see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 4
The Club, 2
It takes courage
To enjoy it
The hardcore and the gentle
- "Big Time Sensuality"
Heero watched the seething mass of people move as one body when the music
changed to a song they all knew. And even he, disinclined as he was to
dance, felt the need to move with them.
And now, so did the girl he'd been talking up. And even though he really
didn't want to do it, he knew it'd be easier than trying to maintain a
conversation. He knew his body's abilities, new how to fight. That should
afford him some semblance of rhythm, right? He found himself nodding to
the girl's request.
The girl. She had a name. Maribel. And in all honesty, keeping up a conversation
had been easy mainly because he hadn't had to do anything but nod and
grunt. She hadn't shut up since he'd offered to buy her a drink several
hours ago. So, he hadn't really had to talk much, but he didn't want her
asking any more questions; he'd made up enough about his life as it was.
Heero Yuy. Yes, I'm a senior at university, studying computer security
systems. My family? My mother was from London, my dad's from Nagasaki.
She's a teacher. He's a defense contractor. I have a dog name Sparkey.
Oh, yes, the Prime Minister is rubbish. Blah, blah, blah.
As they waded into the crowd, fingers entwined, Heero spotted Wufei and
Duo dancing with their target, Quatre Winner. They appeared to be having
a good time, even Wufei. The young man had one arm resting on Duo's shoulder,
the other on his waist, their bodies moving almost joyfully to the thudding
beat. It was one of Duo's favorite songs, he knew, one about risks and
fear and something about sensuality.
Heero did not care about clothes or make up or appearances at all, really,
but he had to admit that Wufei made a striking figure; all sinew and dark,
lethal grace. This was not a context in which Heero was used to seeing
the fiery dragon. He was intrigued and instantly reminded of the one and
only time they had tested each other's fighting styles at the gym. That
brutal and brief spar in the small dojo had been educational and... exciting.
Heero knew within seconds that Chang was a killer; he could tell by the
ease with which he moved, the confidence he possessed and the absolute
control he had over his body. He had taken lives before. Heero did not
find this fact frightening, just... something more to know about Chang.
Something to file away, something added to this person that shared a living
space with Duo and himself.
All three of them made eye contact, just long enough to signal that all
was well for the moment and then Heero jerked his attention back to Maribel.
She had her arms wrapped around his neck and was swaying slim hips in
time with the song. He watched her for a few seconds before following
suit. Resting his hands awkwardly on those hips, he let her lead. Trying
not to make eye contact, he watched the rest of her, marveled at her curves,
the places where she was soft. So different from the majority of his clients,
so different from the hard angles of a man's body.
She spun around, her skirt flying up a bit high for Heero's taste. He'd
almost seen her underwear. And then her back was pressed to him and he
felt her curves much more intimately. His eyes widened and then he nearly
laughed out loud. He, Heero Yuy, was a sex worker. That was his job title.
He got people off and let them get him off for a living, and here he was,
flustered by this girl's fully clothed ass in his crotch. Well, he was
used to men, and when he worked, he tended to keep his mind as far away
from what was happening to his body as possible. This... was much more
intimate, somehow. This girl was pretty much sex in a little skirt so
far as he could tell, but she seemed perfectly pure and innocent by her
own standards. At least that's what she'd told him -- she didn't come
here often, only for Daddy's meetings; he was such a nice boy; did he
want to come back to her house after the meeting was over? Right. This
whole dancing business was quite confusing.
The music slowed down and she turned around again, wrapping her arms around
his neck. The beat throbbed lazily, vibrating in his ribs. She leaned
forward and rested her head on his chest. Again he blinked in surprise.
He was completely unfamiliar with this amount of intimacy while he still
had clothes on. He caught Duo's eye as he dipped Quatre, the blond boy's
eyes wide with delight. Duo smiled at Heero's obvious discomfort and winked
his encouragement before pulling Quatre back against him. Heero scowled
over Maribel's head. How did Duo make it look so easy? Every move he made
was lissome and graceful; everything he said appropriate and amusing.
