Disclaimer: This is fanfiction based on the characters and universe of Gundam Wing.


Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 36


So, something about vaccines upset Duo.

Heero continued speaking in the same monotone. "You know you have been dreaming about it." Heero did not know any of this for fact, but if he was having the fantasies, Duo might. He certainly had guessed right about inoculations. Heero leaned in close and breathed across Duo's dick. "Tell me you want it."

Duo made some whining sound that might have been a stifled scream.

"You have a most attractive scent, Duo-chan," Heero said as coldly as he could manage. "It would feel so much better than being in the strap." Heero put his lips to Duo's belly and sucked at his skin.

"Fuck!"

"Just tell me you want it. Give consent."

"No. We can't. Not yet."

"It would feel so good. Don't you want to find out if I would swallow?"

Duo shuddered. "No."

"You mean, not now, but you want it. Tell the truth. You want it so bad you would risk your health."

"No..."

"You want me on my knees sucking your dick so badly that you do not care if you die."

"Heero, stop, don't do this!"

Heero moaned purposely, kissed Duo's body and touched the fingers of his left hand to Duo's dick.

"I-"

"You want me to do it."

"Yes!" Duo said.

"You don't care if you die."

"For one time with you I would gladly die!" Duo said rapidly.

Heero stood quickly and slapped Duo's face. "How dare you let anyone talk you into that!"

"Wha-?"

"You have no right to give consent to anything that potentially may result in death. Your life is mine to take!"

"But..."

"You can not be relied upon or trusted."

"Heero..." It was a whisper.

"Maybe it is your fault Johnny is dead." Heero ducked under Duo's arm and then reached around the bedpost for the crop.

"It is my fault," Duo whispered.

Heero stood behind Duo's back. He looked over Duo's body. There was something about the nape of his neck that Heero always found enticing, though he did not know why. The pale skin was still reddened about his ass and thighs. That lower left leg was immobilized within its sporty black cast.

Heero touched the end of the crop to Duo's spine, enough to tickle, or threaten.

"He was your friend."

"Yes."

"He was you lover."

"No! I didn't love him!" Duo protested.

Heero aligned the crop precisely, drew back his arm then swung. The loop of leather smacked Duo's left thigh, hard.

"Aaa!" Harder than Christie had been? Or was it the already sore flesh that caused him enough pain that he cried out?

"He was your sex partner. You trusted him to fuck you. You let him fuck you. You wanted Gibson fucking your ass. He fucked you pretty good, ne?"

"Don't."

Heero struck Duo's right thigh. "So, he had a big dick."

"Yes! Fuck you. He had a big fuckin' dick, he was one of the best fucks I ever had! I used to call him into my room whenever I was having a bad day and order him to drill me like an off-shore rig!"

Heero struck Duo again, mainly for that terrible analogy. He spoke forcefully. "He was your friend and a great fuck and you let him die! Isn't that what you did? You had rank. He was wounded by enemies of the peace because you made him go over to that shuttle instead of you."

"Yes!"

"You miss him!"

"Yes!"

"You let your friend and lover die and your pain of loss is not enough," Heero said, quite calmly.

"Oh, God!" Duo hung heavily in his restraints. They were not nearly finished.

"Who else died because you were imperfect?" Heero asked coolly. He tried to know Duo's mind, tried to remember everything Duo had revealed about his past. "The priest."

"Oh, God..."

"Of course, that is all your fault as well. And Sister Helen. All the hundreds of people that died in the church. Somehow it is your fault they died."

"Yes," Duo hissed.

Heero shifted his eyes to Christie's trunk. He side-stepped toward it to get a closer look. It seemed there might be some useful items there. Heero lifted a small flail, having nine leather thongs bound to single handle. He replaced the crop as he tested his grip on the flail. Heero noticed a length of sheer silken fabric and lifted it.

Pain was not the only method of torture.

What had Duo told him about that day? "Because you were not there?"

"Yes."

Heero stepped back toward Duo, slapping the flail against his own thigh to get a feel for it. The thongs behaved as many small whips, use of this implement was in the wrist, in snapping the length so that the tips licked the target's surface. Or, one could use it differently to tickle or slap, for additional range of results.

"You should have known not to trust Alliance soldiers by then."

Duo sounded like he was sobbing. Heero closed his eyes, reminding himself of his true goals. He did not wish to hurt Duo, but Duo was asking, no, begging to be pushed into resolving these issues now. Heero had to push.

