title: Corruption
cowritten with fancyfigures
fandom: Gundam Wing
characters/pairings: Heero/Duo, Duo/Trowa, Wu Fei
rating: G/Teen
warnings: psychotic behavior
summary: Trowa won't let anything get between him, and the object of his desire.
notes: this fic is a sequel to a deathfic, Sleep Deprivation, by sunhawk, and it likes to follow in the original's footsteps; in other words, deathfic, heero/duo and trowa/duo.
for sunhawk's The Psycho Trowa Contest, squee. er. we got third place. ^_^;;;;
manymany thanks to fancyfigures for wanting to write with me, and for being so patient. ^_^

It had been a hell of a long day and I wasn't ripe for this kind of shit, was I?

"Duo." He often began with that tone - that tone - that signaled his long-suffering tolerance. Of me. "I have work to do this evening; paperwork. Reports. I'm scheduled for a hell of a busy week ahead."

"Like last week," I snapped back. "And the week before. Hey, Heero, let's all wonder how the organisation manages without you, shall we?"

"Don't be facetious," he frowned. He ran a hand back through his hair: he looked tired. Always did, nowadays. He just gave too much to it all, to the work - we struggled to keep up any kind of a social life. Thank God the other guys had some pity for us poor introverts, dragging us out to movies with them, including us in the pizza evenings, calling us up regularly for a chat. Well me anyway. Heero did a damned fair impression of Atlas, weight of the whole fucking world on his shoulders, responsibilities just too damned serious to cope with the corruption of a few slices of American hot.

And maybe I was another corruption he felt too keenly.

Those kinds of thoughts stabbed like a fine needle into internal organs - I didn't want to let 'em in. I sighed and bit back the sour words that sprang up too easily nowadays. "Trowa arranged this evening weeks ago, man. I just feel we ought to support him, y'know? He's so cool; coping well. But I can see the pain in his eyes. He needs us around." Loneliness; confusion; need. Trowa's bedfellows nowadays. Heero didn't listen much when I tried to express my worries for our friend. Maybe I was too melodramatic ... but maybe he didn't see the same stuff I did. Maybe he didn't look.

We were so different, Heero and I. It's what made things work so well between us, most of the time.

But it had been a rough month. What a shock it had been for us all - Quatre's accident. Fuck, we'd all thought we were invincible, right? Never imagined the handsome young corporate prince ending up in a mangled mess on the freeway. He didn't deserve that kind of brutality. He'd been finding his way in life, his own business, his own true lover. He and Trowa - well, I'd been pleased for 'em. The way Quatre grinned every time I spun one of my dirty little jokes, his eyes darting possessively towards Tro - well, it made me think he was kept busy enough in both bed and boardroom. The glamorous couple had seemed to have it all. A great life, plenty of funds, and even social acceptability. Hell, it had been their example that'd encouraged Heero to make his move on me, or so he told me. Cute. I could have told him I'd wanted him since I first clapped eyes on those tight spandex-clad thighs, but far be it from me to make him even more smug than he was.

Smug ... and damned hot. I looked at him now, his eyes wary, his mouth pursed. Yeah, he looked tired. But I'd still jump him - I'd still hold him every which way he wanted. The first guy I ever wanted for more than just limbs and lust: the first guy I ever opened up to.

"Just an hour or so," I said, softening my voice. "Round to Tro's for supper, then we'll leave early." He stood rigidly, even when I slipped a hand round his waist. Even when I licked at his ear; breathed some half-joking promises into his neck. I was the one who liked the attention, the affection, the intimacy - but when Heero loosened up, he was the one who swept me away with the passion. And now I could feel his body relaxing, despite his irritation.

"I want to be with you, Duo," he sighed. "Just ... we see Trowa most days, don't we? Just one night here instead, just us, eating something light, finishing some work then watching some late-night movie. Is that so abhorrent to you?"

I peered into the dark eyes, reminded of the maelstrom in their midnight depths when he reared above me in bed; reminded of the growls of desire from deep in his throat when I gripped him ...

"Nah," I grinned. "Not so bad at all." My lips were ghosting out to him, seeking him, asking for him. Yeah, we were different, but oh-so-the-same in all the important ways. He'd been my rock; he was my prize; there were times I knew he needed me as much as I needed him. Didn't I?

Guess a late night movie and the background tapping of laptop keys was a fair trade for that.





I strode down the halls of WEI. There must have been an air of irritation all around me, because everyone was avoiding me. Quatre's oh so generous sisters wanted to give me a spot on the board of directors, but as far as I was concerned, that was just a waste of time.

