Cherished
by Caroline

He moves inside me so slowly. I lay on my back, watching him watch me from above. His eyes catch mine as he moves again. I claw at his arms, trying, urging him to move faster. But he doesn't. He won't. Again he moves, slow and steady, stoking the fire but not building it. Not yet. My head falls back. I close my eyes. I groan, even whimper. I can do nothing but feel.

I don't like it like this. I really don't. I'm not used to it. Fast and rough, that's what I want. That's what I need. But no matter how hard I beg, no matter how hard I cry, scream, curse...he won't listen to me. He ignores my words, giving me a sad kind of smile, and moves even slower.

He changes his angle slightly, hitting that spot deep inside that makes me see stars. I scream, clenching around him. He won't do it again. Never twice in a row. Never at set intervals. He does it, I suspect, to keep me from falling asleep in the middle - not that I ever would. Or maybe he does it to remind me *he* is in control, he sets the pace. I have no say in the matter. I yell at him to go faster, harder. He kisses me instead.

It's frustrating, this feeling of helplessness. You'd think I'd be used to it now. He's been this way ever since I seduced him into my bed. Or perhaps he seduced me. I'm still not too clear on that. I wanted him from the moment I laid eyes on him. But he was always so cold and aloof. I figured I'd have to resort to dirty tricks to get him into bed. Turns out it only took one 'trick'.

He nuzzles my neck, still moving as steady as a piston. I let my mind wander. I have to. If I concentrate on this slow, pleasurable torture he is putting me through, I *will* go mad. I have to keep my mind off it, have to stay sane or risk losing myself in him. And he knows it.

God but he is a sadistic bastard.

He continues pumping, bringing lips and hands into play every so often to tease my ultra-sensitive skin. I moan - I can't help not to - and he loves it. My body starts to tremble. I must take my mind off the pleasure he's making me feel. It would be so easy to drown in it otherwise...

As with every other time he's been inside of me, my mind turns to the past. Sex has always been a part of my life. Growing up on the streets of L2, you either got used to it or you became a soulless, mindless victim.

I refuse to be a victim.

When I was young - younger than I am now - sex was taken from me by force. I could have wound up like so many street kids - abused, broken, helpless. But I didn't. I guess I was made of sterner stuff. Whatever it was, I survived. I adapted.

I learned to like it.

It was the only way to keep your mind intact. Learn to like it, become good at it...so good that they didn't have a chance to hurt you. Fast, hard, and rough - get it over with quickly and maybe you didn't have to think about what you were doing too much. Give them the best fuck of their lives and perhaps they would forget about smacking you around - or worse. There are far worse things that could be done to you than a little beating. But if you got them off fast enough, they usually didn't have the energy to try those things on *you*.

I learned that lesson early on. I also learned that if you didn't want to end up a victim, you'd better damn well learn to enjoy it. Because then...if you liked it...then it didn't hurt so much.

Aaaaa, fuck! He hits that spot again. The world turns white for a moment as a jolt of pure pleasure washes through me. The here and now comes into focus once more and I find him smirking down at me.

"I was losing you," he says softly, surging into my body again. I grit my teeth.

"Please," I beg, lifting a leg to rub the sole of my foot across the smooth, creamy flesh of his perfectly round ass. I'm bendy that way. "Goddammit, Heero! Harder! I need it harder!"

He shakes his head as I knew he would and continues to piston slowly in...and out...in...and out...in...and out...Fuck! One of these days he really will drive me mad.

He almost succeeded the first time.

We were at one of the many schools we've hidden at in our tenure as 'terrorists'. God, how I hated being in those schools. Sure, the classes were interesting enough, but afterwardsÖ it was just so *boring*. And you try being a horny teenager - excuse me, a *gay* horny teenager - stuck in a dorm room with one of the most magnificent specimens of the male species longer than a couple of hours and not go nuts. Anyone who could do that should be nominated for sainthood. And I am no saint. I had to get out, enjoy myself, *live* - if only for a little while.

Whenever I'm assigned to a new town for any length of time, I make it my priority to stake out my target, possible escape routes, and the local night life scene. And not always necessarily in that order. This time was no different. I got dressed up in the tightest, most revealing outfit I owned and still be legal to walk down the street. I waited until Heero was asleep, then snuck out the window.

