see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 22
Look me in the eye
Then, tell me that I'm satisfied
Was you satisfied?
Look me in the eye
Then, tell me that I'm satisfied
Hey, are you satisfied?
- "Unsatisfied" The Replacements
Wufei was taunting him, with that smirk and the relaxed, almost casual
way he fought. Wufei was watching and measuring... and taunting. Heero
kept his fists loose and ready, bouncing on the balls of his feet, trying
to measure in return, but wanting nothing more than to pin that wiry body
to the floor and declare his victory. Heero knew he'd been edgy and impatient
lately, and he couldn't seem to curb that. This fight - along with the
many which had preceded it over the last weeks - was supposed to clear
that up so he could get back to work and wrap up the details of all the
data he'd gathered over the past few months. He'd hidden it in neat little
packets all over the Internet, as ads and spam emails and garbled error
messages. The information he had gathered was everywhere and only he knew
how to assemble it all to provide an accurate, crippling and hopefully
deadly indictment of Gael's Family and its dealing. It was essentially
all there, he was basically done, but he was... he was going nuts in the
meantime. His patience was at an end.
He lunged forward and swung, Wufei catching the blow easily on his forearms.
Heero's other fist came very close to Wufei's gut, but he managed to block
that one too, elbow darting up, aimed at Heero's nose. He bent backwards
and then twisted, bare foot catching Wufei's hip. His partner staggered
back and sneered. "Is that the best you can do? That's pathetic,
Yuy." Heero growled and spun into a vicious kick that Wufei again
managed to block, but Heero stuck to him with a flurry of punches that
drove him back and set his sharp features in a mask of concentration.
Heero should have had enough fuel for this fight. His frustration had
been building with every encounter they had, even as his body craved the
natural high of unflinching, unfettered motion. Each fight was simultaneously
relief and added tension. He wanted, needed, to fight now. Energy
coiled through him, in his shoulders, chest, fingers, and calves. It crouched
in his gut and in his groin, poised and waiting for release.
Duo had laughed when Heero had tried to explain this need. Duo had told
him he needed to get laid, needed to work off his sexual tension. Heero
had replied that he'd just gotten laid that afternoon.
"Ah yes," his best friend had nodded wisely. "Your sex
life is admittedly quite... active. But what you need..."
he purred, "is to fuck someone you want."
Heero had scoffed at the very idea that what he, Heero Yuy, sex worker,
needed was more sex. At the moment, what he needed was right in front
of him, smirking and nearly spitting condescension.
Heero shook himself and once again, focused on the sources of his tension,
letting them swirl in his mind as a sort of meditation and as the strength
upon which he relied to counter Wufei's swift -- and incredibly difficult
to see -- strikes. He focused on the way his heart ached and his gut burned
every time he saw the way their lives were rapidly unraveling, every time
he tried to gather the fraying threads and hold them together until he
could finish his work and set them all free. He fought Wufei with every
scrap of frustrated energy he had, fueling it with his concern for Quatre,
who withdrew further from them every day, tumbling free-fall into the
new life their Boss had given to him. He'd hunted down three bounty heads
already and was waiting to start treatment until he got more of a rhythm
down. He was worrying them all. He thought of Trowa drifting about the
flat like a ghost, eyes following Quatre everywhere he went. Heero didn't
know the extent of their relationship, but he could guess that it'd been
jerked from under their feet when Quatre learned of his illness. And it
wasn't helped by his new job either. Heero fueled his fight with the shameful
envy he felt every time he thought about Quatre working a job that...
wasn't hustling. Heero could do Quatre's job, probably better than Quatre,
but the lengths to which Gael would go to humiliate and wear him down
knew no bounds. His boss would keep Heero hustling until he caved and
accepted Gael's offer of an unequal partnership -- live with him, share
his power, have access to his business and his money, be free of his friends
and their problems. He'd no longer sell sex; but he'd still be sold to
one person, and that was one too many for him. Plus, he'd have to leave
Duo, which he could never, ever do.
