Disclaimer: I do not own these characters from Gundam Wing, nor make any profit from torturing poor Duo.

Warnings: mild angst and language, Yaoi

The Long, Hard Road
by Dyna Dee

"Get up and pack your things." Heero snarled at the braided teen laying on his back on top of his bed and scowling back at him.

"I told you before, Heero," the other sneered his lover's name derisively. "it will take me a whole five minutes to pack my things and we're not leaving here for another two hours. I just want to rest a bit and talk to you."

"You've been resting for three weeks, and I'm too busy to sit and talk." the Japanese pilot replied, turning his back on the other and giving his full attention to his lap top.

Duo Maxwell's eyes narrowed as he sent all his negative thoughts toward the only other person besides himself in the bedroom. Granted, he was hurt, confused and angry. And when those emotions were all present, his natural reaction was to be belligerent and stubborn.

For the last three weeks, his lover had all but ignored him. Oh sure, he'd seen to his needs, especially the first week when they'd retreated to this remote cabin to allow him to heal from his wounds and for the three gundams to be repaired. He'd been bed-bound during that time. Their last mission had been a rough one. Deathscythe, Sandrock and Heavyarms had all been heavily damaged in the melee over the heavily protected military spaceport they were ordered to destroy.

He knew Heero had been angry that he'd taken such a chancy risk., but he didn't see that he'd had much of a choice. Deathscythe had been in the best position during the battle to take out the generator that powered the base and sent mobile suits up into space to battle against the colonies.

Sandrock had been damaged trying to defend Trowa's Heavyarms, its missiles spent early on in the skirmish.

Wing and Wufei's Shenlong fought off dozens of suits defending the base as they tried to get closer and also protect the other wounded gundams, so Duo made the snap decision to go for it alone.

It proved to be one of the toughest land battles he'd ever been engaged in. In the end, the massive generator blew up as the direct result of his missile shoulder Vulcan having aimed true.

The blast was enormous, taking out buildings, space shuttles, and mobile dolls in a half mile radius. Deathscythe was also within that proximity, and the mighty black gundam was tossed head over heels through the air amongst the dust and debris in the wave of energy that followed the explosion.

Duo didn't remember anything past the explosion, but Quatre told him he'd been blown a mile and a half away from the base, his gundam landing in a forested area. Wufei and Heero had found a very battered Deathscythe and pilot. Wufei reported to him that Heero's face has lost its color and had gone ashen as they worked together to pry open the cockpit door and free the boy in black from his restraints.

Once free, the Wing Pilot had carried his lover to his own gundam and took him to a safe house. Sally was alerted and arrived two hours later, discovering the Deathscythe pilot had two broken ribs with a collapsed lung, a dislocated shoulder, broken right arm, and a possible broken left ankle. She took him into the nearest hospital for x-rays, treatment of his wounds, and a cast on his right arm.

Heero stayed close but out of sight while Duo stabilized. Two days later, he snuck into the hospital in the middle of the night and carried Duo out, with instructions from Sally for the injured teen to stay in bed for a complete week.

It proved to be the longest week of his life. His ribs ached, his breathing was tight, his ankle, though not broken, was badly twisted, and swollen, and throbbed. His arm was broken and in a cast from his wrist up past his elbow, and it had alternated between aching and itching from the heat. It would have been almost bearable as Heero had stayed with him see to his needs and only leaving the room to heed nature's call or get food for them. But as it was, the entire time was spent in stilted silence. Only the frequent visits from the other pilots had help to pass the time and break up the monotony.

The second week proved to be only a little better. Duo had been able to get out of bed and cautiously walk around the remote, rather rustic cabin, while Heero kept his distance as only Heero could while sitting in the same room.

The other three sensed the tenseness between the two, not unheard of but certainly not common. All three tried their best to entertain the injured boy and draw in the aloof one. They failed completely to break the ice wall that was forming between the two lovers.

During those two weeks after he got out of bed, Duo spent a lot of time trying to engage Heero in conversation, pestering him to tell him what was wrong. Heero, in turn, proved to be as tight lipped as ever, treating Duo's questions and overtures as if he were an Oz interrogator torturing him for information.