I won't bore you with all the details of where I went or who I did. Suffice to say I wound up at one of those seedy clubs with an even seedier back room. I danced. I partied. I had too much to drink. You know how it is when you're young. I met some random guy on the dance floor and followed him into the back room. My body was aching from raw need at that point. I needed to feel. I needed someone - anyone - to fuck me. And I didn't care who.

He shoved me against the wall face first, fumbling with my pants, yanking them down to my knees. He unfastened his own jeans and popped his dick out. Bending me slightly, he rammed into my body without any preliminaries or preparation. It hurt.

It hurt so good.

He rode me hard and fast, bruising my hips as he clutched them, thrusting in and out so deeply I had to brace myself against the wall. He moved so fast I barely had time to feel him. My body was pressed against the cold wall. I could hear my own screams as he fucked me harder and faster and...

"Goddammit Heero, why can't you move faster?"

"No," he answers me softly. I hadn't been aware I'd said that out loud. "You need to learn."

Heero Yuy and his fucking lessons.

Heh. Fucking lessons. I made a funny.

Where was I? Oh yeah, at the - ah, God! - club. I really will kill Heero one of these days, I swear.

The guy came inside of me finally. I had already reached my own climax long before - quick and sweet remember? The guy pulled out and I pulled my clothes back into place, ready to go back out to the dance floor and find another 'partner'. But Mr. Nameless apparently had other ideas. I'd misread him, a dangerous thing in my profession. I had thought he was just another faceless fuck, but he seemed to think I belonged to him now.

I don't belong to anyone.

He tagged me all night, watching my every move. When I started to flirt with some other guy, he yanked me away and began dragging me to the door. I yelled at him. He hit me.

I don't like being hit. Especially on my face. Most especially by some drunk, angry bastard who smelled of cheap beer and cigarette smoke. I clobbered him, breaking his jaw with one punch, sending him flying unconscious to the floor. I left shortly thereafter, not wanting to stick around in case someone called the cops. Damnit. And the night was still young. But suddenly, I felt tired. Very tired and angry with myself. I knew what I was doing to myself, going to these clubs. I *knew* it but I didn't want to face it. I was slowly killing myself. But I couldn't stop...no matter how much I might have wanted to.

I walked back to the school with a bruised face and an overburdened soul. All I wanted to do was get back to my room, crawl between my sheets, and dream of never having been born. But fate denied me even that small request.

Heero was waiting for me.

He nearly startled me out of my skin. He turned on the light just as I was climbing back in the window. I was so surprised I tripped on the window sill and fell flat on my ass. As I rubbed my tender and probably bruised posterior, I sensed a figure standing above me. Looking up, I saw Heero staring down at me with an unreadable expression on his face. What a sight I must have made - sprawled on the floor, clothes askew and rumpled, hair disheveled, reeking of smoke and sex. There was no way I was going to get out of this one. I scowled at him, silently daring him to tell me off for sneaking out past curfew and possibly endangering the mission.

He didn't. Instead he knelt down in front of me and reached out a hand to cup my cheek, gently running the pad of his thumb over the bruise forming on my face. He looked at me with such sad eyes and said only one word.

"Why?"

"Because I was fucking bored, Yuy," I snapped. "And don't start with me about compromising the mission. I was careful. Real careful. I just wanted to have a little fun, okay?"

Boy, I can be hostile when I'm cranky.

I expected Heero to give me a lecture on blowing my cover. People think he never talks much. Man, is that ever a misconception. It's not that he doesn't talk much, it's just that he doesn't talk *often*. There's a big difference. When he does talk - let me tell you it can be pretty unpleasant. I've been subjected to several of his lectures about responsibility. It wasn't pretty. I was fully expecting another one.

I really should learn to expect the unexpected.

"Baka," he said almost tenderly. What? Heero tender? "I meant why do you let them use you like this?"

I blinked. I didn't know what to say. Someone call Rome. A miracle had just occurred. Ladies and gentlemen, Duo Maxwell had just been rendered speechless.

