Author: Ravengirl
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimers

[ ] = Duo's direct thought

The Last Beautiful Girl + Part 4

"Hey Hee-man, you busy?"

The door was open, but I knocked anyway. Never startle a terrorist, even a retired one. Those reactions don't go away just 'cause there's no one left to fight.

"Not really. Just finishing up my preliminary report on the Mansfield system."

"Oh yeah?" I leaned over his shoulder to look at the screen, surreptitiously taking a deep breath of Heero while I was at it. God-damn that boy smells good. Male musk and sport talc with just a hint of clean sweat. Okay, Duo, get your mind out of your pants before you attack him.

"Yes. It's so full of holes that I'm going to have to rebuild from the ground up. I got through the defenses in just over a minute."

I whistled appreciatively. I'm sure the firewalls were as shitty as he thought, but Heero's abilities are mind-blowing. By the time he was done restructuring the system, it'd be as tight as a virgin.

He finished typing then looked up at me, one eyebrow cocked in inquiry.

"Did you need something Maxwell, or are you going to stand there gaping like a landed trout all night?"

Heero's techie-prowess is second only to his talent for sarcasm. I could feel my face turn beet-red with embarrassment. This wasn't the first time since the night we pseudo-screwed on a dance floor that he'd caught me staring.

It would have been so easy to retreat, especially considering how much I wasn't looking forward to what I had to tell him, but I'd come a long way since my 'run, hide, don't lie' days. I'd learned how to tell a whopper as well as the next guy... and I'd figured out that avoiding shit doesn't make it go away. For me, it amounted to maturity. Or something like that.

"Duo?"

Heero was still looking at me, a worry-line creasing his forehead. Ooops. Musta spaced out longer than I thought. I pulled my scattered brain cells back into one mass and took a deep breath. Better get this over with. I certainly didn't want it hanging over our heads.

"Look, Heero, you know I don't pry into your personal stuff. You don't like to talk about Relena and all that crap, and that's fine but..."

My voice trailed off as the worry-line became a glower the likes of which I hadn't seen since the war. My self-preservation instincts were screaming at me to run, but I made myself stand my ground.

"Okay, it's like this... she's been sending me email for the last month. First it was, 'I know you know where he is.' Then it was 'I know he's with you, Maxwell, tell him I want to talk to him.' Now it's 'Have that jerk com me or I'm going to have you drawn and quartered in my courtyard.' Lucky for me I'm an American citizen, but still... just wanted to give you a heads-up. For all I know, she's headed this way, and I'd, um, REALLY like to avoid having her show up here."

I pushed the last words out in a rush, wanting to get them said. When Heero remained silent, I glanced up from where I was fiddling with the end of my braid to discover that I'd acquired a new statue. He could've given lessons in stillness to a marble bust.

His face was frozen in that non-expression he does so well and his eyes looked blank, as though he saw nothing but the images behind them. Then there was this kind of snapping noise and a laser pen was in pieces on the floor.

We both stared at the wide, seeping gash in his palm like a couple of idiots before I, being the tough, decisive individual that I am, sprang into action.

"That's blood. Shit, man, you're bleeding!"

Did I mention that I don't do well around copious amounts of the red stuff? Strange problem for the guy who used to call himself The God of Death, but there you go. On the other hand, it's not Shinigami who's got issues... Duo Maxwell's the one who has to deal with Shini's mess. I think it's the smell more than anything else. One whiff of that coppery-sweet scent, and I start feeling a little shaky if I don't have any immediate concerns like, say, about twenty Ozzies coming down on my ass.

My idiotic statement did serve some purpose, though, since it brought Heero out of his stupor. Sighing, he glanced at me, then his hand and pulled his shirt over his head to wrap it around the cut.

"It's okay, Duo. It's not that deep. Just get me the med kit and I'll be fine."

It was an indication of my unsettled state that I didn't stop to appreciate the tight-muscled, golden-skinned chest which had just presented itself for my viewing pleasure. Happy to have something to do, I ran for the bathroom, little green and purple spots dancing before my eyes. Splashing cold water on my face, I hung over the sink for a minute, trying to get my equilibrium back.

Finally my head stopped spinning and I looked up at my reflection. Dilated violet eyes stared back at me.

"Duo, you twit. Get your ass in gear before Heero goes into shock 'cause you're a goddamn wuss."

Determined to conquer my unreasonable reactions, I grabbed the kit from the cabinet and marched back to Heero's room. I took one look at the soaked shirt around his hand and shut my eyes tight, handed him the kit, then sat down on the floor to put my head between my knees.

"You never could deal with bleeders."

Heero sounded amused but I kept my head down where it was safe.

"Sorry," I mumbled at the floor.

"You can look, now. It's covered."

Cautiously, I raised my head and peeked at him from the corner of one eye.

"Trash the shirt and I will."

The drenched cloth disappeared and I sprawled out on the carpet, boneless.

"Damn, Heero, if I'd known you'd try to carve yourself up, I'da kept my mouth shut."

There was silence for a moment. Then,

"No. I needed to know. And I'm sorry she bothered you. I made sure she couldn't find me."

"Huh. Don't blame you." I crossed my arms behind my head and stared at the ceiling. "So... think she really knows you're here? Maybe she's just bluffing."

"Hn. She knows," came from above me.

Flipping onto my stomach, I propped myself up on my elbows to look at him. He was still sitting in his chair, hands lying loose on his knees. His eyes were unfocused, and I knew he wasn't seeing me or the room. He was somewhere else.

I didn't like it. Reaching out, I grabbed his ankle and jerked. I got an immediate scowl for my troubles. I stared back evenly, refusing to let him off this time.

"Look, Heero, if the Pink Wonder is about to descend on my head, then at least tell me what I'm in for. I still don't know what the hell happened between you two, and I kinda get the feeling I need to."

Heero lowered his death-glare to the floor, probably scaring the crap out of my innocent beige carpeting.

"I'll go. If she comes here, just tell her you don't know where I went."

"Oh hell no, buddy. You're not gonna leave me holding the bag."

Pushing up, I crawled over to him and put my hands on his knees, getting in his face and making him look at me.

"What. Did. She. Do."

For a while I thought he wasn't gonna answer. Then he released a pent-up breath and ran a frustrated hand through perpetually messy hair. Balancing on my heels, hands still resting on his thighs, I waited.

[part 3] [part 5] [back to Ravengirl's fic]