A dozen wires were attached to Heero's chest and temples, recording everything as he ran on the treadmill. He was dressed only in black spandex shorts and athletic shoes. Doctor Po watched from several feet away, reviewing the data on the monitor.
"You're doing great, Heero," she said.
Of course, he thought. These stress tests were simple. He could run an hour at this pace and be ready for a swim, or another fuck. Remarkable how fast he'd taken up that new hobby. Sex with Duo was incredibly satisfying.
"Okay, I've got enough data. Let's ease it down now," the doctor said.
Within a few minutes, Heero slowed his pace to a walk and stepped off the treadmill. An assistant removed the electrodes from his body, and then Heero wiped the light sheen of sweat from his chest and arms with a towel.
"What's the verdict?" he asked the doctor.
"It's good." She waggled her brows and smiled. "I'll need a few minutes to go over the numbers. Why don't you get dressed and meet me in my office."
Heero nodded, and went into the locker room adjacent to the test facility. He stripped off his shorts and shoes, standing naked and alone in the room. His body thrummed with the workout and the memory of sex. If not for this meeting with the doctor, he would head straight back to his quarters, bend Duo over a chair and fuck him senseless.
The fact that Heero had been watching Duo, his personal mundane, for weeks only added to the tension. Heero had worked up a sizeable appetite for Duo. Now that they were settling into the liaison program, Heero was turning that attraction into great satisfaction. The lithe body he had admired from sixty paces was strong and sensual in his hands. He had known that Duo would respond to his touch, but Duo's spunk and initial resistance made the acquiescence all the more delicious.
The stress test's results seemed to indicate that the doctor's prescription for relief was working. Heero would learn more when he met with her after he showered and dressed. He turned the water on cold and stepped beneath the forceful spray. He cringed at the shock of the water's temperature, but it was necessary to trick his body into calming. It was tempting to slip away to his quarters for that quickie with Duo.
After the icy shower, Heero toweled off, and dressed for the day. Unless he was on a mission or in training, his attire was business casual. Today, he wore a steel gray short sleeved turtleneck and trousers, and a black leather belt and shoes. He needed no identification lanyard to move about the Project's secured facilities, or for that matter to stroll across Bremen Enterprises' corporate campus. The Project was housed underground or on restricted access floors in Bremen's Corporate Tower, near where Heero's quarters were also located.
When Heero arrived at Sally Po's office, she was pouring over pages of data. She glanced up and smiled. "Success!"
He sat in his usual chair in front of her desk. "I had no doubt."
"Oh, really? It appears that you and Mr. Maxwell have hit it off. How many times have you had intercourse?"
Sally took notes. "Your tension levels have dropped significantly. I take it Duo is satisfactory?"
Heero nodded. "He no longer resists."
"Good. Finding someone who is attracted to you seems to have been the right course of action. I see you logged some swim time last night. You were a busy boy."
"Duo needed to rest, so I went for a swim."
"Then let's attribute the drop in tension to sex and a continuation of your anxiety abatement exercises."
"Can I get back to my regular schedule now?"
"Not just yet. Looking at these results I see that I won't have enough data to present to Treize. Would you mind wearing the bio-data patch for a couple of days? That way I can compile 48 hours of data rather than just one or two hours worth."
"Of course, doctor." Heero was accustomed to having everything about him observed, tested and prodded.
Sally reached into a cabinet beside her desk and removed a white box. Inside it, wrapped in sterile packaging was a bio-data patch. She handed it to Heero who removed it from the wrap and placed it on his neck just behind his ear. Sally took the remote receptor and programmed the patch's identification number. A small chip inside the patch would send data to the receptor, and then to her computer.
"There she goes... Your resting heart rate is good." Heero's stomach growled and Sally looked over at the clock. "It's a bit early to be hungry. What did you have for breakfast this morning?"
"You know you're not to skip meals."
Heero looked to the door, feeling the urge to bolt. He'd locked Duo in the bedroom.
"Heero? Your readings are going up. What's wrong?"
