Disclaimer: The Gundam boys are only mine to play with in my head!

Pairing: 1x2
Rating: NC-17
Genre: AU, hurt/comfort, angst
Warning: Borderline non-con (don't let that scare you away!)
Please note: This is not a WIP, but it will be posted in installments as time permits. I've spent a year writing this and it's now complete. Yay! I will post a couple of chapters each week. Thanks for your patience!

Summary: Heero Yuy is a genetically altered weapon in a top secret project. When his behavior becomes erratic, his handlers propose an unorthodox solution. Is the cure more than they bargained for?

The Variable
Part 17
by Artemis

When the doorbell rang, Duo gave the apartment and himself a final check. Everything looked in order, and his pale blue shirt was neatly tucked and belted inside his jeans.

He pressed the intercom button. "Is that you, Miss Noin?"


"Come on in." Duo stepped back as his guest used her special access code to unlock the door.

Miss Noin smiled as she stepped into the apartment, handing him a burgundy box with a gold bow. "This is for you."

"Oh?" Duo took the box and slid the gold ribbon off. "Chocolate! That's really nice of you. Thanks." He popped one of the square morsels into his mouth and chewed. "Mmm. This one's caramel." He held out the opened box. "Here."

"Thanks." She took a round chocolate and nodded as she bit into it. "Cherry."

"Lunch is almost ready," he said, leading the way into the kitchen. "What's your poison? I've got water, soda, orange juice and pomenagranate juice." He looked over his shoulder at her. "I'd offer you wine, but you're on the clock, right?"

She nodded, settling into a chair at the kitchen table. "Do you drink much wine?"

"I have a glass with dinner, but Heero's not much of a drinker. Kind of a bummer, considering he'd probably be a fun drunk." He chuckled and that seemed to surprise her.

"Pomenagranate juice sounds good."

"How 'bout I make it a spritzer with club soda?"

Noin smiled. "That sounds nice, thanks."

Duo grabbed two tall glasses, added ice cubes and poured in the juice and soda, and handed a glass over to her. Lucrezia was seated with her legs crossed. He had noticed that she always wore slacks and short jackets. She was neat as a pin with a military precision about her and shades of feminine softness. He had given her a hard time when they first met, but the day at the training salle had changed all that. She had trusted him with the Project's computers and he would never forget it.

With the water boiling he poured in the mostacoli noodles, and slid the garlic bread into the oven to crisp. He sat down at the table with her and it suddenly felt awkward to be together like this.

"Just a few more minutes," he said, looking at the pot boiling on the stove.

Maybe it was the way Heero had reacted when he had discovered Duo in the apartment with the maid that made Duo nervous now. Even though he genuinely liked Miss Noin, he was second guessing this lunch idea, and that translated into almost no conversation. They sipped their drinks and occasionally smiled at one another while Duo flitted between the table and the stove.

When lunch was ready, Duo plated the meals. He asked Lucrezia to bring their drinks as he carried the plates and led her upstairs to the loft.

"This is lovely," Noin said, looking around the loft and taking a seat on the sofa.

Duo gazed out the large window onto the trees and sunlight and smiled sadly. Most of the time, this was the closest he got to the outdoors.

He sat in the chair opposite the sofa and held up his glass. "To Heero's mission."

Noin smiled and reached out to clink her glass with his. When she settled back into the couch her eyes focused on him. "That's generous of you to wish the mission success."

Duo shrugged. "Maybe I'm starting to believe that what Heero does is good."

"It is," she said, her eyes bright.

"I wish I knew more about what he does." He stabbed a noodle and twirled it in the white sauce on his plate. "And I wish someone would've asked me to be part of this instead of...." He shook his head. "Well, it's nothing to be talking about over lunch."

"No, it's okay. Do you think you would've joined the Project if this had been explained to you?"

Duo looked at her, grateful for her courage to continue this conversation. "It'd been a tough sell even with Heero as the carrot."

She nodded. "It was Doctor Po's intention to do that... to tell you what was expected and bring you into this voluntarily."

Duo snorted. "Yeah?"

"It's true, Duo. But it was naïve of her... of all of us to think that was possible. There was a lot of pressure to give this a try and make it work."

