Rated R. No lemon, but violence and language.
Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing characters, or any other anime characters
for that matter (sigh). I'm using them here for the sheer fun of it, and
am not making any money off of them in any way.
AN: I don't know if this is what people meant when they said they wanted
a 'morning after' chapter. If they wanted kisses and cuddles and breakfast
in bed, I'm afraid I screwed up... -.-u
SUMMARY (for those who skipped straight to chap3): Duo and Heero have
just finished having a 'meeting of minds' (well not really, but you get
my drift) and they're each back in their own bed for some peaceful much-needed
I'm asleep before my head touches
When the laptop gives its tinny little chirp less than an hour later,
I have my gun out and trained on it and I swear I almost squeeze the trigger
in pure hatred.
Heero is sitting with the laptop in his naked lap before the thing stops
beeping, fingers flying over the keys, eyes flickering, shards of colour
from the screen reflecting in dark pupils as if the mission is scrolling
directly across his mind.
I'd twitched the gun away as soon as he moved, but I hesitate to put it
back under my pillow. I thought I caught one of those shards darted in
my direction. Either the perfect soldier is having 'morning after' blues
*hysterical mental laughter*- sorry or I'm also part of this
"So how's Dr J? Still brainwashing the wife?" My mouth picks up on my
uncertainty and goes into automatic. After months of working with me,
I know Heero can tune out my babble, it won't distract him.
Heero puts the laptop back on the dresser and stands fluidly, turning
"Mission objective is the base at point L141-V35. Pilot 01 to infiltrate,
hack into mainframe, download data. Pilot 02 to infiltrate, plant explosives,
destroy both data and evidence of download. Pilot 03 to provide cover
and air support. Supplies of explosives?"
"2 K M18, 200 grams C4, some grenades-" I answer promptly, and manage
to stop Duo from adding 'and no regrets!' to the sentence. There's a mission
on, and that's almost as important to me as it is to him, so I don't have
the time to get my lights punched out now.
He jerks a finger from me to the laptop then turns and starts moving.
Still naked, but the look in his eyes stops me from commenting, or even
enjoying the view. In three precise movements he has his gun, his back
holster and his clothes in hand while I'm still struggling off the bed.
He leans forward again and picks something else up, I see it out of the
corner of my eye. I tense as he turns and takes three military steps in
my direction. I'm suddenly staring blankly at the hilt of my knife in
I meet his eyes over the sharp metal blade he holds in firm fingers. The
sudden intrusion of last night throws me. His eyes are blank slates, unreadable,
he's scowling as I waste a precious second in hesitation. That scowl prompts
my fingers to grab the knife automatically, and he's gone, heading towards
Still on automatic I walk to the laptop, clipping the knife to sheathe
on my arm. I lean against the dresser, hands on either side of the cold
- hands on either side of Heero, lips and bodies inches apart, the air
between us pulsing and burning like wildfire-
I take a deep ragged breath, changing my position a bit to something not
so charged with emotional memory. I take another breath. Damn you, Heero!
You may be able to switch whatever feelings you have on and off and that's
assuming you have any, and this wasn't just some kind of of gentle
hands- no, I guess it wasn't 'just' that, but what you think it was-
whoa, ok, no time for this now. Damn, I wish I could shut myself
off with a flip of a switch!
I don't work like that. Though I sometimes think of myself as Shinigami
and Duo, the god of death and Sister Helen's little orphan, in fact they
are one and the same, one massive twisted paradox born of fire, blood
and death. I can't turn either side on or off, though I can let one or
the other to the front when I have to. But the other one is always there,
two opposing currents dragging my mind into a whirlpool. I know this would
blow Heero out of the water; how could I possibly function like that,
he'd ask. He thinks in straight lines, hell, he makes his laptop's logic
board look like a corkscrew. But I'm not like that...
The thing is, it works. This chaos generates solutions and conclusions
that occasionally catch even the perfect soldier flat-footed. At other
Finally my tired brain flips out a few thoughts to anchor me back to the
here and now.
There's a mission starting, it's very time sensitive, I need to be one
I don't want to lose that small light of- whatever, pride, respect, equality
that I saw in Heero's eyes an hour ago.
If I blow a mission, I'll be losing a lot more than that!
I might like playing footsie with death but I don't have a death-wish
unlike some people I know, and I really don't want to die anytime soon,
not before I can find out what last night meant exactly to him, to me...
