Crossing Paths Arc: Part 23

Part 23: Heaven
by Kracken

Disclaimer: Don't own them and don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, violence, graphic, Language

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"Get a damned doctor!"

Heero's voice shouting near his ear was the first thing Duo was aware of. He felt softness hit his back. His bed? Hands pulled at his clothes. He heard cloth rip before he was weakly grabbing hands and holding them still. Blinking to clear his eyes, Duo finally focused on Heero leaning over him. There was stark fear on the man's face.

"S'okay," Duo croaked. Heero froze, staring. "It's Okay," Duo repeated more clearly.

"You had a hemorrhage of some sort," Heero argued. "I'm sending Zechs for a doctor."

Duo squeezed Heero's hands. "No! Don't do that. I don't need one."

In space, nosebleeds were common. Duo knew the feel of them, blood vessels stressed and breaking when environmental controls faltered or false gravity suddenly increased. Duo knew that he had exercised too much, pushed himself past a limit where his labored breathing had raked his sinuses one too many times. Coupled with a fainting fit, probably brought on by the same stress and his exhausted condition, and it was clear to Duo that panic and a doctor weren't necessary.

Without looking around, Heero snarled, to Milliardo probably, "Get out, now!"

Duo heard a door close and then Heero was settling on the bed beside him, still extremely worried. He reached out a hand and wiped Duo's sweaty bangs out of his eyes. Duo could see that Heero's eyes were wet. His voice trembled along with his hand as he said softly, "You looked like death.... still do."

Duo gave him a cocky, sickly grin, "Hey! That's who I am, right? Shinigami. I'm okay, Heero! Stop looking like that."

Heero wiped at his eyes and then said uncertainly, "This wasn't the way I thought it would happen... seeing you again."

Duo laughed. It came out hoarse and gasping. "Neither did I." Then more seriously, "I wonder why? We're the kind of people this always happens to. We just have violent lives and we should expect everything to get fucked up and turn out violent."

Heero frowned. "I don't want to expect that. I don't want to be that cynical."

Duo rubbed at his aching head. "Water," he pleaded.

Heero fetched him a cool glass of it and propped Duo up against his chest to drink it. Duo wanted to enjoy that contact, the feel of Heero's strong arms around him, but he remembered that he was angry with the man.

"I want to get some things straight with you," Duo said and he felt the muscles of Heero's chest tremble in trepidation. "Contrary to everything you might have heard, Duo Maxwell does not roll around in the dirt with people and have sex with them like a slut."

"Duo, I-" Heero began, but Duo cut him off.

"You did think that! Don't give me shit otherwise!" Duo snapped.

"Forgive me."

"As long as you don't think it again," Duo snapped back. "I especially don't want you to think that there's something between Zechs and me... or anyone else. I thought I was pretty clear that I 'couldn't' have an interest." A blush of sick embarrassment scalded duo, but he was thinking also that, If he ever did develop an interest in sex, he wanted Heero to be a part of it. He couldn't bring himself to say it, though. Heero didn't deserve that kind of revelation just then.

Heero shifted and Duo found himself back against the bed with Heero leaning over him very closely. The man searched his face, trying to determine Duo's mood. "I think that I still have things to learn about relationships," he admitted. He faltered and then said, "David told me that trust was very important."

"Absolutely necessary," Duo agreed.

It was like falling into twin magnets of blue, staring into Heero's eyes. Duo felt something reach him all the way down to his soul. When Heero's lips softly touched his own, he didn't protest, only closed his eyes and savored the taste of Heero Yuy. He suddenly didn't care that he wasn't good enough for Heero, that he was sickly stick figure without a libido, and that he was angry with Heero. He wanted the kiss to last forever.

It was Heero who broke it. He backed away, saying with a breathless voice, "You need to eat... bathe. I'll help you... if you want me too." He was asking for forgiveness for doubting Duo, for thinking the worst of him.

Duo sighed, angry with himself when he realized that he couldn't look at Heero's anxious face without giving the man everything he wanted. If he hadn't been on the edge of passing out again, Duo thought, he might have gone on kissing him. "K, Heero. That sounds good; a bath and some food. I'll feel better afterwards and you can bring me up to speed on the situation with Quatre and the others." Heero nodded and began to go into the bathroom to start a bath. Duo called after him and he paused in the doorway, looking back curiously, "Heero...." Duo swallowed hard and said in a trembling voice. "It's good to see you again."

Heero smiled warmly in reply and went to run the bath.

