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

Through the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 27

27a. Heero

It's not meant to be a strife
It's not meant to be a struggle uphill
Undo
If you're bleeding
Undo
And if you're sweating
Undo
If you're Crying
Undo

-Bjork

They found a sheltered spot under a staircase with a good view of the door and the windows, yet mostly out of sight of both. Heero and Wufei had to half-carry Duo to their small hiding place. The young man drifted in and out of consciousness, body limp with exhaustion and shock. They leaned him against the stair and quickly unrolled their sleeping bags from the duffels they'd managed to keep hold of throughout their chaotic flight from Gael's men. Unzipping them all, they made a nest of thick blankets. Then, taking off his shoes, they helped the dazed young man under the covers. He smiled up at them both and Heero felt some of the tension ease from his body. They were safe now and away from the comfortable prison of their home. They'd taken the next step in the scheme that would free them all from their lives under Gael's thumb. There was no returning to their previous lives. He and Wufei had killed tonight - the two of them together probably about fifteen men. There was no going back, ever.

And good riddance.

"You need to rest now," he said softly, pulling the sleeping bag closer around Duo's chin. His best friend nodded.

"That won't be hard. Make sure you and Wu sleep."

"We will." He shivered and tried to conceal it, but even in his dazed state Duo saw the slight tremor of his muscles. "You both can climb in here with me. If ever there were a time to go for that whole `sharing body heat' as an excuse for sleeping together, now would be it." Heero huffed a small laugh.

"Okay."

"I'm serious."

"I know you are. And I have every intention of taking you up on your offer."

Duo looked up at him and then blushed faintly. "Oh." He licked his lips. "Good."

+

Wufei hissed in pain as Heero carefully examined the bullet wound in his sword arm, poking around the edges of the gash, shining their flashlight on it from all angles.

"It's clean," he said finally, setting the light down on the floor and reaching for his duffel and first aid kit. "It's too wide to stitch up, and I'm not very good at that anyway. Trowa's the resident medic."

"It's okay," Wufei said softly, teeth chattering a bit before he clenched them closed. He sat very still in the frigid air of the old factory, obviously trying hard not to shiver. Stripping down to only his t-shirt to give Heero better access to his wound had made perfect sense at the time, but the dragon had probably lost pretty much all feeling in his fingers and his teeth were going to start chattering in earnest in a second if Heero didn't hurry up with the antiseptic and the bandages. "W-what's one more sc-scar," Wufei managed. "You got one t-tonight, too."

Heero looked up sharply and gently touched the stitches in his cheek. The gash stung when he thought about it. Wufei's taught body trembled and Heero quirked a small smile. "Sorry," he murmured. "This'll only take a second." He quickly swabbed antiseptic over the wound, noting Wufei's minor flinch. Or it might have been a shiver. Then he covered the wound with a gauze pad and taped it in place. "You were lucky the bullet only grazed your arm. You'll probably need it within the next few days." He pressed firmly on the bandage. "How does that feel?"

Wufei closed his fist and straightened his arm. "I c-can't feel much of anything, so probably okay." Heero silently passed Wufei his clothes and the dragon eagerly pulled all of his layers back on.

The next several minutes were very awkward as the partners quickly went outside to go to the bathroom and brush their teeth. Heero bounced up and down on the balls of his feet as he brushed, trying to figure out how exactly he was supposed to sleep with both Duo and Wufei, knowing four things: 1. He'd kissed Duo 2. He'd had sex with Wufei 3. As he'd suspected Wufei and Duo were, on some level, romantically involved and 4. He wanted them both. He spit out his toothpaste and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He looked up at pale gray clouds, the air still strangely tinted as the sun rose. "Shit," He muttered before turning to go back inside.

He found Wufei pacing in front of Duo's sleeping form, arms crossed tightly over his chest. He looked up sharply when he noticed Heero's presence. "Are we really going to all sleep here, together?"

