Web of Betrayal
by Dyna Dee
Six months quickly followed the day Duo's voice returned. During that time, Relena's assassin was still unidentified and at large. The weapon used to kill her was never found and the security tapes from the hotel failed to produce any further evidence. The assassin was assumed to be a professional as he/she stood just out of range of the cameras when they took aim and shot the Vice Foreign Minister. Milliardo Peacecraft had proved as good as his word; the money he inherited from Relena's estate was promptly signed over to Heero and Duo. He was also proving to be an excellent leader for the Preventers, leading the group of peace defenders out of the controversy following in the wake of Relena's assassination. Internal leaks to the press regarding corruption within the organization and the resignation of top Preventer officials proved to the public that the flailing agency needed a strong leader. Zechs proved worthy of that title by stepping up to the challenge and giving the Preventers organization a thorough housecleaning, eliminating those individuals who had demonstrated their unworthiness at being called keepers of the peace.
Quatre followed up on Relena's threats against his family by doing a complete audit of the Winner Corporation's books. All errors done intentionally or not were rectified, and several of his sisters were dismissed from their high-paid jobs on the grounds of incompetence and conflict of interest. He never did get a confession from Rennanda regarding her part in Duo's arrest, but he banished her from his home and dismissed her from her position in the corporation on grounds that she overstepped her duties and abandoned her moral respectability in writing the damming letter to the judge and warden that caused his friend to suffer needlessly.
As the days turned to weeks, the four former pilots became even closer friends, and as they worked together to shelter and heal their traumatized friend, they became very much aware that the brash, reckless boy they had known in their teens was changed, probably forever by the experiences he had lived through. Though he had gained his voice back, his words were spoken cautiously, and used sparingly. He never spoke to any of them of his experiences in Section Ten of the penal colony. It was only through joint therapy sessions with Duo, aimed at helping the two young men accept the past and move on to a future together, that Heero gleaned some insight to the nightmare assaults Duo described to his therapist. Those hour-long sessions proved to be painful and draining to both young men, leaving them pensive and depressed for several days that followed. They always returned home from these intense sessions red eyed and exhausted, a visible signal to their friends and to Mrs. L to stand close at hand to support the two through the difficult process of healing.
There were other noted changes in the former Shinnigami. The wild and reckless, devil-may-care teen had turned into a quiet young, introspective man with an easy smile. He also lacked his former knack for spontaneity, which had once been such a dominant part of his personality. He now preferred to know in advance where they were going, what exactly was going to happen there and who would be present. He still had some fear of large, loud crowds, strangers, and big, burly men, but these fears were slowly diminishing with frequent outings with his friends, teaching him once again that not every one was out to get him. Gone also from Duo's personality was the raucous sense of humor and loud, hearty laughter. Yet even with these changes in the young man, the others were glad to find that not all that was Duo Maxwell had disappeared completely. He still pulled small practical jokes, and the sparkle in Duo's eyes and the familiar, heartfelt smile were back, and for that the four were very grateful.
Heero and Duo were the last of the five to leave Mrs. L's home and for Duo it was proving to be a difficult transition, so it was drawn out over several week's time to let him adjust. Wufei had gone back to his apartment and to work with the Preventers several weeks after Duo regained the use of his voice. No one was surprised to learn that he was given a promotion as the Preventers re-organized. Three months later, Trowa and Quatre moved in together in a house only two blocks away, close enough to be on hand at a moment's notice, but far enough away to have the privacy they needed to further their relationship. Trowa worked part-time as a consultant for the Preventers and Quatre opened a branch office for the Winner Corporation three blocks from the Preventer building. He worked three days a week, keeping most of his free time open to help his friends, practice his music and spend time with Trowa.
