Authors: TB and Marsh
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Code of Silence + Part Eight

They fucked. For hours. It seemed sometimes that was the only thing they could get right.

Later it would all make sense. Later, he'd be able to look back and understand that Duo had needed to not feel so damned used and impotent. That he needed to hurt Trowa back somehow, at least a little. And needed the responsibility of knowing he could. Did.

That was later, though. In the morning, Trowa didn't know any of that, and all he felt was tired when he answered Addison's eight-am call.

He rushed to grab the receiver before it woke Duo. Except he knocked over a picture frame on the side table that he hadn't used to own, didn't remember was there now that Duo was back and Decorating The House, and the clatter woke Duo when the phone hadn't. Then he was answering the call, agreeing to an appointment he didn't want, and watching Duo watch him across the bed, that tense line Trowa had spent all night trying to erase back in his mouth.

He hung up and righted the picture. It was one he didn't remember taking, all five of them, and by coincidence he and Duo were standing together, their heads turned a little toward each other. "I have to take a shower and go meet with the attorneys," he said.

The bedroom was freezing. They'd taped some plastic over the broken window, but it didn't keep out the cold, or the noise of delivery trucks and morning chatter. Duo pushed the duvet down and rubbed his eyes. "Just you?"

"Yeah. This time." Trowa stuck a leg out from the covers, and decided against the shower. He picked up the grey suit he'd worn yesterday from the floor and shrugged into the trousers. He glanced up at Duo as he buttoned the waist. "You could come if you wanted, but you look like shit, and I really don't need to hear it again how bad I am for you."

He imagined that Duo's expression was accusatory. You are, it said. It was right. But he was only imagining it, because Duo wasn't looking at him.

"You want doughnuts?" he asked. "From that shop across from the courthouse."

Duo rolled onto his stomach and closed his eyes. "Muffins," he answered. "It's going to rain. Take the umbrella."

+

"I don't want out," Trowa snapped quietly. "I never once wanted out. Have I actually been acting reluctant or did I miss a reprimand?"

"You stupid little man." Une's whisper could have scalded skin. "It's bad enough that I had to deal with a botched arrest from your darling friends Yuy and Chang and whatever bullshit Maxwell parked in. To have every single one of you hip-deep in covering for each other– I am one step from stringing you up by your thumbs, Barton, and you can thank me for exercising the extreme restraint I'm showing in not throwing you to the wolves. If you so much as blink out of turn today, you can enjoy the hospitality of the general population in a high-security prison of my choice." The door banged open, but Une didn't look away from him. "This is my show now," she added intently. "Understood, Agent?"

Judge Padilla entered first, shedding her robe as she stalked to the chair at the head of their table. Une rose smoothly, tugging the hem of her jacket into place. The two women exchanged nods, and Trowa reluctantly levered himself to his feet. "Your Honour," he mumbled.

"Everyone sit," Padilla instructed, and obeyed herself, settling heavily. "I have to be back in court in half an hour and I want at least five minutes of that to be devoted to caffeine."

The room crowded quickly. Addison had come alone to represent Duo's lawyers, but the ADA had brought an assistant, and there were three people Trowa had never seen before, all suited in black and wearing identical badges of government office. They didn't all fit at the table, and Trowa didn't feel particularly moved to give up his seat. Two of the government flunkies were left milling in front of the door.

Padilla struggled with the tall pile of manilla folders she'd brought with her, and finally opened one from the middle. "We're here to discuss the subpoena from Council regarding the testimony of the witness Trowa Barton." She searched the table for him, and propped her chin on her fist. "Mr Barton, you're an undercover agent for the Preventers?"

Une was nodding. Trowa said, "Yes, ma'am, for the last nine years."

The man sitting across from Trowa interrupted, rising slightly as he spoke. "James Walen, your Honour, representing the Ministry of Defence." He tapped the table significantly. "Given the special circumstances, it is impossible for Barton to testify without limiting his usefulness and trespassing on the legality of his confidentiality. "

"Which trespasses on my client's right to present all witnesses with exculpatory evidence," Addison shot back pointedly. The look he shot at Trowa was inclusive of Une, and it wasn't happy. "If it has to be restated, we are here because my client is on trial."

Une's plucked eyebrows made perfect arches. "Then perhaps you should explore other potential evidence," she said.

