Disclaimer: I don't own anything in the GW universe, and I haven't made even one red cent from writing about them.

Rating/Warnings: R for sexual scenes and yaoi, predominantly a Heero/Duo story, but the other pilots are included as well.

Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
Chapter 43
by Dyna Dee

Heero woke a couple of hours after having fallen asleep, his mind awhirl with not only thoughts of all that had happened that evening, but also with the challenges that lay before him. He would not be going back to sleep any time soon. Untangling himself from Duo's slackened arms, being careful not to disturb the sleeping man, he cautiously removed himself from the bed. After fumbling around in the dark for his clothes, he slipped on his slacks and tee-shirt before tip-toeing out of his lover's bedroom and returned to the dark living room.

He switched on a small table lamp and settled himself on the sofa. The room was still and silent, unlike his thoughts which were troubled by unsolved mysteries and worry for his friends. Added to his concern about Relena, Wufei's disappearance also weighed heavily on his mind. What could have happened to the man who was not only a master of several martial arts but also a former gundam pilot and an experienced, capable Preventer? Wufei was no fool and the idea that he'd gotten into something he couldn't get out of, or was unable to get word to anyone, was troubling indeed.

Added to those worries was the disturbing discovery of Taylor Mann, Duo's double. He wasn't sure he could believe his lover had gone to such lengths or expense simply to have someone fill in for him when he didn't feel like showing up to a movie premiere. But if that wasn't the case, then what was Duo up to? Could the subterfuge he had going with Taylor be hiding some criminal activity? Was Duo in some way involved with the marauders? Could he have had something to do with Relena's disappearance?

And then he wondered if the two cases might be linked, which set his mind immediately to spinning with possibilities. He focused on the question of the stealth system, which was what they believed the marauders were using. Such a system had to involve either Duo or Howard or someone from Howard's original crew. Heero shook his head, thinking Duo couldn't be involved. The man had been with him at the same time one of the raids had taken place. And several times his lover had stated he was estranged from Howard, since shortly after the war. But was he lying? While fighting together during the first war, Duo proudly claimed that he never lied, a fact that had him doubting this suspicious line of thinking.

With a frustrated sigh he leaned further into the back of the sofa. The apartment was on the cool side, causing goose pimples to make an appearance. If only there was a blanket nearby he could throw over his shoulders. Rubbing his chilled arms, he wondered again what was Duo up to. That damn question wouldn't stay out of his mind. What if his lover was involved with the marauders? Wufei believed the group they were investigating had been supplying food and necessities to L2's starving people. It seemed just the sort of thing Duo would be involved in.

His eyes strayed to the picture set over the fireplace. He studied the lines of the photographed back, appreciating the way light and shadow formed the shape of Duo's body and his thick, long braid. The black and white photograph was a perfect way for Duo to depict himself. He'd always thought the orphan from L2 to be a person of contrasts. He represented both light and shadow; an optimist despite his dark and disturbing past; a kind person despite having been a gundam pilot, a killer. It was the many sides of Duo that had drawn his attention to the American teenager in the first place. Back then, as well as now, he was inordinately handsome, and that bewitching braid of his made him unforgettable. Besides his physical appearance, Duo became a bright spot in his duty-driven life with his devil-may-care attitude and odd sense of humor. Even when he'd been less than receptive to Duo's overtures of friendship back then, the braided teen never seemed to take offence. And being stubbornly tenacious, the boy from L2 tried again and again to be his friend... until he finally managed to win him over. Light and dark, just like the portrait. That had been Duo in his teenage years.

And now that he was thinking of the past, he realized Duo had come to represent the light and dark in his life also. His happiest memories, as well as some of his worst, were centered around the American. The idea of Duo being one of the masterminds behind the marauders wasn't too much of a stretch to believe, given the man's intelligence and past experience. But then again, he was Duo's alibi for when an attack on a freighter occurred the weekend before. If his lover was involved with the marauders in any other way, like helping design or construct a stealth system, it would mean his lover would face prison time if he were arrested and convicted of the crimes the space pirates had committed. Could he really pursue his suspicions, perhaps unearthing evidence that might point to Duo, and then turn his lover over to the authorities? And if convicted, could he live with himself if Duo was sent to prison for however long they sentenced him? It was a question he wrestled with for a good ten minutes before he decided to do something more constructive.

