Author: Sunhawk

Obligations (cont)

"Heero... ?" I whispered and was surprised at the tremulous sound of my own voice. He didn't answer but pushed up on one elbow and turned my face to meet his eyes. He looked at me, long and hard and my heart was suddenly thrumming in my chest. He leaned in with excruciating slowness and brushed my lips with his, drawing back to look at me again. I tilted my head up, asking for another, deeper kiss and he gave it to me. His lips are almost surprisingly soft and so very warm. I closed my eyes and lost myself in that kiss... gave myself over to the electric feel of it.

His hand moved to cup my face and as our tongues met and danced a delicate ballet I became aware of that hand drifting down across my chest. His fingers traced a line of fire that left goose bumps in its wake down the center of my chest and across my quivering belly, stopping only when they tangled hesitantly on the waistband of my shorts.

I couldn't speak, only arched my back in answer, helping him to pull the things off me. He broke the kiss and was suddenly rising over me, stripping his own clothes off with almost desperate haste. I could see him above me, silhouetted against the glow of the panel lights, his body looking like some perfect damn sculpture. I wanted the Goddamn lights in that moment; I wanted to see him... all of him, aroused and wanting me. I wanted to see his eyes dilated with passion.

He dropped down, hovering over me, holding himself up on his arms mere inches from me.

"Duo... ?" he moaned, asking me for confirmation, asking me for permission.

"Please... " I whispered, my voice thick and I hardly even knew what I was asking for. "Please... please... " but it was all I could manage. I reached up and pulled him the rest of the way down. We both gasped with the sudden feeling.

"Oh God... Duo," he groaned before claiming my mouth again, full of desperate need.

My body arched up into his all on its own. His weight, pressing me down into the bunk was an intoxicating thing; it filled me with strange longings and heated desires. My arms wrapped around him and forced him harder against me. His lips on mine were hot and demanding; it felt like he would devour me.

Our bodies were pressed tight together and fire ran in my veins from the touch... from the feel of him. I was overwhelmed with the very idea that we were here, together like this for the first time. It was going to happen... I wanted it to happen... I needed it to happen.

I could feel everything like my senses had been kicked into overdrive. His knees were on either side of mine and I could feel the subtle twitch of his thigh muscles as he shifted above me. His chest was flush with mine and I could feel the brush of his nipples against my skin as he moved. I could feel his tight belly, could feel his fingers clutching at me, feel the cording and shifting of his back muscles under my arms. My wrist was long forgotten... the room we were in was long forgotten... who we were with and where we were going was long forgotten. I was lost in the here and now.

And then he ground his hips down into mine and what little conscious thought I'd had left fled in the face of that new feeling. The evidence of his complete and total arousal stroked across mine and I fucking forgot how to breathe. The ferocity of his desire... of his love for me, took me and shook me to the core.

There was no grace, no gentleness to our lovemaking. It was pure and primal, desperate and frenzied; we were lost in simply moving against each other. His hands seemed to flow over me like scalding water and I wanted so badly to stroke my hands over him as well but was terrified of accidentally hurting with my damn, near-nerveless fingers. I fisted them in the sheets instead and felt fire lance up my left arm... but I didn't care.

His hand found its way under me somehow and settled in the small of my back, guiding me; helping me turn my frantic writhing into a rhythm. A rhythm he punctuated with moaning cries and the near sobbing of my name.

We were both slick with sweat in a matter of minutes, equally full of hunger and need, desperate for some kind of release, for an answer to our body's yearnings.

It didn't take long. It was over in an embarrassingly short amount of time. He was suddenly crying out to God and the feel of his seed spilling hot and thick between us was all it took to make me arch up against him, my head thrown back in a silent scream and I came right along with him.

We collapsed together then and I swear for a time I couldn't have moved if the damn ship's alarms had gone off. There was only the sound of our panting breath and the thunder of my own heart in my ears. It was long minutes before I was even aware enough to realize that tears were streaming unhindered down my face. I made no sound. It was longer still before Heero turned to gently kiss me and tasted the salt on my lips.

