Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence.
A weekend off was a chance to reconnect with my calm center. I loved being with Duo, but I enjoyed a bit of solitude, on occasion, as well. My lover was not a quiet man, or prone to relaxing. He liked rock climbing, racquetball, and off road biking. Noise, action, and adrenaline fed his soul on or off of work and I had long ago accepted that. In turn, he had accepted the fact that I enjoyed quiet, reading, walks in the park, and simply relaxing in the sun in our back yard. He teased me by calling me lazy, often wondering if I was part cat, the way I liked to nod off in a lawn chair or curl up in an afghan, and doze against him, while he watched action movies. I often wondered, though, if he were envious. Once in awhile, he would try to join me in my relaxation, but he never lasted. Before too long, he was up again and finding something active to do. I often felt compelled to join him, rather than pursue my own needs, worried that he would feel neglected, so it was nice to wake and follow a routine all my own without that worry, even though I was still missing Duo.
What would they think, I wondered, to see Heero Yuy, one time wonder of space and Earth, soldier supreme, savior of Earth, kneeling and worried that his tulips weren't getting the right amount of fertilizer? What would they say if they saw me stretched out on a lawn chair in the warm sun, loving the sizzle on my skin, the birdsong all around me, the lazy sound of a neighbor's lawnmower in the distance, and dozing with a romance novel resting on top of my chest? Weak, gay, fag, queer, coward, wimp... as if a man didn't have the right to think of gentle things, or to take pleasure in peace and beauty. One time Gundam pilots rode off road bikes through mud and rough terrain. They watched sports. They worried about basketball scores. They practiced their shooting. They volunteered for suicide missions... I couldn't help smiling. No wonder they liked Duo so much, if that's what they really expected from men. He had always been supremely himself, in and out of the war. I had spent my youth being someone I wasn't. I suppose that I couldn't blame people for feeling confused by my change. I could blame them, though, for rejecting it.
There was a rap on my wooden fence. I squinted through sunshine to our back gate and then remembered my appointment, made at the mailbox earlier that day. My neighbor, a very elderly woman, had become nervous when she had seen us repainting our door. She had insisted on accompanying me on my walk, as if, frail woman that she was, that she could somehow protect me. 'Safety in numbers, Mr. Yuy,' she had told me firmly and hadn't taken no for an answer.In the end, I think I agreed more for her sake than mine. The park was overgrown, and the path rough. She liked to believe that she was still hardy enough to tackle it, but I had my doubts. I felt better following along and making sure that she arrived home again.
Putting my book aside, I stretched, snagged my T-shirt and jogging jacket from the back of the lawn chair, and put them on as I opened the gate. I had never been tall, but she was absolutely tiny next to me. A bundle of frail sticks in shorts, an overlarge jersey shirt and jacket, a flowered hat tied under her chin, and a little dog, of indeterminate breed, on a miniscule leash, she exuded an air of someone much larger. When she spoke, she didn't seem the frail old woman, either. She sounded as if she could scale mountains, or beat off any attacker; calm, firm, and no nonsense.
"Ready, Mr. Yuy?" She asked me and gave me a look as if I needed to pass her inspection. Her little dog sniffed me, suspiciously, and then made a little sneeze. She always referred to me formally, despite my offer to simply call me , 'Heero'. She had a very proper streak and it wasn't proper, she had told me, for her to address handsome young men in a familiar fashion.
"Ready, Mrs. Santos," I replied with a smile, reached down, and patted the nervous dog on the head. "Thank you for walking with me," I felt compelled to say, even though I felt foolish saying it.
"Perfectly all right," she replied as she took the lead and the path toward the park. She did walk as if she were a great deal younger, but I doubted that she would keep that pace up.
I searched for conversation. We talked gardening, dogs, and watched hers sniff and flit about on its leash. The weather, the affect it had on joints, and the problem of the overgrown park, had their turn, and then, proper Mrs. Santos surprised me.
"Some people are still in the stone age," she said. When I blinked at her, she continued while she contemplated the path ahead, "They want to stop you and Mr. Maxwell from being together, because they think they know what's 'natural' and what's not.If you ask me, they belong in the zoo, with the other monkeys walking around on their knuckles."
"Thank you," I replied, because I wasn't sure how else to respond.
"When I see you and Mr. Maxwell together, it just seems right," she finished and gave me a wrinkled, old smile that was a bit shy and embarrassed. "I wish me and the late Mr. Santos had been that close." She gave a shrug of one frail shoulder and the conversation passed on to other things.
Duo and I had been facing so much opposition, it felt good to have someone finally on our side. The walk stopped being something that I had volunteered for, to keep Mrs. Santos safe, and, instead, became a walk with a friend.
