10-28-2000

The Angel and the Dragon

 

Greetings minna-san na no da! My previous GW fic "When a Broken Bone Makes All The Difference" was supposed to be a one-shot deal, but bending to pressure from Duo for a sequel, not to mention my own wacky brain, here is the second part no da. It takes place immediately after the end of "When a Broken Bone Makes All The Difference" and I would strongly, strongly suggest that you read that first no da. It's pretty short in comparison to this part, which is 25 pages and growing. I'll parcel it out slowly, and somewhere there'll be an end, trust me no da.

This contains all my favourite yaoi combinations, some not-so-common ones, and gets pretty yaoi at times, so if you're not comfy with the idea of male-male hot steamy sex, this isn't the fic for you. In fact, this isn't the webpage for you, but who's counting na no da.

I should say that some of the inspiration for this story comes from the excellent story called "Beautiful Stranger" by kumiko, which can be found at www.shinigami.org, and I strongly suggest you read it if you like great yaoi, though it is not necessary to read it to understand my fic no da. By no means have I stolen ideas from it, just a little inspiration to tease my gutter-housed mind no da.

All the normal disclaimers apply, I don't own the kawaii G-boys, Zechs or Treize, though I wish I did!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero met Duo's lips again, stifling the gasp of pleasure that tried to bubble up from within him. How can he have such an effect on me? Some part of him was protesting. :This is wrong, he can't control me like this! It's wrong! It's wrong!: But part of him was delirious with pleasure.

Duo's hands crept under his tank top, playing lightly over Heero's torso as though he were using a fine instrument. He grasped a nipple firmly and pulled. Heero could feel the grin against his lips as he gasped.

"Oh, I'm sorry Heero, did that hurt?" Duo asked playfully.

"Iie," Heero growled, proceeding to unbutton Duo's priest top. His hands fumbled at the unfamiliar catches and he firmly shoved Duo off him so he could see. Duo laughed, bouncing to his feet and lightly skipping away.

"So, you want my clothes off, do you?" he asked mischievously. He stood, hands on hips, legs spread slightly, and regarded Heero for a moment. Heero's hands twitched and he frowned in confusion. What did he want him to do? Go over there? What was Duo doing? Before he could come to a decision, Duo threw his head back. Lips parted, back arched, he stood frozen for a moment.

Then his hands reached back and grasped his braid. He pulled off the tie that Heero had painstakingly tied there and unraveled the braid, slowly, lovingly. Finally, his long hair was free, spilling down from his still-thrown-back head, almost sweeping the floor.

Still holding the pose, he reached up and began to slowly unfasten the catches on his black overshirt, revealing the white silk shirt underneath. He dropped his arms and wriggled suggestively, cocking his head to look at Heero from under his long lashes and the shirt dropped to the floor.

Heero tried to remember how to breathe.

:How can he do this to me?:

Duo was languishingly unbuttoning the white shirt, each movement of his hands revealing another delicious slice of skin. As the last button was released, the silk fell away slightly, revealing the various marks of their last encounter - a purpling bruise on his injured shoulder, an angry red slashmark on his left side, near the curve of one slim hip. Part of Heero's mind noted that last, but most of him didn't care at the moment. He felt like every vein and muscle in his body was going to explode.

Duo unbuttoned his cuffs and licked his lips.

Heero felt faint.

The silk dropped to the floor, puddling among the black already there. The boy bent forward, his long hair rippling to the floor in a chestnut waterfall. He looked up momentarily, took in the sweat trickling down Heero's face, his heaving chest, the bulge in the front of his oh-so-tight spandex shorts, and flashed a grin.

He lowered his head again and Heero could see his hand moving through the curtain of hair. He heard himself give an inarticulate cry of frustration, which was answered by another flash of a grin. Then the last garment dropped to the ground, barely seen through the chestnut waves. Then Duo threw back his head again with a flourish.

He stood over Heero, triumphantly naked, his member erect and swollen. "Now," he said. "What do you want now, Heero?"

"Want?"

Heero berated himself, but it didn't alter the fact that Duo had reduced him to something akin to a quivering mass of jelly.

Duo knelt down and grasped Heero's hands, pulling him fully into a sitting position. "Don't worry, just don't move," he whispered. Heero nodded numbly.

Duo slowly drew off Heero's tank top and lowered his mouth to his nipple, pushing him gently back down to the mattress. Heero squirmed and writhed under him, emitting little, hungry, supplicant sounds in the back of his throat.

Finally, Duo took pity on him.

Without warning, he put out his hand and rubbed Heero's swollen member. Heero cried out and arched his back, his hips thrusting upwards. In an amazingly deft motion, Duo stripped him of the shorts and flung them away before he landed.

Heero gave him an incredulous look and Duo shrugged. "What?" he asked, grinning from ear to ear. Heero grunted, he was tired of this; he tangled one hand in Duo's long hair and wrapped the other around one slim shoulder, then flipped the other boy onto his back. Heero straddled Duo, then suddenly paused. He had the upper hand now, but he didn't quite know what to do with it.

Duo lay spread out before him, wearing nothing but his cross and a smile. Heero was hotter then he thought possible, and he didn't have the first clue what to do about it.

Duo wiped the sweat from his forehead. "So, now that you've got me, what are you going to do with me?"

"Stop mocking me!" Heero roared, clenching his fists in frustration.

Duo was instantly contrite. "Gomen, koibito, but you looked so kawaii with that uncertain expression on your face. Stop playing these power games and let me make you scream."

But Heero wasn't ready to be pacified. "And what makes you the expert?"

Duo's expression twisted with remembered pain. "I know I haven't told you much about my past, so I'll forget you asked that, koi." Then, his violet eyes softened. "Just let me love you."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo's hands passed lovingly over Heero's body, as if to memorized every plane, every valley.

Heero was not so gentle.

As if to deny those feelings he felt, or to prove that his initial statement, that he would 'never love' Duo, he fought him at every turn. As Duo took his time, lingering over his nipples and the soft smooth flesh of his stomach, Heero tangled fists in his hair, forcing him further down his body. As he came, he dug sharp, muscular fingers into Duo's bruised and battered body. Once he had gotten the hang of the rhythm and amount of pressure required to give Duo the maximum amount of pleasure, he brought Duo to orgasm with brutal efficiency.

When it was over, Duo lay curled against Heero, marveling that hands that had been so cruel at the height of passion, could be caressing his injured shoulder with such unconscious gentleness. The ordeal had left him satisfied in body, but he felt acutely unsatisfied in spirit.

He was exhausted by the combination of sex, fighting and injury. He was sweating and hot from exertion, and it felt like the room's temperature had just dropped 10 degrees. He shivered and moved closer to Heero, who seemed to be asleep, but he didn't seem to give off any warmth at all. Duo didn't know how much of what he was experiencing was real, and how much was due to the misery he felt.

Well fuck, what were you expecting, Maxwell? Wild expressions of passion and love? Loving tenderness? Not from the Perfect Soldier you weren't!

But he had to admit, he'd kinda hoped that was what he would get.

He sighed and wrapped his trembling arms tighter around Heero, trying to coax some warmth into his limbs.

He closed his eyes and finally fell into a restless, fitful sleep.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero was rudely awakened by the sensation of Duo digging his fingers painfully into his collarbone.

Not to mention the fact that he was shouting in his ear.

"Duo! What the hell-" he cut himself off sharply as he registered the temperature of Duo's shaking body. He was burning up. "Che!" Heero swore, disentangling himself from Duo. The other boy seemed only to want to wrap himself further around Heero. "Stop it, you baka!" He exclaimed, batting away the grasping hands. "I'm going to get your clothes!"

"Heero?" Duo opened his eyes and looked at him glassily.

"Yeah?" he responded warily.

"I'm sorry to be such a bother to you. Good thing that won't be happening much longer."

Heero turned away, searching with his fingers for the pile of clothing. "What the hell are you talking about, Duo?"

"Well," he said in a reasonable tone. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to die, so you won't have to bother with me anymore."

Heero located the clothes and he turned around. "You're not going to die," he stated firmly. Even in the dim light he could see the angry red lines radiating from the gash in Duo's side. He swore again and raised Duo's white shirt, moving to put it on him.

Duo reacted with a look of blank terror and he scooted back against the wall. "Look, Heero, maybe if this isn't going to kill me, we can work something out. You don't have to strangle me with my shirt."

Heero first reminded himself sharply that Duo was very sick, probably delusional, and not reacting normally as a result. Second, he rearranged his features into a pleasant, non-threatening expression. It took a few seconds, and it hurt, as muscles long-unused were stretched out of their familiar configurations, but he managed it. At least, he assumed he had, because Duo seemed to calm down somewhat. Pitching his voice in what he hoped was a soothing tone, he said. "I'm not going to kill you, Duo. You're feverish, and I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to warm you up."

He started to advance again with the shirt.

Duo broke into a brilliant, sexy smile. "Really? Will you warm me up, Hee-chan?"

Heero winced, but nodded.

Duo glomped him, taking Heero by surprise and sending both down in a tangle on the floor. Heero sputtered and fought his way out of the tangle of hair and groping boy. "Kisama! Duo! Get off me!"

Duo turned the full force of his pout upon him. "But, I thought you were going to warm me up."

"I will, but just hold still and behave, all right?"

"All right, beloved," Duo said agreeably, then yawned mightily.

Heero was immeasurably relieved that Duo was quite deeply asleep by the time he had finished dressing him, tucking him under the covers, and curling up beside him. He wrapped himself around Duo as snugly as he could and hoped it would help stop the other boy's shaking.

Duo did not rest easily. He alternated between pushing away the covers and Heero as though he were hot, and clutching both to him and shivering with chill. He tossed and muttered, sometimes crying out. Heero just held onto him and wished he could pray.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Walking down a hallway. It's dark. I shiver with cold. The sound of dripping water echoes in the space, but my feet make no sound on the chill concrete floor. I am Death. I have come.

I grip a girl's face in my hand, pinching her cheeks so they puff forward and squish her lips like a parody of a kiss. Blood runs from her glazing eyes and drips over my hand.

The sound of dripping water...

Dripping blood.

I place my wet fingers in my mouth and the taste of iron and salt floods my tongue.

It's a gun barrel. Heero draws the cold barrel of the gun out of my mouth and along the line of my chin, it leaves a trail of saliva, cold and slimy, behind.

"You're mine," he says.

"Yours..." I say. It's so hot... He places his hand behind my back and places the barrel against my Adam's Apple.

"Omae o korosu."

"Please..."

His lips brush my own and burn like fire. I feel my whole body blister and char and my world is shattered by an earthquake. I scream--

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo awoke, a scream tearing his throat, to Heero's face as he leaned over him, shaking him awake.

"Wake up, kisama! You're dreaming."

"I'm awake, I'm awake," he said, pushing Heero away. Or trying to. "Oi, Heero, why am I so weak?"

"You're sick. You have a serious fever caused by some kind of infection from a wound you sustained."

"Oh yeah."

Duo felt himself being drawn back into sleep and fought it, fearing the frightening, vivid dreams.

"Did I say anything while I was sleeping?" he asked.

"No, you just moaned and muttered a lot, and then screamed when I tried to wake you up."

Duo giggled. "You just used up a week's worth of words, Hee-chan."

Heero grunted. "Hn."

"I dreamed that you were putting a gun in my mouth and that you were going to kill me, but you kissed me instead and it hurt a lot. That's why I screamed."

"I won't do that. Go to sleep, Duo."

"No," Duo said stubbornly.

"You're sick, you need your sleep."

Duo turned to pout at Heero and discovered that cold cobalt eyes had been replaced by emerald. Dark hair had lightened somewhat to brown. Solo looked a hell of a lot older than he'd been the last time Duo's seen him, but that made sense since that was eight years ago. :How did I think Heero was here, anyway?: Duo thought. :I must have been hallucinating.:

"Solo? What the fuck are you doing here, man? Sorry, I thought you were someone else."

"What?" Solo responded.

"Don't worry, man. Hey, I thought you were dead."

"What are you talking about?"

"Yeah, pretty weird, eh?"

"Hn."

"Hey, you've never been so quiet before. Come here, man, I missed ya."

Duo reveled in the feeling of his old friend in his arms. :Man, he smells like Heero.: He thought idly.

"Why am I so fucking cold, Solo?" he whispered into his soft hair.

"I told you, you're sick."

"That was Heero," Duo said, trying to suppress a yawn. "He's the one who said that."

"Well, you should listen to Heero more often. Go to sleep, Duo," his friend urged, stroking his cheek with a cool, calloused hand. Duo couldn't help but comply.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"Now... if I were a Gundam Pilot, where would I hide?"

A manicured hand passed slowly over the electronic map laid out on its owner's desk. The map contained the latest information on the area in which its owner's soldiers were reasonably certain they'd pinned down pilots 01 and 02. Warehouses and other buildings showed as blocks of grey and white - white for areas already explored, and that was growing even as he watched. Solders' official post positions showed as red dots.

Treize looked up as the other occupant of the room shifted uncomfortably. "What's wrong, little dragon?"

Wufei glared at the Oz general fiercely. "I can't believe you're doing this right in front of me."

"Doing what?"

"Kisama!"

Treize leaned back in his chair. "Now, dragon, you know I'm not actually involved in the search. Zechs is running that, and he's giving the orders. The chances of my having some incredible insight that will change the outcome of this little game are incredibly low." Then he leaned forward again. "Unless, of course, you wish to provide me with some of that insight."

Wufei flushed and looked away, clenching his fists with barely-repressed rage. "I am not going to stand here while you plan the deaths of two of my friends," he declared.

"Not death, little dragon. Not death. I have far more ambitious plans for them."

"So use me, for whatever you're going to do!"

A smile tugged at the corners of Treize's lips. "I can't do that. How would you explain to your compatriots how I captured you? I don't think they'd appreciate hearing about how many chances I've had, so to speak." He stood and raised his hand to caress Wufei's cheek. The hand was batted away. "Besides, I couldn't do that to you, my little dragon."

"I'm leaving," Wufei announced sullenly, refusing to meet Treize's eyes.

"Yes, a good idea." Treize agreed. "Go and give your friends aid in rescuing 01 and 02. I give you my blessing to use any information you have extracted while here, of course."

Wufei glared at him. "In other words, you don't think it'll do any good."

"On the contrary. I wish you luck."

Wufei slipped out the window, running across the lawn of Treize's estate on catfeet and down into the forest at the back. He located his motorcycle and hopped on, taking one last look at the magnificent house.

:Good luck, he says. Kisama! We'll get Heero and Duo back, no matter what he thinks.:

Back in the mansion, Treize took a sip of wine and traced the edges of the rapidly-diminishing pool of grey on the map. "Good luck, little dragon. You'll need it."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"You have to find them, Trowa!"

"I'm working on it, Quatre," Trowa said, somewhat irritably, resisting the urge to turn away from the computer to stroke his lover's blonde hair comfortingly. He'd hacked into the Oz database and was nearing the ability to locate their plans for capturing Heero and Duo, but every second counted. At this point, he didn't care if they knew he was there, but he couldn't let them find out where he was accessing them from, and the longer they knew he was there, the more likely that he would be cut off.

Distantly, he heard a door slam as Wufei returned from... wherever he'd gone last night. Even Duo, in the face of red-faced, and loud, refusals to divulge any information, had long since given up on finding out where Wufei went periodically. Trowa had nailed it down to a few countries where Wufei's lover could live, but the girl must be pretty rich to travel so much. Personally, he didn't care, so long as Wufei had an outlet for that anger of his. How he did it, or with whom, didn't much matter.

He felt Quatre's presence leave his shoulder as he left to fill Wufei in on the details of Heero and Duo's failure, narrow escape, and possible imminent capture. Meanwhile, Trowa passed the final barrier and was presented with a map. The symbols of the map were inescapable, and even as he watched, he could see the white, like a poisonous fog, drawing closer to the centre. Even if Heero and Duo were lucky enough to be trapped in that warehouse in the extreme middle of the map, they weren't going to be able to hold out until morning. He hurriedly escaped from the network, covering his presence as much as possible, even as he was rising to his feet, shouting.

"Quatre, Wufei, get to your Gundams. We're going to have to blast them out, and we've less than two hours to get there to do it!" Frenzied cursing and pounding feet greeted his announcement as Trowa raced from the room. :This is going to be close.:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero didn't think he'd ever get to sleep. Between Duo's moaning and tossing and periodic waking up to include Heero in his delusions, not to mention his anxiety over the soldiers outside, he lay awake for what seemed like hours.

At what must have been close to dawn, Heero could hear the unmistakable sounds of the search coming closer. Duo had fallen into a deeper sleep a little while ago, though he was still burning with fever. Heero checked his gun, slung his and Duo's packs onto his back, and shook Duo roughly awake.

"Huh? Whatcha want, Heero?" Duo asked sleepily.

"Wake up, bakayarou! They're getting closer. We have to shoot anyone who comes in here and try to make a break for it."

That roused Duo enough to sit up. He fumbled with his shoes for a few seconds until Heero, cursing, pushed his shaking hands away and put his shoes on him.

"I'm sorry, Heero. I'm going to get you killed. You should leave me here."

"No, you're not," Heero stated, his voice dead and distant as he tried to convince himself that the boy was wrong. "I'm going to get you out of here." He helped Duo to his feet and handed him his gun. As Duo took a few steps toward the door, his determination crystallized and he seemed to gain strength. His hands stopped shaking quite so badly, and his eyes, still gleaming from fever, focused. The two boys flanked the door and held their guns ready.

Suddenly, the sounds of screaming and explosions ripped into the pre-dawn air. Three soldiers burst through the door, abandoning caution in the face of whatever threat had just materialized. Two were felled by bullets in the head before they'd taken two steps, and the last lived only an instant longer.

Heero waited for a count of 10, slow and steady, aware that Duo was steadily getting weaker with each wasted second. On 10, Heero ducked his head through the door, scanning quickly for soldiers, and then retreated back into the relative safety of the building. As he did so, he caught a glimpse of Shenlong spearing a Mobile Suit, towering over the warehouses and small abandoned buildings, but still far in the distance.

Heero tried to catch Duo's eye, but he was staring at the ground, breathing heavily, sweat dripping off his face. "Duo!" he hissed, and was rewarded by a jerk from Duo, who looked up at him. "The others are here. We're going to run for it. Are you up to it?"

Duo nodded, gripping his gun tighter.

"All right, when I go, come after me. Just keep your eyes on my back and run, all right." Another nod. Heero took a deep breath, and bolted from the warehouse.

The gunfire started when he was halfway down the street. He ducked into a side alley, forgetting - even if he'd had the time - to make sure Duo followed him, and started firing. Every bullet found a mark, and dead soldiers littered his path. He caught sight of Sandrock only two blocks away and headed for it, dropping soldiers as he went.

Quatre seemed to see him coming and lowered a hand for him to clamber onto even as he felled two more Mobile Suits. Only then did Heero realize that Duo was nowhere in sight.

"Kuso!!"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo knew he was falling behind. He couldn't keep up with the Perfect Soldier's inhuman speed, and he knew it. How Heero had failed to realize it, he didn't know. :Kuso, Heero! Do you even remember that I'm here or not?: Dimly, through the sweat stinging his eyes, he saw Heero duck into an alley as the air was torn by gunfire. He tried to follow, but was felled by a tackle just as he slowed to allow his fever-weakened body to make the turn.

He fought back, but knew he had no chance. Someone batted his gun away and he heard it clatter on the pavement somewhere, out of reach. Then the cold barrel of a gun was placed against his forehead.

"Now, you'll come along quietly, won't you, colonist scum?" Duo never answered, as he lost his tenuous grip on consciousness.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Treize smiled at the blonde-haired, masked image staring out of his office console. "You must have realized that they would attack if you left them too long, Milliard."

"Well, perhaps, sir," Zechs replied, grimacing. "But in any case, we've captured one of them."

"Which one?"

"He should be in the midst of interrogation as we speak, sir. We should have some answers, soon."

"Very good, Milliard. I'm expecting a visitor in the next few days, but I should be leaving within a week."

"We will be expecting you, sir."

Treize nodded and was halfway toward cutting off the transmission when he checked. "And, Milliard?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Don't hurt him too much. Get as much information you can, but it's not necessary to resort to such… methods. Consider that an order."

"Thank you, sir. I'll pass on the word to my men."

"You do that. Out." He clicked off the screen and leaned back in the chair. :I should get out of here as quickly as possible and get back to my house,: he thought. :How long before you come to see me, dragon?:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero strode into the safehouse and dropped the two packs off in his room. He strode back to the common room. The comforting smell of coffee was already filling the room, wafting in from the kitchen where Quatre could be heard clattering dishes. Trowa and Wufei were sitting on the couch and an armchair, respectively. Heero planted himself in the middle of the room.

"We have to rescue him."

Trowa looked at him from under his bangs. "If he's still alive."

Heero's snort and shaken fist showed what he thought of that possibility. At that moment, Quatre swept in from the kitchen, carrying cream and sugar on a tray.

"So, Heero. It finally happened, did it?"

"What?"

Quatre glanced at him, pinked, and then pointedly gave Trowa a kiss on the cheek before going back into the kitchen.

"And what if I did sleep with him?" Heero said heatedly. "It's none of your business."

The sound of pouring coffee was his only response. Heero maintained his glare until Quatre had returned with four steaming cups, smiled at him, and sat down on the couch beside Trowa. At that point, he started pacing.

That only lasted a few seconds before Wufei broke into his reverie. "For God's sake, Yuy, sit down. You're not helping."

Heero glared at him, but threw himself into the other chair. "He's feverish, from some kind of infection. Even if he's alive, he may not be for long."

Trowa shook his head. "I can't believe Oz would go to so much trouble to capture you two and then not treat him. He's better off with them, in that respect, at least."

"And how long would a delusional man last against torture, Trowa?" Heero said bitingly. Wufei clenched his fist on the arm of the chair and looked like he might rise, but then seemed to think better of it.

"It doesn't matter, Heero. That's all the more reason to go after him, as soon as possible," Trowa replied.

"Hn." There was a moment of silence, then Heero jumped to his feet and headed upstairs.

"Where are you going, Heero?" Quatre called after him.

"I'm going to find out where he is. We can't do anything until we know that." He said, and then was gone.

Quatre looked at Trowa. "What is he going to do if we find out he's dead?"

Trowa grunted, but caressed the back of Quatre's neck comfortingly. Wufei got to his feet, snorting.

