Title: To Catch A Shooting Star
Author: Mookie
Pairing: Heero/Zechs
Rating: R
Warnings: fun with canon timeline, yaoi lime, mild angst
Notes: Dedicated to/gift for wingsofdirt, for luring me to the Dark Side

Entry into the 2004 Heero.nu Featured Pairing contest

"Come on, Wing Zero!" Zechs roared at his Gundam. "Let us come out on top! And now...the victory is mine!"

It had been, Zechs had been so sure of it, and then ZERO had started flashing all those images at him. He tried to ignore them, intent on nothing more than pursuing that victory. He looked around at all the vid screens, trying to regain his sense of equilibrium. His hands trembled, even clenched as they were on the controls, and he felt the nausea start to overwhelm him.

Epyon fell first, and then Wing Zero stumbled backwards and slid down the ravine. By the time Zechs had reached Heero, who had bailed out of his cockpit, Yuy was on his knees, practically retching. Zechs stood before him for a moment longer, only to join Heero on the ground as his legs gave out.

From the moment Zechs had first tangled with the unfamiliar mobile suit in space, the precursor to the one he'd just abandoned, he'd known there was something exceptional about its pilot. When he'd discovered that a mere boy occupied the cockpit, he'd been stunned. Upon the heels of that surprise had been the horrified realization that the boy was offering up his life for the sake of the colonies. When the mobile suit lit up, it glowed like an angel of reckoning, then exploded. Zechs had felt a sharp pang of loss, something that cut much deeper than his father's assassination.

It wasn't the first time, nor the last, that anyone had given their life for a cause, but Heero had fascinated him from the start. Never had Zechs combated someone with a level of skill and determination to rival his own.

The reports relayed to him about the pilot's abilities had been more than impressive, beyond the known capabilities of human beings. Each piece that made up the youth going by the name Heero Yuy only served to fuel Zechs' intrigue.

When they'd met face to face for the first time, with Noin's assistance, Zechs had asked if that was the pilot's real name. Instead of a flat out dismissal of the question, Heero had thrown it right back. It shouldn't have made the impact it did; it had been a sarcastic, flippant reply, typical for someone Heero's age, but when those piercing blue eyes had rested on him, all his shields felt stripped away. It was almost as if Heero knew without a shadow of a doubt that Zechs Marquise was the person who'd risen from the ashes of Milliardo Peacecraft's metaphoric corpse.

Heero's companion had made a derisive comment after introductions had been made - asking if they were supposed to shake hands now, and Zechs had been taken aback slightly, as the youth's dislike had been evident in his tone and posture. Zechs had shrugged it off and explained the repairs done to the Wing Gundam.

Then Heero had extended his hand and announced that he'd never shaken anyone's hand before. Even through the sleek white glove, Zechs had felt the jolt of electricity at the brief contact. He'd chalked it up to their mutual understanding, that in the morning they would again be rivals, that they were both looking forward to their battle, and that it was nothing more than anticipation coursing through him. He convinced himself that it had nothing to do with the fact that Heero Yuy had willingly touched him.

Now, though, sitting on the ground with his head between his knees while Heero remained almost motionless several feet away...now, as they attempted to recover from their experiences with ZERO, Zechs found himself wondering if his body was still thrumming because of the intoxication of his battle with Heero, or the young man's mere proximity.

Heero's harsh breathing was suddenly suggestive of more than mere exhaustion. Zechs raised his head to look at him, taking in the tousled hair and the way Heero's suit molded to his body.

It was ridiculous to let Heero's panting breaths invite lascivious thoughts to mind, but he couldn't help comparing Heero's perspiration damp face and shuddering frame to the reality that had accompanied his one and only sexual experience with one Lucrezia Noin.

Thinking about Heero and sex in the same sentence sent his mind in a direction that, had he not already seen a collage of images and possible futures, he would have dismissed at once.

However, now that the thought had crossed his mind, he could not easily erase the image of Heero with his head thrown back and mouth open in ecstasy.

That night with Noin had been more her idea; she'd known that they wouldn't see each other as often and that either one of them could be slain in combat. She'd come out and said she'd expected nothing more from him than just the chance to act on emotions that had nothing to do with war or fighting and everything to do with her wanting to reaffirm that they were, that night, both still alive.

She'd taken all the necessary precautions and Zechs had worn the condom without complaint - neither of them willing to take the slightest chance of bringing into the world a child that might never know his parents.

