Chapter 1


by Kracken

Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence, gore, torture, explicit scenes.

The white, empty box, at the end of Heero Yuy's confession form, detailing his attack on his domestic partner, Duo Maxwell, had waited for his signature, his sure knowledge that he had been ready to commit murder that day. Only Wu Fei's grip on that paper, and his subequent destruction of it, despite the protest of Une and the lawyers in the room, at the time, had saved him from a long stay in jail. When Duo had refused to press charges, after that, or to even accuse Heero of attacking him, it had guaranteed his freedom.

"You are not a murderer!" Wu Fei had insisted, even though Heero had never dared to explain why, a perfectly normal day, at home, had turned into a trip to the hospital for himself and Duo.

Duo had not taken abuse without defending himself. Though he had lacked Heero's strength, he hadn't lacked in sheer speed and ferocity. Heero was still sporting a garden of bruises on his face, a loose tooth, and a collar bone that still felt as close to being broken as made no difference. The anger, that had caused the attack was just as fresh, too, and he and Duo had, wisely, separated on and off the job. That hadn't been an easy feat, especially since Duo's neck brace, his dislocated jaw, and his fractured ribs, had kept him desk bound and nearly unavoidable.

Well meaning friends talked about counseling, wanted details of the fight, told Heero that he was better off without Duo, or called him a monster and terminated their friendship all together. Heero's continued silence, and his refusal to deal with the situation, had strained his good friendship with Wu Fei. Even the threat of alienating him, though, hadn't been enough to make Heero confess why he had attacked a man who had been his lover for over two years and his partner in Preventers far longer.

Heero's hands turned into fists. Sometimes, he could almost feel the blood on them again, Duo's blood, and he couldn't stop the shiver of reaction, the remembrance of white, hot anger. It was tempered by dark disappointment and an ache, in his heart that hadn't abated, for even one bit, since that day, that hour, that minute, those precious seconds when he had lost control, and had struck out at the man who had been his world. It didn't matter, now, that he had felt justified at the time.

"Maxwell is going on assignment," Wu Fei said in disapproval.

Heero twitched in surprise, at Wu Fei's sudden appearance, and then pretended to be engrossed with the file on his computer. "That is none of my business."

Wu Fei sighed, ran a hand over the top of his slicked back hair, and then decided to continue and brave Heero's reaction. "He's not healed, but Une has informed me, that the assignment has a long enough duration to allow for healing before any action is likely to start."

Heero glared at Wu Fei, standing beside his desk. "Did you have business that actually pertains to me?"

Wu Fei waved a file angrily. "As a matter of fact, yes. We'll be going on assignment as well, for at least four months. Pack your bags for cold weather."

Heero gave his new partner his full attention, then. "How cold?"

"Cold enough to freeze your ancestors off," Wu Fei replied. "We have four hours."

"Roger," Heero said as he stood, folded up his computer, and tucked it into a slim case.

"Are you sure that you're ready for this?" Wu Fei wanted to know.

"My physical injuries won't compromise the assignment," Heero assured him.

"I meant, mentally," Wu Fei asked more directly, looking uncomfortable and more than ready for Heero's snarling response.

"If you want to try taking my job away from me, Wu Fei Chang, then say so!" Heero demanded. The case of his computer was hard, but the sound of stressing plastic, under his fingers, was clearly audible.

"It wouldn't be my decision," Wu Fei retorted. "I was asking for your honest estimation."

"I'm mission ready," Heero snapped back and then stalked away, tossing over his shoulder, "Make sure you're ready!"


"It was only a matter of time," Wu Fei said suddenly.

On opposite sides of a small table, in a freezing prefab cabin, on the edge of the world, they were wiring explosives and listening devices. The map of their objective was spread out underneath their work, circles of red and lines of blue snaking out from a hidden installation.

Heero shrugged as he carefully adjusted wiring. "We are fully recovered from the last war. Our new satellites have much better optics and sensors. They couldn't hope to hide their installation for long. I'm sure that they were counting on speed of execution."

Wu Fei frowned and nodded. "Yes, I agree, but I was speaking of you and Maxwell. The man has always been extremely annoying in his arrogance and street ways. I was shocked when you decided to make him your... companion."

Heero's hands clenched and then he forced them to relax. "You are probing a gaping wound, Fei. Don't. It's over. Duo wasn't the man that I thought that he was. I won't say anymore than that."