"I'm going out. Page me if something happens." Trowa and Quatre nodded and Wufei threw on a leather jacket and headed out.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo swam in a sea of poking doctors and unfamiliar voices for a long time. Finally, the activity around him lessened and he became conscious that he was alone. He opened his eyes and took in the prison; the stark metal walls, the thin mattress and coverlet covering his shivering body. His hands were handcuffed together behind his back and had long ago gone numb. He shifted and repressed a scream as cramped back muscles protested.

The door opened as the echoes of pain were still reverberating through his body. A man, some middle-ranking soldier judging by the uniform, swaggered into the room.

"Well, well, the pretty-boy's awake. What's your name, pretty-boy?"

"Maxwell," Duo bit off the word and glared up at the man balefully.

"You got another name to go with that one?"

Duo shook his head, ignoring the way the room swam when he did that, and summoned his best 'Maxwell grin'. "Huh uh, I answered a question, already. It's your turn, now."

"Sorry, bitch, that's not the way things work here. I won't be answering any questions."

"Well, doesn't that just suck," Duo said languidly. "I guess I can't answer any more questions, then."

Duo was totally unprepared for the man to slam a fist into his gut. He doubled over as far as he could with his protesting back and pins-and-needles-plagued arms and retched.

"Wha-What was that for?" he wheezed. The soldier got down on one knee beside the shelf Duo was lying on and put his face right up to the pilot's.

"Oh, you'll be answering questions, pretty-boy. In fact, soon you'll be doing whatever I fucking well tell you to do."

"Just do me one favour?" Duo said, startling the other man into responding.

"What?"

"Stop calling me 'pretty-boy'. It's just soooo unhip."

The man grinned, his lips pulling back from his teeth in a way that made the expression decidedly unfriendly. "But, that's what you are, baby." He grasped Duo by the chin and forced him to look at him. "And I can call you whatever I want."

Those words were said harshly, punctuated by him grasping Duo by the neck and slamming the back of his head against the hard metal wall. Duo cried out and slumped, dazed.

"You gonna ask me for any more favours, pretty-boy?" Duo groaned, trying to hold onto consciousness. He was rudely brought back to wakefulness as he was grasped by the neck again and lifted off the bed. :Fuck, this guy is strong!: Duo thought as he tried desperately to breathe.

He drew in a breath sharply as he was dropped to the floor in a heap, but he didn't have much time to recover as the man's meaty hand gripped him by the back of the head and smashed his face into the bed. Dazed again, he tried to sort out what the hell was going on.

He was kneeling beside the bed, face pressed to the thin mattress. Suddenly, he heard the sound of a zipper and his breath caught in his throat. :Oh shit-: his thought was interrupted by the man kneeling behind him.

"I'll teach you to be smart with me, you little shit," his breath tickled his ear, and he squeezed his eyes shut.

"So you want me to be smart with you-" his rejoinder was cut off by another blow to the back of the head. :Crap, is he following orders or what?: Duo thought through the stars. :Isn't anyone watching him do this to me?:

The man reached around and undid the catch on his pants, sliding them down to puddle around his knees. Next, off came his underwear. Duo clenched his fists and bit his lip hard enough to draw blood. He knew what came next and he retreated into himself, walling himself off from the pain he knew was coming...

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Treize looked up from the book he was reading at the slight shuffling sound at his window. At first, his visitor had been able to get in without even Treize detecting him, but the general had become attuned to him in the months since their first encounter and Wufei couldn't sneak up on him anymore. At least, he didn't *think* he could.

He placed a scrap of silk in the book to mark the page and stood, crossing to the window. He unlocked and opened them, tumbling the surprised youngster, who had been concentrating on the stubborn lock, into his arms. Treize smiled, he had designed that lock.

"What a surprise!" he said, steadying Wufei as he got his feet under him. "I didn't expect to see you back here again so soon, little dragon."

Wufei glared at him, so Treize deftly pulled the elastic from his hair, allowing the silk strands to fall to frame his face. Wufei responded to this by pulling back sharply and brushing madly at his face to get the tickling strands out of his nose.

"What are you doing?" he cried.

Treize ignored the question, saying instead. "And it's not even dark yet. I had begun to wonder what you looked like in the sun, my dragon."

"Stop changing the subject!"

Treize smiled at the boy. "What subject?" He took a step towards the Chinese pilot and mentally sighed as he backed up a step, bumping into the wall. He took another step and placed his hands on the boy's shoulders. "I know why you came here."

He leaned down and kissed him.

Wufei sputtered, then surrendered to the kiss, but the moment Treize drew away his eyes lit with anger. "I didn't come for that! I came for Maxwell!"

"Maxwell? Oh, so that is the pilot's name, is it?" Wufei winced and reddened. "Tut tut, dragon, you're usually more careful than that. Do you forget you're talking to the leader of your greatest enemy?"

"I never forget that," Wufei said quietly.

"Is that so?" Treize responded, an amused smile lighting his face. He leaned down to kiss the boy again, but Wufei ducked under his arm and backed into the centre of the room.

"No! I won't let you seduce me this time. I'm here as a Gundam pilot."

"If you were here as a Gundam pilot, you would have your sword out by now, dragon." Treize's smile widened. "The metal one."

Wufei sputtered again. :Ah, little one, I do know how to get a rise out of you.:

"Well," he clenched his fists and looked at the floor. "I'm here to get Duo back."

"No, dragon. You mustn't do this."

"Why not?" Wufei looked up, his eyes afire with determination.

"You know very well that we cannot bring our private lives into this relationship. If we poisoned it with the war, we would never be able to meet as anything but general and pilot again."

"I-I know that, but..." Wufei struggled for words. "Duo is more important than my relationship with you!"

Treize sighed and approached the pilot, who, this time, didn't retreat. He laid a hand on Wufei's shoulder then, without warning, he scooped the smaller boy into his arms. Wufei cried out in surprise, a sound that was cut off as he was dumped unceremoniously onto the huge bed. Treize lay down beside him, propping his head up on one arm and cupping Wufei's face in his hand.

"Would it make you feel better if I told you that he is not going to be harmed?"

Wufei sniffed derisively. "So long as it's true."

"It is. Zechs Marquise is personally overseeing his treatment, and I have given orders that no harm is to come to him."

"Why?"

Treize was visibly startled by that question and he gazed at Wufei for a moment. "What kind of man do you think I am, dragon?"

"Better men then you have ordered the torture of prisoners in order to gain valuable information."

"I'm flattered."

All he got for that was a grunt. Treize sighed and allowed his hand to travel lightly down the front of Wufei's shirt, tracing lazy patterns that caused Wufei to curse and squirm.

"The truth is, dragon, you're right. I could get a lot of information out of that boy, and I know he won't give in without a fight." His hand stopped its motion and he turned sapphire eyes to the other boy's black ones. "I did it for you, little dragon."

"What are you talking about, Treize?"

"I gave the order so you wouldn't have to worry about your friend, my dear. I have to make this effort to end the war. It's my duty, and I firmly believe that I am right to do it, but I am still your lover, and have obligations to you. So, I have made this compromise. I hope this is good enough."

Wufei was silent a long time, then. "I suppose I should thank you, not be angry with you, then."

"My opinion exactly," Treize replied, moving in to kiss Wufei. Wufei glared at the amusement in his voice.

"Damn you-" Whatever else he was going to say was swallowed by Treize's lips.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo had long since given up on getting his pants and underwear back on. His hands were still numb, no matter now much he tried to flex them, and it was really hard to put pants on when your hands were tied behind your back, and had no feeling in them anyway. He huddled in the corner, knees up to maximize the amount of body heat being contained in his body and shivered.

When the man came back, he just turned his head to the wall and said nothing. He bit his lip against the pain and tried to keep his rape as boring as possible.

Usually all that got him were a few bruises to add to his collection.

He could feel the fever, which had seemed like it was going away when he woke up that first time, starting to overtake him again. When he caught a few hours of sleep, the nightmares made him wake up within minutes, a scream still echoing in the small, dark chamber. All the time he was awake, he felt like he was either going to sweat out every drop of water in his body, or he shook with cold that permeated him to his bones.

He hoped he infected his tormentor. He hoped it was some kind of horrible terminal disease that that man would have to suffer through for weeks, months, years, before he expired, pissing and shitting himself. All Duo would have to suffer through were a few days or weeks of rape before he died, nothing like what the lieutenant would suffer.

He knew it wasn't true.

:Goddamnit! Why is it always me?:

He prayed, and cursed, but mostly he just tried to sleep, racked by dreams.

:Heero... You'll rescue me won't you, you heartless bastard?:

:Ai shiteru...:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

It took Zechs three days to get around to visiting his prisoner, with everything he'd had to do in the meantime. Of course, he'd passed on Treize's orders to the Lieutenant he'd assigned to oversee the pilot's interrogation. Nevertheless, he had a strangely disquieted feeling he couldn't dispel.

On the third day, as the soldier reported the same thing he'd said every day, Zechs looked at his schedule and realized he had a whole hour free.

"Sir, he still won't give me anything but his name. I still don't even know if Maxwell is his first or last name." Along with that statement came the unspoken complaint: 'What's the point of not torturing him for information?'

Zechs pushed his chair away from his desk and stood up. "Well, Lieutenant, why don't we go down there together? Maybe I can coax something out of the boy."

The other man's eyes widened. "Sir, that's not necessary, sir."

"No, no," Zechs waved off the protest. "I find myself with a free hour and I've been meaning to have a chat with him anyway. This is not a reflection on you."

"But, sir..."

"Let's go, shall we?"

Zechs, of course, knew every inch the base he commanded, so he didn't need the Lieutenant to come with him. However, he figured the presence of the other man might give him a clue as to what might coax the pilot to talk that wasn't being done.

"Has he recovered fully from his sickness?" Zechs asked conversationally.

"Hai, I believe so, sir." Under the mask, Zechs' eyebrow raised at the uncertainty in the other man's voice. They proceeded the rest of the way in silence.

As they approached the prison block, the nervousness of the Lieutenant increased until it was a palpable force. The two soldiers flanking the cell saluted Zechs and one turned and inserted his keycard into a slot beside the door.

The door slid open.

Zechs stepped into the dimly-lit room. In the far corner he thought he detected movement but he could barely see in the darkness.

"Lights," he called out. The computer registered his voice and the room flooded with light. A cry of terror startled him and directed his attention to the shivering mass of limbs in the corner.

Zechs took one look at the fresh bruises, the ripped and missing clothing, the shivering and shaking of a boy heavily in the grip of fever, and turned to the Lieutenant.

"You are disgrace. Consider yourself discharged." He ignored the man's attempt to stammer excuses and spoke to the other two guards. "He is under arrest for rape, assault, and failure to follow his superior's direct orders. Make the proper arrangements." His face was utterly unreadable under the mask as the two guards saluted and took firm hold of the man's upper arms.

Zechs approached the boy, amazed he was even still alive. He gathered the slight form into his arms, gasping at how little he weighed. His gorgeous violet eyes were wide with terror and glassy with fever. Zechs found himself murmuring soft, comforting words as he carried him out of the cell. The two guards had bundled the former Lieutenant into the nearest cell and were awaiting orders, staring at the Lightning Count in shock.

"I'm taking this boy to a cabin. Rig it up with a lock and surveillance equipment."

"Uh, yes sir."

They followed him as he entered the elevator and headed skyward. :Now, I seem to remember there being an empty cabin a few doors down from mine...: He located the cabin and entered, laying the boy down on the bed. He released the handcuffs and sat down in the room's only chair, pulling it up beside the bed. As he rubbed the boy's wrists to get the circulation going again, he ordered clothes and food brought, and sent for medical officers.

:Damnit,: he thought, :this is all my fault. I should have checked, I should have made sure!:

The doctors fussed over him and gave him a few injections, and then he found himself suddenly alone with the boy as everyone within earshot scrambled to obey his orders. Acting on impulse, Zechs reached out and brushed the boy's bangs out of his eyes. Maxwell sighed at the touch and smiled, whispering.

"Heero..."

:Kami-sama, he's beautiful. I can see why that disgusting creature wanted him.:

His mask was chafing. Absently, he reached up and took it off, reveling briefly in the cool rush of air that touched his face. He turned away to put it on the desk beside him, then turned back.

The boy was looking at him.

"Don't worry, you're safe now," Zechs hastened to reassure him.

The boy just stared at him. He had an expression on his face akin to awe. Zechs squirmed under his gaze.

"How do you feel?" he asked, then mentally kicked himself.

"Better."

"I'm glad." Zechs took the boy's hand; it had looked small and lonely on the regulation-issue white comforter. The boy glanced at his hand in startlement, then returned his gaze to Zech's face.

"Am I dead?"

Zechs rubbed his thumb gently against Maxwell's fingers. "No, of course not."

"That's funny." A lopsided grin settled itself familiarly on the boy's face. "And here I was wondering if God was on Oz's side too." He stared up at the ceiling. "Would explain a lot."

Zechs chuckled. "Why would you wonder that?"

Maxwell's eyes were closed, he said softly. "I never thought angels would wear Oz uniforms."

"Angels?"

"Aren't you an angel? You rescued me from hell, after all."

"No, I'm a man, just like you are." Somewhere along the line of this odd conversation Zechs had realized that this boy was far from being one. He was a man, in a child's body. Not that he was surprised.

"Isn't your commander going to be mad at you for this?"

"No. The man who raped you was acting against orders." Zechs sighed. "I'm sorry. He was told you weren't supposed to be hurt."

A gigantic yawn split Maxwell's face, then. "Don't worry about it. I wasn't expecting better, anyway."

A look of pain passed over Zech's features. "Is that so? Well, it's not going to happen again. I promise."

"Thanks, man. Don't put yourself out for little old me." The pilot looked like he was about to fall asleep, then seemed to change his mind, opening his eyes again. "Hey, who are you, anyway?"

Zechs winced. He didn't want to tell him yet. He had to admit, he liked being thought of as a saviour, not as one of the men this boy was trying hardest to kill. He struggled with himself for a moment, then, "My name's Milliard."

"Miiilliaaa~rd." The boy rolled that around his tongue for a while. "I like that."

"Will you promise me something?"

"Sure."

"Don't mention my name to anyone. Most people don't know my real name. Promise you won't reveal it to anyone?"

"I promise, Milliard."

"Thank you. What's your name?"

"Duo, Duo Maxwell." He grinned, his eyes becoming heavy with impending sleep again. "I'll tell you my real name, too."

"Arigatou gozaimashita, Duo." Zechs squeezed Duo's hand comfortingly. "Go to sleep, now."

"Will you be around later?" the pilot asked, somewhat plaintively.

"Yes, I'll be here when you wake. You should feel a lot better then."

"Mmmm, ok." Duo's angelic face smoothed as he sank into sleep, under the weight of sickness and tranquilizers. Zechs gazed at him for a moment, then put his mask back on.

He exited the room and discovered a troupe of technicians arguing about how best to wire the room.

"When you get that up and running, monitor him closely. No one but the doctors and nurses go in there without my express orders. If he starts to wake up, get me immediately. I don't care what time of day or night, got that?"

"Yes, sir," one said.

He strode back to his office and discovered that he'd arrived back just before the expiration of his hour. He sat down at his desk again and tried to concentrate on his work, but all he could see were huge violet eyes, gazing at him with a look of implicit trust. He hoped ferverently he wouldn't have to betray that trust again, too much.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wufei lay, his head pillowed on Treize's chest. At some point, the sun had gone down and he wondered how time had passed so quickly. Treize's arm encircled his bare shoulders and rested lightly on his arms. The pilot thought absently that the other man was asleep and felt a perverse rush of pleasure. :Hah! I exhausted him.: He smiled, and wrapped his arms tighter around Treize's waist.

"What are you thinking about, little dragon?" He was startled by the sudden melodic tones of the general.

"Who says I'm thinking about anything?" Wufei said, cursing himself for his automatic defensive reaction.

"No one." Treize's voice sounded melancholy and Wufei, surprised at the tone, levered up to look at him.

"What's wrong?" he asked, scrutinizing Treize closely.

"Who says there's something wrong?" Treize replied, making a passable imitation of Wufei's tone of voice.

"Hah!" Wufei scoffed. "That's my trick, you can't use it against me. That means that there is something wrong."

"I'll remember that for the next time you try to use it against me," said Treize, a mischievous note entering his voice. Wufei growled and settled back onto Treize's chest.

:Why? Why? Why can you manipulate me so well? Why do I let you?: Despite himself, he buried his face in Treize's chest and clenched his fists in frustration.

"Now what's wrong, dragon?"

Wufei looked up again. "Kisama! What do you want with me?"

Treize looked taken aback for a moment, then his face seemed to grow sad. He sighed. "I thought we had moved beyond this."

Wufei sat up, which effectively placed his back towards Treize. Suddenly, he didn't want to look at him. "I don't understand myself. Why do I come here, only to be seduced and insulted?"

"If you come here to be seduced and insulted, you are surely a fool, but somehow I don't think that description fits you, little dragon."

Wufei bit his lip and reddened. "You manipulate me with every word you say. I don't even know anymore if I come here because I want to, or if it's just because you want me to."

"I manipulate you?"

"Of course! You know just what to say to make me embarrassed, or to make me do whatever you want me to."

"Wufei." The sound of his real name coming from Treize was so unfamiliar that for a moment he didn't understand what he'd said. Then, he turned to look at his... the general. He was sitting up, looking at him with sad eyes, the corners of his sensual mouth pulled down in a frown. "If you truly feel that you are doing anything against your will, I apologize. Perhaps a lifetime of living as an aristocrat, of having to deal with politics and manipulators, has shaped the way I speak, so that it has that effect on you. Please believe me, Wufei: I never, ever meant to make you feel that way."

Wufei felt something inside him clench and he gazed at Treize for a long time in silence. Finally, he looked away. "That was the most sincere thing I have ever heard you say."

"I'm sorry."

Wufei looked up again and met those deep blue eyes. He thought about how they haunted his dreams, how he longed for them when they weren't together. :What do I feel for this man?:

He drew closer to him and then, slowly, deliberately, embraced him. Treize returned the hug with feeling, his head dropping onto Wufei's shoulder. "You haunt me when I sleep, do you know that, dragon? Sometimes I think I cannot bear to be apart from you for a minute." Treize tightened his grip. "I manipulate you? If you could only conceive of the hold you have on my heart, you would realize how laughable that idea is."

"What are you s-saying?" Wufei felt himself trembling and ordered himself to stop. :Weak! This is the man who's captured one of your best friends. You feel nothing for him!:

"Oh, dragon..." Treize seemed about to go on, then fell silent. After a long pause, he finally completed the sentence. "I do love you so."

:No!: His mind railed at him. :A soldier will not be seduced by the enemy! This is betrayal! Say nothing!:

"I..." he stopped, unable to continue as his mind roiled with conflict.

"It's all right, dragon. You needn't say anything you don't mean, just to spare my feelings," Treize said.

:No, you don't understand, I...: but he couldn't even finish the thought, let alone say it out loud. Instead, he buried his face in Treize's shoulder. "I... should go. The others will wonder where I am, and I really should be helping them rescue Duo."

"Yes, of course. Duty comes first."

Wufei disentangled himself and mechanically dressed. He leapt lightly out the window without breaking the silence, and headed for where he had concealed his motorcycle. All the while, his mind seethed with conflicting thoughts, but chief among them was guilt at leaving Treize, without saying anything to ease his mind.

:Weak! Weak! You're weak!:

But he wasn't sure which weakness he was berating himself for.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero threw Quatre's hand from his shoulder with a growl. :No! I haven't found him yet! You're interrupting!:

"Demo, Heero, you've been at that computer for almost 12 hours straight. You need to sleep! To eat! Onegai!"

"Leave me alone!"

Dimly, he heard the door slam as Wufei returned. Quatre left him briefly and despite his efforts to shut it out, he heard their conversation on the stairs.

"Okaeri nasai, Wufei. I was beginning to worry. Where did you go?"

Wufei snarled at the question and, as usual, didn't answer it. "I went to see if I could find something out but my sources didn't pan out, all right?"

"All-all right, Wufei. I'm trying to get Heero to go to bed, he's been on his computer since you left."

Wufei strode into Heero's room, followed closely by Quatre.

"Heero!" he thundered, deftly switching off the monitor with a flick of his finger.

Heero spun his chair around to confront him. "Kisama! Leave me alone!"

"Listen, Heero. I don't care if the two of you were screwing like rabbits the whole time you were pinned down in that warehouse." Heero saw Quatre, standing behind Wufei, drop his jaw in shock at his words. Heero had to agree, he'd always thought of Wufei as the nose-bleeding type. "I have it on good authority that Duo's safe and not being hurt, so we have some time. Go to bed. You'll be useless in two days at this rate."

Heero rose from his chair and increased the intensity of his glare. "How do you know that?"

"Trust me. It's true." Wufei matched his glare, crossing his arms for good measure.

"Onegai, Heero. Go to bed and get a fresh start in the morning," Quatre piped up.

Heero stared at Wufei for a long moment but couldn't detect any signs that the Chinese pilot was just trying to humour him. "All right, fine. If it will get you two off my back until dawn, I'll sleep."

"Good." Wufei said. "And my room is beside yours, so don't think that I won't hear you if you start typing again."

"I wouldn't think of it. Now, get out."

"My pleasure." Wufei made a little mock bow and strode out of his room. In the hall, he was halted by Quatre's tug at his arm.

"Were you telling the truth, Wufei? Do you really know that Duo's all right?"

"Yes."

"But..."

Wufei turned to face the blonde Arab. "Quatre, if you trust me at all, don't ask."

Quatre gazed up at him, then smiled nervously. "Of course I trust you, Wufei. It's just amazing that..."

"I'm just that good." Wufei summoned a reassuring smile, then turned away again. "Go to bed, Quatre. Oyasumi nasai."

"Oyasumi nasai," Quatre responded to Wufei's back as he disappeared into his room.

Heero lay on his bed, still clothed and his bed still immaculately made, and listened to the conversation. :Wufei, what the hell is going on?: He sat up and removed his tank top, then stopped, clenching his fists. :More importantly, what is wrong with me? That baka means nothing to me, I told him that. I showed him. He's just a good lay to me, and a decent enough soldier not to have to kill. Yet.:

Yet, a voice bubbled up within him, quiet still, but growing stronger. :You don't really believe that, do you, Heero?:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

It had been two days. Zechs was exhausted, the last 48-hours had seen his every waking - and most sleeping - moments punctuated by visits to Duo's room, as his delirium brought him to wakefulness in order to scream out his past in the small cabin. Zechs held his hand when he could, and simply made an appearance the rest of the time, but he spent every free minute in the boy's room.

