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Sub Rosa: Guarded
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Gundam Wing

Sub Rosa

Chapter Five: Guarded

Gundam Wing is not mine. Those of you who do not know this – there are places out there that can help you.

Warning: Bad, bad language. Action. Uhh... tense conversations with more cursing. Songs. We don't get into much more action for a little while. Hey – I think that takes a warning. You all be quiet.






Heero did indeed manage to get his suit on in two minutes, though he cut it damn close. I actually heard him curse once when he had to grab a handle when I made a sharp dive. I didn't waste the time for an apology.

He had the weapon quickly, too. I felt my heart stop for a short instant before I okayed his outship clearance. Wufei made an irritated comment about not being allowed to get in the co-pilot's seat to help. I had no time for a retort, though I had plenty I thought to myself.

The enemies were good. Damn good. I'll admit that in a heartbeat. They seemed like they'd practiced with their cannons. They didn't panic. They didn't miss in their aiming.

And there were four of them. Can't fucking forget that.

Though I might have been a little put off by this alone, the thought of Heero being out there, of his life depending on mine, made it so that I didn't even think about losing.

The beams were constant in their randomness. The enemy didn't sit on the trigger. They waited. Aimed. I would finish another fuel-killing corkscrew and try to shoot away, only to have another beam heading straight for my cockpit. Wufei did help a bit – after another corkscrew, he turned on my rock music and blasted up the volume. “That should help,” he muttered. “You used to listen to music when you fought in Deathscythe, too.”

Oddly, I was hurt more than warmed. I shoved emotion aside, grunted, and dodged another attack. I grinned at Andrew WK's voice, warning his enemies to get ready to die. It made me just that millisecond faster.

“Yuy reporting,” I got, and shouted to him.

“Ready?”

“Yes,” he stated. Man of many words, my dear friend Heero.

I humphed. “Their all yours.”

“I need to be as close as possible.”

“Really?” I muttered under my breath, irritated that he thought he needed to tell me that. I shot the ship in a psychotic zigzag, like a drugged old lady driving her wheelchair under hallucinations and delirium. You know – chaotically.

I felt my heart skip a beat when a laser came within ten meters of the ship.

Remember, kiddies... we're in space. Ten meters is spitting distance.

Yuy called out his coordinates then, effectively telling me that he was far enough away from the blast. I kicked Shinigami into high gear. “Come on, baby,” I coaxed thoughtlessly. “Don't let him die. Do whatever you have to – just don't let him die. Corkscrew,” I warned, flipping the ship. “Again,” I said tersely.

It shouldn't have surprised me to see the laser shoot out while I was still turning, but it did. I almost messed up the spin. One ship blew up.

Heero had aimed for the cockpit.

I grinned maniacally. Preventor or not, self-defense and training equaled to killing the enemy. Besides, a slow death out in space was just cruel.

One down, three to go. Element of surprise: gone.

The ships went in a frenzy. The careful aim went a bit skewed. Wufei helpfully turned up the volume.

“Loop.” Difficult to do without an up or down, dammit. “Corkscrew.” Gotta move my ass. “Again.” Couldn't let those lasers get close. Heero. Heero's life depended on my not fucking up. “Dip. Left. Corkscrew.”

Another laser fired, delightedly on-target. Wufei hissed a sound of triumph, but I was too busy maneuvering away from the remaining two ships. Apparently an unknown someone figured out that getting closer would help them, too. They'd probably locked onto Heero by now.

I ignored the wave of terror that stuck in my breast. No time for fear. Only Shinigami. Only room for Shinigami. “Rise. Right. Left. Right.” The zigzagging came again, but then- “dip.”

Another laser shot out from the side of my ship, but I had to dodge an attack aimed for Heero, and that messed up his aim. Only a tiny portion of that beam hit. Not enough.

About five more beams left in that cannon. Only one other cannon available. Bad if another enemy attack came. And then another. Or another.

“Rise. Continue. Ninety degrees.” As if there were an 'up', I went straight upwards, like a rocket. Pun not intended.

Heero managed another shot, this time without my need to dodge. Direct hit.

“Right,” I said grimly. I heard, even over my damn loud music, Heero grunt in an effort to keep himself firm. Those magnets on his suit better be fucking excellent, because they were getting more than enough exercise – as were Heero's legs.

No time for fear or worry. Had to keep moving. “Loop. Again.” I could swear I heard Wing groan.

