Death, Love and Other Complications
by LoneWolf ( kodoku na okami )
The sound of the first gunshot woke Heero. By the time the second shot exploded next to him, his own gun was in his hands looking for a target. The third shot tore through the dim bedroom and he reached over and grabbed Duo's gun, thumb automatically hitting the safety as he pulled the weapon out of Duo's grip.
"What the Hell are you shooting at, Duo?"
"Don't you see him?" Duo pointed toward the foot of the bed. "It's Zechs."
Heero saw the fear in Duo's eyes. Damn. It was understandable. "It's just a bad dream," he said, glaring where Duo was pointing. He reached over and shook Duo. "Wake up good and it will be gone."
Duo looked at him, confused. "But..." He looked back at the foot of the bed. Empty space. "But... He was there. I swear. Zechs was there."
"Aa. In your head, at least. Now, lay down and go back to sleep." Heero saw the uncertain look. Duo was about to argue. He prevented it with the one thing that always worked. He leaned forward and kissed Duo gently. "Go to sleep, koi. I'll keep you safe. Zechs is dead. He can't hurt you now."
Duo still looked dubious, but Heero ran a hand gently along his side. "Okay, Hee-koi," he mumbled as he lay down and Heero pulled him into his arms, chest to back.
"Just go to sleep."
Duo nodded against him. A few minutes later, Heero was rewarded with the soft sound of snoring from his lover. "Zechs is dead, koi. He can't touch you."
"But I can."
Heero saw the hand appear and settle on Duo's head and felt Duo's body tense and shiver.
"Get away from him, you bastard, or I'll--"
"What? Kill me? It's a little late for that, don't you think?" But the hand pulled away, and Heero whispered softly in Duo's ear, feeling him relax into quiet sleep again. "You should have known he'd start seeing us eventually."
Heero glared up at the figure standing over them. "If you ever come into our bedroom again, I will scatter you so far it will take you a thousand years to pull yourself--" He stopped, feeling Duo move against him.
"Heero," Duo whispered, his voice screaming fear.
Heero's hand waved in dismissal. Zechs flickered and was gone. "Just a dream, koi." Heero turned Duo onto his back and kissed him. "Here. Let me help you forget it," he said, laying a hand on Duo's belly and rubbing gently, circles widening slowly to touch other parts of his body.
Before long, Duo had other things on his mind and had completely forgotten Zechs.
"It was really weird," Duo said. "I could have sworn he was standing right there."
Heero surveyed the damage to the wall as he helped Duo pry the bullets out of it. He held one out in his hand, examining the deformed round. "But they obviously didn't hit anything."
Duo looked at it. "Except the wall. Good thing I didn't have explosive tips loaded." He sighed and set about digging out the third bullet.
"Aa. Good thing the neighbors are hard of hearing."
"Yeah. I can just see it. 'Sorry, officer. I thought I saw a dead man.' "
Heero flicked a little smile at him. " 'Then why the Hell were ya tryin' ta shoot him, sonny?' "
Duo giggled, turned around and hugged him. "If anyone ever says you don't have a sense of humor--"
"Don't disillusion them." Heero handed him a small tub of spackling compound and a putty knife. "Here. Spread that stuff in the holes so we can get ready for work. We'll paint over it this evening."
"Hmm." Duo said, wondering what fun they might be able to have painting. He set about filling in the holes as he thought. They wouldn't want to get any paint on their clothes, so they probably shouldn't wear clothes. And then they'd have to remove whatever paint they got on them, which would probably require a shower. Yes. This was definitely going to be an interesting repair job.
Heero, unaware of Duo's plans, walked down the hall toward the kitchen to dispose of the spent bullets. He froze two steps into the kitchen. Zechs was sitting on a stool, leering at him. "You two had fun last night after I left."
"You bastard," Heero snapped, keeping his voice low. "I told you--"
"I wasn't in the bedroom, but you two aren't the quietest pair in the world. It's a good thing your neighbors are all deaf."
Heero glared at him. They'd been asked to leave their previous apartment two months earlier because of all the noise -- and he had to admit it wasn't all Duo's fault. When they'd found this one in a building of mostly elderly people, who were glad to have two Preventers agents living in the building -- well, it had been a perfect arrangement. Zechs knew it and was rubbing it in. Jealous, Heero thought as he walked past Zechs to the trash can. "You were more honorable when you were alive. Keep your voice down or he'll hear you." Maybe not jealous of him or Duo in particular, but jealous of what they had.
"Dying changes a person."
Heero dropped the bullets in the trash and turned to look at Zechs, his face suddenly tired. "What do you want, Zechs?"
"Meaning?" Heero knew. They'd had this conversation at least once a week for the past six months.
And Heero's answer was the same as always. "Fuck off. I love Duo. I don't love her that way and she knows it. Find someone else." He said it almost mechanically, with little passion in the words, though he meant every word of it passionately.
"No, you find someone else."
"Nani?" This was a different twist.
"You're one of the few people on Earth and the Colonies who can see or hear me. You find someone. You put them together. Then I'll leave you alone."
"Zechs... This isn't--"
Heero looked past Zechs and saw Duo leaning against the wall, sliding slowly to the floor. "He-- Heero... What..."
"Oh. Shit." Heero muttered. "I hope you're happy with yourself," he snarled at Zechs as he hurried over to Duo. "Duo, it's--"
"Don't tell me it's just a dream, Heero. I know I'm awake this time."
Heero sighed. "Duo, it's... complicated."
"So I guessed," Duo muttered, taking the hand Heero offered him and letting himself be pulled up. He walked unsteadily to where Zechs sat, reaching out toward him, and shivered when his hand passed through Zechs' knee. "Damn. That feels awful."
"It doesn't feel any better for me," Zechs snapped.
Duo turned to Heero, touched him tentatively, then relaxed slightly when his hand stopped on the outside of Heero's forearm. He slid the arm around himself and leaned against Heero. Either Zechs was dead or both he and Heero were dead -- which was true didn't particularly matter as long as he and Heero were in the same state. "Now, would someone please tell me what's going on?" Considering last night, it was probably Zechs who was dead. He smiled faintly at the memory.
