Author: Maldoror
Genre: Action, Drama, Humour (some)
Pairings: 1x5, others tba
Rated: NC17
Warnings: Violence, language, sex, adult situations
Spoilers: Yes, quite a lot for end of series (no EW though)
Feedback: Please! Particularly what you like/don't like about the fic.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to its owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off of them. Not a single peanut.

AN: Again huge thanks to Dawna who corrected the heinous mistakes I made in this chapter (I gave her a lot more work in this one) and gave me a few nifty turn of phrases to boot! Even though I kept changing it on her until the last minute I posted! Any mistakes left are born of my own addition and modifications and should be entirely blamed on me (or the phase of the moon, if you'll buy that one).

Also thanks to Sol, for being such a dang good author, and for listening to me whine about this chapter over AIM. The first part of this chapter is the one I modified. You tell me if it's slightly weird or not, Sol...

WARNING: Little extra warning for a bit of blood and violence. Anyone here actually surprised? Also one of the rare POV shifts of the story.

The Arrangement + Chapter 20
Infiltration, Part II

"Honeyed words and flattering looks seldom speak of strong affection."
Confucian Saying

---

"Maxwell."

"Yeah, Wufei?"

"Yuy and I had a mission right before Relena's convention, so we were out of the house for a couple of weeks before going straight to Berlin. Then Yuy got shot, and he's been convalescing ever since. Now he's a lot better, but of course you've been here for, what, a week and a half?"

"...So?"

"So it's been two months since we were alone and fit in a safe place together, and we're both beginning to feel edgy as a result. Do you think you could get lost for a couple of hours so Yuy and I can have sex?"

Duo simply stared at him, jaw hanging somewhere near his breastbone, then faint crack lines began to appear at his extremities, shivered through his petrified form, and shattered him into a small heap of surprised dust and debris.

Wufei sighed and shifted against his bed. He'd been trying to meditate, but that had been so much harder than usual - when it shouldn't be, not for someone with his reserve and focus. In the end he'd pretended he was done and let it rest.

He could hear Heero move around in his own room, two doors down. He'd come back ten minutes ago, sans Maxwell, the latter having apparently opted to make his own way home for some reason.

Heero's chair squeaked and, like a mathematical equation, the computer keys started to clatter as a result. Wufei's mouth tightened. Humph. Well, Yuy was the one getting all tense and bothered, and rather aggressive without...a break. Wufei wasn't as uptight about it, and it wasn't up to him to start something if Yuy could get by without it. Besides Maxwell would probably be home Any Minute Now, and that was quite discouraging. The cheeky ex-pilot was a silent as a shadow even when walking normally, and he had never mastered the art of knocking; it was as foreign to him as the practice of levitation.

Wufei shifted again. He found himself clasping his arms, rubbing them as if he was feeling cold, but he wasn't. He grimaced, anger and self-directed contempt twisting his lips. He'd cut his meditations short because, while he was feeling rather cocky that he wasn't as bothered as Heero by the lack of sex in their lives right now, the absence of something else, at once simpler and more fundamental, had suddenly leapt up from behind and stabbed his awareness in the back. It was the little constraint he'd felt right from the start of Duo's visit. The little discomfort, slowly growing. It was so...strange, so unexpected, he hadn't wanted to face it head on just yet. But it was still there; his fingers gripped his upper arms, rubbed unconsciously.

He tore his hands away, more ashamed than if he'd emerged from his thoughts jerking off. Hell, at least that was a normal teenage urge.

He imagined Duo bursting through the door to find him hugging himself.

"Hey Wufei! If you were that lonely, you just needed to tell me!" Cue an enthusiastic arm around the shoulder.

Imaginary Duo found himself catapulted against the wall where he bounced off like a rubber ball before glaring daggers at Wufei.

"Geez. You're one sad bastard, you know?"

"I agree." Wufei sighed, idly looking around for something to toss at the pest. "This weakness is something new. I've gotten soft since the war. Solitude used to be my comfort. And now..."

"Now you need a hug!" Duo beamed at him, from a very safe distance. Wufei wondered if he could wing him with the bedside table. "But by sad bastard, I meant, because you're not even admitting that it's normal to want someone to touch you once in awhile. We're social animals, buddy!"

"No, we're not. We're killers. Conditioned to fight or flee anything that enters our personal space."

"A little factoid that would explain why you're so twisted up inside. But you should at least admit to it, and not call it a weakness. Hell, even the Great Heero Yuy, Perfect Soldier and all around hard-ass extraordinaire, needs a bit of skin-on-skin action from time to time."

Wufei shuddered at the leer he imagined on Duo's face. A part of him was simply mortified; it might be influenced by a certain braided demon, and wearing his face in Wufei's imagination, but that voice, those irreverent words and weak sentiments were in fact coming from a part of his own mind.

"Yuy doesn't need - he gets rid of it efficiently." Heero blended it all in with his carnal urges and left it there, in the rumpled sheets of Wufei's bed.

"Is that so?" Duo asked gnomically; he was suddenly in a lotus position on Wufei's meditation mat, leering like a blasphemous bodhisattva.

"Pf, of course! Yuy and I never touch except when we're having sex." Wufei frowned at the ceiling, trying to banish the image and the question, while his mind, in the form of an imp, reminded him of....

...The sparring, and boy did he miss that, even more than Heero appeared to. That implied a lot of physical contact, but of the painful variety. Well, painful and yet...thrilling too...don't go there...but apart from that-...

...The way they occasionally cooked their meal together, Heero chopping the meat and vegetables with ruthless, killer efficiency while Wufei cautiously reached around him to get the rice or noodles...

...Then there were the times they worked on a piece of machinery side by side, or cleaned their weapons at the kitchen counter after going to the shooting range, sharing the rags and oil...

...Or just sat on either side of the couch, an act that shouldn't count but did, because the couch wasn't big enough to allow them to sit together without entering into each other's personal space and for men like them, to allow that was the same as actual physical contact.

That had happened for the first time a couple of months after Wufei had moved in, he remembered, mind wandering. He'd been working on his Asian literature course, a five-year long distance part-time program he'd organized with a Chinese University. Something to occupy his mind during their breaks, an old love. He rather thought Heero disapproved of the occupation, seeing it as a waste of mental resources and time Wufei could spend training. He'd been studying a volume on poetry, and out of the blue and without a word, Heero had sat down on the couch to flip through the latest issue of The Practically Perfect Programmer. Wufei had been so startled he'd almost dropped his book. Heero had glanced up from his article with a 'yeah, what?' look on his face and Wufei had decided not to comment. He quickly plunged back into his book though he hadn't studied very well that evening...

Then he'd gotten used to it.

Like he'd gotten used to a few other things that Maxwell had disrupted.