With his leg in a cast from his latest reconstructive surgery, Duo literally sat back and watched as the other four worked together to find a home for himself and Heero. Half a mile away from the comforting home they'd known for just over half a year, they found what they wanted. A small, two-story home with a yard that needed some attention and located in a good neighborhood. Mrs. L had inspected the property with a motherly eye and she wholeheartedly agreed it was a perfect place for the two young men, so devoted to each other, to make a fresh start together.
One day following the cast being removed from Duo's leg, the two said an emotional goodbye to the elderly woman who had done so much in returning Duo to his present healthier state. They left her home with a promise that they would still be a constant fixture in her life for as long as she could tolerate them. Mrs. L replied to them with a trembling smile and watery eyes, "The door is always open my dears." All five friends agreed and promised to return each Wednesday and Sunday evenings to share dinner with her.
Heero parked his car in the garage of their new home and quickly moved to help Duo out from his side of the car. His leg was still tender from the surgery and the long inactivity while it was in a cast had weakened his muscles. He was strongly admonished by the orthopedic surgeon to move slowly and carefully until he could begin his therapy to strengthen and retrain the muscles in the newly repaired limb. Instead of complaining at those words, as he would have in the past, Duo merely rolled his eyes and sighed. He'd seen a lifetime's worth of doctor and therapy visits in the six months since his return to earth, what was a couple months more? Such visits had become a part of their daily routine.
The two former gundam pilots walked slowly to the front of the house, studying the residence that was now their home. Heero stopped at the bottom of the stairs leading to the porch, and turning to Duo with a crooked smile that meant mischief and, regardless of what the neighbors might think if they chanced to look out their windows at that moment, he bent over, picked Duo up and slung him over his shoulder.
"What are you doing?" Duo laughed as he dangled upside down against Heero's lower back. He quickly wrapped his arms around his lover's trim waist to ensure he wouldn't fall.
"It's our first time entering our new home together." Heero replied as he proceeded up the porch stairs and to the front door. "I figured we needed a memory to mark the occasion."
"I'll remember." Duo's voice sounded happy. "And so will the neighbors." He bent his head back at an odd angle and waved from his upside down position to the surprised looking elderly man who was walking his dog past the front of their house.
Even with a squirming body hoisted over his shoulder, Heero managed to unlock the door and swung it open. He stepped through the doorway and shut the door with his foot. Bending over again, he carefully set Duo down, mindful of his tender leg. Grinning, he turned the still chuckling Duo just slightly and thoroughly kissed him, smile and all. When he finally broke off, he whispered in a breathy voice. "Our first kiss in our new home," he proudly announced.
Duo quickly reclaimed his lips and whispered against them with a smile of happiness, "And our second."
The move into their own home had marked another approaching change in their lives. Duo's psychiatrist advised the two that it was time to move ahead with their relationship. Duo would always be dealing with his memories of what happened, from the traumatic beginning when Heero left him, to the arrest and the seemingly domino effects of betrayals set up by Relena and the cruelty of his two years in prison. With continued therapy and support by sensitive, caring friends, the doctor assured them that Duo's feelings of fear and insecurity would slowly lessen. But, the doctor warned Heero that any commitment he made to Duo from that point on needed to be sincere and with a determination to make it work, for Duo's sake. The fragile psyche of the young man who'd endured so much wouldn't bear another betrayal.
"Quatre stocked the kitchen, do you want anything?" Heero asked as he took Duo's hand in his own.
"A coke?" His partner asked hopefully.
"How about a milk shake." Heero countered with a smile. "You know the doctor says the carbonated drinks diminish the strength of your bones."
With a sigh and a resigned look on his handsome face, Duo nodded to Heero's request. "Chocolate," he said as a compromise.
"If we have it, chocolate it is." Heero answered and led him into the kitchen by the gentle grip on the smaller hand.
The rest of the afternoon passed quietly as the two finished unpacking their suitcases and stood in their backyard discussing their plans to make it as much of a haven as Mrs. L.'s yard. A large yard swing was a definite in their plans, and maybe a large hammock for the two of them to nap in on warm afternoons.