Her honesty had a way of diffusing his anger. He was tired of being angry. He wanted to hang onto the sliver of happiness he'd found with Heero and her words made that seem possible.

"I'm sure they could've found somebody willing if they tried," he said.

Noin shook her head. "You were the only candidate."

"You mean the only sucker."

She put down her fork and reached over to him, placing her hand on his arm. "Heero chose you."

A shiver raced through Duo's body. "What?"

"He was given the choice of hundreds of eligible men and women, but according to Doctor Po, Heero already had his sights set on you. He wouldn't consider anyone else."

Duo slumped back into his chair, taking a moment to let this new information sink in. Heero had told him at the start that he wanted him "willing," but he'd never said that Duo had been his only choice of sex partner.

"Should I not have told you that?" Noin asked.

"Why not?" Duo chuckled. "My life can't get much crazier than this."

All the tidbits of information were adding up... to what he didn't know. Heero had told him that the Project team hadn't liked him walking across campus, and that he had wanted to talk to Duo, but it was forbidden. Based on the information that Noin had just given him, could it mean that Heero really did have a "thing" for him? Duo's face warmed. Oh, fuck if that was true.

"So, tell me about yourself," Duo said, desperate to change the subject. "How'd you wind up here?"

"I asked for a transfer." With a blush on her cheeks she turned her attention to her lunch taking several bites of pasta and green vegetables. "This is very good, Duo. Where did you learn to cook?"

Now who was the one changing the subject?

He smiled. "Just one of my many hidden talents. Back to that transfer..."

"It was nothing, really."

"Is that why you're blushing?"

"Am I?" She put her hand to her cheek and the blush deepened. "Oh, dear."

"So, tell me about him... or her."

"I really don't want to be talking about this."

"Tit for tat. You know way more about my sex life than I'll ever know about yours."

She smiled and her shoulders slumped in defeat. "He's the top operative in another agency."

"You mean there are more Projects like this one?"

"No, this Project is unique, but there are other top secret spy agencies in the world that work in collaboration with this one."

"So, your guy is a spy. What happened that you wanted to get away from him?" Duo cringed realizing too late the question was far too personal. "Sorry, you don't need to answer that."

"No, I think maybe it's time I told someone... We were in love. Or at least I was in love. It took me awhile to realize that I could never be number one in his life. His work would always come first. But now, he's coming here, and I'm not sure how to handle it."

"Why is he coming here?"

"Treize wants to expand the Project and the only way to do that is to get more operatives."

"But this guy's a grown man? Wouldn't Treize want another kid?"

"It's no longer necessary. Heero was the guinea pig, so to speak, and now Treize is ready to add to the team. He'll inject the same cocktail they've been giving Heero into the new operatives, but I'm not sure if they'll do any genetic engineering."

"And your guy is the new operative?"

"He's not my guy. He's Treize's guy now."

Duo blinked. "Oh?"

"Well, knowing Treize and Z---. I mean, the new operative is just Treize's type."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. It's been over a year, and I've got a crush on someone new."

"Yeah?" Duo brightened hearing this news.

"That's all I'm going to say. Now, I'd like to finish this fantastic lunch you made me."

"Fair enough." Duo chuckled.

The conversation turned to lighter matters including the variety of birds that hopped on branches outside the window, and Duo's recipe for the pasta primavera. When it was time for Noin to head back to the office she dallied by helping Duo clean up from lunch. She carried their dishes into the kitchen.

Duo offered her another chocolate. "I've heard it's good to end a meal with a sweet."

"You don't have to twist my arm." She chose a toffee and enjoyed it with a smile on her face.

"Do you know when Heero will be back?" Duo asked, leaning against the kitchen counter.

Noin shrugged. "Dorothy would know better than me, but I'd guess soon."

"That's what Heero said."

She put her hand on his forearm. "I'm not going to patronize you and say that I know what you're going through, because I couldn't possibly, but it seems like you've adjusted to this... somehow. And that you and Heero have made a real connection."

Duo's brow tightened as he considered her words and the sentiment behind them. He had adjusted, but every day was still a struggle, and he and Heero had made a connection, but he still felt on loose ground with him.

"A connection I'd like to test in the real world," Duo said, finally.

