Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this Warning: Male/male sex, past NCS (not described),language, violence.
"Leave me alone," Duo growled as he sharpened his weapon with vicious strokes.
"Killing me won't get you your freedom any longer, I made sure of that," Heero told him as he stood cautiously in the doorway of the barn.
Duo glared at him and then went back to sharpening.
Heero sighed and sat on a low crate, chin on fist. "We're both prisoners here."
"I'll survive," Duo snapped.
"I know you will," Heero replied. "So will I."
Duo snorted as if he had made a joke. "They'll kill us both in the end, when they don't need us anymore."
"They'll always need us," Heero replied and felt a sharp pang as he said it."The war never really ends. It just goes undercover for awhile, until people build their strength and lay their plans."
"Ignorance is bliss," Duo ground out as he tested the edge of the blade on his thumb. "I was ignorant once. I thought what I did mattered, that there was an end to it. I want to be ignorant again, Heero. I want to believe in peace." He looked at Heero. "But that won't happen. They took that from me in the prison, when they showed me how much my ideals were worth. You fight because you think you're making a difference, that you're saving people. In the end, they'll show you too. They'll turn on you, kill you, because you're a threat to them... too dangerous to allow to live. Wu Fei knew it, but I didn't listen... none of us listened."
"He's gone," Heero told him.
"Hiding?" Duo wondered and Heero nodded. "Smart man."
"Une is searching for him," Heero said thoughtfully.
"She won't put him in prison," Duo growled. "She'll kill him. He's too tough, too stubborn. He'll never join her."
That statement filled the silence for several long minutes and then Heero said, as he looked around the old barn, "This place used to be mine."
Duo blinked at the change of subject. "Yeah," he said shortly and then crouched on the wooden floor, making a comfortable position out of one that was anything but. He was ready to fight. Ready to kill.
"I tried to live in peace," Heero continued. "I couldn't."
"Couldn't or wasn't allowed to?" Duo wondered bitterly.
"I was restless," Heero replied. "I wasn't able to relax, to put aside my need to fight. Une-"
"Heero," Duo cut in, "a soldier isn't unmade in a day."
He sounded calm and sympathetic, like the old Duo. Heero didn't lower his guard, but he thought about what Duo had said. Words came from him then, and he wasn't sure why he spoke them, or why he entrusted them to Duo. Perhaps they had been percolating under the surface, wanting to come out, needing to be heard by someone?
"I was alone. It was too quiet," Heero said softly. "There was just the wind over the grass and the storms blowing in, once in awhile. I watched a tornado come very close and I stood and watched it. I didn't feel like saving myself. It passed me by, but I realized that I couldn't live for just myself. I was empty, friendless, and without a family. Being a soldier was all I had, all that made me worth something. Without it... I might as well be dead."
"You're wrong," Duo replied just as softly, his brow knit. "Just being who you are makes your life worth living. "
"Is it enough for you?" Heero wondered.
Duo thought about that and then said, "Yes, despite everything. I think I deserve to live."
"Even alone?" Heero wondered darkly.
"Am I alone?" Duo retorted.
Heero considered him and then said, almost bitterly, "Yes."
Duo tapped his blade idly on his knee, "Then you're a ghost?"
"Possibly," Heero replied.
"A very annoying ghost," Duo told him and then straightened. Heero tensed, but Duo only stretched his back, his purple eyes never leaving Heero."I've decided something."
"What?" Heero wondered.
"That you're one of those altruistic people," Duo replied. "Just like the ones who were slaughtered in the prison. High morals. High ideals. They never saw it coming... to busy making deals and talking cooperation and peace... It makes people blind."
"A blind ghost," Heero murmured. "Why bother trying to kill one?"
Duo snorted. "I don't think I need to. They'll do it for me."
"I cooked dinner," Heero said, feeling that they had broken through a barrier. "Noodles and chicken."
"Just because I talk to you, doesn't make you safe," Duo snapped back.
"I know," Heero replied. "But there's no reason to kill me now, is there?"
"I don't know," Duo growled back. "Maybe I'd like the peace and quiet?"
Heero found a laugh and it surprised them both. "You've never been quiet, Duo."