It hit me then what a bad name for my ship Demon's Wing was; the nickname 'Wing' was far too much like Heero's gundam. Maybe that had been subconsciously deliberate.

If something done subconsciously could be 'deliberate'.

“Dip left.” I curved the ship as I dipped 'down'. Only one ship left. A helluva lot easier to dodge. “Right.”

Heero fired one last time; the vacuum of space momentarily lit, then the light was gone.

I called up a search of the vicinity immediately. When it checked out as clear, I relayed the information to Heero.

“Affirmative,” was all he replied. I have no idea why it made reaction set in.

I closed my eyes as Disturbed screamed about voices and let Draiman's rage hide my own fear. I'd just met Heero again for the first time in three years and I'd almost gotten him killed. What the hell was I doing?

My fault. If I'd gotten Jack Harlow to begin with... if I'd only figured out what the fuck was going on... I'd been dumb. Reckless. Stupid. And now... because of my stupidity... Heero was in danger. Because of me.

If anything happened to Heero, how would I be able to face myself? Because I'd wanted to find myself, because I'd wanted to be alone, because I'd wanted to be the anonymous hero taking care of all the baddies, because I hadn't been able to get rid of Shinigami, I'd managed to get Heero caught up in a mess beyond anything he should see, even in the Preventors. There should be a lot of back-up for him. Safety. The hell he'd be on a ship alone with only two other passengers, and he sure as hell wouldn't be out-ship firing a puny hand-held beam cannon at four ships.

My God. What if I'd messed up? What if I'd frozen? What if I'd lost Shinigami? That time when I hesitated – what if I hadn't been so damn lucky?

Speaking of lucky... since when had I been lucky? I knew, without a doubt, that I would have to pay up for that one moment. And when I did...

Heero made it back inside, but only after telling me that he was again prepared to board. I quickly opened the hatch for him, waiting with tense breath for Heero to be able to get all the way back inside. Was he hurt? Had he lied and been burned? Had I harmed Heero in some way? Had I screwed up?

But when Heero walked in carrying his suit, he was fine. Sweaty, obviously a bit tired. But fine.

I finally smiled and let out a war whoop, shutting off Dope's screams for someone to die. “Hot damn!” I cried. “How you holdin' up, Heero?” I hoped the concern in my voice wasn't as obvious to everyone else as it was to me.

“Fine.” At least it was an answer, I mused as Heero replaced the suit and the cannon. “There shouldn't be any more before we reach L2.”

“Yeah. I'll get some more weapons when we land.”

Wufei entered the conversation with a sarcastic huff. “And just how will you do that?” Meaning, of course, that weapons were illegal and therefore impossible to obtain. I didn't know Wufei could be that na´ve.

“I know a guy,” I said breezily. “Ever since I caught him, he only sells to me.”

“How do you know that?” Heero asked, his voice sharp. Condescending. So, he still thought of me as an idiot. That was... painful. And irritating.

“Oh, I know.” I showed off a short Shinigami smile. “Besides,” I added, continuing to keep my voice light, “I keep him under tight surveillance.”

“Why don't you arrest him?” Wufei asked. I wondered if his sense of honor was taking a hit.

“Well, it's a good thing I didn't isn't it?” I snapped, irritated and already high-strung thanks to the fight. “I thought I would need his weapons someday. And lookie where we are – needing his help. Go figure.”

I jumped out of my seat. Enough with this. I needed to be the hell alone. Coming down off a high was usually bad enough, but with the added fear... fuck it. I would lick my wounds in peace and to hell with them both.

Wufei made a warning sound, but oddly it wasn't directed toward me. I made it out of the cockpit without anyone trying to stop me. I wished desperately for a beer, then was immediately glad that I didn't have any. Falling into a drunken stupor would be extremely bad. Extremely bad.

I keyed the password into my room and gratefully plopped onto my bed. Precious bed. Why would anyone leave you?

It was only then that I realized that I had kept zero-g off and that I could still clearly hear my music. And, faintly above the music, Heero's and Wufei's voices raised in argument.

Great. I'd gotten the two friends fighting.

It was in me to go out and apologize, but I just didn't feel like it. And really, it wasn't my damn fault they were fighting. They were full-grown, mature adults. They should be able to handle themselves.

I wanted a bath A nice, long bath to soak away the sweat and the fears. I made do with a quick shower.

<*>

After spending merely ten minutes in shower soaking and cleaning, I came back out of my room dressed in jeans that were worn at the knee and a t-shirt with grease stains. No one could say I was trying to dress up.