Addison put his life on the line by ignoring her in favour of the judge. "Your Honour," he said. He took the paper copy of Trowa's log from his briefcase and laid it out prominently on the table. "Trowa Barton's journal offers incontrovertible alibis for at least four of the murders, and there's certainly an argument to be made that if Agent Maxwell couldn't have committed four of them, there's more than reasonable doubt that he committed any of them. It's insane to think that the State could mandate that the jury not be allowed to hear that."

Walen waved that off. "I'm not asking that the journal be suppressed," he said. "Only its author's identity. Director Une will tell you that he made those entries while under her orders, which means any product of that investigation is protected under International Law until the investigation is concluded and its conclusions declassified. "

Addison was already shaking his head. "If state-sponsored espionage were sacrosanct, we wouldn't have the string of case law that supports specific exceptions to the rule. Hence our subpoena. Without knowing what the credibility of the author is, how can the jury be expected to believe the content of the journal? Even a government official can be compelled to reveal his or her identity when the Court deems it necessary in pursuit of the truth."

Une reached for the journal, holding it up. "This document," she said, "is part of a Preventers investigation. A study initiated by my office and conducted under my direct influence. Will your jury find me a credible witness?"

Padilla at least seemed thrown. So did the ADA, who jumped in for the first time, stammering to get out his objection. "There's no way you can allow a third party to testify about the journal, your Honour!"

"And why not?" Une asked. Trowa shifted uneasily, sensing that the personal cost of each of Une's intercessions was going to skyrocket. "Surely you've allowed situations like this when an undercover police officer's identity, and indeed his life, might be in peril?" Une returned the log to the table, her varnished fingernails tapping lightly on the top page. "Prosecution witnesses, I imagine, however. Wouldn't that be correct? But protecting a Defence witness wouldn't quite satisfy your own personal and political agendas, would it?"

God. Trowa leaned back in his chair, raising a hand to cover the smile that threatened. When she was like this, Une almost reminded him of Duo.

"You've made your point," Padilla said. The two women locked gazes; Une was at her icy best, cool and composed, but Padilla was a match for her. "We have enough accusations flying free in here," Padilla added shortly. "I'll thank you to leave unfounded ones silent."

Addison sat forward, smoothing his tie nervously. He said, "I don't find it reassuring that the Director of the Preventers is offering to testify that she ordered Mr Barton to track my client. It's remarkably prejudicial, your Honour."

The judge sighed. "I have to agree." She leaned back in her chair, and her eyes fell on Trowa. Trowa met her gaze.

"I've read the journal," she said at last. "It's a giant can of worms. I find it difficult to believe that the Preventers and the Ministry are so eager to provide cover for an operative who obviously took advantage of a private relationship to spy on another agent who had no idea he was under investigation. But morality and legality are two separate issues, so let's concentrate on what we do know. Director Une, Mr Walen, I am sensitive to the dangerous nature of your service, and I have a good idea of how damaging public attention to this trial would be. With that understood, I am still extremely reluctant to trample the rights of an individual in the name of the greater good." She searched her folders again, briefly, before giving up. "Mr Lebreton, have your office amended the indictment to reflect this discovery?"

"Yes, your Honour," the ADA answered promptly. "We're only proceeding on six counts."

"Your Honour," Addison protested.

"I see no legal reason to suppress the journal, and I cannot legally prevent either Defense or Prosecution from summoning Director Une as a witness regarding its authenticity. " Padilla closed her folders and pushed them aside. "What I can do is advise you, Mr Addison, to appeal the writ from the Higher Court preventing you from summoning Agent Barton. You won't win, and it won't help your client now, but it would be grounds for an appeal in the event of a guilty verdict." She stood. "You have your ruling. And in the future, lady and gentlemen, you can consider yourself without a friend from this office. I don't like these kinds of power plays in my courtroom. It seems to me that there was some very shady business here, and I will be watching everyone very closely."

Une smiled like the Madonna. Trowa licked his lips, and stood with everyone else. "Thank you, Judge," Une said. She extended her hand, and Padilla shook it briefly. "Be assured, we're not unaware of the sensitivity of your position in this matter as well."

Addison lingered as the crowd filtered from the room. "It's not great," he said to Trowa, glancing uncomfortably at Une. "It's good we got the number of charges reduced. It's bad that we've got less on our side to prove he's not guilty of any of them." He stuffed the copy of Trowa's journal back into his briefcase, and snapped it closed. "Are you and Duo still..."

