1x2x1, angst, romance, R
Heero stood in the dark, deserted basement room, and stared through a one-way mirror into the interrogation cell. He had a full view of its roughly-hewn walls and the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. The stone floor was pitted with shallow, scouring marks. Kicked up against one of the walls was a table, its bare, scarred top bearing witness to the cuts of various blades, the worn wood mottled by unidentifiable stains. Everything else in the room had been removed – the cases of documents, the other chairs, the camera and video equipment. And anything remotely resembling either weapons or pharmaceuticals – the tools of a trade. His trade.
An interrogator’s trade.
All that was left was a single chair in the middle of the floor, with one leg slightly uneven so that it listed to one side. Or maybe the flagstones themselves were uneven. It wasn’t as if the room had ever been measured for carpeting. And maybe the man on the chair was to blame as well, slumped uncomfortably as he was. A tall, lean man, with his head dropped down to his chest so that his face was hidden. His limbs were free, though up until a few hours ago, his arms had been fastened tightly to the back of the chair and his ankles lashed to its legs.
Not that the ropes would have held him, if he’d chosen to resist. Heero knew that without asking to see the evaluation report of the interrogation so far. His gaze lingered on the man’s head, the long coppery hair now tangled and darkened with sweat and dirt. The captive’s torso was broad and muscular under a filthy shirt, though his shoulders hunched forward now, showing nothing but exhaustion.
But not defeat. That was one thing Heero had read in the report.
Somewhere on the floor above him he heard a shouted command and running footsteps. He frowned.
“If you believe the unit has been compromised, you must leave, the facility must be shut down.” He’d said this to Commander Une only an hour ago, his voice tight and hard. “Your staff must be evacuated. Take with you whatever hardware you can move, whatever records you can’t afford to destroy.”
She stepped out from behind her desk, an uncharacteristic urgency to her movements. Her uniform was crumpled, not at all the pristine impression she usually presented; her expression was strained. “Since when were you made Commander of this unit, Yuy?”
Her voice was as sharp as always and he flushed at the rebuke. “No single unit must be allowed to jeopardize the Department’s overall organization. You know that.”
She smiled, but there was no humor in her eyes. In fact, he had trouble identifying the expression he saw there. “I know the protocol as well as you, soldier.” She must have seen him flinch at the title. “And I am in charge. We will deal with whatever threat there may be according to my orders.”
He stared back at her. “Whatever threat there may be? You seem very sure there won’t be an attack from the terrorists. Has the prisoner said whether he had time to alert them as to our position before he was taken into custody?”
Her eyes were hard, the expression devoid of emotion. “He’s said nothing, as you might have imagined. However, we moved quickly. He had no warning we’d identified him, and no communication devices on him when he was captured.”
“But he may still have got a message through, back to his control. They could be on their way even now…”
“Are you expecting me to explain my strategy to you, soldier?”
The title, again. It rankled, and he knew that Une reminded him of it deliberately. Only a few months ago, he’d been a mere rank below her. Possibly her successor. And now… he wasn’t. “Of course not, Commander. I just thought you might welcome discussing our options.”
“Ours?” Her eyes glinted. “This is my facility, my unit, my prisoner. I never asked for you to come down here, Yuy. We have adequate defences and a very competent interrogation unit of our own. We don’t need anyone from Central, thinking they need to supervise.”
He felt hot again, embarrassed. “Of course not. That was never intended. I’m sure Central are perfectly satisfied with the way you run things.”
Une stared at him and her eyes narrowed. “They don’t know you’re here, do they?”
Dammit. “No. I had leave due to me: I heard you’d taken…I heard you had a high profile prisoner. I thought I would offer my support.”
“Dear God.” She bit back a sigh. “Heero, you’re the last person I want here.”
“What do you mean?” He took a step toward her. “You haven’t had any luck so far, have you? He hasn’t talked, has he?”
Une frowned. “Stand down, Yuy. This has nothing to do with you, whatever your undoubted skills. You accepted the move to Central, and I’ll repeat what I said in your appraisal – despite your behaviour at the time, it was well deserved. But you must leave now.”
Une’s eyes shifted away from meeting his. Why should she be disconcerted? Whose expression was she hiding from, his or her own? “I have every right to be here. I have the experience you need, whatever my official rank. You are obliged to call in Central if you are unsuccessful with your own attempts.”
Une frowned and shook her head. “He won’t talk. You know that. But I’ll deal with it.”
She looked unusually harassed. “If we have no more success, and if we believe that he may still have information we need to counter their attacks…”
“Of course he does!”
She ignored his outburst. If she hadn’t, he knew he could have been disciplined for insubordination. Again. “You know the Departmental procedure. He will be transferred to Central, or one of the Northern units where they have specialist teams.”