When Heero returned, Duo was prepared to be in control of himself again. He said irritably, when Heero tried to help him up, "I'm not a freakin' invalid Heero! I can take my own bath." He loved seeing that smile on Heero's face, the one that told Duo that Heero was proud of him for trying to be strong.

Looking back on all the complaining and crying he had done over the last few weeks, Duo wished that he could have been as proud of himself. With Milliardo, it had been easy to indulge in feeling sorry for himself. He almost disliked the man, though he wasn't certain why. Milliardo had saved his life, had shown himself loyal, honorable, and willing to go the distance despite Duo's curses and attacks, yet Duo still couldn't find it in himself to give the man anything but grudging gratitude. Perhaps it was the man's cultured bearing, something that he retained even in the face of adversity. It made it hard to get close to Milliardo. Everything about the man seemed hidden beneath a cool and collected exterior.

With Heero it was different, and Duo's attitude had changed as soon as he had seen the man. Duo cared about what Heero thought of him. That Heero should think that he was weak, or unable to endure some hardship, was unacceptable. Duo was determined to show Heero his best, no matter what it cost him.

"You fainted," Hero reminded him skeptically. "A hot bath will make you even more light headed."

"I'll leave the door open, just in case, but I feel all right now, Heero, honest," Duo assured him as he swung legs over the side of the bed. His clothes, ripped at several points, caught his attention. "What were you trying to do, Heero?" he wondered, puzzled.

"I was looking for wounds," Heero replied with a hard look on his face that told Duo he was thinking of the war and the many wounds he had been forced to treat then. "I wasn't certain if you had sustained any fighting Milliardo or if they had been the cause of your fainting spell."

"Do you really think that Zechs would hurt me that badly?" Duo wondered.

Heero's lips pressed into a thin line. His expression grew darker. "I don't trust that man. He proved himself by saving your life, and I didn't have any choice but to leave you in his care, but I never liked having to make that decision."

"I don't trust him either and I don't know why," Duo replied, perplexed. Duo stood up tentatively. He did still feel somewhat dizzy, but not alarmingly so. "I mean," Duo continued as he made his way carefully to the bathroom. "He said that he did all of this because he loved me, but he hasn't made a single pass at me or done anything but criticize you once or twice. Not that I'm any kind of prize," Duo added self deprecatingly, "but you'd think he'd try harder to steal me away from you."

Heero's hand closed on Duo's elbow. Duo looked at him, startled. "Don't say that ever again," Heero told him sternly, blue eyes glowing with a strong passion.

Duo frowned, confused. "What? About Zechs?"

Heero growled impatiently. "About not being any kind of 'prize'."

Duo smiled and shrugged as he pulled away and continued towards the bathroom. "You show me how that's not true and I will stop."

Duo was surprised when Heero grabbed him and spun him completely around to face him. Before he could react, Heero ripped off Duo's tank top. As Duo cursed and tried to jerk away, Heero snapped. "Look at yourself!"

"If you don't fucking let go of me-" Duo began with a furious snarl.

"Look at yourself!" Heero demanded again. "Tell me what you see! You brag that you never lie, but I think you're telling lies to yourself!"

Duo freed himself. He would have liked to think that it was by his own strength, but he knew better. Heero had released him willingly. Duo went into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. Locking it, he wondered what Heero was thinking, treating him like that. No one, not even someone he loved, was going to push him around!

Throwing off the remnants of his ripped shirt, Duo slipped out of his shorts as well. He flipped on the shower, adrenalin pumping through him and taking away the last of his dizziness. He was panting, growling under his breath, and truly angry at Heero for- for... for what? Duo wondered and froze in the act of ducking under the hot spray of water.

There was a plain mirror on the wall above the sink. Bracing himself on the shower stall wall, Duo climbed onto the edge of the tub and then leaned until he could see his upper body in the mirror. He stood there poised and tried very hard not to let his perception of what he saw in the mirror lie to him.

He was thin, so very thin, Duo thought critically, but then blinked as he realized that his muscles had hardened and wrapped around that thin frame tightly. He was hard and wiry, skin bronzed from being outside in the strong sun. It was a shock when he thought about that. When had the sun ceased to be a torment for his eyes and for his skin? When had gravity become less of a burden on his joints? Even now, he could barely feel the stress of it as he continued to balance precariously. A handful of weeks out of fours years had lessened Duo's pain, his suffering, and his weakness in the grip of Earth's influence. Heero and Wu Fei had begun the work, but Milliardo's brutal 'boot camp' had finished the job.

