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 + Epilogue

"Do you want me to kiss it and make it better, Maxwell?! Get your men in position!"

"Fuck you, Yuy! Let's see you take a two inch piece of shrapnel in the knee and keep on walking!"

"Stop crying and just do it!"

"Nobody's crying here but you!"

There are times I want to strangle that man. Heero doesn't give a break to anybody and he wasn't about to start with me. Not that I was going to swoon or anything stupid like that, but, shit, a man's going to limp when his knee's been impaled by a piece of a bomb, especially when that man has to run up a sharp incline of ground and take a fortified rebel outpost in the middle of a range of rocky hills. Rocky, freezing, rain drenched hills. I think you can cut me some slack, right?

I instinctively ducked when our target lobbed another bomb at us. It went wide, the stiff wind carrying it to our right, and it exploded off to one side of the hill we were mounting, showering us with small bits of debris. My men didn't break pace and I was proud of them. I didn't feel nearly so brave, especially when machine gun fire splattered all around us.

"Where the hell is our air support?" I shouted at the comlink curled around my face. "They were supposed to soften the target up!"

Heero's voice sounded worried, "Weather conditions are too uncertain. They won't chance it. I asked to scrub the mission, but the chatter indicates the targets are preparing to bug out into space. We won't get another chance planetside"

"Why not just blow the fuckers up once they launch?" I demanded. "I'm risking my men here! This charging up the hill is freakin' medieval shit! They should be able to blast a fly off their asses with a beam cannon half way across the world!"

"They want these men alive if possible. They are part of a wider conspiracy," Heero explained. "You were told that at the briefing."

"I didn't know that the weather would dump ice and rain down our backs and that we wouldn't have air support then," I snarled back. "I think this plan stopped being viable as soon as that happened!"

"Can it!" Heero snarled back. "Are you in position yet?"

I wanted to shout some damned colorful words back at my lover, but I refrained. My job was to get the bad guy and keep my men alive, not start questioning my orders and Heero in the thick of things. They needed to have confidence in what they were doing. The pain of my leg, the miserable weather, and the growing danger of the mission had made me momentarily forget that.

I wiped my rain drenched bangs out of my face and squinted through special binoculars at the pile of rocks ahead of us. Stone ant nest, was my first impression. It was a bunker set deep in the rocks and it was filled with gun sites and men ready to bite our asses dead. Mist and cold rain made visibility almost nil, but that could work in our favor.

"Report!" Heero demanded.

"In position!" I snapped back. "Got any ideas what to do now? Unless you have one big assed can opener, that metal bunker looks pretty damned secure."

Heero chuckled. He has a way of doing it that sounds just evil. "Everyone has to breathe," he replied and I understood what he meant instantly and that what he was suggesting was as close to suicide as you can get.

"Where do you want me?" I asked promptly.

So, Heero walked me through it and I soon found myself in a lightning storm, my men a quarter mile back and hunkered down, and myself and Heero squatting on top of a big, metal building trying to pry off an access panel. Can you say, 'lightning rod'? Two of our men were waiting at the base of the building, bristled with weapons and watching our backs while we feverishly worked.

I could tell you how many men I quietly killed to get us where we were, and how close we had come to detection and getting our heads blown off, but you gotta realize that getting to the top of a fortified bunker wasn't a cakewalk, right? So, I'll just say we made it and everyone was in one piece... so far. We had taken out some surveillance cameras. It was only a matter of time before someone stopped thinking the weather had blown them out and send some troops to check on it.

Do I think about not getting out of a situation like that? Do I wonder what madness possessed me to follow Heero's orders? Do I wish I was stretched out on my warm beach outside my home again? Hell, yes, but we had been chosen to be Gundam pilots for a reason and one of those reasons was that we would risk our lives for the mission and do it without hesitation. You can psychoanalyze it anyway you want it. It's not like my life wasn't important to me, it's just that I was aware of the bigger picture and I knew, sometimes, that one guy could make all the difference, had to make the difference, if everyone else was going to be free and safe. So, yeah, I bitched and moaned to myself, but my hands didn't stop handing Heero tools and I didn't stop what I was doing to look around and wonder where a bullet with my name on it was going to come from.

"Nice outfit, Heero." I couldn't resist. As I shoved sopping wet bangs out of my eyes, I briefly looked up to Heero's deep blue eyes looking back, before we both looked down again to continue working.

"It's a thermal suit," Heero told me almost primly and I couldn't help laughing. He turned defensive then. "It is standard issue and a lot warmer than what you're wearing!"

