Author: pyrzm
Summary: This takes place just before the episode, "The Sorrowful Battle".

03+01, 06x03 Lemon

This series is set during the show and assumes the reader is familiar with the story line. This chapter takes place in Antarctica just before "The Sorrowful Battle"

Warning: lemon ahead.

Lost Souls + Chapter 8
Cold

Lieutenant Noin was a good soldier. Trowa would never have agreed to leave Sicily with her, and he'd have done his damndest to keep Heero from going, if he hadn't sensed the honor in the woman even before she explained Zechs's desire to continue his duel with Heero. The way she'd just walked in on them in that warehouse on the Italian docks-- no escort, no gun in sight-- showed guts.

Not that this made the long, cold journey to Antarctica any less of a bad, stupid, pointless idea. Heero's quest for atonement from General Noventa's family had at least been understandable, and in the end it was something Trowa deeply respected, but this seemed like a meaningless risk. A battle was something you had to fight; there was some purpose, some objective to be gained.

He'd begun to think he understood Heero. Under that icy exterior, Yuy really was a surprisingly nice guy, and a kindred spirit. He shared Trowa's unwavering sense of duty and fearlessness. He treated him like an equal, too, despite their rough start. He wasn't much a talker, but when he did say something it was worth hearing. Trowa understood that, too.

Because of all that, Heero's consent to continue a meaningless duel with Zechs Merquise surprised him. When they'd fought in Siberia that had been battle. This was a pointless match. Or a trap.

On the other hand, Trowa was curious. During the battle in Siberia Zechs had given no quarter, but the moment Une had announced that she was holding the colonies hostage with the fortress Barge, he'd refused to take any advantage of the situation, not even demanding their surrender, which would have been his right. And when Heero had self destructed, he'd made no move to stop Trowa from removing his fallen comrade's body from the field, or keep any of them from escaping. And now this arcane request for a duel? Perhaps he was someone worth meeting.

Curiosity aside, Trowa wasn't naive, either. This could still be a trap.

Of course, it never occurred to Trowa not to go with Heero. Heero had clearly assumed he would, too.

It was flattering, that unspoken expectation. This business with Merquise was none of Trowa's affair, and he knew that Heero was not the sort to seek out companions. For his part, Trowa hadn't liked being alone. He'd grown up as part of a unit, surrounded by men who relied on each other, fought for each other, and united off the field as friends or lovers. Ellicott's group had been only a pale shadow of that, and the Barton faction, too, but at least he'd been part of something again. It was probably why he'd chosen the circus as his cover, aside from his natural talents. He was part of something again; a member of a pack, even if at first he'd had to lie to them about whom he really was.

And in all cases, including the circus, there'd been the physical comfort of sex whenever he'd cared to seek it out. He hadn't been with anyone in well over two months now, not since a week or two before Heero had come out of his coma. He and Heero hadn't shared a bed since they left the circus, either; Heero had made it quite clear without ever saying anything that he was not interested in anything more than companionship.

Trowa couldn't understand it. They got along. They were stuck in the same limbo, with the colonies still held hostage. They shared the bond of being Gundam pilots. They were young, healthy, and they were always together. Trowa didn't usually give the matter much thought, but he'd been told he was reasonably good looking. What could be more natural than the occasional suck or cuddle to take the edge off or pass the time? There'd been plenty of nights, like those ones after Heero had been turned away by one of the Noventas, when he'd clearly been low and in need of comfort. Trowa would have happily just slept beside him or held him, but any hint of such an offer got him a blank look or a cold shoulder.

It didn't feel like homophobia, though. As far as Trowa could tell, Heero just didn't think about such things, any more than he cared what he wore or if he had enough to eat or a comfortable place to sleep. In that he was the opposite of Trowa. Trowa was just as tough, but he didn't live rough by choice. More than once he'd insisted on a decent hotel with good beds and hot water when Heero would have just as happily have spent another night in the back of the transport truck.

It was an odd partnership, and Heero was an odd partner, but if he wanted Trowa's company on this new quest, then he had it. There was no discussion. It was understood.

+

The flight from Sicily to the Barclay base was a long one. Noin continued to treat them like guests rather than prisoners, but they got a few dark looks from some of her crewmen, and the main suit bay was off limits and under guard.