My hair, already carefully braided, hung down past my thighs. I'd let it grow another couple of inches longer. It acted as my only visual fragility. My eyes, still that startling amethyst, were still wide, still long-lashed. But my mouth had become just that bit firmer, my cheekbones just that bit more austere. I hated that my looks were still girly. I had thought, for one minute, alone and fighting a need to drink, of cutting it. Then I'd stabbed the idea under my thumb. Solo had loved my hair. Helen had cared for it. Cutting it would be like cutting away the memories, those precious ones that made me smile instead of turn away.

The galley, unexpectedly, was already occupied. I winced to see both Wufei and Heero inside, obviously ignoring each other. There was a tension between them that said plainly that the argument wasn't quite over.

I almost sailed to the drink bulbs before realizing my feet were still firmly on the ground. I sighed and walked calmly behind Wufei to grab a juice bulb. “So,” I started, my voice light, “I'll be getting weapons while you two...?” I looked at them expectantly. “Or do you need me to babysit?”

Damn the Jester.

Wufei and Heero both tensed like I'd shot at them. “We'll check out the base,” Heero said.

I made a rude noise similar to the 'wrong' bell of a trivia game. “No way you're doing that without me. And I'm not letting you come with me to my friends' place. You're fancy cops, pretty much.” I grinned. “Why don't you take care of the guys that are bound to be there?”

Wufei snorted. “That would leave us bored for how long?” he asked.

Sometimes I wondered just where the hell he'd gotten that sense of humor. “Entertain yourselves,” I advised. I moved over to the other side, studiously ignoring Heero's body heat, and grabbed a military ration. I'd managed to get it out of its cellophane wrapping and in front of my mouth before Heero made a disgusted sound.

“Duo,” Wufei admonished, “how the hell do you eat that?”

“You need lessons?” I asked waspishly. “Mastication's involved,” I hinted. “And swallowing. That's necessary. After that I don't give a damn how it works because I don't have to worry about it.”

Heero snorted. “He meant,” and here he spoke as if I was an extremely special case, “how can you eat something reminiscent of shit?”

“You've compared?”

Wufei was hardly able to cover his chuckle with a cough. “Yes, Yuy, have you?”

Heero glared at his partner. “Thanks for the back-up,” he stated sarcastically.

This started a full-blown sarcasm battle between the two that made me stare in awe. They really had connected. And without me.

I fought down the bitterness and finished off my ration bar. It was stupid of me to be jealous. I'd chosen my own path, and it had been one I had needed to travel alone.

Still...

It was extremely hard to admit that I'd tried damn hard to make us a group, during the war and after it. I'd brought myself to colonies where I'd known the guys were. What had I looked like? A pathetic baby who couldn't stand to be on his own. And here I was again, traveling with two guys who couldn't care less about me but cared too damn much about their missions. Since their mission was to protect me along with taking down Harlow...

I threw my trash in the incinerator and just stood for a moment. Unbelievable. They were yelling down each other's throats, but in their eyes were gleams, not of anger, but challenge. And humor.

Well, they'd bounced right back after the war, hadn't they?

I left quietly, making certain I didn't make a sound.

My music had been turned down and changed. I winced at the sound of Shinedown's .45. Whoever had helpfully changed the folder of music, they'd changed it to 'Thoughts' – the wrong fucking one.

I switched it to Disney and smiled at Aladdin's 'Prince Ali'. I turned up the music a bit, singing the words, and turned on the zero-g.

It was habit that had me crossing to the poem dictating my unrequited love for Heero Yuy. Habit that had me touching the blood-red words.

“He's got slaves, he's got servants and flunkies; they bow to his whim-”

“Duo.”

I turned to Heero's voice without thought. “Debate over?”

“We've agreed that I haven't eaten shit before,” he said easily, shocking me. There it was again – that easy humor. Where the hell had he gotten that?

“Since he had no support to back up his claim and had failed to read you your Miranda rights?” I turned back to the poem.

I felt something sprint up my spine at Heero's laughter. Damn, but he had the kind of chuckle that could talk straight to a guy's groin. “Something like that,” he agreed.

I ended up giving him one of his own noncommittal noises and stepped away from the poem to check the radar. It didn't pass my notice that the player had switched from “Prince Ali” to “Reflections” from Mulan. I could have cursed.

“You switched the music,” Heero noticed. Damn his astuteness. Smart bastard.

