Disclaimer: I don't own nor profit from my GW stories

Warnings: Yaoi, some language, mild angst, possible NCS

Second Chances
Part 13
by Dyna Dee

Please heed the warning and disclosure on the first page of the story.

A soft, almost imperceptible knock sounded on the front door. Heero's eyes opened immediately. Being careful not to move abruptly and wake his lover who was finally resting peacefully in his arms, he slowly lifted his head and shoulders, just enough to looked over the armrest of the couch and back at the front door. Through the small window in the center of it he could see that it was Wufei who had knocked. Their eyes locked as their Chinese friend stood patiently outside on the front porch, gazing through the small window for a signal to enter. Carefully moving his upper arm, Heero made a motion with his hand for his friend to come inside.

Purposely having left the door unlocked, his eyes followed as Wufei silently opened it and entered, the shut it behind him without making a sound. When he turned to face his two friends spooned up together on the couch, Wufei's dark eyes bore the look of concern, and it was clear to Heero watching him that he felt slightly uncomfortable at the intrusion. Bending down, he removed his shoes and, leaving them by the door, walked in his dark, stockinged feet soundless across the wood floor to the seating area and noted that Duo was still asleep. Wufei's gaze then returned to Heero's face. "How is he?" he asked with a worried look on his face while keeping his voice down to a whisper.

"He'll be alright," Heero whispered back confidently. "He just needs time to find his feet again and come to terms with what's happened."

Wufei nodded. Duo was always a bounce-back person. A lesson learned after so many disappointments in his young life. But now, in seeing Heero taking such tender care of him, Wufei had no doubt that Duo would be as he had said, alright.

"Two of the planet's and colonies' greatest worriers are about twenty minutes behind me." Wufei told Heero with a slight apologetic grin on his face. "So prepare yourself for Quatre's mothering and Trowa's silent but attentive fussing."

Heero nodded. "I think Duo will like having them here," he whispered back.

Wufei moved the half filled coffee cup and coke can aside and sat on the edge of the large and sturdy mahogany coffee table facing his reclining friends. He quietly contemplated the two before him. "I take it you're re-entering this relationship with an eye to permanency," he said to Heero, raising one questioning eyebrow.

The young man who had come to be his good friend during Duo's absence nodded his answer and gently moved a strand of long hair from off Duo's face. He paused a moment to silently observe how peaceful his lover looked while sleeping. By the tranquil expression on his relaxed face, it seemed almost impossible that he'd gone through the ordeal he had the night before.

Heero sighed, then rested his cheek against Duo's head. "Funny how things turn our, isn't it Wufei. In my case, I guess the saying is true that you don't know what you've got until it's gone," Heero replied to Wufei's query as his arms returned to holding the long haired man's body gently but possessively against his own. "You know, I always felt Duo was the only one for me, but during the wars I didn't know how to express or even outwardly accept it, not like he needed me to." Heero frowned slightly as he continued, feeling an unusual need to talk to someone. "I thought that, if we time spent apart after the war, that it would be good for us. I needed to come to terms with how I felt about him and to learn how to communicate my feelings to him other than physically." He sighed slightly and shook his head, looking decidedly unhappy about his past decisions.

Wufei noticed Heero was looking slightly exasperated as he brought his hand up to run it through his wildly tossed hair. He listened intently as Heero then continued. "At the time, I also thought Duo needed to experience life away from me, to see if I was truly what he wanted in a partner. Damn but I was willing to take a chance and step back from our troubled relationship and be patient, to wait for him to grow up and mature while we were living separately after the wars. In my mind, I did it all with the hope that he would come back to me because he would have decided it was truly me he wanted to be with. And that was when I was going to tell him how I felt."

Wufei watched his friend as he sorted through his emotions and the past, and listened closely to Heero's words, knowing it was rare indeed for him to share them with anyone, and he was honored that his friend felt he was worthy of such a gift of trust. With his sharp eyes, he observed Heero's blue eyes cloud suddenly, his mouth frown as he studied Duo's hand resting close to his face. Heero continued on in a hushed voice. "When he ran from us, from me, because of our rejection, I knew immediately that I'd lost the best thing that I'd ever had. I came to know then that I had to change if I was ever going to hope to have another chance with him; with Relena's help, I did make some progress. Everything I accomplished during the time Duo was gone was with the hope that he'd come back one day and give me a second chance." His eyes rose up to look intently into Wufei's. "I can't tell you how lucky I feel that he did come back, Wufei, and has granted me what I wanted most. I believe I have learned enough to know that I've now got the real thing, the right thing, and I'm in it for good," he told his friend resolutely, the fervency of his voice telling of the truth behind his words.

Wufei gave his friend a small, sincere smile as his eyes softened. "I'm glad, Heero," he said in a quiet voice. "I always thought you two were good for each other during the war. Duo smoothed your sharp edges and you gave him balance. I never fully understood, until just now, why you two split up and went your separate ways. It just didn't make sense for two people, who seemed to be a matched set in so many ways, to not be together."