He'd spent most of the two nights dozing in the uncomfortable chair, figuring that was easier than jumping up every few hours to race to Duo's side. He'd taken to doing all of his paperwork on the desk in the room, bringing in a portable computer and setting it up. Obviously the room's computer had been removed and the jacks welded shut or removed completely, in order to prevent the pilot from using them. Once he was better, that is.

A few hours before, Duo had fallen into a restful sleep, far deeper then he had in the two days proceeding. The chief medical officer had half-begged Zechs to go to bed and he'd reluctantly complied, aware that his behaviour was bordering on obsessive.

Now, Zechs was being drawn reluctantly from sleep himself, by the insistent buzzing of the intercom. He rolled over and hit the button.

"Yes?"

"Sir, vital signs show the boy's waking again. The doctors think he'll be lucid, the fever's broken." Zech's eyes flew open and he jumped out of bed.

"I'll be right there."

He hadn't bothered to undress, so he just straightened his uniform, placed his mask securely over his face, and strode out of the room. Duo's room was only three doors down from his own, so it took no time to get there. Three techs were seated at a sort of folding table affair in the middle of the corridor. The table was covered in equipment and wires.

"Turn off the surveillance equipment. I'll contact you with my wristcom when I want to be let out."

"Uh, yes sir." A few buttons were punched on the machines and the whole thing shut down with a small sigh. Zechs punched the combination code on the door and it slid aside. He was about to go in, when he checked. Almost as an afterthought, he removed his sidearm and placed it on the table.

:Well, here goes.:

He sat in the chair again and took Duo's hand, waiting for him to come to full wakefulness. It happened slowly, but finally his violet eyes opened, taking in his shape in the dimness.

"It's you," Duo said softly, squeezing Zechs' hand. "I thought you were a dream."

Zechs chuckled softly. "Well, I wasn't."

"That's good." He groaned. "I'm still captured by Oz, aren't I?"

"Yes."

"Well, Milliard, I don't know how you bribed your superiors to let you stay with me so much instead of whatever else you're supposed to be doing, but how much longer can you keep this up?"

"As long as I like."

"Huh, you must be fucking sleeping with the guy."

Zechs chuckled again. "You might say that, though it's not really accurate."

"Hmph, whatever. Man, what you do with your private life is none of my business."

Zechs smiled in the dimness, then sobered. "I'm going to bring the lights up, now."

"Uh, ok. Hey, why are you so serious all of a sudden?"

"You'll see in a minute. Duo-" he cut himself off.

"Yeah?"

"Please... when I turn on the lights, please try to trust me."

"Uh, ok, sure." Duo laughed, his teeth flashing in the dim light. "Jeez, man, you're my fucking saviour. I don't know what you're so worried about, but I don't think I got any choice but to trust you. It's better than being back in that cell."

Zechs took a deep breath and squeezed Duo's hand one last time before letting go. "Computer, please bring up the lights to two-thirds strength." The computer acknowledged the order with a buzz and brought up the lights.

Duo yelled, throwing himself back against the wall and staring at Zechs fixedly.

"Z-Zechs Marquise! What the fuck-?"

Zechs sighed. :Oh well, can I really expect better?: He reached up and took off his mask, an action which made Duo's eyes widen in amazement.

"It was you! You took care of me."

"Yes, of course."

The boy glared at him. "You told me your name is Milliard."

"It is. Milliard Peacecraft is the name my parents gave me."

"Peacecraft!" Duo breathed the word, his voice tinged with wonder.

"I have hid my identity since the destruction of the Sank Kingdom, by changing my name and hiding my face behind this mask. There is no one watching us in this room, so my secret is safe."

"Why would you tell me?" Zechs shrugged, aware that he was wondering the answer to that very same question - had been for two days. He placed the mask reverently on the desk beside him to avoid answering. Since he'd turned away to do so, he was unprepared for what Duo did next.

Zechs suddenly found himself grabbed from behind, an arm snaking around his neck to nearly choke him. The other hand grabbed for his sidearm and grasped empty air, so Duo settled for using that hand as further support for the one holding him by the neck. Zechs grabbed the arm around his neck in both hands, but without any leverage he had to use all of his strength just to keep it from tightening further.

"All right, well if they can't see you, they won't be bursting in here to rescue you anytime soon, will they." Duo's voice said into his ear. "So now you're going to play nice and let me out of here."

"I can't do that, Duo."

"Then, I'll just have to snap your neck." Zechs could hear the note of uncertainty in the boy's voice, but didn't doubt his determination. He felt his heart clench and a wave of sadness hit him, despite his attempts to rationalize it away.

"Oh, Duo..." he said sadly. His tone must have startled the boy because he loosened his hold slightly. Zechs abandoned himself to the emotion and squeezed the boy's arm as if it was a hug, not a chokehold. "Please, Duo, don't kill me. I understand why you're doing this, and I can't blame you, but you must understand that I have duties too. I cannot let you go."

"W-what's with the pathetic act?" Duo said, trying to sound tough, but falling short.

"I really enjoyed being your saviour, Duo. It seems I'm at your mercy, now. Foolish of me."

Duo released him, sitting back on the bed. Zechs turned the chair and regarded the confused look on the boy's face. "Well... you'll find there's a lot of mercy, here."

"Thank you, Duo."

Duo looked away, his face reddening. "Don't mention it. To anyone."

"I won't." Zechs smiled at him, a little uncertainly, but Duo wasn't looking at him. "Is my secret still safe?"

"Huh?" Duo looked up at him again. "Sure, of course." He grinned, the mask slipping back over his face. "Hell, you saved my life, I can do a few things for you in return."

"Thank you."

They regarded each other in silence for a while. Duo fidgeted and Zechs just looked, finding himself memorizing Duo's angelic face. Finally, he sighed.

"You're the angel, Duo."

Duo's eyes widened and a blush crept up his collar. Zechs had dressed him in a spare uniform, since Duo's clothes had been destroyed. It suited him nicely. His thoughts were interrupted by Duo's uncertain voice.

"Uh, Milliard?"

"Yes, Duo?" Zechs felt a wave of relief and happiness as Duo used that name.

"Um... could I have some time to myself, and all? I need a little time alone."

"Of course." Zechs rose, placing the mask on his face again. He turned to leave and was arrested by Duo's next words.

"You know, you look a lot nicer without the mask."

Zechs turned back, a smile curving his lips. "So do you." He contacted the techs outside with his communit and the door slid open. He strode back to his room, intending to get a few full hours of sleep, feeling happier than he'd been in a long, long time.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo waited until the blonde angel he'd just realized was one of his deadliest enemies was gone and the door had slid closed and locked before throwing himself down on the bed and beating the hell out of the pillow.

:What the hell is wrong with me? Do I like this guy? I just got Heero, and now Zechs is making me want to jump him right there and then!:

:And what's with him, anyway? He's acting smitten, or something.:

He switched off the lights again and lay in darkness, staring up at the ceiling. :There's no way this is normal prisoner treatment, I mean, this is definitely crew quarters, and either I'm on one of the higher-ranking levels or Oz is treating their rank-and-file a lot better then I ever thought.:

:What the hell is going on?:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero's hands danced over the keyboard. It was a dance of searching, a dance of subtlety, and he drew ever closer to his goal. He knew he was acting strangely. Quatre had given up on drawing him down to eat with the other pilots. Battles over sleep were just that, and often violent. Wufei was the only one who approached him closely anymore, and he'd received a huge purple bruise on his chin the last time he'd tried.

:Duo, you baka! Where are you?:

Someone placed a steaming bowl of soup beside the keyboard and entreated him to eat. Mechanically, he complied. Soldiers had to eat; they had to sleep. It was the only way he could survive long enough to accomplish his goal.

:Duo!:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Treize was met at the landing platform by Zechs and the requisite few contingents of soldiers. As the two headed away from the powering-down shuttle into the base's gaping maw of a door, the guards came smartly to attention and saluted crisply.

Sometimes Treize felt like his entrances and exits ought to be accompanied by Star Wars' Imperial March. :I don't look good in black, anyway,: he thought.

"Your visitor was prompt, sir. You spent three days in transit, and it's only five days since we last spoke."

:Too long, my dear Milliard.: "Yes, he was even quicker to contact me then I would have thought."

"A great deal has occurred in your absence, sir." They were entering the base now, the cool, mechanical feel cutting off the dimming light outside.

"Indeed. Well, it's past suppertime in this part of the world, now. Why don't we discuss recent developments over a glass of wine? In my suite."

"As you wish, sir." Only Treize could have heard the catch in Zechs' throat. :What makes him so nervous, I wonder?:

Zechs accompanied Treize to his suite in silence. Strangely, there was a desk covered in what looked like listening equipment in the middle of the hallway two doors down from his room. The General turned to question Zechs about it, but he was looking towards the door, an inscrutable expression on his masked face.

When they arrived at Treize's suite, Zechs excused himself nervously.

"I'll let you settle in, sir, and then come see you in an hour. If you don't mind, sir."

"Not at all. I'll chill the wine and wait for you." :With bated breath. What is going on, Milliard?:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zechs walked back to Duo's room.

"What's he done in the last few hours?"

"He turned off the lights after you left, sir. We think he slept. He got up just a few minutes ago and he's taking a shower now, sir."

"Very good. Shut down the equipment."

"Yes, sir." *click, click, hum*

Zechs entered the room and sat down in his customary seat, taking off his mask and placing it beside him. He could hear the splashing sound of someone in the shower, along with a joyous off-key humming.

A few minutes later, the shower sounds stopped. Duo stepped out of the bathroom, a towel held in one hand. He was a vision.

His hair was unbound, flowing in dripping strands almost to the floor. The white shirt that went under the uniform jacket was open at the front and clung wetly to him in places. Zechs reminded himself sharply to breathe.

Duo saw him the moment he came out and checked sharply.

"Milliard!" He blushed and grinned, his eyes sparkling. "I was wondering when you'd show your face again. It's been fucking hours, man!"

"Gomen, Duo." Zechs allowed his eyes to travel appreciatively over Duo's delicious form. "You're looking well, I see." Duo's blush deepened and his jaw dropped in shock.

After a moment, he seemed to collect himself and he sat down on the bed. He produced a brush and attacked his chestnut tangles ferociously. Zechs cleared his throat.

"May I help you with that?"

Duo stopped and regarded him for a moment. "Uh, ok." A look of pain passed over his face.

"Are you sure?"

Duo grabbed Zechs' hand and placed the brush in it. "Yes, I'd really like that." He looked away. "No one's ever asked me that before, that's all."

Zechs sat on the bed behind Duo and began working on the tangles in his hair. "You mean, Heero's never asked you that, before."

"N-nani!" Duo twisted around to look at him, almost wrenching the brush out of Zechs' hand. "H-how do you know...? I mean..."

"You talked a lot while you were delirious. It became pretty obvious that there is something going on between you and Heero."

Duo turned away again, allowing Zechs to continue brushing out his hair. "Well, I mean, yeah, we slept together and all. I don't know what he feels for me, though. He's kind of an ice block when it comes to emotions, you know? They've been mostly trained out of him, and he has trouble expressing them sometimes. Well, all the time." He rubbed one cheek ruefully, remembering the latest bruise. "He tends to get pretty violent when things get emotional."

"Hmmm, I see." Zechs' voice was plainly disapproving.

"It... It's all right, though," Duo protested. "I know there's something beneath it, he's just not admitting it, yet. That'll change, though. If I can just get him to admit it..." He clenched his fists and looked into his lap. "It prolly sounds pretty bad, though, to you."

"You might say that. It's your choice, though." Zechs' voice changed its tone, becoming even more serious. "Remember that, always."

"What do you mean by that?" Zechs didn't reply. In the silence that ensued he turned his attention fully to the stubborn tangles. He knew Duo hadn't cleaned or brushed his hair since sometime before being pinned down in that warehouse, so this was a horrendous task he'd taken on. He lost himself in it.

A while later, Zechs came back to himself and found that he was running his hands through tangle-free hair that shone under the lights. With a sigh he leaned forward and wrapped his arms around the pilot.

"Thank you, angel. I enjoyed that."

"No problem." A note of uncertainty and a lingering stiffness in his shoulders made Zechs pull away sharply.

"I'm sorry, Duo. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable-"

Duo turned and covered his mouth with a delicate hand. "Stop." He leaned his head on Zechs' chest and hugged him. "What happened to me down there wasn't your fault, even if you are in command. I don't buy that crap about you being responsible for every little thing your mooks do. I'm all right, now, and I enjoyed that too, okay?"

"Okay."

"If I'm a little weird, it's only 'cause you're, well, Zechs Marquise. I'm sorry, but it's true."

"I understand," Zechs said sadly.

"No, you don't." Duo looked up. "I'm not saying that 'cause you're Zechs Marquise that I don't like you. I just need some time, to adjust. You guys - by which I mean Oz - have done some pretty terrible things to me in my life."

Zechs smiled in relief. "All right. I can live with that." Duo buried his face in Zechs' chest again.

"Good."

The beeping of Zechs' wristcom shattered the silence. He made an exasperated sound and tapped the 'connect' button.

"What?" he asked brusquely, intending to give the soldier bothering him the message that he wasn't happy with being disturbed.

"Don't be testy, Milliard," came Treize's musical voice. Duo jerked, looking up at Zechs with wide violet eyes.

"Sir!"

"I wouldn't bother you, but it's been an hour and a half and the ice is starting to melt."

"I'm sorry, sir. I lost track of time."

There was a pause and Zechs could see Treize's amused smile even over the com. "Think nothing of it, I'm sure you'll be twice as beautiful for me when you finally arrive. I'm waiting with great anticipation, koibito." The com clicked off.

"K-koibito?!" Duo exploded.

Zechs frowned. "Yes, why?"

"You're sleeping with Treize Kushrenada?!"

"You're sleeping with Heero Yuy?!" Zechs echoed, imitating him.

Duo blushed. "Hey, that's entirely different."

"At least Treize treats his lovers with respect."

Duo snorted. "I'll believe that when I see it."

"I'm sure you would have said the same about me a week ago."

The blush was back. "But, he's the General of Oz, man!"

"That's right, he's my commanding officer and I've known him since we were both children. He's on my side, remember? I'm not a Gundam Pilot."

"Oh. Right." Zechs ruffled Duo's hair, eliciting a protesting squeak, and disentangled himself from the boy. He rose and put his mask back on. Duo's voice was abnormally quiet and subdued. "Is he going to be okay with what you've done, Milliard? He's not going to be mad at you or anything is he? I mean, this isn't exactly normal treatment of prisoners."

Zechs gave Duo a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, he'll understand."

He signaled the guards and the door opened. When the door closed, he sighed. :I hope.:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zechs took a deep breath, tugged at his collar, which seemed suddenly to be choking him, and pressed the signal beside Treize's door.

"Come in." The door slid open.

In the dim light, Treize was sitting at his desk, his aristocratic features illuminated by the computer screen. Zechs stood in the pool of light generated by the hallway until the door closed behind him.

"Are you aware that our outer security levels have already been breached, Milliard?" Treize said conversationally.

"Yes, sir. You'll ruin your eyes that way, sir."

"I suggest we do something to redirect their attention or you may soon have four Gundams knocking down your door."

"Specifically?"

Treize looked up at him. "My suggestion is as follows: plant data indicating that the prisoner has been moved to our base in Nepal. I will travel there to lend weight to the information. Obviously, the true information is likely to be found as well. The pilots are likely to have to split their efforts. We will lay in wait in both places, spring our traps and capture any pilots who attempt to breach our security."

Zechs nodded. "Brilliant, as usual, sir. I'll go plant the information in the computer banks immediately." He saluted and turned to leave with relief.

"Don't you trust your men, Milliard? Surely you have people qualified to do such a simple task."

"Of - of course, sir. How silly of me." Face burning and cursing himself an utter fool, he crossed to the desk and made use of the intercom, rousing his best computers man and getting him on the project, top priority. As he issued the orders, he was acutely aware of Treize's proximity. The General's shoulder brushed against Zechs' chest as he leaned over him to get at the 'com.

When he clicked off the intercom he straightened and took a step back. Before he could come up with some other way to escape, Treize switched off the computer and turned his chair so he was staring up at the Lightning Count.

"What is wrong, Milliard? Why are you trying to avoid me?"

"I - I'm not trying to avoid you, sir. I lost track of time earlier, that's all."

Treize frowned at him. "What exactly were you doing?"

"Visiting the prisoner."

"I see."

"Sir, I must tell you what's happened in the days since the prisoner has been here."

Treize folded his arms. "All right, Milliard, sit down, pour the wine, and tell me what's going on here."

Zechs did that, sitting in the comfortable armchair Treize had placed opposite him and opening the wine. He poured it and took a sip, then a larger one, then put it down hastily. Treize raised an eyebrow at him.

"I placed a certain individual - whose name is mentioned in the log - in charge of Duo's, er, pilot Maxwell's, care, and ensured that he understood your instructions." He paused and took a breath, trying to still the nervousness twisting his chest. :I can't fool this man, there's no point in even trying.: "I did not have an opportunity to meet Mr. Maxwell personally for three days thereafter. When I did, I found that my man had brutally abused the prisoner. I'll spare you the details, sir."

"Good God!"

"Yes, sir. He is currently discharged and dishonoured, not to mention up on charges. He is rotting in my prisons below." Treize nodded his approval. "At that time, I made the decision that it was necessary to oversee Maxwell's care personally. I know it's irregular, sir, but he was very sick, delirious and feverish, emotionally and physically brutalized, and I simply could not trust anyone else at the time."

"Go on, Milliard."

"He is currently housed in the room two doors down from here. Surveillance equipment has been installed and all electronic and physical outlets have been removed or altered to prevent escape." Zechs stopped and awaited judgment.

"I'm sure he has responded well to such surroundings." Zechs nodded, his heart sinking at the dispassionate tone in Treize's voice. The General leaned forward in his chair. "So, Milliard, what were you doing with the prisoner that was so important you felt it necessary to keep me waiting?"

"I, uh," Zechs looked down at his lap, discovering an empty wine glass in his hand. "I was brushing his hair, sir."

"His hair?"

"Yes," Zechs closed his eyes. "He has beautiful, chestnut hair, down to his feet... sir," he added belatedly.

The sudden explosion of Treize's laughter startled Zechs into looking up. "My dear Milliard, you look like I'm going to put you up in front of a firing squad over this."

"Sir?"

"If you like this boy, what makes you think I'm going to be upset with you?" Zechs just stared at his commanding officer in shock. Treize stood and reached out, removing Zechs' mask and putting it on the desk. "Take off that horrible thing and stop treating me like I'm going to accuse you of treason."

Zechs grasped Treize's hand and placed it against his cheek, nuzzling it. "I'm sorry, Treize. I was a little worried." Treize knelt beside the chair and began slowly undoing the buttons of Zechs' uniform jacket. "Actually, I'm relieved beyond words, Milliard."

"Relieved? Why?"

"There's something I've been meaning to confess to you, as well."

"What?" Zechs said with surprise. "What is it?"

"You may remember the account of my sword duel with pilot 05 early in the war." Zechs nodded. "Since soon after that incident, due to a combination of unusual factors, I have been involved with that pilot. His name is Chang Wufei."

"What? Doesn't he know who you are?" Zechs felt like he'd been shot in the chest.

"Of course he does."

"And you're sure he isn't trying to kill you? Has he tried to get information out of you?"

"No, of course not, my dear Milliard. What sort of fool do you take me for?"

"What sort of fool is he?"

"And what about your dear Duo Maxwell? Should I be similarly concerned about you?"

Zechs shook his head. "That's entirely different. He's confined, and he can't do anything to me." Zechs said this last with an uncomfortable twinge, remembering the headlock Duo had treated him to the night before.

Treize's expression plainly showed his skepticism as well. He had finished unbuttoning Zechs' jacket and started removing it from his shoulders. "Don't mistake me, Milliard. He was hard-won. He's resisted my wiles at almost every encounter. He was, in fact, the visitor I referred to, and his initial intent upon arrival was to demand the release of his comrade. However, I seem to have mostly disarmed him." He folded Zechs' jacket carefully and placed it beside him on the floor, then started working on the clasps of the black shirt underneath. "He and I have agreed that our lives in the war are to be as separate as they can be from our relationship. When we are together, I am Treize and he is my little dragon, when apart, we are pilot and general. I would suggest you make a similar arrangement with your Duo, in case we fail in this latest effort."

"Treize, it's not - it's not progressed that far. Duo is still reconciling Zechs Marquise with the man who rescued him and took care of him. And besides, he's committed - to some extent, at least - to Heero Yuy, one of the other pilots."

"Well, then, should it progress that far..."

"Yes, of course."

Treize drew off Zechs' shirt and marveled briefly at the perfection that lay beneath it. "Now, let's cease discussing our other loves and concentrate on our own, shall we?"

"Yes, sir," Zechs said, leaning forward and kissing Treize's lips. They smelled of roses and tasted of expensive red wine. Ambrosia.

He pulled off his gloves and the tie of white lace around his neck, flinging them away, as Treize unhooked the belt that held his sidearm. Then Zechs started working on Treize's vest buttons. "God damn these uniforms, sir," Zechs pulled his mouth away long enough to say.

"Hmm, yes, my designers did go a bit overboard, didn't they? Perhaps next time I should issue tanktops, skirts and crotchless underwear." Zechs collapsed onto the General in laughter, bearing them both to the floor.

"That is going a bit overboard," he said when he caught his breath.

"I don't know," Treize said in a musing tone. "An attractive thought, though, isn't it?"

"No!"

Treize shrugged and rolled over Zechs so he was leaning over him.

"Wait, I haven't finished-" Zechs protested, losing his grip on Treize's shirt buttons.

"I haven't even begun, Milliard," Treize purred, and then bit gently at the curve of one bared neck. Zechs moaned, his hand dropping away from Treize's half-unbuttoned shirt and collapsing bonelessly to the floor. "Don't think I don't know all your weak spots, Milliard, especially beautiful little boys."

"Don't make me sound like a pervert," Zechs said, his voice barely a whisper. "He's only five years younger then me, and he's older than you are."

"Are you saying I'm old?" Treize said, nipping once harder and then soothing the bite with his tongue.

"Too old to be sleeping with a fifteen-year-old."

"A fifteen-year-old widower. He's as qualified to sleep with me as you are, Milliard." Zechs moaned again, totally in thrall. Treize moved up to lightly hold one earlobe between his teeth, then laved the ear with his tongue, moving it in and out of the passage and marveling at the groans he elicited. Freed from complete thrall, Zechs reached up and quickly finished the job he'd started on the shirt. Treize lifted his arms from the floor one by one to help him take it off and he flung it away. He took off the tie and flung that away too, but he couldn't reach Treize's gloves. So, he gave up and began running his hands over his finely-muscled torso, teasing it in the right places so he sent shivers up and down Treize's spine.

