Disclaimer: Once again, I don't own these GW characters and make not even a dime from spending hours writing about them.

Warnings: AU, sexual situations, yaoi 1x2, 3x4, and various past relationship

The Pretender
Chapter 15
by Dyna Dee

Heero called the hospital at nine a.m. sharp and learned from Duo that he was already in the process of being released. He walked into room 201 a little after ten with a paper bag containing the items requested. In Duo's opinion, the man dressed in faded blue jeans, white T-shirt and expensive sneakers looked just as good in casual attire as he did in his designer suits. Since the clothes he'd worn the night before had been taken by the police as evidence, he gladly accepted the loan of socks, sweat pants and hooded sweatshirt Heero had brought with him. After changing in the small bathroom, he was wheeled out of the hospital to the front curb by a nurse, who winked at him when the handsome lawyer moved forward to the passenger door of his car and held it open for him.

Thanking both the attendant and Heero, he eased out of the wheelchair and slipped into the car without mishap, then fastened his seat belt while Heero shut the door. He couldn't help fidgeting with the cuff of his left sleeve as he waited for Heero to walk around the back of the car and sit in the driver's seat. Seat belt on and the key in the ignition, the engine was started and Heero competently navigated the car out of the hospital driveway.

"How are you feeling?" Heero asked, breaking the awkward silence that had been growing between them with each passing moment.

"Kind of sore, but then I really have nothing to complain about, do I?"

Heero glanced his way, looking puzzled before turning his eyes back to the road. "What do you mean?"

Duo leaned back into the soft leather seat and closed his eyes as he answered, "The police detective who interviewed me last night told me some pretty upsetting things about the killer's other victims, what he did to them." His body involuntarily shuddered as he recalled that conversation.

"Like what?"

Not wanting to break his word to Detective Dawson but needing to talk to someone about the images that had haunted him most of the night, Duo said in a subdued voice, "Don't repeat this to anyone, Heero, but the killer not only raped his victims, but he also mutilated their bodies, either before or after they died."

Heero's hand moved to rest on his thigh in an attempt to comfort him. Duo acknowledged the gesture by placing his own hand on top of it. "We're very fortunate, aren't we?" Heero said softly. The "we" had Duo choking up, and he squeezed the hand beneath his, hoping to show Heero how much he appreciated him being there. "Do you want to talk about it?"

He shook his head, not ready to relive the attack or talk about how he felt about it. All he really wanted was to be held by Heero and to feel safe once again. "Not yet. But I am kind of hungry."

"Would you rather stop some place to eat, or go home?"

Turning his head to study Heero's profile, he answered. "I want to go home, Heero, but do you think you could stay with me for a while? I don't want to be alone today."

Heero turned his head to smile at him before returning his attention to the road and Saturday morning traffic. "I'll fix you breakfast and then we'll decided what to do after we eat. I don't know about you, but I'm tired. I didn't sleep very well last night."

Duo returned the small smile. "Me neither." He gave Heero directions to his apartment and found his previous hesitation at having the other man in his home rather ridiculous.

Moments after entering his apartment, he headed to the bathroom to shower, after which he change into a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and a T-shirt. Heero went to the kitchen to start making breakfast. Upon exiting the steamy bathroom twenty minutes later, Duo immediately noticed music from his sound system filling the air as well as the wonderful smell of eggs and toast. He followed that tantalizing scent to the kitchen, enjoying the feel of his long hair, freshly washed, combed and drying, swaying against his back and brushing against his hips.

Pausing at the door leading to the kitchen, he drank in the sight of Heero setting the small table that was normally used more for work than for eating. Watching the handsome lawyer moving around his kitchen, performing the simple domestic task, was an image Duo didn't think he'd ever forget.

Scrambled eggs and toast had never tasted so good, Duo thought as he pushed the empty plate away. That was probably the most enjoyable breakfast he'd had in a very long time. "Thanks, Heero. That was great." He even managed a genuine smile for the chef.

"You're welcome." Heero smiled back as he stood to carry the dishes to the sink. Duo followed, carrying the two empty mugs that had held their coffee. Together they cleaned up the kitchen in no time then retired to the living room.

"I like your place," Heero said as he sat in the corner of the sofa and motioned for Duo to join him. "It's comfortable."

"I do, too, most of the time. But sometimes it feels... I don't know, empty," Duo replied, snuggling up to the handsome lawyer and enjoying having the man's arms around him. Heero was warm and solid and he smelled great. "Umm... I like this, being here with you."

"Me, too."

They sat for a long while not speaking, simply content to share each other's company. Then Heero asked, "Are you ready to talk about what happened last night?"

He really didn't want to discuss his actions the night before, but knew this conversation was inevitable, though he'd liked to have put it off for a week, or maybe ten.

"Do you want to tell me why you ran off?"

"Not really," he replied honestly, but then let out a resigned sigh. "But you deserve to know what was going on in my head at the Palomino. In fact, you deserve an explanation for everything Wufei told you."

"Wufei?" Heero questioned sharply. "What the hell has he got to do with anything?"