Shocking, I know.

I stared at him, gaping like a large-mouth bass. Of all the things he could have said, that was not what I would ever have imagined. He knew. He fucking knew what I did when I snuck out after lights out. Had he followed me or just deduced it from my behavior? Did it matter? He *knew*.

Sad eyes waited patiently for an answer. Sad eyes, but not pity eyes. I jerked my head away from his touch, not wanting to see him looking at me with those sad eyes.

"I-I don't think it is any of your business, Yuy," I stammered, trying to ignore his close proximity. Even when preparing to get reamed (and not in a good way), I was still aware of how very close he was. I caught whiff of his scent which sent my head reeling. I took in a deep breath and tried to ignore how very near to me he was. It was easier said than done. I'd been trying to get this close to Heero for a while, and now suddenly, here he was and it wasn't on my terms.

"Why do you let them use you then toss you away like that?" he asked again, moving even closer.

I stiffened, again not in the good way. "I don't see why you care," I spat.

His hand came up again and pulled my head around so I was forced to look at him.

"I care." His thumb brushed over my lips which parted at the unexpected move. His face moved closer. I trembled. "No one has ever taught you love have they?"

"Once," I whispered, so surprised by the question I answered without thinking. "Once, a long time ago. But I wasn't strong enough to hold onto them."

His eyes looked at me in understanding. Time seemed to stand still for a moment, a hundred years...I had no idea how long.

He kissed me then. The move startled me so much I stopped breathing. The kiss was anything but chaste, but it was so slow, so deliberate, so gentle that my head swam with the sensation of his lips on mine. I was sure I was dreaming. I had hit my head when I fell in the window and now I was dreaming. That's what it was. Nope, it couldn't be real. Heero couldn't be kissing me.

He drew away and I swear my soul cried out at the loss. He slipped his arms around my body, cradling me close. "I was once told to follow my emotions," he said. "For a while I tried to fight it. But I couldn't, not forever. Not after I'd met you."

"H-Heero?" I stuttered, my head still reeling from the taste of him, musky and sweet. "What...why...what are you saying?"

"I want to help you follow your emotions, Duo."

I snorted at that. "I have *no* problem following my emotions in case you've forgotten," I said, gesturing at the window I'd just climbed into.

Heero shook his head. "No. You are hiding from them, as did I. You just wear a different mask than I do to hide them." He buried his fingers into my hair which was coming loose from its braid. "I want to show you how it's supposed to be, Duo. I want to show you love."

"L-love?" I choked.

"I've been watching you. It's the one thing you need most of all." He kissed me again. I felt dizzy as all the blood in my body rushed elsewhere. He drew back to look into my eyes. "Will you let me show you?"

I hesitated. Can you believe that? Me - poster child for gratuitous, anonymous sex actually hesitated. I had been trying to get Heero into my bed for months, and now he was asking me into his and I fucking *hesitated*.

I was scared.

Scared - scared of what he wanted, scared of what I might become if I let him. But his eyes, his brilliant cobalt eyes told me not to be afraid, to trust him. I swallowed once and nodded.

"Yes."

Most of that evening is still a hazy blur. I think all the raw emotion I experienced that night fried a few of my brain cells. I remember Heero helping me stand and moving me over near the bed. Still standing, he slowly undressed me, taking time to caress and kiss every inch of skin as it was bared. I had no idea how long he took just to get my clothes off. By the time the last piece had been removed I was already dizzy with pleasure. I do know that by the time he finished undressing me, if it'd been anyone else, I'd have already been fucked and would have had my clothes back on - if I'd even taken the time to remove them in the first place. I usually don't get fully naked with a guy if I don't have to. I usually don't do a lot of things with a guy if I didn't have to. Heero made me forget all my "usually"s.

My head spinning with desire, I found myself lying on my back on one of the beds - I forget whose - staring up at Heero. Somewhere along the line his clothes had magically vanished. Through hazy eyes I looked at his body and gaped. I remember how I'd wondered for a moment if the theory of spandex space was actually true. There was no way he'd managed to hide something *that* size in that skin tight material he always wore. But there it was - and it was glorious. I could actually feel my whole body salivating. Heero was big - not freakishly so...I had seen a few of those in my time - but he was pleasantly better than average. My body had tightened immediately, wanting nothing more than for him to drive that big piece of meat into my body and...

