Disclaimers: Ahh… here we go again… *Ahem* I value my life and the little money I have to my name, therefore I shall not even attempt to claim anything related to Gundam Wing.
Warnings: OOC-ness?, shouen-ai, AU?, angst.
Pairings: But of course my favorite pairing… 1+2!! If you've read my other fics, you probably know me much more then you want to right now.

Obsidian Dipped in Blood
Teaser
Kitana Bradford

The imposing figure shrouded in black paced impatiently around the cowering wreck of a man on the floor. Blood-red eyes were narrowed in wrath at the incompetence of his minions. He ignored the pitiful blithering of the panicked man at his feet.

He turned and aimed a vicious kick at the cringing soldier. His foot connected and the silence was broken briefly by a wet-sounding crack.

"I sent you to capture ONE LITTLE BOY AND YOU DARE TO RETURN TO ME AFTER YOU FAILED?!" His voice rose in pitched-anger as he screamed.

"N-n-no, sir. I- I mean, y-yes sir." The soldier stuttered pathetically. "Please, Sire!! Just give us one last chance! We won't fail you again, I swear!!"

"See that you don't. General… I want that boy alive. He is the last of the Ancient Torihito race and he is the key to the ultimate power. The consequences if you do not succeed shall be beyond your worst nightmares."

The soldier paled and swallowed hard.

"Y-y-yes, sire!" The man quickly scrambled on his hands and knees toward the sanctity the solid exit provided, before his lord could change his decision to let him live.

Once the soldier was gone, the dark figure resumed its pacing.

"I shall have that power… and then NO ONE WILL STAND UP TO MY MIGHT!!! I SHALL BE INVINCIBLE!!!!" The ominous laughter echoed throughout the murky catacombs.

 

Disclaimers: I don't own any of the Gundam boys… just this lil' mini storyline… Sorry my chipmunks ordered me to write!!! I obey the chipmunks. @.@ ^_^V
Warnings: Shouen-ai, kinda sad at first… meanie Gundam Pilots… Oh heck, just read the darn thing. ~_^
Pairings: 2+1, 1+2, some obscure 3+4 and 4+3 Are we seeing a pattern yet? ^_^

Obsidian Dipped in Blood
Ficlet/Teaser 2?

Kitana Bradford


Duo was miserable and bored.

He had finished all his reports for this week and the one after, rearranged and ordered his lockpicks at least five times, restocked his supplies, and finished cleaning his section of their safehouse. Not to mention that now, not only was Deathscythe in the best condition it had ever been in its mechanical life, but it sported a full-body coating of shiny, protective wax. Out of things to occupy his time with, Duo had typically hunted down the first person that had entered his mind: Heero.

Heero had been on his laptop when Duo had entered and began to cajole the stoic Wing pilot into doing something with him. For his efforts, Duo had immediately received a level 5, Heero Yuy - leave me alone or die slowly and painfully by my hand - deathglare.

Disheartened, Duo had stubbornly decided to sit harmlessly at Heero's feet. Heero had tolerated this for all of thirty seconds before turning to the American and growling at him to go away. Duo had given Heero his best puppy face and slung an arm around the Japanese pilot's shoulders. Heero had turned on Duo and punched the American. Hard. In his unprotected abdomen. Heartbroken, Duo had left the Wing pilot to his typing.

Wufei wasn't much different. Duo had found him meditating at Nataku's feet in the hangar. Without opening his eyes, Wufei had coldly told Duo that he was in no mood to deal with the American's "petty grievances" and to leave the Chinese boy in peace. Once again crushed, Duo had resorted to seeking out Quatre and Trowa.

The slight Arabian had shared a mutual glance with Trowa as Duo came into sight, and the two had promptly vanished into town without so much as a goodbye.

That had been two hours ago, and they still hadn't returned.

Duo hugged himself as though he could hold his shattering soul together. Biting his lip to keep it from trembling, Duo swallowed several times, blinking back a suspicious moisture at his friends' rejections.

"Well FINE!! If you don't want to spend time with me, I DON'T CARE!!!" He abruptly screamed and dashed out the door into the woods. But there was no one there to hear him.

***

Duo sat in the middle of a field so covered with flowers that as the soft breeze caressed the delicate blossoms, it seemed as though Duo were seated in a rippling ocean of purple.

But Duo was oblivious the beauty all around him. He stared vacantly at the thick fluffy clouds that decorated the sapphire sky.

<Why?> He cried internally, <Why do they hate me so much? I've never done anything really bad to them. I try to be there for them but no one ever seems to want me around! Everyone who I meet either hates me or ends up dying. I'm cursed. I AM a curse.>

Duo slowly became aware of a bad cramp forming in his back from his tenseness. He stretched hard, but that failed to alleviate the soreness. He stretched again, harder, straining all his muscles, but knowing as he did that his actions were futile. The cramp came from within.