Duo pulled out of Heero's arms in order to look at his face and see the frown he'd heard in his voice. "When I returned from the men's room, I saw you with Wufei at the bar, and from the way he was touching you I assumed you knew him, and much more than a passing acquaintance. If he saw the two of us together on the dance floor, he probably filled your ears about me, my problem and how messed up I am."

"I've known Wufei for over a year," Heero confessed. "And I think I'd remember if he said anything about you." Heero's frown deepened as he asked, "How do you know him, and what's this about you being 'messed up'?"

Duo swallowed, recalling Dorothy's advice to tell the truth. Hoping she was right and that Heero would stick around after learning about past problems with intimacy, he decided to come clean. He toyed with one of the little white buttons on Heero' shirt, unable to look directly at the man while he nervously began his explanation. "Wufei and I met during my freshman year in college. I guess you could say he was my first boyfriend, though only for a couple of months." His face began to burn as he continued. "He seemed like a nice guy back then, and he understood that I'd never been in a relationship with a guy before, that I'd never had sex, so he was fairly patient with me. I... "

He paused, finding it almost impossible to come right out and state what his problem had been. Why was this so difficult? he wondered. Surely other people had similar problems, didn't they? He decided to go back a bit further, to remind Heero about a previous conversation about his past. "Do you remember what I told you about my aunt? About her daily lectures on the evils of homosexuality?"


"Well, they made quite an impression on me, not that they actually changed my orientation. You see, Quatre thinks her unrelenting lectures resulted in a form of brainwashing, and every time I... I.." he floundered again and buried his forehead against Heero's chest, wanting to escape this whole conversation. But that wouldn't be fair to Heero, would it? The man had a right to know, especially if they were going to go any further with their relationship.

He felt the other man's hand stroke the back of his head and down the long hair to his shoulders. A gentle kiss placed near his temple was comforting as well. Gently, Heero urged, "Go on, Duo. You can tell me anything."

"I'm afraid to tell you, Heero. I don't want to lose you."

"I'm not going anywhere," Heero answered with a firm resolve. Then more gently he said, "But I can see this is really bothering you, so please, just tell me. After almost losing you last night, I'm not about to walk away because of something in your past."

Duo took a deep breath and prayed he wouldn't lose Heero like he'd lost every other guy he'd dated. "Wufei, and everyone else I've ever dated, left me because I... I wasn't able to have sex with them."

The hand petting his hair stilled. "What do you mean?" Heero asked.

Holding tightly to Heero's shirt, fearing the man might fly out the door the minute he answered, he took a deep breath and said, "I think Aunt Helen was successful; systematically poisoning my mind in regards to homosexuality. Each and every time I tried to become intimate with a guy I heard her voice in my head telling me I was committing a sin, an unnatural act against man and nature. She insisted that any man who tried to have sex with me was taking advantage of me for his own pleasure. And once he had what he wanted, he'd dump me like yesterday's garbage for someone else. Those and a dozen other negative comments, delivered in my aunt's scandalized voice, were repeated over and over in my head whenever I tried to get close to someone.

"Wufei found out about my problems because I experienced my first episode when I tried to have sex with him. But my freaking out wasn't the main reason why we broke up. I found out the jerk was sleeping with other guys while he played the patient, understanding boyfriend with me. I dumped him the instant I found out, but then I got my comeuppance when I was dumped in return by almost every guy I've ever gone out with, ending with Trowa who, as you know, also gave up on me and hooked up with my shrink."

Now having confessed, Duo squeezed his eyes shut and waited for Heero's response, which came a moment later, though it wasn't what he expected.

"You didn't seem to have a problem with sex when we first met."

"I started seeing a new therapist, besides Quatre. She specializes in sexual problems."

"And how did she help you when he couldn't?"

"Well, one thing she taught me was how to escape the voice in my head by replacing it with a fantasy."

"A fantasy?" Heero sounded puzzled. After a long moment he asked, "Is that why you told me your name was Laredo? Was that a part of your fantasy?"

Duo nodded, knowing Heero could feel his answer. This was really embarrassing. "With the setting, and you looking like a studly cowboy, fit right into my fantasy of being a employee of the western brothel."

"Wait," Heero suddenly grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed away from his chest so that they were face to face. "Are you telling me that when we had sex in the hot tub that it was the first time for you? You were a virgin?"

Duo bit his lip and gave a slight nod of his head, only to find himself pulled back into Heero's arms again and held tightly. "Oh God, baby, I didn't know. I was so rough, having been caught up in the moment. I could have made it so much better for you."

"No. It was good. Really, " Duo insisted, loving the way Heero was holding him, as if he would never let go. And did Heero just call him baby?

"You were the answer to my prayers, Heero. The person who finally freed me from the disparaging voice in my head as well as my fears."

Nestled against Heero's chest with his face buried in the other man's neck, Duo couldn't think of any other place in the world he'd rather be.

"So you're... cured?" Heero asked.

Now wasn't that the million dollar question? "I hope so," he answered. "Guess I won't really know until I have sex a second time."

A deep rumble under his ear told him Heero was amused by something. "I'm ready whenever you are."

Even though Duo was anxious to find out if he could have sex again, he was feeling frayed at the edges and desperately needed to sleep. "Maybe later. Right now I feel like I could sleep for a week. Want to take a nap with me instead?"

