Author: Bane's Desire
see chao. 1 for warnings, disclaimer

A Grudging Seduction: Chapter Eighteen
The Tides of War

A week after his conversation with G, Duo found his way back to L-2. He was happy to learn his colony was still sympathetic, even loyal to the cause of the gundams. Without too much trouble he found a junkyard where Deathscythe was easily hidden even when it was clearly left out in the open.

He received a transfer of cash from Quatre shortly after he'd set up a bogus bank account and had contacted him on L-4. With the welcomed credits, Duo rented himself a room at a cheap hotel located near the junkyard and his gundam. Nightly he sat in front of the dilapidated television and avidly watched the news channel to glean whatever information he could about the war. OZ was in the process of overpowering the Alliance, and the announcement that the five scientists, who created the gundams, had been captured was a calculated boost to their propaganda machine, showing its effectiveness in curbing the rebellion of the colonies. In another report, Earth's Transportation Ministry held a news conference announcing the theft of several space shuttles within the span of one week. The thefts were being attributed to the gundam pilots but they were still waiting for conformation that the colony rebels had returned to space.

Duo sat back and stretched. He'd been hanging around the dingy, lifeless room for five days. He'd heard no word from the other pilots nor gained any information as to the whereabouts of the fortress named Libra. He supposed he could go out into space and search for the damn thing, but that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. He'd made up his mind to go into Deathscythe in the morning and try once more at contacting at least one of the other four pilots and see if they had any more information than he'd come up with.

He jumped, startled at the sound of a soft knock on his door. Picking his gun up from the coffee table he silently moved towards it and planted his body into the space next to it. "Who's there?" he asked, keeping his voice low.

"01."

Putting his gun down, Duo unlocked the door, unbolted the extra security lock and cracked the door open. A smile grew on his face at seeing Heero standing there wearing his green tank top, a pair of blue jeans and leather coat that was slung casually over his shoulder.

Opening the door further, Duo motioned the other boy inside and shut, locked and bolted it behind him. "How'd you find me?" he asked turning, but his question and breath were taken away as Heero's mouth captured his own and possessive arms wrapped tightly around him. 'What a greeting,' he thought as he eagerly returned the kiss.

After several steamy minutes had passed, they parted and Heero's deep blue eyes searched his own. "Are you alright?" he asked.

Duo nodded. "And you?"

"I'm fine," Heero answered and brought his forehead to rest against Duo's, letting a relieved sigh escape his lips.

"They got the Mad Five," Duo said softly, his arms still firmly wrapped around Heero, enjoying the feeling of security the strong body pressed against his own brought. He felt Heero nod and a moment later they parted.

Taking his hand, Duo led the other pilot to the bed and they sat next to each other. Heero turned to face him, his eyes drinking in every aspect of his being and was the first to speak. "I've got the location of the fortress Libra and I've had minimal contact with the others. We're to rendezvous with them tomorrow at these coordinates." As he spoke, he brought his black jacket to rest on his lap and fished through the pockets until he found what he was lookingfor and pulled out a slip of paper with space coordinates written on it. Duo took it, studied the numbers, committing them to memory, then took a match out of his jeans' pocket and set the piece of paper on fire over his glass of water on the bedside table.

"We'll hit it from five different directions, coming from above and below to avoid the more direct gun ports."

"Whose running the show there?" Duo asked, having studied the different characteristics and battle strategy of certain generals in the Alliance now having become a part of OZ.

"You've heard of White Fang?"

Duo's eyes widened. "Those bastards tried to get me to join them. They're extremists, a shoot off from the original Operation Meteor and out of their friggin' minds."

Heero nodded in agreement. "They've recruited the Lightening Count, now going by Milliardo Peacecraft. A self-proclaimed prophet of sorts, his mind set on freeing the colonies."

"He's an earther, not a colonist," Duo frowned. "What the hell business is it of his to save the colonies? Isn't that our job?"

"He's Relena's brother," Heero said with a hint of a smile on his lips.

Duo snorted, a smile of his own gracing his handsome face. "Figures. Fanaticism must run in the family."