Heero froze, carefully measuring his words before answering. He spoke slowly, voice soft. "It's below freezing, Chang. If we don't, we probably won't wake up." He figured appealing to the dragon's emotions would be disastrous - better to stick to logic. He didn't wait for his partner's response, but quickly removed his shoes and slid under the sleeping bags. He tried to disturb as little air as possible, but Duo still shivered and turned toward him in his sleep. Heero found his own muscles trembling, whether from the cold, from exhaustion, or from nerves, he didn't know. But he swiftly drew Duo into his arms, tangling their legs together and breathing in the scent of his skin. He shut his eyes and let the challenge to Wufei stand. He burrowed down into the sleeping bags until his ears were covered and waited.

He felt movement on Duo's other side and tensed, but the sleeping bag settled and Wufei remained at a distance, close enough to be under the covers but not touching either of them. Duo snuggled closer against Heero's chest, fingers clutching at his sides. He heard his partner rolling over, felt the sleeping bag pull. He tugged back.

"It's just sleep, Chang. It doesn't have to mean any…" He trailed off, not sure what he actually wanted to say.

"Doesn't have to mean anything?" Wufei finished quietly. "This may just be sleep, but it most certainly does mean something," he huffed.

"And what's that?" Heero murmured.

"Hell if I know. I just know everything's screwed up now. It's an impossible mess. I don't know how to fix it, make it right with the both of you."

Heero sighed quietly and, leaning carefully over Duo, he slid his hand along the sleeping bag until he found Wufei's wrist. Fingers closed around chilly skin and tugged. Wufei hissed his frustration and then shuffled closer. In the hazy light of dawn, Heero saw sleepy black eyes take in the details of his face, resting on his eyes and mouth and then dropping to the floor.

"Look, I -"

"Or sleeping together could mean something," Heero interrupted, wondering at his boldness. "…If you wanted it to."

Wufei stiffened, suddenly looking like a wild animal caught in headlights. "I- don't know."

Heero looked away. He'd seen enough of that look for one night "Then just sleep," he said quickly, face flushed hot even in the cold. Wufei nodded, swallowing hard. Pillowing his head on a shirt, the dragon drew close to Duo, tentatively wrapping one arm around the young man's middle. Heero felt his partner's leg brush against his and quickly withdraw. Not quite able to close his eyes, he watched Wufei's hesitant efforts to get comfortable. He finally found a good position and fell still, breathing a bit quick. Heero let his arm slip from Duo's shoulder until it brushed Wufei's. The dragon sucked in a quick breath and moved to jerk his arm away, but Heero held on. "Just sleep," he said again. Wufei held that startled, frightened look for another moment, then let out a harsh breath, ruffling Duo's bangs.

"Heero, what is it that you want? I can't handle any more of this unspoken shit. I know that neither of us is particularly good at verbal communication, but I'm sick of tension and innuendo and staring contests and passive aggressive body language. So I think that you should try to tell me what you want. We owe each other something… maybe it's only that."

Heero looked down at Duo's sleeping face, eyes tracing smooth skin and a delicate bone structure. Bruises were forming on his chin and left cheek bone from the accident. "I want us all to be safe. I want happiness - for you and Duo… and for me."

"Well, sure, but how-"

"I don't know, Chang," he hissed. "I've never felt this sort of- I've never trusted anyone other than Duo. I've never wanted anyone other than Duo. I've loved him for years - I'm sure you know that and have known it."

"Since I moved in a year ago." Wufei's proud voice was subdued and humble.

"I was stupid to say nothing, because then you took him from me, without me even realizing." A heavy silence fell until Heero sucked in another breath. "Or maybe I gave him up, working obsessively on this scheme to get us out of here. But regardless, he was never mine. Even though we were children together and we protected each other and killed for each other, I never showed him or told him how I felt."

Wufei kept his gaze on Duo's sleeping face, his arm now firmly wrapped around the young man's ribs. "It started after that job with Ralph. I went to him to tell him that I didn't bear a grudge over what happened that night. I wanted him to know that we were still friends and instead… something else entirely happened." Wufei's dark eyes wouldn't meet his, but his words were measured and calm, unhurried and unafraid. "It all went very quickly after that… every spare second we had - every moment of near-privacy - we took. I was terrified, both that you would find out and that I wouldn't be able to leave him once you did find out. I always thought he belonged with you, that our time together would be short, because he'd figure it out sooner or later."

