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

Tin Soldiers series + Part 7
Turning the Screw

"You know, a priest once told me, you own up to your mistakes and don't try and excuse them," I said to that tight jawed, icy face of my partner.

"Then you're confirming it," Heero said and nuclear winter was back in his voice. "I had verification when I saw you... with that man on your first day here."

Damned if I was going to take any crap for stuff that WASN'T my fault. I was in deep enough. "I was suffering from major jet lag," I snapped back, "I made the stupid decision to look around and walk down the beach. Well, I didn't do so good and beach bum was helping me back to my place. I thought he was friendly and I thought he might be nice to get to know. If you were there long enough, you might have heard me turn down his oh, so nice offer to show me the inside of his pants. I guess he didn't like no for an answer and he tried to rape me. How any of that was my doing..."

Heero looked suddenly concerned. "I saw him... groping you as I approached. I didn't hear what you were saying to each other."

"You're the one who roughed him up," I reminded him, "What was that all about if you thought I wanted what he was offering?"

"He was being...," Heero paused and I saw him turn a shade of pink that startled me. He seemed both angry and embarrassed. What the hell was going on if Heero hadn't realized that Adonis was trying to rape me? Did he normally go and break up people necking on the beach and rough them up? "We should have arrested him."

I frowned and rubbed the back of my neck. "I guess you're right. When it involves other people, I follow procedure, but, for myself... I guess I'm too used to being outside channels, too used to being in a position where the law doesn't care what happens to me."

Heero nodded thoughtfully. "I saw you struggle," he said. "I thought he was being too rough. I needed to step in and stop it."

I scowled. "You didn't give me time to explain. Why?"

Heero looked uncomfortable.

I said, answering my own damned question, "You'd already pegged me as an easy lay, that's why, someone who likes the wilder side, someone stupid and irresponsible, so you thought I was just being true to form, right?"

Heero gave a damnable shrug and half turned away. He ran a strong hand through his dark hair. He looked like he wanted to just leave and not continue the conversation. That was fine with me, I didn't want to plow through the muck either, but I knew that we both had to.

I sighed and leaned back in my chair. "Heero, let's start with Filmore." I picked up a pencil and stabbed at the pad on my desk. I doodled, keeping my eyes down, trying to keep my nerve. I knew I had to expose a bit of myself here and I really did not want Heero to think that I was such a weak little shit, I really did not. "Things, personally, weren't going so well for me. I was...." Spit it out, Maxwell, I commanded myself. "Lonely." How pathetic, right? I glanced up, briefly, and saw Heero looking very puzzled. I lowered my eyes again, flushing. "I'm not.... immune to hormones and, you know, getting past the point of no return. Filmore is a good looking guy. We were stuck in a car for most of the day, we got to talking, and he kind of... came on to me... and I really, really, needed that right then, okay?"

My pencil lead snapped. There was a dark mark on the pattern of interlocking circles that I had been drawing. I made myself lower the pencil and I forced myself to finish. "So, he's talking shit about me because he wanted to keep on seeing me and, when I said no way in hell, I guess he was afraid I'd mouth off. Looks like he put out 'his' story to give himself an immunity shot. Now I'm the whore agent who can't keep his hands off his innocent partner."

I pulled the doodle off of the notepad and crunched it into one fist hard, glaring at it. "You don't know me anymore," I continued, "but I used to say that I never lied. That's kind of altruistic and really impossible, but, this time I'm telling the truth, Heero. I made a mistake. I freely admit it. It was one time though, and I'm not going to repeat it... ever! Sure, I've been to a few parties and I drink on occasion. There isn't anything wrong with that. Yes, I do go to dance clubs and bars, but if you really look into it, you'll see that I go few and far between. My record has some troubled places. Things happen, ya know? On the whole though, I'm a good agent and Sally Po, I'm sure, and Quatre, have both told you so. I'm not a drunken party animal who lays anything that walks by. I'm not, Heero. If you can't believe that, then you need to tell Quatre that this partnership isn't going to work."