"I'm trying to convince Heero to marry Relena--"
"No," Heero said, his voice ever so slightly heated. Duo knew that meant he was ready to rip Zech's head off -- though how he would go about ripping a ghost's head off or what good it would do, Duo had no idea.
"-- or find her someone else."
"Uh, I meant why's there a dead person in our apartment."
"That's why I'm here. I've been trying to get him to see reason for the past six months."
Duo looked at Zechs, then at Heero. "I think I need to sit down."
Heero nodded and helped Duo into the living room and sat beside him on the sofa. Zechs sat in a chair across from them, waiting for Duo to collect his wits. He had to admit, the boy was taking the whole "seeing dead people" thing a lot better than he would have expected. Finally, Duo looked up at Zechs and said, "So you're really Zechs."
"And you're dead."
"I prefer to think of myself as existing on a different plane."
Duo looked at him, digesting that. "So you're dead."
"Yes." Zechs sighed.
"And you want Heero to marry Relena."
"No," Heero growled. Duo looked at him, noting he wasn't putting as much effort into concealing his anger. That was a bad sign. "I won't do it."
Duo smiled and kissed him. "Thanks, koi. But if he's been after you for so long, why haven't I seen him before? And how did you see him? I mean, you're not exactly the type I'd expect to have dealings with ghosts, even if they did exist."
Duo looked over at Zechs. "Oh. Sorry." He shivered. "This is so surreal." Duo looked at Heero and saw uncertainty and... "Heeee-koiiii? Why are you afraid?"
Heero squirmed. "What you just said about not being the type to deal with ghosts... well... that isn't exactly true."
Duo squeezed him. "You're solid enough, so I know you're not dead." He chuckled. "Especially after last night."
"No," Heero said. "I... I'm a Death."
"No, Hee-koi," Duo said, shaking his head. "I'm Shini--" he paused, seeing the look on Heero's face. "Oh. Shit. Uh... You're not... um, mad are you?"
"No, Duo. It's one of the things I liked about you in the first place. You were always... comfortable with death."
"Oh." Duo grinned. I was a little forced, but Heero could see some truth about it. "That's good then."
"If you want me to leave--"
"Shut up, Heero."
"If you two are done..." They both started. They'd forgotten about Zechs. "I believe you're both assigned to Relena's security detail today."
"And why's he so noisy all of a sudden?" Duo asked, ignoring Zechs' remark. "If he's been around for six months and you've kept him secret, I might start to wonder if you've got a boyfriend on the side to keep up with your sex overdrive."
Heero's mouth fell open and worked frantically trying to form words. Eventually an incredulous, "MY sex overdrive," came out, followed shortly thereafter by, "You're the one who always wants to do it 'just one more time'."
"And you've always been willing and able every 'one more time'." Duo grinned.
"I can't help it. Itís the way I am."
"If my sister is assassinated because you two are busy talking about your overactive sex life I will haunt you mercilessly for as long as you live."
"Okay. Okay," Duo said. "We'll get ready and go protect Relena." He blinked. "Now I'm talking to a dead guy like it's a normal thing to do." He shuddered faintly and looked at Heero. "I think once I've thought about this a bit I'm gonna have a few questions for you." He glanced over at Zechs who was about to speak again. "But for now let's go take care of Relena while I try to figure out who to hook her up with."
"You'll do it?" Zechs asked, at once shocked and pleased.
"It's that or put up with you for the rest of our lives. Seems like an easy choice to me, Blondie," Duo muttered as he stood up.
"Don't call me Blondie, you little--"
"Did you hear anything Heero?" Duo asked as he walked through Zechs, body shivering violently as he did. If it felt half as bad for Zechs it was worth it.
"Iie." Heero grinned evilly -- at least, for Heero it was a grin, Duo thought, and it was definitely evil.
"So you're telling me," Duo said around a mouthful of pastrami on rye, breaking the silence of their lunch. He'd been thinking about "things" all morning. Relena's schedule had been light today and he'd had plenty of time to think. Noin, Relena's head of security, always made sure there were twice as many bodyguards as were really necessary. Noin was always thorough, Duo thought, approvingly. "You're telling me Death is an incredibly horny gay boy." He tossed his head to flip his bangs out of his eyes. Might be time for a little trim there.
"Hn." Heero gave him an Ice Glare, which he was used to, so it didn't faze him. "I am not the only incarnation of Death walking around, but I still deserve some respect."
"I think calling my lover an incredibly horny gay boy shows a lot of respect," Duo grinned.
Duo heard more than saw the faint smile under the words and decided he'd successfully broken the ice. "So, how did you hide Zechs from me all this time?"
"Few of the living can see the dead. I can see him because of what I am." Duo looked at him, waiting for the rest. Heero shrugged. "If you hang around a Death long enough, or anyone who can see the dead, they start to rub off on you."
"Ah. So you're saying I should expect to start seeing more dead people."
Heero looked across the street from the cafe where they were eating. "See the woman in the crosswalk wearing the red wool overcoat?"
Duo followed his gaze and nodded.
"Isn't it a little warm to be wearing a heavy wool overcoat?"
"She's..." A bus ran over her, but she was still standing there when it was gone, shaking her fist at it. Duo turned back to Heero with a shudder. "Who is she?"
Heero shrugged. "I don't know. She's been there every time we've come here for lunch. Just some dead person with unfinished business. Don't look at them too long or they'll realize you can see them and start bugging you, like Zechs did me."
"I think I need to think about this some more," Duo said, pushing the last few bites of his sandwich aside. He glanced up at Heero and wondered if that was part of why Heero always seemed cautious when looking at strangers. Not just cautious in the sense of sizing up a threat, but cautious about obviously looking at them. And maybe that explained why Heero sometimes stared at nothing. Then Duo thought about what he'd said and added, "Not that I'm gonna leave you. You're stuck with me until you're dead, and after if I can help it." He paused. "Is there an after?"