Trowa spent most of the trip showing Heero Heavyarms's controls. Lying on his back in the com chair, Heero ran through the controls and learned the weaponry. The massive left arm was going to be a problem. It was the hardest to work and Heero's left arm was still healing.

He shoved at the joystick and grimaced. "Did you balance the arm to account for the extra weight of the gun?"

Trowa shook his head. "No, I left it that way on purpose, so I could react faster when I drop the gat."

That got him an approving nod. It didn't matter to Heero that he had less than twenty-four hours to pick up the knack, or that he'd already managed to rip out some stitches and was bleeding through his bandage again. He would learn this because he had to. There was simply no other option. Mission accepted, he'd probably told himself, as he always did.

Still, after a moment he paused and did something totally unexpected. He looked up and gave Trowa an embarassed, almost shy look. "Sorry. We don't usually like other people touching our own Gundams, do we?"

It was an acknowledgement of fact, but felt so intimate that Trowa blinked and hid behind his bangs. It was true; he'd let men he hardly knew take his cock in their mouth, but he'd kill anyone who tried to sit where Heero was sitting right now. The way Heero was positioned, on his back, legs slightly splayed, dressed in dark jeans and an old white Oxford Trowa had lent him--he looked like a normal kid. And hot . . .

Trowa killed that thought fast and hard. // Not Heero. Not with Heero. //

"Then you better hurry up and get to know this thing," he replied calmly. He was very good at hiding his feelings.

+

The truth about Zechs's presence in Antarctica began to come clear when they were attacked just as they made landfall. Noin didn't explain, but from what he and Heero overheard, standing just outside the cockpit, the people pursuing them were OZ, too, which explained a lot. Why stage a duel where no one could see it, unless Zechs had something to hide?

"He's defected," Heero muttered.

"Sounds like it. Are you still going to fight him?"'

"Of course."

Of course. But now Trowa was even more curious about this Colonel Zechs. He'd been Treize Kushrenada's right hand man. What the hell going on?

A squadron of OZ fighter transports appeared and attacked them. Noin impressed him again when she went to fight them off, ordering the transport to continue on and get Heero to the base. Her courage was matched by her obvious devotion to Zechs, and Trowa suspected there was something more at work there than mere duty. She left the ship in a suit with a few fighters, ordering her remaining crew to get the boys and the Gundam to Zechs, and not to look back. It was a bold move, and one worthy of a good officer.

Her captain was too loyal to take her advice, though. Watching on monitors, they saw the fight go sour. Noin and her wingman went down under overwhelming forces, and their surrender was not accepted. It seemed clear the attackers were out to destroy them.

// And that's exactly what was going to happen to the rest of us, flying a single shuttle back into the face of unbeatable odds, // Trowa thought as they headed back to help.

The transport was hit by enemy fire before they could get close enough to do her any good, just as he'd expected.

"Prepare for emergency landing!" the captain ordered.

"Let me off first," Trowa told him. "I'll go fix the mess caused by your weakness."

Heero followed him out to the bay. "Good luck. You shouldn't have any trouble against them."

Trowa gave him a curt nod as he hit the hatch seal. "Thanks. I don't plan to."

But in the end he screwed up, too. He took out all the enemy suits, and got the leader last. He thought he'd finished him off with a slash of his blade, but the man survived long enough to get out a distress call, informing any OZ forces in range that there was a Gundam here. It was a stupid, possibly fatal error. Overcome with rage and self-loathing, Trowa shredded the suit and its pilot, attacking so savagely he wrenched his right wrist badly. Sickened and in pain, he tumbled out of the cockpit into the snow. He'd saved Noin, whom he owed nothing, blown their cover in a totally pointless battle, and failed to do the one thing that most mattered; silence the enemy.

"Trowa, are you hurt?" Lieutenant Noin called, running to him in concern.

Trowa pushed her away and staggered to his feet. He'd forgotten to put on the parka she'd given him. The wind cut through his thin clothing. If he stayed out here more than a few minutes, he'd be dead in no time; another dumb oversight on his part. "I'm fine. Reload the explosives for Heero."

"Never mind that. You need to look after yourself!"

Trowa shook his head and set off for the shuttle, which had landed nearby. He could see Heero there, standing at the top of a snow bank waiting for him. Impending hypothermia wouldn't let him veer from his path, but he didn't look forward to explaining his error.

