Playing With Fire
by Razorqueen

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

Sleep eluded Treize. Of late, he'd become familiar with restless nights, but this time, neither Romefeller's objectives nor Tsuberov's mobile dolls caused him to lie awake. Certainly, honor had nothing to do with his thoughts at the moment, he mused. The thoughts he'd been having about his prisoner were, on the contrary, most dishonorable.

Stretching across his bed, Treize lay on his back, arms folded behind his head. He wondered if his captive were sleeping. Or was it possible that his dreams were equally disrupted? And if they were, could it be thoughts of Treize that disturbed him, and not the cold, uncomfortable cell?

Why couldn't the boy at least tell him his name? Constant soldier as he was, he knew that he desired that piece of information, not for OZ, but for himself. He wanted to be able to whisper a name in the night when he remembered the silk of the boy's hair. He wanted a name to cry out in the midst of passion.

But he wouldn't tell, and Treize did not want to force it out of him. If he had to, he could-- and would--but surely there were other avenues he could try first. Treize lay perfectly still for some time, reviewing every moment of their two meetings as if watching a recording. At last, he came to this evening and their final words. Perhaps, he thought, that was the answer. If the boy would not talk to Treize Khushrenada, well, then, offer him another confidente. Treize got out of bed and began searching through his wardrobe until he found a dark sweater and jeans. Pulling them on, he left his quarters for the cell block and his nameless prisoner.

Duo huddled on the hard metal bench that served as a bed. He'd done it again. Fucked everything up. But how'd they catch him so easily? Granted, Heero and Trowa were better at the covert stuff, but he didn't think he'd been careless. He'd followed the plan, done what he was supposed to do. So how come he was freezing his ass off in an OZ cell?

C'mon, he chided himself, things weren't so bad. He'd been in worse spots before. Lots worse. Yeah, but he'd never been likely to have a wet dream about the guy who was holding him prisoner, either. Maxwell, he thought, you are fucked in the head.

Without warning, the cell door slid open. Blinded by the sudden light, Duo shaded his eyes with his hand. Squinting, he saw the figure of a tall man silhouetted in the bright doorway. The man stepped inside, doors closing behind him.

Duo sat up. When he did, sensors raised the room's lighting to a dim glow, enough for him to see that the OZ colonel had been replaced by the image that had troubled his thoughts. Pretty sneaky, he acknowledged. Good thing he was on his guard. Otherwise, the trick might have worked.

Treize took a tentative step toward the bench. "Are you alone?"

Duo's eyes widened as he recognized the other man's greeting. Play along, he told himself. See what he has in mind. "Yeah. You?"

"Yes. May I sit down?"

Duo nodded, although he stared at the floor as Treize sat down. This is bogus, he told himself. He's just trying to get information. He doesn't mean anything by this.

A moment passed. "Can we talk now?" Treize asked.

"About what?" Duo was finding the floor a safer place for his attention than the man next to him. Mission, he reminded himself. He had a mission.

"About who you are and why you're here." Treize sat with both hands clasped loosely between his knees. He continued, his voice casual, as if the words had little import. "The guards found you in the lab. I presume that was your goal?"

"You can presume what you want." Duo licked his suddenly parched lips.

"I take it you are either from the Alliance or the colonies. Not that it really matters. I can't let you report to anyone what you've seen."

Duo shuddered at the thought of those soulless robot suits in the lab. "Were those things your idea?"

"Mine?" Treize's head jerked up. "Never! Those...things...have no place in war, as far as I am concerned."

"Yeah?" Duo stretched, folding his hands behind his head. "A weapon's a weapon. I mean, I wouldn't want to fight one of them. They wouldn't make mistakes like a human pilot would. Wouldn't be limited by reflexes, either, so I'll bet they're damn fast. But shit, if you can build them, why not?"

Treize opened his mouth as if to respond, but then he looked hard at Duo, his eyes slightly narrowing. Abruptly, he sighed. "You're a child, and you know nothing of war."

