Warnings: citrusy bits, violence, occasional angst, possible pretentiousness
on the part of the author.
Disclaimer: If I owned Gundam Wing, there would be a lot less plot and
a lot more sex.
Notes: Thank you, thank you, thank you to Dev-Aki Basaa for her beta skills.
Any mistakes left are mine and mine alone.
"Nothing sharpens sight like envy." -- Thomas Fuller
The first time Duo sees Relena, he thinks she is insane. It takes some
time, but now he understands the force of nature that swept her away.
Heero is unlike anyone Duo has ever encountered, quiet and serious and
really, truly dangerous. He is terrifying and beautiful at once.
He possesses a focus, a single-mindedness that Duo envies.
Envy, it seems, is something he will have to get used to because Relena
circles them both like a hawk. She is kind enough, he knows, but she fears
anything and anyone that may come between her and her fairy tale knight.
Duo, in turn, watches Heero slowly accept Relena's persistent presence,
and he finds that he is relieved when a mission removes him from that
situation. But this demon sinks its claws in deeper than he expects. Duo
doesn't just envy; he wants, too.
When Duo has room to breathe, he finds his head filled with thoughts of
Heero and how he's a disgustingly good soldier, and he thinks about Relena
slowly working her way closer to him, and he thinks about Heero letting
it happen. He also thinks that, whatever she's chipping away at, it's
got to be ugly on the inside, because nobody's that perfect.
Duo squeezes his eyes shut and prays it is so; he's afraid these thoughts
may consume him otherwise.
"Apathy is a sort of living oblivion." -- Horace Greeley
Duo thought Heero was dead. He should have known better.
Now Duo sits alone in a cramped room with him, playing surveillance, and
Heero doesn't seem to notice him or the slight bruises still visible on
his own once-broken body. Duo doesn't do silence well, at least not when
there's someone else.
Finally, he twists his headset to uncover one ear and says what's been
on his mind. "You almost killed yourself. Why?"
Heero says nothing, but he does glance Duo's way for a second, which is
more of a response than Duo expects, to be honest. He sits back with a
sigh, a little annoyed and casting surreptitious looks in the hopes Heero
might actually say something.
When he finally gives up on getting any sort of response, he starts to
pull the earpiece back on. That's when Heero speaks, and Duo tenses a
little at the sound of his voice, because it's rich and deep and Duo doesn't
ever hear enough of it. "I blew up the suit. I didn't attempt suicide."
"Why, though?" Duo doesn't take his eyes off the screen, but he can feel
the prickle of hairs standing up on his skin like Heero is staring at
"The enemy would have gotten hold of it if I hadn't."
"And you had no other options? Nobody else tried to blow themselves up."
Heero shrugs and Duo wonders just how much Heero really thought it out
before he acted. He thinks Heero might have just wanted the excuse to
pull the trigger. "You'll serve the cause better alive than dead," he
"Maybe. But when the war is over, my purpose will be served." Heero's
voice is strange and calm, and Duo thinks it's the sort of voice that
could lull him to sleep -- if not for the cold, alien things he says.
"What need does a world of peace have for an outdated instrument of war?"
The apathy in his voice makes Duo's skin crawl, though there's a part
of him that realizes this is the longest Heero's ever spoken to him. Any
envy he might feel for Heero's single-minded determination finally dies
with those words.
"You don't have anything to live for when it's over?" Duo can't help himself;
he has to ask, even if he already knows the answer.
"What more can there be?"
Duo doesn't have a reply ready, not one that would make sense to someone
who just didn't care, so he pulls his earpiece back on and tries to forget
the conversation. Perhaps the silence is better after all.
"We are all born brave, trusting and greedy, and most of us remain
greedy." -- Mignon McLaughlin
Duo is a packrat, a scavenger, and it's no wonder he ended up with the
Sweeper Group. Even now, he holds on to anything he can find, be it scrap
metal he can actually use or little things, trinkets and other useless
items, just to know he has it.
He doesn't know that any of this will come in handy; in fact, he's pretty
sure it won't, unless the Gundams start running on plastic bracelets or
It's hard to change a lifetime of habit, even if he knows that there is
no longer a need for it. The habit is more distraction than survival skill.
It takes an act of will for him to get rid of the excess, but he does
it when he catches himself because he knows he is greedy, knows he has
no use for the things he collects.
