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Sub Rosa: One By One
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Sub Rosa

Chapter Four

One By One

Disclaimer: You people do know that I don't own Gundam Wing... right?

<<<<<<<*****Two Years Earlier*****>>>>>>>

“Chang!” Heero yelled, taking the short chance to check on his injured partner. Wufei was dodging the man's attacks, but it was only a matter of time...

Dracul. He was strong. Not impossible to defeat, no, because Heero could see weaknesses in the man's defenses. It was just that he was so fast, it was so hard to take advantage of those weaknesses before time was up and the opening was gone...


Had Duo felt this same frustration before...-


He shot at Dracul, making the man dodge and negate his attack on Wufei. He twirled on Heero, turning his gun to face him. Wufei shot, making Dracul dodge again.

Duo wouldn't have survived on his own, Heero's mind calculated. As skilled as we are...

He felt a tearing in his heart, one strong enough to crush him. He heard himself gasp in pain.


He rolled on instinct, heard the slam of a bullet hitting the earth. He flicked his glance out, taking in Dracul's position. He fired, but Dracul had already moved.

“Not bad, fools!” Dracul chortled. “But I'll take you out right here and now – I'll finally be free!” He moved again, impossible to follow perfectly-

Heero moved without thinking. He couldn't think – not yet. He couldn't let himself imagine yet. He just leaped from his roll and ran straight toward Dracul.

“Making yourself a distraction?!” Dracul demanded. “Won't work!” He raised that gun of his, black as the damned man's soul, and fired.


So you all knew it couldn't last forever, right? You knew it was only a matter of time, just a matter of days before everything went to hell and the small, minuscule moment of peace we'd managed to grasp would come tumbling down all around us?

And it was all my fault.

It started the next day – a normal day, at first. The steak had been delicious, but morning had come and damned if it wasn't time to eat again. With my recovering health I could only endure so much solid food, but I refused to eat any more shitty liquids.

Heero and I ignored the conversation from yesterday, upset, I think, with what we'd shared with one another. At least that was the case for me. Heero seemed to be mulling it all over in that assessing brain of his. I was a little afraid of whatever the hell it would be that he'd figure out this time. I just couldn't bring myself to bring it up, and he kept his silence, as well.

I got a visit from my personal sadist and took a nap afterwards. I woke up once when Heero opened the door, but he paused when he saw I was asleep and quietly left.

It made me sigh.

The next few days were like that – quiet, introspective days where we seemed to tiptoe around each other more and more. Wufei came over constantly to report to Heero about whatever-it-was they were working on. The two of them would sometimes talk into all hours of the night.

I did not see Quatre again.

What did I do to change everything? Well, I tried again, for one thing. And for another, I left the window open.

Yeah... I got up out of my bed, opened the curtains, and passed out. I don't remember it clearly – there was the grinding pain lancing up and down my body, but this time I had the common sense to stifle my screams completely and I managed to get all the way to the window – ooh, how wondrous – and opened it. I got the chance to see a flash of blue – sky, I'm positive – and then I was out like I'd been beaten in the skull with the butt of a rifle.

I woke up feeling about the same way.

Heero was by the bed, and I was looking up at him as he worriedly stared at the floor. This told me that he'd found me. This also told me we were going to have a fight. I closed my eyes and sighed. “Morning,” I muttered.

I heard the chair squeak as he jerked in reaction. Then I heard him stand. “Duo, dammit! How could you do this?”

It had been five days since the last time he'd spoken to me so... well, maybe intimately wasn't the best word, but it seemed like it was just then. I shrugged and to hell with the pain. “I've gotten better,” I reported, completely ignoring his question.

“And it will be for nothing if you keep up that bullshit!” Heero snapped at me. I found it odd – why had he ignored me this past week, only to worry about me now? The last time he'd spoken to me about my injuries, he'd told me he'd gotten a pill to combat those damnable side-effects.

“It'll be worth nothing if I don't get better,” I said primly. I lifted up my arm to see how far it would go.

“Damn you! Stop!”

Heero grabbed my arm – a firm hold that was so gentle it didn't even hurt – and carefully pushed it back down. “What the hell are you doing this for?”

If I wanted to get really introspective, I could have told him that I didn't want to be the only one trapped and alone, desperately waiting for someone to join me. I couldn't possibly tell him that I missed the blessed loneliness of my Wing, how badly I needed to get the hell back to my home. Watching Heero move around me was just fucking painful.

Instead I said, “because I have to be ready to fight.”

Heero's eyes blazed, and I tensed for an attack that would leave a lesser man in sniveling pieces. But he surprised me, as he always did: instead of scorching me with his tongue, he left me with blistering cold. His eyes went dead. The Perfect Soldier. “You are useless as you are. Trying to change your situation won't work. Admit your weakness and stay out of our way.”

I just lied there in that bed for a moment, then sent him a smile so wide I hoped it blinded him. “Kiss my ass, Yuy.”