Dinner was fixed that evening by Heero and, not surprisingly, Duo ate every bite. The Japanese man smiled with satisfaction at his lover's returning appetite and Duo's weight gain. Though he was still slender, his bones no longer protruded from under his skin, his face had filled out and lost the gaunt look it had worn for so long, and his skin had a glow of health to it. Heero's eyes lingered on his lover. Duo's chestnut colored hair was once again in its familiar braid, though it was still much shorter than it had been, only five twists until it was tied off at the end. Heero made a daily practice of pulling that band off to feel the long, satiny strands slide through his fingers.
As the sun set, Duo looked up into Heero's eyes, and the former Wing pilot saw trepidation in the blue-violet orbs. "What's the matter, Duo?"
The braided man blushed and shook his head, dismissing his fear.
"Come on Duo, use your words. I can't understand what's going on if you don't tell me," Heero urged. He and the others had to frequently coerce Duo to talk as it seemed two years without speaking had become a habit that was hard to break.
"I'm...... just nervous about tonight," he replied, his cheeks pinking further as he rubbed the heel of his palms together, a sign of his nervousness.
"Duo," Heero approached his edgy lover and gently held his shoulders in his hands to get his full attention. "Nothing has to happen tonight. Remember, no pressure. I love you and I want you, you know that, right?"
Duo nodded his head. "Love you too," he whispered.
"I told you at the doctor's office that I'll wait forever if I have to for you to make the first move. I won't push you into an act of intimacy. I think I've proven to you that I've become very patient."
"I..... I want to, Heero." Duo choked out, obviously struggling to express feelings that were hard for him. "I'm just kinda scared."
"I'll never hurt you, Duo. When you decide you're ready, I'll be careful and gentle. And if you decide you just can't be with me like that again, it won't change anything. I'm not going anywhere. I belong with you and here is where I'm going to stay, come hell or high water."
Duo smiled at the old American phrase he'd taught Heero during the war.
"Now, how about we watch one of the movies Quatre bought for us. Something funny?" Heero asked as he moved towards the entertainment center.
Duo nodded. "Popcorn?"
"Why don't you go get it started while I pick out a movie?"
A short time later they sat contentedly next to each other on the couch, Heero's arm slung over Duo's shoulder and holding him close against his side. Duo had the bowl of popcorn on his lap as they watched the ancient flick Space Balls.
Heero was dozing before the movie ended, having lost all interest in the inane comedy. He woke when Duo stood to turn off the disk player, and together they turned out the lights, locked the doors and climbed the stairs to their bedroom. A trip to the bathroom, the shedding of their clothes and seconds later the two were locked together in the middle of the Queen-size bed.
"Nice." Duo commented with a yawn and wiggled his body to get comfortable.
"Very nice." Heero agreed with a smile on his face. His arm tightened as Duo snuggled closer against him, his head resting in the crook of his arm.
"Love you." Duo sighed sleepily.
"Love you more." Heero replied, keeping the twinge of disappointment out of his voice. He had hoped that tonight would mark the night they resumed their relationship at a more intimate level, but evidently Duo wasn't ready. He resolved again that he would be true to his word and not push his lover. Only he and the psychiatrist knew how much Duo had suffered, so much so that he would never do anything to harm him, even by making love to him if he wasn't ready.
Feeling suddenly very weary, he let himself drift off to sleep with the calming pattern of Duo's slow puffs of warm breath on his neck.