Still, I was willing to take a lesser position in the company. It wasn't exactly a fancy title. And it sure didn't come with the prestige of a board position. But missing the photo ops wasn't a heartbreaker. I was just glad for the opportunities it afforded. Head of WEI Securities... funny what we had on file. What we had access to.

My assistant, Anna, was waiting for me outside the vestibule to my office. "Agent Yuy is waiting for you inside. And. I. Er. I got the files you requested..."

Her eyes were damn near shimmering with fear. It reminded me of Quatre; not the fear, but the way they radiated emotion. I didn't hold it against her, though. I just nodded, and repressed a grin.

It was showtime.

Less and less, I cared about what I was doing to Heero. Because, every chance he got, he hoarded Duo to himself. In the past three weeks, three dinners, two social outings, and one impromptu brunch were canceled on me. Even times when Duo would normally have just come over on his own, he was canceling on me.

To be with this... possessive, condescending jerk. Ok, I had admired Heero Yuy as much as anyone else, at one point. But, he was keeping me from what I wanted.

But not for long.

I closed the door behind me, looking serious. "Heero." He just nodded at me. "Thank you for coming. I know you think my theory about Quatre's... death... is just grasping at straws, but here's some data I'd like you to look at." I dumped the files that Anna had given me in front of him, and went to sit behind the desk.

Using real intelligence gathered by WEI's security staff, carefully altered, of course, I had been building up a vague case, unfounded by hard evidence, that there was a plot to kill all the former Gundam pilots. That Quatre was targeted first by - and I can't get over the irony of this - the use of an anti-sleeping agent, slowly and judiciously planted in his tea. Quatre's death and a few health problems before his death were completely attributable to his lack of sleep.

The best lies were the ones that were grounded in the truth.

Step two, of course, was to convince Heero that Duo was next, and because Heero was such a socially well-adjusted psychopath with a tendency toward paranoia, it was going very well. Heero deserved this, because he refused to accept my place in Duo's life.

Which was the place that he was occupying.

It took an hour and a half to go over the 'data' that I'd compiled. Duo was planning a ski trip for the weekend, to the Alps. Every time he talked about it, his face just glowed. As radiant as he normally was, the prospect of going to someplace like the Swiss Alps to ski was... well, it was clearly like a wild fantasy come to life.

I actually hated to do this to Duo, but after Heero was gone, I'd make it up to him.

"Well? Do you think we can secure the area?" I asked, feigning doubt.

Heero was giving me a hard look, as if he actually suspected something. He gave the layout of the lodge and the list of guests expected for the weekend another once over, frowning. "How certain are you of this data?"

"Heero. Do you think I'd bring this to you if I wasn't absolutely sure?" I frowned. Now, for the most important part of the act... "Though," I leaned forward in my seat, and folded my hands together. I looked down at the desk, biting my lip. "Some of this data is... well, lets just say... WEI is a bit overly cautious. By showing you this, I'm violating every nondisclosure agreement I've signed, plus, I'm putting WEI at risk for appropriating government satellites, and violating a few treaties. I hope I can trust you, Heero, to keep this information... and its source... completely secret. Even... even from Duo, I'm afraid."

He gave me this look like I'd unfavorably compared his intelligence to that of a drunken squid. I did a good job of hiding my smirk.

"By the way, how is Duo?" I asked, looking somewhat forlornly at my inbox.

Heero furrowed his brow. "He's... fine. I'm sorry, we were supposed to meet you for dinner last week."

"It's all right," I shook my head dismissively. "I understand. The two of you... you really can't spend enough time alone. I mean. You have no idea... how much. Or how little. Time you have." I made sure to be just a bit choked up at the end, and ducked my chin a bit.

Guilt probably has no effect on Heero, but it’s the act that's important. I was a grieving widower, after all.

Heero coughed, and said something pleasantly noncommittal about Friday, and we shook hands. He left, that flinty, steely look in his eyes.

I spent the rest of the morning in my office, grinning uncontrollably at odd intervals. With any luck, I would be about five steps closer to my ultimate goal by Monday.





"What's in the bag, Duo?"

Even though his voice was cold, I could hear the anger in it. I always could. I didn't know why I recognised fear in it, too.

"Why?" I countered. "You wanna search it?"

He grimaced. "Of course not."

I shook my head, the answering anger flaring up. "How come I don't believe you, Heero? For weeks now, you've been checking my mail as a matter of routine - investigating every site I visit online. Fuck it, you've even been over my car, and several times at that. I'd think checking my personal belongings is the least of your little foibles."

"Don't be ridiculous ..." His protest was wary.