"I forgot breakfast... and didn't leave anything for Duo."
Sally chuckled. "It's only ten o'clock. I'm sure Duo hasn't starved, but you will need to learn to take care of your pet. In the meantime, we should discuss how to handle this situation now that we know the program is going forward. Let me get Lucrezia in here." Sally pressed the communication button on her phone. "Miss Noin, please step into my office."
A few seconds later, Lucrezia Noin was standing at Sally's desk, notepad in hand. "Yes?"
"The program between Heero and his new bed partner is going well," Sally said.
Noin looked to Heero and smiled. "I'm glad to hear it."
"With this initial success," Sally continued, "I feel confident that we can begin Phase II."
"Phase II?" Heero asked.
"Yes, now that we know the program will continue indefinitely, I'd like to set up Mr. Maxwell with a data pad, similar to yours Heero, to allow him to order meals, clothes, and toiletries, whatever he feels he needs... within reason, of course. Miss Noin can do that and bring Duo breakfast."
A spike of possessiveness shot through Heero. He didn't like the idea of other people having contact with Duo. "I'd rather be the one to do that."
Sally looked at him more intensely. "Do you have a concern?"
"He's still unpredictable."
"We'll get along fine," Noin said. "And if not, I've got a Black Belt in Karate."
Heero's brow furrowed.
"I'm sure that won't be necessary," Sally added quickly. "Lucrezia will treat Duo with the utmost care, knowing that he's transitioning into his new life."
"I'll go with her," Heero said.
"I'm afraid that's not possible or have you also forgotten that you have a full day ahead of you?" Sally took a breath and looked to her assistant. "Lucrezia, will you excuse us for a moment?"
"Of course," Noin said and left the room.
When the door closed, Sally set her elbows on her desk and leaned forward. Over the years, Heero had come to understand that slight forward tilting of her body meant that she had something personal to say.
"I sympathize with your desire to spend time with Duo. No doubt your body is telling you to spend a lot of time with him."
Heero narrowed his eyes. "Get to the point, doctor."
"Sex is very exciting, especially when it's new, but you have to be careful. This program is designed to lower your anxiety levels. If it does not accomplish that or if you become pre-occupied with sex to the detriment of the Project then our little experiment will be shut down. Do you understand?"
He gave a slight nod.
"Good. Now, let Lucrezia handle the particulars this morning and then you and I can go over more logistics of the program this afternoon."
"After your escape artist routine last night, I'd say it'd be best if a guard accompanied service people to your quarters. So, when the maid is cleaning there would be a guard on duty. She'll feel better about that, too, I'm sure."
Heero agreed, but he was reluctant to allow even more people access to his sanctuary. It seemed that having a bed partner was impacting his privacy more than he had anticipated.
"I think I'll also have Lucrezia put a bio-data patch on Duo to monitor his health during this adjustment phase. Now you're scheduled to meet with Instructor H for the cockpit design tests, so I'd best let you get to it."
~ ~ ~
It was the first time Lucrezia Noin had been to Heero's quarters. This area was strictly off limits to 98% of the Project's staff. It was understood that Heero needed privacy, even if only for a few hours, because he got so little of it.
She accessed this wing adjacent to the Corporate Tower using a temporary code. The code allowed one-time access after which if she or anyone else tried using it an elaborate security response would be initiated. As it was, she was monitored by vibration sensors as she walked down the hall.
On entering Heero's apartment, Noin immediately set the breakfast tray on the dining room table. She turned on the chandelier and looked around, her curiosity piqued. The quarters were spacious, easily 3,000 square feet, and all on one level, except for a loft at one end. Without going up the winding staircase to snoop further, she could see a telescope on a tripod. Perhaps now with Duo Maxwell in his life, Heero would find time to enjoy things such as the mini, private observatory.
As indicated, the bedroom door was closed. Noin wasn't sure what she'd find when she opened it. She input the code and heard the double click of the locking mechanism disengage. Opening the door with some caution, she kept her eyes wide and her body ready for anything.
"Heero?" Duo asked.