Heero's hand rose to brush aside the fringe of hair from Duo's forehead, a softening tenderness entered his eyes. "Have you eaten?"

"Nah, I was thinking of going to the greasy spoon down the street for a late dinner. Why? Are you hungry?"

Duo was certain Heero was acting bashful, but as he'd never seen him act that way before, it was hard to tell. "I was thinking I could take you out."

"A date?" Duo asked, he couldn't help the teasing tone in his voice.

"Hai, a date."

"Are you staying the night?"

Heero looked up through the dark hair covering his eyes. "If you'll allow me to."

G's last wishes went through Duo's mind. Heero and destroying the Libra were the man's last orders to him. He wouldn't let his benefactor down, that just wasn't his style, he told himself, though he knew his own reasons for wanting Heero to stay had very little to do with his mission.

Leaning forward, he kissed Heero's cheek and combed his fingers through the thick, coarse hair. "Just don't order any garlic, okay?"

+

Duo woke up early the next morning. The clock on the bedside table displayed the time as being five thirteen and he knew without looking out the tightly drawn curtains that the colony lights would still be dimmed to a pre-dawn light. He felt Heero's arms around him and could hear the beat of a strong, resting heart under his ear that was pressed to a warm, hairless chest. Under the blankets of the twin bed their naked bodies were pressed together in the pose of lovers, and he smiled. Duo found himself enjoying a feeling of contentment that he'd rarely experienced in his life. He compared it to his time on the street that he often called his hungry days, when he and Solo had found a large stash of food and they ate until they were full, knowing they had enough to do it again the next day. During those dark times, he'd learned to live a day at a time, not worrying too much about the future. Food only kept so long, so you feasted while you had it. Maybe that was the way to view his relationship with Heero. Yes, he was a mission, but he was becoming so much more. Each time they got together, Duo felt more connected to the other pilot, felt himself needing more from Heero. And it seemed to him that maybe Heero was feeling likewise. The other boy didn't have to show up at his door to let him know about the attack on Libra, he could have transmitted a message from Wing to Deathscythe. He realized that Heero had wanted to see him, and that thought brought an added warmth to his heart towards his... lover?

Technically, he and Heero hadn't had sex yet, the kind that involved penetration, though they'd gotten pretty damn close. Duo wondered if his own nervousness had put Heero off from going 'all the way'. Had he sensed his hesitation in committing himself physically to a homosexual relationship?

He mentally laughed at himself. He was lying naked in bed next to another male and he was enjoying it. His past straightness and reservations had evidently flown the proverbial coop. He was getting more comfortable with the thought that he was Heero's lover and that Heero was his. He was committed to his mission regarding Heero, keeping him from self-destructing, but he was also coming to a realization that he was just as committed to seeing that Heero was happy and safe.

Heero moved slightly and he felt a warm hand stroke his bare back. "You awake?" the other asked, his voice still groggy with sleep.

"Yeah," Duo responded quietly, then turned his head to place a kiss on the caramel-colored chest.

The hand on his back moved up and then down, gliding over his smooth hip and slowly eased his leg up to partially rest on Heero's hip. After a few moments of exploration, Duo found himself shifted onto his back with Heero hovering over him. Bedroom blue eyes glittered with growing passion as the Wing pilot lowered his body on top of his, lips joining together to fuel the growing need each of the teens felt for the other.

It wasn't long before Duo found himself writhing underneath Heero's magic touch. He was turned again, this time coming to rest on Heero's chest, their mouths still melded together by passion. He felt a hand move down the length of his spine and two fingers, pressed together, traced the cleft. Finding their desired target, they pressed gently and massaged the puckered opening found there. A moan escaped from somewhere deep inside the long haired boy.

"Do you want me, Duo?"

Dazed eyes looked up into blue. It was hard for him to concentrate on answering as the swirling need inside of him grew. "I.... I." He didn't get any further with his answer. He decided later, on the long walk back to his gundam, that his hesitation must have been the answer Heero had been looking for because he stopped what he'd been doing and shifted his hand over the bony hip to massage another part of his anatomy.

