see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Lost Souls + Chapter 35
Dravittown, L-2 Colony
February 2, 2009
Duo missed Earth. The taste of it he'd gotten during the war, even though it had been hard times, had left him longing for grass and trees and air that hadn't been through a scrubber. And being a Gundam pilot had sort of taken the shine off jobs like spending the day in a tin-roofed shed, sorting bolts into bins and laser cutting scrap metal.
They got a lot of suits here at the yard--Leos, mobile dolls and the like. Everyone in the colonies was harvesting the scrap of war, junk just floating around in space, waiting to be hauled in. Right now their junkyard was a secondary facility, taking in scrap brought in by Sweepers and other space scavengers. With any luck and a lot of scrimping and saving, though, Duo and Hilde planned to buy their own recovery ship in a year or two, hopefully before all the good junk was gone.
Duo grabbed another handful of bolts from the bucket on the floor and rattled them around in a gloved hand, sorting out the different sizes. There were some big ones today, worth five or six credits apiece. That was good. Every little bit helped. One of these days he'd be back out there, flying--
He stopped, staring down at a large bolt that had come off a Taurus. It was bent and there were still bits of metal trapped in the threads. It was covered in something that looked a lot like rust, only suit metal didn't rust, and even if it did, shit didn't rust in space. It was dried blood. Duo tossed the useless bolt into the scrap bin without a second thought. They found blood all the time; hell, he could have been the one who spilled it. It didn't bother him.
Hilde appeared at the door of the shed, dressed in the same kind of stained, shapeless coveralls he had on, a red bandana tied over her hair. "Hey you! It's half an hour past quitting time. Aren't you hungry yet?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah. I just got in a groove, I guess," Duo replied, still sorting the handful of bolts he had left.
Hilde came over and hugged him from behind. "Well I'm starving!" she said in a husky whisper. Her hands slid lower until she was massaging his crotch through the coveralls and his jeans. "Been thinking about you all day, hot stuff! Let's get supper out of the way quick."
Duo tossed the last bolt into the appropriate bucket and turned to kiss her. Chuckling, he pulled off his gloves and wiped a grease smear from her cheek with one work roughened thumb. "There you go again, boss, sexually harassing the crew."
"Is the crew complaining?"
"No, ma'am! So, what're you up for tonight, food-wise?" They made do with cereal and sandwiches during the day, but supper was either scrambled eggs and canned soup when things were tight, or take out. They'd had a good sale yesterday. It was a take out night.
"I'd really love some sushi. But it means going cross town."
"No problem! You call it in and I'll go get it while you shower."
"Great. What do you want?"
Duo gave her a sexy leer. "You know what I like, babe."
Hilde kissed him again, a kiss that promised some good action later. "Yes I do."
She headed back to the trailer to make the call. Duo kicked off his rubber work boots, peeled off his coveralls, and gave his faded tee shirt the sniff test. It had been an easy day, and the atmospherics of the colony had been turned low to give some pretense of winter. The shirt passed and no grease had soaked through to his worn, faded jeans. He'd shower before bed. He hung the coveralls on their nail, pulled on a pair of sneakers, and headed back to the trailer on the other side of the yard. It looked a little empty now, with their two major heaps taken away by the buyer yesterday, but that was a good thing for once.
The trailer was small, tacky, and clean, with only one bedroom. When he'd lived here during the war, he'd slept in the shed. But the night they'd arrived after the peace party, Hilde had made it pretty clear that she wanted him in her bed. He'd had a lot to drink, and somehow it hadn't seemed like a bad idea. He didn't remember a lot about the sex, but Hilde claimed he'd been a wild man, the best she'd ever had. He tried it sober the next night, and it was OK. Better than he'd expected, really. Hilde gave a good blowjob, and was only a little hurt when they found out that he couldn't reciprocate. Just couldn't go there, even though she was clean and had on some kind of sweet perfume. He made up for it, exploring with his fingers and soon figured out how all the parts worked. She wasn't afraid to direct him, either, so they made out OK, so to speak. The actual fucking wasn't bad, either. As the days went on, though, he found that a couple of drinks made it better for both of them, and since Hilde was a drinker, too, she didn't complain. Sex was overrated anyway, Duo decided. It was great while you were doing it, but afterwards it just left you feeling drained. Sometimes he even felt a little depressed, though he would never tell Hilde that. It wasn't her fault he was messed up in the head. Kat had sent him an article about post traumatic stress syndrome in soldiers and he saw a lot of himself in it. On nights when it was really bad he snuck into his secret stash of THC-38. So it took a little more these days to settle him out. So the fuck what? He'd earned it.