Time for some of the seemingly painless torment. Heero tucked the flail into the back of his pants to free his hands. He held the silk scarf in his right hand and stepped close to Duo. He touched his lips lightly to the back of Duo's neck as his right hand swept the soft fabric back and forth over Duo's right leg.

"You do not want to feel all this pain," Heero whispered. He reached his left hand around Duo to catch the end of the scarf as it swung. Grasping the fabric from two points Heero was able to rub the middle section across Duo's body and also swish the ends over his skin.

As Heero made Duo's dick the focus of the scarf's attention he stood up on his tip-toes, leaning against Duo, so that he was able to kiss Duo's shoulders and neck, nuzzling Duo's hair out of his way.

The sobs sounded hitched and then the sounds Duo made protested the pleasure his mind registered and then he was simply expressing pleasure. Heero had drawn the scarf over much of Duo's torso, gradually working it up his body.

"Don't you just wish the pain would go away?" Heero whispered, rather trying to sound more American.

Duo made some wordless sigh, or he was tying to say, "yeah," but it was too breathy to understand.

Heero hung one end of scarf over Duo's shoulder so he could free a hand. He drew Duo's hair away from the right side of his neck and brought it down behind Duo's back. Still on tip-toes Heero bit at Duo's neck, hard, but not nearly rough enough to break skin.

"Yeah..." Duo whispered. It was clearly audible that time, but Heero already knew Duo liked 'necking.' As he sucked at Duo's throat Heero moved his hands from under Duo's arms to above, retrieving the ends of the scarf where they hung.

"It would feel so good if you could just forget all about the pain and death."

"Ninmu kanryo."

"Yes," Heero said as he pulled on the ends of the scarf, drawing it tight against Duo's throat. Quickly he switched the ends of the scarf between his hands, choking Duo. "You believe it all ends when you die?"

"No," Duo rasped. His arms strained against his bonds. He could not reach the scarf at his throat.

"Then, you believe if you die it does not end your suffering?"

"I'll... be... goin'... to Hell," Duo whispered.

"Unless you make up for your sins in this life?" Heero asked coldly.

Duo tried to nod.

Heero dropped the ends of the scarf and the fabric remained draped about Duo's shoulders as he sucked in a breath. Heero pushed all of Duo's hair forward over his left shoulder as he drew the flail from behind his back. "I still have not heard what all of your sins are. Who else did you kill, Duo? How many ghosts haunt your dreams?"

"Heero...?"

He snapped the flail against Duo's back. "Whose death are you responsible for, Duo?"

The interrogation went on. Heero demanded Duo tell him of all the deaths that haunted him and accused Duo of being responsible for those deaths as he inflicted pain. And in between rounds of physical punishment, if Duo didn't seem to be heading in the way Heero wanted, Heero would torture with seduction.

If he did not offer the release of death or sex then Heero suggested the lives Duo felt responsible for hadn't meant very much or that Duo's life was worth more.

Heero felt Duo responded well to the seductive torment. He could feel Duo becoming agitated when he said those people had not been large losses to the world. Though Heero did not show it, he wanted Duo to protest and fight.

But, agitated as he was growing, Duo accepted all the forms of punishment. He did not flinch from a lick of leather thongs or from Heero's hand. He made only the weakest of protests to Heero's verbal assault.

Heero almost gave up, fearing that Duo really was not strong enough to get over this.

Ultimately, he did not give up. He was doing all of this for Duo. Heero did not expect anyone else to understand. Truthfully, some parts of him viewed these actions as if from afar and felt disturbed.

He had to be cracked. Cracked and reprogrammed. It was dangerous. It was so dangerous, to mess with a mind like it was a collection of memory and processing chips.

Heero did not view the action as selfish or wrong. The more he explored Duo's mind through this 'game' of punishment the more he saw how the wrong part was the intensity of guilt Duo carried. Heero had thought maybe he or Quatre would suffer like this, he hadn't expected Duo to be worse of than they were.

Yes, it was unfortunate and tragic that so many people had died in Duo's life but through his interrogation and with what he had known previously, Heero was convinced that Duo was truly not responsible for any of these deaths that haunted him the most. It was as if Duo clung to the guilt and his imagined curse as a way to keep his lost loved ones close.

It just was not healthy. Duo had to let them go. He should not have the sort of guilt that Heero or Quatre had. Duo had killed, but he had not killed innocents. He had not killed for mad or selfish reasons.

Duo was entirely reliable and decent and he had to be pushed into admitting that it was not his fault that he'd lost so many people. It was not God's fault. Loss was just part of life.

But explaining this logically to Duo did not work. Duo had to discover this in his own way. Heero was just going to speed up the process.

