Author: pyrzm
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Lost Souls + Chapter 43

April, 196

For the next two weeks Duo and Quatre went out every few nights, starting out at Blue or some other teen club, and sneaking out to the Peacock. Quatre rented their hotel room for the month, and they kept their growing wardrobe of cruising clothes there. It was risky and tiring for Quatre, but he had the distinct feeling that Duo would have been out every night if it was just him on his own. He seemed to be improving all the time. He'd put on a little weight, laughed a lot, was irreverent, funny, affectionate. In short, he was himself again, at least on the surface. The deep sadness was still there, just beneath it, but he shone at the club. He was so beautiful when he danced, the men flocked around him. And they flocked to Quatre, too.

What they did on those nights at the Golden Peacock was wicked, and it was exhilarating--up to a point. He loved the cruising, the dancing, the sizing up of prospective partners. He even used his empathic abilities a little, looking for that special something, though he didn't often find it. And he couldn't ask for it; he just had to hope his partner could read it in him somehow, what it was he hungered for. He liked the sex. He liked being held and touched and filled and stretched; but a little restraint, a little pain? That was the best. He was coming to terms with the fact that he needed that kind of thing, though he couldn't bring himself to tell Duo about it. Duo didn't mind talking afterwards, and it was clear their tastes were very different. Duo didn't let guys "do" him. Duo did them or did something else, but never "bent over for anyone."

Quatre did, every chance he got. Which was just about any time he wanted it, given his looks. He attracted men who wanted to do that. Quatre Winner liked to be fucked. And unlike Duo, he'd do it with the same guy more than once. He'd been with the man he'd had that first night three more times, and each time was better than the last. He pushed Quatre a little more each time, making it feel good, but also letting Quatre feel punished. Deep in his heart, he knew that was a large part of what was fueling his need. It left him feeling cleaner, lighter.

But when it was over and the adrenaline began to fade, it all drained away, leaving him empty and cold inside. wracked with shame well spiked with fear. What if word of this ever got out to his family, his business associates?

Or Trowa?

The only thing that took the chill away was sleeping with Duo or getting laid again. Or getting high or drunk, but that interfered with his work more than the rest of it and he had to be careful. He was tired enough as it was, and Fatima had asked him several times if he was sleeping well.

So no matter how many times he promised himself that this time was the last time, somehow he always ended up back at the Peacock and he found himself inevitably scanning the crowd for his first partner--Mr. Dark, as Quatre has come to think of the dark haired young man, since no names were allowed. He called Quatre Angel. Mr. Dark, when he was there, always seemed glad to see him, and despite the punishment he meted out when they were alone in those upstairs rooms, he always treated Quatre with kindness and respect, never going too far. He also never took his clothes off, just enough to do him. Afterwards, lying naked in the fully-clothed man's arms, ass aching, Quatre always felt a mix of elation and shame.

Their third night together as Quatre lay there with him, wrapped in his whirling thoughts, Mr. Dark cupped Quatre's chin and made him look up into his dark eyes. "You're always so sad afterwards, Angel, and yet you keep coming back. You need this, don't you?"

When Quatre nodded silently against his chest, he smoothed a hand gently over the redden cheeks of Quatre's ass. "And perhaps what we do here isn't enough? For a little while you feel free, but it doesn't last."

The man seemed to see into his soul. Quatre nodded wearily. "I'm sorry. It's not you."

Mr. Dark chuckled, rubbing his back now. "I know that. You need more than I can give you here. I know a better place, a club where your needs will be better met. Would you like me to take you there?"

Quatre's heart beat fast and hard at the sound of those words, but he hadn't forgotten Duo's rules; never leave the club. "No, it's late. I have to go home."

"Another night, then, when you are ready to fully explore your own needs. For now?" He guided Quatre's hand down to his second erection of the night and took Quatre's semi hard cock in his hand. "Shall we have one last satisfaction before we part?"

They'd never actually fucked twice in one night, and it was getting late, but when Mr. Dark rolled onto his back and pulled Quatre up to straddle him, he gave in to his need and impaled himself on that hard cock with a ragged groan. It hurt, and he welcomed the pain.

+

When he finally came downstairs on shaky legs, Quatre found the crowd thinned out and Duo scowling up at him from the bar.

