Shinigami's Lover Arc 2

Part 6: Testing Shinigami
by Kracken

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

"What's this?" Duo asked. Wu Fei had handed him a package as he and Heero had slipped into the backseat of his car.

"In case things don't go so well again today," Wu Fei muttered.

Duo looked into the bag and saw smaller, air sickness bags. He scowled at Wu Fei. "I'm not sure whether I'm pissed because you gave me these or weirded out because you actually took them off of a plane somewhere."

"I am a pilot," Wu Fei said defensively. "I do have my own plane."

""Wu Fei!" Heero growled, furious. "This isn't a laughing matter!"

"Who's laughing?" Wu Fei shot back. "I came into the cafeteria to get some lunch while they were cleaning up Maxwell's mess. I'd rather not have a repeat. I hope that you packed his lunch today and warned Sally Po to keep all office snacks out of his reach?"

"Let him laugh," Duo grumbled as he put a restraining hand on Heero's arm. "I'm sure that someone like Wu Fei never lived on the edge of starvation. He can't understand... ever."

Wu Fei barely looked contrite. "You are able to control a great deal of your negative reactions, why not something as small as not eating too much?"

Duo leaned against the door of the car and glared out the window at the city passing by. "Do you think this is HELPING me?" he wondered.

Wu Fei sighed in exasperation and then said, "I wish that it would help you, Maxwell. Heero and I are working on a very important case. Heero is being distracted by you... I'm being distracted by you. Neither of us has the time for disruptions of any kind. I can't help being angry."

Duo's jaw worked as he tried not to shout his anger. "Well, I told Heero last night that I'm on my own today. We are not to see each other all day."

"Out of sight, does not mean out of mind," Wu Fei replied, "but it is something."

"I've never done this before, you know," Duo reminded him. "I have to learn how to have a job from the ground up, so give me a chance, Chang. I'm sure you didn't find that it was easy bending that stiff neck of yours and letting people order you around. I'm sure you called half the women there stupid, female, and weak. I'm sure both you and Heero found it hard to trust co workers and to not pull a gun when you were startled. The only thing I did wrong yesterday was throwing up on some guy's shoes. That's pretty damn mild, if you ask me."

Duo's cheeks were turning red at the memory, but the others were lost in their thoughts. Finally, Heero said, "I'm going to do my job today, Duo. I'm not going to check up on you or even call you. You have Kit to watch you. That's enough. Wu Fei's right that I can't get distracted."

"Good," Duo replied. "That IS the way I wanted it."

"You're naive if you think you're going to be able to do that," Wu Fei growled to Heero.

"What do you suggest then?" Heero snarled, his temper beginning to escape his control.

"I suggest that saving people's lives, and bringing justice to criminals, is far more important than allowing Duo to do research and shuffle papers!" Wu Fei shouted. "He was working at home and doing a fine job. You weren't distracted. If Duo wants to interact with people, let him travel to a park or join a therapy group."

Soda, in the seat next to Wu Fei, suddenly growled, sensing Wu Fei's intense frustration. Wu Fei stared sideways at the animal in trepidation and his hand went to the butt of his gun under his uniform jacket.

"Soda. Green," Duo said absently. He crossed his arms over his chest and held himself tightly, frowning darkly at his own inner thoughts. He couldn't help thinking that Wu Fei was right. When Heero was silent and Duo glanced at Heero's stone like expression, he had a feeling that Heero thought so too.

"I'll take a taxi home," Duo said suddenly. "This isn't working out. I'm not selfish Wu Fei. I risked my life often to save people. What I wanted, hell, my entire life, went in the dumpster because I knew what was more important. I thought Heero would be able to learn to trust me, but, is it right to distract him and maybe risk people until he does? No, it's not. I guess... I guess I didn't think about it like that."

"Duo...," Heero began and then stopped talking and looked even grimmer. He wasn't even going to argue against it.