"Hey, don't mind me!" Maxwell was still strutting around in his mind. "You two want to cuddle, then just go right ahead!"

"No way." Wufei shuddered.

"What? Jeez Louise on a breeze, Wuf, do you really think I'll take one look at you and Heero reading together at either end of the couch and say, 'doggone it, they ARE boning each other'? I'm pretty smart, but I ain't that astute!"

Wufei grabbed the monkey by the scruff of his neck and hurled him out of his mental room but the truth was clawing its way back through the door before he could shut it again. For Wufei and Heero, sitting together like that was intimate, it was significant, it was...it was not something either of them would feel comfortable doing with Maxwell anywhere in the entire European Confederacy. Ultimately, it wasn't about what Duo might deduce. In the final equation, Wufei didn't really care if Maxwell knew he and Heero were fucking each other as long as he didn't make any lewd remarks or jump to stupid conclusions. No. The problem was, that the closeness they shared in those moments together was not the affectionate contact of friends or bed mates, but rather it was the delicate negotiation of a no-man's-land, and one of Maxwell's brash comments could disrupt a fine balance, an unspoken agreement between them, that just-...was too private...too...

Wufei ripped his hands away from his arms again. How long was 'Any Minute Now' anyway?!

The banging of the front door closing answered that question. He waited in resignation for Duo to bound up the stairs and pick on one or the other of them. Apparently, the flirting the first day really had been teasing because it had never been repeated; it had been cut off like it was on a switch. But Duo did hate being alone, and he would always join one of his friends in whatever they happened to be doing, even if it was only to sit next to them in silence and work on his own stuff. A week ago Wufei would have sneered at that as being a rather pitiful weakness but he was honest enough with himself not to go there tonight, considering the thoughts that had been running through his mind just before that door slammed.

No sound of Maxwell leaping up the stairs...

Wufei frowned at the ceiling, then rose silently from the bed, ears pricked. There was no noise from downstairs at all. He was halfway to his door when Heero's opened.

The partners exchanged a puzzled glance on the landing - if there'd been any real danger Maxwell would have found a way of making some unusual noise - unless silence was unusual enough to count? Heero, Wufei noted with no real surprise, had his gun tucked into the back of his jeans. Wufei made a 'decoy' gesture and walked noisily down the stairs, Heero ghosting behind him, hidden in shadows.

It wasn't Maxwell in the main room. It was Shinigami.

He was sitting on the couch, legs stretched out at shoulder width, hands relaxed on his thighs, eyes thoughtful, wearing a small smile like a half-concealed blade. His usual leather jacket had been replaced by a more formal black trench coat. An innocuous black cap hid his hair and clashed with the less casual attire, but so would the tell-tale braid.

"Hi guys." He said without looking up. "We have something of a situation."

"Were you followed?" Heero asked, coming down the stairs, eyes sweeping the room. "Was that why you walked straight past my car and headed towards the bus station?"

"That was just a precaution. But yeah, as it turned out, I was being followed. I lost him now."

"But you were expecting something like that, weren't you?" Heero grabbed a stool from the counter and sat on it, back rigid, arms crossed over his chest, glaring down at Duo like he was conducting a debriefing.

"Got a lot more than I expected..."

"Are you injured?" Wufei asked, pragmatically. He couldn't see any traces of a struggle, but Duo would have hidden any such signs before taking the bus. Though there shouldn't have been any struggle. The meeting should have been routine, and fairly safe.

After two more attempts at a break-in that had only gotten him as far as the third level, Duo had decided to 'get serious'. He'd done what a terrorist or professional thief would be expected to do; he contacted the Brussels underworld to get in touch with organized crime, to try to buy the information he needed. Every big city had small groups of people whose only brush with illegality was gathering information on tempting targets that they could then sell to interested parties. For a price, they could provide floor-plans, guard details, security system codes. They would go through garbage cans looking for passwords on pieces of paper - a surprisingly successful way of obtaining them. They would pay people working in security firms, janitorial staff, building inspectors and small-time employees for anything they couldn't (literally) dig out of the trash.

"I barely had time to say 'Preventer's HQ Special Division', they were talking price already. A big price. 'Do you want a Taurus or two with that' size of price," Duo said, eyes still terribly thoughtful, ignoring Wufei's question. "Way more than I expected them to ask; I had chump change. I thought they'd have a few measly floor plans and the name of the colonel's pet dog that would give me access to the private PC where he keeps his porn. Caught me a bit off guard but fortunately I have...ah, accounts. They had enough money in them to impress the boss himself." Heero and Wufei nodded. They had similar accounts. They never used them; it was blood money hacked from the worst of OZ's specials black bank accounts. But they didn't feel like giving it back to whatever politician or organisation that would take a cut out of it. The dividends went to charities. The bulk was kept in case they ever had to go underground again; they were all too paranoid to fully trust in the new peace without leaving some kind of wiggle room. They'd destroyed their Gundams; that was as big an act of faith as anyone could ask for.

"I flashed some sums around. We started negotiating. I asked to get a sampler of the goods...

"So he showed me what I could buy. Heero..." Duo slowly looked up. "They have it all. Every system password, every blue-print, every goddamn wire junction, and the entire guard detail and patrols. They could fucking waltz in there tomorrow."

"How." One word, cold as the slopes of Hades.

"I don't know, mate. They were leery of me. Not as much as they should be...but pretty close. Asked me very pointed question about what organization I worked for, what my aims were - funny, actually; I think they only wanted to make sure I wasn't trying to make a hit on you two. Our warning scared a lot of roaches under the floorboard of society." Duo absently reached for his cap, jerked it off and let his braid coil across one shoulder. "I fed them a line. I called Quatre and Une on the bus back, to make sure as much of the cover details can be set up -"

"You're going back in?" Wufei sunk down on the other end of the couch.

"I have to. They had everything. They've got some source, or something...and if nothing else we need to know who they sold this info to. Heero can play merry havoc with the codes and some of the landline securities, and we can change guard patrols, but Ops is still pretty open. I chatted with one of them afterwards. Elsabeth, lovely woman. Very open." Duo smiled like a wolf and Wufei found himself nodding in memory of the Maxwell charm in action. "She hinted that maybe I should save my money...that there might be something in the works that could queer my info before I could use it." Heero leaned forward on the stool, eyes like diamond drills. "I gotta go back and see what I can fish out. I've got an opening to return. Considering the sum involved, I said I had to go back to my buyers to get their opinion. I have an appointment in two days' time to close the deal - according to Elsa, nothing will blow up before then."

"How will you get the information you need?" Heero asked quietly.

"I'll have to get back to you on that," Duo answered, standing in a smooth black blur and spinning to look back at the toolshed. "I need one of your bikes."

"Take mine." Wufei said. "Yuy's always tinkering with his." A low grumble didn't contradict him so much as tell him to mind his own business but he and Duo ignored it. "Keys are in the ignition already."