"Never had the chance to," Duo tossed back. His nostrils flared as if catching the scent of dinner. "Chicken and noodles?"
Duo's eyes narrowed and he said angrily, "I don't trust you."
"I know," Heero replied. He stood and then motioned Duo to follow him. "I don't trust you either."
"Eat the vegetables," Heero said as he cautiously slid a tray of greens to where Duo was hovering on the opposite end.
Duo flinched, but then shoved the plate back. "I've been eating hydroponics crap for so long, I never want to see it again."
"Then eat a vitamin," Heero suggested. He snagged a bottle of them from an upper counter, opened it, and then tossed one to Duo. Duo caught it deftly, eyed it, and then ate it.
Heero grunted. "I wouldn't have done that."
Duo shrugged. "It says multi on the pill. Unless agents are becoming so clever they own their own drug factories, I think I'm safe."
"You've been sick," Heero said, "You need to rest and eat more. If you're not willing to trust the meals that I make..."
Duo lifted up a fork full of noodles and ate them with relish, all the while staring at Heero fiercely. "I've decided," he said after he had swallowed, "just what you're all about. You really do believe all that crap you handed me. You think you're on a mission to help me. It took me a long time to believe it, that's all. You used to question authority more in the old days."
Heero frowned as he sat at the table and looked down at his own meal, every sense alert for Duo's slightest move. "Maybe I still am questioning it?" he finally replied.
Duo raised an eyebrow. "Yeah? They wanted to kill me right away, or what?"
That was close to the truth, but not the truth entirely. Heero sighed. He was tired and it hurt more than he had imagined to be in that place again with the ghost of his failure there hovering at his elbow and his mission heavy on his shoulders.
"I think that you want to hate everyone," Heero suggested quietly, "and that you want to punish someone for what happened to you. You can't accept that it was just an accident, that no one meant for you to be there. It makes it... all the more tragic."
"Tragic?" Duo seethed, his hands going into fists. "Is that what you call it?"
Heero hunched over his plate. "I don't think I can find a word to describe it that doesn't make it less than what it was."
Duo calmed, but there was an edge to him that remained; an agitation."Why would they take us there and leave us?" It was almost plaintive, that question, and said to the air as if he didn't expect a response.
Heero replied carefully, "Preventers believes that they were going to use you as a bargaining chip, to negotiate terms. They were never able to do so, though."
"I've already heard that story," Duo growled as he stabbed at his food with his fork. "It still sounds as full of crap as the first time I heard it."
"Why?" Heero wanted to know, hearing the need in Duo's voice and sensing that they were nearing something.
"What would you say... what would you think," Duo asked softly, "if someone told you that all that damned sacrifice during the war was a mistake, that it didn't help anyone, that you bled, and hurt, and ground up your youth... for nothing?"
Heero felt suddenly cold inside, understanding Duo's pain and anger then. "I would feel just as you do now," Heero admitted, "but if I kept hating, if I kept trying to lay blame, that would only waste more of my life."
Duo covered his face with his hands and then scrubbed hard before he dropped them again. His eyes glittered, as if there were tears there, before he turned away and carried his food out of the back door and into the night.
Heero stared after him and then swore under his breath at his own short comings. Instead of helping Duo, he was falling into a pit of his own well hidden emotions about the war... about Duo. He was letting it dictate his tongue. He should have reinforced and driven home his insistence that no one was to blame for Duo's imprisonment. Instead, he had allowed himself to approach Duo from an emotional vantage point. Facts were the only way to reason with madness, he had been told, well stated facts repeated again and again, but there was so much more to it where it concerned Duo. There was a darkness, a disillusionment, that was driving everything else. Well stated facts, he felt, were useless against it. It could only be met with...
Heero stood and went to a cabinet. He took out a thick blanket, draped it over one arm, and then walked out into the night. Every nerve and common sense warned him. Fighting ingrained lessons made him tremble. Duo had proven, again and again, that he was a killer. There was a current of daring to Heero's actions though, the same current that had caused him to ignore everything and do what his heart told him was right, despite every cost to himself. There was only one cure for Duo's kind of madness...
