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 19
by Dyna Dee

Duo woke up Sunday morning and instantly recalled the night before. Taking a deep breath, he felt relieved that he'd have a full day before returning to work to put the tire slashing incident behind him. He smiled, remembering that he was going to move to Heero's place today. With a stretch and yawn, he relaxed again, thinking about what he needed to pack to take with him. Feeling a slight movement next to him, he turned his head and opened his eyes to see Heero staring at him with an expression he couldn't decipher. Before he could say good morning, Heero cut him off.

"What was it you said last night about Wufei finding your apartment?"

Oops! He was hoping that accidental slip the night before might have gotten past the other man. Considering how upset he'd been and that Heero didn't question him about it, he'd was certain he wouldn't have to explain himself. He should have known the sharp lawyer wouldn't let anything, no matter how small, slip by unnoticed.

"It's no big deal, Heero. I came home one day and Wufei was waiting outside my door. He said he got my address from one of the reporters who followed me around."

At first Heero looked dubious, then concerned. "What did he want?"

Debating a moment whether or not to tell Heero the truth, that his "friend" was not a very nice person, Duo quickly came to a decision to say as little as possible. Let Wufei confront Heero with his accusations and deal with the consequences. "He came to see how I was doing, having figured out I was the person who'd been attacked that night."

Heero looked less than pleased. "And?"

"And what?" He tried for an innocent look, but dammit, he wasn't any good at lying. Pretending was something he could do well, but outright lying to someone, especially Heero, was something completely different. Heero's left eyebrow rose to a questioning arch. He was obviously going to wait for an answer. Trying to look unconcerned, Duo gave in with a sigh and said, "And I think you'll be hearing from him soon. If you haven't figured it out yet, he's not over you, Heero, and he's got it fixed in his head that I'm not what you need or want."

"Really? Not what I need or want?" Heero reiterated, noticeably irritated. "And I suppose he thinks he alone meets those requirements?"

Duo shrugged, refusing to repeat the entire conversation with Wufei, revealing just how unpleasant the man had been to him.

Heero moved quickly, leaning over him, chest to chest and gazing down at him with gimlet eyes, making Duo want to squirm. "What do you think, Duo? Do you believe what Wufei said?"

Reaching up to run his fingers through Heero's hair, he replied, "Not even for a second."

"That's too bad," Heero said, unable to pull off looking disappointed because of the slight twitching at the corners of his mouth. "I was looking forward to proving to you just how much I do want you."

Pulling Heero down a bit more, until their faces were only inches apart, Duo said with a teasing grin, "Well, there might have been a nanosecond where I might have wondered if he was right."

"Well, there you go," Heero said, grinning back. "I now have my work cut out for me now." He then proceeded to wipe any minute doubt his lover might have had about their relationship.

Though he felt safer staying at Heero's apartment, believing no one knew where he was, Duo remained on edge as he and Heero settled into living together. For the first couple of hours he felt like a pampered guest, but as Heero began to tackle his weekend chores, shopping for groceries for the week ahead, doing his laundry and studying over some briefs he'd brought home with him, Duo began to get a feel for what his life might be like living with the successful lawyer. Heero was a busy and dedicated man, and he liked his life and home run in an orderly manner. While he wasn't a slob, Duo didn't think twice about leaving his clothes draped over a chair for a couple of days, or discarding his shoes in the bathroom. He decided he'd have to make it a habit of picking up after himself in order to keep up with Heero's housekeeping standards. That shouldn't be too difficult, right?

They left for work together on Monday morning and Heero, as promised, dropped him off outside his office building with a quick goodbye kiss before he sped away to his own office. The moment his lover was out of sight that uncomfortable feeling that seemed to haunt him lately, of being vulnerable and thinking that someone might be watching him, sent Duo running to the front door of the building. He slipped into the elevator just before the doors closed, joining a large number of fellow office workers on their way to the upper floors, finding many familiar faces among them. Even amongst people he saw everyday, he couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching him. Feeling the slight jarring movement as the car began to move upward, he wrapped his arms around himself and closed his eyes, wishing everyone would just disappear.

"Duo? Are you alright?" The concerned female voice came from his left. The elevator car fell silent.

Opening his eyes, he turned his head to see not only Bridget Morris from fabric design looking at him with concern, but everyone else in the elevator as well. "I'm fine," he managed to choke out, knowing he hadn't fooled anyone.