If one wanted something to crack, extremes of hot and cold often worked well.

Heero got more severe and allusive in his accusations. "You drifted into V08744 alone in an escape pod. You abandoned your parents? You, as young as you were, took the escape pod and left them to die in whatever vessel did not make it past the space mines? You killed your parents!"

Duo's head was turned and bowed and Heero could see the tears streaming down Duo's face. "It wasn't my fault!" Duo sobbed.

Finally! "Then how do you explain what happened?" Heero demanded. Duo was not even sure of the details. He had only confessed that he had tried to discover for his parents might be and learned that he may have been a child who drifted, like some archetypal hero on a river or some droids from a Lucas movie, into the already 100-year-old colony in a single passenger escape pod. Heero thought the story highly plausible, knowing the history of that decade very well.

After coming out of his hiding place in the pod Duo had run, though he had not been Duo then. He runs, he hides, he does not lie.

"I guess they put me in the escape pod. I don't have any memory of any of it! I might have been unconscious or traumatized or suffered a head injury."

"You guess?"

The tears continued to fall. "Oh, God, I don't even remember if I had parents. I didn't want to be alive and not have parents."

Resisting, but he was still timid. "So, you are more like Superman than Batman, then?" Heero knew Duo knew those stories much better than he did. Those titles had been among his movie collection.

Duo lifted his head. "Only in the escape pod respect. I still am an orphan and technically inclined and was full of angst that led me to avenge the deaths in my life by fighting against the Alliance and OZ." He sniffed. "Deathscythe even had a sort of bat wing motif going on, huh?"

Heero slapped the flail against Duo's back. It would not hurt so much as snapping it like a whip, but it would remind Duo of that pain when it touched his already-reddened skin. "How do you think you ended up in an escape pod then?" Heero asked in serious tone.

"If I didn't crawl in on my own and subconsciously activate its launch sequence, you mean?"

So, that was what Duo feared. He had the power to interfere with the workings of devices. He might have launched the pod himself. He might have caused accidents. "That power inside you has only exhibited itself without your conscious control in defense of your life. I do not think you had the control to cause an accident, even by accident and your subconscious would not endanger others so long as you were well. So, how did you get in the pod?"

"Someone put me there! OK?"

"Why?"

"How the fuck do I know?" Duo shouted. "Why does anyone hide a child in an escape pod? They want them to survive!"

"Why would anyone want you to survive, knowing they might die?"

"You answer that!" Duo shouted.

"They love you," Heero said calmly. "You were loved and your caretakers likely died secure in the knowledge that you would survive and it was their choice. They chose to use their life to help you survive."

"You don't know that!"

"We can not prove it, but it is logical. Accept it! Or do you want to talk about Solo?"

"No, please."

"What is the truth, Duo? What is the truth?"

"He died?"

"And you lived."

"Yes. I lived!"

"What did you live doing, Duo?"

"Fuck you! You said it was not good enough to try! You said we succeed or fail! It matters fuck all if I had good intentions about making my parents proud by trying to save lives! He fuckin' died!"

"And Solo, how did he live, before that?"

"Don't."

"How did he live?"

"He took care of me!" Duo cried. "I loved him. God, I loved him. We were kids, but he was Mother and Father and Lover to me."

"If you had not known him, would you have survived?"

"Maybe."

"Would you have survived?"

"No!"

"Did you beg, Duo? Did you beg him to show you how to survive? Did you beg him to take care of you?"

"No!"

"Then why the Hell did he take care of you?"

"He just wanted to!"

So, when you were alive, you both helped each other with no hope of personal gain? You just chose to?"

"I guess."

"Did you risk his health, Duo?"

"No!" Duo protested vehemently. "No," he said again, "He just got sick. A lot of people got sick."

"So, you just gave up on him and let him die then?"

"No! I stole for him. I stole vaccine doses from Alliance med facilities, so I would not lose him..."

"And you neglected to administer it?"

"No. I gave it to him. I did it right."

"You stole the wrong vaccine?"

"No."

"Then why did he die?"

"I don't know."

"Then why did you tell me it was your fault?"

"I should have done something!"

"I thought you said 'should' was idealistic. You did something. You succeed in what you set out to do."

"But, he died." Duo cried.

"He just died without a word to you?"

"No. He talked to me..." The tears were back. Duo turned his head away from Heero.

"Did he say he hated you because you hadn't cured him?"

"No," Duo whispered.

"Did he say he forgave you for failing him?"

"No."

"What did he say?"

"That he would always be with me... we'd be together... a duo, you see."