"Do you know what time it is?" he whispered, grabbing Quatre by the arm and hurrying him to the coatroom, and then out into a waiting cab. At the hotel they tore off their cruising clothes and left them scattered on the bed as they pulled on their club clothes and dashed out for another cab. The pimply-faced kitchen boy was just locking the door when they came panting up the alley.

"We closed ten minutes ago," the kid told them, blocking the door.

Quatre felt suddenly faint, but Duo just grinned up at the kid and asked, "How much for you to keep that door open another minute?"

"Fifty."

Quatre pulled out his wallet and paid the exorbitant fee, then they dashed through the kitchen and on through the darkened club. There, by the door, stood Rashid, talking with the club manager.

"Let me do the talking," Duo murmured, putting an arm around Quatre's waist. "And act sick."

It wasn't hard; the champagne and vodka Quatre had had tonight was burning its way up his throat.

"Where have you been, Master Quatre?" Rashid exclaimed, striding across the dance floor to meet them half way. One look at Quatre and he pulled him away from Duo and lifted him in his arms.

"We were out back," Duo told him, hurrying to keep up as the huge man strode out to the car. "It was hot and Kat got sick. He's been out in the alley, puking his guts out."

Rashid shot him a scathing look, then lowered Quatre into the back seat. "Give him some water. When he's safely home, you and I will speak more of this."

As soon as the car door was shut Quatre curled up in a ball with his head in Duo's lap. "Oh Allah, he knows!"

Duo clamped a hand over Quatre's mouth and pointed at the driver's screen in front of them. It would have to wait until they got home. Quatre lay still and let Duo stroke his hair in silence all the way home.

When they got there, Rashid carried Quatre up to his room and wouldn't let Duo follow them in. Placing Quatre on the bed, he pulled off his shoes and reached to unbutton the silk shirt Quatre was wearing, apparently meaning to undress him as he had when Quatre was a little child. Gathering his wits, Quatre pushed his hands away and sat up. "I'm quite capable of taking care of myself, Rashid. You can go."

The big man straightened up and folded his arms, glowering down at him. "Do you think me a fool, Quatre?"

No "master" this time. Quatre felt sick again. This was it. Everything was going to come out.

"Do you think I cannot smell the alcohol on your breath?" Rashid said sternly. "You have been drinking wine with that Maxwell boy."

Quatre stared up at him, fighting down the urge to laugh in the man's face, but it was mostly relief. He drank vodka because it didn't have much of a smell, especially when he followed it with cups of mint tea. But champagne had given him away. "That's true, Rashid, but it's my choice and you are going to have to accept it. I'm not a child. And it's not like I'm drinking and driving. I have you for that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm not feeling very well."

Rashid did not look happy, but he obeyed. As he turned to go, Quatre called after him, "And you leave Duo alone. I will not have you looking down your nose at the people I choose as my friends!" Suddenly he was nearly shouting. Rashid was clearly shocked. Struggling for control, Quatre said more calmly, "Leave him alone. I mean it."

"As you wish, Master Quatre," Rashid said with a stiff bow and went out.

Quatre locked the door after him, then used the inner door to Duo's room. His friend was in the shower. Quatre sat on his bed, trying to understand his burst of anger at Rashid. He'd done the same to Fatima that day; it wasn't just anger, but a near rage that made him want to attack. More PTSD, probably.

Duo finally emerged from the steamy bathroom in a robe with a towel wrapped around his head. He looked around quickly, as if expecting to see Rashid, then went to his beat up duffle bag and dug deep for the stash box. They didn't usually smoke in the room, but he seemed to know that this was going to be a conversation that had to stay behind closed doors. He took out a blunt and sparked it up. Taking a long toke, he handed it to Quatre and set about toweling his hair dry. "So, was it worth it?"

Quatre sighed and took a drag. How to answer that?

Duo gave him a concerned look. "That Mr. Dark of yours? Are you falling for him?"

Quatre coughed smoke. "No!"

"You keep going back to him, though."

Quatre took another deep drag and handed the blunt back. "I like what he does, that's all. Love your friends. Fuck strangers. I haven't forgotten."

"Yeah, but if you keep seeing the same guy over and over, he's not gonna stay a stranger long."

"Don't worry, Duo. I'm not falling for anyone."