"It's a tight, black, body suit Heero," I pointed out. "Are all of your men wearing them?"

"Yes," Heero grumbled back at me. "They are weather proof. If you had been wearing one instead of that ragged flack jacket, you wouldn't be suffering now."

I snickered. "I just wish that we were in a better position for me to appreciate it more."

"Duo!" Heero growled, but I saw the corner of his lips tilt up.

"I know, get the hell back to work," I muttered and blew the water dripping off the end of my nose at him. He flinched, but continued working.

"Strong-arm it!" I exclaimed at last when I was sure that our efforts were taking too long. I impatiently dug my fingers into an edge Heero had managed to work up. When Heero joined my efforts, I knew that we would succeed. Heero is very strong and unstoppable when he puts his mind to something. That panel didn't stand a chance. With both of us heaving on it, the rivets popped and the panel gave up the ghost.

Setting the panel aside, Heero stuck a gauge down into the black hole that had been uncovered. Whatever was on the rain drenched, lighted dial, seemed to satisfy him, and he put the gauge away, clipping it back onto his belt. He then took the heavy panel, aimed it carefully, and then let it drop. There was an immediate sound of metal slamming into metal and the tortured sound of something breaking.

"Suppression bombs?" Heero asked and put out a hand. I carefully unwrapped several and very, very carefully put them into his hands. They were tricky explosives and not standard issue. I had made them myself. They were safe enough in their case, but once out in the open, the tiny detonator barbs had hair triggers. The flat space where a person was supposed to hold them, was barely wide enough for thumb and forefinger.

"Ready?" Heero asked.

I nodded. What else was I going to do?

Heero dropped the bombs, one at a time, and they fell into the darkness almost in slow motion. As the last one fell, Heero was moving, his arm snagging me around the waist and pulling me down onto the wet, freezing metal of the roof. I almost snarled at him. I wasn't some damned damsel in distress that he had to be protecting me, but the entire roof bucked and grew suddenly warm and it was all I could do to hang on and hope that it didn't collapse.

I wasn't aware that Heero had left me at first, but when I dazedly sat up, he was dropping other objects into the now smoking hole. "You planned this!" I accused.

"It was a scenario that I had discovered while training for the mission, so I made certain that I was prepared for it," Heero replied over the sound of groaning metal.

"Got company!" One of my men shouted. "Orders?!"

"Regroup with the main force!" I shouted. "Wait for orders there!"

"Yes, s-" His voice was cut off by the sound of gunfire. I flinched.

"Let's get out of here, Heero!" I demanded.

Heero nodded, once, and we scrambled over the roof away from the gunfire. The roof was quickly heating up. We had caused a fire and shut down the circulation fans. Our targets were going to have to evacuate or suffocate and burn. I didn't doubt that they would come out with every weapon blazing. We had to be with our forces before that happened and ready to nail them.

"Move, Maxwell!" Heero shouted. He was ahead of me, rain and now smoke obscuring everything. I began coughing violently and my knee was begging me to cut it out and stop torturing myself. I was manfully ignoring it, of course, and forcing it to bend as I scrambled after Heero. Well, you can only do so much of that before your body rebels.

I fell. Damned the roof was hot! Instinct had me trying to get up, trying to make that knee function, but it was swollen and the muscles were now shot. I didn't yell for Heero. When you go down in war, and something important needs doing, well, you grit your teeth and make the sacrifice. Heero would understand that. He wouldn't come back for me. He would do what needed to be done.

When Heero came out of the rain and smoke, grabbed me by the arm, and slung that arm across his shoulders to support me, I was stunned. "Move your damned ass!" Heero shouted furiously into my face. Who was I to argue. With him? He kept me off of my bad knee, and almost dragged me after him, as he hurried, as fast as my dead weight would allow him, for the edge of the building. I wondered, then, what our plan B was. Our climbing gear and our support were back where we had come from. The building was set in jagged rocks. Jumping down was hazardous to your health, and we were also heading straight for where I remembered a set of gun turrets being located.

"Heero?" I panted. "Did you run a scenario for this part too?"

Heero was quiet for a moment and then he replied truthfully, as if it stung his pride, "No."

I winced. "Then you're 'winging it'?"

Another pause and then, "Yes."

"All right!" I grinned. "Now you're in my territory! Let Shinigami lead. I'm an ace at spontaneous mission plans!"

Heero's returning grin was just as fierce as my own. He said, "I wouldn't think of following anyone else," but then he grew suddenly serious and he said, "Love you, okay?"

I felt a lump in my throat. "Love you too, Heero," I managed, but then firmed and became the soldier once more. "Let's do this, Captain."

