Part 7 - Overtures
The time elapsed from pressing the auto-distress signal button, opening Deathscythe's hatch, releasing the safety straps, winching to the snowy ground, trotting through the white over to the fallen and sinking to shaking knees did not pass a minute, but to Duo it felt like a short eternity.
Using one hand to ensure there was still a pulse, and the wrist of the other to determine respiration, some relief was afforded, as both were present. A quick check made sure there was no bones poking out through skin and flesh, or any massive bleeding gashes. Indeed, of what little visible damage there was, rifts in the thick thermosuit, a few impressive bruises and small, hardly bleeding scratches appeared to be the worst. A broken bone or splintered internal organ was a risk, but Duo hoped neither was the case. Regardless, his immediate goal was to awaken Heero.
Gentle shaking. No effect.
Pinching cheek. No effect.
...but as he raised his palm for a slap, he thought he saw a slight twitch in Heero's left eye. Slightly puzzled, Duo leant in for a closer look - only to be grabbed by a strong hand wrapping itself around his neck, pulling him down for a kiss.
Once released, slightly out of breath, Duo couldn't help but venting his anger. "Heero, damn it. Don't scare me like that."
"Oh, was the kiss that bad?" came the teasing reply. Still smirking, Heero used his elbows to prop up, then pushing one side to sit upright, arm for support. To his credit, gritted teeth and a slight wince was the only visible sign of pain he allowed to show.
"You know what I mean. Don't fake unconsciousness like that again."
"I wasn't faking, I blacked out. Woke up when you pinched my cheek."
"Because I recalled what happened last time that sequence started." Heero's smirk widened steadily.
Closing his eyes, left thumb and forefinger rubbing the bridge of his nose, Duo counted slowly to ten, sighed and replied. "If you wanted a kiss, all you had to do was wake up."
"I'm awake now..." came the meek riposte.
Duo couldn't help but grin. Alive, safe... no need to keep grudges. Cupping Heero's cheeks in his hands, Duo leant in to brush his lips against Heero's, only applying the faintest of pressure upon urging. Pulling away, he noticed how those pools of blue were halfway hidden under eyelids, if for but a moment. "There. Satisfied?"
Heero nodded, smiling. Then, he tensed, wincing slightly, before lying back on the snow. Duo was immediately alarmed.
"Heero? Everything okay?"
"Yeah, sure," came the pained answer. "I'm fine."
"I don't believe you. How do you feel? Broken bones, stomach pains, what?"
After a slight pause, Heero stated "I don't think I have any internal injuries... And I feel like I've fallen out of a mobile suit twice, being beaten by zealous OZ guards, trudging through snow for hours on end, doing balancing acts on a snowmobile..."
Duo momentarily closed his eyes and let loose a tired smile. "Okay, let me rephrase - how do you feel, Heero. Not what happened."
Duo snickered. "Yeah, that sounds about right."
"I'm bruised and battered, Duo. Nothing serious. I think you've gotten yourself one or two good shiners too."
"Probably. You've got me beat, though."
"I am beat. Beaten. Tired. Cold. Hungry. In short, I feel bad." Pausing only to grab Duo's hand and establish eye contact, he continued "But that's okay, since you're here with me."
Duo bent down to kiss his forehead. "You old softie."
"And you like me like that. Admit it."
"I like you, period. I love you, Heero - don't you forget that."
"I won't," Heero answered, suddenly remembering his actions during the mission. "Ever again."
"You'd better not, or you'll reap the wrath of the God of Death." Duo grinned, one hand playfully ruffling Heero's tousled bangs. Heero smiled, laughed, laughter turning into a cough and a wince. A thought and a worry came to Duo, he got to his feet and trotted as fast as he could towards Deathscythe. "Stay still, Heero - I'll be right back."
As he entered the cockpit, he was greeted by two messages, both acknowledging the distress call. One from Quatre, letting them know he and Trowa was on the way. The other from Professor G, who after using the Alliance's own system of spy satellites had determined there were no additional forces heading for the battle zone. Evidently, OZ did not want to draw more attention to their illegal R&D facility than was necessary, and if the Alliance noticed anything in the satellite images, it would be the burning pyre of the larger complex. There would undoubtedly be questions and accusations, which either side would be better off without, but which suited Duo just fine. Never underestimate the will of the OZ or Alliance brass for damage control and saving of face. Duo quickly sent replies to both, letting them know Wing was probably incapacitated for the time being, Deathscythe far from in top condition, but both pilots safe, if bruised and battered. Now, where did I put...?