"Yes, Duo. And you feel a void inside from when this spirit and memory abandoned you?"

"No."

"But he left?"

"No!"

"But a little while ago you were agreeing that it was your fault he died. Solo's still taking care of you, that doesn't make a lot of sense. I thought you did not lie."

"I just felt bad that he died," Duo whispered.

"Did he seem sad when he died?"

Just sobbing.

"Did he?"

"Peaceful," Duo said.

"So, Sister Helen must have been a really unforgiving woman...?"

"Shut up! I didn't kill any of them!" Duo shouted. This was it. Now he was really going to defend himself. Heero felt disoriented, though he could not say how exactly. Something felt strange in the room. "They didn't forgive me as they died because there was nothing to forgive. I did everything I could to save every one of them!" Duo's hands were free. He gestured for emphasis. "I lost everyone that I cared about in the past and I saw them all die. They all loved me and were proud of me and they were happy I survived and knew I would be good and help other people, like they would!"

Duo pounded his fists on the mattress. The cuffs were on his wrists, but the cords dangled from the rail above.

"I didn't kill any of them!" Duo said again. "They..." he paused and stood straight. "did all die sort of peaceful. None of them needed to forgive me because they didn't believe I had failed them. They were all happy I would survive..."

Heero smiled a little smile and said nothing.

Duo's eyes danced around the room. "It was selfish... self-pity. I just kept thinking about how bad I felt. There was no curse. They didn't die because they loved me or I loved them. They just died because we had war and terrorism instead of peace."

It was as if Duo did not remember Heero was there. He stood, feet still bound to the legs of the bed, talking to himself. "It wasn't God, just the war and shit. It's so much responsibility, to know all those people counted on you to carry on. It's like you need to be immortal and fight to survive. You gotta be good and help people, so the ghosts will all be proud. Well, I know I'm crazy. All the stuff I saw, and all the responsibility. I think sometimes, I just loose it. I've seen so much death!"

Heero wondered if Duo was really OK and if he would be upset with him. He bent and unlocked Duo's ankle cuffs from the elastic cords. As he freed Duo's second foot, his right, Heero felt a hand on his shoulder.

"You," Duo said.

Heero remained perfectly still.

"Why'dya just release me?"

Heero focused on the bells on Duo's ankles. "I got what I wanted from my prisoner."

Duo came down on one knee, facing Heero. He was twisting his hair, absently it seemed. "Is it 'afterward' now?"

"Yes."

"Then you will tend my wounds and do all the things I like," Duo said smugly.

So, he wasn't upset.

"Are you... OK? Or is it just me that makes you breathe like you are afraid to be seen?"

Heero concentrated for a moment. He was breathing slowly and his body was yet still. He sucked in a deep breath and then sighed. "Are you OK?" He asked in return.

Duo lifted his hands to Heero's shoulders. Heero looked down at Duo's right hand. Duo threw his weight at Heero then. Crouched, Heero didn't have time to adjust his position to support their combined weight. He quickly lifted a hand to catch the wall, just soon enough to keep his head from hitting the wall as they fell. Heero slipped to the floor, his left shoulder riding the wall as Duo's weight forced him down.

Heero's head thudded slightly on the carpeting. He looked up, but all he saw was Duo rushing toward him. And then he felt the kiss... he knew... Duo was more than OK. He felt.. .need. Need and the lust. Without thinking Heero's body strained toward Duo.

He felt Duo pulling away from him. His face was about a third of a meter above Heero, smiling down at him. "I know what you did for me, Heero."

"Talk later."

Duo grinned. "OK, but just a quickie, and then you will come over to Hilde's to tend my wounds and do all the other things I like."

"Da, da. Bıstra. Syechas!" Heero said with an annoyed growl.

"Sounds like an impatient affirmative to me," Duo confessed at Heero's ear as his right hand pushed fingers into the front pocket of Heero's pants. How and when Duo had managed to get the condoms from the litter of the bed into his pants Heero did not know, but he did not care either. "Six-nine OK?" Duo's hands were already opening Heero's pants.

"Khoroshó."

The time did seem to go quickly. Sex tangled together on the floor of Christie's bedroom, rushed tidying of that room, dressing, leaving Christie with payment and apologies and a short taxi ride all happened in approximately half an hour.

They came into the apartment stumbling and groping at each other. Heero wanted to show Duo he could do something other than torture him, and he just wanted Duo. It definitely seemed Duo wanted him as much. The slipping of hands into clothing had started anew in the cab.

"Use the big bed if you like, I'm going to be in here for a while," Hilde called from the office as Duo told Heero to remove his shoes by stepping on his feet.