"It's too soon," Heero whispered in his ear before placing a soft kiss there. "I don't want you to regret anything we do. We'll wait until after the war and things are decided."

Duo heard him, but frankly the only thing on his mind at the moment was to see a satisfying end to his highly aroused state. Fortunately for him, it was a task Heero had proven to be more than capable of, and once again, Duo was not disappointed.

+

"Quatre, above you!" Duo shouted into his communications system, seeing a beam cannon's door open above and to the left of Sandrock's position.

"I see it," came the blond's clipped answer, and from his vid screen, Duo saw the white gundam take the necessary actions to out maneuver the tracking system. He then turned back to his own assignment. He'd been dodging the beam cannons on the underbelly of the obscenely large Libra. His goal was to take out as many cannons as possible while fighting the ever present mobile dolls that kept popping up at inopportune times.

"Dodge, aim, strike!" He murmured under his breath the same actions he'd followed for the last ten minutes. He was making progress but it was too damn slow. The cannon port to his left exploded from the blast he'd sent that way. A warning klaxon sounded on his control panel, prompting him to throw Deathscythe upwards to avoid whatever enemy fire was coming his way. Deathscythe was hit, the sound of the explosion just outside the back of his gundam boomed like a lighting strike three feet from a potential victim. His body was thrown forcefully forward, his shoulder straps digging deeply into his body but keeping him from hitting the control panel.

"Duo?" Heero's worried voice sounded on the scratchy speaker. "Status!"

Shaking his head to quickly regain his senses, Duo checked his control panel. "Looks good," he answered, righting himself in his chair. But his conversation ended abruptly when the defense screen showed three mobile dolls gaining on him. "Oh no you don't," he said in a dark, menacing voice. With his hands gripping the controls tightly, he spun his trusty gundam around and drove it into the middle of the approaching suits, his thermal scythe swinging until the three were cut into pieces and could only be considered as space junk.

A moment after eliminating them, he noted with some dismay that he'd lost ground and had to begin again. At least this time he knew that he didn't have as many beam cannons to dodge because he'd taken out at least half of them on his last path towards the center of the well-protected underbelly of the monstrous battle ship.

"I think something's wrong," Quatre's voice suddenly came over the speakers, sounding anxious. "Trowa's not answering. Does anyone have a visual of Heavyarms?"

"My scanners tell me he took simultaneous blasts from two mobile suits," Wufei reported, his voice tense. "I'm on my way to assist. Heavyarms appears unresponsive and I'm assuming its systems are off-line. Trowa's defenseless and mobile suits are converging on him."

"Allah, no!" Duo barely heard the soft sound of Quatre's anguished whisper over the comm unit. Knowing Wufei and Trowa were topside of the massive fortress, and since his last skirmish had brought him back to nearly the point of contact, he make a hasty decision to assist.

"Watch your back, Quatre. I think I'm even closer to Trowa than Wufei so I'm going to help."

He switched off his communication board just as he heard both Heero and Quatre begin to voice their response to his statement. The blond sounded grateful and Heero was pissed. He turned his gundam around and made his way back to the edge of Libra, ready to slip over the lip and find the defenseless gundam before it was too late

Trowa appeared to have experienced difficulties similar to his own and had been pushed back by the constant assault from Libra's crew, making Heavyarms easier for Duo to spot on his scanner. Yet upon his approach, he could see the unresponsive suit was being pelted by shots from the computer-driven mobile dolls. The American moved quickly to his comrade's aid, taking aim at the nearest suit that happened to be turning in his direction. "Taking pot shots at my buddy, huh? Well take that you nickel plated tin can." He aimed and fired at the suit, dodging its attempts to return fire and distracting it until he was in close range. His scythe came into action then, slicing the suit right down the middle. Pushing the two pieces of metal aside, he surged forward in an effort to help defend his friend. He could see Wufei approaching from the opposite side, admiring his dragon arms blazing with his laser fire as the clamps, that worked as a vice, decapitate a doll's head, taking out it communication from the mother ship.

