Disclaimer – Gundam Wing is not mine. Miss Diana Paisley is. Duh.
Duo found himself whistling and stopped immediately. Heero would probably kick him out for the tiniest nuisance he made. He
breathed in deeply and thought. Was he going to be spending the night with Heero? Or was Heero going to be the one on the
Duo refused to let that be the case. Heero would either stay in his bed and they would share the room, or Heero would stay
in his bed and Duo would set up camp in the living room. Damned if he'd put Heero in a painful position. That was what he
was here to do: make sure didn't happen.
"Duo," Wufei called, coming down the stairs.
"Hey," Duo chirped, picking up the cups from their resting places. "You want me to reheat this?" He nudged Wufei's coffee.
"No, thank you. I came to ask what occurred." The Chinese man stood, waiting.
Duo blushed. "Nothing big. Heero agreed to let me stay." Duo's lips thinned. "Even though I don't need his permission."
"Yes, you do. You're a civilian now, just like Diana."
Duo looked at him sardonically. "Wufei, I've never been a civilian, and you damn well know it."
Wufei matched his look with a glare that seemed ready to rival Heero's. What, did the two of them hold glaring contests or
something? "You are a civilian, Duo Maxwell. You are not a Preventor, and you, hopefully, are not a bandit, terrorist, or
are otherwise compromising the peace of Earth and the colonies."
"Wuffie," Duo said, eyes widened in mock amazement. "Was that an attempt at a joke?!"
Miss Paisley came down, saving Duo from certain death. "May I come down now?" she asked the two of them, looking almost petrified.
"Yeah, sure," Duo called before Wufei could say anything. "We're just having a manly talk about..." He turned to Chang. "What
were we talking about?"
Miss Paisley giggled and came down the stairs, crossing her hands together and looking between them. If she noticed the tension
crackling in the room, she wisely made no comment. "Where has Mr. Yuy gone?"
It took Duo a moment to realize she was talking about Heero, and when he did, he snorted rudely. When the hell had Heero donned
that name? Mister Yuy?! Hah! He just had to bring it up the next time he saw the guy.
"He went into the guest room to fix up a room for Mr. Maxwell," Wufei informed the two of them.
Duo was surprised. He thought that Heero had stomped out of the room, snorting like a bull who had just spotted the red cape,
because he wanted to calm down enough to not practice karate – with Duo as the punching bag. So much for that theory.
"I wouldn't go see him right now," Wufei advised as Miss Paisley started to leave. She turned to him questioningly. "He's
a bit... aggravated that Mr. Maxwell came even after specific orders to rest."
In other words, Heero had just managed to not kill the bullfighter. Maybe Duo hadn't been too far off in his estimations.
He looked outside, feeling a chill creep up his spine. It was full day now, the sun making the small room even more cheery
than before, even though Duo had opted to get rid of the fire. It was a place one could call home.
But, he still felt eerie. Cold.
Something was out there.
Duo looked around. There were probably a few escape routes. Definitely more then one. He knew enough about how the gundam
pilots worked. They would want multiple exits, just in case their position was compromised. Just like he would. Just as he
had when he was on the streets.
He looked at Wufei. "Hey, I'm gonna go for a spell; I think it would be for the best." Wufei seemed reluctant, until he looked
back to where Heero had left. Then he nodded jerkily. Duo quickly made his way out the door.
He was immediately greeted with the scents and smells of just an hour or so missed and smiled. He wanted to look unhurried,
lazy. He was just a guy from a cabin checking out the forest scene and having a nice time.
Except that his eyes were constantly moving, constantly checking out everything that so much as shivered in the wind. This
was an old habit, as well. One he knew by heart. Check for dangers, don't get caught. Right when you let down your guard,
you'll be taken and killed. Remember that. Always remember the danger of trust and normalcy.
He started whistling again, but didn't bother to stop this time. If there was an enemy, would he be luring it away? Would
it attack him? Would it continue watching the cabin? Was he completely losing his mind?
Losing your mind isn't a bad thing unless you lose it enough to get caught. Paranoia is always good compared to being too
laid back. Always.
He looked at his arm. Damn. Heero would have his head if he knew what he was doing. He looked up to the sky, allowing himself
a short moment of relaxation. What was Heero doing right now? Hating him? Cursing him?
Duo's smile was bitter. Yeah. Probably.
"What the hell do you mean, he's taking a walk'?" Heero demanded icily, anger making his fists clench. He was glaring lethally
at his partner. "You let him leave in his condition?!"
Wufei was unaffected by the look, having received it so often it blew past him easier than it did on Duo... though Wufei had
a sneaking suspicion that it hurt Duo more than he let on. "Perhaps you shouldn't make him feel so unwelcome, Yuy," he spat
Heero's glare took on a self-disgusted glint. "He shouldn't be here. He's in no condition to--"
"If I may," Miss Paisley spoke up quietly, "I think Duo was well aware of his injuries when he came. He seemed to really need
to be here." She looked at them oddly. "Why aren't you happy that you're partner is here? I understand that you might be worried,
but he seems to know what he's doing."