"They got a call out," he muttered through chattering teeth as he passed him.

But Heero just took off his parka, and threw it over Trowa's shoulders, then got an arm around his waist and helped him on toward the shuttle bay.

"Did you hear what I said?" Trowa demanded.

Heero nodded. "Yeah. Couldn't be helped. You need to get warm."

The shuttle took off again and he and the other wounded were given heated blankets, hot rations, and lots of coffee. Heero sat with him the rest of the flight, not saying much but obviously concerned. Touched but embarassed, Trowa threw of the blankets as soon as the shivering subsided and got back to work.

By the time they landed at the Barclay base, Heavyarms was reloaded and ready to rock. But there were more surprises in store.

+

The first was the man himself. In Siberia Trowa had not seen Zechs out of his mobile suit, but he had seen him on the news and would have known him by that helmet-like mask he always wore.

Merquise was outside to greet them, a tall figure in a long gray greatcoat. Below the helmet, his hair was so blond it looked white as the surrounding snow in this light, and whipped in the wind well past his shoulders. Even bundled up as he was, Trowa's first impression was-- as Lorca or Ortiz might have put it--"Fucking sex on legs!"

Merquise welcomed them and extended a hand. Both boys ignored it.

"Are we supposed to shake hands?" Trowa asked dryly. His own reaction to the man's appearance put him on his guard.

Merquise just smiled and led them and Lieutenant Noin inside and down a corridor.

Trowa's first impression of the man was reinforced when Merquise discarded the coat. He was talking to Heero now and Trowa hung back with the woman, taking in the view as he listened to them sound each other out. Heero was being his usual charming self.

Heero could handle himself. Trowa wasn't so certain about himself. Instincts honed by too many weeks of abstinence were threatening to override common sense.

Merquise's legs were very long and slim, encased in tall black cavalry boots to the knee, and skin-tight white military trousers that called attention to more than they hid. His close-fitted jacket was cut like Noin's, but red rather than black and decorated with lots of fancy gold braid. And if that wasn't enough, the way all that thick, shining platinum hair swung above that incredible ass as he walked made Trowa's mouth water. It was a shame that helmet hid most of what he suspected was a good-looking face. The mouth was nice, that was for sure.

A man this beautiful, enemy or not, possibly crazy or not, took Trowa's breath away. He surreptitiously adjusted the front of his pants. He'd be damned if he'd let anyone here, especially Heero, see him saluting an Oz officer with his dick!

Heero said something terse and Merquise just smiled and led them to a set of large metal double doors. "We've prepared a friendly reception for you. Try to make yourselves at home."

He led them into a dimly lit hangar bay and Heero and Trowa both stopped short. Wing stood there in a repair gantry, right beside Zechs's own Tallgeese. The Gundam looked perfect. Even the paint job was perfect.

"My-- my mobile suit!" Heero gasped.

Trowa had never heard such a mix of wonder and longing in his friend's voice before, or seen him look more surprised. And he was equally stunned. It had to be some sort of trap! Why else would Merquise go to all this trouble? It couldn't be out of the goodness of his heart.

Merquise introduced them to Meiser, the head mechanic, who seemed genuinely pleased with the project. It seemed Merquise wanted to resume their duel exactly where they'd left off, even leaving his own suit partially unrepaired and at a disadvantage to simulate the damage Heero cause in Siberia.

"When can we start?" Heero asked curtly.

"How does tomorrow morning sound?" Merquise replied.

"That's fine."

Noin was annoyed by this exchange. "Heero Yuy! Isn't there something you're forgetting to say to Colonel Zechs?"

Heero spared her a withering glance. "I will thank him, but in my own way. I'll kill Zechs." He turned back to Zechs. "That's how I'll show my gratitude."

Noin was shocked, and even Trowa was a little surprised, but Zechs nodded slightly and said, "That'll be fine."

Heero regarded him for a moment, and then held out his hand. "I've never shaken hands with anyone before."

Merquise shook with him in a very dignified way. Trowa didn't have much experience with gentlemen, but he suspected Merquise was one.