"I don't know." Heero met his gaze. "I assume so. Some of the souls I cut free stay and some shoot off into space. I don't know what happens to those." He stood, offering Duo a hand. "You need to know you're always free to go. I kept this from you and I'll understand if--"
"Heero no baka, shut up. I've had my eye on you from day one, and there is no way in Hell I'm gonna leave you over something silly like this."
After a brief struggle, Heero let himself fall into the kiss and enjoy it.
"So did you find someone," Zechs asked as they walked into the apartment.
"I thought you wanted her to marry Heero," Duo muttered. He was not in the mood for Zechs. He was, however, in the mood for... well... it rhymed with Zechs.
Who was, Duo noted, looking a little nervous. "I, uh, didn't know what he was. I don't think I want her married to Death."
Heero froze, staring at him. "You didn't know? Zechs I'm the one who cut you free."
"I figured that out after you left today." Zechs shrugged, then frowned, defensive. "I was a little distracted at the moment. I never saw you as Death."
"Anyway," Duo said. "Fixing Relena up isn't going to happen overnight. Not if you want it to last, like me and Hee-koi." Duo slid a hand to Heero's back, nudging the gun over, and slipped into Heero's waistband. He caught Heero's eye and saw he wasn't the only one in the mood for something that rhymed with Zechs.
"Aa." Heero nodded. "And they'll fight and disagree about what to do for the weekend and what color to paint the bathroom and--"
"But love's like that," Duo said, interrupting. "It only stays strong when it gets regular exercise." Duo's hand slid completely below Heero's waistband, pausing long enough to fondle and squeeze a muscular buttock before moving deeper. "Speaking of which," he said softly.
"Now," Heero said, glaring at Zechs. "Out. We're working on it."
"Naa, Heero... Don't turn him out in the cold."
Heero's head snapped around, "Nani? I thought--" Then he saw the glitter in Duo's eye. Duo was up to something. "He's dead, Duo. He doesn't feel the cold." What the Hell. Duo was obviously horny. Heero wasn't sure what he was planning, but he had a feeling they'd be done with Zechs, naked and in bed within five minutes.
"He could have the spare bedroom, y'know, the one right next to ours."
"Hn. Whatever." The evil grin found its way back onto Heero's lips.
Zechs looked at them, saw the look on Duo's face, realized Duo's arm was too far behind Heero's back not to be visible on the other side, but it wasn't, saw it move a little further and saw Heero's eyes close and his mouth open slightly to release a soft moan. "Heero's right. I don't feel the cold anymore. I think I'll go find someplace else to stay."
"Too noisy for you?" Duo asked, face innocent as a kid with his hand in the cookie jar.
Zechs looked at his feet, dredging up a mildly embarrassed expression. "Yes."
Duo sighed. "And I was *so* trying to be quiet last night."
Heero snorted, then gasped softly as Duo's arm moved again. "You probably made a wise choice Zechs. I'm not the only incredibly horny gay boy around here. Now get out. I'll call you when-- Nnn. Damn Duo. Slow down."
"I'll meet you for lunch tomorrow," Zechs said, then disappeared.
Duo chuckled. "We shouldn't have to worry about him invading our privacy anymore." He pulled his hand out of Heero's jeans.
"Was that just an act to--" Heero stopped, realizing Duo's hands were undoing his belt. No, not an act. He smirked.
Duo saw it and grinned. "Like you said, you aren't the only incredibly horny gay boy around here. First one naked in the bed gets to pick what we do before dinner." Duo darted down the hall toward the bedroom.
Heero followed at a leisurely pace, undressing along the way. He wasn't worried. He was sure he'd enjoy whatever Duo chose... And he'd get to choose after dinner.
Two and a half hours later, as they sat eating the penne with broccoli and a sun-dried tomato and marsala sauce that Duo had prepared for dinner, Heero asked, "So who are you planning to set Relena up with?"
Duo shrugged, using a bit of bread to scrape up the last of the sauce on his plate. "Dunno. I need to think about it for a while." He looked at Heero thoughtfully. "What's she like?"
"How the Hell would I know?"
"Look, Heero. I know you had a thing for her once."
"I care about her Duo, but--"
Heero chewed for a few seconds, thinking. "Because she's honest and sincere and committed. She sets out on a mission and gives it her best effort, even if she fails." He chewed another bite. "And she isn't afraid to die for what she believes in."
"Aa. That's Death talking."
"Duo, there isn't a difference. Heero Yuy -- the me you knew before I blew myself up -- he's still here and is as much a part of the Heero you know now as Death is -- more really."
"What do you mean?" Duo twirled the stem of his wineglass between his fingers.
Heero finshed the food on his plate as he struggled to find the words. Finally, he said, "It's like us. If we split up, we'd both be incomplete. Maybe we'd get over it eventually, but there would always be a hole that would never quite close."
"Aa. And when we're together, we're still ourselves, but we're also 'us', and that makes a difference."
Heero nodded. "I want us to find someone like that for Relena."
"Okay, so we need honesty, sincerity and commitment -- but you always need those things." Duo said, taking the dishes from the table and putting them in the dishwasher. "Someone who shares her goals, more or less. We wouldn't want him to be just a copy of her. Someone who's stubborn enough to argue with her and win every now and then."
Heero stood up as Duo returned and let Duo wrap arms around him. "Aa. Someone who'll protect her, doesn't mind travelling, and can do well at diplomatic parties."
"That last lets you out." Duo kissed him.
"S'okay, Hee-koi." Duo slid a hand into Heero's boxer-briefs. "I'd rather stay home with you anytime."
"How did I know you were going to work it around to that?" Heero nipped Duo's earlobe.
Duo chuckled. "Because you know I'm an incredibly horny gay boy?" He slid his hands around to Heero's ass and walked backwards to the bedroom, leading him.
"What about Relena?" Heero asked, as Duo closed the door behind them.
Duo snorted. "She can wait."
"So who have you found for her?"
Heero glared at Zechs, who had flickered into visibility in the extra chair at their lunch table with no warning.
"Of course," Duo said, looking at Heero. "We can't talk to him or look at him too much or people might start to think we're crazy."
