Crossing Paths Arc: Part 35

Part 35: Life
by Kracken


Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money of this.
Warning:Male/male sex, language, violence, graphic.


Heero and Duo worked on Earth and on the space satellites, their relationship spanning space and time in a delicate dance. They made love in docking tubes, had breakfast in freighter bays, slept curled up in narrow pilot seats, and burned the ether net with their constant communications. Heero was happy, doing work that mattered with the Preventers and Duo found his own satisfaction by starting up a small courier service. They settled into their lives together and Duo felt content and ready to spend his life that way. That was, until the extortion started.

In every business, there were top dogs. They were always vicious about guarding their territories. If you wanted peace, you paid. At first, Duo had felt above that, strong enough to take on anyone who tried to cause his business trouble. When the business began to dry up, though, he wasn't dumb enough to wonder why. His competition was strong arming his clients.

He had a lover in law enforcement. It would have been the reasonable thing to tell him and have him arrest the men responsible, only Duo had been raised on the streets and there he had learned one thing very well; take out one bad guy and more fill their place. It was much more effective to make them afraid of you, to be the top dog instead. Duo's only problem, was that he wasn't on the streets any longer and that he was in a relationship where breaking the law wasn't an option. Offering to protect his clients from the bad guys, and delivering on that promise, rode the line, but it worked. He hadn't foreseen, though, how that double duty would turn casual courier jobs into frantic races from point A to point B to keep his clients safe and to deliver on a sudden influx of jobs.

Heero worried. Duo soothed and promise that things would slow down soon... only they didn't. If anything, he gained even more clients. It seemed that the bad guys had been asking outrageous prices for both their 'protection' and their services. Duo's new customers were more than glad to deal with a courier who only wanted to get paid for the service. When a business expands, a man hires employees. Duo couldn't do that. He couldn't hire people who he could trust to deliver, protect themselves, protect costumers, and not tell anyone about it. Duo became exhausted, 'hard wired', he called it, but Heero didn't laugh when he heard the phrase.

"Duo, this is too much," Heero complained as they lay together on a stack of cargo. He smoothed a thumb over the pale cheek of his lover. "Hire someone. I can carry the cost, if your funds are still low."

Duo pressed his pelvis against Heero. They'd already had sex, but Duo knew that Heero always found it hard to think when he was hard somewhere else. Heero didn't disappoint. He rose to the occasion and the bay of Duo's shuttle soon echoed with their passion. If it had driven thoughts from Heero's mind, it didn't effect Duo in the same way. He could see the future of his company. It was going to crumble if he didn't find a way to stop doing everything himself. 'Hardwired' could very easily turn into 'short circuited'.

Heero's hands smoothed over Duo's very slim body and then he pulled Duo into the curve of his body. Duo always felt like a child when he did this, small and fragile next to Heero's dangerous strength. One squeeze of those powerful arms, and bones would snap. His lover was stronger, faster, and had more endurance. He would outlive Duo easily. Duo's body and life had been throttled by the drugs that a government out of control had tried to control him with. Because of that, Duo felt that he didn't have much to give to their relationship. It was all the more reason to succeed. He had his mind. He had his personality. He wanted to be a success; for Heero, for himself.

"I'll figure it out," Duo whispered.

"Good," Heero murmured against the nape of his neck, and then Heero was rolling onto his back and lifting Duo on top of him. He looked Duo over appreciatively. "Beautiful," he sighed, almost glowing with pleasure.

"Handsome," Duo corrected him acidly, but then smiled as he felt Heero rubbing against his entrance. "I have to finish my run," Duo complained.

"Yes, you do," Heero replied as he tried to push into Duo.

Duo rose up and gave Heero's chest a fake punch. "You know what I meant. I have work and so do you."

Swinging his legs over the side of the stack of cargo, Duo slid off and landed lightly on the deck in the low gravity. His braid floated up behind him as he walked to where his clothes were scattered in a trail leading to the docking bay and Heero's ship. As he dragged them on, he heard Heero groan in annoyance.

:"I'll be back this way in six hours, Heero, you can live until then," Duo told him.

"Actually," Heero said as he joined him. "I was wondering how to put on my clothes with... this..." Duo turned and saw Heero's obvious distress.

Duo snapped his jeans and tightened his belt as he said, "You do have two hands."

"Duo," Heero protested and looked pained.

Duo gave a long suffering sigh as he kneeled at Heero's feet. He looked up at Heero and said seriously, "I'm not going to be a disappointment."

A hand tugged Duo to his feet and Heero cupped his chin firmly, bringing it up so that Duo had to look Heero in the eyes. "I don't think that statement was about sex. You never disappoint me, Duo, in anything you do. I love you. Don't kill yourself over this business to impress me."

"My whole world doesn't revolve around you," Duo huffed as he wrapped arms around Heero's waist, but then amended ruefully, "Just most of it, which is why I really want this business to work out. I want to be your partner, not your stay at home wife. I want to help us make a living and help pay the bills. I want-"

"To be independent," Heero finished, but he chuckled too. "Like an alley cat; love is good, but freedom is too."