Duo nodded and sighed. "All right. I'll have to find something else to pass the time, some other way to feel useful and part of the human race."

Heero slowly reached out and tentatively took Duo's hand. Duo clasped it, but looked out of the window again, a line drawn sharply between his brows. "Love you," Duo whispered. "I know you love me to have even let me get away with disrupting your work this much."

"I wish..." Heero sighed bleakly. "Wishing doesn't change it. We will find another way, Duo. I promise you."

Duo nodded, not really believing it. He watched a future slipping away from him, one where he could have used his hard won skills and made a difference; a future working by Heero's side and being respected by him as an partner and equal. Looking into their future, all Duo could see was a wraith that was himself, flitting on the edge of society, Heero's mad lover that he couldn't trust to stand by his side.

"You're a bastard Wu Fei," Duo growled, needing to vent his anger at someone and feeling that Wu Fei more than deserved it.

"When I have to be, Maxwell," Wu Fei replied and then, "I truly am sorry."

Duo swallowed hard and leaned his cheek against the cold glass of the window. "I know."

They pulled into the garage of the Preventer building. Grabbing his bag, Duo unhooked Soda and made as if he would walk away immediately. Heero, his own bag slung over one shoulder, stopped him. "Let me call your cab."

"Cab?" Kit had climbed out of a black sports car little bigger than herself. Her bright face was all smiles and questions. "Not feeling well, Duo?"

Duo frowned and felt embarrassed. He shifted his bag from one hand to the other and then said simply, "Things aren't working out. I'm going home."

Kit looked at Wu Fei and Heero and then at Duo and his downcast expression. "I am entitled to a formal resignation," Kit told Duo. "I am your supervisor. Why don't we grab some coffee at the diner around the corner. You can give me that resignation, and then I'll call you the cab?"

Duo became nervous at once. "It'll be crowded. I think I should-"

"I'll be there packing heat," she said, touching the gun in its holster at her belt. "Along with that nice puppy of yours, I don't think anyone will be coming within five feet of us, okay?"

Duo looked at Heero. He saw Heero looking at Kit as if trying to extract a promise. It made him angry. "Yeah, okay. Let's go. See you tonight Heero."

Heero raised eyebrows, but he clamped his lips on any protest and Duo didn't stay to hear any parting doubts or apologies. He was too raw at the moment. It was a relief to follow Kit's lithe form out of the garage and onto the teaming city street. Soda pricked ears and pressed against Duo's side, trying to watch everyone at once. Duo wasn't any less nervous than the dog, but Kit wasn't waiting for him. Duo had to hurry to catch up.

The diner was packed with people at the counter, trying to get breakfast to go as they hurried to work. Kit slid into a booth that was just being cleaned off from the last occupant and told the waitress to get them two cups of coffee. Duo could see that she wasn't going to chance getting Duo any food.

"Okay," Kit said as Soda crouched at Duo's feet under the table. "What's with those two guys, Heero and Wu Fei? If they were bullying you, I want to know right now. You did great work yesterday. There's no reason that I can think of why you would want to quit."

Duo lowered his eyes to the table. "It's complicated."

"Try me," Kit demanded. "You're little, like me. We have to stick up for each other so we don't get shoved around."

Duo blushed. "It's not like that at all."

The coffee came and Duo dug into his pack for money. The picture of Heero half fell out onto the table top. He began to shove it hastily back in, but Kit was faster. She grabbed it and looked at it. When she looked up, she looked rueful.

"He's a good looking guy," Kit said.

"Yeah," Duo sighed, took the picture from her, and tucked it back into his pack. "It's me and Heero, not Wu Fei and Heero," he said meaningfully.

"Well...." Kit sipped at her coffee. "Which one of them doesn't want you working for the Preventers? Heero or Wu Fei? Sometimes, partners can be closer than a lover, and twice as jealous."

"He made a good point," Duo argued. "I'm distracting Heero. Heero has an important job. He can't be worrying about me all day and wondering what I might do wrong."

