By: Lyssira
Disclaimer: They're not mine. I mean, if they were, would the 1x2 vs. 1xR debate even exist? Methinkth not.
Warnings: Yaoi. Citrus. Angst. Trowa's POV. TWT
Pairing: 2x3
Rating: R
C&C: Your response _will_ count in the petition to get me some professional help. Yes, you too can make a difference.
Notes: *hands cute lil tamed plot bunny back to Dacia-san* *points wildly* It's _her_ fault you see. For you, D-san! ^___^

Batter My Heart

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you' enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

~John Donne

I sit on a crowded bus and try not to listen to the conversations of those around me. Their words are a constant rumble in my ears which soon becomes entrenched within the wrinkles and crevices of my mind. It's almost a pulse, that constant babble. Our mechanical transportation lurches around every corner, bumps on every pothole in the road. The most you can do is try not to get thrown around - it's no worse than space travel, really. I hear the other passengers complain of it, their harsh voices squawking about the weather, the traffic, the bus's tepid air. I have a window seat, at least, and the world flashes by in different shades of gray.

The bus stops and people get off. Their elbows smash into other's ribs, their packages jostle the poor souls sitting next to them. I stay against my window. They don't glance over; they don't hit me. If asked about a teenage boy on the bus with them, they would babble and jabber, and know nothing whatsoever. I retreat from the inevitable noise and violence in their haste to move on to the next place. It's not my stop yet, wherever that is.

It's surprising, at least to me, that time feels like it's moving so much more slowly when you're waiting for something. Time moves at the same speed no matter what is happening. But if you're waiting to get somewhere or for something to boil or that last bullet to reach you and kill you, it trudges along in our perception. It's as if everything is moving through liquid rubber. I close my eyes wait for what could be a minute or an hour or a day. Maybe it's a lifetime.

When I open my eyes, the bus screeches to a stop for a final time. The sun is low over the gray horizon and the buzzing, rumbling jabber around me has ceased. In fact, I am alone on the bus, save for the drunk snoring in the back and a young girl who's trying to run away from home with little success. In fact, I think she boarded with me on this very stop, about six hours ago. I pass the grizzled bus driver on my way out, who makes no noise, has made none all day and probably won't until he gets home to his wife.

There's a telephone booth on the corner. I step inside. There's probably a hotel somewhere around here where I can stay. If not, there's a park a few miles up the street. It's not cold enough to bother with newspapers. And no one will look for a Gundam pilot among the homeless littering the benches. Even if they choose this city out of all the hundreds of thousands, they will not find me.

I pull the telephone book out from its standard place and flip it open. Yet just when my finger hovers over the buttons, the door is pushed open behind me. And, when I turn, there's a guy standing there. He's about my age, some inches shorter than me. His hair is long and braided, winding around the outside of his jacket. Narrowed blue-violet eyes measure me. The muscles on his arms and chest reveal his gender, otherwise lost to androgyny. His lips are up turned in that ever-present smirk.

"Duo," I acknowledge and turn back to the phone. I punch the area code and then-

"Need a place to stay?" he asks.

"No," I say.

"Come on," he tells me. Not a request or a command. A fact.

He leaves the booth. I follow. The phone hangs where I leave it, dial tone waiting for the next person to arrive.

The apartment building is only a few blocks down the sidewalk. It isn't very old, but it's cheap. City smog blackens the brick. Duo leads me in the back way and up a winding staircase. It's dim; the stenches of old marijuana, beer and piss hang in the air. Our shoes echo against the metal of the staircase. We seem to be alone in the building. The steps stretch up and up into the darkness. Duo doesn't speak again until we reach the very top. The landing is narrow, leaving barely an inch between us. Warmth radiates from his skin, even from under the black shirt and jacket he wears. His scent obliterates the others; he smells like espresso and sex.

"Been here long?" he asks me.

I shrug. It's only been a week or so, but that is too much to say. This just happens to be where I am. It doesn't matter one way or another, anyway. He quirks an eyebrow at me and mimics my shrug.