These kinds of cramps occurred often and usually he could ignore them. But now he was miserable, lonely, bored, and dejected. Add uncomfortable to that list and it was more then Duo could handle in his current state of mind.

"Kuso! I can't take this!" Duo burst out as he leapt to his feet. "I don't think it would be too bad if I just stretched out this once… and I don't care either way."

Despite his declaration, Duo looked around guiltily, checking to make sure there was no one else around, though it was unlikely. The safehouse was in the middle of the mountains at least twenty miles from the nearest town, and Duo had run a good mile and a half from the safehouse in his attempt to escape the loneliness eating at him. Besides, it was doubtful any of his companions would care enough to come searching for him.

Decided, Duo braced his feet against the solid earth, hunched over slightly, brows furrowed in concentration and his fists clenched so tightly his knuckles turned white.

At first, everything was silent and still, then suddenly, Duo's whole body tensed and he cried out softly, arching his back as large wings exploded from his shoulder blades.

For the briefest of seconds, Duo was enveloped in a blizzard of midnight and crimson as feathers, loosened by their violent exposure, separated themselves from the downy appendages. Finally the air cleared, the feathers borne away on the gentle breeze or alighting among the amethyst flowers around Duo's feet.

Duo sighed thankfully rotating his aching shoulder blades while spreading and clenching his cramped wings.

"Oh yeah. That feels good. I've waited over ten years to do this." Duo hummed, his violet eyes half-lidded in his appreciation of his sudden freedom. Loosely folding his wings, Duo let himself fall to his back on the ground, cushioned by the flora and his soft wings. He lay prostrate, his arms crossed behind his head because his enormous wings were too large for him to sit comfortably upright on level ground.

Duo's wings were bigger then he was; reaching almost a foot and a half above his head before pivoting to begin a gentle arch downward, the tips of his longest feathers reaching halfway down his calves.

When spread they were an awesome sight, his impressive wingspan spanning a good 12 feet. His feathers completed the exotic look. Unlike normal wings, Duo's wings were pure ebony until the last foot or so, where the color faded to the darkest crimson: like obsidian dipped in blood.

His mother had told him that he was special, a blessing; a rare breed of Torihito angels. that was before he had been orphaned in a ruthless attack on his village where intruders had invaded and killed the entire race of Torihito in one bloody night.

Duo had survived because, at the last moment, his mother had pushed him into a trapdoor in the floor, then quickly covered it with a rug and dragged a small table over it. Duo had been forced to watch in tears as his mother had been dragged outside, raped, and then beaten to death.

When all was quiet and the prowlers gone, Duo had forced his way from his hiding place and run to his mother, holding her tightly in his small embrace.

Miraculously, she had still been alive and struggled for enough strength in her rapidly failing supply to warn her son to keep his wings hidden and not let anyone know of their presence.

She had reassured little Duo that she loved him would always be with him before the light had faded from her lavender eyes.

As Duo knelt among the carnage of burnt, smoldering huts and broken bodies scattered along the streets, clutching the lifeless body of his mother close and sobbing wildly, a light drizzle picked up, as though the heavens themselves were crying for the slaughter of the race of Torihito.

 

From that day on, Duo had never once revealed his wings, hiding them magically within his back, one of the abilities of the Torihito.

As Duo thought of his mother, a single tear found its way down one finely sculpted cheek. Duo lay motionless in the field until the moon was high in the sky and the stars appeared. Finally rising, Duo retracted his wings and slowly retraced his steps back to the safehouse.

***

Heero's typing slowly ebbed before ceasing completely. It was quiet. Too quiet. Where was that American baka? Heero growled with frustration as he realized that he couldn't concentrate without that chatterbox near. He regretted punching the longhaired boy. He hadn't meant to hurt the Deathscythe pilot, but it was his way of retaliating against the unfamiliar emotions the American brought up in the Japanese boy.

Realizing that trying to work now was useless, Heero shut down his laptop, pushed back his chair and walked into the kitchen.

Quatre, Trowa, and Wufei were seated at the kitchen table eating in uncomfortable silence, Duo's usual boisterous attitude and good humor not there to initiate the friendly conversation. Heero craned his neck, checking for Duo in the connecting bar near the refrigerator, but Duo was nowhere to been seen.

"Hn. Where's Duo?"

Quatre's head jerked up quickly and Heero found himself the intense focus of three alarmed gazes.

"I thought he was with you. We haven't seen him since we came back from the store to get groceries. That was almost three hours ago. I assumed he was up in the room you two share."

"No, I haven't seen him since this afternoon." Heero said emotionlessly, inwardly apprehensive. Quatre turned to Wufei.

"Wufei?"

"I haven't seen him since he came into the hangar this morning, seeking entertainment. I sent him out and haven't seen him since."