The décor of the kitchen dining area combination was an eye shattering green and orange, and the living room was blue. Between that and the cheap fluorescent lighting, Duo couldn't help longing for Quatre's ritzy digs in Arabia. Hilde liked little china dog and kitty figurines, stuffed animals, and fake flowers. The morning after their first night together Duo had gone out and bought her a single rose, all he could afford, and she'd chewed him out for wasting money. Hilde wasn't much of a romantic, for all that she loved sex.
When he came in she was naked and on the phone, placing their order. She was slim and curvy once you got her out of coveralls and dumpy jeans. She shaved her pussy, and had a rose tattoo on her left shoulder. Another kind of fake flower, Duo supposed. When she was done he gave her a farewell kiss and a quick grope, then grabbed his keys and took off.
They couldn't afford a car, of course, and didn't really need one with public transport available to take them anywhere they wanted to go on the colony. But his second week at the yard a mangled BMW motorcycle had come in as scrap and he'd fallen in love. It was a mess, and it had taken him weeks to kluge it back together with a lot of bartered parts. It was no thing of beauty, since he couldn't afford a paint job, but the engine was tuned just right now, with a throaty growl that practically gave him a hard on. Hilde had bitched him out about it at first, considering it another unnecessary expense, but once she'd had her first ride on the back of it, she changed her mind. On their day off they went riding if they had the gas money, and knew every street on the colony, practically. In bed at night they read second hand biker magazines and dreamed of taking a road trip on Earth, some place with miles and miles of open road.
Duo liked daydreaming like that; it was the dreams that came at night he could do without, dreams where strong drunk men held him down and did horrible things to him, dreams of getting shot, or blowing people's heads off. And then there were the Heero Yuy dreams. Those were a mixed bag. The bad ones woke him up crying and he had to tell Hilde it was just something to do with the war. The good ones, though? Those were few and far between, but sweet. They messed him up in bed for a couple of days, sometimes, but he told Hilde that was war stuff, too. It was, really, just not the way she took it. It wasn't really lying.
Super Sushi was on the far side of town, on the edge of a club zone. Duo missed clubs. When he was a Sweeper he'd had enough money to go when they were in port. He was a good dancer. Just passing by the open doors of the places by the restaurant got his blood going as the music poured out. Hell, the last time he'd really cut loose and danced had been with Quatre, almost a year ago. Hilde would dance a little with him at the trailer, but she was stiff and self conscious, and going to a real club was too expensive.
As usual, he got caught at a red light at Division and Independence. There were clubs on all four corners of the intersection, but one in particular always drew his attention. The Excalibur was a gay club, and there were always a few men out in front, horsing around playing grab ass, or making out in the alley beside it. That was the kind of bar he and his Sweeper buddies had gone to, back in the day, even though they usually had to bribe the bouncers to get Duo in. Once he was in, though? Man, there were no end of guys who wanted to dance with him, and maybe a little more. His buddies kept an eye on that kind of thing, kept him safe.
A couple of good-looking guys about his age were out in front tonight, having a smoke. They were eying him, and one of them waved and called out, "Nice bike!"
The bike looked like a piece of shit, and he knew it, but the way the guy was looking it him now made Duo's heart skip a beat in a way it didn't with Hilde. Without really thinking about it, he pulled over to the curb. The guys came over, and he could tell they were checking him out more than the bike.
"You're Duo Maxwell, right?" the blond said. He was older than Duo had thought and actually licked his lips as he looked Duo up and down.
"Yeah, that's me," Duo said with a shrug. There was no hiding that, not with his picture plastered everywhere 24-7, and him being the home town hero.
The younger, brown-haired one held out his hand. "I'm Mike. Honored to meet you."