"I'm not a child!" Duo sat up, his hands balled into fists. "And war is all I've ever known."

Concern quenched the angry blaze in the sapphire eyes. "My apologies. I had no right to assume anything about you." He gave Duo a long, considering look. "I see, in fact, that I've been quite wrong in some of my assumptions. You spoke as though you've fought against mobile suits yourself. You think like a pilot."

Goddamnit, Maxwell, Duo cursed at himself, you and your mouth. "Do I?" he asked, trying to sound innocent.

"Yes. You are a pilot, aren't you?"

"Damn." Duo pouted. "That's twice today that hasn't worked."

A reluctant smile twitched at the corners of Treize's mouth. "Am I correct?"

"Guess there's not much point in lying about it. Yeah, I'm a flyboy, all right." Duo saluted, grinning sardonically.

"And what do you fly, my nameless pilot?" Treize leaned closer. Duo caught a whiff of masculine scent, a melange of spice and warm skin. "As I said, it really makes no difference. You aren't going anywhere. But I'm curious. You seem rather young to be a pilot."

"I'm old enough to fly a Gundam!"

Treize raised an elegant eyebrow. "A Gundam? I see my presumptions about you have been most incorrect."

Goddamnmotherfuckingsonofabitch. Way to go, Maxwell. Why didn't he just rattle off a list of all Quatre's safehouses while he was at it? Sullen, he clamped his mouth shut, crossed his arms, and stared at the floor.

"Which one are you? Heero Yuy?" Treize continued to study him, as if he were looking for something.

Duo snorted. "Me? The Perfect Soldier? Not hardly." Heero would never have given himself away like that. Shit, he was making a mess of the whole mission, and Heero would never speak to him again after this. Assuming the other pilot didn't kill him, of course.

Treize reached out and brushed Duo's hair away from his face. "Then which one?"

The butterfly touch startled Duo. His voice trembled when he protested faintly. "You're not playing fair."

"No, I'm not, am I?" Treize's caress became less tentative, his fingers tracing the outline of Duo's cheek and chin.

"What else do you want from me?" Duo bit his lip. Treize's touch burned through his body. "Stop it," he whispered.

Treize withdrew his hand. "As you wish."

Confusion racked Duo. He felt worse when Treize quit touching him. Closing his eyes, he wrapped his arms tightly around himself. What was wrong with him?

"Please," Treize asked, his voice gentle, the OZ colonel completely eclipsed. "Won't you at least tell me your name?"

Without opening his eyes, he answered. "Duo. Duo Maxwell."

"Duo," Treize repeated, saying his name the way Duo had dreamed of hearing Heero say it. "I have one more question."


Treize hesitated as if choosing his words carefully. "That night, on the bridge. When we parted, you said, 'Thank you.' What were you thanking me for?"

"You remember that? Wow," Duo said, amazed. "I guess for listening. And for not trying to pick me up. I thought that's what you wanted to do at first. No offense, but I was pretty glad you didn't."

"What's the matter, Duo? Don't you enjoy making love?"

"Dunno. Never done it before." The walls he'd built around his memories began to crumble. Change the subject, his mind begged. If they kept talking about this, Duo knew he'd be sorry. He never spoke of these things to anyone. He couldn't survive any other way.

Treize stared in disbelief. "You aren't going to try to convince me that you're a virgin."

"Virgin?" Duo laughed, but it had an ugly sound. "Hell no, not since I was, like, eight or nine." A dark flood of memory rose up in his mind, and he trembled with the effort of holding it back.

Something that looked like shock and pain twisted Treize's sculpted mouth. "Then what do you mean?"

Duo shrugged, trying to pretend he didn't care. "I meant that no one's ever made love to me." His voice betrayed him, breaking suspiciously. "Just fucked me, that's all."