Nnnnngh! Shit shit shit! My memories fade as my body rocks with a pure white jolt of pleasure. The present crashes over me as Heero hits my prostate three times in succession, something he's never done before. Sadistic bastard! I'm panting, I know I am. I can hear myself.

Heero isn't even breathing hard. I know he's exerting himself, both our bodies are covered in a fine sheen of sweat. He's smirking down at me, hips rocking against mine in his endless, steady rhythm. I swear to God he finds joy in tormenting me.

"You were drifting again," he says before taking one of my nipples into his mouth.

The sensation goes straight to my groin, one place in which I *don't* need any more stimulation. It's not enough to make me cum but it's enough to drive me just a little more insane. Heero knows how to play my body well. He's always known. Damn him.

I bury my fingers in his hair, one of the few things he allows me to do with my hands. As long as I don't try to touch myself or try to make him move faster, I can do whatever I want with my hands. I wish that he would just give up his superhuman control for just one goddamn minute and pound me into the mattress like I want him too. But no. He won't. He didn't give in the first time, or the time after that or the time after that...and I have no reason to believe he'd do it now.

With Heero's mouth occupied, playing my body like a finely tuned violin - Jesus, I've been hanging around Quatre too much - I allow myself to sink back into my memories, knowing that we still have a long time until he'll finally let us cum.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, pretty much the same position I'm in now. After gaping at Heero's ruggedly beautiful body, he moved to lay on top of me. I eagerly made room for him between my legs, anxious to feel his weight pressed down on top of me, skin sliding against skin. He held himself above me, not touching, simply looking. I squirmed under his gaze, yearning to touch him, for him to touch me. But he didn't.

"Heero," I whined, reaching out to him. He grabbed my hands and pulled us both up into a sitting position, him on his knees between my legs. He reached behind me and grabbed my braid, bringing it to the front. He moved to take off the band that held my braid together but I grabbed his hand, stopping him.

He looked back up at me. "Please."

I held Heero's hand still on my braid, suddenly afraid. I'd never let my hair down in front of anyone. I didn't even like people touching it. I once snapped a guy's wrist for grabbing it. But Heero's expression was so...soft, so caring. I'd have moved heaven and earth for him at that moment. Letting him unbraid my hair seemed like a trivial thing. I removed my hand. He slipped the elastic band off and shook my hair out until it cascaded over my shoulders in silky waves...

What? So I take great pride in my hair. So sue me.

He laid me back down and stretched out over me. That first touch of skin against skin was nothing short of electrifying. I could feel his cock pulsing next to my own erection. I bucked my hips, moaning his name in an effort to get him inside me. I was burning from the inside out. I felt empty. I needed him to fill me up, make me...whole.

But he didn't move. Not at first anyway. He held my hips down with his own and trapped my hands above my head. I struggled. I didn't like being trapped.

"No, Duo," he said in that low, soft bedroom voice I'd eventually get to know really well. "No one's ever taken the time to love you. You've never let them. I'm going to show you."

"Why?" I asked, trembling as though afraid of the answer.

"You're in danger of losing yourself behind the mask you wear," he explained. "You hide behind your words and your self-destructive actions."

"Hey, I'm not the one with the predisposition for self-destructing," I said, annoyed that we were actually having a conversation while he was lying naked on top of me. I tried to thrust against him but he was stronger than me.

"Listen to me, Duo. I've been watching you. You keep your emotions - your true emotions - bottled up inside of you. Pretty soon the pressure will become so great that it will destroy you. I don't want to see that happen."

"What's it to you?" I snapped, turning my head. "We're soldiers. We're expendable. So what if I destroy myself? No one would miss me. I'm just a street kid from L2. I'm worthless--"

He silenced me with a kiss. "Not you. Never you," he said after he drew back. He kissed my neck, the hollow of my throat. "I'm going to show you that you aren't worthless, that you can be loved, that it's okay to let go of your mask."