The question caught him by surprise, though it shouldn't have. He nodded once, sharply, keeping his eyes level. "Yeah," he answered. "He's still with me."

"Right. I'll let you deliver the news then, okay?" Addison clapped him on the shoulder, and Trowa tried not to roll his eyes about it. "Director Une, it was– educational, meeting you."

"Freak," Trowa muttered as the door closed behind him.

Une didn't find it funny. There was no trace of amusement in her face as she gathered her coat from the rack, but she let him help her into it. It wasn't going to be pretty, he decided, but for all her threats, she wasn't going to have him dragged out back to be shot, either.

She faced him, just level to his height in her heels. "I cannot imagine what possessed you," she said finally, "and I'm not terribly sure I want to know, but you can use this time to reassure me that this behaviour is done with."

"Which behaviour?" Trowa perched on the edge of the table and folded his arms over his chest. "The fucking him, or the keeping track of him?"

"I'm glad you retain your sense of humour. How's Duo doing?" she added pointedly.

Knowing Une, it could be some kind of fucked-up trick question, or genuine concern from a commander who occasionally remembered she was a thinking, feeling human being. Either way, Trowa didn't feel particularly patient with the question. "He's tired," he said flatly. "He needs his job back. He needs his fucking life back. This is bullshit."

"Not a condition you've helped to alleviate." Une wrapped a white scarf about her neck, and pulled white leather gloves from her coat pocket. "Lying for you is one thing. Allowing you to continue is another. So understand me now. This will stop."

"I'm not ditching him." He shifted, dropped his arms back to his sides. "Thanks for covering for me."

Une donned her gloves with quick tugs. "You cannot possibly be deluded that I did this for you."

"Yeah, yeah; spin control. Not to mention losing two good ops."

"That's right. Maxwell's done with Preventers." She set her purse on the table next to him, and leaned over him. "You, on the other hand, can look forward to a long and busy career with us."

Trowa licked his lips deliberately, but she didn't rise to the bait. "Why do you hold on so hard?"

"I make it a policy never to lose a war." Une's smile was tiny, and frosty.

"Exhausting, isn't it?"

"You're the one who doesn't want out."

"Not really, no." Trowa showed another of his cards, and added, "I like the way things are."

"Then do yourself a little favour and stop working quite so hard to botch it up."

"In other words, you think I'm a psychotic stalker too." He hated that she'd even gone there. So she was thinking the same thing everyone else was– it wasn't her business. It was no-one's business but his, and all these extra fingers in his pie were just messing things up. He gave up the rest of his hand, laid it all out there. Quietly, he said, "I want him to have his life back. I'll do whatever it takes."

Her eyebrows shot up, and she straightened away from him. "Sacrificial lamb isn't a good look for you, Trowa," she snapped. "And it's not what I pay you for."

"I'm asking you to do something for him."

For Une, the hesitation was an eternity. In reality, it was only a few seconds. She picked up her purse and belted her coat, but Trowa wasn't distracted. He moved closer to her, to keep her eyes on him.

"You have until the end of this trial," she told him at last. "Go home, Barton," she added, and opened the door. "Try to convince Duo he's safe with you."

+

Heero wrapped the plastic handles of the bag tighter between his fingers, securing the weight that dragged at his wrist. He punched the buzzer again, and knocked to be sure. He was just shifting sideways to peer through the window when the latch clicked, and Duo opened the door.

Heero rubbed his neck when it went hot. "Maybe I should have called."

Duo turned pink. He tugged at the hem of his boxer shorts, trying to pull them down his thighs. "Uh, hi," he said. He smudged his tangled hair out of his face, and used the door to shield himself. "No, I was being lazy. I'm sorry. Uh– come in."

Heero hesitated a moment, then obeyed. Duo nudged the door shut behind him, and Heero faced him, holding out his bag. "Mikans," he explained. "Wufei said you like them."

"Thanks. I do." Duo took the bag, and Heero followed the movement of his fingers as they looped loose dark hairs behind a blushing ear. "That's really thoughtful."

"He's worried about you." So was Heero, but he wasn't sure he was ready to admit to that. He put his hands in his coat pockets, clenching around his keys. "You look like shit."

"Yeah, so I hear." Duo took half a step forward, then rocked back. "Um, I'll go put on some pants," he said. "Want to start some tea?"

