Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing

Pairings: 1x2/6x2/1x2 (Heero/Duo) (Zechs/Duo), 3x4 (Trowa/Quatre)
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: yaoi, angst, drama, lemon

Winner "Best Drama" 2003 Oishii Fanfic Contest!

Summary: Duo's post-war struggles in life and love.

Illusions of Love
Part 7
by Artemis

Mid-day was not the best time to be setting off on a journey. The sun baked the road, making Duo perspire and wish for the cool, green grass of the palace grounds.

Pathetic, Duo thought. He had been on the road for less than an hour and he was already missing the creature comforts of the Royal palace. Well, he wasn't about to turn back, and he certainly wasn't going to run to his other independently wealthy friend either. The next time Duo saw any of the former Gundam pilots he was gonna have his act together.

It was then that he saw it, the place Zechs had described. Just ahead was where the main road veered left, and a second road, the mountain road, ribboned away into the dark shade of evergreens. Duo swallowed. He had a decision to make.

"No," he said, firmly. He had already made that decision. He was sticking to the main road and to hell with Heero.

In seconds, he was speeding past the fork, easily veering left. He took a deep breath. That hadn't been so hard. Then from over a mound came a deer, bounding onto the road. Duo's eyes went wide with the unexpected obstacle, but his training and quick reflexes saved him, allowing him to swerve clear of the deer and come to a stop several hundred yards down the road.

With his heart in his throat, he looked back to where the deer had crossed in front of him and shook his head. Damn, that had been close. It struck him as funny how fast things could change. One minute he was wishing the road wasn't so damn hot and the next he was nearly splattered all over it.

"And here I am, looking back at that damn fork again," he said, the juncture still visible from where he had stopped.

Clearly he would have to make that decision again, whether to continue on the main highway or to take the mountain road, like Heero had. The thought of Heero made Duo shiver. He could practically feel his presence, but surely that was only because he knew he had come this way. It couldn't be because he still ached for the boy and was still licking his lips from that fantastic kiss this morning.

The indecision was all too familiar and that irked Duo. He had come so far with his feelings, to the point of convincing himself that he could gamble, relatively safely, on Heero. And where had that gotten him? Out here, on the open road, all by his lonesome. And the strangest part of the equation was that Zechs, Heero's eternal rival, had been the one to argue Heero's case.

Duo shook his head, remembering Zechs's words, "I hope it's you who doesn't give up." So this is what he meant, Duo thought, believing that somehow Zechs had seen his future, seen how Duo would let his pride, and once again his fear, take him down the wrong damn road.

"Fine, I'll take the fuckin' mountain road," Duo decided aloud.

It seemed appropriate that by choosing Heero, Duo was also choosing to take the more dangerous road. Life with Heero would definitely have its bumps and pitfalls, but the alternative was something that Duo no longer wished to think about.

If things don't work out this time, Duo mused, I can easily dispose of the body.

Not knowing just how far ahead Heero was, Duo took risks he normally would not. He sped back to the fork, taking the turn while barely slowing down, and pushed the bike and his nerves to the limits. In fact, he was going so fast along the shaded road that it took his mind several seconds to process that he had buzzed passed a motorcycle parked on the shoulder.

With a squeal of his tires, Duo stopped, jerked his bike around, and headed back the nearly quarter mile to investigate, his heart thumping in his ears.


After nearly an hour on the road, Heero had decided to take a break in the shade of one of the many evergreens lining the mountain road. He wasn't as tired as he was reluctant to continue. He was still several hours from crossing the Sank border, and he suspected that despite his lack of escort from the palace, his progress was being closely monitored. Hell, he knew it was. He had designed and supervised the installation of the tracking system into the border patrol bikes. And yet he hadn't bothered to remove it from this one.

Pure desperation, Heero thought. He had felt like he was falling the further he drove from the palace. Free falling into oblivion without a safety net, without Duo to catch him and pull him back with his cocky smile and boisterous laugh. Yeah, Heero Yuy was desperate to be found, because he knew he could never go back, and certainly could not go on... without Duo.

So here he sat, at the base of a tree, with a twig in his hand and a lump in his throat. Hoping, praying, begging the universe that someone was watching out for him.

"Duo," he said. The name sounded on his lips as the sound of a motorcycle rumbled in the distance.

Heero looked down the winding road and perked his ears. Definitely a motorcycle, and by the whining pitch of the motor it was going too fast for these conditions. He only knew one idiot who could drive like that and survive.

"Duo," he said again, this time with a smile.

Before he had a chance to stand, the motorcycle came round the bend, accelerating again. The bike and its driver whipped by in a blur, but Heero had seen enough... he had seen a braid like a streaming banner, blowing in the wind.

He jumped to his feet and in a flash he heard the squeal of tires. With a deep, shaky breath, he walked to his bike and watched as the motorcycle turned around and came back down the hill to him.

Duo pulled his bike up alongside Heero, their eyes meeting, locking onto one another in disbelief and longing. He had found Heero! But this time he wasn't going to remain silent and then storm off in a huff. He was here to gamble on Heero, and he expected to win.

"Where ya' heading?" Duo asked, breathless.

"Anywhere you are," Heero responded as the hint of a smile broke across his face.

"Well, all right!" Duo said with a nod and a wide grin.