He couldn’t help it: he flinched. “You might as well execute him for treason now.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Is that the course you’d recommend? If you were in charge here? After all, if I’m obliged to call in Central…”
“Not yet.” Heero frowned. His heart was beating so fast his lungs felt squeezed. “Let me see him first.”
“No.” Une’s reply was far too swift.
“Yuy.” She’d met his eyes then, and he was surprised to see the depth of anger and confusion in her gaze. “For God’s sake, why are you doing this?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you really want to interrogate him? I can’t believe that’s what you really want. To push him to the edge, as I know you can? To break him?”
“I really don’t see why my motives need concern you…”
Une made a small grunt of impatience. “I think you underestimate me, Yuy. I know you and I know the prisoner. I know you served together.” When he glanced up, she was staring at him. “Together, Heero. Maybe few people noticed anything more than that, but I’ll thank you not to consider me a complete fool.”
“But not together any more,” he said, sharply. It seemed he needed more air than usual to breathe. “Serving, that is. We’re on opposite sides now. And he must talk to me; he must tell me what he knows.”
Une lifted her hand as if to touch his shoulder, then let it fall back to her side. She sighed. “He’d rather die, don’t you think?”
Heero felt the shock hit him like a blow. The thought of that… The pain in his chest was like a fist, thrust in between his ribs and grasping his heart, squeezing it, twisting it. He couldn’t find suitable words that he could speak aloud to a senior officer. “Let me see him,” he repeated, stubbornly. “He doesn’t expect me here. Maybe the surprise will loosen his tongue. Maybe he’ll let slip information about…”
Une stood silently for a moment, obviously waiting for him to finish the sentence, but he couldn’t. “What information exactly are you looking for, Heero?”
“About the terrorists, of course. About any potential threat to the Department.”
She shook her head, wearily. She looked unconvinced. “You may have an hour. We have other matters to occupy us…” She paused, as if she’d stopped what she was going to say. “We have moved on from interrogation for the moment. But you must understand -”
“Dammit, I should understand him as well as you, shouldn’t I?” Better. Heero bit his lip, holding back his anger, threatening to spill out with no care for obedience or fear of punishment.
Une just stared at him, her expression inscrutable.
In the interrogation cell, the distant voices from the upper floors were nothing but murmurs on the wind that buffeted the outside of the facility. But the man on the chair tensed slightly each time there was a new sound. He kept his head down, his eyes fixed on the stones below his feet. His wrists ached from the earlier bindings, and his body was weak from both physical bruising and the battering of sophisticated torture. No broken bones or scarred flesh – not yet. But they’d used everything on him that they could, up until then. Extremes of light and dark; sleep deprivation; water and heat and icy cold. His clothes were torn and unrecognizable as any kind of military gear; his skin dark with sweat and dirt. He was exhausted. It was to be expected, that his spirit would be weak and his eyes unwilling to face more agony. But that wasn’t why he kept his face hidden.
The minute he’d been captured he knew it would become unendurable. Coming back here.
It wasn’t the torture, not the hatred, not the barely veiled disgust of his interrogators. They’d dragged him immediately to the cell, without stopping to follow any official protocol or to offer anything more than the basic rights under the most recent Treaty. He’d glimpsed the Commander’s face as they passed her office. Her grim expression was mirrored by his own, he was sure.
He could have been transferred out to any of the state military facilities, of which there were several operating in this sector. Or he could have been taken immediately to Central. But he’d been kept here, a prisoner of the same unit he’d left in the first place.
In that old life, when he’d been a joker, an ever enthusiastic spirit, a man who’d taken risks for the hell of it… Well, he’d never have taken bets on the agony of being back at base but in such changed circumstances. He’d laugh at the irony of it if he could move his dry, split lips.
That’s what was unendurable.
After all these months away, many of the men here were unfamiliar to him, and despite their hostility, he’d been glad for that. Did they think a traitor had no shame, no regrets? As they questioned him, day in, night out, he realized they obviously did.
He told them nothing, of course. Nothing about the terrorist cell he’d been working in; nothing about their plans to sabotage the protection for the peace talks. No details of how many men were in his group, what weaponry they had, what communications they used. He had given only his rank and service number. His old service number.
And they’d laughed, a bitter, ugly, angry sound. The interrogators began to believe that he was only a minor member of the team. Maybe he hadn’t been allowed in on the strategic planning - never been allowed access to the leaders. For a while, they’d left him alone.
That had been even worse, in some ways. Because he knew their former captain would never have allowed them to ease up on the prisoner in that way. Heero Yuy would never have believed the prisoner didn’t know everything that was going on. Dammit, he had skills to offer the terrorists that they’d have used to the full. Did he really think he could play the innocent victim, that he could fool the people who knew his background better than any? Yuy was too damned smart and sharp to have let up at any time. That was, if he’d still been stationed here.