Heero nodded, still glaring at Zechs as if he could send him back to whatever alternate plane he'd come from by thinking about it hard enough. "People already think we're crazy."
Come to think of it, Duo thought, he probably could. "Yeah, but in a good way, ne?"
"Aa." Heero turned back to Duo, ignoring Zechs. "But don't you think the symbolism of Harlock's eye patch in 'Space Pirate Captain Harlock' went beyond the simple pirate image?" he asked, as if they had been discussing it before Zechs appeared.
Duo blinked. Twice. "Uh, well, I dunno. In some cultures they say a person who's blind in one eye can see the future with their blind eye. Or the dead."
Zechs sat, tapping his foot impatiently, determined not to say anything. He knew they were being difficult just to get to him.
"Aa. Harlock was haunted by many ghosts from his past. That would make sense."
"And he was usually looking toward the future. Have I ever told you how much you look like him?"
Now it was Heero's turn to be caught off guard. "I do not."
Zechs began whistling tunelessly. He was *not* going to let them get the better of him.
"Same basic hair style. Similar features." Duo grinned. "Same lean, sexy body. You should dress as him at the Halloween party this year."
Duo had wanted to dress up for the Halloween party every year. Heero had made it a point to get them assigned to back room security so he wouldn't have to dress up. And with only seven months to go, it was time to start foiling Duo's plans again. "Aa. If you'll be Emeraldas."
"The Pirate Queen? Deal. I'll order the costumes this afternoon and make sure Noin puts us on the floor this year." He laughed at the look on Heero's face. "Koi, what fits me more perfectly than a pirate and a queen? Besides, I have the hair for it." He waved the end of his braid at Heero.
It was one of those times when Heero knew there was no way out short of dying. Damn! Die or dress up at Halloween? He thought about it for moment. Avoid dressing up at Halloween or get to sleep with Duo most nights for years to come? That decided it. "Aa. Ryoukai." Besides, it would be interesting to see how Duo looked dressed as a woman. Heero had no real *interest* in him being anything other than what he was, but the idea of Duo in drag was intriguing.
"So, what did we come up with for Blondie's sister?" Duo asked, finally taking pity on Zechs -- and Heero.
The sound of ethereal teeth gnashing whispered through the air.
"Not much. Kind, sincere, honest, peace-loving, good dancer, able to stand up to her, knows how to eat a seven course meal without -- how did you put it?"
"Without looking like a pig at the trough." Zechs snorted at that, but a quick glance convinced Duo it was an amused snort. "Another thought. Japanese maybe?"
Heero's eyebrow arched upward ever so slightly and he nodded. "Can't hurt."
"What about..." Duo scratched his nose, deep in thought. "What about Tsukahara?"
"He is good looking." Heero saw Duo's frown and added, "And he has a great body." He suddenly felt Duo's bare toes teasing his crotch ever so tenderly under the table. How Duo could get his feet out of shoes and socks so quickly without being obvious was something Heero had never figured out. "Damn it. Quit that."
"Bastard. You *are* seeing him behind my back, aren't you?"
"Duo, you know I--"
"I'll just have to make sure you don't have more any opportunities to see him."
"When have I had--"
"And damn is that going to be fun."
Heero stared at him for a pair of heartbeats, seeing the grin trying to hide but failing, and the quick dart of Duo's eyes toward Zechs, then smirked. "Aa. Especially when you find out I'm not and then you have to get up for work Monday morning after I've kept you awake all weekend."
"Gentlemen," Zechs growled, "and I use that term loosely, can you please get back to this Tsukahara?" He had determined that Tsukahara wasn't really gay -- in all likelihood -- he hoped. "What is he like? Will Relena like him?"
"How the Hell should I know," Duo said, looking at Zechs. "I've never dated him. He likes girls."
"But he is nice and has stood up to her before," Heero said.
"What?" Zechs and Duo said in unison.
"Remember the 'Save Machu Pichu' riots in South America a year ago?"
"Do I ever," Duo groaned. "I'm never gonna drink water again."
"I thought the doctor said it was that meat pastry thing you bought from that old lady cooking on the street corner."
"Yeah, but what do doctors know. Alcohol is a lot safer. But the side trip to the Galapagos was fun. I still think Pedro and Antonio were gay."
Heero fought the urge to roll his eyes. "Duo, how many times do I have to tell you? Galapagos tortoises are not gay."
"I dunno. You saw how they were watching us on the beach that afternoon we sneaked away from the rest of the tour group. And later I saw them wandering off into the sand dunes together. Man was that guide pissed when he found us. I still think he was making up that part about us disturbing the blue footed boobies. They didn't seem very disturbed to me. In fact, they were watching us... Saaayyy. Do you think they might have been gay too?"
Heero shook his head. It was a hopeless cause. "While you were sick, Tsukahara and I were tactical on Relena." Meaning they had been her visible, stick-close bodyguards. "I let him take lead." Heero saw Duo's mouth opening, doubtless to say something ridiculous about him and Tsukahara again. He rushed ahead before Duo could get going. "Relena wanted to take a walking tour of the crowd."
That shut Duo up. His mouth moved, vaguely forming the words "fucking idiot" among others, but no sound came out.
Zechs was not so restrained. "What kind of fool is she?!"
Heero ignored them both. "Tsukahara changed her mind. On two occasions."
Duo finally managed to squeeze out, "You mean didn't just tell her she was out of her fucking mind but actually got her to agree not to go?"
"Damn! Go Tsukahara!"
"But do they like each other?" Zechs asked, then continued muttering under his non-existent breath about how stupid Relena was sometimes.
"Of course not," Duo said. "But that can change." He grinned, the hint of mischief dancing in his eyes. "We'll assign him to be her escort for the World Council meeting. He'll still be bodyguarding her, but he'll have to act like a date so no one catches on. And that..."
"Could become more than an act," Zechs said, catching on. He frowned. "I'm not sure I approve of her marrying a bodyguard."
"You approved of her marrying a former terrorist who is now a bodyguard before you found out he was a Death," Heero said softly. "Tsukahara's family has ties to the old Japanese imperial line."