Duo took a drag and gave him a worried look. "It must pretty good, if you let him slap you around like that."

Quatre felt his face go hot. "How--"

"I ended up in the next room tonight. You guys were kinda noisy." Duo put an arm around Quatre's shoulders and pulled him close. "Talk to me, Kat. What the hell's going on with you?"

Quatre pressed his face to Duo's neck, mortified. "I don't know. He doesn't hurt me, not really. It feels--good."

"Are you nuts?"

Quatre let out a sad laugh. "Yes, I probably am."

"So--he hits you?"

"Just--" If it hadn't been for the strong weed, he'd never have gotten the words out. "Just on the butt."

"You mean he--?"

"Please, Duo, don't say it!"

"But why, Kat?"

"It just helps."

"But you always crash afterwards."

"So do you."

"Yeah, well . . . I dunno. It's like a buzz, I guess." Duo took a last drag, finishing off the blunt. "It wears off." Duo hesitated. "Can I ask you something sort of personal? About you and Trowa when you were together on Peacemillion?"

The alcohol and weed dulled the pain enough for him to shrug and say, "Sure."

"When you guys were doing it, did you feel like shit afterwards?"

"No. Yes-- It's complicated."

"Complicated how?"

Shame washed over Quatre as he admitted, "I was so scared of us getting caught, of people like Rashid finding out, that I wouldn't stay with him afterwards. And I wouldn't let him touch me in the daytime, just like at the peace reception." The buzz suddenly wasn't helping much, but the words continued to spill out with the pain. "I always left him and went back to my room. That felt like shit, but not because of the rest of it. That last night, before the final fight, we slept together all night, on the floor." His voice broke on a hitching sob. "That was wonderful."

"And then you froze him out. Jesus, Kat."

"I really fucked up." Tears dripped from his cheeks to make dark spots on the front of Duo's bathrobe. "I fucked up and I lost him! And now look at me. Sneaking around, keeping my dirty little secret."

"So come out of the closet," Duo said gently, rubbing his hand up and down Quatre's arm.

"Can't!" Quatre wept. "They need me."

"Your family?"

Quatre nodded miserably.

"Is that the only reason?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, is that the only reason? Are you afraid to be openly gay?"

"Duo, you tried to kill yourself when people found out."

"Not because I'm gay, Kat. Because--I wasn't thinking all that clear then, and I was really guilty about what I was doing to Hilde, but I couldn't stop, either. When it hit the papers and people started throwing bottles at me, I guess I just kinda snapped. But I don't care who knows now. I'm only staying on the down low now for your sake. But I'm not gonna judge you, buddy. I don't have a family to worry about. The people who really care about me I can count on one hand these days, and none of them gives a shit if I'm gay. Fuck anyone else's opinion."

Duo stopped and yawned. "Bedtime, Q-man. You gotta be to work in five hours." He stood up and pulled Quatre with him, leading him back into his room.

The buzz was making Quatre dizzy and a little queasy. Duo got him undressed and into bed, then pulled the covers over him and kissed him on the forehead.

"Aren't you staying?" asked Quatre.

"Rashid was pretty upset. I'm betting he comes in at least once tonight to check on you, and I'm also betting he's got a key to your door. The last thing you need is to have him catch you sleeping with little ol' gay me." He grinned and ruffled Quatre's hair. "I'll miss you, though. These beds of yours are too damn big!"

Lying there in the dark alone, Quatre decided Duo was right. He was right about Rashid coming in to check on him, too.

+

Quatre probably could have taken a sick day, but he slept poorly and was up just after dawn. He showered and dressed for work. Standing in front of his full length bedroom mirror in his expensive suit, he looked into his own tired eyes, comparing the image in the glass to the way he must have looked last night, getting fucked by his Mr. Dark--and other things.

'A liar and a pervert,' he thought, turning away.

He looked in on Duo, hoping he was awake, but his friend was still burrowed deep in bed, covers over his head. Emerging from his own room, Quatre found Rashid in a chair beside his door.

"Good morning, Master Quatre," he greeted him, stretching as if his back hurt him. Quatre sensed no anger from him now, just concern and the usual deep rooted affection. "Feeling better?"