Heero found Duo crouched warily among the tall grass, the plate of noodles in his lap and the moonlight glittering in his eyes. Heero found a comfortable dip of earth, wrapped his blanket around himself, and stretched out into it.
"The breeze is warm," Heero said to the night. "A good night for sleeping out of doors."
The plate made a noise as Duo put it aside and then there was silence. Heero tried to keep his body from quivering with the tension. He felt Duo settle by him. His imagination painted that wicked blade of Duo's slicing him open. At last, Duo sighed, and said, "Someone here is crazy... and I don't think it's me."
A body settled. Heero heard soft breathing shortly afterward. Duo was sleeping by him, but Heero wasn't fooled into thinking that the man had dropped his guard as well. Heero was being given something, though, a concession of sorts for his fool hardy action. He had been right and Duo had hinted at it all along. He needed to be a non-threat, not the best agent and soldier in the Earth Sphere.
Morning found Heero sore from sleeping on the ground and covered in dew. One of his sides was warm, though, and he didn't dare move or allow his breathing to quicken in surprise. Duo was a wound spring with a deadly trigger. If Heero startled him...
Heero moved his eyes and found Duo's chin on his chest and his large eyes staring at him, not more than few inches from his own. Duo looked thoughtful and tired, his body under the blanket and curled up along Heero's side.
"I could have had you for breakfast," Duo said, low and amused.
"Eggs and sausage might taste better," Heero whispered back, blinking sleep from his eyes. "Did you sleep?"
"A little," Duo admitted, "When I realized that you had slipped into a coma."
Heero found a faint smile. "I haven't slept well for several days. I wasn't prepared to die in my sleep."
"And now?" Duo wondered, frowning. "Now you don't care about dying?"
"Now..." Heero felt a wave of dark depression. Maybe he hadn't cared last night? Maybe the thought of going on with his lonely and pointless existence had become intolerable? Heero didn't want to think so, but his actions had been nothing short of madness. His only consolation was that he wasn't dead, and Duo didn't seem disposed to end his life... yet.
Duo sighed. "Heero... I didn't give up. You have a lot less reason too. Let's say you get up and go back into the house? Lock the door for good measure. Make it hard for me to kill you again, okay?"
Duo's tone was amused, only holding a little of his dangerous edge. It sounded almost like the old Duo, the one who could grin and joke, just before he cut a man in half with his beam scythe.
"Are you still going to kill me?" Heero asked, still not willing to move and give Duo a reason to lift his chin, to move away from his side. Heero was enjoying Duo's closeness, his deadly intimacy that was confident only because Duo thought that he had the upper hand. That meant, Heero knew, that Duo was holding his blade in one hand and that it was probably ready to sink into the very chest that Duo was resting on.
Duo raised an eyebrow."Why bother?"
"I'm glad that you don't think that I'm trying to hurt you anymore" Heero replied, but it was a question too.
"Are you gay?" Duo wondered and it was so different from the answer that Heero had expected, that he blushed and couldn't find any words. "You are?" Duo pressed. When Heero gave one, short nod, he seemed almost irritated as he said, "Me too."
There was a silence and Duo seemed to be thinking. At last he said, "I think God wanted to see how fucked up he could make a couple of lives when he made us, don't you think? I mean, we've been killing and trying to survive our entire lives and now we get the royal, 'You're screwed', when it comes to settling down and having a family with some nice girl. The way things happened... in the prison... I can't even say if I could find any guy I'd let that close, either. Makes a person contemplate celibacy, you know?"
"But..." Heero began to point out that Duo was resting against him, trusting him, but Heero had never let on that Duo Maxwell had interested him that way, so perhaps it wasn't something he realized now? That thought made Heero suddenly apprehensive. He had just admitted to himself that he was interested in Duo that way.
Duo's eyes rose and looked about them, his chin not moving from Heero's warmth. "Perfect place for two of God's jokes. In the middle of nowhere, no one to bother us or make us trigger happy, and someone we understand."
It was like lightning in Heero's gut. Some part of his brain was saying that Duo was speaking from depression, simply musing, but a larger part of him answered that musing with a reply that he could in no way stop from leaving his lips, "I would like that."