Duo turned his head, violently hoping Treize wouldn't notice the tears collecting in his eyes. Maybe he'd leave now that he'd found out what he wanted to know. No such luck. Treize reached over and tilted up Duo's chin.

"You have the loveliest eyes I've ever seen," Treize said, drawing his forefinger between Duo's brows, down the abbreviated bridge of his tiptilted nose. Duo blinked, sending two large tears rolling down his cheeks.

"Get outta here," he said in disbelief, his voice quavering. Christ, he hoped Treize meant it.

It's true." Treize brushed his fingers over the boy's eyelids. "There's a wildflower that grows in my country that's precisely this color, one that blooms in early spring, when the farmers are plowing. It makes drifts of purple across the brown earth. I shall never see it again without thinking of your eyes. And your hair." Treize lifted the long braid to his lips. "You are beautiful, Duo Maxwell." He tugged gently on the braid he held in his hand, pulling Duo closer to him. "I cherish beautiful things."

Duo let himself be drawn into Treize's arms, allowed his head to rest in the hollow of his captor's shoulder. He didn't return the embrace, but neither did he fight it. Through the knit of Treize's sweater, he felt the hard muscle of the arms that held him, but it was a gentle, cautious strength. Powerful hands stroked his hair, careful not to snag errant strands that fell from his braid.

"Duo," Treize murmured, as if he took pleasure in saying the boy's name. "I'm so sorry..." His voice trailed off. "That sounds terribly inadequate and condescending, and I don't mean it to be."

Duo lifted his head so that he could see Treize's face. "Hey," he said, managing a weak imitation of his usual bravado, "don't feel sorry for me. I'm still here. I survived."

"Yes." Treize nuzzled lightly against Duo's tousled hair. "But I'm sorry for what survival has cost you. Can you ever forgive the Universe for what it's done to you?"

How was it that this guy seemed to know exactly what he felt? Duo pressed his face against Treize's chest and spoke softly. "Not always. But sometimes it's easier than others."

Strong arms tightened around him. "What about now?"

"You're making it easier."

Treize shifted, pulling Duo onto his lap. Slightly surprised but not troubled, Duo cooperated, snuggling into the older man's embrace.

"Duo," Treize began. "You know that I want you."

In his new position, Duo could feel the heat and hardness of Treize's erection pressing against his hip. He nodded, wondering if Treize were as aware of his similar condition.

"But I won't take you unless you wish it. And I won't take you here." Treize gestured to include the cold bench, the dull metal walls of the cell. "I don't want this to be another fuck." The word sounded strange in Treize's mouth, as if the coarseness of it were unfamiliar to him.

Duo whispered, "I want you, too." It's a chance to escape, he told himself, a way out of this cell. So I can finish this mission. Thoughts tumbled through his head with such chaos that he wasn't sure himself which was the lie.

"Then come with me." Treize put his hands on Duo's slender waist, lifting him easily and setting him on his feet. Standing, he motioned for Duo to follow him.

For a moment, Duo felt a pang of disappointment, until he realized that Treize could hardly walk out of the cell with his arm around his prisoner. Willing to go along with whatever charade Treize intended, he took a step toward the door. Pain shot through his leg. His injured ankle had stiffened while they'd been talking, and it refused to support him. He stumbled, catching himself on the endge of the bench.

"Duo!" Treize lifted him, made him sit. "You're hurt. Why didn't you say something?" He knelt, pulling up the cuff of Duo's coverall. As he gently prodded the swollen ankle, he glanced up in mute apology when his probing caused Duo to hiss with pain.

"Right," Duo said through clenched teeth. "Tell my jailer that I'm hurt. Great strategy, that one."

Ignoring Duo's sarcasm, Treize stood, offering his hand to Duo. "Do you think you can walk if you lean on me?"

"Lean on you?" Duo's voice cracked as it hadn't done in a long time. "You mean out there, in front of the guards?"