“Yeah. Figured I'd lighten the moment.” I recognized the tone of the Jester and grimaced. Hiding again.

“Lighten the moment?” Heero came up beside me, checking the music on my computer. I narrowed my eyes at the ease – he'd been the one to switch the folders. “So 'Thoughts' isn't a light mood, but 'Disney' is?” Despite him adding that lift to the end that made it a question, I got the distinct impression that he was talking to himself – noting the severity of the songs in the folders with that brilliant mind of his.

“Haven't you heard of those old kid's movies by Walt Disney?”

Heero cocked his head to the side. “No. I've never watched a kid's movie.”

I winced. Maybe that hadn't been the best question to ask. “I saw one once at the orphanage – 'Lady and the Tramp'. I looked for more once the war ended. I've never been able to find that one again.” Why the hell was I telling him this?

“I see.” He looked at the variety of folders – Thoughts, Disney, Battle, Dream, Hope, Joy. He opened the list and scanned through the songs.

I tried to ignore it, but there was nothing more for me to check. Why did it bother me to see him going through my music? Probably because I listened to the lyrics. The songs I liked spoke to me in either one way or another.

He left 'Joy' and entered 'Forsaken Wings'. I hissed. “Would you stop that?” I snapped. Shit. Now he knew that what he was looking at was important. But of course he did – it was named similarly to the godforsaken poem.

Heero looked at me with his intense cobalt gaze. “What are you hiding?”

To evade effectively, I had to look away. “We're all hiding something.”

Heero said nothing to that, but I could feel his eyes on me for a long time. Then I heard the tell-tale double-click.

I swiveled back to him. “Dammit, Heero-”

I stopped short when I heard the intro of the song he'd just started.

'You're in Love' by Wilson Phillips. I snapped. Why? I'll tell you why – because this goddamn song makes me weepy. Everyone shut the fuck up.

I swore right then that if I cried, I was going to kill Heero Yuy.

“Open the door and come in. I'm so glad to see you, my friend. Don't know how long it's been – having those feelings again. And now I see that you're so happy, and ooh, it just sets me free-”

“Goddammit,” I roared, shutting off the music altogether. “You son-of-a-bitch!” I felt strange without my music, as if all of my thoughts were creeping up to me in the silence. I wished desperately that I could be completely alone. I felt the need to scream. Loudly. “Don't play shit like that randomly!”

Heero just stared at me, wide-eyed.

Well, that wasn't going to calm me down, despite making me feel like a fucking idiot. Or maybe because of it. I may have instigated it during the war, but I sincerely hated being thought of as an idiot.

“Fucking hell,” I continued, “you hated me touching your all-precious laptop, and here you are fucking with my ship!” I specifically did not call my ship 'Wing'. “What the hell?”

Heero winced at that, and that was when I started feeling like an asshole. Couldn't I at least pick a mask if I was going to hide?

I calmed my hyperventilated breathing and closed my eyes. I tried not to think of Wufei hearing this.

He couldn't know how much more that song hurt with him standing right in front of me. “Open the door and come in.” Jesus.

“It reminds you of him.”

I almost ran from the room. I almost threw my hands in the air, screamed bloody murder, and ran from the fucking room. I will never know what kept me there, but maybe... maybe it was the trace of sadness I imagined I heard in Heero's voice.

I shrugged in answer.

“Duo, who is he?”

“Someone you know,” I snapped, turning away from him. My eyes caught on that damn poem. I wanted to rip the entire segment of the wall off. Vacuum be damned.

“Is it... is it Wufei?”

I think I choked on my own spit. I coughed and wheezed. What? Wufei? Was the idiot fucking serious? Was he really that goddamn oblivious? Did he need a neon sign? I had practically blurted out that it was him and-

Heero's hand slapped against my back, trying to help me breathe. That feeling spread through me and centered in my dick. Heero's hand on me was more than I had allowed myself to think I'd feel again. It was an effort, but I shook my head. “No,” I gasped, and even through the rasp and wheeze I heard the firm, slightly disgusted sound in my voice.

“Okay... Trowa?”

No.” Lord forbid, though I had to admit that the song might make it seem that way.

Heero's face scrunched a bit. “Zechs?”

“Oh, for the love of God-” I thought I might vomit. “Drop it, all right?”

There was a long pause. I had hopes of him shutting the fuck up and began to leave.

“Quatre?”

No, goddammit. Maybe you don't know him as well as I thought.” I left quickly, ignoring his call for me to wait.

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