Sometimes, though, there are little items he treasures and keeps near
him, maybe superstitiously, as if these lifeless objects will protect
him somehow. He has trimmed his collection down to three things -- a rosary,
an empty bullet shell and a scrap of an old linen bandage -- and these
things he holds dearest.
He keeps it his little secret. If anyone knew, he's not sure what would
happen, but he knows it will change him. He doesn't know if he believes
their knowledge will strip these objects of their power, or if he thinks
they'll laugh at him, or if he's afraid someone will, against all reason,
recognize one of the things and know immediately why he holds it so dear.
"Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us." --
Peter De Vries
Any time Duo has the chance to sit down and eat, he sets into it like
it's the last meal he'll have because, one of these days, he will
eat a last meal, and he's determined to make the most of it. He knows
what it's like to go without, and he knows that there will be times when
he has to, if he's trapped or taken prisoner.
So he always makes sure to go back for seconds, no matter how big the
first serving was, and no matter how full he might be. He endures funny
looks for it, but he insists he's still growing and needs it, which is
Heero always takes small, thoughtful bites, and he watches him with what
Duo is certain is disdain in his cool, blue eyes. Of course, it's Duo's
opinion that Heero has no right to judge, considering his fucked up view
of the world, so he keeps eating.
"Lust's passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes."
-- Marquis de Sade
The first time Duo tries anything, he ends up at the business end of Heero's
gun, and all he's done is enter his personal space at a bad time. Heero's
eyes are cold and hard, not the wild animal wariness one would expect
to see, and Duo cracks a crude joke and lifts his hands in surrender.
He hasn't lost this, though, because he can see Heero's lips are just
barely parted, his chest moving up and down with rapid breaths. Duo wonders
how well-prepared Heero is for the treason of his own body, and he thinks
he isn't prepared at all, that Heero, smart as he is, doesn't understand
this at all. Duo knows better than to push his luck just yet though; he
thinks Heero's just crazy enough to kill him.
It takes a few more fumbling, brief attempts before Heero stops letting
Duo pretend that this sad excuse for a seduction is an accident or a joke
and tells him that whatever he's up to, Heero's having none of it. Duo's
pretty sure that makes his desire worse, and if he doesn't become obsessed,
he still thinks about it maybe more than is healthy.
Finally, because Duo isn't known for his patience, he decides to try talking
about it, instead. He's in the middle of changing, and the top half of
his jumpsuit is undone, hanging around his hips. He pulls off his undershirt
and drops it to the floor, sitting down on the end of his bed to pull
off his boots. "Heero, you don't have to stare at the wall when I'm changing.
I really don't care."
If anything, Heero only looks more determined not to look at him. His
jaw is set, and the stoic expression can't hide his reddening cheeks.
Duo can see his throat working to swallow. When Heero says nothing, Duo
just rolls his eyes and keeps undressing.
"Look, you're not weird or weak or whatever it is you think is wrong with
you. It's totally normal." Duo laughs and leers a little because Heero
isn't looking anyway. "I mean, I watch you change all the time, when you
think I'm not. You always turn your back, too, and if you actually thought
it through, you'd realize that only makes it worse."
Heero's blush is a furious red, and his eyes are flashing with something
unfamiliar when he finally looks at Duo, who is now down to his boxers
and standing, utterly unashamed of his body. Heero's eyes stay on Duo's
face, but Duo thinks getting him to look over at all is victory enough,
"It is a weakness. It's a distraction from our mission. Do what
you want, Maxwell, but I'm not going to let it get to me." Coming from
anyone else, there would be a visible sneer on his face.
The audible one is bad enough. Duo can hear the self-righteousness in
Heero's voice, the implication that Duo is somehow less, and he
feels anger rapidly swelling in his chest. He finishes undressing, then
chucks his wadded boxers at Heero, because Duo knows it's the last thing
"Bottle it up, then," he snaps. "I hope it eats you alive." He stalks
across the small room toward the shower. "You're a man, Heero, not a fucking
He can feel Heero's eyes on him until he shuts the door to the bathroom,
and he's too angry to care that this is another small victory.
The next mission is tense between them, but when it is over, when they
return to their tiny, shared room, something about Heero is different.