"No where else to go," he agrees. He fumbles with the key; his whole body seems to move with the effort of it. The lock is stiff and he twists against it and against me. I balance on the edge of the landing, waiting. Finally, after much squirming and bending, it clicks and the door swings open. Duo gestures me in before him. I brush past; I ignore the full body contact which results.

His apartment is little more than a loft. A couch is shoved in one corner, a set of kitchen appliances in the other. It's relatively neat - no dirty plates or empty pizza boxes litter the floor. The only debris is a stack of magazines that look to be about a decade old and a collection of moth-eaten, mismatched pillows strewn from the couch. He leans over to pick up the pillows and returns them to their proper place. His jacket is flung on a nearby chair, revealing the well-fitted t-shirt underneath. His usual over shirt hides the wiry muscle I see now. It has advantages, I muse. People underestimate him if they cannot see what lurks beneath the surface.

"Hungry?" Duo asks, after everything is straightened to his satisfaction. He kicks off his sneakers and slips into the kitchen area. It's tiled with cracked ceramic, hidden from the rest of the apartment by an extended counter. I grunt an affirmative. Breakfast was several hours ago. My stomach has been complaining for some time. Besides, he would assume I am, had I replied the opposite. There's little point in asking me.

I take a chair from the living room area and spin it around so I can watch him. My chin rests on my arms. He moves around the appliances with a practiced ease and retrieves two bowls, two spoons, and a package of Ramen from the cupboard. He has to stretch to reach the higher shelves where the kettle and pots rest. The t-shirt rises to show the pale, muscled flesh of his back. He hums to himself and fills the kettle. When that's finished and he's waiting, he turns to look at me.

"Where's your Gundam?" His voice is uncharacteristically soft. His lids drop a little, hiding whatever emotion in his eyes.

"Storage."

He snorts, "Mine too. Y'heard from anyone?"

"Not for a while," I say.

"They're out there somewhere. We would know if they were caught."

I murmur some sort of agreement. It's quiet; we listen to the bubbling water in the kettle and each other. I can barely hear his breathing. He turns to remove the kettle from the stove and pours the hot water into the Ramen cups. He's humming again, some forgotten tune from childhood. His braid seems to follow him around as he goes. It picks up the dim yellow lamplight and dances around it, playing with the colors. His skin contrasts sharply with the black fabric under the light. The only person I've seen paler is Quatre. Minutes pass by and he doesn't stop moving, even when there's nothing to do. He doesn't pace, not quite, but he won't sit still.

When the Ramen's done, he carries it into the living room and rests it on the end table. I leave my chair at his insistence and he steers me over to the sofa, his hands on my shoulders. I squirm at the contact. He gives me a good shove onto the soft material and, I sink into the cushions. I straighten myself from the sprawl and he takes a seat beside me, watching me from the corner of one eye. He passes me a bowlful of instant soup and gestures for me to eat. It's salty and probably contains no nutritious value whatsoever, but it's hot and it's food. We eat in silence, washing the meal down with cheap beer, not potent enough to get inebriated, be that a blessing or a curse.

After the bowls are cleaned and shelved, Duo takes the seat next to me again. He tucks his feet underneath him, sitting only a few inches away.

"Where are you from, anyway?" he asks.

"L3." That's the official story, of course. Trowa Barton was leader of a small group of rebels on that particular colony. My namesake.

He rolls his eyes at me.

"Nowhere," I say, "And you?"

"Nowhere," he echoes, "I grew up on L2."

I nod. A fellow war orphan, it seems.

"Well, you're one hell of a fighter," he says. His tone is flat. It's more of an insult than a compliment.

"You fight in anger. It's foolish."

"It's the only way I know how," his brows draw close in a glare, "And it beats losing feeling altogether."

"If you're implying I'm not human, it's nothing new," I inform him.

"I'm not implying anything about you, Trowa," he says. He's warm, warmer than before; I can feel it across the space between us.

"You're implying I lost emotion. You're wrong."

"Really?"

"I never had it to begin with," I say. I squirm internally. He's too close to me; he's forcing me to talk about me.

He smiles a little, "Did any of us?"

"We're soldiers. Ideally, we wouldn't."

"You're wrong, now," he tells me, "Ideally, soldiers have more emotion than anyone else."

"What?"