His fists clenched. Those eyes didn't change. With careful deliberation, he turned around and left.

I let the smile linger a while after that door carefully closed. I couldn't tell him all of my insecurities, just as he couldn't tell me any of his. We'd gotten too close to doing such a thing and it had separated us. If we tried again, we may find our tenuous relationship severed altogether. And I wouldn't be able to withstand such a pain.


And this would be where my second mistake came in.

Because I'd left that stupid fucking window shade open, whatever the enemy was waiting for was lost. I awoke dramatically and with bullets flying.

I rolled out of the bed instinctively, hitting the floor and... collapsing. I think I gasped. I didn't let myself scream.

Let's recap this real quick, okay? My stomach and arm and leg – yes, leg, because Greaves had gotten some good fucking licks in – were stitched so badly I looked like Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I had similar, if less horrific, wounds all over my body. I was Frankenstein's monster and a mummy smashed together. My little trek had been more exertion than my sadistic therapist had let me do in days.

So I wasn't really able to stand up, okay? I was only able to crouch behind that stupid fucking bed and pray the bullets weren't as strong as I thought they were. If I took another fucking injury, I might just throw my hands up in defeat. I was tired of being weak and useless. I'd had my share.

I heard footsteps outside the door, but they passed by and I knew Heero was moving to take out the perp. I had no idea why that made me afraid – if anyone could take out an army without injury, it was Heero. One guy shouldn't pose too much of a problem.

But still... still, I couldn't ignore the adrenaline punch of panic that pulsed through me in that instant.

Bullets ripped through the bed and I had to roll under the bed itself. Bullets slammed into the floor through the carpet. I grimaced; Heero's house was getting torn to shreds. Fuck. Another sin on my shoulders.

I wished I had a gun.

I heard two gunshots that differed from the normal rat-a-tat of the automatic. Heero. The constant rip of bullets silenced. The room went still. I waited a few minutes, tensely listening as the noises of the night resumed, but there was no continuation. No more noise; no more worries. I rolled from underneath the bed and tried to stand.

With a sharp cry, I fell straight back to the floor.


I was getting so utterly sick and tired of hearing my name in that tone of voice. Heero's pounding footsteps returned to the doorway, but this time instead of passing by he threw open the door and raced towards me. I couldn't even crouch; there was no way I could look him in the eye.

“Duo!” He knelt down beside me and gently, ever so gently lifted me up. I had to bite my lip to not scream. “Duo, did you get hit?” He laid me down on the bed.

I caught the careful phrasing of his question. After all, it would be ridiculous to ask me if I was hurt. The answer would be an irrefutable 'yes'. That was plain. But whether I had a new injury, well, that wasn't. Because I was bleeding. “Fine,” I mumbled, but my words were a little too breathy for my tastes. I tried again. “I'm fine.” A bit better.

“Bullshit,” he said lightly, but it was a kinder tone. I peeked up at him through my heavy eyelids. He was staring at me strangely, like I would disappear if he looked away. Those eyes of his were even more intent than usual.

Then he grabbed my hand and collapsed at the side of the bed.

“Heero!” I yelped, pushing myself up. His head rested on the side of the bed, face down so that it had to be difficult to breathe. That hand gripped mine with such fierceness it shocked me that it wasn't too tight.

“Don't move!” he snapped, his order cold. It made me freeze. “Don't move,” he said again, this time almost too soft to hear. “Dammit. Dammit!” He let go of my hand and clenched the sheets. I heard a ripping sound. “I'm so stupid!”

“Uh, what?” I shifted a bit; damn but it was uncomfortable to lay down on a bed covered with bullet holes. “Heero?”

“What have I been doing?” he murmured aloud. “What the hell is wrong with me?”

“Uhh...” I ignored his order and tried to sit up. “Heero-”

Without looking he pushed me back down. “Please don't.” It was the quiet, oddly desperate sound to his voice that had me acquiescing, even more than the 'please'. “I'm sorry.”

“Huh?” I reached out, confused, and awkwardly patted him on the head. “Uh, why?”

Heero chuckled, though I think it was forced out for my benefit. “For being afraid.”

I tried to wrap my head around this. “Uh, Heero, it might be because I'm drugged, but I am so definitely not following you right now.”

“Duo,” he sighed, “I left you alone in here because I was afraid...” He struggled to continue as my mind clicked into place. Suddenly the discomfort I was in didn't register as much as it had. “Not because we were beginning to share our secrets, but because...” he hesitated again, “because you seemed so uncomfortable with it... I was afraid that... if I pushed...”

I sighed then, as well. “You know, Heero, I was scared, too.” It was a lot easier to admit to my fear now that Heero had opened up. I told myself I wouldn't let it come to this anymore. I would be the one to speak up from now on, no matter how much it hurt me to. “I thought I'd chased you away.”