"Yeah," Duo said. "His grandfather was ambassador of something or other thirty years ago. And he's filthy rich. Look at this watch I got off him." Duo held up his arm, displaying a watch that cost more than he made in two years.
"I am not going to ask," Heero muttered.
"Playing poker," Duo grinned. Seeing the disbelief he said, "Hey, you know I don't lie. Besides, Blondie should be less concerned about lineage than personality."
"Old habits die hard," Zechs muttered, looking daggers at Duo.
"Especially once you're dead," Heero said dryly.
"Okay then." Duo reached across the table, grabbed the palm computer from Heero's pocket, and began pounding away. After a moment he said, "Done. Tsukahara's her escort for the next two weeks and her social calendar is full every night. Oh, and I ordered our costumes for Halloween too."
Heero stifled a groan.
"This had better work," Zechs said, going semi-transparent.
Duo shrugged. "We can always find someone else if Tsukahara doesn't work out," he said as Zechs slowly finished vanishing.
Duo ran his hands through Heero's hair. "Naaa, Hee-koi?"
Heero shifted under the sheets and lifted his eyes to meet Duo's gaze.
"Mind if I ask you a, uh, Death question?"
"Ask." Heero's face remained neutral.
"What's it like? Killing people like that, I mean."
Heero looked straight into the nervous violet eyes and said softly, "I don't kill people."
"Uh, Heero. Death. Y'know. Kills people? Otherwise how do they die?"
"Bullets. Knives. Old age. Car accidents. Poison." He smiled faintly at the confusion he saw. "Fate or some other person kills them. I just cut them free when their bodies can't live anymore."
Duo frowned, then nodded. "I guess I never thought of it that way. So they're... Fate? There's really such a thing?" He had often wondered. But that would explain several things. Like why he of all people had fallen for Heero "Perfect Bastard" Yuy at first sight.
"Aa." Heero saw the next question before Duo asked it. "We've never met."
"I think I need to think about-- Oh. One more?"
Heero nodded. Duo could ask a thousand questions and he would try to answer them.
"When do you do the, uh, Death thing? I mean, what with keeping me satisfied, you don't have much time." Duo grinned. "And do you dress in a black robe? Uh, I guess that's two, huh?"
"Three," Heero gave him a tiny smile. "When I act as Death..." He frowned. "It's hard to explain. It's me, in my body, but it's like I've stepped out of the living world. I can walk through walls and stand in a room full of people and not be seen by anyone except the person I'm there to cut free, and then only at the last second. I'm always dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, regardless of what I was wearing before I went into Death mode, and I have a scythe to cut them free." He shrugged. "It's strange." He paused. "Do you really want to know when I'm...?"
Duo thought about that for a minute. "Yeah. I think I do."
"Some nights when I'm working late, but don't say I'm working late at the office. Special missions that I tell you I have to do alone. Things like that." He shrugged. "I'll call them special missions from now on so you know."
"Thanks." Duo nodded. "For telling me. For trusting me enough to tell me."
"Aa, koi. I'm sorry I--"
Duo really didn't want to hear the apologies again. He understood why Heero had kept his secret. It didn't really matter. Heero was his lover who just happened to moonlight as Death. Duo suddenly flipped them in the bed so he was straddling Heero. "Why don't you show me how sorry." He grinned. If Heero wanted to apologize, they might as well enjoy it.
BAM. BAM. BAM. "We have a problem," Zechs' voice sounded through the door as he continued to pound on it.
"Fuck," Duo muttered.
"Hn. Not unless you want to do it with him beating on the door and shouting."
Duo flopped down beside Heero. "He has the worst timing. And how the Hell can he bang on the door?"
"Aa." Heero rolled out of bed and walked toward the bedroom door. "It's one of those dead things I never understood. Sometimes they can have a small effect on the living world."
Duo sat up in bed, a bit surprised Heero wasn't going to put any clothes on, but admiring the view. "Down lover boy," he muttered to himself, then, "What the Hell." He hopped out of bed and padded over to stand behind Heero. The part of him that was thoroughly pissed of with Zechs wanted to slide into Heero and fuck him while they stood there talking to Zechs just to embarrass the Hell out of the blond bastard. But his scant modesty and the part of him that loved Heero and considered their sex life something special was much stronger, so he just wrapped his arms around Heero, running hands over his lover's chest and belly.
Heero opened the door. "What is it, Zechs?" he asked, voice calm and completely unconcerned.
Zechs stared, mouth gaping. His eyes began to float down Heero's torso, stopped about half way and yanked themselves back up to Heero's face. "Don't you two have any shame?"
"You're the one who comes beating on people's bedroom doors early on Saturday morning," Duo snapped. "Don't be surprised if you find 'em naked and in the mood for fucking." Damn. If he had given in to his baser impulses Zechs would have probably had a coronary and they'd've been rid of him -- if he wasn't already dead.
"A bit lower, please koi," Heero said softly.
Damn. He wasn't the only one with baser impulses -- and obviously wasn't the only one who was pissed at Zechs. Duo complied, grinning evilly at Zechs, but limiting his reach to no more than a half inch below Heero's waist. He still didn't think he wanted Zechs -- or anyone -- to see them do more than light petting.
Zechs decided to cut to the chase. That way they'd either stop or he could leave. "Tsukahara is transferring."
"Naaniiii???" burst from two mouths at once.
Duo's hands stopped moving. "That isn't possible! He loves her. They were doing so well. Last week he was talking about asking her out on a real date. He was asking if she was allergic to daisies, damn it."
"I was reading his personnel file and saw the transfer form. He's going to be a secret observer on the new colony at L2."
"Who did he piss off to get that assignment?" Duo asked.
"He asked for it."
"No way. C'mon, Heero. Let's go find out what the Hell he's thinking and beat some sense into him." Duo walked back into the bedroom and began hunting for a pair of boxers that suited him. The black ones with the skulls were around somewhere. Or maybe the ones he'd had made special with the kanji for Shinigami all over them. Or maybe--
"He's already on the shuttle," Zechs said.
"We'll look into it, Zechs," Heero said. "Anything else?"