Duo shook it, and was surprised at what that quick, firm grip did to him, below the belt.
"You got a minute?" asked Mike, flashing him a shy grin. "I'd love to buy you a drink."
Duo's heart missed another beat. "Well, uh, that's real nice of you. I'd like to, but I'm just out picking up dinner for me and--a friend."
Mike blushed a little. "Oh, yeah, right. Sorry, I didn't mean to be so forward."
"Hey, it's all right," Duo told him. "Another time, maybe."
"That'd be great! I'm here most Saturday nights."
"Yeah, well-- Guess I'll see you later, then."
As he pulled away, he heard the blond guy exclaim, "Jesus Christ, Mikey, you just cruised Duo-fucking-Maxwell!"
As he pulled in to the Super Sushi lot, he realized he was grinning like a maniac and immediately felt like a guilty shit. He was with Hilde now. They were making a life. She needed him.
But she sure as shit didn't make his heart race the way that quick handshake with a total stranger had.
But she was his friend, the one who'd given him shelter when the war had gone to hell for a while. He owed her! He liked her. And life was good. Yeah.
Sanque Kingdom, King Willem Concert Hall
February 11, 196
Heero stood over the dying assassin, watching life fade from the man's pale eyes. His Glock was fitted with a silencer, of course. In the auditorium at the end of the corridor behind him, Relena and the crowd had no idea that this was the third assassination plot the Preventers had foiled in the past month.
"He never should have gotten this close," Wufei growled, nudging the now dead man with the toe of one boot.
It was true. As head of security, Heero should have caught the warning signs sooner. That would be in his report to Relena. He was always completely honest. The trouble was, she praised him for everything, only seeing the positive side of things. It was Wufei who kept him honest. They did it for each other, training with no mercy, assessing each other's performance during their work hours, vying with each other in their free time to see who could score the best grades on their high school equivalency degree course. After a battery of assessment tests, it was found that both of them needed only a few courses to qualify. So far Wufei outclassed him completely in literature, but Heero was better at mathematics and the hard sciences. As far as he was concerned, that was what counted the most. The one thing he was good at that he didn't flaunt was drawing. Only one art class was required for completion of the program, and Heero had passed easily with his drawing skills. But that was useful, too. During the war he'd had to sketch out plans of enemy installations on the fly, and remember faces. What use was poetry, compared to that?
Once the art class was passed, he tried to set the sketch book aside, but found himself returning to it in those rare moments when he wasn't working or training. Some nights it helped him settled down enough to sleep. Having a pencil in his hand, letting the pictures that came to him flow across the page stilled his racing thoughts, and the constant stream of self condemnation. Even that made him feel guilty, but he did it anyway. Now he had several sketchbooks filled, mostly with scenes from the war. There were a lot of pictures of the other Gundam pilots among them and, many of those were of Duo Maxwell. It troubled him, as much as anything could these days. He was numb most of the time, which had its advantages. He'd read a great deal about post traumatic stress, including an article Quatre had emailed to both him and Wufei. He thought he saw signs of it in Wufei, who obstinately denied it, but Heero himself remained calm and in control. How else was he to be? Anything else was a breach of discipline and training. That was in part why it puzzled him that he kept drawing 02. He'd committed some of his greatest blunders because of him. He was certainly better off without him. Duo had called twice, and Heero had resisted the urge to call him back both times, even when Wufei gave him odd looks for not doing so. Heero couldn't quite explain it himself.
But still Duo's face came to him in dreams, and appeared on the pages of his sketchbooks, as if Heero's hand had a mind of its own. He did frequent self-assessments, as he'd been trained to do, trying to figure out what emotions were attached to Maxwell, but he couldn't really feel any emotions anymore. That should have been a good thing, but something told him it wasn't.
If he could, then he should have felt something for Relena. He lived under her roof, slept just down the corridor from her room, and ate almost every meal with her. She was very kind to him, and was always trying to distract him, wanting to take him to the theatre or movies. On more than one occasion he'd had to be blunt with her, pointing out the danger of personal involvement with one he was charged to protect. Sometimes she got angry and threatened to relieve him of his command, but usually she just looked at him with pity he didn't understand. He was fine. He had his work, his studies, and a purpose in life. What more could he want?