The prisoner shivered. Everyone knew what had happened. Or so the reports went. He’d been on a surveillance mission on behalf of the Department, but somehow he’d been turned by the terrorist. He never came back. He was a traitor and would be treated as such. He knew what happened to them, didn’t he? Their interrogation had followed the prescribed course, but their questions had reflected their disgust. Why did he do it? What the hell had been important enough for him to choose the enemy over his own compatriots? What attraction had he seen in the ideology of these people, these murderers, these insurgents? We’ve known you since the beginning, you were one of us… How could he abandon all those principles, all that training, all that loyalty - and join the other side?
He saw the hatred in their eyes, from men who had lost fellow soldiers, who had heard of his reputation, who had maybe looked up to him.
But he never told them anything.
And now he hid his face, abandoned by them all and their work, with nothing to comfort him except a strange, twisted pride that he hadn’t surrendered; that he’d held his position. So far. Despite the fact his body was bruised and his spirit weary from both captivity and misery. He’d never let them know that.
He sat and shivered in the silent, damp cell, waiting for something to tell him it was the end. That was the nature of his job.
The footsteps in the corridor outside were both a surprise and a shock. He knew that firm, fierce tread too well, but he’d thought he’d never hear it again. His head fell even further forward on the chair.
Yeah, that was the word. Unendurable.
Heero stood outside the interrogation cell, his hand ready to release the lock. No one had passed him in the corridor; no one checked him in at the door. He wondered at the apparent carelessness in a secure facility. But even if the prisoner tried to escape, where did he have left to go? Heero took a deep breath. The prisoner was officially just that – a prisoner. He opened the door and stepped inside.
The other man didn’t raise his head. He’d heard Heero approach, obviously. The only reaction Heero saw was a sudden, sharp breath and a slight shake of the dark head.
“At last,” the man said. Even after all he’d been through, there was a thread of ironic amusement in his tone. “I knew it’d be you. Can’t keep away, eh? Must be my cologne. Eau de Sweat.” He coughed, painfully.
Heero walked silently around to stand in front of the chair, his boots echoing on the stone floor.
The man twitched, shifting awkwardly on the hard chair. “I thought you’d moved on? Promotion, I heard. Better offer: better company.” He coughed, his head still hanging down as if he tried to hide it.
“I came back,” Heero said. He spoke quietly but his voice seemed harsh in the stark room.
The prisoner made a strange, gasping noise. “You didn’t lock the door behind you. So aren’t you afraid I’ll try to escape? Attack you?”
Heero shrugged. Although the prisoner’s head was down, Heero knew he’d seen the gesture. “Duo Maxwell.” The name felt heavy on his tongue yet awoke turbulent, poignant memories in his mind. “I’m not afraid, no.”
Duo shrugged too, though his movements were sluggish and pained. “Yeah. Like I know I won’t attack you.” He sighed softly and lifted his head at last.
Heero bit back a gasp. It wasn’t the bruises on Duo’s neck that shocked him, for they were minor souvenirs of his capture. He’d lost weight, too, though he’d gained more sinewy muscle in exchange, in just those few months away. No, what shocked Heero was the look in Duo’s eyes – the deep, dark blue depths that made no attempt to mask his strong, angry emotion. Duo looked into him, stripping bare the channel between them, better than any interrogation had ever laid waste an enemy’s secrets.
“So…” Duo’s gaze, still wide and fierce, glanced over Heero’s uniform jacket, tracing the service badge. Puzzlement flickered in his eyes. “What happened to you? Far as I remember, you were Captain, and aiming for higher still.”
And now I’m not. Heero frowned.
“Fuck.” Duo sighed. “Right. Guess I forgot. You don’t owe me conversation.”
“I questioned my commanding officer’s decisions.” Heero kept his voice calm and slow. It took an astonishing amount of effort. “I disagreed with her policy. I kept my job, but have been demoted for the current time.” He moistened his lips. “That’s when and why they offered me a move to Central.” To rethink his behaviour; to realign his loyalties – or so the report had said.
“Shit.” The curse was low and weary, but Duo looked shocked. “Wouldn’t have expected that from you, Yuy.”
“I don’t think you’re in any position to discuss expectation, Maxwell.”
Duo sucked in a breath and shook his head sharply. His eyes darkened. “The fuck you know.”
Heero ground the words out; they were thick and painful in his throat. “I know the details of the report. You’ve defected to our enemies – to a violently militant terrorist cell. You were recaptured by this unit after you sent details of our position back to the terrorists. I don’t know that for certain yet, but I’m pretty sure you did. I know they’re looking for entry into one of our facilities – they need the technology, the intelligence we have here. If they can infiltrate us, they have a far better chance of sabotaging the most important peace talks of this century –”
“They’ll do it. Chance isn’t an issue,” Duo snapped.