"We'll find someone else if we have to," Heero snapped.
Duo had stopped looking for underwear and was sitting on the edge of the bed. He couldn't see Heero's face, but Zechs' expression told him it was one of the nastier forms of the Ice Glare.
"Now, if you don't mind..." Heero said, voice revealing that dangerous edge.
Zechs glanced at Duo, who was doing a fair imitation of the Ice Glare himself, then back at Heero, said "Sorry," and disappeared.
Duo closed his eyes, let himself fall back onto the bed and sighed as he listened to Heero's feet whispering across the floor. "What is Tsukahara thinking? I mean, writing down license plates on double-parked cars on a new colony is not... Uh..." He lifted his head, looking down his body and saw Heero kneeling on the floor, hands between his legs, watching him, smirking. The fingers of those hands moved again. "Oh. That's nice. So Tsukahara can wait?"
"Baka," Heero said softly, leaning forward, licking his lips.
Duo let his head fall, back arching slightly in anticipation then... "Ooohhh! God, you're good." It was, Duo thought, a very good thing the neighbors were all half-deaf. He had a feeling Heero was just getting started. The Preventers office on the new L2 colony would be closed until Monday and they had no other way to contact Tsukahara.
"Just to die for," he giggled.
"Damn it, Zechs. Do you always have to just *appear* like that?" Duo flicked his braid through the insubstantial figure beside him, drawing a faint snarl. He'd learned that he could do that without feeling the creepy-crawlies that touching Zechs' ghost would bring, but it annoyed Zechs just as bad as if he'd been walked through. "Couldn't you materialize around the corner and walk up to us like any normal dead person." Duo frowned as he heard his words. Seven months of this dead person thing had definitely twisted his vocabulary.
"I heard Edwards is transferring to Alaska."
"It isn't my fault she runs off every guy we throw at her." He glanced over at Heero, who sat silently eating his pasta salad and contemplating the chicken salad sandwich on the plate in front of him, ignoring them. No help from that sector.
"You've sent six potential suitors to her in the past seven months." Zechs said in that clipped tone that they'd come to know meant he was frustrated. "Only two of them got a first date and all of them are now scattered around Earth and the Colonies. It seems you are a less competent matchmaker than you thought."
Duo's eyes glittered darkly. "Watch your mouth, Blondie. You don't know--" He stopped, took a deep breath, let it out, then said, "They were all good looking, young, interested in world peace, well mannered, sociable, honest, nice guys. Hell, I'd've dated any of them if I weren't so stuck on Heero. What more could she want?"
"Something, obviously. Maybe someone you'd date even though you are so stuck on Heero."
"Uh uh. Doesn't exist."
"Maybe they weren't handsome enough. Or maybe they were too handsome." Zechs was obviously grasping at straws.
"Or maybe she likes dangerous men," Heero said, laying down his fork. Both of them looked at him like he had just proposed they all take a walk on the moon together without space suits. "Think about it. She loved me, Zechs, Treize somewhat, Noin, Une, even Dorothy in her own way. Hell, the only dangerous person she didn't love was that asshole Tsubarov and maybe Dermail." He picked up his sandwich and took a bite, staring back at them as he chewed.
Duo blinked. "Dangerous. ... Interesting." He grinned wickedly. "We could set her up with Wufei."
"I don't think he qualifies as sociable," Zechs said.
"Well..." Duo frowned, thinking. "I don't know any other dangerous men except us."
Heero looked at him, thoughtful.
"Oh no. No way in Hell am I going on a date with her. That would be the biggest lie--"
Duo's mouth fell open. Zechs' did too. Then Duo's face started running between rage and agony. "But... But..."
Heero took his hand and kissed it. "I am not leaving you, koi. I have a feeling we'll find out exactly what is going on soon after I ask her for a date."
"I don't want to go on a date with her, but I want to get this over with." He leaned close and whispered in Duo's ear. "I'm tired of Blondie over there interrupting us at inopportune times."
Duo jerked back, stared at him for a second, then grabbed his head and yanked him into a kiss.
Zechs sat and waited. Rolled his eyes a couple of times. Counted the over-unders in Duo's braid. Watched the cloud shapes forming and dissolving overhead. Speculated about the meaning of life and his in particular -- or his lack thereof. He was starting to count the windows on the buildings across the street when...
They broke, both gasping for breath. "I believe you," Duo said. "But I'm going to expect some serious compensation for the emotional stress you just put me through."
"Aa." Heero smirked.
"Starting in the restroom on the fifth floor in about fifteen minutes."
Heero's smirk faded into unmitigated surprise and horror before slowly creeping back as he thought about the suggestion. "Ryoukai."
Zechs groaned. "Why did I have to get stuck with the gay grim reaper and his horny, hentai boyfriend?"
"Because you're lucky," Duo said. "You should be taking notes in case reincarnation is real and you come back as a gay Galapagos tortoise named Pedro."
Zechs shuddered, then vanished.
"Restroom," Duo said, standing. "Better yet, elevator. Five minutes. I'll hotwire the panel." He turned and walked back toward the Foreign Ministry building.
Heero stared after him for a moment, shrugged and followed.
This was going to be interesting.
And probably very fun.
"Let's go out tomorrow night," Heero said, removing his eye patch. The fake scar under his eye was beginning to itch, but he didn't dare scratch it. Duo would kill him if he messed it up. He looked at Relena, standing behind her desk in her Miss Muffett costume, and decided her shocked expression meant he'd probably been too direct. But, damn it, he didn't really have any experience with dating.
He'd been attracted to Duo since he'd met him on the docks -- well, was shot by Duo on the docks. They hadn't actually met until later. It was weird, really. Duo was physically attractive, of course, but that had never mattered to Heero before. Maybe it was the idea of meeting someone who had the skill to sneak up on him and shoot him.