"Maybe I'm the only one who can follow your tracks," I said, bitterly. "After all, I live with you. I know you. I thought that was a good thing, you know? Not a one way ticket to Big Brother. You've been spying on me, checking my every move. Ever since -"

"No!" His voice was sharp. "Duo, please don't go into that again."

I was relentless: things had been brewing for a while, y'know? "Hell, ever since you interfered with my ski-ing trip. Had them rip the centre apart, floor by floor - initiated criminality checks on the staff - demanded safety inspections on every damned step of the journey." He was breathing steadily but deeply - his eyes looked wild. "Then it all fell through, didn't it, Heero? The invitation to me was withdrawn: the trip cancelled. A trip I'd waited months for - saved for. And you knew that, didn't you? Knew what it meant to me?"

"Yes," he said, so softly I hardly heard him.

"Why?" I was shocked at how distressed my tone was. "What earthly reason did you have to spoil things for me? What warped, selfish reason could you possibly have?" I thought you cared for me, cried my thoughts, but pride made me bite back the actual words.

"I ... can't say. It might have been dangerous."

"You heard something?" I searched his agonised expression. "Some warning bulletin - some communication from our agents over there? Heero, is there something you want to tell me?"

He shook his head, dumbly.

I swallowed, hard. "It's not just that weekend, Heero. Fuck, you're there at my elbow all the time nowadays, checking my food, my drink, who I answer the fucking door to. You're creeping round while I sleep - I know you're up in the middle of the night. And a couple days ago, I found you checking my gun..."

"It was - unforgivable." His eyes narrowed, like he was in pain.

"Too fucking right," I snapped. "I can't stand it, Heero, being harassed like that, and you know it. Just back off."

We were silent for a moment. We didn't meet each other's eyes.

"So what is in the bag?"

"Some clothes," I said. My throat felt tight. "I need to be away from here for a while. Trowa's offered me his spare room for a couple nights..."

"No," said Heero, very sharply.

"I'm sorry?"

"I don't want you going there," he said. Looked like he struggled with the words, though fuck knows why he couldn't just say things outright.

"It ain't your choice," I said, rather more aggressively than I meant. "The guy has been patience itself. He's lost everything in his own life - he's the guy who really needs comfort and company, but he's offered support to me all the way."

"You think you need his support?" Heero looked stunned.

I shrugged, disturbed myself. "You don't seem to need mine, Heero." So that's where we stand... "Maybe we both need some space."

Yeah, Tro had been a good friend to me. Despite his own troubles, he was always welcoming. No strings - no hassle. He didn't probe about me and Heero, but he had an uncanny knack of knowing just when Heero's behaviour had been at its most ... bizarre. And he was there for me, every time.

He wasn't out of his own personal woods yet, of course - couple of nights he'd cried on my shoulder in return. I'd found it best just to hold him and be there to listen, he seemed to settle with that. It wasn't hard for me, either. If I were being really honest, I'd admit he felt good pressed up against me, his skin against mine. Can't say I'd never found him attractive. But then he'd always had Quatre, and - of course - for me, there'd been Heero.

I'd stayed over a few times at Tro's - though I never told Heero. He'd assumed I was on assignment, and I never contradicted him. All quite innocent, of course, but Heero being in the mood he was nowadays - well, Trowa was kind of like my rock now, whereas it had always been Heero in the past. Trowa's hands were always very calming, holding me, touching me as a friend. Fuck, Heero's touch had started to feel like he was always patting down and strip-searching me.

I couldn't work out what was happening to us. But I needed some time to think it through.

Heero looked really pissed. "Has Trowa said anything to you?"

"About what?" He was just confusing me even more. I sighed. "I expect he just thinks you're being over-cautious, Heero. He's told me that you have a perfectly natural suspicion of danger to us all; that you're a very thorough guy, and your violent past has probably coloured the way you cope with the present. It happens: hell, there are syndromes named for it. He says he cares for all your more obsessive ways Heero, he really does. Like I do, man ..."

He looked like he wanted to take my arm and hold me back. I moved away: didn't want this to get ugly. "You're treating me like a kid, Heero, not a partner. You're messing in my life all the time - won't talk to me about things, explain yourself. I hate to see you like this." I picked up my bag and opened the door.

"I'll call," I said, as gently as I could manage. "But think about it, right? Maybe you need to get some help."





I shut off my computer at a quarter to four in the morning. I was getting used to sleeping at the office. Amongst the numerous advantages were that when Quatre's sisters came to visit, whatever they were going to talk to me about, it stopped them dead in their tracks. They all assumed that I wasn't sleeping because of my terrible grief and sorry. When Heero dropped in unexpectedly, he thought pretty much the same.

And when Duo called me up to tell me that Heero had planted a tracking device on him, I was well rested for a full night of tears and comfort.

