Author: Sita Seraph
Author Notes: This is the end. I tried my best with this, especially with a looming deadline, and I made it. Thanks for stickiní with it for so long (or for those who are reading it for the first time... This took way too long to finish! *&$&%$@! Yes, well, anyway. Thank you everyone for reading. Have a nice day. ^_^ 

Abuse This + Part 12

I stared hard out the window, out at the city below, where the streets were busy with moving cars and people crossing them, heads going back and forth in every direction. It was windy outside. It was apparent by the way everyoneís hair was flying wildly around. I sighed heavily, eyebrows scrunching in sickness as my thoughts drifted away from watching people and back to the present problem. My present job that I had to do - I didnít want to think about it though. I wanted to close my eyes and go to sleep - go to sleep and dream away everything that was happening to me. I felt very sick inside because of it. It was hard to breathe sometimes. One moment I would be distracted by something, and then my thoughts would return to the world around me and I... couldnít breathe. Something heavy was on top of my chest. I tried to raise my chest, to bring air in, but the heavy boulder on my lungs wouldnít budge. I would begin to panic. I would begin to get sick. I would get dizzy. And then I would force all of the suffocating thoughts away, search outside to find my new distraction, and delve into it with desperation. But I would always come back to this point of time, to this constant ache under the surface of my skin, contracting painfully with each beat in my chest. The pressure on my chest was pressing down on the sides of my heart; I wasnít getting enough blood to my lungs. I wish there was some other way to release the pressure on me. Maybe if I finally gave in and threw up? Maybe my lungs would open up when the bile exited my mouth. Maybe my tears would release the pain...

No. They didnít do any good either.

I pressed my head against the cold glass of the window, opening my mouth to scream but already knowing it was useless. The weight was rising to my throat and I wanted to grab it to stop it. I had to stop its travel before it got to my brain. It was already full of thoughts. I did not need anything else in there. Vaguely, I scratched at my throat, trying to squeeze the pressure down. But then I felt my face starting to get numb and I began to squint harshly against the blurriness in my eyes and I let go. Breathe... I had to learn how to breathe all over again. In and out. There we go. In and out. Concentrate on breathing, Duo. In and out. There, it isnít so hard, now is it?

I sobbed, raised my hand, and punched the wall. I wanted to scream. But then I would lose all my precious air. I needed the air to talk. I needed to talk to someone. I had bought a video camera earlier. It was sitting on the TV, waiting for me. I knew I should have done something else, like talk to a doctor or something. But I couldnít tell anybody about this...

Not until I told the people I had done this to.

Wiping furiously at my face, I turned away from the mirror and walked back to the living room and collapsed into a chair. I stared up at the camera, forcing my chest to go up and down. I quelled the urge to start screaming again. I knew that I probably wouldnít be able to stop this time if I did.

Grabbing the remote, I turned both the TV and the camera on. I appeared on the screen and I stared at myself, shuddering at my appearance. I looked mangled and drunk; my eyes blood shot and my clothes wrinkly, out of order. I had put the wrong button in its slot when I was getting dressed hurriedly this morning. I thought about fixing it before pushing record. I thought about maybe running a brush through my hair. Maybe wash my face a little.

But then I thought that they probably would have seen me in worse positions than this.

I pressed record on the remote and opened my mouth to begin from the very beginning.

+

"Worried about me, doc?" I laughed charmingly, watching as Dr. G took another blood sample from my arm. Even though I knew all of his instruments would be clean, the place that he was hiding out was not. Machine rubble was stashed in the corner, probably from past-time tinkering, and the bed was nothing but a cot. Rust and mold were eating up the sink and I would have put money on the bet that the water that came from the faucet was orange.

"Stressed out at all?" The doctor asked, ignoring my question like he usually did.

"Nah, not really," I said before looking back thoughtfully. "But...yanno, 01 has been acting a little freaky lately, what with killin' all those people on accident. And 05's pissed off 'cause, well, 03 told me that he lost a battle with Trieze and non' to happy 'bout it. And 04...he's Quatre Winner, righ'? Well, I heard the whole Winner Corporation is kind of messed up lately with the war and all. Or maybe because Daddy ain't happy that his only son is out fighting on a Gundam. 03 and me are the only real calm ones out of the bunch. Heh, then again, 03 is always calm. He wouldn't whimper if a bomb just exploded next to his ear, I tell ya."

