Playing With Fire
by Razorqueen

Sleet rattled against cracked windows, cold wind creeping through rattletrap wooden frames. Duo shivered.

"Man, Quatre, this place isn't up to your usual standards." He frowned at the small puffs of white that accompanied his words. Christ, he hated being cold.

A single emergency lantern burned near the fireplace, where Quatre and Trowa attempted to light a fire. Heero had insisted the lantern be kept on the minimum setting. The feeble light caused the four pilots to cast huge, looming shadows that flew like specters at every movement. The room held no usable furniture, although Trowa had thought the broken pieces they'd found might serve as firewood.

"Sorry, Duo." Quatre looked up. "I was kind of rushed to find us a safe place. But don't worry. We'll have it warmer in a minute."

Duo looked around the "safehouse," a word that he thought was overly generous. The place had looked uninviting from the outside, and inside was even worse than he'd imagined. Animals had apparently nested here, judging by their spoor. The ceiling sagged from water damage. The ancient paper on the walls hung in loose strips, peeling from the damp. And dirty...Duo hadn't stayed in a place this filthy since...well, in a long time.

Trowa scraped wet ashes from the gaping black mouth of the fireplace. The dank odor made Duo want to vomit. Or cry. Or both. But he was the joker of the group, he reminded himself. And jokers didn't go to pieces just because they're cold and hungry, hiding from soldiers in a house that smelled like death.

Duo pasted on a grin and tossed back his braided hair. He sauntered to Heero, who stood at the rickety window, watching the darkness. "C'mon, you could warm me up if you tried." He tried to nip at the somber pilot's neck, but Heero shoved him back.

"Duo." Heero snapped his name like an order.

"Yeah?" With half-closed his eyes, Duo tilted his head, a little smile quirking his lips. His hands rested on his slender hips. That pose worked without fail on any other human, male or female.

On Heero, it was wasted. The Japanese pilot continued to stare into the winter storm.

"Shut up."

Duo let the little smile morph into a pout, hunkering conspicuously on the bare wooden steps that led upstairs. Theatrically, he heaved a sigh and planted his elbows on his knees, chin on the heels of his palms. No one noticed. Heero still gazed into the darkness, watching for any sign that they'd been tracked by OZ soldiers. Quatre and Trowa nursed the tiny flames they'd finally started, Quatre's silver-blond head resting against his lover's shoulder. Duo's pretty pout slipped slightly as he rubbed his burning eyes. He felt something twist inside him, like a spring winding. If he had to sit still any longer, he thought he'd go crazy.

Bounding off the stairs, he lost his balance. Grasping for the wooden stair rail, he tried to catch himself, but the rotting wood gave way, and he crashed to the floor.

Trowa started at the noise, his hand twitching toward his gun. Quatre jumped up and rushed to help Duo, who sprawled gracelessly on the dusty floor.

"You OK?" Quatre asked as he hauled Duo to his feet, brushing off his friend's clothes. "Be careful. This place has been abandoned for years. No telling what kind of shape it's in."

"Yeah, nothing hurt but my dignity." Duo noticed he'd finally gotten Heero to look at him. He rubbed the curve of his backside seductively. "And my ass."

Heero's eyes narrowed. Duo felt a chill run through him, as if the door had suddenly blown open and let in the icy wind.

"Goddamn it, Maxwell, do you always have to be the center of attention?"

"Hey, it's not like I fell on purpose!"

"Whatever." Heero turned away.

Duo felt the eyes of the other two pilots and he struggled to regain his careless mask. "What's his problem?"

Heero pivoted slowly. His eyes glittered in the half-light, and Duo thought crazily that must be the look Heero's victims saw before he cut them down. "There's only one problem here."

"W-what do you mean?" Duo asked, shaken.

"You. You're the problem."

Trowa stood, poised as if he were ready to leap between the two pilots, his gaze flicking from one to the other. "Heero..."

"His carelessness ruined this mission. We're lucky we got away in time, but we barely made it. And it's his fault. If he'd think with his head instead of his dick, we'd all be better off."

Duo cringed at the disgust in Heero's voice. But he didn't defend himself. He couldn't. Heero was right.

Trowa and Quatre exchanged the briefest of glances. In response to some unspoken agreement, Quatre stepped forward. "Look, it's been a tough day. We're all on edge. Let's get some sleep. This storm will keep any OZ troops from following us, at least for tonight."

Heero made a noise that might have meant acquiescence and began spreading a blanket on the floor of the empty room. He didn't speak to Duo again, didn't look at him. It was as though his partner had ceased to exist.

Duo began to tremble. Quatre, who still stood next to him, noticed and put his hand on the shivering boy's arm.

"C'mon, get your blanket. It's warmer near the fire." Quatre lowered his voice. "Don't listen to him. You know what he's like when a mission doesn't go exactly the way he planned. It wasn't your fault. It could have happened to any of us."

Duo nodded, too miserable to speak. Quatre, the peacemaker, the fixer. Always trying to make everything right. But he couldn't fix this. He couldn't change the truth.

