by Uru-Chan

***If I walk down this hallway, tonight it's too quiet, so I pad through the dark, and call you on the phone... Push your old number, and let your house ring, 'till I wake your ghost***

6:15. Duo no baka, you're late again. Heero's fingers clattered angrily across the keyboard, striking with unnecessary force. Data flickered across the luminous screen, flickering pale green against his pupils. Shimatta; nothing. Scowling, he groped at a paper cup, his right thumb still hammering at the space-bar. The Wing pilot grimaced at the sour, recycled flavor, scrubbing his mouth against his wrist.

Come on, Quatre, he hissed, crumpling the little cup in his fist. I've got the goddamn part, you little sadist; how long are you gonna keep me waiting? This lull...standing idle, day after day-and this partner! K'so!

Heero launched himself from the tiny chair, wooden legs teetering in his wake. He trudged gradually across the worn carpet, cobalt eyes flickering pensively toward Duo's unmade bed. Yellow light seeped faintly through the tightly clenched blinds, casting a pale haze upon the mattress. Heero parted the plastic slats with two fingers, peering sullenly out at the L2 evening.

He isn't coming, the Japanese boy mused, sinking down into the rumpled bedclothes. Hn. Did you really think he would? The dark-haired boy caressed the span of wrinkled cotton, kneading Duo's blanket between his fingertips.

He'll come stumbling back at dawn, reeking of sweat and cheap beer. Maybe he'll pass out in the john, or maybe, if I'm lucky, his bed. Tomorrow he'll wake at noon, or maybe three, and vanish down the alley. Hn. Heero no baka. You think shouting at him's gonna change that? Iie, the Wing pilot muttered absently. I just want to know where the fuck he's going...and why. Heero shifted uneasily on the mattress, eyes narrowing as he recalled the previous night.

You were too drunk to find the keyhole; I could hear the key grating against the wood. I watched you half fall through the door, gasping a little, groping for anything to hang on to. You flipped the switch in the bathroom and the light stung my eyes, but I sat up a little so I could watch you.

I don't know what those pants were made of, or what was glittering in your hair and on your skin, or where it stopped to bleed into the sheen of your sweat. I couldn't stop staring at you, Duo; all those different kinds of wetness, glistening all over your body. I was hard and halfway across the bedroom when you passed out. You don't know how close you came to taking it up the ass you little bastard. Ah, god, Duo...

Heero reclined gradually on the bed, legs splayed, wriggling slightly with discomfort. I want to know if there's somebody else, he admitted sullenly, eyes scanning the narrow bedroom. The worn contour of a duffel bag protruded from beneath the blankets, glinting with tiny pins and badges.

His pack... Glancing furtively at the nearby door, his arm snaked out to grasp the strap. Might as well finish what you started, ne? Heero deposited the bag in front of him on the bed, hastily yanking at the zipper. He burrowed determinedly through Duo's clothing, withdrawing the bundled cluster of manga.

The rubber bands popped irritably as he tugged them free, storing them on his wrist for safe-keeping. The small, worn volume fell open in his hands, and the Japanese boy flushed crimson. Oh my god... They're--boys! Two beautiful boys...one with short hair, the other ridiculously long... just like his...

Heero's fingers trembled as he explored the bookmarked pages, corners smudged and dog-eared with use. The thought of Duo possessing such a thing...Duo, who mocked him for his recent penchant for long, frequent showers... Omae o korosu, he hissed angrily, bundling the manga together once more. No, he admitted wryly. You don't want to kill Duo. You just want to fuck him.

The Japanese boy thrust his arm into the corner of the pack, fingers closing on a plastic baggie. Gingerly he removed the braided boy's most precious artifacts. Heero withdrew a small, tattered photograph, cradling it in one palm. His own image scowled back at him, expression murderous, lips parted in a silent threat.

He vaguely recalled the incident, Duo buzzed and unbearably cheerful at one of Quatre's strongholds. The braided boy had cackled with glee, dashing off with his precious camera with Heero hot in pursuit. He'd secreted the film in his pocket apparently, recognizing Heero's murderous expression. The American survived the ordeal; sadly, Quatre's expensive camera did not.

Smirking slightly, his fingers worked to unfold a packet of newspaper clippings, meticulously folded in a tight square. "Maxwell Church Solicits Funds for Children's Wing," he murmured absently, continuing to smooth the article against his knee. A kindly man smiled benevolently at reporters, one hand clenching the shoulder of a pale and pretty woman.

Heero cautiously re-folded the image, withdrawing a second square of newsprint. "Local Authorities Crack Down on Street Crime." The Japanese boy's mouth twitched slightly as he examined the little photograph, Duo obvious even at seven, with an ear splitting, rakish grin. You always were Shinigami, ne Duo? Heero quipped almost affectionately. Hn. I wonder what happened to the other boy.

Cobalt eyes scanned the contours of the image, obviously torn from a book of sorts. Tiny characters decorated the edges, rough images of scythes, mecha, and cartoon lettering. The Japanese boy smirked, familiar with the American's doodling from his school notebooks. However, when glanced at the flip side, a soft sound of astonishment escaped his lips.

Perhaps, given time and education, Duo might have proved a talented artist. However, the image before him sprawled clumsily across the page, filling the entire space with black ink. A boy's face gazed lifelessly back at him, fine, dark hair spilling into his eyes. The mouth turned in a grin of sorts, rendered, like the eyes, with far more detail than the whole. It struck him that Duo seemed almost obsessed with those two aspects; a pair of penetrating eyes, and a brash, overconfident smile.

The boy in the alley! he exclaimed abruptly, recognizing the arrogant expression. Heero flipped the page about on a whim, comparing the young prisoner to the older, more developed features. Of course...An old friend from L2! The Japanese boy's eyes caught a faint scrawl of text at the base of the sketch. The title of the work, and the name of it's subject. "Solo."

More than a friend then, he hissed, trembling with repressed fury, clenching Shinigami's blanket in his fist. Is that what you're doing Duo? Taking what you can, letting him fuck you every chance you get?

Is he that good? Heero whispered faintly, blood thundering in his ears. So good he makes you hot enough to moan his name in your sleep, while I'm jerking off twenty fucking times a day?! God damn you Duo Maxwell! You started this, you bastard, and you're going to finish it! I'll give you till 8:00 to show, and then, like it or not, I'm coming for you.

On to part ten. Back to part eight.