"K. I'll be back...probably in less than an hour. Maybe more. Maybe not until tomorrow."

"Do you need backup?"

"Where I'm going, you two dames would stand out like a couple of nuns in a brothel. You'd be more a liability than a help, sorry." Duo leered over his shoulder, striding towards the bike. "But keep shifts on Yuy's cell. If I need a hand...I'll holler so loud all of Brussels will hear me!"

"You do that." Wufei said severely, knowing that things would have to be almost terminal before Duo actually made good on it. There was the screech of the garage door opening, the grumble of Wufei's bike starting...and the thump of Heero's feet up the stairs.

Wufei followed slowly after closing the garage door behind the black-clad figure. He knocked on Heero's door and opened it without waiting for the grunt.

"Yuy, I'll take tonight's shift. Give me your cell phone."

"No." Heero was already at his desk, fingers flying over the keyboard, eyes like pits in the darkness only broken by the dubious light of his screen, which was covered in DOS windows. "I have it."

"You don't have it, Yuy, you only have eighty percent of it." Wufei sneered. "That's how much of your top fighting capability you said you had when I asked you yesterday. If Duo needs backup, I'll take it."

"I can handle it."

"Don't be a pig-headed-"

"I need to work on this." Heero snapped, eyes still glued to the screen. "You go sleep so you can take a shift tomorrow."

"Maxwell probably won't have to go out tomorrow; the criminal world is rather notorious about sleeping in very late. And you can't reinforce security, you might blow Maxwell's cover, it's thin enough as it is."

"I'm not reinforcing anything. I'm setting shepherd programs on vital functions, so that if anyone disrupts them, I'll be alerted. Then I'm running a thorough diagnostic to verify nothing has slipped in already, and then I'm-"

"Bed, Yuy."

That got him a murderous glare before Heero turned back to the screen. Wufei took one weighing look at the stiff, unrelenting shoulders. There were times he could argue with Heero - they'd had some spectacular fights in the past eight months, some ending up on the dojo floor - and there were times he had to bend like the willow. He ended up cat-napping on Heero's bunk bed, lulled by the clicking of keys, on alert for a call from Duo. But Heero's cell phone stayed mute.

Duo showed up the next day and told them - with typical Shinigami jubilation - that he had The Plan.

---

"This is a very stupid plan." Wufei grumbled. He'd been trying not to, but seeing Heero grimace as he tightened the straps on his flak jacket had prompted the words.

Heero ignored him. Of course.

"You are in no condition to abseil down anything, Yuy."

Silence. Of the stubborn, pig-headed, masochistic variety.

Wufei wondered if he could get away with clocking Heero on the jaw and locking him in the trunk of the car. But Heero wasn't quite impaired enough for that. And even if, by a staggering bit of luck, Wufei managed it anyway, Heero would kill him afterwards, and that would be rather tiresome.

In his ear, Duo was flirting with someone, probably the Elsa woman, or maybe someone else. His voice was metallic and flat through the earpiece. The meeting was in ten minutes; they had to be in place by then.

Both Heero and Wufei had insisted that Duo wire up. He could be open about it; since he had access codes to an account with a considerable sum in it on his person, he was perfectly in his right to come with backup and a way to holler for help. There should be no reason for the information brokers to be suspicious. Duo's false credentials had been probed, a light background check had been run on him, but Une, who was handling things herself, didn't think they had anything to make them suspicious.

Wufei didn't like it. Because no-one knew where the potential leak was coming from, in Ops or from another Preventer's division, they couldn't involve their usual surveillance staff, they couldn't have Sanji's squad around the corner for backup, they couldn't even do any of this legally. If they were caught or killed...well, Une said it would be messy, and that was probably an understatement. They had to do it alone and they had to do it right. Which was why Heero had insisted on coming along, though Wufei had pointed out several times that he could have gone in on his own.

Two rooftop scrambles later they were at the elevator shaft and disabling the simple security system on it. The brokers were not a dangerous target. They tried to keep a low and fairly clean profile, so they didn't have an army of trigger-happy guards or high level alarms for the partners to run into. This was minimal risk, Wufei reminded himself for the tenth time as he watched Heero stretch up and hook a pulley over one of the elevator's support joists. He'd have offered to do it except that he didn't feel like getting roasted right before a mission, plus if Heero couldn't reach that high easily, Wufei would have a very good reason to tell him to go sit in the car.

The plan was simple. Duo was meeting with the boss in the conference room of the building - a trading firm - that was the brokers' cover. While he was distracting the boss, Heero and Wufei would discreetly break into the man's office and hack into an offline, heavily secured computer. The underworld scuttlebutt had informed Duo that this was the only place the man kept the details of his shadier business deals.

Duo had started with the preliminary civilities - Wufei heard the clink and gurgle of drinks being poured - when Heero and Wufei found the office, after letting themselves down the elevator shaft. Security was average, a joke compared to an OZ base. Duo had done his work well when he'd obtained the details of their objective; they had floor plans and a rough idea of the security arrangements.

The office was a twelve by twenty foot box, with very few attempts at decoration. It was the boss's real office, not the showroom he took customers to. It had a pyramid of beer cans in the corner, the bottom layers dull with dust, and several PCs on a metal table with a few wheeled chairs in front. There were no windows, as they were deep inside the building, on the second floor near the back. The walls were pale and had a few blueprints and charts, with coded titles, pinned to them; in the darkness of the room, with the only illumination provided by the dim light from the monitor screens, Wufei couldn't make out many details. There were a few children's drawings as well, provided by the boss's kids or someone else's. A very impressive safe lurked in one corner, gunmetal grey and heavy, and fortunately not their objective. The big desk was cheap and solid with wood pattern sidings. Heero's target was underneath it.

Wufei stood near one of two doors, listening out, while Heero hooked a small beam torch to his ear and picked the lock on the PC's casing. There were a few noises in the hallway outside - unlike an actual trading firm, most of the brokers' business was done in the evening or at night, with people passing by to check on last minute changes in security or picking up false keys at all hours. Wufei filtered the noises, listening for anything that didn't belong, occasionally glancing at Heero over his shoulder and checking his progress. Heero had the computer's case popped and was installing a small receiver, in case they couldn't hack into the machine in the hour or so Maxwell could buy them, or they were interrupted. It would allow them to hack the PC later from outside, if the tampering was not detected that is. Next time Wufei looked, Heero had closed the case and was testing his receiver on his laptop. Then his fingers were caressing keys on the laptop connected to the PC, running hacking programs, looking for a weakness.

Another part of Wufei's concentration was on Duo and the boss negotiating through the earpiece. This seemed to involve a lot of details and piddling price reductions and such...all rather tedious, but it gave them time. Wufei heard a soft grunt from Heero as his partner broke through a significant barrier. Movement down the hallways, several steps, fading away. Wufei glanced at his watch. Twenty minutes. Making good time so far.