Heero's anxiety intensified. If Duo hadn't been at least heard all afternoon, that meant that he hadn't been home all afternoon. His gaze jerked to the window. It was dark outside. Could Duo have gone for a walk and gotten in trouble? Strayed too far from the safehouse and gotten caught?

Heero's heart leapt up into his throat and he was about to suggest that they split up and scour the grounds outside for Duo when the said pilot threw open the door and stepped in.

Heero's worry was instantly replaced with anger. Duo had once again been able to revive emotions the Wing pilot had long banished, and Heero loathed it.

He stepped forward to give Duo a good dressing down.

"Damn baka! What were you thinking? You could've been caught and we wouldn't have known until now! You could endanger the mission with this careless behavior." <That's not it> Heero's subconscious told him. He ignored it.

"Gomen." Duo muttered in a scathing, yet self-mocking tone. "Can I go now, sir? I haven't revealed our presence, I haven't been caught, and I'm tired. So if you'll pardon me, I'll just be on my way upstairs." With that stunning tirade, Duo stalked upstairs, leaving the others in shocked silence. Quatre was the first to recover, absently massaging his aching chest over his heart, he looked apprehensively towards the empty staircase.

"Something's wrong." His whispered words boomed in the deafening silence.

 

Notes from Kitana: Oi, oi, guys!! Sooo how'd ja like it? Should I leave it there? Continue? Print it off and burn it to provide a nice lil' campfire so that I can have the roasted marshmallows I crave? ^_^V Don't be afraid to flame me. I don't really care. It builds character. Just pleeea~se try not to be too mean… who knows… I might go insane and start writing 2x13's. *Shudder* (evil grin) Sankyuu!!!
P.S. I aim to please and, those of you who have e-mailed me to request an update, you'll notice that not long after I get the e-mail, the story gets updated. E-mails are such a boost to my over-inflated ego. ^_^V

 

Note from Kitana: Due to the completely amazing amount of e-mails I received requesting that I update ODB, I finally decided to live up to my promise and update the story. Sankyuu sooo much to those of you who e-mailed me! I LOVED them!! ^_^V
Disclaimers: Uh… I hate these things. Standard disclaimers apply.
Warnings: AU (I guess), shouen ai, mebbie yaoi (not there yet), an' "Kitana craziness" HEY! That's a legible warning. I'm eating candy, so this part is liable to get spazy. ~_^
Pairings: 1+2, 3+4

Obsidian Dipped in Blood
Chapter 1
(I guess I can't call it a teaser or a ficlet anymore, can I?)
Kitana Bradford

Duo woke up as the sun crawled upwards in the sky and reached an angle at which the sunlight shone directly in his eyes. Though the window was fastened firmly shut, the bright beams of light were not only undeterred by the thick glass, but were intensified by it. He groaned in annoyance, rolled over to bury his face against the pillow… and fell out of the twin bed with a loud THUMP.

Unfortunately, Duo landed hard on several assorted items that lay scattered on the carpet below his bed. When he had purposefully left them out to annoy his roommate, Duo hadn't counted on them taking their toll on him too.

"ITAI!!!" He screamed and scrabbled off the floor, glaring at the offending objects before kicking them into the dusty corners beneath his bunk. This little episode over with, Duo paused to survey the room.

He was the only one there; Heero's bed was empty and neatly made.

"That is sooo like him," Duo grumbled to himself, padding across the carpet to the bathroom. "You'd think it would kill him to at least wake me up."

At the door, Duo paused. <Why am I so angry?> He wondered. <When since have I needed Heero to wake me up? So maybe they DID blow me off yesterday. I don't care. They can just suit themselves. But I won't let them down just because of this. I may not be their friend, but they are mine and I refuse to let them down.>

"Maybe it's best this way," Duo mumbled, turning on the shower and stepping in. "If they don't care about me, at least they'll be safe from my curse."

The nice warm shower effectively calmed Duo's nerves and he took longer then usual. Finally, he slid the translucent shower door open and stepped out, watching as steam quickly filled the bathroom. He quickly toweled off his hair before stepping out of the bathroom, delighting as the gentle breeze from the open window cooled his skin.

Duo breathed deeply of the fresh air before draping the towel over his shoulders and pulling on his usual black attire. He was just pulling on his heavy boots when a jolt ran up his back and the hair on his arms and neck all stood on end.

Duo whirled, dropping into a defensive crouch, ready to incapacitate anyone foolish enough to be spying on him… but there was no one there. Unwilling to relax, Duo became suspicious. Edging closer toward the other side of the room, his violet eyes darted from side to side, searching for any likely hiding spots.

As he passed his bed, silent alarms went off in his head. Immediately, he jumped away from the bed, snatching off the covers so that he could see under the bed without having to put himself at the disadvantage of crouching.