"Here or on your bed?"

With only a moment's hesitation he answered, "Bed."

Duo led the other man into his bedroom and was grateful that he'd actually made the bed and picked up before going to work the day before. He wasn't normally a freak about tidiness, but he did like to keep his apartment neat. "I have an extra pair of sleep pants if you'd like to be more comfortable. Just let me braid my hair first."

Eying his long hair, Heero asked, "Can't you leave it down?"

"Hell no," he answered as he split the length of his hair into thirds and rapidly wove it into a neat and tidy braid. "With all the tossing and turning I do when sleeping, I'd never get the knots out of it."

"Do you ever wear it down?" Heero asked while pulling back the covers on the bed.

Wrapping an elastic band around the bottom of the braid, Duo replied with a grin and wink, "Only on special occasions." Then with a nod towards the other man he asked, "So, do you want something to sleep in?"

Now it was Heero's turn to grin. "I generally sleep in the nude, but if that bothers you I can sleep in my boxers."

Duo could feel his body heating up at the thought of sleeping next to Heero in all his naked glory. Quickly sliding between the sheets and pulling the covers over himself he answered, "I just want you to be comfortable."

The sparkle in Heero's eyes told him that the handsome lawyer was enjoying his discomfort. Turning, Heero moved to close the curtains to the sliding glass door that led to the small balcony just outside. Finishing that, he returned to the bed, removing his clothing with each step. His shirt was the first to go, and then he stepped out of his shoes and pulled off his sock, tossing them behind him. He then began to unfasten his jeans while Duo watched, unable to turn his eyes away from the wonderful sight before him. How he craved to put his hands on the other man, to run them over that well-formed chest. Heero was nearly hairless except for the dark patch beneath his arms and the fine trail leading from just above his navel and disappearing beneath the waistband of his boxer briefs. And what those wonderfully fitted shorts outlined was just breathtaking. Wearing only the blessedly clinging undergarment and a smug smirk, Heero climbed under the covers and immediately shifted closer to the center of the bed. "Come here," he said, opening his arms to Duo. There was no hesitation in accepting that invitation.

It took a few moments for the two men to settle comfortably, with Heero on his back and Duo pressed against his left side, his head resting on a solid shoulder while his right arm and leg were draped comfortably over the man. Duo snuggled as close as he could and thought that this was probably as close to heaven as he was going to get. "This is nice," he murmured as his eyes began to droop. And in the midst of a yawn he added, "I feel safe in your arms."

A deep chuckle sounded under his ear. "Go to sleep, Duo. I'll be right here when you wake up." With a smile on his lips, he happily complied.


Maybe it was because he was in his own apartment, his own bed and very comfortable that Duo slept so well and for so long. When he woke some time later, from a pleasant dream he couldn't quite remember, he heard soft sounds in the background. It took him a moment to realized it was coming from the television. He shifted slightly, stretched a bit, then felt a shifting behind him a moment before strong arms wrapped around his upper body, which then brought back to his mind who was with him.

Opening his eyes and blinking until they focused, he turned his head and gazed up at Heero's handsome face. Those beautiful blue eyes, framed by long, ebony eyelashes, seemed to pull him in and hold him close. "Hey there." He greeted the other man with a goofy grin, thinking, damn, I'd like to wake up like this every day. "What time is it?"

Heero's smile warmed him to his soul as he answered. "Almost six."

"At night?" He couldn't have been more shocked.

Heero's hand brushed away the errant hair hanging over his eyes. "You were understandably tired."

"Sorry, I really didn't mean to sleep so long. In fact, after all that's happened, I'm really surprised I didn't have any nightmares."

Heero touched his nose teasingly. "Maybe it's the company you keep."

Duo chuckled. "I'm sure that's it." And then he remembered. "I have to get up and make some calls."

"Business?" asked Heero.

Shaking his head, the long haired man lay his head back on his pillow so that he could look up Heero now leaning over him as he answered. "Not really. Detective Dawson said he'd try to buy me some time to contact friends and family before my name was found out by the press. I thought I should call those who might freak out hearing my name associated with the latest serial killer's attack."

"Your boss?"

"Definitely at the top of the list."

Heero again combed the unruly hair away from his face and asked, "How about I fix you something to eat first?"

"I'm not very hungry, but I'll bet you're starving. Did you really stay here all day?"

"I promised I would," Heero said with a sexy smile. "Besides, there was something in it for me as well. I got to hold you all day." The lawyer then leaned over and brushed his lips in a soft kiss.

Pulling back, both men smiled. "Dinner?" Heero asked again.

"Sure, but what I really need right now is the bathroom. Be back in a minute." Duo rolled out of bed and tried to hide how stiff and sore he was as he made his way to the adjoining bathroom, his aching bladder about to burst.

Business attended to, he washed his face, brushed his teeth and carried a brush back to the bedroom, intending to comb out and re-braid his long hair. Heero was sitting on the bed watching as he approached, his eyes scrutinizing his every movement. "You're hurting, aren't you?"

"Just a bit," Duo answered with a dismissive shrug. The pain resulting from that small movement had him promising himself not to repeat that gesture for a day or two. Getting back into bed, he brought his braid over his shoulder and removed the black elastic band.

