Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence.
Duo looked very good. I settled on the couch with my dinner and watched the large screen show me my lover moving confidently with dignitaries five deep at each elbow. Wearing his long, velvet black coat with the red collar, anyone else would have looked ridiculous. With his cinnamon tail of hair, though, and his striking face, he looked handsome and dangerous instead. The black pants, and the dress shoes, made him a dark point in the colorful crowd and my soldier training winced and worried. There was ample security, I reminded myself, not for the first time, and forced myself to relax and enjoy the ceremony.
The words scrolling underneath Duo's image, and the excited commentary, told me that Duo was as adored as ever. It made me smile watching him wink and grin at the crowd, playing it for all it was worth. He really did love people and being the center of attention. As he mounted the stage with his train of important people, the crowd surged forward to get close to their famous hero. He had a wave and a slight bow for them all as he was announced by Relena Peacecraft.
His list of accomplishments was long. Duo deserved his award a hundred times over. He blushed modestly as Relena pinned the medal on his coat and handed him a plaque to go with it. It was trimmed in gold and set in an expensive metal. I knew he'd be pawning it the next opportunity and donating all the proceeds to a charity. The people, safe and happy in their peace, was his real award.
Relena kept talking, her high voice the background as I ate my meal and let my attention drift. When I heard her final words, before Duo's speech, it made me instantly angry, the fork dropping from my hand and clattering on my plate.
"I'm sure that everyone is dying to hear your speech, Duo, especially all of these ladies who are hoping to get the attention of Earth and Space's most eligible bachelor." She dimpled as she motioned to the crowd. "They are all hoping to have your arm at the dance following the ceremony."
There was a cheer, hard on the heels of her words, women letting Duo know that they were interested. Duo looked slightly annoyed and then grinned. Only I knew the difference between Duo's, 'I'm enjoying myself.', grin and his, 'I'm ready to slaughter hundreds.' , one. This one was definitely the latter, and I worried, as he took the podium and cleared his throat.
"I'd like to thank everyone who decided to give me this nice award," Duo began and waved the plaque at the crowd. They all cheered. When it died down, he continued, "I appreciate that I'm appreciated," he chuckled, and they laughed as well, as he placed the plaque on the podium, but then he grew serious."It's all about people, though, and keeping them safe. Seeing everyone, safely, go about their business, every day, is my real award." He waited for the cheer over that to die down and then his smile was all mine as he stared into the vid recorders, "But I also do it for those who fought for the peace and are now able to enjoy it. We should all honor them as well, because they deserve, more than anyone else, what they gave blood for. One in particular, has decided to grace my life with his presence." He touched the plaque and the medal. "These are more his than mine. Without him, being my support, my friend, and my love, I couldn't get out there, every day, and do what I do.Thank you, Heero, for deciding to spend your life with me."
My Duo blew a kiss at the vidscreens. The crowd milled and made noises, but I didn't care whether his words were well received or not. The applause seemed half hearted, polite, with only a few enthusiastic corners punctuating the lack, but it had nothing over the wild applause in my heart. I was grinning, every fiber of my being wishing that Duo was there for me to take into my arms. I ignored the nervous voice that worried about consequences. Right then, I took a cue from Duo and let consequences hang in the breeze.
Duo gave the crowd a wave and said a few more things that gathered them back from their indignation. It was me they disapproved of, after all, not Duo. They moaned in disappointment and then approval as he held out his arm to Relena, who smiled as if he hadn't made her angry a moment before, and allowed him to lead her from the stage and into the ballroom.
Duo could dance, but he didn't really enjoy it. I finished my dinner watching him perform one, obligatory, dance with Relena, and then enter his crowd of admirers, and preside over them, before the cameras left the ceremony for other news. The cell phone call was unexpected. I snagged it from where it was lying on a table with my keys, and flipped it open.
"Heero," I grunted, thinking it was work, and not liking the late night interruption.
"You're mad at me?" Duo wondered wistfully.
I smiled and cradled the phone against my ear as I sat again and stretched out comfortably. The noise of the crowd was Duo's background, but I could tell that he had managed some semi privacy for the call.
"I love you," I said simply.
I could hear the grin in his voice."I'm glad. I love you, too, and I think they needed to hear that and get over it.
"They're just hoping to be Mrs. Maxwell," I teased.
"I have one already," Duo chuckled back.
"Really?" I growled in mock anger, "Where have you been hiding her?"
"At my home, probably on the couch," Duo snickered back.