"Yes," Quatre replied. In truth, he was tired and depressed, but Rashid's familiar energy made him feel a little better. The man's presence had always been comforting. It occurred to him now how much he hated lying to him and going behind his back the way they had been.

"Shall I tell the cook to serve your breakfast now?"

Quatre glanced down at his watch, a solid gold Rolex that had been a welcome home present from his sisters. It was engraved on the back with the words, "Our Brogther, Our Hero." It wasn't even six am yet. "I'll eat at seven. Hopefully Duo will be up by then."

Just then Duo's door opened and he leaned out, wearing nothing but a pair of pajama pants riding low on his narrow hips. "Up by when?" he asked, yawning.

Rashid turned away, disgusted and scandalized by such a display of flesh.

+

Quatre and Duo took a walk in the garden, then sat down to breakfast. As they were eating, a servant came in with the mail, which included a medium size cardboard shipping box with an L-2 postmark, addressed to Duo.

"Hope you don't mind," said Duo. "I didn't know where else to tell them to forward things."

"No, it's fine."

Duo opened it and dumped out a pile of envelops and postcards of all colors addressed to his old L-2 address, together with some ads and bills. Duo tossed the latter back in the box unopened and began sorting through the rest. There was also a form from the post office, stating that he needed to give them a permanent forwarding address.

Quatre could guess what those colorful envelops held. They both got fan mail. All of five of them did, as far as Quatre knew. Only some of it wasn't so nice. There were threats and rants from men and women who'd fought against them and lost, and from the families of people they'd killed in battle. Quatre had read a few of each kind when they first started coming, then ordered the butler and Yusuf to throw away anything of the sort that came in, good or bad. He didn't want any adulation and he couldn't deal with the hate. A lot came in by email, as well, and he had that screened, as well. Those were only his public accounts, anyway. Soon after he'd gone to work for Relena, Heero had set up secure accounts for the five of them, ones that were safe and secret. Heero had never used his to contact any of them, though he had answered a few of Quatre's emails that contained direct questions. The answers were always terse. Anyone who didn't know Heero might have been hurt. Everyone had used their Gundam's name except for Trowa and Duo. Quatre wasn't surprised at Duo's name, but he was at Trowa's.

Duo was still sorting, apparently looking for something. At last he came up with a plain white envelop and tore it open eagerly. The letter was scrawled on a sheet of white lined paper. He scanned it quickly, then looked up at Quatre with a hesitant smile. "I've got good news and bad news, Kat. Which do you want first?"

Quatre tensed. "Bad."

"OK. I'm going back to L-2."

"What?" Quatre was stunned, although realisitically he'd always known this would happen. "Why?"

"That's the good part. I have a new job. Guy I know who runs a motorcycle repair garage needs a mechanic. Now that my name's been out of the news for a while, he's willing to take me on, and there's an apartment over the shop he'll rent to me cheap."

"That sounds--convenient," Quatre managed. It sounded horrid, really. "But you know, I'd be happy to give you a job at my company. Then you could stay."

Duo reached over and squeezed his hand. "Thanks, man, but it's time I went home."

'L-2 pride,' Quatre thought. His heart was beating a little too fast, and his palms were sweating. Suddenly he very much wanted a drink.

"And it's not like I won't be back to visit any chance I get," Duo was saying. "I get totally spoiled here. You can come see me, too, anytime! Come take a walk on the wild side."

"Yes. Of course."

Duo gave him a searching look, and Quatre guessed that he'd picked up on his own distress. "I can stay another couple of days. It's the weekend tomorrow and we can spend the days together before I have to go. How 'bout that?"

Quatre pulled himself together and smiled. "That would be nice."

Duo looked down at the letter again. "He wrote this over a week ago. Couldn't get in touch with me by email, and your number isn't listed. Do you mind if I give him a call before he thinks I'm ignoring him and gives the job to someone else?"

"Of course, but finish your breakfast first."

"Have you ever seen me turn down a meal?" Duo said with a laugh. His appetite had certainly improved since he'd been here. So had Quatre's, until now. His stomach felt like a clenched fist again.

Duo went back to sorting his mail, separating the letters from the post cards, frowning now and then as he tore a card in two and tossed it into the box. When he was done, he tucked the two piles neatly back in the box unopened and closed it, looking a little sad.