Heero reached up behind him, blindly searching on the back of the couch for the television's remote control. Finding it, he switched off the television that had been running all night with the mute button activated. "We just sort of drifted apart," Heero replied to Wufei's statement. "The war was painful for the both of us, and I believed we were too young and emotionally damaged to decide who we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. I was possessive of Duo and careless with my life. Duo, on the other hand, was like a wild child, wanting to party all the time and constantly into trouble." Heero looked back into Wufei's concerned face. "Yet somehow we were together. How many teenagers do you know that fall in love young and manage to stay in love in their twenties and thirties?" he asked his friend. "I knew that I wanted only him, but I didn't know if I could trust my feelings after the war, and I wasn't sure of his true feelings for me and couldn't bring myself to question him or his reasons for wanting to be with me. I was a coward," Heero said disgustedly with a slow shake of his head. "I didn't think I could bear to hear him say he wanted to pursue other possibilities that didn't include me in his future, so I let him go. It was easier to deal with his absence, telling myself it was only temporary, giving us both time to grow up, than to think he was really leaving me behind."

"That was rather risky, don't you think?" Wufei questioned.

"If I could go back, I'd do a lot of things differently."

"But now you have your second chance, Heero, and you can do things differently this time around." Wufei smiled with encouragement.

Heero only nodded and pressed his lips to the top of Duo's head.

Wufei's smile diminished and he sighed, deciding it was time to discuss some business. "Duo will have to meet with a police official today to confirm the statement he made to me last night. They'll have it typed up and he'll need to read and sign it," he said, keeping his voice down. "They'll want to talk to you, too."

"Can you stall it?" Heero asked, looking worried.

"I can try, but I doubt it," the non-uniformed Preventer replied.

Duo's eyes suddenly opened and he took in a quick breath of air. Feeling Heero's arms tighten slightly in reassurance, he focused his sleep-filled eyes on the person in front of him. "Wufei?" he questioned in a sleepy voice and moved to wipe the sleep and blurriness from his eyes.

"Morning Duo," Wufei greeted his smaller friend still encased in Heero's protecting embrace. "How are you this morning?" he asked.

Duo shifted and turned to face Heero. Reaching his hand up and putting it behind the dark haired head, he pulled Heero's face down for a quick but satisfying kiss, then returned to look back at Wufei. "Better," he replied with a grin.

Both of the other men in the room silently sighed with relief. "Good," Wufei replied and smiled back. "Because Quatre and Trowa heard the news this morning and are on their way up here to take care of you two."

Duo's eyes widened at the news, then he gave a surprising smile. "Do you think we can talk Trowa into making crepes?" he asked, effectively changing the subject. "If my memory serves me right, he makes the best ones I've ever had."

Wufei and Heero shared an amused smile, glad to hear Duo speaking more like himself. "I'm sure that, for you, he'd cook all morning." Wufei chuckled.

All three silently acknowledged the shared feeling of normalcy returning and each felt, in his own way, that even though another challenge had come their way, they would survive it and come out stronger for surviving another of life's hurdles.

Heero sat up, bringing Duo with him, yet still managed to keep his arm securely draped over his shoulders as he broached the next subject. "What's the news on Standish?" he asked Wufei.

"He's in police custody at the hospital and will be formally charged today with assault, illegal use of a drug, and rape. I expect other people who have been his victims in the past will hear the news and will hopefully come forward to bring further charges against him. We searched his bedroom with a quickly obtained warrant and found a box in the back of his closet containing discs of pictures depicting step-by-step sexual assaults, similar to what Duo described, to various individuals that were tied up and raped in a variety of ways."

Duo's body shuddered as his memory flashed back to the past evening and remembering Marcus saying that they were just starting with the activities he had in mind for him. Heero's arm instinctively tightened around him, letting Duo know he was there to protect him.

"You better see that he's locked away for a very long time, Wufei." Heero's voice was dark and threatening after feeling his lover's body tremble against him. "Or I may have to finish what I started." From the look on his face, both of the other young men knew it was no idle threat that he made.

"Is May okay?" Duo asked, desperately needing to change the subject once again.

"She woke up early this morning, apparently none the worse for the evening or the drug. Milliardo and Lucretia will tell her this morning, when she's a bit more coherent, what happened to you."

"I wish we didn't have to tell her about this," Duo said, frowning unhappily. "She's young and innocent."

"All the better to warn her of the dangers out there," Heero replied and quickly kissed the sleep mussed hair on the top of his lover's head. "Standish was certainly a wolf in sheep's clothing. She is young, beautiful, and from a prominent, wealthy family. The very things Standish targeted you for. She needs to know that there are evil people in the world who could do her harm."

Duo moved to stand, wincing as he came to his feet and straightened. "I need to use the bathroom," he told the two, then turned and made his way out of the room.