.and see if maybe, just maybe, we might get to do it again!
Time to concentrate and get cracking.
My own fingers are already flying over the keyboard, part of my mind running
through base schematics even while arguing with itself. Damn, she's a
big one alright. As all my attention comes back to the task at hand, that
part of my mind Dr G trained pops up and presents a tally.
"I don't have enough bang to do it straight out." I say to the door opening
"You have 2K of-"
"Babe, Dr J doesn't want this place wounded, he wants it totalled! Half
of it's underground, parts are reinforced." I feel a warm presence at
my shoulder, looking over it as I fly through blue-prints. I ignore it.
We both concentrate on the small window with the mission parameters flashing
in one corner of the screen. Then I point to several key areas on the
various blue-print windows I've tiled.
"Suggestion?" Heero grunts.
"I'll wire the MS fuel tanks here and here."
"That will save you some explosives but-"
"You'll have to start by hacking the fire doors to the underground rail
system so that the fuel and fire will-"
"-penetrate into the MS ammunition depot." Heero concludes. "I'll disable
all fire systems, the heat should blow the depot. The MS rockets will
take care of anything in a one hundred meter radius, however reinforced.
That will avoid you having to go anywhere near the depot, it's likely
"Which gives me time to pack the rest of my 2K here, here and here. That
will torch the Records building and labs."
"But the computer room is reinforced as well. And it's our principal target"
He's frowning in the light from the screen. I try to concentrate on the
cold laptop and not on the warm flesh a few inches from mine. But I can't
help noticing that there is a fraction less tension in him than I would
expect, seeing that I'm right into the kill zone...
"That's OK." I say, my attention back on the screen, the mission. "I'll
cook up some party poppers with the C4 and plant those there while you're
getting the alarms and fire-response off line." I don't like what my mouth
is saying. I'm wiring the room where my lover is going to be working on
hacking the mainframe... But I've already played the parameters of this
mission in my mind a few dozen times, and I just don't have enough explosives
to do it any other way, and no time to cook up a new batch.
"Hn." Which is Heero for OK, agreed, well thought out plan, good job Duo!
You takes what you can gets, as Solo used to say.
I'm already hauling out the 'other' duffel from under my bed. Not the
small one containing my clothes, weapons and a few knickknacks. The one
that contains the highly-explosive tools of my trade. Yeah, I sleep over
enough hi-ex to total three city blocks, and, most nights, I sleep OK.
The smell of nitro compounds is my security blanket.
Heero is downloading blue-prints to our Gundams so we can memorize them
on the way over. I check the contents of my duffel and start sorting wires
and packets of ex.
"I'll go get Barton." Heero says over his shoulder, hitting the enter
"Better you than me! Just make sure you knock loudly or you might barge
into something steamy! I wonder if Quatre can blush so hard he might actually
blow the veins in his cheeks. I've always wanted to sneak up on 'em but
then Trowa would fold me into a pretzel-" I've been talking to an empty
doorway for the last ten seconds but I'm still grinning and talking while
my fingers start wiring fuses and packing the M18 and C4 into dead-bags.
They're not that reactive, but when you're running around in a Gundam
and getting shot at, you don't take the chance of plastique tumbling around
the cockpit unless it's in isolating containers.
I glance at the laptop one last time before I carefully haul my duffel
onto my shoulder. The time lines J gave us are insane. I'm going to have
to wire the goddamn C4 while in Deathscythe, at the same time as I memorize
the base layouts.
Two, three, four... There are at least four interesting and messy ways
I can die in the next six hours. Suddenly I'm not so sorry I didn't sleep
last night. Exhaustion adds another element of risk but if I'm gonna go,
I'd rather do it with Heero's whispers of my name on my skin...
I hear Trowa asking curt mission-related questions as two sets of feet
run down the stairs. Careful not to bang my duffel on anything I run out
to follow them.
I hate this.
Getting into the mainframe was harder than anticipated. Getting through
the perimeter at dawn was OK, we went through like a couple of ghosts
gearing for a haunt. The electronics designed to keep us out surrendered
gracefully to the Perfect Soldier. The human guards didn't even know we
were there, but they were many of them and we had to avoid them all. Some
of them will be dead in two hours, some of them will not, depending on
their patrol route in and out of the blast areas. The sheer randomness
of this brings bile to my throat but I ignore it. I'm familiar with the
taste of death.