Having left his laptop on the dining room table, he moved silently through the quiet apartment to that room and sat at the large oval table. No sooner had he booted up the computer when a new message popped up, indicating he had mail. It was from Director Une. After asking about his delay and demanding he report his whereabouts, she informed him that Wufei was still missing and unaccounted for. She asked if he had received any word from him or information regarding his whereabouts.

She also informed him that Quatre and Trowa had been interviewed by a local Preventer agent; Quatre being one of the last to see the missing Preventer. The attached report read like a newsy postcard, with Quatre stating, in his ever polite manner, that he and Wufei had spent several hours catching up with each other after his arrival while Trowa was working on the computer system at the office. He stated that a phone call came for Wufei, from Preventers, he gathered, and their visit came to an abrupt end. Wufei gathered his things and took his leave, stating his intention of meeting up with a crew who had been stopped and boarded by the marauders. Agent Warfield, the woman who conducted the interview, observed that both men asked appropriate questions about the missing agent and showed concern for their friend's welfare.

Something about the interview bothered him. After reading it over once more, Heero sat back in his chair and tried to figure out what was bothering him. He had implicit trust in his friends, so it couldn't be that he didn't believe them. Puzzled, he re-read the report several times until it finally came to him what was wrong. Wufei was a good friend to both Quatre and Trowa, having been in touch and communicating since after the war. According to Warfield's observations the two men had sat calmly in the parlor and answered questions about Wufei... instead of rushing out to organize the Maganacs or rousing L4's police force to search for him. It was heir stand-back, let-others-do-the-work response that caught his attention. That inaction was very uncharacteristic for the two former gundam pilots, especially Quatre. He reminded himself that for the past five years he hadn't had any contact with the two, so it was possible that they had changed, become more calm and methodical before they acted.

"Hey. What ya doin'?" Duo's groggy voice came from the entrance of the dining room, startling Heero for a moment. Turning his head, Heero's breath caught in his throat at the sight of the handsome man leaning heavily against the entry, wearing only the bronze satin robe, loosely tied with the belt at his waist, his long tussled hair falling seductively over his shoulders.

"I woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep. I didn't want to wake you."

"Appreciate that," Duo yawned, his hand a bit tardy at rising to cover his open mouth. "But I missed you."

"Come here." Heero held out his hand and motioned for the other man to join him. Duo straightened and slowly walked to him with a lazy smile on his face. Heero could tell by the dark circles under red-rimmed eyes that his lover needed more sleep. As Duo sat down on his lap, Heero slid his arm around the satin covered waist and pulled his lover's body against his chest.

Duo's lips pressed against his temple for a long moment before he slumped in Heero's embrace. "You scared me, ya know?"

"How so?" Heero asked while placing a reassuring kiss on the other man's jaw as he cradled him in his arms. Duo needed a shave.

There was a long pause before Duo replied, "I was afraid you'd left."

"I promise I won't do that," Heero assured him. "At least not without telling you where I'm going and why I'm leaving."

"That's good." The long-haired man snuggled closer to him, one arm wrapping around the back of his neck.

Several silent yet pleasant minutes passed before Duo pulled back to look at him again. "You're still bothered by Taylor aren't you?"

Heero looked into those amethyst-colored eyes and found himself unwilling to see anything but love and concern shining within them. "Maybe just a little, but it's Wufei and Relena that I'm worried about." He consoled himself by the fact that at least he was being partially honest with his lover.

A frown momentarily marred Duo's handsome face and worry shone in his eyes. "I'm worried about them, too, even though there's nothing I can do for either of them at the moment."

"I need to return to Sanq in the morning and then head back to space. I'm going to try and retrace Wufei's footsteps to see if I can find a clue as to what's happened to him. If he discovered something about the marauders, it's possible he might have fallen victim to them."

"I thought Quatre said they haven't harmed anyone."

"They haven't killed anyone," Heero corrected him. "They used stun guns in the beginning, but on the last ship they boarded there was an altercation. The crew decided to put up a fight and they were all stunned into an unconscious state. The report states that a member of the freighter's crew shot one of the pirates."