Duo watched with curiosity and growing excitement as Heero removed his pack from his own bike and secured it to Duo's. He didn't want to leap to conclusions, but when Heero put his helmet on and then stood next to him, it seemed pretty clear. Heero wanted to ride with him.

With a bright smile, Duo nodded for Heero to mount up. Oh, this would be so much better than riding on separate bikes. They were throwing their lot in together--wherever you're going, so am I. Heero got on the back of the bike and placed his hands lightly on Duo's hips, not wanting to assume anything. But Duo would have none of that. He looked back over his shoulder.

"If you're gonna ride with me, then you'd better hang on," Duo said, and pulled Heero's hands around his waist.

Heero grinned and leaned forward into the body in front of him. There was a second's delay as they absorbed the feel of the other. Then they were off, heading over the great Cascade Mountain and out of Sank.


Gloriously strong, slender arms wrapped around Duo's waist, hugging him, bringing him impossibly close to the boy behind him. The shared warmth of their bodies was distracting. Duo yearned to sit Heero down and stare into those dark, blue pools for endless hours, and very soon he would get his chance. It wouldn't be long before they crossed the Sankian border and sought out a place to spend the night. Duo's body tingled in anticipation. It would be his first night with Heero in so many months... a night alone to do and have done.

Just as it seemed they would never reach the elusive border, Duo glimpsed a small yellow road sign in the distance. As they drew closer, he saw the border post to the side of the road, little more than a booth for the patrolmen to keep out of the weather. Without these manmade markers, travelers would pass this spot and not know they had entered or left the Sank Kingdom. The border was just on the other side of the mountain, and there was no distinct geographic feature to set it apart from another piece of land. Duo mused that Zechs's ancestor, Renalto Peacecraft, had been the one to set this boundary. The thought made him a little sad, remembering.

Heero sensed, rather than felt Duo's distress, and squeezed the boy's thigh with his hand. It was a simple gesture to let him know that everything was going to be all right. They were together now. Duo smiled, glad for Heero at his back, and slowed only a little as they crossed the border. As much as he tried, Duo couldn't help a little cringe, half expecting a net to drop on them or soldiers to jump out at them. But no obstacle appeared. They were free.

Down the road, and down the other side of the mountain some ten miles, they came into a tiny village. Its picturesque beauty prompted Duo into thinking he might like to buy a postcard of this place. A souvenir of the first place he and Heero had visited in their new life. It was a new life, wasn't it? They hadn't had a chance to talk yet, but he was sure that's what they wanted... to be together.

They had arrived at the end of a market day and the streets were still crowded with vendors and their last customers. Duo slowed the bike to a near crawl, carefully weaving around carts and pedestrians. The mountain highway was so different here. It had suddenly become little more than a village street, eventually taking them to the town's square where a fountain bubbled and women and children milled about, showing off the day's purchases.

Surrounding the square were buildings that had to be over a hundred years old. Duo wondered how this place had fared so well during the war. It looked untouched by time. There were shops, houses, and on one corner a large, prosperous inn. Heero tapped Duo's shoulder and nodded toward the inn.

"Yep," Duo agreed, turning them in that direction.

They parked the bike at the side of the building and dismounted, stretching and popping out the kinks in their muscles from their long journey. They had been traveling for nearly three hours at a fast, wild pace.

"Got ya' here in one piece," Duo said, looking Heero up and down. "And you didn't flinch once."

"If you were trying to make me flinch by taking those hairpin turns at sixty miles per hour, you'll have to try harder next time."

"Is that right?" Duo asked with a crooked grin. "Your life didn't flash before your eyes... even once?" the boy said with a chuckle.

"It did, but that was before you picked me up off the side of the road."

Duo looked at Heero, mouth agape. "Huh?"

Heero shook his head. "Maybe I'll explain it to you later. Right now, we need to get you fed. I could feel your stomach growling for the last hour."

Duo laughed as he grabbed their bags and then they headed inside. To their surprise and great relief, the inn was rustic and entirely unpretentious in its forest decor. Large, hand-hewn beams supported the ceiling, carved wooden chairs were grouped snuggly around a fireplace, colorful woven rugs covered the slate floor, and stuffed animals were posed atop bookcase shelves. The inn had so much of a homey, self-made quality that Duo felt immediately comfortable.

Heero noted Duo's ease as he watched the other boy smile, half gaping at their new surroundings. Duo was free of his gilded cage.

Heero nudged Duo toward the reception desk. "We need a room for the night," Heero said, to the large, red-faced woman, knitting a scarf in an oversized chair.

"Oh, good, good," the woman said in a bouncy accent. She got up from the chair with a creak, whether it was the chair or her bones it was hard to tell. "You boys look as though you've had a long day."

Heero glanced at Duo and then back at the woman. "Do you serve dinner here as well?"

"The best meals in town!" the woman boasted easily. She leaned back, stretching her hand into one of the cubbyholes behind her and pulled out two keys. "Room two is available," she said and then turned the register toward Heero. "You'll need to sign this." She laid the keys to the side and rang a bell.

Duo watched as a young boy, no more than ten, came running out from a side room.

"Yes, Ma'am?" he asked.

"Take these young men's bags up to room two," she said, handing him one key.

Duo obliged the boy by handing over their bags.

"Your room is on the right at the top of the stairs," she said, handing the other key to Duo. "It's a bit small, but it has a lovely fireplace."