//...I'm not really interested in this code, though. You sure we can't knock a bit off the price? Why should I pay ten grand to get into a room I don't give a fuck about?// Duo's voice drawled. There was a rubbing sound; Duo was scratching his ear, idly.

Wufei was instantly on alert, and he heard the chatter of keys behind him stop. The scratches were sending slight peaks of static through all their receivers. A wartime code. 'Trgt stall'

Their target was stalling? Wufei frowned back at Heero, wondering if he'd heard that correctly. Maybe he'd misunderstood - Duo was the one who was stalling, trying to give them as much time as possible before he broke off negotiations and left, and the boss and his bodyguards returned to the office. But that was the plan, so Duo would not spam the lines with something they already knew. And Duo was adept at reading a situation of this type, his past as a fence and a thief had given him a fine sixth sense for dealing with criminals, and sensing unusual situations...like a trap. Wufei gripped the hilt of the Luger and listened carefully. There were steps down the hallway again, still nothing downright alarming but...

He glanced at Heero who was glaring at the machine in front of him with a fair amount of aggravation. Before Heero even muttered, "Five minutes", Wufei knew he was close but not quite there yet.

Fuzzy and distant: //...this code is in fact linked to camera security, Mr Hellsmith. If you don't get a man in here, how will you protect someone infiltrating the south sector?//

//You're not listening, Harold. I don't give a shit about the south sector.// Duo pointed out. Scratch scritch. 'Abort.'

Heero immediately started to pack his laptop and clean up the desk. But it was too late.

"Yuy." Wufei breathed, plastering himself to the wall near the door. The random footsteps weren't random anymore. Heero had ducked under the desk and drawn his Glock in one smooth movement just as the far door, the one they'd jimmied shut, was forced open. Wufei's door was thrown open at the same time. The first man through was punched unconscious before he even saw his attacker, the second one went down with a fist in the face that sent him hurling back into the far wall of the hallway. Shots behind him - Wufei ducked out the door, to avoid presenting a target. Startled cries - he was right among the attackers, who couldn't fire. One man tried to grab him, pinion his arms. A heel back in the groin took care of him. Arms released, he sent a fist crashing into another's gut, then a kick scythed the gun out of a third one's hand before he could fire, breaking his wrist. Inertia slammed Wufei against the wall; he tensed ready to propel himself towards his next target-

Crunch! A bullet cratered the plaster right next to his head. Wufei froze.

"That's right. Stand still and drop the gun." The man grunted. One of the attackers from the other door. They'd outflanked Heero. Damn.

Wufei hesitated but his options were rather limited, with one of his other attackers, grimacing through the pain of a punch in the gut, scooping up his gun and aiming as well. The other two men were either unconscious or wishing they were, but two guns...He slowly put his hands up after dropping the Luger.

//...you see, Mr Hellsmith - we'll pretend that's your name - our previous buyers for this information were rather particular about retaining exclusive rights to it.// The broker's voice sounded sincerely apologetic. Wufei realized that Duo must have been cornered as well. Double damn.

//Then why'd you try to sell it to me?// Duo's voice was scornful.

//Ah, well, business...// The broker coughed. //Actually, they wouldn't have minded me selling you parts of it, but they did insist on running their own background checks on you...turns out you don't quite add up to what you claimed to be. Mr...Hellsmith.// From the slight hesitation and the turn of phrase, Wufei realized that no-one knew who they were yet, just that they were trouble.

The man gestured at Wufei with his gun. The Preventer tensed, there had been a slight opening - one that would have gotten him severely injured but an opening nonetheless...but he decided to see what Heero's situation was, before trying anything. They'd make a better last-ditch attempt in concert. If Heero was still alive.

//So that's who these goons are?// Duo purred. //I didn't think these muscle men were your usual style.//

Great. So these were the terrorists or whatever who were trying to break into Ops in the first place. The broker must have warned them that someone was trying to acquire the same information that they had bought, and they'd been just that bit more paranoid. Wufei had been hoping to meet these people but in slightly better circumstances.

Heero was on his knees near the desk, hands on his head, Glock dropped a few feet away. The pose gave Wufei one single moment of a very nasty flashback that made him stumble a step. The desk was pocked with bullet marks, some of which had gone through the siding. Heero in top form would have surged out from under that desk like death incarnate, but in his present condition, his chances had been too slim. The soldier was coldly pragmatic about these things, unlike Wufei, whose pride was torturing him for the surrender. Heero was dispassionately awaiting his chance...and keeping one eye on the laptop, which was still running programs to break into the broker's PC and download the data they were looking for. Trust Heero to keep his mind on the mission; if they managed to break out of this situation, Heero would drag that laptop out of there even if he had to leave Wufei behind to do so.

"Get them out; apply first aid to those who are still alive. Get them into the truck and drive them back to base for treatment. We'll follow in the van."

A voice of authority. Wufei glanced away from the nearby men he was silently planning to kill. A woman had come through the door. She was tall, bulky without being fat, with short-cropped brown hair and the pale face of a colony citizen. She was wearing a flack jacket and fatigues, indistinguishable from the other attackers, but there was no doubt she was in command. Her eyes were hard and weighing as she watched two men start to drag the wounded and dead away; she was judging how much her force had been reduced, rather than worrying about injured comrades, though the pinch of her mouth indicated that consideration would come when she allowed it to, later.

That same judging stare was directed first at Wufei, then lingered on Heero.

"I'd ask you to tell me who you are and who you work for...but I just know you're going to be tedious about this and require me to torture the information out of you." Her voice was softer and more cultured than when she'd been barking orders.

"I apologize for the inconvenience," Wufei murmured. Heero just kneeled like a votary statue, completely unmoved.

She flashed Wufei a hard smile, turning from Heero. "Oh, the inconvenience will be all yours, trust me. Your friend will be joining us shortly-"

"Friend?" Wufei frowned. He'd managed to shake loose and crush his earpiece when being hustled into the room; they might not have anything to connect them with Duo. Except for the coincidence of their presence here. Which, from the woman's sneer, was quite enough.

"Once he gets here, we'll go for a drive. A long one. And-"

Some of her men were amateurs. The mistake was small in appearance but significant, and both Heero and Wufei spotted it at once and moved instantly, on instinct. The two men carrying out the last of Heero's victims - their Uzis hanging from their straps on their backs to leave their hands free - moved in front of the last two men on the far side of the room holding Heero at gunpoint.