Heero awoke slowly that next morning when a weight gently settled on top of him. He opened his sleep-filled eyes to look curiously into the violet orbs directly above him. A lazy but pleased smile formed on his lips at the picture Duo presented. His chest was bare and his hair fell loose over his shoulders. His smaller lover's body was laying in its entirety on top of his, causing a tremor a desire to course through his own body. If he was dreaming, this was a damn good one, he thought sleepily to himself and closed his eyes to relish the dream a bit longer. The wonderful sensations continued when he felt warm lips press against his chest, and those kisses slowly moved up to nibble on the skin of his neck. He turned his head to capture those tantalizing lips as they moved even further upward, moaning into the wonderful wake up call. Bringing his arms up to embrace his lover, Heero's eyes suddenly snapped open as he came into contact with warm skin, and that was all. So as to not alarm Duo, he slowly moved his left hand up the bare back while his other hand moved downward. His right hand found only soft skin, and as it moved lower still, it glided smoothly over a slender and very bare hip. He moaned again into the hot mouth joined with his and suddenly, he brought his arms up to encircled the all-to-real body above him when he felt a long-missed hardness pressing up against his lower stomach.
"Duo?" He questioned against his lover's lips, cautiously and breathlessly hopeful.
"I want to Heero." Was the breathy reply. "I think I'm ready, just.... don't hold me down or take me from behind, okay?"
"We'll do whatever you're comfortable with. You be my guide. Just tell me what you want," Heero answered and gave Duo a warm, reassuring smile.
"I want you to love me and never leave me again." Duo replied, his eyes suddenly took on the look of sadness as memories of being left alone in the past clearly came to mind.
"I'll prove to you every day that I love you and that I'll be here, Duo." Heero took the heart-shaped face into his hands. "You are my life, never doubt that." He leaned up and tenderly kissed his lover, pouring his heartfelt feelings into that one action, hoping to drive away the sorrow that at times still plagued the smaller man.
The tender kiss quickly turned into a passionate one and their hands began to explore each others bodies as they hadn't done for years. True to his word, Heero followed Duo's lead. He only moved his hands to areas Duo's hands touched him. His tee-shirt was soon removed, and knowing Duo had already divested himself of his sleep wear, Heero lifted his hips so that the slender hands on the waistband of his boxers could push the material past his hips and off his legs.
Duo's body came back to him and skin to skin they lay against each other, their tongues performing an intricate dance as their mouths pressed gently against each other. The smaller man's hips suddenly thrust upward, pressing his need into Heero, both of the lovers moaned at the pleasure that flowed through them from the movement and touch.
"Been so long." Duo gasped, overwhelmed by sensations touching his lover had caused. "Not gonna last long."
"Me either, Duo." Heero admitted. "But it doesn't matter as this is the first of a lifetime of being together."
During the next half hour, as the sun slowly rose in the eastern sky and a new day began, the sounds coming from the bedroom of the newly acquired home were only the soft, longing and satisfied sounds of lover's being reacquainted after so long a time. For both of the reunited lovers it was as if this was their first time once again. Hands moved gently, cautiously and sometimes timidly seeking out the other's pleasure, their breathing was at times irregular as pleasures nearly forgotten were found again, causing small gasps and hitching breaths. Only moans of pleasure filled the room as the two reclaimed each other as only lovers should. Sealing, with their joined bodies and soft words of love and devotion, a bond that promised to last a lifetime.
As Duo collapsed onto his chest, Heero held his warm and slightly moist body tightly to his chest, his eyes filled with grateful tears that they were finally, truly back together. This, right here and now, was something he had feared was lost to him forever during many a lonely night that he lay alone in a cold, empty bed in Relena's suite of rooms. His mind vividly remembered feeling a cruel ache as he reflected on who and what he had lost, and he desperately tried to dream of a future, back with Duo where he belonged. "Dreams do come true," he whispered and kissed the top of the tousled head.
Heero's arms wrapped protectively around the trim form, relishing the wonderful feeling of finally being at peace and feeling complete, something he hadn't felt during the last three years. Yet his contentment was shaken when he suddenly realized the body he held was trembling. He tenderly and with concern rubbed the smooth, bare back with his hand.
"Duo, what's the matter? I didn't hurt you, did I?" He felt the head of his lover move to indicated he hadn't been hurt. Not being able to see his face from the position they were lying in, Heero turned on his side, moving Duo along with him. He then settled himself just far enough away to observe the incredibly handsome face before him. There were tear tracks on the smooth cheeks and the beautiful eyes were closed.