Duo let himself down from the tub and ran his hands over his defined abs and his strongly muscled pecs. He could have continued to be critical. He could have lamented that he was still small and childish looking and therefore ugly or undesirable, but, instead, he firmed against such self indulgence. What would it get him, he thought, to keep thinking like that? If Heero couldn't love his body, then nothing was going to change that, least of all wallowing in hatred for what his enemies had left of him.

"Idiot!" Duo whispered. "Didn't L2 teach you to make due with whatever you had?" He had to make due and accept things that weren't going to change, he thought, and stand up for himself, because it wasn't going to get any better. Just as he had pushed Heero off, and defended himself when the man had ripped his tank top, so too, he had to defend himself and not accept people's disgust for how he looked. "If Heero and the rest don't like what I have, they can all go to Hell!" Duo muttered as he ducked under the hot water and began to wash. No more self-pity, Duo promised himself. Shinigami was back and he was back to stay.

Leaving the bathroom proved to be harder than Duo imagined. He rebraided his hair, brushed his teeth, stared at his thin face in the mirror, and hardened his resolve with each passing moment. Slipping on a robe, he took a deep breath and went out to face Heero.

There was a tray of food on the table; cheese and fruit, thin slices of beef, a broth soup, and a protein drink. Heero had chosen a lush red fruit from the tray. He bit into it and the juice dribbled down his chin. Wiping at it with one hand, he then sucked on a finger dripping with juice.

"You can do that all day long," Duo sighed and then realized that he had said it out loud when Heero turned to him in surprise.

"I would do anything for you, Duo," Heero replied and Duo could tell that he wasn't joking.

"Except put up with my bitching and complaining, right?" Duo asked.

Heero looked guarded as he put down the fruit, but he nodded. "I don't want to make you angry, but you're hurting yourself by thinking that way."

"I know," Duo replied as he sat on the edge of the bed. "I'm not angry any more."

Heero moved to stand beside him. When Duo patted the bed, Heero sat stiffly. Duo sighed, "I'm not going to hurt you Heero, relax."

"You were very angry," Heero pointed out, "I know that I didn't say anything wrong, but perhaps my inexperience caused me to say things badly."

Duo chuckled bitterly, "I don't think there's a good way to tell someone that they're being a whining moron. Let's just forget that any of that ever happened and start again, okay?"

Heero was staring at him, looking him slowly up and down. Duo self consciously pulled the robe tightly closed . "What's wrong?" Duo asked nervously.

"Nothing," Heero replied and then looked up to meet his eyes. They had an intensity that made Duo shiver. "It's just that you look almost like the Duo Maxwell I met at the start of Operation Meteor. I think you're beginning to act like him again, as well."

"Think so?" Duo asked skeptically and then caught himself before bitterness blossomed. He throttled it down and grinned. "I guess I am getting back into shape, courtesy of bastard Milliardo Peacecraft's exercise retreat."

Heero grudgingly replied. "He did help you. He was probably harder on you, and attained far more results, than I would have in his place."

"Why is that?" Duo wondered

Heero shrugged slightly and told the truth. "I love you too much to watch you suffer."

That statement made Duo think. "We should watch him," he said.

Heero tentatively reached out and very carefully encircled Duo's waist with his arm. When Duo didn't protest, he slowly brought Duo up against his side. It was very odd, Duo thought, it was as if they were made to fit together perfectly. He was comfortable against Heero's long waist and rounded shoulder. "I've never stopped watching him," Heero admitted.

Duo looked up into Heero's face. Heero looked back. They studied each other silently, each of them trying to figure out how they felt. Duo couldn't even describe to himself why it was both mentally awkward and desirable at the same time to be so close to Heero. He supposed it was because they both had so much baggage, so many unresolved problems, present and future. They both were where they had always longed to be, he supposed, but it didn't make it any easier knowing that. There was still a large question hovering in the air and Duo couldn't help but ask it.

"What now?"

Heero went pensive, his grip tightening a bit. "I want to continue our relationship."

Duo gave him a small punch on the arm. Heero flinched as Duo retorted, "I know that! I meant everything else."

Heero frowned. "Our next move must be executed flawlessly. Once we begin to move again, then discovery becomes a greater possibility. They haven't ceased searching for you and your leg locator is still far too active at too great a distance."

Duo blinked. "You know that I didn't get it removed?"

Heero fished a chain out from under his shirt. He showed Duo a round disk, with an electronic compass and range finder, hanging from it. "I knew it was a possibility that removing the locator would fail, so I took the time to register the signal before leaving you with Milliardo. I partly tracked your position once I knew where to narrow my search."