"I believe you," the doctor said with lack of emotion. He shuffled away with the blood sample and put it next to the sink before crouching down and using his mechanical hand to open one of the cupboards. Shifting through some things I couldn't see, he clinked on back with a medicine bottle in his real hand.

"Here," he said and tossed the bottle to me. I caught it then held it up to the dim light, squinting to make out the words. "Vitamins." He said. I nodded with a slightly raised eyebrow before pocketing them in my black slacks.

"All right," he sighed as I continued to stare at him. "They'll stop you from growing, but theyíre healthy. If you get any bigger, you won't be able to fit in the Deathsycthe. Take two a day for the first week, then one a day afterwards. Contact me a week before you run out. They'll be consequences if you don't take them, so be loyal and prompt."

"Make me sick, yeah?" I said with a nod before sliding off the cot. "All right, doc, I trust ya."

An emotion flitted across his features but it was gone took quick for me to catch.

"Off you go, then," he said and shooed me from the small building. Glancing at the steel door wearily as it slid shut with a resonant thud, I turned away and brought the collar of my trench coat up higher before peeking out of the alleyway. Making sure the coast was clear, I crept out and strode with purpose down the nearly empty street before I turned and got caught up in a busier area with people. Shopkeepers were hollering out their wares, coming out from their stuffy shops to share the warmth of the afternoon. It was hot underneath my coat and my priest attire, but I had grown adapted to it, even though the priest collar itched like crazy. And even though I tried to keep my outfit a little concealed, there was still the average woman who noticed and smiled warmly at me, and I was forced to do the same.

I was almost back to the church when I caught sight of a vegetable shop showing off their items. Thinking that maybe the rest of the guys were hungry, I walked to it between the shuffle of people and ordered a few things from the selection. I thought about stealing them all, but one quick look at the old shopkeeper and I decided against it. After all, a war was going on and some people needed to make a profit to live. Paying the old man, he smiled kindly at me, or at least at the collar around my neck, since he stared intently at it.

"Coming from Old Mary, Father?" The man asked as he packed my food in a brown bag.

"Yes," I said with a smile of my own.

"It's nice to see a new face," the old man said as he handed my purchase. "My wife will be pleased. She's always hated confessing to a man whoís her own age." He chuckled hoarsely, a dry laugh that had lost its warmth against the fight of old age. I laughed with him so I could lend my own.

"I would be pleased to see her," I replied before nodding my head in farewell and continuing my way to the church.

It was a despairing place from the outside, but warm and familiar on the inside. People still came for confessions and ceremonies. While the rest of the group hid underneath the planks of wood for the floor, I had become a priest at the old church. I never did any of the Sunday sessions; I don't think I could have gone through that. But I did do the confessions of the many people who visited there. Many people prayed for their sons to come back home safely once the war was over. Many people confessed against the ugly thoughts they had against the ugly battle. Few spat out their hate for OZ and the Gundams. A few.

The church was empty when I arrived and so I proceeded towards the back and kicked off the carpet covering the door that led downstairs. Balancing my purchase with my hip, I pulled open the door and crawled onto the stairs. When the floorboards slammed shut behind me, I heard the sound of a gun being cocked.

"Identify yourself."

"Relax, 'ero," I said with a sigh. "It's me, Duo."

The gun uncocked and the safety was put back on. With a hand on my elbow, Heero led me down the stairs as I was nearly blind against the darkness and led me into the room where everyone was waiting silently. When Heero and I appeared in the doorway, a light was turned back on and everybody started to breathe again. I walked to the table purposefully and dumped the food on it without sparing a glance at the others. Well, barely. Wufei had been sitting on the bed in the corner, a gun pointing at the doorway, but now he was cleaning it slowly with a tired rag. Trowa sat on the kitchen counters. An old fire stove was part of that side of the room, so thatís what I assumed it had to be. Quatre had been sitting at the table and looked happy at my thoughtfulness to get them some more food down there.

"Thank you, Duo," Quatre said warmly as he took a banana and peeled back the skin.

"Any orders?" Heero asked as he came further into the room and took an apple for himself.

"Nope," I said cheerfully, taking off my coat and tossing it carelessly on the chair. "He just wanted to give me these." I dug in my pocket as I remembered and produced the pills. I took a glance at my watch and decided that taking it now was a good time as any. Opening the cap, I poured out two red and white pills, and swallowed them dry. "How about you, Heero?"

Heero shook his head slowly.