She opened the door fully to see Duo sit up on the bed and turn to her. His voice had been anxious, surprising her with an almost tender quality.
"Who are you?" he asked.
She couldn't help but notice the change in his tone from hopeful to defensive.
"I'm Lucrezia Noin. I've brought your breakfast."
"You work for the Project, too?"
"Yes, I work with Doctor Po, and Heero."
"Where is Heero?"
"He's in training, otherwise he would've brought the breakfast himself."
Duo was dressed only in a white, terry-cloth bathrobe. It looked like he had been sleeping, and the disarray of the bed covers caused Noin to blush.
"Come on, before it gets cold," she said, indicating for him to follow her into the dining room.
She pulled the chair out for him, and took the cover off the platter of French toast, bacon, warm maple syrup, orange juice and coffee.
He grinned as he sat down. "Thanks."
She observed the curious, delicate way in which he picked up the syrup and poured it over the French toast. He handled the fork with the same care, causing her to look at his hand closer. Was that loose skin on the palm?
"Did you hurt your hand?"
"Both of 'em," he said, through a mouthful of French toast. He swallowed. "The bandages came off in the shower and I couldn't find anymore."
"Should I call the medic?"
"Nah, but you could get me some bandages."
"Well, that's partly why I'm here. To get you settled and to give you this." She put the special data pad on the table. "With this you can request clothes, meals, bandages... almost anything you like."
Duo dragged the data pad across the finely varnished cherry wood table. He examined it as he shoveled French toast and bacon into his mouth with the other hand.
"The pad is loaded with merchandise catalogs, menus, and the library catalog of the Project's research center."
"Will that tell me about the Project?"
"No, it's a library like most any other with a collection of tens of thousands of books from non-fiction to science fiction and romance. They're occasionally referenced for Project purposes, but mainly it's a lending library for personnel, including Heero."
"Heero reads romance novels?"
Noin laughed. "That I don't know, but highly doubt."
Duo returned his focus to breakfast, giving Noin a chance to observe him more closely. He was a handsome young man with long, mocha brown hair, a pert nose, and trim body. He had a sweet face and bright eyes, but those eyes were a little red as though he'd been crying. Hearing Sally and Heero talk about it, one would think everything was peachy, but spending time with Duo, Noin could see this transition was anything but easy.
"I understand you worked in Bremen's IT department, so this data pad should be no trouble for you."
"Yeah. I'm sure you're not giving me internet access, so how does the data get sent?"
She popped out a slim memory card from a port on the data pad. "This memory card can be inserted into the USB port on any security pad." She nodded to the bedroom door. "There are pads on every door."
"So, the data automatically uploads... to you?"
"That's right. I'll receive your requests and be sure that they are dealt with in a timely manner."
"And what if I want something that's not listed on the data pad?"
"You can send me messages through the Message Center." She pressed the menu key to illustrate. "Each time you use the USB port, the memory card will check for updates, and install new files on the pad. The pad can also be used as a remote for the entertainment center. And if you need to reach me faster, you can use the security panel just like an intercom. My extension is 339."
"Looks like you've thought of everything." Duo's tone was sad.
"We'd also like you to wear this behind your ear." She removed the bio-data patch from its sterile sleeve and set it, and a spare, on the table in front of Duo. "This will help Doctor Po monitor your physiological readings."
Duo's brow furrowed, but he put the patch on. "You say that like I have a choice."
"Well, it's only temporary. We need to get some basic readings for a couple of days to be sure everything's okay." Impulsively, Noin reached over and patted his arm. "Please feel free to ask for anything."
"Except my freedom, right?"
Noin withdrew her hand, and got up from the table. "I'll make sure you get those bandages."
She retreated from the apartment, and as the door closed and locked behind her she inhaled and exhaled a deep breath. What was Doctor Po thinking to initiate this program?
~ ~ ~
Duo pushed the plate of food away, half eaten. It was remarkable how everyone involved in his detention acted like they were doing him a favor, like he should be happy living this way. How could he be happy? No matter how beautiful the cage he was a prisoner.
