt. It made him tired. Gravity pulled at Duo and his joints protested every step. Duo endured it, unwilling to ask Rashid to slow down and suffer worse than pain, more embarrassment.

When they reached Heero's door, Duo had to lean against it and catch his breath, the sickly sheen of pain and exhaustion clear on his face.

"S-Stay out here," Duo told Rashid, mustering enough temper to try to make it an order.

Rashid stared, stared until Duo had to look away and back down, but Rashid didn't take advantage, he simply said, "I will wait here, just as I said I would."

"G-Good!' Duo panted and felt the need to get away from Rashid's dark, appraising stare. He couldn't tell what the man was thinking, but Duo was imagining disgust, disgust that a simple walk had exhausted Duo. Duo fumbled for the doorknob and let himself in. It was mid morning. Heero, always an early riser, wouldn't be undressed or in bed at that hour. Duo didn't even have much hope of finding him there. After closing the door behind him, Duo reconsidered his unannounced entrance. He should have knocked. Heero was still in active duty of some sort and his hair trigger response might include accidentally shooting men who surprised him.

Duo almost called out, opening his lips to do so, but then he heard a moan come from the bathroom and he closed his mouth on it. The moan had definitely come from Heero.

Duo crouched, every muscle tense. He didn't wait to get Rashid. If Heero was ill or being attacked, then Duo was going to the rescue immediately. Still, even as he moved quickly and silently to the bathroom door, he memorized everything in the room, noted possible weapons he could use, and thought of several ways he could disable an attacker even in his weakened state. So, it caught him completely off guard when he saw that Heero, far from being attacked or ill, was naked and bent over the washbasin, pleasuring himself with intense motions.

Blood scalded Duo's face as his eyes went wide and his heart thudded down to his toes. He had frozen in the doorway, breath sucked in and still, shocked witness as Heero, eyes closed, face frowning in concentration, and tiger tattoo rippling across his shoulder, was saying with deep, growling, passion, "Oh, Duo, you are so tight! I knew you would be. I just knew... That's it. Move with me. Spread yourself wider. Let me in. Let me in all the way!"

Duo backed up, biting his lip and breaking skin. Tasting his own blood, his mind tried to deny what he had just seen, unable to comprehend that Heero Yuy was masturbating and fantasizing about him. Duo didn't consider love or even passion as a reason for Heero's inexplicable behavior. Instead, his thoughts wound down darker roads. When he caught a reflection of himself as he passed a mirror, Duo couldn't help but glare at it.

Big, purple eyes. A big eyed monkey; all arms and legs. That's the way Trowa had described him and Duo thought that it was a fair description. A strong, handsome, competent man like Heero Yuy shouldn't have been fantasizing about him. unless... Duo thought of all the men who had tried to crawl into his bed, the ones who had been fascinated by his notoriety, by his long braid, by his purple eyes, by the very fact that he was still as small and as slim as a fifteen-year-old boy. None of them had cared about the whole package, least of all the mind, of Duo Maxwell, and he had rejected every one of them. Duo thought that it had to be that. Heero was fascinated by some small part of him, not Duo as a whole. The whole package was too unpalatable for anyone.

Face burning again with reaction, Duo thought that he knew what might be fascinating Heero just by the way the man had been masturbating, taking the dominant role, imagining Duo captured beneath him, and that opened up an entirely new avenue of understanding for Duo. His weakness hadn't seemed to bother Heero. If Heero 'got off' on that weakness in Duo, then it all made much more sense.

Duo went through the door of Heero's rooms and closed it very softly behind him. Rashid raised an eyebrow. Duo didn't explain his quick return, only swallowed hard, knowing he was red to his ears, and said, "Doctors."

Rashid left his post by the door and led the way without question. He didn't look back at Duo, seeming to understand that Duo needed some time to regain his composure. It didn't take Duo long to begin to be angry and to feel abused, even though Heero hadn't really touched him. The idea that Heero was perverted, wanting a weak and small vessel for his passions, set itself firmly in Duo's mind. Heero hadn't really touched him, but Duo had the feeling, especially after the man's too forceful kiss, that he might be leading up to it.

"Keep fucking yourself, Heero," Duo whispered angrily under his breath, "You won't get a chance with me."

+

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