"Well then," I said, smiling. "I guess itís just a quiet evening for the rest of us." 


"You guys do realize you're playing poker in a church, right?" Quatre asked from his corner of the room, flipping to the next page in his novel. Folding three cards on the table and scooting them away, I took three different ones from the stack while looking over at my teammate, smiling slightly.

"Yep," I said cheerfully, now glancing at my new cards.

"Just checking," Quatre mumbled back, shifting on the bed. For a moment I forgot my cards and gazed at the shy flesh of Quatre's side as it peeked out from under his shirt. Then Trowa moved, putting a few more crumbled bills in the middle of the stack and I pouted, putting the stiff cards to my lips.

"Evil, vile man," I grumbled and looked down at my cards.

"Amen," Quatre replied behind his book, causing Trowa and I to smirk behind our hands. We had been at it for about an hour, fighting for each other's spare money by ways of a stack of cards and not getting any closer to calling it quits for the night. The old church groaned around us as it began to fall asleep, a twitch of noise causing every one of us to tense shoulders and send a hand or two for gun or knife. Heero was restless, pacing in front of the entrance for fifteen minutes before setting himself to work on cooking. Slightly burnt eggs was stifling the small room and making me very, very hungry. I glared at Heero from the table for not making something for everyone else, but he was oblivious, staring up at the stairwell with a vacant expression on his face. Wufei was meditating somewhere behind me, mumbling words underneath his breath and getting really, really underneath my skin. More then once, Trowa had to stray my hand from slicing Wufei's throat with the Queen of Hearts. It was like he was chanting voodoo or something and it made me feel like the spell was directed towards me.

"You going to fold?" Trowa asked, rolling up his sleeves. I looked over his arms for a moment, curious at a large freckle on the cease of Trowa's left arm before blinking up to meet his solid gaze. Smirking, I laid out my cards.

"Tsk," he murmured, looking down at them before splaying his out and swiping all the takings. "Too proud to give in, Duo."

"You guys should be thankful for that," I sniffed, taking the cards and reshuffling them again.

"Have you taken your vitamins yet?" Trowa asked suddenly and I groaned.

"Nooo," I whined, standing up. "I forgot."

"Should we be thankful for that too?" Trowa asked, smirking. I tilted my head a little, confused. "Proud and forgetful. We wouldn't ever have to worry if you got caught my OZ. A week there and you wouldn't remember who you are - but you would be too proud to admit it."

Chuckling, I threw the stack of cards at him and went to the sink to swallow those red and white pills.

+

Fisting my bangs in my hand, I sat, secluded, in the confession box and sighed, staring at nothing. I couldn't understand what was going on with me lately. Chewing the roots of my nails, my eyes flickered upwards at the cross that peered through the holes of the box and prayed for some clarity.

I couldn't say that I ever really felt a part the group. Not really. I was either one step ahead of them or one step behind them. I was funny. I was charming. But that didn't mean I belonged. I felt a little cut off from them. I didnít mind that ≠ in fact, I rather preferred it. It was just the way I worked, I guessed. I would enjoy being in their company, but I didnít really want them to get to know me. I just gave them enough to trust me ≠ to carry out a civil conversation for boring nights. I really didnít have time to even get to know myself. To stop and think what I like better. Was television on the top five or was it chocolate? Did I like hot, tea-like jello or would I rather have coffee? Because, well, that didnít matter to me. None of that petty stuff did. I was fine with living from day to day and taking what I had in front of me. But now... especially with such free time on my hands, I supposed... I was beginning to question things. And... looking at things. Staring at things that I had never cared to glance at before; noticing tiny little details with a fleeting glimpse.  

