Across the Universe
Part 5 - Undying
At midnight, Heero woke to a knock at his door. "Just a minute," he said, getting out of bed.
It was probably Wufei with news about the hunt for Gies, or Quatre fussing about something that had been said at dinner.
He slipped into his jeans and went to the door, opening it like a man who didn't want to be disturbed. To his surprise, it was not Wufei or Quatre or even Trowa standing at his door, but Duo.
"Is something wrong?" Heero asked, with one hand on the door and the other on the doorjamb.
Duo blinked and then nodded. "I need to talk to you."
That was unusually direct.
"Okay... I'll get my shirt."
"No," Duo said, causing Heero to stop mid-turn. "Can we talk here?"
"Sure." Heero opened the door wide and Duo walked into his room like a man on a mission. He hadn't seen Duo this forthright since the war.
Duo was disheveled like he'd been in bed and decided to storm down here to "talk." His hair was a little messy, and his jeans and t-shirt seemed thrown on in a hurry. He wasn't even wearing socks.
Heero wasn't sure why Duo was here, but damn, he looked sexy. "You okay?" he asked, closing the door behind him.
Duo nodded, but was looking around the room as if he was trying to find a place to perch. Heero gestured for Duo to take a seat which he did on the edge of the bed. Two seconds later he was standing again, and seeming altogether nervous.
"Heero," he said, facing him.
There, Duo had said his name again, and Heero's heart skipped a beat. "Yes?"
"I need to apologize... for last night."
"Why should you apologize?"
"Yeah, that's a good question," Duo said with a nervous laugh.
Damn, if that didn't sound like the old Duo. Heero nearly laughed with him, delighted by the change.
"I was aware... of quite a bit last night."
Heero stared at him, feeling awkward discussing this. "Yeah, I shouldn't have-"
"No, let me explain. You don't understand."
"Okay... I don't understand," Heero said. "So explain it to me."
Duo's brow furrowed. "I don't know how to tell you this-"
"Then just say it. Having you talking to me is..."
Duo's eyebrows shot up. "Is what?"
"It is?" Duo asked with a tentative grin.
"Yes." Was it his imagination or were they having their first normal conversation? "Now tell me what's bothering you."
Duo took a deep breath, and a step back towards the bed. Heero knew body language and Duo's was telling him that he was uneasy. He moved towards Duo, and Duo took another step back, bumping into the bed and sitting down.
With large, worried eyes Duo gazed up. "Heero... I remember."
"You remember?" Heero wondered which terrible memory had surfaced in Duo's mind. Was it his last battle in Deathscythe? Or could it be the destruction of the Maxwell Church when he was a child?
"I should have told you," Duo said. "It was a couple weeks ago, but you've been gone, and things have been so uncomfortable between us, and my memories are still mixed up in my head-"
"Slow down. What are you trying to say?"
Duo laughed nervously again. "I'm trying to tell you that you're Heero Yuy. I remember you now."
Warmth rushed to Heero's face and through his veins, the warmth of recognition, of being someone... to Duo. Then as suddenly as elation struck, the reality of their past set in. "What do you remember about me?"
"Just stuff... It's kind of fuzzy and fragmented, but I remember I shot you twice!"
"You don't have to sound excited about it."
Duo chuckled. "And you stole parts from my Gundam."
"Wufei told you that."
"No, I remember it. We were on a ship with Howard... I saw you take off in your Gundam and was damn impressed with how fast you had fixed it, until I realized you had butchered mine to do it. That's what happened, right?"
"I'll take that as a 'yes'."
Duo was smiling, seeming pleased by the memories even though those moments showcased what a major ass Heero had been.
"Look, I want to apologize for how I treated you back then," Heero said. "It was my training." He shook his head. He swore he wouldn't make excuses. "I've been told I was an ass, and I'm inclined to believe it."
"Heero, I didn't come here to make you feel bad. That stuff happened a long time ago." Duo went quiet then, his attention going to the floor.
"Is it something you remember?"
Duo's shoulders slumped and he slid from the bed and onto his knees. "I'm so sorry," he said, kneeling at Heero's feet.
Heero stared, taken aback. "Should I get the nurse?"
"No!" he said, looking up sharply. "I just want to be with you... I've always wanted to be with you."
"I know it's wrong, but that's how I felt then and how I feel now."