At least, Lucrezia Noin had released him from the bedroom. Now he could explore, but he waited a few minutes after her departure before starting. First stop, he tried the lock on the main door.
"Entry denied," the computer voice said.
"I'm trying to exit not enter!" Duo shouted.
He slammed his fist against the door. He wanted out, but he was conflicted as hell. Out meant certain death. Out meant the loss of Heero's touch. They had him by the balls and then some.
"Why do I want that bastard?"
Duo turned to the large living space. It was quite a bachelor pad, and he had become the bachelor's play thing. Well, at least he knew who Heero was fucking.
Cinching the robe tight about his waist, Duo wandered through the apartment. The main room was a combination dining/living room, lined on one side by a long wall with an entertainment center, bookshelves, and beautiful framed art. The opposite wall had more art, separated by several doors all of which Duo tried to open to no avail. Duo wondered at Heero's need to lock everything, but maybe it was out of habit, since top secret was the name of the game.
At one end of the room was a large picture window, larger than the one in the bedroom, but with an equally spectacular view of the mountainside. Directly to the right of the window was a spiral staircase that led to a loft, and next to the stairs was the entryway to the kitchen.
Curiously, there was no door on the kitchen and that became the next room on Duo's tour. Like kitchens he'd seen on TV cooking shows it was large with loads of counter space, and top of the line stainless steel appliances. The color scheme impressed him with its warm, desert tones. The floor was covered with ruddy colored ceramic tile, the walls painted a ginger spice, and the ceiling sky blue with a skylight at the center brightening the room. There was a small table inlaid with a mosaic of broken tiles in the colors of a sunset.
The ceramic inlaid countertops were spotless and uncluttered. Pots and pans hung from a rack above the gas stove, indicating the occupant of this home was inclined to cook. And what did every chef worth his salt need to cook - a good knife. Duo opened several drawers until he found his prize, the mother load of knives from bread knives to butcher knives.
It was an error of judgment for Lucrezia Noin to leave Duo loose in the apartment. She had to know there was a fully stocked kitchen and it wouldn't take much for Duo to find it. Weren't they concerned that he might take a knife and kill himself? He chuckled, supposing they'd rather be the ones doing the killing. Of course, they might also be thinking that a knife in Duo's hand wasn't a threat. After all, his main jailer was an assassin by trade, and too damn cocky to care if he was attacked with a knife when he came home at night.
Duo took a smooth, long knife out of the drawer. It looked like the kind you'd use to skin a fish. He'd hang onto it for the time being. It'd make him feel better. With knife in hand, he opened the refrigerator and found a bowl of blushing green apples. He took one and headed up to the loft. It was like a tree house with its oak floor and oversized window that stretched fifteen feet wide, nearly the full width of the loft.
There were a couple of large, cushioned chairs and a couch covered in pomegranate red suede, and a telescope for stargazing. It was the kind of incredible space that made him want to spend the day up here with a good book. That urge sent a chill through him. He didn't want to like it here. This wasn't his home, no matter what they told him. In time they would find a reason to snuff him out. Maybe Heero would grow tired of him, or the sex wouldn't give the results they wanted.
He dropped into a chair, sinking deep into the cushions and deep into his thoughts. A bird landed on a branch just outside the window, seeming to notice him as it tilted its head from one side to the other. Duo smiled at the irony. Weren't birds the ones who were supposed to be in cages?
Using the knife, he peeled the apple and sliced it. It tasted sweet like wine. The loft was warm, and with his stomach full from breakfast and the sugary apple, he curled up in the chair to sleep. Maybe when he woke he'd find this was all just a crazy dream.
Hours later, the sound of the door clicking shut woke Duo with a start. He sat upright, his heart pounding. He peered over the loft's railing. It was Heero. Duo swallowed hard, and picked up the knife from the floor.
Duo held his breath. Shit, what should he do? He certainly wasn't going to answer Heero with "I'm up here, honey!" Instead, Duo cowered back into the chair, making the suede creak ever so slightly. Why was he playing this game? It wasn't as if Heero had far to look to find him.