And now, watching him sweep Quatre off his feet and win him over with
his charm, Heero felt familiar, yet still completely baffling ribbons
of... wanting thread up his spine and between his legs. He felt
it tangle in his gut, an acute need to be with Duo. Right then.
To be the one touching him and spinning him around. Heero knew that Duo
was working; this was his 'on-the-job' persona. He wanted to make it real.
He wanted to see that small, half smile that came out only for him. The
intensity of his need startled him, as it always did, and felt like a
clenched fist in his chest. He didn't want some skinny girl's breasts
heaving in his face. And, god, he certainly didn't want sex. He wanted
smooth pale skin, pulled tight over wiry, strong muscles. And he wanted
a thick rope of hair he could wrap around his fist.
As he did every time these feelings wound their way through his muscles
and his digestive system, Heero tried to figure them out, to nail them
down. He allowed Maribel to lead him around the floor -- it seemed to
come naturally; she'd been leading all night -- and let his brain drift
over possible explanations for his sudden and uncontrollable bouts of...
need. He'd known Duo for -- he didn't know how many years. They'd grown
up together. Duo was his only real friend. He protected Duo. Duo watched
his back. They worked together, had been in the same room when-
They had seen each other naked, vulnerable, compromised, humiliated. He
shook his head slightly. No, Duo had never appeared to be humiliated.
It was all so easy for him. He could just shake it off, walk it off, laugh
it off. Heero, on the other hand, had to ruthlessly shut down his urge
to break bones when anyone touched him. But he did it, five or six days
a week, he did it, went out with Duo and got paid for sex. They'd both
been there when one or the other had gotten a truly horrible troll, when
contact with a person they actually liked was the only thing that kept
them from screaming or vomiting or hurting themselves or someone else.
Heero needed Duo if he was going to survive this job. And he wasn't leaving
the job without Duo.
So... their relationship made perfect sense to him. It was logical and
necessary. But sometimes it didn't seem like enough. Was that it? Did
he need more from Duo? That didn't seem fair. How could he ask more from
his best friend? He couldn't.
But maybe what he wanted wasn't actually anything more than what they
already had -- if it was extension of their friendship. Heero knew sex.
And he knew that sex with Duo would be... one of the most important events
in his life. It would be very different from sex with other men. But Heero
didn't understand friendship outside of what he had with Duo. He didn't
know how friends...acted. Could sex be part of a friendship, or was that
asking too much? Did he want Duo as his? He found his friend
again, watched him press his hips into the boy's. Quatre blushed and leapt
back, nimbly dodging Duo's attempts to catch his hands. Sex was Duo's
job. Perhaps it didn't belong in a friendship.
A few feet away, Wufei danced with another young man, one not a part of
the assignment. But Wufei wasn't paying much attention to that boy. His
eyes never left Duo. He followed every move. He was even imitating those
movements, probably subconsciously. He adapted them to his own abilities
and became almost visibly more sure of himself as he went. This made Heero
uneasy for a reason he could not yet identify. But he could not take more
time to think about it, because Maribel was pulling him off the dance
floor and toward the bar. And she was talking again.
But something huge
is coming up
And we're both included
- "Big Time Sensuality"
The night passed slowly for Trowa. He sat at the bar with his assigned
target -- a lovely young woman named Ana -- and spoke at great length
about his time with the circus, a story he'd made up on the spot to keep
her interested and to keep her questions far away from what he'd actually
done with his 22 years thus far. Yes, he worked with the lions. No, he
never got bit; they liked him. He got along with animals better than people
more often than not. Except for her of course. He found that he could
talk to her very easily. She'd loved that line, had blushed and smiled
and touched his arm, cool fingers running along his bicep. He knew that
if he wanted, he could take her out behind the club and fuck her until
she saw stars, could get her to love him even after he broke her heart.