"Here, let me help you with that."

Grateful for the help, he handed the brush over to Heero then closed his eyes and simply enjoyed the feeling of fingers combing through the unraveling braid. And then came the careful, slow brushing, beginning at the crown of his head and moving down to the very end of the long mass. It felt wonderful. Tilting his head up just slightly, Duo had no idea the picture he presented to Heero, that the gesture of tilting his head was like an invitation, one that the lawyer found too hard to resist. Warm, moist lips touched the sensitive skin between neck and shoulder. Duo found it very arousing and tilted his head further to the side, giving Heero easier access.

Heero slowly, methodically, moved his lips slowly over Duo's exposed neck and then his face. He took his time, or so it seemed to Duo, to get to his lips. He'd even shifted his head indicating that his lips craved to be kissed. Heero eased him back down to his pillow and remained above him, even though the position couldn't be very comfortable. It didn't take long for him to realize that Heero had every intention of tasting as much of his body as possible. Yet before he could go any further, the memory from the night before came rushing back, and the feel of other hands touching him and the threat they'd posed brought back the terror. Desperate to escape, he pushed against Heero's shoulders in an effort to make him stop. Heero pulled back and looked down at him, wearing a confused expression.

Struggling to catch his breath and contain his fear, he gasped, "Sorry. I'm sorry." Then calming slightly, knowing that Heero wasn't who he was afraid of, he calmed and said, "It's not that I don't want to be with you, Heero. I'm just not at my best at the moment, mentally or physically. I'm sorry, but right now I don't think I'm capable of doing much more than kissing." He gently touched the other man's cheek and asked, "Rain check?"

The blank look on Heero's face seemed to indicate he was thinking over the situation, or that's what Duo thought at first. Then a horrible thought came to him; what if Heero was thinking he was a cock tease, just like Wufei had named him. Quickly reaching up to hold the other man's face with both hands, he said, "Heero, please believe me. I do want to be with you. I was looking forward to last night, even though I was a bit nervous about it. It's just..."

"Shh," Heero put two fingers over the braided man's lips. "I understand. You don't have to say anything more, and quit apologizing. There's no rush. We have all the time in the world, don't we?"

Duo couldn't answer with his heart in his throat. How in the world had he found such a wonderful, understanding man? "Damn, Heero. You're making it hard for me not to throw myself at you. If I could, I would, you know?"

The blue eyed man smiled before lowering his head to place a quick kiss on the tip of Duo's nose. "That's good to know."

They spent another ten minutes or simply touching and kissing before Duo reminded Heero of the phone calls he had to make. Reluctantly, he moved into the other room and picked up his phone, hitting number 2 on his speed dial. Charise answered on the fifth ring.

After explaining the reason for his call, his boss had been rendered speechless... for about fifteen seconds. Of course she'd heard about the aborted attack by the alleged serial killer, she'd said after finding her voice, but she'd never once entertained the thought that it might be someone she knew and cared about, someone she depended on nearly every day of the week. "Holy shit, Duo." It had finally sunk in. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, just a bruise and a couple of burn spots," he replied.

"I just... I can't believe this." Fear was now evident in her voice. "What were you doing out that late by yourself? You know this killer prowls the streets looking for potential gay victims. What on earth were you thinking?"

"I wasn't out by myself," he replied defensively. "I was on a date and something came up. I stepped outside to clear my head and had just decided to go back to the bar a man attacked me from behind."

Sounds of distress came from the other side of the line. "When I think of what might have happened, I..." The famous designer was about to lose it, and so Duo thought it wise to interrupt before she broke down in tears.

"Please don't, Charise. I've had enough of those horrifying thoughts running through my head since this happened."

"Of course, I'm so sorry. Do you want to take a couple of days off? I know things are crazy at the office, but your health and well being are important to me."

Duo thought about the offer for a moment before coming to a decision, "No, I think it would be better if I kept busy. But would you mind if I come in a little late on Monday? I'm a bit sore and it might take me a while to get up in the morning and get to work on time."

"Yes, come in any time you want. I'll have Deirdre fill in for you until you show up. Are you sure there's nothing else I can do for you? I could send a car to pick you up for work?"

"No. That's not necessary, but thanks," Duo replied, hoping this conversation wasn't going to last much longer. He still had to call his aunt. "I'll see you in the office, okay?"

"All right, dear. But call me if you need anything, anything at all, understand?"

"Yes, and thanks, Charise."

They finally managed to say goodbye and Duo took a moment to brace himself for the next, most difficult call.

Heero remained standing in the doorway of the bedroom, listening as Duo told his aunt what had happened. The older women, who had a good amount of undeserved devotion and affection from her nephew in spite of the harm and mental anguish she'd caused him, did not take the news of his being attacked very well. While Heero could only hear one side of the conversation, he could tell by Duo's expression and his replies that his aunt was very upset. With his head bowed and buried into his upraised hand, the braided man listened for ten minutes before he pleaded; "Please stop, Aunt Helen. I can't listen to this any longer. No, don't cry. You did all you could, but I can't help that I'm gay."