"I suddenly feel like a rabbit out in the open with the foxes close by," Duo replied anxiously. "I guess I was pretty lucky that no one else found me."

"Very lucky," Heero replied.

"You must have some plan," Duo prompted then. "You didn't come all this way to sit with me."

Heero's eyes warmed. "That would have been enough reason."

"But not with things as they are and I know Heero Yuy better than that," Duo retorted. "Now, are you going to tell me what's going on with the other guys and where you think we should go next?"

Heero composed himself, mind coming to order and his next words as precise as a mission report. "We reached Ariella Satellite and found it partially dismantled and open to space. We made repairs, restoring life support and gravity, and settled Quatre's people there. He and Trowa remained to organize teams for further repairs and intended to make covert runs for supplies. Quatre was also drawing up plans to petition the government and was making coded contacts to representatives on your behalf when I left. Wu Fei is on Earth. We will be joining him soon."

"Where?" Duo wondered.

"Classified," Heero replied. "It is a secured site and only I will have the area's location until we reach it."

"Your trust is heartwarming, as always," Duo said sarcastically, stiffening a little in Heero's grip. Heero's thumb rubbed along his arm gently, an apology that wasn't an apology. Heero knew how to run a covert operation. "Sorry," Duo growled and then, "When do we leave?"

"I came to ascertain your ability to endure high G maneuvers in case of trouble," Heero told him. Again he studied Duo. "And to see if you were capable of carrying out an infiltration operation. That operation must be carried out before we meet with Wu Fei."

Duo frowned. "What? What's that have to do-"

"There is information in a government computer system that might help your case against the corrupt individuals who hurt you," Heero explained. "Computer hacking and stealth infiltration are your specialties. If you are able, I think you would be the best candidate for the mission."

"Where would I have to get this information from?" Duo asked eagerly. He felt a thrill of adrenalin, eyes sparkling as he thought of having the chance to face that kind of danger, that kind of thrill again. He knew that he should have felt guilty and ashamed. Usually, his job had been to infiltrate and plant bombs, destroying people and buildings for the cause of the colonists, but Duo couldn't help the excitement, the eager anticipation he felt at the thought of doing it one more time. At least this time, he soothed his conscience, he could make certain that no one died for what he obtained.

"I have the plans and location on computer. You'll be briefed on the way," Heero explained. His smile held some of the same excitement that Duo was feeling. "First, though, I have to check on your condition. When you feel able, I'll run you through some exercise routines."

Duo turned on the bed to face Heero. "Okay, that's the mission and the objective," he said and grabbed hold of Heero's hands hard in his. He glared at Heero and Heero looked confused until Duo said sternly, "Now, Heero Yuy, I think we need to get some things straight."

"I'm listening," Heero replied seriously.

"You're not my commanding officer," Duo told him. "I've been out of commission for a long time and it was right for you to take command during that time. Now, I'm back and, though I still have some work to do getting up to full strength, I can damn well haul my own butt around and make my own decisions, k?"

"Understood," Heero replied calmly.

"Any time I start whining and feeling sorry for myself, you have permission to tell me what a complete moron/ piece of shit I am," Duo continued.

"Understood," Heero repeated with a grim smile.

"If you try to push or pull me around, and rip my damned clothes, like you did before, and I'll knock you on your ass!"

"Understood," Heero repeated yet again, his dark blue eyes almost glowing under his dark bangs.

Duo licked nervous lips. "I may be a virgin," he finished with blush, "but that doesn't mean that I don't know how to 'do it', or that I don't want to do it, or that you need to be the guy with the pants in this little relationship." Heero was looking confused again, so Duo decided to give him an example. He grabbed Heero's chin hard and pulled the man's lips against his.

Duo wasn't prepared for Heero's response. He was suddenly on his back with Heero on top. The man was sliding hot hands under his robe, pushing an obvious erection against Duo's groin. Hungry lips devoured Duo's and then sucked and lapped at his neck.

Duo swallowed hard as fingers squeezed and played with his nipples. He choked, hoarse and almost frightened, as Heero displayed an intense need, a bridled passion that had been wanting for too long. The man was going to have him then and there, thinking somehow that Duo's small kiss had been permission given.

"I-I didn't think that mission planning was-was such a turn on for you," Duo managed to say. His voice turned into a squeak when Heero's fingers began sliding down towards his navel and what lay below that.