He toyed with the idea, but eventually rejected it. She was attractive
-- slender and dark with long black hair braided into hundreds of tiny
ropes. He would have liked to see her bend under his touch, writhe and
pant, breathing his name just as he made her come. He liked sex with women,
loved their skin and their hair. And he loved their hips, round and soft.
He was very close to suggesting they step outside, even though, tonight,
he wasn't getting paid to sleep with this woman.
But then he spotted Duo and Wufei amidst the throngs of people making
idiots of themselves on the dance floor. Once again he admired the way
Wufei had turned from a rather bitter and self-conscious boy to an exotic
and striking dragon, still extremely volatile and dangerous, but now tantalizingly
so. He also wondered at the glances Wufei snuck at Duo, his painted eyes
hooded but nevertheless watchful and...definitely curious. He smiled to
himself, seeing that Duo was having a great time and enjoying the company
of -- what was his name? oh yes -- Quatre Winner. Millionaire heir and...
Trowa felt his heart do something it had not done in probably 10 years.
He swallowed thickly and tried to slow it down. It was deafening in his
ears, louder than the music. Quatre Winner. His green eyes narrowed as
he focused on the young man. He temporarily forgot Ana, instead watching
this pale, bright boy bend and twist and jump and spin and just move
in a way that Trowa had never seen. He couldn't take his eyes off that
slim body. The boy's white t-shirt clung to his small frame, damp with
sweat. His brown corduroys hung low on his waist, sometimes revealing
a pale strip of skin and a knobby back bone. He was... well, he was the
Trowa's train of thought was abruptly cut off as one of the Boss's muscle
appeared to his right and grabbed a hold of his arm, roughly pulling him
from the barstool. He frowned and glanced at Ana to see her eyes widen
and her mouth fall open in shock.
"Time to go," the big man muttered in his ear, dragging him away from
the bar and from Ana.
She shouted, "Hey!" but Trowa was already stumbling away, concentrating
on keeping his feet under him. He let the muscle drag him, knew that he'd
only be punished for dislocating the giant's shoulder and saying in his
slightly accented English, "I can walk myself, dickhead." He didn't look
back at Ana, instead craning his neck to find the others. Directly ahead
of him, he saw Heero being led away in a similar fashion, his mouth turned
down slightly in a small frown. Heero's target, Maribel, did not look
pleased. Almost frantically, he searched for the other two, and then,
for the second time in 10 years, his heart clenched and thudded in his
chest. He saw Wufei shoved forward by one of the Boss's bodyguards, the
dragon giving any onlookers his best scowl. Behind him, Trowa saw Duo
and Quatre, trying to keep a hold of each other as another bodyguard tried
to pull them apart. But... Quatre was being pushed along with them. They
were all exiting the club, stumbling and cursing. One of the muscle threw
Quatre over his shoulder, carrying him as though he weighed as much as
a doll. Trowa examined Quatre's face, saw slight panic and fear there.
But it was gone in the next moment, replaced with a calculating and watchful
stare. This boy would not let his fear rule him; Trowa could see that
They all piled into the car waiting for them, the doors slamming shut,
and the car quickly pulling out of its space. "What the fuck was that!"
Duo shouted indignantly. "You could have just told us it was time to leave.
We would have walked out on our own." The driver, another bodyguard, didn't
respond. Quatre, seated between Duo and Wufei, curled up into a ball,
knees drawn up to his chest, fists clenched, bright eyes closed.
From his place in the front seat, squeezed in with Heero, Trowa saw Wufei
run his black eyes over the hunched body next to him. "Why is he here?"
the dragon growled. The driver still said nothing. Trowa, his expression
detached and blank, his heart still annoyingly loud in his ears, tentatively
laid his hand on the boy's knee. He removed it quickly when the boy flinched
"Quatre," he said softly. "Quatre, are you alright?" No response. "Quatre-"
"Shut up!" The boy looked up, bright blue eyes spitting fire. "How do
you know my name? I don't know who you are! I don't know any of you. Least
of all you!" he shouted accusingly at Duo. "You can't just grab somebody
and throw them in an unfamiliar car. That's kidnapping and it's illegal!"