Duo huddled under his blanket in the meager warmth of the fire. He tried to convince himself that the tightness in his belly was because of the cold and because he hadn't eaten in almost a day.

Trowa and Quatre slept, their bodies spooned against each other. That hurt, the closeness of his two friends. He didn't begrudge them their bond, but Christ, he wanted that for himself. He wanted it so badly he'd thrown himself at Heero for weeks. He'd tried everything, every trick he'd ever learned, every look, every pose. But nothing melted the Perfect Soldier's ice.

Trowa mumbled in his sleep, and Quatre snuggled closer to him. The dark-haired pilot nuzzled against the platinum head cradled in his arms. Duo watched them, aching for the feel of someone's lips against his hair like that.

He squeezed his eyes shut, but the tears came anyway. Boys don't cry, he told himself angrily. It was just this place getting to him, the cold and the smell of ashes. He couldn't stand that smell. It was Heero being mad at him, and Trowa and Quatre cuddling, and OZ chasing them. A small, hicoughing sob escaped him. Flopping onto his belly, he jammed his fist against his mouth. Damn it all, had he even forgotten how to cry without making noise?

"Maxwell," a voice rumbled from across the room. "Don't you ever shut up?"

"H-Heero?" Duo swallowed, praying the other pilot didn't understand the catch in his voice. "I didn't say anything."

"No? I could've sworn...but maybe not." Duo heard Heero roll over, turning his back again. Clearly annoyed, he growled, "Go to sleep, baka."

Duo hunched his shoulders farther under the blanket, wondering why the room felt colder.

"Two days. Where the hell is Wufei?" Heero prowled the bare rooms of the ancient farmhouse like a caged wildcat. During the first night, the sleet had changed to heavy snow, piling into endless white drifts that held them prisoner. Duo thought that at least they could have some fun with the snow, but Heero vetoed the idea. Any tracks, he said, might show from the air, not to mention that outside, they'd be plain targets for any infra-red scopes.

"The snow has probably slowed him down," Quatre said. "He'll be here. Has he ever failed to come through for us?"

"No." Heero flicked the barest of glances at Duo, who sat cross-legged in front of the fire playing tic-tac-toe in the dust with Trowa. "He knows where his duty is."

Duo stiffened at the slight emphasis in Heero's voice and the unspoken comparison. After his suggestion that they have a snowball fight got him a harsh lecture, Duo had tried to stay away from the Japanese boy entirely, a nearly impossible task in the confined space. But he couldn't take it any more. Shaking off Trowa's restraining hand, he stood up and faced the dark-haired pilot.

"Look, I'm a fuck-up. You're right. I screwed the pooch. It's my fault we're stuck here in this shit-hole in a blizzard. But I'm fucking tired of your attitude. You wanna hit me, come on! Here I am, Mr. Perfect Soldier. Take your best shot." Duo clenched his fists, determined not to take the first swing, but equally determined that one shot at him would be all Heero got.

"Guys! This isn't going to get us anywhere!" Quatre scrambled up off the floor. "If we start fighting each other...."

"Shut up, Quatre," Heero snarled. "This isn't about you. It's about me and this baka. Now back off."

Out of the corner of his eye, Duo saw Trowa haul the smaller boy into the other room. Good man, Trowa. He knew the score. Duo shifted his total attention back to Heero-just in time to catch the full force of a fist slamming into his jaw. Pain exploded his vision. He tasted the tang of his own blood. Shit, Duo thought, he really is pissed.

Duo swung, aiming low for Heero's stomach, but his punch never connected. Heero blocked the swing, then launched himself at the other boy. The tackle landed them both on the floor. Duo gasped, the wind knocked out of him by the fall and by Heero's wiry body toppling onto him. He pushed himself away, trying to get enough room to take another swing. But Heero seemed to be always a fraction ahead of his every move. Before Duo realized it, Heero had pinned him, his body flattened against the floor, his arms held over his head. He hadn't known just how strong Heero really was.

Finally able to expend some of his own incessant energy, Duo's rage evaporated. "OK, H - man, you win. You got me. Now how about letting me up?" He looked up at Heero and grinned-until he saw the other pilot's eyes.

Heero had never favored him with a look warmer than ice. But now the dark eyes burned with a flame Duo didn't understand. Uneasy, he squirmed, trying to escape, but the other boy merely tightened his grip.

"Heero? Buddy, you won. Uncle, OK? You can let go now." He waited for sanity to come back to the gaze that bore into his own. But the flame only burned hotter.

"Thought this was what you wanted." Heero smiled, a tight, cruel sneer that seemed to belong on someone else's face. This wasn't the Heero he knew-was it?

Heero's face was so close to his. He felt the other's breath against his cheek. His wrists hurt from the iron fingers digging into them. Duo felt the stirrings of a long-buried fear. "Heero, please let me..." Before he finished his plea, a hard mouth fastened on his, a ravening kiss that weakened him with its assault.