+

Heero distrusted such generosity, but he was impressed with the repairs, until he saw that the self-destruct switch had been disabled. That threw a spanner in the works. To Meiser's dismay, he decided to use Heavyarms after all, and he and Trowa ended up working late into the night to finish the preparations.

There was a small sleeping alcove in the hangar and Trowa caught some shut eye, but the sound of Heero still tinkering up there woke him and he went back out to see how he was doing.

Heero was crouched on the catwalk, clutching his bad arm. Trowa could see the lines of exhaustion on the boy's face. He also noted that Heero had changed into his own clothes, those black shorts, tank top and those ugly yellow sneakers. Trowa shook his head; he had on long pants and a turtleneck and he was cold.

"What time is it?" Heero called down.

"2:32 a.m. Let me take over."

Heero hesitated, and then said grudgingly, "Appreciate it."

Trowa passed him on the stairs as he came down and saw that he really was worn out. "Don't worry. Just get some rest. There's a bed right over there, off that corridor, and no one bothered me. I think they have this hangar sealed off or something."

"Thanks."

Trowa went to work, using a checklist Heero had been working from. He was busy making some final adjustments to the beam saber controls an hour or so later when he heard footsteps on the catwalk outside. Climbing out of the cockpit, he found Zechs Merquise standing there with two mugs of coffee. He smiled slightly as he handed one to Trowa. "Good morning. I thought you could use this. Where's Yuy?"

"Resting."

"Ah, good." Merquise looked perfect as ever, despite it being the middle of the night, and he sounded more relaxed than he had been this afternoon. That deep, husky voice was friendly, as if they were comrades rather than enemies. "Noin told me what you did. You have my thanks. She's too good a soldier to lose to dogs like that."

Trowa shrugged and accepted the coffee, trying to ignore the way that voice affected him. "I had no choice. The shuttle captain disobeyed orders and jeopardized the transport. Lieutenant Noin might be willing to die for you. I'm not."

Zechs nodded slowly. It was hard to read him in that mask. Even the eye ports were reflective. Trowa watched his mouth instead, and found it expressive. Merquise liked his answer, or was pretending to.

Trowa gestured up at Wing. "Why are you doing all this?"

Merquise sipped his coffee. "To learn more about these remarkable suits of yours, at first, and because I thought my superiors were foolish to ignore such an opportunity. But it turned into a personal challenge. I've striven to perfect myself as a warrior. Yuy is the best opponent I've faced. I didn't want to die without fighting him again, and finding out who is the better pilot. You two are so young, yet so good. From what I've seen, all of the Gundam pilots are exceptional fighters. It's a pity we ended up on opposite sides."

"You put us there. If the Earth hadn't chosen to oppress the colonies, I wouldn't be standing here now."

"We're more alike than you think. When I joined OZ, it was said to simply be a unit of elite fighters, but our real purpose was to fight the corrupt Alliance from the inside."

Trowa frowned, trying to decide if he believed him. "Why would you care?"

"I am a knight of the Sanque kingdom. Alliance forces conquered my country, just as they are attempting to do to your precious colonies. Only it wasn't enough to conquer it. They wiped out the royal family, a noble line of true pacifists, and laid the countryside to waste. I wanted revenge."

"Have you achieved it?"

"Yes, but now OZ has been betrayed into becoming the very thing we were supposed to oppose. Have you heard of the Romefeller Foundation? They're the ones really pulling the strings. A world wide oligarchy was not what I joined up to help establish. I thought we would fight for freedom, just like you. So, as I said, we're not so different, you and I."

Trowa shook his head. "I wouldn't tell an enemy this much about myself."

"What does it matter? Your friend may kill me tomorrow. If not, then I'm still a hunted man. OZ is on the way. Whatever happens tomorrow, I'm not walking away. So why shouldn't I sit here and spend my last night drinking coffee with a fellow warrior? It's better than being alone."

"What about Lieutenant Noin? Why aren't you with her?"

Those expressive lips widened in a mocking smile. "We're not lovers, if that's what you mean. She's not my type."

"And you don't fuck your men?"

It was a low blow, meant as an insult. His body was betraying him and he needed to push the man away. But Merquise only chuckled and shook his head. "Not tonight. Everyone is terribly worried about me, afraid of what's going to happen. They care far too much about my safety and continued existence. I'd just have to expend energy reassuring them. No, it's much more peaceful sitting here with you."