"Now, I am mad," I growled back. "Next, you'll have me wearing a dress. "
"A night gown," Duo replied, thoughtfully, "Red, with a little g-string."
"Pervert," I retorted with a blush. "Not even for you."
"I'm crushed," Duo said sadly and then chuckled. "That's okay, I rather you were in nothing at all."
His voice had taken on that sexy tone that should be outlawed. It made me hard instantly. "How long until you get home?" I wondered.
"As soon as I can shake these people off of me," Duo sighed. "I hate these things."
"Liar," I laughed. "You know you love them."
"Okay, okay... still," Duo told me softly. "I'd trade it all to be with you, right now."
I heard voices calling for Duo, for yet another speech. He sounded put out as he replied and then said to me, "Sorry, love. I'll be home as soon as I can."
"I'll be waiting," I promised.
We said our goodbyes. I cleaned up, put on my black, silk robe, and waited for my lover to come home. He did, eventually, and I was there as he opened the door, looking pale and anxious.
"Heero? Are you all right?" Duo asked quickly.
I frowned. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Duo took me by the hand, looking about cautiously at the darkness, and took me outside to our front doorstep. The white door had been hastily painted and it was dripping red paint onto the cement stoop. In lurid, large letters, it read, 'Die, you queer coward!'
"Someone didn't like my speech," Duo guessed softly and then slid an arm around me as he took me back inside. He locked the door and then seemed anxious about my reaction.
"It's going to be hard to paint over that," was my only comment as I belted my robe tighter about me, frowning.
"Heero!" Duo exclaimed as he confronted me, grabbing my robe in both hands. "It's okay to be pissed about this."
"And let them win?" I replied as I leaned into him and kissed him. "Words are only words, and they only cost us a little paint. They can't shake apart what we have together."
Duo grunted, as if he didn't believe in my calm. He returned my kiss, and then shook his head as he broke away to take off his long coat, grumbling sourly, "Who the hell says 'queer' anymore, anyway?"
A mission took Duo out of the country long before I thought he was healed, but that was the nature of his dedication. Waiting for his return, was never easy. He managed a few cells calls, before he reached the 'red zone', but after that, it was silence and long hours spent trying not to imagine Duo in a fire fight, or worse. Work helped me cope, and I stayed late, and took on as many caseloads as I could, to keep my mind occupied.
To say that Duo's speech had made me new enemies, was an understatement. It was an odd psychology, I suppose, that painted me as the pervert, the man who was trying to tarnish the image of their hero, by deluding him into being with me. I had spoken with the staff psychologist, briefly, one day, when she had seen a particularly nasty note left on my desk. I hadn't crumpled it and tossed it fast enough to hide it from her quick eyes.
"They're in love with Duo, themselves," she had said, sympathetically. "You're their rival and they'll never think that you're worthy of him."
It seemed an odd diagnosis, until I realized that it wasn't all about sex, but about admiration and plain hero worship.Knowing that, didn't make it any easier when three men decided to air their grievances. I was an ex terrorist. Even after long months at a desk job, I still owned ingrained habits that I didn't think would ever go away. Having our door spray painted had kicked them into over drive. I hadn't given anyone the opportunity to get me into a vulnerable position. These men didn't care about audiences, however, and, aside from one nervous, sympathetic look from a fellow worker, the rest carefully avoided getting involved. My closest fellow worker, Samuels, suddenly had other things to do. He scurried away and left the big agents surrounding my desk, and glaring down at me, fists clenched.
The tallest one, bald and square jawed, had eyes that were steel. He had seen combat, I judged, and automatically put him in the category of 'who to take out first'. His two companions were friends, one a ballistics agent, and the other, a martial arts instructor. The latter moved into the category of 'second man to take out'. I hadn't any intention of actually acting on those thoughts, it was an office, after all, and it was highly unlikely that they would attack me there, but it was as natural as breathing to have them.
"It's all over the news," the bald agent growled as he leaned in to face me. "Duo Maxwell fucks Heero Yuy in his down time. Do you realize how bad that makes us look? Duo gets an award. He makes us proud, makes everyone see what a great organization we are, and then you take us all down. Why don't you get a clue? We don't want you here. We don't have any use for a coward, that pulls down his pants for other guys."
I glared back at the man. "Discrimination in the work place is a serious offense. My sexual orientation, and personal relationships, is not a topic of discussion here. I have the highest rating of any employee currently working for Preventers. That is the only criteria that should be used as to whether I remained employed here, or not."