Heero, for example, was ideal. Strong, courageous - completely emotionless. Well, that wasn't true. He did feel. He felt pain, heartache, the loss of a battle. He beat himself up a lot. Heero liked to bark and blame someone else, but he was really only blaming himself and it was hard to get close to someone like that. Somebody so moody, anyway. Thatís all I thought of Heero until this past week. Now...well, I was beginning to notice his physical features. For one, I never knew he had blue eyes. Blue eyes - I mean, how could I not notice that? He was Japanese for Christ's sake. Then there was Quatre - soft, charming Quatre. Me and him had a lot in common; we laughed and tried to have a good time in our current situation. We were also very intense on the battlefield. If I ever felt like Heero, Trowa, And Wufei's stifling seriousness was caving in on me too much, I sought Quatre out. He usually brought me out of the gloom. But now...I found myself staring at his lips. Just staring at them, even when he wasn't talking or smiling. It was the oddest situation I found myself in. Now, Trowa had always been comfortable company for me. We talked calmly to one another and shared the same wiry humor. We also argued and debated on the same things, usually banning together against everyone else because our opinions matched so well. But his body...His body was something we were beginning to argue about. He was shy and felt conscious of himself. And for some reason, I couldn't help but tell him that he should really start walking bare-chested more often. Lastly, Wufei - boy, did we oppose each other a lot. Usually, we got along with each other pretty well. But whenever his overbearing confidence, or whenever he started to look down his nose at me...well, I just couldn't stand the man. We would begin to argue, quietly at first, and then soon we were yelling at each other and Trowa usually had to hold me back from hitting him. Wufei was a man that was constantly grating on my nerves - yet, his skin made me...well, drool. DROOL. I was beginning to wonder if it felt like silk...

"Christ," I cursed out loud, my eyes wide and my fist finding its way into my mouth. WHAT was going on with me? I'd never been interested in people sexually. Not once could I recall 'checking someone out'. Yet, here I was, about ready to jump one of my partners and I couldn't understand it! Couldn't fathom it! And it was beginning to drive me nuts! Uncomfortable! I would sit at the table and couldn't string three words together if they were even looking at me. I thought they were beginning to notice as well - I mean, it was making me a little more irritable lately. I was quicker to snap at Wufei and even he was starting to raise an eyebrow at me. Trowa couldn't debate with me any more 'cause I was too busy staring at his throat whenever he swallowed. I was just so...so...

"UGH!" I cried out in frustration, my voice echoing in the empty church and buried my face in my miserable hands. They itched to touch them. And I didn't know how long I could hold out.

+

"Heero, would you get the fuck off the roof?" I mumbled grumpily, wiping a tired and blood shot eye. I hadn't been sleeping lately and having Heero make a ruckus when he got up for his midnight walks was getting a little irritating and fucking old. I pulled the trapdoor up more, then climbed on top of the old building, letting the plank slam shut. Heero jumped slightly at the sound and turned towards me from where he was standing at the edge of the church. His eyes raked me over before turning away, staring hard at the distance. Teeth chattering against the cold and wrapping my arms around myself, I joined him unwillingly and stared at his profile, not bothering to appreciate the view.

"Come on, man," I said. "It's freezing out here. What are you doing, anyway?"

Heero didn't answer, not like I expected him to. I already knew what the problem was anyway. He'd been having trouble sleeping lately; the nightmares he had kept me up too. Usually, I had more patience than this, but lately, I had been grumpy and on edge. I felt funny all the time when I was around Heero - when I was around any of the pilots, for that matter. As you know, I felt...attracted to them, somehow. I've never thought of someone attractive before and it was making me quite uncomfortable. I wanted to blame them all for being so damn good-looking, but it was a kind of silly notion at best. But that didn't make me feel any happier.

"I went to one of the wives whose husband was killed by me," Heero spoke softly and dredged me out of my thoughts. "I asked her to kill me for it. But she wouldn't."

A pause, where only the wind spoke to us. I couldn't understand it.

"None of them would."

"Oh, boo hoo," I grumbled sharply when another shiver wracked my frame. I regretted my words immediately when Heero's enlarged eyes turned on me.

"What?" He said.

Well, I couldn't be very sympathetic now, I thought miserably and rubbed my arms quickly to return blood flow.

"Christ, Heero," I grumbled. "So, you made a mistake and killed a few Generals. Big fucking whoo."

"They were trying to establish peace!" Heero cried out, angry that I was mocking his pain. "I killed that chance!"

"Yeah?" I snarled, temper flying. I ignored Quatre's voice in the back of my head that tried to tell me to calm down. "So what! Get over it, Heero! So we have to fight a bit longer to get peace! Nothing worth it is ever going to be easy!"

"And everything comes so easy for you, doesn't it, Duo?" Heero mocked, a twisted grin on his face. My eyes narrowed. I knew Heero was just stabbing back at me for not being sympathetic to him. But that didn't mean I was going to understand that at that moment. All I felt was hurt. Anger. A burning frustration to grab the man in front of me and do something rough with him, even if I didn't know what it was. But touching him was definitely part of the equation.

So I did. I punched him.