The heartbreaking in Duo's voice pulled Heero into the room. The braided man looked up at his approach and the sad look in his eyes was so profound that Heero felt he had to do something to help. Taking the phone out of his hand, he raised it to his own ear.

The woman on the other end of the line was still talking and crying at the same time.

"I tried, Duo. God knows I did everything I could think of to discourage this type of behavior. I told you over and over again that being gay isn't natural. It can only lead you to unhappiness and an ugly end. You could have been murdered last night because you insist on living this unnatural lifestyle. You..."

"Excuse me," Heero interjected forcefully. He'd heard enough, and it was all he could do to contain his anger.

"Who is this? Where's Duo?" The older woman's voice sounded panicked.

"Duo's right here, and he's fine. If you love him, like he thinks you do, you should be expressing gratitude and relief that he's alive instead of haranguing him with your bigotry. He cares for you, enough to call and warn you that his name might be in the papers regarding the attack, and this is how you treat him? If you can't offer him words of comfort at this difficult time then maybe you don't love him as much as you say you do. And if that's the case, this call is over."

The older women sounded stunned when she asked, "Wait... who are you?"

There was a long pause as Heero looked into Duo's sad eyes, and it was then that he knew exactly what he was to the other man. With a soft smile aimed at the man watching him he answered, "I'm Duo's boyfriend. Good night."

Placing the phone back, Heero sat down next to the wide-eyed man, put his arm around his shoulders and gave him a side hug.

"Thanks," Duo said in a strained voice.

"You're welcome." After a few moments Heero ventured to ask, "How many more calls do you need to make?"

Duo thought he should probably call Dorothy, and then the image of Trowa flashed in his mind. Even though he'd broken ties with his former boyfriend/friend, Trowa would be horrified if he heard his name in the news in conjunction to the latest, though aborted, attack by the serial killer. Then a brilliant idea came to him; why not kill two birds with one stone?

"I only have one more call to make." He picked up the phone once again and hit the speed dial number for Dorothy's cell phone. Getting the answering machine, Duo had only a few seconds to decided whether or not to leave a message, informing her of what had happened. He took a breath and waited for the beep. "Dorothy, this is Duo. Listen, something happened last night and I thought you should know in case my name pops up in the news. I'm alright, but I was attacked last night. The police say it was the serial killer. Something stopped him, and I'm alive and relatively well. I was wondering if you could do me a really big favor. Could you call Quatre and Trowa and let them know what happened and that they don't need to worry? I think they might freak out if they hear my name on T.V." He gave her Trowa's phone number, then brought his message to a close with, "Thanks, I'll talk to you later."

After setting the phone back on the table, Duo turned to find Heero watching him carefully. "Are you really all right?"

Duo nodded, "I'm glad you're here, though. You've definitely made this part of the night so much easier. Thanks for speaking with my aunt and not yelling at her. I know she says some pretty terrible things, but she's the only family I have left, and in her own way, she loves me. I'm just a big disappointment to her."

Not able to bear seeing the other man in such low in spirits, Heero raised his hand to cup Duo's cheek, then leaned in and kissed him, softly at first, showing him tenderness and understanding. Duo raised his arms and wrapped them around his neck and clung tightly to him. The kiss deepened slowly, and Heero carefully lowered the both of them down onto the sofa.

"We're not going to do anything until you're ready, but for now I just want to hold and comfort you, to help soothe your troubles and fears. You're obviously feeling vulnerable after everything that's happened, and I have no desire to take advantage of you." Heero pulled back, and Duo let him, even though he wanted to stay pressed against the body that had been so nicely molded to his body. With a final teasing kiss to the tip of the slightly upturned nose, Heero smiled at him and asked, "Feeling better?"

Duo smile came a bit more easily. "Yeah, thanks."

"How about some dinner? I can go out and pick something up and bring it back, if you'd like."

His response wasn't what either of them had anticipated. Grabbing Heero's upper arms in a vice-like grip, Duo was filled with a desperate fear as he pleaded, "No, Heero. Don't go. It's dark out. He might be out there."

It then dawned on the lawyer that Duo was afraid for him, fearing the killer might attack him. "It's all right, Duo," he soothed. "I'll be safe just running to the store."

"No! Don't go. Please."

Pulling the anxious man into his arms, Heero held him close while rubbing his back, hoping to calm and reassure him. "I understand your fear, so I'll stay. But the chances of the serial killer being in this neighborhood are slim to none. I promise we're safe here."

Duo leaned into Heero's shoulder as the nightmare he'd lived through Friday night came rushing back, as well as all of the descriptions from the detective of what the killer had in store for him had he followed through with his plans. The possibility of Heero being attacked and butchered by the unknown killer was something he didn't want to think about. He'd lost so many people who had been dear to him: his parents and cousin Natalie to death, his uncle Hank, Trowa, Wufei and others he'd dated. He couldn't bear the thought of losing Heero, not when he'd finally found the man he'd been waiting so long for.

"Shh, it's all right, Duo. I'm not going anywhere."

Embarrassed but unable to help how he was acting, Duo decided he should try to tell Heero what was going on in his mind. But how did he explain something he himself didn't fully understand. "I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me. I've never felt this frightened or needy before. But I can't bear the thought of losing you." He then buried his face in the other man's neck and tried his damn best to compose himself.