Minutes later Duo returned, arms clutching a medkit, blankets, emergency rations and a few other assorted items. He unceremoniously dumped the load next to Heero, and spread one blanket out on the ground. As he leant down to pick up Heero, however, the wounded one refused to simply being carried, and instead sought a supporting shoulder with which to limp over to the blanket. He clenched his teeth again upon impacting the ground again though, something that didn't go unnoticed by his patron. Duo knelt down beside him, taking Heero's hand in his own, giving it a gentle squeeze, waiting.
"You can be as stubborn as you like, Heero - but I know you're in pain."
Heero laughed. "No kidding, Sherlock." Smiling, he continued. "It isn't that bad, though. I'll live." After some hesitation, he decided to give Duo what he was waiting for; admittance of weakness. After all, when he barely felt able to move, how could he fake feeling fine? "I'm a bit cold, though."
Duo grinned, stepped over to the pile of assorted items, pulled out a few thermoblankets, wrapping two around Heero, just for good measure, and the last around himself. He sat down next to Heero, lifting frosty's shoulders, only to let the messy brown mop seek rest in his lap. Carefully, Duo let his fingers softly graze behind Heero's ear, trailing down to and along the jaw, only to turn back for repetition. For a few moments, Heero let his tired eyes close, soothing touch overpowering stubbornness and pride. It did not last, as the cold blue irises were unleashed again as Heero remembered where they were, and what they'd been doing. He made a failed attempt at getting up, startling Duo, falling back to his caresser's lap.
"Duo - the mission - the disc. We've got to-"
Duo put one finger to his lips, silencing him. "Hush. We're done fighting for today, Heero. I sent a distress signal to Quatre - he and Trowa will be here long before any more OZ or Alliance forces bother going out here. He said they'd 'stop by' an Alliance airfield to hijack a couple of mobile suit carriers first, though - Wing is grounded for a while, so we'll need alternate transportation. Hopefully, the carriers can do a reasonably safe belly-landing and take-off on the snow. Should be flat and soft enough to avoid major damage."
Heero was about to continue his interrupted argument, only to be silenced again.
"And don't worry about the disc either. I have it right here," Duo said, tapping his chest. "Right here next to my heart."
Heero let a sigh of relief slip, closed his eyes, relaxed and produced a tired smile. Above him, his partner's grin widened as those gentle fingers yet again ruffled brown bangs.
"Don't worry, Heero - the disc might be close to my heart, but you're inside it."
Briefly opening eyes, facial expression silently saying both 'thank you' and 'right back at you; mission close, you inside', Heero let his head tilt into the caressing fingers, allowing them both a slight reprieve from thoughts of war and want. It couldn't last, of course - from where he rested, Heero had a front row seat to the rumbling noises Duo's stomach suddenly made. He snickered.
"Sounds like you need to dig in on an emergency ration pack, Duo."
Resisting the urge to stick his tongue out as a reply, Duo opted for words and a quick skull grind instead. "Oh, shut up."
Heero just laughed, transgressing into another coughing streak. Aided by Duo, he sat upright, soothing fingers on his back trying to counter the coughs. He lurched forward a bit, trying to calm his breathing. From the depths of his memory, one of the many mission preparations made three days ago surfaced. With a half-smirk, he peered over his shoulder at his companion. "Duo... Actually I did pack something other than the dehydrated portions."
Immediately at his highest level of attention, Duo could barely contain his desire to shake, if necessary beat, the nature and location of hinted-at substance. Still somewhat surprised and shell-shocked at the prospect of food - real food - all he could utter was "What? Where?"
"I'm not sure I want to tell you..."
Duo sighed, then growled in frustration, barely controlling his urge to follow through with his first idea. Heero noticed it all too well, determining he might as well give in before the boy would follow through on the warning given the previous morning; never come between Duo and food - at least not when near starved.
"I'll give you a clue. When you want to hide something, you try to hide it in the place it's least likely to be found. Now, where do you think you'd be least likely to look for food?"