"I'm just as good as you!" I yelled, even though my fist throbbed and Heero's flesh barely gave underneath my punch. He didn't wince against the hit; it was like he didn't even feel it. I knew I was in trouble before he even launched at me. But that didn't mean I was going to back down. I was stubborn like that.

We fought each other like soldiers, then like crazy, idiotic boys. To the point where my body hurt so bad I could only hold onto him so his fists were weaker against my body. I pressed myself against him, hoping his body wasn't as tired and wouldn't fall, because he was the only thing keeping my shaky legs straight. His fists were weak on my back, trying to get me off of him. But soon his legs gave out underneath him and we fell on the roof. Then we just fought on our backs. I punched him with only half my strength, but it was enough to tilt his beautiful face away from me. He crawled on top of me to deliver a devastating blow, his blue eyes abright. I let him in between my legs, accepting a vulnerable position without thought. I beat his chest to keep him from falling on top of me. He struck my shoulder to keep himself from falling over me.

And then, suddenly, I was kissing him. I don't know how it happened - I was fighting him one moment and then I just had his lips on mine. He struggled for a moment against the new attack, but I held onto him with strength that I didn't know I had left. Eventually, he laid still and I probed his mouth with an experimental tongue. I'd never kissed anyone before...

I liked it.

Heero seemed to too.

+

I lifted my eyes back to the screen and the video camera, offering a wane, but shy smile.

"After that night..." I said. "I couldn't control it." I sighed at the memory. "I just...had to have all of you."

+

"Jesus, Wufei!" I snarled as he pushed me hard against the wall. My
spine throbbed on the impact and I pushed Wufei away from me roughly before using the wall as momentum and pushing myself off to tackle him. He tilted his body just right to flip me over him and I landed hard on the mat, breath exiting my lungs quickly.

"Oof," I said intelligently as Wufei loomed over me triumphantly, hands on his naked hips, his work out pants low on waist. Sweat dribbled between his muscled pecks and I tilted my head against the lighting above us with a sore eye closed to appreciate the view. Ever since my encounter with Heero a week before...heh...it seemed that everything had taken a much more fantastic turn. Wufei, for example. GOD, was his body to die for. It just made my toes curl at the thought of it. Not to mention his strength and confidence just really turned me on.

Hah! Turned me on! I never thought that phrase would ever pass my mind. But here I was, drinking Wufei in as we caught our collected breaths before we continued to train. Even though Heero and I did some heavy petting (hah! there's another one! insert high pitched giggly laugh) during our last mission, we never said we were...together. We just happened to like each other's presence. And bodies. And mouths. And certain other tributes. Besides, Heero was so secretive about anything, that he would never publicize our relationship in the least. Wufei was the same. They would keep their lips closed and never question one another, especially concerning me, Mr. Middle Man.

So, there was no harm thinking about touching Wufei, was there? There was no harm wanting to shove HIM against the wall, was there? No. Certainly not. I'm glad you agree with me.

"Ready, yet?" I mocked, grinning cheesily as I put my hands behind my head. He snorted and turned away to stride for a drink of water. I stared at his backside with a quirked eyebrow, grinning slightly. God, did Wufei look hot in sweats.

"Whenever you get up," Wufei retorted, sitting on the bench as he opened a fresh bottle. I rolled onto my stomach and stared at him thoughtfully as he tipped his head and the bottle back to take a long, refreshing drink. I stared as his throat muscles tightened and moved. It was funny how I never thought of Wufei in such a way before. We've worked countless of times together and not once did I ever stop and enjoy the view. Heero certainly was an influence on waking up the senses!

"Hey, Wufei?" I said. "Can I ask you a personal question?"

He grunted his assent as he swallowed one last gulp.

"What happened between you and Trieze?"

His movements froze and he looked over at me with bewildered, but strong, eyes. I met them steadily, resting my head in the crook of my arms, blinking owlishly at him. After a long moment, he broke eye contact and slammed the cap on top of the bottle lid.

"Nothing," he said curtly. "Are you ready to continue?"

"No," I sighed. "Did you challenge him?"

"Then you're wasting my time," Wufei said and started picking up his things from the bench. I immediately jerked my head up from my arms, waving my hands in an erasing gesture.

"No, Wufei," I started hastily. "I didn't mean it - Just curious is all, and, well. We're compadre's right? Gotta look out for one another, you know?"

Wufei snorted. "Who said I need anyone to look after me?"

I smiled at that. Simple Wufei. Strong and not looking for any hand-outs. He was undeniably sexy.