Duo didn't think he could deny it and be believable. He grimaced and said softly, "Sorry."

"It's who you are," Heero told him. "Just don't roam too far. Remember where to come back to for love."

"Always," Duo replied and kissed him.

"You're gonna die drinking that crap," Gorilla number one snorted as Duo downed a glass of protein drink shot with the strongest stimulants he could find.

"I'm not paying you to be my doctor," Duo snarled back and flung himself from the jump seat and checked his cargo yet again. His hand slid his gun in and out of its holster at his back in a gesture that had become a nervous habit.

"Good thing I'm piloting," Gorilla number two muttured. "Boss man is about to jump out of his skin."

Duo was sorely tempted to space the two right then and there. He had managed to hire them for a percentage of cargo delivered and bad guys intimidated, but they had their limits. They intimidated, but they weren't about to actually break the law and do any real damage. That was left up to Duo. He relied on his gun, his knife, and his reputation. In a real fist fight he was outweighed by most of adult humanity. Fighting dirty didn't work all the time and it didn't work at all when there was more than one man to take down. He'd been lucky and Duo never did trust luck to last.

His eyes burned. They wanted to close, permenently, and his body was begging to sleep for a week. There was an unpleasant buzz in his head and his chest felt tight once in awhile, especially when he was pulling his bluffs and acting as if he could take on the world.

"Patter is on the com, boss," Gorilla number one called back to him.

Duo winced and clenched his teeth. He hit the com switch and tried not to look as annoyed as he felt when an old man in a frumpy looking, technicolor robe appeared and glared at him.

"Where are you, Maxwell?" the man demanded. "Kruger's been harrassing my workers and some of them are leaving me high and dry. Get over here and take care of things if you want to keep getting my business. And where is my shipment of wire harnesses?"

"Coming," Duo sighed. "Shipment is..." He tried to think and couldn't. He punched the information up on a computer and then was able to reply, "Two more days. Consuspire is late on their production schedule."

"Damn!" the man exclaimed and then narrowed eyes at Duo. "You don't look so good, Maxwell. You're doing a lot f cargo with just the one ship."

"Not the cargo," Duo mumbled as he rubbed at his face wearily.

Patter said carefully, "I have something that might help you. Manufactured and not on the contraband list... yet."

Duo felt a chill. "What is it?"

"Called Red Hots."

"Stupid name."

"Not really, considering what they do."

"And that is?"

"More of what you need when you need it, Maxwell. Low side effects. Death rate, one out of one thousand."

"Not very good odds," Duo sneered.

"Best your going to get with that kind of drug, but it'll keep you on top for awhile."

"How long?" Duo wondered.

Patter shrugged. "A few months."

"That's good." Duo grunted, impressed. "That when you have the heart attack and die?"

"If you keep taking them, yes," Patter replied matter of factly.

"I'll think about it," Duo told him. "Well be in dock in fifty."

"I'll be waiting," Patter told him and the com went dead.

Duo scowled and balled his hands into fists. He did not need that shit, he told himself. He had already been through hell and back taking drugs. He would not revisit that little tragedy in his life. He could manage. Just a few months and he would clean out his competition for good, find people he could trust, and find men who would actually fight for their boss.

"I'm tough," Duo growled to himself. "I can do this." He finished his inspection and sat in the jump seat again. "Watch that marker 67B, there's been some debris added to the field," he told his Gorillas. "Let the computer fly the route once you reach it. It'll follow the debris map and avoid them."

"Sure thing," Gorilla number two replied, but he sounded uncertain and Duo saw him check the computer flight plan.

"You fly that route before?" Duo wondered.

"Uh, copilot seat, yeah," Gorilla number two replied. "I know where the marker is, so, no worries, right? It's not like I'm flying us through."

Gorilla number one looked confident. He slumped in his seat and put his big feet up. Duo felt uneasy, but exhaustion was clouding his thoughts. He struggled against it, but then his mind echoed Gorilla number two's words, 'It's not like I'm flying us through.' No, he wasn't so... yeah, no worries, Duo thought, and fell asleep. It wasn't until the sound of collapsing metal woke him, that he realized that he had made a very big mistake.

"What the hell?!" Duo shouted as he unfolded from the jump chair and grabbed handholds.

"I-I don't know," his pilot stammered in fearful confusion as his thick fingers flew over the meters and readouts.

Duo was shoving him hard out of the pilot seat and climbing into it as the man tried to course correct. Duo negated his fumbled commands and checked their position himself... and then he rechecked it... and then he swore, shouting, "You stupid asshole! You entered the wrong marker into the debris map. The computer was flying the wrong course!"

"Shit!" the man in the copilot's chair was white and his forehead was bloody from where he had slammed it into a console during the ship's reaction to a proximity alarm. "We're dead!"