He came home in one piece, only tired and not wanting to talk about it. I respected his space and let him forget about it for a little while, knowing it would come out,eventually. For now, my strong arms were good for hiding in and we spent a day swinging on the out door hammock together, under overhanging oak trees, and watching the sun play on shimmering leaves.He was usually the one to do the hugging and holding, that protective streak always dominant, so it was nice to have him draped over me, head on my breast, and my fingers lazily playing in his hair. Mine, I thought, and loved that day of reconnection; affirmation that we belonged together.
"Remember our first time?" Duo murmured suddenly and I could feel his smile against my T-shirt.
"Should I apologize again?" I wondered ruefully.
He snickered and his arms wound tighter around my waist. "You just want to remember the bad part."
I thought about that night. On a stake out, in pouring rain, I had appeared at his car window with important information. Duo had blinked at me, gun in his lap, and then yanked me into the car with a curse.
"You fucking moron!" he had shouted, dragging a blanket out of the back seat and shoving it at my soaked and shivering body, "What the hell are you doing here? It's dangerous!"
That part of the city had been infested with crime, every shadow a potential death trap. An unarmed man had would have been fair game. I had taken out the chip with a shaking, chilled to the bone, hand and slipped it into his hand. His hands had seemed fever warm, then, and it had made me shiver harder.
"This information couldn't wait," I had told Duo. "They know you're out here."
He had quickly glanced around us at the rain drenched darkness and then started the car. He had driven away from his stake out just like that, trusting my word that much.
Duo had turned up the heater and then glanced at me. "So, how did you get this info this late? Aren't Preventer office jockeys nine to five?"
I had shrugged, embarrassed, but then had admitted quietly, "I work late." Because of the loneliness, of course, and the too long days full of it, back then.
"You couldn't just call me?" Duo had growled. "I know you don't carry a weapon. You could have been raped, shot, stabbed, and tied up in a sewer gutter a dozen times before you got to me."
"Your cell was dead," I had replied and even then had wondered that his every thought had been for me, my danger, my safety, and not about my information at all.
Duo had grimaced. "I told supply I needed a new one. The battery is crapping out."
Duo had put my information chip on his dashboard and then glanced at me again.
"Sir?" Habit kept me formal. He was my superior, after all.
He had snickered. "Sir? We go way back, Heero. Don't give me sir anything. I was just thinking," he had admitted, "about how it's hard to believe that you took a desk job. I mean, you have so much damned skill..."
"It's what I want," I had replied. "I don't want to be in a position to kill again. I've done enough of that."
Duo had frowned. "Is that a low blow at me? Do you think I should hang the gun up too?"
I had said the next words without thinking, surprised into saying what was in my heart, "Of course not. You're the best and you want to live your life helping others with your skill. Your self sacrifice keeps the peace."
Duo had looked confused. "It's wrong for you, but right for me? I don't get it."
"My soul has embraced peace. It can't tolerate anymore violence. Your soul is different. It thrives on battle."
"You sound like Chang," Duo had snorted, but thought for a moment, and said, "It's all about choice, then. You chose one way and I've chosen another, but they're both okay?"
"Yes," I had replied.
He had smiled. "You always were black and white, Heero." His eyes slid my way again. "I missed you."
Those words had seemed to fill the car with a meaning that was overwhelming. In that moment our eyes had met, and we had understood everything, before his eyes had flicked back to the road. Maybe my soul had embraced peace and his had embraced battle, but they had still spoken to each other then.
He had taken me to his place, then, a two story walkup with a mattress on the floor, a vidscreen shoved up against one wall, his weapons locker, and a dominating indoor gym. Helping me pull off wet clothes had quickly turned into something more. Hands had roamed, lips had met, and then we had been tumbling into sheets, everything as natural as breathing. We hadn't questioned why. We hadn't talked about what it meant. We certainly hadn't stopped to ask if it was either one's first time with a man.Instinct had seemed enough and passion, we had been so sure, would be the teacher.
"My ass hurt for a week," Duo remembered ruefully, but then he was nuzzling a cheek against my chest, "But it was still something I always want to remember.It was..." He tried to put it into words, but there weren't any. It had felt like perfection and that's as close as I could come in defining it.
"Beautiful," I tried.
"Sexy as hell, too," Duo added, but then more seriously. "I knew, after that, we were going to stay together."
It was almost a question. "Forever," I agreed and rubbed in a soothing circular motion between his shoulders. It was coming, I knew. Duo was ready to tell me about his mission.
"Some people... They don't like what we have," Duo began. "That mission... I saw how ugly people can really get when they hate people like us. I don't... I know they say things to you... that message on the door..."