"Duo please, look at me," Heero said brushing the tears from off the heart shaped face. Eyes glistening with moisture obeyed the request, but they weren't filled with pain or fear as he had feared; much to Heero's relief, his lover's eyes were radiating with the familiar look of love.
"Why are you crying?" Heero asked bemused.
"I.... I was so afraid," Duo replied, his voice low and shaky. "I forgot, somehow, I forgot..... how... wonderful it was, how complete I always felt when making love with you. How could I forget that, Heero?" There was honest bewilderment written on his face as he asked that question.
With a quick kiss on Duo's lips, Heero replied. "You lived for so long with fear and sadness that the joy we had in the past was overshadowed by it, plus the fact that you thought the others and myself had betrayed you." His hand moved several long strands of hair behind his lover's slender shoulders. "But that's all behind us now," he assured him, then pulled Duo snugly against his chest again, reveling in the delicious feelings of having the other where he belonged.
Duo sighed, he felt wonderful. He could almost put the past behind him. Oh, there were still occasional nightmares, but they were infrequent now that his shrink and his friends had helped and supported him.
"We need to get up and get ready for our party tonight." Heero reminded him with an affectionate kiss on top of his head. Their friends had been invited to a open house they were hosting. Quatre, Trowa, Wufei, Sally, Mrs. L, Howard and Hilde had all accepted the invitation.
Duo was suddenly brought back to reality at the feeling of stickiness on his stomach. "I'd forgotten how messy this was," he said, wrinkling his nose at the uncomfortable feeling.
"It's the glue that binds us." Heero commented with a chuckle.
"Well, I hope that's not all that binds us together." The long-haired young man snorted.
"Duo," Heero set his lover apart from him again to look into his face. "It's not the only thing; love is the true bond."
"I know." The other smiled warmly.
"I..." Heero hesitated, wondering if Duo was ready for the plans he'd made for the evening.
"What?" Now Duo's curiosity was piqued.
"I would like to make the bond we have an official one." Heero said resolutely, his deep blue eyes searched for his lover's response.
Duo's face bore the look of curiosity. "Official? Like Trowa and Quatre's bonding ceremony next month?"
"Exactly, but on a much smaller scale." Heero smiled a little nervously. "Would you like to officially, legally be my life partner?" he asked.
A gentle smile grew on the long haired man's face. "I'm already am your partner, Heero." He answered. "But if you want to make it official, it's okay by me."
Suddenly, Duo was pulled forward and kissed passionately. When Heero broke off to let them both catch their breaths, he pulled his love against to him once again, stroking the loose brown hair. "If I feel any more happiness," Heero said somewhat emotional, "I think my heart will stop from overload."
"Me too," Duo murmured against the bronze skin.
"Tonight." Heero said.
"Yeah, we better start getting ready." Duo replied and moved to get up only to find himself held in place.
"No," Heero continued. "I mean, I've made arrangements for Quatre's lawyer to come to the party tonight and bring the papers that will make us official, here, with all our friends in attendance, we can sign them."
Duo pulled back to look into Heero's face. "Will Trowa and Quatre be upset we beat them to the proverbial altar?"
"We have their blessing." Heero smiled sheepishly. "In fact, I'm to call them and let them know it's a go. They're having dinner catered so we don't have to work all day," he happily informed the naked man in his arms. Then a look of concern crossed his face. "It is alright with you, isn't it?"
A small, slim hand came up to the once Perfect Soldier's face and stroked his slightly stubbled cheek. "Everything will be alright, Heero. As long as I'm with you, I feel I'll be able to do just about anything again one day," Duo replied softly, then moved forward for another kiss to prove his point. It was some time later before they actually made it to the shower, and a long time from then until that pleasant task was accomplished and they made the call to their friends that Heero's plans for the evening was "a go".