And therein lay the true source of his anger, frustration and ache. The
past months and especially the last few weeks had seen a drastic reduction
in the amount of time they were able to spend together. Yet Heero's feelings
for his best friend had not diminished. In the mornings, before he went
to work either for a client or on his laptop, he went to Duo's bed and
knelt down beside it. He watched the young man sleep, and sometimes, when
he felt courageous - or desperate - he touched the long braid resting
on its owner's pillow. He knew that the timing wasn't right for he and
Duo to... be in any sort of romantic relationship. Hell, he didn't know
the first thing about relationships, and he wasn't sure what he even wanted
More. He knew that much. He wanted to wind that braid around his fist
and... claim Duo. And he wanted Duo to do the same to him; shove him up
against a wall, pin his hands above his head, strip him of his power,
make him vulnerable, and say "Heero, you're mine." He needed
that pact. He felt like it had been there, for a time, unspoken. Now,
there was distance and he felt he could only watch Duo from across that
distance, when what he really felt, down to his core, was... 'I'm already
his and he doesn't know it.'
He imagined Duo opening his eyes to see Heero kneeling beside him, imagined
him sitting up, all slim muscle and loose posture, imagined them leaning
closer together, bodies almost touching. Hands on thighs, ribs, chest,
neck; fingers running through hair, tugging and pushing. Would they kiss?
Heero didn't think he knew how to kiss anyone. If any of his clients kissed
him, he'd been too far gone, locked away in his own head to notice. He'd
certainly never kissed back. He could picture kissing Duo, or trying.
He pictured it being a disaster. Duo, graceful and flexible, passionate
and strong; him stiff as a board, awkward, unsure, scared of hurting his
closest friend. Heero did not react well to proximity; hence the
disappearing act when he worked. If he didn't put his brain somewhere
else, he'd probably hurt his clients when they touched him.
Dangerous reflexes. Lethal reflexes, more likely. But he wouldn't hurt
Duo. They'd known each other too long. Duo had long ago infiltrated Heero's
Heero thought he might like to try kissing, but only if Duo initiated
it and showed him how. The prospect of initiating anything with Duo was
utterly terrifying, so he usually tried not to think about it.
But today, as Wufei finally got hold of his wrist and flipped him neatly
onto his back, as impatience and frustration welled up within him, he
let it out through his fists and and feet. He caught the foot whistling
towards his middle and twisted, sending his partner sprawling. He offered
Wufei a hand up, and looking slightly surprised, the dragon accepted it,
only to find himself jerked to his feet, a knee headed straight for his
breast bone. Wufei landed back on the floor with a thud, struggling for
Heero scowled; he hadn't meant to strike that heard. Wufei pressed his
hand to his chest. "So, 'fair' is out the window as of now?"
"We were fighting fair?" He forced derision into his voice.
"We have been so far," Wufei said with a sniff.
"Chang, when have you ever known me to fight fair?"
"I don't know how to fight fair," he murmured in a low deadly
voice. Wufei, still massaging his diaphragm back to life, scowled up at
him. "No one ever taught me, and I never had the inclination to learn.
You should have picked up on that by now."
Wufei may have nodded in acknowledgment, but Heero would never know, because
suddenly, he found himself on his back again, Wufei once more standing
over him. "Just try that again, Yuy. You want dirty, I can do that."
Heero smirked and rose to his feet, absently rubbing the back of his head
where it'd hit the floor. "I didn't think dirt stuck to you, Chang,"
he sneered. The dragon didn't reply to that, instead lunging forward with
hurricane-force, driving his opponent quickly backwards.
Heero felt like his body was singing with electric current -- every part
of him was filled and overflowing with sensation. Sometimes -- like right
then -- it was pain, a bright burst of it in his ribcage. But mostly,
it felt like too much oxygen. This was what he needed: an escape
from all the shit, a good brawl with someone who shared his need for violence.
He tasted blood from a split lip. There'd be a scab from that. Clients
didn't like scabs. They liked bruises better, thought they were sexy.
But blood... well, fuck them. Not a one of them understood how his
insides writhed at the thought of them touching him, how his brain had
to essentially go into lock-down in order for him to keep himself from
breaking bones when they were near him.
Wufei sent him sprawling once more, but he rolled to his feet before his
body came to rest. They stood several paces from each other, again sizing
up the opponent.