Wu Fei looked up, dark eyes searching. "It isn't your... relationship to Maxwell, or the reason for it's demise, that concerns me. Une may have signed off on this mission, but I will be the one fighting beside you. I need to know that you are stable, that your mind is on this mission."

"Why doubt me now?" Heero demanded.

"Because, you've wired two explosives incorrectly," Wu Fei retorted, screwdriver pointing at the defective devices. "I was hoping that you would notice, on your visual check, but you haven't bothered executing one."

Heero checked them and then looked stricken. He didn't apologize or offer an excuse. He had endangered their lives. "It won't happen again," he promised and began fixing them.

"I won't ask what occurred, between you and Maxwell," Wu Fei said steadily, "but I will insist that you make more of an effort to put it from your thoughts until after this mission."

"You're going to tell Une." It was a statement, not a question.

"I might answer, that I would do exactly what you would do in my situation," Wu Fei replied, "but I'm beginning not to know what you would do, now."

Heero nodded, expression tight. His partner's lack of trust, stung, but he fully deserved it.

The howl of the icy wind picked up and both of them looked towards a computer display of a storm front. They both turned back to their work, at the same time, with a sense of urgency.

"If you were concerned about Duo's fitness for his mission, you should have discussed that with Une," Wu Fei said. "Now, is not the time to second guess your non involvement in her decision."

Heero went pale and then shook his head sharply. "I..." He tried again, with difficulty. "People talk, say things, and then never... They change their minds."

"The damage is done, though, correct?" Wu Fei guessed.

Heero's jaw clenched. "Yes," he forced out. "You don't ruin careers over it... just... relationships."

"Don't ruin your career, then," Wu Fei replied. "Put it from your mind."

Heero nodded. "I won't make another mistake," he promised.

"I would appreciate that, Yuy," Wu Fei replied and then switched gears and was all business. "Now, we need to set this series up on level four. They'll collapse the main support over the weapons hanger, but leave the command core untouched. That's where the small charges come in. They will seal the command core doors, leaving our rebels in confinement until Preventer pick up."

Heero tapped the listening devices. "The remote will get these into position, through the system power grid, but the switching on the hanger doors requires physical placement."

"A cold crawl over rock, and sheet metal, protected by a gun turret," Wu Fei snorted, as if amused by the challenge. "A good way to get adrenaline pumping first thing in the morning. Une likes to plan the impossible."

Heero grunted. "I'll take the hanger doors."

Wu Fei narrowed eyes at him. "We toss a coin."

Heero shook his head. "I have more climbing experience and I tolerate low temperatures better."

Wu Fei frowned but didn't have an argument. "I'll pilot the remote, but it makes me feel unmanned, to sit out action. You will have to make this up to me."

"I don't think that we have time to set charges on their transport ship. You can disable it," Heero suggested.

Wu Fei smiled in a predatory fashion. "That will redeem my manhood nicely. Thank you."

Heero gave him a small bow, with a smile, and Wu Fei returned it.


Duo wasn't at his desk when Heero returned from his completed mission. Heero slowed his usual rush by it, to see it still empty of his ex lover's stacks of work, and the back of his chair empty of his leather coat. Old habits died hard and Heero couldn't help changing his direction to look at the assignment board. Beside Duo's name, it was still reporting him on an active mission.

"Damn him," Heero muttered, angry with himself for caring whether Duo's mission was going well, or not. He purposefully turned from the board and tried to put it from his mind. As the days slipped by, though, and that marker didn't change, ignoring it became almost impossible.

"You're thinking," Wu Fei said to him, as they sipped at drinks, and watched a traditional Chinese dance on a cleared space at the front of the Chinese restaurant. The music was soothing, the atmosphere calming and proper, but Heero was anything but relaxed by their usual, after work, haunt.

Heero's hand tensed on his drink, but he didn't meet Wu Fei's eyes. "I shouldn't care about him."

Wu Fei raised a dark eyebrow and sighed. "He meant something to you once. You are not made of stone, my friend."

"You don't know..." Heero stopped himself.

"No, I don't," Wu Fei said, clearly annoyed. "You have chosen privacy, and I respect that, but don't, then, expect to seek my understanding when I am ignorant."

Heero took a drink, chased it in his mouth to feel the burn, and then swallowed it down. "I should talk to Une."

The raised eyebrow lowered into a frown. "To ask about Maxwell?"

Heero was silent, his eyes on the table and the pristine tablecloth, printed with red dragons.

Wu Fei considered and then asked, "To tell her about Maxwell?"

Heero nodded.

Wu Fei leaned back into his chair and considered his friend and partner. "If you know something, my friend..."