Treize moved down, licking at Zechs' nipples and then fastening onto one with his teeth. Again, Zechs groaned.

Finally, the Lightning Count mounted his counterattack. He attacked both nipples with his fingers, bringing them sharply erect and causing Treize to gasp through his teeth where he was still worrying at Zechs' bud. He brought one knee up between Treize's legs and began rubbing at the hardened shaft he encountered there. Treize moaned and moved his hand downward to Zechs' crotch, rubbing him in return.

Zechs rolled over, spilling Treize and ending up on top of him. He undid the zipper at the side of the pants and Treize lifted his hips to help him draw them off. Treize was just as quick to do the same to him.

Now Treize was on top and he lowered himself down, kissing Zechs fiercely as they ground their hips together. They rolled back and forth, fighting for the superior position, until finally Treize started nuzzling Zechs' neck again, causing him to collapse bonelessly to the floor.

"Not, fair," Zechs panted. Treize smiled.

"Whatever do you mean, pet?" Zechs just moaned. Treize reached up to the desk drawer, opened it, and drew out a bottle of lubricant without letting Zechs escape. He opened it and spread it over his member carefully, then tossed it onto the desk. He wasn't sure if Zechs even realized he was doing it.

He pulled away, eliciting a groan of protest, then lifted Zechs' legs to his shoulders, positioning his member at the opening. Zechs gasped and looked at him in shock.

"When did you...?"

"Shhh, Milliard." He pushed in slowly, letting Zechs take him in as far as he could, then began pushing in and pulling out rhythmically, listening to Zechs' cries to tell him when he was hitting the right spot. As he increased the frequency he added his own cries to Zechs' and grasped his friend's member, pumping in time to his own thrusts. Their cries reached a fever pitch and as they both came Zechs cried out, hearing Treize groan as he spurted his seed deep into him.

Treize pulled his softening member out of his lover carefully and curled up beside the blonde beauty on the floor.

"I could have won that one," Zechs said sleepily.

"You can never beat me, Milliard," Treize returned.

"Next time, let's try the bed. My back is killing me."

Treize chuckled. "Why don't we try the bed now, at least before you fall asleep." Zechs' eyes flew open.

"I'm not going to fall asleep."

"Of course not. Come on." They both crawled under the covers of the voluptuous bed and curled up together. Within minutes, they were both asleep.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zechs stumbled towards Duo's room in a fog. He opened the door, without putting his sidearm on the table, but didn't forget to order them to shut down the equipment. The room was dark and inviting and he could see Duo's sleeping form sprawled out on the bed. He was naked from the waist up and had pushed the covers off of him, kicking them so they lay mostly on the floor. He looked delicious, for all he was snoring like a freight train.

Treize had awakened the Lightning Count at something approaching dawn and they had received the report that the faked transfer orders had been implanted in the computer banks for the pilots to find. Treize had left for Nepal soon thereafter, but not before treating Zechs to a little more of his particular brand of acrobatics. Between that and three nights of near-sleeplessness, Zechs felt like he'd been pushed through a small hole only about the width of his hand, and then forced to stay awake for a week.

He surrendered to temptation almost without thinking about it, and curled up beside Duo on the bed. He pulled up the bedspread to cover them, wrapped his arm around the pilot, and fell promptly asleep.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Something was tickling Duo's ear. He reached up to swat at it and brushed against soft lips. Something was stretched across his chest, and something else was holding down one of his legs. In confusion, he opened his eyes and turned his head, almost bashing noses with Zechs Marquise.

"Holy Shit!" he exclaimed, jerking away and nearly falling off the other side of the bed. Zechs opened his eyes, revealing sleepy blue orbs underneath the lids.

"Sorry, angel, I didn't mean to startle you."

Duo plastered a grin over his face and forced himself to relax. "Naw, man, you didn't startle me. I'm used to waking up with older men draped all over me. No problem."

Zechs pursed his lips in the sexiest frown Duo had ever seen. "I'm glad that I qualify as an 'older man' to you, angel. I'm only twenty-years-old, you know." :What's with this angel crap?: Duo thought. :Down boy, down!:

"Well, you know what they say, never trust anyone over twenty."

Zechs sat up, running a hand through his hair to try to tame it. "That's thirty."

"Only after your twentieth birthday."

"Is that so."

Duo nodded vigorously. "Yes sirree." Then he frowned, noticing something. "Hey, man, you've got a scrape or something on your face."

Zechs brought fingers up to the mark, just in front of his right ear. A flush rose on his cheeks, clashing prettily with his pale complexion and hair. :Man, he even blushes sexy. What am I thinking?: "It's, uh," he cleared his throat. "Carpet burn, I think."

Duo thought suddenly like he might like to faint. "Carpet burn?!"

He nodded, his blush deepening, but now it was accompanied by a sardonic grin. "I probably have a lot more on my back. My shoulders are killing me."

"What the fuck did he do to you last night?"

"Just that, exactly."

"On the floor?"

"We, uh, never quite made it to the bed."

Duo gave him an appraising look, trying not to think about what this conversation was about. "So, you were on the bottom, then."

Zechs shrugged, giving Duo a flash of a grin. "Well, he is my commanding officer, you know."

"Yeah, right. So you're just fucking the General for advancement, then."

He recoiled, looking insulted. "That is not true!"

"Ohhhh, hit a weak spot, did I?" Duo leaned forward, trying not to think about their proximity, or the raging hard-on in his pants. "Touchy about that subject, are we?"

"Only because we have to keep our relationship secret, or everyone will think that," Zechs said defensively.

"Sure, sure."

"Now you're just trying to provoke me."

"And why would I want to do that?" Duo said innocently.

Zechs kissed him, deeply, full on the lips, wrapping his arms around the smaller boy. Duo jerked back in surprise, though not enough to break the contact, then felt himself melting into the kiss. Zechs' hair gave light feather touches on his face as he leaned into the older man, opening his mouth so his tongue could gain entry. He wrapped his arms around Zechs' waist and laced his hands firmly together.

All the while he was conducting an internal battle with himself.

:What the fuck are you doing, Maxwell? What about Heero?:

:Fuck you, Heero never treated me like this.:

:But you love Heero.:

:Yeah, well I seem to like Milliard a hell of a lot, too, and it's not like Heero's going to care if I boff another man. He made that pretty clear.:

:He took care of you when you were sick.:

:So did Milliard.:

:You know that Heero loves you, he just won't admit it yet! Don't ruin your chance for happiness.:

:Do I?:

:Yes!:

:Maybe...:

:So stop fucking kissing Milliard already!:

Duo pulled away, reluctantly but firmly, disentangling himself from the blonde vision in front of him. He kept Heero's face firmly in mind, complete with cold, dead, cobalt eyes and tried not to feel like he was acting like a fool. Zechs made a confused sound in his throat, but didn't resist.

"I - I'm sorry, Milliard. I've realized I'm not ready, for this, yet."

"Of - of course you're not. Forgive me, I forgot myself."

"It's not because of the rape, okay? Believe me, it's not like that was the first time, it can hardly fuck me up any more then it already has, at this point. And it's not 'cause you're Zechs anymore, I've pretty well gotten over that. It's-" He stopped, paralyzed by indecision again. Heero's cold mask flickered, overlaid with Milliard's kind eyes, and gentle hands.

"It's Heero," Zechs finished for him.

"Yeah," Duo said gratefully.

"I understand. I can't wait to meet this fellow in person. I'm really interested to know who it is that can hold you in such thrall, despite what he's done to you."

"It's not that bad, Milliard, really." He stopped. "Hey, wait. What do you mean 'you can't wait to meet him'?"

"You must realize that your friends will come try to rescue you. Do you really think we're going to give you up easily?"

Duo grunted. "I wouldn't be so sure of that. Besides, if Heero comes after me, it'll likely be to try to kill me so I can't give you any information."

"I'll keep that in mind. You'll be safe, I swear."

"So you're going to try to capture anyone who comes for me, eh?"

"Of course."

"Hmph, if anyone comes."

"Oh, angel." Zechs enfolded Duo in his arms, chastely, but tightly hugging him. "I can't believe that they don't see your value as clearly as I see it."

Duo grunted but didn't argue with him. He laid his head on Zechs' shoulder and tried to will the confusion within him to subside. :What am I going to do?:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"What should we do, Heero?" Quatre said, his blue eyes wide. "How can we find out where he is?"

"We can't. He's either stayed in Luxembourg so they don't have to risk moving him, or he's been moved to Nepal so he can be held with increased security. Either is likely."

"Kisama! They're trying to fool with our minds!" exclaimed Wufei irritably.

"What if neither of them are true?" Quatre asked.

"One must be true. In order for Oz to know where he is, they have to have it recorded somewhere in their network, Quatre," said Trowa quietly. Heero nodded.

Wufei got to his feet. "We should attack both simultaneously, hopefully they won't be as prepared for that."

"For some reason, Duo's exact location within the bases is not recorded anywhere." Heero added. "We must go in covertly if we expect to get him out without accidentally blowing him away."

"Then we'll need a computer/security expert in each team. Trowa, you come with me to Nepal. Quatre, you and Heero can go after Luxembourg," said Wufei. The other three pilots nodded assent.

"The Maguaranacs will arrange for our transport to Luxembourg and Nepal. We can get there by tomorrow," Quatre piped up.

"All right, we'll leave as soon as possible," said Heero. "Contact your people, Quatre."

"Ninmu ryoukai," the Arab replied.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

It was close to midnight in Nepal. Two shadows approached the supply entrance, guns cocked and ready. They took out the four guards with quick, brutal, efficiency. Trowa started working on the electronic lock.

"Since when did they post four guards at a supply entrance?" Wufei whispered.

Trowa only grunted, concentrating on the lock. When it sprang free he straightened up and entered the base. "They're expecting us. Be careful."

"We'd better get out of here as quickly as possible, then."

"Let's split up."

Wufei nodded. "I'll search the prison level. If we don't meet up again inside, we'll meet outside within three hours."

"Suit yourself."

Trowa searched every level he could get to without taking out too many guards, which was most of the base. He started on the command level and worked his way down as systematically as he could. He marveled at the level of security he encountered, and it was only with a great deal of luck and ingenuity that he managed to avoid getting shot.

When he was almost done searching the floor above the prison level, he heard the sounds of a commotion. He crept towards it in time to witness Wufei execute a perfect roundhouse kick, crushing a soldier's nose and chin. There were at least ten guards in the hallway, but Wufei was holding his own splendidly. Trowa readied his gun, trying to decide what to do.

Suddenly, a commanding voice rang out from the opposite end of the hallway. "Wufei!" Trowa looked up and felt his jaw drop in shock. :Treize Kushrenada!:

Wufei whirled at the sound of his name and froze. He stared, seemingly paralyzed, at the General of Oz.

:Damnit, Wufei, what's wrong with you?: Trowa had time to think.

Before he could do anything, and before Wufei could recover from the spell that seemed to have come over him, one of the conscious soldiers leveled a gun and fired. Wufei crumpled to the ground without a sound.

:Kuso!:

Still cursing mentally, Trowa turned--

--and found himself nose-to-barrel with a gun.

"Don't move!" said the soldier.

Without batting an eye, Trowa kicked him in the stomach, simultaneously moving the gun aside and ducking in case it should go off accidentally. He shot the gasping guard in the head.

Then he ran like hell.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero preceded Quatre off of the helicopter. It had landed in a field a few miles from Luxembourg so hopefully it wouldn't be seen. Then, he turned and faced Quatre.

"Now, go back to the safehouse and wait for Trowa and Wufei, Quatre."

"Nani? What are you talking about, Heero?"

"Go," Heero said this in a dead tone that brooked no argument.

"Why?"

"I don't need you, you'll only be in the way. Go home."

Quatre knew he couldn't really argue with him. He didn't have the kind of training in covert ops that Heero and the others did, and if Heero thought he was only going to be in the way, he was probably right. He did have one nagging fear, though.

"Demo, Heero, when you find Duo..."

"I won't kill him unless I have to kill us both to prevent us from falling back into the enemy's hands." Heero's eyes seemed to soften imperceptibly. "I promise, Quatre. You have nothing to worry about."

Quatre gazed at him for a while, then nodded. "All right, Heero. If you think it's best." He turned and reentered the helicopter. Heero hopped on the motorcycle the Maguaranacs had provided them with and sped off without another word.

Like Wufei and Trowa, he encountered an almost ridiculous amount of security in the base, especially considering the time of night. After overcoming the prison level guards and finding only a beefy man in one of the cells, he systematically worked skyward, until he had to acknowledge the truth: either Duo wasn't there, or he was on the command level.

:I have to know.: He set to work overriding the security locks in the elevator.

He turned a corner on the command level and encountered confirmation of his suspicion. Three techs sat at a table in the middle of the hallway, and two guards flanked the door to one of the suites.

Heero couldn't waste time. He threw a tear gas grenade and went in shooting, taking out the two guards, the techs, and most of the electronic equipment, then he retreated, listening to the air recyclers redouble their efforts to clear the air. Thirty seconds later he plunged back into the dissipating cloud and started picking the lock. The door sprang open and he leapt in.

"Duo-" His words were cut off as Zechs Marquise leveled a gun at his chest and fired. A numb, tranquilizing feeling spread quickly through his whole body. He caught a glimpse of Duo sitting motionless on the bed behind the Lightning Count, clad in an Oz uniform, before he lost consciousness.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"Kuso!" Wufei punctuated the word with a kick that dented the wall of the prison cell. "Kuso!" Now he punched the wall hard enough tear open his hand and leave a bright blotch of blood on the wall. "Kisama!" This time the force of his kick left the room echoing for a full minute. His ankles were in pain from being jarred against hard surfaces, and both sets of knuckles were torn and bleeding.

:Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! How could you let your feelings betray Duo like that! Traitor!:

"Kuso!!" Another dent appeared in the wall.

"Please, dragon, stop destroying my prison."

Wufei whirled and went into a defensive crouch, squaring himself off in front of Treize. "Why should I, you traitor!"

"Traitor?" Treize smiled with amusement. "And don't worry, little dragon, the guards aren't listening."

"Then if I brutally murder you, they won't be able to stop me!" Wufei yelled and launched himself at the General. Treize danced out of the way at the last moment with the light step of a fencer and Wufei smashed headfirst into the door. He bounced off, rubbing his forehead. "Itai..."

"Stop this, little dragon. Calm down."

Wufei turned to face him again, satisfied that, at least now, he was between the General and the door. Treize couldn't escape now. "You enemy of justice! You did that on purpose, kisama!"

"Dragon, think for a moment about what you're saying." Treize said, still unruffled. "I had no way to know that you would be the one to come here."

"You knew I would react that way, kisama! You distracted me!"

"As I said, I didn't know it was you who had breached our security until I saw you there. If anything, you should have stayed away, if you were going to react like that. You knew I was here."

Wufei wilted slightly, then turned and punched the door. "I'm an idiot. You're right; I shouldn't have come here. I should have gone to Luxembourg with Heero."

Treize came up behind him, laying a hand on Wufei's shoulder that was shrugged off. "It would have made no difference. Heero's been captured as well."

"Nani?!" Wufei turned around to face the General. "Who else do you have?"

"None, just you, Duo, and Heero. If the others came, they escaped." Wufei let out a sigh of relief. :At least Trowa and Quatre are safe and free. All hope isn't lost, then.:

"Now," Treize began, producing a pair of handcuffs. "There's no sense in leaving you in inferior living conditions to Duo, is there? You can come with me. Your suite is prepared, unless," he smiled wickedly. "You wish to share my suite, little dragon."

"Won't your people think that's a little suspicious?"

"If the General of Oz wishes to make his prisoner his plaything, and seems to have cowed said prisoner, who are his subordinates to question it?"

Wufei glared at the handcuffs. "Well, no thanks anyway."

"Your choice, my darling. Now, let's put these on you. We must keep up appearances, after all."

Wufei took a step back, bumping into the door. "No! I'm not putting those things on."

"Come now, I'll take them off the minute we get to your suite, dragon."

Wufei yelled directly into Treize's face. "No!" Treize jerked back.

"If you won't let me put them on, I'll summon guards to put them on. Be reasonable, dragon."

Wufei grumbled, then a thought hit him. "Why do you want to move me, anyway? Why can't I just stay here if I want to?"

Treize looked around in distaste. "Because I'll be visiting you often, dragon, and I'd rather ravish you in more comfortable surroundings."

The blood rushed to Wufei's face so quickly he felt dizzy for a moment. He sighed and presented his wrists to Treize. "Make no mistake, General, I intend to escape."

The handcuffs closed with a click. "I wouldn't dream of doubting your sincerity, Wufei."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo gazed with mournful eyes as Heero was unceremoniously hoisted up by two guards and carried from the room. :Damnit! Why didn't I do anything? If I'd just attacked Zechs I might have knocked him out without getting shot and been able to get Heero out of here.:

He curled up on his side on the bed, hugging his knees to his chest and tried not to cry. :Boys don't cry. Boys don't cry.: He felt the mattress shift as Zechs sat down. A gentle hand came to rest on his shoulder.

"Duo, angel, I'm sorry."

"Don't say that," Duo said miserably. "You're not sorry at all. You stayed in here with that gun just in case Heero made it here, and he did, and you shot him, that's all."

"No, that's not all. First of all, that was just a strong tranquilizer. He's fine."

"I know that."

"Secondly, I am sorry. I never want to cause you pain, angel..." Duo wanted to yell at him, to throw things, to tell him never to call him 'angel' again. Instead he buried his head in Zechs' lap and cried.

"Why can't Heero be like you?" he sobbed. "Why do you have to be my enemy, Milliard?"

"I don't know, dear angel. I don't know." Zechs held the sobbing boy in his arms until he got some semblance of control back.

"Milliard?" Duo said softly.

"Yes, angel?"

"Could I be alone for a little while?"

"Of course." Zechs rose to leave, but Duo grasped onto his sleeve.

"And Milliard?"

"Yes?"

"Could, could I see Heero at some point?"

Zechs turned to look at him, his masked face serious. "On one condition."

"What?"

"Promise me that you won't try to escape with him, or make any plans with him to escape, and I'll let you see him as often as you like."

Duo looked down. :It's all right, Maxwell. He didn't say you couldn't try to escape, just not try to break out with him or something. Just be good when you're with him and you'll get to see him again.: "All right. I promise."

"Okay, I'll let you see him as soon as I can."

"Okay." And Zechs left.

Duo threw himself back down on the bed, but his eyes were dry now. :Forgive me, Heero. This is all my fault.:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

When Heero had recovered from whatever tranquilizer had been in the bolt Zechs had shot him with, he had discovered that he was lying on a bed in crew quarters. His room was much more cramped then Duo's had been, but he figured they were trying to keep them apart. :Assuming Duo is even one of us anymore,: he thought.

He didn't take well to confinement.

Soon after he awoke, a guard came in with breakfast on a tray. That guard died from a thrown butterknife in the throat. After that, only plastic utensils had been given to him, and those didn't fly well, so the next guard who came in got his trachea crushed by a foot. He probably died as well, but Heero had been sedated by some kind of gas added to the air in his room before seeing what happened. When he awoke, his hands and feet had been bound securely to the bed. He was sitting up, and reasonably comfortable, but he could barely move. His next meal was fed to him, which he submitted to without verbal comment.

After the meal was finished, the door slid open to admit Duo and Zechs. Heero glared at both of them as fiercely as he could. Duo was not handcuffed, and still clad in a uniform, though the top two buttons were undone, revealing a white shirt underneath. His face was a little puffy, as though he'd been crying recently, though the signs had almost faded. The fading marks of bruises could be seen on his cheeks and forehead. Heero's chest twisted. :It's as I thought; he's been broken.:

Zechs turned to leave, squeezing Duo's shoulder as he did so. "Remember your promise, Duo." Duo nodded, his eyes fixed on Heero's face. "I'm sorry, but we have to monitor your conversation. Heero's been very violent and uncooperative." He nodded again. Zechs squeezed his shoulder again and left.

Duo took a step toward the bed, but was stopped short by the harshness of Heero's voice. "So, you've turned against us, then."

"W-what?"

Heero sneered at him. "Come on, Duo. You're in an Oz uniform, Zechs Marquise treats you like his latest boytoy, and Wufei and I have both been captured trying to rescue you. How else could this have happened except if you've betrayed us?"

Duo's hands started shaking and he looked like his legs might give out under him. "No, Heero, you've got it all wrong. I swear."

"Do I?"

"Please, Heero, listen to me. Onegai?"

"I'm listening." Duo took a few steps forward and sat down gingerly on the bed, watching Heero for signs that he was about to break the chains holding him down and go for his throat. He looked down at his hands.

"When I got here I was pretty sick. Then this guy came in and raped me. He kept it up for a couple of days, I don't know how long." He glanced up, searching Heero's face, but he schooled it into impassivity. This fit in with his theory, however brutal their methods had been, they were effective. "Then Zechs came to check on me, and it turns out that Treize Kushrenada had handed down orders not to hurt me, that this guy had violated." Heero started slightly, that explained the man he'd found in the prison. So far, this added up. Duo continued his narrative. "So, Zechs was pretty pissed, right? And I was really sick again, and my clothes were all ripped up and stuff, so he took me to the room where you found me, and they didn't have any other clothes to give me so they gave me this uniform. Zechs took care of me while I was feverish, and he's been really nice. He feels really bad about what happened, 'cause I wasn't supposed to get hurt, and his man betrayed him. He feels responsible, so he's spent a lot of time with me making sure I'm okay." Duo looked up, an earnest look imprinted on his face. "So, you see, that's why I'm wearing the uniform, and why Zechs is treating me so nicely." He looked away again. "As for why I didn't do anything when you burst in, well, for one thing I was really surprised, and for another thing, I guess I'm still really grateful to Zechs, and I didn't want to hurt him, so I hesitated. Then it was too late. I'm sorry, Heero." He squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his fists in his lap. Two fat droplets exploded on his knuckles. "I feel like such a fool for letting all this happen. If I hadn't gotten sick, or if I hadn't been such a baka when you came in. This is all my fault."

"No, not completely your fault." Heero said. "I was stupid not to consider the fact that you might have guards in your room with you. I let my guard down."

Duo looked at him, his eyes shining. "You believe me, then? And you don't hate me?"

"Baka."