Turning on his comm, Duo spoke to the other pilot. "Take him out of here, Wufei. I'll cover your back."

"Roger that," Wufei replied tersely.

Duo's sensors reported the movement of Wufei's gundam towards Trowa. Seeing that problem being taken care of, he hit his thrusters and sent his flying weapon towards the nearest threat. The warning klaxon sounded again and automatically Duo flung his suit downward, towards the ship, but his evasive moves were a scant second too late as Deathscythe was struck once more by a beam of enormous power, and this time, Deathscythe's left arm was severed.

"Shit!," Duo yelled in frustration as he was violently thrown in his seat. He never lost his bearings and turned his gundam back to face his attacker. He paused only a moment to readjust the straps that had painfully cut into his shoulders once again. "You think you've got me, huh?" he yelled at his pilot-less opponent. "You don't know Shinigami then. I'll fight as long as I have my scythe." The green lethal blade glowed ominously against the black backdrop of space, and with an expertise known to very few, the teenager from L-2 spun his favorite weapon with on hand in a blurring circle, then catapulted his one-armed suit into the line of mobile dolls gathering around him like vultures to carrion, cutting them to pieces.

"Retreat!" Heero's shout came out loud and clear over the speakers, and Duo realized he'd forgotten to turn of his com system. Coordinates flashed on the computer screen and he quickly entered it into his navigational computer. "Roger," he answered, hearing the others, minus Trowa, reply in a similar manner to the order. It still took him more than a few minutes to get away from the battling dolls that surrounded him and move beyond the range of laser cannons that remained functional on Libra, shooting with deadly accuracy but short of their goal of eliminating at least one of their dreaded enemy.

Deathscythe lagged behind the other gundams as they hurried away from the moderately damaged fortress. The gundam's pilot turned the volume down on his comm board, unable to bear the worried pleading of Quatre's voice, trying to get Trowa to answer him. He made a systems check, cataloguing all the repairs that his gundam would need and wondering where in space he was going to get the material he needed to make Deathscythe whole.

A faint bleep on his sensor screen indicated a large ship was headed in their general direction. Making a quick decision, he reactivated his communications system. "I'm going to go check out that ship, see if it's friend or foe," he told the others.

"Be careful," Quatre said, voicing the sentiment of the others nicely.

"Will do," he replied, then hit the thrusters.

"Your suit is damaged, 02." Heero's sharp disapproval came through loud and clear. "Do not engage if it's an enemy. Radio for back up."

"Geeze, it's not like I don't have a weapon. I'll catch up with you soon." He cut off the comm board again, not wanting to argue.

The ship, when it became visible, was large, white and recognizable. An enormous grin grew on Duo's face and he slapped on the communication board and switched the frequency. "Hey, Hawaiian-shirt freak, are you listening? What the hell are you doing in space?" he asked jokingly over the comm system. He heard an answering static, signaling that someone was listening and noticed the person replying left the visual off.

"That you kid?" The voice was unmistakable and caused the gundam pilot to laugh.

"Yep, braided wonder boy at your service, old man. Seems like my buddy Deathscythe has become an amputee. You got a few spare parts lying around that tub of yours?"

"Tub!" The older man's voice sounded indignant. "Whose ship are you calling a tub? And what the hell did you do with my suit?"

"Your suit? Seems to me I stole Deathscythe fair and square from G," the boy answered with humor lacing his voice. "Oh, and sorry. I forgot tub is the name of that monstrosity that floats on the ocean."

"Ships, boy. Ships. Not tub or a bucket of rusty bolts and not a cistern or spittoon. You'd think after all this time you'd have a little respect," Howard joked. "So what's taking you? Are you coming in or not?" The faceless man asked with mock irritation.

"Yeah, but I've got some friends with me. You got room for them, too?"

"All five of you?"

"You bet."

"I'll put out the welcome mat and open the back loading hatch. Just bring those beauties in here and we'll see what we can do."

"You're the best, Howard," Duo said sincerely, his affection for the older man evident in his voice.