Heero's head spun. Surely his own desires were twisting Duo's words in his brain. "What are you saying?"
"Damn it, I used you last night!" Duo said, looking up at him with an emotion-filled face. "After you woke me from that nightmare it felt so good to be in your arms, I couldn't resist. I thought it was my only chance. And you responded... oh, God. But now you know the truth, so I won't blame you..."
Heero fell to his knees, overcome by the confession. "It's okay," he said, tentatively reaching out... hoping, hoping.
Duo collapsed into his arms, trembling, and Heero surrounded him in a warm embrace. He caressed Duo's long braid, and silently repeated the most unbelievably perfect phrase he had ever heard: I've always wanted to be with you. His heart pounded in his chest like it would pound right out of him it was so overcome with joy. He brushed the hair from Duo's eyes, looking into his face and seeing how painfully sad Duo was.
"I know this is late, five years too late," Heero said, his heart hammering in his ears. "But I've been in love with you since the day you shot me. And when you went missing a part of me died, but the war went on... We all went on and somehow I clung to the hope that you were out there somewhere and someday I'd get the chance to say these things to you. But I never really believed that you could feel the same..." He choked up, unable to say anymore.
Duo jumped back into his arms and kissed him-hard. "I love you," Duo said, the words mumbled in the kiss. "I love you, I love you."
They stayed like that, kneeling on the floor, embracing and kissing for minutes on end. It was a dream. It had to be a dream. Heero pulled back and looked around the room. Then Duo touched his face with his hand, returning his attention to him.
"You thinking this ain't real?"
"Then stop it, because I've got some very real plans for you."
"Yeah, we finally admit we love each other. I'd say we've both been waiting a Hell of a long time for this." Duo nodded to the bed, and Heero needed no more encouragement.
He kissed Duo, telling him he loved him and swept him into his arms. He lifted Duo from the floor and laid him on the bed.
"Is that door locked?" Duo asked. "'Cause I don't want Quatre barging in like he has a habit of doing. Can you tell I haven't had much privacy lately?"
"Lately? You mean for the past five years?"
"Yeah, and I'm needing a Hell of a lot of privacy with you."
Heero strode to the door and locked it and when he came back to the bed, Duo was pulling his t-shirt over his head. He tossed the shirt to the floor and gave Heero a wicked grin.
"I've missed you, Duo."
Duo pulled Heero on top of him. Their lips and hands got busy loving each other and they quickly divested themselves of the remainder of their clothes. Throwing the covers back, they slipped under the sheets and melded the length of their naked bodies together. It was all so new, so electric, it felt like every piston was firing and every light was green.
Heero tried to pace himself, pace their lovemaking, but both of them were under pressure and ready to pop. He wanted to be reverent and gentle, but Duo kept egging him on to faster, greedier delights. They licked each other, sucked each other, and kissed each other silly, laughing and glorying in a dream come true.
Pools of joy drifted over them, possessing and caressing their minds and bodies. It was perfect and yet imperfect as they discovered each other's bodies, sometimes clumsily and sometimes gracefully as they made up for lost time.
At long last, Heero nestled between Duo's thighs, his fingers stroking inside him. His beautiful lover lay under him, his braid mussed and his back arched towards him.
"Just do me," Duo said. "I've needed you for too long."
He knew he wouldn't last once he was inside Duo, but Heero's need was too great for patience. He slicked himself and pressed his cock to Duo's ass. Their eyes met, Duo's bright, beautiful eyes looking at him at last... He slid inside, pushed and slid further.
"Yeah," Duo said with a heavy breath.
"Shh... Come on."
He didn't need much encouragement, but it was sexy having Duo talk to him that way. How many times had he dreamed about this? But those dreams had never been this good. They could never replicate the emotion in Duo's eyes; the contours of his lithe, hard body; or the bounce of his speech pattern.
With another thrust, he slid all the way in and was lost to the blissful squeeze of Duo's warmth around him. He started to move, thrusting in and out in an easy rhythm, but his pace increased quickly. Duo wrapped his legs around Heero's thighs and wove his fingers into his hair, tousling it more than it had been from his sleep.
"Heero," Duo said, his voice husky.
"Duo... you feel amazing."
Duo grinned and kissed him. "You're amazing." And he shoved back into Heero, spiking arousal through them both.