So here they were, three weeks later with one boy stubbornly defiant and the other hurt and belligerent. Howard had contacted them early that morning to say the gundams were fixed and ready for pick up, thus the need to pack and disburse. To Duo's dismay, even that news failed to change Heero's attitude towards him. He fought down the hurt he felt as he watched the straight backed soldier sitting at the desk, completely ignoring him. Heero hadn't touched him in any way other then change his bandages since before the mission, and the braided boy had no justifiable reason for the other's alienation of affection towards him, and it was driving him nuts.

"Dammit, Heero!" his anger burst out of him. "Just tell me what's wrong. Why are you acting this way?"

"Shut up, Duo." came the harsh reply.

"I'll shut up when you tell me why you're angry with me. Is this about the mission, or me being hurt?" he asked angry and confused.

Heero stopped typing and turned around in his seat to glare at the boy he'd known intimately. "I said get off your lazy ass and pack your things." he growled out menacingly.

Duo's chest began to heave with is anger about to peak. He felt he could spew fire or spit blood he was so angry. Instead, he rose off the bed, snatching the familiar black duffle from off the end of the mattress and marched over to the dresser.

He made a good show of emptying his clothing out of his two drawers and shoving them into his duffle bag. When both drawers were empty, he slammed them shut, crouched down and zipped the bag closed with one fluid movement. He then stood, slung the strap onto his shoulder, then lifted his left wrist up to look with great exaggeration at his watch. "Well lookie there." he said in mock surprise. "That took a whole minute." He said snidely, then narrowed his eyes at his partner. "Now consider yourself left the hell alone." With his chin up and back straight, he limped slightly as he walked out of the bedroom, forcefully slamming the door behind him.

Standing outside the bedroom door, Duo's body nearly shook with the rage he felt, and he needed an outlet for it before he ended up hurting someone or himself. There was no way he could sit in the living room for two hours and act as if nothing was wrong and carry on polite conversation.

Stomping down the stairs so Heero could hear his anger, he was met by three sets of sympathetic eyes. Dammit, he thought, they must have overheard their conversation. He was Shinigami, he didn't want or need their sympathy.

Throwing his bag down next to the front door, he grabbed his jacket from off the coat rack where it had hung during their entire stay. It was a light-weight sports jacket that he liked because it had large zipped pockets. He unzipped the right front pocket now to make sure his wallet with it's wad of cash was in place. Re-zipping it, he flung part of the jacket over his shoulder and looked at his three friends still watching him from the couch.

"I'm taking off." he told them. "I'll meet up with you guys at Howard's." With a wave of his hand he turned to leave.

"But Duo, we've only got one car." Quatre spoke up with a trace of alarm in his voice.

"I'm walking." he declared firmly.

"It's ten miles to town on a long, rough road." Wufei added, hoping to dissuade him from his spontaneous decision.

He paused with his hand on the door knob. He hadn't know it was that far as he'd been asleep when he was brought here under cover of darkness. He only knew the dirt road leading to the cabin was the only road into the nearest town. 'Well,' he thought, 'it's better than sitting here with the others worrying and pitying me.'

"See ya there." he said and walked out. He'd been told the road to town went down the hill, so with resolute steps fueled by his anger and hurt, he began his journey. His angry emotions kept his pace brisk, ignoring the twitch of his tightly bandaged ankle.

As he walked, he estimated that he was moving at approximately four miles an hour, and as the town was ten miles, it would take him two and a half hours to reach it if he could keep up the pace.

Twenty minutes later, he realized it was a very warm day, the temperature was probably in the mid eighties, Fahrenheit. Forty minutes from the time he'd left, he was ready for a cool drink and was grateful he'd worn a pair of shorts and a button down, light cotton camp shirt.