Trowa saw the logic of that and laughed softly in spite of his continued distrust. There was something of Heero in Merquise: that same dedication and stubbornness, the same readiness to follow his heart and die for what he believed. But he was also a little like Trowa, too, seeking out companionship, even an enemy's, rather than be alone. And of course, there was Siberia.

"Heero is my friend, so I can't really wish you luck," he told him, "but perhaps things will turn out better than you expect for both of you. It doesn't have to be to the death."

Merquise raised his coffee mug to salute him. "You're very kind, and very gallant. You would have done well at the Academy."

"I was raised on the battlefield by common soldiers. I don't think your Academy would have taught me any better."

"Not about fighting, perhaps, but there's more to life than that, isn't there?"

Trowa said nothing, but found himself thinking of how much he actually enjoyed the circus work, and the camaraderie there. He even allowed himself to picture Quatre Winner and wondered what might have been if they'd met in peacetime. Not that that would have happened, given their backgrounds, but all the same, he couldn't forget what it had been like to hold him that night at the desert oasis. It had been warm there, and so was Quatre. So warm. And Trowa was so cold inside now, and had been for what felt like forever; maybe since that last kiss in San Francisco.

"It is lonely, isn't it, this war?" Merquise said softly. The man had an uncanny knack for reading him, something most people couldn't do.

Trowa ducked his head, hiding again he watched the steam rising from his cup. Anxious to change the subject, he asked, "Do you wear that mask all the time?"

"No, not all the time." Merquise pulled it off and shook out long pale bangs that reminded Trowa far too much of Quatre's. But the eyes were different. Beautiful, but different. They were an intense, piercing light blue, and filled with weariness and a strange humor. Trowa's hand tightened around his cup as a rush of pure lust swept over him.

Merquise laughed softly. "I find you very attractive, too, Trowa."

Trowa blinked, wondering if he'd heard the man correctly. Merquise banished that doubt by setting his cup aside and closing the distance between them. He didn't touch him, just stood there close enough for Trowa to feel the heat of his body and breath. He stared up into those amazing eyes, knowing what he was seeing there-- the familiar mix of question and challenge-but still not trusting himself to act. This was crazy! This was wrong.

Merquise touched Trowa's cheek and murmured the age-old question. "Do you want to?"

"Are you joking?"

"I think you want it. I think you've wanted it since we met."

Trowa wanted to refute that, but couldn't.

Merquise smiled down at him, and freed of that mask, it was devastating. "Look at it this way. By this time tomorrow I might be dead. I'm assuming you and Yuy aren't paired, and I'm already a declared a traitor against OZ, so what's the harm?"

Trowa wanted to back away from the heat of the man and his virile smell and the lazy, sensuous gleam warming those eyes, but his feet wouldn't move. It was like being locked in a cage with a lion. A hungry lion. A hungry, sexy lion in heat. "If you kill Heero, I'll come after you. I'll kill you."

Merquise brushed his cheek again. "Fair enough. So, do you want to?"

This time tomorrow, Trowa might be dead, too. He was deep in enemy territory and OZ troops were probably already on the way, forewarned of his presence. Mind warred with body and body was winning fast. At last he gritted out, "No fucking. No kissing. Take it or leave it."

Merquise nodded, then glanced over Trowa's shoulder at the open cockpit door.

"And not there!" Trowa snapped.

"Of course not. Follow me."

Merquise strode off down the catwalk, leading him to a small, box-like office at the head of the gantry. It was littered with spare parts and tools, but there was a narrow cot at the back next to a drafting table. Still wary, Trowa let Merquise go in first, then followed. Merquise locked the door. The room had no windows. A small red safety lamp glowed over the doorway, casting a dim light over the room.

This was stupid, a bad idea, possibly even disloyal to Heero, but Trowa was cold and tired and horny and past caring and Merquise was already pressed up behind him, running warm strong hands up under the hem of his black pullover to caress his belly and chest. Trowa had expected the usual quick hand or blowjob, but Merquise was taking his time. Knowing fingers found his hard nipples and circled them with maddening skill. Trowa groaned and leaned back against him, letting his head fall back against that broad shoulder. This was stupid but his body didn't care.