Duo just looked quizzically at him, though his mind was pondering away as fast as it could, listing any number of places. Wherever it was, it was probably somewhere right under his nose - otherwise, Heero wouldn't look so smug. Hide a tree in the forest. Hide food amongst food... And hide it in plain sight. He turned to the ration packs he had raided from Deathscythe, buried among thermoblankets, medkits and other assorted items. Heero smirked, nodding towards the pile. That was encouragement enough, and the starved pilot jumped at the pile, greedily digging out a few ration packs, struggling with the wrapping. "Just what did you pack, anyway?"
Heero lowered himself back down on the spread-out blanket, keeping the two wrapped around him tight. "I figured I could pack something other than the standard bricks, but-"
Duo cut him off, having just unraveled the first pack, holding up two bags of dry powder. "Hey! Thought you said there was food here, no more of this freeze-dried stuff!"
Snickering. "As I was about to say, I didn't stray that far from mission parameters. Most of those are the standard fare - look for one with a red dot on the outside."
And so Duo did. And found. And hurriedly ripped the wrapping to shreds, revealing one small cardboard box and two bars. Disappointment. "Raisins and candy bars?"
Laughter. "Hey, don't look so glum - you wanted something other than the rations, now you've got it. Those should hold you off until Quatre and Trowa arrive."
Slumping shoulders and neck, sighing and inwardly counting to ten, Duo's anger at being tricked faded quickly enough, and he couldn't help smile at the successful prank. Looking over his shoulder, he said "Thanks," and proceeded to struggle with opening the box of raisins.
"Is that all I get?" came the meek, yet suggestive questioning reply.
Duo grinned. Kneeling by his provider, he scooped him up for a hug and a quick kiss, before letting him gently down on the thermoblanket ground sheet, and propping up to a crouch to return to his struggle with the cardboard box, achieving victory at last. Never before had a handful of dried-up, shriveled grapes tasted as sweet.
At the first mouthful, he took the time to look at the landscape around them; tranquil white plain turned flaming battlefield, wreckage of Aries suits scattered about, the cabin pyre still ablaze, Wing leering next to them, damage signifying it'd be out of commission for a while, Deathscythe standing sentinel beside, not exactly scratch-free either. All in all, it was a sorry sight, but at least he was alive to see it.
"It's strange. The fury, intensity and noise of a battle never gets to me, but the eerie silence afterwards... I hate it. It isn't the screams, it's when the screaming stops - you know what I mean?"
"Yeah..." Heero paused. "Still, we're alive, and are going to fight another day, Duo. That's more than you can say for the other guys."
A sigh followed by a smirk came across Duo. "Maybe. But what difference does it make? Why do we continue to do this, anyway?"
"It makes a big difference. If nobody opposes tyranny, all but the tyrant suffers. Most people don't have the stomach to fight, not openly, and definitely not alone. They need to be lead. Our gundams serve as symbols for the cause. As for why we keep doing it, it's because we believe what we do will lead to something good. We keep at it for the sake of peace, children, prosperity and posterior."
"Posterity," Duo corrected, answered by an eager hand first patting, then groping one of his buttocks, causing widening eyes.
"Speak for yourself," Heero smirked, all too much clarifying his word wasn't a Freudian slip.
Promptly, the crouching Duo let himself fall backwards, trapping the offending arm by the wrist, crushing it into the blanket and the snow below. Between near-hysterical laughter and curses of the pain caused, Heero tried his best to talk his way free.
"Ow! Get off!" Laughter. Curse. Pained snicker. "Get off! I'm-" Tortured laughter. "I'm wounded, damn it!"
Duo answered by grinding his butt further down, causing more swears and snickers. "I don't know about that - that hand felt more than healthy enough, thank you very much."
Far too wrapped up in the twisted mix of pain and pleasure, Heero didn't notice his palm reacted, albeit by reflex, to the crushing of the wrist by reaching skywards, fingers touching-
Duo noticed however, and the wiggle-fingers ended his revenge faster than anything else could have, launching himself to stand as he did, simultaneously sacrificing some raisins to the snow. "Hey! Don't get so frisky, flyboy! Sheesh, do I have to knock you out cold to get some peace? And to think I was going to ask if you wanted one of the candy bars..."