Quatre could guess what he'd been looking for, and why. Part of him still clung to the hope that Trowa would get in touch with him, too.

+

For the next few days Quatre did his best to ignore his moutning anxiety and just enjoy his time with Duo. They went to the club once, but mostly hung out, playing games and watching movies. At night Quatre locked both their doors and put a chiar under the knob, so that Duo would sleep with him.

But at last the day came for parting. Quatre had had to argue with Duo to take all the clothes with him, and the two new duffles it took to pack them all.

"Sure hope my new place has a big closet," Duo laughed, as Quatre sat on his bed, glumly watching him pack. The scanty shirts and leather pants he'd worn to the Peacock were safely hidden away in the bottom of one of the duffles. He'd tried to leave those behind, saying there was nowhere on L-2 to wear them, but Quatre had made the argument that he'd need them if they decided to meet up at some Earth or moon-side resort.

Bracing himself, Quatre said, "I have a going away present for you, and I don't want you to argue about it, because it's as much for me as it is for you. It means a lot to me, and I'll be really sad if you say no."

"OK," Duo said, looking a little concerned.

"Good." Quatre went next door and pulled the new laptop in its case from the back of his closet where he'd hidden it. Returning to Duo's room, he put it in his friend's lap and was delighted by the look of pure joy and gratitude on Duo's face as he pulled it from the case and opened the lid.

"Holy shit, Kat! This is beautiful!"

"I'm glad you like it. And look at this." Taking it, Quatre showed him the vid phone program and the email program with the five addresses already loaded in, the ones Heero had given them on the secure network. It was the only address Quatre had for Trowa, and he'd never used it. "Why don't you let the others know you're online again?"

Duo took the computer back and his long fingers flew over the keys.

To: Sandrock@privatesky.nt
Cc: Wing@privatesky.nt, GreenEyz@privatesky.nt, Shenlong@privatesky.nt
From: ShinigamiFlyBoy@privatesky.nt

27 April AC 196

09:18 am local time

Dear Guys,

Just wanted to let you all know that Shinigami's still alive and back online, thanks to one Quatre Winner, who is insanely generous. I'm heading back to L-2 today. Miss you all. Email me! See you soon!

Duo

He hit 'send,' then froze, blushing hotly. "Oh shit."

"What the matter?"

"I sent it to Heero, too."

Quatre grinned and hugged him. "It can't hurt, right?"

He regretted his choice of words an instant later. Two messages had already appeared in Duo's mailbox. One was the email he'd just sent to Heero, with the message "Account disabled." The second one was from a blocked address. Duo frowned as he opened it, probably expecting hate mail. Instead, there were a few brief lines of text and no return address.

To: ShinigamiFlyBoy@privatesky.nt

April 14, AC 196

Mission ongoing. Hope you are well.

Heero

"What the hell?" muttered Duo. He started typing again, trying to hack into the email, but after several minutes he gave up in defeat. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The only hacker I know of who's better than me is Heero."

"He sent it two weeks ago. He must not have known you didn't have a computer."

"Yeah, but what the hell kind of message is that, 'Mission ongoing'? What mission? Think he's working undercover for Relena?"

"Maybe. If so, you're the only person he broke cover to."

Duo looked at the message again, and his expression was more hopeful than Quatre had seen since the war ended. "Shit, yeah. And he hopes I'm well! But why won't he let me respond?"

"Who knows? But Duo, he contacted you!"

Duo was grinning now. "Yeah, he did."

+

Duo had refused a ride in a Winner company shuttle, and insisted on buying his ticket with his pension money. More L-2 pride. Quatre was learning not to take it personally.

They were very aware of photographers stalking them and snapping pictures as they made their way to the shuttle bay with Duo's bags. Rashid and several of his men kept them at a safe distance, but didn't stop them from using telephoto lenses. Duo was too excited to care, and even stopped a couple of times to wave and smile.

"Where are you two going?" a reporter asked as Rashid hurried them on again.

"Mr. Maxwell is going home," Rashid told him gruffly. "Mr. Winner is simply seeing him off."

Quatre kept up a good front as he hugged Duo good-bye and watched him disappear through the security gate and down the ramp. He managed to hold it together until he was alone in the back of the limo again, heading home. Then he cried, feeling more terribly alone than he could ever remember.

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