Shinigami's Lover Arc 2

Part 22: In the Shadows
by Kracken

Disclaimer:Don't own them, don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence, NCS Flashbacks

"What?" Duo asked as he sucked on his ginger covered fingers. Sitting in the center of their bed, he was wearing only his gold cross and his length of braid trailing down into his lap. The bowl of ginger desert, one of the few things the puppies hadn't claimed, was balanced on one of his knees.

Heero had just come from the shower and he was toweling his muscled body off. "I just...," Heero paused, searching for better words than, `It wasn't all bad', and then said, "I know tonight could have gone better, but it was nice all the same."

"I lost my temper and the dogs ate the food," Duo growled. "Wu Fei-"

"Stayed longer than I have ever seen him stay anywhere," Heero interrupted. "He was talking a great deal, too. He's usually very quiet. He had a good evening, I could tell, and he gained a companion out of the evening as well. I think that impresses me the most, that you convinced someone as stubborn as Wu Fei that having a dog was a good idea."

"It's a good idea for all of us," Duo replied pensively. "I don't know if you noticed, but he hasn't been a happy man since I came back into your life."

"I noticed," Heero replied as he reached for a pair of shorts on the bed. Duo reached out and grabbed that hand. He pulled Heero away from the shorts and towards himself. Heero sat down beside Duo and accepted the piece of ginger that Duo placed between his lips. "That's good!" Heero exclaimed appreciatively.

"Our housekeeper is a good cook," Duo said with a smile.

Heero took the bowl and began eating more of the ginger.

"Hey!" Duo complained, trying to take it back, "Save some for me!"

Heero snorted. "You've had enough." Heero popped the last piece into his mouth. "Well, at least share!" Duo demanded as he boldly leaned forward and locked lips with Heero. Surprised, Heero eagerly opened his mouth as Duo deftly took a piece of the ginger back. Swallowing, Duo's tongue then tangled with Heero's in a deep kiss.

When they parted, Heero said breathlessly, "That was well worth a piece of desert."

Duo was tired and he ached, but suddenly all of that faded to the back ground. Duo needed something... an end to that day that was other than complete disaster. Wu Fei may have gone home happy, but it didn't erase for Duo the fact that things hadn't gone as planned and that he had lost his temper. It had been his spur of the moment idea to have the dinner, his inattention that had caused the disaster, and his anger that had shattered an otherwise relaxing evening. Heero was acting as if none of it mattered and that everything was all right. Duo needed to know that Heero really believed that and that he wasn't trying to calm an unstable lover.

Duo ran a hand along Heero's arm, a gentle hint at his intentions. Heero responded by slowly falling back onto the bed without hesitation, facing Duo, motionless yet obviously excited and agreeable. When Duo climbed on top of him, and began a slow teasing nibble of lips along his neck, Heero murmured happily. There wasn't any tenseness in him, any sign that he was harboring anger or disappointment. Heero's soft expression was full of love and encouragement.

"Sorry I'm such a screw up," Duo felt the need to whisper along Heero's collarbone.

"And we aren't?" Heero wondered as he tilted his chin back to give Duo more access to the line of his throat. "Wu Fei is so lonely and mired in his work, he needs to be tricked into getting a pet to keep him company. I'm hard nosed, overly dedicated, over protective, mission oriented, Unspontaneous..."

Duo chuckled. "Is unspontaneous a real word?"

"Don't know," Heero sighed as Duo reached one brown nipple. "Can't think any more."

"Neither can I," Duo breathed against the hardening flesh. "Let's not try to... for a little while."

"Hn," Heero grunted and then moaned as Duo suckled him hard.

Duo was the strong one this time, the one to mount and make love to Heero. He took his time and his stamina, considering his condition, surprised Heero. As their bodies thrust together, pleasure humming through them both as endorphines and pheromones surged through their bodies, Heero began to understand. Climaxing hard, crying out and trying not to grasp at his high strung lover, Heero finally collapsed into the pillows, panting and sweating and looking up at Duo's straining, beautiful face above him. Enduring Duo's pounding erection within him, trying to breathe around the awkwardness of being bent almost double under his lover, Heero watched Duo's face transform into ecstasy as he too came, pumping hot come deeply into Heero with a sharp cry of pleasure.