“But you appear to have given them that chance,” Heero said. His voice was dangerously soft. He knew he only ever used such a tone when he was facing the last phase of an interrogation; when he knew his prisoner was about to break. When he was moving in for the virtual kill. Was that how he felt about Duo Maxwell? That hadn’t been the case, once. When they’d both worked together; when they’d been friends.
And beyond that? Heero prided himself on his cool control but the maelstrom inside of him had nothing cool about it – nor was he in any kind of control of it. All it had taken was for him to stand a foot away from Duo and everything had shifted inside of him. He was horrified by it at the same time as finding it both delicious and debauched. His hands itched with the memory of touching Duo’s skin when it wasn’t sweat-stained and bruised; hugging him, holding him, pushing him in jest. His memory darted in and out of their apartments just as they had done in person, seeking company and stimulation and shared empathy, finding humor and argument and challenge.
And at night? So much more. He smelled Duo’s hair as he buried his face in it; heard Duo’s laughs and needy groans as Heero’s cock nudged at his ass, pushing his way in. Slowly, deeply. The things Duo murmured in his ear; the words he said to Heero, alternately tender and obscene, with a sincerity Heero had both trusted and returned. The astonishing feelings when they fucked – the connection, bodies sweaty and slippery and sensitive beyond belief – impossibly perfect, incredibly ecstatic. So much more than fucking. Heero’s groin stirred with inappropriate sexual excitement. His heart ached with…something between pain and more pain.
He stared down at Duo, willing his face to show none of this. “You betrayed us. You will lead them right here and I believe we’ll soon be under attack –”
“No question,” Duo interrupted again. There was the twist of pain in his eyes. “By morning, they’ll be here.”
Heero was startled at the sudden confirmation. “Tell me where they are, then. There’s still time to stop them.”
For a second, Duo’s eyes flamed with something like regret. The bare bulb above his head buzzed and flickered: somewhere in the facility, a distant door slammed shut. And then Duo shook his head.
Heero nodded. It was only what he’d expected. “So will they come to get you out? Your new masters?”
Duo stared. His mouth moved as if he were going to say something, but the dulled words that actually emerged didn’t seem to fit the shape of his lips. “No way. They assured me they would, but I’m sure I’m expendable. At least, I am now.”
Heero felt something tighten inside his chest. When Duo eased himself up off the chair and straightened awkwardly, he didn’t move away. Neither did he step forward to help his former colleague.
Duo laughed, a sharp bark of noise. “No place for me to go. I’ve told you there’ll be an attack. I’ve told them where you are. Betrayal of both sides, right?” He glanced over to the door. “You’d better get the fuck out now. There’ll be bloodshed. Captain or soldier, they won’t want to lose you.”
Heero stood there, ignoring him. All he could hear was the cadence of Duo’s voice; all he could see was the movement of his limbs. Even his dirt and sweat was familiar; was stimulating. He’d never thought it would be this hard.
“Too much.” Duo whispered hoarsely. His eyes were wary, watching Heero. Heero was startled for a moment, afraid he might have spoken out loud. “It’s too much,” Duo repeated, whether a question or an admission, Heero didn’t know. The other man looked stricken. “To be hated by both sides. To be hated by you…”
Duo took a step towards him and put out a hand. For a wild moment, Heero thought he might want a handshake. In the time it took him to wonder whether to move back or push Duo away, Duo had crossed the gap between them and clasped his arms around him. Heero gasped aloud and tensed up. Duo dipped his head into the crook of his neck and groaned.
Then, just as quickly, he released Heero and stepped back. And turned his back on him.
“Why?” asked Heero. His voice sounded as if it came from another room, it was taut and thin. “Why did you just tell me about the attack? You’ve resisted questioning all this time.”
Duo shook his head. “Get out. You shouldn’t be here.”
“You can’t tell me what to do,” said Heero, hoarsely.
Duo spun back around, his eyes blazing. “Go!” he snapped. “You think she’ll demote you again – tolerate disobedience again? No, there’s no second chance. Next time you’re out. And for what? For stupid pride. For coming to gloat at how you’ve broken yet another prisoner, defeated yet another enemy…”
“But I haven’t.” Heero spoke quietly, and for a second, he wasn’t sure Duo had heard. “Have I?”
“Why the fuck do you care?” Duo growled back, turning his head away. And that was when Heero saw it – the tiny mark on Duo’s neck, nestling below his ear.
“What’s that?” He grabbed Duo’s arm and held him still. Only a few months ago, he wouldn’t have been able to do that. Or at the very least, Duo would have resisted more strongly. It was a measure of how exhausted the prisoner really was. “It’s under the skin. Is it a trigger of some kind? No… a tracking bug? Is that how you told them where you are?”
“Get the fuck out.” Duo tried to pull away. “Leave me to Une. You’re Central’s boy now.”
