Interesting. He shrugged his jacket off, throwing it over a chair before shucking the rest of his clothes. As swanky as the room was, the establishment had not seen fit to provide them with any sweet amenities. He would have been amused by the novelty of wearing a thick bathrobe with a curly K emblazoned upon it.
The notion of sleeping in such a plush, classically styled bed had managed to outweigh the instinctive discomfort of waking up next to Yuy the previous night. Hell, he was almost getting used to it. Their cheap, lazy guards had also decided that it would be easier to keep an eye on them if they were corralled in the same area. Didn't they know that, well, under normal circumstances, anyway, having one Gundam pilot somewhere was trouble. Having more than one of them meant Trouble. It was a lesson the Ozzies had never learned, either.
He padded over to the far side of the bed, the one facing the window, and found that only the thin inner curtains had been dropped on that side. He supposed they could be considered 'summer' curtains. Rich earth folks always had separate summer and winter things. Ridiculous.
Drawing the airy fabric aside, he climbed in, and only noticed just before the curtains fell again that Yuy was huddled in the far corner, as if he was afraid the world might break through his dark little cave and find him. Uncertain of what he was supposed to do, Duo lay down as if everything was normal in the world, settling on top of the sheet they had left yesterday. The room had come with a decadent down comforter that Duo might have liked to experiment with, if only it hadn't been the thick of summer. It had been banished, but now with the curtains down keeping the heat in, even the thin blanket they had shared the previous night seemed prepared to stifle them.
Duo stared at the canopy above them, one hand tucked behind his head, the other resting casually on his belly. It would have been nice if there had been glow in the dark stars stuck up there or something. Then this cave notion might have had some merit. "You remember that time I brought you back to my apartment?" he asked, just a little something to maybe loosen up some of the tension in that little space, enough to get some sleep.
It took a few seconds, but Heero finally acknowledged the question. "Aa."
"I always did have better night vision than you did. Didja know, I was thinking about jacking off there in the dark while I was talking to you?"
The revelation startled a choked sound from him. "That's disgusting, Duo."
"Yeah? Hm. It would have been amusing, though."
"You need a better sense of humor, man."
"I see that."
Duo's hand stopped its slow, downward slide. "Hm. You've really been no fun lately. The repartee has really been lacking."
"You're free to leave any time."
"So are you."
"Why are you still here?"
"Why are you?"
"Are you sure it's my fault the repartee has been lacking lately?"
He sighed in satisfaction. "See, that's better. A little more life outta you. You've been real quiet these last couple of days. You were okay while we were in transit here, but you weren't much better the coupla days before that, too. And it's not that hard to see the pattern, man."
Heero loosened his stance a little, setting his head down on his knees. "I know."
"Maybe we should get out of here."
"That doesn't solve the problem." He knew well and good what the problem was without Duo telling him. That was the easy part. What he needed was a way out.
"Sounds sort of like a problem with no solution."
"There has to be one. There must."
"Yeah, once more, but this time, without the hint of desperation. It really undermines your credibility."
He shut his eyes. "I don't like this, Duo. I don't know how I've gotten to this point. I nearly flinch any time a person even looks at me. Like they're..."
"Like they're expecting the world from you?"
He nodded, the gesture evident in the dark by the soft sound it made of skin rasping against skin. "It's something I can't deliver."
"Maybe the problem's with all of them, man. Maybe they oughta stop looking at you like that. Maybe you gotta stop looking at yourself like that. That's your problem, you know. You're a self-righteous asshole, when it gets right down to it. You don't really give a damn what everyone else thinks, save maybe one or two. Your problem is what you think about yourself."
"So you're the shrink show now, huh?"
"That's your problem," Duo repeated, soft but firm. "You go around doing your thing for everyone else, but you never get anything back, yanno? You're burned out. The time off after the war was supposed to be some well-deserved R&R. It was supposed to be your chance to recharge, and you never got it. And now you got all this shit going on, and you're running on empty, getting nowhere, and damaging your engine while you're at it. You're an idiot, Yuy. You gotta stop this."
"Maybe it's just who I am."
"Heh, well, you're not getting much argument from this quarter." It had been painfully ironic to watch him try to help everyone else find their way in this new world, and yet have so much difficulty blazing his own trail. It made Duo want to do something for him. Something. Anything. It was a strange feeling.
With a sigh, Heero uncurled and lay down beside him. "Somewhere up in space right now, there's a very powerful beam weapon pointed at a building not that far from us. And ultimately, it won't change a thing. It's not about the weapons. It's about the people behind them."
"A thought worthy of Treize, from what I hear."
"And the people in front of them, too."
"Ah, a thought more worthy of me."