They thrust towards each other, their pace in complete harmony, increasing speed and strength until they each were overcome by sensation and emotion. They came hard and fast, sucking the breath from each other in a final, all-consuming kiss that lasted a moment longer than their climaxes.
Spent, breathless, and gasping for air, Heero collapsed on Duo. They were hot, sweaty and sticky, but neither cared. They were delirious from great sex and the realization that each had been carrying a torch for the other.
Eventually they fell asleep after disentangling themselves, and wrapping themselves around each other in a new position.
Hours later, a sliver of sunlight came through the window to wake Heero. It was dawn and he hadn't moved a muscle all night. He gazed at his sleeping Duo and smiled. He had never been one for sappy prose or tears or smiling from ear to ear, but he saw the value in them now, and wanted to experience them all.
Duo shifted in his arms, possibly sensing he was awake. He didn't want to disturb the moment. He just wanted to feel Duo in his arms, feel his nakedness against him, and watch him sleep.
A light tap on the door snuffed that wish out in an instant. "Heero?"
It was Quatre.
"Mmm?" Duo moaned.
"Shh, Quatre's at the door. I'll get rid of him."
"Oh..." Duo said, and drifted back to sleep.
Heero wasn't sure that Duo had registered what he had said, but he removed himself from his lover's arms and got out of bed. He slipped on his jeans, the ones that had been hurriedly tossed to the floor last night, and ran his hands through his hair.
Another tap at the door. "Heero? Are you awake?"
He unlocked the door and cracked it open several inches, standing between Quatre and his line of vision to the bed.
"Good, you're awake."
"What is it?"
"Duo's not in his room. I've checked the entire house. Do you think we said something last night that upset him?"
"I'm sure he's fine."
"I've called my security team and they're searching the building. Where could he have gone? He's not well enough to be on his own."
The worry in Quatre's eyes hit Heero like a ton of guilty bricks. He and Duo hadn't discussed letting the others know about their feelings for each other, but he couldn't let Quatre tear the colony apart looking for him.
"Duo's with me."
"We had a long chat last night and he... fell asleep here." Okay, so it wasn't exactly the truth.
Quatre stood on his tiptoes to peek over Heero's shoulder and gasped. Bingo. He'd seen Duo in bed. "Umm..."
Heero stepped forward and into the hall, closing the door behind him and forcing Quatre back.
"You mind telling me what really happened last night?" Quatre asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Duo and I slept together."
"You... slept together?"
"That's what I said."
Quatre's face turned from worried and inquisitive to downright peeved. "And you think that was a good idea?"
"Yes, I do."
"Oh, I see. So the fact that he's under medical supervision means nothing to you?"
"I didn't take advantage of him, Quatre. He came to me."
"Until he's cleared by my sister and Doctor Cappucine, he's in no condition to be making decisions like that."
"He seemed perfectly capable of making decisions last night."
Quatre sighed. "Could you wake him please? I'd like to speak with him."
Heero leaned closer to his friend. "Do you really need to do that now? He's safe, he didn't run away, in fact, he ran into my arms. Leave him be."
Quatre stared him down, hands on hips, and for a moment Heero believed that his friend was going to charge him and knock the door down, but suddenly Quatre's face softened and he smiled. "You really slept together? Like not sleeping, slept together?"
"Yeah, we did." Heero chuckled.
"Wow. So, how did that happen?"
"Turns out we've been in love with each other for a long time."
Quatre smiled brightly, and looked enormously relieved. "You realize this is the first time you've told me how you feel about Duo?"
"I guess it is."
"Heero, I'm so happy for you, for the both of you. I'll make us a special breakfast to celebrate!"
"Quatre, I don't know-"
"Don't be shy," Quatre said, putting his hand on Heero's forearm. "News like this has got to be shared."
"I was hoping to spend the day-"
"In bed? Well, how about if we make it a quick breakfast?"
Heero couldn't help, but laugh. "Okay, but give us an hour."
"Of course," Quatre said with a wink.
Heero went back into the bedroom, and crawled under the covers with Duo. He wrapped himself around him, nuzzling his neck and kissing his ear. Duo was warm, and smelled heavenly of musk and sex.
"Who was that?" Duo asked, sleepily.
"Quatre. You were missing in action."
