Disclaimer:I don't own this and I don't make any money off of this.
warning:Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence
Crossing Paths Series
"I'm going to kill you!" Duo screamed at the man with the gun, but Heero caught him around the waist and ignored his flailing as he pulled Duo to the door.
"We have to chance that there is air on the other side of this door," Heero said in a calm, reasonable tone. "We only have moments left here."
Duo shoved off of him and his feet were meeting the floor again. Gravity was back on. Keeping his gun trained on the men, he glared at Heero. "That's a damned choice? If the hull is compromised out there-" He didn't need to finish. He hadn't needed to start.
"We can stay and suffocate or try and-," Heero began to argue.
"Suffocate out there," Duo finished angrily. "I'd like to have a few more seconds of life, Heero. I'm funny that way. These men didn't run in here because everything was okay out there."
"We don't have time to argue," Heero told him, keeping his calm tone of voice. "I'm opening the door."
Duo reached out and grabbed his hand before he could touch the control panel. They stared at each other intently and then Duo leaned in and kissed Heero as he helped Heero pushed the control.
The door slid open. Duo flinched and then dared to look. The corridor outside was deserted and very much intact. For how long, was the question.
Duo motioned at the men with his gun. "As much as I'd like to leave you, it's part of my job to not kill my prisoners. Everyone put down your weapons and get out here. Make one false move and I'll forget all about what I'm supposed to do."
The men came out, dragging their unconscious comrades with them. The intact corridor was giving them hope, but Duo was more pessimistic. He went to the next door leading to another section of the station and tried, unsuccessfully, to get the panel there to tell him whether there was air on the other side or not. His virus, and the station damage, had killed even that warning system.
"Damn, I'm good," Duo muttered. "Famous last words."
"Try it," Heero told him.
Duo glared at him. "It's just like Russian Roulette," he complained angrily. "Pretty soon, we're going to get the bullet. I opt we sit tight where we have air and wait."
"Wait?" Heero repeated.
The sound of stressed metal giving way made everyone who was conscious jump. Duo nodded at the sound. "I know you like to keep moving, keep trying, and all that," he told Heero, "but I've never been a lucky man. Odds are, the only thing on the other side of that door is space. Why chance it when we don't have to... yet?"
"I'm with him," the man who had cooperated most said in a frightened voice. "Why take the chance?"
"Shut up!" Duo shouted at him and pointed his gun. "All of you get flat and put your faces to the floor."
The men complied, but Duo and Heero didn't drop their guard. The men had proven how far they were willing to go for revenge.
Heero leaned against the door, his gun unwavering as he pointed it at the men. "Sorry," he said.
"For getting me into this?" Duo snorted. "I seem to remember agreeing."
"Shut up, goddam fags!" The man with the broken arm snarled, panting with his pain.
"I'll let that one go, since you're having a sucky day," Duo told him without looking. "Don't push it, though."
The bulkhead groaned. Everyone forgot anger, forgot revenge, forgot disgust as they all watched two rivets pop. Air began escaping.
"Looks like we're going to have to spin the chamber again and hope the bullet isn't there!" Duo exclaimed. He motioned to Heero. "Want to do the honors?"
Heero put a hand on the control panel. He licked nervous lips and looked back at the bulkhead.
"Do it," Duo told him. "There's no right or wrong, just 'have to'."
Heero nodded once and then punched the control panel. The door slid open and everyone tensed.
"Someone call for backup?" A voice over a suit com asked in amusement.
Men in spacesuits filled the outside corridor. Duo leaned against the wall in relief and Heero reached out and squeezed his arm in elation.
"What took you so long?" Duo groused, but his voice was shaky.
"You know regulations," The man told them as they came into the corridor with spare suit bags. "Civilians first, agents last."
"You were saving these assholes first?!" Duo began to shout, but Heero shook his head at him and he shut up. There would be time for shouting later.
"Can it!" the man snarled. "And get into the bags before there's a hull breech. There's only open space on this side of the station and three corridors intact. You were damned lucky. Don't push it."
Duo bit his tongue and climbed into a bag. Heero sealed him in himself and checked the air supply. It was embarrassing, going out in the bags instead of in a suit, hauled like cargo, but they didn't have a choice. When a mister went on inside the bag, Duo began to panic.
"What the hell?!"
"Sorry about that, " an agent told him. "We had them set up for hostiles. it's a tranquilizer."