He paused. "Are you kidnapping me?" Trowa felt that something was off.
He knew that Quatre was afraid. Hell, he should be. But his shouting,
his open fear, didn't feel genuine. Was he faking? "My family won't stand
for it. My sisters will come for me!" The driver snorted and shook his
head. They all looked at him sharply, but he didn't volunteer any more
than that. "Do you even know who I am?" He puffed out his small chest,
and again Trowa was struck with a sense of falsehood. This was a display.
No one spoke for several seconds. Finally, Duo sighed, answering quietly,
"Of course we know who you are. I'm guessing that 'who you are' is exactly
why you're in the car with us right now. But beyond that, we're as clueless
He's not clueless, Trowa thought.
"Except for no-neck in the driver's seat, and he's not volunteering any
info," Duo continued.
"Why should I believe you?"
Duo looked Quatre straight in the eye. "You have absolutely no reason
to. I can only tell you that we, the four of us, we're not gonna hurt
you. You're in no danger from us." Trowa hoped he was right. When it came
to the workings of the Family, he tended to steer clear. The same went
for Duo and Wufei. Only Heero concerned himself with that dangerous hierarchy
-- thus far to no great success. If they didn't want him in, he wouldn't
be. And Trowa was glad of their ignorance. People tended to "disappear"
when they knew too much. So, he didn't know what was in store for this
kid. But judging by the fuss made about that meeting and the very fact
that Quatre had been excluded from it, it didn't look good.
The car stopped at a red light and everyone was silent and still. Then,
faster than a flicker of sunshine, Quatre was out the rear driver's side
door and in the street. Duo and Trowa sucked in a sharp breath. Heero
frowned and Wufei groaned, "Very bad move." The driver was out of the
car before he'd finished that sentence. None of them were surprised at
how fast the muscle moved. Quatre didn't stand a chance. The driver grabbed
him by the collar and threw him to the pavement. The boy's voice cracked
as he cried out in fear and pain. In the next second the driver hauled
him up and practically threw him into the back seat. Duo and Wufei both
refrained from touching him, and the boy curled up into a ball again,
blood from his cut elbow dripping onto the upholstery. He hid his stinging
cheek in his arms, bits of gravel embedded in the skin. The whole ordeal
had lasted about 15 seconds. But before they started moving again, the
driver motioned for Trowa to get out of the front seat.
"In the back with the others," he grunted. "Hold him down." Trowa complied
immediately, both he and Heero getting out, Heero sliding back into the
front seat only to find the rear end of a handgun almost hitting his nose.
"Take this," the driver continued. "Make sure he doesn't do that again."
Nodding once, Heero waited for Trowa to get into the back seat with the
rest of them before taking the gun. The Frenchman saw his lip curl slightly.
Heero Yuy, along with the rest of them, had a very healthy fear of guns,
and an even stronger distaste for them. Death should not be dealt so easily
from the hands of cowards. Heero did not look pleased to be holding such
The car started moving again. Apologizing softly, Trowa climbed over Wufei's
lap and, taking hold of Quatre's shoulders, pulled him close, pinning
his arms to his sides. The boy's muscles felt like steel bands, coiled
so tightly that he seemed ready to spring at any moment. But as they drove,
he didn't move again. Trowa sucked in a slow deep breath and tried to
calm his jangled nerves. This was most unusual.