I was confused. "You mean you aren't going to fuck me?"

"No." He moved his hips at last, causing me to gasp. "I'm going to make love to you."

"What's the difference?"

"I'll show you."

And he did. He explored my body with hands and mouth, leaving no nook or cranny untouched or untasted. For a long, very long time he simply touched me, learning my body's responses. I writhed beneath him, trying to urge him on, to go faster, to fuck me already. But he wouldn't. He wouldn't let me touch myself either. He threatened to tie my hands to the headboard if I did. And since I don't do the bondage thing, I bit my lip and obeyed.

I thought I would finally be allowed release when he took me into his mouth, but no. He knew all the tricks to keep me hovering just on the edge of release without pushing me over. I've often wondered where he learned those tricks. Surely it couldn't have been part of his training? He's never told me. Then again, I've never asked. Contrary to popular belief, I don't pry into people's personal lives. I'll take whatever they want to tell me, but I don't ask questions.

By the time he lifted my legs over his shoulders, I was almost delirious with need. The world had condensed to just the two of us. Had he been an OZ official, I would have spilled all my secrets just to get him to go ahead and fuck me. I couldn't put together a cohesive sentence. All I could manage were monosyllabic words and Heero's name. I had the vague impression of Heero smearing something cool and slippery over my entrance, though where he got the lube I still don't know. I didn't have any. I rarely used it. I liked it rough.

But with Heero it was pure gentleness. The boy had killed hundreds of people, some with his bare hands, but he touched me as though I was made of glass. I could feel the tip of his cock at my entrance. I tried to thrust down onto him, but he drew back. He had his fingers buried in my hair and his mouth was plundering my own, our tongues moving in a lazy dance.

I wanted him inside me, needed him to fill me, split me in two. I cursed, I whimpered, I called him names, I even begged. But he held himself just out of my reach. I could feel tears forming in my eyes. I *don't* cry, but that's how frustrated I was.

"Please," I pleaded one more time, eyes begging for him to complete our union.

"Please what?" he asked, nudging my entrance again.

"Aaahh...just ram your dick inside of me and fuck me!" I half-screamed, crazy with desire.

"No, Duo. I will not fuck you."

"But..." I began, suddenly fearful he would end it.

"I won't fuck you. I *will* make love to you - if you ask."

I choked down a sob. I wasn't sure I could do it. "Please. Please m-m-make l-l-" I swallowed and tried again. "Please, Heero. Make l-" Tears began creeping out of my eyes. I couldn't say it.

Heero brushed aside a tear with his thumb, and looked down at me for a long moment. "Forgive me," he said at last, just when I thought he was going to pull away. "Perhaps I expected too much from you this first time. It is enough for now that you allow me to show you."

He pushed inside of me with one slow, steady motion. I threw my head back. I think I closed my eyes. I know I screamed. Even though I had already been fucked once that night, I was still tight. It felt as though Heero was tearing me in two, yet there was no pain, only pure sensation. He pressed on and on until at last he was fully sheathed inside of me.

And then he stopped.

I cried out in frustration. Heero was inside of me, filling me. I felt complete, whole, and I didn't want to feel that way. I wanted Heero to move, wanted him to fuck me over and over, to use me like everyone else in my life had. I couldn't stand this feeling gnawing at my heart. Why was he doing this? Why was he making me feel so loved, so...cherished? I didn't want to be loved, didn't deserve to be cherished. I was nothing, a nobody from L2. And Heero was...

Heero was everything.

Suddenly I was angry. He had no right making me feel that way. Was he toying with me? Fucking with me? I may let people fuck me, but no one fucks *with* me. I went a little crazy then, struggling beneath him. I pushed at his shoulders to try and get him off me. I screamed at him, called him some more names. I raked my fingernails across his back. I think I drew blood. I insulted his manhood and his parentage. I kicked at him, hit him. But none of that even phased him. He remained the stoic Perfect fucking Soldier through it all, still buried deep inside of me.

He held himself still while I raged, holding my body down with his own. He didn't even blink when I hit him in the face. I find that ironic now, that the next morning we both sported matching bruises. He let me rant and rave below him, not saying a word, until I collapsed against the mattress in exhaustion, tears finally streaming down my face. He bent his head to kiss away the tears before claiming my mouth.