"It's a bloodless war, this notion of theirs."
"A pacifist's war." Well, he had to hand it to them. Those pacifists sure knew their irony. "Feels kinda like we've gotten nowhere, huh?"
"According to Mariemaia, we'll never get anywhere."
"I remember a time when that didn't matter."
"That time was a long time ago. I don't think it's mercenary, what we're doing. I've been a mercenary. I've worked for money before. This... this is different."
Duo thought Heero spent way too much time thinking about things. "Man, forget those idiots. They're just grasping at straws."
"I am not a straw."
He laughed, but it died quickly. It wouldn't have if Heero's words had been a defensive pout. Instead, they were a tired sigh. "Damn. You're really messed up, aren't you."
This time Heero laughed, and though it wasn't that loud or hard, it hurt. "Make it stop, Duo. Make it stop."
He rolled towards Duo. "Why can't they just break me and get it over with? Why do I have to linger in this hell of impotence and inadequacy? Either I should care enough to do the things that I feel I should, or I should not care at all so I won't feel like I should do anything! Care enough to please them, or not care so I can walk away. Why do I have to get stuck in the middle?"
"I got no answers for you, man." He wished he did. Then perhaps he might have answers for himself. His problems and Heero's were not one hundred percent the same, but they stemmed from the same source.
"Why can't everyone just leave me alone?" Maybe that was all he needed, just a little time to get his feet back under him. It was an alien thought. He was used to the philosophy of, if you get injured, you walk it off. And he tried. He tried ignoring it, but it didn't go away. He tried fighting it, but it fought back. He tried reasoning with it, but it didn't listen. He tried understanding it, but that didn't stop it. He tried and tried, and it was just getting worse. Every time he failed to get somewhere with it, that knife just got pushed in a little deeper.
He didn't know he had his hands fisted in his hair until he felt Duo's hand touching his arm in warning. He loosened his grip spasmodically and tried to uncurl, but his body trembled, and that was it. He stared at his hands with a detached fascination. Who was that coward shuddering in the corner? Who was this man so abruptly close to losing it?
At another time, Duo might have been surprised. Scared, even, to see this man of all people breaking down. But it was a long time coming. It was a testament to Heero's strength that he had lasted this long. There was a reason people believed in his ability to do the impossible.
Duo didn't believe in forever, really. Didn't believe in infinite plenty or bottomless reservoirs. All things came to an end. All things, only some ends were prettier than others. This end was not to be counted among the pretty. He knew a little bit about breaking points. About pushing oneself so hard and so blindly for so long that one day something just snapped, broke, collapsed, and it could be patched, but it would never be the same.
He didn't realize that the touch he had intended as soothing had become an enticing caress until he felt Heero shiver in quite a different way, not just beneath his hand but against his body. When had they gotten so close? How long had they spent locked in eye contact, sensing some unexpected simpatico? Heero had been quite right about forgetting, about being nobody for a little while. And if any situation called for it, this was it.
Heero's eyes told him that he was thinking the exact same thing. They also said he knew this was a terrible solution, a temporary fix that would only delay the inevitable if the underlying problem was not addressed. And they said that he didn't care. He was going one day at a time here. If 'temporary' was enough to just give him a breather, or even a tiny little taste of what life without the pressure was like, then he'd worry about long-term later.
Duo's mind was telling him not to reach out and kiss Heero, but his body did it anyway. It overrode his mind's shouted reminders of 'one-fuck stand!' and 'never again!' and kissed Heero for all it was worth, putting enough effort into it that even his mind's voice was drowned out by the tide of urgency and desperation.
He came back to himself with a mewl, seeking lips that had fled out of reach. Straining upwards to find them, he realized he was on his back, pinned beneath Heero and getting nowhere in his quest. Heavy breathing filled the air between them, but those exhalations were all that tickled his skin. This was an unaccustomed position for him, and a foreboding crept in and dried out his mouth.
Heero stared down at him, a little wild around the eyes. "If this is about forgetting, Duo, why not make it last?"
The body on top of his seemed suddenly sheltering, not demanding. The hands on his wrist were firm, not commanding. It was all wrong. "No," he rasped.
Heero kissed him, and it seemed excruciatingly slow to him, but Heero refused to be hurried. He ground upward, and Heero rocked back, intent on dragging matters out. Duo didn't know where this sudden need to hurry came from. Not from between his legs, where he discovered he was no more or less hard than Heero. From his head, then, something he'd always found dissociated from these proceedings. It kicked in now, begging for a quick release and escape, and not this slow, thoughtful, painful torture.
"Heero..." It was meant to be a protest, but it sounded nothing like.
"Why, Duo?" The words were breathed against the skin over his carotid, and it was as if the major artery absorbed them and pumped the feel of them through his body.