Duo stared at him, his eyes going slightly wider. "You mean that, don't you?"
It was hard for Heero to go on after that indiscretion, but he forced a nod past all of the mental warnings against it.
Duo looked ugly then and his blade was suddenly on Heero's chest between their chins, catching the morning sunlight. "Too bad it's just a nice dream. Your buddies out there, watching us, ready to move in and finish me off, won't let that happen."
"They are not my friends," Heero replied. "I don't have any."
"No?" Duo was sitting up, his threat not a threat at all as he took the blade with him and simply tested it's edge, staring out at the blowing grass all around them as if he could see past it to where Trowa and his men were stationed. "Maybe I won't kill you, but I will kill them if I have to."
"Why?" Heero pressed.
"You aren't a threat," Duo replied. "Not anymore. You're one of those good ones, the ones who get killed by the bad guys every time."
"They won't kill me, Duo," Heero told him as he sat up slowly as well, "and they won't kill you, either. You have to believe that."
"Prove it," Duo demanded, chin raising in challenge as he glared at Heero. "Call Une and tell her you quit. Tell her she can shove her Preventers. Tell her you're going to Tahiti and sunbathe nude." His eyes glittered. "You'll see. She'll send her dogs in and you'll be dead. We both will."
Heero thought about the dare, thought about what he wanted, and thought about how much of his life he hated. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed. Duo was frowning now, worried, believing that Heero wouldn't call his bluff.
"Stop!" Duo said suddenly. "I... I don't want you to do this, Heero. I don't want you to die!"
"No?" Heero said, the phone to his ear. "Then it's all right. I won't."
Duo clutched his blade in his lap and gathered himself as if he were ready to run or defend himself, his eyes wild.
"Une," an irritated voice finally answered.
"Yuy," Heero said without preamble. "Duo is all right, but I think he should stay here for further observation. I will be staying with him... as a civilian. I'm quitting Preventers as of now."
"Heero?" Une was startled and then she was anxious and angry. "You can't do this! We need you! Everyone needs you; your skills, your training... I've worked too hard to bring you together to fight for peace!"
"Wu Fei knew better," Heero told her calmly. "He hid to make sure that no one would try to recruit him. He wanted peace, the peace that we fought for. I want it too. I don't want to fight or kill any longer. I think... I think I've finally found someone I can put down my gun for, someone who wants peace as much as I do... who needs it... who should have it."
"I refuse to release Maxwell until he's been psych evaluated!" Une began to threaten. "No one will sign off on him, I promise you. If you stay with him, you will both remain prisoners there."
It was a weak threat and Heero wasn't afraid. "It is a good place to rest."
Une spluttered, but Heero hung up the phone, and pocketed it before she could marshal a reply. He looked at Duo and found Duo a little pale and unsure."They'll come to kill us," Duo said flatly.
"No, they won't," Heero replied. He stood carefully. "Eggs and sausage?" he asked.
"For our last meal?" Duo wondered as he stood as well.
"No, for breakfast," Heero replied as he walked towards the house.
Duo sat at the table while Heero cooked, and he ate with relish when Heero served him the food, but his blade was never out of one of his hands, and he seemed to be straining for some sound of danger. When none came, he looked uncertain.
"They've left," Heero assured him. "They know we can't leave here and they won't waste manpower watching us. They'll dedicate a satellite to watching our home and leave it at that."
Duo didn't look as if he believed him. He finished his meal and then stood up. "I want..." he said and then paused as if it was very difficult to express that want.
"We have time, to say everything," Heero replied with a smile and stood as well. He slowly approached Duo, reached out, and took the blade from his hand. Placing it on the table, he lifted a hand to Duo's chin, caressed it gently, and then pulled Duo toward him for a kiss.
The kiss was warm, soft, and everything that Heero had been needing. He felt complete and at peace in an instant. When he broke it and looked into Duo's eyes, he saw an answering yearning there.
"I want to believe you," Duo breathed and he was trembling slightly.
"You will," Heero assured him, kissed him more deeply, and then said against Duo's lips in the barest whisper, "You will, love."
scratches head Okay, so that was a very angsty, psychological piece... but it's done. hears crickets