The woman then came around from behind the desk and escorted them to a small dining room. A couple of other travelers were having dinner and several locals were drinking and talking at the bar. Again the surroundings were pleasant and warm.

Once seated, they removed their jackets and were each given handwritten menus. "Would you like something to drink before dinner?"

Duo gazed over at the bar and then back to Heero, who shrugged.

"Yeah, I'd like a beer," Duo said. And why the hell not? He wasn't driving anymore tonight and he could use the alcohol to help him relax.

"We have a fine lager that I'm sure you'll enjoy. And you, sir?" the woman asked Heero.

"I'll have the same."

Duo's eyes widened. "Really?"

"Sounds good," Heero said, and then the woman was gone, leaving them to make their dinner selection.

Duo chuckled under his breath.

"What's so funny?" Heero asked.

"Nothing," Duo said, scanning the hearty offerings on the menu. "Just the thought of us sharing a beer." When he didn't hear a response, Duo looked up and across the table to his companion whose eyes were already on him. "Uh, I think I'll have the rabbit and sausage stew," Duo said, gulping at the intensity in Heero's eyes. "What about you?"

Heero stared a few seconds longer, taking in Duo's nervousness, and then looked down at the menu. "The beef pot pie," he said and pushed the paper aside, looking up again. "We have a lot to talk about..."

"Yeah, but don't you think we should wait for our beers?"

Heero had to admit it was awkward sitting here like this. Maybe it would have been better for them to go directly to their room. The complete privacy would have allowed him to touch Duo, to ease his nerves with a gentle kiss or a brush of his hand. But here, in this room, with people all about, coming and going, it was nearly impossible to convey the intimacy, understanding he so desperately wished to share.

"Sure, we can wait," Heero said, and leaned back in his chair.

Duo busied himself with rearranging his silverware and fussing with the cloth napkin on his lap. It seemed forever before a waitress came back with the tall, foaming glasses of lager.

Duo took a quick sip and grinned. "Exactly what the doctor ordered."

"Good," Heero said, taking a swallow from his own glass.

They placed their dinner orders and then were left alone, once again.

"So... here we are," Duo said, tapping the side of his glass.

"I know it's been a long time, but you never lacked for words before," Heero said, slightly frustrated at the awkwardness of this moment.

"Six months," Duo said.

Heero cocked his head.

"It's been six months. Well, actually it's been five months, three weeks and two days since you walked out..."

"Hold it," Heero said, lifting his hand. "Are we back together now?"

Duo blinked. "Yeah."

"Then you can stop counting."

"I'll damn well count 'til the end of time if I want," Duo said with a toss of his head. "Hey, I'm the dumpee, remember? I think that gives me the right to tell you a thing or two."

"Is that right?"

"Yeah, it is," Duo said.

Heero stared him down one second, two seconds, and then grinned. He loved his Duo cocky and all fired up. Shit, this could be one hell of a night.

Just then the waitress brought their meals. Their plates were steaming and filled with rabbit, sausage, potato and carrots, and a rich beef stew nestled in a golden piecrust. Duo tucked into his food the same way he did everything... with gusto. There was no half way of doing anything for Duo. You either did it, and did it right, or not at all. It was a pleasure watching Duo eat, but Heero had begun to feel the pangs of hunger as well, and was happy to postpone their talk for a few more minutes.

Twenty minutes later, Duo was mopping his plate with a piece of crusty bread, absorbing the last bit of rich gravy. Heero, too, had finished his meal.

"That was the best damn stew I've ever had!" Duo exclaimed, patting his stomach.

"I wouldn't mind staying here a few days, just for the meals," Heero said, pleasantly.

Duo smiled. "It's good to hear you say that."

"Why is that?"

"Well, it makes you more human. I like hearing about what you like," Duo said.

Heero nodded. He would make a point of sharing his likes and dislikes more often.

"So you think we might stay here a couple of days?" Duo asked, licking some gravy off a finger.

"I'll leave it up to you," Heero said, his eyes riveted to the slide of Duo's tongue over his finger.

Duo tilted his head. He couldn't recall Heero ever being this accommodating. "Okay, we'll play it by ear."

Their conversation went silent and Duo's eyes soon drifted down to the table and his empty plate. If they were back together again, then why was it so difficult to talk? It seemed it had been far easier when they were still separated and arguing with each other. Making up was not as easy or as straightforward as Duo or Heero had hoped.

"Hey," Duo said, suddenly, looking up with an idea. "Tell me what you've been doing."

"You already know," Heero said, his brow knitting. "I was Sank's chief security advisor for the last six months."

"Yeah, but that can't be all," Duo said with a smile. "Relena mentioned how much reading you've done... what about stuff like that?"

"I've been systematically reading all the books in the Royal library."

"Anything else? Do any sightseeing? Relena must've taken you out on a boat cruise at least one day."

Heero took a deep breath. "I worked twelve to fourteen hour days, every day," he said, flatly. "Most days I didn't take a break, working until eight or nine at night. Then I'd have a light supper and go to the library where I read into the night until I fell asleep. There was no time for sightseeing or boat cruises or anything else you might call fun."

"Well, you don't have to get all huffy about it..."

"What we should be discussing is what you've been doing," Heero said, his features growing oddly intense.

