He chuckled wryly. "Well
I dont know... I'm not sure about just how high your standards are anymore,
after watching footage of you jumping into a burning bus," he teased
lightly, but his eyes were...rather intense.
I recognized an evasion when I heard it, I'm something of a master of
the art myself after all, but I just let it drop.
But then the joke seemed to twist around on him and the gentle smile he'd
been wearing melted away, changing to something closer to... fear? He
reached for me and I slid into his embrace with a soft, "It's all
He drew a shuddering breath and wrapped me tight in his arms. The last
of whatever resentment I'd held just drifted away. For about two and a
"Duo-love," he breathed against my hair. "I really don't
want you staying by yourself while I'm gone. I'm worried..."
I drew away and glared at him, reminded of a comment Wufei had made about
the two of us and stubbornness. "Just which part of 'drop it' do
you not understand?" I growled, and he gave me that damned little
_expression where his face goes still as stone, but his eyes fairly bleed
"Please?" he asked, very gently. "Please do it for me?"
Ouch. Talk about fucking hitting below the belt! That had been a damn
cheap shot and it only served to fan the fire of my already pretty darn
impressive case of pissed-off.
"Fuck you, Yuy!" I snapped. "I hate getting shoved around
like some kind of damn transient houseguest! I am not a damn little kid
who needs babysitting just because you're going out of town for a few
days. I don't need a freaking keeper and I am staying right the fuck here
and if you don't like it..."
He blinked at me with just a touch of shock on his face and finally mumbled,
"All right... all right... I'm not that happy about you losing your
I let him interrupt me, before the next line about my moving the hell
out, managed to get past my lips. I was rather taken aback by what I had
almost said... what was wrong with me today?
"Damn it, Heero," I sighed. "It's been over nine months...
I'm fine. Please just let it go?"
He shifted, taking my hands and leaning back, trying to draw me down with
him. I pulled my legs up onto the couch to accommodate him, but twisted
to lie beside him.
"No," he whispered, tugging at me. "I want you here...
on top of me."
I resisted. "I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't," he promised. "It's healed... I won't let you
He was rather insistent and I frowned down at him, feeling an object lesson
coming on. "You're being a prick," I grumbled, and tried to
settle myself far enough down that most of my weight was on the couch
between his legs.
"Here," he sighed huskily. "I want you here." And
wouldn't relent until he had me lying with my head tucked under his chin,
stretched out atop him.
We used to lie together like this all the time, after I first got out
of the hospital. It had seemed weird, at first, because nothing was happening
between us... physically. But it had always made me feel very... safe.
Shielded. I had needed that back then, a very great deal.
"Relax," he murmured, kissing the top of my head. "I'm
It took a lot of concentration to force my muscles to loosen up, to allow
my full weight to rest against him. But I knew the line he was waiting
to deliver, if I dared object, if I dared express my concerns about his
being strong enough. I didn't feel that it was the same thing at all,
but I could almost hear his argument, and I was damned if I was going
to give him the opening to launch into it.
His fingers began to trace lazy circles over the small of my back as I
forced myself to relax a little bit. "I love you," he whispered
softly, voice sounding almost tentative.
I sighed and tried to let that familiar feeling of warmth steal over me.
During my brief stint in therapy, Dr. Webster had taught me some exercises
to help fight my anxiety attacks. One of the techniques had involved learning
to be able to envision a mental 'place' that embodied my greatest sense
of safety, a place where I felt the most secure. She had told me that
some people saw a room or a place from memory. Perhaps a childhood bedroom.
Maybe their parent's house. She had confessed that her own 'place' was
a cherished memory of a meadow on her grandfather's farm. I'd had nothing
like that. There wasn't a thing from my childhood that offered me any
comfort. I had thought, for awhile, that my place was the cockpit of my
Gundam, but that had turned out to only dredge up bad memories along with
it. When I had dug a little deeper, I had found that this was my place
"I love you too, husband-mine," I told him. "But you have
to give me room enough to try. I can't live my life like this. If I can't
handle it... I need to know that." I felt, more than heard the sigh,
and understood that he was going to give in to my wishes. Was finally
going to stop pushing me on this.
"All right," he said, very grudgingly, and I had a moment of
exaltation, right before this little tiny voice in my head whispered,
are you sure? "Maybe you are ready," he breathed, completely
unaware of my own sudden doubts. Well, now was sure as hell not the time
to stop and think about it.
His lips brushed over my hair again and he softly told me, "I've
missed holding you like this."
So that's what we did for the next little while. I eventually was able
to relax completely and he never did comment in any way, comparing my
protective tendencies with his.