"Thanks, we will, just want to get the first aid kit," Duo called back, his own shoes and socks removed as he leaned against Heero.

Heero glanced toward the open doorway leading to the office and saw the back of a chair and Hilde in it. She was typing something. Heero wondered if it had been Hilde that Christie was on the phone with when they left. He did not wonder long before Duo pulled him into the bathroom.

"I thought Hilde would be out," Heero said quietly, looking toward the door, which Duo had kicked closed.

"Nah, we need her to work on Tinman, so she's rearranged her schedule. Besides, the Squadron isn't back together yet."

"That is a slight security risk," Heero said.

"Heero..."

He looked at Duo.

"No shop talk, please. My plan was to help Christie out, get a couple hours of sleep and then go back to work."

"I distracted you," Heero announced.

Duo smiled warmly. "Yeah, but maybe I needed that." His hands moved from Heero's arms to his shirt.

Heero said nothing. He only leaned back against the wall and lifted his arms over his head.

"I so needed that," Duo whispered. His lips touched Heero's collarbone where it was bared by the tank top. Duo's hands lifted the hem of the shirt over Heero's stomach. "Mmmn, I like this."

"Like?" Heero asked, feeling he must have been in a daze a second before. He wanted to know what Duo liked so that he could remember it, but he really wasn't sure which thing Duo meant.

"When you let me take some initiative," Duo whispered.

Oh, that. Heero liked this too. "I like seeing what you will do. You always do things that make me feel good."

Duo grinned, close to Heero's face, then bent down and wriggled his tongue into Heero's navel. It was a very interesting sensation. Duo's tongue moved up as far as his sternum and then retreated as Duo's lips touched Heero's skin. His hands were on the shirt, and as he stood Duo pulled the shirt over Heero's head and arms.

He combed fingers into Heero's hair and tipped his head. "You were uber-attentive before, it was like not being able to get a word in edgewise. You guided everything... sometimes I felt like I could not touch you until I came for you. The weird thing is, getting to touch this body would have brought me closer."

"I needed to please you," Heero said honestly. He dropped his arms to Duo's shoulders and wished Duo's shirt was off. "Let me get your shirt off." Duo was pressed close and nipping at Heero's right earlobe.

Duo made some sound of protest. His tongue moved into Heero's ear. That felt interesting. Duo's body pressed against him felt good. He felt harder than he looked, of course, Heero's body probably felt harder still. Heero dropped his arms and groped for the bottom of Duo's shirt.

"Duo, we can do all this after I look at your back. I think I broke skin. I wasn't sure of my own strength."

Duo was literally breathing down his neck. "I don't care. I don't even care if they scar. You can bite and scratch if you want."

"Much as I would like to mark you they way you did me... that is not very safe." Heero twisted between Duo and the wall, showing his scarred right arm. The twisting motion forced distance between them and Heero used the space to lift the front of Duo's shirt.

"Heero, I don't want to be..."

"Stop," Heero said, cutting Duo off, "I know that I teased you horribly, but it is better we continue with our arrangement right now."

Duo's eyes closed as Heero pulled off his shirt. Heero guessed that he was remembering how Heero had tortured him. "Do you think you would swallow?"

"Let's not talk about it," Heero said bitterly.

"I want to talk about it!" Duo said firmly.

Heero shook his head.

"I want to taste you..."

"Duo, stop! You are not being fair to me."

"Huh, how's that?"

They had argued last time they were here. Heero was realizing he had not been back to this apartment since that argument.

"Heero...? I didn't mean to upset you," Duo whispered. "Let's just go to the bed."

"Yes. I do not want to argue with you."

Duo nodded. Then he hesitated to move. "But...? I don't get why I was the one being unfair."

"Duo..." He could be so exacerbating sometimes. "I was ready for commitment weeks ago and you did not know if you were, that is why we came up with the trial. It is not fair that you get to call a premature end to the trial because you think you know what you want. I have been waiting weeks longer."

"Weeks? Try years wanting you while you were completely unavailable."

"Duo..."

"It's true!"

"Do it for me then, please."

"Why...?"

"It is like a sort of tease. We planned out the trial. We set a time limit. We agreed to rules. We agreed to see the trial through so that we would be sure of our conclusions. We should base our decisions on how we feel about the entire time period and everything we have done. If we both agreed to be together, it would be like that... some bad days and some good. I do not want to know what you think you will decide yet. If I suspect, I may get my hopes up or else be depressed and then you will be deciding whether you want to be with me based on how I act then, euphoric or depressed. Do not tease me, Duo. Just, don't."