"Yeah, yeah, flattery will get you everywhere, won't it, Duo? Must be why you're so good at it, you grifter."

"Hey! When the hell have I ever taken anything from you dishonestly?" Duo wondered if Howard truly felt him to be the swindler he'd referred to.

"Nah, you just con everyone to doing what you want them to with that charm of yours, and you know it."

"I call it a learned, necessary instinct for survival," he replied while sending the Peacemillion's coordinates to the other gundams.

"Call it what you may," Howard chuckled easily. "But you're damn good at it."

"Maybe so, but I don't scam my friends, ever."

"I know. Geeze son, don't get your boxers tied up around your balls. Just get on in here for a proper hello."

"Thanks, Howie," Duo said sincerely, yet instead of entering the ship as instructed, he turned to wait outside the white vessel for the arrival of his friends.

He positioned his suit beside the cargo bay doors and motioned the others in, with Trowa's gundam being supported by Wufei and Quatre. Once the four were inside, he followed. As he moved Deathscythe in, he heard the massive bay doors shut behind him. A cargo worker in a spacesuit, holding a florescent glowing baton directed him to one of the large holding bays that looked like it was made just for Deathscythe. Seeing the others backing into similar places, he did likewise. After feeling the clamps locking onto his suit, he leaned back into his chair and took a deep breath. That had been one hell of a fight and adrenaline rush. But like all such bursts of energy, when it was over, it left him feeling bone-weary and drained.

He released the safety harness and hit the key of his onboard computer to finish up the diagnostic test he'd begun earlier in order to determine what systems, other than the obvious, would need repairs by Howard's crew. Setting aside the seat restraints, he rubbed his aching shoulders and winced at the pain caused by being thrown against the straps repeatedly during the battle. His hands moved stiffly and were sore from their feverish work on the controls. He took a few moments to stretch them out and knead the aching tendons before he did anything else. Through his view screens, he saw the red lights flashing in the hanger turn to yellow and then to green, telling him that the cargo/maintenance cabin had been pressurized and was now filled with oxygen.

Carefully standing, Duo bent from his waist in all directions, trying to get the crick out of his back. Hearing a satisfying ripple of pops down his spine, he turned to open the front hatch of his gundam in an unhurried manner. The door's seal popped, as did his ears, and then hissed as it popped open. Before he could move to open it further, he looked up, startled to see the hatch flung open and Heero Yuy storming through.

No words were spoken as he felt himself grabbed by the front of his flight suit and lifted up, only to be pressed firmly down into his seat with Heero standing over him.

"Don't you ever cut me off when I'm in the middle of giving you instructions, Duo." It was easy to see that Heero was angry. His lips were compressed into a hard line as he glared down at the braided teen.

"I was the closest," Duo snapped back defensively, feeling a bit intimated by Heero's anger but he stubbornly refused to show it. "I wasn't making any progress from where I was when Quatre's call came in. I was the logical choice to go to Trowa's aid."

"You cut me off," Heero growled. "Don't you ever do that again, Duo. If something else had gone wrong, neither Quatre or I would have been aware of it and you could have been killed."

He blinked with sudden awareness up at the pinched face above him, realizing Heero had truly been worried about his safety. The idea warmed him inside and his heart began to speed up. "Heero," he said, softening his voice and reaching a hand up to sooth the anger and worry from the other boy's face. "I'm sorry, but I knew you'd argue or take the job yourself. I wasn't making progress from where I was and Trowa's safety was more important than destroying a couple more dolls. I didn't mean to worry you, I just didn't want to take my concentration away from the battle to argue the point."

Heero's face had softened minutely as Duo spoke, but his eyes remained solely focused on the face below him. "Don't do it again," he ordered, though his tone was softer than before.

"I can't promise, but I'll try, alright?"