"He doesn't look very well," Wufei said with concern as his eyes followed Duo moving slowly out of the room. "He's pale and has a pinched look about his face."

Heero frowned. "He's got some pretty severe bite marks on his body, Wufei. Would it help convict Standish if we had photographic evidence of his wounds, or will the other pictures you found be enough?"

Wufei thought a moment before answering, when he did, he looked at his friend apologetically. "I'll need to get photographs, though it would be better if he were to go to a hospital and have the wounds documented and treated there. A blood test would also have confirmed that he was drugged, but I suppose it's too late for that at this point."

"I already treated his wounds last night. Besides, he didn't want to go to the hospital and I wasn't going to force him. I still don't think he'll go today and I won't make him. He feels safe here."

Wufei nodded his head in understanding. All of them had shunned going to hospitals during the war, fearful of being discovered for what they were and being captured while in a helpless state. It seemed that fear and distrust of hospitals carried on after the war was long over. "Then let me go to my car and get my evidence camera so we can document the damage to his body. If we can't find the other victims or if they won't cooperate, we might only have Duo's testimony and the evidence of his attack on him to convict Standish."

"I'm going to go and check on him." Heero stood suddenly and looked towards the direction of the hallway leading to the bedrooms. "Do you want to make some tea or coffee?" Heero asked as he moved away from the couch.

"Duo likes coffee, so I'll make enough for all of us," Wufei said, then stood to make his way to the kitchen even as Heero walked towards the master bedroom.

He found his lover hunched over the toilet bowl having dry heaves. Heero knelt by his side and rubbed his back in soothing, circular motions. When at last Duo lifted his head, his eyes were watery from the strain of his body's reflex to empty his stomach, even though it was already empty.

"Better?" Heero asked.

Duo shook his head. "I thought so, but now I'm not so sure," he whispered back in a strained voice.

"Come on." Heero took his elbow and helped the smaller man to rise. "Why don't you brush your teeth and wash your face, then I'll tuck you into bed for a while and Wufei can serve the both of us coffee."

Duo wrapped his arms around his body in an attempt to hold himself together. "I don't want to go to bed," he said, suddenly sounding so young and vulnerable.

Heero turned his lover towards the sink and opened his medicine cabinet that held two toothbrushes and toothpaste along with an assortment of over the counter drugs. Duo lifted his eyes to the mirror as Heero pressed the newly unwrapped toothbrush in his hands and applied a small amount of paste to the brush.

A small smile appeared on the heart shaped face. "You've got a toothbrush just for me?" he asked in a tone that showed he was pleasantly surprised.

"I told you I built this house for you," Heero said in his familiar matter-of-fact tone, but as his eyes looked into the mirror to gaze into his lover's eyes reflected there, he wore the warmest of smiles on his face. "The toothbrush and a few other things were part of my hopeful dreams."

Duo leaned back into the strong chest behind him and reveled in the feel of the protective arms that gently surrounded him. He felt safe. Then tilting his head back just slightly, he let it rest against Heero's shoulder while keeping his eyes still focused on the deep blue ones watching him in the mirror. "You really did plan a future with me all along, didn't you?" he said in a quiet, bemused voice.

Heero nodded and their eyes stayed focused on each other in the mirror's reflection as a myriad of emotions passed between them. "A future with a firm commitment, Duo. Have I met all your needs yet? Do you want a future with me as much as I want one with you?"

Duo looked into the questioning eyes in the mirrored on the glass surface. In those deep, emotion-filled eyes he could clearly see himself reflected in them, and he thought for just a moment of all the things he had ever wanted and of all the things he told Heero he needed in a relationship. Turning within the protective embrace and laying his head on his lover's strong, supporting shoulder, he spoke from his heart. "You're offering me all I ever craved, Heero," he began. "A home, love, security, a future and commitment." His arms tightened slightly around the Japanese man's waist and he closed his eyes, even though the movement brought him pain, he luxuriated in the overwhelming feeling of love he felt for the other man. "I love you, Heero." he said in a strong whisper. "You are the home I've always needed, the security I've craved. I was just scared shit less that you didn't want the same things I did."

Drawing back just enough to look his lover in the eyes, he searched their depths for the answers to the questions he was about to ask. "Are you sure this is what you want, Heero? You built all of this for me and planned a future for me, but is it me in reality that you really want, not just in the idealized me that you conjured during the last three years? Do you really want to settle for the only person you've ever been with? Can you honestly be content with me as the years go by, or will you regret that you never explored your options? Be very sure, Heero. " Duo admonished. "Because once you have me, you're never going to be rid of me."

"Duo." Heero stopped his lover's questioning. "I've wanted this for so long, just being with you. Don't go second guessing my motives. I've had three years to date others and seek out other relationships, but I couldn't bring myself to do anything other than plan for your return. I never wanted anyone else but you," he said firmly so that his temporarily unsure lover would not question his devotion. "Wufei called us a matched set, and I think he's right. Between the two of us, we can balance all the good and bad the future will bring, but only if we're together to meet it. Lets take this second chance with each other and go boldly forward with it."