"I was afraid you were gonna ask me that," Duo said with a frown. "Well, I'll tell ya, I was making iced cafe mochas with whipped cream and delivering books to wealthy, academic types. But you know what? I'm not gonna apologize for it. I took those jobs to support myself and I made a lot of people happy with those coffee drinks. Damn, they were upset to see me go...."

"Is that how you met Zechs?"

The question caught Duo off guard. He blinked a couple of times and repeated it in his mind. Had Heero just asked him about Zechs?

"Uh, yeah," he said, hesitantly. "I met him at the coffee shop. Rikk, my co-worker, used to call him the Ice Man..."

"How long were you together?"

"About two months... Hey, I don't see what this has to do with anything..."

"So Zechs came in for coffee one day and then what happened?"

Duo squirmed in his chair, uncomfortable with this line of questioning. "You know it's over between me and Zechs. I totally dumped him..."

"Then you have no feelings for him?"

"Well, we're still friends," Duo said. "Why are you asking me this shit? Zechs was the one who told me where to find you today. If it wasn't for him, I don't think we'd be sitting here together."

Heero considered the logic in that statement, but for some reason it was being overpowered by the emotions building inside him. He was jealous. He had been jealous, angry, torn to see Duo with Zechs, and to know that Duo had slept with Zechs. Suddenly, Zechs's taunt from the duel came back to Heero, He's been in my bed for the last two months.

"You were sleeping with him," Heero said, in an accusing tone. "Unless you were just whoring yourself, how could you not feel something for him?"

Duo's faced paled to a ghostly white as his jaw dropped open. "No," he whispered, shaking his head. "You didn't just say what I think you said."

Duo got up from the table, stumbling to his feet, and staring at Heero with wide, disbelieving and hurt-filled eyes. "You're a fucking bastard, you know that, Heero? A no good, fucking bastard." And with that, Duo turned and tore out of the hotel's dining room.

Heero was on his feet in a split second, realizing too late what a horrible mistake he had made. Shit, what had possessed him to call Duo a whore? He loved Duo. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with Duo. He would do anything for Duo... but there he had sat, playing the victim and calling his beautiful Duo a whore!

"Fuck," Heero said, his heart hammering so hard against his chest he thought it would leave bruises.

He was literally just seconds behind Duo, following the braid as it whipped around a corner and headed up the stairs to their room. Thank God for small miracles. At least Duo had not run outside and gotten onto his bike and taken off into the night.

Duo opened the hotel room door and slammed it shut just as Heero came onto the landing. Three steps and Heero was at the door, which was blessedly unlocked, and heading inside their room.

"Duo," Heero said, as he entered the room and closed the door behind him. Duo was huddled in a chair with his back to the room, his shoulders shaking. "That was stupid of me. I'm sorry..."

He walked over to the other boy and could now clearly hear that Duo was crying. "Please, Duo, you've got to forgive me. You can't imagine how it hurt seeing you with Zechs..." He put his hand on Duo's shoulder, but it was violently shrugged off.

"Get the fuck away from me!" Duo snarled between sobs.

"I was jealous. I shouldn't have said that. Can't you see how horrible it is for me knowing you were with someone else? And Zechs, of all people..."

Duo swung around, his eyes red and puffy with tears. "Horrible for you? What about me? You left me in Arabia! Left me to explain to our friends why we weren't together anymore. I had nothing! I wandered for months before settling in Boston... I was heartbroken! I hated you!"

"Is that why?" Heero asked, needing to get closer to the truth. "Is that why you went with Zechs?"

Duo shook his head, tears falling down his pale cheeks. "No," he said, his lips quivering. "I wanted to kill Zechs..."

Heero squatted down on the floor in front of Duo, his own eyes filling with tears to see Duo so distraught, so overcome with emotion.

"He said he wanted to get to know a Gundam pilot. So why not?" Duo asked with a shrug. "It seemed harmless enough..."

"Did he rape you?" Heero asked.

"NO!" Duo shouted, fiercely. "He was a gentleman and he won me over. That's all. He never did anything I didn't want him to do." Duo turned his face away, looking out the window to the evening sky. "I was lonely," he said, softly, ashamed to admit it, and remembering keenly just how powerful that loneliness had been. "I wanted companionship..." He turned his tired eyes back to Heero. "I wasn't handling missing you very well."

Heero nodded. "I didn't handle it well myself," he said smiling ruefully. "That's why I spent so much time working and reading on my own."

Duo sniffled as his tears lessened, and his chest warmed with Heero's words.

"Try to understand what it's like for me knowing there was someone else in your life, because there was no one for me after you," Heero said, his hand reaching out. When it was not pushed away, he placed it on Duo's knee. "I was true to you, Duo. I didn't want anyone else... only you. I love you and I'll do anything to keep you in my life."

With a shaky breath, Duo nodded. "I'm sorry," he said, putting his hand over Heero's. "I love you, Heero. I meant to tell you that before you left..."

A single tear blinked out of Duo's eye and Heero reached up with his free hand and wiped it away. "That's the first time I've heard you say it," he said, smiling.

Duo considered that a moment and then nodded. "Damn, you're right," he said, thrilled to have finally told Heero of his love for him and shocked that he hadn't sooner. "And it won't be the last time, because I do love you, Heero."