Afterword, lying close to each other languidly and loosely holding onto each other, Heero reached out and brushed sweaty bangs from Duo's face. Duo looked happy, content, satisfied... smug.

"You are NOT going into work tomorrow," Heero growled.

Duo blinked, frowned, and then confirmed Heero's suspicions by growling in return. "I think I'm fit enough, or should I prove it with a round two?"

Heero couldn't help smirking, "I should let you. Then at least I would know that you would be too tired to attempt your madness in the morning."

"You underestimate me, Yuy," Duo grumbled. "You always do."

"You overestimate yourself," Heero retorted and then, gentler, "I think we butt heads enough that we meet in the middle."

Duo thought about that and then conceded. "A half day?"

Heero thought about that in return and then reluctantly nodded. "That's agreeable, but only if you restrict yourself to the classroom and opt out of the training courses."

Duo thought of trying to get through even the easiest course in his current condition. "No argument here," he agreed.

Heero caressed one of Duo's cheeks and asked tentatively. "Were you serious about a round two?"

Duo laughed and then nuzzled Heero's neck, smelling a scent that was uniquely Heero wrapped up in the smell of sex. "Only if you do all the work."

"Agreed," Heero replied eagerly and they began again, minds leaving doubts and worries behind and bodies lost in the heat of the moment.


"We need to go buy our own car after work," Duo grumbled.

"You keep promising...," Wu Fei grumbled back. "I for one would like to drive without your furry friend here looking as if he's deciding whether I'm good to eat or not."

"He doesn't like you to lecture me and neither do I," Duo replied. "I know I need to take it easy. I know the signs of exhaustion. I know to check my heart rate. I know to check in with the medic later... yeah, all that! I am an adult, you know!"

Wu Fei snorted. "When did this happen?"

"You were such a nice guy last night..." Duo growled and slumped with his arms crossed over his chest.

Wu Fei looked at him in the rear view mirror briefly and then relented. "I'm sorry, Maxwell. I am only concerned for your welfare. You do have a reputation for ignoring your health."

"Yes, he does," Heero piped in. "I'm sure Duo appreciates your concern." Duo began to retort, but Heero dug an elbow into his ribs.

Duo revised what he had been about to say. "Well, thanks, Wu Fei. That's great of you, but I know-" another dig of Heero's elbow. "Uh, just thanks, okay?"

Wu Fei gave a small nod.

Duo leaned close to Heero and whispered. "I still want our own car."

Heero frowned at him and then said to Wu Fei, "How is the dog? Did he settle into your home all right?"

"He went to sleep almost at once," Wu Fei replied. "I penned him in the kitchen where he can't do any damage until I return home."

Heero and Duo exchanged looks and then Duo said tentatively, "You didn't use the dog cage I gave you?"

Wu Fei shook his head, "No, I thought it would be cruel to keep him there all day."

"Uh, Fei," Duo replied. "I really think you should consider going home for lunch today and checking on things. Puppies can be real destructive when they are alone. Even in a kitchen..."

Wu Fei shrugged, not concerned. "There is nothing there for him to harm."

"Well...," Duo felt the elbow dig him again. "Still, he is a puppy. Maybe you should go home anyway, to walk him or just to reassure him?"

"That sounds reasonable," Wu Fei replied, considering.

"Yeah," Duo said, trying to reinforce Wu Fei's decision, "very reasonable."

When they had pulled into the Preventer parking garage and Wu Fei had climbed out, Duo leaned close to Heero and said out of the corner of his mouth, "He's going to make puppy shish kabob, Heero! Why didn't he listen to me about the dog cage?"