There was an interrupting knock on the bedroom door that made them both flinch. "Coffee?" Wufei called out through it.

"Come on." Heero gave his lover a last squeeze before releasing him. "Finish brushing your teeth, then lets get something to eat with our coffee. I have toast, bagels and/or eggs."

"Toast," Duo said with a growing smile and raising the loaded toothbrush to his mouth. "I want to save room for whatever Quatre and Trowa bring with them. You can always count on them for good treats."

The other two pilots arrived nearly an hour after Wufei's arrival with several large paper bags filled with groceries. Quatre dropped his bag unceremoniously on the nearest chair and lunged for Duo for the hug of reassurance he felt they both needed. His gesture, however, brought about anything but the desired result. As he tightly embraced his friend, chest to chest, Duo cried out in pain and jumped back, falling against the leather couch and wrapping his hands over his chest in a protective manner.

"Duo, I hurt you, didn't I?" Quatre's blue eyes were wide with anxiety and guilt. "By Allah, I'm so sorry."

"Not your fault, Quatre," Duo said in a rather breathless voice, his face pinched with pain. "I got hurt last night and I just need to be somewhat careful."

It took a good five minutes to console their blond friend, and the only thing that really helped was when Duo asked if Trowa could make some crepes. Quatre leapt to volunteer for kitchen duty.

It was in the middle of the impromptu brunch that Milliardo, Lucretia and May arrived. It seemed an awkward reunion for the family with the room full of Duo's friends. May burst into tears as she threw herself against her brother's chest and held him in a tight embrace. His reaction was to bite his lip and scrunch up his face in pain, but endured in pain in relative silence. After many assurances that he was alright, the redheaded girl finally pulled herself off her brother's chest and stared at him.

"I'm so sorry, Max." She sniffed back more tears as they threatened to leak from her eyes. "I had no idea Marcus would ever hurt another person, much less my brother. What did he do to you Max? You look like you're in pain, did he hurt you?"

Duo looked to his parents with pleading eyes. Lucretia had watched him closely, frowning at his pale, pinched face. But as all color had drained from his skin, she moved forward, having understood the non-verbal plea for help. "Come, May," she said in a gentle voice as she pulled the girl away from her favorite person in the world. "Max is hurting and we need to let him have some space." The girl nodded, looking sad and hurt at the same time, leaving Duo to think that this was going to be a very long day.

Duo sat down on the couch, and the man the pilots had known as The Lightening Count sat next to him on the couch, on the opposite side from Heero. "Will you be coming home with us Max?" he asked, his eyes displaying his deep concern.

Duo took up Heero's hand, then looked back at his adopted father. "I am home," he said, quietly resolute, then a look of regret passed over his face. "I'm sorry Mil, I know I said I'd stick around for a bit longer, but I feel safe here. This is the home Heero built for me, and I don't think I could feel safer anywhere else at the moment. I...I hope you aren't mad, because I've got so much to be thankful to you for." There was a tone of pleading in Duo's voice, he needed his adopted father to understand his decision and accept it.

"We just want you to be happy." The tall blond man answered with a slight smile full of affection for the young man he had called his son for the past three years. He'd always admired Duo for his strength and tenacity during the war, even if he was often considered a dreaded enemy. After the first war, when he had read the reports and learned of the boy from L-2's tragic history and his admiration grew for the young man's ability to survive and come out of such a place and circumstances a decent human being. Both he and his wife grew to love the former Deathscythe pilot in a similar way as that of a smaller brother as they watched him slowly overcome heartache from rejection and turned to befriend a young, insecure and guilt ridden young girl, taking her under his wing and building up her confidence, becoming the over-protecting brother May needed so badly. Without a doubt, both he and his wife knew they had made the right choice in bringing Duo into their family. Now it seemed it was time to let go, though it felt too soon. Stemming from the incident the night before, it appeared that now it was Duo who was in need of that same kind of compassion, protection and mental security he'd given to May, and now he'd was choosing Heero as the one to give it to him.

"I am happy." Duo smiled sincerely, then turned to grace Heero, sitting on the other side of him, with a glowing smile reflecting his heartfelt feelings for him.

"Then we back your decision one hundred percent." Lucretia said, smiling gently as Duo looked to her and found herself unable to hold back the moisture welling up in her eyes as she stood next to the couch holding May at her side, an arm draped comfortingly over the girl's slender shoulders.

Duo stood slowly and went to his adopted mother, his friend, and gently embraced her, placing his head on her shoulder. "Heero is my home now," he told her in a soft voice, "but you are my family. I'll never forget that, not what you've done for me. I won't let you be rid of me so easily."

Zechs looked to his wife's face to see her eyes were set on him; she seemed to be sad and happy at the same time. He understood exactly what she was feeling as he felt the same way. They were both happy for Duo to have his life back with Heero again, where he always longed to be, but sad that they had to let him go from their daily lives.