Stupefied by the kiss, Duo missed his opportunity to free his arms as Heero transferred his grip, grasping both wrists with one hand. Heero's other hand tugged at his priest-like collar, pulling it open. He jerked at Duo's white shirt, ripping it aside. Duo heard buttons skitter across the floor. His heart pounded. What the hell was Heero doing? Then he felt fingers brushing across the ridge of his collarbone, down his chest, to the small, hard nub of his nipple. Duo groaned in pleasure and pain as the fingers squeezed roughly.

Heero transferred his mouth from Duo's lips to his neck, following the same path his hand had taken moments ago. When his mouth located the target, teeth nipping sharply, his hand scouted ahead, pushing aside the defenses of Duo's clothing. Ragged nails scraped Duo's skin maddeningly as fingers pressed into his belly with bruising strength.

Duo writhed under that hand, though there was nothing gentle in its touch. He wanted it, he wanted it...but somewhere in the depths of his mind, a small, frightened voice began to keen.

Heero tugged at the zipper of Duo's pants, jerked them down over his slim hips. Duo moaned as that rough hand stroked him to hardness. "Oh God, Heero..."

Heero's callused hand moved faster, every stroke excruciating ecstasy. "Yeah, I knew this was what you wanted. Wanted it so bad you went looking for it on the street. Led OZ right to our door." He slid his hand roughly between Duo's legs, forcing his fingers between the tight, muscled mounds of his buttocks, searching mercilessly for the opening there.

Heero's words penetrated the haze that had dulled Duo's mind. The fingers pushing at his entrance dispelled the comfortable fog entirely. "No," he moaned, "it wasn't like that..."

The voice in his mind began to whimper. He didn't want this, this was ugly, dirty, this hurt, he didn't want this, not ever again...

Duo erupted into a frenzied struggle. He twisted his arms, but Heero's grip was impossibly strong. "Heero, stop it! Let me go, goddamn it!" His straining only seemed to inflame the other pilot. Brutal fingers thrust inside him, stretching him without giving him a chance to be ready. Duo cried out, a sharp childish sound that he heard as if from a distance. He couldn't speak anymore, couldn't fight. The terrified boy he thought he'd banished had possession now. He could do nothing but lie helpless, silently sobbing.

"Yuy, get off him or I'll kill you."

Duo opened his eyes, looked through strands of hair damp with sweat and tears to see Trowa, a gun pointed squarely at Heero's back.

Heero looked over his shoulder and laughed. "You wouldn't."

"Try me."

Something in Trowa's voice must have warned the Japanese pilot. Duo felt him pull away. Not brave enough to face the contempt he knew would be in Heero's face, he curled up on his side, eyes closed. A hand gently brushed aside his hair, and he almost screamed.

"Shhhh. Duo?"

Duo opened his eyes, as ashamed of the tears that flooded from them as he was of his nakedness. Trowa leaned over him, his expression surprisingly kind.

"It's all right. He's gone." Trowa slid an arm under Duo's shoulders and helped him to sit. "It's OK. Take a deep breath."

Somehow in his struggles, Duo's hair had fallen out of its braid. He pushed it back with a shaking hand, then dragged a sleeve across his wet cheeks. His clothes had gotten covered with ashes, and black streaks smeared across his face, but he barely noticed. Unsteady, he got to his knees, zipped his trousers with shaking hands, trying desperately not to think.

"Duo, Wufei is here," Trowa said quietly. "We can go now."

"G-good." Duo gripped Trowa's hand as the other boy lifted him to his feet. Trowa didn't seem to mind that he held on a little longer and a little tighter than was necessary. "I-I think I need a shower." He blushed. It was a stupid thing to say, given the circumstances.

"Yes. You do." Trowa smiled at him.

Reluctantly, he let go of his friend's hand. "Trowa?"


"Would you really have killed Heero?"

Trowa looked at the gun in his hand. "Actually, Quatre made me set it on stun." Then he lifted his head, gazing deeply into Duo's eyes, past the joker's mask. When he spoke, Duo sensed it was as much to the terrified child who still hid inside him as it was to the smart-ass Gundam pilot. "But yes, I'd have shot him if he hadn't left you alone."


Trowa smoothed back Duo's heavy chestnut mane. "I've been there, Duo." He wiped a left-over tear from his smudged cheek with a long, slim finger. "You know, this is none of my business, but I don't think Heero can give you what you're looking for."

Duo frowned. "What do you mean?" His voice sounded sharper than he meant it to. "What am I looking for?"

"Like I said, I've been there. Be careful. Trying to get a guy like that can be..."

The door slapped open behind them, and Quatre called. "C'mon guys. It's time to go."

Trowa gave Duo one last searching look. "You ready?"

"Yeah." But ready for what? Another mission? What did it matter if he'd messed this one up? There would always be another one, and another one after that. On and on, forever. He felt a thousand years old, and as though he'd been alone every minute of the long centuries. "Let's get out of here."

On to part two.