Using his relatively uninjured hand to rub the bruised wrist, Heero looked at him with pleading eyes and a half-smirk, slightly contorted by winces caused by nerve signals of pain coming from his past offending lower arm. Duo could no more remain angry versus that face than he could halt his hunger, and he grinned, sitting down next Heero.
"Okay, okay. I'll share with you - but keep your hands to yourself unless asked otherwise. I don't want to hurt you, but even the injured won't get away with groping - you begin to remind me of some horny old man stuck in a nursing home staffed with young girls, and that is not a good thing. There are more subtle ways of vengeance than violence, pal - and if you go all frisky-fingers on me, I might have to introduce you to some!" Still grinning, Duo gave him a wink to add to the warning.
Heero, still cradling his wounded wrist where he lay, nodded in understanding. The smug smirk didn't fade, though. "Duo, I have a favor to ask."
"Sure. Name it."
Heero looked away for a second, cheeks gaining just a fraction of more color before he dared ask. "Last night, you used my chest as a pillow... Would you be mine tonight?"
A smile was the initial reply, followed by "That's it? Heero, I'd be yours any night from now on, and you'd be mine too, don't you forget it."
Smirk. "Thanks, but not exactly what I asked."
"I know. Just teasing you, flyboy."
And with that, Duo lay down beside him, helping him prop his head and shoulders to their resting place. Heero wrapped himself as best he could in his two thermoblankets, burrowing the back of his head in Duo's soft outer jacket. Thin paper gave way to hunger as Duo ripped the candy bars out of their shelter, offering one to his partner, offer accepted with a smile and a gentle touch of hands in gratitude, providing arm ending up protectively resting across Heero's chest.
One bite later, glaring up to the dark skies above where a few stars had begun twinkling, showing their presence, a question popped into Heero's mind.
"Why do you keep calling me that?"
"Call you what?"
"That 'flyboy' statement."
"Oh, that. Well, I figured you could use a nickname, and I thought it suited you."
Duo shrugged. "Wing's the only gundam specializing in flight, so I thought it fit."
"Why? What did you think I call you that for?"
Heero didn't answer in words, but his slightly reddening cheeks spoke for him.
"Hey, if I were to go for innuendo, I think I would have chosen something far more embarrassing - 'sides, you wear spandex nearly all the time, so that interpretation of 'flyboy' would kinda lose its punch."
"Whatever you say, batboy."
"Batboy? Wasn't it batman earlier?"
"You think I'd call you 'man' while you call me 'boy', when we're still arguing over dominance?"
With a grin, Duo remarked "I'll earn it, though."
"In your dreams, batboy."
Duo laughed. "Definitely in my dreams, but dreams sometimes become reality," he teased.
Heero tilted his head to give his pillow a smirk and a soft glare. "Keep dreaming."
Snicker. "Okay, so what's your reasoning for the nickname - the 'batboy' thing?"
Ponderance. "You're fond of black, the night... Sometimes, you act as if you were blind, other times like you had a spooky sixth sense - and the way you constantly grin, you bear your fangs all the time."
"I refuse to wear the kind of tight-fitting getup the Batman characters used, though."
Heero grinned. "My turn to dream?"
Duo smiled. "...and here I thought your dreams were a bit more... 'barren'."
"Maybe - but where's the fun if there's nothing left to fantasize over?" Heero sighed. "Right now, reality and dream don't seem so far apart, anyway."
Taking another bite of his rapidly disappearing candy bar, he noted that even though it was better than the standard fare Heero tended to bring along, it was just not enough. The guy had no sense of taste, only of necessities - not that that was wrong, it just wasn't... comfortable. "Next time, I pack the food and arrange the lodging, and you handle explosives."
Tilted head, smirk. "In that case, I'll definitely bring along a few ration packs anyway, as well as prepare to sleep in Wing."
Duo ruffled Heero's bangs. "Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence. Keep that up, and you'd better prepare to sleep in Wing."
Smile. "Okay, okay. I'll be good. Wouldn't want to anger the black avenger, now would I?" Finishing his candy bar, he nuzzled deeper into Duo's jacket, and yet another taunt came to mind. "If you want compliments, here's one for you - you make a good pillow."