It seemed as though she might say something more, and then thought better of it. He understood. They were tip toeing around each other, even if they had made a friendship of sorts.

Noin smiled brightly. "Thanks for inviting me to lunch. It was a delicious meal and an interesting conversation."

As she stepped out into the hall, Duo had the urge to follow her, play on her kindness to help him escape. He doubted she would help him. Her allegiance to the Project was that obvious and strong. He stayed planted on the apartment side of the threshold.

"Good luck with Z." He winked.

She gasped in surprise and then chuckled. "He's the one who'll need the luck. Talk to you later!"


The door closed and he found the nearest chair and sat down. So, Heero had chosen him.

~ ~ ~

The mission was a success, but the number of hearty congratulations Heero had received on his return meant little to him. Not because it was his duty to succeed, but because once the mission had been completed his thoughts raced back to Duo. Let the Project team have their celebration without him. All he wanted now was to return to his quarters to be with Duo.

He undid the knot in his tie and slid it off as he approached his quarters. "Enter."

The main room was dark, but it was late, so Duo was probably in bed. He turned on the dining room chandelier, and tossed the tie onto the table.


Heero's eyes peered into the darkness beyond the light. "Yes."

"Mmm... What time is it?"

It sounded like Duo had fallen asleep on the couch.

"Half past eleven," Heero said, walking over to the couch to see Duo appear from its depths, rubbing his eyes. He sat down next to him.

"You're in a suit?" Duo asked, looking mussed from his sleep.

Heero leaned forward putting his hands on Duo's chest and fingering open the buttons as he brushed their lips together. "Sometimes I need to wear a suit to blend in."

Duo took the lapel in hand, using it as leverage to pull them closer. "You all keyed up?"

"Mm-hmm." Heero nodded, nipping Duo's jawline. They had yet to kiss, but he liked the tension it created.

"You're really back?" Now Duo's hands ran up Heero's neck to his face, his lips hovering millimeters from Heero's.

"You still asleep?"

"Hope not. This is better than a dream...."

Heero all but growled. This was the Duo he needed; the one who needed him, too. He pressed his lips to Duo's, holding him by the biceps and feeling his lover's warmth. He wanted to fuck him here and now, let the stress roll off him, but more importantly lose himself in Duo's body.

Duo pushed him back, down onto the couch, and straddled his legs. "The mission was a success?"

The concern in Duo's voice sent a shiver through Heero. "Yes," he gasped out, kissing Duo again.

"Thank God."

Heero took Duo's chin in hand, holding his face to look deeply into Duo's eyes. "You're actually glad?"

"Don't over think it, fly boy," Duo said, tapping Heero's head with a finger and smiling.

Heero chuckled. He was about to "over think it," and it seemed Duo knew him well enough to call him on it. There had been so many changes between them, and Duo's support was just one more.

"I'll help you unwind," Duo said, running his hands over Heero's chest and pushing the suit jacket off his shoulders.

Heero let the dark jacket slide onto the couch. Then Duo planted a deep kiss on his lips. Heero had missed the taste and scent of Duo even though they'd been apart less than a day. Watching Duo take control and unbutton Heero's shirt sent more shivers through him.

"This is what I was hoping for."

"Oh, yeah?" Duo licked around his ear.

"Let's fuck and then I'll take you for a swim."

"A midnight swim? Sounds sexy."

It did sound sexy, and something Heero had been thinking about for awhile. He liked how Duo looked when wet. He had wanted to pull Duo into the water with him that day in the training salle when Duo had kissed him by the side of the pool.

They stripped and fucked on the couch, not bothering to take their time. Duo had lost his inhibitions and seemed more than ready to fulfill all of Heero's fantasies, but Heero wondered how long that could last. Unless he found ways to fulfill Duo in turn, how could Duo possibly remain this willing and happy?

~ ~ ~

Heero's intensity was something that Duo had to get used to from the very start. It shone in Heero's eyes, but could be felt in many ways. From the tone of his voice, sometimes clipped and curt and other times low and sensual, to the press of his hands, sometimes slow and light and then firm and knowing. Heero was energy. That energy morphed and multiplied when combined with Duo's, creating a spark that quickly turned to flames.