"H-Heero," Duo protested at last, all bravado suddenly gone. Heero was losing himself in a young man's libido, a sexual need that was strong, stronger than the slight excitement and warmth that Duo was feeling in response. Heero wasn't holding back. Duo was a man after all, not a blushing virgin girl. They were both strong and trained soldiers. They both should have the same urge to have pleasure, a young man's pleasure that was all about release and nothing about regret.

"Heero!" Duo said more strongly and his hands gripped Heero's arms hard, knowing that he couldn't force Heero off, but hoping simply to get the man's attention before it was too late, before he began to feel raped instead of loved.

Heero stopped so suddenly that Duo caught his breath. The man's passion filled expression, his half closed eyes, and his swollen lips, were poised above Duo as Heero's mind tried to overcome libido. Heero's hips flexed and Duo felt his hard erection push against him, as if the man was making a silent plea.

"I-I'm not ready yet," Duo admitted and felt small enough to crawl through a crack in the floor. "I didn't mean.... I wasn't... It was just a kiss. This... I wish I was ready, but... I'm not." He tried to make excuses, "Zechs is right out there somewhere, listening maybe. We're on the verge of starting a mission, of running into danger. I haven't..." All of it was the truth, but not the truth of how he felt and why. "I want a better place to do this," he finished lamely.

Heero fell sideways onto the bed and let out a very long breath. Duo was surprised when Heero gathered him into his arms and held him gently, nuzzling Duo's neck and hair. He didn't say the obvious, that Duo, physically, was still a budding fifteen year old and not ready for the intense passion of Heero who was physically far older and more experienced. Instead, he said simply, "You want the romance. David was the same way."

It hurt to be compared to an ex lover, but Duo couldn't hate a dead man for having given Heero that insight. Duo replied in acute embarrassment. "I can't be like you. A kiss is just a kiss, Heero, until I say it's otherwise okay? If I decide to go further... yeah, I need it slow and I need to be ready, not taken like an Oz fortress at dusk in a full frontal assault."

Heero kissed the nape of his neck. "I want you," he replied, "I want you so badly it hurts. I thought, when you kissed me, that you had returned to normal, that you were needing me as much as I needed you. I told you before that I would wait, that we should wait, until it was the right time, the right mood, and the right place. I still believe that, but, it was hard to remember it when your lips touched mine."

Duo remembered his own sexual abandon where Zechs was concerned that night so long ago at Quatre's party. He tried to remember what it had felt like, that burning need that he knew needed an outlet, any outlet, even with a man he hadn't particularly liked. Duo had a feeling that, if he had gone through with it, he might have felt disgusted with himself, but not sorry that he had relieved the need. He remembered it being that strong, that all encompassing. Knowing that Heero was feeling that molten fire below the belt, that need to get off no matter what, Duo wondered if Heero really understood Duo's lack of response.

"Thanks, Heero, for stopping," Duo said.

"I love you. I don't want to hurt you or make you have sex when... when you don't feel capable," Heero replied. He took a breath and then said, "If you want to try again, slower this time, I could check the perimeter to make certain that we're safe, lock the door, make it a place where you feel comfortable enough to-"

Needing romance had seemed a much better way to put it, Duo thought sourly. Impotence was a harder to deal with, yet closer to the truth. "We don't have time for foreplay or for getting me 'in the mood' even if I can be gotten 'in the mood', " Duo grumbled as he sat up. He turned to Heero and looked down at him. Why couldn't that handsome, lust starved face, do more for him than make him tingle and feel warm? Where was the fire that he should have felt, that would have let him crawl under Heero's clothes and beg the man to 'do' him?

Mentally, Duo wanted that and he almost considered saying to Hell with what his body wanted, or didn't want, and doing it anyway. He could fake an orgasm, he was sure, if Heero didn't look too close.

As if reading his thoughts, Heero said softly. "Don't."

Duo blinked, ashamed. When Heero drew him down and positioned him so that he was lying on top of the man's body, Duo couldn't find the will to refuse. Heero smoothed hands along his sides, his back, and simply kissed him.

"It isn't all about sex, Duo," Heero told him.

"I had a dream about you," Duo murmured. "I was hot for you in the dream. I came. Why can't I do that when you're really here?"

Heero's hands paused and then continued their slow motions. "A dream is different from reality," he said. "We need to go slow because you feel anxious. We need to have the right place and the right time, so that you can relax and not have stress interfere."

"Let me know when all of that happens," Duo replied bleakly.

Heero smiled against his face and then kissed him again as he said, "Don't worry. I will."

Go to Part 24: Operations

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