Disclaimer: I don't own then and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning: Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence
"Where is he?" Duo grabbed the clock and blinked blearily at the time while he balanced his cell phone between his ear and his shoulder blade. He was strangling in a sweaty sheet and he had just been catapulted out of a nasty dream about mobile suits chasing him, shooting emails and faxes instead of pulse beams.
"Hanson's bar, thirty fifth... near the iron works," the voice told him.
"Off the record, right?" Duo said a little prayer.
"Yeah," the agent replied. "He saved my ass during the war. Time to return the favor. Better get him commander, he was in a bad way when I saw him and that isn't any place for law abiding agents."
And why were you there? Duo wondered but kept it behind his teeth."Thank you, Paul. I'm leaving right now."
Duo tossed his cell aside and kicked the sheet off of him. Scrambling to his feet, he grabbed the same clothes that he had discarded earlier that night in a long line to his bedroom door and pulled them on. Jamming a leftover piece of pizza into his mouth, he put on his shoes, grabbed his keys, and trotted out the front door.
Heero Yuy, drunk and asking for it in a titty bar in a bad section of town. A titty bar known for prostitutes, drug dealers, and 110 proof drinks made in the back. As Duo climbed into his car and raced out of the parking garage with squealing tires, he wondered if he was still having a nightmare. Heero was the straight arrow, the by the book agent, the man who always followed orders, and the yardstick everyone measured themselves by.
Duo finished his slice of pizza, wiped his mouth off with the back of his hand, and scowled at traffic. Who would know what was bugging Heero? Duo didn't like going in unprepared. If something had happened between the end of the meeting and his wake up call... Duo pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
"Fei?" Duo said as soon as someone mumbled something angry and unintelligible into the other end of the line.
"Maxwell?" Wu Fei's anger sizzled.
"Did you see Heero after the meeting?" Duo asked without giving the man time to shout at him.
"No," Wu Fei replied and his voice became more alert. "Has something happened?"
Duo wasn't about to tell Wu Fei about Heero. It was bad enough that one person beside himself was privy to the man going on a bender ."I had some new info. I wanted to touch base with him."
Preventer business was important. Wu Fei's anger had clearly subsided when he said, "It's late, but the man works off stress physically. He could be at the gym."
"I'll check," Duo told him. "Sorry I woke you up."
Wu Fei grunted and then they both hung up. Duo tapped the phone against his forehead and then speed dialed Sally.
"Talk," Sally answered in a tone of voice that told Duo that she was wide awake and working on something.
"Emergency?" Duo guessed.
"Yes, indeedie," she replied. "Manx here decided that taking his medication with a shot of scotch was a peachy idea. Stupid, right, Agent Manx?" A voice muttered in the background. "So, my evening is ruined," she continued. "What did you want to talk to me about?"
"Heero," Duo said and then wondered how much to say. She was his personal doctor, and the doctor of many of the top agents, and she often doubled as a drinking buddy/ psychologist when things were bad. If Heero was in trouble, he might have said something to her. "Did he talk to you tonight, or recently, about... any troubles he might be having?"
Sally suddenly sounded cross. "Men!" she growled. "If one of you had a leg off, probably one in a hundred of you would ever notice. Of course he has troubles, all of you do. Why? Something bad happen?"
"No," Duo replied shortly.
"Meaning, yes," Sally said in exasperation. "Look, keep your damn secrets, but don't be stupid. If Heero is in some sort of trouble, and you're trying to get him out of it, remember that he is still trigger happy, has a killer right cross, has a problem with depression and self sacrifice, and needs enough medication to take out a bull elephant to sedate him."
"Heero's strong, but I'm a match for him," Duo retorted.
"Are you expecting a fight?" Sally zeroed in on that slip like a laser beam.
Duo turned onto an off ramp and didn't reply until he had found the right road. The he said, "God, I hope not."
"Want some backup?" Sally wondered.
"No," Duo replied. "I think... we had a weird conversation after everyone left. Maybe it upset him."
"Define weird?" Sally sounded as if she were rummaging in something and then she called out to a nurse, presumably, "Get him monitored . I don't like his blood pressure or his pupils."
"Define weird," Sally asked again. "Is this about those faxes and emails? He didn't think it was serious, did he?"
"Yeah," Duo replied in a small voice. "Look, it's not important what we said, but... maybe he took what I said, harder than I thought."
Sally sighed. "So, what? Did you tell him it wasn't you, that it was all someone's sick vendetta against you? Did you tell him that you wouldn't make a serious pass at him in a million years?"
"Yeah," Duo replied tightly.
Sally asked quietly, "Did he accept that?"
"I don't know," Duo replied. "I think so."
"Idiot!" Sally exclaimed and Duo took the phone away from his ear for a moment. "You hurt his feelings. I'll bet you he wanted that email to be for real."
Duo scowled. "Number one, the man has no feelings. Number two, if he did, they wouldn't be about me. Number three, he's not gay."