"Oh, Baby, sorry, you're right. I didn't know."

Duo was kissing him, but now that Heero had gotten upset and suddenly gotten his way, he was confused. He pushed Duo gently from him. "Didn't know what?"

Duo grinned, in a nervous way. "Heero, the structure of the trial makes you feel secure."

"I hate the trial."

Duo's smile was too kind. "Baby, it does. It's OK."

"It's true?" Heero asked. He was afraid it was. This rather voided the results entirely.

"Yeah, I think so."

"I did not realize."

"Yeah, I got that," Duo said lightly, "Don't worry about it."

"But..."

"No, it really is OK. If we want to stay together, we'll just have to make some rules and titles for ourselves. Man, I can just see you proposing if I say I can handle monogamy."

Marriage? Heero had not even thought about that. In his mind marriage was generally done because children were to be involved. Maybe there were a few legal advantages, but those alone did not seem a reason to get married.

Marry Duo Maxwell? He wanted to have sex with him and no one else and he wanted to share a home with him and he loved him, but somehow 'marry Duo Maxwell' seemed a ridiculous idea in Heero's mind.

Duo was laughing. "Who would have guessed you'd be the one spooked by that? Good to know. Useful bit of data for me, ne?"

"Hai," Heero whispered.

"Ya still wanna fuck me?" Duo asked, twisting to spank his own ass, the shape of which was nicely defined by the fabric of his skirt.

Heero licked his lips. "Hai."

"How long can you stay?"

Heero had nothing planned until Saturday, but he thought he should not distract Duo from work too long. "I should leave before morning."

Duo opened the door. "C'mon then, I can think of a whole lot of things I would like you to do before then."

Heero smirked. He could think of a few things himself. He jogged the few steps it took to catch up to Duo in the hall and then walked with an arm about Duo's waist. "Will you light candles?"

"I was thinking about it. You like the candles?"

Heero nipped at Duo's shoulder. "I like when I let my pet take initiative and he comes up with good ideas. You are so... romantic... and so... hot."

"Yeah, I know," Duo said smugly. Heero was certain it was a contrived smugness meant to amuse Heero. "Am I the perfect boyfriend yet?"

"Almost," Heero teased as they walked into the bedroom.

Duo giggled. Really. "You are like a bento box boyfriend?"

"Nani?"

Duo chuckled. "Yeah, because you are cold and hot and sweet all at the same time." He pressed a finger to Heero's ribs. It tickled. "And filling."

Heero supposed that sort of made sense. He had sincerely hoped fishy would not be one of the similar attributes. He supposed the content of some lunches might be cool in temperature but hot to the tongue. He understood how things could taste sweet and hot at the same time. 'Filling' amused him. Heero smiled. "I might even taste good..."

"Now, you are not being fair!" Duo accused playfully.

Heero only half heard him. He was struck by a very strange vision of using semen as dipping sauce. He swallowed, only by reflex.

"Really not fair."

Heero realized Duo had thought the swallowing part of the joke, rather than a nervous gesture. He forced a smile. "I don't suppose there is a good Japanese restaurant that delivers around here?"

"Are you kidding? We have every kind of delivery. Are you hungry? Seriously?"

Heero nodded. Now he was.

Duo left the dresser where he was lighting candles. "We can order food."

"Do you... have anything against eating in bed?" It was not the usual arrangement, but they were likely going to launder the sheets soon anyway. He'd never been allowed to eat food in the same room where he slept or worked as a child. Only in kitchens or dining rooms, sometimes outdoors. "I want to feed you and eat off your fingers and see you naked and taste sauce on your lips!"

"Oh... wow!" Duo was staring wide-eyed at him. He looked like... like he was in love. He shook himself then moved into the living room and then to the window between rooms where he found a stack of restaurant flyers. He stared at Heero again, from the corners of his eyes as he was fitting his headset phone to his head. "Heero... you ever.. .I mean, some people lick stuff of each other's skin, like chocolate sauce or something."

"I could put food on you and then use my mouth to eat it from your skin?"

Duo nodded then glanced to the flyer in his hand.

"Or you could do that to me."

Duo lifted his head and nodded more emphatically. That was good to know. Duo wanted to lick chocolate from Heero's body. When he thought about it... Heero felt hot.

Duo walked into the bedroom, giving his order in his usual blend of American and Japanese. He was inhibited somewhat by cast and sore flesh, but Heero was certain that if not for those things Duo's walk would have been an obtusely enticing sway.