Heero didn't say anything. He seemed to be thinking very hard, eyes on the floor. After a full two minutes passed, I demanded, "Are YOU a virgin, then, that you think you can judge me for -"

"I..." Heero interrupted, but paused for another moment. At last, he looked up and I saw... relief. Heero was relieved and a tension left him, a relaxing around the eyes and mouth, that I hadn't realized, up until then, had been there. He looked different, suddenly, younger, less like a block of granite to bang your head against. "The facts didn't match your personality as I knew it. I should have questioned Agent Filmore more thoroughly. It was inexcusable of me to accept the testimony of one man as a bases for a decision."

"Well," I found myself replying, "He was my partner. No reason to think that he would lie about something like that, especially when he admits to fraternization with his partner." Heero nodded, accepting the excuse that I gave him.

I suddenly laughed and tossed my wadded up doodle into the trash. I checked my watch and then stretched as I stood up, suddenly feeling like a free man. It was all out and maybe it was all going to be good after all. "If we are done with this torture session, why don't we have an early lunch, and then maybe you can help me find the stats on all the men so I can catch up, okay?"

Heero blinked. He gave me a slow once over, as if seeing me for the first time, and then he frowned and shook his head. Suddenly, he was 'all business' Agent Yuy again and his emotions were tightly in check. "I appreciate your candor in giving me all the facts, and revising my estimation of you, but you don't help me improve that estimation by then trying to interrupt our schedule on the first day. We have a great deal of work to do. If you wish to eat, then I suggest that you supply yourself with a nutri bar and drink so that we can continue to work uninterrupted."

Heero leaned to begin typing on my keyboard, bringing up the stat chart that he had made and explaining it to me. His after shave washed over me and some hint of masculine, Yuy scent. It was, okay, dammit, kind of tingly, having him so close to me. He was a powerful man and he definitely had a 'presence' that hit all of my buttons. I had just claimed that I wasn't the slut he had thought I was and he had believed me. Getting a hard on now would have blown all of that out the window. Oh, Duo! After ANOTHER partner?

I bit my lip hard and concentrated on being annoyed. Heero wasn't going to be relaxed and easy, he was going to be a stickler for the rules and a workaholic. That was bad, really bad in my 'laid back attitude' book. I knew that having him think that I was a lazy, undisciplined agent was almost as bad for someone like him as being a wild, party animal, slut. Heero, I could see, still prided himself on being perfect and doing exactly what he was told by his superiors. Lunch was at twelve?. That's exactly when it would be, then, and not a second earlier... unless he chose, like the perfect agent that I think he imagined himself to be, to not to have it at all. If I wanted to earn his respect, and get in the Yuy book of people he could depend on, I had to follow his lead... yeah, and I knew that I was going to hate every minute of it!

I finally nodded my understanding of the stat chart, Heero showed me several places where I could download information, and then he retreated back to his desk to finish up his work.

I worked like a maniac to catch up... okay, at least I did AFTER I snagged a candy bar, a bag of chips, and a soda from a vending machine down the hall. My stomach was growling at me and making it clear that it wanted more than a pasty nutri bar and a rancid nutri drink. Sugar, carbos, fat, caffeine, and the red dye 42 coloring my soda are what makes brain cells gyrate, my friends, so no speeches about the questionable health ramifications. When I tip over the downside of the big four- 0, I'll start thinking about it.

I guess I was on... agent sixteen of my team, when I felt a nerve twitch. It told me that I was being stared at. Call it hyper senses or second sight, I don't care, but I knew, without a doubt, that I wasn't wrong. Since me and Heero were the only two in our office, and mister secretary was on the other side of the door... I concentrated on my peripheral vision, trying to connect the blurs and make an image I could understand.

