Author: June
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Through the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 22
Rooftop Interlude II

22. Heero

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 from Duo.

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 defenses.

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 breath.

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-"

"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.

"No."

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 clothes.

[part 21] [part 23] [back to Singles a-k]