There was nothing there.

<What's wrong with you, Maxwell? Afraid of a few dust-bunnies?> He scolded himself, while grinning abashedly from ear to ear and feeling like a complete idiot in general.

Chuckling, he tossed the covers back on his bed and whipped the towel off his shoulders, throwing it haphazardly back onto the shower rung. It held for a second, then fell to the ground in a heap. Duo was already turning but pretended he hadn't seen it drop, leaving it on the floor.

As he brushed his hair and plaited it, the tightness in his shoulders refused to leave. He felt as though he were being watched. He growled at himself to stop being paranoid, but nevertheless, the kept stealing peeks in the mirror to reassure himself that no one was sneaking up on him.

Duo's stomach grumbled just as he snapped the black elastic band into place and he grinned.

"Hold on ol' buddy." He said to his stomach, patting his abdomen encouragingly, privately glad for the excuse to escape the confining room. With one last glance at the bed, Duo grabbed his cap and was out of the room, heading toward where he could grab something to eat.

***

When Duo reached the doorway to the kitchen, he could hear the soft, intelligible buzz of the other four pilots' conversation. They seemed to be doing just fine without him, for once. Duo's heart tried to clog his throat, but he beat it back again. <Duo, this is no time to feel sorry for yourself.> He reprimanded himself. He adjusted his cap on his head and plastered a happy grin on his face, then flounced into the kitchen to join the others.

"Ohayo, guys! How's it hangin'? Geeze, I'm starved!" He said, typically not giving them time to answer each question, knowing that, except for Quatre, they wouldn't answer.

As he entered, the conversation stopped. Duo bounced over to the fridge, opened it, and snatched a cherry 7up from the shelves. He popped the tab and turned, raising the cool drink to his lips. The can halted a mere inch from his mouth when he realized he was the subject of four scrutinizing, intense gazes.

"What!? Why are you guys looking at me like that? Is my hair green? Have I grown another head or something? Tell me."

None of them answered and they avoided his eyes. Duo was puzzled and scratched the back of his head. Quatre abruptly changed the subject before Duo could say anything else.

"Duo, you must see this! Look, I think I've found some feathers from some rare breed of bird!"

<Only Quatre could get so excited over feathers.> Duo chuckled, taking a swig of his pop, shrugging, and obliging the Arabian by moving in closer to see the blonde's prizes.

When he saw what was proudly displayed on the table in front of the pleased boy, Duo choked on his 7up. Quatre's collection was beautiful, it's feathers ranging from the darkest black to the purest red.

Feathers Duo knew only too well.

Quatre picked up one as big as his forearm and twirled it between his thumb and forefinger, eyeing it appreciatively. Then he handed it over to Duo.

"Feel it. It's exceedingly soft! I've never seen such gorgeous feathers!" Duo raised the 7up again to cover a blush and pretending to inspect the feather closely.

The blonde continued sadly, "I found them a little over a mile from here. There were so many on the ground… do you suppose the bird is still alive? Poor bird."

At that last, Duo choked again. He looked at the feather in his hand and dissolved into giggles which quickly became forceful coughs. The others eyed him strangely, which only heightened Duo's amusement.

"Is it *cough* still *cough, cough* alive! *cough* That's a good one *cough* Q-man!" Duo got out between hacks.

"What is wrong with you, Maxwell?" Wufei said disapprovingly.

"Nothing, Wu-man. *cough* I'm fine. *cough* Do me a favor, though. If I *cough* hack up a lung, put it back, okay?"

"Stop being so melodramatic, Maxwell. Stop being so immature and act your age for once." At that, Duo stiffened momentarily, then covered it up by clearing his throat loudly and straightening up.

"You wanna know what? I think I forgot something in my room. I'll be back." Duo said, turning and hurriedly leaving the kitchen, for he didn't want the others to see how his fiercely his eyes watered at their scorn. They would interpret it as weakness. Maybe it was. But Duo knew he would die if he was ever seen as unfit in Heero's eyes. No, not unfit. To Heero everyone was unfit, he was the Perfect Soldier. Heero would see him as useless.

Duo burst into his room, shut the door and leaned against it.

"Dammit, Duo! You have to stop this! Acting pathetic isn't going to get you anywhere." Duo was surprised when there was popping sound as the 7up container in his hand compacted under the pressure of his grip.

Once again resorting to joviality to dispel the unhappiness, Duo laughed at himself and the misery slowly ebbed. It didn't go away, but it was manageable.

"Well, darn. Must be my time of the month, I suppose." He joked to the empty room. Duo sipped the 7up from the can, only then realizing the feather was still in his other fist which was so tightly clenched his knuckles where turning white. He relaxed his grip and the feather floated to the ground.