There was a long pause as the two remained unmoving from their physical and mental positions. Finally Heero replied with a curt nod of his head. He then swooped down and captured Duo's lips with his own, kissing him fiercely without causing pain. The braided pilot brought his hands up and, feeling the tense muscles in Heero's back, began to massage them, hoping to calm whatever was bothering his... lover. He found he still stumbled over that word, even when he said it in his head. 'My lover,' he told himself more firmly as the kiss became less intense and more passionate as he eagerly returned it. 'I'll say it over and over until I can admit it to myself that it's true.' he thought. 'Heero is my lover. I am his lover. I love...' He suddenly pushed away from Heero's lips, startled at the realization of what he was about to admit to himself. "Wait," he said a bit breathless, his heart racing in his chest. "How's Trowa?"

Heero frowned then straightened, his eyes never leaving the boy still sitting in his pilot's chair. "They were extracting him from Heavyarms when I entered Deathscythe."

The idea that Heero would come to him without first seeing how an injured member of his team was froze Duo into place. Heero was always about the mission, and Trowa being injured or worse would be detrimental to their final goal of winning the war. He wondered for a brief moment what it meant, but at the back of his mind, he wondered if this was Heero's way of declaring his true feelings for him.

Ignoring the aches and pain in his body, Duo jumped up from his chair and threw his arms around Heero's neck and hugged him for all he was worth. He couldn't fully admit it to himself his newfound feelings for Heero, but he took his lover's actions as more or less a declaration of his deeper feelings for him. The idea that someone cared enough about him to go against their nature affected him more than he'd ever thought it would.

With those thoughts swirling around in his head, he hadn't truly been aware that he was raining ecstatic kisses all over Heero's face until he was finally grabbed by his sore shoulders and pulled back so Wing's pilot could study his face.

"What was that all about?" Heero asked, looking like he was torn between being amused, pleased and worried.

Duo couldn't keep the smile off his face. "I guess I'm just feeling lucky to have you watching my back. It's a really good feeling."

Heero smiled then leaned forward to plant a kiss on the other boy's forehead. "Yes, it is," he replied warmly. Turning and slipping his arm around Duo's waist, he led the braided boy towards the open hatch. "Let's go see how Trowa's doing."

+

The next week was filled with battles fought both offensively and defensively. Heero, Quatre and Wufei went out together or separately in turns as Trowa recovered from his concussion and superficial wounds and Deathscythe and Heavyarms underwent repairs.

The waiting was the hardest part, Duo thought. Heero was in full battle mode, his mind and body in a constant state of being alert and tense, ready for the battle call. There had been little time to remind Heero of his promise to not self detonate, and Duo worried with each successive battle whether any of them would live to see the end of the war. The mobile dolls, though beatable, were sent against them in wave after wave of soulless but controlled attacks. The three fighting gundam pilots were nearing exhaustion and there was little relief in sight.

It was only late at night, when Duo lay with Heero on his bunk, holding tightly to the strong but weary soldier, that he whispered a gentle reminder to Wing's pilot of his promise. In turn, at Heero's prompting, he remembered his promise also. In order to relax his partner, to put aside his concerns and strategies that plagued his mind and rest for a few hours for yet another day of battle, he used his imagination to describe in vivid detail a future after the war, seeking and finding a place to call home and hoping for a life without orders or missions. It was those quiet hours each night that seemed to help soothe the unease both boys felt at the war's acceleration.

On the seventh night after their arrival on Peacemillion, Heero lay tense for a longer period of time than usual. The day had been a particularly grueling one. "Tomorrow will be better," Duo told him, lazily draped across half of the Wing pilot's body, which was clothed for sleep in his green tank top and his black shorts. Both of their flight suits lay on a chair next to the bed, ready to be donned if the call to arms went off during the night. Duo was looking forward to the coming day. Deathscythe was finished, the last of the repairs wrapping up that evening with all systems running at top levels of performance. He was more than anxious to engage the enemy once again and help his comrades. Trowa was also on the mend and would join the battle scheduled for 0800 hours, if not sooner.

The two pilots lay comfortably against each other, and after a while, Duo came to believe that Heero had fallen asleep. That thought only lasted until he tried to move and he found a strong pair of arms grabbing onto him, holding him in place.