"Why didn't you listen to me when I suggested it for our dogs?" Heero grumbled. "You thought it was cruel, too, as I recall. After they destroyed half the house, you changed your mind."

Duo frowned. "Okay, well... You don't think he'll hurt the dog, do you, Heero?"

Heero gave Duo a patient look. "No, and you know that too, Duo. He hasn't changed much since the war. You know he isn't that kind of man."

"Yeah, I know," Duo replied. He started to climb out of the car, but Heero gently took hold of his braid. Heero gave him a long look. Duo sighed in exasperation. "I told you, I'll go easy today. Don't worry." He leaned and gave Heero a quick kiss. "Don't you and Wuffie take side jobs as mother hens now. I'm a big boy, k?"

Heero still looked skeptical, but he smiled into the kiss and let Duo go. The smile didn't last long when he saw how stiffly Duo was moving. Duo tried to pretend that every point on his body wasn't hurting, but he doubted that he was very successful. After letting Soda out of the car and parting ways with his companions, he allowed himself to hiss and limp, one hand pressed against one bandaged burn or scrap after another as his clothes rubbed and his movements aggravated his injuries.

"I'm beginning to think this was a stupid idea, Maxwell," Duo said under his breath. A passing Preventer looked at him oddly. Duo grinned at the man and the man smiled nervously back. "Stop talking to yourself!" Duo muttered after the man was gone and then blinked and chuckled. "Stop telling yourself to stop talking to yourself."

"Need someone to carry the other half of the conversation?" Kit interjected as she came even with Duo's elbow.

Duo blushed in embarrassment, but Kit's humor changed into worry as soon as she saw his face. "Hey, future partner! You don't look so good! Did the medic clear you for duty?"

"I'm taking it easy," Duo told her. "No heavy training, just classroom work."

Kit's mouth quirked. "Well, I guess you and Grange will be a pair then, he's not much good for anything but desk work either. He's not taking it very well so watch your step or you'll step into it with him, okay?"

"Who's doing the field exercises then?" Duo wondered as they entered the locker room.

"The commander, if you can believe it. He came down from off his high mountain to see to it personally." Kit watched Duo's nervous looks at the dressing trainees. "They're going out to the courses first. I guess you can stand around and take notes."

"Maxwell!" the voice came thundering out of Grange's office. The door was open and the man was sitting behind his desk looking angry. Soda growled and paced beside Duo with hackles raised as Duo entered the office and stood uncertainly.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" Duo asked

Grange looked pale, but his manner wasn't weak as he jabbed a finger at Duo. "You'll observe the field work today while I try to EXPLAIN all of the mistakes that I observed during the mission." He held up a clipboard with several papers covered in writing. "We both may be sidelined, but if you think that gets you out of any training, you're wrong!"

"Yes, sir," Duo responded, without a hint of the annoyance he was feeling.

Grange levered himself up and picked up a cane. Limping towards the door, he motioned Duo ahead of him. Duo nervously complied and they were soon joining the trainees and filing out onto the field. The commander was there waiting for them, dressed in a heavy overcoat against the chill of the morning; a dark ghost against the white fog.

"Agent Grange," Richards motioned to where a bench had been set up. "I think you can observe very well from there."

Duo blinked and he saw Kit frown in confusion as well. From that vantage, Grange wasn't going to be able to see much of anything. The man knew it too. He looked ready to argue, but then just nodded curtly and sat down, clipboard settling across one knee.

"Trainees," Richards lifted an old fashioned stop watch. "You have five minutes to complete course one." There would have been groans if Grange had been the one to give the order, but now there were just anxious faces as they formed up behind the start line. Duo hung back and Richards noticed at once. "Maxwell, line up."

"He was injured in a mission, sir,"' Grange informed him.

Cool eyes looked Duo slowly up and down. Soda growled and his hackles raised. Richards studied Duo intensely and then he said sternly, "You, Agent Grange, are sidelined because of a leg injury. Maxwell is walking and appears fit. I don't think that he will come to harm on such a small course. Besides, he will have to learn to overcome obstacles even when injured." Richards gave Duo another look up and down that was bordering on contemptuous. "Unless you think that you are unable to overcome a little discomfort, Maxwell?"