"Huh?" Sally sounded confused, but then she was shouting. "Prep him, stat! His blood pressure just crashed!" The phone clattered and Duo heard people shouting and wildly running. Sally shouted orders.
Duo hung up his phone and tossed it into the seat next to him. His hands clenched on the steering wheel as he neared his destination. Sally was too much of a romantic. She wanted to paint Heero with a 'normal' brush and give him motives and reactions Duo knew the man had never experienced in his life. Heero disappointed that Duo Maxwell hadn't really wanted to lose his virginity to him? Yeah, when Hell froze over and the devil handed him the keys.
What was more likely? Something to do with the mission. Heero had been in that area before. It was very possible, that the man was experiencing some nasty memories. They all had them, and Duo had, himself, tried to drown a few in drink. Why was it so unlikely that Heero had finally found one that he wanted to drown? All rumor to the contrary, he was only human.
Duo decided to rely on that as Heero's motivation. All that was left now was to pull the man out of his drunk and get him home without anyone the wiser.
Duo pulled in next to the bar. It was dark. The iron works was closed and the streetlights were either spluttering or broken. People didn't live in that area and the bar serviced the workers and the people who catered to them. Prostitutes lounged outside the bar and shadowy figures promised darker pleasures for the right price.
"This brings back memories," Duo muttered as he checked his weapons. "Bad memories."
He left his car and cautiously entered the bar, ignoring the calls of the prostitutes. He blinked at the dim light, at the long bar, and at the tables that were old, scuffed, and nailed to the floor. A woman on a small square of stage was dancing to cheesy music, completely naked and looking bored. She looked old enough to be Duo's unknown mother and her body was beginning to answer the call of gravity.
"Wants some company?" A younger version of the dancer, clothed in strings and bits of cloth, hooked onto Duo's arm and smiled up at him hopefully. She nodded to the back of the room and a door. "Fifty credits gets you fifteen minutes."
"No thanks." Duo disengaged his arm and gave her his back.
Duo hunched into his coat and eyed the customers. He hoped that Heero was gone, that he wouldn't have to confront the man in that kind of place, but he spotted Heero in a shadowy corner, pouring the last of something from a bottle into a shot glass.
Heero's attention was on the amber liquid. He looked depressed, face set in lines of misery under a mop of messy, chocolate hair. A woman sidled up to him. He flipped her a few credits and she went away to get him another bottle. Another woman slid into his lap and wiggled, simpering at him. He hung an arm around her waist, attention completely on his drink as she said something and giggled. He shook his head at whatever she was saying and she looked sympathetic.
As Duo slowly approached he heard the girl say, "You keep paying me for nothing and I'll feel like a charity case. Come on. You need to feel good. I've never seen you drink like this."
That was something, Duo thought in relief. Maybe Heero liked to frequent titty bars, but he wasn't a drunk. He saw Heero slip the girl a few credits. She stuffed them into her ample cleavage and sighed.
"Go buy your little girl something and find a different job, Angelique," Yuy slurred and then he drank the glass of alcohol in one gulp.
"But who'd be around to cheer you up, then, honey?" Angelique teased.
"Me, maybe," a man, that looked as if he lifted shuttles for a living, said and grabbed her by the arm. He stuffed credits into her cleavage as he leered at her. "Come on, baby. Let's go spread your legs in the back."
"Oh, shit!" the bartender groaned. "I'm calling the cops this time, Yuy! Don't make trouble!"
"Trouble?" Heero grunted as he shook his empty bottle and then looked for the waitress who had gone to get him another.
"She's a whore!" the bartender was lifting a vid phone receiver. "You don't want her, but other people do. You can't sit here all night and trash my place every time someone wants a go!"
"That's right," the big man said as he squeezed Angelique's breast. "She knows her job. Lets get that skirt up, baby. Come on. Tell fag boy to mind his own business."
Angelique plastered on a fake smile and winked. "Come on then. Sorry, Heero. Business is business."
Heero didn't watch her go. The waitress brought his new bottle and put it down quickly before retreating. Everyone was breathless. Duo had stopped walking, waiting along with everyone else to see what Heero would do. Heero uncapped the bottle and poured himself a drink. The tension snapped and everyone relaxed. The bartender put down the receiver and Duo began walking again.
Suddenly, Heero downed his drink in one gulp and then slung the bottle. It took the big man square in the head and shattered. He went down, sprawling, and Angelique cried out as alcohol and glass splattered her.
"He hit Harry!" another large man shouted angrily and chairs slid back as a back table full of burly iron workers stood up.
"Shit!" Duo breathed.
Heero stood up, as if he had wanted and expected this. There was an evil smirk on his face and his blue eyes glittered. Fighting drunk, Duo thought angrily. He looked small next to the big men, but they seemed wary, so wary that Duo was sure they'd seen Heero in action before. That never stopped men who were drunk, though. They always assumed that numbers would prevail no matter how many times that theory was proved wrong. It also helped to fight dirty. Duo saw a man come out of the sidelines before Heero did, swinging a chair.