"Duo?" he breathed and made to lever off me, "Oh God... I hurt you... "

"No," I told him and let go of the sheets to wrap my arms around him tight. "Stay... please... I'm fine."

He stopped trying to get up but I could tell he was being cautious with his weight. He leaned down to ghost small kisses across my face. "What's wrong, love?"

"Nothing," I told him and smiled softly. "I'm sorry... I can't seem to get it stopped."

He swept his kisses gently across my cheek. "Don't try... just let it go. It's all right... I'm here."

I sighed and it felt like something went out of me with that breath. "I love you... " I whispered, "so much it hurts sometimes."

He gathered me up and cradled me close in his arms. I have never in all my life felt so safe and protected... so cherished.

"Duo." He sighed, his voice a mere breath next to my ear. "My Duo... Do you understand how precious you are to me?"

It made me shiver. "I... I think I'm beginning to."

He continued to gift me with soft kisses; raining them down on my upturned face... on my exposed throat.

"Heero?" I asked after a bit, through the stupid damn tears.

"Hmmm?" he pulled back a little to smile warmly down at me.

"Why this time?" I blurted and felt my face flare hotly. "I mean... I've offered before... "

His smile became tender. "This is the first time you've reached for me because you wanted it."

I opened my mouth to object and then thought better of it, seeing the truth in it. I hadn't been ready before this trip, had been too afraid. I still felt oddly uncertain about... some things and ridiculously inexperienced next to him. I almost wanted to laugh thinking about it... here I was, Duo Maxwell, street rat extraordinaire and I felt like a damn blushing bride on her wedding night. I'd be willing to bet that I had seen and heard more things in my lifetime than he had ever imagined and yet...

Ok... I might as well just say this. During the war I had fallen in love with Heero Yuy. Fallen hard, been resoundingly rejected and had crawled off to lick my wounds. I had thrown up more damn defenses than a maximum-security prison. This was my first and only sexual experience of any kind. Unless you count Jensen and I don't. Stop your damned laughing.

I held him on top of me and he finally stopped fighting it, giving in and relaxing against me and eventually the tears dried.

"If you don't let me get up and clean us up," he chuckled when I seemed to have calmed, "we're going to end up glued together."

"And wouldn't that just be a bitch to explain," I smiled along with him and let him go.

He pulled away and I stifled a gasp at the empty feeling it gave me to lose his anchoring presence. But he was right; we were pretty disgustingly crusty and we ended up having to make a trip to the head together. He carefully made sure the door was firmly shut before turning the light on.

While we were there, he insisted I take a couple of pain pills and I didn't argue; my wrist was killing me. Clean and in fresh shorts we found our way back to the bunk in the dark and practically fell into it. I felt completely drained and like I might actually be able to sleep even here in the room from hell.

"Thank you," I murmured drowsily after we had settled back down.

"For what?" he asked, sounding amused.

"I dunno... " I yawned and nuzzled into the curl of his arm. "Puttin' up with all my crap?"

He snorted softly but didn't speak and I felt myself beginning to drift. "You know, Yuy," I snickered on a sudden thought, "that was a pretty damn pathetic first time."

He laughed out loud. "It was rather, wasn't it? What... five minutes, you think?"

I repressed a sound that was almost a giggle. "That long?"

He leaned over, kissed me gently on the temple and said huskily, "We'll do better next time."

I meant to answer him but I think I fell asleep first. And yeah, there were some damn strange dreams. I kept twitching awake, my hands reaching to comfort a crying child that I could never find. I tried not to wake Heero but a couple of times I found him stroking calming fingers over my brow and his whispered words eased me back to sleep. It was a long freaking night.

He had thought to lay clothes out for us the night before and when we woke in the morning we dressed quickly in the dark. I fled that room like all the little devils from hell were on my ass.

We were only a few hours out of L2 and I was able to use that as an excuse to breeze through breakfast, then disappear into the cockpit. I didn't go so far as shutting the door this time, though it did cross my mind. I kept expecting Toria to descend on me, but Heero must have been running interference because she never arrived to get her questions answered.