"Duo doesn't work like that," Heero said softly, looking down at their sleeping friend. "He doesn't give his heart to anyone, really. He never has, in all the years I've known him. Just because he's a- just because we're paid for sex doesn't mean we take it lightly… It makes us all confused and afraid… But Wufei, if he was with you, then he was with you. He chose you. I've known him long enough to know that."

Wufei nodded, though he didn't look particularly reassured. "What do you want, Heero?" he asked again.

Heero considered his answer carefully, choosing his words before he said them. "I want… to feel what I did tonight, every day, all the time."

Wufei raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Heart-pounding fear that you'll either be shot or beaten to a pulp by Gael's thugs?"

Heero rolled his eyes. "No, I obviously do not want that. I want to know that you have my back, that we can always watch out for each other and trust each other. I want to feel like we're partners. And I want to know that Duo will always be there, right with us, every step. I want us to be unbreakable."

The frown line that had drawn Wufei's brow together for most of the conversation lifted just a bit. "That sounds good," he whispered.

Heero's grip on his arm tightened and he tugged gently. Wufei hesitated a fraction of a second and then slid closer, molding his body to Duo's back, twining his legs with theirs. Heero took a deep breath and let his best friends' body heat finally unclench the ache in his chest.


27b. Wufei

There are some mornings when the sky looks like a road
There are some dragons who were built to have and hold.
And some machines are dropped from great heights lovingly.
And some great bellies ache with many bumblebees
And they sting so terribly

- "clam, crab, cockle, cowry" Joanna Newsom

Wufei was being smothered. Henri's weight was real and heavy on his chest, forcing the air out of his lungs, keeping him from drawing a breath. His legs were immobilized as well, pinned, held fast. He tried to move, to free himself and found that his limbs were too leaden; they were sunk into the floor. He tried to call for help, but only the smallest moan came out, a slurred rumble in his mouth. No one could have heard that; no one would know he was here. Where was Heero? Those psychos were shooting at each other just a moment ago. He hoped Heero was alright. But he didn't hear gunshots now, just deadened silence. Just his own futile struggle and inevitable suffocation. He tried to open his eyes and couldn't even do that.

Henri was moving on top of him, his weight shifting, pressing down on his shoulder, lifting off his chest. Now, he had to move now or else-

His eyes shot open and he drew a quick gasping breath, filling his lungs with sharp cold air. His gaze darted around the room, trying to ascertain his location. A very high ceiling, wood rafters, spider webs, dingy windows, a staircase directly over him. Panic rose in his throat. He had absolutely no idea where he was. And his legs were still pinned. He turned his head to the left and came face to face with a pair of intense blue eyes. He started in surprise and then looked down to see why he still couldn't move, only to find Duo's torso resting on his stomach, the young man's arms braced on either side of his chest, violet eyes blinking sleepily up at him.

Wufei looked back to Heero and then to Duo again, confused and more than a little alarmed. Bruises darkened Duo's pale skin, spreading from the left side of his forehead down to his chin. They were from… Oh right. They were from that car that'd run into him. Right on cue, his sword arm stung and he flinched, turning quickly to look at his sweatshirt sleeve where the gauze Heero had taped to him the night before stuck to his skin underneath. Oh right. He'd been shot. He moved his arm a bit and flinched when he felt the bandage stick to his skin; the wound must have continued to bleed while he slept.

He swore softly in Mandarin as his brain finally caught up to what his eyeballs were telling him. Heero smirked and Duo chuckled, voice thick with sleep. "Think you were dreamin', Wu. My pillow was suddenly shaking and making all kinds of crazy noises."

"That's because I was dreaming that someone was suffocating me. I wonder why that could be," he muttered, aiming a glare at the young man leaning over him. Duo didn't appear to be affected in the least. Rubbing one hand through his hair, Wufei winced. "Fuck," he groaned. "I'm sore." He squirmed under Duo's weight. "Pretty much everywhere."

