"We shouldn't be here," Heero
muttered, his voice sounding much too loud in the ruins of the church.
Duo, for once, failed to respond.
The other boy was making his tentative way up the middle aisle, stepping
over the debris between the crumbling pews. There were glittering shards
of glass everywhere, in every hue. The stars winked merrily, unaffected,
framed as they were in broken spikes of reds and purples, blues and yellows.
Most of the benches were crushed under slabs of cement. At the end of
the aisle, the cross was broken, its top half still suspended by thick
Heero stood back in the massive doorway, watching as Duo approached the
altar with an uncharacteristic air of reverence. His braid swished as
he dropped to his knees, head bowed.
Was he praying then? Heero had to wonder. He had seen Duo grab the crucifix
about his neck, a scowl on his face, and clench it in his fist as though
he could break it or mold it into something else. It seemed every time
Duo was spitting curses he held his holy symbol.
He wasn't holding it now. In fact, he sat much too still, head simply
hanging. Heero felt like an intruder, so he held back.
At least he did until Duo tore the rosary from his neck and chucked it
at the split cross. The small, simple beads flew everywhere, but the crucifix
itself hit its counterpart dead on. Heero was cautious as he picked his
way up the aisle toward Duo, who now stood panting, hands clenched into
tight balls at his sides.
It felt as though he were moving through water, the air was so thick about
him. The tension radiating from the other boy was nearly palpable. Heero's
shoes were startlingly loud on the wooden floor of the raised dais, but
Duo didn't turn around.
Not until Heero put a gentle hand on his shoulder.
Duo made a primal, animal sound in his throat as he flung himself at Heero.
Somewhere between the lunge and the landing, though, his motives changed
from an attack to something else entirely. His hands were clutched in
the bunching fabric of Heero's shirt, and his shoulders shook with heaving
sobs. Cautiously, Heero wound his arms around the other boy's back, hands
stroking as gently as he could manage; he cradled the ruined boy awkwardly
to his chest.
After a moment of pressing silence, Duo finally spoke. His voice raw and
grating; lovely, really. "Do you believe in God, Heero?" The question
took him aback. It wasn't something he could respond to with fact, with
programmed reflexes, and groping for the answer should have made him uncomfortable.
Kneeling with his arms around another person, another soldier, should
have made him uncomfortable, too.
Strangely enough, though his world was slanting, he found that he had
an answer, one that came to him from the very depths of his own being.
In perfect honesty, he told him, "I'm not sure." He smoothed a hand over
the back of Duo's head, then he added, "But I think God believes in me."
Duo looked back up then, eyes dark and intent as they shone with unshed
tears and unspoken emotion. His lips pulled back into a wry smile; it
was more of a grimace. "You never say what I expect."
"Why? Do you believe in God?" Heero's voice was quiet, and it seemed
to float between them, carrying questions that were somehow weightier
than even this.
The reply was immediate. "Yes." There was something wearily relieved in
the way it was spoken, as though Duo were ancient and had been waiting
to say this for the entirety of his lifetime. "Yes," he said, softer this
time. Angrier, too. "A world this cruel couldn't happen by accident."
They were silent for a long time after that, the eerie quiet of the ruined
church weighing down upon their narrow shoulders. Duo had his hands wrenched
into Heero's shirt, nails against his skin, one clutching at his chest
with the other stuck claw-like at his waist. Their breaths passed between
them, Duo's smelling of sugar and tears, Heero's of bitter tea and solitude.
There was something in the space between one breath and the next that
changed the air about them. Suddenly, the stillness and the silence were
too much, and it prompted both into moving at once. Though the idea never
seemed to form in either mind, securely hidden emotions must have trickled
out, for their lips met slowly, each hesitant of himself yet sure of the
It was little more than a simple touch, with both boys' eyes still open,
blue on blue on blue on blue... Heero was the one who finally let his
guard down, let his lids fall to half mast, and the irony of that was
hardly lost on Duo. Heero was also the one who pressed forward, his mouth
touching down more determinedly, gentle but firm.
Duo's lips gave easily under his. They were softer than he would have
expected, had he ever let himself think on this at all, but they weren't
smooth. The roughened surface was far from unpleasant, though, and the
kiss itself made him tingle from head to toe. His tongue poked out gently,
running curiously over both their chapped lips, before dipping slowly
into Duo's mouth. The other boy's tongue met his, soft and pliant and
slick as they slid together.
Constant training and warfare left one bereft of the sort of experiences
many teenagers already knew; this was Heero's first kiss, and he wouldn't
be surprised to find out it was Duo's. He had never wondered what it might
be like to hold his lips and tongue against someone else's, never wondered
what it might be like to feel his pulse quicken and flutter under his
skin, to inch unerringly closer to another body until he was sealed tightly
against it. If he had considered it, though, he wouldn't have thought
it would be so nice. The only other thing that left his heart pounding
and ears ringing like this was battle, and that was something savage and
brutal and far too calculated. This was two people in communion without
ever thinking on the how or the why, or anything else except
the scent and the sight and the taste and the feel and the sounds of the
other. It was so very, very human.
It was true sanctuary.
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