"Stay out of this," Heero snapped. "Dammit, I can't believe the baka came in the first place. Is he insane?"
"I don't think so," Wufei said quietly. In fact, the Chinese man knew damn well what was going on with the laughing ex-gundam
pilot. He had seen it the moment Duo had stayed too long in Taco Bell when the assassins had come for Miss Paisley. He had
guessed that the Deathscythe pilot had gone back for Heero, even though the boy had arrived at their rendezvous point. Yes.
It was the same as Heero.
He'd also seen the way Heero sat in the corner of his bed on assignments. Looking off into space and crying, whispering Duo's
name into the night.
Wufei looked out into the forest, a sinking feeling hard in his heart. His friends were close. So close. But they were stubborn,
obnoxious. He knew the feeling well. He only prayed it wouldn't be their downfall.
Duo sighed and stuck his good hand in the pocket of his jeans. He was stupid. He should be inside the cabin, trying to disappear
and acting like he wasn't there. Instead, he was out here, attracting possible attention, having nothing better to do than
think about the past and what Heero had come to mean to him through everything. Even the boy's annoying temperament.
This was getting him nowhere. He should just head the hell back. Before his mind started writing love poems for Heero.
And with that disturbing thought, Duo turned a one-eighty and headed back for the shack.
"I see a hole forming in the carpet," Wufei joked, but was shot only a withering glare for his efforts.
Heero continued pacing, looking out the window every few seconds, seeming to will Duo's arrival. "Something doesn't feel right,"
Heero grumbled, running his hands agitatedly through his hair.
"That's probably because you've been pacing for over a half-hour," Wufei commented dryly. "You're probably dizzy."
"I've never been dizzy in my life," Heero snapped.
"Until you fell for Maxwell," Wufei muttered under his breath.
"What was that, Chang?"
"Nothing," Wufei said amicably. "Maybe you should just go after him," he supplied after a while.
Heero didn't even acknowledge his words.
"Is everything okay?" Miss Paisley popped her head out from the hallway, having come from her room to check on them.
Wufei shrugged. "Yuy is having a bit of a--"
"Dammit, I'm going after him," Heero growled, grabbing his jacket from the banister and putting it on. "Keep him the hell
here if he returns before me."
Wufei rolled his eyes, but nodded in confirmation of the request. "Take a gun," he advised, but needn't have bothered. Heero
already had one in his hand.
Heero didn't bother with a good-bye as he slammed the door shut beside him.
"Well," Miss Paisley said primly, "I hope that chip on his shoulder gives him a hunchback!" And she turned from the room,
leaving Wufei trying desperately not to laugh.
Duo stopped and turned his head. There it was again. Wind against wind. Something big was fighting the current of air. He'd
been right all along!
Something was out there!
The blurring image in front of Duo took the shape of a person, a man. He leaped aside as the form struck where he stood. His
eyes caught the glint of a dagger, and he hissed in irritation. He was one-armed, vulnerable on his left side. Damn! He almost
stumbled over a rock and just barely managed to right himself. The man came at him again, and he struggled to get out of the
The man's hair was a messy black mass that should have gotten in his way, but didn't. When his attacker glared at him, he
was given a stunning view of beautiful ice blue eyes before he had to move or lose a limb.
Then it all came down to dodging or dying, and his nimble legs were still unable to stop the shocks of pain from screaming
up his arm. He bit his lip trying to keep the cry inside and tasted blood. He cursed out loud this time. The dagger came at
him from his left, and he jumped back.
And bumped into a tree.
The man's eyes glinted in triumph, and he tensed, expecting the blow, throwing his foot out to try to stop the attack. The
dagger came close enough from him to reach out and touch, but his foot managed to clip the man's arm, and the dagger was loosened
within his grip. Duo immediately reached out and snatched the hand that held the weapon, praying his grip wouldn't slip. He
felt the boy's muscles beneath his fingers and was amazed. The boy seemed easily as strong as he. This fact was proven when
he started to buckle under his assailant's superior power. He gritted his teeth and braced his feet a bit better.
"You will die," the man murmured, and his cold voice froze Duo. His eyes shot to the other's, and the two locked. The guy
was... around his age, maybe a year older. Had he been a soldier? On what side? And why was he here, trying to attack Miss
Before he could truly begin to question things, the man wrenched his hand free, his grip once more firm on the dagger's handle.
Duo found himself trapped, unable to move for the close proximity of his opponent and unable to roll away because of his damned
injured arm. He couldn't attack well, because he needed a hand free to try to block whatever attack was made with the knife.
He made a valiant effort nonetheless, and hooked his first two fingers, shoving his little finger-weapon into the man's neck,
right where his breathing tube lay. The man choked and backed up a couple of inches. More than enough for Duo to ram his knee
into the man's crotch.
He tried to grab the dagger from the would-be assassin's hand, but was shoved away. He landed on his injured arm hard and
cried out sharply. He began to shake in pain, and tears spurted in his eyes. "Damn," he muttered, and spat out some blood
and dirt that had fallen into his mouth. He struggled to stand, hugging his poor, abused arm to his chest. He looked up to
see his enemy standing above him, his arms already descending in an arc aimed at his heart.