And then...he moved.

With that first thrust, I knew I was in trouble. The stroke was slow and deliberate. I could feel every inch of him as he withdrew, then plunged back inside. My body responded on instinct. My back arched; I cried out. He moved in long, even strokes, so careful not to hurt me.

I'd never been taken like that. Not once in my pathetic fifteen years had anyone moved that slowly inside of me. My mind couldn't handle it. It all but shut down, too overwhelmed by what Heero was doing to me.

I let him do what he wanted with me. I didn't have the will to fight him anymore. I was dimly aware of begging, at least until my brain couldn't form words anymore. I pleaded with him to go faster, harder, to end it. But he wouldn't. Again and again he filled me, hitting my sweet spot every once and a while to keep me close, to make me scream. And scream I did, long and loud as he worked me. I'm surprised we didn't wake any of our neighbors.

Hours passed, or at least it seemed like they did though I have no conscious memory of ever looking at a clock. The first rays of dawn were peeking in through the blinds towards the end. I'm amazed I even remember that much, my mind and body reduced to a quivering mass of jello at that point. I think I was crying again. I could hear myself sobbing. By then I had lost my sight - the world had devolved. There was no form or substance. Only colors and light and the feel of Heero moving inside me. Heero whispered into my ear, though I couldn't make out what he was saying. I was lost, yet in his arms I was found at the same time.

He thrust into me again. I whimpered. I felt his hand move between our bodies, felt him wrap his fingers around my dickÖ and that was it. The feel of his hand around me was the breaking point. I opened my mouth but no sound came out. My eyes were open wide, yet I could see nothing. I came harder and longer than I ever had before. Wave upon wave of pure electrical pleasure crashed over me, threatening to drag me down. I squeezed Heero from within as I came, my muscles spasming with the intensity of my climax. I heard him cry my name as I felt his release. Feeling him fill me with his burning hot seed caused me to climax again. I came twice within seconds of each other! That had never happened to me before - and it has never happened since, something to which I am really grateful. The force of my second climax was too powerful. As Heero collapsed on top of me, I promptly passed out.

A voice is calling to me from a distance. "Duo? Duo?"

I open my eyes slowly. It's getting hard to see. Hell, it's getting hard to think. I open my eyes all the way to see Heero gazing down at me.

"Are you with me, Duo?" he asks, still thrusting steadily.

"Uh-huh," I mumble, barely hearing him. I turn my head to the side, too numb to do much else. He bends down to bite gently at my throat. I like it when he marks me, but he does it so softly that it always fades within a day.

Lazily I move my eyes to the clock. Fuck. We've been at this for four hours now. He's been inside of me for more than an hour I think. I'm not sure. Thinking isn't high on my list of priorities at the moment. My last thought before I lose my grip on reality again is that I'm glad we don't have class tomorrow. It'll be dawn again before he's done.

The pink and gold rays of dawn streaming through the cracks in the blinds was the first thing I saw when I woke up after that first night together. I blinked, a little confused as to where I was and what had happened. Then I felt an arm around my waist. Heero was spooned up behind me, holding me close. I went absolutely still. I had never woken up next to anyone before. Whenever I had been with someone in the past, one of us had always left immediately after we were through.

Heero had stayed.

He must have sensed I was conscious again. He squeezed me and kissed the back of my neck. "Awake now, koi?"

Koi. Love. I burst into tears, silently damning him for making me this way. He rolled me onto my back and raised on up one elbow to look down at me.

"What's wrong, Duo?"

"Why?" I sobbed, not understanding at all what he was doing to me.

"Because I love you."

His answer was so immediate, so final, I could only gape at him. My eyes were open so wide I'm sure I looked ridiculous. "Wh-what? Why?"

"How could I not?" For the first time, he looked uncomfortable. "I know you think I have all the answers, but for once, I don't. I can't explain it. All I know is I love you. I have for a while, and nothing you do can make me stop."

I choked back a sob, then moved, trying to get out of the bed. He grabbed me around my waist and pulled me back down against him.