And Duo was the real reason he'd chosen the symbiotic relationship with Death that had allowed him to live after he'd self-destructed Wing with himself in it. But he and Duo had never dated. It had taken almost a year of partnering together in the Preventers before, one night, as they worked late writing up incident reports, Duo had finally said, out of the blue, "I love you, y'know," and Heero had said, "I thought you might. I'm glad." Encouraged, Duo had said, "Don't get me wrong, it's more than just this, but you make me horny as Hell," to which Heero had said, after a moment's thought, "Aa. Me too. Want to do something about it?" He had and they had and the reports were finished a day late.
That was simplifying it too much, though. There had been a lot to their relationship before that. So, while they had found sex was fun and they did it often because they enjoyed it, they both agreed there was a lot more to what they felt for each other than just the sex. They made each other laugh and knew when the other was hurting and tried to fix it and they only felt truly relaxed when they were together. They loved each other. Complex as their relationship was, it was really that simple.
"Heero, I said, 'What about Duo?' "
Heero snapped back to the present. "Oh, he said it's okay."
"But, I thought you two were... serious."
"We are." He'd expected this and had considered the next statement carefully. "But I'm versatile." That was entirely true -- he liked top or bottom. "And-- Oh, I'm not asking for *that*, Relena." The surprise was fake, but the words were, once again, entirely true. He may be versatile, but he wasn't that versatile. "I just thought we could go out and have dinner or something." True enough and very carefully considered. Duo had helped him work it all out. He had a devious mind when it came to telling the truth.
"Let me check my calendar and get back to you."
Duo had anticipated that too. Heero pulled his palm computer out of a pocket in his cloak -- the Harlock uniform was too skin-tight to have useful pockets in the shirt or pants -- and touched the screen a couple of times, then held it out to her. "Here. You're free tomorrow night. I'll pick you up at 19:00." He looked at her and suddenly saw uncertainty and a hint of anger. "Are you okay? I promise I won't do anything. I--"
"Heero. Look. Just forget it, okay. You and Duo go out and have fun."
"Damn it, Heero."
Heero blinked. Relena had said "damn".
"I will not have you two making fun of me." She walked around her desk, glaring up at the security camera that she wasn't supposed to know about. "Get your ass in here right now Maxwell. I know you're on the other side of that thing. We're going to put an end to this joke right now or I will make your lives Hell on earth."
"Relena this isn't a joke." Relena had said "ass" and "Hell"? What the Hell was going on? "Duo isn't--"
The door opened a fraction and Duo squeezed in, looking sheepish, but otherwise the spitting image of Emeraldas. He walked over to stand beside Heero. "Sorry, koi. Silly, jealous me, y'know."
Heero sighed. "Aa."
Relena leaned against her desk frowning at them. "Well, what do you two have to say for yourselves?" The effect was somewhat damaged by the fake spider dangling from the top of her hat.
"We were just trying to help," Duo started before Heero could say anything. "All the guys we've tried to set you up with keep leaving and we were trying to find out... uh... oops."
"Set me up?"
"Well, uh, it's a long story-- oof." Duo glanced down at Heero's elbow and was surprised to find that it wasn't actually embedded seven inches in his rib cage. That was how it felt.
"Let me," Heero said to Duo. He walked toward Relena. "This will seem crazy unless I show you. "
Relena frowned faintly, but nodded. Heero put his hands over her eyes for a second, then pulled them away and said softly, "Zechs."
Relena blinked and gasped. "How... It's a hologram, right? This is another---"
"She can see me?" Zechs said.
"For another seven minutes and eighteen seconds." Heero said. He moved back over to Duo and whispered, "I hope the forget part of this works."
Duo nodded, starting at Relena and Zechs.
"But you're dead," Relena said.
"Yes. I want you to get married and be happy so I can leave."
"You... You... But Brother, I... What do you mean leave?"
"I'm stuck here and can't go on to whatever comes after until I take care of unfinished business, and you're part of it. I loved you because you were brave and fought for Father's dream, but I could never tell you that before I died. Now I have to see you with someone who loves you the same way."
Relena's eyes narrowed. She hadn't become a powerful player at her young age by missing details in people's words. "I'm part of it. What's the rest?"
Zechs stared at her for a moment, then sighed. "Noin. I loved her for her loyalty and belief in me. I have to find someone to loves her the same way."
Relena stared at him, then laughed. "Brother, you are--" She shook her head. "You've had them," she pointed at Heero and Duo, "sending men at me and--" She laughed again, then suddenly turned serious. "Duo, call Noin in here now. Tell her I said it's urgent."
Duo thought maybe they should call in the men with the white coats instead the way her moods were swinging. He called Noin anyway -- she'd have to be in on it if they had Relenea committed. While they waited, Relena walked over to him looking at him carefully. "You make a great Emeraldas, but the top of that outfit looks like it's too big for you."
Duo blushed. "Well, I don't have quite the, uh, same equipment as Emeraldas did up top."
She looked at him, thoughtful for a moment. "I have just the thing." She went back to her desk and rummaged around in one of the drawers, then came back with two round balloons.
Zechs stood, shaking his head, unable to believe his sister was doing this.
"Shut up, Duo," she said, smiling faintly at his embarrassment. She blew the balloons up, one at a time, then handed them to Heero.
"What am I supposed to--"
"I wouldn't risk your jealousy by putting my hands in his shirt." Relena batted her eyes at him innocently.
Heero blinked, then nodded and turned to Duo.
"Shut up, Duo." Heero unzipped the top of Duo's outfit, stuffed the balloons in, then zipped it back up and spent a moment making everything nice and even. "There." He stepped back and turned Duo around to face the mirror on the wall.
"I-- I... Damn. I look good." Duo grinned. "And... well, it's weird." He looked down at his now protruding chest. "I think I'm getting ha-- uh..." He glanced at Relena. Zechs was standing behind her, his jaw hanging loose, though Duo couldn't tell if it was embarrassment or attraction. He chose to think the latter. Then he noticed the look in Relena's eyes. It was--
The door opened and Noin came in, looking flustered and a little out of breath in her spider costume. "What is it, Relena? I had to leave--" She stopped, staring at Duo, blinked. "Damn, you look good as Emeraldas, Duo."
"Doesn't he?" Relena said. "I was just helping Heero put the finishing touches in his costume."