Duo attacked him, landing on top of Heero and burying his head in the Japanese pilot's chest. "Thank God! Heero, I was so worried that you'd be pissed at me. I swear, I haven't told them anything, except what I might have said when I was delirious, and I think I only told them I'd slept with you, so that's why they know your name. As for why they know Wufei's, I don't know, but I don't think it's my fault-"

"Shut up, Duo."

"Shutting up." Duo sighed and breathed in Heero's scent for a while, before Heero spoke again.

"What promise did you make?"

Duo groaned. "I promised that while I was with you I wouldn't talk about escaping or try to escape. It was the only way Mi - Zechs would let me see you."

"Hn," Heero grunted. A few seconds later, Duo looked up at him with a devilish glint in his eye.

"You know, Heero," he said.

"What?"

"I've been going mental since I recovered from my fever. I've been horny for days and it's driving me nuts."

"What are you getting at, baka?"

Duo's grin widened and he slipped his hand under Heero's shirt, teasing one of his nipples until it went hard.

"What are you doing, you idiot? They're watching, you know! And I can't exactly do anything tied down like this!"

Duo's hand walked down to his groin, feeling through the fabric of his spandex shorts that, yes, Heero was hard as a rock.

"That doesn't seem to be bothering you that much." Heero groaned as he rubbed lightly. "In fact, I'd say you're enjoying this even more then you did in that warehouse. Are you a danger junkie, Heero? Or are you into bondage?"

"Kuso!" Heero said through clenched teeth, though his head was thrown back and he was panting. "I haven't exactly had the chance to experiment, remember?"

"Now's the perfect time, don't you think?" Duo's voice was low and husky from crying, and it sounded incredibly sexy. :I love him.: Heero realized suddenly, almost as an afterthought. He found himself giving a mental 'fuck you' to the guards watching and sinking into the sensations. At some point, Duo slipped off his shorts and he felt only a twinge of reservation.

Even that quickly flew out of his head as Duo's mouth closed over his cock. After that, he just lost himself in the pleasure of Duo's tongue laving him, of that warm, wet cave enveloping him and pumping, up and down. He clenched his fists so hard his fingernails bit into his palms and cried out as he came into Duo's mouth.

Duo quickly swallowed with the ease of practice and lapped up everything else that had escaped him, an action that almost made Heero come again. Then he crawled on hands and knees up to curl around Heero.

"Well, how was that, koibito?"

"It, it was wonderful, Duo." Duo looked surprised.

"Good to hear it."

They lay in silence for a few minutes, and then Zechs' voice intruded. "Duo, it's time for you to leave, now." Zechs' voice was rough, Heero noted, and he wondered if the Lightning Count had been watching. Duo kissed Heero on the cheek and got up.

"All right, Zechs," he said agreeably. He turned to Heero. "I'll be back soon, I promise." He paused, as if trying to remember something, then. "Oh yeah, and if you promise to stop killing guards and stuff, they'll let you out of those restraints. It must be a real pain in the ass to go to the bathroom like that." He grinned. "So to speak."

Heero regarded him for a moment. "All right."

"Yes! Score one for the good guys! Okay, I'll see you tomorrow." He turned to go.

"Baka!" Heero yelled. Duo stopped in his tracks as the door opened, and turned meekly.

"W-what?"

"Put my pants back on, you idiot!" Duo blushed so hard and so suddenly
that Heero thought it was a wonder his nose didn't start bleeding.

"Ohmygod! Gomen, Heero!" He grinned evilly. "Or maybe I should just leave you that way..."

"Duo..." Heero said dangerously. Duo reacted with mock terror.

"Okay, okay, I'll do it! Just don't give me the Death Glare!" He pulled Heero's shorts up and gave him a rub for good measure. "It's not as though they haven't all seen it, now. I'll bet the recorded image will be seen by every high-ranking member of Oz!"

"..."

"Okay, okay, going now!" He gave one last grin. "I'll miss you!" The door closed behind him.

Heero dropped his head back against the pillow. "Kono bakayaro!" Inwardly, he smiled.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zechs and Duo walked back to the command level in silence. Zechs had been monitoring their entire conversation, of course, mostly to ensure that Duo kept his promise and that Heero didn't hurt the boy somehow. Instead of what he'd feared, though, he'd been treated to a first-hand exposition of the two pilots' relationship. He'd never been much a voyeur, but he had forced - well, forced was a bit strong - himself to watch anyway. Just in case, of course.

:I will not be jealous. I have no right to be jealous. I will not be jealous.: The words ran in a litany in his mind. It didn't help.

When they arrived at Duo's room, Zechs accompanied him in, but didn't let the door close behind him. When Duo turned to him, a question on his expressive face, Zechs forced a smile to his face, grateful for the mask that hid his eyes from the boy.

"I have some work to do, Duo. I'll see you later, if you like." He turned away.

"Wait!" Duo called. Zechs looked back at him. "Just, just close the door for a sec, okay?" Zechs gestured at the tech on duty to shut down the equipment and obeyed, stepping inside the room just enough for the door to close. Zechs regarded Duo with a dispassionate expression on his face, fighting the urge to cross the room, to beg Duo to give up the Japanese pilot.

"What is it, Duo?" he asked as the silence lengthened, wincing at the roughness of his voice. He felt like every word was grating against the back of his throat.

Duo shifted from foot to foot. "Are you all right? I know you were watching..."

"Yes, Duo, I'm fine."

"Bullshit," he shot back. Zechs didn't allow so much as a muscle to twitch. He remained silent. Duo peered at him. "Jeez, you're looking at me like I'm some kind of drill sergeant. 'Get down and give me twenty, dirtbag!'" he cried, trying to force his voice to sound mean and grating.

Zechs didn't smile. "Is that all, Duo?"

Duo dropped the attitude and stared at the floor. "You really, really care about me, don't you? I mean, more then friends." Zechs didn't trust himself to speak, so he didn't comment. It was obvious what the answer was, anyway.

The long-haired angel looked up, anguish in his violet eyes. He walked toward Zechs, who tensed, but didn't try to withdraw. When he was toe to toe with the Lightning Count, the short pilot stood on tiptoes, reached up to encircle Zechs' neck with his arms, and kissed him.

Zechs closed his eyes, wavered, and then gently placed his hands on Duo's shoulders, pushing him away. The other boy made a small, confused sound in the back of his throat. "No, Duo. Don't do this to yourself," Zechs said quietly. "You have no obligation to me. I'm the one horning in on an established relationship. You don't need to do this out of some misguided feeling that it will make me feel better. If you want to be with Heero, that's what you should do. It's not as though I'm alone, I'll always have Treize."

"Demo..." Duo protested, but Zechs placed a hand gently over his mouth.

"No angel, I'm going now." He turned away and signaled for the door to be opened before he could change his mind, and escaped.

Duo threw himself down on the bed, burying his head under the pillow and cramming his fist into his mouth to quiet the shuddering sobs that tried to burst out of him.

:But, I wanted to do it...:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The trip by helicopter back from Nepal was, for Trowa, extremely instructive in the various possible levels of anxiety. The scene of Wufei's capture played itself over and over in his mind as he tried to determine just what it was about Treize's sudden appearance that had disarmed the pilot so thoroughly. Only one possibility, besides simple incompetence, presented itself, and the French pilot tried not to think about it: that Wufei had been a spy.

The next level concerned Luxembourg. He had basically determined to his satisfaction that Duo was not in Nepal, which meant he was either in Luxembourg, or Oz had outmaneuvered them so thoroughly that they had missed something fundamental. He hoped ferverently that Duo had been rescued, since failure would probably mean a further reduction of their ranks.

The final level, and the most difficult for the quiet Gundam pilot to sit through, was his worry over Quatre. He knew as well as anyone that Quatre was the least trained in covert ops of them all. If Wufei had been captured so easily - and if Trowa had come so close - then he wasn't sure if Heero could protect Quatre from a similar fate, even if they were successful in breaking Duo out. The thought that his smiling, blonde beauty might not be there to greet him when he returned haunted him for the whole trip.

Finally, the helicopter set down at a reasonable distance from the safehouse, waiting just long enough for Trowa to disembark, and then lifting off again. The Maguarnac pilot waved at Trowa enthusiastically before he was lost from sight by the curve of the hull.

Trowa located Wufei's motorcycle, which the two of them had ridden there an eternity ago, and walked it up to the asphalt shoulder of the nearby road. He didn't have the key, so he jimmied the lock and started it with a few twists of wires. He gunned the motor and sped away.

:Please, Quatre love, be there.:

He had hardly drawn up to the little shack and parked the motorcycle before the object of his worry flew out of the door, calling to him.

:Yokatta.:

"Trowa! Thank goodness you're back!" Quatre said, then burst into tears, burying his face in his shoulder and sobbing.

"Quatre! What is it?" He extricated himself from the boy long enough to get off the motorcycle, then wrapped his arm around his shoulders and guided Quatre towards the house.

"Heero made me come back, he wouldn't let me come to the base. And he hasn't come back, or contacted me, or anything. And now you're back, but you're riding Wufei's motorcycle and he's not here either." Quatre babbled as Trowa sat him down on the couch.

"Heero's been captured too?"

"I suppose so," Quatre said tearfully. "Does this mean that Wufei has really been captured?"

Trowa nodded. "I saw it." He wisely decided not to mention that the last thing he had seen of Wufei was of him getting shot.

"What do we do?"

"I don't know." Trowa sighed, a wave of exhaustion hitting him. He'd been too keyed up to sleep in transit on the way back, and now he was feeling the effects. "Let's discuss it in the morning, I need some rest."

"Okay, Trowa." Quatre stood. "How horrible of me! I've been sitting here all alone with nothing to do while you go off on that mission, and I don't even offer to do anything for you when you get back! I'll take care of you Trowa."

"Don't apologize, aisuru." He allowed himself to be bundled to bed and allowed a smile to grace his face as Quatre curled up beside him, yawning cutely.

"I've been so worried, I hardly slept last night," he said.

Trowa caressed his cheek. "I'm sorry to make you worry."

Quatre opened his eyes and smiled. He wrapped his arms around Trowa and kissed him softly on the lips. "That's okay."

"I'm so glad Heero made you come home. I was worried, too."

"You were worried?" Quatre looked so sweetly surprised and happy that Trowa felt a stab. He knew he was undemonstrative, but surely Quatre knew how much he loved him!

"Of course I was. I love you," he said. He felt a glow of pride as he said this. A few months ago, it had been a physical pain to utter those words, and now they felt natural coming from his lips.

"I love you, too, Trowa," Quatre said earnestly. Then a look of pain wrinkled Quatre's forehead and caused lines to spring up around his mouth. Trowa couldn't stand to see them, so he smoothed them away with kisses. Quatre sighed. "I feel so responsible. Maybe if I'd been there, I'd have been able to help."

"More likely you would have been captured. I was lucky not to be captured myself, and I'm much better at this than you are."

"Really?"

"They were ready for us, really ready. It was a trap, and a very good one."

Quatre sighed again. "I hate this. Now instead of one of us captured, it's three, and we're back where we started, except now they're really in two different places."

"We're back to square one, that's for sure."

"Square negative one, more like it," Quatre said sadly. "We're even worse off then before."

Trowa kissed him. "Don't worry. We'll make a better plan and get them out."

"I hope so."

Their mouths met again, tongues warring, and hands wandering lovingly over each other's bodies. Quatre made little cries in his throat as Trowa stroked him through the fabric of his pants. Quatre unzipped Trowa's jeans and drew him out, pumping softly, then harder.

Safe in an empty house with his lover, Trowa abandoned himself to it, moaning and even crying out as Quatre steadily increased the frequency of the motion. He did keep enough presence of mind to do the same for his beloved. Again and again they ground their hips together, almost as close as two people could be - head to head, chest to chest, groin to groin. Then they separated and began pumping with their hands again, continuing, but not letting themselves release, until their hands cramped and they moved together again.

Finally, Trowa found he couldn't hold back anymore. He cried out, spurting his seed over Quatre's slim hand. Quatre let go and went over the edge a second later, crying out Trowa's name as he did so.

They both collapsed to the mattress, legs and arms entwining, breathing as though they'd run a marathon.

"Ai shiteru, Trowa. Honto ni ai shiteru," Quatre said softly.

At first, Trowa only grunted, then something in his mind prodded him and he kissed Quatre deeply. "Ai shiteru, Quatre," he said when his mouth was free again. The two boys drifted to sleep, held in each other's arms.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wufei sat on the bed, his knees brought up to his chest and his arms curled around them and watched the door like a brooding lion. Or dragon. Treize watched him for a few seconds and reflected idly that if the Chinese boy's eyes were weapons, the door would be a smoking pile of slag by now.

He gestured offhandedly at the tech running the surveillance equipment. "Shut it down."

"Yes, General," the boy said nervously, glancing up at him with trepidation before punching a few buttons. :My, they get younger every year, don't they? How depressing.: Treize fingered the rose in his hand absently.

The General of Oz punched the combination that opened the door and entered the room...

...and was promptly hit smack in the face by a thrown pillow. He jerked back in surprise and bumped his head on the now-closed door.

"That hurt," he remarked, touching the back of his head gingerly with his free hand. A snort from the dragon at the other end of the room answered him. Attempting to regather the shreds of his dignity, he held up the rose and advanced on Wufei. "I thought I might give this to you, little dragon, as an overture of peace."

Wufei sneered at Treize, though he reached out to accept the flower. "What am I supposed to do with it, eat it-" he was cut off as his finger was pricked by a thorn. He dropped the rose with a hiss, red blood welling from the sensitive pad of his right index finger.

Treize caught his hand and lowered his mouth to it, soothing the pain away with his lips. He sucked lightly and tasted blood. "Ah, like you, it is beautiful, yet causes pain, little dragon," he said, glancing up at the blushing pilot.

"Did you get that one from a book?" Wufei said derisively, snatching his hand away.

Treize smiled. "Would you be so angry at me if you had gone to Luxembourg and been caught by Zechs instead? Or if I had not shown up at the precise moment I did and shattered your concentration?"

"Probably not," Wufei said in a hurt tone. "You betrayed me."

"I tell you, dragon, I did not intend to. I never expected that you would come here. Furthermore, my presence there was completely coincidental. You and your friends moved more quickly then even I had anticipated, and I was still inspecting the facilities to ensure that our trap was complete when I saw you. I reacted with surprise without thinking, dragon, and called your name. I'm sorry."

Wufei drew his knees up to his chest again and lowered his forehead to them. His voice was muffled as he spoke, but Treize couldn't tell if it was just from his position or emotion. "All right, fine. I forgive you. Now onegai, leave me alone."

Treize drew back as if stung. "Very well, dragon, if that is what you want." He rose, but was arrested by Wufei's hand shooting out to grasp his cloak. The Chinese boy uncurled, his dark eyes intense and locked on Treize's sapphire ones. He rose, never taking his eyes off of the taller man, and with great deliberation, he kissed him.

Treize nearly pulled away initially, so surprised was he at the sudden return of intimacy. He had entertained thoughts that perhaps Wufei's fanaticism would make this incident the end of their relationship. For once, instead, he allowed his iron control to relax and he gave himself to the kiss.

Wufei's hands slid up under the cloak, drawing shudders, even through the layers of uniform, to the older man. They slid around his body, and Treize responded in kind, wrapping his arms tightly around the boy and moaning into his mouth. The hands traveled down, encountering the belt and tracing its line absently back towards the front.

Without warning, Wufei grabbed Treize's sidearm and ducked out of his hold, backing up three steps and pointing the gun at him. His eyes were intense and determined and his mouth set. "Don't move," he said. "Raise your hands."

Treize did as directed, his mouth pulled down in a frown. "Now, dragon, this is hardly fair," he said quietly. "You have used our relationship to get my guard down, and take advantage-"

"Urusai!" Wufei barked, cocking the gun. "You used our relationship to get me captured in the first place. I told you it was forgiven, not forgotten. Now, turn around."

Treize turned slowly. "Will you shoot me in the back, my dragon?" he asked ironically. A snort answered that question.

"Of course not, that would only get me killed. You're going to get me out of here."

"I think you may be mistaken, dragon."

"Not if you want to live, Treize." Treize fell silent. He had to admit, he wasn't quite ready to die, yet. And he suspected Wufei understood him well enough to know it. He heard Wufei rustling behind him, but knew damn well he daren't turn to see what he was doing or Wufei would shoot him. He cursed himself for overestimating his power over the boy. :How could I have been so arrogant? He's never given me any firm indication that he cared about me in the least, and I know how fanatic he is. For all I truly know, he's simply been biding his time all along, saving this for when he truly needed it. I'm a fool, blinded by love.:

He heard a clink and Wufei came around him into his field of vision, a pair of handcuffs dangling from his fingers. :Where did he-?: Then Treize thought back to when he had brought Wufei to this room. He didn't specifically remember giving the 'cuffs to one of the guards, and he certainly hadn't had them when he'd left. He'd assumed that one of the guards had taken them, but Wufei might have lifted them, given sufficient skill.

"I have underestimated you in many areas, dragon," he said. Wufei's eyes were serious.

"Hold out your left hand." Treize complied, his cloak falling away from the arm as he lifted it. The handcuffs were fastened onto his wrist and then Wufei tucked himself beside him, under the main fall of the cloak. Another click signaled the cuffs being hooked onto Wufei's hand, which was the one holding the gun. The boy rearranged the cloak and suddenly Treize saw his plan. With the aid of the cloak's concealing properties, and because of the angles at which Wufei had cuffed their arms together, it looked as though Treize simply had his arm around the boy's arm, or perhaps was holding his hand. Meanwhile, the barrel of the gun dug uncomfortably into his side.

"Ingenious," Treize said quietly.

Wufei's dark eyes flashed at him. "I swear I will not kill you once we get out of here. In return, you play along, kisama, or I blow your torso off."

Treize grimaced and averted his eyes, berating himself for the show of weakness, but unable to help himself. He had been neatly outmaneuvered. "Understood."

"Let's go." Treize led the way over to the intercom beside the door and signaled the guards outside to open the door. When the door opened, he swept past them without a word, heading for his suite. Wufei kept his eyes down and shuffled along like a good little plaything, though when they were out of earshot he jabbed the General sharply in the ribs. "Where are we going? The elevator is the other way."

"Trust me."

Wufei snorted, but didn't protest as they continued. When they reached the suite, Treize strode over to the bed and Wufei balked. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Getting us out of here, dragon." He hauled on the handcuffs and Wufei discovered rather abruptly why it's sometimes not a good idea to chain yourself to someone else. Treize pretended to be too busy trying to find the little groove in the wood on the headboard to notice him regain his balance. He found the spot and touched it.

The bed slid forward and then aside, revealing a dimly-lit, rock-walled tunnel.

"What the hell is that?"

"Executive privilege."

Wufei took a long look at the tunnel. "That leads out of here?"

"That is correct."

He shook his head. "Do you have one of those in every base?"

"Do you expect me to tell you that, given that I am a hostage and you are pointing a weapon at me?"

Wufei grunted, then waved the weapon in the general direction of the tunnel. "All right, let's go."

A long, sometimes dark, time later, they emerged from a cave. Wufei looked around and recognized the area as being reasonably close to where Quatre's helicopter had dropped him and Trowa off, which meant that it was about a mile from the base.

"Yoshi," he remarked. He tucked the gun into the waistband of his pants, pulled a small needle out of the band in his ponytail, and picked the lock of the handcuffs with disconcerting ease. Treize smiled at the boy and held up his arm, the handcuffs still dangling from the wrist.

"Well, I suppose I'll make the trek back now. I'm sure by the time I get back you'll be long gone, so you have nothing to worry about. I'll just tell them that you surprised me, overcame me, and forced me to show you the secret exit. They'll remodel my suite and that'll be that."

Wufei smiled slowly, a curiously distant look in his eyes. "No, that won't be that, because Duo and Heero are still in your custody." His leg shot out, knocking Treize - unused to fighting martial artists, just fencers - off of his feet. The boy leapt on him and grabbed his wrists, cuffing them together behind his back in a swift motion.

He got up and pulled the gun from his waistband, pointing it at Treize again. In his other hand he held his wristcom. "Get up, General, you're coming with me."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zechs was still stone-faced the next day when he came to Duo's room before the start of his workday. Duo yawned mightily and looked at him with sleepy eyes.

"Milliard!" He patted the bed beside him. He sat up, allowing the covers to fall from his shoulders to reveal a deliciously bare torso. "Take a load off, man. C'mere!"

Zechs regarded him for a moment, then shrugged and sat down, carefully, on the edge of the bed. He heard Duo shift behind him and was about to turn when a pair of delicate hands seized him gently by the shoulders. The hands started kneading, with decent, if untrained, proficiency at the muscles of his neck and shoulders. Despite himself, the Lightning Count found himself relaxing.

"What are you doing, Duo?" he asked sharply.

"Saaa, man, you're so tense I'm getting sympathy pains!" Then he sighed, "Jeez, you sounded like Heero for a second there."

Zechs looked down at his hands. "Sorry."

Duo snorted. "You shouldn't have to apologize for resembling the guy I'm in love with, but unfortunately, you do. It's okay, though."

Zechs felt a stab. :The guy I'm in love with.:

He bore the pilot's ministrations for a while as he got his emotions back under iron control. It was much more difficult then usual, though, given the fact that Duo's hands were all over him. Well, not all over him, but the effect was similar.

"Hey, why don't you take that awful mask off, Milliard?" Duo broke his concentration by saying. "You look like Wing or something."

Zechs shrugged. "I hadn't planned on staying long." Duo grunted.

"Weeelll, why don't you take it off, now?"

"I'm still not planning to stay long." He paused. "I had planned to take you to see Heero again. He's been on his best behaviour since you left, by the way." He couldn't hide the irony in his voice as he continued. "He's out of restraints this time, as well, which I'm sure will please you."

"Hmmm, maybe." Duo gave his shoulders a few more good squeezes, then leaned forward and hugged Zechs from behind. "Okay, give me a minute to shower and we'll go, okay?"

"All right." Duo bounced up and headed for the bathroom, whistling to himself. The door closed and Zechs shifted himself so he could lean on the headboard as the sounds of water spraying drifted though the cabin. Duo was singing again, in a very inventive key, Zechs noted with amusement. :What am I going to do? I can't get him out of my head.: He sighed, closing his eyes. :It's over, I have no hope - even if I had any in the first place. Why did I ever let myself feel this in the first place?: Though, he knew he never had a choice. :I love him. I can't help myself.:

The sound of the bathroom door opening and a blast of steam heralded Duo's return. He sashayed out, still clad only in boxer shorts, and went clothes-hunting. Zechs marveled: even after almost a week of spending nights on the floor, the uniform was relatively wrinkle-free. Amazing.