It was approximately one hour that he'd been walking when he felt a stone irritating and loose dirt in his shoes to be more than he could handle. Raising his uninjured arm, he wiped the sweat from off his face with the sleeve of his shirt and looked up the side of the road for a place to sit for a moment. The hill was rather steep and covered with trees and brush. He spotted a shady spot about seventy feet up that would offer enough shade for the few moments he would rest.

With a grunt, he lifted his sore leg and began to climb the semi-steep incline. The green grass of spring had dried under the early summer's sun to a soft golden brown. But the tired, thirsty boy could have cared less as he sat down on it, than placing his nylon jacket behind him, eased himself down onto his back under the sheltering branches, enjoying the shade and the rest.

After a few moment he slowly became aware of birds chirping in the tress all around him and he sighed with pleasure at nature's background music. A rustling of dry grass caused him to turn his head to his right to see a soft grey, fluffy tailed squirrel sitting up on it's haunches staring at him in curiosity. A true smile lit his face for the first time that day, and maybe even for the first time in two weeks.

The thought sobered him, his smile faded as his brows pressed together. "My life sucks." he told the squirrel, that quickly scrambled away at the sound of his voice.

"Typical," he observed unhappily. "Another love um and leave um kinda guy." he said aloud as he turned his eyes to the branches directly overhead. He lay there for an undetermined amount of time trying to figure out what went wrong with his relationship with Heero, and just thinking about it made him feel a sense of......hopelessness. He was tired. Tired of war, tired of walking this dirt road and tired of trying to make Heero and himself happy.

His ears picked up a sound in the distance, then checked his watch. 'The guys must have convinced Heero to leave an hour earlier in hopes of catching him.

He sat up, unlaced this boots, and pulled off both of his black hiking boots, upending them to empty out the grit and pebbles he'd picked up from the dirt road. He paused, boot in hand, and looked thoughtfully at the road below him. He needed to make a decision whether or not to get down to the road in time to snag a ride into town with the guy, or stay out of sight and continue on alone.

He took a deep breath, taking in the smell of pine, dirt, and good clean air, then coughed as the healing lung protested. The sound of the car engine drew closer, and he made his decision. He lay himself down, flat on his stomach on the slanted ground and waited.

The car Trowa had stolen for their temporary use was an older model convertible. The Deathscythe pilot had fallen in love with the nearly antique vehicle on sight. It wasn't much to look at now, a dull grey color with a few dents and scratches and a missing bumper, but he could envision the car he could make it become. He stopped himself short. That was another dream he'd have to put aside for after the war, if there was an "after the war".

The familiar grey car came around a far bend and was moving rather slowly to avoid causing a large dust cloud in their wake, and all the rocks and holes in the unpaved road. He could clearly see his four companions as the top was down. It was a perfect day for a ride in a convertible, he thought, and vowed to find such a car again....after the war.

Trowa was driving with Heero in his favorite spot of shotgun. Quatre sat behind him and Wufei behind Trowa. An obvious gap was between the two in the back seat that Duo had no doubt was reserved for him.

He kept himself low to the ground as he observed them. Trowa and Heero kept their eyes to the road, looking to avoid the many obstacles liberally spread the length of the dirt-poor excuse for a road. Quatre and Wufei looked forward and to the side, obviously keeping an eye out for him.

He watched, unmoving, until the car went around the next bend before sitting up and putting his shoes on. He was thirsty, and sitting under the tree on a very warm day enjoying nature was not going to supply him with the drink he craved.

Standing, he reached down to grab his jacket, then limped down the hill and began to walk towards town again, not quite as fast as before.

Half an hour later, the sound of a car could be heard again. Feeling sweat trickle down his back and sides, the boy from L-2 decided he'd flag down the motorist to see if he had something to drink. Then, with his finally trained and tuned ears, he recognized the sound of the engine, it was the convertible.

'Hum.' he huffed as he looked around himself. He could hide again or take a ride with the guys. He swallowed his pride and continued walking forward.

Several minutes later, the car rounded the corner and Duo recognized the single head in the car and it was sitting in the driver's seat. Heero. As he slowed in his approach, Heero pulled alongside him and stopped the car. The stubborn braided boy kept walking, completely ignoring him.