He struggled to flip them over and assume the dominant position, but Heero held them firm. "I can't..."
Heero's intense look could be felt before it could be seen. "Forget with me, Duo. Not just for a little while."
It was one of those things that sounded good in theory, but its practice was another matter altogether. The point of forgetting was to disconnect from reality, to be nothing more than a vacant vessel, empty and mindless. Maybe it was to disgust himself so much that he fled from his cold shell. Either way, he couldn't do that with Heero grounding him, reminding him that there was someone out there that understood, sympathized, even cared in some way. How could he be reduced to a nobody under those conditions?
"Let go, Duo. Let go, and forget with me."
He resisted. He cajoled. He pleaded. He even almost succeeded at a few points. But in the end, he gave in.
Shit. He rubbed at his eyes again, trying to get rid of the last lingering crustiness in the corners, refusing to even contemplate what its source had been.
Life was messed up. He was messed up. He'd had the arrogance to believe that he might be immune to Heero's golden touch. He watched Relena fall to it, and he watched Trowa fall to it. Wufei fell years ago, and broke something on landing. Yet he'd thought he was slick enough to get away unscathed.
Playing with fire was a bad habit he'd always had. He had to get burned at some point. This was the kind of burn where he still shivered just thinking about it. He took another puff and tried to dispel the uncomfortable tingly feeling.
It didn't work. What the hell kind of forgetting was it when all he could do was remember things he'd thought long dead and gone? Keeping things short and simple had been his solution. Nothing had a chance to stick and sink in that way, but no, he had to go and run into Heero Yuy, whose kink, it seemed, had finally been found. He was thinking about glancing over his shoulder to shoot Heero a venomous look through the thin fabric separating them when he was preempted.
"I'm going to do it."
"Wow," he responded automatically. "I'm good."
There was a tired snort from the bed. "Don't flatter yourself." Though he had to admit that the sex had been a part of it. He had gotten what he was looking for: a little distance from all the pain. A little control over his circumstances. A moment to remember a world quite separate from his current existence. Just enough for him to fight back against the vicious circle his thoughts favored, enough for him to think coherently about the path in front of him without shying reflexively away from it. It'd been a while since he'd been able see past tomorrow. And while he'd existed in that moment of clarity, he had seen a few things.
Duo knew as well as Heero did that no one had been 'cured'. "So after all that... you're just going to give in."
"No. I'm not going to do this for them."
"Me." There was a curious feeling of freedom attached to the word. "I'm going to do this for me."
"What's in it for you?"
"I'm tired of feeling this way, Duo. I can't... do this anymore."
"Most people just kill themselves at that point." Duo's thoughts had always taken a delightfully morbid turn.
"I can kill myself any time." Heero, on the other hand, was a practical soul. "Death is very permanent. If I change my mind... I'll even let you kill me, if you want."
He took another drag on his cigarette and tried to blow the smoke out in a ring. He'd never quite managed the trick. "Lemme know."
"Will do." There was release to be found. If he wasn't strong enough to finish it himself, there was someone to back him up. There was something fundamentally reassuring about having a backup plan. Heero gathered that feeling up carefully and tucked it away in his heart for a rainy day. "I want to try. There's no other way to get out of this slump. So I figured, maybe I just need to do this slowly. I'll start with being a self-righteous asshole, and see where it goes from there."
Duo chuckled bitterly. "See, I am good." If Heero had a golden touch, then what sort of touch was his? A nice rust color, perhaps? "So where does the self-righteous asshole part come in?"
"I realized... you know what it means if they win?"
It took him a few seconds to figure that out, and then he laughed. "Yeah, okay. That's not a bad reason. I don't know what it is about the guy that offends you so much, but hey, whatever floats your boat, man." He knocked the ashes of his cigarette into what he hoped was a priceless antique of some sort merely masquerading as an ashtray, then contemplated the flavor of his cigarette for a good ten seconds before taking another long drag.
"I'm sorry," Heero said quietly.
He didn't really need to ask what Heero was talking about. "You're such a fucking liar, Yuy. You said you wanted to be a nobody."
"I know. I'm sorry. I thought so. Maybe... maybe I needed to be somebody instead. Me." Him. Heero Yuy. Not the guy that once was hailed as the world's savior, but just a guy. Wasn't as easy as it sounded. No one ever cooperated with him. Well, almost no one.
"I really did use to have a thing for you, you know," Duo informed him, almost bitterly. Maybe it was a bit self-mocking. "Way back when."
He pondered that, swishing it around in his head and tasting its complexities. "Used to?"
Duo made a humorless sound. "You wouldn't want me to have a thing for you now."
"Might be interesting."