"Where are you going?" Heero asked, his voice etched with weariness.

"Just gonna to get a drink," Duo replied quietly. "Do you want anything?"

"A couple of aspirin," came the short reply.

The arms loosened and Duo removed himself from the bed and went into the connecting bathroom. After getting his drink of water, he got the medication Heero requested, another cup of water, and made his way back to the other pilot's bed. Heero lay still, but his eyes opened part way as Duo made his near-silent approach. Slowly sitting up, he accepted the pills, muttered his thanks just before he popped them into his mouth, then grabbed the disposable cup and downed the water, successfully swallowing the medication.

"Headache?" Duo questioned, taking the cup back and tossing it into a lidded trash receptacle.

"That and general aches from battle," Heero said as he reclined back down onto his pillow, his eyes remaining fixed on his roommate.

Duo's eyes were transfixed on the handsome face, lined with weariness and shadowed circles under his eyes. A nearly permanent crease of worry was forming between the dark and slender eyebrows. Just looking at his fellow pilot, knowing how much Heero gave to each battle, that he put in one hundred and ten percent into every action, caused his heart to constrict with an emotion he wasn't sure of. His instincts told him to reach out and sooth the crease of worry, to kiss away the weariness, and to hold onto the person who had slowly but surely come to mean more to him than not only any other person in his life, but more important than any mission.

Heero's eyes searched his own, but for what, Duo didn't know. He knew Heero desired him, but was he feeling as emotional about their relationship as he was?

"You fight tomorrow," Heero said, his tone even and unemotional.

"Yeah," Duo said as he sat on the edge of the mattress. "I'm looking forward to getting out there and making a difference. Who knows, with the five of us fighting together again, maybe tomorrow will make the difference, turn the tide of the war our way."

"Don't take unnecessary risks," Heero reminded him. "I have your promise."

Duo managed a small smile. "And I have yours."

Heero nodded, then his eyes returned to studying the young man now sitting by his side.

Duo felt the need for something more than just those few words that had just passed between them. He had a sense that the war was going to end soon. Each day brought battles more fierce and determined on both sides. Oz, headed by Treize's faction and White Fang, who followed Milliardo Peacecraft, seemed intent on duking it out with each other while the gundams fought both enemies vigorously. It was only logical that, sooner or later, something or someone had to give.

"What are you thinking about?" Heero asked, startling Duo from his thoughts.

"The end of the war," he answered, his eyes refocusing on Heero's face. "I think it's coming, Heero. One way or another, the war is coming to an end for us." Even to his own ears, Duo could hear the slight inflection of trepidation in his words.

Heero, even in his exhausted state, reached up to take hold of Duo's hand and held it in a reassuring manner. "I think it will be a good thing, don't you?"

"I hope so," the braided teen replied, his heart pounding heavily in his chest and his emotions coming closer to the surface. "I'm just unsure of the future, Heero. I know I've talked about it, but what the hell do I know? I'm still a kid." He paused for a moment, frowned and hurriedly continued. "Okay, I'm a very messed up, badly behaved kid. I guess I just don't really know what I'll do if I'm not needed to pilot Deathscythe anymore. I've tried to avenge the deaths of the people who were unjustly killed by the Alliance, but I honestly don't feel any better than when I started." He sighed deeply as he studied the two hands clasped together, absently noticing the difference in their skin tones and how much it reminded him of the symbol of ying and yang, representing the sun and moon. "But the last thing I want to do is to go back to the streets." His determined eyes rose to meet Heero. "I've seen for myself that life can be better than that, and that's what I want, a better life. That is if they don't throw our asses into prison."

"Duo..." Heero hesitated before continuing, and Duo wondered if he'd changed his mind about what he was going to say. But after a moment, a look of resolve crossed his face as he spoke. "After the war, when we both walk away from the last battle, I want to sit down and talk to you. There are things I need to say and I want to tell you about my training." He paused and blushed slightly, but his eyes were shining with an unspoken need. "I want so much," he said in a hushed voice. "And in telling you these... things, I can only hope there is a future we can discover together. I don't have a place to go back to after leaving Wing for the last time but back to Dr. J. And like the streets are to you, Duo, it's the last place I want to go."