"Unless you'd prefer to crawl, I believe that's your only option." Treize slid an arm around Duo's waist, carefully lifting him to his feet. The top of Duo's head barely reached the taller man's shoulder. Treize smiled. "I hadn't realized that you're so small."

Duo found a flirtatious grin. "Not where it counts!"

Treize chuckled and playfully swatted Duo's behind. "Behave yourself. It would hardly do for the commander of OZ to be drooling with lust as he escorts his prisoner for further interrogation."

Heero shoved the body of the OZ security man, now dressed in maintenance coveralls, into a dark corner. His uniform fit Heero well, although not with the usual precision of OZ tailoring. Still, it would be sufficient.

He needed more information than the computer logs had given him. His guise as a maintenance worker no longer served, so he adopted the persona of a security guard. Sometimes it almost frightened him how easily he was able to assume the roles his missions demanded of him. Callow student or disciplined killer, it was all the same to him.

Heero strode through the corridors toward the cell block. One prisoner, the log read. Apprehended at 2100 on Level 9. Assigned to cell number 001. No other data.

Heero required no further data to know that the prisoner was Duo. His fists clenched as he recalled how OZ treated captives, especially those suspected of espionage. But Duo had great physical courage. Although the motormouth frequently teased Heero about his own stoicism, Heero had seen Duo shrug off pain that would have rendered most men unconscious. Their enemies would not have had time to apply enough coercion to make him talk. Talk about anything important, he corrected himself. He could not imagine that Duo would be a quiet captive.

The idea of Duo in the hands of an OZ interrogator twisted his stomach. Ignoring the churning in his gut, Heero approached the detention level. Rescue must be his first priority. Duo was too valuable a pilot to sacrifice unnecessarily. Too valuable a friend, he admitted to himself.

Heero automatically counted the guards in the corridor. Two at the control desk, four at the cell door, he observed, his mind coldly calculating the odds against him. The sentries' shift would change soon. Better for him to wait and present himself for guard duty then. He eased back around the corner where he could wait and watch.

The door of the cell opened. Heero's eyes went immediately to the slender, braided figure, assessing his condition. Duo leaned heavily against the side of a tall man in dark civilian clothing. He took a few hobbling steps, clearly in pain. Heero's mouth hardened.

The man in dark clothes spoke. "I am taking the prisoner for additional questioning. You are dismissed until further notice." The guards saluted him and withdrew. Heero rocked forward on the balls of his feet, ready to launch himself at the tall man, when recognition wrenched him to a stop.

Cold hatred flooded Heero. He despised no man on Earth or in space as much as Treize Khushrenada. Others had used and tricked him, but he would never forget nor forgive the events at New Edwards base, nor Colonel Treize's part in them. "My enemy," he said softly, his hand twitching toward his gun. But Duo stood between him and his foe. He could not shoot one without shooting the other.

Duo shuffled forward a few more steps. Treize bent over him. "Duo, this is ridiculous. You can't walk."

Heero's eyes widened, his hatred deeper, if possible, than before. That viper played some sort of game, and with his Duo. Rage choked him.

Duo looked up at Treize and grinned. "Guess this means I'm gonna have to crawl, huh?"

Heero felt as though the floor tilted under him. He reached out to steady himself against the wall.

"Nonsense." Treize scooped Duo into his arms with easy strength. "While the thought of you on your knees has a certain appeal, I'd prefer to see you in that position in private."

The roaring in Heero's ears drowned out Duo's answer. Treize bent his head over the boy in his arms, capturing his mouth in a passionate kiss. Duo's arms stole around the Colonel's neck as he returned the kiss with obvious enthusiasm.

Heero drew his gun, but found his vision too blurred to allow him a clear shot. By the time he could see, the two had disappeared, although their laughter still echoed in the empty corridor. He slumped back against the wall, staring blindly at the vacant cell. His fingers convulsed on the butt of his gun. "I will kill you," he growled, not completely certain which enemy he threatened.

On to part six. Back to part four.