Heero ignored the crude insult. He frowned, his heart beginning to beat more quickly. “The Commander should have found this and had it removed.” Why hadn’t she? It might have passed as a mole on the skin, a mere blemish, but to Heero it was very obvious against Duo’s paleness. All the more obvious because he, Heero, knew that soft junction of skin so well, had breathed on it, kissed it, braced his teeth against it…
“It is a tracking bug,” he whispered. “But not one of theirs. I know its design and there’s no evidence they have anything this sophisticated.” Duo was shaking his head, his eyes both angry and scared.
Heero didn’t lessen his grip. “Why is it still there? Why?”
Heero’s touch…it was like a fucking brand!
Duo sucked in a painful breath. He struggled to remember a time when he hadn’t been pushed around by one side or the other. During these last few days, the interrogation by his own former colleagues had been rigorous, though he’d coped with it. Didn’t mean he didn’t hurt – didn’t mean it hadn’t sapped him. And before that, when he joined the terrorist cell, and they never believed that he – of all people! – would be looking to defect. He was beaten around for weeks as they tried to break his resolve, to prove him a spy. Even after that, when he was cautiously accepted, there were plenty of zealots still looking for a chance to lay into him again, whatever the excuse. They were jealous of his training, of his skills, of his confidence…
The fuck they knew.
He’d worked tirelessly to gain their tolerance and trust. No… never their trust, not fully. They didn’t give that to each other, let alone a new recruit who’d been a rising star of their worst enemy. Despite whatever he said to them, to try to persuade them of his disaffection, of the reasons he’d left the Department, of his enthusiastic commitment to their cause. But no one had ever doubted his powers of persuasion, or the attraction of having him on their side. Ultimately, he’d become one of the central core.
And then he’d been told there was a way to prove he was really committed; that he was really turned. He must deliver his own colleagues to them. His own history; his own idealism; everything he’d once believed in, from young man to mature soldier. “Take us to them,” they’d said. “To your unit. Give us the location; the clearance codes for the grounds. Details of the personnel and the security arrangements. Then we’ll believe you’re one of us.”
So he was here, wasn’t he? He’d confessed to Heero that he passed over the details of the location before he was captured. Re-captured, by his fellow agents – or so they’d been, once upon an idealistic time. He’d done what the terrorists wanted. He’d take that responsibility, whatever happened to him.
But now…Heero. Dear God in heaven, surely he didn’t deserve this torture?
“Get out,” he said, his voice low and urgent. “Get your hands off me and get the fuck out.” Heero didn’t move. Damn the man! What was the matter with him? “Heero, don’t think there’s anything left between us. Fuck, there wasn’t anything to start with!” He didn’t know if he struck the right note of cruel bluntness; if Heero would believe he thought that way. Don’t get soft on me, now. Don’t forget what I’ve done to you and the Department…
“It’s one of ours.” Heero’s voice was equally low, wondering. “You’re carrying one of our homing devices. Why didn’t the terrorists remove it?”
Duo looked around desperately for evidence of some other presence. To call out for them to take Heero away; to deal with Duo as they saw fit. That’s what he expected. What he needed! Where the fuck was everyone else?
When Heero grabbed his arm, he tensed up. Heero’s expression was pained. “What’s going on? Why isn’t Une on alert; why isn’t she protecting the unit? You’ve betrayed us. You’ve led us into danger, but she doesn’t seem to acknowledge the threat.”
Duo watched with a mixture of astonishment and resignation as Heero thought it through. Damn man had always been one of the smartest cookies…
“You could have run.” Heero was musing aloud. Duo couldn’t tear his eyes away from the other man’s grim face. “She’s left you unrestrained here; unguarded. But there are other preparations going on in this building she hasn’t told me about. Things aren’t making sense.” Heero’s eyes narrowed as he glared at Duo. “What the hell’s going on?”
“Christ, Yuy, aren’t you the interrogator –?” Duo groaned in shock, his feet scraping across the floor as Heero pushed him back, his knees buckling under him, his arms flailing as he was slammed up against the wall. “What the fuck?” Heero held him tightly around his neck, the man’s face so close Duo could smell his angry breath. “Get off me,” he wheezed. “Fuck.”
He felt nauseous. Dammit, not because he’d had nothing but water for most of the day, not because Heero’s grip on his arms had ground bruises into his bruises, not because the other man’s anger was a tangible attack, the blue eyes fired with fury, the rich mouth pursed tight with determination.
Because he could feel him again: skin, sinew, strength, sincerity. Passion. Heero Yuy – and all the other things he’d left behind.