"You've been a little odd, is all," I said softly. For a moment, both of us didn't speak and I watched Wufei dredge up the sore memory by the look in his eyes.

"You haven't been acting yourself lately either," he retorted. I grinned shyly at that. Yeah, I guessed I was acting a little on Cloud Nine, wasn't I?

"But we're talking about you, man," I pointed out and probed the air for emphasis. Wufei turned his eyes slowly to me.

+

I paused and swallowed this scene, imagining Wufei's cheeks turning an angry crimson. What he had said that day to me...it was only for me to know.

+

"Hey, Wufei," I said softly, kneeling in front of him and taking his cheek within my hand. "I...I know something that will make you feel better."

He snorted, trying to turn his wet face away from me, but I persisted and tilted my head to follow it. He couldn't escape the hand on his cheek either and finally he looked up at me defiantly.

"Oh yeah?" He choked out, though it was still strong. "What?"

I closed the distance and kissed him softly on the lips.

I expected some resistance. A little fighting before he gave into me. I expected him to ask me questions, ask me why and what. But...and Wufei always did this to me...he surprised me and just opened his mouth. Not that I was complaining. Wasting any time away from his mouth was not something I desired, even though his voice was incredibly sexy. I probed forward, pushing him back with the force and crawled onto his lap with one knee on either side of him and on the bench. My hands got caught in his hair and his own winded around my waist. There was tension inside of him - I could feel it and I wanted it gone. I wanted him to feel good. This ugliness being stored up inside of him was heart breaking. I was willing to take some of that burden, at least for a little while.

I broke the kiss and spoke against his lips. "Wufei...if it makes you feel better..." I opened my eyes to look into his, so incredibly close to mine. "You can hurt me."

+

I drew my eyes to the screen quickly, staring with a piercing gaze at him when he finally got to see the tape. "I asked for it, Wufei."

+

"I can't believe...I just can't..."

I drew Quatre close to me with a sigh, a comforting arm over his shoulders that leaned against my body. Trowa was dead. I still couldn't believe it. Even the thought that Quatre was the one to deliver the blow had been something hard to swallow. Quatre was having a hard time accepting that it had been a mistake - that it hadn't been entirely his fault. The Zero System wasn't something to be trusted, especially when you had a weak head on your shoulders. And Quatre had been in no state to pilot his Gundam or control the Zero System - especially after his father's death. I sighed heavily on the top of the blonde's head, gripping his shoulder to see if it would stop the shaking. It didn't.

"You can't blame yourself, Quatre," I said firmly into his hair. He started to shake his head and I jerked him back quickly, startling him. Flecks of tears were caught in his eyes, a few tracks drying on his childish cheeks. I glared at him firmly, holding him out at arm's length.

"I won't let you," I told him. "What happened...it wasn't your fault and Trowa knows that. He stepped in front of you to save you, Quatre. He knew the consequences...and he paid them."

Quatre's shoulders shivered and I watched his chest shudder in an attempt to keep all his thoughts and feelings inside. I shook my head, bringing my eyes back up to him.

"It wasn't you who killed him, Quatre," I said. "It was Zero. It was OZ. It was the doctors. It was everyone but you."

I brushed a wet strand out of Quatre's eye, smiling grimly.

"Mobile dolls," I said, "are not the only the toys in war, Quatre. Sometimes a human can be a doll too."

"I just... I just donít understand what we are fighting for anymore... " Quatre said softly, scrunching his eyebrows up as if in pain. Probably from the tight squeeze that I applied to his shoulders.

"None of you ever do," I accused bluntly. "Heero never had a choice in the manner, Wufei is simply avenging his dead colony, and Trowa replaced the real Trowa Barton because he liked the machine he worked on for so long." From the startled and hurt expression in Quatreís gaze, it was obvious that Quatre hadnít even known that. That was a shame, since I knew how they looked at each other occasionally. But those glances didnít stop my own longing and desire for either of them.

"And you... " I stopped and licked my lips carefully. "What are you fighting for, Quatre?"

"I donít... I have nothing... " Quatre started quietly.

"No!" I shouted, suddenly and completely furious, and shook his shoulders roughly. "No, Quatre, you have me! And you have my ambitions! Weíre fighting the oppression, Quatre ≠ the oppression that sent thousands of homeless kids onto the street to die slowly and painfully. Weíre fighting the oppression that kills every freedom of speech; the people who destroy others when they strive for a peaceful solution or express their opinion in any manner not to their liking! We are fighting those assholes who killed Trowa today, who killed your father, and destroyed your resolution to the cause! Those people need to pay!"

