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

Broken Warriors + Chapter 3
Soldier On

It had only been a matter of time, Trowa thought, watching Duo slowly undress in the bare, candlelit room. The early June nights were still cool on the coast and the cottage was a little chilly. Duo's fair skin prickled into goose bumps and his nipples were already hard little points. At Duo's request, Trowa was wearing his black leather pants and vest, and the studded wrist guards Quatre had made for him. Quatre had offered to help, but Duo had blushed and said no thank you. Doing this with any of his friends was difficult enough. One at a time was all he could handle.

Naked at last except for the tiny spandex thong Trowa had given him, he reached for the end of his braid, silently asking with downcast eyes if he should loosen it.

"No, leave it," Trowa ordered, keeping his voice a careful monotone. He felt very nervous, a little off balance, but he would not allow himself to show it. Duo needed him to be strong; that was the whole point. 'Duo asked for this,' he reminded himself. 'He kept his promise and asked.'

+

Dr. Batoosingh kept Duo on the psych ward for almost three weeks before releasing him into Trowa and Quatre's custody, and even then he'd been anything but optimistic.

A massive search of Kyoto had turned up next to nothing. A few witnesses from a slum district reported remembering someone matching Heero's description at a soup kitchen, and others thought they'd seen him at a veteran's clinic in the same area, but no one remembered speaking with him or hearing him speak. The morgues had no one matching his description. Neither did the hospitals, homeless shelters, or psychiatric wards. Wufei went Earth side with a special Preventer task force, but stayed off camera as much as possible.

All the same the "former Gundam boys" were in the news once again, war era photos and more recent news clips running 24 hours a day. Heero's suicide became a given, despite the lack of a body, and with it came all the rest of the old news from the last year and a half, rehashed once again: Quatre standing half naked on the steps of the Winner Corporation Headquarters, stoned out of his mind and ranting incoherently; various shots of Duo being carried into or emerging from psych wards and rehabs; Trowa and Quatre--"Gundam's Kinkiest Toy Boys!"-- caught leaving a particularly notorious sex club in their first days of experimentation; Wufei punching yet another cameramen. Pundits happily debated their motivations and seemed equally split on whether the Gundam boys were the damaged victims of a heartless militaristic society or spoiled brat delinquents.


Perhaps because Heero had managed to remain invisible to the end, and died tragically, he alone remained blameless. Photos of the thin, scowling boy he'd been ran next to clips of him standing solemnly in uniform behind Relena, working security with Wufei. They looked calm and heroic, if grim and the eulogies were full of praise.

As the weeks rolled on and no body was found, the rest of them were gradually demoted to "lost boy" status by comparison. Sickened and concerned at the effect it was having on Duo, Quatre bleached his hair back to blond, took out his facial piercings and called a press conference. Now at least the press vultures had some new footage: Quatre Winner-Barton, looking surprisingly mature as he gazed earnestly into the cameras with those winsome blue eyes, pleading for understanding and privacy. "We gave a lot. We've had a hard time adjusting and the loss of our friend and teammate is devastating beyond words. All we ask is the privacy to heal." The press ate it up. "Leave the Gundam Boys Alone!" the major news outlets trumpeted, as if they hadn't been the ones broadcasting Quatre's leather-clad fall from grace to the four corners of the galaxy in the first place.

But it wasn't enough. They were all stressed and depressed. Wufei submerged back into his job. Quatre cried a lot. Duo became even more withdrawn despite an increase in his medication, seldom leaving the trailer they shared. Exhausted, grieving, and distracted by his friends' problems, Trowa missed an easy high wire flip catch during a show and nearly made the obituary pages himself. He caught a guy rope in time, keeping the injuries to raw palms and a sprained finger, but Catherine pulled him from the show, with orders to take a vacation.

After some grumbling and debate, the three of them went Earth-side to stay at a summerhouse Quatre's family owned on a remote section of old Cape Cod. Built by Quatre's grandmother during a nostalgia craze, it was modeled on the 19th century "cottages" that had once dotted the shoreline. Modest by Raberba Winner standards, the rambling, shingle-sided frame house had only five bedrooms, in addition to the large parlor, sitting room, and library downstairs, a pillared wrap around veranda on three sides overlooking the sea, and no servants. It had cupolas and a tower and a widow's walk with a wrought iron railing on the roof, which Duo claimed with grim humor was the place for him, though the others didn't like him being up there alone.

Security was limited to discreetly -placed perimeter sensors and a gatekeeper's cottage half a mile down a sandy stretch of road. It was June now, not yet the high season, and they had the beach to themselves. Miles from the closest village or neighbor, they tried to find a routine.