"Tired?" Wufei bit out.
They battled back and forth until their breath came in short gasps and
blood ran from more than a few scrapes. Heero raked his gaze over Wufei's
taught body. He saw the sweat soaking through the tank top, took in the
excited flush of his cheeks. Even after fighting for this long, the young
man exuded calm and self-assurance. How? The dragon was usually so on
edge. As they stood facing each other, his brain raced through possible
explanations and how, if possible, he could use them to his advantage.
Enough sleep? More meditation? A new exercise regimen? Heero didn't think
so. But he could see and feel that he would lose to Wufei. The fighter
was just waiting for him to tire; then he'd strike. Heero needed a new
tactic. So he turned to that potty-mouthed inner voice that usually turned
out to be Duo's. Heero entertained what Maxwell's theory would have been
in this situation and the answer was immediately obvious: sex. Wufei had
gotten some and had been satisfied by it, despite his abhorrence for his
job. Somehow he was satisfied. But who would do that for him?
He thought of the nights he spent with Duo in their room, working into
the early morning. His chest ached when he looked over his shoulder to
see his best friend's sleeping shape turned away from him, long body curled
around a pillow as if it were a lover. And his chest ached a little more
when he saw Duo's small frown appearing more often and he saw the time
he spent in their room decrease. The ache became sharp and painful when
he noticed Duo spending an increasing amount of time with the young man
now in front of him, breathing hard, blood dripping from an abrasion on
his cheek. Images of Duo rising from the bed to leave their room and see
Wufei flickered through his mind and he reached up to clutch at his chest.
At this uncharacteristic motion, Heero saw unease flicker through Wufei's
dark eyes. Then he embraced the flood of rage and hurt coursing through
him, and ugly words fell from his mouth.
Heero thumbed his nose and said, his voice taunting, "New favorite
trick, Chang? Does he do something for you in return for what you sell
him?" He had the instant satisfaction of seeing Wufei's eyes widen
and his entire body go rigid. Heero ruthlessly exploited the dragon's
shocked stillness and shoved him to the dojo floor. Black eyes grew even
wider as Heero laid his torso and chest flat along the body beneath him,
their noses a few centimeters apart. The dragon's breath hitched as Heero
kneed muscled legs apart. "Am I going to have to question your integrity?"
Black eyes flicked away from his, but Heero followed that gaze and leaned
forward, snapping his teeth closed a finger-width from Wufei's lips.
And just like that, the fight was over. Heero rolled to his feet, measuring
Wufei's response. The dragon got to his feet much more slowly, refusing
to meet Heero's eyes, looking thoroughly shaken. He'd never been one to
suffer insults, especially against his honor, but Heero could see that
he would not counter this attack. He stood there, looking at the floor,
gold skin flushed with some unnameable emotion. Heero felt his heart sink.
He may have won the fight, but not through any superior skill of his own.
He'd humiliated his partner and only increased his own suspicions about
Wufei and Duo's friendship.
"Chang." The young man shook himself and looked up. But still
he said nothing. "So, you can dish it out, but you can't take it?
Is that it?"
Wufei turned sharply and headed for the door. Heero's eyes narrowed. He
wanted to say something, confront the dragon, to confirm or deny his suspicions,
but he'd always handled confrontations better with his fists. Words didn't
work too well for him. 'Oh, hell,' he thought, taking a few steps toward
Wufei's retreating back.
"Chang, wait." Wufei stopped by the door and turned back, putting
on his sneakers, looking at Heero expectantly. Heero stopped a few paces
from him and crossed his arms over his chest. The sweat was beginning
to dry on his skin and he shivered. "Something you want to tell me?"
Wufei shook his head and Heero didn't know whether to feel relieved and
take him at his word or dig further. 'Oh, hell,' he thought again. "You're
not going to fight me? I just insulted your honor."
Wufei's lips pinched in a sour frown. "You didn't insult me. You
made a statement about my life. We could both rip each other apart like
that, but I don't have any desire to do that, not today." Then he
turned and left the dojo, back held straight, fists held down at his sides.
Heero rubbed his arms and scowled, not in the least reassured by Wufei's
parting words. "Shit," he muttered before turning back to his
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