Playing With Fire
by Razorqueen

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

So why was he standing out here like this, if he didn't care what Heero did, if he didn't care that the other pilot hadn't even talked to him in the two weeks since they'd been stuck in that farmhouse? Not that Duo blamed him. It wasn't Heero's fault he didn't know what the hell he wanted.

Footsteps on the stairs behind him gave him an excuse to continue down the hall to his own room. He paused at that door, too, knocking quietly before entering. Wufei had agreed to having a roommate, although Duo didn't know what Trowa had told him and Wufei never volunteered the information. But Duo still felt like an intruder every time he entered the room.

He peeked around the corner. Even though there was very little in the room to reflect his own boisterous personality, Duo liked it. Wufei's small touches gave the space serenity-a miniature fountain bubbling in a bowl, a few candles, a houseplant, windchimes. At the moment, the candles flickered in the fading light of the late winter afternoon, and the warm odor of perfumed wax invited him in.

At least Wufei wasn't meditating or anything. The Chinese pilot sat at a writing table, a book open before him, clasped hands resting lightly on the edge of the desk. No one could sit as absolutely still as Wufei. "The crane in the lake at sunrise," Wufei had described it in an attempt to teach his new roommate something of stillness. But Duo had never seen a crane, and he said that sunrise was way too early for him to care about some stupid lake. Wufei had given up in exasperation.

"Wu?" Duo slipped into the room. "Wanna go to town or something?" He smiled brightly. "C'mon, I want some company, and I'm so desperate, I'll even take yours."

Wufei looked up from his book. "I doubt if we'll have time."

"Why?" Brushing aside some coins scattered acrosss the desktop, Duo rested his hip on the table, hooked a leg over the corner. "Whatcha doin'? Readin' again?"

He plucked the book out of Wufei's hands, pretended to study the tiny print, fanning through the pages. "No pictures? Don't see why you waste your time on these things." An exaggerated frown puckering his forehead, he turned the book sideways, as if to decipher an ancient code. Flipping the book upside down, he attempted to impress the other boy by reading the inverted words. "'The dangerous height of heaven cannot be ascended; the difficult places of the earth are mountains, hills, and mounds. Kings and princes arrange, by means of such strength, to maintain their territories. Great indeed is the use of what is taught about seasons of peril.'" He snorted. "I don't even know what that means, Wu-man. You are way too deep for me."

Wufei deftly retrieved his book. "It's the Book of Changes." He grunted in annoyance. "You lost my page, Duo."

"Sorry 'bout that." Duo grinned sheepishly. Wufei wasn't much friendlier than Heero sometimes, but he got the feeling that he at least amused the Chinese pilot. All he ever did to Heero was piss him off. "C'mon, forget all this heavy shit and come with me."

He looked at the other pilot through his bangs, clasped his hands in an image of supplication. "Pretty please?"

Duo saw Wufei's expression lighten. He kind of liked being able to make Wu smile, he realized. Or almost smile, anyway.

"I suppose that someone needs to keep you out of trouble."

"Now, that's the spirit, roomie!" Duo rummaged through his closet to find his cap, discovering it under a welter of clothes he'd somehow forgotten to wash. Heero would've given him hell if he'd let dirty laundry pile up like this, he thought, but Wufei said nothing-as long as he kept the closet door shut. Cocking the cap on his head, he kicked the clothes that had fallen out under his bed. "Let's go find some touble for you to keep me out of."

Wufei didn't answer. As Duo whirled to tease him about his silence, his smile died at the sight of Heero in the doorway, face a mask of cold disapproval.

"Wufei, we have a mission." Briefly, Heero's glance slid to Duo. "You, too, Maxwell. If you have the time." Then he was gone.

Duo's stomach twisted with pain. "Bastard," he whispered, his voice husky and choaked.

Wufei paused in the doorway. "Duo?"

"Nothin'. I'm right behind you, Wu-man." Somehow, he managed to get out of the room without putting his fist through the wall.

Heero didn't look up, but he knew the moment Duo entered the room. It felt as though the slight pilot carried an electrical storm with him; the air around him seemed to crackle with his lifeforce. Did he know, Heero wondered, how much all of them fed on that energy? Quatre gave them heart, but Duo's unquenchable joy in living made them forget about the dark void that waited for them.

Heero continued to study the map of the OZ base displayed on the computer screen, but he couldn't quite tear his thoughts away from his former roommate. He knew his coldness wounded Duo and confounded the others, but he dared not risk any response warmer than indifference. Look what had happened the one time he had let himself go.

Accustomed to feeling nothing, he still reeled when he remembered the violence of his emotions those days they'd been trapped by the snow. He had been so angry at Duo-for blowing their cover, yes, but more than that. For the boy's unrelenting pursuit of immediate gratification. Mostly, Heero admitted to himself with brutal honesty, for searching for that gratification with someone other than him. When he'd had Duo's body under his own, all he could think of was making him feel the same pain he'd felt himself.

Heero hated himself for succeeding.

"Heero?" Quatre stood at his elbow. "We're all here now."

Knowing that his face betrayed nothing of his thoughts, Heero adjusted the screen so the others could see and explained their orders with terse efficiency.

When he finished, the other four pilots sat stunned.

"It isn't possible." Trowa gave voice to what all of them must be thinking. "Not even a Gundam could get in there."

Wufei nodded agreement. "A fortress inside a mountain. It's excellent strategy, worthy of someone like Treize Kushrenada."