"Me too," they both grumbled.

He ticked off the sources of his discomfort on his fingers. "Nearly smothered by a man who weighed more than twice as much as me, rug burn on the front half of my body, assaulted by at least twenty of Gael's thugs, ran half way across the city, shot at and then shot, and…" He trailed off, glancing quickly at Heero. "You weren't particularly gentle either." He didn't feel like being polite or subtle right then; perhaps because he was beat all to hell. Perhaps because the two delightfully warm bodies curled around him had never been known for their tact or subtlety either.

Heero was blushing furiously and trying very hard not to smile. He pulled his hand free of its place under Duo's sweatshirt and counted. "Pushed around by four horny clients, shot at on two separate occasions, shot once, ran half way across the city, assaulted by at least twenty-five of Gael's thugs, and Chang, you weren't too gentle yourself." He lifted up his many layers to reveal finger-shaped bruises curling around his ribs. Now it was Wufei's turn to blush.

Duo was tugging on Wufei's sweatshirt, bright eyes lit up and eager. "My turn, my turn, my turn." They both looked at him, expectantly. "Oh, I have so got you guys beat." He paused dramatically and then pointed at his purple cheek bone. "Hit by a car!" Wufei snorted and Heero rolled his eyes. "I win, I win, I win. I wiiiiiiin." Violet eyes flew wide and he fell back onto Wufei's chest coughing, holding his ribs tightly. "Oh, ouch. Ouch. No fair. Not only did a car run into me, but I didn't get to have a wild, crazy sex night either." He took a steadying breath and to Wufei's surprise, gave them both a slow, measuring look. "And a wild, crazy sex night probably isn't in my cards until my ribs stop hurting."

Wufei, suddenly very aware of Duo's body pressed flush along his and Heero's a scant distance further than that, felt himself flush hot. Duo was watching him, and when he glanced to his left, he saw that Heero was watching Duo. They both looked hungry. Duo followed Wufei's line of sight and his gaze locked with Heero's, his pale skin flushing pink as his best friend's steady gaze met his. Duo swallowed visibly and quirked a smile. "Right? I mean, no wild and crazy… I should really rest for a day or two at least and get my strength back…" His voice trailed off as Heero leaned closer, lips moving in a soft, barely audible confession.

"Duo, I should have told you years ago. As soon as I knew it, I should have told you. But, I guess I'm glad I didn't, because if I had, the three of us probably wouldn't be here now, like this."

"Should have told me what," Duo breathed.

Wufei watched, captivated, as Heero spoke into Duo's ear, loud enough that they both heard. "That I love you, that I have loved you for years." Wufei's heart thudded loudly in his ears as he waited for Duo's reply. His lover looked at him, eyes wide, breath coming quickly. Then he smiled and took his hand, turning back to Heero, whose lips were only a few centimeters from his.

"Right back atcha, babe." Duo hesitated a moment more, breath fogging in the cold air between them. Then he brought their mouths together in a gentle kiss. Wufei propped himself up on his elbows, keeping hold of Duo's hand. He watched as his two best friends made a silent pact, their long-delayed kiss sealing their friendship as well as the deepening bond between them.

He started in surprised when Heero slowly leaned forward, pushing Duo back against his chest. The dragon tried to shuffle backwards out of the way, but Duo was suddenly clenching his hand in a grip it was clear he had no intention of loosening. So he held still, body screaming with tension as Heero pushed Duo back into him, never once breaking their kiss. Wufei found himself up against the wall with Duo seated between his legs, Heero kneeling in front of them both, still kissing Duo. Heero's hands wandered over his best friend's body, clutching at the fabric of his loose clothing, gently trailing along bruised ribs. Tentatively, Wufei reached the hand that Duo held around the young man's middle, anchoring them together. Almost immediately, Duo pulled his arm tight and held on. Wufei buried his nose in his lover's hair and breathed in his scent. He felt like he had when he woke up, disbelieving and disoriented. He couldn't possibly be here doing this with these two people. He took another deep breath. His nose twitched where Duo's hair tickled him. He was here. He was doing this. He was watching Heero kiss his way down Duo's neck, blue eyes wide open, taking in every bit of skin, every flutter of his heartbeat. Heero explored Duo's body with the eyes of a new lover, eager and greedy and obviously nervous. He watched Heero ask Duo's permission with a shy glance up into his eyes. The young man nodded quickly in reply, carefully shifting his weight down, sliding along Wufei's chest, until he could rest his head on the dragon's shoulder.