"'Interesting' ain't always healthy."
"I haven't been in a healthy state of mind for a while now."
"Don't tempt me, Yuy." He retreated to his cigarette again. It did sound interesting, if only as an experiment to see just how damaged he really was.
"You know... I used to..."
Duo cut him off sharply. "Don't give me that crap, Yuy. Don't tell me you used to have a thing for me, too. You didn't."
Heero thought over his words carefully. "...I used to be interested in you. Just in a general sense. I wanted to get to know you better. I thought... It felt like I was going to miss out on something... something that would have enriched my life, when I didn't get that chance. That's all."
"Hmpf." That was all he could say to that, really. Yeah, he thought he'd missed the boat, too, but that was how life worked. He passed up door number one for door number two. He got screwed, and that was that. Knowing his luck, he would have been screwed on door number one, too.
The curtain was pushed aside roughly. "Duo..." Heero waited to see if Duo would turn around, but it didn't happen, so he climbed out of the huge bed and walked over to stand in front of Duo. He was perched on the arm of one of the room's sofas. "Duo."
Duo stubbornly didn't pay him any attention and kept his eyes down, and was sufficiently focused on that task before he realized the prime view that had wandered into his field of vision. That wasn't what he wanted to look at. His gaze traveled from the coarse hairs at Heero's crotch, moonlight glinting off stray lubricant, up to the mussed hair on his head that looked as amusingly out of order as it had when they'd been in zero-g. Around his cigarette, his fingers twitched with the urge to run through Heero's hair and smooth it down, same as they had when they were biding their time on that ship. His other hand let him know that it wouldn't mind playing with that other patch of hair, and maybe other things besides.
Without thinking, he let out the puff of smoke he'd been holding, and it went straight into Heero's face. Heero winced, waving his hand in front of his face to try and dispel the smell, and it reminded Duo powerfully of the day Heero had first waltzed back into his life. He had to admit, he hadn't recognized Heero at first. It had nothing to do with the disguise. It was more the posture than anything else, that slouch he had seen in many a downtrodden man. That unkempt figure next to him at the bar had been unremarkable until something, what was it? Some flick of the fingers or toss of the head, something oddly familiar had caught his attention, and then he'd turned, saw who it was there beside him, and said the first thing that came to mind.
The slouch wasn't there right now. He deliberately ground out his cigarette in his ashtray before grabbing the distracted Heero and pulling him down for a rough, thorough kiss. It was different. Hot and deep and intense, it touched something inside of him and he pulled away with a gasp.
Heero tamed his own breathlessness before licking his lips and wrinkling his nose. Duo forestalled him with a smirk. "I know, you don't like the taste." He boldly licked the side of Heero's face, provoking another frown. "Looks like I came out ahead on this one."
"Duo..." He wasn't certain what he needed to say, but there was something lurking on the edge of his consciousness, demanding his attention. He wiped at the wet swath on his face idly with one hand while he thought it over. "I... I still think you're worth knowing."
The smirk faded slowly, to be replaced by a faintly disturbed look. "Don't say things like that, Yuy. Don't tempt me."
"Maybe I want to tempt you."
He smiled frailly. "Using me again?"
Heero shook his head. "Maybe I'm inviting you to use me."
"Thought you didn't like the pressure."
"You know... I've never felt obliged to live up to all of your expectations." Modest though they had been. "No offense."
He was fairly certain he could rationalize that out to a good thing, so he accepted it for now and saved the exercise for another time. One of his hands wandered across the warm, firm skin of Heero's chest, whimsically tracing his name there. The final letter circled Heero's left nipple in increasingly tighter circles. "I might be possessive."
The prospect did not seem to bother him, though there were questions to be asked. "Possessive? Or controlling?"
Duo shivered. He was tired of being controlled. Damn him if he started controlling others. "Heero, you can kill me if I ever get controlling. Though, you know, some warning might be nice, some time to try and correct. Because sometimes these things just happen...."
Heero cupped Duo's face with both hands and forced an unwavering eye contact. "Duo, do you want to control me?"
The only reason for Duo's pause before answering was the distraction of Heero's direct gaze. Once the question registered, his brain told him what had to be asked. "Heero, do you want to control me?" When Heero shook his head solemnly, Duo attempted to do the same. Finding his head still caught between Heero's hands, he spoke it instead, putting only a soft breath of sound behind the word. "No."
Heero let go, hands trailing across his skin on their way back down. "Then use me as you see fit."
He smiled faintly, a dark edge to it as he playfully dragged his tongue across the nipple his fingers had been playing with. "I might be possessive."
"I don't want anyone else using me... so I might like that."
last modified : 1/19/2006 00:27:14 PST