I held him tight and replied to his confusion, "They can hate all they want, Duo, but nothing will ever come between us."
Duo would sacrifice his life to keep the world safe. He wouldn't do less for me. I could feel his protective nature driving him toward the ultimate self sacrifice. "We were shadowing a rebel faction through the jungle," he whispered tightly. "They found out two of their members were sneaking off to have sex together. They... It was sickening what they did to them. Just when I think I've seen it all..." I could hear him swallow convulsively. He could see my danger in it, could see that hate touching me, and he was afraid for me.
"Don't," I growled. "That's not going to happen to me... to us."
"No, not like that," he agreed. It was too easy to think that we were in 'civilization' and that things like that couldn't happen in a clean, law abiding city. Having seen the underbelly of both the city and it's citizens, we knew it was faked naivete. Still, that civilization was something that we needed to believe in just then. "Still, they hate, and they want to separate us."
I grabbed the end of Duo's pony tail and gave it a twist around one hand. Twitching it, so that he looked up at me, I said firmly, "It doesn't matter what they do, or how they feel, I will not leave you. Life wouldn't be worth living, if that happened."
He had been ready to sacrifice his love for me, to keep me safe. Sometimes, Duo had to be saved from his own selflessness.
"Guess everyone can just go to hell, then," Duo said, "Since you insist on staying with me."
I nodded and he relaxed against me, the wind rustling through the leaves and the dappled sunshine playing over us. The tension bled out of us both, the mission over at last with that final revelation. Now, Duo could rest, for awhile, in my peace.
"Transfer?" Duo growled.
"Down town," Une told us as she looked over the rim of her glasses at us.
Seated before her large, wide desk, she seemed very imposing, and I felt, almost, as if we were back in school and facing a principal for some infraction. Back then, though, I had been comforted by the fact that I had been an armed terrorist, now, I was simply a clerk in Une's vast organization.
"Why?" Duo demanded, but I was sure that he knew the answer.
"Tension here has been unacceptable," Une replied as she steepled her fingers on her desk. "I think the situation can be alleviated by making the connection between the two of you less high profile. The position at our downtown office is comparable to Heero's currant one. He won't suffer any reduction in pay or seniority."
Duo looked at me. We made our own decisions. He wouldn't voice his obvious opinion before he heard what I had to say.
"We've already discussed this, Commander, and my answer is still the same. Our relationship follows Preventer guidelines," I replied with a formality bordering on regimental. "We are not in the same departments. We don't work together. Our work has been called exemplorary. There are no grounds for a separation."
Une sat back, clearly annoyed. "Let's cut to the chase, gentleman, and speak plainly... off the record. Your relationship is making trouble for Preventers. It gives people something to talk about besides our accomplishments. It gives people a loadstone for their aggressions. They hate two men having a relationship. They hate Duo Maxwell having a relationship with Heero Yuy, in particular. If you can manage to be more circumspect in your private life, and refrain from further public announcements about your affections, then a separation in the work place might signal to them, that they no longer have fill my desk with personal complaints and my work place with disruptive thugs that I have to spend my time disciplining.Your lives will become, certainly, easier as a result."
Duo's eyes stayed on me. My reasons for refusing her hadn't changed. The thought of being across town, when Duo returned from a mission, perhaps wounded and needing me, was unacceptable.
"I'm sorry, Commander Une," I replied. "I refuse to transfer."
She glared at me. "I can give a number of reasons to make your transfer mandatory."
"You could," I replied.
"I can also give a number of reasons to have you dismissed from your job entirely," she continued.
I was expecting Duo to jump to my defense, in outrage, but he surprised me by saying softly, "Maybe... Maybe you should consider it, Heero."
I looked at him, wide eyed, and saw the fear for me in his eyes. The mission, and it's horror, were there as well.
"What happens in a battle when you run?" I asked.
Duo stared at me, as if he were trying to read something there in my face, and then he smiled grimly. "They chase you," he replied.
If Une had been hoping for Duo to make me see reason, she saw, now, that it wasn't going to happen.
"If you pursue this any further," I told Une, "I'll be forced to file charges of discrimination. I don't wish to transfer."
"The offer will stay open," Une replied as Duo and I stood up. "You may feel the need to take it. I doubt that your situation will improve."
"It's your damned job to make sure that it does," Duo snapped back. "A safe work place is the law,Commander Une!"
Une had an expression that made the cold stare of a rattlesnake seem tame, by comparison. It followed us as we left her office. She wasn't happy. She didn't want our personal lives disrupting operations. I doubted that she was going to give up so easily.
On to Chapter Five
Back to chapter three