A look of alarm flashed in Duo's eyes, but it was replaced so quickly by an expression of concern that Heero wondered exactly what Duo's initial reaction had been. "Do you think they'll retaliate?"

Heero was having a hard time concentrating at the moment. With Duo's face so close to his own and the hint of peppermint telling him that the other man had recently brushed his teeth, there was more than enough reason for distraction. That combined with Duo's natural scent was like an aphrodisiac to his senses. His eyes shifted downward and it was almost his undoing to see the poor excuse of a robe Duo wore had slid open, exposing the very part of his lover's body it was supposed to be covering.

He wasn't subtle about his visual appraisal of the other man, and Duo evidently appreciated the attention. A smile twitched at the corners of his lover's lips just before he leaned down to steal a kiss. At the last moment, Heero turned his head, self-conscious about his own lack of hygiene. "I've got morning breath and need another shower," he explained.

Duo leaned in closer and took a deep breath. "The smell of our love making doesn't put me off. Believe me, I've smelled worse. Besides, who said I was only aiming to kiss your mouth?" After giving him a devilish grin, Duo shifted off his lap and deftly pulled the T-shirt up and over his head before beginning a trail of kisses starting with his shoulders and drifting to his collar bone, chest and teasingly worked his way south.

His body reacted quickly to Duo's talented mouth, and was startled by just how desperate he was for the other man's touch, but he knew he had to stop him. Though his lover was too tempting to resist, he knew Duo was in no shape to go another round. He loved the man enough to put his welfare above his own desires. Grabbing Duo's upper arms, he halted his downward progress. "Duo, please stop."

Uncomprehending eyes looked up for an explanation. "What?"

"We'll have time in the morning. You're too tired right now to enjoy anything but sleep."

Duo opened his mouth to disagree, but then his shoulders slumped and he leaned his weary head against his upper thigh. "You're right," he said so softly Heero had to strain to hear him. "Sorry."

Heero stood from the chair and pulled Duo up with him. "There's nothing to be sorry for. Come on. Let's go back to bed."

"Think you can sleep now?" Duo asked as Heero put his arm over his lover's shoulders to guide him back down the hall.

"I think I can," he answered.

It took less than two minutes for Duo to fall back to sleep, his head resting on Heero's shoulder, his naked body pressed up against his side. The steady puff of warm breath against his skin and the heat emanating from his lover's body almost made Heero regret putting Duo off from making love until the morning, but he knew his lover needed more rest. He turned his thoughts to the morning and how he would put a smile on the long-haired man's face again. Maybe after they made love, they could have a quick breakfast together before he caught a taxi to the airport.

Closing his eyes, he breathed in the scent of his lover and marveled at how wonderful it was to have him in his arms once again. Damn, he loved the man, regardless of the fact that Duo was keeping something from him. Whatever his secret was, it must be important, very important, because the American did his best to be honest. Of course there had been times during the war when he'd had been forced to lie, to save his hide or escape being caught. But when it came to people who mattered to him, Duo could be counted on to be open and honest. Even though Duo hadn't committed himself to him, hadn't said he loved him, he knew he considered him as more than a friend, had accepted him back into his life as his lover. So, if the man was lying, there had to be a very good reason. Did he trust Duo? The answer came in an instant. He did trust the American, with his life and heart. After coming to that conclusion, he relaxed and did his best to let all his doubts go. He took a moment to calm his mind and then his body until he was fully relaxed. And finally he yawned.

Duo mumbled something in his sleep, and Heero couldn't help but smile and press the long-haired man closer. The rare feeling of complete contentment enveloped him. It was something he hadn't felt in five long years, and he knew he never wanted to lose it again. Keeping Duo safe and by his side was worth any sacrifice on his part. He would do anything for Duo Maxwell, even if his lover wasn't being truthful with him at the moment. He knew, sooner or later, he would discover the answer for himself, or Duo would tell him what was going on, because the man wouldn't be able to live with a lie forever. Though Duo had been a child of the streets, he lived by a personal code of honor. He would do the right thing, eventually.

Resigning himself to living with yet another unsolved puzzle, at least until Duo was ready to trust him with his secrets, he closed his eyes and let his mind calm completely before following his lover into the realm of slumber.

on to part 44

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