Duo unashamedly dressed in Zechs' full view, then sat down on the bed and handed him the brush. "Go to it, man."

Half an hour later, Duo was dry, clean, and dressed. He bounced to his feet.

"All right! Let's go!"

"Yes," Zechs replied. Duo turned to him, his eyes twinkling.

"Oh, and as for yesterday's performance..." He pounced Zechs, kissing him hard enough to bruise both their lips. When he withdrew, his eyes had lost none of their sparkle. "Don't forget that," he whispered.

Zechs just sat there, totally in shock.

Suddenly, Duo was on the other side of the room, a bundle of energy again. "Come on, come on, I'm tired of these four walls, man! You can't keep Death locked up like this!"

He shook his head. "Coming."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

It was a long trek down the mountain to the nearest settlement. Treize couldn't move his arms to steady himself on the treacherous slopes, and after he fell heavily the first time and scraped his cheek, Wufei held tightly onto his arm, saving him from a few stumbles. A mile from the small town, they stopped near a small communications station on the outskirts. Treize permitted himself a small sigh; he'd been wondering how the Gundam pilot had intended to get him into the town without someone recognizing him.

Wufei knelt beside an access panel, keeping a watchful eye out for guards. He forced Treize to his knees beside him, where he could both watch the General, and work on the panel, and produced the wristcom. He worked quickly, cutting wires and rearranging them, connecting some to the circuitry in the comm unit. Finally, he pressed some buttons on the unit and it emitted a blast of static.

The Chinese pilot cursed vehemently and adjusted some dials. Finally, the static ceased and the image on the tiny screen resolved itself into the image of a blonde boy.

"Wufei! Yokatta! You're alive!" Quatre cried. His hair was more tousled then usual and he seemed to be wearing pajamas.

"Of course I'm alive, Quatre. Get me out of here."

Quatre glanced away for a moment and seemed to be speaking to someone outside of the screen's range of view. Then he turned back. "Trowa's looking for you, now. I'll contact the Maguaranacs and send a helicopter. Don't worry, Wufei-kun, we'll be there in a few hours."

"Yoshi. Make sure there's room for two."

"Two?" Wufei moved the little watch so that Quatre could see his prisoner. Treize raised one sculpted eyebrow at the image, then looked away, studying the gorgeous mountain view. When Wufei looked into the screen again, Quatre was still in mid-gasp. "Treize!"

"Sou."

"Wait there, a helicopter will be there to pick you up as soon as it can get there."

"Arigatou." Wufei switched off the watch and removed it from the panel with a few twists of wires.

"So, you truly intend to do this, dragon?" Treize said sadly, still not looking at the pilot.

"Did you doubt it? Perhaps you don't know me as well as you think you do." Wufei hauled him to his feet and placed his face very near to Treize's. "Winning this war is all that matters. Any feeling I might have for you is secondary. Get moving!" He pushed Treize ahead of him and the General stumbled again, catching himself before he scraped his face on the rocky ground. The words passed wonderingly through his head. :Any feeling I might have for you... he has feeling for me? Oh dragon...:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero looked up from his brooding as the door slid open to admit Duo and Zechs. He was sitting in his customary position for the activity: leaning against the headboard, one leg bent, with his arm resting on the knee. His piercing eyes noted a few unusual details and narrowed malevolently.

Zechs glanced at him and frowned, then looked down at Duo. "If you need anything, just call out. I'll be watching, again, though I'll be doing some work at the same time."

Duo shrugged, flashing him a smile. "No problem."

Zechs took one more look at Heero, who was almost steaming with rage. "All right, enjoy yourselves."

"Will do!"

The Lightning Count left and the door slid closed behind him. Duo's grin seemed to falter a bit.

"What's up, Heero? You look royally pissed about something. Did they forget the butter with your toast again - eek!"

He cut himself off with a squeak as Heero got up off the bed and stalked him. With each step the Perfect Soldier took, Duo took a step back, until he bumped into the dresser and had to stop. Heero walked up to him until he was almost touching the other pilot. He raised a hand and brushed his fingers against Duo's lips. Shinigami's pilot's eyes widened at the gesture, a strange contrast to the rage smoldering in his eyes.

"H-Heero...?"

"You have a fresh bruise on your face."

"Nani?"

"Your lips, they're bruised. So were Zechs'," he said quietly. Suddenly Duo felt very, very cold. He started trembling.

"Heero..."

The Wing pilot suddenly lashed out, punching the stainless steel dresser just five inches to the right of Duo's chest so hard he dented it. "What did he do to you?!" he shouted.

Duo wanted to lie. He wanted to tell Heero that it was all Zechs' fault, that he had kissed Duo and that it wasn't his fault. I can't do that to Milliard, though.

"Heero, I - I'm sorry."

Heero stared at him. "What are you apologizing for?"

Duo cringed slightly, knowing what this confession would bring. "He didn't do anything to me. I kissed him."

Though he was expecting the worst, the force of the blow still took him by surprise. He flew halfway across the room, hitting the door with his head and shoulder and went down in a heap, seeing stars.

He was dimly aware of the door opening and people rushing past him. He could hear Heero shouting, but he couldn't understand what he was saying. Warm, familiar hands hoisted him up and cradled him and bore him away.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Quatre got off the phone with the Maguarnacs and let out a whoop of joy. Trowa rose from the desk where the computer was flashing the notice that the data of where Wufei was located had been successfully transferred to the helicopter's navigational computer. He was smiling.

Quatre grabbed him around the neck and danced him around in a circle, laughing madly. "Trowa! Wufei's okay! We have a chance again!"

"Not to mention that we can use Treize to get Heero and Duo back," Trowa replied, his smile widening. Quatre was infectious.

The blonde boy let out another shout of joy and hugged his lover again. Trowa kissed him enthusiastically. Quatre leaned into the kiss, reaching up to tangle his hands in Trowa's hair. When they separated, Quatre looked at him with shining eyes. "Yokatta," he whispered.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo woke up to Zechs leaning over him, worry etched on his beautiful features.

Not to mention a splitting headache.

He groaned and clutched his head, trying to keep it from cracking and falling apart. That would probably be messy, and Zechs probably wouldn't appreciate him staining his white sheets.

"How are you feeling?" Zechs asked foolishly.

"Like there's a thousand barbarians banging on drums in my head. Baka, how do you think I feel?"

"Gomen, Duo. I didn't expect him to get violent like that."

"Maa maa, not your fault. I was stupid to provoke him, anyway."

Zechs dropped to his knees beside the bed and tenderly brushed Duo's bangs out of his eyes. "This is not your fault. That bastard hit you hard enough to give you a concussion. You cannot take the blame for his immaturity."

Duo laughed weakly. "Yeah, whatever."

"Duo!" Zechs hugged him and Duo felt a tear fall onto his neck and trace its cold, wet way around to the nape of his neck.

"O-Oi!" Duo said in surprise. "What're you crying for, Milliard?" His headache had faded and he struggled into a sitting position, forcing Zechs to look at him. Zechs moved up to sit on the bed and kissed him tenderly. His lips were soft and pliant against Duo's, and he found himself reeling from the passion in them.

:Wow, Heero's never kissed me like that!:

Zechs withdrew slowly and Duo gaped at him.

"M-Milliard..."

"No one who loves you could ever hurt you like that, not for any reason. Remember that, angel."

Duo snorted, cynicism burning away the ache in his heart. "Listen, Milliard. Maybe that's the way it works in your rich-boy fantasy world, but that's not the way it works in the real world. When you've had a past like mine, you take love where you can get it, 'cause it hurts less than the alternative."

"Does it? Does it really?" Zechs caressed Duo's face. "And can you really look at me and claim that being with me would be no better than being with Heero?"

Duo looked down. "But, but I don't love you, Milliard. I love Heero."

Zechs pulled his hand back as if stung. "I never thought I'd have to call you a fool, but you're acting like one."

Duo looked up, his eyes flashing. "Why, because I'm not in love with perfect, beautiful you?"

"No, because you insist on clinging onto that bastard, Heero, despite how much he hurts you, because of some fantasy that if you break through his shell you'll find a kind, gentle, loving soul. Who's really living in the real world, Duo? You or me?"

Duo winced as if struck again and hung his head. "He fits me better. He's a part of my world."

"Why? Because he gives you violence and pain?"

Duo twitched, but nodded slowly. Zechs' breath caught in his throat and he reached out to touch Duo again, but the boy flinched away and he dropped his hand. The tableau held for a moment, then Duo spoke hesitantly.

"Could I talk to him again, please? I didn't get to tell him everything I wanted to."

"No!"

Duo looked up sharply. "Why not?"

"I'm not letting him get anywhere near you again. I won't let him hurt you!"

"Demo, Milliard-" Duo was cut off by the sudden beeping of Zechs' wristcom. He made an irritated sound and tapped a button.

"What?"

"Sir, there's a very important communication from Nepal. I think you should see this, sir."

Zechs rose and shot a determined look at Duo. "We'll continue this discussion later." Duo hung his head and didn't answer. When the door closed again he clenched his fists and trembled. :Heero, kisama! I'm trying to love you, but it's so hard. Why did you have to be such an idiot, Heero? No matter how hard I try to look at it, Milliard is getting to me.:

:Heero no baka!:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Treize sat on the bed, his face impassive. He had been placed in a bedroom and his hands securely chained to the headboard. He had managed thereafter to maneuver himself into a reasonably comfortable sitting position. The room was immaculate, but he suspected that it had been either Heero's or Duo's. A laptop had been sitting on the desk when he'd arrived, but had been promptly removed.

He turned a small smile on the room's other occupant, sitting on a chair beside the bed. "You would be pilot 03?"

The pilot nodded, once.

"Do you have a name, if I might ask?"

"No," he replied softly, after a pause. "But you may call me Trowa."

"Doumo."

With a small sigh, he lay back against the wall, again. Carrying a one-sided conversation with a green-eyed, wild-haired wall might turn on that blonde angel who'd turned loving cerulean eyes upon this pilot when bringing him tea, but it did nothing for him.

The door opened slowly, to reveal Wufei. His gaze passed blankly over Treize and landed on Trowa. "Quatre has served dinner. Go eat. I'll relieve you for the night."

Trowa nodded, flicked briefly from Treize, to the Chinese pilot, and back. "You going to be all right, here?"

Wufei's eyes narrowed. "Of course."

Trowa transfixed him with a penetrating look, then swept past him and out the door. Wufei approached and sat down on the chair.

"He suspects you of something," Treize remarked.

"What was your first clue?" Wufei growled. "Well, he has nothing to accuse me of. I've done nothing, and bringing you here proves it."

"Indeed." They sat in silence for a while. The faint sounds of a conversation drifted up from the kitchen and Wufei seemed to visibly relax.

"Kisama! I keep expecting him to listen at the door. What have I done?"

"I believe he may have been present when you were captured. A dead guard was found a short distance away, and he'd been shot. I don't believe you got that one, dragon."

"Kuso!"

Treize chuckled. "Well, dragon, what are you going to do? I've confessed to Zechs, perhaps you should confess to your friends."

"Bakayarou! They'd never believe I'm not a spy or something. They'll think you brainwashed me or something and shoot me!"

Treize wished he could rub his chin thoughtfully. "Yes, they may, at that."

Wufei produced a book and began reading, pointedly ignoring Treize's attempts to engage him in conversation. When the light outside had dimmed far enough to make it impossible to read, he put the book aside and stretched. That sight caused Treize to start salivating and he regretted intensely the fact that he would never be able to touch that body again, or hold it against him as the boy slept.

As if that was a cue, there was a quiet knock at the door, and the aforementioned blonde angel entered. "Uh, Wufei, we're going to bed. Are you going to be all right for the night? Do you need anything?"

Wufei reacted without thinking. "Kuso, Quatre! I said I'll be fine!"

Quatre started, his eyes opening wide. "Gomen, Wufei, I was just asking..."

Wufei looked contrite and frustrated, about equal parts. "No, Quatre, gomen. I'm just a little on edge, that's all."

Quatre nodded, breaking into a smile that lit up his whole face. "That's okay, Wufei, I understand. We're contacting Oz in the morning, don't worry. I'll see you then."

"Oyasumi." The door closed and Wufei closed his eyes, clenching his fists on the arms of the chair. "Kuso, I'm such an idiot."

"You do tend to speak before you think, dragon."

"Urusai!"

"Only the truth, dragon."

Wufei snorted. He lit the desklamp, then got up and went over to the dresser. He opened the top drawer and fished out a small key. He turned back to Treize and walked back to him, holding the key up.

"Promise me you'll be good, and let me put these back on as soon as I say."

Treize's eyes widened, but he put his shock away for a moment. "Depends on your definition of 'good', I think, dragon," he said lecherously.

"Kisama!"

Treize chuckled. "I can see you're still not in the mood for humour, dragon. A pity. Very well, I promise."

Wufei acknowledged that with a nod, then leaned down and unlocked the handcuffs. He placed them carefully on the bedside table as Treize rubbed his wrists. Then, the pilot did something even more unexpected.

He sat down on the bed and put his arms around Treize. He buried his head in the General's shoulder.

"Gomen, Treize. I didn't want to do this, but I had to," his voice was muffled by fabric, but Treize could hear the agony in it.

"Wufei..." was all he could say.

"Onegai, don't hate me. I had to do this, for Duo and Heero."

Treize returned the hug, still in shock, but recovering. "I could never hate you, dragon. Have you forgotten everything I've told you, already?" He sighed, leaning his head back against the wall. "But, you could have told me this sooner. I would have been a little less anxious. I've had the most disquieting thoughts about you, dragon."

"No, I couldn't have said anything sooner. I would have lost my nerve."

"Why?"

"Because I..." he trailed off, his throat onstricting. He shot a glance at the door as if he could divine whether or not Trowa was listening just by looking. Then, he turned back, his black eyes meeting Treize's with the same intensity they'd had before he'd stolen his sidearm and taken him hostage. "I love you, Treize Khushrenada."

Treize reeled for a moment, then. "Ai shiteru, dragon." He leaned forward and crushed Wufei's lips with his. Wufei undid the buttons of his uniform jacket with ease and slid it off his shoulders, tossing it onto the ground without once breaking their liplock. Treize broke it once to pull Wufei's tanktop over his head, but their tongues were warring again immediately. Wufei had undone the first three buttons of the uniform shirt when the doorknob quietly clicked and the door swung open.

Trowa stood framed in the doorway, his green eyes blank. He held a gun in his hand, though it was pointed at the floor. He took in their state of half-undress without changing the expression on his face.

"Wufei. I thought I should interrupt before things went any further."

"Trowa-"

He raised the gun and cocked it. "Cuff him again, Wufei, then come with me."

Meekly, the Chinese pilot complied, handcuffing the General to the bed again. He slowly picked up his tank top, watching for Trowa's nod of allowance, and slipped it over his head again. He raised his hands and approached him, still moving slowly.

"Trowa!" Treize called out sharply. "What are you going to do?"

Trowa ignored him. He moved out of the doorway so Wufei could precede him, then shut the door behind him.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

When Zechs returned, his face was serious. He laid his mask down on the desk reverently, caressing it once with his hand. When he looked back at Duo, his eyes were haunted.

"T-Treize..." he stuttered. He sank down to his knees beside the bed and Duo leapt to his feet, rushing to kneel beside him.

"Milliard!"

"Treize has been captured. Wufei took him hostage and forced him out of the base. We have no idea where he is."

Part of Duo wanted to leap up and cheer. :Yes! Wufei's out! One down, two more to go, and now we have the ultimate bargaining chip!: And part of him wanted to weep for how it was obviously affecting Zechs. For now, the latter won. He put his arms around the other man.

"Oh, Milliard."

Zechs looked at him with those desperate eyes that made Duo want to cry. "Please, Duo. What will they do to him?"

Duo sat back on his heels and thought. "Well, I can see Wufei being a little rough if he's let to himself and thinks it'll accomplish something. He's a little hot-headed. Quatre will probably treat him to tea and apologize for not being a good enough host. And Trowa..." He thought some more. "Well, to be honest, I don't really know what Trowa would do, but he wouldn't do anything to hurt Quatre, so mistreating Treize is out."

"Honto?"

"Honto, honto, Milliard! He runs, he hides, but Shinigami never lies."

"Yokatta," Zechs said, looking away again. His arms snaked around Duo and they held each other for a moment. "I realize this isn't such a tragedy to you, angel."

"Yeah, well, maybe it bothers me on your behalf. I know how much you love him."

Zechs squeezed him gratefully. "Arigatou gozaimashita."

"No problem."

A few minutes of silence reigned and then Zechs reluctantly disentangled himself. "I have to go. I have a lot to do. If you want, I can come back tonight."

"Sure. Uh, about-"

Zechs nodded, placed his mask over his face and strode toward the door. "Yoshi, I'll see you later." And he was gone.

Duo sighed and leaned against the bed. "Hrm, so much for continuing the discussion later. Should I really be surprised?" he muttered.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero sat in the corner of the cabin, on the floor. His arms were wrapped tightly around his knees, which were drawn up to his chest. He'd switched off the lights soon after regaining consciousness, and the darkness surrounded him like a cold fog.

After he'd hit Duo, four guards had rushed him, holding him down and giving him some kind of tranquilizer. As Zechs picked up Duo and bore him away, Heero had been vaguely aware that he'd been shouting something, but he couldn't remember what it was. Part of him wondered worriedly if he'd killed the other pilot.

:Serves him right, he pursued me, made me vulnerable, and then betrayed me. He never loved me at all. I was just a game to him. 'Subvert the Perfect Solder' 'How good is his training, really?'. He just wanted to see how far he could push me.:

:What if he's dead?:

:I don't care! He got me captured in the first place. It's because of him that this situation has occurred. He deserves this!:

He noted detachedly that his body was trembling and there was a tightness in his throat that made it difficult to breathe.

:Control! Control!:

He lowered his head to his knees and shook uncontrollably.

:Isn't he going to come back? He has to come back so we can pretend this never happened. I ignore him while he chatters at me inanely, and then everything is all right again. That's how it's supposed to happen.:

:Won't they let me see him, again?:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wufei was marched downstairs to the living room. He sat in the armchair and Trowa faced him, carefully out of arms- or legs-reach, and leveled the gun at his face. Wufei stared at the black hole in the barrel, refusing to give in to the terror that was spreading through his body like a poisonous cloud.

:He's going to shoot me.:

"I had had suspicions, Wufei, but even I had difficulty believing them. Explain, and make it good." Trowa said evenly. There was no trace of anger, not even of determination. His voice was cold, almost monotonic, and utterly without compassion. Wufei felt a chill spread through his body and he fought the urge to shiver with every ounce of will he possessed.

:I will show no regret, no weakness. I have done nothing wrong.:

"No explanation I can give will do any good. What you saw cannot be argued with."

Trowa remained silent. He seemed to be waiting for Wufei to elaborate, and the Chinese pilot saw no other option but to do so. :For Treize. I cannot die, for him.:

"I can only say that I am not a spy. I have told them nothing, and Treize, in return, tells me nothing. Perhaps I deserve to die because I have not taken advantage of the opportunities I have been presented with and assassinated him, but my honour would not permit it. I will kill a man in battle, but I will not seduce him and kill him while he is asleep, no matter how much it would help my cause."

He tore his eyes away from the gun and looked into Trowa's emotionless eyes. "Trowa, I fight for justice, and I fight for the colonies. When I went to rescue Duo with you, I did so because Duo is my comrade, and we fight for the same ideals." He looked down and clutched his hands into fists so hard his fingernails drew blood. "I admit freely that I allowed my emotions to make me weak, so that I was distracted and captured when Treize appeared and called to me." He looked up again, his eyes almost pleading. "Demo, to atone for that betrayal, I have done one better; I compromised my honour. I used Treize's feelings for me to get him off guard, which was what allowed me to escape. Furthermore, I have brought him here, with the full knowledge that I have only a small part in deciding his fate, and that the rest of you might have decided to kill him.

"I will not apologize for doing what I have done. I will not deny that I love him, and I firmly believe his sincerity when he says that he loves me. If you do not believe me, then kill me, or allow me to leave with Nataku so I can fight on my own. That way, I will know nothing of your movements and will be unable to compromise your security. I am at your mercy, Trowa." He dropped his head at the last sentence and was almost unable to choke it out. His throat constricted around the words. Such sentiments were anathema to him, but he forced himself to speak them.

Trowa didn't move for a long time. Wufei didn't look up again. He sat, head bowed, waiting for the explosion of sound and pain that would herald his death.

"Wufei," Trowa said quietly.

It took Wufei a moment to find his voice. "H-Hai."

"Does he treat you well?"

"Huh?" Wufei looked up suddenly. Trowa's eyes were just as blank as always, but deep within them lay a faint glimmer. "Yes, very well. Otherwise, I would never go back to him."

Trowa nodded once, then clicked the safety back on and holstered the gun in one smooth movement. He walked past the armchair and headed for the stairs. Wufei leapt up and watched him leave, open-mouthed. "At the beginning of the war, I probably would have shot you, but Quatre has taught me about love. So long as he treats you well, you may have him." He stopped, his foot on the first step, and turned to look at the shocked pilot. "On the condition that everyone know of this, and that we always know when you are going to see him."

"Why that condition?"

Trowa's mouth curved up in a very small smile. "Forgive me for not trusting you completely, Wufei. But we will not betray your honour either, have no fear."

He turned away and continued up the stairs. His heart thudding in his chest, Wufei bowed deeply. "Arigatou gozaimasu, Trowa!" he cried.

"Go back to your koibito, Wufei. He is waiting for you, and your shift lasts until morning," Trowa said, then disappeared into the room he and Quatre shared.

"Uh, hai." Wufei went up the stairs in a daze and reentered Heero's room.

"Dragon!" Treize exclaimed. He was stopped from leaping across the room and grabbing Wufei only by the small circlets of metal around his wrists. As it was, the headboard creaked dangerously.

Wufei looked at him, wearing what felt like a silly grin, but not caring too much. "Trowa didn't kill me." He crossed the room and began unlocking the cuffs.

"I can see that." Freed from the restraints, Treize was free to grab Wufei and nearly choke him with the force of his embrace. "Dragon, I was so worried! What happened?"

Wufei loosened Treize's grip enough to permit him to breathe before answering. "He just asked me to explain. I was sure he wouldn't believe me, but he did. He said that so long as you continue to treat me well, and so long as the other pilots know that I've gone to see you when I do, it's all right."