It was an odd courtship we were engaged in, one that only I was aware of, but I was beginning to see the signs. The way Duo looked at me was changing. I was becoming... important to him. More important, perhaps, than Duo could have ever expected.

I slipped into Duo's bedroom. He'd slept here more in the past two weeks than he had at home. A paranoid Heero... was a frightening thing. A part of me... a small part of me... felt guilty. Not for what I was doing to Heero, but for what I was doing to Duo.

However, I was quite certain I could make it all up to him. I had suggested, shyly, that we go whitewater rafting next weekend. I told him that I craved things that would make me feel alive, because this shell of a life I was leading... It was like I was the walking dead.

I knelt down next to his bed. It had been an easy thing to say, because it wasn't a lie. More and more and more, my thoughts turned to him, gravitated around him, fixated on him, until my bones ached for him. Two days ago, I met him for lunch, and he had a mark just under his collar and he'd been grinning. Some days with Heero weren't so bad, he'd said, blushing.

I brushed back his bangs, let my hand slip over his braid. I couldn't resist just touching his lips. He sighed, and murmured in his sleep. Was he dreaming of Heero?

I had to kill Heero.

Killing Quatre had been like a game. It was because I wasn't too desperate that it went so well. I could take my time, and let things progress naturally, because I’d had the impression that I had all the time in the world. And the sex hadn't been bad. He was never really adventurous, but that was fine.

If I could have even just kissed Duo, if I could have slipped under the covers with him and held him... If I could have moved inside his body and watched him gasp, swallowed his moans as he swallowed mine... I asked for a lot, but this crazy love, it was driving me wild.

That Heero could touch him, could taste him, that Heero could kiss him and fuck him and could hear his professions of love...

Heero had to die.

Subtlety, of course, was the key. Killing Quatre had taught me a lot about getting away with murder, and with Heero as the victim, I had to be doubly careful.

There was no way I was going to lose.

I leaned in close, so my lips almost touched Duo's ear. "You're going to be mine."

Smiling, I went to my bedroom. It wasn't going to be too much longer now...





It was good, just to sit in the small kitchen in the lodge and gaze at the mountain view. It was very early, just around dawn - the light was so much brighter here than in the city. The mug of coffee was hot in my hands and I knew there was nothing planned for the guests until later in the day. I felt calmer than I had for ages.

This is good ... I thought. It was sort of disturbing. I probably ought to have been examining things, rather than just savouring them, but ... what the hell.

I realised Trowa was also up, standing in the doorway behind my chair - his gaze on me made the hairs on the back of my neck rise. Heero used to be like that, moving around me almost silently, alerting me only when he spoke or touched me, his fingers caressing and confident. Trowa's was a different approach - I knew that when I turned around there'd be that tentative smile on his face, almost apologetic.

I knew what he thought he had to apologise for. I also knew it wasn't necessary.

I stood up, scraping the chair back rather clumsily. Despite the coffee, my mouth felt dry. As I turned, I also stepped forward, not allowing him any time to speak, not allowing him to suffer any more confusion. I drew him to me, and I kissed him. The taste of his lips was fresh to me, just as a new mouth can - and should - feel.

"Good morning," I murmured, my tongue moving coyly against his.

"Duo ..." He looked disorientated; his hair was a mess. Made me smile: made me feel surprisingly protective. "Look, Duo, I know it's a cliché, but about last night ..."

I kissed him again, silencing his words, sliding my arm round his waist. He kissed me back, more eagerly, no doubt about it. His body was still soft from sleep, warm under the thin tee shirt he'd just pulled on. I'd left him in the bed, snoring lightly, arms flung above his head, wrapped carelessly in the sheets like a Christmas present I'd never thought to have.

It was my bed.

"Hey," I said, softly. "It's fine. It's not like we planned for this to happen - and it's my fault, taking advantage of you when you're still so vulnerable."

"We both took advantage," he said, and his voice was firmer now. There was a spark in his eye that excited me. I wondered why I'd never seen it before. "But with all that's gone on recently ... I thought it might just be pity."

"No," I said sharply. "Not that." Yeah, I cared for him as a friend, watching his quiet, solitary grief - and Quatre had been dear to me too. But that didn't entirely explain what had happened with us, did it? This weekend away had started out like a glorious escape - rediscovering the active life I'd always led before our recent troubles. Trowa had insisted he organise it all - I think he may have needed the distraction, or something. All I know is, I appreciated it. And then there'd been this further development ...