Duo sensed that Heero had missed him, and had been thinking about him while he was away, or at least on his way back. Realizations like that warmed Duo, but made his brain itch. This situation couldn't possibly add up to a "real" relationship.

He was lying on top of Heero, both having sped across the finish line seconds apart. The couch sex was only the beginning tonight, but Duo still lingered in his post-coital haze.

Heero tapped his head. "Now who's doing too much thinking?"

Duo gasped as he looked at Heero. "You could hear that?"

"Don't worry, I'm not clairvoyant."

"Admitting to something you can't do?"

"There's plenty I can't do... But I want to make this better for you if I can."

Duo searched Heero's eyes, and suddenly he remembered what Miss Noin had told him: Heero chose you. "Fuck," Duo said, sighing. "I believe you."

"Then how about we take that midnight swim?"


They got up from the couch, and Heero retrieved swimsuits from his room. They grabbed their robes and athletic shoes, dressed quickly, and ventured out of the apartment. It felt strange wandering the halls at this hour, but it didn't look any different since there were no windows to judge the time of day.

They walked down the corridor to the elevator, where the hall split off in two directions. They bypassed the elevator, as Heero seemed so fond of doing, and headed down one of the adjacent corridors. When they passed the stairwell, Duo became confused.

"Isn't the pool in the training facility?"

"I have a private pool," Heero said with a grin.

Duo had never been this far along the corridor, so he followed Heero's lead. At the end of the hall they came to a plain oak door.

"This is it?"

Heero nodded and said, "Enter."

The lock disengaged and he stepped inside first to turn on the lights. Duo was close behind, his eyes wide with curiosity. At the center of the room was a kidney-shaped pool, half the size of the one in the training salle, but still large enough to swim laps, or just float on your back. The water was lit by colored lights in blue, green and purple.

Duo turned to Heero and snapped his mouth shut. He'd been gaping. "This is beautiful."

Heero escorted him further into the room, and Duo began to take in more details. There were palms planted in terra cotta pots, and elegant poolside chairs and an ottoman in black wrought iron with aqua and cream cushions and throw pillows.

"Wait until you see this," Heero said.

He walked over to the lighting control panel and pressed a button. Suddenly, Duo heard the mechanical sound of pulleys. He looked up to see the ceiling rolling back, or rather a large fabric Roman-shade was pulled back to reveal glass.

"A glass roof?"

"It gets better." Heero pressed another button. Now the glass ceiling separated and slowly retracted into the roof.

Duo was gaping again as he breathed in the fresh mountain air. "I would spend all my time here, if I were you."

"Maybe I will from now on." Heero stepped next to him, laying his hands on Duo's shoulders and slowly pulling the robe off him. "There's a full moon tonight. I thought you might enjoy it."

Duo blinked at him. "Man." This was just so damn romantic that he chuckled with happiness.

"You don't like it?" Heero asked, skimming his hands over Duo's bare shoulders.

"No... I mean yeah, I do." As much as he wanted to tell Heero that no one had ever treated him this way, this moment was tainted by his captivity. It felt great sharing this with Heero, but could he think of it as anything but an illusion?

"You okay?"

Duo looked over his shoulder at Heero and saw the worry etched in his brow. Why did this have to be so complicated? "I'm glad you brought me here."

"Want to take that swim now?"

"Yeah," Duo said with a smile.

Heero grabbed a couple of large towels from a cabinet and they left their robes and shoes by the chairs. They stood at the edge of the pool and with just a look and a wordless nod agreed to dive in together. Heero's arc into the pool was a little longer, but they hit the water about the same time. Duo emerged first, tossing his head to shake the wet bangs from his eyes. The water was tropically warm and comforting, and required no time to adjust to. Heero showed off by staying under much longer. With the lights in the pool, Duo watched the dolphin like movements of his lover as he circled around him and finally came up for air.

They were treading water and Heero nodded for Duo to follow him to the shallower end of the pool. When they were in about four and a half feet of water they stopped and set their feet on the pool's floor.

Heero wrapped his arms around Duo's waist. "I want to make love to you here."

"In the pool?"

Heero had a wicked grin on his face. "The pool, the ottoman... everywhere."