I busied myself for the next couple of hours contacting the L2 port authorities, reporting the accident and thus justifying my screwed over schedule and requesting a new timetable. I was granted immediate dock access under the emergency laws that gave priority to all ships involved in any sort of rescue operation. I spent a few minutes arranging for a set of the 'holy shit' disaster packages supplied by the local spacers guild to be delivered to our designated docking bay. Then I ordered a couple of changes of clothes for Hayden and Toria, charging it to my account and paying the extra amount to have them expedited. It should all be there to meet us when we docked. The spacers guild handed out kits of 'necessities' to disaster victims, and though the toiletries and ration bars would be welcome, the clothes they supplied fairly screamed 'welfare case!' and I wouldn't have my friends reduced to that. I would have loaned them my own clothes if there had been a chance in hell that either of them could have fit into anything I owned.

I spent the last hour connected in to the station net now that we were close enough and hunted up the web site for the thrice-damned zero gravity exposition. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I was half hoping it was too late to register. Just my luck, registration didn't close for another eight hours and I was left realizing that I had to make the damn decision. Then I came to me that there really wasn't any damn decision; it was like I had told Heero... I had to try. I signed us up. Brannigan and Maxwell, back in the saddle again. Oh joy of joys. Wonder where in the hell I'd packed away our damned costumes?

Twenty minutes out I got on the intercom and called all my little birds to roost. "Time to belt down children," I called brightly and heard their voices coming toward the cockpit a few minutes later.

"... sink hole over all... but there're still places that you just have to see," I heard Toria saying and felt like laughing. Victoria Brannigan, L2 tour guide. The idea of Relena Peacecraft visiting some of the places I knew Toria to frequent was just fucking surreal. Actually... if I thought about it too hard... it was kind of scary.

Heero came and took the co-pilot's chair and we shared this... look. I felt the heat rising slightly to my face, feeling like the whole damn world could look at us and tell what had happened last night. Heero grinned at me and tossed me a wink.

I bent back to work, listening to the sounds of Relena, Chezarina and Hayden belting down in the jump seats. I only had the three. Toria would anchor herself to one of the snap rings and ride in standing up, being the most experienced one in the group. Wouldn't be a problem unless we had an accident.

The comm. beeped and I got my final authorization and docking assignment and began my approach, giving the faceless port authority tech my confirmation.

"We don't have to listen to more of that obnoxious music, do we?" Relena suddenly asked and I squelched the urge to play something truly outrageous like 'Rhinotillexomania' and turned to smile at her.

"Not here," I explained. "I don't dock here often enough to have developed any... contacts."

She gave me a confused look. "But... I thought this was your home?"

I turned back to my boards to hide the pang of irritation; did the woman not fucking hear I thing I said to her? "You're sitting aboard my home. I came from L2... that doesn't mean I live here. And it doesn't mean I have to like it here."

Oooops. That came out a little bit bitter.

"It's not as bad as it used to be," Toria interjected gently and I realized she, at least, had picked up on my annoyance.

"You just like it here because this is where your years of stalking innocent spacers finally came to fruitation," I tossed out with only half my attention.

"You stalked me?" Hayden asked, sounding aghast and the two of them were off and running; I blessed them for moving the conversation away from me. Then I just shut them all out.

Docking on a station is a hell of a lot easier than landing on a planetary body. You match velocity and aim for the door, what could be easier? We were in and down right on our new schedule, and had only to wait for the docking bay to pressurize before we could leave the ship and begin our business of the day. That gave me about a half an hour to figure out just what in the hell to do. I had come here to take Relena around to tour the site of the Maxwell church massacre and visit the new orphanage that had been erected in its name, not three blocks away from the memorial. I had meant to walk her through the neighborhood and let her see just how one lived when one was not blessed with parents and money, fame and power.

But I had less than twenty-four hours before the exposition; I had to get together with Hayden and go over the routine. We had to run through it and practice since we hadn't danced together in a very long time. I didn't even know if I had the stamina to pull this off; I had to get myself into a tournament sized gravity bay and see if I could hold up.