The elevator came to a halt and the doors opened. Unable to help himself, Duo dashed out and away from the crowd, regardless of not knowing what floor he'd landed on. Bridget called after him, but he ignored her as he headed for the stairwell, calling himself an idiot ten times over for the public display he'd put on in front of his co-workers.

From the number displayed on the inside of the stairwell door, he realized he had six levels to climb to reach his own floor. Knowing he was going to be late if he didn't hurry, he dashed up the stairs, letting the exertion distract him from the encroaching fear that clouded his thoughts.

He should have known that his odd behavior would not go unnoticed nor unremarked on by his fellow co-workers. He hadn't realized how quickly word would spread until he barely missed a colliding with Charise as she hurried out the door of his office, a worried expression on her face.

"Duo!" she exclaimed, grabbing his shoulders and holding him at arms length in order to give him an appraising once over. Then frowning she said, "You look absolutely fagged."

He grinned at the double entendre his boss often used, an inside joke between them. "I'm okay, Charise. Just a bit freaked out today but I'll be fine now that I'm here. Really, I'm fine." He could see by the look on her face he hadn't convinced her that everything was "fine".

Letting go of him and stepping back into the reception room, she tugged him along by the sleeve until she had him inside her office with the door closed behind them. Turning and folding her arms in front of her she demanded, "What's going on?"

Beneath her scrutinizing gaze he felt compelled to tell her of the weekend's events. She listened patiently and was careful not to let anything in her expression or manner indicate whether or not she was alarmed by the slashing of his tires or that he believed it had been the serial killer who'd done the deed.

"So you're living with Heero now?" she asked, one eyebrow rising in question.

"Temporarily. Until the killer is caught."

Another long pause followed, and as she continued to study him he began to feel like a bug under a microscope. Was she trying to read his mind or drive him crazy? He glanced wistfully at the door, wishing he could escape. Then with a sigh Charise relaxed her stance. "Well, now that you're living with Heero I won't have to worry about you after you leave here. Really, Duo, you're about to be the cause of some very unsightly gray hair sprouting from my head, and we can't have that now, can we?"

Knowing Charise would never allow a gray hair to mar her perfect and very expensive coiffed hair, he offered her a smile as he replied, "Then I guess I'll have to pay for your next hair coloring session with Raphael."

His boss aimed a crooked and teasing smile his way. "I don't pay you enough for you to afford my Raphael's talents. He's outrageously expensive, but worth every penny." She proudly patted her stylish hairdo.

Duo glanced back at the door again, feeling a strong urge to return to his desk. "Guess I should go and see what my slave driver of a boss has left on my desk."

He turned back to smile at Charise and was surprised when she leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. "You are dear to me," she said, pulling back. After giving his cheek an affectionate pat, he nodded towards the door. "Now get that beautiful ass of yours back to your desk, dig up Carlin and get him in here pronto. I want to see what other fabrics he unearthed in Hong Kong last week."

Feeling better, he left the woman to her work, chuckling to himself as he returned to his desk. There he found a stack of requests and receipts he'd have to sort through, organize and file appropriately. For once he welcomed the distraction of what looked like a very busy day.

Surprisingly, the week passed more smoothly than he thought possible, with nothing out of the ordinary happening that might indicate he was being stalked. It became part of their routine for Heero to drop him off each morning and pick him up at the end of the work day. With the pressing demands of several important clients and cases approaching their day at court, Heero either dropped him off at the apartment to return to his office for several hours, or he brought work home. Wanting to be supportive of his lover's work, Duo either made or had dinner delivered each night. Typically, by eleven they happily crawled into bed together. If it wasn't for the lingering threat of the killer still at large, Duo would have believed that their living together was working out well. There hadn't been any arguing or petty disagreements that often occurred when two people began the process of merging their lives together.

Friday finally arrived, and before they left for work that morning Heero stated his intention of devoting the entire evening to his boyfriend. The anticipation of having Heero to himself, without work interrupting, had Duo smiling all day long.

After work, they picked up burgers, fries and a six pack of beer before heading home. Duo laughed at something Heero related about his day in court as the sat together on the sofa. While opening the bag and distributing the food, Heero turned on the television and switched to the Sci-Fi channel, having heard from a colleague about a new program that was to air that night, featuring alien vampire-like creatures who preyed on a crew of space explorers. Settled in for a guys' night, they were just getting into the program when, during a commercial break, a news update flashed on the screen.