The hand rubbing his back paused, and Duo stiffened, wondering if he'd revealed too much of himself, if Heero was put off by this show of neediness. Then two strong arms tightened their hold on him, and in his ear he heard the whispered reply, "You've just survived a horrifying experience, so it's understandable that you'll be emotionally off balance for a while. But you don't need to worry about me; I'm not going anywhere."

Heero paused for a moment before letting out a frustrated huff and tackling a new subject. "I know we've only been seeing each other for a few weeks, but being with you, Duo, feels... I don't know if I can explain how I feel other than to say that being with you feels right. In fact, I..." After a hesitant pause, Heero continued in a voice so soft Duo could hardly hear him confess, "what I feel for you is stronger than anything I've felt for any other man I've dated."

That was good to know. While Heero hadn't exactly made a declaration of love, he was content in knowing he was important to the other man. Relishing the comfort of Heero's warm embrace, Duo struggled closer and decided it was a good time for him to make a little confession of his own. "I think I'm falling in love with you, Heero. From the first moment I saw you I somehow knew this could happen. I thought I knew what love was, especially when I was with Trowa, but now I know my feelings for him wasn't anything like what I feel for you."

There was a touch of humor in Heero's voice when he asked, "Could that be because we had sex only moments after saying hello?"

A hint of pink rose on the braided man's cheeks as he answered, "That might have helped. But honestly, it's the time we've spent together here in the city that's convinced me that you were someone I could let into my life, especially after this weekend. You've been here for me, cared for me and even stood up to my aunt in the kindest way possible. It's almost impossible not to fall in love with you."

"I want you so much," Heero whispered, his lips against the soft, chestnut colored hair. "I can't tell you how relieved I am, knowing you feel the same as I do. It's also a huge turn on." Then after a sigh he added, "But I realize now isn't the time. We need to get past what happened to you Friday night before moving forward with our relationship."

Pulling back and untangling himself from the hold Duo had on him, Heero looked at him with what Duo thought was a look of resolve. "So instead of making love, what do you think about raiding your refrigerator for something to eat, since you don't want me venturing out tonight?"

Thinking it over, Duo replied, "I think I have some frozen entrees in the freezer, and a couple cans of soup in the pantry." He managed a smile for Heero, and was grateful the man hadn't push for anything more to happen between them at the moment. He wasn't sure how he'd react when the memory of the serial killer's hands on his body still fresh in his mind.

Heero seemed almost reluctant to let go of him before he finally stood up from the sofa. He turned and smiled down at him, holding out his hand. Duo gladly took it and allowed himself to be pulled up and led towards the kitchen. Heero moved slowly enough that none of the aches and pains he had weren't aggravated further.

The soup was thoroughly heated and grilled cheese sandwiches were toasted to perfection when the phone began to ring. Duo intended to ignore it in favor of his dinner, but when the answering machine clicked on, Trowa's pleading voice could be heard all the way into the kitchen. "Dorothy just called and told me what happened. Duo, please pick up and tell me yourself that you're all right. This is a nightmare. You could have been killed by that psycho." There was a pause before he continued. "I know you're angry with us, and maybe you've got a right to be angry, but please don't make me worry for days on end wondering if you're really okay. I still care about you; we both do. You're my best friend, Duo..."

During Trowa's pleading message, Heero looked at Duo's troubled expression and asked, "Mind if I handle this?"

It took only a moment before giving his consent with a nod. Heero had handled his aunt in a satisfactory manner, so why not Trowa? He watched as his very attractive boyfriend walked into the living room and hit the speaker phone button, cutting Trowa off in the middle of another entreaty for Duo to answer the phone.

"Hello, Trowa."

"Who's this?" Trowa demanded.

"Heero, Duo's boyfriend. I can assure you he's fine, or he will be in a day or two. He just wanted to warn you in case his name happened to appear in the news or the press. He was hit with a stun gun several times and has a few bruises. Otherwise, he's fine."

"Can I speak with him?"

Heero looked to the kitchen to see Duo peeking around the corner. With a shake of his head, Heero had his answer. "No. He's not up to talking any more tonight. Listen," Heero began on a new note. "I understand that things are strained between you, your boyfriend and Duo. I think for the time being it would be best if you'd refrain from contacting him until he shows some indication that he wants you back into his life."

"Is that Duo's idea or yours?" Trowa sounded more concerned than angry. "And how do I know that you're not trying to keep him from the phone, that what you're saying is really what he wants."

"Trust me. I know what Duo wants, and at the moment it's not you or your lover."

"And you think you're all he needs?" It was obvious from his tone of voice that Trowa was becoming even more upset.

Heero's eyes remained focused on Duo, looking for the answer to that question. He stood and walked towards Heero, and tilted his head up, initiating a long and passionate kiss that seemed to take Heero's breath away.

"Are you there? Hello? Duo, can you hear me? Are you all right? What's happening?" Trowa's voice rose in volume with each question.