Aha! Gotcha! I could see Heero turned in his chair, hands still on his keyboard, as he stared at me. He wasn't being covert about it. I weighed options and possibilities and then growled at myself that I was being an idiot. If he wasn't worrying about my seeing him, then he wasn't doing anything that he was afraid for me to see.

More confident, and feeling a bit sheepish, I glanced up to ask if Heero wanted anything... and then realized that Heero was doing something that I'm sure he was totally unaware of. He was staring at me with a look I knew as well as the back of my hand. It was the same look that I had captured on my vid clip. A dose of thoughtful, a peck of longing, a tinge of sadness, and a dash of ... someone caught in a pleasant daydream.

I stared back and my mouth was hanging slightly open. I was mesmerized, unable to say or do anything. That 'look' had shared the ups and downs of my life for many years. It was... I can't even describe what it was like to see it in the flesh and right in front of me.

"Heero?" I said cautiously, not trusting my voice.

Heero blinked, coming back to himself with some embarrassment that he hid by turning in his chair so that he wasn't looking at me any longer, and saying in a voice that rang with complete correctness, "Are you ready to review our group yet?"

"Almost," I whispered and then cleared my throat and said louder, "Give me another half hour." Heero inclined his head, but he was frowning now. I wanted that other _expression back in the worst way. I wanted to know if he was thinking of me when he looked that way, even though I thought it was pretty damned unlikely. Someone like Heero probably had a guy waiting at home. Maybe that's who he had been thinking of?

You might think I'm a bit unstable... yeah, laugh... but I hate that 'not knowing' game. What we were forging between us was a huge land of 'not knowing' that seemed to be expanding its borders by leaps and bounds. This part of the growth I could stop, though, right then and there, with a simple question. Yeah, I know, guys don't usually ask this question unless they're angling for something, but... oh, hell! Of course I'm angling for something! Who am I trying to kid? Myself? I want Heero and checking to see if I had any competition just seemed wise... well, it did!

"If we stay late..." I began and Heero turned to regard me with a disappointingly neutral _expression, "I was wondering if you have someone waiting for you to get home?" I waved at my computer screen. "I can see right now that we seriously need to compare notes. It may take a long while."

That 'look' almost came back again. Heero shook his head and turned nearly away from me to retrieve something from a scanner. "I don't have anyone, but my cat," he said over his shoulder, "and she doesn't require an explanation of my plans or whereabouts."

"Cat?" I raised eyebrows in surprise. "Yes," Heero replied. "A stray. It was either take it in or let it die in a storm."

"Is it a good pet?" I wondered. I wasn't sure how we had ended up talking about personal things, like Heero's pets and the fact that he didn't have anyone permanent in his life either, but I desperately wanted to keep the channel open.

"She is affectionate," Heero admitted. "Good company." He closed the channel, but not abruptly, so I wasn't too disappointed when he said, "I'll give you my notes so that you can see my observations about each agent. If you think that we will have to stay late, then we should use our time efficiently. I'll make out a quick schedule."

Heero Yuy was going to share notes with me and make us a schedule! We had talked about his cat. He had 'looked' at me. There was a real person under all that hard granite and Heero was finally showing it to me. Did that mean that he forgave me making the mistake of getting in bed with my partner? I wasn't going to hope for that much, but maybe he wasn't going to judge me so harshly now that he knew more about what had happened on the beach.

Heero was staring at me again and I realized that I was grinning, hell, glowing like an idiot light bulb with anticipation of getting chummy with Heero. I coughed, tried hard to look more serious, and then lamely said, "I can't think of anyone more expert to do it, do the schedule and help me, I mean."

Heero stared and I saw, damn, the smallest smile touch one side of his lips and then he was nodding firmly and going about his new project. Did he think I was funny? Did he think I was a complete idiot? I did, why shouldn't he? I wished that I had paid more attention to his eyes in that second, but the smile had floored me. His eyes would have told me a lot. Still... I had made Heero smile.