The love declarations were a big step for them, and each reveled in hearing the words from the other. They looked into each other's eyes and then leaned closer until their lips met in a soft kiss. Duo's lips tasted of salt tears and Heero found himself wanting more. It was a heady combination... the taste of Duo, the lager beer, and tears... a wonderful blend for their first kiss as reunited lovers.

When Heero kissed Duo again, something told him to keep it soft, make this slow and gentle for Duo. Maybe it was the moment, this room, the quiet around them, or perhaps the turbulence they had just come through. No matter the reason it felt good, and Duo was soon moaning his approval.

"This is nice," Duo said, his lips brushing Heero's. The smell and the touch of the other boy warmed his entire body. "You should kiss me like this more."

"Not a problem," Heero said, getting to one knee and leaning in to take his lips again. A couple more tender kisses and Heero pulled back, sitting on his heels. "Are you all right now?" he asked, noting that Duo's tears had dried.

"Yeah," Duo said, with a small smile, appreciating Heero's concern. "I think I understand what you were going through," he began, slowly. "But I want you to know something, Heero. You were always in my heart. What I did with..."

Heero's hand came up, gently covering Duo's mouth. "You said it's over between the two of you, and I believe you," he said, lowering his hand.

"But are you all right?" Duo asked, echoing the question he had been given a moment before.

Heero grinned. "I never knew I was the jealous type... but I'll be all right."

Duo smiled and pulled Heero to him in a loving embrace. "Good," he said, wrapping his arms around the other boy. "I missed this," he whispered in Heero's ear. "I missed you..."

Heero closed his eyes, absorbing Duo's words and the feel of his body. He ran his hands up Duo's back and felt a tiny shiver. "You cold?"

Duo nodded. The room was a bit cool. They released each other and turned to the fireplace, dark and wanting of a fire.

"I'll get it started," Heero volunteered, getting up and finding a box of kindling to help in the task.

Duo moved to the bed to get a better view of Heero bending over, and sunk deep into the feather down mattress. "Oh, very nice," he grinned, bouncing up and down. He suddenly had the urge to stretch and yawn, and realized just how tired he was. "Damn, I think I could fall asleep."

"Then why don't you?" Heero asked, glancing over his shoulder. Oh, Duo on that big bed...

"Well, 'cause this is our first night together," Duo said, sounding uncharacteristically shy.

This time Heero turned fully to look at Duo. "You had something special in mind for tonight?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. The fire was now growing nicely behind him, silhouetting the outline of his body.

Duo nodded, smoothing the comforter under his hand.

Heero got up from his squatted position and walked over to stand before him. "I haven't... since I was with you," he said, softly.

"Yeah," Duo said, seeing the slight worry on Heero's brow. "So you wanna now?"

Heero swallowed. Oh, did he ever. But he was a little nervous.

"You haven't forgotten how?" Duo asked, rubbing his leg against Heero's suggestively.

"I'm sure you'll remind me," Heero said. The words sent a tingle up his spine. Suddenly their last day together came back to him. He had teased Duo that he couldn't remember their lovemaking that afternoon, and Duo had said he would remind him. "We used to have a lot of fun in bed," Heero said with a grin.

"We sure did. So why don't you come on in?" Duo invited, patting the comforter.

Heero inched closer, bending over Duo... and then they heard a knock on their door.

"No way," Duo said, sighing. Another knock and he turned to stare a hole through the door. "Who could that be?"

As if on cue the intruder called to them, "It's Erik. You left your jacket downstairs."

"I'll get it," Heero said, going over to the door and opening it. The boy handed him the black denim jacket. "What about the other one?" Heero asked.

"What other one?" the boy asked.

"My friend's brown leather jacket."

"Oh, maybe it's still in the dining room..."

Heero looked back at Duo. "Get comfortable, I'll be right back."

"Sure," Duo said with a smile.

As the door closed, Duo hopped off the bed and quickly undressed down to bare skin. The room had heated and colored quickly with the warm glow of the fire, but it wasn't warm enough to be running around naked. Duo tossed his clothes onto the chair and dove back onto the bed, sliding under the comforter. He melted into the thick cushioned mattress, wriggling in the feel of smooth cotton sheets and fluffy pillows. It would be exquisite to have Heero beneath the covers with him, building their own fire with the friction of their bodies. Another yawn and cat-like stretch, and Duo snuggled in to wait for his lover.

When Heero returned only moments later with Duo's jacket, he found the other boy sound asleep. He smiled, setting the jacket down and walking over to the bed to take a closer look. Duo's breathing was soft from an easy slumber. The sight of one pink, bare shoulder, peeking out from under the comforter, told Heero that Duo had indeed made himself comfortable. He smiled again as he glanced up to the chair where Duo's clothes had been tossed haphazardly, and no doubt in a hurry. He would let Duo have his sleep. The stress and excitement of their reunion had surely exhausted him.


The road went deeper into the forest, the dark shadows of the trees surrounding him, closing him in. He was tired, so very tired, but he had miles to go. Up the mountain road he trudged, pushing his motorcycle alongside him, but never seeming to make any progress. His bike had become impossibly heavy, but he wouldn't leave it behind, forgotten by the side of the road to rust. He would find Heero and together they would share the burden.

"Heero!" he called to the empty road before him. Maybe he was just around the next bend? "Heero... this is too heavy. I can't do this by myself."