Heero followed into the bedroom and saw Duo pause near the tall dresser toped by lit candles. Duo shifted weight to his right leg for a moment and kicked his left leg behind his right to touch his toes to the lowest drawer. Heero thought Duo meant him to open it.

He stooped to the drawer. Heero had not spent much time in this bedroom. He had only gone through it several times. Clearly there was just the one bed in this room, but there was two of every other type of furniture, indicating that Duo might still have many things here.

The bed was a futon, but more Scandinavian in design that at all Japanese. The actual bedding was on a convertible frame that seemed it might transform from double-sized bed to couch, though Heero had never seen this unit as a couch or even neatly made. Even as a bed it was raised up from the floor a significant amount. Heero's futon also rested on a frame, but it only cleared the floor by about 10 centimeters.

This dresser seemed to belong to Duo, and the case of shelves where Duo was filing though discs of music files as he asked how long it would take for the food to arrive.

Heero opened the drawer. He was not shocked, but he was awed somewhat. Heero also had a drawer in his bedroom dedicated to sex paraphernalia, but it had far less contents than this drawer. Most of these items Heero had never seen, and so Duo had not yet seen fit to travel with them, or let Heero know that he did.

There were several sets and assorted pieces of bondage gear. Heero agreed with himself in his mind that it was logical Duo had not shown him these things, because he had been using the set Heero had given him.

There were quite a number of items that Heero now felt must be referred to as plugs or dildoes or vibrators, of various sizes and shapes. Heero wondered if Duo had these things because he used them on others, or other people were to use them on him. Perhaps they were for Duo to use by himself. Duo had confessed to being sexually aware and active at a young age and to having an above average number of partners, so Heero supposed it was true that Duo had known what he liked for quite some time.

Heero picked up a print magazine. He recognized it immediately, the rare and controversial January 197 issue of a popular gay men's magazine featuring a famous actor dressed up as Zechs Merquise with open shirt and jacket and vacant expression on the cover and the interior pictorial showing actual veterans partially dressed in Alliance, OZ and Barton Foundation uniforms.

Heero smoothed the cover and then opened the magazine. He remembered being in Paris and flipping through the magazine at a newsstand. He remembered glaring at the vender when he asked if he was going to buy the magazine, in graphic and insulting terms. He remembered not liking how the vender had treated him, just because he was curious about the magazine that more mainstream media had been reporting on.

It was supposed to be a celebration of the end of the wars and a tribute to those soldiers who had done their duty as best they were able while their superiors schemed and waged political warfare against each other. It had been controversial because so many people did not want to think of anything having to do with the war as sexy.

Heero turned the pages of the pictorial slowly. He knew that there had been some very bad soldiers involved in those wars. He had met some himself, Trant Clark for example. He had heard stories of others, soldiers who abused their position to take food and medicine meant for civilians or who had abused prisoners and committed other war crimes, but overall, most of the soldiers, on every side, had been brave young men that followed an ideal, or were in it for the training and scholarships, or who were saving up their pay to marry their sweetheart and start a family. Some of them had been drafted. Most of them just wanted their families to be safe.

That was the tragedy of the war, that good men fought other good men because of decisions made by politicians and industrialists.

There was no reason those men couldn't be sexy. War wasn't sexy, but the soldiers certainly could be. Duo had been a terrorist of the Boston Tea Party tradition and he was very sexy.

Heero regretted not buying the magazine. He thought that Duo should put his in an archival sleeve; it was worth quite a bit now in good condition. Duo's copy was in good condition. It did not, for example, appear as if it had been propped up in bed with him or dropped on a bathroom floor.

Heero read the text on the final page of the pictorial, a message from the editors: To those of you who asked about the G-boys, So far as our sources have been able to determine, not a one of them was legal at the time of our shoot. You should know we don't like them that young, no matter how cute. We send those boys our best wishes and believe they deserve a break. Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, Wufei, drop us a line in a year or two, our magazine isn't all pictures and we'd love to hear your stories.

Heero smiled. He had never read that before.

"Ya ever see page 33?" Duo asked.

Heero flipped back and looked more closely. Page 33 showed a shirtless soldier leaning against a Jeep and smoking a cigarette as he held a Glock between his legs. "That's... Ralph Kurt."

Duo snickered. "I don't think I exchanged two words with him ever, but I gotta admit, he's seriously hot."

"Hn." Heero supposed he was attractive. In the photo he had a sort of look of defiance and a glow of sweat. Heero had to admit the dogtags hanging against a firm chest did something for him. He called up his mental file on him. The data matched the stats printed on the page. He was German and Japanese in ancestry, had been 20-years-old when the photo was taken and had spent the war among the mercenary forces, although he had been a Colonial Revolutionary at heart. "I did not realize he... was tattooed."