Both men straightened in their seat as they listened to the newscast. Heero turned to Duo and watched all color bleed from his face. Slapping a hand over his mouth, Duo whispered, horrified, "Oh, God."

Heero's arm gathered him against his side, his free hand cupping his face and turning his gaze away from the television to him. "It's alright," he said firmly. "He can't get to you. I'm here and you're safe."

"Another victim," Duo whispered, horrified. In his head he imagined the young man, the latest victim, being murdered in the way Detective Dawson had described. Stunned, violated and mutilated. With a lurch of his stomach, Duo bolted from the sofa and ran to the bathroom, barely making it in time before losing his dinner to the porcelain bowl.

Sensing Heero behind him, he waved a hand, warning the other man to stay away. Respecting the unspoken request, his lover remained at the bathroom door while he slowly gained control again. Flushing the toilet, he stood slowly and went to the sink, hoping to gain his composure before having to talk to his boyfriend. In the mirror's reflection he saw Heero watching him and their eyes locked. Taking a step forward, Heero put a comforting hand on his shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Before anything could be said the phone rang.

Heero hesitated, but Duo gave him an upward nod of his head in the direction of the ringing. "Go on, see who it is. I'll be fine."

Looking torn, it took a moment before Heero sighed and left the bathroom. Several moments later the ringing stopped, and he could hear Heero's pleasant tenor voice address the caller.

Duo took a moment alone to look at his reflection. "Why did you survive the killer's attack and the others didn't?" he asked himself, feeling oddly guilty for being alive.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when the sudden sound of Heero's voice came from the door, announcing, "It's Detective Dawson. He'd like to speak with you."

"Give me a sec to brush my teeth," he said, quickly searching for his toothbrush and the mint paste from inside the cabinet. Locating both, he took care of the unpleasant taste in his mouth. Wiping the leftover froth from his mouth, he reached for the phone in Heero's outstretched hand. Holding the receiver to his ear, he grabbed hold of Heero offered hand and together they moved back the living room.

"I'm sorry," the detective began after the briefest of hellos had been exchanged. "I wanted to warn you of what was happening before the media announced it on the air. Guess I was about three minutes too late."

"Where was the body found?" Duo asked, his voice as shaky as his nerves.

"Downtown, in a public park across the street from the city offices, stashed behind a garbage can."

"Was he..." Duo couldn't finish the question, as if saying the words would make the picture he'd envisioned in his head moments ago become reality.

"I can't say much at this point, but it clear we're dealing with the same murderer, not a copycat."

"What about my tires being slashed last weekend? Were you able to get any prints off the car that might identify the killer?"

"We don't know it was the serial killer who damaged the tires of your car, Mr. Maxwell. Yes, we found quite a few fingerprints, but they didn't match anyone in our system, and some of them even belonged to children. It would probably be a good idea for you to remain alert and be cautious, keep an eye on your surroundings and stay indoors after dark."

"I'm doing all of that, but I still don't feel safe."

"Then maybe you should take a vacation, go somewhere out of state for a week or two. With any luck we'll have the bastard in jail by the time you get back."

Leave town? The tempting idea took root in Duo's brain. Leaving L.A. would put him out of reach from the killer and away from all the stress. It sounded like the perfect solution, but he didn't like traveling alone, and besides, where would he go? He didn't know if he could leave work while Charise was planning her next season as well as a trip to Tokyo, booking models, photographers and anything else she wanted. And then there was Heero. His boyfriend had been working like a fiend during the past two weeks. He could ask him if he'd like to run away for a week or two, but chances were that Heero wouldn't be able to leave work either.

"I'll think about it," was his reply to the detective's suggestion.

"Just let me know where you're going and when you'll be back, alright?"

"Yeah, I'll let you know." They exchanged a brief goodbye before Duo handed Heero back the phone.


"He suggested I take a vacation, get out of town for a couple of weeks."

Heero's frown deepened, but he didn't say anything.

"I don't suppose you have any vacation time, do you?"

Heero sighed and combed his fingers through his already messy hair. "I've got two weeks of vacation time left, but it's just not possible for me to leave my cases to anyone else at this juncture. I'd have to give at least a month's notice to my bosses and clients before taking more than a day or two off."