He'd been on the job for nearly two months when the nightmares and sleepwalking started.
February 12, 196
Duo felt like a complete shit as he stood in front of the cracked mirror on the bedroom door. Hilde was away, visiting her sick mom on L-1. It was the first time since he'd moved in that they'd been apart like this. She'd left on Thursday, jokingly telling him to behave himself. And here he was on Friday night, trying to figure out which of the three pair of jeans he owned looked the least awful. He didn't really have anything that qualified as club wear, but from what he'd seen outside the Starshine when he'd cased it last night, there wasn't much of a dress code. The jeans he'd settled on were tight in the ass and crotch; the black tee shirt was new.
It was all that guy Mike's fault. Duo hadn't been able to get their exchange out of his head since that night, or the way that quick handshake had made him feel. But it wasn't as if he was going out to get laid! Nah, he just needed to let off some steam. It had nothing to do with the fact that he'd tried to call Heero again, gotten Wufei again, and now five days had passed with no answer. End of story.
Just letting of some steam, huh? So it's got to be a gay bar? His reflection gave him an accusing look.
Yeah, well . . .
And a gay bar two towns over, so maybe word wouldn't get back to the woman he lived and worked and fucked.
It was wrong. He knew it was wrong and he was being a shit, but that didn't stop him. He shrugged on his beat up leather jacket, grabbed his wallet and keys, and headed out.
He pulled into the lot around 9:30, but the place was already jumping. Music blared out the open door, making his pulse race before he was even inside. The club was pretty nice, done up in red and black, with a DJ and flashing lights and an already crowded bar. He smelled weed, too.
Any hope he'd had of going unnoticed was wiped out as soon as the first guy recognized him and said loud enough for others to hear, "Holy shit, it's Duo Maxwell!"Every eye in the place turned to him and suddenly he wanted very much to get the hell out of there. This was a mistake, a huge one, and nothing good was going to come of it. But before he could flee, guys were slapping him on the back and hustling him over to the bar for free drinks. His picture, he noticed, along with all the other guys, were plastered up over the bar.
"Your money's no good in here!" the cute young bartender told him. "You're a god damn hero! What the hell are you doing in this dive?"
Duo gave him a fake grin to cover his embarrassment. "Just looking to unwind, that's all."
After that, it was a bit of a blur, with everyone buying him drinks and dancing with him as the music thumped and roared. When the slow songs came on he ignored the yearning looks and retreated to the bar. All the same, he found himself falling into conversation about motorcycles with a young guy who looked a little like Trowa. They had some laughs, and one thing led to another, and somehow the two of them ended up in a no tell motel a couple of blocks from the bar. Drunk and horny as hell, Duo let the guy undress him and they fell onto the bed together.
"So, what do you like?" the nameless guy asked, stroking Duo's bare shoulder. They both had hard ons going. Nameless Dude's was nice, curved and cut, and he had a great ass, too.
Duo wasn't so drunk that he didn't realize the point they'd reached in the evening's activities. "I don't take it in the ass," he told him.
"That's OK," Nameless Dude said, leaning in closer. "I do."
Their lips had almost touched when Duo suddenly pulled back and blurted out, "I don't kiss, either."
Nameless Dude looked more disappointed about this than he did the butt sex. "Really? That's too bad. I'm a great kisser. But there are other things I can do with my mouth I bet you won't say no to. But there's one little thing first." He reached over the side of the bed for his discarded pants and came back with a strip of condoms. "You OK with these? I got a rule: no glove, no love."
Duo grabbed a condom, unwrapped it, and slid it down over his cock. "Good rule." He and Hilde always used protection, too, even though she was on the pill as well.
And with no more foreplay than that, Nameless Dude pushed Duo over onto his back and went down on him.
"Holy fuck!" Duo was seeing stars already, it felt so good. It wasn't like Hilde didn't do this for him, but not like this! And she didn't smell of smoke and booze and man sweat either. ‘Like I didn't know I was gay!' he thought, burying his fingers in the guy's thick, sweaty hair.