And I had my ship to see to, refueling and refitting. My new schedule had us departing for Earth day after next.

I sat back with a heavy sigh and reached to rub at a suddenly throbbing temple. How in the bloody hell was I going to manage all this? There was only one of me and not near enough hours in the day. I wasn't going to be able to pull this off. Fuck, Superman couldn't pull this off.

I was suddenly aware of the fact that the cabin had gone quiet and I glanced up to find everyone looking at me. Well shit; hadn't they ever seen a poor beleaguered salvage man at his wit's end before?

Ok. I had a half an hour until we could leave the ship. I could get a lot of the prep-work done toward the launch on Monday, the time sensitive stuff and finish it up late tonight after everything else was taken care of. If we left immediately, I could get Relena to the orphanage and the memorial this morning and then this afternoon I could take Hayden and go rent a gravity bay.

I rubbed at the back of my neck and turned toward my boards. One thing at a time... I reached to log into the station net and a warm hand descended over mine.

"Duo," Heero said and there was rebuke in it, "you're doing it again."

I blinked up at him, confused. "What?"

"You are not alone," he told me gently. "You do not have to do everything yourself."

I felt my face flushing. "Heero... " I began but Toria joined him.

"Chezarina, Relena and I are going out today to do... girl stuff." She grinned at me and I whirled around to look at them, seeing the confirmation on Relena's embarrassed face that the jig was, indeed, up.

"How... ?" I began and Toria's delighted laughter cut me off.

"You went to bed too early last night." Her smirk told me she hadn't bought that story but was temporarily willing to go along with it.

I looked from one of them to the other and started to feel like a man who had walked into the middle of a complicated movie. Without popcorn.

"I am taking you to see a physician," Heero informed me firmly. "Then I will come back here and make the arrangements for our return trip."

I gaped at him for a moment; I had forgotten about the trip to the Doctor. Damn. One more freaking thing to have to deal with.

"If the Doctor clears you," Heero temporized, "then you and Hayden will continue from there to the exposition to register."

I opened my mouth to tell him we were already registered and then thought better of it. The ping of an incoming message kept me from having to respond. My hands moved automatically to accept and a bored and unfamiliar voice informed me that my packages had arrived and would be waiting for me at the check-in desk. I thanked the woman and cut the connection.

"What packages?" Heero wanted to know, still standing over me.

"I ordered some things for Hayden and Toria," I told him absently, trying to adjust my thinking to this new idea of letting somebody else take care of my duties.

"You what?" Toria demanded from behind me and I cringed. Oooops again. I guess I should have worked up to that declaration a little slower. I took a deep breath and turned around in my chair to look at her. She and Hayden both were wearing only the gray shorts and tank top, 'ships clothes' that most of us wore when we were aboard our ships.

"Were you planning on touring L2 in your underwear?" I drawled and was rewarded with a hint of color on her cheeks and I bulled forward. "I don't know whether you've ever noticed before but you are a good six or seven inches taller than I am... anything I own is barely going to come down to your knees. You needed clothes... I ordered clothes."

She just stood and looked at me for a minute and then suddenly whirled and stormed off toward the galley.

A strange, inarticulate sound of frustration and confusion forced it's way out of my throat and I turned on Hayden. "What the hell?" I demanded and was further thrown off by the weird little grin he was giving me. After a second, he crooked a finger at me indicating that he wanted me on my feet and Heero stepped aside to let me rise.

"Hayden?" I asked, somewhat hesitantly and his grin only widened. He stepped forward and placed one of his big hands in the middle of my back, giving me a gentle nudge toward the door.

"My guess is she's in the galley. You need to go talk to her."

I resisted the pressure on my back and looked around but saw no help coming from any of the others. "She's your wife... " I began but he only leaned down and said softly.

"But you're the one who made her cry... you go get snot all over your shirt." The nudge became a push.

"Nani!" I blurted and then sighed in defeat. If this was any indication... it was not going to be a good day.

She was indeed in the galley and damned if she wasn't in tears. Guess the man knows his wife pretty well.