"Get in, Duo." Heero said in a tone of weary impatience.

Eyes forward, the braided teen kept walking, forcing Heero to put the car in reverse and drive almost blindly as he navigated the road with limited sight.

"I'm ordering you to get in the car, Duo." Heero said more sternly in his commando voice.

After hitting a few big holes, Heero swore under his breath and shot forward, leaving his lover in a cloud of dust.

The Deathscythe pilot covered his nose and mouth with his hand and shut his eyes for a few moments, letting the dust clear. He disgustedly swatted the dust from off his shirt and shorts and put one foot in front of the other, tenaciously keeping to his chosen path.

The convertible engine seemed to purr as it drew close to him again, going much slower. Heero had turned around to try again. He eased the car up along side the quick walking teen, his limp more exaggerated then when he'd started.

There was no sound but the purr of the engine and the foot falls of the walker. After several minutes of Duo successfully ignoring Heero and the car, he heard a distinct and recognizable sound.

* crackle... pfssssst*

He stopped in his tracks and gave Heero the evil eye.

"Come on." the Japanese pilot urged in a coercing tone, holding up the cold, moisture dripping, bottle of caffeinated cola in a taunting manner.

"That's hitting low, Heero." Duo said with a glare.

Heero merely shrugged in response.

With a snort of disgust, the hot, braided boy tossed his jacket into the back seat of the car, then reached out with his un-cast arm, put his hand on the top of the door and leapt over the side of the car, sitting abruptly but gracefully in the passenger seat. Then reaching out he took the offered drink and sullenly put it to his lips. He lowered it only when three-quarters of the bottle was empty.

"Ah!" he sighed, then looked aside to his companion and grudgingly mumbled. "Thanks."

Heero nodded and looked forward as the car began to move again.

While slowly finishing off his drink, the over heated braided teen adjusted the vents on the dashboard in front of him and turned the fan on high, causing warm air to blow on his sweaty body.

After tossing the empty bottle in the back of the car, Duo sat back and looked out his side of the car, looking at nothing in general. "Are you going to tell me what's wrong?" he asked his lover.

He turned his head just enough to see Heero out of the corner of his eye. His partner was gripping the steering wheel tightly, apparently steeling himself to either refuse to answer as he had done for the last few weeks, or finally let it out.

"Duo,... " he paused. "I can't do this anymore. Our relationship is a distraction to the..."

"Oh shit!" Duo's frustrated shout interrupted him and filled the air. He turned his head to see the braided wonder look at him in utter disbelief for a moment before he collapsed back into the car seat and grabbed a hold of his hair with both hands, pulling at it in an act of frustration. "Not this again, Heero! How many time are you going to put me through this shit? We've been over and over and over this."

Then suddenly he went silent and closed his eyes and letting his hands drop from his abused scalp. His face and shoulders went slack. "Fine," he raised his hands in a pose of surrender. "I give up." he said in a defeated tone. "If you want to be rid of me that badly, then fine, you've got your wish."

Heero wondered for a brief moment why he didn't feel as relieved as he thought he would at the ending of their relationship. He'd overtly worked towards this end for three weeks now, withdrawing himself emotionally and physically from the beautiful boy, ever since Duo took his place on the mission and was nearly killed. At that moment, all his training flew out the proverbial window. The mission be dammed, all he could think of was finding his lover and found himself feeling physically sick and weak at the thought of losing him. After they'd recovered him, he realized that such a lapse was unacceptable for a soldier. He knew he had to sever the relationship and distance himself emotionally in order to perform at his peak.

From the corner of his eye he could see Duo was upset as with jerky movements, he pulled the hem of his shirt out from the waist band of his shorts and unbuttoned his shirt. Once the entire front was undone, he shrugged the top off his shoulders, exposing his chest, but not having to deal with pulling it over his cast. He then reached forward and turned on the air-conditioning, regardless that they were in a convertible with the top down.

With the fan still on high, a cool burst of air shot out and the braided boy sighed somewhat contented, then settled back into his seat.