The thrill of the first day's rafting had made our hearts race and our laughter sound bright and awed in the fresh mountain air - then we'd stripped off our damp clothing in the same room, eager to keep talking as we changed, re-living the shared experience. Hadn't seen Trowa so animated for a long while - it made me feel good. I'd seen how his eyes were always on me over supper and drinks, how his mood mirrored mine, how his conversation fell so neatly into step with my own. Then he'd stumbled against me on our way back to our rooms, and I was sure I saw moisture in his eyes. I held his pale face in my hands and my head had swum with more than the wine. It had felt so natural to kiss him, and he'd returned it after an initial hesitation. It had lasted a long time; and it had been very, very good.

And 'pity' most certainly didn't explain last night - how we'd taken that kiss so much further.

"You still care for Heero?" Trowa asked, softly. "Despite -" He broke off, as if sorry he'd started that particular line of talk.

"Of course I do, we've been friends so long," I sighed. My heart felt numb - I honestly didn't think that Heero and I would ever be the same. The thought of losing him as a lover was more painful than I'd expected, which shocked me - but I didn't want to go into that now. I didn't want to spoil this great place, this great mood, this great adventure - and I didn't want to burden Tro with my failures, did I? "But he's been pushing me away, further each time. I guess I should try harder to understand what's unbalancing him ... but he'll never open up, keeps everything like his own exclusive secret ..." My voice failed too.

"Duo ... don't beat yourself up about it. You've done all you could." There was a shake of some emotion in Trowa's voice I couldn't recognise. He tugged my head back down on to his shoulder, and I nuzzled against his neck. It was a new smell; a new caress; a new thrill. That kiss last night had been the start - it had encouraged my hands, his hands too, touching each other, promising pleasure. Then the teasing had turned swiftly into something far more passionate, far more basic. My hand had been down the back of his pants and his tongue had been lapping at my throat before we'd managed to fumble open the door to my room and fall inside. He'd certainly been eager - he'd welcomed everything I offered - and it felt like he unlocked a sensuality in me that'd been hiding. How long was it since Heero and I had fucked? Hell, I hadn't relaxed with the guy for weeks, he couldn't lose the wild look in his eyes whenever we touched. But I relaxed with Trowa, all right: I'd needed attention so badly ...

But Heero ... "They talk about him at work, Tro, they think I can't hear, but they still do. Everyone does it now - even my own partner. They talk about him like he's gone mad, like he's out of control. What can I say? Look, I don't want to disillusion you, and I can't believe it myself, but there's a rumour they found his tracks on the system, hacking into the departmental database, investigating surveillance records, personnel, stuff like that ... shit!"

Trowa shook his head gently; I felt his hair brush my cheek. Last night that hair had caressed my neck as he knelt over me, his head dipping down, his tongue licking at my throat, strong hands running along my thighs, parting them. His dark eyes, asking me; his shallow breath, wanting me. "You can tell me anything, Duo. I care for him, just like you do. He's our friend. We know how vulnerable he is - what he's capable of." His voice was sanity itself; the voice that last night had hissed need in my ear; had groaned my name when he slid slowly into me.

The desire shivered through me again. Trowa's lips were damp on my jaw, his words murmured into my neck. "He'll be OK. Things will change."

Doubt nagged at me, but it was fading in the face of the warm, comforting embrace. My hands slipped slowly down Trowa's arms, feeling the muscles tense beneath me. I couldn't help but wonder what miracle had allowed me to get away for this weekend - for us to get away - without Heero coming down on me like some marauding, possessive lunatic. I was thankful for that - weary of the scenes with him. It was increasingly obvious that I couldn't do anything right for him - and God knows, both Trowa and I had needed the break.

I realised what else I'd needed - and what other delights I'd discovered. My fingers tightened around Trowa's wrists and I pressed my body up against him, feeling the swelling between his legs, nudging it against my own growing arousal. I ached so deeply in my groin that it saturated me: everything shuddered out of focus. Trowa felt like sanctuary to me.

"God ... Duo ..." Trowa's mouth was against my ear. His hand was at my waist, tugging at the band of my sweats, sliding his fingers inside. I instinctively thrust my hips out against his touch, but just for a second, I felt a cold shiver down my back.

"There's more going on with Heero than that, Tro. Just between you and me, OK? I caught sight of stuff in the apartment, last time I went back for some clothes. There were guns - plenty of ammo. Not departmental issue. Where the fuck did it all come from? What's he up to?" I felt Trowa stiffen against me - shit, I'd just brought him more distress. "Look, I'm sorry, you don't need this. When I get back ..."

"You need your space," Trowa interrupted. He was stroking me, sliding strong fingers up and down my swollen flesh. How the hell was a guy to think straight? "That's what you deserve, Duo. Don't see him - don't listen to him, at least not until he's making sense again. Stay with me for as long as you need. Too much damned stress for you... " Trowa's voice was balm, and underneath was a purr, a throaty plea for me. "I just want you to feel good. Listen to me, Duo."