But there was no answer, and the more he struggled, the heavier the bike became until it began to slip from his grasp.

"No," he sobbed as he tried to tighten his hold. But the bike was slipping away. Falling, falling down the mountainside... "No!"


Duo woke with a start, his eyes flying open at the moment he had jumped over the side of the mountain after his bike. He wasn't falling, he was safe in bed. But where was he? This didn't look like his apartment...

As his pulse slowed, he remembered. He was with Heero in a tiny village just beyond the Sankian border. The pop of the wood in the fireplace brought Duo even more awake, and he leaned up on his elbows. Where was Heero? He looked to his side, but saw only an empty space beside him. Had Heero gone?

"Heero?" he called, looking about the room. His heart began to pound again. "Heero!"

The bathroom door swung open. "Duo?" Heero asked as he came into the room.

Duo blinked large eyes at the other boy. Fresh from the shower, small beads of water clung to Heero's bare shoulders and chest, and a towel was wrapped snugly about his hips.

"Did you call out?" Heero asked, coming to the bed.

Duo swallowed. "I thought you had gone," he said, warring with the irrational fear inside him even as his eyes lustfully drank in the boy before him.

Heero sat down on the bed, and seeing the fright in Duo's eyes, reached over and caressed his cheek. "I'm not going anywhere, unless it's with you," he said with a smile. "But you look as though you don't believe me," he added when Duo's features did not calm.

"I had a bad dream..." Duo admitted, but then shook his head. "I guess not all of me has realized I have you again."

Heero scooted closer, now taking Duo's hand. "It'll take time," he said, reasonably. "I'm still finding it a little hard to believe, too."

"Really?" Duo asked.

"Sure. We were apart for half a year and I don't think either of us thought we'd see each other again."

"Yeah," Duo said, softly, easing with Heero at his side.

"But we are together," Heero said, squeezing Duo's hand. "We've been given a second chance and we should make the best of it."

Duo nodded and then noticed the long, red cut on Heero's arm. "What's that?" he asked, reaching his hand up to examine the injury. "How'd you cut yourself?"

When Heero didn't immediately answer, Duo understood. "Oh, the duel," he said, simply.

"I should bandage that..." Heero said as he started to get up from the bed.

Duo grabbed his wrist, keeping him in place. "Zechs told me what happened, but he didn't mention this."

"It's nothing," Heero said.

"Maybe nothing compared to self-destructing," Duo said with a snort.

"I wasn't trying to get myself killed this time. But I shouldn't have been fighting in the first place."

"You, not wanting to fight?" Duo asked, more than a little surprised.

"There's a time and a place for it... and this wasn't it."

"And now you can never go back to Sank," Duo added.

"That's all right. Let Zechs have his victory," Heero said, lifting his chin. "I've got you and that's all that really matters."

Duo smiled. "I do believe you mean that, don't you, Heero?" Duo asked, as he scooted up more into a sitting position.

Heero nodded with an affirmative grunt.

"Let's not mess things up again, okay?" Duo said, determinedly. "I mean, we really need to work at this... us."

The tone in Duo's voice and the plea in his eyes told Heero that Duo was very sincere in his commitment to making their relationship work. Now Heero needed to be sure that Duo understood he was just as committed to their success.

"We can start by making an effort to share our feelings," Heero said, knowing that had been a major stumbling block for them the first time around.

"Talking is good," Duo said, nodding. "I saw that change right away in you. You're much more open with me now."

Heero nodded. That change hadn't come easy for him. After spending so many nights alone, thinking about Duo and how he had lost him over a little pride, he vowed never to conceal his heart again.

"I knew I had to tell you everything or I might never get you back," he admitted.

"Yeah, the new and improved Heero sure surprised me," Duo said, smiling. "But you know, expressing our feelings doesn't have to be all in words." A little sexy grin curled Duo's lips. "Talking is good, but not all the time."

Heero licked his lips. Oh, he was such a lucky boy. He had Duo back and Duo was in his bed, naked and flagging him in for a landing.

"Right," Heero said, leaning forward for a kiss.

Duo met that kiss and worked his mouth as his hands grabbed for the towel at Heero's waist. "Come here," Duo said, tugging the towel off and rubbing his hands over Heero's thighs.

Heero smiled ferally, dropping the towel to the floor and getting under the covers with Duo. There he found heaven, a completely naked Duo who eagerly wrapped around him. Heero's still damp body sizzled as Duo's slender legs and muscled arms encircled him.

"Mmm... I've waited a long time for this," Duo said, climbing on top of Heero and diving onto his mouth hungrily. His heart was pounding madly and for a moment he wasn't sure how he would contain his lust, his joy at being reunited with Heero. This is Heero, he thought. My Heero!

For seconds, Heero lay almost completely passive at Duo's passionate advance. Six months had ticked by, slow at times, and a blur at other's. Half a year since Heero had enjoyed physical contact of any kind, but more importantly of the Duo kind. He was swept away, very nearly overwhelmed with the mental and physical overload of having Duo make love to him again.

Heero's stillness caught up with Duo's brain and he released the boy's mouth to get a good look at him. "What?" Duo asked, breathless. "No good?"

A low chuckle rumbled in Heero's throat. "Beyond good," he answered, bringing his hand up to Duo's face. "I'm in awe of you."