Wufei's cell phone rang and he quickly left the room to answer it. He returned to the several moments later to see everyone had taken a seat and the television was on the news channel.

"Heero," he called out softly. Reluctantly the dark headed man left his warm place at Duo's side to join him. Standing in the kitchen, Wufei spoke in a low voice to his friend. "Lieutenant Dawson is the police investigator on Standish's case, and he just called to get your address and directions. He'll be here in a half hour."

Heero drew his hand through his messy dark brown hair. "We've got other people here, Wufei. This could be very awkward for Duo."

"I still need to get pictures of his wounds and I think he would rather I take them than this policeman, who may just insist Duo be brought to a hospital."

"No, we'll do it here, in our bedroom." Heero firmly insisted. "Get your camera and I'll bring Duo in."

Wufei grabbed the camera he'd brought in earlier from off the bar separating the kitchen from the living room and moved quickly to the bedroom. He waited for several moments, not looking forward to putting his friend in another uncomfortable situation.

He looked up and met both young men's eyes as they entered the room. Both appeared less than happy about the situation, but Duo looked more apprehensive then he'd ever seen him before. They stood there for a moment in awkward silence, waiting for one of them to make the first move. Wufei cleared his throat as he unzipped the case protecting his camera.

"If you'd like to remove your shirt, you can show me any injuries you have from the waist up," he suggested. Duo nodded, but stood passive as Heero turned to him and began to work with caution to take off his shirt. Wufei moved away to give them some small amount of privacy and to turn on all the lights in the room for better lighting. When he returned to them, Duo was looking down at his chest where Heero was trying to painlessly remove the last two bandages that covered his nipples.

"You can start with my ear." Duo said in a subdued voice. He pushed his hair behind his right ear and revealed the red, swollen ear lobe that had been hidden during the morning visit.

Wufei couldn't help the sharp intake of air that escaped him. That bite mark gave the appearance of being horribly painful and looked like a doctor needed to see it. He took two pictures of the abused earlobe while Heero dutifully held the long, brown hair back for a clear shot. Next came the much slighter bite on his neck and the two under the inside of his biceps. While bruising and the tooth impressions looked painful, they weren't as deep and nasty looking as the one on Duo's ear. Then Heero carefully removed the loosened bandages from off Duo's nipples.

"Shit!" Wufei growled angrily under his breath and quickly snapped several pictures of the painful looking bites. Without a doubt Standish was a sick individual, he thought. "Any more?" he questioned, hoping there would be a negative answer. Instead, he watched as Duo's hands moved down to unfastened the top of his pants.

"Don't forget the bruising on his wrists and ankles," Heero reminded Wufei in a hushed voice, probably modulating it in order to keep Duo calm. He then knelt down and removed the slippers from Duo's feet so that the pant legs would slide off more easily, revealing the discolored skin just above his feet where the ropes had been tied.

Wufei watched with troubled eyes as Duo lifted the inside legs of his boxers to reveal the twin bite marks on each of his pale, upper thighs, then turned his feet outward so he could get a better picture of the bruising wounds. Quickly taking the photographic evidence of his inner thighs and then several of his ankles and wrists, Wufei stood, his troubled eyes meeting those of his injured friend. "I'm so sorry, Duo," he whispered sincerely, holding back his emotions as Duo's tortured gaze met his. Impulsively but with caution, he moved a couple of steps closer to stand in front of his boxer clad friend and slowly bought his face to rest against Duo's, his bronze cheek pressed gently next to the fair cheek. Bringing his right hand up, he touched the bare shoulder to give Duo a loose hug, not wanting to hurt him any further. "I'm just so sorry," Wufei said in an agonized whisper.

He felt Duo nod his acceptance of his offered sympathy, then took a step back to give his friend room. Clearing his throat and composing himself, Wufei looked down at his camera as he began to put the case back on it. "You'll have time to dress before Lieutenant Dawson shows up," he informed them. "If you want to stay in here, I'll explain to the others and bring him to you when he arrives."

Heero looked to Duo for direction and, when Duo nodded, he turned to Wufei. "We'll wait here. Tell the others to make themselves at home, but to not disturb us for a while."

"I'm not a doctor," Wufei began hesitantly, "but I think Duo needs to see one about those bites. He'll need a penicillin shot if nothing else. May I call Sally to come up here and see him? " Wufei zipped closed the case to his camera, and looked up to see Duo nod again and Heero give the okay. The Preventer, their friend, nodded in return, then turned from them after giving another look of sad apology and quietly left the two alone.

Lieutenant Dawson showed up on time and was led to the bedroom after a brief introduction to the people sitting apprehensively in the living room. The middle aged, balding and slightly pudgy man with a light brown mustache seemed polite enough, and schooled his reaction well for being in a room filled with such distinguished people as the Peacecrafts, and Quatre Winner. He seemed eager to attend to the business that brought him to the remote home, and asked to be shown to the victim of the crime, the younger Mr. Peacecraft.