When Duo peels off his sweat-damp shirt, Heero watches him, and for the
first time that Duo can recall, he is the first to speak.
"You were right," Heero says, and his gaze, unshielded for once, moves
from Duo's face and down his naked torso, and he looks like he's dying
"Yeah?" Duo asks as he steps out of his shoes.
Next thing he knows, he's on one of the beds in a tangle of sweaty arms
and legs and clothing that's made it only halfway off. Heero's mouth is
hot and hard against his, and it's messy and clumsy and everything he's
This isn't love, isn't anything, really, except a temporary escape, but
when he finally sinks deep inside Heero's body, he is sure it's as close
to perfect as he's ever going to get.
"[Wrath is] the love of justice perverted to revenge and spite." --
Duo's cold, even in his heavy jacket, and he glances over his shoulder
to see how far along Heero has come. This mission is nothing. It shouldn't
require two, but they're both used to watching each other's backs by now.
They're just snatching some data, and they should be in and out before
the guards even reach the end of their patrol zone to turn around.
It seems so simple, but there's something inside Duo that's tense and
wary, paranoid maybe, like he's just waiting for the shit to hit the fan.
He hears Heero curse quietly behind him and his heart starts pounding,
limbs tingling with anticipation. He presses his ear to the wall, watches
the shadows in the hallway to see if any have changed, but all he can
hear is the rush of his own blood and the quiet, furious tapping of Heero's
fingers on the keyboard.
They gave themselves more time than they needed, just in case, but even
now, he can feel the minutes creeping by, and he checks his watch. Heero
is taking too long. Duo releases the safety on his gun and the click echoes,
Still nothing in the corridor, and he's just starting to think they'll
be able to scrape by on this one when he hears the slow, quiet sound of
boots on concrete, reverberating off metal walls. "They're coming," he
murmurs to Heero, barely audible, and he waits a few more painful moments
before Heero's got the disk and readying his own gun.
They both slip out of the room and head back the way they came, away from
the guards, quickly as they can manage and still remain silent. Heero's
focus is ahead, and Duo's the one checking over his shoulder, listening
for the guards' footsteps to grow louder, faster, anything signaling pursuit.
And then it happens.
The footsteps speed up behind them, and the guards are already past their
usual patrol area. Duo breaks into a full run, grabbing Heero just above
the elbow to propel him those first few steps. The tunnel is closed off
just ahead. Somewhere, they must have tripped a silent alarm.
Duo starts craning his neck for an alternate route. Heero, ever straightforward,
takes aim and shoots the keypad on the wall, and the little box sparks
and sputters while the doors hiss apart, just far enough for two slender
young men to squeeze through if they go one at a time.
Even so, they've wasted precious seconds, and the gunshot has made them
easier to locate. There are more footsteps now, coming from different
directions. They both have the blueprints of this building memorized,
as always, and when Duo hears boots ahead of them, he hisses through his
teeth and pulls Heero to the right, down a side hallway. Heero turns again
and Duo scrambles to keep up this time, and he hears a gunshot.
Heero pushes Duo back around the corner and more gunshots ricochet off
the walls very near their heads. Heero is crouched low, one hand hiding
inside his jacket, and a thread of unfamiliar panic winds tight around
Duo's chest when he finally understands. He steps in front of Heero and
peers around the corner. He squeezes the trigger and he knows he has hit
one of them; he's too well-trained for anything else. There's a loud curse
and he shoots again, taking advantage of that one moment of shock.
The pair of guards is down, so he grabs Heero by the arm and drags him
forward. Heero's running just as fast as before, but he stumbles every
few steps, and his face looks pale and strained. Duo knows he's gritting
his teeth, but he's staring straight ahead, determined, and there's no
way Duo's going to leave him here. The chase is still on, and when another
set of guards rounds the corner in front of them, Duo shoots, rapid-fire,
before they can even react.
Heero trips over a fallen body and goes down after a few perilous steps,
despite Duo's grip on him.
"C'mon," Duo gasps, trying to pull him back to his feet. Heero pulls his
hand out of his jacket, and it's vivid red all over. Duo's still tugging,
but Heero pats down his own body with that bloody hand then shoves the
disk into Duo's jacket pocket. "Fuck, get up, man."