"You want to just take a nap?" he asked me after a bit, his
fingers still stroking gently up and down my back.
"Too wired still," I confessed. "The other day has just
left me... a little high strung."
"You want to work some of that off?" he purred and I raised
my head to grin at him.
"What do you have in mind?"
He grinned back at me. "A little one on one... at the basketball
He won the chuckle he was looking for and I readily agreed. A little exercise
was just what I needed. Something to get my mind off of... Hell; off of
"Go get changed," he murmured. "And we'll go work off some
of that tension."
So I lost the cargos in favor of a pair of workout shorts, but kept the
Hell-bound Beavers shirt out of pure perversity. I rather enjoyed the
fact that Heero wasn't... all that fond of it. So I was half expecting
the frown I got when I came out to meet him in the living room, but I
wasn't expecting to find him looking at my legs instead of my t-shirt.
"Why the hell didn't you tell me you tore your legs up?" he
blurted, even as he was coming around the couch to look me over.
"I thought you saw it last night," I told him with a roll of
my eyes. "And I didn't tear my legs up, I skinned my knees, for cryin'
He spared a glare upward from his bent position. "You undressed in
the dark last night." His tone of voice told me he thought I had
deliberately hidden this.
I couldn't help the exasperated sigh. "Oh for God's sake, Heero...
get a damn grip!"
"You're saying you didn't hide this from me on purpose?" he
grumbled, straightening from where he'd been looking at my legs.
"I'm saying that a couple of scraped up knees were so damn inconsequential
on top of everything else that I forgot about them!" I snapped, and
a look came over him that led me to hope he might be coming to his senses.
"What is wrong with you today?" I blurted before I had a chance
to think better of it.
He ducked his head and blew out his breath in a rush that stirred his
bangs. "I'm... just tied in knots over this damn trip," he finally
admitted uncomfortably. "I don't like leaving you. I... don't want
"But it's your job and you have to go," I informed him and picked
the basketball up off the couch. "Here..." I pushed the thing
into his hands and grinned at him. "Looks to me like you have a little
of your own tension to work off. Let's go."
The next hour was rather pleasant. We play hard enough that we really
don't have the breath for more conversation than the occasional taunt.
This was something I had come to cherish once Heero had stopped holding
back, once he had started playing against me like he meant it. It had
taken him... a long damn time. I'm not saying we play rough, there aren't
any elbows in ribs or otherwise knocking each other down, but we each
play to win. He makes me earn the points I make and I had come back enough
that I generally got my fair share. He has more power, you don't want
to run into him full tilt, you'll end up on your ass on the ground. But
I have a little speed on him when I'm at my peak, and I'm a little more
flexible. I could hold my own out there again, and it had done my self-confidence
a world of good when he had finally stopped playing against me with the
kid gloves on.
He was actually the one who started showing signs of strain first. The
jumps were pulling a little on scar tissue, I suspect, not that he would
ever admit to it. I called a halt, claiming my back was getting sore,
which was the honest truth, but I'd been enjoying myself and probably
wouldn't have quit on my own account. He seemed relieved behind his concern
for me and we made our way back to the apartment, hot and sweaty, but
both feeling a little better, I think.
"I'll put some ointment on your back after you've showered,"
he offered and I grinned my acceptance.
There is something... oddly arousing in competing against each other like
that. Something that stirs with the heat of the blood, and I wasn't at
all surprised, when we got back to the apartment, to have Heero hint that
we might 'save hot water' by showering together. I grinned my acceptance
of that offer as well.
We were fairly well clean, surrounded by clouds of billowing steam, our
bodies slicked with soap, hands sliding everywhere, when he suddenly whispered
in my ear, "Let me touch you?"
I froze, my arms wrapped around his neck, and knew that my eyes were probably
as wide as saucers. No doubt what he was asking... there was only one
place he hadn't already touched a hundred times over. Before I could wrangle
my scattered thought hamsters enough to formulate a reply, he spoke again.
"No penetration... I swear. Just let me touch?"
I felt myself blushing furiously in embarrassment and was glad that he
couldn't see it, in my current position. Something in my gut shivered,
knotting tight, and all I could do was nod against his shoulder. This
was something that filled me with a certain amount of trepidation, but
I wouldn't deny him now that he had actually asked. He had never just...
asked to take our love play in this direction before. He let out a shuddering
sigh, as though he'd forgotten to breath for a moment. Then his hands
were moving over me again, slower than he had been touching, almost languidly.
Palms gliding slickly over my skin, sliding up and down my back, ever
cautious around my burned shoulders. His movements pulling our bodies
together, offering tantalizing brushes of chest against chest, hip against
hip... and more. Both hands slipped down to cup my ass and I moaned softly.