"Heh. I bet Quatre would have kittens if he knew the exotic 'bird' he was so obsessed about was me." That led his thoughts in another direction, and he sipped his drink absently. "Crap. I forgot about the possibility of someone finding all those stupid feathers. Oh well. The Torihito weren't well known in the first place and now they're dead and forgotten." He said sourly, pushing off the door and tossing the empty coke can in the trash.

A persistent beeping startled him. He dug around the room and finally located the source of the annoying noise. His laptop buzzed insistently at him and an e-mail came up immediately after he opened it and booted it up. It was a mission. For tonight.

"Perfect timing." He mumbled, scanning the briefing. "Oi, oi! Now what do we have here? A mission at the local nightclub? Surgoi! Now I can get away from the guys to have some fun and out of this humdrum little hell-hole at the same time!" Duo quickly scanned over the e-mail again, memorizing the details; what he was to wear, who he was to contact, when he was supposed to go, and how he needed to obtain the supplies he needed. This sounded like one fun mission! Duo reviewed it one last time before deleting the e-mail and shutting down his laptop. Duo stretched until his back popped then rose.

There was that feeling again.

Now that his thoughts weren't preoccupied, Duo again felt as though he were being watched… or hunted. He growled internally and ignored the feeling, looking from the door to the window and back to the door again. Then, abruptly, he made a decision.

Going to the open window, Duo grabbed a jacket and a pair of silver-mirrored shades, grasped the sill and vaulted outside, unwilling to face the others just then. It was a fall of a mere two stories and Duo landed safely, hitting the dirt and rolling once to minimize the impact. He finished the rotation on his feet and was promptly sprinting off toward the distant hangar.

He wheeled his 'baby' out of the garage, admiring it's flawless, glossy black surface. Duo made sure that he walked the motorcycle far enough away from the safehouse so that he could start the engine without the worry of any of the others detecting the noise. When he was about a mile away from the house, Duo pressed his glasses on his face, hopped on the motorcycle and revved the engine, smiling in approval as it hummed smoothly beneath him. He lifted his foot off the dirt road and went flying down the road at breakneck speed, leaning into the wind and laughing in pure joy as the wind tore at his jacket and slid chilly hands over the nape of his neck, lifting his braid and tossing it wildly behind him, causing him to shiver delightfully.

His heart soared with exhilaration, and he cranked the handlebars and sped up in a puff of dust, happy to leave the safehouse and his troubles there far behind for now.

***

The warped dark soldier entered the murky room and knelt on the carpeted floor and bowed low in front of the shadows where he knew his lord to be.

The dark-robed man swirled the blood-colored, almost black wine in his goblet and looked at the soldier's reflection in the window he stood before.

"Well…? Report!" He demanded.

"Master, we have found the boy," The general announced, holding up a slightly wrinkled, foot-long feather which faded from midnight obsidian to a crimson red, for his master's inspection.

The shadows shifted and the robed figure strode over, taking the feather from the man to examine for himself. After a moment, a greedy look sparkled in his depth-less red eyes and he cackled triumphantly, running possessive fingers over the crumpled feather. He reached forward and ran one long-nailed hand over the soldier's face. The warrior trembled slightly at his master's chilling touch, but otherwise held still.

"Now. Go capture him alive for me. If you fail, you shall suffer. Go!"

The general scuttled out of the room to obey his Majesty's orders. That boy would belong to his master tonight, and he would be rewarded as promised with a sip of his Master's immortalizing magic wine. Already scheming a devious plan he began to make preparations for the attack right away….

Note from Kitana: Now, I KNOW some of you caught that window deal. Yes, I am aware that it was shut when Duo went to take a shower, and that when he emerged later it was open. That was intended. ::evil grin:: And it will come back to haunt Duo later in the story. Uh oh.… ~_^V
Status: Thanks to all of you… TBC! Next chapter… Duo goes on his mission but he isn't alone….

Side Note: If you like Obsidian Dipped in Blood the other fics of mine that you might like are:
Realm of Shadows: The G-boys and Relena are summoned to a world where darkness is taking over… and only they can stop it with the power of the Lodestone, they must defeat the evil and return home… or die trying. (It's all mystical 'n stuff. ::grin:: Just try it an' don't let the intro scare you away! Just a little tidbit to get you interested: Duo gets wings in that fic too. ::wink::)
Mirror Image: Shinigami has come for Duo and will stop at nothing to succeed, even if it means killing everyone Duo holds dear…. (::sigh:: No wings in that one… but lots of other fun stuff! Duo and Heero torture… MYAHAHA!!!)

 

Warnings: Typical stuff. Shouen-ai, OOC-ness, goofy stuff like that.
Disclaimers: Not mine. Theirs.