Zechs couldn't say that he hadn't enjoyed sex with Noin. He hadn't realized how good it would be to achieve release, buried inside a warm and welcoming body, even with the thin film of latex separating them even in the most intimate of moments.

Noin was a good soldier. Smart, and sometimes relentless, handling both execution and training of various combat techniques like a seasoned professional - something they both were even before they'd reached the age of majority.

She hadn't expected more than a single night together; she knew him too well for that. That didn't mean she didn't want it, though. He couldn't give it to her. He didn't know if it was because he knew the folly of becoming too emotionally attached or whether Noin's dedication kept him at an arm's length. He cared for her, that he knew, but then he cared for Relena as well. He couldn't see much difference in the way he felt for either of them.

The day Heero had shaken his hand, Zechs had felt it, the challenge, the grudging admission of their status as rivals, and the thrill of excitement that their match was far from over.

Noin had been affronted on his behalf for Heero's lack of proper gratitude, but Zechs had recognized in Heero what Noin had not. The determination to find out who was the superior warrior.

Heero's simple statement that he'd show his thanks by killing Zechs had sent a hot flush through the Lightning Count's entire body. The following morning he'd felt more excited during their battle than he'd had while pounding into Noin's willingly responsive body.

As much as he wanted to see once and for all which of them would triumph and which would be slain with honor, he knew he'd miss their battles. Zechs was struck with the realization that he'd miss Heero, the man, just as much, if not more so.

Life was short to begin with, and war merely hastened them all along the road to hell. It was a shame that at least one of them was running out of tomorrows, and his eagerness to resume the challenge Heero represented was still strong, despite the slightly woozy feeling he got from piloting the Gundam.

What Zechs wanted, and what he needed, often seemed to come back to the dark-haired boy. Despite his age, there was nothing about Heero that suggested youth. He was a soldier. Heero Yuy was stubborn, extremely skilled, and dangerous.

And Zechs wanted him.

Never had he felt so alive as when their beam sabers clashed. How he would love to continue their grappling, only skin to skin rather than hiding behind their mobile suits.

Heero hid behind a false name, but everything else about him was brutally honest. Heero Yuy was pure. Zechs had no right to taint that, but dear gods, he suddenly wanted nothing more than to slide his fingers through the unruly hair.

Noin had spent far too much time holding herself back - always keeping herself firmly in the number two spot so that Zechs would excel. He'd hated that. She'd been unfair to herself, and it had been a gross insult to him as well. Had she thought the only way he would come out first was if she let him?

Noin was as fine a soldier as any man he'd ever worked with - better, in fact - but as much as she understood him, there were light years between them.

Heero knew exactly what he wanted, and what he needed.

It was an arousing thought.

It was then that Heero rocked back onto his heels and looked directly at Zechs, a bead of sweat trailing from his brow. Zechs watched it in fascination as it traversed its way around Heero's eye, past the faint purple bruising on the high cheekbone.

Zechs lifted his hand, extending two fingers as if to catch it, before it dangled from Heero's chin and then let go. His fingers grazed Heero's jawline for just a moment.

The air was charged with electricity, and he was sure Heero felt it, too. Fanciful as it was, he could almost picture sparks emanating from his fingertips as they'd neared Heero's face. He could feel the jolt through his body during the brief contact.

Heero's eyes narrowed as Zechs slowly withdrew his hand, and his nostrils flared like an enraged bull's. Zechs was entranced; he felt only the faintest stirrings of guilt for his growing desire. He had never treated Heero like a child in combat; there was no reason for him to view Heero as anything less than a man now.

Heero reached up and pushed his bangs out of his face, appraising Zechs with stormy eyes under furrowed brows. Zechs wanted to do the same, to feel his fingers slip through the sinfully tousled hair. Would it be soft and slick with sweat, or thick and unyielding, like the man himself?

They were enemies and rivals, constantly driven to defeat one another.

No amount of foreplay could have made him as rock-hard as he was right at this very moment.

His momentary distraction left him unprepared for Heero's body tackling him, knocking them both to the ground. Heero sat up, straddling Zechs, his thigh muscles taut beneath the form fitting suit and his knees digging into the blond's hips as if he were trying to break a horse.

And Heero's ass was nestled firmly right over Zechs' erection.

"Is this what you want?" he hissed.