Expecting another weak whack to the head for the comment, Heero was a bit puzzled as Duo let one hand slide along his jaw, tilting his head towards the offended. "Heero, I don't mind being your pillow, not like this." Then, the slender fingers proceeded up along a cheek, forefinger gently tapping the points of the next sentence in. "But if you ever call me your mattress, I'll strike you dead. That's a promise." The faint grin hinted against it being a joke.
Taking a moment to decipher just what Duo had implied, upon comprehension Heero felt the need to vindicate himself. "Duo, I'd never call-"
Again, the thin fingers silenced him. "I know. It's just that..." Duo sighed. "Some things just can't be forgotten once they're said."
For a while, none of them spoke. Duo leaned back, propping his hands behind his head for support, looking up at the dark sky above, noticing the tiny sparkling dots that had appeared as the cloud cover vanished. In its own section of the sky, the moon shone big and bright, reflecting a full face of sunlight.
"Looks like the stars finally decided to shine on us - along with ol' lady Luna."
"What, don't you like stargazing?"
"Not really. What's there to see up there anyway?"
Just as Heero was pragmatic on the issue, Duo was enthusiastic. "Anything you want! That's always been the thing, hasn't it? Everyone - both people on Earth and on the colonies - have been and still are watching the sky, searching out familiar images, dreaming of what stuff stars are made of."
Immediately drawing forth a text book answer from his mind, Heero began answering "Stars are made of-"
Duo abruptly cut him off. "No, I don't want the scientific answer. Sure, they're big balls of burning gas, just like the sun, but there's nothing poetic or entertaining in that answer. Some say the stars are where souls go to die - when you watch one fall, there's one less shining soul to guide us."
"Shooting stars aren't stars."
"Damn it, I know that. I bet I studied just as much astrophysics crap as you did. There's just no real soul in those dry, matter-of-fact views of the universe. Best to blend in a bit of mysticism and fantasy."
"You mean romantic imagery."
"In lack of a better word, sure."
Hesitantly, Heero decided to speak of yet another thing that bothered him. "Not sure I have the ability to see them as anything but stars, Duo."
Duo would hear nothing of it. "Sure you have. Just give it time - and in the meantime, I can always share what I see up there. Would that be okay?"
Heero smiled, and nodded. "Yeah. I'd like that."
Again, they both turned silent, watching as the glittering lights above appeared to spark on and off in bursts, bathing them in the faint rays. Neither wanted to break the moment of peace and silence, but at the end, one of them decided to anyway. Remarkable enough, it was Heero, tilting his head towards Duo's to ask a question.
"Duo, why did you call the moon Lady Luna?"
Taken slightly aback by the question, Duo took a deep breath as he pondered on a reply. "Well, if I recall correctly, Luna is Latin for moon."
"Yes, but why use a female gender?"
Duo sighed. "Guess that has to do with what the moon has always represented to me. Whenever I got to one of the viewports of the colonies in the L2 cluster, the moon was there, watching over us like a protective mother. Of course, up there, the view was so up-close you couldn't see it as anything beautiful. When I was in a good mood, the moon was something positive, the wrinkled face of an old grandmother, perhaps. When I was cranky or sad, its craters and rough surface reminded me of a looted graveyard. From here, though, it's beautiful. Not like we could look for 'mother' Earth - Lady Luna wouldn't let us."
"What do you mean?"
Duo grinned widely, incredibly gleeful Heero didn't understand it immediately. "Gee, and to think a moment ago I figured you for a genius in astronomy."
Heero's face went quizzical, completely puzzled.
"Okay, here's another clue; When I look in the direction of the moon like I do now, I think of home."
Still no light bulbs igniting above the messy brown locks.
No longer able to contain a snicker, Duo decided to push him a bit further, far too amused in stringing the would-be know-it-all along. "Sheesh. Think, Heero. Not like this is so damn hard to figure out."
Heero's mind was racing. He couldn't think of what the American could possibly refer to. What was it up by the moon that-
And then it hit him. Home. The colonies.
"...because L2 is up there, behind the moon."
"Right! At last, the brainiac found the answer!"
Heero smirked, weak fist punching Duo's arm lightly. Indeed, beyond the moon lay the L2 colony cluster, always orbiting with a view of the moon - a view that was always in direct line-of-sight between the cluster and Earth. Of all the colonies, except the fledgling Martian outposts, the L2 cluster was the most remote, both in location and distance.