Treize's eyes narrowed. "But, might they not simply follow you when you come to visit me and have me killed?"

Wufei shook his head. "No, Trowa said they wouldn't betray me."

"But, dragon, does Trowa dictate policy for all of you?"

"Of course not!" Wufei said sharply, then his eyes hardened. "I'll make sure all of them agree before I come anywhere near you. I might have captured you, but I'm not going to let you die." He put his arms around Treize and squeezed tightly, whispering. "Not after I've finally admitted it to myself."

Treize sighed happily and dropped his head to Wufei's shoulder. After a moment, he raised it again. "In that case, dragon," he said softly. "Where were we?"

Wufei looked up at him, a smile on his face. "Right here, I think." He tilted his head and kissed him.

The kiss deepened and their mouths opened, tongues warring in a dance like swordplay. Treize stripped Wufei of his tanktop again, and Wufei finished the task he'd begun of unbuttoning his shirt. They explored each others bodies as if they'd never felt them before, running their hands over each other. Treize shivered as Wufei's hands teased his abdomen softly, smiling as the sensitized skin jumped under his hands. Treize ran nimble fingers up and down the pilot's spine, eliciting sighs of pleasure.

Treize placed his hands on Wufei's chest, teasing his nipples erect as he gently pushed him down to the bed. Wufei's head was at the footboard, and he kicked the pillows off his feet with a small sound of irritation as they became tangled in them. Treize straddled him and leaned down to kiss him again, still teasing Wufei's nipples with his fingers. Wufei sighed and moaned, running his hands up and down Treize's back.

Wufei applied gentle pressure, rolling Treize off of him so they were both on their side. His hands moved downward, caressing Treize through the fabric of his pants. Treize moaned and moved his hands down as well. He undid the belt and slid it off the boy, tossing it on the floor somewhere. Then he undid the buttons precariously holding them on and slid his hand inside. Simultaneously, Wufei undid the clasp at the side of his pants and slid it down to his knees, grasping him firmly and beginning a slow pumping motion with his hand. Treize moaned into Wufei's mouth, and his hand closed around Wufei's swollen shaft and matched his rhythm.

Wufei was sure their moans and cries were clearly heard in Trowa and Quatre's room. Assuming they weren't too busy to notice, that is. When he was in a position to think, which wasn't often after the first few seconds of being held in Treize's delicious embrace.

Matching rhythm almost perfectly, they worked each other to a fever pitch. Before they came, Treize suddenly stopped, eliciting a cry from Wufei, who opened his eyes to look at his lover. There was a question in his eyes, which smoldered with a deep blue flame. Wufei shook his head, gasping.

"Don't, have, any. Never, needed, it, here." Treize nodded, and began pumping again, preventing Wufei from going completely mad with desire.

Finally, Treize came, spurting his seed and crying out Wufei's name. Wufei went over the edge a minute later, collapsing bonelessly into the mattress. Sluggishly, they reversed, picking up the pillows and snuggling under the covers. They lay entwined in each other, breathing softening from its earlier harshness.

"Dragon, honto ni ai shiteru," Treize said softly into Wufei's hair, which had become unbound at some point during their activity.

"Ai shiteru," Wufei replied, smiling. He laid a gentle kiss on Treize's lips and closed his eyes, relaxing into sleep a few minutes later. Treize followed him into pleasant dreams a few minutes later.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A knock at the door was followed immediately by it swinging open to admit Quatre. "Wufei, breakfast is-" Wufei raised his head sleepily as Quatre cut himself off with a squeak. The blonde boy's face deepened several shades of red as he took in Wufei's and Treize's state of undress. He leapt out of the room, slamming the door behind him with a cry. "I'm sorry, Wufei!"

Wufei grunted. "I don't know what his problem is. It's not as if he saw anything," he muttered.

Treize sat up. "Give the boy a break, dragon. I'm sure he never expected to see his friend in bed with the General of Oz, no matter what Trowa told him last night."

Wufei shrugged. He got up, stretching luxuriantly and began dressing. Treize, behind him, smiled. "Be careful, dragon. You're tempting me again."

Wufei shot an irritated glance at Treize. "Control yourself. Go have a shower, you're a mess, and I won't have Zechs thinking we've mistreated you."

Treize chuckled. "I'm sure Duo has reassured him on that account."

"Duo doesn't know about us."

"True." Treize stretched, his muscles rippling, and got up. "Going to accompany me, dragon?"

Wufei turned a previously unexplored colour of red and he spluttered. "Don't press your luck, General!"

Treize ran his fingers lightly over Wufei's blushing face. "To think you think so little of me, dragon! I only meant that it's unlikely that your friends would appreciate me wandering to the bathroom unescorted."

"Sure you did," Wufei growled, unconvinced.

"Shall we go?" Treize buttoned his pants, gathered up the various pieces of his uniform, and exited the room with Wufei in tow. They passed Trowa coming out and he gave them both an impassive stare - which was better then shooting them, Wufei reflected - and passed without comment.

Wufei sat on the floor outside the bathroom and listened as Treize showered and dressed. Quatre came up to him, worry creasing his brow.

"Are you sure he's all right in there?"

Wufei grunted. "He promised to be good."

Quatre gave the door a long, thoughtful look, then smiled down at the Chinese pilot. "I never thought you would be the type to go for someone like him, Wufei, but I'm happy for you."

Wufei blushed and looked away. "What does that mean?"

"I just mean that I figured you'd be the type to fight him, not get to know him."

Wufei smiled ironically. "I am."

"Oh," Quatre replied, confusedly.

"But he was a better swordsman then I was, so he forced me to get to know him."

"Oh," Quatre said again, this time cheerfully. "Well, breakfast is getting cold, so you'd better hurry and come down to eat it."

"I'll come when Treize is finished in there."

Quatre nodded, still smiling, then headed downstairs to the kitchen. Wufei sighed and leaned his head back against the wall. A smile graced his face. :This may actually work, after all.:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zechs stood at his desk staring down at the image on the screen in front of him. He was leaning over the monitor and gripping the desk in a white-knuckled grip, but his face was carefully schooled.

A boy with long bangs stood in the foreground and delivered their message in a voice as dead and emotionless as Heero's. Perhaps more so. Treize sat in a chair just behind the boy. His hands were handcuffed and there was a small scrape on his cheek, but he seemed otherwise unharmed. He was even smiling. Another boy of what looked like Chinese descent - undoubtedly Wufei, the one who'd captured Treize - had his hand on Treize's shoulder, as though to restrain him from standing. A blonde boy stood just at the limits of the camera's pickup wearing a softly determined expression on his face.

Wufei's presence was what rankled Zechs the most. Treize had no sooner finished reassuring him that the boy was not a threat, when the pilot had turned around and taken him hostage. That little bastard had probably been biding his time for months, waiting for the right moment, or just for a time when it was necessary to spring his trap. What amazed Zechs the most is how thoroughly Treize had been fooled; that wasn't like the General at all.

"As you can see, we hold your General," the brown-haired boy was saying. "We ask only one thing in return for his delivery to you: the release of the two Gundam pilots you currently hold." His green eyes narrowed imperceptibly. "If you do not comply, we will not hesitate to kill him, in a most brutal fashion. Furthermore, if either pilot is not returned to us in perfect condition, we will ensure that the General is similarly damaged before he is returned. Do not take us lightly." There was a gasp from the blonde one at the back. Wufei's eyes only narrowed slightly and his hand tightened on the General's shoulder.

Zechs opened his mouth to agree to the terms. :We can capture the pilots again, but we can't create another Treize!: At that moment, Treize tore himself out of Wufei's grasp, jumping to his feet. "No, Zechs! Do not release the prisoners, that is an order!" Wufei grabbed him from behind, trying to tackle him, but the chair had gotten in the way and he only succeeded in knocking Treize off balance. "You are in command in my absence, Zechs!" Treize cried. The brown-haired boy raised a gun and Zechs' heart stopped.

Instead of shooting the General, however, he raised it over his head and pistol-whipped him across the face. Treize's eyes rolled up in his head and he dropped to the ground, out of range of the camera.

"Kisama!" Zechs yelled, restrained from leaping through the image and throttling the boy only by the physical impossibility of doing so.

The boy turned back to the camera. His eyes had not changed. "You know our terms. Contact us in one day to give us your answer." He reached out and broke the connection.

Zechs sank to his knees beside the desk. "Kisama!!"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Treize lay on the bed, submitting calmly to Wufei's rough mnistrations.

"Kisama! Ahou ga! Bakayarou! What is wrong with you, kuso!" Wufei cried, punctuating each curse with a swipe with a cool damp cloth to the wound Trowa had inflicted on the General.

"Itai, please be more gentle, dragon," Treize said. "And nothing is wrong. It is vitally important that we stop this war. The quickest way and the way that guarantees the smallest loss of life is to capture all five of you," he explained as Wufei modulated the violence with which he was treating Treize. "It is more important than my single life that Duo and Heero remain out of circulation."

"Baka!"

"Perhaps you disagree," Treize said with irony.

"I saw the look on Zechs' face. He won't obey your order."

"Wrong. He will obey me," Treize said with conviction.

Wufei put his arms around the General and buried his head in his chest. "Kono bakayarou! And what am I going to do when Trowa makes good on his threat?"

A quiet voice intruded from the vicinity of the door. "I won't torture him, Wufei. But if Zechs refuses to release them, I will have to kill Treize." Wufei lifted his head to shoot a glare at the brown-haired pilot. Trowa shrugged. "Better that then have him escape."

:He's right, we can't afford to let him go back to commanding Oz, especially if we don't have Duo and Heero back. And we don't have the resources to just keep him locked up,: Wufei thought.

"You'd better hope your man is inclined to disobey orders, General," Trowa said.

Treize smiled. "I am no more afraid to die for what I believe in then you are."

Trowa raised his one visible eyebrow, then departed.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo looked up as Zechs slunk into his room. He never thought he'd see the blonde man look so uncertain and hesitant. He closed the door and leaned against it, his whole body trembling.

"Milliard! What happened?"

"Duo-" he choked and had to stop. He clenched his fists, struggling for control. Finally he burst out, "Will you take me hostage and escape?"

Duo nearly passed out from shock. "What?" he said, sure he hadn't heard right.

"Onegai, angel," Zechs pleaded, taking a few steps toward him and drawing his sidearm, proffering it to him.

Duo leapt to his feet. "Whoa, slow down. Why are you doing this?"

Zechs sat heavily on the bed. "Your friends just contacted me. They said they would release Treize if we released you and Heero. It was the brown-haired one who was talking, I would guess it was Trowa. He said if we didn't agree, that he would torture Treize."

Duo gasped. "Man, I didn't think even Trowa had that in him. Heero maybe, but not Trowa!"

Zechs wasn't finished. "Then Treize ordered me not to release you and Heero at any cost. He's put me in command of Oz. The last thing I saw of him was Trowa pistol-whipping him." He choked again and Duo threw his arms around the older man.

"So tell him to go fuck himself," Duo said urgently.

Zechs looked at him, but Duo couldn't see his eyes under the mask. "He'd hate me for disobeying him. He's doing this because he believes his life is less important then making sure you and Heero don't get back into your Gundams. He's hoping we can capture all five of you and end the war that way."

Then it dawned on Duo. "Oh, I get it," he said excitedly. "I capture you and take you to Treize, then you rescue Treize and get yourself traded for Heero before Treize can get back to Oz. You say that you never passed the order along to whoever you put in charge and he only gets pissed at you for being incompetent, not committing mutiny."

Zechs winced under the mask. "Exactly."

"Who gets to be in charge?"

"Lucrezia Noin. She has the second highest mark at the academy and most of the soldiers know and like her. She's a logical choice." He smiled. "She'd also never obey an order to let me die rather then release Heero."

"Great!" Duo snatched the gun from Zechs' hand and pointed it gleefully at the Lightning Count. "Now, how do I get out of here, Oz scum!"

Zechs stood. "Don't enjoy this too much, angel."

"Maa, maa, don't worry buddy. I'd never forget myself and shoot you by mistake," Duo replied, a devilish glint in his eye. He grasped Zechs firmly by the upper arm and marched him towards the door. "Your plan include anything more brilliant then me just marching you out of here in plain view?"

Zechs checked sharply, stopping in his tracks. "To be honest, I hadn't thought that far ahead."

"Okay, we'll improvise!"

"If you take me to Treize's suite, we can get out safely, and the soldiers won't be able to find us right away."

"Sounds good. Let's get out of here. How many are outside?"

"Three techs and two guards."

"Yoshi, let's do it!"

Zechs signaled the guards outside, carefully modulating his voice to sound strained. "Open the door."

The door slid open and Duo pushed Zechs in front of him, jabbing the gun into the small of his back. "All right, Oz scum! Everyone get where I can see you or I'll shoot your precious Count here," he growled. Three techs and a guard moved into his line of vision, hands raised. "The last one too!" he shouted, jabbing Zechs sharply for good measure. Reluctantly, the last guard obeyed.

"All right, now get to the other side of the hallway, turn around and put your hands on the wall."

When the soldiers hesitated, Zechs nodded. "Do it."

"You shut the hell up," Duo said. "You can talk when I say, got that?"

Zechs nodded, not having to feign his trepidation. :Damn, he's good. Either that, or he's not bluffing.:

Duo pushed him out of the room and backed a few steps in the direction Zechs pointed. He pointed the gun at the five soldiers and cocked it. The click as he did so echoed up and down the hallway and the six Oz men jumped.

"You guys, kneel on the floor, facing away from me, hands on your heads. I'll be watching you, and if any of you so much as fucking *twitches*, I'll be raining fiery death upon you all. Got that? Move it!"

The soldiers obeyed and Duo began backing down the hallway, dragging Zechs after him. "How far?" he whispered, his voice approaching the one Zechs knew again.

"Two doors down," he whispered back.

Hearing the noise, one of the techs turned his head slightly. Duo fired a shot that grazed his cheek and he yelped, turning his head back quickly. "All of your soldiers so badly-trained, Commander?" Duo growled loudly. Zechs didn't reply.

As the door slid open, Zechs tore himself from Duo's grip and shouted. "Contact Lucrezia Noin! Tell her she's in charge until I get back!" Duo raised the gun and brought it down hard on the back of his neck.

"I told you to shut up!" Zechs fell to his knees, his vision graying out for a moment from the pain. Duo grabbed him by the back of his collar and hauled him into the room with surprising strength. He locked the door and tucked the gun into his waistband. He knelt beside the swaying Zechs. "You okay, man? Sorry, I got into the part a bit there."

"It's all right," Zechs smiled at him as the pain started to fade. "You scared the hell out of me, though."

"Gomen, gomen. What do you expect from Shinigami, man?" Duo helped him up and looked around the lavish suite, whistling. "Wow, nice. Now what do we do?"

"We use the same trick Wufei did." As Duo looked on curiously, Zechs touched a contact on the headboard of the bed. The bed slid aside, revealing a staircase in the floor. "This tunnel lets out in the city. Common soldiers don't know of its existence, so no one currently at the base knows where it lets out. We'll be able to lose ourselves easily if we take this."

"Great!" Duo hopped into the hole, stretching out a hand to Zechs. "Coming?"

"Uh, angel," Zechs began.

"Yeah?"

"Can I have my gun back now?"

Duo's grin widened. "Not a chance. You're my prisoner, remember? No sense in not keeping up appearances in case someone sees you."

Zechs frowned, but couldn't argue the point. He made as if to follow, then a thought struck him. He took off the mask and set it on the bed. "Now at least we look like two normal Oz soldiers," he said, and then followed Duo down the stairs.

Duo bounced ahead of him, his exuberance a palpable force. "Yahoo!" he yelled. He dropped back to walk beside Zechs, grabbing his hand. "You have no idea how crazy I was going in there! When I get back, I'm going to get everyone stinking drunk!"

Zechs laughed, his spirits finally starting to lift. :Treize, matte, I'm coming for you!:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

When Zechs and Duo exited the building into the sunny, busy streets of Luxembourg, Duo stretched luxuriantly. His braid twitched like a cat's tail, brushing against his tight rear. "All right! You got any money on you?"

"Uh..."

Duo turned and laughed, his violet eyes glinting. "You really didn't think this thing through, did you?"

"What do we need money for? I expected we would contact your people and they would come get you."

Duo nodded vigorously. "We will, we will, but unlike Wufei, I can't create a communications device with a secure channel out of toothpicks and string." :Oh, is that how he did it?: Zechs thought with a smile. "So we have to get to a safehouse and use the one there, first. Which means we have to travel about a day or so. We need food, and new clothing."

"Oh, all right." Zechs thought for a moment, but couldn't come up with any ideas. Duo watched him think for a moment then grabbed his hand, leading him over to one of the sidewalk cafes lining the busy thoroughfare.

"Wait right here, I'll be back." He headed into the deepest knot of people and Zechs lost sight of him. Fifteen minutes later he came back, if possible, his step even more jaunty then before.

"What did you do?" Zechs asked in confusion as Duo sat down with a satisfied sigh.

"Nothin' I haven't spent my whole life as a street rat learning how to do," Duo said with a self-gratified smile.

"Angel, you didn't-"

"Duh."

Zechs sighed and shook his head. "We'd better go buy some clothes, then."

"Right," Duo said, jumping to his feet. They perused the shops and Zechs purchased a pair of slacks and a loose cotton shirt. When he emerged from the change room and had paid for the clothes, he looked around for Duo, slipping his uniform into the shopping bag. The braided boy was nowhere to be seen. He wandered around the store, unsure what to do for a few minutes, before Duo burst back in, out of breath.

He had on a priest's outfit, complete with the little white collar. His sleeves were rolled up past the elbows, and the cross he'd worn under his uniform glinted on his chest.

"Duo, what are you wearing?"

"I'm Shinigami. I always wear this." He fingered the cross lovingly. "No offense, but this is a lot nicer than the uniform."

"How did you find an outfit like that?"

Duo winked. "You don't ask, and I don't tell." Zechs draped his arm around the boy's shoulders and they walked out of the store. "Come on," Duo said brightly. "I'll jack us a car and we'll head out."

Zechs shook his head. "Be my guest."

Duo had good taste, Zechs had to give him that. The red corvette purred like a wild animal as they sped away from the city. After observing Duo's exclamation at being allowed to drive, including the comment: 'Heero never lets me drive! He says I'm too dangerous', Zechs changed his mind and took firm control of the driver's seat.

As the sun was going down, they stopped at a small hotel at a little roadside plaza. Duo paid for the room, flashing a smile at Zechs that was halfway apologetic and halfway amused when the hotel only had one room available, and that had only a double bed. Zechs wasn't sure if he minded or was looking forward to it.

Duo stripped efficiently as he walked toward the bed, dropping clothes on the floor in his wake. Down to his boxer shorts, he jumped into bed, exclaiming at its softness.

"Oh man! This is incredible after those regulation-issue beds," he said, stretching like a cat. Zechs folded his clothes and placed them on the chest of drawers out of habit, then slipped in beside Duo.

"I hope you don't mind, angel."

"Huh? Mind what?"

Zechs rolled over and gathered Duo into his arms. Duo relaxed into the embrace with a sigh. "Sleeping in the same bed with me."

"Well, I'd be pretty silly to mind, wouldn't I?" said Duo quietly. "Considering how much you fucking turn me on."

Zechs jerked and looked down at the boy against his chest in surprise. Duo took the opportunity to kiss him. When they came up for air, Zechs whispered. "What...?"

"I've been doing a lot of thinking, Milliard." Duo rolled onto his back, Zechs' arm supporting his head. "I thought about this war, and about Heero, and about a lot of things you've said." He looked at the other man seriously. "It occurred to me that maybe God is trying to tell me something. Maybe he doesn't hate me so much, after all."

"What do you mean?"

"When the Maxwell church got bombed and I was the only one who lived, I thought maybe God was punishing me for something. Everything and everyone I've ever loved has died, Milliard. When I fell in love with Heero, I was scared, because I was sure he'd die, but I don't think anything will kill him. So, I thought maybe the way he acted towards me was my punishment, like, I could love someone, but they had to be a complete jerk and treat me like shit."

He sighed. "Then you came along, and at first I just didn't believe that you really loved me, but I guess you do. Then, it occurred to me that maybe I didn't have to be unhappy and get hurt, that maybe God sent you to me so I could have somebody treat me well, for once."

"Duo..."

"So, I think I could love you, Milliard. But, I've got to warn you, if you do this, that you're probably going to die because of it." His eyes squeezed shut. "I'm Shinigami, the God of Death. Everybody I love dies," he said softly.

Zechs caressed Duo's face and he looked at him. "Duo, that's the biggest load of crap I've ever heard."

"W-what?"

"Maybe God was keeping you alive so you could one day find the person that's right for you and be happy, not killing everyone around you so you could be unhappy." He smiled. "You're the one with the religious training, not me, but I didn't think God worked that way."

Duo blinked. "Maybe." He thought this over, and broke into a smile. "Well, I'm still Shinigami, so you don't have me totally convinced, but you might have a point. No promises, though, okay?"

"Okay." Zechs leaned over and kissed Duo, exploring his mouth with gentle touches with his lips and tongue. Duo moaned into his mouth as his hands wandered down to caress his nipples, finding them rock hard. The braided boy's mouth wandered across his cheek, leaving a trail of wet kisses, over to his ear.

He pushed Zechs onto his back, nipping gently on the lobe of his ear and soothing it with his tongue. He laved the ear and darted the tip of his tongue into the hole in the centre, eliciting a gasp of pleasure. Zechs felt him smile against his ear as he continued to dart his tongue into and around his ear. He concentrated on Duo's nipples, pinching them lightly with his fingers. He brought a knee up between Duo's legs to feel the burning shaft against his thigh.

Duo gasped and started moving down, kissing and nuzzling Zechs until he encountered the curve of his neck. :Oh no!: Zechs thought, a second before Duo's soft lips hit the spot and he collapsed bonelessly to the mattress, sighing with pleasure.

Feeling the hands that had been pleasuring him fall away suddenly, Duo looked up in surprise. Freed from thrall, but still gasping, Zechs shook his head. "Sorry, that's my, weak, spot."

A devilish smile curved Duo's lips. "Really...?" he said languidly. He lowered his mouth to the spot again, kissing once, then withdrawing a fraction of an inch and blowing lightly over the wet patch he'd put there. "So, you can't move, so long as I do this."

Sighing and moaning wordlessly, Zechs couldn't answer.

Duo tortured him for a few minutes more before tiring of the game and slipping his mouth down to suck at a nipple. "I'll remember that," he said softly. Zechs growled and reached down, slipping off Duo's boxer shorts.