"Yeah, I can do that." He took back the bag when Duo thrust it out. Duo slipped past him toward the bedroom, and Heero went into the kitchen. He put the oranges on the table and took down the kettle from the stove.

He heard the soft scrape of bare feet on the tile right before Duo spoke. "How are you, Heero?" he asked.

Heero flipped on the tap. "All right. You?"

"I'm all right." Duo joined him at the counter. He'd donned blue jeans, but the black sweater had stayed. He smelled like sleep, and– sex. Heero swallowed, and turned away to search the cupboards. It took a few tries to find the tea; Duo liked things kept in a certain order, but Trowa's kitchen had a different arrangement. Heero found a bag of rooibos next to the cooking oil. "I think you should get out of here," he said finally.

"And go where?" Duo demanded pointedly.

"I don't know. Home. Somewhere." Heero filled the fruit bowl with the mikans, carefully turning all of them to find the ripest two. "This isn't... healthy."

Duo sat, slumping low in his chair. "Sweetheart, please." He threw teabags into the mugs and folded his arms sullenly over his chest. "Not right now. I know this is coming out of friendship, but it's not particularly helpful at the moment."

The electric kettle grew louder as the water came to the boil. Heero took it off the burner when it began to steam, and filled the mugs. He was sure that Duo was doing the thing he did so often with Heero– put distance between them. Push Heero away. He knew that Duo wanted his friendship, had in fact worked very hard with very little encouragement to get it, but he wanted it on his own terms, not Heero's.

Maybe he had a right to dictate the terms just now. Heero hadn't been acting like a friend when he'd assumed Duo was capable of executing Vasquez in that scuzzy warren of an apartment downtown. And Wufei had made his point when he'd accused Heero of waiting for Duo to come to him, when he knew very well that Duo had enough to think about right now without worrying after the state of this relationship. Given the state of another relationship that Heero could only believe was a deliberate, self-destructive mistake. Duo knew better than to expect anything from Trowa. Trowa was selfish, and emotionally unavailable, cold. All the things that Heero was himself. So, really, he didn't have anything to offer Duo right now, either, and he should worry that Duo had even let him in the door, even if he didn't want to talk.

He had tried before to imagine what must have gone through Duo's mind when he'd come across that body and decided to cover for whomever had put it there. He could only think of the most nebulous reasons, had never had an acute understanding of Duo's mind; only a recognition that Duo followed his emotions, he did it with his whole heart.

Duo read his silence, his eyes keen and steely. "What?" he asked provocatively. "What am I supposed to say to you?"

Heero pretended to sip his tea, but it was only an attempt to hide his reaction. Duo was glaring at him cold-eyed and steady, that boiling temper that was always just on the edge ready to spring. Heero licked his lips, and set his cup on the table. "This was a mistake," he acknowledged. "I shouldn't have bothered you."

"Fucking hell, you bastard."

"You could have come to me," he retorted. "Why don't you ever come to me?"

Duo carefully shifted his tea, rotating the cup and moving it milimetres forward in some arcane strategy. "Because in all the years we've known each other, every conversation that even scrapes the edge of personal starts with 'I shouldn't have done this.'" Duo flattened his hands to the table. "How am I supposed to take that, Heero? I feel like I make you scared of me."

"You don't make me scared." Nervous, yes. Inarticulate.

Duo released his gaze with an almost audible click. He reached out to nudge Heero's mug with a knuckle. "Drink your tea."

Heero lifted the mug and sipped, burning his upper lip and gums. "I should have been aware."

"I don't know. Maybe."

"I should do something."

"I'm already doing something." Duo's pale lips twitched up in a small smile that didn't make it to his eyes.

"Getting trashed. I can't let that happen."

"You can." Duo made it a command, his eyes cold again. "You have before. I know you can square with it when it serves a greater good."

"What greater good comes out of you going to jail for a killer?" he snapped.

Duo was not quick with a rejoinder, and Heero was troubled. Duo took a mikan from Heero's arrangement, bringing it to his nose to smell. He rubbed the skin gently.

"He gets a chance to change, maybe."

Heero picked up his tea again, to occupy his hands. "Will he?"

"I hope so."

The possibility stretched bleakly in front of him. "What if he doesn't?"

"Heero, just–" Duo's eyes stayed low on the orange. "Let me believe that this means something."