"Orders, Captain Maxwell?" Heero responded promptly and the lump in my throat turned into a burning desire not to disappoint Heero. I was going to get us out of there.

We approached the gun turret. It was a stupid arrangement, an over hanging roof and the site window facing towards the craggy hills. There was a hatch for firing up at aircraft, but it was closed and the optic used for targeting was blinking that is was on, but it was unmoving.

"What are they doing, playing cards?" I wondered as we slowed our steps and tried to walk without making any telltale noises that the people below us could hear.

Heero grunted and replied, "They're most likely fighting the fire and trying to get air circulation back online. Aside from that emergency, I doubt that they are taking a handful of men attacking their position, with no air support, seriously. "

"I bet their command is getting ready to get the hell out of here though, using the bad weather to get away before it clears and air support mops the floor with them," I thought aloud. "Which means they'll be laying down cover fire when that happens."

"Underground platform," Heero replied with a nod. "If we lay down a charge before we go, we can jam their bay doors."

"You really know how to add more excitement to the mix!" I grinned, feeling a rush of adrenaline that made everything seem suddenly possible. "Let's do it."

We kept low and tried to stay under cover, but there wasn't much we could do. I didn't understand why we weren't being shot at as of yet. It made me suspicious, my soldier's senses warning me it was all just not right. You know what they always say, 'If it's too good to be true, it usually is'? In soldier land, accepting things at face value will get you dead real quick. What could we do about it though? Nothing really, except to keep doing our job. Some things you just had to let happen and then deal with it when it did. Heero always found that hard to do. He was finding it just as hard now. His eyes were doing a good imitation of a tennis game, going back and forth constantly, trying to see enough to spot some sort of danger, the danger we both knew was there.

When we reached the doors to the platform, we found our danger. Men were already laying charges there, but we both knew that it wasn't for blowing the doors, but for destroying the entire building. They intended not to leave any evidence behind. The platform bay doors were wide open and we could hear the sound of engines and machinery over the pounding hiss of rain as our targets prepared to lift off and leave us with a giant powder keg in our laps.

"Shit!" Heero swore and I had to agree.

I whipped out my cell phone and bent over to keep it under me and out of the rain as I quickly called our men. We had to get in there any way possible. This situation had to be stopped.

"Infiltrate!" I yelled into my phone. "They are laying explosives and bugging out. Concentrate on the platform bay and central command rooms."

How easy do you think it was to order that many men to their deaths? We had our orders. We had known what trying to carry them out might mean when we first accepted them. All of my men had. I knew that they would follow my orders now, whether they blamed me for it coming down to this or not. I didn't indulge in the guilt game. Now that I had ordered my men to give up their lives, I had to work quickly to try and save as many as I could.

"Take them out!" I yelled at Heero and he nodded as we both began opening fire on the men laying down the explosive charges. There were only three and they probably never knew what hit them. Killing always makes me damn sick, but when you consider that they had willingly joined an organization hell bent on slaughtering people for power, mustering sympathy or regret gets pretty hard.

The fastest way to stop someone from blowing a building up is to keep them from leaving. I sat on the soaking wet roof, my pain and exhaustion almost overwhelming me, and, with Heero's help, took the cover off of a manual control box. It was a bitch. The thing was locked down tight and needed a string of code. By the time we were done, my knee had stiffened and I was shaking with cold, but the doors to the platform clanged shut amid cries of consternation from below. My final act of mayhem was to set a program running, using the connections that the platform control box had with the main computer network. It was a virus that would have everything going haywire in a matter of minutes. Now, if they wanted to leave, they had to use the front door... that is, if they could get them open.

I laughed. People tell me that particular laugh sends chills up their spine. It was Shinigami through and through. Heero looked appreciative. I remembered how many civilian friends I had lost when they had heard the killer side of their 'funny' and 'good natured' friend. It made me lean and kiss Heero hard on the lips. He started, but returned it, just as quick and hard, and then he was hauling me up by one arm and we were making our way back to the gun turret.

With every step I silently thought up a swear word, each one growing progressively more foul as shocks of pain rifled up my leg from my injury and my body tried to turn itself inside out with shivering from the wet and cold. And, yeah, damned Heero was warm and cozy in that space age stretch suit of his. His hair was getting plastered and water was running over his face, but he was otherwise snuggled comfy and warm, and I really hated that. It was too much of a 'told you so' even though he didn't say a word. Duo Maxwell had opted for relaxed and cool, instead of military geek, and now I was going to suffer for it.