Obsidian Dipped in Blood
Chapter 2

Kitana Bradford

When Duo roared up to the safehouse, his supplies stashed safely in the back of his motorcycle, the whole house was in disarray. He parked his bike in the garage, slung his bag over his shoulder and hurried to the house to see what was going on.

He walked through the halls, looking for the others but not encountering anyone. He finally found the four sitting in the dining room, talking in serious, forceful tones. About him.

Duo paused in the shadows and halted to listen to what they were saying. He leaned back against the door frame, crossed his arms over his chest, and waited for the others to notice him.

"Why must Maxwell be so irresponsible? Where could he have gone? Why did he go? Doesn't he know that he endangers us all with these idiotic stunts of his?" Wufei was railing. Duo flinched.

"Calm down, Wufei." That was Quatre. "I'm sure Duo has a perfectly reasonable explanation for his disappearance."

"Not likely." Wufei snorted.

"And don't worry about it. He's probably not going to do anything that will endanger the mission." Duo perked up at the blonde's defense of him, feeling incredibly grateful for the benefit of the doubt Quatre was willing to give him. It was nice to know that at least one of them trusted his abilities as a Gundam pilot and as an intelligent person.

Then Quatre continued, "Besides, if he is captured, it will be no problem to rescue him." Duo's jaw clenched and his eyes hardened. A deceptive calm settled over him.

"Just the same, we shouldn't HAVE to bail that braided fool out of an OZ prison! Which is where he probably is."

Duo got sick of waiting for them to notice him and he interrupted coldly, knowing he couldn't take any more of their scathing comments. "No he's not."

All four started and Duo was instantly the target of four primed guns. He ignored them and stalked forward.

"Look, I know you guys hate me. Hell, I don't blame you. There's nothing good about me TO like. But I can be trusted, which I have proven over and over in combat. I have NEVER failed you and STILL you treat me as if I'm an incompetent child!" Duo felt his eyes begin to burn but he couldn't stop. He was too angry to stop. All he wanted was to be treated as an equal, why couldn't they see that?

"So I may talk a lot and I eat just as much. That doesn't make me any less of a pilot, a soldier, a COMRADE!! I didn't do anything wrong, just go out ONCE to prepare for a MISSION and you jump all over me!" Duo turned, leaving the others speechless, and snatched up his bag which he had dropped at the beginning of his tirade.

He paused in front of the door, his back to them and finished in a soft, sad voice,

"When I agreed to join up with you four it was because I thought perhaps you might understand a little of what I am, being soldiers and outcasts yourselves. All I wanted was, for once in my life, to be trusted, if not liked. I don't want or need your pity or help, just maybe a friend would be nice. Is that so much to ask?" Duo didn't wait for an answer, instead answered his own question. "Obviously so. I'm sorry if I'm wasting your time. I have work to do, I'm leaving."

"Duo…" Quatre started, but it was too late, the door swung shut softly in the wake of the braided boy.

As Duo walked down the hallways, he refused to acknowledge the burning sensation accumulating in his eyes. He quickened his steps. They didn't trust him. They didn't even like him. He hadn't waited for their excuses, which he knew he would've gotten had he remained in the room to hear them out. A ways down the hall behind him, he heard the door creak open again. Quatre's voice rang out again.

"Duo! Wait, we -"

Duo ran.

The corridors flashed by in blurs, and Duo dove into the shadows to avoid detection. He couldn't face them right now. Not Wufei's disapproving glare, not Quatre's pitying glances, not Trowa's silent scrutiny, but most of all, not Heero's blank, uncaring stare.

Duo dashed through the safehouse, bypassing his room - knowing it would be the first place they would look and that Heero had a key to the door.

Duo reached the hangar where his motorcycle was still cooling, undetected from his trip earlier. Throwing his bag onto the back, Duo hopped on, raised the kickstand and revved the bike to life. Lifting his feet from the floor, he roared out of the garage and down the road that led to town, unaware of two pairs of eyes on him. Cobalt ones that held suppressed longing and something else unreadable in their depths, and another pair of red ones, hiding within the shadows, that burned with calculating anticipation and greed.

***

The wind whipped against Duo's face and body, tearing at his hair and clothes and burning his eyes. He hadn't remembered to put on his glasses, so he had to squint to see where he was going.

The wind also caught the moisture that leaked from his eyes, blowing it backward and cooling them in a trail over his cheeks.

<They're from the wind,> He told himself fervently. <Just the wind in my eyes.> Duo swiped his face once with the back of his arm then sped up the motorcycle, charging into the oncoming wind.

***

When Duo reached town, the sun was just setting in a brilliant display of reds, golds and violets. He paused for a minute to marvel at its beauty, rubbing his cheeks, reddened from the cold wind and stiff with dried tears.

Running his fingers through his tangled bangs, Duo glanced at his watch. He had nearly forty minutes before the assigned start of his mission. Duo shrugged thoughtfully.