"Shh, Duo. I didn't mean to upset you."

"Well you did, you bastard," I cried, still trying to get away. "You have no right to love me!"

"Why not?"

I collapsed against him, crying. Fucking shit. I hadn't cried since the church... Now Heero had me sobbing like a little girl with three little words.

"You can't love me," I sobbed. "I can't let you."

"Why?" Damn, but he was always a persistent son of a bitch.

"You just fucking can't! You're better off without me. Please, please don't love me."

"Tell me why."

"Because," I hiccuped, "because you'll die too."

I sucked in my breath. I couldn't *believe* I had just said that. I'd never admitted it to myself, yet I knew it was true. I was Shinigami. Anyone who loved me died. I couldn't let Heero love me. He'd die too. And I...and I...I swallowed. I couldn't even think it. I wasn't ready to face it.

He tightened his arms around me. "I can't promise you I won't die," he said. I made a little sound of protest, but he placed a finger over my mouth to silence me. "We're soldiers fighting a war. Death is always a possibility. But even if I do get killed in battle, it won't be because I love you. It will be because I screwed up or someone got lucky. I'll go to my death happy with the knowledge I found someone to love in this hell of a life."

"Heero..."

"I love you, Duo Maxwell. I should have said it sooner, but I was afraid." I stared at him. Heero? Afraid? "But then I saw what you were doing to yourself and decided to confront my fears. I had to let you know how I felt before you destroyed yourself. I had to save you. I love you."

I let him hold me, stroke my hair. I lay in his arms, too scared to say anything. I think he knew I couldn't answer him. And he seemed content to just be there with me. My mind was racing, but somehow, being held by Heero, even with all he had just said to me, I managed to fall asleep.

And for once, I didn't have nightmares.

The next day he didn't say anything about his admission or about sleeping with me. We went about our daily routine, made plans on how to tackle our current mission, the usual. The silence was killing me. But at the same time I was glad we weren't talking about it. I didn't think I could, not yet. But he could have at least said something.

He could have at least kissed me good morning.

As the day wore on, I grew increasingly angry. He was deliberately ignoring me. Had he said all those pretty words just to get into my pants? He needn't have bothered. I would have let him fuck me. His nonchalant attitude hurt.

By the time night fell again, he hadn't said more than a handful of words to me. I got dressed up and went out again, this time making sure Heero saw me leave. He had hurt me, and I wanted to do the same to him.

I went back to the nightclub I had visited the night before. But as soon as I walked in, I knew it wasn't the same. The music didn't excite me, the drinks did nothing but make me more depressed. Several really gorgeous men hit on me, but for some strange reason I turned them all down. I was pissed. Heero had ruined it for me.

I stormed back to the dorms, ready to give my partner hell for what I felt was destroying my life. I couldn't think straight anymore. I couldn't get Heero out of my mind. I'd always been able to hide from my past. But I found I couldn't run from the memories of the previous night, couldn't hide from what Heero was doing to me.

He was waiting for me again. I expected him to be angry, but he was quietly sitting on his bed waiting for me to return. I stormed into the room and stood in front of him, looking down at him angrily.

"Welcome home," he said simply, standing up to face me.

I moved forward and pounded on his shoulders with my fists. "You bastard!" I cried. I could feel tears forming in my eyes again. "What have you done to me?"

"I've done nothing but love you," he replied, grabbing my wrists to draw me closer.

I made a strangled sound in the back of my throat. "No! You're messing with my head. I can't think. God, you're making me crazy!" I sobbed and half-collapsed against him, resting my forehead on Heero's shoulder. "You can't do this," I continued weakly. "You can't just make me feel something I don't want to feel. You can't love me. Please don't love me."

He reached up and tilted my head backwards. "You ask the one thing I cannot do." He bent his head and kissed me, swallowing the low cry of denial I let out as I realized my words were futile. He pulled back and wiped away my tears with one hand as he pulled me to his bed with the other. "I love you, Duo. And I'm going to keep showing you how to love back until you understand that I am sincere and that nothing you do will ever make me stop loving you."