"You can always think of home when you look at the moon too, you know."
Indeed he could. The L1 cluster was pinned between the Earth and the moon, and in contrast to L2, was the closest cluster to Earth. If he squinted hard enough, he might have made out the largest colonies in the cluster as tiny dark obstructions to the sunlight reflecting in the lunar surface high above.
"Hey, I just thought of something - do you think Trowa ever even saw the moon - before he got to Earth, I mean?"
Heero thought it over for a while. He could see Duo's reasoning. The L3 cluster, placed in lunar orbit, just like L4 and L5, only rotating on the opposite side of the Earth, the colonies there could never see the moon directly, as Earth was always in the way. Still, there was a flaw in his hypothesis.
"I think he did."
"How? Think he traveled much before Operation Meteor started?"
"No. I was thinking about his height."
"Yes, his height. He's a bit tall. I'm just speculating, but I don't think he was born on the colonies - I think he was born on Earth, and only arrived at L3 not too long ago, triggering a growth spurt due to the lighter gravity."
Thinking it over, Duo shrugged in slight agreement. "Could be. Not all colonies can maintain the standard Earth gravity of one g. Most fall a bit short. Some fall a lot short - and then there are the permanent residents of the moon. Glad I wasn't born and raised there - it'd make travel virtually anywhere - especially Earth - in the range of difficult to impossible."
"Unless they train regularly."
"Yeah... But with all the fun resorts on the moon, who'd want to leave?"
Heero noted the slight spark in Duo's eyes, and with slight hesitation, he opted to keep the dreams as close to reality as possible. "You'd tire of it if you lived there."
Duo shrugged. "Maybe. I still think I could get used to dreaming of a long vacation there, though."
"If we get- No, when we get through this war, we could go there. To the moon, I mean."
The infamous grin returned. "Really? Think you'd be able to stand me when I let go of all inhibitions?"
Accompanied by a smirk came the counter. "You don't have that many as it is, Duo."
Administering another gentle skull grind, though far from in anger, Duo decided to drop the subject. No point in continuing an argument he was likely to lose. Instead, a rather forward question that had been brooding in his mind for a day or two was let out. "Heero, can I ask you a personal question?"
After briefly considering what said question might be, Heero decided he had nothing he wanted to hide anymore, making avoidance pointless. "Sure."
"Have you ever made love?"
For a moment, memories of being strapped to a table, naked, exposed, along his side various objects; sharp, blunt, of all shapes, sizes and types; whips, knives, canes, prods... It was all part of what Doctor J had called torture resistance and resilience training, a test of how far Heero could be pushed physically before cracking mentally. Given a single sentence he was ordered not to repeat, the experiment had begun. For hours, he had been beaten, burned, scratched, cut, poked and prodded, until he had cracked and given up the sentence. After only slight time to recuperate, it repeated. As sadistic and evil it seemed, as much pain as he had endured, the experience had taught him to block out amounts of torture that would easily break a weaker-willed person. To some extent, it had already turned out to be useful, as he could numb the sensation of hurt after injuries, just as he did now. His body no longer bore any marks from the experience, courtesy of Doctor J's care, medical expertise and equipment. He was as skilled with dermal regenerators as he was with fine mechanics. Still, the pain was not what Heero remembered best from the training, nor the lessons he had learned. The strongest memory was that of J's incredibly sad and regretful expression during the whole procedure. Without eyes, it was hard to tell just how badly he felt, but Heero believed the man would have cried openly, had he still had tear canals. The incredibly rare tenderness shown in the aftermath only strengthened that belief. The memory had little to do with Duo's question, and yet, it was what his mind returned. Indeed, the answer seemed clear enough.
Thinking back to his own past, Duo seconded the statement. "Me neither."
Heero sensed the sadness in his voice, and would not have anything of it. Thinking of the question yet again, he wanted a second chance to answer. "Actually... I think we both have."
"Both have done what?"
"Heero, I obviously can't speak for you, but I know I haven't had sex."
"That wasn't what you asked."
"You asked if I'd ever made love. And I feel I have - with you." Sensing Duo was about to break his mild surprise with a protest, Heero continued. "No, we haven't had sex, or anything really close to it... yet..." Slight smirk. "But I do feel we have loved, and thus made love - And we still are."