Duo’s heart twisted both with anger and deep, anguished regret. When he left the unit, they’d only been seeing each other for a few months, and they’d been keeping it fairly low profile. Though Duo wouldn’t have needed interrogation to make him admit he’d wanted Heero for far longer. Far longer. Ever since he saw him, in fact, since he heard those clipped tones, felt the man’s grace and strength in training, seen the oh-so-rare but precious smile…
He winced to remember what a fool he’d been in front of Heero, trying to get his attention. To get him to notice Duo Maxwell, the outrageous, the extrovert… the easygoing soldier. Yeah, a fool indeed. He hadn’t been so easygoing when Heero returned the interest. It was a shock, but a thrilling one, a dream come true. Duo had never felt such excitement, such stimulation! Even though Heero gripped him now in anger, Duo could remember very clearly how it had felt when Heero first reached for him outside of duty hours – first touched him in the dark. They’d both been amazed at the strength of their passion. When Heero shifted across Duo’s couch to kiss him the first time, Duo’s nervous jokes had dried in his throat. His hands had tangled into Heero’s thick, unruly hair; his tongue had darted wonderingly but greedily into Heero’s mouth. They’d laughed and made jokes later, of course – but much later.
He didn’t know it could feel like that – that hands could both caress and comfort him; that a man’s hard body could touch him in a way that was gentle as well as greedy. He recalled so many late nights, with Heero a semi-silhouette in the darkness of his bedroom, smiling and groaning and leaning down over Duo. All Duo had ever wanted was to make things last – to hold himself back and make it good for Heero too, when every damned nerve he possessed was thrumming with need and excitement, and his cock was swelled so hard it hurt as it bobbed against his belly.
Yeah, so he hadn’t known much about relationships past some quick, fierce sexual satisfaction. Heero Yuy had taken that pathetic, immature attitude and turned it upside down. Duo had groaned and cried out in the night as Heero fucked him to perfect, perfect climax – then cried in a different way, as the other man made love to him as well. He’d never wanted a man to share his life as well as his bed.
Until he met this one. He glared back at Heero, feeling his eyes bug out with the pressure on his throat. Heero. They’d started something fresh and astonishing and rich, in among the stress and filth of their job.
And then he’d destroyed it, hadn’t he?
Heero was still staring at him. “You’ll tell me the truth.” It wasn’t a question, but Duo nodded anyway, as best he could. Heero gradually removed his arm, letting Duo breathe freely again. But he didn’t step back. In a mad moment that surely owed more to hysteria than sanity, Duo realized if he leaned forward, he could capture that stern mouth, slip his tongue back between Heero’s pale red lips, just as he had not so very long ago, taste that anger and passion but in such a very different context…when he’d have been welcomed.
“Tell me the plan.” Heero’s voice was low and insistent.
“Christ, man.” Duo could hear how hoarse his voice was, and it wasn’t just sore from Heero’s grasp. “Plenty of guys have been playing that tune this week, and guess what? I’m not singing to it any more. Don’t you read the files?”
Heero shook his head abruptly, as if angry at Duo’s misunderstanding. “Dammit, don’t take me for a fool. Not now. You know I don’t mean the terrorists’ plan.”
There was a sudden hush in the interrogation room as if something had sucked out the air. Duo could feel his heart hammering against his ribs. He was so close to Heero, he was sure the other man would feel the vibration. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Heero placed a hand on Duo’s chest, palm against the creased, dirty fabric of his shirt. His eyes never left Duo’s face, his rigid gaze holding Duo’s, relentless. He didn’t apply any further pressure but Duo’s breath hitched. It felt as if his heart beat seeped out between Heero’s fingers; like his resistance was being sucked out of him at Heero’s command.
Fuck it. Like he said before, it was all too much.
“Yeah,” he said. “Okay.” He sighed. It was like releasing a pressure valve inside his chest. He hadn’t realised how tightly he’d been holding his breathing until he relaxed. “But you still need to get out of here.” When he saw Heero start to reply he cut in again. “You’ll fuck it all up, Heero. Believe me.” You’re not meant to know…
Heero flushed and took a step back, yet still near enough to grab Duo if he wanted to. “What has Une got planned? Are you some kind of a bait?”
Duo couldn’t identify the look in the other man’s eyes. Anger? Distress? No way.
“You’re being watched, Heero. We all are. There’s a mole here in the unit, a spy for that same terrorist gang. We needed to flush him out; to find out who it was, for certain.”
“I’m not a risk…”
“No, of course not.” Duo sighed again. He stepped away from the wall, resisting the urge to life a hand to his throat and massage it. He’d never felt so weary in his life. “But it has to be business as usual here. He mustn’t know we’re moving in on him. We have to keep things together, right up to the last second.”
“You infiltrated the gang. You found out who it was.” Heero’s eyes were flecked with the color of flint.
Duo nodded. “Yeah. I did. And it’ll be over soon. The guy’s just someone in IT, but we have to step carefully, he’s too near the central systems to risk alerting him. We just need to put another couple of things in place…”
“She sent you to do that? To act as a double agent?”