Duo nodded. He knew in his heart that after the war, he needed to talk to Heero also. He had to tell him, to lay all the cards out on the table and somehow inform Heero that he had been a mission. Honesty, he believed, was the only way to keep a relationship.

He hoped Heero would understand.

He had begun their relationship under orders and false pretenses, though he tried to be as honest as he possibly could. He just hadn't realized that he would respond physically and emotionally to Heero as he had when he'd begun to follow his orders.

Would Heero forgive him? He didn't know. But maybe, if he first prefaced his confession with his newfound feelings for him, Heero might be able to find it in his heart to forgive and forget.

"Alright," he agreed with the suggestion. "After the last battle, we'll find a safe bolt-hole: a hotel room, a cabin on one of Howard's ships, anywhere we can be alone, and we'll talk."

The slight smile on Heero's lips showed that he was pleased. Duo returned it, his heart swelling with his feelings for the other boy. He wished he could express in some what he truly felt for his best friend and lover, words that were still too foreign to his mind and tongue to be spoken out loud. Then the idea came to him on how to do just that, to show Heero how much he cared. In remembering their more intimate moments, as few and far in between as they had been, Duo recalled he'd never instigated it. He always waited for Heero to pull him into an embrace, to kiss or touch him first before his body began to respond in kind. A smile lit his face, and Heero's eyebrows rose with curiosity in having seen it.

Turning on the bed to angle himself more into position, Duo braced his arms on either side of Heero's body and slowly lowered himself and pressed his lips against the warm ones beneath him. The kiss began slow and languid, and as it continued, Duo climbed back up onto the bed and straddled the other boy's body, resting his posterior on Heero's strong, flat stomach. Heero's lips gladly received his attention, and soft moans began to emit from the usually self-controlled young man.

Duo felt Heero's strong and calloused hands move from his waist to glide down to his hips and then roamed to the front where they began to meet the bulging boxer-covered flesh there. Following his heart instead of his usually contradictory mind, Duo gave into every sensation he felt, letting his body react the way it wanted to from the many teasing, alluring touches of Heero's hands and fingers.

He whispered seductively into Heero's ears the thoughts that came randomly to his mind, half the time not making much sense to himself but the overwhelming need to say them took over any reason.

Heero's hands and mouth responded to his touch and words that tumbled from his lips, words that seemed to have no place between two soldiers engaged in war where there was so much to lose and everything to gain from their relationship.

This time was different for the both of them as Duo took an active role in their growing intimacy. Instead of being the almost dormant, submissive receiver of Heero's experience, he took what he had learned during their few intimate times together and applied them to his generous teacher.

It was music to Duo's ears to hear the soft cry of completion that issued from Heero's lips as he attempted to swallow down his lover's essence for the first time. In the past, he could never have conceived of the notion that he would participate in orally stimulating another male, but Heero had proved to be anything but just another male; he was becoming the center of his universe.

Crawling up from between Heero's legs to lay his body against his chest, both teens sighed contentedly. If Duo thought Heero was too tired to do anything but sleep, he was mistaken, for almost immediately he found himself flopped over onto his back with Heero giving him a smile that would have blunted the sun in contrast. He could only guess that the dark haired boy was pleased with his amateurish though obviously successful attempt at giving him a blow job. After a quick, passion-filled kiss, with Heero tasting himself on his lips and tongue, he let go of his lover's mouth with a gasp, and the Japanese boy began the slow move down his trembling body with teasing kisses, harmless nips and his laving tongue. Duo relaxed as much as possible, a smile growing on his face in knowing his lover had taken on a new, self-appointed mission, one that he would complete before letting either of them give into their exhaustion that night. Duo smiled, and a moan escaped his throat at the sensations Heero always awoke in him. He was more than happy to put off sleeping for just a little while longer and to assist Heero in achieving his current goal.

[ch. 17] [ch. 19] [back to Singles a - k]