"Freeze!" Duo shouted as he pulled out his service revolver. "Preventer agent!"
Drunken men tended to be hard of hearing as well. The man with the chair bulled forward even as his fellows gave Duo a double take of shock. Heero was suddenly aware of him though. He spun and a kick took out the chair with an explosion of wood chips. Holding on to what was left, the big man was defenseless against Heero's solid punch to his jaw. He went down instantly, sprawled and unconscious. The other men took that opportunity to attack Heero, forgetting all about Duo and his gun in their immediate need for revenge.
Angelique passed by Duo on her way out of the bar, muttering, "Might as well call it a night."
Duo sighed, holstered his gun, and then waded into the fight. He kicked and punched and cleared a way to Heero.
"Yuy!" Duo shouted. "Get your ass out of this situation right now, and that's an order!"
Heero blinked blearily at him as he fended off punch after punch from the other men as if he were swatting flies. He nodded stiffly, began fighting back in earnest, and, with Duo fighting at his side, they both made the door and stumbled outside.
The door seemed to be a boundary. They weren't followed. Duo glared at Heero as he asked, "Where the hell is your car?"
Heero shrugged. "Didn't bring it," he replied sullenly as he settled his jacket on his shoulders and zipped it up.
"Then you can ride with me," Duo snapped. "Get the hell in my car."
When they were in the car and pulling away from the curb, Duo speared Heero with a hot look. "Care to explain?" he demanded.
Heero leaned against the passenger side window and glared out at the darkness.
"Explain or you're off the mission," Duo threatened. "I don't need drunken screw ups on my team."
Duo rubbed at his aching jaw. Someone had managed to get in a lucky punch. He could feel the bruise rising. Heero had stiffened at his words. He replied slowly, "I... I don't usually do that."
"They all seem to know you pretty well," Duo observed sourly."You do know that a Preventer agent paying for prostitutes, and acting in a drunken and disorderly fashion, is automatically relieved of duty, don't you?"
"I wasn't paying for prostitutes," Heero replied tightly. "I don't need to do that."
"They give it for free, then?" Duo retorted sarcastically.
Heero glared and then turned his face back to the window. "I made a bad decision. I deserve to be put on report. I will sign the form."
"That easy?" Duo snarled."I want an explanation!" He pulled over close to the edge of the city, parked, and turned off the engine. He turned in his seat to look at Heero. "Is it about the mission?" he demanded. "Does something about it have you spooked?"
Heero seemed genuinely surprised. "No, I don't have any problem with the mission at all."
"Then..." Duo floundered, his main theory pulled out from under him. "What made you want to get drunk and flatten some iron workers? And don't say it's personal. I can't afford freakin' personal. I need to know where your head is at."
Heero smelled strongly of alcohol, sweat, and blood. He had a cut lip and it was oozing. He said uncomfortably, "Sometimes... I want to go back to the war, when I just did what I was told and didn't worry about having a life. It get's complicated and I'm not sure... I'm not sure what to do in some situations... or what to say."
He shut up then and Duo took that puzzle piece and tried to fit it into the puzzle he already had. "Is this about what happened earlier, about you thinking I was making a pass at you?" He sighed when Heero frowned and still refused to look at him. "Okay, so you don't do well with the women and you freaked when you thought a guy might want to date you instead, am I right?" Heero didn't respond, only tensed. "Heero, just because you don't know how to ask women on a date, doesn't mean you're gay. You shouldn't go drink yourself to death either, because you're afraid of it. If you didn't start wanting guys at puberty, there's a good chance you aren't gay, okay? Be secure in you heterosexuality and stop trying to solve your problems with 110 proof. Sally's good to talk to about this sort of thing. You should hook up with her. She'll set you straight... er... you know what I mean."
Heero finally looked at him, eyes dark in the light of the dashboard."Duo..."
Someone tapped on their windshield. An uncomfortable police officer signaled Duo to roll down his window. Duo complied, annoyed. He was sure that Heero had been about to confide in him.
"Yes, officer?" Duo asked.
"Son, if you want romance, take it home," the man drawled.
Duo blinked owlishly and then blushed. He almost told the man that they were Preventer agents and then shut his mouth. He nodded dumbly and turned on the engine of the car. The man waved them on and backed up as Duo pulled back onto the road.
"Guess it's better that they don't know who we are," Duo muttered.
Duo looked over at Heero and saw that he was hunched and glaring out of the window. He'd lost the moment. Heero wasn't talking.
"I'm having everyone meet at the gym in the morning," Duo decided angrily. "I want you there whether you have a hangover or not. If you can't stay out of trouble, then I'll make sure you're too busy to get into it." He glared at incoming traffic for a moment and then added, as his hands worked on the steering wheel, "Talk to Sally, Heero. She really can help you."
He glanced over at Heero when there wasn't a reply and saw that he had either fallen asleep or passed out. "What the hell happened to you?" Duo whispered to the night and wished that it could give him an answer.
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On to Chapter four
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