I hate this though.
I'm wiring the mainframe with the C4. Heero is at the terminal screen,
his fingers blurring over the keyboard. The hacker programs from his CD
have downloaded now, and he's bypassing the inner ring of security measures.
The mainframe is actually isolated from the outside world, it's a control
server for the MS plant and research lab of the base. Not many firewalls
can keep Heero out for long, but if the thing isn't actually connected
to the rest of the world, you can only get to it if you're willing to
I hate this...
- I'm strapping explosives to the racks three feet away from my lover's
- The explosives are not on a timer, I have a switch, but I know that
the mission timelines are such that I will hit the button as surely as
the little mechanism of a clock would; there will be no leeway.
- There is enough time for Heero to crack the mainframe maybe- and get
out maybe- before the whole base goes sky high maybe.
- But if there is any delay he will not leave this spot, this terminal,
this desk where I'm wiring a fuse near his long legs until he is done,
and then he'll upload the information via the wireless modem he's installed
and he'll stay until it's uploaded and the Done message pops up or the
explosives blow, whichever comes first...
I really really hate this.
But I'm still doing it.
"Duo." My head shoots up from under the desk and I nearly brain myself.
This was the first word he'd said since the operation started.
"The alarms are off." Now why was I stupid enough to think he was going
to say something else... At least he used my first name. My heart does
a double thump-thump as I realize that he's not called me Maxwell since
"The fire response system is on the same server, I'll have it off in an
estimated three minutes. Get going. RV at gate four in one hour and seven
minutes-" we'd already synchronized our watches "- hit the detonator no
later than 0738."
That meant a five minute lee-way between our meeting at the gate and armageddon.
I find myself nodding. My howls of protest don't make it further than
my chest where they sit and sulk and use my heart for a punching bag.
I ignore it.
I see Heero open a window on another monitor, checking on his programs
chewing holes into the mainframe's security. He stares at it for two seconds
then continues working on the fire-alarm system.
"If you arrive with spare time, take out the guards between the Records
building and gate four." He says. He hasn't looked at me once since we
entered the mainframe room, even when I slipped between his legs to wire
ex to the landline beneath the desk, insuring his modem and any traces
of download are incinerated.
"Anything for you, buddy." My voice is a whisper, though the room is heavily
reinforced, sound-proofed and the guards in the security room are dead.
I know why he's asking me to do that. He's estimated the time it will
take to crack the mainframe, download the information and get out, and
he thinks he's not going to have enough time to play dodge-em with the
guards on the way to our RV. My heart takes another punch but I'm already
moving, re-checking the straps inside my duffel, my weapons, the blue-prints
in my head. The sooner I finish the sooner I can take out those guards.
I leave like a ghost, my mind so full I don't even say anything to him.
I just hate this...
I'm still doing it.
The mobile suits are frozen giants above us...
Step, step, turn...
I can't see what the fuss was about... J had learned that this plant had
improved the operational efficiency of Leos by 20% or something. These
were the improved models but they looked just like the old ones...
Step, scuffle, fumble...
I'd love to crack the hatch on one of these sad giants looming over me
to see what his newly improved guts look like...
Fumble, flick- I can't believe this guy!
"Jesus, Jack, cut that out!"
"Why, you going to report me?"
"When you're risking MY ass smoking this close to a hydro-mix fuel tank,
you bet your sweet ass I am!"
"Fuck, grab a clue, the tanks are so well isolated that-"
Turn, shift rifle...
"Cut it out, Deckers, you know regulations."
"OK, OK, she's out already. I swear, you two... "
My blood pressure climbs down from the plateau Jack's lighter had sent
it to. The fuel tanks are very well insulated, sure. The pack of M18 I
planted a meter away from Jack is not so lucky.
I ignore the scream of minutes slipping by. The third man had showed up
unexpectedly, his patrol route had not been on our maps. He was now facing
my escape route out of the wired hangar and didn't look like he was continuing
his rounds any time soon.
I was fast approaching a red flag on my internal clock that meant I had
run out of time for him to pursue his patrol, if he was even going to.
At that point I would have to risk slipping out, or I was going to have
to kill these three guys without raising the alarm, or I was going to
have to wait here for fifteen extra minutes before I hit the detonator
and sent us all to hell and that last wasn't an option. I had to go clear
the gate guards for Heero.