The interview lasted no more than twenty-five minutes before the police detective reappeared in the living room. He asked to speak with May, and she chose to speak in front of everyone as her memory of the night before held none of the terror her brother had known.

It was a good fifteen minutes after the police officer left that Heero and Duo emerged, Duo was silent, looking a bit worse for the experience of dredging up his memory of the night before.

Sally showed up a half hour later, greeted everyone rather stiffly, then requested she and Duo go into the bedroom to treat the wounds Wufei had reported to her. Heero accompanied them, his hand in his lover's, giving him as much support and comfort that he needed to get through this day.

Another half hour passed before they returned. The six people in the living room looked anxiously at them. "I gave him a shot of penicillin and doctored his wounds as much as possible, she said looking directly to Duo's adopted parents. "Heero has been instructed to check him for any signs of infection or fever in the next week." She frowned deeply. "He should have be been taken to the hospital last night and been given a full exam and treatment after the attack. We can only hope that any dangerous bacteria hasn't gotten in any of the wounds."

"Wounds?" May asked looking startled.

Duo's hand tightened on Heero's, letting him know he didn't want his sister to know everything that had happened during the time she was peacefully sleeping on the couch downstairs while Marcus was tormenting and molesting him. Heero looked to the wide-eyed girl and answered. "Marcus bit Duo several times last night," he said with an unhappy frown. Duo lifted his hair and pulled it back again so she could see his re-bandaged ear and doctored neck wounds.

"But why?" May asked, clearly dismayed and not comprehending how someone would hurt anyone, much less her brother, like that.

"There are some people in this world who have a twisted and skewered idea about things like a relationship and physical intimacy, May. They are confused as to what's appropriate and inappropriate." It was Milliardo who spoke up in answering his daughter, saving Heero the discomfort of explaining something so tainted to an innocent. "Marcus is one of those disturbed individuals," he added.

The young, red-headed girl blinked several times, taking in all that she was told. She was young in years, but nevertheless, a brilliantly gifted girl who usually knew and could reason more then most adults could ever guess. She had been informed when she woke up dazed and disoriented in her own bed that Marcus had tried to rape her brother, and with the added information about the bites, it wasn't to hard for her to put two and two together. Biting her lower lip to fight back her emotions from bursting out, she nodded her understanding. "I guess you need to be very careful about who you choose to date," she reasoned quietly.

"Yes, you do," Lucretia added, "but it will also help you in the long run that you have a overprotective father and brother to screen your dates."

"Not that my judgement can be counted on," Duo said, sounding despondent.

"Marcus had all of us fooled," Milliardo said firmly to his son, not about to let him mentally flagellate himself because Marcus turned out to be a bad apple. "You saw what we all did Max, an amiable and often charming man who didn't seem to have any hidden agendas. You can't blame yourself for judging only by what he represented himself to be."

Duo shook his head and leaned heavily against Heero's side. "But I did see just a glimpse of his darker side." he confessed, looking hesitantly at Heero's face for his reaction. "He forced himself on me that day after we returned home, when I went to his house." He felt Heero stiffen and saw the steely look come into his eyes and quickly continued. "Nothing happened, really, I just didn't like what he did and told him so." He looked up with sad eyes to Heero's face. "I gave him a second chance." He swallowed hard, realizing his own stupidity in not following his first instincts and that one decision had led him like a lamb to the slaughter; tied up and helpless against Marcus's perversity.

"Not your fault." Heero told him firmly, seeing the self-castigating feelings his lover was experiencing.

Quatre stood from his seat. "It's lunch time, is anyone hungry? Miss Poe, will you stay and share the meal with us?"

"No, I have to get back to town, but thank you," Sally replied with a small, grateful smile, then turned to Heero. "Remember, call me at the first sign of any infection," she admonished him. "We'll need to hospitalize him if that happens."

Heero nodded, then Sally let Wufei take her to the door where they exchanged a few words before she left the house.

Duo rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, suddenly looking very tired and frail. "Let's watch some t.v.," he suggested, and putting Heero's hand in his, they moved to the place on the couch just vacated by Quatre and Trowa who were heading for the kitchen.

"We need more chairs in here," Duo observed in a detached tone as his eyes scanned the room.

"All in good time," Heero replied as he pulled the smaller body up against his side and draped his arm over Duo's shoulder.

It was in the middle of the noon meal when several phones went off. First Wufei's, then Milliardo's. Both listened to whoever was speaking on the other end, then hung up with twin looks of concern on their faces. It was clear they had both received some bad news. At Wufei's nod, Milliardo looked to Duo, who sat unmoving with his tuna sandwich half raised to his mouth.

"Marcus was charged with several crimes and then was bailed out of prison by his family."

"He's loose?" Duo asked looking puzzled.

"My lawyer is going to court today to get a restraining order," the tall blond reported to all of them.