He looked up, shocked, I think, to hear me say that. “Of course not!” he argued. “I was so happy... that I could finally hear your true thoughts...”

I looked away, unable to bear that slightly-horrified look on his face as he tried to imagine what I was saying. “But...” I shook my head. “I thought, 'maybe this is too much.' I thought that I might have crossed a line somewhere, something that said I'd pushed too hard. You were trained not to feel. You couldn't have miraculously recovered-”

“And you were trained to always hide,” he argued. “Just like me – we both hid who we were behind our... masks.” I quirked a grin at him; I'd always called it a mask, a persona that I threw on when I needed it. I found it interesting that he'd done the same, whether for me or not... it wasn't important. “I'm glad when I hear something from the real you, no matter how... painful... it is for me to learn. It's you.”

I had to grin at him. “So why are you stupid again?”

His eyes clouded immediately. “Because I got into a petty squabble with you... and I could have lost you.”

I blinked at him. That was why? He'd been scared to lose me without... I laughed. “'Squabble'?” I quoted. He glared at me. “Heero...” I raised my hand. Heero shouted a warning, but I ignored it and gently touched his cheek. “Thank you,” I said finally. “For coming back to me.”

Heero closed his eyes and leaned into my hand, not enough to put weight on it, but enough for it to curve around his face just right. “Always,” he promised.

I let my hand fall. It was shaking, and Heero would crow if he found out. “I'm sorry to get you involved in all this,” I told him. “I made so many enemies out there... it was stupid of me to become a bounty hunter, to make a life like I did. Now I've put you all in danger.”

“Duo.” Heero reached out to touch, then pulled back and ran that hand through his hair. “We've racked up our share of enemies-”

“Not the same,” I argued, even though I knew he already knew that. “Plus, just knowing Black Strike is here is enough to get them to come. With me injured, there might as well be a flashing neon sign saying, 'come kill me!'” I laughed at the thought. Heero didn't seem to think it was all that funny, though.

“Then I'll kill them all.”

I looked up in shock to see, not the Perfect Soldier's face, but my Heero's face, staring at the window. “What...?”

“Let's get you out of this room,” he said brusquely, standing up. Then he leaned down to pick me up again.

Let's get this straight: when he picked me up, it would be because I couldn't pick myself up. His hands were thoroughly obsessed with not hurting me, and his gundanium arms were able to hold me easily. All that didn't change the fact that I got really, really disturbed when Heero was all around me and his scent was invading my very pores and I could feel him like this. What was humiliating was that I was far too injured to follow up on my senses' desires. My doctor, when I had asked him (God, my face had been red), had said it may take a few weeks, maybe a couple months. Shoot me.

So Heero carried me over into his room and damned if I didn't almost freak out when he placed me in his bed and pulled the covers down. “Let me see your wounds.”

I gave him a half-crazed look and mutely shook my head.

He sighed. “Duo, you're bleeding.”

Yeah. That would probably be because I pulled some stitches. I was not looking forward to telling my doctor that. “U-Uh...”

Heero's lips quirked. “We'll worry about that sort of thing later.”

I flushed so hard I think I steamed.

He chuckled at me and deftly ran his hands over my stomach. The muscles jumped like they'd been burned. I hissed. “Sorry,” he murmured. Then he lifted the shirt and I felt something completely different try ineffectually to stir. How humiliating.

His inspection didn't pause, so I guessed the stitches there were fine. Thank goodness. But when he got to my leg – courtesy of Greaves – he stopped.

And then he said it: “shit.”

“That bad, huh?” I quipped, but he was silent.

Finally Heero pulled his head up and stared at me. There was no doubt that his stare was assessing. Waiting. “Duo... how many enemies did you make?”

I thought about it. “Did you hear about all of the missions Une gave me?”

Heero nodded.

“Well...” I thought about it for a second. “Those were usually the most dangerous, but they only counted for about a quarter of my jobs.” I shrugged as Heero hissed. Later on, it had been normal for me to get a job a month – pretty damn lucrative – from Une alone. “Hey, man, I was the best out there. Period.”

Heero's eyes clenched in worry. “Dammit...”

I laughed, though my chest felt claustrophobic. “Yeah, it was kinda stupid...”

Then Heero's eyes turned sad and glared at the sheets. I almost expected them to go up in flames. “You...” He shook his head. “I'll get this fixed; they're just pulled a bit. I doubt you want to get ripped a new one by your doctor.”

I beamed at him, relieved. “Yeah. Being in mortal peril wouldn't be a good enough excuse for him.”

Heero looked about ready to say something again, but he swallowed it back and left to get the med kit in the bathroom. I watched him go with a frown stuck on my lips. I was scaring him. And why not? I'd made his life miserable. I had to find a way to stop all this.

For that, I had to be able to recover. And quick. There was no time left.

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Every story unless otherwise claimed is Kayura's, and is copyrighted 2006 under her name.