"Please don't try anything like that again," he murmured. "He will hurt
you." The driver turned on the radio -- some abrasive, grinding metal
garbage. All five of them flinched but remained silent. Even Duo knew
when to stay quiet. Trowa continued to speak quietly into Quatre's ear,
now that no one could hear him over the music. "I'm sorry this is happening
to you. I wish I knew what was going on. I would tell you. And we will
tell you as soon as we know anything. If you have a choice, you should
stay with us, because we will not hurt you. I can't vouch for the rest
of the family. Something happened at the meeting with your sisters. My
Family has taken you and we, the four of us, will offer you protection
if we can. Duo didn't mean for this to happen. He didn't know you were
coming with us, so don't be too upset with him. Just keep breathing and
when we get to our flat, we'll figure all this out." As he spoke, Quatre's
muscles slowly began to relax. The young man leaned back into Trowa's
chest and took a few deep breaths. Heero, who hadn't taken the safety
off the gun, gave a quiet sigh of relief. It didn't look like he'd need
I'll tell you why
I don't want to know where you are
I got a joke I been dying to tell you
A silent kid is looking down the barrel
To make the noise that I kept so quiet
- "Pitselah" Elliott Smith
Duo lay in bed, flat on his back, utterly exhausted. But his brain was
going full speed over the events of the last few hours. His gut twisted
with guilt every time he remembered Quatre's wounded and betrayed expression.
It had been directed at him, and he'd deserved it.
"Heero?" he whispered. "Are you still awake?" A groan from across the
room and "I'm awake again" was his response. "What do you think's
gonna happen to that kid?" Duo could hear his best friend roll over to
"In the long run, don't know," he answered, voice thick with sleep. "After
you all went inside, the driver told me that we're supposed to look after
him for the foreseeable future."
"What's that mean?"
"He's one of us now."
"He's gonna start turning tricks?"
A mumbled grunt in the affirmative.
"Are you kidding? The kid's as innocent as they come. He won't last two
"That's what I said." Finally, Heero sat up and even in the dim light
of the bedroom, Duo saw him run his fingers through tangled brown hair.
"But his family abandoned him. His sisters want the Winner estate. They
don't think it's fair that the youngest inherits all that money and property.
So, instead of just killing him, they wanted him to disappear. They wanted
him out of sight and protected until Winner, Sr. dies."
"That's the most absurd and stupid idea I've ever heard," Duo stated flatly.
"Put him with a bunch of hustlers? That's protected? We won't be able
to keep him safe. He'll get out. Then what will his family do?"
"I don't think they knew what position he'd have within the Family, just
that he'd be kept here and hidden until it's safe for him to be released.
If he goes back to the Winners now, he'll be killed. They'll make it look
like an accident."
"So the Boss just decided to stick him with us?" Duo shook his
head at the ceiling. "He really is a twisted little man." Heero grunted,
noncommittally. "I think we should try to help him. We owe him that."
Heero shook his head. "We owe him nothing. It's not our fault his family
did this to him."
"But I treated him like a john," Duo said quietly. He'd been a conquest,
"He's not anymore. I violated his trust."
"His family did first."
"Rationalize it if you want," Duo murmured, hooking his fingers together
behind his head. "But remember how scared we both were when we started
this job a year ago. Remember that if we hadn't been there for each other..."
He saw Heero shudder and knew he didn't need a reminder. They'd worked
as a team from the beginning and Duo vividly recalled the times they had
both run out of a hotel rooms, only to stumble to the sidewalk and vomit
everything they'd just swallowed. He could still feel the grip of Heero's
hand in his as they waited at the bus stop, desperate to just get home.
He remembered Heero's dried tear tracks down his cheeks, remembered thinking
he must have cried too as they walked stiffly back to the flat. Right
after those first few times, they'd barely been able to sit down. Duo
remembered their first tests, sitting, waiting for the results, praying
that they hadn't picked up something in their first month on the job.
Duo knew that Heero wanted to protect him from the Boss, from the worst
johns, from all the people who judged them just by looking at their clothes.
But Duo didn't need his protection, not that kind anyway. He handled the
tough tricks more often than not. He needed a friend, an equal. And Heero
was that to him.
The Japanese man got out of bed and stepped soundlessly across the carpet,
stopping at Duo's bedside. He knelt down and Duo sat up, eyes searching
for Heero's in the dark. They looked at each other, unable to make out
expressions but aware of the tension in the air between them.