"I've got a better idea." Heero spoke up in a deadly voice. "Just tell the bastard that if he comes within mine or Duo's line of sight that I'll kill him."

The blond man frowned at Heero's emotional response. "That might have worked during the war, Heero, but not anymore. I know we are all feeling like a raw nerve had been exposed, but we have to deal with this problem logically and through the law. If he comes anywhere near Duo, his bail will be revoked and he'll be back in prison until the end of his trial. We can't have you going off like a possessive, avenging lover and getting yourself put in jail yourself."

Heero felt his hand squeezed and looked to his lover. "He's right," Duo looked up at him, his eyes pleading. "I need you with me right now, not in jail." But then he surprised Heero by giving him a small disarming smile. "But I think I like you in the role of a possessive, avenging lover."

Heero squeezed his hand back and returned the smile. He and Duo only broke eye contact when out of the corner of their eyes they saw Milliardo stand, Noin and May following him to their feet.

"We're going to go now, unless you need us to stay longer," Milliardo announced to the small group, directing his words to the two on the couch.

"You don't have to," Duo said, torn between having them there to add to his sense of safety, and letting them go so he could take a nap. All of a sudden he felt as if he would drop from the exhaustion that was probably due to his emotional stress and so few hours sleep the night before.

"You're tired," Lucretia said, recognizing the telling dark circles under her son's eyes, accentuated by his unusually pale face, along with the slumped shoulders and the stifled yawns he'd been suppressing. "You need your rest," she admonished, "so go lie down and we'll go home and make sure Marcus is kept far from you."

Duo dropped his hand from Heero's to rise from the couch go to them and cautiously embrace his family. "Love you guys. You know that, right?"

"We love you, too," Lucretia replied in a warm, motherly tone. She raised her eyes to look over Duo, directly at Heero. "Take care of him and make sure he sleeps," she told him.

"I will," he answered simply, but the glint in his eyes showed that he was taking the task of caring for Duo very seriously.

The house seemed almost empty after they left, leaving the five friends together once more. "Guess I'll be going also," Wufei said, and moved to pick up his camera laying on top of his jacket, resting on the chair next to the front door. He turned to look at his four friends. "I'll find out what's turned up on the case and keep you informed," he told them.

"Don't be a stranger," Duo called out.

Wufei smiled in return and, with a wave of his hand, he too was gone.

"Quatre and I will clean up the kitchen," Trowa said, picking up the assorted plates, cups and silverware that had been left on the coffee table. "And if you don't mind, we'd like to stay through to the evening and prepare dinner for you also."

Both Heero and Duo readily agreed and thanks their friends for taking such good care of them.

As the two busied themselves in the kitchen, Heero turned to Duo. "That leaves me with you," Heero said, rubbing a gentle circle on his lover's back.

"You want to take a nap, too?" Duo questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"I'll guard your sleep." A warm smile grew on the Japanese man's face as he replied.

"We'll see you guys later," Duo called out to their two friends, still busy in the kitchen as Heero took him gently by his elbow and led him down the hallway to their bedroom.

The daylight had softened and, as the sun crept closer to the western horizon, Heero was abruptly wakened by his bed mate. He turned his head to see Duo, lying rigid with his arms stiff at his sides and grasping the blanket that lay on top of his body. His body twitched and jolted sporadically and his head was shaking back and forth in denial of whatever his nightmare was. Heero knew, with little doubt, what, or most probably who Duo was dealing with in his dream.

"Duo, wake up." He called out to his lover, knowing if he touched him it might further his nightmare. Getting no response and seeing a tear leak out of the corner of the tightly shut eyes, he brought a hand up and stroked the top of the head covered with chestnut colored hair. "Duo, come on, wake up. You're having a bad dream," he said a little louder. A whimper was his lover's only response

"Please. Stop." Duo whimpered in a choked voice.

"Duo!" Heero said more sharply, and with that, the blue violet eyes tinged with fear snapped open and Duo automatically sat up and gasped loudly as he struggled with the emotions still churning within him as a result of his nightmare.

"Just a nightmare, Duo. I'm here, and no one is ever going to hurt you again." Heero said softly as he rose to sit next to the young man struggling with the residual effects of his bad dream, and put his arm around the slender shoulders only to feel his lover flinch at his touch. With eyes filled with concern he studied his traumatized love.

Duo rubbed at his moist eyes with the heels of his hands, then wrapped his arms around himself and began rubbing his arms viciously. His tortured-looking eyes met Heero's. "I hate this," he whispered hoarsely.

Heero nodded. One thing all of the former pilots hated was feeling weak and vulnerable, and Marcus had made Duo feel just that and, for that and all the detestable actions towards his lover, Heero felt his hatred grow towards the vile man.

"I'm sorry," came the soft, anguished whisper. Duo's eyes lifted to Heero's, looking for understanding. He started to rock back and forth, his finger nails now scratching at his bare arms, his flesh reddening under the assault.