Hands still held high, Wufei hurled himself back bodily into the man holding a gun to his head. Caught off guard, the taller man oof-ed and folded around Wufei's elbow that had come crashing down into his gut. Wufei spun and shoved the man at the one behind them, who was pointing the machine gun but not firing with his friend in the way. Wufei grabbed the FAMAS from his first target's shoulder as he hurled him away, spun the heavy assault rifle around. The second man had twisted away from his comrade's falling body, gun swinging too wildly to compensate - Wufei fired point blank into his target's gut. The bullets crashed into his flak jacket and threw him against the wall, stunned. Wufei spun before the man, retching blood, hit the floor. He threw himself forward, angling away from a weapon firing at him. His attacker went down in a flail of limbs, downed by a shot from Heero's side of the office.

The room fell still again, heavy with the echoes of gunshots and the smell of cordite. Five people were left standing and in a position to fire. Heero was crouched against the side of the desk, Glock back in his hand and pointing at the attackers' leader. She had a Kimber out of its holster and aimed at Heero's head. Near her, two men had weapons directed at Wufei, who was also aiming at their boss, though a slight change of angle would strafe them too. His hand tightened on the unfamiliar stocky grip. The adrenaline sang in his veins, tingled in his finger on the trigger which was thicker than his Luger's, a soldier's weapon.

"Just what do you hope to achieve." The woman snarled. The Kimber was not trembling in the slightest. Basic military training, Wufei thought, and guts galore. Colonist? OZ? At this point he didn't really care. "I have more men coming, and we outgun you already."

Wufei slowly twisted against the wall, presenting as small a target as possible while getting ready to lunge to one side or the other. The men aiming at him looked a whole lot less sure than their boss - they were probably professional soldiers. Wufei hadn't been keeping count, but he knew their forces had been seriously reduced in the last ten minutes, men they knew and fought alongside, mowed down by the two youths now armed again and showing no signs of hesitation.

"Drop your weapons." Heero's voice was as amiable as a computer's.

"Which part of 'outgunned' did you not understand?" The woman grinned without humour.

"The bit where your head explodes even if your men manage to shoot my partner - not that they have a chance," Heero countered. If he was at all concerned by the Kimber pointing at a spot between his eyes, he gave no indications, even to Wufei. A grimace thinned the latter's lips. One day really soon, he'd have to have a talk with Heero about suicidal attitudes. Now that would be a fun argument.

Wufei breathed in and out, centring himself. Heero was right; numbers meant nothing, the advantage was theirs. They would kill all three people in this room. But one or both partners would be injured or killed doing so, probably Wufei considering the two guns aimed at him. Even with a flak jacket...He readied himself, preparing himself mentally for the pain, the shock of the bullet strike, so that it would not stop him from doing his duty in those few seconds that mattered. After that...it was in the gods' - and Heero's - hands.

"Look, kid." The leader said curtly, still not grasping the standoff they were in. "In this room alone we have three guns for two and my -"

The shot ripped the air. The ominous ratchet of an expelled cartridge and the smooth chambering of the next shell followed while the bang still echoed.

"Better review your math, darling. Tell your last soldier to stop pointing his cannon at my buddy or I get really mean." The voice cut over the squealing yammer of one of the men who'd been holding Wufei at gun point. The weapon was on the floor, as was most of the man's hand. He was curled around the remaining ragged stump, grunting in time with the spurts of blood.

The woman had flinched and twitched her gun towards the source of the shot. A fatal mistake a pro would not have made. She froze as Heero surged forward - dodging to put her between himself and the last gunman - the Glock suddenly three feet from her head. Wufei was now aiming at the last attacker. But his target wasn't looking his way; he was staring at the figure that had appeared in the gloom of the still-dark office, illuminated by the light cutting in from the hallway.

There were few sights quite so terrifying up close as Shinigami with a pump-action 12 gauge shotgun and a grievance. Even the woman's eyes were flicking away from the Glock aimed at her head to stare at the half-smile that looked as deadly as the gun's barrel. The man behind her let the gun slip from numb fingers.

"Right. In case you were wondering, the reinforcements pouring down the hallway turned out to be only little ol'me." Duo purred. Wufei chanced a glance at him. From the slightly thick way Duo was talking he wasn't surprised to see a bruise on his friend's jaw, already starting to swell and change color. If he was injured anywhere else, he didn't show it.

The tension of the tableau was broken by Heero prosaically turning away and putting his Glock next to the laptop, to finish downloading the data, which was at least partially useless now. Well, there would be other interesting tidbits in there, Wufei thought with resignation, making sure the two remaining perpetrators didn't try anything funny. The only difficult bit now was, what to do with these people...this having hardly been the most legal of ventures to begin with.

---

In, out, around, pull, in, out, around, clip, done.

"There we go. All finished!" Duo exclaimed as the last stitch went in, apparently no longer able to bear the silence. Since Wufei was doing the stitching and Duo was the one being stitched, his remark was rather out of place but Wufei made no comment. He could practically taste the adrenaline roiling off the braided man.

"It won't be as neat as Trowa's stitches-" Wufei stripped off the surgical gloves. "Keep the ice pack against your face," He added as Duo bent to look at the stitches.

"Yeah, Tro's the best! Good thing, or Heero would look like a Frankenstein!" The man in question sat at the counter running through the acquired data, and he ignored the comment.

"You mean Frankenstein's monster-" Wufei gave up. "Sorry we couldn't take you to the Ops clinic. We could have driven you to a hospital -"

"I'd rather not leave a trace in Brussels, I told you. Huh, twelve stitches. You know, we'll end our careers looking like a tic-tac-toe board."

Wufei passed a careful finger around the straight gash, now stitched. "That was a close call." It was over Duo's shoulder. One inch downward-

"Yeah well..." Duo shrugged in a way that Wufei would not have considered appropriate for his stitches. Then he lunged.

"Max- get the hell off!"

"Geez, you guys are so unhuggable! We made it out alive, we beat the bad guys, you just stitched me up like a regular Florence Nightingale, I thought that deserved a hug!" From the cheeky way Duo was grinning, he was perfectly well aware what reaction he was going to get. Oh yes, Duo Maxwell was spoiling for a fight.

"Try to get some rest, Duo." Wufei grunted, putting their medical kit away. Neither of the partners were more than bruised.

He didn't have much hope Duo would follow his advice; he himself would not sleep for awhile. He was planning to meditate, bring the bloodlust and the battle fever under control. If only-...well, even if Maxwell wasn't here, Heero was busy, sifting through the data. They'd both be in Ops tomorrow, to take over the interrogation of the culprits from Sam. They probably wouldn't be able to keep them beyond their legal forty-eight hours of preventive detention. They had no proof, no case, at least none that they could admit to, after illegally breaking into a building and stealing the data. But the terrorists didn't know that. Wufei felt pretty sure one or the other would spill most of what they needed to know. Identification and flagging would insure this cell wouldn't be much of a problem in the future. Wufei discovered that he wasn't even that curious to know what cause they were supporting. At the heart of the matter, it was always the same. A group who thought they'd been shortchanged by the peace, one way or another, and decided that they would make someone - anyone - everyone pay.