The nightclub would just be opening. Duo decided that it wouldn't hurt for him to be there early. Actually, it would make him blend in more. And besides, he needed something to preoccupy him. The pounding beat of club music, heavy dancing, swirling lights, and drinks might just do it for him. He had always liked clubs, but had never gotten the chance to go to many because of his missions and events involving the other guys.

A wide but tentative grin spread across his face as he settled his cheerful mask firmly in place. He drove the motorcycle around and parked it in an obscure corner of the club parking lot. Shouldering his bag, he took the keys for the hotel room he had purchased earlier and went to change. He didn't understand why he needed the room, but Professor G had been insistent. Duo shrugged and for once, was grateful that the old man had ridden his back until he had bought the room. Damned if he'd admit it, though.

Duo tossed his bag on the bed, flicked on the lights, and gratefully headed straight for the small bathroom for a short, hot shower.

Fifteen minutes later, Duo emerged, a towel around his waist and toweling off his long hair. Feeling better already, the braided boy threw himself onto the bed, bouncing playfully, settling cross-legged in the middle. Draping the towel across his shoulders, he reached over and dragged his beaten bag into his lap, and begun to dig through it. He was anxious to see what the Prof. had chosen for him to wear. He hadn't had a choice and when he had asked, the Professor had been very vague, saying that it was what was necessary for a successful mission.

"So… what kind of fashion sense does that old fart possess?" Duo mumbled as he rifled through the contents of the bag. He grabbed everything in the backpack, hauled it out, and spread it across the bed.

When he saw what had been chosen for him, his eyes boggled in surprise. Duo held up the skimpy outfit and groaned.

"That raving lunatic sadist! What was he thinking? I am not wearing these."

Duo glared mutinously at the clothes for a while longer, and when the force of his glare didn't incinerate them as he hoped, he proceeded to struggle into them, fluently cursing Professor G, the school that gave him his PHD, what he majored in, the real reason why he decided to become a doctor, and why he seemed so close to the other dirty old men, especially Dr. J.

When he was finally in the clothes, he stood before the full-length mirror, his wide violet eyes scanning dubiously over the tight ensemble.

He looked like an idiot. Or a hooker, whichever came to mind first.

Duo knew that the Professor had his exact measurements from head to toe, so the circulation-inhibiting tightness had probably been planned all along, that filthy little schemer. Duo swore he would have his revenge.

Duo scanned his reflection one more time, as though if he looked away for long enough it would become more presentable. Duo waved a dismissive hand at his image, turned and dashed out the door with a gleeful smirk, pausing only long enough to lock the door behind him.

***

When Duo arrived at the nightclub, the party was in full swing. Under the glowing neon letters that proclaimed the nightclub Guilty Pleasures, the doorman checked I.D.s and took money.

He looked at Duo's forged ID critically, then shifted his gaze and scrutinized the braided boy closely. Duo inwardly held his breath, but outwardly he gave the doorman a disarming grin. With a grunt, he shrugged and usured the American inside. Duo paused in the entrance to gain his bearings and inspect the club's interior.

Everyone within viewing range of the doorway who caught sight of the longhaired youth stopped and stared. In front of them, hands on his hips in a pose of unconscious seductiveness was the most beautiful bishonen any of them had ever seen. Men and women alike sat up and took notice of the slight boy.

He wore heavy black boots and flesh-hugging black pants that rode low on his slender hips. The leggings glinted in the bluish light of the bar like plastic, though they were actually made from supple fabric. Strategic cuts in the pants enhanced the vision as they revealed the tanned flesh beneath. Two of the slashes severed the fabric at juncture of his buttocks and legs, offering tempting glimpses of the bottom curve of the boy's firm ass.

His shirt was made of the same fabric in a crimson color that was sleeveless and cut off just above each shoulder. It was split down the center and laced loosely, baring flashes of the young man's muscled torso, well-formed abs, and strong chest.

The only jewelry he wore was a band of silver around one arm, small gold hoop earrings, and a choker about his neck which was studded with a single many faceted amethyst that only his eyes rivaled in color or beauty.

Those large, intense eyes were framed by thick, dark lashes and accentuated by a rim of kohl around each eye.

His shiny mass of chestnut hair was drawn back in a loose braid which was secured at the small of his back then left to cascade over his figure in shimmering waves.

Duo was aware of and slightly uncomfortable with the amount of stares he was getting, but he casually shrugged them off. His searching eyes found a clock. It told him he had fifteen minutes before the start of his mission and thirty minutes before he was supposed to meet his contact at the bar. Briefly, Duo wondered what was so important that he receive. Professor G had refused to tell him, saying only that it was imperative his complete his mission.

Then the music on the dance floor picked up with a heavy eurobeat theme and Duo gleefully went to join the throng of bodies around the stage.