Duo's cheeks burned with the heat of Heero's words. Then, Heero's lips were on his, wet hands on his face holding him there so his mouth could be plundered. He moaned and reached for Heero, wrapping his arms about him eager for his touch. But there was something he had to know, had to confirm before he got carried away.

He broke out of the kiss. "How did I get here? In the Project?"

Heero was shaking his head, looking as if his brain might overload. "Why do you need to know that now?"

"Because this is the first time you've said you wanted to make love. I need to know... did you bring me into the Project? Was it your decision?"

Heero's eyes cleared. He took Duo's hand, leading him to underwater steps where they could sit. They settled on the mosaic tiled steps, side-by-side.

"It was my choice," Heero said. "It was Po's idea, but my choice. I'll take all the blame for bringing you here."

Duo was taken aback by Heero's honesty. "I'm not looking for someone to blame, I've got plenty of names on that list."

"But it's my decision you want to know about?"

Duo nodded. His heart was thumping in his chest. Maybe it would be better to leave these details to his imagination. The truth could shatter him.

"You're shivering," Heero said, running his hand over Duo's arm and shoulder.

The touch sent warmth to Duo's face, and another shiver through his body. "It's nothing," he said, trying to act non-chalant.

"Maybe we should get out of the water."

"No," Duo said, a bit more forcefully than he had intended. He put his hand on Heero's arm. "Just tell me the truth."

Heero's brow knitted as he seemed to be considering what to say. Then, he covered Duo's hand with his own and looked into Duo's eyes. "The truth is I'd been watching you for weeks, learning your habits and your schedule so that I'd know when to look for you, but I never knew your name or thought that we would meet."

Duo nodded a bit numbly. He was entranced by the sincerity in Heero's voice and the depth of his gaze. "And then?"

"One day, Doctor Po told me about her plan to relieve my post-mission stress." Heero smiled and shook his head. "She wanted me to have a sex partner. I didn't think anything like that was possible... I was spending so much time in training and on missions, but she said she had Treize's blessing. She showed me a list of hundreds of potential partners. They were all women and I didn't know how to tell her that I wasn't interested in women, but we eventually worked that out." Heero gave a small chuckle and then re-focused his eyes on Duo. "When she gave me the list of potential male partners all I could think about was if you were on that list. And then I saw your face and I learned your name... but I never expected them to bring you to me in wristcuffs. I didn't want you that way."

This was more than Duo had hoped to learn...ever. It validated everything that Noin had said.

Heero broke eye contact, looking down into the water. "By then it was too late. You knew too much, and you either stayed or..." He met Duo's eyes. "I'm sorry. I never should have brought you into this. I should have kept watching you from afar."

He moved to stand up, but Duo instinctively reached out with his hand grabbing Heero's wrist. They stared at each other. Heero half standing, and Duo still seated on the steps.

"Where are you going?" Duo asked.

"I'm sure you don't want me here after learning that."

"I wanted the truth. Is that what I got?"


Duo tugged on Heero's wrist. "Sit down." Heero looked confused for good reason, and Duo tugged a little harder. "Please."

Another heart beat's hesitation and Heero sat next to him on the step once again. "I don't understand."

"You just told me you wanted me before all this shit began. God, Heero... I wanted you, too."

Duo could practically see the wheels turning in Heero's mind. No doubt, he had confused the hell out of him, but then Duo was just coming into this warm moment of revelation.

"I thought so," Heero said. "But to hear you say it... You wanted me." A smile hinted at the corners of his mouth. The revelation's warmth had found him, too.

Duo leaned toward Heero with a smile. "Kiss me already."

Heero covered Duo's mouth in a confidently fierce kiss, wrapping him in a strong embrace. It was like a slice of heaven to have Heero hold him this way, slipping his tongue into his mouth as the water sloshed gently around them.

"Let me make love to you," Heero said, breaking the kiss and looking deeply into Duo's eyes.

Duo nodded, dazed and heated to the core. "There..." He indicated the furniture.

They stepped out of the pool, arms entwined. Heero kissed Duo's shoulder as they walked, lifting his arm and kissing his hand, his elbow and his shoulder once again. Each kiss was like an invisible brand on Duo's skin. It marked him as Heero's, tightened the knot between them, even though Duo couldn't see beyond the next few hours or days. The future was out of his hands, but all that mattered right now was the dark haired man standing next to him, guiding him down onto the ottoman.