It wasn't easy. Only Quatre had ever been on an actual vacation before. They built beach fires, took long walks --always with a careful eye out for paparazzi lurking in the dunes--read books, learned to cook lobster and steam clams, watched movies and generally tried to figure out what normal life might be.

Duo kept up with his therapy sessions three times a week by vid-phone. His progress had stalled however; he might not be in immediate danger, but he was not happy, either. He was unusually quiet. They spoke of Heero sometimes, but Trowa had the strong impression, which Quatre was quick to verify, that Duo was holding something back, something from their shared past that was too painful to touch. Dr. Batoosingh had also picked up on this, but no amount of gentle coaxing worked. Duo would just clam up, looking sad and lost, and tell them it didn't matter, that it was nothing, that he just missed Heero. He didn't lapse back into drinking or show any signs of hurting himself. But he wasn't cheering up, either.

Dr. B made regular reports to Trowa and Quatre, who were the closest thing to next of kin Duo had. He did not order Duo back to L-4 yet, but advised them to keep him under close observation until further notice. They already had that covered. At Quatre's insistence, Duo slept in their bed with them at night, spooned between them; in return, he graciously made himself scarce during the day when the couple needed time for intimacy.

Far from putting a strain in their relationship, Trowa and Quatre found themselves drawn together more closely than ever. Their lovemaking grew more tender, with less reliance on "toys" or mind games. They also rediscovered the pleasure of music, playing together for the first time since the war. Quatre had always been something of a virtuoso on the violin; Trowa played flute by ear, but well and from the heart. They began with old classics, but gradually found themselves drifting by unspoken agreement into long sessions of improvisation. The music they made together was often melancholy, yet it ached with shared emotion and often ended in lovemaking on the carpet of the "music room" as Duo dubbed the guest room they used.

Some nights they took their instruments to the beach and played for Duo around driftwood fires under the stars. One recent such night, when their improvisations had grown almost fevered, skirling like bats on the night air, Duo rose, pulled off his sweatshirt, and danced on the sand, eyes half closed, arms reaching out to some unseen partner. The others played on, mesmerized by the unexpected sinuous grace of their friend's movements. They'd danced with him before, in clubs, but never seen anything like this. This was slow and fluid, the way he moved, hips circling languidly, hair suddenly loose around him. It reached nearly to his waist now and swung like silken drapery around him as he circled the fire. His worn jeans hung low on his hips, only the wide studded belt keeping them from sliding off. His bare feet traced patterns in the sand, silver-painted toenails glimmering like little seashells. He had no tattoos, no piercings. In this light, dancing and swaying, he looked pure, untouched, like an angel. No, he was far too sexual to be angel, Trowa thought, feeling the heat rising under his own skin as he played on. Some sensual primordial spirit in ripped denim. Except for the dark tufts of hair under his arms and the fine little trail under his navel, he was as smooth as a girl, just like the rest of them.

It went on and on, this dance, until Duo stumbled and fell to his knees, hands limp on either side of him. Trowa lowered his flute and went to him, wrapping his arms around him, feeling the way Duo's heart was pounding, and the sweat cooling on his bare skin. Quatre joined them and suddenly they were all kissing and stroking and crying a little. It was the closest they'd come to three-way love making since their early days of clubbing, but as always, Duo quietly drew away from anything beyond affectionate touching. In the end they'd all gone to bed together, with no word spoken about what had transpired on the beach. Trowa felt a little sad, a little guilty and wondered not for the first time if his relationship with Quatre had room for a third lover. Yet it was always Duo who held back. Even now, he seemed to waiting for Heero. Perhaps old habits died hard.

+

It was the night after the beach dancing that Duo suddenly looked up from his untouched plate of spaghetti with tears in his eyes and said, "Trowa, I'm ready to keep my promise now."

And so here they were, in this disused bedroom, Trowa in leather, Duo in that protective thong, kneeling on all fours on the dusty Persian carpet before him. The bedstead leaned up against the far wall. The only other item of furniture, a sturdy, straight-backed wooden chair, stood nearby. A fire crackled and smoked in the small brick fireplace, but the heat hadn't spread to the room yet. The glow of it turned Duo's skin to gold, though, and glinted over his shining hair.

Trowa admired the view for a moment longer, and then opened the duffle bag he'd brought, selecting a few implements and laying them out where Duo could see them. He'd been to enough clubs with him to know what his friend liked, though it had been a longstanding agreement that while they might watch each other "play" they never partnered. It was not intimacy that Duo needed now, but release.