Zechs had known the boy was strong, but seeing computer printouts and watching him pilot a Gundam with ease was nothing compared to feeling the brute strength in the hands pinning him to the ground. Heero was solid, despite his slender frame, and Zechs found himself staring first at the prominent outline of Heero's collarbone, then where he knew Heero's pulse throbbed in the hollow at the base of his throat. He had a burning desire to find out just how well suited Heero was to hand-to-hand combat.

There was never a question of playing games with Heero; Zechs had far too much respect for him, and it was simply not in his nature to be anything other than up front with his opponents. Even his identity, hidden away for so long, was no longer a secret. He'd announced his birth name and his homeland to Lady Une, had served as a good-will ambassador making a mockery of his father's ideals.

Relena knew who he was now, thanks to Noin's well-meaning intentions. That woman was loyal to a fault - something he admired in her but could not respect. Not when the recipient of her loyalty was someone like himself. Relena seemed very taken with Heero, much as Zechs was.

Was this what he wanted?

He'd been grudgingly surprised to hear that Heero had shown traits including unusual response speed, physical strength, and G-force endurance. Zechs had suspected from the start that Heero had received some sort of special training in outer space, but he'd thought their only difference had been with the capabilities and limitations of their mobile suits. He'd wanted then to see the boy in action again, to know that this was the pilot that could bring out the Tallgeese's full potential.

The pilot is not human.

Zechs stared up at Heero's angry visage. His jaw was clenched and he was perspiring freely. It was clear to Zechs that he was not the only one suffering the unpleasant after effects of the new combat system installed in these Gundams.

The pilot is not human.

Not true, Zechs protested. Heero Yuy was very, very human. At the risk of relying on trite analogies, it seemed that Milliardo Peacecraft wasn't the only one who wore a mask.

He could see the fire blazing in Heero's eyes. Those five brief words were uttered in the same impassioned tone that had been present when Heero told him he'd made a mistake in choosing Wing Zero as his suit.

Heero was indeed human, but he was also a warrior and a soldier.

Was he truly an enemy, or was he just someone who'd chosen a different side? He'd asked Heero that question, and Heero had referred the answer to ZERO.

Heero Yuy had encountered ZERO before and seemed to believe in it. It was a foreign concept to Zechs, who found so little to believe in.

Why, however, would Heero deflect the question rather than answering it himself? Heero wasn't one to pull any punches.

Zechs considered using the last of his remaining strength to throw Heero off, but he lay there instead, acutely attuned to Heero's breathing and the pressure of Heero's thighs against his hips. He didn't try to fight his body's reaction, secure in the knowledge that Heero wouldn't be able to feel his erection through the layers of Kevlar, Lycra, and Teflon that separated their bodies.

As Heero's eyes continued to bore into his own, he was sure this had to be another hallucination. If they'd been naked, his swollen cock would have been nestled firmly between Heero's buttocks in their current position. The image of Heero, bare-chested and sweaty, leaning over him just like this, flitted through his mind, and he stifled a groan.

Heero didn't repeat his question. Instead he slowly released his pressure on Zechs left shoulder and let his fingers dance along the edge of the white mask where it rested on Zechs' cheekbone. His voice sounded almost confused as he said softly, "I didn't actually know for sure when I asked."

Zechs swallowed and brought his hand up to remove the mask, letting it fall to the ground where it rolled a couple of feet.

"You knew," he said. "Zechs Marquise, Milliardo Peacecraft - neither of them able to achieve any of their goals." The slightly bitter edge to his voice surprised him more than the fact that he was sharing any of this with Heero.

Their eyes held each others' and Zechs' breath ghosted over Heero's lashes. Heero studied his rival a moment longer then rolled off him. They both lay side by side, staring at the sky in silence.

"I will kill you," Heero said.

An image flashed in Zechs' head. He couldn't discern reality from the visions Wing Zero had shown him - was it a memory, or an inevitable outcome?

He saw Heero Yuy dying as his mobile suit exploded around him, and remembered.

Zechs had clearly seen the defiant expression first, the firm grip on the self-detonation device, and the last of the guilt he felt for lusting after his opponent slipped away into the night.

No, Heero Yuy had not been a boy for a very long time.

Whoever Heero Yuy had once been was dead and buried, along with the heir to the Peacecraft throne. Life was a fragile thing.

Zechs propped himself up on his side and looked down at Heero's stony face.

This young warrior had survived an explosion that should have killed him. He'd thwarted Zechs time and time again. He'd fought like a man possessed in the mysterious Epyon. Fragile, Heero Yuy was not.