"Don't be stupid. Run," Heero says through gritted teeth and labored breaths,
and Duo's heart is in his throat and his feet are frozen. Heero drops
his gun, and with his shaking hand, he fumbles to try to grab it again.
Duo crouches by him, tearing off Heero's jacket and wrapping it tight
about his waist, pressing a hard fist against the wound and trying not
to think how huge the stain on Heero's shirt already seems to be. "C'mon,
just get up and we'll get out of here," Duo says, and his voice is high
and tight, unfamiliar even to him. "There's still time."
"Idiot. Finish the mission," Heero says. His eyelids flutter a little;
he slumps over, panting in painful, shallow breaths.
A trio of guards comes through a nearby doorway, and Duo's world goes
red and black as the self-proclaimed God of Death turns all his fury on
"In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes." -- John
Duo wakes up for the umpteenth time, slouched uncomfortably in a tiny
plastic chair. Automatically, he eyes the dozen or so monitors placed
around the room; this, too, has become habit after a few days. Nothing
has changed, and the steady beeps and blips become background noise again
as he settles back into his chair to continue waiting.
He spends most of his days here, only moving to bathe and, after some
bullying, to let them inspect him and bandage him up. His wounds are shallow
and healing quickly, so the nurses leave him alone except to remind him
Relena, on the other hand, is harder to avoid. After all, it's her hospitality
he's intruding on, but when he showed up on her doorstep, covered in blood
and holding Heero's limp body, he wasn't terribly concerned about any
kind of awkward social scenarios.
She checks in every few hours, and she seems intrigued that Duo is here
all the time. She's been unfailingly kind, though, and she's had books
and games sent to distract him while he waits. She's even had them bring
in a television, though it's just so much more background noise to him.
He's so lost in thought that he almost doesn't notice the quiet voice
saying his name. Then he startles and looks at the bed. Heero's eyes are
open and staring at him, and Duo laughs a little, reaching out to put
a hand on his arm, as if he has to touch him to be sure this is happening.
"You saved me?" Heero asks, though it is hardly a question worth responding
to; Heero already knows the answer. His voice is rasping, and he is still
pale, but he's awake and alive.
"I got your body out of there. The rest was all you and Relena's doctors.
For being so willing to die, you're a stubborn bastard. How many times
have you cheated death, now?" Heero doesn't answer right away, and he
looks away from Duo, out the small window and over the lush, green beauty
of the Sanc Kingdom.
"You should have left me," he says finally, a strange tightness in his
voice. "If you had died, the scientists wouldn't have the disk."
Just like that, Duo feels angry and oddly hurt, and he wishes he could
resent spending the past four days cooped up and waiting. "The disk is
useless," he says. "There's nothing on it. We failed. You would have died
for no reason at all."
Heero's jaw tightens a little, and he says again, "You should have left
Duo stands, then, sending the plastic chair skidding over the tile floor
behind him. "Fuck you and your pride, man. I risked my ass to get you
out of there --"
"You should take no risks that put the mission in jeopardy. This is principle,
Maxwell," Heero says, all unflappable calm as he watches Duo pace in frustration.
"You're damn right it's principle," Duo snaps. "If you expect me to sit
back and let you die, you've got the wrong partner. When are you
going to get it? Maybe I did it because saving you was a worthier cause
than finishing the god damned mission. Maybe I --" and here, Duo checks
himself, because he's still got a little pride, too. "Look, maybe martyring
yourself for one mission isn't worth it. Maybe the greater cause still
needs you, and maybe there are people who still need you, too."
Duo is drained at the end of his outburst, and Heero only watches him,
but there's a look in his eyes like something has clicked into place.
Duo feels weighed down by his silence, and he retrieves the chair, sitting
down again, elbows on his knees and face in his hands, because there's
a thousand things he could say right now, but he can neither bear to speak
them nor leave Heero here alone.
Stubborn seconds tick by and the silence stretches uncomfortably.
"Duo?" Finally Heero's voice, quiet and thready, forces him to look up,
and Duo wonders vaguely how ragged he must look. Heero's expression hasn't
changed, not really, but it's somehow softer, like there's less for him
to hide, and he says, "I wouldn't have left you either."
It isn't a lot -- not spoken, at least -- but Duo smiles and allows himself
to imagine, if only for a few moments, that maybe there are such things
as peace and happy endings.
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