With a loud smacking sound signaling the parting of their lips, Duo smiled at Heero before leaning over his shoulder to say, "What we're doing is none of your damn business, Trowa. I'm fine, by the way, thanks to Heero. Now say goodbye and take my boyfriend's advice, don't call again until you hear from me." Leaning just a bit further, Duo hit the off button then straightened in Heero's arms with a satisfied grin on his face.

Standing mere inches from the other man, he wasn't expecting the sudden movement that lifted him from the carpet to press his lean body up against Heero's hard chest, leaving his feet dangling and bringing their faces together. He stared into Heero's blue eyes, seeing himself reflected in those deep pools of blue. Duo's smile faltered slightly, sensing something momentous rising between them. No words were said as Heero closed the distance between them, capturing his mouth in a kiss that was nothing short of smoldering. With each passing moment the tide of passion rose to a tumultuous desire.

All fear and hesitation fell away from the braided man as he wrapped his arms tightly around Heero's neck and gave himself up to Heero, his mouth opening to accept the hot probing tongue. His fingers wove themselves into the dark brown hair, which he pulled gently to realign their mouths to change and deepen the kiss. Pressed tightly against Heero's firm chest, feet still off the floor, Duo felt the heat of the other man radiate through his clothing, and the hard impression of Heero's growing excitement press against his thigh. He was fairly certain Heero could feel his response in return.

He didn't know how long they kissed like that, but it came to a point where Duo could take no more. Forcefully pulling his head back and gasping for breath, he breathlessly managed to say, "Make love to me, Heero."

The impassioned yet concerned blue eyes studied his face for a long moment before the lawyer asked, "Are you sure? I'm not certain it's a good idea right now."

"I love you, Heero, and right now I need you more than I need anything else in this world. Help me forget last night. Give me a new memory to blot out the memory of that man's hands touching me. Please, Heero."

Instead of setting him down on his feet, Heero cupped his bottom and urged Duo to wrap his legs around his waist. He then walked them into the bedroom and gently eased them both down onto the bed, still tangled up in each other arms.

Not wanting to think too much about what they were about to do, Duo began the task of removing Heero's clothes, peeling the shirt over his head and pulling down his jeans, pausing only to allow Heero to tug his shirt over his head and to step out of his pants after they pooled around his ankles.

Then Heero was on top of him, his firm chest pinning him down, his thigh pressed over his groin. With hands brushing his hair away from his face, the man above him looked into his eyes with a smile on his lips. "You're beautiful, Duo. Probably the most beautiful man I've ever known." Before he could return the compliment, Heero captured his lips again. Duo threw his head back as those magical lips began a journey down his neck to his chest and every so slowly moved even further. This touch was so very different from the man who's assaulted him. Heero's mouth and hands seemed to worship him, to claim and gently posses him, while the other's touch had made him feel violated and dirty.

Gasping, Duo's mouth fell open as one wonderful sensation after another rippled through his body. He didn't know if he'd ever felt anything as good as having Heero's mouth on his body. The coiling sensations in his lower belly warned him that he wasn't too far away from coming. He arched his hips upward, hoping to bury himself deeper into Heero's mouth when all of a sudden that wonderful warmth was gone.

"Don't stop now," he moaned his frustration.

"Only for a moment." The popping of a top and snap of a foil wrapper brought him back to some portion of reality. And then it happened, his aunt's voice began to creep into his thought. This is wrong. Get up and run while you can. He's only using you. Opening his eyes, hoping to dispel the voice in his head, he watch Heero slip on the condom and then put a portion of lube on his fingertips.

The moment those fingers began to prepare him, the recriminating voice in his head began the familiar lecture about sodomy being a sin in the eyes of God and an act against man's natural nature. He quickly refocused his attention on Heero, not wanting his aunt to once again ruin everything. But by the time Heero raised his legs and set them over his shoulders, the voice in Duo's head was screaming at him to get the hell out of there right now, that Heero was only using his body for his own carnal pleasure. He was breathing too fast, almost unable to catch a breath as something smooth and slick touch his entrance. He started to shake his head, trying to tell Heero he couldn't do this.


Looking up into the eyes of the man above him, Duo felt an overwhelming sense of failure. It seemed the first time he and Heero had sex had been a fluke. He wasn't cured at all. "I... I can't," he whispered in a shaky voice filled with shame and regret.

Heero pressed forward. Lifting Duo's legs closer to his chest, he brought his body down on top of him, his face coming within an inch or two of Duo's. Reaching out, his fingertips tenderly brushed the hair away from his forehead gave Duo a smile that nearly melted his insides. In a deep sexy voice and smile that matched, Heero said, "You are incredible, Laredo. Your violet eyes and dazzling smile make me want to keep you in this bed all night long. They say you're from San Francisco. Is that right?"

Duo blinked, not comprehending for a moment what Heero was doing, and then he realized Heero's intentions. He closed his eyes, recalling the cowboy from the Light on the Hill, how looked in his jeans, boots and cowboy hat as he sat on the fence of the corral. A smile twitched at the corner of his lips and his eyelids slowly opened. "Yes, I'm from Frisco," he replied in what he hoped was a sexy drawl. "But I've grown weary of bankers and business men sneaking around behind the backs of their devoted wives, so I accepted a generous offer to come here, and I look forward to discovering what it's like to be with salt-of-the-earth men. Tell me, Tex, are all cowboys as good looking as you? If they are, I think I'm really gonna like it here."

