by Talya Firedancer


Bars of light and shadow dappled over the tense, still face bathed faintly in the greenish glow of the computer monitor. As far as the Arabian pilot could tell, Heero hadn't twitched a single muscle since his last visit, over an hour ago.

"Not in yet?" Quatre asked softly.

Heero remained silent, gaze fixed unwaveringly on the screen. There was still no incoming data from the freshly-recent mission. Still no news.

Quietly Quatre set a tray of food by Heero's elbow. He might as well have been a piece of furniture for all the reaction he got from the Wing Gundam pilot. He hesitated for a long moment, uncertain, then slowly shuffled out.

Heero's eyes barely flicked towards the door as it closed behind the blond pilot. All his attention, his entire will, was focused on the computer. It was the only reliable means, in this backwoods retreat, of finding out what had happened.

"Damn you, Duo," he uttered quietly. "You promised... remember?"




He tangled his fingers in the long, long hair, stroking it away from a sweat-damped face. Just looking at him. Duo looked back, that little smile playing over his lips until Heero wanted to kiss him again, to wipe it off his face and start what they'd just finished all over again because of the feelings it stirred up inside him. He couldn't put words to them, but his actions usually seemed to satisfy Duo.

"Say it," Heero murmured, suddenly fierce.

Duo grinned at him cheerfully. "Say what? Uncle?"

Heero's lip twitched. "Bastard." His hand tightened in Duo's hair, pulling him close and holding the back of his head to crush the American pilot's lips under his own. After a long, breathless moment, they pulled apart, breathing a little faster. "Say it."

Duo raised an eyebrow, still smirking slightly but Heero shot him a particularly intense look and he relented. "I love you, Heero."

The brown-braided pilot snuggled up against him again and Heero put an arm around him, satisfied. "Promise me you'll always say it," he mumbled against Duo's thick hair.

Duo was quiet for so long he thought he'd fallen asleep.

"For the rest of my life," he replied quietly, at last.

Heero frowned at the tight feeling in his chest Duo's choice of words evoked. He pushed at Duo's shoulder, moved to kiss him again. Duo made a little noise of mingled pleasure and surprise as Heero's tongue moved against his lips and worked its way inside.

"Again, so soon?" Duo protested, half-jokingly. "Heero, you'll wear me out!"

Heero's only answer was a sultry smile as he bent to kiss him again.



[Mission time: 2:35]

Takeoff was achieved with his usual almost machine precision. Everyone had their separate mission, and then the rendezvous point. The only thing that filled him, as usual, was the rushing flood of blood against his eardrums, until he could almost taste its coppery spread across his tongue.

Explosions were so thick and fast, it was hard to distinguish any one in particular.

It only came to matter to him, later, when Gundam Shinagami did not report in. Then, he raked over every single blast within his sensors' scope, searching for the telltale components of one of their distinctive gundams.

"Everyone is here!" Wufei yelled. "Everyone who's coming, so we have to get out now!"

"Duo isn't here yet," Heero observed, maintaining his usual monotone. He flicked his viewscreens to their highest gain. Nothing. Damn it, still nothing.

"We have to go!" Trowa added firmly. "My sensors show incoming over that low range of hills. It's now or never."

Heero cursed under his breath as they began to lift off.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you leaving without me!?" the familiar voice crackled over their comm channel.

Heero's mouth twitched.

"Duo!" Quatre cried out happily. "Where are you?"

"Coming up -- on your left!" Duo responded, and Heero heard the catch in his voice. He glanced sharply to the left.

"Duo, what's wrong?" he demanded, before he even spotted Gundam Deathscythe.

"Nothing that making port won't cure!" the American pilot replied cheerfully. He caught sight of his lover's gundam and spotted it instantly.

"Duo -- put down NOW, goddammit-"

"Don't be stupid, we've got half a fleet on our tails-"

"NOW, Duo! Or you're gonna-"

"Heero... I'm-"

Deathscythe exploded, as the ruptured fuel line sprayed loose completely, sparking from the loose connectors. Heero could only stare in openmouthed shock even as his programmed flight reflexes kicked in, pushing Wing Gundam to the limits -- getting him the hell out of there.

The molten pieces fell like bloody rain from the sky.




"Flyboys like us don't live long," Duo shrugged casually, undaunted by Heero's intense scrutiny. "That's why, Heero. You take love where you can get it."

Lo -- what!?

Heero's breath caught in his throat. "What did you say?" he rasped, seized by the sudden conviction that Duo must've said sex. Not -- surely he'd just said sex. "Say that... again."

Duo was giving him a rueful little smile, twirling the end of his braid in his fingertips. "Love, Heero. Yeah, I said it. Heero... I love you."

The words struck at him like little chisels, wedges that slipped somehow between his ribs.

The confusion -- pain, even -- must've shown on his face, because Duo made a self-deprecating face and shifted next to him, starting to sit up. "Sorry, Heero. I probably shouldn't have said that. You being the perfect soldier and all, I'd just get in the way of that. I suppose."

"Stop it," Heero uttered, grabbing his braid and jerking him back down to lie beside him. He released the hank of hair and moved a hand over the side of Duo's face like a blind man, smoothing over the contours of cheek, eyebrow ridge, nose... feeling out the shape of his sudden smile.

Duo looked as if he were torn between the trembling edge of laughter, or tears.

Heero offered him a small smile and leaned forward, licking at the few salty, gleaming drops before they could fall.

"No tears. Not for us."



The golden-haired boy returned hesitantly to the room where Heero sat in silent vigil, glancing at the untouched tray. "Heero -- you haven't eaten." He hadn't even moved.


Quatre refused to be intimidated. "Heero -- we still don't know--"

"Don't be stupid," Heero spat. "No one could've survived that wreck. Not even me."

"It's an unconfirmed ró"

"If you're trying to cheer me up, you can leave," the Japanese pilot snarled.

Quatre hesitated, wishing Trowa were here with him. He knew that his tall lover would have a better chance of withstanding the barely- veiled promise of violence beneath Heero's words. Heero was obviously suffering, and not just from the pain of the few wounds he'd sustained. But Quatre didn't know how to help him. Only one boy could do that. Finally he left, leaving the tray of food behind him hoping maybe Heero would make use of it.

Heero trailed his fingertips over the face of the unresponsive monitor. The fiberglass was cold to his touch.

Say it. Say it again.

Heero... as long as I live.

I love you.