"Oh, God!" Duo sat up like a bolt. "I didn't think about that."
"Don't worry. Everything's fine," Heero said, coaxing Duo back down on top of him.
"Yeah? He's okay?"
"I didn't want to tell him about us, but he wouldn't go away."
"So, we're an 'us' now?"
"If that's okay with you."
"More than okay." Duo hugged Heero, rubbing himself against his lover and then took his lips in a deep kiss. "What's next?"
"I was hoping to stay locked in here with you all day, but Quatre wants everyone to have breakfast together... to celebrate us."
"That sounds all right."
"Both. Do we have time for...." Duo wriggled on Heero's lap making his intentions very clear.
Duo all but purred as he wrapped his arms around Heero's neck and kissed him hard. There were fewer preliminaries this morning before they got to the fucking. Oh, Heero felt with every fiber of his being that he was making love to Duo, but the way Duo rode him it was a fucking sort of lovemaking.
It continued in the shower with Duo's legs wrapped around Heero's waist and his back against the cold tiles for leverage. Something about lost years came to mind, but they did have a commitment to their friends and it probably would be good in the long run to let them in on their new relationship.
By the time they dressed and walked into the kitchen, hand-in-hand, the French toast was sizzling in the pan and their friends were all smiles and cheers.
"It's true," Trowa said, the disbelief resonating in his voice and on his face.
"Yep, here we are," Duo said, leaning over and planting a kiss on Heero's cheek.
"When did this happen?" Wufei asked, looking the most flummoxed.
"Oh, it's been percolating for years." Duo chuckled.
Heero smiled. Duo was himself again... mostly. It seemed the doctors were right. Once his memories started to return he would regain his confidence and begin to move forward.
"Sit down everyone," Quatre said, in a particularly sing-song tone. "Oh, Trowa can you get the champagne out of the fridge?"
The table was set with china, silverware and crystal champagne glasses. Trowa grabbed a new bottle of champagne and orange juice, and announced they'd be making a toast with mimosas.
They took their seats, Heero and Duo seated side by side.
Trowa poured the drinks, and once everyone had a glass, he raised his for a toast. "To Duo Maxwell, one Hell of a survivor, and to his and Heero's newfound love. May you be happy forever."
"To Duo and Heero!" Quatre said with cheer.
Everyone raised and touched their glasses to each other's, and then sipped their mimosas. The sweet ping of the crystal brought Heero's mind back to the night of Trowa's birthday. It seemed ages ago, but not quite two months had passed. Heero had been on the outside looking in, present in body, but not in mind. Melancholy had taken over his life and if not for his work and his friends he might've faded to nothing and never gotten to this moment.
Duo poked him in the ribs. "Something on your mind?"
"I was realizing how lucky I am."
"Yeah?" Duo smiled.
Heero nodded. "I don't think I'll ever get tired of these toasts."
The others smiled, and there seemed to be a general consensus that luck ran in all their veins.
That morning's breakfast was the best Heero had ever had. It was as though his taste buds and all his senses had been awakened. He savored each and every bite. The conversation was brilliant, too. No single person dominated, and everyone had memories and stories to share. Heero's favorite moment was when Duo recalled his daring rescue of Heero from the Alliance medical facility. It was like foreshadowing and they had come full circle. First, Duo had rescued him, and then he had rescued Duo.
"You should have seen him free falling from the 50th floor! He scared the Hell out of me!"
"I didn't think it was possible to scare Duo Maxwell," Heero said with a chuckle.
"Oh, it's possible, but you damn well better not do it again."
"I can live with that."
After breakfast, Duo used the vid phone in the kitchen to contact Doctor Cappucine to postpone their session until later that day. Heero stood around the corner, waiting for him, and couldn't help but overhear the conversation. He smiled when he heard the doctor's pleasure at Duo's breakthrough. As a reward for Duo's hard work, the doctor suggested they take the day off. Duo crowed with excitement, but then toned down his response as they briefly discussed the work ahead of them. The nightmares were persisting, but Duo bravely said he would endure them so long as it meant they kept bringing back more of his memories. Good, bad or indifferent.
Heero spent the remainder of his time off with Duo. They were always by each other's side. The closeness was like nothing he had ever experienced. It felt like he couldn't breathe if Duo wasn't sitting next to him or holding his hand. Duo's long absence was still fresh in his mind, warning Heero that Duo could still disappear into the universe never to be seen again.