Heero glanced at the smooth, firm expanse of skin exposed to the sun and cool air from the vents. A sheen of sweat from his exertions left the lightly tanned chest glistening in the bright sunshine. The Japanese teen swallowed, hard, as memories flashed through his mind of the many times his hands had eagerly and intimately explored that beautiful chest. His mind couldn't halt the visions of Duo leading him from their safe house to lay in a field of tall golden wheat, and there, under a cloudless sky with the autumn sun boring down on them, they'd made passionate, unhurried love surrounded by earth's glory.

His memory shifted to stop on a memory of that same beautiful chest as it glistened with the heat of passion under the reflection of a quarter moon as they made love on the roof top of another safehouse. The stars and colonies above the only witnesses to the passion two soldiers felt for each other.

Before his memories could continue on this wonderful but bitter vein, Duo's voice interrupted him.

"You know Heero, as I left the cabin, I knew the road I was taking to town was rough, dirty, and a long ten miles. But I was determined to reach my goal." He took a deep breath and coughed slightly, then adjusted the dashboard vents to a better angle. He then continued. "Anger and hurt kept me focused on my goal, even to the point of ignoring the pain in my ankle and the itch under the cast."

Heero cast a glance at his companion to see him now reclining slightly in his seat, his bandaged ankle resting up on the dash, and his eyes were closed. 'Beautiful' was the only word that could describe the boy he was letting go. The pain in his heart intensified, but he was resolute. There was no other way.

"But after a while," he went on. "The walk caused grit in my socks and shoes. I ignored it and keep on until a pebble made it so uncomfortable that I had to stop for a moment. I climbed the hill to find a shady spot to take off my shoes, and even though I sat, I had no intention of wavering from my goal of reaching town."

Heero listened intently as Duo rarely said anything in this serious tone of voice that wasn't important.

It was at that point that Duo opened his eyes and turned his head to look at his companion. "I noticed the road I'd been walking was surrounded by beautiful trees offering shade to the hot and weary." he said, his voice held a bit of surprise in it. "For the first time since I'd taken my first step off the cabin porch, I noticed the birds chirping in the trees. The air I took in just wasn't hot and dusty, it was filled with the fragrance of the pine trees and was clean and fresh, unlike colony air. A faint smile graced his face pinking from exposure to the sun. "A grey squirrel with a large, bushy tail stopped to check me out. He was beautiful Heero, and I hadn't noticed any of it at all as I walked because I was so focused on my anger and determination to reach town. The long, tough road I was taking could have been much more rewarding if I'd taken in all that the beauty that was around me.

The car slowed as it eased into a very large pot hole, then swerved to avoid a large rock. Heero bit his lip, wanting to ask Duo what his point was, realizing there was more to his observations than what was presented, but he waited. His companion would explain if he wanted to.

"Our road to peace is just like this road we are on now, long and tough." he went on. "Our ultimate goal is peace, an end to the war." Duo continued turning back to look up at the sky, his eyes closed and his voice calm. "But if you focus only on the goal, ignoring the gifts that journey sends your way, then it will be without a doubt, a very long and hard road to peace.

Heero guessed this was where Duo was going, but he couldn't relent even under this analogy supporting his lover's belief.

"I'm sorry, Duo. I know I've hurt you, but maybe, after the war..." He let the vague promise of a future hang in the air between them.

Duo snorted in disgust. "You and I both know Heero that there might not be an end to the war for one or both of us." he replied sadly. "Either one of us could be killed on our next mission, and besides that, the war might go on for years. How long am I suppose to wait for that "maybe" you're talking about?

Heero's throat constricted as the fear and grief he'd felt weeks ago came back at those words. But he said nothing and focused on the rough road ahead.

After several moments of silence passed, Duo sighed deeply and spoke again, his voice soft. "Ya know, Heero. I've learned some things from our relationship. I've learned that I don't' like being alone anymore. I like being held and kissed, and the feeling of being loved and needed. That's the way you made me feel, and it was wonderful....most of the time." he added. "I don't want to go through this war without it."