Duo felt sick to his stomach again. Heero’s words were in that hard, unrelenting tone that he knew so well from operations. “I volunteered. They needed to think they’d turned me, someone who was high enough up here to matter. They had to be lulled into that. Then they’d let me close enough to the information.”
Heero reached out as if to grab him again. Duo stared back at him. When Heero’s hand fell back down to his side, Duo’s gut twisted. It was a rejection, pure and simple.
“You couldn’t tell me, Duo?”
Fuck. “You had to believe I’d been turned. Everyone did. Especially the mole.” Heero didn’t say anything. Duo forced words out through is painfully tight throat. “Especially you, Heero, in case people knew we were… together.” He couldn’t look any more into Heero’s gaze, could he? Duo turned his head away, cursing the prick of sharp tears in his eyes. “To trust me completely, they had to think I was an outcast. Truly.”
There was another painful silence between them. Duo strained to hear any news outside in the corridors, but it was quiet. But that was good news, right?
“Eventually they couldn’t resist using me to lead them to this base.” Behind him, Heero was still silent. “It was the perfect chance. Let them think they were moving in on us – while we’d capture the bad guy.”
“Une is making those preparations now.”
Duo nodded, though of course Heero had already worked it all out. “But she can’t be seen to be doing it – not until we have the guy under lock and key. Most of the non-combatant personnel are being evacuated to safety, the records being taken away – but secretly. The military police are closing in on the mole. But the terrorists need to see operations continuing as usual: that we have no suspicion they’ll attack.” He couldn’t move, couldn’t turn his head back to face Heero. “That I’m truly their man.”
“And when they come?”
Duo bit his lip. “We’ll be here, me and Une and a few others. We’re setting up our defence.”
“Madness.” It was only a whisper from Heero.
For the first time, Duo felt a sad, wry smile tease at his mouth. “Not completely. You see, there’s only one unit coming here, presumably to meet the mole. They’ll meet us instead. Bet that’ll please them.” He turned slowly, vividly aware of Heero standing stock still, facing him. “The rest of them, the main group – well, I sent them to the facility up north, instead. Told ‘em that’s where the rich pickings really are. Didn’t tell ‘em that’s also where the anti-terrorist branch does its best training – where it’s best prepared and way better resourced than here.”
“It’s a trap.” Heero met his gaze. He was flushed. Duo didn’t want to think that was pain he saw in Heero’s eyes.
“Yeah. All the way. We’ll get the whole lot of them. It was all about timing.” That unendurable thing? It was getting worse. He glanced over at the open doorway. If Heero wasn’t going to move out, he sure as hell was. Une would know what to do…
Heero had moved suddenly, standing guard between him and the door. “It makes military sense, of course. You were the best choice, the one with the persuasiveness, with the influence to make them believe in you.” He stared at Duo, his dark blue eyes wide: demanding. “You’ve saved the unit, the peace plans. You’ve brought the terrorists down.”
Duo cleared his throat. “Well. I’m part of the plan, that’s all…”
“As I was?” Heero’s voice snapped, startling Duo. “Or rather, as my ignorance was?”
They moved together, Duo couldn’t have said whether it was deliberate or accidental. But they both moved toward the door at the same time, Duo trying to escape, Heero trying to stop him. Or maybe it was the other way around. All Duo knew was, once he was tight up against Heero’s body, a restraining hand on his shoulder, his jaw set tight, his heart starting to beat fast again…
He didn’t want to move.
“Didn’t I say it was all about timing?” He sounded so bitter, he hardly recognized himself. “It wasn’t possible to keep you with me – to have you in on it. Fucking bad luck of course, when I’d only just got started with you. With being…” He had to swallow really hard to continue. “Call me some kind of savior but what did I get in return? I’ve ruined something that might’ve been really good; ripped apart something that had only just begin to knit together.” He glared at Heero’s face, trying to make anger work for him as some kind of defence. “I betrayed you. Both of us. Fucked up my life. Made you hate me -”
He broke off as Heero’s hand tightened on his arm and his breath came quickly, hot on Duo’s cheek. “I never hated you.”
Heero couldn’t bear to tear his own eyes away. Duo tensed up under his grip, stinking of sweat and fear and anger and pain. Heero suspected he smelled the same way, even though he hadn’t been the one under interrogation.
“Three months,” he said, keeping his voice low and as calm as he could. “You were gone for months. I’ve been waiting.”
Duo looked shocked. “What the fuck are you saying? That you were waiting for me to come back?” He laughed suddenly, then bit it off, a jagged sound. “Dammit, you saying my performance wasn’t as good as it should have been?” He peered at Heero. “You didn’t owe me a thing.” He seemed to be struggling to get more words out. “Hey, after all we were just dating…”
“But I did owe you.” Heero lifted a hand and ran his fingers along Duo’s jaw. “I owed you a lot. I wanted to pay that back.”