Their time was cut short when Heero and Wufei received word from Commander Une that agents had tracked Doctor Gies off planet. They were to head out immediately.
He stood in the bedroom, dressed in his uniform, with his arms around Duo. He regretted this separation, but if it led to Gies's capture it would be worth it.
"I wish I was going with you," Duo said.
"One day you will."
Duo looked into his eyes and nodded. "This uniform suits you."
"Thanks." He kissed Duo's forehead and then took his face in his hands and kissed him fully on the lips. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
He couldn't remember a time when he hadn't been 100% focused on a mission. It took him several hours to shake the feeling that this interlude had been a dream.
The Preventers team spent the next six days chasing shadows across the universe until they were only one step behind, instead of three or five. Their latest information led them to a resource satellite orbiting L2. A man fitting Gies's description had taken a flight to this location.
Heero's fingers twitched as the Preventers ship married to the space dock. They met briefly with one of the dock's crew who verified that a small cruiser had docked there only hours before and the pilot looked like Gies. The cruiser hadn't submitted any flight plans, but it had remained on radar, heading towards MO-II. They didn't need coordinates to find one of the last staging grounds from the war-an exhausted resource satellite that Space Leos led by Treize Khushrenada had used against White Fang.
Less than an hour later, the Preventers found Gies's cruiser. It was floating in space, not having made it as far as MO-II.
"Cruiser Z103, this is Preventers XJ306. Do you copy?" Wufei asked over the inter-ship comm.
They stared at the space cruiser, dark and aimless in the vastness of space.
"She's dead," Heero said.
"Do you think he rendezvoused and abandoned it?" Wufei asked.
Heero stared out the window at the ship. Something wasn't right. Why would Gies abandon a fast ship like this unless he was going deep into space. Then he would need a freighter, but docking a cruiser to a freighter out here was madness.
"I'm going over," Heero said.
"Let's send a team."
Heero hesitated. He wanted to harm Gies in the worst way and for that he needed to be alone, but his conscience won out. "I'll take Baker."
After suiting up in the air lock, Heero checked that he was live with Wufei. He opened the air lock door to space, and he and Baker used propulsion jets to reach the cruiser. It took about twenty seconds to cross the distance between the two ships. Heero was focused on his goal, zeroing into the landing point, but a corner of his mind flashed on that feeling he used to get about wanting to float off into space, a feeling of nothingness he'd had after Duo was gone. The difference between then and now was beyond words. Duo was back, Duo was his, and Duo was waiting for his return.
He slammed into the side of the cruiser a little harder than expected, grabbing a handhold near an access door. Agent Baker was a second behind him. The cruiser was eerily still and Heero wondered how Gies had managed such an impeccable rendezvous in space.
When they entered the ship it was completely dark and sensors showed there was no atmosphere. He turned the light on his helmet to illuminate the interior of the ship. Dead didn't begin to describe this place. It was cold and unwelcoming. Their magnetized boots clanked on the metal floor as they walked toward the cockpit. Someone didn't want this ship being used again anytime soon-all the environmental controls were damaged and access panels torn out of the walls.
They forced the cockpit door open to find Gies floating there, blue from suffocation and the icy cold of space. His eyes were forever frozen in fear and shock.
"Gies is dead," Heero said.
"He's there?" Wufei asked.
"Someone got to him first." So, this thing, the Emerald Eye program was bigger than Gies. Could they really know how far its' tentacles reached?
Heero was damn pissed by the time he and Baker, and the corpse, got back to the Preventers ship. Wufei had called for a tow and set a Preventers enforced boundary with beacons around the vessel. They might find something of use buried in the computer's database.
Heero met Wufei in the hall outside the air lock.
"You were cheated of your revenge," Wufei said.
He looked sharply at his comrade. "You knew I was planning-"
"I had faith that you'd come to your senses before you got around to killing him."
"What I really wanted was to interrogate the bastard and put him in prison... for life."
"Has Duo talked about what Gies did to him?"
"He doesn't remember Gies, just pain... endless, racking pain."
"What did they do to him?"
"My guess is that Duo was a guinea pig for whatever they had planned. When the war ended they filled him with drugs and tucked him away to be used another time."