There was a soft yearning in that that made him ache.

Duo sighed. "Why'd you come over today?"

He sipped the tea. It was cooler now. There seemed to be a cold draft in the condo, from the open bedroom door, fresh air from an unseasonably open window. "I don't know," he admitted slowly. "I just– hate this." And suddenly that was true. Whatever he'd thought might happen if he came wasn't going to, but somehow he'd failed to anticipate it.

"Heero..." Duo was looking at him when he glanced up. "Heero, why... fuck." Duo laughed then.

"I don't want anything bad to happen. Tell me what to do to stop it."

"I'm not," Duo said flatly, "the person to be asking."

"I'm asking you. You always know."

"I don't. I don't always know anything."

"You have to." The tea was the same shade of reddish-brown as Duo's hair, an earthy fragrant chestnut. Heero swirled the last inch of it in his mug. "He makes you happy?"

Duo laughed again. It had a watery sound. He covered his mouth with his hand and stared at the wall.

Heero almost touched him. Not his hand. His cheek. His neck. He pulled back just before he made the contact, shoved back his chair and vacated the table. His heart was pounding. He felt sick with adrenaline, almost shaky with the force of it.

"I should go," he managed. "I just wanted you to know... I'm trying."

Duo clasped his hands in his lap. He nodded.

"And if you need to talk–" Though that was the last thing he really wanted. He'd been clear about that three years ago, when Duo had moved in with Trowa after barely a week of anything that qualified as relationship. Risky, Heero had said, and Duo had tossed him a smile full of excitement and happiness and agreed. In some dark place he went sometimes, on nights that were particularly bad, he'd stare up at the ceiling and something Duo said, some flash of that smile, it was like a nightlight in a dark room, and he'd remember Duo had a craving for toxic men, and remember too that if– Duo were ever his, he wouldn't have the first clue what to do with it. That knowledge had always been enough to stop him before.

He cleared his throat. "Are we friends?"

Duo inhaled deeply. "Yes."

He felt for his keys in his pocket again. "Good, okay."

Duo laughed again, not any more steadily. He tried to fix his hair, but the side of his palm scraped his cheek instead. It took several seconds for Heero to register what that was about. He'd never seen Duo do it before.

His hand shook as he extended it. Duo's hair whispered against his finger as he brushed it out of Duo's eyes. "You never cut it when you should," he whispered.

"Oh, Jesus." Duo knocked his hand aside, his eyes wet as he glared up. "This isn't the best time for our annual 'wish we'd screwed while we had the chance' dance."

He nearly reeled. "That's not what I was doing."

Then Duo was on his feet, and Heero swayed back to avoid touching him. Duo violently threw away his tea in the sink, spattering the splash guard. "I don't know anything," he snarled. "I just don't know, Heero. I don't have it figured out."

"Be still a minute," Heero demanded. "Just– still." He rubbed his palm on his trousers; he was sweating. He touched Duo, the small of his back. "You don't have to know," he comforted softly. "And I wasn't making a pass. I know you're with Trowa."

Duo's adams apple bobbed as he swallowed. He gripped the edge of the sink tightly. "Okay."

He smelled so intimate. Bed and hair and sex and Trowa and he was all anger and bone, the bumps of his spine under Heero's palm, the hard curve of his waist. He was taut and alive when Heero turned him and gingerly embraced him.

"Friends do this," he tried to explain. Duo was all so solid, the jut of his hipbones, his sharp knees, the soft skin of his neck. It wasn't enough to see the pulse in his throat; his fingers itched for it. "It doesn't mean I want anything more."

He felt Duo's shaky inhale. This is the worst time to take a risk with you, Wufei had said to him, just last night, and Heero hadn't understood where that was coming from until his own hand was moving, finding a soft rub of stubble just barely growing in on Duo's jaw just before he kissed him, awkward and with a hunger he hadn't known he had in him. The first touch was like electricity, an adrenaline rush he hadn't felt since night he'd aimed his beam canon at Dekim Barton's fortress and known he was going to die in his Gundam. Everything went narrow and rushed and deathly important.

Duo jerked away. "Oh," he whispered.

Heero waited to be hit. He wasn't. He cupped Duo's cheek, and kissed him again. He felt resistance for just a moment, and then Duo's jaw relaxed and let him in. Heero pressed him back against the counter, so aroused that the rub of his own jeans was a visceral torture.