"We're short bags, dammit!" a man called just as Duo began to succumb to the drug. "Lorimer! Get over to the pod and get more, pronto. This bulkhead is about to blow!"
"I'll stay," Duo heard Heero say. "Get everyone else out."
Duo began to panic, began to fight with leaden limbs against the bag. "No!
Heero!" but his voice was faint in his own ears and the drug pulled him
under, Heero's last words reaching him faintly. "Love you."
Duo awoke with a splitting headache and a bad taste in his mouth. He was stretched out on a recovery bunk in a med center. All around him, doctors and nurses were tending the more seriously injured men and women from the station.
It took seven breaths for Duo to remember why he had a sickening, cold lump in his gut, and then he was shoving himself up and rolling to his feet off the bed as he shouted, "Where's Heero? Where's Agent Yuy?!"
He was given blank stares and some looks that were sympathetic. Duo didn't want to guess what that meant. He floundered for the name of the man that had rescued them. "Timmins? Where's Timmins, the guy who brought me here?"
Recognition at last. A doctor said with a cheerfulness that made Duo want to strangle him, "Oh, he's returned to command deck. Seems there's some sort of emergency going on."
Emergency. Heero. Dizzy and nauseous from the drug, Duo snarled at a man who tried to insist that he rest and headed, at a stumbling run, out of the med center.
Command deck... Duo tried to remember the layout of the ship and then stopped. He reversed direction. He didn't need command deck, he needed to be where the action was; the shuttle bay. If they weren't already out there rescuing Heero, he'd shoot anyone who tried to get between him and a shuttle.
"Damn, self sacrificing bullshit!" Duo swore as he went down corridors as fast as he could, "Don't give a shit about your own life. Always caring about everyone else! I'm going to kill you when I see you!" If he wasn't dead already, a traitor voice whispered deep down where Duo was trying to avoid going.
As Duo rounded the corridor and entered the shuttle bay, he had a flashback of his life with Heero, during the war and after. The thought of never seeing that dark, brooding gaze, that mess of chocolate hair, and feeling those strong hands on him and loving him again...
"You!" Duo shouted at the first man in a space suit he encountered. "Where's Agent Yuy?"
"Just docked," the man grunted. "Almost didn't make it. The bulkhead breached right when we were zipping him in his bag."
"Where?!" Duo demanded. When the man jerked a thumb behind him, Duo shoved him out of his way and ran for the still venting shuttle.
Running up the ramp, Duo met the men carrying Heero out on a stretcher, out of his bag, but unconscious from the tranquilizing gas. Duo gripped at his shirt and felt tears in his eyes as he swore in a voice that wasn't too steady, "Damn you!"
The men carrying Heero exchanged looks and one said, "Watch it, we're taking him to the med center. You can fight when he's released."
"Damn right we will," Duo ground out and let them take Heero. He followed close behind.
Sitting by Heero's bedside, watching everyone else being taken from emergency, little by little, until only a few were left, Duo had a long time to think. When Sally Po appeared, looking very serious, her next words cemented Duo's conclusion. "You job performance was less than stellar. I'm not sure what kind of hot dogging stunt you thought you were pulling out there, but you endangered my men."
Duo stood up like a loaded spring. "You think we screwed up? We were the ones getting fired on! We were the ones almost shot out into space!"
Sally looked at Heero. "How is he?"
"Not dead," Duo ground out. "He decided to save some of those wastes of space out there and risked his life doing it."
Sally smiled grimly. "That's the kind of men we need in Preventers."
"Meaning what, not me?!" Duo retorted.
Sally looked at him for a long moment. "You were supposed to go in quickly and disable the guns. You weren't suppose to engage the enemy unless necessary."
"So? What the hell is your point?" Duo demanded. "Do you think
that we could have magically controlled what happened back there? We were supposed
to crash our ship into a docking bay, hack into the station, infiltrate to a
control room, and disable systems. What part of unauthorized 'hot dogging' do
you see in any of that?"
"They were almost able to fire one of their contraband weapons," Sally told him. "We were forced to fire on the station. You didn't prevent that from happening. You also uploaded a virus that crippled the upper decks. Life support shut down. We had to go in quickly to rescue them, putting agents in unnecessary danger."
"It didn't shut down all the way," Duo argued. "Just enough to incapacitate them. Did you want to win or not?"
"Dammit, Duo," Sally shot back. "We're not in a war any more. We can't just cut off someone's air and temperature controls!"