Duo danced alone at first, close enough to the speakers so that they caused his whole body to pound in rhythm with the music, his heart thrumming the beat. Duo took up the movement of the song, his arms sliding up his body and he latched one hand loosely around the other wrist, holding them above his head.

Duo had become completely wrapped up in the music when someone brushed up behind him, seizing his waist and grinding their hips into his. Duo yelped, whirling to face the person and coming face to face with smirking scarlet eyes.

Duo glared, opening his mouth to unleash the hounds of hell on the conceited bastard. He didn't get anything out because suddenly the person's mouth descended hard on his. Duo wanted to cry out, to shove the person away and put some distance between them, but his body refused to cooperate. He couldn't move an inch. His muscles began to burn as though someone had poured liquid fire down this throat. Duo's vision blurred as he fought desperately to breathe….

Then, as suddenly as he had appeared, the stranger was gone.

Duo stumbled, cursing, coughing, and gasping for breath.

"What *cough* the heck was that about?! *cough, cough* If he was the guy I'm supposed to meet then mission or no mission I swear I'm gonna shove a gun down his throat." Duo politely pushed his way through the crowd on the dance floor, and out of the light, covering his ears as the music made his head pound painfully. Once in the semi-darkness of the bar he felt better.

"Damn. This just isn't my night. I need a drink." Duo mumbled, plopping down at a barstool. The bartender eyed him critically but slid him the large, foaming, glass of ale he ordered. The amber liquid burned on its way down, but warmed his belly. Spinning around on his stool, his unfocused eyes slowly scanned the people in the club over the rim of his quickly vanishing drink.

***

It had taken all of the skill on Heero's part to track the braided pilot into the famous nightclub Guilty Pleasures. He had forced himself to wait for ten minutes after Deathscythe's pilot had vanished in the distance on his black motorcycle before starting up his own white one and tailing the other.

He had to find the braided boy. Failure was not acceptable. Duo's words in the den had hit a chord in Heero, and the broken look on the other's face had caused his insides to writhe guiltily. Heero had to find Duo and… apologize. But while Heero may have been fully trained to locate anyone at will, Duo had learned to avoid detection at an early age and practiced it all his life. Duo was the master at covertness, if he wanted to be.

But there was also another reason he followed the braided pilot. Ever since Duo had mentioned his mission, a growing sense of unease had formed inside the Japanese boy. Every instinct he had was on full alert, warning him that something wasn't right, that Duo was in over his head. And something deep inside Heero screamed at him to protect the slender American.

He had lost Duo upon entry to the town, and after thirty minutes of searching he had nearly given up, knowing that Duo was very adept at hiding. Just as he was about to leave, his eyes had caught the tail-end of the long chestnut braid he would recognize anywhere vanishing into the club. Immediately he followed, glaring down the doorkeeper, who had taken a gulp and allowed Heero through, muttering obscenities under his breath.

Heero stepped into the crowded club, searching in vain for the longhaired boy. Guilty Pleasures was filled with people of all types and packed past maximum capacity. Choosing to remain indistinctive, Heero selected a post in the shadows at once side of the club, knowing that Duo would be furious if he found the Wing pilot interfering with his mission.

A flash of crimson and black in Heero's peripheral vision attracted his attention. Heero turned towards the bar and his eyes widened subtly when he caught sight of Deathscythe's pilot. Duo was sprawled languidly at a barstool, dressed in one of the sexiest outfits Heero had ever seen.

Duo looked like a vision straight out of a wet dream. Heero thought ashamedly, a vision straight from one of his wet dreams. Sparks of heat shot down to center between his legs and Heero's appreciation of Duo's ensemble was made obvious to any casual onlooker by the large bulge in Heero's tight spandex.

Just then, another boy that looked to be only slightly older then Duo joined the braided baka. Heero growled as they turned and began to have an animated conversation. The Wing pilot guessed that this was Duo's mission, yet he eyed this new youth coldly and attempted to edge closer to his partner.

***

Duo wasn't startled when he was joined at the bar by another young man. His instinct told him that this was his contact, but Duo wanted to be sure.

"Hey, man. Come here to take a break from dancing? I personally can't find my dancing partner either. Care to take his place?" They were the lines that the Professor had told him would allow him to identify the person he was to meet. Duo waited to see what the other would answer.

"You're missing a partner, I'm looking for one. I'll take you up on that dance and a good grope or two wouldn't be unwelcome either." Duo laughed, and relaxed. Though that last part hadn't been necessary, the first line was the required response. He had found his contact.

 

Note from Kitana: Okay, I know that was a corny ending, but I PROMISE the next part will make up for it. I just didn't want to launch into the action then have to cut it in half at the good part.
Status: TBC. (In-progress) - that means I'm still working on it. Writer's block hasn't hit me yet… ^_^