"You're right, Duo. He will need help. However, I think he will go to
Trowa for that help, rather than you or me. I think that we need to concentrate
on living past our 21st birthday."
Duo forced some cheer that he didn't feel into his voice. "I'm livin'
well, Ro. I'm doin' just fine." He winced at how fake that sounded. "We've
got it pretty good here. We have food and a place to live. We have friends.
We could still be out on the street stealing." To his own ears he was
trying to convince himself.
Heero nodded and looked down at his hands. "We need to focus on surviving,"
he said again. "And for me, that means moving up in the family. I don't-
really like what we do." Duo snorted, a sharp humorless sound. "And I
hate knowing that I can't always keep you safe because of- how our job
is. But you don't need my help, because you're better at taking care of
yourself than I am."
"Heero-" Duo started to protest, but his best friend plowed ahead.
"I've been thinking the past few hours. The Boss...why we're all together
here in this place. The five of us are different from the rest of the
family. Wufei and me and Trowa, too. We're better suited for fighting.
And you, you're the same. Quatre... I don't know. I watched him move.
He's young and untrained, but he's the same. We're all here together now."
Duo knew that Heero's brain was crunching through its methodical gears
when he started repeating himself. He held his breath as his friend continued
to work through his train of thought. "And I can't figure out why Gael
would do that... throw five potentially lethal people together under one
roof. In the business he runs, we should be his weapons, not his whores.
He's either got something in mind, some plan, or..." Heero looked right
into Duo's eyes. "Or he's making a mistake that will get him killed."
Duo breathed out, a warm puff of air on Heero's face. "You're scaring
me a little, buddy. A) You rarely talk this much and B) I think you just
drew a line in the sand." He thought he saw Heero smirk.
"A big fat one."
"That's heavy, man," Duo said, shaking his head. "That kinda talk will
get you killed, or 'disappeared,' more accurately."
"I know that," he murmured. "But I have to set out my priorities. Now,
I just have to figure out his. But until then, my job -- the job I have
to focus on if I'm going to live through all this -- is keeping us safe."
Duo opened his mouth to interrupt, to tell Heero that he didn't need a
guardian, but he cut himself off. "I've drawn my line in the sand. And
all five of us are on one side. That's not an accident. The Boss isn't
stupid. But I will use this opportunity." He sucked in a slow deep breath.
"And I wanted you to know, because we- you and I are-" Heero hesitated
and Duo could sense the words about to fall from his best friend's lips.
"We're what, Heero?" he asked, his voice barely audible.
"We are... the same. We have the same history, and I know that we need
to be together in this."
Duo swallowed thickly. In the many years that they'd known each other,
Heero had pretty much kept to himself. And he certainly didn't make a
habit of expressing his feelings to Duo. He'd just... always been there.
It was his job -- that's how he'd put it. They were best friends, a team,
but that didn't mean they shared their inner-most thoughts and heart-felt
desires. This Heero, the talking, confessing, strategizing Heero was a
new animal. Duo would have to investigate the reason for this shift. Perhaps
it was just that Heero was fed up with the hustling gig and wanted Duo
to know, or maybe their dynamic was changing, developing, expanding.
He realized suddenly that Heero was waiting for him to respond, and he
swallowed again, well aware of how difficult this was for Heero, how hard
it was for him to lay down his hand. "Hey, Ro. You know I'm with you."
He casually reached out to touch his friend's arm and instead found himself
wrapping long fingers around a steely bicep. "You know you've got me,
that you've had me."
They both froze at these words, Duo surprised at his own bluntness. He
usually played his feelings a little closer to his chest. He didn't usually
Heero got quickly to his feet, then, pulling his arm out of Duo's grip,
leaving him to look up from where he sat on the bed, confusion and embarrassment
warring for the dominant expression. Frowning, Duo and looked down at
his hands, then quickly at his best friend's retreating back. He ran long
fingers threw his bangs and fell back on his pillow, feeling more exhausted
[part 5] [back to Singles