Merquise pulled his collar down and licked and nipped his way down the side of Trowa's neck. He shivered and turned his head away, giving him better access. Merquise pulled the collar down farther and bit him none too gently on the top of his shoulder. Trowa hissed and ground back against the erection pressing at his ass.

With an approving growl, Merquise spun him around so their erections rubbed together. Merquise felt big. Trowa moaned, eyes half closed, and then jerked his head back as the other man leaned down. "I told you, I don't kiss!"

"Sorry. You just have such a beautiful mouth, Trowa Barton."

"And you can fuck it, but that's all."

Merquise growled again, then stripped Trowa naked and urged him down on the cot on his back.

Trowa's heart was hammering in his chest now. "Condoms. In my pocket."

Merquise grinned and held up a pair of foil packets. They weren't just rubbers, they were expensive synth skin sheaths; only the best for OZ officers, apparently. Kneeling beside the bed, Merquise tore one open, sheathed Trowa's cock, then took it down his throat in one long sensuous movement of lips and tongue.

The man was a master cocksucker. Trowa almost came right then and there, but Merquise had a hand around the base of his cock now, squeezing just hard enough to fend off ejaculation. Trowa was left gasping and bucking underneath the man, his cock engulfed in the most incredible pleasure he'd ever felt, his whole body on fire with it. All that thick pale hair spread across Trowa's hips and thighs, a tickling, caressing fall of silk. Merquise's free hand roamed Trowa's body, stroking and touching him just right, as if he knew every inch of him like a lover.

"Let me suck you!" Trowa gasped, trying to push him off before he came.

Merquise released him and stood up. Trowa's body ached in protest, but he was rewarded with the sight of the man stripping off that uniform to reveal one incredible body. He was young, but he had the hard, tight muscled build of a young man, not a boy. His cock was even bigger than Trowa had thought, and uncut. Lost in lust now, Trowa felt a pang of disappointment as he rolled the condom on over it. Synth skins were good; they felt almost like the real thing, but you lost the smell and taste of your partner. Suddenly Trowa wanted to know what Zechs Merquise tasted like.

Merquise lay down, head to toe, facing him and took Trowa's cock in his mouth again, swirling his tongue over the throbbing head. His heavy erection bobbed in front of Trowa's face and Trowa grasped it at the base. It was hot to the touch and hard as a rock.

Trowa moaned again as Zechs made an encouraging sound around his cock, but he willed himself not to come yet. Instead, he concentrated on the heat and sensation as he took that thick shaft in his mouth. Zechs smelled very clean. Trowa sucked on his head and shaft, seeing how much of it he could actually take without choking, then pulled off to bury his nose in that patch of pale musky curls at the base. That rich male aroma hit like a drug and Trowa shifted around to lick and nuzzle the heavy sac, rolling the balls with his tongue.

Merquise moaned around his cock, then pulled back just long enough to whisper, "God, Barton, that's good! So good!" Then he returned the favor, licking and sucking on Trowa's balls and the sensitive ridge of flesh just behind them. Pulling Trowa's legs apart, he nipped at the insides of his thighs, then ducked down and bit the slight curve of his ass.

So this really wasn't going to be a quick suck, Trowa realized, drowning in pleasure. Merquise wanted more than that, was offering more than that and Trowa gladly reciprocated. Inflamed with lust, swept away by arousal, Trowa let himself go, knowing he had a partner as sensually driven as he was. His hands roamed further, satisfying his curiosity about what those long legs felt like, and that belly, and the hard round ass. Merquise's skin was soft and smooth over rippling muscle and slender bones. His nipples were hard points against Trowa's belly. He reached down and pinched one and Merquise gasped and sucked harder. No, this was nothing like the quick couplings he was used to. Trowa had never been with anyone like this before. It wasn't just sex, it was a feast!

They were both too turned on for it to last long. Trowa came first, fucking Merquise's mouth hard and fast. Hands locked on Trowa's narrow hips as Merquise used his tongue to drive him over the edge and held him as he bucked and moaned around the cock in his own mouth. Trowa came hard and good and felt it all over his body, not just in his groin like he usually did. It was amazing.

There wasn't time to savor it, though. If Heero woke up and came looking for him, he didn't want to have to explain himself. He couldn't.