They'd both be busy for the full forty-eight hours. Then-...

"So...we owe you a favor now. Another favor." Wufei smiled tightly at Duo. "Feel free to collect any time. But I guess you want to get back to L2 now."

Duo had been cleaning his gun with a surfeit of nervous energy. He glanced up and grinned.

"No way, man. Duo Maxwell is not a quitter."

"...quitter? I don't-"

"I still have to break into Ops! Of course, now I don't have a good floorplan, and I doubt I'll get one! But hey, that's okay, I'll go in slow and easy. Probably take me an extra week or so."

"You don't have to, Duo." Wufei tried to keep the edge of hysteria from his voice. At the counter, Heero had stiffened. "Besides, Yuy is going to rewire and rebuild the entire security system, so that will change everything you've scouted out so far."

"Hell, that's right!" The charger slid into the pistol with a slick metallic noise. "Make it two extra weeks then!"

Wufei threw a brief, aghast look at his partner. Heero's eyes were wide and he looked - to Wufei - like he was about to bang his head on the counter. Duo wasn't that unpleasant to live with, and he was a great ally, but...but...

Duo's eyes were turned inward and pensive when Wufei turned back to him. It was an unusual expression for Duo. Something serious must have occurred to him, or possibly caught him off guard.

"Then again..." Duo scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Heero? How long will it take you to rewire everything?"

"We need to go through the data. It could take awhile."

"Well...tell you what, guys. I'll give you a rain-check. Why don't you interrogate the baddies until they're on their knees and confessing all their sins. I'm going to hire a rental car and go see the sights in Brussels. Then when you're done, you can take me out for a wild night on the town, after which I will leave you two solitary wolves to your tundra. We can try this break-in thing in another year, when the guards have gotten into their routine and all. What do you say?"

Forty eight hours? No problem, Wufei thought, even as his skin seemed to ache for...something. Probably sex. Well, most certainly sex. He didn't need a touch, that was stupid and weak, and besides, Duo had hugged him and he'd brushed him off, as usual.

Forty eight hours. And then the house would be theirs again. Home. Safe. No more masks except the ones they chose to wear.

---

Wufei said his goodbyes to Duo while the man was still packing and went up to his room, strategically avoiding the more exuberant farewell. He tried to meditate, but the noises from the shop floor, Duo's enthusiastic last words to a fairly silent Heero, were distracting. Actually that described the whole two weeks of Duo's visit. Not unpleasant, or overly imposing, or hugely fun either. Distracting. Finally the front door closed, and the voices were outside.

Giving up his attempts to meditate, Wufei went to stand by the window, flicking the slats of his venetian blinds up. Duo was talking while putting his duffel in the rental's trunk. He was grinning and spinning and moving. Heero was a contrast of forbidding stillness beside him. Night was falling fast - Duo had finally given up on the 'wild night on the town' plan and was catching the red-eye back to the colonies.

Wufei grinned, seeing it coming even if Heero didn't - the twirl, braid flying, the rapid step, almost feinting to one side, then the other, and just as Heero stiffened in surprise-....the hug! Wufei snickered as Heero went as stiff as a board while Duo held the hug the exact amount of time he could get away with without incurring a shove, then leapt back with a smug grin. Maxwell...Wufei shook his head in something like affectionate annoyance or disgruntled admiration, he wasn't sure which anymore.

He let the slat drop, then fiddled with the string. Damn, it must have knotted in the mechanism again; the last slat was slanted and wouldn't quite close. Strange, it had been fine this morning, when he and Heero had gone to work; they'd given the interrogations one last shot before releasing the disbelieving terrorists into a world where their every move would be carefully monitored and any future illegal activity - even jay-walking - would see them roped in to pay for their crimes. Wufei fiddled with the cord again, then shrugged. Breaking a terrorist plot before it even hatched was one thing but this...He would investigate the mystery of life that was venetian blinds tomorrow. Right now he wanted to relax, fully, for the first time in two weeks.

The silence of the house beckoned to him. He picked up his book, slipped on his glasses, and walked downstairs. The space seemed to wrap around him, silent, peaceful, all theirs again. Safe. Wufei lounged on the couch, flipped open his book, drank in the silence before he started to read. He heard the slam of a car door outside, distant and somehow enriching the silence rather than disturbing it. He didn't pay any attention to the well-known steps at the door, then moving through the room; they were as familiar as his own. Wufei turned a page. Deep within him there was the slight hope that Heero might sit down on the other end of the couch, a tentative resumption of one of their rituals he'd grown...rather used to.

The book was ripped out of his hands. Wufei started, fingers tingling. He opened his mouth but found himself squashed against the couch with a hard mouth gagging his before he could even shout, a hand capturing his head.

Heero freed Wufei's mouth to tug the glasses off his nose before they scored his cheekbone again, and their owner had the time to protest.

"Mm- what the-! I was reading, Yuy!" Wufei snarled, shoving his partner away. A ball of very different emotions made way for a more familiar anger. He didn't appreciate being interrupted during his relaxation, or feeling like he was there for Yuy's convenience when the latter had an itch he couldn't scratch by himself.

"I know." Heero's voice was rough and husky and sent vibrations right down to the pit of Wufei's stomach, via the skin of his neck. "Wouldn't normally while you're reading. Won't again. Just this once." The hot whisper brushed Wufei's skin, skittering over the mark left by Heero's mouth. Wufei realized that the hands that had been shoving Heero away were now clutching his partner's shirt. The fury nipped at him again.

"Get off, Yuy!" He growled, though his damned hands, which could normally chop through an inch of wooden plank, refused to do more than shove a very little bit. "I don't appreciate being jumped on - I finally have time to read in peace without being interrup-hnn..."

Heero had grabbed the hand that had finally started to push in earnest, and was kneading it between his strong fingers, almost to the edge of pain, pressing against bone, sending shudders down Wufei's spine. The other fingers rubbed at the base of his skull, snagging and loosening his hair a little, attacking the knot of tension that they frequently found there. Damn it! Wufei fumed. This wasn't fair! Yuy knew all his weak spots!

Still manipulating the bones of Wufei's long, strong fingers and palm, Heero slowly bent his head and mouthed the sensitive little patch of skin near the wrist. Blue eyes were fixed on Wufei, unembarrassed, incandescent with lust, and still the hard, analytical eyes of a tactician who was feeling out the effects of his strategies to get what he wanted. Wufei was about to remove that expression the hard way when the other hand dropped from his neck and slipped between his thighs, thumb working the muscles, fingers, more delicate, ghosting over the skin beneath the cloth. Wufei was suddenly one long, rippling shudder. But his glare was still stubborn. The mouth against the pulse in his wrist curved a bit, in amusement and something like admiration, while the eyes narrowed thoughtfully and the fingers between his legs started to linger on his hardening cock, which, like the rest of Wufei's rebellious body, was listening to its own desires.