"You have an important job too!" Kit protested. "Those guys couldn't do their work without us grunts finding out all the particulars and filing the paperwork. Besides, Heero's not a machine. Why is he any different from any other slob who has to juggle home life and work? He has to get over worrying about you, obsessing, actually, and trust you to get through a day without any help from him. It seems to me that you're trying to be some sort of martyr. You're thinking, ‘I can't think of my own needs, because I might interfere with Preventer business.' Sally Po might like that kind of dedication, but it's not normal or healthy. You gotta be selfish sometimes Duo. In fact, if you want, I can order you to be. You didn't give two weeks notice. I refuse your resignation and warn you that I will visit tons of legal papers on your head if you try to not show up for work today. We aren't a diner, where you can come and go as you please. We handle sensitive material and cases."

Duo blinked at her. "I don't know what to say."

"I do." Kit stood up. "We are late for work. Slap a top on your coffee and we'll take it with us."

Duo started to reply, finding it hard to argue with the bundle of energy that was Kit, when something caught his eye. He stared, feeling the hairs on his neck stand up. "Kit. Left elbow. Behind you. Two men. Trench coats. Buzz cut. Scar on one eye. I remember their faces from documents I was processing yesterday. Wanted in connection with a violent guerrilla cell."

Kit didn't turn around. Their bland uniforms often blended well and the diner was crowded. Unnecessary movement could draw their attention. "What are they doing?"

"Getting food at the counter. What should I do?" Duo asked tensely.

"Nothing!" Kit told him firmly. "You're a paper pusher, not a Preventer field officer. I'll make the collar."

Duo narrowed eyes at her. "You're not even in training yet! Call Preventer headquarters." He eyed the crowd nervously. "You can't act in a crowd like this anyway. They're dangerous. Someone could get killed."

Kit smiled. "Then we wait until they leave and tail them." She flipped her phone to Duo. "You call, I'll try and get closer so they don't get away."

Before Duo could ask who he should call, Kit was gone. He stared after her as he dialed Heero's office. Wu Fei answered the phone. The man sighed as he recognized Duo's voice. "Yes, he's here," Wu Fei said in exasperation, "But he doesn't have the time to talk to you, Maxwell."

"Is that Duo?" Heero asked in the background. "What's happened?"

"Who knows," Wu Fei ground out.

The phone rattled and Duo was suddenly talking to an anxious Heero. It was then that he saw the men leaving and Kit following behind them. Duo stood up and Soda was at his heel at once. "We found two wanted men in the corner diner," Duo said quickly. "Kit is trailing them. She needs help, Heero. She's in way over her head. I have to go after her. Get some people down here right now."

"Duo! Duo don't do anything-" Heero's voice was cut off as Duo pushed through the crowds and left the diner, the phone gripped tightly in his hand.

"Soda. Red," Duo said and the dog's fur rose on his hackles, his eyes bright.

Duo saw the backside of Kit dart down an alleyway, a shortcut towards some tall office buildings. That was wrong! Duo's experience screamed it. Two men like that wouldn't have taken a narrow, refuse laden ally. They must have realized that Kit was tagging them.

Duo's suspicions were confirmed when he found the two men confronting Kit with guns drawn. One was taking hers away and she was raising her hands over her head with a pale, shocked expression. She was expecting the worst, but Duo knew that he could imagine darker things than she could and he saw a confirmation of his fears in the face of the man with the scar.

There was an odd joy in letting himself go. The chains of civilization were as light as feathers as Duo cast them aside and turned into Shinigami the soldier, dealer of death. Duo spun, dropped, kicked, chopped, and made his body a weapon. The guns were ineffectual. He was too fast, too close. If they shot at him, they could just as easily shoot themselves. Tangling with each other, they were easy targets. Duo brought them both down, Soda clamping down and breaking the man with the crewcut's arm as he tried to gut Duo with a knife. Duo kicked out with the heel of his shoe and the man's head snapped back, cracking against the pavement with a sickening sound.