I'm nearly in plain sight, though my black clothing blends into the shadows
of the hangar's walkways and vents I'm clinging to. Humans have more animal
instincts than they will allow for, I know that beyond sight and sound,
my 'presence' might eventually intrude on them, cause them to shift nervously,
to look around to try to define the prickle on the back of their necks.
So I put myself elsewhere...
I keep my senses on them but my mind drifts, my breathing and heart rate
are slow, my muscles relaxed...
... When Heero downloads that data I'll have to access it. 20% optimisation.
Deathscythe, old buddy, compadre, how does that much extra juice sound
to you, hmm?
Shift, yawn... step, step, turn...
The MS and gundams work on different systems but I didn't spend all that
time working on my metallic 'better half' to not have picked up a few
Step, step, scratch scratch,...
Four minutes until I have to risk-
Grunt. Hoist Rifle.
"Say hi to Marla for me, Rich."
"See you in two hours."
Finally! Rich's military boots ring like a tocsin on the metal ramp down
to ground level . He's doubling back on his patrol route though. I see
how many swearwords I can remember in Japanese, Mandarin and Arabic as
I let him get a few meters ahead, relaxing my muscles...
I coalesce out of the darkness, falling limply from my hiding place to
land in a silent crouch on the observation platform beneath me. My legs
straighten slowly. I am behind Jack, who is looking at the fuel tanks
morosely, probably waiting for his next coffee and ciggie break. My body
falls into the next few steps with the best compromise between silence
and speed. My rubber-soled boots fall precisely where I want them to,
where they won't cause a shuffle against metal or the creak of the slats.
Jack shifts. His partner, who is staring at nothing much on the other
side of the platform with his back to me, yawns again.
I'm a whisper, a silence, a cipher, a patch of nothing ghosting down the
ramp to shadow Rich's slow footsteps out of the hangar. I leave Jack and
his unnamed colleague to die in flame and fury behind me. OZ scum and
human beings, we're all just these little paradoxes aren't we? No hard
feelings, guys, you'd do worse to me. Enjoy your last twenty minutes.
Rich breaks off to the left at the hangar door. I am a shadow within a
shadow near a gangway strut, I knew before he did that he would glance
back one last time, out of habit. Then his slow steps echo away and I've
got five minutes to get to gate four and kill everybody there.
I slither up to the guard post and freeze in horror.
There's only one guard there instead of four. He's not lounging in front
of his consoles, he's standing at the window saying 'Ed? Come in, Ed?'
over and over in his communicator.
He doesn't look alarmed yet but I know that will change.
I already know what's happened, my brain working with the speed you gain
when your life has been on the line more times than you've had birthdays,
or even hot meals. The bloody patrol route map which sent Rich unexpectedly
into my feet has sent someone over Heero's way, probably into the guard's
room near the mainframe. We'd hid the bodies out of redundant precaution
we're all too used to having the crap shoot of chance screwing us over
and over again to take risks. But an empty surveillance room has brought
the guards over to investigate.
Heero has already switched off the alarms, that might buy us some leeway.
If the alarms go off, then we've failed. The scientists in the lab will
immediately break isolation protocol and will send an emergency transmission
of the data we're trying to steal and destroy, straight to the OZ headquarters
in Zurich. As it is, since they finished their research yesterday, they
were going to present their report to HQ today anyway and send them the
data in an official transmission. We have only twenty minutes before they
do so, alarms or not. That's why the base has to blow before then, no
matter what, or their completed data will be sent out of our reach, and
new and improved Leos will be striding through the colonies in a matter
No matter that Heero has run into a pack of investigating guards and is
now somewhere in those hallways, possibly fighting, possibly wounded,
"Ed- Dammit, if you don't get onto the com now I'm calling-"
I don't bother waiting to see who he'll call. He gasps as he sees me but
doesn't have time to raise his rifle before I plunge my fist into his
gut. He doubles over with a strangle gasp of pain and I hit him in the
neck with my elbow. With a crunch of vertebrae he falls silent to the
The uninterrupted crackle of the communicator is music to my ears, it
means Ed and company have run into the Perfect Soldier and are now pushing
up daisies. But how long did it take him to get through them? I know he'll
now be scouting the area, to be sure no other guard from their group is
left to raise the alarm before we blow the base. He's cut the landlines
by now, but the guys in the lab might have another way out for their data,
we can't risk the alarm even now. Damn damn damn!