"We kill people, but we keep feeling. We regret. Because we feel, they never truly die," he says.

"I don't regret it." I sound annoyed, even to myself. He laughs softly.

"Sorry, I got all philosophical on you, didn't I?" he shakes his head.

My face tightens into a glare - an unfamiliar expression, "I'll never regret it. I've killed more people than you could imagine."

It's quiet for a moment.

"Did you kill your family?" he asks me. He's shielding his eyes again, hiding feeling behind the lids and lashes.

"Yes." They taught me how.

"You don't regret that?"

"No." Never.

He doesn't say anything. His features are bland, like mine.

Duo kisses me.

There's nothing gentle about him. His lips are crushed against mine; his arms wind around me. I return the embrace, finding my arms, my lungs, full of him, his warmth. He lies on top of me, pinning me to the couch. I kiss him back. His hands slide under my shirt, exploring blindly. I don't know how much time passes. I can only respond to him, let him do as he wishes, react to those wishes. Control is a forgotten memory, a dream. He's quick and demanding but not violent. He doesn't hurt me. It's just kissing and touching. Warm and soft. But-

I squirm out from under him and let him fall onto the couch. I stumble away from the sofa, from him. My skin is on fire, from my scalp to the pads of my feet. I can barely breathe. He turns over to regard me cooly. I stare back.

"You can go if you want to," he says.

I say nothing.

"You're free, you know. No one's forcing you to do anything."

My lips won't work.

"I think the neighborhood rapist is two floors down, if you're looking for coercion."

My vocal cords have frozen.

"Motion requires the use of energy. If you don't use energy, you can't move. And you can't leave," he informs me.

I should say something.

"Go home, Trowa. Go and fuck your sister, if that's what you want to do," he won't look at me.

I should go.

"Stop staring at me, asshole. I'm not a freak just because I feel."

I take a step forward. And another. I sit down next to him. He refuses to turn his head. His eyes are on the only window, on the gray world outside. I continue watching him. I study the tilt of his head, his slouch. He curls in on himself, wraps his arms around his knees. I wonder. I reach out with one hand - a steady hand, I note - and touch his bare arm. Electricity flies up my nerves. He looks at my hand, at the point where my skin meets his. He's still warm, warmer than anyone I've ever met.

I've never apologized to anyone in my life. I don't plan to now.

With my free hand I touch his face. I trace the smooth curve of one cheek, the premature lines around the eyes. My fingers move to his hair, sweeping away his bangs which hang in spikes badly in need of trimming. He doesn't react; he still won't look at me. I smooth the rumpled shirt, feel the hardened muscle beneath thin cotton.

Finally, I drop my wrist to one side, but he catches it. He uses that hand to pull me closer until I'm practically on top of him.

He loops his arms around my neck and draws me nearer. My lips hover above his. I watch him; I wait for whatever it is I'm supposed to do. He wraps his legs around my waist. No one's ever touched me this much before. He brings me down, until I am completely touching him. He kisses me gently. He's almost tender in his actions, trailing kisses down my face. He presses his lips to my forehead once, as one would a child. His hands are in my hair, beneath my clothes, on my skin. I let him do what he will; maybe I even want him to do these things.

I return the caresses slowly. I do what he shows me.

I think a million things, but I don't feel them. Not yet.

+

It's not often you find yourself lying with one considered a comrade. After the first night, I've become used to it. Duo's nestled against me and I him, our skin bare. He's not quite asleep and neither am I. His lids are open a crack, revealing slits of blue. That braid of his is twined between us like an ambitious pet. I run a hand down his exposed side. He sighs and wraps an arm around me in turn.

"You're one hell of a fighter," he tells me, again.

I murmur something unintelligible into his chest.

"You're even better in bed."

I don't smile; it's not something I've ever done or maybe will ever do. But, if I do, it will feel like this.

"You going to leave today?" he asks.

I shrug. I may. I will go soon; he knows that. I kiss him lightly.

"I could be wrong about feeling, Trowa. Maybe we don't," he says.

"It doesn't matter," I point out.

Duo holds me a little tighter, returning the electricity to me. I savor it; for a second I wonder if I might always like to be here.

I get up.

~Owari~

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