Heero's head snapped sharply to the side. "What do you mean?" he asked in a controlled voice, belying the fast beating of his heart.

"I mean," Duo punctuated his answer. "that as much as I love you, I'm not waiting for you to come around or for the war to end. The promise of "maybe after the war" isn't much of a dangling carrot compared to indefinite loneliness."

Heero looked forward and swerved suddenly avoiding a large jutting rock in the roadway. "Taking up with a civilian could compromise our security and would have no lasting means to continue since we move often." he stated in his monotone voice, while nearly bending the steering wheel from the grasp he had on it.

"Who said anything about civilians?" Duo looked at him perplexed by his last statement.

Heero's brow furrowed. "Who them?" he demanded.

"Geeze, Heero!" the braided boy was clearly exasperated now. "Who do you think?"

The Wing pilots mind eliminated everyone they knew with the exception of one questionable person. "Wufei?" he guessed.

"He's definitely shown me he's interested." Duo replied in a droll voice.

Hero's hands ached as the grip on the wheel continued. "How long has this been going on?" he force out the words between his gritted teeth.

"What are you talking about?" The American asked slightly confused.

"You and Wufei carrying on behind my back."

Duo's eyes widened in shock. "WHAT?" he shouted. "How can you even ask that? I've never looked at anyone but you and you know it!" His eyes bore into the other boy waiting for an answer.

"That's not what it sounded like." hr replied sullenly.

"Then let me make it more clear to you." Duo flopped back into his seat and rubbed at the bridge of his nose, trying to ease the growing headache. "While you were busy snubbing me for the last three weeks, Wufei has been a friend to me. His friendliness and manner suggested to me, without him saying a word, that if things didn't work out between us, that he'd like to be there for me."

"Did he touch you?" Heero asked bluntly.

"No!" Duo snapped, irritated at the inquisition. "He respects you and me too much to offer such a proposition while we were in a relationship." he added indignantly. "Guess that's not a problem anymore."

"Do you care for him?" Heero asked a bit more calm.

Duo shrugged. "I think I could." he replied sadly. "He has many of the same traits that drew me to you, Heero. He's a good man, I could do worse."

They hit a large depression going a bit too fast, both boys finding themselves airborne for a second.

"Watch it." Duo said, his voice sounded irritable. "Do you need me to navigate?"

A glare was his answer.

They traveled in silence for a bit, Duo trying to deal with his turbulent emotions, and Heero trying to dispel the images that came to mind. Wufei. He imagined the Shenlong pilot and then Duo walking into his open arms. Why hadn't he considered this contingency in his plan. His mind wandered more disturbing paths, imagining Duo leaning his head to the side as Wufei lowered his lips to capture the lips he'd tasted so well. In his waking nightmare, he saw a bronzed hand pull the long chestnut colored braid forward and untie the leather lace that held the bound wealth of hair together. His heard beat thunderously fast as he further envisioned the Chinese pilot's fingers combing through the long, sensuous tresses while Duo closed his eyes and tilted his chin up as pleasure coursed through him. He imagined the next scene as their lips meet in passion and Duo reached up to free Wufei's tight ponytail, letting the glossy hair fall free and loose about his shoulders. His imagination was at its peak as he saw the clothes fall off both pilots and slowly, passionately, the melted downward, the pale and dark skin twined together on the futon he'd imagined, the two lovers moving together to bring their passion to a unifying peak, crying out each other's name with longing.

Shaking his head of the images he'd formed, he noticed a turnout on the side of the road and made his way over to it. Once he reached it, he stopped the car, put on the parking brake, and turned off the ignition.

The cool air stream from the vents was suddenly gone, it's loss caused the passenger to open his eyes in time to see Heero leap out of his seat to land on top of him.

"What...? he squawked in alarm a mere second before his lips were devoured by his recently former lover.

After a moment, he gasped as the back of his seat was released and it flopped back into a full reclining position, taking he and Heero with it. He wrenched his mouth away from Heero's. "What the hell is this?" he asked, confused by his partners actions.