"...don't...appreciate..." Wufei kept forgetting what he was trying to say. He could barely hear his own voice through the rush of blood in his ears. Yuy wasn't normally this pushy. The weeks of need had built up. In both of them. Wufei's breath hitched as a delicate tongue, a counterpoint to the fingers' hard manipulation, darted out and slowly drew a shiver of sensation from his wrist to the root of his thumb. Why...why was he saying no again?

"Oh, ok-hey!" Wufei gasped as Heero hauled him from the couch and towards the stairs before the second syllable was out. Likely the only thing that was keeping Heero from scooping his partner up and carrying him to the bedroom was the sure knowledge that Wufei would kick his ass if he dared to.

They crashed, bodies fused, into the door of the study at the top of the stairs, hands digging wildly through clothes, pressing flesh, burning along skin. Wufei managed to take a step towards his bedroom; Heero growled deep in his throat at the loss of the warmth between them and followed, pressing his body against his partner's, crushing him against the wall. They stumbled a few more steps, while Heero's hands slipped into Wufei's loose pants, fingers firm on his hipbones, his ass. Wufei's hand slammed blindly against the doorknob before he managed to turn it, his mouth caught on the pulse in Heero's neck, the life and passion there hammering to burst free. The steel body shivered beneath his mouth; Heero also had weaknesses. Wufei tried to use every one of them at once, and barely felt the door open behind them. Heero groaned, one hand caught on the doorjamb to stop them from falling on the floor as the door swung wide.

Heero's hand was on his ass again as they stumbled into the room. This was a familiar opening gambit and Wufei knew where this was going. He exploded, chopping Heero's arm away, his other hand shoving his partner towards the bed.

"Goddamn it, Heero Yuy! You're the one who asked him here, who kept him here two weeks, you're the one who can't wait, and so you're damn well going to be the one who's on the bottom!" Wufei shouted into startled blue eyes.

A feral growl in response, face darkening, then a minimal shrug as Heero let himself fall bonelessly backwards onto the bed, surrender unspoken. Wufei marched up, opened the bedside table drawer and barely had time to switch on the bedside lamp and find the lube before two strong hands grabbed him and dragged him onto the bed. Cloth creaked under strain, threads stretched as Heero's hands, too rough, tore off Wufei's shirt. Wufei managed to keep a hold on the lube, barely. He wriggled out of his pants himself, before those rough hands could, in their hurry, accidentally rip off something he might need later on. Heero had fastened himself on to his chest, biting his collarbone, a firm hand warm on Wufei's erection - Wufei groaned and struggled to get his partner out of his clothes despite the awkward position; Heero was ignoring his prods and wouldn't back off.

Heero moved, rolling Wufei onto his back, hands greedy, hips thrusting. Wufei squirmed - both men gasped and panted when the friction rippled pleasure through them - Heero's grasp weakened and Wufei threw him off, shoving him towards the wall and following immediately. Heero slammed his hand back against the wall for leverage and Wufei was on his back again with Heero's full weight on him before he could even gasp. The lube was ripped from his hands. Wufei coiled, ready to move. To open it, Heero would need both hands on the screw cap. Heero grinned savagely an inch above his face, eyes challenging and hard; a hand delicately dropped the nearly-full tube of lube on the bedside table - Wufei's eyebrows shot up in surprise - then smashed down, fist nearly breaking the bedside table beneath it. The tube burst at the seams and Heero smirked triumphantly, not once looking away from Wufei as his fingers scooped up the mess. Wufei was about to shout in pure fury when the gelled hand dropped swiftly to his cock. The shock of sensation -cold - and the movement - grasp, twist, curl - sent shudders through him, and his back arched off the bed to collide with the rock that was his partner above him. Wufei strangled the moan before it could erupt and let Heero lube his erection. His right hand was caught under Heero's body, his left hand couldn't reach much - his breath was tearing through his lungs and Heero's pants were feathering the skin of his throat as his head rolled back against the pillow displaced by their violence.

Can't let him - he'll injure himself - fragments of thought flew through Wufei's mind like shrapnel, as the busy hand finished spreading the gel over his cock. Wufei lay still until Heero lifted himself to move over him. Blue eyes gleamed, anticipating the pain of thrusting himself down, riding Wufei and controlling their savage screwing; the act was reaching deep down into those dark corners of Heero's mind that no one else knew about, and that he rarely, if ever, let out. But Wufei knew them intimately. He writhed at the slide of muscles against his. He was excited - and a bit pissed off at being top only in the most technical of terms - and a practical part of him clung to rationality, reminded him that Heero was still injured. He waited until the single instant when Heero's balance was compromised and shoved. His whole body bucked and thrust upwards - Heero tried to stay on top, twisting - Wufei rode the movement, slipping around him, clamping onto Heero's back, rolling them onto their sides.

Legs tangled and blocked, and Wufei tightened his arm around Heero's chest with all his considerable strength. Heero squirmed but no longer had any leverage now that they were pressed together, chest to back. The soldier snarled and then shuddered once, violently, as Wufei's freed hand dropped to Heero's previously unattended erection.

"Calm down." Wufei ground out, trying to get his breath back. A low rumble from the chest beneath his arm; the body against his still a coil of unreleased violence. "Calm down. Don't stress your back."

Heero gasped out a few choice words about his back.

Wufei ignored him, leaned over to dip his fingers in the mess of gel from the smashed tube. "We've not done this in two months. If you want to be able to sit down tomorrow, we do it my way." He said, firmly. He felt Heero try to twist around a bit, the movements less aggressive, but Wufei kept him pinned, legs tangled, as he slid his hands down Heero's cleft. The resistance ceased as he started to spread the lube, around, slipping inside, as slowly as he could when he was burning to bury himself into the body pushing back against his, moving against his chest - Heero arched and rubbed himself against Wufei - a gasp in one throat echoed through the other's body. Wufei increased the speed of his preparation before he got so excited that he wouldn't be able to do this; and he wanted this. He wanted to plunge into his partner, get as close as was physically possible.

Still, Wufei took his time. He didn't want to injure Heero. And, deep inside, where reason and logic did not reach, he knew where Heero's attempt to get savagely screwed was coming from. But a quick fuck wouldn't satisfy the need. Wufei kept his chest pressed against Heero's back, his arms still firm around the hard chest, skin caressing skin. Heero was no longer fighting the hold, though he bucked and gasped when Wufei finally pushed his way in. The movement was slow to start with, trying to find the rhythm they remembered, the one that met all needs...