Their bodies were warm from the pool and warm from their kisses and caresses. Heero slipped his hand inside Duo's swimsuit, curling his fingers around his cock, stroking it fully to hardness. He kissed Duo, deeply. He removed his hand and took hold of the suit's waistband and tugged. Duo lifted his bottom, wriggling deliciously as the wet suit was removed. Heero stood up, breaking contact just long enough to slip his trunks off as well. Then, he knelt next to the ottoman, running his hands up Duo's legs until they grasped his cock again.

Duo propped himself up on his elbows, his mouth open and ready to moan, and his eyes wide taking in all he could. Heero's tongue flicked out to lick the tip of Duo's cock and then swirled around it, sending heat across his body and to his face. He watched, transfixed as Heero stroked him and then, slowly, teasingly, licked every inch of his cock and sucked it into his mouth.

"Oh, God..." He reached out, weaving his fingers into Heero's damp, unruly hair. Heero had never sucked him before and it was almost too much having that hot mouth around him. Duo's head tilted back as he concentrated on the feel of Heero's lips and tongue and the slight graze of teeth sliding up and down on his cock. "Fuck...yes."

One second he wondered if he should come, and the next Heero was bringing him to the edge of ecstasy. Duo readily ran toward it. "Heero!" His orgasm pulsed through him, waves of pleasure rushed over him as Heero took it all. When he was spent, he slumped back onto the ottoman, panting heavily. "Fuck... Fuck," he said again and again.

Heero slithered up his body to his lips, kissing him thoroughly. "That's what I intend to do next."

Duo moaned. His brain was mush and his body still tingled with the aftershocks of his climax. "Bring it on," he said, grabbing Heero by the head and pressing their lips together in a powerful kiss.

Heero growled in his ear and slicked two fingers with his tongue and slid them between Duo's legs. He pressed them to Duo's opening, nudging them, pushing them inside. Duo moaned, and felt himself hardening again.

By now, Heero knew exactly what he was doing. He kissed the stuffing out of Duo while fucking him with his fingers, preparing him for the main event. Heero only ever used two fingers on him, even though his cock was more than that. Duo had wondered if it was merely impatience or that Heero liked making Duo squirm when he shoved inside for that first, long slide. Duo was the impatient one tonight, and they'd already fucked less than an hour ago. He could take whatever Heero wanted to give him. Heero seemed to know this, too, and removed his fingers after several thrusts.

Heero reached for his robe. He'd brought a small bottle of lubricant with them.

"Good boy," Duo said, licking the side of Heero's face.

The bottle was handed over to Duo who happily, and efficiently, squeezed the gel into his hand. He took Heero's cock, giving it a couple of thorough strokes and pointed it in the right direction. Heero held it at the base, applying constant pressure as he pushed forward until the head slid inside. They moaned into each other's mouths, letting their bodies take over fully.

All the way, Heero's cock filled Duo with the hardness he craved. "Give it to me."

Heero pulled out halfway and thrust back, sending a jolt of pleasure through Duo. Again and again the thrusts came, making Duo believe this was all he wanted to live for. Hell, it was what they had brought him here for, but it had become more... so much more.

The water dried on them only to be replaced by the sweat of this hard, deep fuck. The ottoman's wrought iron held firm, creaking softly as it swayed slightly with their thrusts. Again, Heero thrust, and again Duo moaned and thrust back. Duo's body ached for more. Give me more, he thought, even as he felt Heero deep inside, loving him, touching him inside and out. Their fingers twined together as the rhythm increased. Lips touching, breath mingling as they made love, made it last as long as they could, until their bodies begged for release.

Heero shoved hard and fast, signaling the final lap. "Unghh," he grunted with each thrust. "Unghh... Fuck... Want you... so much."

Those words and that slide of cock inside him, sent Duo tumbling towards the finish for the second time in minutes. "Heero... Oh!"

They came together, consumed by passion. "Yes!" Arching, tensing, moaning as one... "Oh, yes!" And it was done. They collapsed on the ottoman, taking in great gulps of air as their orgasms ricocheted inside them.

on to part 18

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