Wufei's senses ignited as he realized what was about to happen. He shut his eyes tightly and turned away, again burying his nose in Duo's hair. He felt his lover's hips lift up and heard fabric sliding along skin. He swallowed hard and held Duo tighter, unsure of what to do. He heard Duo hiss and felt his hips lift up again. Desire shot through him in a fierce jolt and he sucked in a quick breath when he heard Heero's mouth on his lover. He squirmed behind Duo and tried to pull away, a knee-jerk reaction he couldn't suppress. But, in a flash, Duo reached around and wrapped his arm around the dragon's neck. He leaned back and met Wufei's gaze, violet eyes wide and unfocused.

"Look at me," he breathed. "Stay here."

Wufei's eyes suddenly stung and his gut clenched at the memory those words brought back: Duo braced over him, inside him, tearing him apart, releasing him from his past, his shame. That had been the beginning. Wufei felt that years had passed since that night, when, really, it had only been a handful of months since his life hand been turned upside-down - or more likely, since Duo had turned it right side-up.

"Kiss me, Wu," Duo whispered. Long fingers wound through his hair and dragged him forward, shoving their mouths together. Wufei heard that sound low in Duo's throat, the sound he'd made when they were together that first time. Like that first time, it made him throb. His lover broke the kiss suddenly and arched his back, eyes dazed. "Jesus Christ," he gasped. Wufei's grip on him tightened, eyes flicking to Heero, who was watching them through the thick fringe of his hair. He sucked hard a few more times and then Wufei saw his throat working quickly as Duo shuddered and clutched at him, hands seeking purchase in hair, blankets and clothing.

Duo sat there propped up against Wufei's chest for several moments, regaining his breath. Then he shuffled to the side and lay down, finally letting go of Wufei's hand. Heero knelt in front of his partner, eyes smoldering. He licked his lips and then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Wufei felt like his body was pulsing with need. He felt like his skin was glowing with it.

"Don't get too wild and crazy. Remember the invalid," Duo said faintly, though his mouth was stretched in a wicked grin as he watched them watch each other.

Wufei didn't need a second invitation as he surged forward. With a few sharp, brutal moves, he had Heero on the ground, squirming and writhing beneath him. He held the young man's wrists above his head and said very softly, "What if it had been like this, Yuy? Would you have wanted me like this, if I was top?" Heero bucked against him one more time and then fell still. He glared up at Wufei and smirked tightly.

"Yes."

Wufei ground his hips against Heero's, eyes closing at the powerful friction between them. "Good," he hissed as the fire in his gut roared up through his limbs and consumed him.

+

Wufei felt the vibrations of Duo's voice where their bodies touched, mainly in his chest. His lover's long arm circled around him from behind him, his other hand gently trailing through his hair.

"I think we should sleep more," he resolved drowsily, spooning closer to Wufei. On the dragon's other side, Heero grunted noncommittally, rolling onto his back and stretching. Wufei caught a glimpse of smooth, light brown skin, pulled tight against ribs. Because he could, Wufei slid his fingers along that skin, tracing the track of dark hair that disappeared into the young man's sweats. His fingers found a few scars, and he traced those as well. His eyes slid closed, and he felt like he was sinking into a giant feather bed, not laying sprawled on a sleeping bag on top of a freezing cinderblock floor.

"I like that idea," he murmured, lulled by the feel of Duo's fingers in his hair and the feel of Heero's warm skin beneath his own. Heero grunted again and then pulled the sleeping bags back over them. Now cocooned between his two best friends - his lovers - Wufei was asleep in seconds.

[part 26] [part 28] [back to Singles a-k]