He toppled me onto the bed then and began a repeat of the previous night's performance. Again I fought with him the whole night as if trying to goad him into acting like all the other faceless men I'd had in my life. If he did, then I would know he was lying and that he really didn't love me.

And if he didn't love me...maybe then he would be safe.

But as you can imagine, he didn't. He made loÖ damn, I still can't say it. He moved over me all night long, bringing me to the same glorious heights as the night before. When it was at last finally over, he wrapped me in his arms and drew up the covers. He whispered into my ear that he loved me, then tucked my head under his chin and closed his eyes.

I lay awake for a long time after, troubled that I felt so safe in his arms. And I knew in that moment my life had been changed forever.

We were at that school for another month. During that time I tested him in every way possible, pushed him past breaking points that any other normal man would have long since crumbled at. I was rude to him, I hit him...I even cheated on him. Only once - that little plan backfired on me. I spent the day afterwards throwing up and begging for Heero to forgive me. I'd only wanted to hurt him, to see if he could be driven away. But he was right. Nothing I could do would make him angry at me. All he did was get this sad look on his face and open his arms to me.

We didn't have sex every night. Jesus, we'd have been zombies every morning if we had. He only had sex with me when I'd had a particularly nasty day towards him, as if he was trying to reinforce his love to me.

Gradually I stopped a lot of my erratic and destructive behavior. Not all of it of course. I'm still too unsure about Heero to get rid of all my bad habits. I still push him, but not nearly as badly as before. He's so unbelievably patient with me. I'm still coming to terms with all these new feelings I have. I don't like them, but Heero is there every step of the way to help me understand them. Others see him as cold and distant, but Heero is the most emotional person I know...

"Koi," he whispers into my ear. "Come back to me, koi."

"Heero," I murmur, licking my suddenly dry lips. He places his mouth on mine and - oh God! I gasp as he adjusts his thrusting again, allowing him access to my mouth. He slips his tongue inside, moistening my lips for me. He drinks of me long and deep before moving downward. He takes a little time to play his tongue around my nipples before moving lower. I clench the bed sheets in my hands as I arch my body into his touch. I know what's coming next. My body tenses in anticipation. My torment is about to end.

He shifts our bodies so that he is now kneeling on the bed, my lower body resting on his knees. He still moves with an inexorable slowness inside me as he bends his body almost in half to take the tip of my cock into his mouth.

Heero's very bendy that way too.

I let out a low, keening wail as he suckles me. He hits my sweet spot at the same moment. My body shakes. The white hot coiling sensation that had been steadily building in my lower body for hours is suddenly released as I spend myself into Heero's waiting mouth. Thousands of colored lights dance before my eyes, but through it all I can see Heero's eyes staring down at me with such tenderness and love. I clench around him, determined to make him soar with me.

He throws his head back, eyes squeezed tightly shut as he screams my name. I feel him release his seed inside of me. I squeeze him again from within as I shudder from the force of his orgasm. Over and over he floods me until at last he drops like a stone on top of me, completely spent.

We lay there for I don't know how long until he gathers enough energy to move to the side, pulling out of me carefully. He's always so careful not to hurt me. He wraps me in his long arms, pulling me close. I tremble. I know what he's going to say.

"I love you, Duo."

"I-I know," I reply, trying again to keep the tears at bay. He kisses my forehead and settles back, knowing better than to expect any other reply. Damnit, why does he do that? Why doesn't he demand a reply from me? Why is he so accepting of the fact that I cannot say I love him back? It's enough to make me cry. It's enough to make me love him as well.

I snuggle up next to him. I can't say it yet. I still have a lot of shit to work through. But he has vowed to be there with me every step of the way. Someday...someday maybe I'll be able to love him back. And I think he knows this. That's why he's content to simply be able to love me now and hold me in his arms at night. And I'll let him. He's changing me, little by little. And I've decided that's not a bad thing, even if I am still terrified of him dying on me.

He's so warm. I can hear his heart beating underneath my ear. I feel safer in his arms than I ever have before. I know I'll fall asleep soon. And I know that the nightmares will stay away. I'm scared, but in his arms, nothing can touch me. I'm safe. I'm loved. I'm cherished.

The End