Heero made an exasperated sound and raked a hand through his hair. "I don't know anything, Fei! I only wish that I did, that I knew for sure that Duo..." He stopped again, ducking his head down and looking pained. "Maybe he didn't mean what he said, but it was enough that it was said, for me. I couldn't accept, couldn't live with a man, who..." He shook his head hard and stood up. Digging into his pocket, he swiped his credit card on the table top reader, to pay his bill, and then leaned down close to Wu Fei.

"I'll wait, to see what happens next," Heero choked out. "If Duo doesn't come back from his mission, I'll know for sure... then I'll tell her."

"You are assigned, off planet, to Relena Peacecrafts' guard detail next week," Wu Fei reminded him."How will you monitor the situation?"

"Can you...?" Heero's blue eyes were pleading.

Wu Fei looked sour and then nodded. "I will keep you informed of Maxwell's status. "

"Thank you," Heero replied, relieved.

Wu Fei warned, "A lit match and gasoline, may be safe, if a man's intent is to not start a fire, but having those two things, makes a man suspicious enough to report."

Heero nodded, jaw working, "I know... I know... but you know Duo, too. He always... He was always talking..."

The pain of Duo's words were seared into Heero's heart. He couldn't yet look past that pain to know whether Duo had been speaking with conviction or a brief, frustrated annoyance that hadn't been serious. Heero needed to be certain.

They parted ways and Heero was glad to retreat to the solitude of his own home. The bare places, where pictures of Duo, had been, didn't alleviate his pain, though. He found himself pouring himself another drink. He downed half of it before the war of pain and worry overwhelmed him. The glass shattered against a wall, where his portrait with Duo had hung, and the alcohol splattered, as Heero fell back into a chair and put his head in his hands in anguish.



"Proof?" The thin man scowled over the map, layed out over the worn table, the one light, sickly and hardly bright enough to show the red marker tracing roads. "You heard her yourself. That's why you're here, right? You see what's happening as clearly as we do."

Duo was still having trouble talking, his jaw aching, as he replied, "I came here, Gainer, because you said that you knew for certain, that you had proof. I scrapped my life, trusting you." His hands clenched as he took a step forward, fury almost over taking him, until the man simply handed him a readout. Duo took it and stepped back, eyes scanning the official correspondence. When he swore and went pale, the thin man grinned, showing metal teeth.

"I've never farted in the wind, Duo," Gainer chuckled. "You know I wouldn't dare lie to you."

"How'd you get these?" Duo demanded. "You're good, but not that good."

The man shrugged and shifted wire rim glasses from the top of his curly, gray hair, to his beak of a nose. He moved towards Duo cautiously and pointed a long finger at one of the sheets. "See the date? Not too long ago. This is not a plan, discarded years ago. This is present time, Duo."

"You didn't answer my question," Duo reminded him, eyes fierce as he looked at the man. "How?"

"Cleaning woman," Gainer snickered. "You'd be amazed at how they are ignored by the powerful. They are as invisible as the furniture as they go about their duties, even into the private rooms of Relena Peacecraft."

"That speech she gave..." Duo muttered.

"About needing longer in office to keep the Union together," the man finished and then jabbed his finger at the papers. "She wants more than an extension of her term in office."

"They won't allow that," Duo countered.

Gainer shook his head as he went back to his map. "If you believed that, then you wouldn't be here."

Duo sat down in a rickety chair and put his head in his hands.

"Yuy hurt you bad, didn't he?" Grainer asked, looking Duo over and seeing the still apparent bruising.

"Almost killed me," Duo agreed. "You don't piss on a man's life, on his dream, without consequences."

"It'll be worth it," Grainer assured him, the glint of a rebel in his dark eyes.

"Nothing's worth it," Duo snarled back, "But is it necessary? Hell, yes! So, I'll do it. I'll take care of business, just like I always have... alone."

"If he really cared, he would have believed you," Grainer pointed out harshly as he drew another line on his map in blue.

"Why?" Duo retorted as he straightened and tried to ease his still healing arm."I didn't believe me until you showed me the proof."

"Can you convince him, now?" Grainer wondered.

"I won't try," Duo replied as he struggled to his feet and hopped to the map table, one leg still strapped. "He tried to kill me. I'm not getting in reach again. He can sit back and watch the truth on the evening news, after we take care of Peacecraft and her plans."

"Burn all bridges," Grainer said, with a sad shake of his head, "Just like you always do." His eyes came up and he gave Duo an appraising look. He started to open his mouth, but Duo cut him short.