"And which people are they!?" Quatre shouted back, frustrated and tears beginning to trek down his face again. "Who am I fighting, Duo!? Who!?"

Surprisingly, I felt tears spark the corners of my eyes as the words welled out of my mouth. Maybe it was the seriousness of the conversation, or Quatreís lost desperation; maybe it was hate that welled too far into my chest and pushed it out, or maybe it was reality who finally decided to shock me into the certainty that Trowa was dead for sure and Quatre only had me now.

Only me.

"Right now?" I said softly. "Youíre only fighting yourself."

I leaned forward and the cushion creaked as I caught Quatreís open mouth. Sobs and tears entangled with our tongues as I pushed him underneath me.

+

"Stop it!" I shouted, holding back Trowa's fists from my face. "Stop it, Trowa! Calm the fuck down!"

Trowa pushed me again the wall and I braced my feet against the plaster, using Trowa's weight as a lever as I pushed back on him.

"Itís me, Trowa!" I shouted at him. "Itís me, Duo!"

"I don't remember you," Trowa said blankly.

"I noticed," I snarled, both of our arms shaking from bracing against each other. I started taking deep breaths to release my anxiety - anybody could be a little jumpy after a circus clown just came out of nowhere and nearly took you down. Although I could just imagine what Heero would say if I told him that -

'He came out of nowhere!'

'No. He came out right over there.'

I resisted rolling my eyes in Trowa's face.

"Come on, man," I said a little shakily. "Remember...how we used to discuss...uh, fuck ≠ remember the time we were staying at the Hilt-."

"I don't remember anything!" Trowa shouted in my face and I stopped, pausing for a moment to actually look at Trowa's face. He looked a little paler now, a bit more sickly. His jaw was tense and his eyes were constantly moving around, expecting more shadows to take form and creep out to get him. His hair was a little fuzzy and disorganized in itís fro, like he had just rolled out of a scuffle and came out on the losing end. I frowned, relaxing my tense shoulders a bit and letting his hands slam up on either side of me. It came to a little shock to him that I had suddenly stopped fighting and he seemed a little off balance when his fists made impact above my shoulders. That second was mine to take advantage of him and turn the tables, but I didn't. I needed Trowa to trust me right then.

"You look like shit, Trowa," I said softly and he blinked at me, startled again. I was amazed at how easily all his emotions were displayed on his face - fascinated really ≠ or maybe mesmerized being more of the key word. Trowa had always been a good friend to me - his calm words, his intense posture, and his street-like knowledge always came of a great interest to me. But for all of our long talks, or our shared secrets - not once had Trowa opened his face up for me so widely. He had always been closed off in that department, like his facial muscles didn't work at all. But to see all of what he thought and felt, splayed open in front of me like that - it made my gut clench and my jaw unhook. The intensity of his eyes never faltered though - he stared at me so hard, like he was willing me to break in front of him. My lower body shuddered and I gasped unconsciously, feeling my temperature rise.

"What?" He asked. "What are you looking at?"

"You," I said softly and with a hesitant hand, I put it up to his cheek. The Trowa I knew had never let me touch him. This Trowa though...didn't even jerk away. "Your face..."

"What about..." he started but I shook my head, cutting him off, fingers trailing into Trowa's hair by his ear.

"You've never let me see you," I said, a bit sadly. Why didn't Trowa show this to me? Weren't we good enough friends to see each other like this? So open? We didn't have to be soldiers all the time...We could just be friends... or... lovers...

"Are we..." Trowa asked and my eyes were drawn to his throat when he swallowed. "Are we together...?"

I blinked my eyes back up at him; probably looking a little shocked myself because Trowa diverted his eyes, an embarrassed streak of red appearing on his cheeks. I mentally groaned.

"Sorry," he apologized. "Itís just... you're so familiar all of a sudden...and I feel..."

My chest suddenly tightened and I leaned my head close, making him draw his head up and look at me.

"What do you feel, Trowa?"

"When your hand...it felt like..."

"Like a lover's?" I prodded, eyebrows lifting with a smile that curled my lips. Trowa blushed slightly again and I felt my body throb.

"We can be lovers, Trowa," I whispered and closed the space between our bodies tightly. "We can be anything you want..."

+

[cont]