"Shut up!" the martial arts instructor bellowed. "It's not about that, and you know it! Maxwell doesn't deserve what you're putting him through. You're making people laugh at him. You're hurting his career."
"Once again, that is something personal, between Duo Maxwell, and myself." I was proud that I kept a professional tone. Inside I was seething, though, every muscle ready to 'take out' someone. I suppose that they took my leashed, hard won calm for stony indifference. It made them even angrier.
The bald agent didn't make the mistake of threatening me. His big hand slammed on my desk and he gave me a look full of hot promise, instead. "I think you need to make the right decision, here," he said. "A career change can be a good thing, so can a personal one. Maxwell's life is keeping the world safe. You don't really want to be the one to mess that up, do you? Sooner, or later, the higher ups are going to think that's his personal tastes are too embarrassing to the cause. They might decide to get rid of him."
"That would be a mistake," I replied. "One I don't think they're foolish enough to make."
We glared at each other. The bald agent crushed some of the papers on my desk in a big fist.
The men suddenly found other things to do as Commander Une approached my desk. She frowned at the crushed papers as I readjusted my thoughts from 'combat ready' to work related issues. She was soldier enough to feel the tension, though, and she looked around the room and made her own mental notes.
"May I help you, Commander Une?" I asked to get her attention back on me. She had a distinct perfumed scent, that over rode the smell of copy paper and too many agents in a closed space. Her nails were painted pink, with small white lilies, and it made me smile, that touch of soldier humor amidst femininity. Lilies meant death, and we both understood that it was a warning not to forget her past.
While Une didn't approve of my relationship with Duo either. I think that she would have liked all of her agents unencumbered by any sort of commitments. She wanted them ready and willing to do any assignment.If she approved of me at all, it was for the fact that I never stood in Duo's way, or made him feel guilty for leaving me for long periods of time.
"I wanted to commend you on your handling of the Pollock files," Une told me as she decided that the room was safe enough and that she needed to get back to business. "It made prosecution possible."
"Thank you," I told her, and felt a flush of pride.
Une smoothed out the papers on my desk, "In fact, you've been a very busy person, Mr. Yuy. Your fingerprints are on most of the flow of information from this office."
"I enjoy my work," I told her, feeling that she was leading up to something that I wasn't going to like.
"We all need challenges," she said, "and it seems to me, that this office hardly challenges your exemplarily skills. I'd like to offer you a position, Head Coordination Officer of Information. It will require you to travel, in order to coordinate with our other offices, but I think your talent in information gathering is something that is invaluable and not to be constrained to one office."
She was appealing to my need to help the cause of peace. She knew her weapons well. She didn't understand my dedication to Duo, however. I was his support. I was the one who made certain that he was able to do his duty. For me, there wasn't a higher calling than that.
"I'm sorry, but I have to decline," I told her. "However, I can coordinate information from this office by creating a conference uplink to the other offices."
She gave me a very long look and then she said, "You're passing up a very good offer, Mr. Yuy, and a chance to extricate yourself from difficulties that are making it hard to justify your position here."
I was willing to take the chance that I was at least as indispensable as Duo. "Those difficulties are something that I should be protected against,"I told her, "Not blamed for."
She scowled. "You know the reality of the situation as well as I do," she retorted, but then added, "Perhaps, you don't. After all, you do imagine that you're following the pacifist ideal, even though you help Maxwell to the front line of every conflict. Telling yourself that you're not pulling the trigger, is only a convenient white lie."
That stung, because it had an element of truth, but her truth and mine, were divided by a very fine line of conscience.That line was enough to define my life and to satisfy me.
"I wish to remain in my current position," I told her firmly.
She knew a brick wall when she saw one, and she decided not to batter against it any longer. "I want to have a meeting with you and Maxwell, when he returns," she said. "Perhaps, together, we can resolve some of these 'conflicts'."
"Yes, ma'am," I responded automatically.
She nodded and then turned. When she saw the three men, still standing about, she snarled, "Don't you have work to do? You don't have any business in this section, that I'm aware of."
They scrambled and I couldn't help feeling relieved as they all emptied out of the office. My coworkers looked annoyed as they returned to their work, disappointed, perhaps, that they were being robbed of their 'show'. Samuels crept back to his desk, gave me a nervous look, and then wisely said nothing as he began working.
It was good to get back to work myself, and to shut out the rest. As I sent important files to where they belonged, helping important cases, the irritations of the day became minor. If I was willing to give my life for peace, then, I reasoned, what were a few insults and threats? I was certain that I could handle them.
On to Chapter Four
Back to Chapter Two