He leaned over a bit more, his hair falling over his shoulder and grazing Heero's arm. The dark-haired soldier turned his head slightly and glared at him.

Not fragile at all, Zechs affirmed as he lowered his head.

Heero raised a hand, and Zechs felt the rush of excitement again - another challenge to be overcome. Then strong, slim fingers slipped through the silvery strands at the back of Zechs' neck, yanking his head roughly until their mouths collided.

Kissing Heero was a duel, a clash of wills, teeth, and tongues. There were no soft loving touches, such as Zechs had shared with Noin, or delicate, teasing nips. Heero's hands clawed at Zechs' flight suit as he devoured his mouth, grunting as he felt Zechs' gloved hands reach behind him and jerk his hips upward.

It was impossible to tell what was going on underneath the form fitted suits; Zechs knew this for a fact. It didn't stop him from moaning into Heero's mouth as he ground against him desperately. He knew that Heero had to be just as hard, swollen, and aching. What he couldn't feel through the flight suit he could through the kiss.

Heero bit his lip and surged upwards, slipping his knee between Zechs' leg and sliding it awkwardly. What Epyon's pilot lacked in finesse and experience was more than made up for with his aggressive enthusiasm.

Zechs found himself rubbing against the firm thigh. He pulled his lips away, riding Heero's leg shamelessly, needing to get as close as he could to Heero.

Heero Yuy was going to die, and Zechs would be the one to kill him, but right now he was still alive - hot, needy, and stronger than anyone Zechs had ever known before.

He clutched at Heero's shoulders and threw his head back, clenching his teeth as his orgasm approached. It took little more than a spasm of Heero's body beneath him and a guttural sound signaling his release.

Zechs felt the warmth against his belly, grateful that the suits were equipped to handle a moderate amount of bodily waste. He thought that perhaps he'd just exceeded the suit's capacity, but it had been worth it.

Heero shoved Zechs off him and took a few steps away, defiantly looking out at the stars as his body trembled slightly with the aftermath of climax.

Zechs' own breathing began to slow, and he reached over to pick up his mask before getting to his feet., rubbing a bit of dirt on the side off with his thumb before putting it on. Wearing it again helped him put things back into perspective; it reminded him of what he'd seen in Wing Zero.

"We both got pretty messed up by our machines," Zechs said at last, seeking some sort of neutral, common ground.

"Epyon told me you're an obstruction to the path I've chosen," Heero replied, turning to face him. "I don't think Epyon is mistaken."

Zechs had no ready response to that. "I see."

It was unnaturally quiet, and then there was sound of approaching mobile suits.

"Looks like they're here," Zechs said.

"Yeah."

A helmet was thrown, and Zechs caught it reflexively. "Why are you giving me this?"

Heero's voice was amazingly calm as he stated, "I'm taking the Wing Zero. I'll take care of the enemies coming by sea."

"What about the Epyon?"

"Use it as you like. That Gundam was built by Treize. I don't understand how that guy thinks."

With that, Heero nimbly made his way down the incline where Wing Zero and Zechs had fallen earlier.

"Somehow," Zechs said aloud as he walked toward the other fallen Gundam, "I'm sure Treize would have wanted me to pilot Epyon."

Treize had given the Gundam to Heero Yuy first, however. Had he understood that Heero would find him, would bequeath Epyon to him?

Had Treize any idea how fascinating the young colonial pilot was?

If Zechs knew Treize as well as he thought, the answer was obvious. Treize Khushrenada had a knack for reading people. Whether he'd known just how far Zechs' obsession with Heero would go was no concern of his. He'd thought for a while that he and Treize had chosen different paths - maybe the roads and the sights along the way were different, but the destination was the same in the end.

Heero Yuy had chosen a different path as well, one that Epyon had told him Zechs stood in the way of.

Zechs climbed into the cockpit of Treize's Gundam.

Treize, he thought, if Heero Yuy's path involves fighting to the death, I'll be more than happy to assist him on his journey.

"...but for now...I'll be using this Epyon of yours."

Part of Zechs knew that he'd regret killing Heero Yuy. He'd never again meet a more worthy opponent.

The other part understood what Noin did not. One of them had to die.

For one night, however, Zechs had held a star in his hand.

After a star burned out, its light continued to travel through the solar system until it reached earth. Heero Yuy's light would continue to shine, even after he was dead.

The thought was of little consolation.

22 October 2004