"If you do, you'll have to contend with me being insatiable afterwards, angel. It's a tradeoff."

"Oh no, whatever will I do?" Duo said sarcastically, slipping off Zechs' underwear and tossing them onto the floor.

Talk ceased as they ground their groins together. Only moans and groans escaped their lips as they both grasped the other's swollen member and began pumping. Kissing each other fiercely, their free hands tangled in each other's long hair, they were submerged in sensation. Nothing but Duo's scent, the sound of Duo's cries, the intense pleasure Duo was giving him with his hands, existed in Zechs' world. :This is nothing like sleeping with Treize,: he thought. :We don't have to fight, we're just together.:

After a long, timeless, moment, Zechs felt a wall of heat rush through him and he cried out as his seed spurted from him. "Oh, Duo, my angel," he said reverently, though he was sure the gasping boy didn't hear him. He redoubled his efforts and Duo cried out as he came.

"Heero!"

He moaned and curled up against the stunned Zechs, a contented smile on his angelic face.

"Duo?"

"Uh huh?" Duo said sleepily. "That was really nice, Milliard."

"I love you, Duo," Zechs said desperately.

"I love you, too, Milliard."

"Honto? Don't say that if it's not true, Duo."

Duo levered himself up to look at him, confusion written on his face. "Honto! I wouldn't, Milliard." He kissed him softly. "I just realized it, that's all." He lay down again, sighing contently.

:He doesn't realize he said it,: Zechs realized. He closed his eyes, squeezing a single tear from the corner of his eye. :I have to believe you, Duo, but that hurt a lot.:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The image on the screen resolved, not into Zechs as the boys were expecting, but into a dark purple-haired woman. Her eyes were chips of flint and she glared at the pilots with something approaching hatred. Wufei started, recognizing her. :That's the onna at Victoria Lake.:

"Where is Zechs Marquise? We only deal with him." Trowa said evenly.

The woman started then leaned towards the screen. "Zechs isn't here. You'll have to deal with me."

Trowa took that in stride, his expression not changing. "What is your answer?"

"Answer to what?" she said harshly.

Now an expression of confusion rippled over Trowa's face. Wufei frowned. :Didn't Zechs tell her the situation when he left?: A suspicion started forming in his mind. Trowa repeated his demands, word-for-word and the woman's eyes widened, flicking to Treize's face in the background. His blue eyes were impassive and the bruise on his cheek stood out starkly.

She opened her mouth, and their equipment started beeping urgently. Quatre examined the display. "There's an urgent call coming in," he announced. Trowa returned his attention to the officer.

"We'll contact you later," he said, cutting her off. Quatre fiddled for a few moments and a familiar grin came up on the screen.

"Duo!" the blonde gasped in shock. Even Treize looked surprised and chagrined.

"Yo!" Duo said with a wave. "Who'd you think it was?"

"Maxwell!" Wufei said, "How did you get out?"

"Yes, Duo, where are you?"

Instead of answering, Duo turned his attention to Treize. "Greetings, General, nice to see you. I have someone here you might like to see." He reached out and pulled someone into the visual pickup by the collar of his uniform. Though he wasn't wearing his mask, the blonde soldier was immediately identifiable.

"Zechs Marquise!" Quatre breathed. The Lightning Count looked away.

"I'm sorry, sir," he said, then was cuffed into silence by the pilot.

"Listen you, how many time do I have to tell you to shut the hell up?" Duo berated him, letting go of his collar and shoving him away. A cry and a thud could be heard outside of the range of the camera's view. Duo grinned broadly into the viewscreen. "I'm in the safehouse outside of Luxembourg. Send your people Quatre, and we'll see if Oz can deal with having two of their top people gone, or if they'd rather just give Heero up."

"They'll be right there, Duo. Sit tight," Quatre said.

"Will do! Over and out!" he said, and the screen went blank.

The three pilots looked at each other, then down at the General. He seemed to be in shock, his manacled hands trembling slightly. Quatre shrugged and turned back to the equipment to contact the Maguarnacs. Wufei exchanged another glance with Trowa.

"One down, one more to go," the Chinese boy said.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Duo's grin was infectious as he sauntered up the driveway, the silent Zechs Marquise in tow. Quatre ran down to meet him while Wufei strode along behind him. When Quatre got to Duo, he threw his arms enthusiastically around the other boy.

"Duo! I'm so glad you're okay!" he cried.

"Of course I'm okay! You can't keep Death down, Quatre," Duo replied, laughing. Wufei took hold of Zechs, who was glaring at him with incredible ferocity.

"Be careful, Maxwell. Letting go is the quickest way to lose a prisoner."

Duo smiled at Wufei, letting go of Quatre. "Yes sir!" he said, saluting with a flourish. "Your advice is well-appreciated, Chang I-got-General-Treize-out-of-a-military-compound-in-the-mountains Wufei."

Wufei snorted and started dragging Zechs up the slope to the house. "I have something to talk to you about, Maxwell. When you have a minute."

"No problem. Uh, Wufei?"

Wufei turned. "What?"

"Where are you putting him?" Wufei shrugged.

"Treize is in Heero's room, any suggestions?" Inexplicably, Duo blushed deeply.

"Uh, put him in my room for now, we'll figure something out later."

Wufei gave him a searching look, nodded, and continued on his way.

Duo sauntered towards the house, stretching. "Saaa, Quatre, it's good to be back!"

After Zechs was safely ensconced in Duo's room, Quatre pressed a steaming cup of coffee into Duo's hands and sat him down on the couch, opposite Wufei. At the braided-boy's questioning look, he shook his head and headed upstairs. Wufei took a deep breath.

"Maxwell, there's something I have to tell you."

Duo put the cup on the coffee table and leaned back against the couch, lacing his fingers behind his head. "What, Wufei? You finally admitting to the world that you're a raging homosexual? What?"

Wufei shot to his feet. "What?!" Then he seemed to consider it for a moment, sitting back down. "Well, I suppose that's part of it, at that."

Now Duo sat up straight. "What?"

Wufei fixed him with a serious I'm-not-going-to-take-any-shit-for-this glare. "For the past few months, I've been involved - sexually - with Treize. I'm not a spy, nor have I given them any information, so you don't have to worry-" He stopped talking as Duo rolled off the couch with laughter. He lay on the floor, clutching his stomach and howling while Wufei stood over him. "What the hell is wrong with you, Maxwell? Maxwell?"

Finally, he regained enough control over himself to wipe the tears out of his eyes and get his breath back. "Sorry, Wufei, I didn't mean to confuse you. You see, I've kinda gotten involved with Zechs since I got captured. I just thought it was kinda funny, you know?"

Wufei was speechless. He sank down - thankfully into the armchair again - and stared at his fellow pilot. "You, what?"

Duo sat up, his eyes glancing up at the stairs, but there was no sign that either Quatre or Trowa had come to investigate his outburst. "Come on, man, let's go for a walk."

Once safely outside, Duo turned to Wufei, seriousness reflected in his violet eyes. "First of all, do you care about him? Treize, I mean."

Wufei glared at him defiantly. "Yes, definitely."

Duo raised his hands as if to ward him off. "Calm down, man, I'm not accusing you of anything. I just had to make sure." He lowered his hands, becoming serious again. He glanced at the house again before continuing. "You see, Zechs and I are here because of a plan that will make everyone happy - well, not most of Oz, but who gives a crap, anyway. He let me capture him."

"He did?"

Duo nodded vigorously. "Yeah, he's going to get Treize out of here, then we trade him for Heero before Noin finds out that the standing orders were not to release him. Treize and Zechs get to go home safely, Heero gets out of there, and everyone's happy, you see?"

"Why would Zechs disobey a direct order like that?" Wufei asked, forgetting that he had been professing the opinion that just that would happen the night before.

"Because he's in love with Treize, baka. Didn't Treize tell you that?"

"Treize?"

"Jeez, Wufei. You're sleeping with him and you don't even know that he and Zechs are sleeping together?"

Wufei exploded. "They're what?" He turned to march back towards the house, his eyes flashing with rage. Duo caught his arm.

"Wait, Wufei! Aw shit, man, I didn't know you didn't know that. Get pissed at Treize about it later, okay? We have to get him out of here without him finding out that Zechs got captured on purpose, first, all right?"

"I'm going to kill him."

"Yeah, but later, okay?"

Wufei looked back at the braided pilot and read the pleading look in his eyes. With an effort, he regained control over his anger. "All right. What's the plan?"

Duo blushed, letting go of Wufei's arm as he became apparent that he wasn't going to go straight upstairs and throttle his lover. "Well, do you have any ideas?"

"Why don't we just go talk to Zechs about it?"

Duo nodded and they went back into the house. Zechs was handcuffed to Duo's desk chair, a rickety affair that rolled on wheels - sometimes. The blonde soldier looked up as they entered and glared at Wufei.

"It's okay, Milliard, he's on our side."

The glare didn't let up. "What do you mean?"

"Don't tell me Treize hasn't told you either!" Duo said in shock.

"Told me what? That he's sleeping with him? Of course he's told me. He trusted Wufei, and he betrayed him."

Wufei bristled. "Only to escape. As I explained to him: the war is more important than my feelings for Treize." He took a breath, searching his emotions, then said with certainty. "I love him." Then his eyes narrowed. "Even though he slept with you without telling me."

Zechs raised his eyebrows. "Oh, uh, I see." He didn't really know what else to say.

Duo sat on the bed and Zechs swiveled to face him. "All right, Lightning Count-sama, what's your brilliant plan for getting Treize out of here?"

Zechs thought. "Well..."

"Christ, do I have to think of everything around here?" Duo exclaimed.

"I'm working on it," Zechs said defensively. "There wasn't much point in making a plan until I knew what I was up against, was there?"

"He can't escape while I'm watching him," Wufei said. "Trowa and Quatre know about our relationship, I can't give them any more reason to distrust me."

"All right, let's just use the direct route then," Duo said. "It doesn't implicate either of you two."

"What the direct route, angel?" Zechs asked. Duo grinned and outlined his plan.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Treize looked up as the door opened, but it was only Duo Maxwell. He elbowed a yawning Quatre out of the chair and sat down in it.

"Duo? Isn't it Wufei's shift?" Duo growled, his eyes flashing in anger.

"Yeah, so we should let him in here so he can fuck Treize like the traitor he is? Give me a break." To Quatre's widened eyes he said, "He's really sucked you in, you know that? I'll bow to majority in not blowing his head off, but if you think I'm letting him anywhere near the General alone before I've investigated this thoroughly, you're crazy."

"Uh, yeah, you're probably right, Duo," Quatre said softly. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to be sure, rather than risk Heero."

Duo nodded. "My thoughts exactly. Oyasumi, Quatre."

"Oyasumi nasai." The door closed behind the blonde boy with a soft snick. Immediately, Duo leapt up, crossing the room. He lifted a small, black object in his fingers and placed it against the door, listening closely. A few minutes later, he straightened, turning a broad grin towards Treize.

"Okay, they're gone to bed. It's show time."

"Show time?"

"Right, now look, General. You've got two people very deeply in love with you, who don't want you to die. Out of respect for those two people, I'm going to help you get out of here."

Realization dawned on Treize. "Zechs put you up to this, didn't he?"

Duo scoffed. "Of course not! He wouldn't disobey your orders like that, but he was pretty broken up, I mean really broken up after you gave that order." He sat back down in the chair and leaned forward urgently. "I'm in love with him, all right? And I just couldn't sit still after you hurt him like that. It was pretty easy for me to capture him when he was crying and shit like that. He has no idea why I've done this. He's probably sitting in my room cursing my name for all I know."

Treize's eyes widened. "You would betray your people for him?" That earned him a chuckle.

"Hey, if we've got Heero back, Oz can have you and Milliard for all I care. We're still going to win."

Treize had to concede that he may have a point. :Milliard told him his real name, how interesting.:

"So, you release me and trade Zechs for Heero before I can get back to civilization, is that it?"

"Exactly it."

"And what if I refuse to cooperate." Duo's eyes lit up from within, an effect that made him look decidedly psychotic.

"Then I trade Zechs for Heero anyway, and you still lose, only this way you probably lose your life, too. I love Zechs, but my magnanimity only extends so far." He smiled slowly. "And after everything Oz has done to me, an excuse to carry out Trowa's threat is quite attractive."

Treize gazed at him for a moment, but couldn't detect any signs that he was bluffing. Slowly, he nodded. "Very well, what is your plan?"

"First, you beat me unconscious, then you go out the window. It doesn't lock, unfortunately. Wufei will be waiting outside to get your handcuffs off, and then he'll sneak back here, with Trowa and Quatre none the wiser. Then you hoof it. By the time you get back, Zechs will be there to greet you." He smiled again. "Oh, and I would suggest that you apologize to Wufei, and make it good. I let it slip that you were sleeping with Zechs the whole time he thought he was your one-and-only. Sorry about that. He's a little pissed."

Treize blinked, then looked down at his manacled hands. :Oh dragon, I should have told you at the outset, but I would never have captured your heart, then.: He looked up again, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Duo was still relaxed and smiling, clearly expecting him to say something.

His hands shot out, catching Duo with a double-fisted right hook to the chin and sending him sprawling. Treize kicked him, once, in the stomach before he could recover and the boy slumped, unconscious. He looked at the door, briefly considered just going after Zechs and escaping with him, but he had no way of knowing if Trowa was with him. He wouldn't be able to surprise Trowa the way he'd surprised Duo. He pushed the window open and looked out. The house was set into a hill, and though it wasn't a short distance to the ground, he was confident that he could land safely.

He dropped to the ground and rolled, fetching up on his back, unharmed. A rustle in the grass alerted him to someone approaching. He got to his feet, hampered by the handcuffs, and then relaxed as Wufei emerged from the trees.

"Come on," the Chinese boy whispered urgently, and they took off at a run. When they were a reasonable distance from the cabin, Wufei turned to him. "The nearest settlement is a day's walk that way," he said, pointing.

"Arigatou gozaimasu, dragon. I know, for you, this is the only way." Wufei nodded. Treize held out his wrists. "The handcuffs, dragon?"

Wufei punched him. Hard. In the stomach.

Treize dropped to his knees, gasping. "That was for cheating on me." Wufei growled.

Treize couldn't answer for a few seconds, he just clutched his stomach and tried to breathe. "I never meant it as cheating, dragon," Treize said quietly, once he'd recovered. "Zechs and I have been together for years. I knew when I set my sights on you that were I to tell you, you would never agree to be with me, so I said nothing. I also feared Zechs' reaction, so I said nothing to him. When I realized my feelings for you, and heard of Zechs' interest in your friend Duo, I realized I had to tell you the truth." He looked up. "But there simply wasn't a good time. I had planned to do it the day you took me hostage, actually, but I didn't have a chance. I'm very, very sorry I never told you myself, dragon."

Wufei crouched beside him and undid the handcuffs, then embraced him clumsily. "All right, if Maxwell can stand it, I guess I can. But only because of how I feel for you. Zechs can go to hell."

Treize smiled and got to his feet, aided by Wufei's hand. "I understand, dragon."

"You'd better go, I have to get back. I'll contact you."

Treize nodded, and the boy melted into the shadows. "Sayonara, for now, my dear little dragon," he said. Only nightbirds replied.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

When Duo came to, he had a massive headache. His jaw hurt abominably, and his stomach felt like it had been kicked by a horse. He rolled over and groaned, then checked his watch.

:An hour. Treize, you bastard. Oh well, at least that's long enough.:

He didn't have to feign a groan as he levered himself to his feet. Still holding his head and feeling the bruise on his chin develop even as he walked, he stumbled over to Quatre and Trowa's room. He knocked loudly.

"Trowa! Quatre! Treize fucking jumped me and escaped," he called. Sounds of scuffling answered him. He headed for his own room and burst in with as much vigour as he could summon given the thousand galloping horsemen in his head. Wufei looked up from the book he was reading and Zechs, on his bed, seemed to startle awake. Looking over his shoulder at Trowa and Quatre, who'd just emerged - in bathrobes - from their room, he said, "Zechs is still here. The coward escaped by himself."

Quatre sighed with relief. "At least we still have one."

Trowa came up to him. "Duo, I don't think Zechs told that woman that Treize ordered him not to release Heero."

Duo grinned and smacked the wall with the flat of his hand. "Sugoi! We can still get Heero back, then. Let's call her now before Treize can get to her."

"Shouldn't we at least look for Treize, anyway?" Quatre piped up.

Duo frowned. "I was out for about an hour, but it can't hurt."

Wufei joined him. "We'll never find him, honestly, in the dark, with our numbers."

Trowa shot him a look, but agreed. "True. If we do find him, we're just as likely to have him find us."

"Yeah, and then I won't be the only one with a massive headache," agreed Duo. "Either that, or Treize will be plus one pilot again."

"Unlikely," Wufei said. "But possible."

"All right, lets just use our trump card and get it over with." Duo grinned ferally over at Zechs. "And let's gag him this time, so he can't do anything stupid."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Noin was roused from bed by an urgent call. She hurriedly struggled into uniform and ran full tilt to Zechs' office. She took a moment to compose herself, then flicked on the monitor. The dead-eyed, brown-haired pilot didn't seem at all ruffled from being forced to wait. Now, instead of Treize in the background, she could see Zechs, gagged and handcuffed, and a pilot in a priest outfit standing beside him. :Duo Maxwell,: she thought.

"I apologize for the wait," she heard herself saying. "You called me out of bed."

"Not at all," the spokesman said. "I apologize for cutting you off before. I'm sure you can imagine why it was necessary." His eyes hardened slightly. "I repeat our earlier demand. Release Heero to us, and you may have your commanding officers back."

She looked at Zechs, then back to the pilot. "Where's Treize?"

"You know we have Treize. Now we have proven that we have Zechs Marquise. Give us your answer."

Noin took a deep breath. "Very well. Give me coordinates for the exchange and we will comply."

"Not necessary. We will return your men to you once we receive confirmation that Heero has been released. He will make his way back to us without the necessity of meeting. I would suggest that you not try to retrieve him until you have Zechs and Treize back."

Duo piped up with a grin. "At which point, it'll be too late."

Trowa glanced at him, an unreadable expression on his face. "Exactly." He gestured and the connection was broken.

Noin slammed her hand on the desk. :What choice do I have?: She pressed a contact.

"Lieutenant, make arrangements for the prisoner to be released into the city."

"Yes, sir."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zechs was marched back to his room. Trowa and Quatre went back to bed, and Wufei followed them a safe time later at Duo's pointed glare. The door clicked shut.

Duo threw his arms around the other man.

"Listen, I have to talk to you about something."

Zechs felt a fist around his heart clench. "What is it, angel?"

"I've really, really enjoyed being with you, Milliard."

"But..." Zechs prompted, his heart sinking.

"No, not really 'but', more of an 'except'."

"Meaning what?"

Duo sighed and kissed him. "Meaning, I don't know if I can do what Wufei is doing. He sneaks off and goes to see Treize and we all wonder where he's going. Well, we don't really wonder anymore, but that's a recent thing. I don't think I can live two lives like he does. If I'm going to force myself to fight this war - which I'm going to do - I can't be sleeping with my enemy. It's that simple. I can't live with that kind of dichotomy."

Zechs sighed. To be honest, he wasn't completely surprised. "I see what you mean."

"I do love you. I meant what I said, Milliard, and if I can possibly avoid killing you before the end of the war, I will. I want us to try again, later, when all of this shit is over."

"Angel, I love you, too. And I can live with that." He smiled. "Just don't get yourself killed, all right?"

"Hey, you can't kill Death, man."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Heero stalked towards the door of the safehouse, grim determination in his cobalt eyes. He knew what awaited him there, and he hoped he could keep the killing rage in check long enough to talk to him.

Duo opened the door as Heero raised his hand to ring the doorbell. "Okaeri nasai, Heero," he said. "Let's go talk."

"Hn." Heero followed him as he led him into the woods.

They reached a glade. The light filtered softly through the trees, but there was enough light that a small carpet of grass had grown. Leaves littered the ground, rustling softly in the breeze. Duo sat on the grass and Heero followed his lead, sitting a little apart.

"I know I hurt you, Heero, don't bother to deny it. You wouldn't have reacted so strongly if I hadn't."

Heero grunted.

"Let me explain why I did what I did," Duo said, unfazed. "Remember how I told you that Zechs was being nice to me? Well, he wasn't just nice, he fell in love with me. Note I'm not saying that I fell in love with him, yet, Heero. He worked hard on me to get me to realize what a complete jerk you are, and to realize that I deserved someone who treated me well, like he did."

Heero clenched his fists hard, his whole body shaking. Duo stared up at the sky, not seeing.

"I told you I loved you, and you acted like a jerk. I don't know if you realized at the time how much it hurt for you to reject me like that and pretend that I was just good sex to you, but I think even you can figure it out if you think about it long enough. You've hit me, put me down, and generally acted like an asshole to me the whole time we've known each other." Duo looked at him. He didn't look angry, in fact, his whole manner bespoke acceptance and calm. "When I told Zechs what our relationship was like, it even sounded abusive to me, think about how he looked at it." He looked away again, gazing up into the blue autumn sky. "Well, he convinced me. You don't deserve me."

Heero leapt to his feet and started walking away.

"Wait, Heero. You don't get to go, yet," Duo said sharply. Heero stopped walking and stood silently, his back still turned, his fists still clenched and trembling. "I wasn't finished. I still love you, Heero. That won't change, but I'm not going to let you do to me what you've been doing. What I want, is for you to clean up your act. When that happens, and you can treat me with love, I'll be yours forever. Zechs did succeed in making me fall in love with him, but I loved you first. Now you can go if you want."

Heero remained still for a moment, then he turned slowly to face Duo. "I did a lot of thinking, too. I've realized that I don't know what it means to love, or how people are supposed to act when they're in love. But I do know this; Zechs was right." Duo's eyes widened and Heero moved towards him slowly. "I realized that after I hit you. You kissed Zechs for a reason, and that reason was because I deserved it. I realized the first time you visited me in prison that I loved you, but was too cowardly to say it. I want you to tell me how Zechs treated you, and then I will treat you that way. I love you. Please forgive me."

Duo's jaw dropped and his eyes filled with tears. Startled, Heero dropped to his knees beside him, hugging him fiercely. "No, please, Duo. Don't cry. Tell me what I should do."

Duo hugged him back, burying his face in Heero's shoulder. "This is a good start."

:Milliard, I won't say I'm sorry, not yet. We'll see if Heero lives up to expectations, or if he really can change. If not, we'll see what happens. I love you both, but I loved Heero first.:

Owari