Duo pulled away again. "There are so– " Heero stopped him with his lips. "Many reasons not–"

"We don't have to." He sucked on Duo's lower lip, his chin, his throat.

"Heero." Fingers in his hair drew his head up, and stormy eyes connected with his. Duo's voice shook. "Tell me you understand."

He dropped his head to Duo's shoulder. It was hard to think with Duo staring at him, with the feel of their hips crushed so tightly together. They were almost breathing together, and the pressure of Duo's hands on his skull was like the only thing holding him down.

Duo wasn't asking him. He was asking Trowa. And Trowa wasn't there to give them permission.

He brushed his lips down Duo's neck, to the hem of the soft sweater. He hooked a finger in the fabric and pulled it down enough to kiss the hollow space above Duo's collarbone. "This is his, isn't it?" He kissed the inside of Duo's elbow as he raised Duo's arms over his head. Peeling the sweater off him was like peeling Trowa away, too, discarding him to the linoleum and kicking him out of the way. Duo's bare skin was pale and tight, breaking out in gooseflesh in the cool air, at the touch of Heero's hands. He climbed the path of Duo's torso from the waistband of his jeans to his pecs, tracing the faded blue of the gang tattoo over his heart, over pink pebbled nipples. This time Duo leaned forward, and they kissed again. He snagged his fingers in Duo's braid, loose and tangled and soft, and Duo released a trembling exhale against his mouth as he wove between the plaits and clutched tightly.

Then it moved quickly. Duo undid each button of his shirt from collar to bottom and kept going down to his jeans, wrenching at the zipper and pulling from the pockets. Heero mimicked him, catching the snap on Duo's pants and fitting his palm inside to cup Duo's buttock beneath his underwear. He didn't want to fuck against the sink like– Duo was his friend, too important, too beautiful and clever for something so unforgivably base. Duo's stomach was hard and velvety as Heero kissed it, his thighs warm as Heero pulled his jeans down. He was so tired of living in winter.

"Please say I won't fuck you up, doing this."

Heero shucked his shoes and socks and rose. "You won't hurt me. We'll be all right."

Duo squirmed onto the edge of the counter, and Heero settled between his legs. He tasted sweat when he caught Duo's shoulder with his lips, then his earlobe. Their groins met, and Heero couldn't take the intensity of Duo's eyes on him while their hips rolled together. He wrapped Duo close to him. He hadn't realised how thin Duo really was, until he felt the concave curve of Duo's belly against his and the jut of his shoulderblades out of his back. He trapped their erections in his hand and arched Duo close against his chest. Moisture smeared his own stomach and he didn't know which of them it belonged to, but Duo moaned softly, and Heero shuddered. It was all movement and the grip of Duo's legs around his hips.

He wanted it differently. He wanted Duo on a bed with him, their bed, he wanted what he'd imagined, putting himself inside Duo, Duo putting himself in Heero, melting together, he wanted that elusive sense of wholeness he'd been missing his entire life– it should be elemental, natural, perfect. This wasn't going to be any of those things. He couldn't ask that. Duo had lost so much of who he was already, and it was at least partly Heero's fault for letting him, forcing him, not trusting him. Maybe this would be enough. Satisfying. Profound. Without asking a large sacrifice from Duo.

He found the presence of mind to breathe. Duo's eyes were open when he looked. He grasped Duo's hips, damp with exertion now, and balanced a hand against the cabinets at shoulder-height as he ground against Duo. He brushed Duo's hair from his face. "Duo?"

He didn't imagine the hesitation. Duo's mouth was open. His cheeks were flushed, his body radiating heat, but his eyes said everything.

Heero swallowed. "You don't want this with me."

Duo couldn't answer immediately. "I do," he managed. "Just–"

"You love Trowa." Heero closed his eyes. "I understand."

Duo's hand pressed gently against his cheek. In a helpless little whisper, he said, "I'm so so sorry."

He shook his head `no'. "I knew better. I didn't come here for this in the first place." Maybe he had. He didn't know any more.

It was the shift of Duo's thighs wrapped around his hips, the accidental rub of his cock over Heero's. He'd been closer to the edge than he realised. His vision went white and his hearing shorted out. He came back to intense mortification, and Duo stuttering heartbreaking apologies in his ear.

He licked his lips. "I loved you," he rasped. "Maybe I will a while longer."