That was among the 'Things we find sexiest about Ralph.' He had several blue-inked tribal style tattoos on his chest and back and blood-dripping letters that spelled D.O.A. below his left biceps. The editors liked his tattoos and his 'piercing icy blue eyes.'

"He's not as hot as you are, of course," Duo added finally.

"Of course."

Heero set the magazine aside to be properly stored later. He went back to looking through Duo's drawer. It really needed to be cleaned out. Heero found some long-expired condoms toward the bottom. There were many containers of lubricants and massage oils, creams and gels. A liquid latex kit for making painted on 'clothing,' in black. Heero lifted a bottle of blue gel that indicated it was used for burn relief.

Heero read the bottle more carefully. It was an aloe-based ointment meant to be put on minor burns, cuts and abrasions to soothe and heal skin. Heero could not think why it belonged in the drawer. "What is this doing here?" Heero lifted the bottle over his shoulder so Duo could see.

Heero saw Duo move to his side from the corners of his eyes. He was counting out cash, the phone now hanging at his neck. "Aloe gel?" Duo's lips counted off the sum of the bills in his hands. "Ah, it can function as lube. I mean, a lot of things can, just some work better than others. If you use that and you get torn, you've already got the ointment there to help it heal."

He said that so casually. "Torn," Heero repeated.

"It happens sometimes."

"I know..." Heero had thoroughly researched the potential consequences of various sex acts. Careful preparation was supposed to prevent tearing of anal tissues. "I just did not want to think about it happening to you."

Duo laughed, "I didn't say it had, actually, last I remember using that it was carpet burn."

"Carpet burn?" That was like 'road rash' from a carpet. Abrasions caused by repeated or forceful friction between skin and carpet fibers.

"Yeah, see, I was with..." Duo stopped, thinking it unwise to tell this anecdote to Heero. "It's not important."

Heero tried to imagine how it could happen. "Knees?" He asked.

"Yeah." Duo laughed. "Lost at least a layer of skin, guess I got so into it I just kept going."

Heero cleared his throat purposefully. He really did not want the details. He knew that in the past Duo had been with others. He accepted that. Still, Heero did not require the details in order to accept Duo as his lover. "I could put some of this on your back for you..." Heero turned his head to better view Duo.

He dropped his hands to his sides. Heero made a mental not that the currency did seem to be partly American and partly in Sphere Dollars. Probably the American currency was to be given to the delivery person as a tip.

Duo looked... like he was in love. "Mmmn, sounds like a plan. Think you can keep your hands above the belt until the food gets here? I'm sure the delivery guys already think me a freak."

Heero stood up, keeping the bottle of gel in hand. "Ryokai," he said. He had considered working in food delivery in the past. People generally gave out their name, address and a phone number to restaurants quite willingly. With a name, addy and phone number a lot more information could be found. And delivery people got to go up to anyone's door and get a brief look inside. One could learn a lot that way.

Heero imagined as much as Duo and Hilde ordered out there must be many delivery people who had visited the apartment multiple times and seen Duo, Hilde and guests in various states of dress. Tonight's lucky individual would get to see Duo Maxwell with hair loose and in a long black skirt and blue velvet bondage gear.

Heero did believe that people in this particular Colony had a jaded attitude regarding the famous Gundam pilot in their midst. It would be different in the Capitol. People traded in different levels of information there. Actually, Heero was expecting soon he or Duo would end up in another of yellow journalism's reports.

Duo was moving into the living room. Heero followed. The money was placed on an end table and Duo sat on the red velvet-covered couch. He turned his back to Heero and drew his hair forward over a shoulder.

"As soon as the delivery has been accepted we will take the food into the bedroom and do kinky things to each other," Heero stated.

Duo looked back over his shoulder. Heero really liked the sprinkle of freckles there, though he could not say why. A few moments and he would be able to get his hands on Duo.

Heero sat down behind Duo. He folded his right leg between them and his left foot touched the faux-wood flooring. Duo lifted a remote and aimed it across the room. Something both doomy and seductive began to play.

Heero glanced down as he squeezed gel onto his hand. He noticed that Duo was sitting in such a way that belt and waistband were pulled low in the back. Heero could see several centimeters of cleavage between Duo's buttocks. "Above the belt only?" Heero asked.

"Mmmm hmmm." Heero was certain then Duo had arranged his clothing thus on purpose.

on to chapter 37

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