"Trowa ..." I wanted to thank him, but I wasn't exactly sure what for. It was hard to concentrate on anything except for the passion coiling in my groin and the delicious memories of last night. All the times we fucked - all the positions, like Trowa had wanted to try everything. His fervour had been a bit of a surprise to me. I dragged my head back and looked straight at him - I was startled by the ferocity of his gaze. "Tro ... who'd have thought we'd be here like this, eh?"

"Hush, Duo." He smiled, and his kiss swallowed my uneasy laugh. He pushed down at the sweats and my cock sprang free, hot and damp in his wide, strong palm. "We have all weekend to talk," he murmured. "But I don't want to talk right now. I don't think you want to, either."

Trowa's other hand felt good in the small of my back - he had a way of stroking my spine that was too harsh to tickle, and yet too soft to resist. Anyway, I knew how my resistance was, at the moment. It was tired ... and needy. Trowa sank to his knees on the kitchen floor and looked up at me, dark eyes swirling, as if he was demanding I look at him, demanding I see his hands on my thighs, tangling in the curls around my balls, demanding I see his lips, wet and thick, sinking hungrily over me, sucking me, pleasing me ... Demanding I see him. My head swam, my heart beat too fast for coherent thoughts. It was all too, too good.





I left before Duo, feeling more than just a bit excited. It was so close now, and I could more than taste it. In fact, I'd spent the entire weekend doing more than tasting, and now, everything was entirely in my grasp.

Just one last nail for the coffin, and Duo would be mine. What reason would I have to feel guilty? Clearly, Heero had the potential for disturbing behavior. And I was going to make Duo exceedingly happy.

He was totally willing.

It was always those last details, though, that were the most important. This was no time for basking in the pleasure of the weekend, or slacking off.

I had a hero to topple.

On the way back home, I made a few innocent phone calls; first, to the office, and then, based on what I heard there, to the Preventers. Shockingly, Heero had been pulled in for questioning. He’d spent the weekend in a Preventers' detention cell, being grilled for his 'suspicious' activity.

Really, it had come as a total surprise to me. Honestly.

Heero wasn't talking, however, and while they had a lot of circumstantial evidence of misconduct, they had no actual crime yet, so with very little prodding, Une was willing to let him go with a serious warning.

When I got to the office, the second and most critical - and really, unexpectedly wonderful - thing was waiting for me. Anna handed the brown envelope to me, unable to meet my gaze. Still photographs from the security cameras in the mountain lodge Duo and I had spent the weekend at; photographs that were automatically printed based on my instructions, so no one saw them, except Anna, from cameras I had carefully repositioned before Duo arrived.

"When Agent Yuy arrives, please allow him to barge right into my office," I informed her.

I went through the contents of the folder, finding the best shots, and destroying the rest in my trashcan. I had the fire well out before Heero burst into my office.

"Heero. I understand you've had a bad weekend," I said calmly.

"You bastard. You fucking..." He slammed his fists into my desk. "I don't know what kind of sick games you're playing here with our lives, but you're going to start being straight with me, or I'm going to tear this place up if I have to, but I will know what is going on!"

"Heero, calm down. Sit. Look. I'm sorry about what happened. I was away this weekend, or else I would have interceded for you." I must have struck just the right balance of regret and urgency. "You want more details; I can give them to you. I can give you a name. I'm not sure if he's responsible for Quatre's death, too," I let myself get a bit choked up there. It was easy, because I almost wanted to laugh. "But he's definitely the one targeting Duo."

"Don't be coy!" Heero jumped up, and slammed his fists into my desk hard enough to crack the veneer. "Stop dancing around the facts! Tell me what you know."

I cleared my voice, and looked away, pained. "Heero. This isn't easy. Please, sit, and shut up. I'm telling you what you need to know. But." I sighed, and covered my eyes with my hand. "Normally, I wouldn't want to get involved in something like this. It's between you and Duo, and... frankly, it's none of my business. Unfortunately... Do you know where Duo was this weekend?"

"Mission," Heero said dismissively, clearly confused, and suspicious.

I pulled out a stack of papers, and tossed them to Heero. Duo's duty sheets for the past seven months. "No mission, Heero. He's... he hasn't had a lot of missions lately."

Heero just stared at the sheets, uncomprehending.