I don't need to glance at my watch, I know there is less than seven minutes
for Heero to get back here. I drag the man I'd taken out to the back room.
Damn, his nose is bleeding, a red smear on the concrete. I'd deliberately
taken him out bare-handed to avoid the mess my knife would have made!
Uncooperative jerk. I waste a few precious seconds cleaning up the blood
trail, I don't know who else is around and the alarm cannot go out now.
Then I peek around the doorway. No one in between the guard house and
the small inner wall that separates Records from the rest of the base.
Beyond that I can't see. The mainframe and Heero are in Records.
Five minutes to go before I have to blow the base.
I know the blind spots of the lookouts at least if THAT information wasn't
wrong and the cameras are already off, so I slither out of the guard
house and crouch near an old jeep parked outside, scanning the area for
Four minutes plus.
I stand up and calmly walk towards the perimeter wall. My black clothes
look like Spec Ops from a distance, and I know my body language, gait,
scowl, everything, will peg me as such as well, as I slip into the role
as easily and completely as I slip into stealth mode. I'm not as good
as Trowa but I've still walked right past a few patrols and lookouts before
with barely a second glance.
I hesitate when I get to the wall. I can walk slowly- to the gate ten
meters away or I can break cover and climb the wall. I want to go and help Heero now. But I need to make sure
no-one sees me and radios in an alarm. At this point, they will not have
time to do much about it but I cannot take the risk someone is faster
than I think they are... I turn and walk to the gate in the inner perimeter
wall. Heero had snapped the guard's neck on our way in, and hidden the
body underneath the deep desk of monitors, but one of the patrolling guards
-have left someone there to watch the defences. I step into the guard
room in one smooth motion, drawing my gun and shooting the man hunched
over the monitors before he can look around. The room full of electronic
hum ignores the pfft of my silencer and the rag-doll noise of the man
collapsing on the monitor desk. The monitors are all offline, a simple
diagnostic program the man was running making no headway against the damage
Heero has inflicted on the system.
I look around the inside of the perimeter. No one. They must all be inside
the Records building. Dammit Heero where are you?
Forty five seconds.
At this distance, I should be safe. He has to come through here to exit
now, he wouldn't have time to make it over the wall. He has to make it
at least to this guard station or he'll be in the blast radius and that's
playing dice with death.
I take the detonator from my belt, my thumb flexing on the button. I scan
the empty space in front of me, in sudden fury. Damn it don't you dare
do this to me!
I know you've always got your finger an inch from the button! I've seen
you hit it once, seen you almost die so many times, one more time is almost
routine but don't make me do it! Not now! Come on, perfect soldier!
You still have enough time to come running out that door.
One mad dash and you're with me in the guard room you're with me you're
with me you-
Five four three
I am going to storm heaven and kill you, God, for making me do this-
My thumb hits the button and I belatedly dive for cover as the silence
is ripped apart. The windows of the guard's room shatter inwards in a
graceful rain of glass, seeming to hold still for a trembling second before
the second blast the MS fuel blowing- rattles the walls and sends the
glass flying to the other side of the room.
I'm on my belly, arms over my head and neck, just inside the door of the
guard room. I listen to the crash of debris falling in the inside perimeter
near the Records building which is gripped in a hurricane of fire and
flying masonry. I feel like the calm at the eye of the storm. Dead calm.
Our radio finally crackles to life. *Status?* It's Trowa, breaking radio
silence now that our presence here is obvious to anyone in a ten mile
"Is Heero at Wing?" I ask, my voice so calm. I know he's not.
*... No.* That pause before the word is the one minute silence you give
to fallen heroes. He knows what it means that I had to ask the question.
"Get ready for air support, Tro, I don't know how quickly the military
base at the airport near town will react."
*They can get MS here in twenty minutes.* Trowa informs me.
"That gives me fifteen minutes to look for Heero then." I snap. I make
my voice as final as possible and amazingly enough Trowa doesn't argue.
Heero has survived blowing up his own Gundam with him in it, there's no
telling exactly what it will take to kill the perfect soldier. I just
hope it isn't Shinigami.
