Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is owned by Bandai, Sunrise and Sotsu Agency and probably a host of other folks I know nothing about.

Pairings: 2x1

Special thanks to Sharon-san and Kotenyo-san for feedback. More please!!! More! Onegai? I'm begging shamelessly here... <grovels>

If you've missed the first bits, I've provided an archive link at the bottom of this e-mail.


Growing Wings
Chapter 10


It took them five days of travelling to get off the mountain--would have taken two if they hadn't been forced to leave the vehicle behind from the very beginning, but it was loud, and a child could track it, so they had both been willing enough to abandon the thing after it had served to give them an initial head-start. Neither of them was much of a woodsman, but Duo knew how to move without a trace, and he knew how to fish. They managed.

In those five days, Duo remembered a thousand things he had wanted to tell his companion, things he'd wanted to ask, stories he'd wanted to share. And he remembered why he had never told them in the first place, even before Heero had disappeared. He learned new things, too. Like the fact that he could simply not think about his new-found ability at all if he didn't want to. Could think instead about how hard it was to stand next to Heero without reaching out a hand and setting it on his shoulder, just to touch him, to know he was real and alive and warm under his fingers. How impossible it was to sleep next to him, against him to conserve body heat in the morning chill, without letting a treacherous arm slide around Heero's waist to pull them more intimately together. Asleep, he made that mistake; on the third morning he woke to the feeling of Heero's hands on his shoulder and jaw, tense with the effort of not snapping his neck. Heero's eyes, normally so hard to read, had been hard with hatred and the promise of death. He withdrew his arm; Heero let go of him. Neither of them said a word, and Duo tried to forget what he'd seen in Heero's face.

Something in Heero was damaged, and he didn't know what it was. Perhaps knowing the Preventers weren't everything they were supposed to be had damaged him. Duo had been disappointed by the knowledge, but he'd been disappointed by many things in life and had always recovered. Nor did he think the damage was anything the Shadow Army had done to Heero. Heero had already proven that he could have left them the moment he felt his mission was complete. And Kael, if it was Kael that had injured Heero? Such thoughts brought an anger he wasn't familiar with, made the heat in his body rise. Once, they had made the leaves around him start smouldering until Heero saw what was happening and smacked him to snap him out of it. Even then, only the realization that Kael was dead made him calm down. Heero was... Wounded. And Duo didn't know what to make of it or how to fix it. He was furious at his own impotence.

He did, however, know how to steal a car and a laptop once they found a small town further down the mountain. And armed with those two things, he and Heero made good time to a shuttleport. Who needed money or an ID when you could hack into any system?

The shuttleport itself was a bit more of a challenge. With cameras everywhere and tightly regulated passenger manifests, it was a tricky proposition to get on a space-bound shuttle without being seen or questioned.

Avoiding questions took creativity, but wasn't that difficult. Duo didn't dare change a passenger manifest to suit them. Chances were, the crew and check-in agents were working from printouts anyway, and any discrepancies between what they had in hand and what showed up on the screen would cause immediate problems. Instead, Duo sifted through the manifests to find one with two passenger similar enough to himself and Yuy to take their place. The two didn't need to be travelling together. It was better if they weren't.

Thankfully, it was Spring break, and the shuttles were filled with young people venturing out into the Colonies or returning Earth-side, so it didn't take long to find what they needed. He rejected their first few possibilities. Even in disguise, too many people knew their faces on the moon for them to take such a risk. Neither of them knew L3 well enough to get around quietly there. But then he found one shuttle travelling to the outlying L2 colonies, specifically to one of the outlying colonies where Duo had long ago made a personal safe-house; it was better luck than Duo had had in weeks.

They took the simplest approach possible to avoid being seen: Duo got them both jeans and college sweatshirts. A baseball cap, backpack, and jacket hid his hair nicely. Duo devotedly ogled every woman older than 15 and younger than 35. Heero he afflicted with a combed-felt Stetson and a pair of sunglasses. Not even the most naive grandmother could look in Heero's eyes and see him as anything other than what he was, so the sunglasses were a necessity. The Stetson? An American joke, one that not even the Preventers would ever be able to imagine Yuy tolerating. Heero watched men and women alike through the screen of dark plastic, his statement unreadable. Their costumes complete, they looked like two college boys going to the Colonies on Spring break, one a sloppy American, the other his worldly, cynical Asian friend.