She was sitting in one of the chairs toward the back of the room with her head buried in crossed arms and I could tell from the way her shoulders were shaking that she was sobbing like a little kid.

Damn. The sight of steady, competent, drink-you-under-the-table, tough as nails Victoria Grace Brannigan crying her eyes out was... scary. I moved to sit on the edge of the table beside her.

"Uhmmm... " I ventured at length, "I'm not at all sure what I've done wrong... but I'm really, really sorry."

She raised her head and scrubbed rather ineffectively at her eyes and glared at me. "You are insufferably thoughtful and so God damn sweet I just wanna kill you," she growled and smacked the crap out of my knee. "You are the best damn friend anybody could ever ask for and I don't know what in the hell we'd do without you." She smacked me again, then threw herself into my lap and starting sobbing like her heart was broken.

It took me a couple of confused seconds before my head engaged and I wrapped my arms around her and just held on.

"I'm really sorry... " I soothed, "I'll try to be more of an asshole from now on. I promise."

She giggled against my thigh. "You're going to have to be a real prick to make up for all this nice crap."

"I will be a monster," I vowed, "an absolute bastard."

She raised her head and looked up at me, blinking the tears away and her smile faded. "Thank you, Duo Maxwell," she whispered.

"You are entirely welcome." I grinned and watched something haunted come into her eyes.

"Duo... " she frowned, "I shouldn't have pushed you into agreeing to this tournament. I didn't realize... "

"Don't you start with me," I smiled and used my knuckle to wipe the last of her tears away. "I am fine."

She arched an eyebrow. "That would be why you had to take a nap yesterday in mid-cycle?"

I just smirked back and shrugged. "So I'll take a nap tomorrow after the competition."

"I don't want you making yourself sick over this." She glared and laid her head back down on my leg. "You're more important to us than this stupid prize money."

"Toria, sweetie," I sighed, "what's the worst that could happen? So I get dizzy and flub the dance and we lose? So what? At least we tried."

She didn't say anything so I took the opportunity to change the subject. "So how, exactly, did you 'find out' about Relena?"

She shifted and draped an arm across my lap, pillowing her head on it. "Hayden and I talked last night. We realized just how much you had going on and that we were going to have to see to it you let somebody help you."

I glared down at her but she didn't see it.

"We decided that I could take over entertaining your... guests for you while you practiced with Hayden." She sighed, her fingers plucking absently at the seam in my jeans. "We figured we might as well just admit to Relena that we knew who she was."

I snorted. "And that went over how well?"

She chuckled dryly. "She turned the most interesting shade of red I have ever seen... next to you the other day when Heero said he was auditioning to be your lover." I felt my face flame completely against my will and she peeked up at me. "Yeah... that's the color."

I smacked her lightly in the back of the head. "Back to your story, spacer-girl," I growled.

"I had to explain to her that she has one of the most recognizable faces in the damn solar system." She shook her head, not an easy task with it still lying in my lap. "I swear to God... to be as smart as she is, that girl can be dense."

I repressed a snicker and then sighed. "I guess that's sorta what got us out here in the first place."

She giggled again. "I think Chezarina was just glad to have it all out in the open... I swear to God she was giving herself an ulcer trying to keep all the secrets straight!"

I laughed. "I noticed she'd been awfully quiet."

There was a moment of strange silence. "Buddy-boy?" she said softly.

"Yeah?" I prompted, wondering what in the world had her getting all serious again.

"Heero... " she said, her fingers still fidgeting with the edge of the seam. "He's... good to you? You're happy?"

I smiled down at her. "He's... very good to me."

"I feel guilty sometimes," she confessed softly, "like I stole Hayden away from you."

I snorted. "I thought we established that he isn't my type?"

She raised her head long enough to frown up at me. "Not like that, asshole. But I'm not stupid... the two of you would have eventually gone into business together... you wouldn't have been all by yourself all this time."

I chuckled and rubbed a knuckle against the top of her head. "Now you have a crystal ball?"

She finally sat up, abandoning my lap all together. "I worry about you... the jobs you take. And all by yourself. Things wouldn't be like that if you had a partner."