I have my gun in my hand as I run out of the guard room and back to gate
four. Nothing inside the perimeter could have survived, now I have to
hope he made it past the wall and I missed him. I widen the arc of my
search. Debris smoke and hiss around me, the blast radius was wider than
I thought. The reinforcements of the building had been crummy. More chances
of Heero getting killed.
I don't wonder what I'll do if I don't find him, or find his body. My
life is not my own. It belongs to Deathscythe and the colonies. I don't
own my death, I'm not allowed that luxury.
I never explored the depths of my feelings for that silent man who would
dare to let Shinigami get so close to him, who could apparently see straight
past the jester mask when no one else could, who wasn't afraid of what
he could see there. I don't think of it now. I'm not allowed that luxury
So I don't think at all, just widen my search pattern further, and count
the minutes that fall like scorched debris all around me, counting down
to the moment I will have to leave.
I twist into a crouch, turn and squeeze the trigger before my mind even
registers the movement behind me. I manage to jerk the gun up and loosen
my finger at the last possible instant.
"Fuck! Heero, don't sneak up on me that like, I almost blew you
That wasn't what I'd wanted to tell him if I found him alive, but that's
what came out.
Heero frowns at me. "I wasn't- where were you when the explosives went
off? Is your hearing impaired?"
Damn, he's right. I do have a slight ringing in my ear, I was too close.
He's not stupid enough to sneak up on-
He's alive, he's alive, he's alive!
I straighten up swiftly. "Where the hell were you?!"
I realize there's a trail of blood leading to a storm drain near the wall
at the same time as I realize that there's a trail of blood.
If someone ripped his left arm off or removed a kidney, he'd call that
a flesh wound too. I give him a quick once-over. He has a deep gash in
his thigh right under the spandex, looks like a bullet ploughed in and
out again. It's bleeding a lot, but it shouldn't be fatal. The rest is
a lot of cuts and bruises.
His hand is like a vice as it closes on my arm, jerking my gaze away from
his injury to stare into his eyes.
I blink then gesture eloquently at the burning buildings, the wreckage,
the secondary explosions. It looked like one very dead OZ base to me!
"Was the timing followed?"
Uh? I glance down, and realize that somewhere along the line, his watch
had been smashed, probably against someone's face. He must have made it
past the wall anytime in the last twenty minutes and then hit the storm
drain to protect himself against an explosion that could come at any time.
Was the timing followed... !
"To the fucking minute, Yuy!" My voice cracks as that last minute comes
back to me. I wish I could drag that minute out back and shoot it in the
But I'd hit that button anyway. I live, I fight, I kill, I die for my
missions too, perfect soldier!
He looks at me solidly. "Good. I was interrupted by an unexpected guard
detail. I was afraid you might have been delayed by one too."
"We need to extract ourselves from this situation now. Let's go."
"If you mean we have to run like hell I guess I agree with you." I say
to a spandex backside disappearing into the rubble near the gate with
barely a limp. I run to catch up as I flip on the radio.
"We're on our way."
*... Good.* I love working with these guys. It's like living in a crossword
puzzle. What's a four letter word for 'Wow, he's alive, that's wonderful,
"We have ten minutes or so before company shows up." I shout to Heero.
"You know, I think Oz just doesn't appreciate all the efforts we put into
blowing up their research centres. They're kinda funny like that. Maybe
instead of improving their Leos they should work on their sense of humour.
I wouldn't blow up that lab. I did hit the button on time." That
last came out from behind the jester's mask and caught me by surprise.
"Th-thank you for almost blowing you up?! What kind of sick-"
"For last night."
I'm back at Deathscythe before I can figure out what that means, what
I feel about it, and above all, how to wade through the adrenaline, the
anger, the remains of panic chocking my system, to find the right way
of saying: 'Gee, no problem, is there a chance in hell we'll ever do it
He could have died today. We could be dead tomorrow. I accept that, I
accept the pain, I accept the fact I will lose him sooner or later, I
accept that I may even be the one who will pull the trigger. That's what
he's really thanking me for. So, can we take what we can while we're still
alive? Neither of us will let it become a weakness. So, can we... ?
I'm not sure the perfect soldier is willing to make a habit of something
"You're back!" Quatre bounces towards us like a happy puppy (well, towards
Trowa really), as if he hadn't had his gun trained on the door when we
opened it, ready to blow any intruder away with clinical efficiency. Sometimes,
I think we're not normal teenagers...