Duo smiled widely, and for a moment gave up his service as a pillow, sitting upright, forcing Heero to do the same. Looking deep into the sincere blue pools, he leaned in, first but to brush his lips against Heero's, then for a light kiss ever growing in intensity, lasting long enough, but still far too short. Wrapping his arms around Heero, Duo hugged him gently, not wanting to put pressure on their many bruises.
"I don't know how many bumps to the head you've taken lately, but whatever rattled your brain to its current state, I like it."
"That would be you."
Duo hugged him just a bit tighter for that.
"And a well-placed snowball."
Laughter. "Gee, way to make me not feel bad about that, Heero," Duo said with a smile as he let the hug end. For a moment, they just sat there, lost in each other, Duo's grip still supporting Heero to prevent the exhausted pilot from falling over. Again struck with a spur-of-the-moment thought, Duo got up only to sit down again behind Heero, letting his arms snake across Heero's chest before pulling them both backwards to face the night sky again. A slight wince ensued as uncomfortable weight was applied to a few choice bruises. Heero didn't resist, but he couldn't help but ask.
"Duo, what are you doing?"
Not letting the prey get lose or weigh him down, Duo grinned, simply replying "You've been hugging my back way too much lately. I've got some catching up to do, if we're to be equals in everything."
Heero snickered, and knocked his head backwards to hit Duo's chest. "Idiot."
Again, the dark, sparkling sky caught their attention. Briefly thinking of home, another question arose in Duo's mind. "Heero?"
"How do you think the others will react when we tell them?"
"Tell them what?"
"That we love each other."
"Does it matter what they think?"
"Of course it matters! They're our friends. Don't get me wrong, Heero. I love you, always will - but I wouldn't like it if... Well, I wouldn't like it."
"If they can't deal with it, fine. Fuck them and their prejudice."
Duo grinned. "Yeah, I'm sure you'd love to do just that."
Not wanting Duo to get the last laugh, Heero decided to play along. "Well, they've all got nice rears. Why let good things go to waste?"
Snicker. "Whoa there, flyboy. Think we should sort out our own thing before mixing others in, don't you agree?"
With a smirk, Heero let one hand out of the thermoblanket cradling him to rub gentle circles in the thigh beneath him. "Probably. Don't think we need to worry about the others. They might be surprised, but they'll come around. Besides, I only want you. I think that's as much, if not more than I can reasonably handle."
Laughter. The arms wrapped around Heero's chest tightened their grip. "You better believe it, pal."
Another slight pause ensued, both looking up at Lady Luna, who shone down on them in all her reflected glory.
"Think Quatre and Trowa will be here soon, Duo?"
"They should. Hopefully, they got those carriers."
Heero could barely suppress a yawn. "I'm feeling sleepy."
Duo's grip on him tightened briefly. "You probably shouldn't fall asleep. You might have internal injuries, or-"
"I would have both felt and told you if I had, Duo. Doctor J put me through more odd training procedures than you can ever imagine, so believe me, I would know if something other than my heart was messed around with."
Suddenly slightly concerned, Duo asked "Your heart?"
"Yeah. Your handiwork. Think you left a few scratch marks at the hatch to get in there."
Laughter. "Guess I'll have to make amends for that later, then. Doubt you'd mind that..."
Smirk. "I probably wouldn't." Another yawn, this time unrestricted. "I think I might doze off soon. Sorry."
Letting one arm rub at Heero's chest, ruffling all the layers of clothes and blankets, Duo replied "Sssh. It's okay. I can stay awake until the others get here, and wake you up when they do. You've taken more of a beating than I have, so it's only fair you get a head start on recuperation. Besides, I want you to get well soon. We have unfinished business."
Snicker. "I might have to keep you waiting."
"I'll wait. It'd be worth it."
"If you say so," Heero whispered, before cradling his head into Duo's jacket, and closing his eyes. "Keep watching the skies for the signal, batboy."
Duo let his fingers tumble the brown bangs up a bit, before laying his head back to do as he was asked. The ensuing lack of words didn't bother him, for the crackling of the fires around them was more than offset by Heero's steady breathing.
And in the absence of wind, and in the presence of each other, neither ever felt cold.