"What did you need?" Noin asked. "The Foreign Minister is in the hands of a pair of rookies."
"Please tell Heero and Duo how you feel about me." Relena wasn't looking at them, though. She was watching Zechs -- who Noin couldn't see.
Noin looked at her strangely. "I respect you because you stand up for what you believe in and are the leading seeker of peace on the Council. You are the last Peacecraft and I am honored to be head of your security."
Relena walked over to her and laid a hand on her shoulder and said gently. "Please tell them the truth. It's important."
Noin looked at Heero and Duo nervously, then at Relena and said, "I love you." She could always have them transferred if they became a problem. She hoped she didn't have to, though. They were the best she had.
Relena smiled. "And I love you too because you have always stood beside me and been my friend." Relena leaned forward and kissed Noin on the lips.
There was a soft rustling sound as Duo's knees gave out and Heero caught him and dragged him to the door. They made it out of Relena's office and into the reception area about five seconds before Heero's minor magic finished its run and Relena forgot the whole incident. Hopefully Noin wouldn't ask any questions.
"Can you walk?" he asked Duo.
"Yeah," Duo stood on his own, a little shaky, but he didn't collapse again. "What--"
"Later." Heero grabbed Duo's hand and dragged him out into the hall just as Relena's office door opened, a pair of spider legs warning Noin was on her way out. "Now run like Hell." They bolted for the exit.
"So. Relena and Noin," Duo muttered. Noin had cornered them later that evening and asked questions, but Heero and Duo had done the "Do you remember being in Relena's office?" shtick with each other. Noin had taken the hint that they weren't going to tell her anything, nor were they going to tell anyone about her and Relena and had decided to chalk it up as one of those strange things that happens sometimes on Halloween. "That would explain a lot."
"A lot of what?" Heero asked, raising his head from Duo's chest.
"Oi. Hee-koi. I didn't know you were awake."
"What does it explain?"
"Well, why everyone kept getting transfers and why Zechs hasn't interrupted us yet -- speaking of which, how about--"
"And what did you mean when you almost told Zechs he didn't know who he was talking to when he said you weren't a very good matchmaker?" Heero's hand slid delicately into Duo's crotch.
"I never forget details, koi." Heero squeezed gently.
"Eeaahaha. Be careful, you're gonna break me."
Heero fixed a severe Ice Glare on him. He hadn't squeezed that hard. Duo was faking. "What does it explain?"
"Weeeelllll... It explains why she never went for any of the guys. OW! That hurt! OW! Okay. Okay. Usually if one person is really in love and the other is at least interested, there's a good chance they'll both end up loving each other, and, uh ... ... ... OW! Okay. I made sure they would be in love with her."
Heero didn't let up the glare or his hold.
"Okay, I'll tell. But you have to promise not to hate me, okay? You can be mad, but you can't hate me because I couldn't stand it if you hated me."
Now Heero was really interested, and a little concerned. "I don't think I could ever hate you, Duo." He tightened his fingers ever so slightly. "Now tell me."
"Well, you had never really been interested in anyone before you saw me, had you?"
"No. I didn't have time."
"Before you *first* saw me... ... ... And I shot you... ... ... And then you started to be interested... ... ... Damn it, Heero, what makes you think Death is the only power that uses human agents?"
Heero stared at him. Duo could see the wheels turning. Finally, Heero said, "Love? So what I feel for you isn't real?"
Duo shook his head. "I only hit you with an attraction, because I wasn't sure if you were going to be as good as I hoped -- and if you were, I didn't want to force you. So anything more than thinking I have a great body is real."
Heero let go of Duo and flipped onto his back beside him. Duo waited quietly, not wanting to push things. It was hard though. His mind was running a thousand miles an hour in a hundred different directions. He tried to look at Heero without turning his head because he didn't want to be obvious about it, but Heero was just out of his range. Damn. He'd probably planned that.
He was just about to give up and say something, he wasn't sure what, when Heero said, "So you're telling me Love is an incredibly horny gay boy?"
Duo lay there for a moment, considering the words, then smiled. "You bet." He slid a hand over rest against Heero's hip. "Wanna find out how horny?"
"Not right now," Heero said.
"What?" Damn. Duo lay there disappointed.
"We'll need to talk to Noin about arranging decent assignments for Tsukahara and the others." Heero sat up and looked at him, lips twitching as he studied Duo's body inch by inch. "We have to come up with some reasonable story to tell her without sounding like we're crazy. " He leaned slowly closer to stare Duo in the eyes. "Does thinking about me in that tight, leather pirate outfit make you horny?"
Duo blinked, surprised by the sudden subject change. "Hell yes. It was all I could do not to drag you under the punch bowl and screw you silly."
Heero frowned. "You did." Fortunately, the party had been going full tilt and no one had heard them.
"I meant before I spiked our punch."
"Aa." Heero's lips twitched again. "How horny do I make you?" he whispered.
"Probably about as horny as me in that pirate queen costume makes you." That had been their round under the cake table. Or was that the hors-d'oeurves table and the swords were the cake table? Yes, that was right, because the swords bit had popped his balloons. And where had they been when he'd lost control over Heero's eye patch? He remembered being pressed against a wall, so it must have been a room somewhere. Duo was suddenly glad there had been no serious security threats during... Wait a minute. Had Heero just asked...? Maybe? "Wanna find out?"
The twitch settled into a smirk. "Aa."
Duo smiled, relieved, then pulled Heero down and kissed him. Damn, that fake scar under his eye was-- he froze. "Uh, Hee-koi?"
"Nnn." Heero said, nuzzling his face.
"Uh... There's a woman in a red wool coat standing beside the bed."
Heero pushed himself up on one arm, looking up at her, frowning.
"Zechs said you two might be able to help me."
"Oh shit," Duo muttered.
"Only if you leave right now," Heero said. "Meet us Monday at the cafe."
"Damn. You're good," Duo said. "Now where were we?"
He pulled Heero down and kissed him. Damn, that fake scar under his eye was sexy. He glanced around and, certain there were no more ghosts around, slid his tongue into Heero's mouth for starters.