"You're pretty awesome yourself," Duo said with a wink. "Now let's get to the good stuff. I'm tired of having you only in my dreams."

Heero grinned, pulling Duo back to him and kissing him more roughly, and running his hands over the incredibly lithe body. Duo moved on him, rubbing his growing erection into Heero's belly.

"Never felt this way with anyone but you," Duo said, wanting to ensure that Heero understood he was his man, and the only man Duo had ever truly wanted.

He moved rhythmically on Heero, blending their scents together as their flesh heated with the friction. He had nearly forgotten just how delicious, how equal it felt to have Heero as his lover. Their bodies fit perfectly, with only a slight difference in height and Heero being broader in the chest. Duo wanted to rub his skin raw, imbue Heero's scent on his skin permanently. He and Heero belonged together, they always had.

"Love you, Heero," Duo said, kissing Heero's lips and his face.

"Love you," Heero responded as Duo licked a path along the curve of his ear.

Heero's reserve melted away with the writhing of Duo's body. The dance that was going on above him and on him had brought him to a full and sizeable erection very quickly.

"Tell me what you want," Heero said, running his hands over Duo's bottom and slipping his fingers between the cheeks.

"You," Duo breathed, hotly. "I want you."

Heero groaned. With his arousal building, he pressed a finger to Duo's opening. The boy arched, tossing his head back and pushing on the finger, letting it slide inside him.

"Oh, God," Duo said, his face flushed with want.

He kissed Heero again, darting his tongue into Heero's mouth as one finger, then two moved inside him, fucked him to readiness.

"Yeah," Duo breathed, rubbing his face against the boy's neck. "Come on... let's do it."

Heero withdrew his fingers and then looked to the nightstand. Shit, they had forgotten lubricant.

Duo nipped at his jawline all the while humping him, needing Heero badly. He understood the hesitation, but didn't care. "Just do it," he said, taking Heero's mouth again. He couldn't wait any longer. Six months, a week, a day... even an hour had been too long to be apart. Now all Duo wanted was to hand himself over body and soul to the only boy who had ever touched his heart.

Heero fed on Duo's hunger and then pulled away. They would make do, and so he spit into his hand and reached between them, stroking the saliva along his hardened shaft. Duo leaned forward, his braid falling to Heero's chest, as Heero held his cock in place to receive him. Their eyes locked as Duo sank back.

"Oh!" Duo gasped at that pure contact. And then his eyes squeezed shut with the first inch of hard flesh inside him.

Heero froze, not wanting to hurt Duo. "Slow down," he said, spitting into his hand and slicking his shaft again.

Duo nodded and opened his eyes, watching Heero watch him as he slowly pushed down, taking more of Heero into him. God, he needed this. Not just as a sexual release, but his entire being needed to connect with Heero in this way. He moaned with the sensation of being filled. Oh, yes, he had forgotten the feel of Heero inside him, hot and rock hard.

Watching Duo make love was like watching a dance. He moved so sinuously, arching his neck and his back, and rubbing his cheek on Heero like a cat. When he started his slow slide up and down, pulling off and then sliding back down, Heero thought he would come. He had forgotten the power of the sensations he felt when fucking Duo. Heero was almost buried to the balls, and he could see Duo trying to take all of him, knowing Duo wanted all of him.

"Fuck me, Heero. I want to feel you," Duo said, his passionate, wide eyes pleading with the words.

With a grunt, Heero rolled them over, tucking Duo under him and moving him with such care, strength and finesse that they remained connected. Duo's breath quickened and he blinked large, surprised eyes up at Heero.

"Now I can give you what you want," Heero said and pushed long and hard until he was completely buried inside.

"God, Heero!" Duo cried out, feeling the burn of hard flesh inside him. It was amazing, almost too much. Seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting, smelling Heero aroused Duo into a fever of need. He needed all of him, every hard inch of him and more.

Duo was so tight around his cock, squeezing Heero, making him tremble and worry that he might not last until they had completely enjoyed each other. But he waited, Heero forced himself to calm and wait for Duo. When Duo wriggled beneath him, Heero began his slow assault, thrusting in and out with patience. The rhythm was easy at first, for several thrusts, but neither one of them was prepared or hoping for a slow fuck tonight. This was six months of emotion, longing, hunger in one fuck. This was coming back together, forgiving, loving, pleasuring, and remembering.

Heero increased the pace, thrusting faster, easier as Duo relaxed. He slid in and out, making Duo whimper and moan with each deep thrust. They alternated between kissing and watching each other. It was as though they had to see in order to believe.

As Heero rode him, faster and faster, building them toward a mutual climax, Duo slid his hand to Heero's ass. At first he just wanted to feel the tightness, the clenching muscles of Heero's buttocks. But then his fingers wandered, finding the sweet pucker. He rubbed his finger over Heero's entrance, remembering how they had always taken turns, how Heero would give himself to Duo just as willingly as Duo to him.

The image of fucking Heero aroused Duo even more and he thrust back harder as he pushed at the tiny entrance. Heero nuzzled in his hair, moaning as he fucked and moaning at Duo's exploration. "Go on," he breathed into Duo's ear.

Duo grinned, eager to fill the request, and fill Heero with his finger. He pressed inside, easily slipping one slender finger inside his lover. Heero moaned even louder in his ear. Oh, yes, he would have to be next.