Heero, seeing what was happening, reached out and grabbed hold of the abusing hands and held them fast. "Hurting yourself won't make you feel better," he said in a gently admonishing tone.

"But I can still feel it, Heero," Duo said and barely stifled a sob as his body began to shake. "I can still feel his hands on me, all over me. It makes my skin crawl with the wrongness of it. Oh god, Heero," he said with pleading eyes, "make it go away. I don't want to feel his hands on me anymore."

Duo would need counseling, Heero told himself, but for now he had to figure out a way to easy his immediate suffering. With forced slowness, Heero put his arms around his lover and slowly eased them both back down onto the mattress. "It's alright, I'm here." He assured the other in a gentle voice. "I'm going to take away the memory of Marcus touching you," he told him.

Duo nodded, not really knowing what Heero was going to do, but he had implicit trust in his lover. With eyes watery and wide, he watched as his Asian lover rose up on his elbows to poise over his body. Now chest to chest, Heero had the perfect position t peer down into his face. Then with a warm , heart-melting smile, Heero lowered his face until his lips lightly kissed the pert nose beneath him. Duo smiled back at the simple, unexpected act of tenderness.

"Close your eyes," Heero gently ordered, then waited until Duo obeyed. Once the lids were closed over the beautiful obs, he began to softly kiss each eyelid, letting his lips linger for a moment longer then necessary against the soft skin. "Do you like that?" Heero asked.

A small smile issued from the mouth that was still sore at the corners from being bound tightly with a cloth the night before. Duo nodded and, being encouraged, Heero continued. Light, teasing but loving kisses, so different than his assailant's, rained all over the heart-shaped face, yet always came back to his lips as if the first touch of them had become addicting and irresistible. Even though his neck was stiff and sore, Duo tilted his chin to the side to give Heero better access to the sensitive flesh there. The Japanese man took full advantage of the opportunity and kissed every bit of skin available to his lips, even the bandages that covered the deeper bite marks. Heero paused in his gentle ministrations for only the small amount of time it took to ease off their shirts, then began again, and from Duo's well-kissed neck, his warm lips moved slowly across the left clavicle to his shoulder, then down and up his right arm. Heero's lips and tongue moved with ease and at a calculated pace in an attempt to erase the memory of any touch to his lover's skin that Marcus might have caused. After returning for another deeply satisfying kiss of their lips, Heero then went back down, across Duo's chest and down his left arm, stopping only to suck on each finger of the slack, trusting hand before going up again.

Duo moaned as Heero covered his chest with sweet, torturous kisses that progressively moved lower, nuzzling his navel and flat stomach. It took only a moment to remove the sweat pants and boxers, then lips like fire sent hot passion through Duo's damaged body as Heero bent to give attention to his hip bones and moved slowly down his legs to his feet. He never realized how sensitive his feet were, nor the pleasurable sensations he would feel until Heero's mouth, tongue, and fingers explored his pressure point on each foot. He was nearly writhing with need as Heero made his way back up the entire length of his body to his mouth once again. His fingers wove themselves into Heero's hair and kept his mouth in place as they made their very best attempt at devouring each other.

"Is it me you feel now, Duo?" Heero asked in a deeply affected voice, as he pulled his head up and looked down on the flushed and aroused looking lover beneath him.

"Only you," came the whispered reply, then begged, "Please Heero, take it all away."

Heero knew what Duo was referring to as he'd purposely left untouched only the most intimate places of his lover's body, not knowing if he was ready for a more personal touch or not. "Are you sure?" he asked, studying his Duo's face for any hesitation.

The blue-violet eyes opened with the look of want and need clearly seen in them. "I need you, Heero, to heal me. Take the memory of Marcus from my body. I need you to make me yours again."

That was the permission he had been waiting for. Without any further hesitation, Heero swooped down and took his lover's waiting and eager lips once again, then moved quickly from there to the side table next to the bed and drew out a familiar tube. Looking back at his Duo, he only saw anticipation on his face and the readiness of his body, not the fear he'd awakened with. With a smile of reassurance, Heero began again to bring his lover to a state of deep need and wanting with the intent of claiming him as his own in more ways then just the physical.

"Whose hand's do you feel on you now, Duo?" Heero asked as his body moved in a rocking motion.

"Yours," came the breathy reply.

"Whose lips have claimed your body?"

"Only yours, Heero."

"Who is it that rocks your world?"

"Oh god, only you Heero." Duo's voice came out as a low, sensual moan.

"Who loves you more than life itself?"

"You do, Heero Yuy." Duo moaned with pleasure from not only what Heero was doing to him, but by the pure knowledge he had that truly he belonged to Heero Yuy, and that Heero was still really his. Such binding words uttered by his lover only deserved to be reciprocated. "And I love you so much that my world would end without you," Duo whispered as he arched up into his lover's touch and they sealed their words with a mind-melding kiss.

on to part 14

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