Now lying directly on top of the slender pilot, Heero rose up on his elbows, his forearms braced on either side of the other boy's body, and looked down into the familiar blue/violet orbs. "I can't do it, Duo." he told the other in a strained voice.

The Deathscythe pilot looked up into the eyes he'd lost himself in every time he gazed into them, his own eyes filled with moisture. "I know, Heero." he said in a choked whisper. "That's why I'm not fighting anymore to hold onto you. You want to be free of me? I'll let you go, even if it crushes my heart." He reached up his left hand to tenderly brush the bronze cheek.

Heero shook his head, and leaned his cheek against the palm resting there. "No, I mean I can't let you go." he rushed to explain. "On that last mission, when you took my place and I saw you fly through the air from the blast, I forgot all about the mission, the war, and even the others. All I could think about was you, and the fact that I couldn't go on if you died. There was no thought of a future or the mission to gain peace without you there beside me. You are the stone in my foot that makes me appreciate the long, rough journey there." He kissed the pert nose below him and continued.

"Later on, after I got you to the hospital, I remembered those feelings and my lack of focus and, ,,,,it frightened me. I thought if I distanced myself from you I could refocus on the job I was sent here to accomplish, on the mission, and returning to my training. But I can't." his eyes bore the look of great sorrow. "To lose you to another would be like losing you to death. To never touch you and to watch another have what was mine..." he stopped for a moment in an effort to quell the unreasonable grief he felt in expressing those thoughts. "It would be as if you were dead to me...I couldn't go on."

He opened his eyes and brought his hand up to stroke the smooth solid chest beneath him. "To have another touch your skin as I have touch it would be torture." he whispered intensely. "To have another's lips pressed intimately against the lips that have give me unaccountable joy would be like being drawn and quartered." He gave his love a quick, passionate kiss. "To have another body claim what was given to me freely and in love is to rip my heart out of my chest." his eyes met Duo's to let him see the honestly of his words.

The braided teen reached up and roughly pulled his love down onto his chest and hugged him fiercely. "You're my respite in this war Heero" he whispered back. "That is when you're not being a thorn in my ass." he added in reflection of the last three torturous weeks. "You are my joy in a job of sorrow and little reward. To lose you would be like ripping my soul from my body." His voice shook with the emotion he felt at almost losing the most important thing in his life, and then given another chance to have it back. "Please, see this journey through with me.

He felt the head nestled next to his nod.

"Don't leave me." Heero's soft voice begged. "Don't let me push you away."

"I won't, Heero." Duo vowed. "And just to remind you." he continued. "Every time you ignore me like you did these last three weeks, I'll sit on Wufei's lap and teach him every technique I've ever learned about making out."

Heero leaned up on his elbows again, and peered into his lover's beautiful face. "I never knew what jealousy was until I envisioned Wufei making love to you." he said in all seriousness.

"You've no reason to be jealous, Heero. You have my heart, soul, and body." the American replied with equal solemnity.

A small smile crept up on the Japanese teen's face. "Care to prove that statement?" he asked with a knowing gleam in his eye.

Duo wrinkled his nose up at his lover. "Oh man, Heero, I'm all hot and sweaty." he warned.

Heero shifted his hips against the body beneath him, showing his lover his growing passion. "Hot? Most definitely. Sweaty? We'll just call it lube." he smirked wickedly.

Seeing the other was not to be deterred, Duo returned the smile and reached up to pull Heero's face down to his, their lips finding each other with ease and familiarity.

So it happened in an older model convertible on the side of a long, deserted and dusty road, that pale and bronze skin were exposed to the bright sun beating down on them as the two young soldiers expressed their deep and abiding devotion to each other. The smell of the pine trees, the slight breeze whispering through the tops of the tallest branches, the deer, squirrel, and birds that looked with curiosity at the parked but gently rocking car, and the clear powder blue sky above, all proved a worthy back drop to the boys who sensed, at that very moment in time on their long, rough road to peace, absolutely nothing but each other.


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