Trowa pulled off the sheath and sealed it, then pushed Merquise over onto his back and knelt over him. Merquise surrendered completely, pillowing his head on one arm, eyes closed, mouth smiling.

Trowa knew how to make a man come fast, but he held back a little, feeling like he owed him better than that. He took his time at first, licking and sucking and probing with his tongue. Merquise encouraged him with soft gasps and moans, and slowly pumped his hips up, seeking more. Trowa obliged, deep throating him hard and fast. In an instant he had the man's whole body trembling. Merquise buried a hand in Trowa's hair, but he didn't try to control his movements, just stroked and caressed his head as he worked.

Trowa had never experienced anything like this. Most men he'd had sex with had treated him OK, but there'd been no finesse, no lingering, and not much affection. He wasn't certain what he was feeling from Merquise, but that touch was soft and sensuous, making him feel appreciated, if nothing else, rather than just another convenient orifice. He'd never expected anything like this, and certainly not now.

Merquise's orgasm hit hard, too, and lasted a good long time. It was satisfying to see that incredible body buck and tremble, all because of what Trowa was doing to it. He felt real regret when it ended and that caressing hand fell away.

He tried to get up, already looking for his discarded clothes, but Merquise caught him by the hand and pulled him down to lie beside him. He didn't try to hold him, just rolled onto his side and pressed one hand to Trowa's chest, over his heart. What he felt there made him smile again. They lay like that for a moment. God, the man was beautiful!

"That was wonderful, Trowa. Thank you so much."

Another first. He'd had men pay him, even give him a curt, "Thanks, kid," but never anything so heartfelt. Merquise really meant it. He was grateful.

Trowa sighed, caught between conflicting emotions. He hadn't expected to feel anything but release. "You were really good, too . . . Thanks. But this doesn't change anything, you know."

"Of course not. It wasn't intended to. You'd better go get cleaned up now. There are showers in the bathroom under the gantry." He ran his fingers back through Trowa's bangs and looked into his eyes. "For what it's worth, I hope I never have to fight you."

With that, he dressed quickly, pocketing his own used condom and the wrappers. And then he was gone. Trowa did the same and slipped cautiously out of the room, careful to take his sealed condom with him. You could never be too careful with such evidence, he knew. Then again, if this had all been some ploy to get a DNA sample from a Gundam pilot, why had Merquise left it behind? Trowa shook his head and slipped out, alert to any observers.

The gantry was still deserted and he met no one on the hangar the way to the bathroom. He passed the little alcove where Yuy was and saw that his friend was still asleep. That was good.

In the bathroom he went to a toilet, tore open the condom and flushed the contents away, along with the torn skin.

The showers were gang style, in a tiled room beyond the toilets and a rack of towels. Inside, there were showerheads set high in the wall. As he lathered up under one of them, it occurred to him that he hadn't had a proper bath in days. He'd probably smelled bad, but Merquise hadn't seemed to mind. The thought of it made him hard and hot all over again and he braced one hand against the wall and jerked off, replaying the scene with Merquise over again in his mind. He'd just had the best sex of his life, and perhaps the last, with an OZ colonel. He came with a bitter laugh and stood gasping under the hot spray.

"Trowa? Is that you?"

Still cradling his softening cock in his hand, Trowa looked over his shoulder and found Yuy in the doorway. He looked worried.

"Yes. Just needed a wash."

"Me, too." Heero disappeared for a moment, and then strode in naked and cranked on a shower across the room. Trowa watched him as he finished rinsing himself off. Heero's back was to him now, and he was washing his hair. Yuy was attractive, there was no getting around that, but Trowa couldn't help comparing him to Merquise. Heero was hard muscled, covered in fresh scars, a warrior, and damn attractive. But he was still a boy. Merquise was a man.

Trowa shook his head and went to find a towel. It didn't matter, any of it. Heero and Merquise would do what they had to in a few hours and Trowa would act on the outcome. What had happened between him and Merquise was just tension and hormones, and loneliness, too. It didn't mean anything, but it had been good. It was what it was, and it was done. Before him lay only duty.

All that was true. He harbored no romantic illusions. But as he pulled his smelly clothes back on, he realized two things. He was warm for the first time since they'd left Sicily, and he still wondered what Zechs Merquise tasted like.

[ch. 7] [ch. 9] [back to Pyrzm's fic]