"Fuck that!" Duo snarled. "Both of you lock down."

The man reluctantly pushed himself out of the seat and made his way to the jumpseats with the pilot. Duo ignored them as he disengaged auto pilot and took the controls himself. He was still punchy from lack of sleep, but he was a Gundam pilot with lightening reflexes and a brain to rival most computers. He pulled up the correct map of the area and entered it into the auto pilot with one hand while he watched the proximity monitors and kept his free hand on the controls. He responded to the alarms with split second timing and kept the ship in one piece while the ship's computer re-calibrated their course. Finally, the proximity alarms ceased and the auto pilot engaged.

Duo sat back in the pilot's seat, shaking with reaction and breathing hard. He rubbed hands over his face and muttered over and over, "Fuck, fuck, fuck!" When his heart finally stopped racing, he swiveled in his chair and glared at his pilot. "I thought I could trust you to pilot, Marcus! What the hell happened?"

"You almost killed us all you moron," the other man snarled.

Marcus looked as if he had peed his pants. He was hunched defensively and then he shouted at Duo, "I'm not a damned pilot! You know that! I was hired to muscle people. You keep adding to the job! Well, I freakin' quit!"

"Me too!" The other man exclaimed. "If this shit's going to happen, I'm outta here!"

"Quit?" Duo shouted back. "You're both fired! Go down to cargo and stay there!"

He swiveled back around and tried not to slam his fists into the console in fury. He could feel his business slipping through his fingers. He checked instruments and outside cameras and saw a three foot scar along the side of his ship. He calculated down time to repair it, revenue lost, customers not protected, time table shot. Rent another ship? Duo calculated the cost. Maybe, but his margin of profit would be next to nothing. Still, if he could keep his customers safe and supplied, he might make it until his ship was repaired.

"Don't stop fighting now, Maxwell," Duo muttered. "You can do this."

He docked on an emergency pad at his destination, venting fuel, and was forced to sit with his 'crew' while his flight plan and actions were reviewed by officials. His business was flagged, which meant that for the unforeseeable future he had to submit all flight plans, cargo manifests, and pilot qualifications to the appropriate authorities. When Duo was finally released, he dismissed his crew for the last time, and wished that he could take the time to get completely drunk.

Showing up at his customer's place of business, with the man's cargo still being checked and held for further review, capped the day. The man was not pleased. It was hard for Duo to reassure him that he would be protected when he was minus his cargo and minus the two large men who had given his reassurances some meaning.

Patter was scowling as he sat behind his large, glass office desk with glowing screens scrolling production schedules on every side of him. "Get Kruger off my back and I'll feel better about this," Patter told Duo.

"I will," Duo assured him. "I won't leave here without seeing him and showing him that I'm still top of the heap. He'll leave your workers alone, I promise." He shifted uncomfortable in his chair. "So, about payment... "

"I don't pay for what I don't receive," Patter retorted."Once my cargo is in my warehouse, we'll transfer credits."

Duo rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah... Okay." He knew better than to tell Patter that his ship was damaged and that he needed the credits now. He didn't need the man's faith in him shaken anymore than it was. He would have to try and get the repairs on credit. He stood up. "I'll get on that right now... along with everything else." He couldn't help feeling depressed and he couldn't help the weariness in his voice.

Patter looked Duo up and down shrewdly and then he slid a small plastic bag towards him filled with red capsules."A free sample, Maxwell. You look like you can use them."

Duo picked up the bag and looked at the pills. "Red hots?" he guessed with a scowl.

"Best pick me up in the universe right now," Patter told him with the tone of a salesman. "You need them. You look dead on your feet. Why not just take a few? A few can't hurt, right?"

Duo pocketed the pills and laughed short and sharp. "I'm handling things just fine," Duo told him. "I don't need your pep pills."

Patter smirked, not mentioning the fact that Duo had just taken them. He sat back in his chair, spreading his hands wide innocently. "Of course. I didn't mean to offend you. Now, about my cargo?"

Duo made arrangements for delivery and had Patter cleared with officials to take possession as soon as they finished checking the shipment. That done, he left Patter's office and headed for Kruger's lair, checking his weapons and wondering where he was going to find the strength to look the part of pissed and dangerous Gundam pilot.

Duo's hand found the bag of pills in his pocket and he took them out. He stared at them as he walked down corridors towards the seedier part of the installation. What could it hurt, just one? Just now, when he really needed a boost to face Kruger? Duo shivered a tiny bit as he took one pill out, eyed it, and then quickly swallowed it. He tossed the rest into a trash receptacle. He couldn't be tempted to take more if he didn't have them.

The effects of the pill manifested quickly. Duo felt a rush of adrenalin. His head cleared and he became very alert. He felt a wave of euphoria as if he were on top of the world, on top of his game, and ready for anything. He grinned and felt like his old self. Kruger was in trouble.


see Kracken's original, published yaoi fiction, The Angel Within, at under Kracken
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