The added sensation brought Heero to the crest of the wave, and he frantically re-positioned Duo for the final assault. He hooked his arms under Duo's knees, forcing Duo's ass a little off the bed and giving a better angle of entry. Heero pounded Duo's ass, the bed thumping under them as they fucked each other to orgasm.

"YES!" Duo cried out first, coming in great bursts as Heero took him hard.

Heero growled and then moaned deeply as he climaxed, thrusting into Duo several more times as his cock tightened and then emptied with his release.

He fell on top of Duo, exhausted and gasping for air. Duo removed his finger and rubbed his hands over Heero's back. He was equally breathless, but purring from the release they had shared.

"I swear... I saw fireworks," Heero said between deep breaths.

"Mmm," Duo agreed, completely satisfied. "I saw them, too."

Heero was still breathing hard with the exertion, but he managed to lean up on his elbows and look into Duo's eyes. "I didn't know it could get any better," he said, his bangs falling heavy on his brow.

"Oh, hell, yes," Duo said with a smile. "And I have a feeling it's gonna keep on getting better."

Heero smiled in anticipation and realization. "It's because we love each other, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Duo nodded with a smile. "It's definitely because we love each other."

Heero tenderly kissed Duo and then withdrew, leaning over the side of the bed to grab the discarded towel. He wiped them both off and then re-settled around Duo's body, spooning behind him. Duo wriggled his bottom against Heero and laughed happily when Heero nuzzled and kissed his neck.

"So what's next?" Duo asked, petting Heero's forearm.

"I thought I'd give you a few minutes to recover," Heero teased.

"Gee, thanks," Duo said, laughing. "But what about tomorrow and the next day? What are our plans?"

"We should stay here," Heero said, licking Duo's ear. "We've got everything we need... a fire, a warm bed, wonderful meals..."

"And let's not forget the mind-blowing sex," Duo added.

"I'm definitely not forgetting that," Heero said, giving a thrust of his hips.

They laughed and held each other, but the true meaning behind Duo's initial question still hung in the air. They could not allow their lives to drift apart again. They needed to choose the same path or at the very least two paths that complemented one another.

"It's just an idea," Heero said, taking up the end of Duo's braid and brushing it over the boy's naked hip. "We could contact Lady Une."

Duo turned in Heero's arms to be able to look at the other boy as they talked. "You mean, help her get her preventers organization started?"

"That's one idea," Heero said.

Duo liked the sound of that. It was much more in line with his training and experience as a Gundam pilot, and it would also mean he and Heero could work together... or least for the same cause.

"She's indicated that she would welcome help from any and all of us Gundam pilots," Heero said.

"Now wouldn't that be something if we all ended up working together again?" Duo said with a little chuckle. "God, it'd be good to see Quatre."

Heero brushed aside Duo's bangs. "We should give him and Trowa a call. They've been worried... about both of us."

Duo's eyes widened. "Oh, man, it's been months since I contacted them." He sunk a little deeper into the mattress, ashamed that he'd neglected his friends.

"I haven't had much contact with them either, but I'm sure they'd be happy to know we're together," Heero said.

"Yeah," Duo smiled, a great satisfaction coming over him. "Then that's the plan... we'll make our first stop L4, and then we'll join Une."

"Mission accepted," Heero said with a hint of a grin on his lips. "But first I want you to myself for a few days."

"Is that right?" Duo asked, raising an eyebrow and smiling, smugly.

"Hn," Heero grunted and bent to nip at Duo's collarbone.

"Great, that'll give me time to show off my new skill."

Heero's head popped up and his eyes narrowed on his lover. "What skill?" he asked, suspiciously.

"Making coffee, of course!" Duo crowed with a laugh.

"I'd rather do this," Heero said, going back to his ministrations.

"Ah, but you've never tasted one of my special creations," Duo said, smiling as Heero licked a path to his nipple. "Freshly ground and brewed coffee, blended with milk." He let his fingers brush down Heero's back and swirl around. "And a pinch or two of allspice and cinnamon," he said, adding the appropriate number of pinches to Heero's ass.

"Sounds like you're serious about your coffee," Heero said, sucking Duo's nipple into his mouth.

"Uhnnn..." Duo moaned, his eyes flickering closed with the sensation. "Very serious... and I haven't even gotten to the whipped cream yet."

"Whipped cream, huh?" Heero asked, pulling off the nub briefly. "Maybe we need to ring for room service."

Duo watched as Heero laved his nipple and then slid down. Heero's tongue followed the line of his sternum, down to his navel and down... no longer afraid of drowning. They would make love again and wade into the depths together, for the first time truly on the same page, the same path.

Images of cargo bays and metal floors, starry desert nights, and ivy enclosures played in their minds. All places they had loved each other in one form or another, but none as safe and as warm and as full of hope as this room and this bed. Having found each other again, the despair of the last six months seemed a worthy trial.

And for two former Gundam pilots... a trained assassin and a self-proclaimed God of Death, there were no longer any illusions. They had fallen to Earth and into each other's arms and in the process had fallen in love.

If you enjoyed this story, please let me know!

Special thanks to... DC Logan for her beta and superb knowledge of GW canon; Alex for her awesome beta and support during the many months it took to complete this story; and a very special thanks to Sharon for her 1x2 inspiration and invaluable advice.


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