His right hand continued down my thigh and he eased my leg up, hooking
my bent knee around his hip. "Hold on to me," he told me and
I didn't need to be warned, I felt terribly precarious standing there
like that. When he seemed sure that I would keep my leg wrapped around
him, his hand quested back along my thigh, smoothing over my hip, sliding
unerringly beneath me. God, I felt... unbelievably vulnerable. He moved
slowly and gently, and even though I knew what was coming, when his soap-slick
fingers brushed over their target, I couldn't contain a sudden gasp. I
jerked so hard I cracked my head against the tiled shower wall. He chuckled
next to my ear, low and throaty, holding me tighter and brushed the pad
of his finger over me again. My hips bucked involuntarily and his chuckle
turned to an almost feral, lusty growl. Then he was teasing and stroking
my entrance in earnest. Fingers slick with soap, swirling and caressing,
firm but gentle. It was... electric. It was fire in my groin, lights behind
my eyes, trembling all over, kind of electric. I'd never felt anything
like it before in my life. I found myself whimpering and writhing against
him, body on fire for something I couldn't half understand. Wanting something
I couldn't quite name. It didn't take long for my fear to wash away on
the flood of the pleasure he was giving me. I trusted the promise he'd
made to me... trusted that he wouldn't take it any farther, and just let
myself go. My hips were rocking of their own accord, pushing back against
his touch and I was shocked at what my body was trying to tell me it wanted.
I whimpered, unable to articulate my wishes. What was left of my mind,
was not at all sure it was in concert with the rest of me.
"No," Heero breathed, his fingers leaving off touching me there,
moving to drop my leg back to the floor of the tub. "I promised.
It... it would be too much like forcing you."
But then he wrapped his hand around our erections, his fingers slick with
lather, and I forgot about the new feeling as he stroked us together,
overwhelming me with older, more familiar feelings. I was wound as tight
as a drum, legs quivering under me; Heero's arm the only thing that was
keeping me on my feet. I had long since let my eyes fall closed, unable
to process information through the overload my senses seemed to be under.
I could only cling to him and scream out my release as it quickly overtook
me. I wasn't even touching him in return, was only vaguely aware of his
own cries, of the convulsing of his cock next to my own as he joined me
If he hadn't been holding me, I probably would have dropped to the floor
of the tub, curled up under the spray of water and drowned when my hair
clogged the drain, too spent to give a damn.
"Duo?" he sighed, his kisses hunting for parts of me that weren't
covered in soap. "Are you all right?"
I hummed a shaky affirmative, but couldn't find it in me anywhere to do
anything but hang there. "Cept the part where all my bones are gone,"
I murmured, throat feeling tight.
He chuckled and brought me with him under the spray of the water, his
free hand sluicing the soap from our bodies. I whimpered and shuddered
as the stream hit places that were a little too sensitized to bear the
almost-sting of the shower spray.
"Come on, love," he admonished tenderly. "You don't want
to let the soap dry all over things."
"I'm dead," I muttered petulantly. "I don't care."
He laughed out right then, turning my face to meet his, and the kiss he
gave me was very... predatory.
He pretty much took things in hand while my brain was trying hard to stop
its impersonation of fried mush, getting us rinsed and out of the shower,
drying us both while I sat on the side of the tub and blinked. It was
like all the tension of the last two days had been drained from my body,
and when it was gone I found that there wasn't a hell of a lot left behind.
When he was done with us, he pulled me to my feet and steered me out of
the bathroom, heading us toward the living room.
"Bed," I grumbled, altering my direction.
"Duo-love," he chuckled, "it isn't even eight o'clock yet."
"Don't care," I yawned and staggered the last couple of feet
to the bed, where I threw myself down. Bed... lovely bed. Hadn't wanted
to leave it this morning and I was more than happy to be back in it now.
Wasn't planning on leaving it again until my bladder ruptured or hell
froze over, whichever came first.
There was a bit of silence behind me and then I heard Heero move off.
I was a little startled that he hadn't at least come to kiss me good night,
and I wondered if he was angry with me. I still felt weirdly shaky, drained
and tired... but I wondered if I should make the effort to get up anyway.
Wondered if I should go find him and make sure everything was all right.
Then the side of the bed dipped, and he was there, sitting beside me and
lifting my damp hair away from my back. I tried to push myself up to look
at him, but he chuckled softly. "Hold still. I promised I'd put some
ointment on your burn, remember?"
"Forgot," I murmured and tried really hard to keep my eyes open.
"You... ok?" I ventured as he began to gently smooth the cool
gel over my back.