"I can hear you. I know you're in the loft."
The irritation in Heero's voice made Duo cringe. He shouldn't seek out ways to make matters worse, but he did, because he was afraid. It was the touch of Heero's hands that made him so afraid. What those hands did to him, and how they made him feel. And now that Heero was on his way up the stairs, Duo knew those hands were coming for him. He got up from the chair and held the knife behind his back.
It was mid-day. The sun's rays shone through the trees casting a mix of yellow light and blue shadows onto the loft and everything in it.
"Are you okay?" Heero asked, as he came off the stairs.
Duo straightened his posture, his hand tight around the knife's handle. "You keep asking me that."
"What if I said I'm not okay?"
Heero's eyes were ocean blue in this light and looking on him in that all-seeing, all-knowing way of his. It made Duo shiver.
"Have you eaten since breakfast?" Heero glanced to the apple core and peel on the coffee table. "You can use the data pad to order meals."
"I know," Duo said, not liking that this conversation was almost normal.
Heero looked to the arm that Duo was holding behind his back. His eyes narrowed. That glance was like being found out, causing a drop of sweat to run down Duo's chest.
Heero met Duo's eyes. "I thought we could spend the rest of the day together."
"Fucking?" Duo asked in a harsh tone.
"Yes, fucking." Heero stepped closer. "You're not going to make me start over again are you?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"Enough with the games, Duo. Or maybe you like me chasing you?"
Duo gritted his teeth. Damn, Heero pissed him off. He was always in control, always had the upper hand, and was acting way too smug right now.
Heero stepped forward, closing the gap between them, and Duo knew it was now or never. He raised the knife with a whoosh. For a split second the blade glinted in the sunlight before he swung it down... and then smack! Duo's wrist was caught in Heero's hand. With the reflexes of a cat, Heero had stopped the slashing motion in mid-air.
They stared at each other, Duo's eyes wide and Heero's dangerously dark.
"I could snap your wrist in two," Heero said, his tone severe in warning.
"Then do it." Duo raised his chin.
"You'd enjoy having another reason to hate me." Heero squeezed Duo's wrist, painfully hard.
The pain shot through Duo's hand and up his arm, making Heero's threat very real. Duo's eyes went wild. What if he did it? "Please, don't!"
The pressure intensified, weakening Duo's grasp. The knife dropped to the floor, clattering on the hardwood. Disarmed and still in pain, Duo's knees buckled under him. Just as he was about to collapse, Heero swooped in, wrapping his arms around Duo's waist and covering his mouth in a possessive kiss.
Half believing he would still be broken, Duo's mind reeled in shock. He struggled to break free, but the pleasure of Heero's touch was too much. He wanted to resist, but instead responded to the kiss by opening his mouth. Heero slipped his tongue inside, moaning as he did. He forced Duo back against the window, bringing his hands to the front of the robe. With a quick tug on the belt, the robe fell open and Heero's hands reached inside, spreading over Duo's hot skin.
Those incredible hands caressed Duo's thighs and buttocks. Heero pressed his hard body against Duo, nudging him with his bulge. Heero was so hard, so fast it made Duo dizzy. And then Heero's lips were on his nipples, sucking and biting them. Duo watched as Heero's tongue swiped across a nipple, and his dark, disheveled hair brushed against his chest. God, he wanted to run his fingers through that hair. He couldn't resist and raised his hands, first lightly gliding them over Heero's muscular arms, and then sliding them into his thick hair. They both groaned at the contact, and Heero bit down on Duo's nipple.
"Ahhh," Duo moaned, loudly.
Heero pulled back and removed his shirt, baring his smooth, defined chest. Duo laid his hands on him, looking into Heero's eyes as he caressed him.
Heero took Duo's hands, turning them palm side up. "They're still raw... you don't have to touch me."
Duo blinked, stunned by Heero's concern.
"Afterward, I'll re-bandage them," Heero said, gently releasing Duo's hands.