"They were trying to kill us!" Duo argued hotly. "Not JUST us, Po! Wasn't the entire mission about saving lots of people from those guys? Seems to me, you're just being squeamish."
Sally Po's nostrils flared, but she replied coldly, "Seems to me that you were just trying to save your own skin."
"Yeah?" Duo arched an eyebrow and snickered. "What's wrong with that? Those guys killed on a regular basis. I wasn't going to be their next target. It's not like they should be treated like John Q. Public. They're freakin criminals!"
"Heero didn't feel that way," Sally pointed out. "He was going to sacrifice himself for those criminals. He knows, Duo, what you don't seem to get, that we are supposed to enforce the law and remain above the people we are trying to prosecute. We had to go in and save them, Duo, because you endangered them. Heero had to risk himself, because you're still fighting the war and didn't realize that a peacekeeping force is just that. A peaceful force."
Duo snarled, "So, I'm out, is that it? Fired. Well, Heero goes with me."
Sally looked disgusted. "Duo, most of the agents under my command have family at home that has to sit and wait for them to finish assignments. It's not easy, especially when you know the person you love could be called to do what Heero did today. They do it, though, because they know their loved one is doing something that important. You don't fit in here. You don't have that 'calling'. Heero does... you know he does, Duo. You know what it'll do to him to ignore it and follow you. He will follow you, because he loves you, but he'll never be truly happy."
"He'll be alive," Duo grated, looking at Heero's sleeping face.
"Why did you come here, Duo?" Sally asked, trying another tact.
Duo glared, reached out, and smoothed a stray lock of hair from Heero's face.
"Because you knew he wasn't happy, am I right?" Sally pressed. "You were willing to come here and do something you didn't want to... for him. Can't you go a step further and let him go, love him enough to wait at home and let him follow his calling?"
Duo sneered. "You should go into politics."
Sally turned stern again. "Heero is being recommended for a medal of valor. You're being recommended for dishonorable dismissal. You can go with a clean record before papers are filed, that's your choice. I'd like to give Heero his medal and a real place in Preventers, but that's your choice too. Think about it."
Sally turned on her heel and left. Duo sat closer to Heero and waited for him to wake up. When his blue eyes finally fluttered open and he realized where he was, Duo said, "Love?"
Heero looked at him and smiled, then he remembered and his smile faltered. "Mad?" he asked simply.
"Hell yes!" Duo exclaimed. "What were you doing, risking your damned life for them? They're murderers!"
"I was doing my job, " Heero replied quietly as he rubbed at his head, aching from the drugs, and then looked intently at Duo, "And it was the right thing to do."
"Was it?" Duo asked almost in a whisper, his anguish plain.
Heero took his hand, kissed it roughly, and then squeezed it tight. "Yes. It was."
Duo looked away and swallowed hard. "I... I'm quitting. I'm told I 'don't get it'. Well, I don't. I'll save people I think deserve it, but, my skin is worth more than those killers you saved today and... I think yours is worth more, too."
Heero looked pained. "When do we leave?"
Duo thought about freight jobs, bounty work, and trying courier jobs again. It all appealed to him, to a nature that had been born of being independent on the streets, with the sweepers, and fighting in the war. He had followed his own sense of right. He couldn't change now and follow someone else's.
"I think," he told Heero, "That I'm strong enough to do things for myself. I don't need to lean on you. I think I proved to myself today, that my size, this body, isn't stopping me from doing what I have to. I'm going to get work doing what I want to, close by, of course. " He smiled at Heero's puzzled look. "But you are going to join Preventers as a full agent and do what I know you want to, what I've been keeping you from doing." He faltered and then continued, "It's going to be hard, wondering every day, when you walk out the door, if you'll be coming back to me alive, but... that's pretty much been our life anyway."
"We'll still be together?" Heero asked uncertainly.
Duo punched him on the shoulder. "Of course, idiot! You're not getting rid of me, I'm just... letting some slack out in our tether line."
Heero searched Duo's face, saw his deep seated fear of losing him there, but also his willingness to love Heero enough to let him follow his calling. Heero tugged on Duo's hand and didn't care who saw him as he held him tightly. "Thank you, love," he breathed into Duo's ear.
"For growing up a little?" Duo snorted and held him just as fiercely. "At this rate, I'll make seventeen sometime next year."
"And I'll be a hundred, " Heero replied with a soft laugh.
"So'kay," Duo said against his warm shoulder. "I like older men."
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On to Chapter 35
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