"Yeah, Q-man, break out the bubbly." No one else is going to answer him,
that's my role in our twisted little sit-com. I toss off my priest's coat
and start to talk, my usual little rambles. It doesn't hold a thimble
to the way Trowa reaches out and squeezes Quatre's hand as he passes him
on the way to the kitchen and the medical kit. Heero follows him.
I talk and I talk. It helps me blow off steam, it reassures Quatre - and
Wu Fei too, I know he's skulking around somewhere, letting the tone of
my voice and the quantity of words tell him that the mission was a success
and no one got dead. Q-man starts to grin, losing that slight pain in
his eyes he has whenever one of us leaves the house with a chance of never
"Maxwell, do you ever stop to take a breath of air?" Wu Fei grumbles from
the door to the TV room. He has a book of Chinese poetry in one hand,
his reading glasses in the other.
"Nope, Wuffers, air is overrated."
"Then choke up and die already." He snarls. He only glances at the kitchen,
listening to the snip of scissors cutting suturing thread. Reassured,
he leaves again. Back to his book of poetry, I guess. That is dangerous
and unnatural reading for a teenager, and I tense my muscles to leap off
the couch and do my duty of putting an immediate halt to such deviant
"Duo, you look shattered, get to bed. You can report later." Quatre has
probably sensed my train of thought and is trying to derail it before
things end in bloodshed.
The amount of sleep I've had over the last two days is a sick joke. My
body isn't laughing though. I grin at Quatre.
"Geez, Mom, whatever you say, will you come and tuck me in? I'd love a
hot chocolate before snuggling up with my teddy. I know it's a school
day tomorrow, but can I watch a little TV first, pleeeease?"
Q-man grimaces but he knows what I'm saying. I just killed a lot of people.
Made a whole bunch of orphans. Sleep is for those whose conscience isn't
bathed in blood and fire. He has to give me a few hours before I can cope
with something as dangerous as sleep.
There's a bit of a tightening in Quatre's eyes though. He knows that until
I unwind enough to let my exhaustion pull me under, I'm going to be downright
unbearable. I think I can almost hear Wu Fei groan from the other room
(how'm I gonna get that book from him, without getting myself a brand
new sword-cut... ) and Trowa sighs from the door to the kitchen.
Well, that's what you get for having the jester on your team! I know that
my sense of humour helps them get their sanity back when they return,
bloody inside and out, from one of their missions; now it's time to pay
the piper, baby! I wonder if Wu Fei would kill me if I somehow managed
to set that book on fire while he was reading it. I wonder how much innuendo
I can lay on Quatre about his love life before he understands what I'm
saying and blushes beet-red, or before Trowa tells me to cut it out. I
Quatre and Trowa are looking at each other with resigned airs, knowing
what they're about to go through, so they don't see it. I'm slouching,
my arm flung over and behind the top of the couch, my back to the kitchen
door. Heero come out of the kitchen, heading towards the stairs going
up to the bedrooms. He's passing me, waaay too close for Heero.
Funny, my body didn't even react though I knew he was walking towards
me. That's stupid, body! Heero is not immune to my pranks, though I might
cut back a little since he's injured. But he could still be creeping up
on me to stick his gun in my face and order me to shut up, or maybe just
go straight to punching my lights out if he's feeling tetchy enough. He's
also got his adrenaline running, and his demons have another bone to chew
on, that's a lethal combo that he has to address somehow.
As he passes, plunging me right into the kill zone, I feel something brush
along my arm hanging over the couch. Not close enough to touch skin but
a whisper of a caress that ignites it, his fingers drifting from the wrist
all the way to the sensitive skin on the back of my arm near the edge
of my tank-top's strap.
My mouth runs dry and stops of its own volition.
He's already passed me, and is climbing the stairs.
Quatre and Trowa are staring at me in increasing alarm, wondering if I
have concussion or something. Then Wu Fei's head appears in the door to
the TV room, staring at me as well. I wasn't supposed to stop talking
for at least an hour.
I suddenly realize there's a better way to pass that hour, use up that
"... You know what? I think I'll take your advice. I'm going to bed. I'll
see you guys tomorrow."
I ignore three stares on my back as I leap towards the stairs.
[part 2] [back to