Even if the world were watching for two Gundam pilots, they would never see them here. No, Gundam pilots were old men, dangerous men, apt as not to kill you as to look at you. And he and Heero? They looked too young and foolish to be anything other than what they were.

The boys they were replacing ended up drugged and locked in an extra storage room. They probably wouldn't be able to get out on their own, but once they were conscious, they could yell and bang on the door until someone found them. And even though it guaranteed that any followers they might have would be able to figure out the first part of their journey, Duo took heart in Heero's refusal to suggest killing them.

On the whole, things were looking up.

He scanned the port one last time from there back hallway, hastily separating out the two sets of travel papers. His set he jammed in the zippered pocket of his backpack, offering the other to Heero. "I'll meet you again on L2, right? Just do whatever you're going to--you know, blend if you can, and then head to the shuttleport hostel. It's next to the civic law building--you can't miss it. Big, ugly, lotsa pink marble. Not the hostel--the civic building. Anyway, they're used to seeing kids, so--"

"Duo." Heero's voice was soft, distant. It almost didn't sound like him at all. He accepted the papers, absently folding them over in half, again in fourths, then in eighths before he stopped, blinking down at them in his hand. He pushed the papers into his jacket pocket.

Duo looked up, pushing the baseball cap back. "Yeah?"

Heero looked down, then back up, meeting his eyes. "For all of this--I'm sorry."

Heero couldn't have shocked him more if he'd tapdanced naked in the terminal. Apologies were something that Heero only offered when he'd accidently murdered a shuttle full of innocent men or otherwise killed civillians. Hearing such words now, in this place, set Duo's nerves on edge. Apologies from Heero were like suicide notes from other people, and the last thing Duo needed was to worry about whether or not the Japanese pilot was planning on self-destruction for some insane reason. He scowled.

"What fo--?"

He never got the question out. Heero leaned down over him where he was crouched over his newly-packed backpack, caught his chin in warm, calloused hands, and kissed him.

It wasn't a virginal kiss. That was Duo's first realization. It was the kiss of a man grown, a man who wanted him and knew how to eloquently state his case without using any words. An open mouthed kiss. An invitation. An offer of submission.

He had never thought Heero was even able to submit to someone else, much less to do so of his own volition. That he did so here, now, with Duo, brought something fierce and bright and feral to life inside him. It was Heero he was kissing, and he might never get such a chance again. If Heero was making this offer, Duo wasn't going to let him change his mind.

Duo made a small sound without even realizing it, standing up abruptly into Heero, sliding his hands into Heero's hair. Somehow, somewhere, he knew his hands were shaking, and he knotted them in the heavy strands, holding him ferociously tight against him, pinning him there so that neither of them could draw away for breath. His heart was a trapped bird, battering itself wildly against the cage of his chest. Heero's eyes were closed, and he was so much shorter than Duo that he had to lean into him, tilting his head back with his hands warm on Duo's chest, to keep from losing contact with him. The hat, the ridiculous cowboy hat that had amused Duo so much, tipped back and fell to the floor. Duo didn't care, couldn't think about such things, but if he were asked later, he would have realized that he liked how small Heero was against him. It hurt and it felt wonderful, and if the world were going to end, he wanted to be right there when it did.

Then Heero pushed back from him, his eyes bright with something Duo couldn't name--not fear precisely, nor pleasure. He took an unsteady step back, then another, his eyes fixed on Duo's face. Never breaking his gaze, he leaned down, caught his bag, and slung it over his shoulder. He fumbled for a moment, caught the hat, and bolted off into the crowd.

Dazed, he reached up, ran his fingertips over his lips, and smiled. For a long time, Duo stared after him, tasting Heero on his lips, in his mouth. He felt--elated.

Next time... Next time he wouldn't let Heero pull a disappearing act on him like that.

Stooping, he picked up the almost-forgotten backpack, slung it over his shoulder, and slouched his way into the crowd, whistling. He was smiling broadly, knowing he was drawing attention, but for the moment not really caring, barely able to keep from singing, when he saw something on the edge of the crowd and froze. A dark-skinned blonde man watched people come and go, eyes steadily focused on Heero in the distance. Duo blinked, someone moved in front of him, and the man was gone. Though he only saw him for a moment, and only across a milling crowd, Duo was sure it was Kael.