Trowa watched him closely, trying to gauge which paddle or crop his friend's gaze seemed to linger on the most. He touched a wide leather paddle and Duo nodded, then closed his eyes and lowered his head onto his folded arms. Trowa knelt beside him for a moment, rubbing Duo's smooth back and upraised ass, warming his skin and waking him to sensation. "I love you, Duo, and I do this for you. I won't damage you. I will decide when you've had enough unless you tell me first. Do you agree?"

"Yes, Trowa." Muffled, but clear.

"What is your safe stop word?"

"Starfish."

"And the pause word?"

"Blue sky."

"And you promise to use them if I hurt you too much."

"Yes, I promise. Please, Tro?"

Trowa stroked a hand down Duo's back again, stroked his braid where it lay coiled beside him, then rose with the paddle. Duo's position gave him easy access to his sensitive buttocks and thighs; the thong held his genitals safely forward out of harm's way. This was the safest area of the body to work on and he didn't have any intention of going further a field tonight.

He started light, letting Duo get used to the feeling, then slowly increased the strength of his swings, distributing the blows to redden the skin as uniformly as possible. He didn't intend to leave welts or undue bruising if he could help it.

Duo tensed at first, then visibly relaxed into the rhythm of the paddling, there was no sound except the steady "thwack" of leather on bare skin, and Duo's faint gasps. After only ten minutes, by the large clock Trowa had positioned nearby, Duo said, "blue sky."

Trowa stopped immediately and knelt by him again. Duo kept his face turned away, but his voice was shaking as he whispered, "It's not enough."

Trowa nodded. He'd anticipated this. It had only been intended as a warm up. Placing the paddle neatly back in the lineup, he picked up a wooden-handled hairbrush, grasped Duo by the braid, and drew him over to the chair. Trowa sat and used the braid to pull Duo across his lap. It was awkward, since they were more or less the same height, but Trowa secured him in place by catching Duo's ankles between his own, then twisting the braid around his left hand and grasping Duo's wrists with it, drawing them sharply up behind his back.

The brush stung much more than the paddle and he swung it harder, with no warm up. Angry red marks bloomed like dark roses across the already pink skin of his buttocks. Duo bucked and cried out, fighting the pain and restraint but not using either safe word. Trowa spanked him harder, holding him down as he flailed. He listened carefully as Duo first whimpered, then cried out at each blow. Trowa seldom used Quatre this roughly, but Quatre didn't need the pain, just to be overpowered. Duo's cries turned to screeches, then curses, then a steady wailing keen as he went limp across Trowa's lap. Trowa dropped the hairbrush and used his open hand now. The flesh under his palm was hot, stippled with little welts and ridges, but no broken skin. He kept the smacks hard, aiming for the sensitive spot at the top of the thighs just under the curve of the buttocks. He knew from experience that this really hurt. Duo struggled again, cried out, then burst into sobs, fighting Trowa's grip. Trowa didn't let up until the sobs tapered off to ragged weeping and Duo was limp again. This was the magic point he'd been working for.

Releasing Duo's wrists and legs, Trowa gathered him into his arms, stroking Duo's back in long, comforting strokes. Absolutely spent and helpless, Duo clung to him, weeping weakly against Trowa's neck. He was trying to speak through the tears, and Trowa finally made out "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" whispered over and over like a prayer.

Trowa rocked him, soothing and murmuring, until Duo was calm, then lifted him down to the floor and sat behind him. Undoing the braid, he gently brushed Duo's hair. Duo was half asleep and nearly purring with pleasure by the time he was done.

"Thank you, Trowa!" he whispered again, leaning back into him, eyes closed.

"You're welcome, Duo." Leaving the toys behind, Trowa lifted the young man in his arms and carried him to bed, where Quatre was waiting for them.

One look at Duo's contented expression was enough for the empath. Smiling, Quatre spooned in behind him, and reached across for Trowa's hand. Trowa cuddled in close and enfolded them both with his long arms. The workout had gone better than he'd hoped. Duo seemed genuinely at peace. Though not driven to desire Duo, the whole experience had aroused Trowa more than he'd expected and the touch of Quatre's hand against his arm sent a pang of longing through him. It was too soon to leave Duo, even asleep; Trowa wondered if he'd be able to sleep this horny. It wasn't easy, but he finally drifted off.

The touch of warm fingers on his cheek woke Trowa just before dawn. He opened his eyes to find Duo smiling at him at close range, those violet blue eyes sleepy and languid.

"You're a good friend, Tro. So am I. So I'm going to go have a soak and make some breakfast. No worries, I promise. Shinigami's honor." With that, he nudged a thigh against Trowa's aching morning erection, gave him a wink, and slid out from between them, leaving him alone with Quatre.