---

[The light of Wufei's bedside lamp switched on, throwing thin lines of gold through the slats of the blinds, a wider gap shining at the bottom. The walls of the workshop reflected the light of the streetlights nearby, except for one dark patch near the window.

The black shape of a man was hanging, seemingly weightless, from his fingertips on the windowsill; one foot was wedged against the drainpipe, while the other had found purchase against a line of decorative brick-work that ran along the front of the workshop.

The figure pulled himself up effortlessly by the fingertips, one foot moving to gain friction purchase against the wall in total silence, until his eyes were level with the bright triangle of light at the edge of the window.

Almost immediately, the figure ducked down to his previous position and hung there, completely motionless, for a minute or two. No sign came from within the building that he'd been noticed, though something thumped against the wall inside. Slowly the arms, slender yet deceptively strong, flexed almost in slow motion and brought the eyes back to their previous position to peek through the slats. This time the figure stayed there for a few seconds before lowering himself again.

The foot against the drainpipe moved as the figure prepared to descend to ground level, but no actual movement followed. He hung there like a spider, apparently caught in indecision, head leaning one way, then another, following an internal argument.

Finally, a very slow, careful flex of the arms brought him up smoothly once more to the level of the crack in the slats. This time the figure stayed in place - with almost casual upper body strength and endurance - watching for several minutes. Then, still in complete silence, the figure slipped back down the front of the building, falling the last few feet as lightly as a shadow.

Duo unfolded from the crouch and leaned back against the building as if he needed the support. He absently rubbed his arms, shaking out the stress from his exertions, but his eyes stayed wide, staring and slightly dazed.

Then he propelled himself away from the wall and walked, still in absolute silence, towards the rental he'd parked a couple of blocks away. His eyes remained fixed on nothing, unblinking, but after walking a block, his right hand slipped into his back pocket and drew out his phone, flipping it open and hitting a speed-dial sequence without looking.

"Hi. It's me. Or at least it was me last time I checked, but now I'm not so sure of anything anymore...Listen, Q...you're not gonna believe this, I know I barely do...but you were right. Yeah, about Heero and Wu. Uh-huh. That's what I said; well, not out loud of course. Man."

He shook his head in disbelief, finally starting to blink.

"I can't believe it. They're just...you don't know what it's like here. I know you're relieved, but I don't know if I am. It's not like they're...close, you know? I thought you were completely out of your mind when you asked me to find out if they were an item. I spent two weeks living with them and trying to think of ways to tell you your space heart needed new batteries...and then I occasionally got a, well, a funny vibe, I guess you could say, and I wondered if you weren't right after all. It's a really weird scene here, though, they just don't talk to each other, it's frickin' scary. They don't seem to give a shit, beyond this 'partner' thing; they tear strips off of each other, they don't get jealous if you make a pass, they -"

He interrupted himself but it was too late. There was a loud and angry exclamation on the other end of the phone, followed by rapid, reproving words. Duo's face scrunched and he rolled his eyes.

"Okay, okay, I know I said I wouldn't try the 'green-eyed monster' gambit but I just wanted to know and what was I supposed to do, ask them? Actually, I tried that, and Wufei blew me off, so...I tried the oldest trick in the book. I mean, I wasn't taking that big a risk, they were never that interested during the war. Hm? Oh well, if one of them had suddenly been interested in me, yeah, that could have been sticky, but what were the chances, I mean, come on, Yuy and Chang? Talk about blood from a stone. Two stones, I should say. Uh? What would I have done if one of them had been interested? Faked a heart attack, probably. It's what I would have done during the war if one of them had ever defrosted long enough to take a second look at my ass, and I never imagined that would happen."

He climbed into the rental that he'd parked a way off but he didn't start the engine. He leaned against the steering wheel with a dazed look back at the workshop.

"Still can't believe you were right, Quatre. I guess this is a good thing...You were worried they were alone and going nuts, but looks like they're going nuts together and having a fucking good time of it on the way! Sure made for an interesting show! Er, yeah, I kinda caught them in the act. Ah, no, Q, I'm still alive, so of course they didn't notice, I was careful, made sure I had a good view from a discreet spot with a good getaway ready - Hey, hey, I was just trying to find out what you wanted to know! And how else was I supposed to- Nah, I didn't watch for long. Just long enough to figure out who was gonna be on top ‘cause I'm damned if I could have guessed - good grief, it's not the end of the world! You can be so prudish, sometimes. Man. Okay, okay. Sorry. Well, I can't apologize to them, now can I!...Uh? 'Which one was on-'! Oh no way, Q!" Duo burst out laughing. "I risked my life to find out that piece of information, you ain't gonna get it from me that easy! Anyway, gotta tell you-" the eyes focused on slashes of light from the distant window, "- I gotta tell you, for all that I'm not interested in our hard-assed surly pair...that was the second hottest thing I've seen in my short life. Talking of which...I'll be on L4 in a few hours. You better be wearing something that's easy to remove in a hurry."

He clicked the phone off, cutting off the laughter on the other end, and drove off into the darkness with a feral smile of his own.]


---

Wufei still held Heero loosely against him. The staccato heartbeat he could feel through Heero's back slowed, along with his own. On the second attempt, Heero managed to get a small towel out of the bedside table without moving from the cage of Wufei's arms, and cleaned himself up in three swipes. Wufei bit down on a sigh, eased out of the warm, pleasant haven, and rolled away to lie on his back. Then Heero turned, after automatically folding the towel and putting it on the floor near his clothes - Wufei rolled his eyes - and let himself fall back on the bed. Heero's hip rolled against Wufei's arm; the latter felt his fingers twitch against warm skin.

I should move, Wufei thought. This was...one of those limits they didn't talk about. Beyond all that 'killer instinct' and 'safe space' stuff...Heero just didn't like physical contact; as far as Wufei could gather, he'd spent most years of his life being touched only for training and punishment. He wasn't going to be touchy-feely as a result. Neither was his partner for that matter. Wufei should move...this was one of their habits - rituals - unspoken laws - rigid frontiers...the need for touch was in both of them, but it was assuaged at the same time as their sexual urges - unless Heero also enjoyed sitting on the couch with him...? He really should move...though of course, it was Heero who had the biggest problem with contact - Wufei's fingers trembled, flexed slightly, warm skin flowed beneath sensitive pads - and Wufei was tired and comfortable and, damn it, if Heero didn't like it, let him move.

Heero didn't move. Not for ten whole minutes. A mixture of satiated lassitude and stubbornness kept them both still. After ten minutes, Heero finally stood and made his way to his own room without looking back, as was usual, as if nothing slightly different had ever happened, and, in a way, it hadn't. There were no words for that slight need that had trembled on the edge of want. There was no need to delineate it, explain it, admit it. It was gone, past, it had never existed.

It went without saying, really.

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