This was way too much fun. I pushed the pictures of our weekend across the table to Heero. In each, Duo was clear enough that there was no doubt, especially to one who has seen him in the state of ecstasy before, what Duo was doing. Duo's partner, that is to say, me, was too blurry to see any features. After letting Heero absorb the pictures for a minute, I pushed another picture across the desk to him. "Recognize him? Alex Jenkins. He's Duo's partner now, for the past six months. I've been tracking him for a while. I suspected that the organization had a few people inside the Preventers. I was more than a bit disturbed when I found that Duo's partner was raising red flags, so I devoted all my attention to him."

"Why didn't you tell me about this!?" Heero roared.

"I didn't know about..." I waved my hand over the sex pictures. "Until this weekend. I trailed him, and found that... he was meeting Duo for a rendezvous. I know that Duo loves you, Heero," I said earnestly. "Clearly, this Jenkins is doing something to Duo, maybe poisoning Duo's mind with lies about you, seducing him with that sort of subterfuge. But, you can see how dangerous this is. And Heero, we have to proceed cautiously. We have to plan our actions because..."

He threw his chair back as he stood up. "Don't worry. I've got it covered." He stormed out.

I sat back in my chair, and grinned. I paged my secretary, letting her know that I was to be entirely undisturbed, save for when Duo Maxwell called or came by.

These were the times when it was good that I had access to the most powerful, and subtle, satellites in the system. Only the best could patch into the Preventers internal security feeds.

Heero must have found those weapons I planted in their apartment. He was making good use of them, too. Of course, he didn't pull out the arsenal until he met with resistance. He found Jenkins - perhaps I should feel guilty about that. It wasn't Jenkins' fault he was made Duo's partner. But, there were always casualties in war, and, to be honest...

Everyone had to die at some time. Didn't really matter when, so there was no reason to get worked up.

Heero sprayed the guy's brains all over the wall, which was sloppy, really. If there really had been some secret organization, and not just me, we would have needed him to get more information. But, jealousy was a terrible emotion. It choked rationality dead.

Of course, at that point, Heero was surrounded by about hundred agents, and he wasn't quite satisfied. That was the thing with bloodlust. Once it got a hold of a person, it didn't let go with death. Death was a disappointment, really. It never lasted long enough.

Heero was Heero, but he'd gotten himself cornered while taking out Jenkins. If he'd put down his guns, he might have gotten out just fine, but he wasn't about to let it end like that, and there were too many agents there, terrified by stories of the wars.

Heero took three bullets, and stayed on his feet. Then some sharpshooter out of my field of vision got him right between the eyes.

End of the game.

I shut off all my monitors, and waited. It wouldn't be long. In fact, it was only twenty minutes later. Duo burst in, tears in his eyes.

"Trowa! My God, you won't... won't believe what happened!"

I got up, and took Duo into my arms, comforting him.

Everything was just as it should be.





The room seemed claustrophobic, despite so few people there: the drinks were too warm: the conversation stilted. Everyone wore muted colours - black was the order of the day. Guess a wake wasn't exactly going to be a party, was it? But I couldn't help but compare it with Quatre's, where his family had seemed to swamp the place, a sea of sanctimonious sympathy eddying back and forth round the bereaved Trowa and the rest of us - his true friends.

How long ago was that? Fuck, I never thought I'd be attending two such events in a matter of months. I didn't know if I wanted to laugh hysterically or cry.

Trowa had stayed close beside me all day - it seemed odd that now he was the one doing the pitying. "Duo, are you OK?"

Huh?, I thought. Just how OK am I meant to be, attending Heero's funeral? He should've known the answer to that already, having lived through the absolute hell of losing a loved one. And I'd not even had the pleasure of being with Heero to the end, of having been a proper couple - that had been spoiled for me, for us both, by his weird spiral into paranoia.

I glanced back round the room: took inventory. Only about ten people. Heero hadn't exactly made friends and influenced people in his last days. Great of Trowa to organise the whole thing, but you couldn't force people to pay respects to someone who'd killed their comrade. Tro was still trying to ask me things but I was in no mood for conversation. It was a relief when he was called away by one of the department's token representatives.

Respects. The word nagged at me. Heero deserved better - he always had. Fate was fucking cruel. Then there was some slight disturbance at the door and I looked across to see someone arriving late. I hadn't seen Wufei Chang for months - those long-term surveillance missions are death to any social life - but here he was today, looking sombre in his black suit. Tall, dark and handsome as hell, too. There was sympathy in his eyes that I knew was for us both - he'd never been anything less than honest.

"Duo. I wish I could say it's good to see you here." His handshake was firm and cool and in that moment, I felt as if I could rely on him totally. "I hear you lost your work partner, too. Do we know what really happened?"

Thanks, I thought, for not assuming the rumours about Heero were all true. "We'll never know what was going on - why Heero attacked Jenkins like that. There's been a hell of an investigation."