Duo's breath hitched. His cheek came to rest against Heero's neck, and it was wet.

"I think you should let go now." He shifted away carefully. He felt cold and shaky, soiled. He reached for the towel hanging on the oven handle, and fumbled awkwardly as he wiped his semen from Duo's abdomen. He kept his eyes on the task, not on Duo himself, willing the tightness in his throat to disappear. When Duo was cleaned, he wiped himself, then stepped into his jeans. He wadded the towel and stuffed it into his pocket. Trowa would come back eventually, and he didn't want to leave evidence. Didn't want Trowa to be mad at Duo.

Duo accepted his sweater when Heero held it out, but didn't put it on. He held Heero's fingers.

"I've got to go." Duo nodded jerkily. "Sorry," Heero said, and he was. It took immense willpower to brush his lips over Duo's again and keep it at just a kiss. Duo's hand was warm around his. He used his sleeve to dab the streak from Duo's cheek, careful of the button in the cuff. "Don't."

Duo tossed his head to shake his hair from his eyes. "Yeah."

"It's going to be fine."

Duo wiped his own face. "Promise?"

"Yeah. I promise."

He let himself out, and walked alone to his car.

+

Trowa unlocked the door and let himself in, juggling the box of doughnuts and his coat and the keys. Duo was sitting on the couch, hunched forward over his knees.

"Hey," Trowa said. He dropped the box onto the coffee table. "Blueberry-banana muffin for you, and chocolate-glaze- sprinkle doughnuts for me." He detoured to the kitchen and removed the bottle of apple juice from the fridge. The oranges in the fruit bowl surprised him. "Did you shop?" he called.

"No." Duo had his thumbnail firmly between his teeth when Trowa emerged again. "Trowa..."

"What?" He unscrewed the bottle cap and drank. Duo didn't protest, and that was when Trowa decided there was something more going on than could be explained by yesterday. "What's wrong?"

Duo finally took his hand out of his mouth. "Heero came over."

"Yeah?" That had to be comfortable, Trowa thought. He sat, and Duo's eyes followed him down. "He hit you again?" he assumed.

Duo gripped his hands between his knees. "There's no excuse for it," he said. "We kissed. We did more than kissing."

His first thought was that he'd only been gone four hours. Only thought. Four hours, it flashed on repeat through his brain. He swallowed a large mouthful of juice, and set the bottle down. "Did you fuck him?"

"No." Duo stared at him. Four hours. And then a barrage of images he knew from the inside out, Duo sprawled out underneath him, Duo laughing with sleepy sexy eyes, Duo fucking himself without giving a damn what he looked like doing it.

"Did you blow him?" Trowa asked. Duo shook his head, a sharp negating motion. "Uh huh. He blew you?"

"No. No, it wasn't like that, but–"

"Look," Trowa interrupted harshly. "If you have to tell me, then spit it out. Because this is torture."

"I shouldn't have even let him in the door. I'm sorry, Trowa. I should have sent him on his fucking way."

He took an aimless step in retreat. "What'd the little fucker do to you?" Duo had his arms crossed over his chest now in a protective gesture that could have been about Trowa and could have been about God Almighty punishing sinners, but none of it was computing. "You fooled around but you didn't fuck. Okay." He clutched the cap in his hand, the dig of the plastic ring in his palm grounding him. "Well, hell. I guess I deserved that."

Duo stood. "Don't close down on me. Please, Jesus, Trowa, don't shut down, tell me what you're feeling."

"Are you just looking for an excuse to run or are you hoping I'll throw you out?" He clenched his jaw and drew a breath deep from his gut. "I'm not going to do that. If you still want out... you can go after the trial is over and you've been acquitted."

He felt Duo come closer and stop in front of him. He didn't quite have it in him to look yet, but he felt it.

"I don't want out," Duo said raggedly. "I don't want out, asshole."

He grabbed Duo and forced his face up. He meant it to be hard, and claiming, acidic enough to somehow burn the taste of Heero out of Duo's mouth, but it wasn't. It was as clarifying as throwing himself into freezing ocean water. Duo tilted with him, his spine curving where Trowa bent him back, and he thought– maybe Duo might believe it if I say it now. Maybe I believe it too.

He didn't, but he held Duo close and closed his eyes.

[part 7] [part 9] [back to TB and Marsh's fiction]