Things fell into a sort of slow motion as he watched the knife coming down, finding his body moving to escape and knowing
already that it was fruitless. His aim was sure and perfect, and it would kill him. The sun shone off the metal above him,
and he found himself studying the beauty of the weapon despite everything. What a sight, he thought. It's going
to be the last thing I ever see.
And suddenly the knife was gone, and so was the raven-haired man, and he thought that he was dead. Then noises came through
the numbness of his ears, and he could hear the sounds of a struggle, and he was up before he could register the order.
Before him was his almost-killer and... Heero. They were struggling over the dagger, rolling across the grass in a ferocious
tangle of man and sweat and determination. He tried to stand, but felt a wave of dizziness envelop him. He could only sit
back helplessly and watch as Heero risked his life to save him.
Heero's face was set in a snarl, his eyes that of a predator's that has finally cornered its prey. His grip tightened on the
man's wrist, his thumb pressing into a point of pressure until the killer was forced to drop his blade. Heero let go of the
man's hand then, punching his face once, twice, three times, his eyes both calm and crazed. Duo, frightened by this show of
craziness – though he couldn't say that he'd never seen it in the war – he tried to shout "Heero!" but it merely
came out as a whisper. Or maybe that had been his imagination or something, because Heero was suddenly beside him, holding
"Duo, hold on." His eyes swept down him, and Duo knew he was assessing the damage. He tried to keep the world from moving,
but the damn trees were having too much fun hopping around to hold them still for long.
"I'm 'kay," he whispered, holding Heero's shirt for balance. "Jus' dizzy 's all." He closed his eyes, but that only made it
worse. So he took a deep breath and attempted to stand. Heero's solid hand on his shoulder stopped him. "Heero-"
"Hold still," the Japanese ex-pilot ordered, and he held the fuck still. "Status?"
"I'm fine, Yuy," he muttered, "just dizzy. I got knocked on my arm, that's all," he snapped, finding that the annoyance was
waking him up and was oddly pleased. "I'll live," he finished.
"Just barely," Heero said, and Duo shot him a wary look, unable to tell if Heero was being serious or funny. It scared him,
Heero held a hand under his elbow as he stood, his legs wobbly from remembered trauma. His mind still saw the light glinting
from the dagger, the way the shine showed every curve, how it was almost orange in the glow of the day. Was it still day?
No, sunset was settling in. Perhaps that was why the light had been darker. Who cared? At least he was alive to see the sunset.
Thanks to Heero.
He turned to Heero, opening his mouth to speak, but saw a look so intent on the other's face that he froze again. There were
little emotions flying through his usually stoic gaze. "Daijobu ka?" the Preventor asked quietly, and Duo realized that he
was truly concerned. That gave him a lot of things to think about, so he stored it all away for later and smiled at Heero.
"Yeah, Heero, I'm fine," he assured, and got Heero's hand off of him, spreading his arms wide. "Ta-da! See?" But it had been
a mistake to move his bad arm, and he cried out softly as pain lanced up his arm. He found himself falling.
Heero easily caught him and threw the American's good arm around his shoulder. Heero chuckled against Duo's ear, and the Deathscythe
pilot's heart and loins stirred. He felt warmed by the sound, just as he had at the restaurant. Heero muttered, "yes, I see,"
and Duo laughed.
The two heard a sound and turned to where the assassin had fallen. The man was running off, escaping into the forest. Duo
moved to go after him, But it was Heero's hold that once again held him back. He looked at his old partner, confused. Heero
would usually be the first to grab the enemy. Wasn't he the one constantly talking about no one seeing him and living? But
Heero just shook his head. "We need to get you back to the safehouse."
"But..." Duo stammered, and felt completely lost. Heero was in a war situation, and his biggest rule was that liabilities
had to be destroyed. Injured as he was, he was nothing more than a big pile of liability.
"Shut up, baka," Heero said, but his soft tone took a bit of the sting out of the words. "We never would have known about
the enemy watching us if you hadn't brought him out, so now we have the chance to move the subject. And besides," he said,
and the hesitant way he was talking alerted Duo's full attention, "I... don't you hurt any more than you have been."
"Uh, Hee-chan," Duo ventured cautiously, "I just bit my lip. It's not-"
"Have you forgotten about your arm already?" Heero asked, and Duo blinked.
"Oh... yeah." He had received that from all this, hadn't he? "I guess I did," he joked, but the frown on Heero's face told
him that the joke wasn't shared.
"You... shouldn't have come," Heero said again. "It was... an undisciplined tactical decision."
"Right," Duo said flatly. "But I already told you... I couldn't just sit on my ass at home, waiting to get a call hearing
that something had happened." He snapped his mouth shut at the sudden understanding in Heero's eyes. He was beyond happy when
Heero didn't pursue the topic.
"Well," Heero said tiredly, "we'll have to abandon this position now."
"Yup," Duo chirped, feeling a bit of his old humor returning. "Road trip!"
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