"It's okay," Duo was quick to ease the other man's conscience. "I didn't think you could. Charise would probably give me the time off, but I don't really want to go anywhere alone."

"Do you have any friends who might be able to go with you?"

Duo frowned. Sure, he had a lot of friends, but most of them were casual acquaintances. Trowa had been his closest friend over the past couple of years, but that relationship had been damaged and it was yet to be seen if it could be repaired. "No. There's no one else I can ask."

"I'm sorry."

From the look in his eyes, Duo could tell that Heero was being sincere. He couldn't help from leaning forward and kissing the frowning lips, then pulled back to say, "Don't be. Leaving town was just a suggestion. There's really no need for me to go anywhere. I feel safe here, with you."

A relieved smile appeared on Heero's handsome face. He reached out and put his hands on Duo's waist before pulling him up firmly against his chest. "Well, I hate to say it, but I'm glad. I like having you here and, honestly, I wasn't looking forward to not having you around, even for a little while."

Lifting his right hand to run his fingers down the side of Heero's face, Duo replied, "I love being here with you." The kiss that followed that declaration was slow and breathtaking. When they finally parted, Duo laid his head on Heero's shoulder and breathed heavily onto his lover's neck.

"Ready for bed?"

Duo smiled, then pushed his pelvis forward to let Heero know just how ready he was. "Yeah, I am." With his hand clasped in Heero's he was led by his lover into the bedroom where they unhurriedly undressed each other before falling naked onto the bed together.

A little over two hours passed after he'd fallen into an exhausted, sated slumber, Duo woke with a start. He must have gotten too warm and moved away from Heero's warmth, because he found himself at the far edge of the king-size bed, and arm dangling over the side. The room was dark, the apartment quiet. He strained to identify the sound that had disturbed his sleep, and there it was again, a soft, muffled moan and a slight smacking of lips.

"What the hell?" he mumbled to himself as he turned over to face Heero, thinking his lover was dreaming. He debated a brief moment over whether or not he should try to wake him, but then paused as he tryed to understand what he was seeing. The illumination from Heero's digital alarm clock cast just enough light to show movement on the other side of the large bed. He blinked, now desperately trying to focus his sleepy eyes. He blinked again, realizing the lump under the blankets was too large to be Heero. If he could believe what he was seeing, it looked like someone was in bed with them, and that "someone" was... was attacking Heero.

He froze, unable to breath as the sudden stampeed of fear trod over the impulse to run Several seconds passed before the need to save Heero overcame his temporary paralysis and spurred him into action. In a sudden, fluid movement he thrust the blankets off the bed and launched himself at the top of the large, moving lump. The smack of flesh hitting flesh filled the room as he collided with a naked body and propelled the both of them off the bed, hitting the floor hard and with a loud yell. Heero's alarmed shout rang out in the dark.

Acting on pure instinct and desperation, Duo wrestled with the naked person, which he now knew for certain to be male. He hadn't bothered putting on his sleeping clothes after he and Heero had made love, so it was easy to tell that the person trying to dislodge him was as naked as he was and had the same plumbing.

The bedside light suddenly came on, temporarily blinding the three men. Duo blinked quickly, his hands tightening on the wrists of Heero's attacker as the man lay beneath him. It was Heero's shocked voice that brought the struggle on the floor to an end.

"Wufei? What the hell are you doing here?"

Duo blinked, unable to believe his former boyfriend was the person who had attacked Heero. To his surprise, Wufei looked at him with the same expression of horrified disbelief. "Where the hell did you come from?" the Chinese man demanded.

"Me!" Duo angrily flung Wufei's arms away from him and jumped to his feet. "What the hell are you doing here, and why were you attacking Heero?"

"I wasn't attacking him," Wufei returned in an equally heated tone.

It took only a fraction of a second for Duo to come up with an alternative reason for Wufei being naked and on top of his boyfriend. Looking to Heero for an explanation, he noted the confused expression on the man's face before it slowly turned to anger. He looked to Duo and explained, "I thought he was you." Then turning his glare back to Wufei, he demanded. "How did you get in here?"

"I used the key you gave me when you went out of town. Remember you asked me to water your plants? I just never had a chance to give the key back. I haven't seen you at the clubs lately so I dropped by. When I saw your car in its usual parking space, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to surprise you."