"You're right, Trowa," Heero said. "A Gundam can't get in there. Nor can a team. But one of us might."

"Huh," Duo snorted. "Getting in's no problem. Getting out again...that's a different story."

Heero's stomach lurched. What was that baka thinking now? "You have an idea, Maxwell?"

"Yeah, and you don't have to sound so surprised." He poked a finger at the schematic of the OZ fortress.

"Base that size, people are gonna be coming and going all the time. Guards can't recognize everyone. I'm gonna need a maintenance man's uniform."


"Hell, why should you guys have all the fun?" Duo sounded defensive, his cheerfulness forced. "What, you think I can't do it?"

"No," Trowa interjected smoothly. "It isn't that."

"Then what is it?" Duo glared at them all, his violet eyes fiery and defiant.

No one answered. Heero knew that of course they all wondered if hot-headed Duo could pull off a mission that required stealth and patience instead of simple raw courage. But not even Heero would admit it out loud.

"OK, then, if no one else has any objections, get me that uniform and an OZ work pass. I'm leaving as soon as it's light." Not giving anyone else time to argue, Duo dashed out of the room. The others sat silently, listening to him vault up the stairs two at a time.

Heero surrendered to emptiness as Duo pulled the life of the room with him. Baka, he thought, don't do anything stupid, knowing that it was a hopeless wish.

Midnight had come and gone before Duo finished the arrangements for his mission. The work pass had been easy for Heero. The maintenance uniform had been more of a challenge, but Quatre had finally located the merchant who provided them to OZ personnel. All that remained was for Quatre's man to deliver Duo's disguise.

"Why don't you get some sleep?" Wufei suggested. "Any of us can wait for the delivery. You'll need to be fully alert tomorrow." The Chinese pilot turned back the covers of Duo's bed. "I expect you to be sleeping when I return."

"Yes, sir." Duo did his best imitation of a penitent schoolboy, something he'd never been. "I'll be good, I promise."

A brief smile softened Wufei's eyes. "No doubt. Good night, Duo."

"G'night, Wu."

The other pilot turned off the lights and left the room. Duo stripped off his clothes, scattering them in a trail from his bed to the bathroom. Naked, he slid under the sheets, mentally reviewing his plan for tomorrow, but he found focusing almost impossible. A confused mix of thoughts about Heero and Wufei, Trowa and Quatre kept invading his deliberations. Despite Trowa's assurances, he knew they doubted him. How could he blame them? All they saw was Duo "Perpetual Motion" Maxwell. Not bad in a fight, but not the brains of the outfit. They didn't know that if he slowed down, if he stopped talking, stopped moving, he'd have to think. Even worse, he'd have to remember.

Christ, nothing was ever easy, was it?

Duo rolled onto his back, staring at the ceiling, one arm bent behind his head. He knew from long experience this would be one of the nights when sleep wouldn't come. Just relax, he scolded himself. That, at least, was one thing he knew how to accomplish.

His free hand slid down his body, fingers tangling in the soft curls between his legs. If he could concentrate on the excitement of being on mission, he knew he could get himself off. Battles always gave him a hard-on. Slowly, he stroked his cock, gasping as it quivered with a life of its own. He tightened his hand around the hard, hot shaft and pumped, groaning softly.

With his other hand, he rubbed at his nipples until they, too, were hard and aching. He squirmed, feeling the familiar tension gathering as he pumped his moisture-slick cock faster. Rubbing his thumb across the swollen, sensitive head, he panted, bringing himself to the edge of pleasure. Knees bent, he thrust his hips in time to the stroking of his hand. Almost wild with need, he moaned aloud, frantically increasing his speed. His moans transformed to a rough cry of pleasure as he came, his semen oiling his hands and belly.

For a moment, he lay pleasantly exhausted, then rolled over, fished a T-shirt from under his bed, and cleaned himself off with it. Collapsing on the soft mattress, he gave himself up to languor, dimly noting that the keyboard in the next room was silent. At least tonight, Heero wouldn't be keeping him awake.

Alone in the dark, Heero sat on his bed, knees drawn up under his chin. The sounds of Duo's excitement had been apparent to him-and to Wufei, who had come to Heero's room to verify a few details of their new mission. They steadfastly ignored the groans from the next room, but Duo's cry of fulfillment jolted both of them like an electric current.

Heero had stopped in the middle of his sentence. Wufei watched him, curiosity plain in his face, but he had asked nothing, and Heero had not offered. After a moment, the conversation continued as if neither were aware of Duo. They were both good actors, Heero mused.

A soft knock at his door broke his reverie. With his usual economy of motion, he rolled off the bed and switched on the light in one action.

"It's Wufei. Quatre's man just arrived."

Heero opened the door to find the Chinese pilot holding both packages the man had delivered. He handed one to Heero.

"Are you certain about this?" Wufei asked. "He'll never forgive you if he finds out."

Heero ripped open the paper wrapped around the OZ maintenance coverall, identical to the one Wufei held for Duo. "Unless he gets in trouble, he'll never know I'm there." Turning away with the excuse of folding the uniform, he muttered, "And he already has enough to hate me for. What's one more thing?"

Wufei apparently chose to ignore Heero's last comment. "And what are the chances that he won't get in trouble?"

"You're right," Heero agreed. "He's going to kill me." And maybe, he thought, that's why I'm doing this.

On to part three. Back to part one.