He thought his lover was still asleep, but the minute the door closed behind Duo, Quatre snuggled close, slipping both their sweatpants off and nuzzling his way down to take Trowa's cock in his mouth. Still wired from last night, Trowa groaned happily, head lolling against the pillow. He reached to wind his fingers gently in Quatre's silky hair, blond again with emerald green tipping, and caressed him lovingly, enjoying that head moving against him under his hand. Just when he thought the sensations couldn't get any better, Quatre pulled off, pressed a tube of lube into Trowa's hand, and turned to nestle his delectable little backside against his damp, throbbing cock.

Trowa could hear the faint sound of running water down the hall, and Duo's voice, singing.

"Letting us know not to worry." Quatre giggled, squirming as Trowa's lubricated fingers found his entrance and stretched it, preparing the way.

"A good friend." Trowa sighed, sinking into his lover's hot, tight body and pulling him close. "Ah! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh yeah!"

Quatre softly echoed him, rocking back against Trowa's lap, inviting him deeper. After a long, delicious time of this, he shifted them both so that Trowa was kneeling behind him, then turned to give Trowa a scorchingly sultry look over his shoulder. "Hard, baby. Real hard."

Trowa happily obliged. Even as he pounded them both toward a screaming release, however, he thought, "Duo needs someone to give him this. But who?"

Then the first wave of climax took him, sweeping away all conscious thought.

They'd shared another, gentler orgasm and lay panting and glowing under the covers when Duo waltzed in with a large breakfast tray of pancakes, soy bacon and coffee. He was wearing nothing but a grin and a frilly apron they'd found in a drawer. At Quatre's laughing insistence, he slid into bed with them to eat. He was beside Quatre, Trowa noted. It was almost as if he wanted to even things out, after his session with Trowa the night before. In Duo logic it probably made sense: get spanked by Trowa, cuddle with Quatre. He had dark circles under his eyes and his backside looked seriously red and bruised, but he seemed almost his old self today.

"What sort of headlines do you think this would get us?" Quatre speculated with a grin. Trowa tried to imagine but his hormone-riddled brain drew a blank.

Duo snickered and choked on a swallow of coffee. "Former Gundam Boy Unable to Sit Down For a Week?"

"So, did it work?" Quatre asked, stealing Trowa's last strip of bacon.

Duo kissed him on the cheek. "Yeah, it did. Thanks for lending me your boyfriend."

"Husband," Quatre corrected with a grin, flicking the expensive gold ring through Trowa's left nipple with a finger. He loved saying it out loud, even though the legal term was still the more ambiguous "partner". "Anytime."

"Hey!" Trowa objected with mock outrage. "What am I now, Rent-A-Top?"

Quatre tweaked the ring again, making Trowa squirm. "You know what I meant, lover. Besides, it was your idea!"

Duo shook his head. "No, it wouldn't be right. I mean, it helped and I really appreciate it, but I think I need to talk to Dr. B. I can't keep expecting you two to baby me. You're wonderful and I love you, but it's not fair to you, guys. You've already done so much for me."

Quatre shrugged, but Trowa nodded silent agreement. It had been therapeutic, even downright hot. He wouldn't mind doing it again now and then, as needed. But unless they made a threesome official, with full conjugal rights for Duo, it wasn't fair. And it wasn't a long term, healthy solution. Duo needed a lover all his own, someone he and the rest of them could trust and rely on. But again came the question; who? Who outside the four of them fit that bill? No one. And Wufei wasn't a candidate, that was for sure. Trowa sighed. He and Quatre needed to talk about this in private.

"Ya know we've been here almost a month?" Duo said at last, snuggling down to rest his head on Quatre's shoulder. "Maybe we should think about getting back. Catherine needs her headliner, right Tro? And I can't keep sponging off you forever."

"Yeah, but a few more days won't matter. And you know you're not sponging," Trowa replied. A few headlines had suggested that, though Duo's war pension and disability checks, together with the money from the magazine spreads, were enough to keep him going, even if he couldn't work. He'd contributed to the food budget and pulled his own weight with chores. He was good company, too. But it was understandable for him not to see it that way, Trowa supposed. "I want to see that beach dance of yours again before we go."

Duo grinned and reached to stroke Trowa's dark bangs back from his forehead, hugging Quatre in the process. "Anything for you, Mr. Barton-Winner, sir. I like the music you two make together."

The way he said it suggested that it wasn't just the violin and flute duets he was referring to. Quatre blushed and laughed.

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