Wufei shook his head. "You think they were waiting to start the program again?"
"Finish it, more likely."
"It's difficult to imagine such a program existed without word of it leaking out."
"Well, it's leaked out now," Heero said. "Let's get this ship moving. We have a lot of paperwork before we can get back to L4."
Three days later, Heero returned to Duo's side. He was a man on a mission, but this mission had nothing to do with the Preventers.
"I want you to live with me," he said as they talked in Duo's guest suite.
"But you don't have a place of your own."
"We'll make a place together. Wherever you want."
Duo laughed. "Sometimes I can't believe it's true."
"That I'm here with you, that my mind isn't mush, that you love me." Tears filled Duo's eyes. "I must sound like a sap."
Heero grinned. "I like the way you sound... sap or not. Now listen, Quatre is not going to be happy about this. He's enjoyed looking after you, and he thinks I focus too much on work."
"Yes, but that's going to change, because I've got you to focus on now. I'm going to take a vacation for starters."
"When's the last one you took?"
"I haven't. I've got five years of vacation accrued. What do you say we start with a month and see where that takes us?"
Duo's face lighted with a brilliant smile and he wrapped his arms around Heero's neck, drawing him into an enthusiastic kiss. "Where should we go?"
"Anywhere, I don't care."
"Wow. Okay... let's think about this. Maybe we could stop on L2, so I can see Hilde."
"Yeah, Trowa said she's running a salvage yard there. I'd love to see it. Then we could go to Earth. I totally want to do something fun on Earth."
"I have enough vacation time, but I don't have unlimited funds."
"I have unlimited funds," Quatre said. They turned to see Quatre standing in the doorway. "Sorry to eaves drop, but maybe I can contribute something to your trip."
"But you've done so much already," Duo said.
"Duo, you have no idea how empty the world was without you." Quatre's eyes shimmered with tears and he laughed to stop himself from crying. "To see you and Heero together, it's too perfect for words. So, please, let me do this. It would be the icing on the cake of having you back in our lives."
Damn, but Quatre was good at speeches. Heero watched as Duo gave Quatre a big hug, and they started chattering about beach resorts and ski lodges, and Winner properties where they could stay for an extended amount of time.
That evening after dinner, Heero and Duo stepped onto the penthouse balcony to stargaze and dream about their future. Except that Heero couldn't take his eyes from Duo, from his extraordinary beauty and the strength that radiated from within him. He had suffered years of abuse at the hands of OZ and was still able to smile just like his old self. His young life had been difficult as well, and even during difficult missions in the war, Duo had been cheerful.
"I know you went looking for Gies to get revenge."
"I'm glad it turned out the way it did."
"He got off easy."
"Did he?" Duo glanced at him, and then back at the night sky. "It's fitting that he was snuffed out like that... alone... in space."
At first Heero thought that Duo had lost the fire of his youth, and the meaning of his existence years ago as the God of Death-the avenger of the Maxwell Church Massacre. Then Heero recognized that Duo's fire was still there just more controlled. Somehow he had grown up in the intervening years, and turned a living Hell into an opportunity to be stronger, deeper, and a whole lot tougher to break.
"You're the most resilient person I know," Heero said.
Duo chuckled, his eyes still fixed on the twinkling stars. "That's not much of a pick-up line."
"I guess not, but I thought we were already together."
"Yeah," Duo said, turning his eyes to him and smiling. "Yeah, we're together."
Heero smiled back, and took Duo's chin in his hand and searched his eyes. Even at night, by the city lights, Heero could see the depth of color in Duo's eyes-cobalt blue one moment and orchid the next.
"I can see the future in your eyes."
"Now, that's a pick-up line," Duo said, chuckling.
The space between them disappeared, and their lips came together in a long, slow kiss. Duo's hands slid up Heero's arms to his neck and finally settled in his hair. Duo loved to play with his hair and that was fine by Heero. He did things Heero never had imagined, things that were purely Duo that made his body, mind and heart sing. Like this kiss-the way he wrapped his tongue around his.
Duo's laughter was sweeter than the ping of crystal glasses. He was like a million suns, a beacon calling to Heero for five years. Calling him on and on across the universe. Find me, come to me, let me take you in my arms and surround you and never let you go.
"I love you," Heero said, pulling Duo into his arms. "I'm going to hang onto you with both hands."