It was clear that Heero's patience was wearing thin when he looked directly into the near black eyes and said firmly, "I told you, Wufei, I'm with Duo now. Whatever we had before is over and done with. You had no right breaking in here and sneaking into our bed."

"I didn't know he was here!" Wufei explained through gritted teeth, his venomous eyes turning to the braided, naked man standing above him. Seeing that he was at a disadvantage, Wufei climbed to his feet and quickly turned to gather up the clothes he'd obviously discarded without much care when he entered the bedroom with only one goal in mind. "I thought I'd remind you of what you were missing, knowing what a cock tease Duo is."

"Shut your mouth or I'll shut it for you," Heero hissed as he climbed out of the bed and fought back the urge to knock some sense into the Chinese man. "My relationship with Duo is none of your concern." Then with a quick glance at his lover, Heero barked, "Duo, please put some clothes on."

Now that his adrenaline was ebbing, Duo blushed at being naked in front of Wufei. He moved quickly to the closet and removed Heero's robe and threw it on. Thankfully, Heero, having gotten up after their lovemaking to check the doors and windows, had at some point before going to sleep put on a pair of boxers.

"I'll let myself out," Wufei mumbled, ignoring Duo as he addressed Heero.

"Oh no you don't," Heero said sharply, grabbing the retreating man by the arm. "Do you think you can just break into my apartment, sexually assault me and get away with it? I think a phone call to the police is in order."

"You've got to be kidding me," Wufei said, looking indignant. He then shot an uncertain glance in Duo's direction. The braided man folded his arms across his chest and wisely kept out of the confrontation between the two other men.

"I'm completely serious." Heero let go of the Chinese man's arm and quickly moved from the bed towards the living room, where the phone was kept.

"Wait!" Wufei, still in the process of putting on his pants, hopped after the departing man. "I made a mistake, alright? I apparently misread the situation and I'm sorry. Please, don't call the police."

Duo followed both men out of the bedroom and down the short hall to the living room. Heero, he noted, already had the phone in his hand and a grim look of determination on his face.

"Heero, please." Wufei earnestly pleaded.

Heero paused with his hand poised to dial. "I'll make a deal with you," he said in a no-nonsense tone. "I'll forego calling the authorities if you give me my key back as well as your word that you will never, ever break into my apartment again."

"I promise," Wufei rushed to agree.

"And I want you to leave Duo and I the hell alone. No more interfering and no talking behind our backs. If you do, I'll make sure everyone at the Palomino Club as well as all your other haunts know that you're nothing but a jealous stalker." Heero knew Wufei had his pride, and for him to be considered not only a jealous gay man but one that stalked his dates, would seriously jeopardize his reputation at his favorite clubs.

Wufei's shoulders slumped slightly, and for a very brief moment Duo understood the Chinese man's motivation and sympathized with him. They were both in love with Heero. He was pretty sure Wufei's feelings weren't reciprocated by Heero, not after the way his lover spoke to him moments ago. Knowing first hand what it felt like being cast off for another, he felt a momentary pang of pity for the other man; and then the moment was gone.

Heero moved to the front door and opened it, then motioned with a wave of his hand for Wufei to get out. Slipping on his shoes, the ebony haired man complied with the silent request, keeping his eyes down the entire time. But as he passed Heero on his way out, he paused and looked at the man he loved with eyes that reflected his misery and said, "We could have been good together, Heero, and you know it."

"Maybe, but whatever we had, whatever it meant to either of us, it ended the moment I met Duo." Then softening his tone he added, "I don't know what else to say, Wufei, other than let me go and move on. That's my last word of advice for you."

With nothing left to say, Wufei straightened and squared his shoulders, then gave a simple nod of his head and walked out of Heero's apartment, and hopefully, Duo thought, out of their lives once and for all.

Heero shut the door behind him and locked it for a second time that night. "I am so, so sorry," he said as he turned around.

Shaking his head, Duo replied, "You've nothing to be sorry for. It wasn't your fault."

Heero moved forward, his hand reaching towards Duo, who clasped it in his own when he got close enough. "Let's go back to bed and try to get a little more sleep," he suggested. The braided man nodded in agreement and let his lover lead him back to the bedroom, turning the lights out behind them as they went.

on to chapter 20

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