"You're signed off?"

I nodded. No-one else had dared approach the subject with me, just shooting pitying glances my way every now and then. "For a few weeks: compassionate leave. Trowa helped negotiate it for me - I'm staying round his." It had been hard to face the apartment, with all of Heero's stuff there, so Trowa's offer had been convenient for me.

Wufei still had his hand on mine: he glanced round. "Too few here. The days of proper respect are gone."

I was startled at his perception, but warmed too. "Heero hadn't been stable for a while. We weren't ... together anymore. Shit, Chang, it's been a hell of a time." He put his other hand to my elbow and I felt the strength from him flood through me. He'd been away too long - I'd missed his company.

"Remember last year?" His smile was sad. "Things were better for us all then."

Yeah... those had been happier, uncomplicated times, before Heero and I transferred here, before Quatre's accident, before all the other shit. That last mission I'd been on with Wufei - it'd been pretty intense. Isolated for several days, with limited supplies and no clear expectation of rescue. I'd thought that was it for me, to be honest, and his company had been the one spark of pleasure left. OK, so we'd shared a few secrets ... we'd got pretty close. Extreme times provoke extreme reactions, right? We were young guys, with healthy physical admiration for each other, and stuck with the likelihood of never seeing out another dawn. We made the most of it, is all I'll say.

Then Heero had been sent in to liberate us - that had started our relationship, and Wufei was commissioned someplace else. At work, I'd been paired up with Jenkins, and we all knew how spectacularly badly that partnership had ended, poor bastard.

"To have survived the wars, and then for us to suffer such dreadful fates..." Wufei was musing aloud, his eyes flickering round the hushed room. "I assume that Trowa organised all this for you? I thought Quatre's death might break him - but then I always maintained he was stronger than he looked."

"Yeah," I sighed. "He's been great. Steady ...practical."

Wufei shifted beside me, standing closer. "So - not like Heero, then?"

I smiled back at him, instinctively, and in that instant we shared memories all over again - it was that easy, that natural. Heero had been in control of himself for almost all his life, but he'd also been wild and fierce at heart, and with no time for weakness. He'd been one of a kind - he'd been a core of flame in my life, a startling lover with an energetic, confrontational passion that I'd taken for granted in my bed, who'd satisfied me time and again. He'd been my partner in more ways than one, he was part of me now, part of the man I was today.

It was shock, I guess. I don't think I'd even realised how much I had loved him. Fuck, that hurt the worst.

I glanced over at Trowa, still nodding politely to the official. A damned good friend - and a brother in bereavement. Things seemed very clear to me now, with Heero gone. Both Tro and I had known a one, true love - that was more than most people ever found. But that was our quota - there'd never be another. Sure, we'd find fun and pleasure again - hell, I was no celibate monk, and was far from converting. Tro and I had enjoyed comforting each other; and second best didn't mean second class. But Heero would be the only one that ever got that close to me.

"Duo." Wufei leaned in towards me, his voice a warm murmur at my ear. Guy wasn't making a pass - he was just careless sensuality on legs, and that was something to admire. "I'm going to be seconded back to town for a few months soon. I want to see you again. We can talk - or just be silent together, whatever you need. Just friends."

Yeah, things were clearer by the minute. "That'd be good." His hand brushed at my hip and I let it. He knew me in ways that others didn't - and he knew what the phrase 'no strings' meant. I'd always appreciated that in my friends.

I looked over to catch Trowa's eye. I'd had enough of this terrible day. "I think I'll be moving back to my apartment soon," I said to Wufei. "Guess I'll let Tro know I'll be out from under his feet." He nodded, and put a hand on my shoulder: I leaned a little back against him. Feels good, I thought. And I've got a life I need to get on with.





The official's voice just faded away. He was only 'paying respects' because he thought he'd have a great photo op on the way out the door... Yes, this is horribly tragic, of course, someone like Mr. Yuy, who has literally saved the world. It's a sad, sad day, but it brings home the point, and I've said this on the Parliament floor...

He was unimportant.

Chang had arrived. And wasted no time. I watched the way his hand found its way to Duo's waist, pulling Duo closer, like they fit together. Of course, I would have to be the last person to find it odd that anyone would want to spend more time with Duo, or get closer to him. That wasn't it, though. It wasn't just Chang. Duo was looking at him in a certain way, smiling tersely in a certain way. There was body language between them, screaming to the top of the mountains and down into the valleys. My mouth went dry, and I started to clutch at my plastic cup of cheap-ass punch until the fucking thing cracked and broke into shards.

Well.

Just how many ex-Gundam pilots would I need to kill before I could finally get Duo all to myself?








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