"Well now I have one," I grinned. "And this one comes with fringe benefits that the last one wouldn't have."

She threw back her head and laughed with delight. Thankfully the all-clear chime sounded to let us know that we were able to leave the ship, finally, and effectively ended our conversation.

"You ok now, spacer-girl?" I asked warmly and she nodded. "Then let's get out of here."

"After you Captain."

I hopped off the table. "You got snot on my pants."

"I didn't get snot on your pants."

"You wanna explain this mess in my lap then?"

"Maybe Heero can explain that mess in your lap."

"Toria!"

She only giggled.

While we had been otherwise occupied, Heero had made arrangements to have my arm checked by the station med team, circumventing the necessity of making an appointment with a commercial physician by implying that the injury had happened during the rescue of the Brannigans. Hayden had spent the half hour on-line filling out electronic paperwork about the accident and sending messages to their respective families letting them know that everything was all right, they were both alive. News about ships' accidents traveled fast among those in the trades.

I retrieved my packages from the check-in desk first thing and brought them back so that Hayden and Toria could dress.

It was very strange; it suddenly seemed that there were people all over my ship running back and forth and hollering at each other. Hayden wanting to know if I even still had the damn costumes and did I remember if the buckles had been let all the way out or not. Toria needing to borrow some of my clothes, God only knew why, I'd ordered everything I could think of. Chezarina questioning Toria about which shoes she should wear. Relena wanting some assurance that the ship would be secure while we were all out of it. It seemed I should be doing things but all I could do was stand in the middle of this tornado of humanity and look bemused.

Just as it seemed that everyone was about ready to go, Heero pulled me into the cockpit and before I quite knew what he was up to, into his arms.

"I want you to call on me today when you need me," he told me resolutely.

"Mine to command?" I teased.

"Absolutely," he confirmed with a small smile.

"Then kiss me." I grinned and he did, long and deep. Made my damn knees feel weak.

"Stop now... " I moaned, "or I'm going to have to go change my damn pants again."

He smiled with just a hint of satisfaction in his eyes.

We assembled in the corridor by the lock; I didn't want to troupe everybody out through the cargo bay with that damn painting staring down at us. Time enough to get into that later.

Toria came out looking damn fine in the dark green jeans and light green t-shirt I had picked out for her and I had to grin; green was the woman's color. I was pleased to see Hayden in the complimentary outfit of black and green that I had bought for him. I had meant it as a set and they looked good together. Chezarina showed up in a sensible pants suit with a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Relena made me do a double take though; I saw what Toria had needed to borrow some of my clothes for. I would not have recognized her had she not been standing in my ship and was clearly identified by process of elimination. She was wearing a pair of my jeans and a white t-shirt that had a logo on it for a comic book I was rather fond of; 'The Hell-bound Beavers'. One of my denim shirts was open over the top of it thankfully, because the more... graphic picture was on the back of the t-shirt. Her hair was braided back in a simple and utilitarian spacer style and they had done things with her make-up that had Heero's mouth hanging open. They had obviously gotten their heads together and decided that Relena would go out and about as 'Lena'.

Heero looked at Relena, looked at Toria and then looked at me and his eyes conveyed what a terribly bad idea he had decided this was.

I turned on Toria and growled in my low, menacing voice, "She does not come back tattooed or pierced. She does not come back drunk. And she damn well better come back with her... virtue intact."

She snickered evilly. "Well... shit, buddy-boy... you just killed half the days plans."

I glared. "Just remember... I have your husband in my possession."

Her grin widened. "Ohhh... . a hostage, huh?" And she threw Hayden an appraising glance. "Husband... fun... husband... fun. I dunno, hon," she told him, "tough call."

"Thank you, oh light of my life," he drawled and gave me his put upon look, shaking his head sadly.

I turned to Heero. "Did you bring your pager?" And I got a tight nod. "Give the number to Chezarina."

It was the best I could do short of calling the whole thing off. I'm not sure whether it was Heero or me who stole more glances at Relena as we trouped our way out of the ship and across the cold docking bay. Oh what a wonderful day this was starting out to be.

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