Nameless Dude pulled off and grinned up at him. "Hey, you're about ready to blow already. Been a while, huh?"
"You could say that," Duo gasped.
"So, you want to come in my mouth, or my ass?"
Too sex addled to keep his mouth shut, Duo blurted out, "I never did a guy in the ass before."
Nameless Dude's eyes widened. "You're shitting me!"
"I shit you not."
The other boy reached for his pants gain and came up with lube this time. "You gotta do me! I want to be your first."
In the back of Duo's mind, sudden alarm bells went off, but he was too far gone with hormones and booze to pay attention. "Yeah, sure."
Nameless Dude did all the work, talking a mile a minute while he lubed himself and Duo, then slowly lowered himself down on Duo's cock. Any reservations Duo might have had flew out the window with the rest of his higher brain functions. Since that first night with Hilde, he'd told himself that fucking a girl and fucking a guy couldn't be that different. You were still putting your dick in a tight place. How wrong he'd been! Nameless Dude was tighter and hotter than pussy, his ass was solid as a rock, and it put a whole different spin on things, having another guy's balls rubbing yours while he rode up and down on you. And the earthy, musky smell of another man--truth be told, he hated perfume. It only seemed right to jerk the guy off while he fucked him, and Nameless Dude really got off on that, telling him how good he was. That was a turn on, too, until Nameless Dude looked down at him and gasped out, "I don't believe it, man. I busted Duo Maxwell's cherry!"
And for a minute, Duo checked out. His body kept fucking, but his brain went bye bye, back to dark alleys and interrogation rooms and other guys talking about popping his cherry. Only this time it was his cock up someone else's ass.
"Hey, you all right?" Nameless Dude was giving him an odd look.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Duo growled. Flipping the guy over on his back, Duo grabbed his legs, pulled them wide, and plowed back into him. "You like that?"
"Oh yeah. Oh fuck yeah!" Nameless Dude bucked a couple of times under him, then came yelling.
That's all it took for Duo to go over the edge and he came hard, with a snarl of triumph.
Nameless Dude was fast asleep when Duo slipped out an hour before lights on. Riding back home through the deserted streets, he replayed the night's events in his mind. Something had changed. He felt different, but he couldn't quite say how. One thing he did know, though. That had been better than anything he'd ever done with Hilde.
By the time he got home, though, he felt like shit and his spirits sank still lower when he pulled into the yard and saw lights on in the living room.
Hilde's suitcase was by the door and she was on the couch, glaring at him the minute he got in. "Where the hell have you been?"
"Uh. Out. At a bar."
"Yeah, I can smell it on you from here! Until five in the morning?"
Duo shrugged, hoping that was all she could smell.
"I was worried. I called!" She was sounding hurt now, rather than angry and that made him feel even worse.
Duo glanced at the phone on the wall and saw the message light blinking. "Sorry. Maybe we should think about getting cell phones."
"Like we can afford that!" She stood up and shook her head. "The first time we're apart and you go out."
‘Oh babe, you don't know the half of it!' he thought, hoping he didn't look as guilty as he felt.
"Well, come to bed. But take a shower and get rid of those clothes first!"
"Yeah, I will." The thought of lying next to her in their bed after what he'd just done was too much. "I'm kinda jazzed up. You get some sleep. I'll make you breakfast when you wake up, OK? Peace offering."
That won him a small smile. "OK." She came over and gave him a kiss, making him very glad he hadn't done any kissing, or anything else with his mouth. His heart almost stopped when she wrinkled her nose and said, "God, Duo, you really reek!"
"And wash your hair. I can't stand stale bar smoke!"
The tiny bathroom was across the hall from the bedroom. He waited until she'd gone to bed, then locked himself in the bath and checked his naked body for incriminating marks. There were no scratches or hickeys, though, just the lingering guilt in his eyes as he stared at himself in the mirror over the sink.