As he answered, Heero's cowboy accent and mischievous grin were both sexy and amusing. "Well now, I don't know about other cow pokes, Fancy Pants, but I've never met a courtesan like you But if'n you don't mind, I think we've had about enough talk. Having been out on the range herding cattle for three weeks, I've got here a rather urgent and pressing need." Thrusting his hip just slightly, Duo felt the solid weight of Heero's arousal against his balls. Then the man pinning him to the bed added, "I might just spend my entire month's pay on you this weekend. You've got quite the reputation, Laredo. It's rumored you've got a lot of fancy ways of pleasing a man and I plan to find out whether or not that's true."

Closing his eyes for just a moment, Duo imagined himself in the fancy brothel he'd visited briefly weeks before, in the same position he was in now in an upstairs room with Tex. He could see it in his mind, feel the heated body pressed against his own and the firm erection waiting for admittance. Once again he was Laredo, the beautiful, renowned and experienced courtesan from San Francisco, and Heero was a cowboy who was paying for both his time and talents. He felt himself responding to the fantasy and to the other man's nearness. With his arms wrapped around the cowboy's shoulders, he pulled him down and hungrily devoured his lips, thrusting his tongue into the welcoming mouth, finding a challenge there. After wrapping his legs around the man on top of him, he finally wrenched his mouth away for a breath. Looking up into Heero's eyes he demanded, "Take me now, make me yours for the night."

Despite the rather uncomfortable position, doubled in half as he was, Duo pulled down, again bringing Heero's mouth to his own once again. And then his lover was pressing into him. He moaned from the initial discomfort. It stung and burned as his body stretched to accommodate his lover.

Lifting his head, Heero softly said, "Relax, it will help ease the discomfort." He complied to the best of his ability, but it was difficult. Then those wonderful, magical lips were placing soft, fleeting kisses across his face and neck, and a hand slipped between their two bodies to ease another kind of ache. Almost instantly he became like dry kindling, bursting into a blaze of heat once it met the red hot flame.

Heero began to move, gently at first but he soon picked up the pace with growing enthusiasm. The bed's headboard began to bump against the wall as Heero's thrusts became more urgent and their coupling reached a thrilling crescendo. With a gasp and a long, low moan, Heero pushed thrust forward once more and then held himself rigid as he came. Meanwhile, Duo closed his eyes as the orgasmic tide swept him away. He collapsed, head, arms and legs falling heavily onto the mattress as Heero collapsed on top of him.

After a moment, his lover raised his weight up and shifted slightly to rest on his elbows. He pushed the slightly damp hair away from Duo's forehead and searched his face for any sign of discomfort. "Are you okay?" he asked. "I'm afraid I got carried away, again."

Duo nodded and took a deep breath before opening his eyes. He smiled at the man above him. "That was... unbelievably wonderful," he answered. "How did you know that pretending to be Laredo again would help me when I didn't think I could do it?"

Heero's fingers traced Duo's face before kissing the tip of his pert nose. "Sudden inspiration."

"And you didn't mind?"

"The pretending? Not if it helps," Heero answered with a shrug. "Hopefully, the more we're together the more comfortable you'll become and we can put the pretending behind us at some point."

"I want that, too," Duo said as he lifted his hands and buried them in Heero's hair. "Have I told you how much I love your hair?"

"It can't possibly be as much as I love yours," Heero said while taking hold of the thick braid lying on the pillow and lowering his face in order to kiss Duo's mouth. Duo had intended to keep the kiss brief and teasing, but he found it impossible not deepen it until once again their kissing became desperate and hungry. He suspected he would never get enough of the lawyer.

Duo threw back his head and gasped with pleasure, and Heero was quick to attack his neck with kisses. He moaned his lover's name as those lips continued lower, lips and tongue teasing the breath out of him and reducing him into a quivering mass of need. Heero took him into his mouth, and he couldn't help another gasp and moan as his lover pleasured him. Just as he was about to come, Heero released him.

"I helped you pretend to be Laredo earlier, but this time I want you to know it is me who is bringing you pleasure, not Tex. I'll be patient, Duo, and understanding as well until you get over your phobias completely, because I believe the reward at the end, having you as my lover, is worth any inconvenience or pretending we might have to do."

Having stated his position, Heero slowly blew a slow breath of warm air along his length before taking up where he left off.

Duo collapsed down into the pillow once again, having been sexually wrung out by Heero's talented hands and mouth. His arms lay limp, raised above his head. He was too tired to even think of moving as Heero crawled up his warm and moist body to place a soft kiss on his lips, getting a brief taste and smell of himself on the other man's mouth.


Duo nodded in response to the question.

"Then go to sleep. I'm going to the bathroom to clean up a bit. I'll be right back."

Giving the man another nod, Duo felt a blanket being drawn over his naked body and a tender kiss placed on his cheek a moment before he felt movement on the other side of the bed and heard the quiet footfalls as Heero made his way to the bathroom. With a sigh of contentment on his lips he drifted into the dark void of sleep, unaware of when or even if Heero came back to bed.

on to chapter 16

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