Duo looked stricken. “Just some sex…”
“No.” Heero shook his head. “No way. I had much more from you. I wanted much more. Unless of course, that’s all it was to you.”
“No,” Duo whispered. “Fuck, Heero. You knew it wasn’t.”
Heero nodded. His fingers ran slowly down Duo’s neck, feeling the quickening pulse, tracing the cords of his taut throat. Words just weren’t enough…
“So why did she demote you?” Duo stared at him. “Commander Une? Tell me!” His eyes looked slightly unfocused and his head leaned in against Heero’s touch.
“I refused to believe you’d defected.” He heard Duo’s breath hitch as a strange, strangled laugh escaped him. “I didn’t know what the plan was originally, of course. I thought you’d been taken by the terrorists. I wanted her to follow you, to take the fight to them. I argued very… heatedly, but she had me restrained. Disciplined.” He drew a deep breath: grimaced. “She knew better, of course.”
Duo shook his head slowly. “She tried to protect you, didn’t she? Demoted you, took you out of the team. Sent you to Central, to keep you out of the way.”
There was something in Duo’s expression that made his gut clench up inside. “Did you ask her to do that? Duo?”
Duo lifted a hand but he hesitated before touching in return. The tips of his fingers barely brushed against the hair on Heero’s forehead. “I didn’t know what she’d do. It was just…you…” He cleared his throat. “I didn’t know it’d be so hard – coming back here. And if you’d been here, too…” He frowned. “Fuck it, the thing had to be done. They had to be stopped. But I told her, if you were still here… I didn’t think I could do it.”
Heero touched under Duo’s ear, brushing over the tiny dot. “Then you kept in touch while you were there. Planned the trap with her.”
“Christ, Heero…” Duo twisted his head suddenly, roughly. His mouth pressed against Heero’s palm, his lips making a hard, clumsy kiss.
“How could she do that to you?” Heero was still assimilating it all. The bruises on Duo’s neck were like careless, purple smudges. His skin was marked with scratches. Heero had never known someone he wanted to hold so fiercely, so possessively… so protectively.
“Had to make the torture look right.” Duo shrugged and tried to laugh it off. Heero knew him well enough to know he’d fail. “The mole was still here when I was captured, watching us all. Only Une and I knew.” He grabbed hold of Heero now by the wrist and pulled him closer. “They stopped before the real bad stuff. You can see that, can’t you?”
“What you said before…” Heero was alarmed to hear his voice shaking. “You said I had to get out – that there was nothing left between us.”
Duo shrugged again, but it wasn’t casual – it was as if he tried to shake something into them both. Or maybe out. “Never meant that. Never! Fuck, Heero, I just needed you to…”
He didn’t get a chance to finish, because Heero slid a hand abruptly around Duo’s waist and tugged them even closer. Duo spread his stance wide and Heero pushed his knee between the other man’s legs. His thighs were tight with tension, his cock warm with the proximity. When he kissed Duo, the cracked, shocked lips opened for him, Duo’s tongue darting out quickly and hungrily. He pressed Duo back against the wall, leaning into him. It was a touch he’d never forgotten; a taste he’d never ceased craving.
“I never believed it,” he muttered into Duo’s mouth. Excitement ran like quicksilver along his veins. It was life and lust and love, all of it, something he’d never experienced before meeting Duo, something new and empowering, bringing him back to life – something he should have thought he’d lost. But he’d refused to accept that. “She called me bull-headed. Self-delusional. Insubordinate and illogical. She wouldn’t meet my eyes, even when she handed me the disciplinary report.”
“Damn woman. She wanted to save you, too.” Duo moaned back into him, his tongue licking at Heero’s lips, Duo’s hips pressing tightly against his own. Heero wanted to laugh but the desire for Duo’s taste was getting in the way.
“You’ll stay here with us now? See it through…” Duo still sounded uncertain.
Heero pulled back, panting gently. He stared into Duo’s flickering eyes. “Of course.”
“Look at you.” Duo’s eyes sparkled now, a grin on his face that Heero had lain awake at night – too many nights – wishing to see again. “Calm, no drama. Heero Yuy, always so sure.”
Heero smiled back: he knew it wasn’t an insult. He didn’t want Duo ever to learn what it took to shake Heero Yuy’s certainty. He didn’t intend it ever to happen, not when they were together, when their strengths could combine. He moved to the side and pushed the door further open, so they could both exit. Together.
Duo was still stiff from so long in the chair. He stumbled slightly and Heero caught his arm. “Heero, I wanted that to be true. I wanted you to trust me; to believe in me. If there’d been any other way… I prayed for it, God dammit.”
“No need,” Heero murmured. They were soldiers together, they fought for the same cause. But they were men, too. “I always knew.”