He ended up there again, staring at himself, after he'd showered and washed his hair twice. It hung dripping and tangled to his waist. Yeah, he was a shit all right, not just because of what he'd done tonight, but because he already knew he was going to do it again. He started to comb out his hair, then stopped, looking down at the comb. It was the same pink one that had gotten him through the war. He could have replaced it--Hilde certainly teased him enough about it--but he couldn't part with it, any more than he could the black clothing tucked away in the bottom of a drawer in the bedroom, together with that photograph of the five of them Relena had sent. It was just something he'd stolen, back when he was on the streets, but Heero had used it that night in Finland. Hilde could tease all she wanted, but he wasn't ever going to let go of it. Looking down at it, thinking of Heero as he'd been back then, and what he'd done tonight, and those unreturned phone calls, things sort of came together and Duo began to cry silently.
He stayed in the bathroom a long time.
Sanque Royal Palace, Sanque Kingdom
March 2, 196
At first Heero had thought the nightmares and sleepwalking were some aberration but they didn't stop. Apparently he was lucid during while sleepwalking. The next day he heard that he'd had conversations with people. It was distressing, and more so when he began to wake up with weapons in hand, usually his knife. Once he found himself face to face with a terrified valet in the servant's pantry, just after midnight. The man was = stuttering something about just going in for a sandwich. Heero had the point of the knife pressed to the man's jugular. A fraction of an inch to the left and the man would be bleeding out. For just a fleeting instant, Heero wanted to see that. Instead, he'd cussed the man out and sent him off to his room thinking he'd broken some new security protocol.
After that Heero knew there was genuine cause for concern. He went in secret to a doctor who specialized in post traumatic stress issues, told him half truths, leaving out the homicidal incident, and took the anti depressants and sleeping pills the man prescribed. They didn't really help. He did less sleepwalking, but now he woke up on the floor of his room, surrounded by dozens of drawings: scenes from the war, the things he'd done wrong--the little girl he'd killed, the Alliance transport he'd destroyed, the disastrous raid on the Japanese base at Kisarazu-- And Duo. Duo sitting by the fire in Finland. Duo laughing, talking, sleeping. Duo's face the night Heero had made him come, just by rubbing against him. Looking at these pictures--the combination of horror and beauty--Heero felt nothing and realized that he was losing control. Unfortunately for him and everyone around him, the one man who could have fixed him--J--was dead.
He doubled, then tripled the dosage of the medications, but they still didn't help. Nothing did, and the sleepwalking got worse. On some level he knew he should report to Wufei or Sally Po, but he didn't. He meant to, every time he woke up in a strange place with the knife in his hand, or to find his room littered with increasingly disturbing drawings. The images of violence and 02 were beginning to merge and now the other pilots were there, too: Duo shot through the head by Heero in that prison cell, 03 mangled in the wreckage of a shattered Gundam, 04 with his throat slashed, Wufei dead by his own sword.
Heero burned these pictures and all the rest in the basement incinerator, but the next night he created more, and worse.
And then came the night when he woke up in Relena's room, standing over her in full dress uniform, with his knife poised ready to plunge into her heart. The worst part was, he knew it was wrong intellectually, knew he'd reached the point of being an immanent danger to all around him, especially those who had gotten the closest to him, but still he felt-- nothing.
Relena was having her coffee at her desk that morning when Heero appeared in her office dressed in jeans and a black tee shirt and denim jacket--the sort of clothes she'd never suspected he owned. The joke around the palace was the Captain Yuy even slept in uniform.
He saluted her, then stepped forward and placed a long envelop on the desk in front of her. "My resignation."
Relena stared up at him, stunned and dismayed. "But why?"
"Personal reasons." There was hardly a hint of inflection in his voice, even less than usual.
"Do you need some leave time? You can have as much as you like."
"No. I have to go. I have a personal mission to carry out, something I have to do on my own."
"This is so sudden!" As the shock wore off, hurt and a little bit of anger began to take its place.
Heero was still standing at stiff attention, but suddenly she saw something like pain in those wonderful dark eyes. "It's necessary."
Relena got up and went to him. When she reached out to touch him, though, he flinched and stepped away, staying just out of reach. "I'm sorry this is so abrupt. I don't expect you to hold my position open. I'm resigning from the Preventers, as well. My affairs are all in order."
That was an odd thing to say. "Heero, you make it sound like you're going away forever. What kind of mission is this?"
"It's personal," he said again. "And though I have no right, I have a favor to ask of you."
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