"Fine," he said and I could hear sated tenderness in his voice.
I let myself relax. "It's awfully late for a nap," he chided.
"Can't you stay awake at least until after dinner?"
"Not hungry," I mumbled and fought against another yawn.
His fingers stilled for a moment and I heard a heavy sigh. "You've
had nothing but a couple of slices of pizza all day," he said and
I could hear the frown.
"More'n enough," I told him, feeling myself drift away as the
ointment took away the sting that was the last thing keeping me awake.
"I'll be in later," was the last thing I remember hearing before
sleep swept me away.
It was very cold. It was dark. The air I was breathing seemed... stale.
A deep, almost angry voice whispered, 'Anna,' from somewhere very close
to me. I tried to turn around to locate the speaker, but found myself
drifting. I was in zero-g and had somehow gotten myself stranded. My heart
lurched, and again I tried to turn so that I could find the owner of that
angry voice. I needn't have bothered; the dead Captain's hand came and
closed on my shoulder, whirling me to face the corpse that haunted my
nights. I choked on a strangled scream and tried to push away, but the
dead man had hold of my air-line and wouldn't relinquish it. 'Anna,' he
said again, his one, lidless eye staring into mine. He'd never come this
close before. There was a smell that couldn't have been there and I gagged,
suddenly terrified of throwing up in a vacuum suit. Captain Camden was
very damn angry with me. I tried to pry his fingers from my line, but
my hands were completely without feeling, and I couldn't seem to get a
grip on anything. 'You failed,' he growled at me in a voice like the wind
sighing through trees a thousand years dead. I began to tremble, pushing
away with all my might and only succeeded in pulling my own air-line loose.
Oh God! Heero! Heero, help me!
I woke sucking for air.
Three things passed through my mind as coherency began to reassert itself
in my head.
First was the sickening realization that I had been right. Wufei's admission
that the search for Anna Camden was over, that he had quit hunting, had
brought my nightmares back with a vengeance.
Second was a wash of pure, unadulterated relief that Heero had not come
to bed yet. He had not been here to witness the proof that all his fears
were totally valid.
Third was slow in coming in the face of the other two, but after a moment
of sitting there in the middle of my bed, panting like an asthmatic, it
dawned on me that I hadn't suffocated in my sleep. I had, indeed, woken
myself up before I strangled. What a fucking relief.
Then Heero appeared in the doorway of the bedroom and I had to put aside
all further speculation, needing to devote my entire attention to damage
control. George popped up on my right waving his 'oh shit' banner, and
Francis appeared on my left poking me with the 'repress urge' stick, because
all I really wanted to do was launch myself off the bed and throw myself
into Heero's arms.
"Duo," Heero called softly, already on his way across the room.
"What's wrong? Are you all right?"
There was no use trying to deny that something was the matter. I don't
usually sleep sitting up in the center of the bed with my arms wrapped
around myself, after all. "Oh God, Heero..." came out of my
mouth before I could stop it, and I turned it to the only thing I could
think of. "I... I scratched at my back in my sleep,"
George and Francis shared a somewhat disgusted look, rolling their eyes
at the lame line and popped from existence. Leaving me to deal with this
Heero was almost to the side of the bed and I realized he was going to
take me in his arms, where it would be terribly apparent that I was shaking
like a leaf. Before he had a chance to sit down, I let myself fall over
sideways with a somewhat theatrical groan. "That'll sure as hell
wake your ass up in a hurry," I groused, knowing my voice would be
muffled in the pillows.
Above me, he chuckled lightly and I breathed a silent sigh of relief,
wishing I could stick my tongue out at my hamsters; he'd bought it.
"Need me to put more ointment on it?" he asked gently.
"That's ok; I doubt it would help much. What time is it?" I
grumbled, changing the subject, trying to act as though I were shifting
to ease the sting in my back. Movement is the key in the evasion dance.
"Just after midnight," he chuckled at me and I could hear him
moving off to get undressed. I took the opportunity to take a couple of
deep breaths and force my heart rate to slow.
"What are you still doing up?" I asked, hoping my voice sounded
steadier than it felt.
"Was watching the news," he said, and his tone told me there'd
been some new development, or another recap on one of the stories that
revolved around my crappy day. I chose to ignore it; I just didn't want
to know. But it might very well have been part of what was distracting
him enough that he was taking my act at face value. Then he was sliding
under the covers with me and I was having to repress the urge to wrap
myself all over him.
He hissed softly as he reached for me. "You're trembling," he
exclaimed, sounding alarmed. "What is it, love?"
[cont] [back to Sunhawk's