Duo could feel the tension, the disbelief of the other agents. They were waiting for him to protest, to voice a complaint and an excuse. Duo could almost hear Heero and Wu Fei clambering in the back of his mind, telling him to back away. Duo grinned and his amethyst eyes glinted, as he stepped up to the line. The course was easy. He was stiff and in pain, but he wouldn't kill himself managing the course. He could do it. Richards was challenging him, why he wasn't sure, but he wasn't going to back down.

"Duo!" Kit hissed under her breath. "What the hell-?"

Duo shook his head, telling her he didn't want an argument.

"I'm sticking beside you," Kit promised.

Duo was grateful for that. Glancing back briefly at Grange, he saw the man's anxious expression, the way Grange was looking at Richards as if he were suspicious. Suspicious of what? Duo wondered.

"Go!" Richards called out and all the agents moved out quickly onto the course.

It was hard, Duo was struggling, he was last in the line, and he quickly realized that his prickly pride and stubbornness had caused him to make a serious mistake. He stumbled, fell, his knees scraped raw, and his bruises mounted as he cleared one obstacle after another. Soda paced beside him, trying to offer him comfort, and Kit was constantly putting a hand under his arm to lift him up again and again and to whisper frantically for him to stop.

Duo gritted his teeth. He hadn't survived the war by letting minor injuries deter him. He shoved the pain and exhaustion down into a hole inside of him and pulled out all of his adrenalin. He felt like a candle being melted by a torch, but he finished the course and managed to limp off of the field with the other trainees.

Grange was off of his bench and coming close at once, but his eyes kept flicking to Richards and he didn't say anything until the man, giving Duo a soft smirk and an appreciative once over with his eyes, dismissed them.

"I expect you to be on course two at three o'clock sharp," Richards ordered curtly as he paced away.

Only then did Grange turn to Duo and say, "Go to the medic and get checked out." He didn't tell Duo that he had been stupid to go through with it. He was a career man. He understood that kind of pride and sacrifice. He didn't have to like it though, and he looked angry and disapproving.

"I'll go with him," Kit piped in.

Kit's hand was under Duo's elbow and Duo tried not to lean on it as much as he wanted to. He was slicked with sweat and panting like a bellows. Every point on his body ached and he felt as if he had pulled open several stitches. He could definitely feel hot blood doing a slow trickle down his side. Heero was going to chew him up and spit him out for dinner, Duo realized, if he didn't pull himself together and get cleaned up before then. If Heero found out what he had been put through, the man would be having Richards for dessert too.

Grange gruffly shook his head and said, "Maxwell is mobile. He can make it on his own. I need you to assist me."

Duo agreed. "I made it through the course, I can make it a few yards to the infirmary. Don't worry about me."

"It's more than a few yards," Kit grumbled, but she relented and switched her helping hands to Grange, who was having trouble walking. "You're both idiots for even coming to work today," she muttered under her breath.

"Can it, trainee!" Grange growled. "Meet us in room C-3 for instruction when the medic clears you, Maxwell," Grange ordered Duo.

"Yes, sir," Duo acknowledged. He didn't feel up to it, though. As he slowly made his way to the Preventer building, his vision narrowed and he could feel his heart starting to beat hard. As he passed a low obstacle, Duo felt the need to sit down. It was a tire run with a low tunnel cage after it. Duo sat down and leaned against the wall of the cage, closing his eyes and trying to keep the world from spinning. It was a chilly morning and the fog hadn't lifted. A few paces away, he knew he would be invisible. He felt safe from judging eyes. The other trainees would pass him by on the way to the locker room none the wiser.

Soda settled against Duo. Duo leaned into the soft fur and intense warmth of the dog. He was almost comfortable and that was all his body and mind needed to let go of consciousness.

Go to Part 23: Mask

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