Work, Maxwell, I told myself sharply. Don't lose ground by being what Heero hates more than anything else, a screw up on the job. During the war, I remember that he hadn't thought much of my cheerful attitude, but MY expertise on missions had earned his respect. I can't say I was much of a disciplined agent, and being in the command position of trainer is a new thing, but I had to harness that ability, that genius inside of me, that knew how to be a soldier/hacker/bomb expert better than most men, and teach it to these men to the best of my ability. No screw ups, I promised myself. I couldn't afford any more, not when I was finally getting somewhere with Heero.

And where exactly was I going?

I pondered that as I finished up my chart and compared it to Heero's. I was surprised that we had made many of the same recommendations and really surprised when some of mine were better ones.

"Finished," I told Heero and stood up as I hit enter on my keyboard to download to my clipboard. Heero stood as well and gathered up his own clipboard. "Are you going to change before we see the men?" I asked.

Heero nodded. "They're waiting in gym number five. We'll stop by the lockers and I'll get you some issue workout clothes. We won't be doing any exercises today, but it will be best if we make an appearance-"

"Looking like part of the team instead of like the suits in the office," I finished with a grunt of agreement.

"Yes," Heero replied and then, "Did the stat chart give you any trouble? I'd like to see yours, if I may?"

See yours? Okay, so I thought something dirty. So sue me, I'm a guy. "No, I don't mind you seeing mine at all," I replied, but I was trying so hard to sound bland that he blinked at me. I saw a blush creep up from his collar, but it didn't get any higher as he took my chart and downloaded the stats to his own.

"Thank you," Heero said briskly, and handed my clipboard back to me. "Looks good," he added as he walked away.

Okay, it was my turn to stand and blink, watching my partner walking away and wondering if HE had meant something by that. Don't start, Maxwell, I snarled at myself. You're doing what you know you shouldn't. Duo Maxwell does not fraternize with his partners... only Heero really wasn't my partner in a soldier/ police type of organization. We were just trainers in an organization put together by Quatre Winner, so technically... yeah, but would Heero see it that way or would he think the same standards applied now? My brain was spinning. My 'I want and I'm going to have it.' was doing a battle royal with the 'see sense, we want respect, recognition, and to do our job right' side of my brain. I wondered if I could have it both ways. There just had to be a way to do it.

I followed Heero. He kept his nose in my charts as we walked and wove unerringly through crowds of personnel in the hallways while he did it. Now that he wasn't so close, I started thinking... maybe I was just trying to justify myself the same way that i had justified going to bed with Filmore? That was like a face full of cold water, thinking that I was about to screw up again and with the one man... well, maybe I could keep my pants up and wait for things to happen this time instead of ruining my life by jumping in head first. No more stupid jokes, I told myself, no more smelling Heero's cologne. This was business. If more happened later, in an above board and appropriate manner, then it would. God that was a hard decision. I'm impulsive, I'm definitely 'head first', and I really, really wanted Heero in every way. I wasn't going to get him, though, if was even possible, if I showed him that I was exactly what he had thought I was.

I can do this, I told myself, I can be responsible. I can be no nonsense. I can keep my wanting Heero to myself.... well, for now.

We entered the locker room and Heero finally looked up from his clipboard. He gave my body a once over and then left me standing while he went to supply. When he returned, he had a neatly folded stack of clothing with him. He handed them to me along with a locker key and pointed across the way from his locker. "Your locker is over there."

"Thanks." I put my clipboard down on a bench and then straightened to see Heero undressing matter of factly to put on his workout clothes.

It was the hardest thing on Earth or in Space for me to turn my back and start undressing myself. I didn't peek, not even once. You can nominate me for sainthood now, thank you.

"Ready?" Heero asked as I picked up my clipboard again.

I had my clipboard positioned strategically as I turned. "Yeah, I'm ready," I said. "Let's go see the men."

Stop laughing. It's NOT funny! This isn't a job, this is torture!

[part 6] [part 8] [back to kracken's fic]