Duo watched Heero remove his belt, unzip his pants, and strip out of the rest of his clothes. He took Duo by the wrists and pulled him to a chair. Heero sat down, putting his hands behind Duo's thighs and staring up at him.
Duo's cheeks burned, knowing what Heero wanted of him, and wanting the same thing. With a pounding heart, he straddled Heero's thighs. Their hard cocks bumped together, making Duo's skin sizzle. Heero grabbed their cocks in one hand and stroked them. Duo's vision blurred and sparked with the incredible sensation. Heero stroked them as one and brought his other hand around to Duo's backside, slipping a finger inside him. Duo arched and moaned at the touch.
"That's right..." Heero said, fucking him with his middle finger. "You want it as much as I want to give it to you."
Soon, Heero removed the finger and slicked his cock with saliva. With Heero's hands on Duo's hips, Duo was re-positioned and encouraged downward. He closed his eyes. It was tight as Heero slid inside, full, hot and hard. Duo sank down, slowly taking Heero in, and cringing at the slight pain of the fullness. With Heero inside him to the hilt, Duo gasped. Heero pushed the robe off Duo's shoulders, letting it slide down his arms and to the floor. The caress of cool fabric over heated skin made Duo shiver, and that small delay allowed him to adjust to the hardness inside him.
Heero thrust upward. The bucking motion caused Duo to grasp Heero's shoulders. Heero grunted and began a rhythm of thrusts which Duo met with a grind of his hips. It felt good, damn good, and Duo wondered how long it would take before this attraction killed him. In this position, Heero was far deeper inside Duo than he had been before. His powerful arms and thighs made it good and hard, and made Duo forget to resist.
The sun hot on his back, and Heero hot inside him, Duo came, crying out his pleasure in a wordless moan. Heero's hands clamped tight on his hips, moving Duo on him, and thrusting into him with final abandon. Seconds later, Heero came with a shout and dropped back into the chair.
~ ~ ~
Heero closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the chair. His breathing was heavy and his body still hot from sex and anger. Yes, anger had driven him to fuck Duo hard, to lose himself in Duo's body.
"You're a lucky man," he said, half-opening his eyes to look on Duo. "I could've killed you."
"So you weren't going to break my wrist? You were going to kill me?"
Heero was a trained killer, trained to respond to any threat with lethal force. The moment he had assessed Duo's agitation and that he was hiding something from him, Heero's training kicked into high gear. The strange part was that Heero had chosen not to act on that information. He had remained passive. Maybe it was curiosity that had held him back, wanting to see what Duo would do to give him further insight into Duo's mind.
A part of him thrilled at the attack, his adrenaline rushing to meet the challenge. He had never perceived Duo as a threat, and still didn't, but it gave him a rush to know that his bed partner had the gall - or stupidity - to attack him. Still, it had taken every bit of control not to strike back. When the knife came at him, Heero had seen red. He no longer saw Duo, he saw his enemy. The only thing that had stopped Heero from turning the knife against his attacker was the sound of Duo's pleading voice.
Coming down from his orgasm, anger and frustration surged to the forefront. Heero shoved Duo off his lap, landing the young man on his rump on the floor.
"Hey! What's your problem?"
Heero leaned forward, picking the knife off the floor. He waved it in front of Duo's face. "Don't try that again."
Duo pulled back. "Or what? You'll lock me in the bedroom?"
Heero's blood boiled. With nary a glance to the side, he threw the knife across the loft. It landed with a thwack, dead center in a portrait of an owl. He looked at Duo. "I don't play well with others. Got it?"
Duo swallowed hard. "Got it."
The message seemed to have hit its target.
Heero gathered his clothes and went downstairs. He needed a long run to sort this out. In his walk-in closet he dressed in track clothes and shoes. When he came back into the living room, Duo was coming down from the loft, dressed in his robe.
The look they gave each other silently agreed to put the knife incident behind them.
"I'm going for a run," Heero said, heading for the door. "I'll bring dinner later."