Disarming both men, Duo ordered Soda, "Watch," as he backed up and retrieved the phone that he had dropped. It was broken. He turned to a shocked, wide eyed, Kit and said apologetically, "Sorry. I shouldn't have dropped it like that."

Kit said softly, "I've never seen anything like that! It was like watching a dance... only... you did it so effortlessly and you had an expression on your face... calm... serene." She looked down at the unconscious men. "You didn't kill them, did you?"

Duo blinked down at the men. "I don't think so. I kept in my mind that we needed them for interrogation."

"We do." Kit shook her head to clear it of amazement. "I can see why Sally took the chance on you. You are incredible!" She suddenly grew cross, all contrary. "I ordered you to stay behind! Why did you disobey?"

"I called and came to make sure you were all right," Duo explained. "I don't have a weapon. I didn't expect to get into the fight."

"Then why did you?" Kit demanded.

Duo nodded to one of them men. "He was going to rape you."

Kit started and looked ill. "How could you tell? They didn't say two words to me."

"The look on his face." Duo shivered. "That's the way they used to look at me before they..." he shook his head sharply and then looked at Kit sternly. "You shouldn't have followed them down this ally. It was an obvious set up."

"Obvious to you, maybe," Kit said sympathetically, seeing a deep pain in Duo. "Did you make the call?"

Duo nodded just as Heero and several Preventer agents rushed by the front of the ally. After a pause, they backtracked and streamed inside. Heero grabbed Duo hard by the elbow, shouting in a panic, "Are you all right? What the hell were you thinking to try and capture these men by yourself?"

Kit swallowed hard and raised a nervous finger. "Uh, Agent Yuy, I was the one, actually, who went after them alone. Maxwell pulled my ass out of the fire."

Duo was very pale. Heero saw his pain and distress and withdrew his hand. Duo rubbed the spot as he said tightly, "I'm a trained soldier, Heero, remember?"

Heero took a deep breath and regained control of his nerves. He nodded, jaw working. "I know that. You did what you had to, going after a hot headed rookie." He glared at Kit and she turned an uncomfortable red. "It doesn't mean that I have to like it." He looked Duo over. "Are you hurt?"

"No," Duo replied. "They weren't very tough."

Kit arched an eyebrow, looking from the too slim, wiry Duo to the tall, burly men splayed on the ground having their hands cuffed by the other agents.

"They aren't dead, are they?" Heero wondered in concern.

"Bad dog bite," one agent reported. "Broken arm."

"Some serious contusions," another reported, "but they are still alive."

Soda pricked ears nervously, teeth barring now and then as he waited for a wrong move towards his master. Duo put a hand on his head to calm him. "Yellow, Soda." Duo said, but Soda wasn't willing to give up his nervous stance. "I should go," Duo said at last. "He won't calm down and I shouldn't get in the way."

Heero was constrained from any large display by the people around him, but Duo could see his heart in his eyes. "I'm sorry this had to happen, Duo. I don't want you to be alone right now. You might be more upset than you think. You might even be wounded and not feeling it yet. Come with me to my office and we'll fill out some reports and give you a chance to relax."

Duo reluctantly nodded. "All right, Agent Yuy," he replied for the other's benefit.

Kit spoke up, seeing Heero's and Duo's true feelings darting back and forth between them, Yuy's fear for his love and Duo's concern that Heero was angry with him coupled with his own growing reaction to the fight and his frustration with Heero's over protectiveness. "If you turn him out of the Preventers, Agent Yuy, it'll be a bad loss. He's good, real good. He followed procedures. I- I guess I was so anxious that those scum would get away that I didn't. Duo knew more about the situation than I did. He was the professional today, Agent Yuy."

"You're on report," Heero said stiffly to Kit, but then, as he led Duo out of the ally and passed her by, he said aside so that the others wouldn't hear. "I'll take your words under advisement though."

Go to Part 7: Into the Fire

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