"Don't even think about it, or I'll cut off your dick," Duo snarled.

"Well, you are free, now..." Grainer explained.

"No, I'm not," Duo retorted. "I'm dating the war again and she's a jealous bitch."

Grainer shrugged, "Too bad."

"For you, maybe," Duo retorted. "Now show me the route again.I want to know her exact schedule for the last five weeks."


"I can't believe this!" Wu Fei snarled as he clutched their orders in one hand. "There is some mistake!"

"No mistake," Heero replied quietly as he checked his gun. "We briefed for three hours. She has the proof. The council agreed and signed the orders."

"We can bring him in," Wu Fei argued as he faced Heero. "If it's true, we can put him in a rehab camp."

Heero's jaw worked and his face paled as he shook his head. "When Duo makes up his mind to act, there isn't any way to stop him, you know that."

"If this is about revenge, Yuy..."

"It's not," Heero replied as he holstered his gun and shut down his computer. "He hurt me, more deeply than anyone else could have, but he thought that he was telling me the truth. He thought that he was... helping me. He thought that I was... deluded." Heero struggled for more words and then settled on, "I can hate him for ruining our lives, but I don't. I just feel empty and hurt down to my soul."

"How can she ask you to do this?" Wu Fei demanded. "There are other agents..."

"You will be the one to terminate the target," Heero reminded him. "I'm just backup."

"This is Maxwell, we're talking about, Heero!" Wu Fei exploded.

"Which is why we were assigned the mission," Heero replied."We are the only ones qualified."

Wu Fei slammed his hands, hard, on Heero's desk. "This is monstrous!"

"It is," Heero agreed. "But there isn't any other way to handle a rogue Gundam pilot. We leave in two hours."


"Wakie, wakie, little scape goat," a voice crooned.

Duo blinked his eyes open. He was still chained to the floor, naked, on all fours, in his metal cell. His back burned as if it were on fire, where they had run a soldering tool along his shoulders in stripes. His joints cried out for relief as well, hating the position that they had forced him to keep for most of the day.

"More fun?" Duo croaked.

"Still joking?" Grainer sighed as he crouched and jerked Duo's head up by his hair. The man's glasses caught the sickly light from an over head, and it was hard to tell his expression. His head tilted as he surveyed his captive. "Nice burns. Interesting bitch tattoo on your tailbone, too. That for your boyfriend? 02 and 01 forever in a chain link circle. Bet he loved digging his fingers into that while he banged you."

"Shut the fuck up!" Duo snarled.

"Touchy subject, I know," Grainer replied, faking sympathy. "I wish that I had been there when you told him that everything that he had sacrificed for, was counterfeit, and that his ideal Queen of Peace, that everyone had given blood for, was a liar and a despot. Was he shocked? Did he turn purple before he beat the shit out of you? Inquiring minds want to know." He smoothed a hand over Duo's back, not bypassing the burns. Duo shuddered with pain, biting his lip hard.

"Not going to tell me?" Grainer sighed. "I suppose that he'll be happy to blow your brains out, especially since we made sure to let Preventers know about your plot to blow up a large, well populated, civilian target. I think, making sure that there was a preschool in the blast zone, was a nice touch, don't you? Duo Maxwell, baby killer."

Duo shuddered and then jerked his head to clear the bangs out of his eyes. He glared at Grainer, and replied, "Do what you want to me, I won't tell you the combos."

"It would have made things easier," Grainer admitted, "And assured our success, but we're used to danger, and small odds. We can still succeed while they are busy chasing you down. I didn't lie about Relena Peacecraft's decision to ignore our new constitution, and remain in power for another term. I also didn't lie about the military buildup in the colonies. She is planning a coo, Maxwell. You can still decide to fight her. You can still be on the right side of this. If we don't use those mobile suits, she will. Isn't that why they were kept? To be used?"

"They were kept, in case rebels built their own, and attacked," Duo snarled. "No other reason."

"You are so sure that she won't use them?" Grainer wondered.

"I don't know," Duo admitted, "but I won't help you to use them."

Grainer took out a pressure syringe. "You will help me, my little scape goat," he assured Duo. "One way or another." He plunged the syringe into Duo's left butt cheek. Duo barely flinched, too overwhelmed by other pain. "That was a rather evil concoction of drugs from the war," Grainer explained as he squeezed the spot hard with lascivious attention, "Let's see how well you keep your secrets with your brain on fire."



Chapter two







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