Quatre yawned heavily and leaned a bit more on his taller lover as they waited for Kahlid to shut down his suit and emerge from its cockpit.
"At least that's the last one for now," Trowa said calmly, checking his watch. "And if my watch is right, their timing is excellent."
"Excellent timing?" the blond asked.
"Think about it... and look over there," Trowa replied, nodding toward the control center.
Quatre watched as Zechs, Heero, Sally, Une and Howard emerged and headed for the runway.
"Ah, yeah, almost forgot. They're due back shortly," he murmured. "Well, I should have enough time to get Kahlid settled in -"
"I don't think that will be necessary," the taller teen cut in, pointing out another Mangaunac rushing over to the suit. "I think Sayyid will be able to manage it quite well on his own."
The drone of a plane's engines in the distance became audible, and Trowa took his lover's hand, then began to steer his smaller lover towards the field. "Let's go, Quatre. Duo would be crushed if you weren't there to meet him, after all."
Quatre chuckled. "Trowa, with Heero waiting for him on the tarmac, I highly doubt that Duo would notice us even if a marching band announced our presence."
To all outward appearances, Heero was waiting calmly, almost dispassionately, for the plane to come to a halt and its passenger to disembark.
Internally, he was a mass of nerves.
As his eyes tracked the plane taxiing towards them, he couldn't help but worry.
**What if they weren't telling us everything - didn't want to worry us when there was nothing we could do? Duo wasn't really ready for this mission. He was still bothered by the bronchitis, still weak from his injuries and lack of activity...**
The plane stopped, the engines shut down, and the hatch opened. Rashid stepped into doorway and lowered the ladder, then stepped back out of sight.
Heero shifted slightly, and Howard squeezed his shoulder.
"No worries, boy," he said gruffly. "Duo is fine, Wufei is fine, everyone's fine. We know that. "
Heero nodded, but any reply was cut off as Duo stepped on to the ladder and slowly made his way down.
The Japanese pilot stared hard at his lover as the teen descended, noting every awkward movement.
Duo reached the bottom, and turned to face the small crowd. A bright grin appeared on his face.
"Ah, our devoted fans!" he chortled, moving across the tarmac as Wufei and Treize began their descent. "We came! We saw! We blew it up!" he continued, "We are the champions! We rock! We - "
"Yes, Maxwell, we know," Wufei snorted, reaching the ground. "We kicked ass. Now, would you please meet and greet your adoring fans before Quatre vibrates himself into the next dimension?"
That statement released the waiting friends from their concern-induced paralysis, and they all surged forward. Quatre threw himself at his braided friend, and only Trowa's quick hands kept the blond from knocking Duo to the ground in his happiness to see that he was all right. Duo met them half way and threw his arms around them both, babbling about how he'd missed them.
Behind them Zechs and Une had reached Treize and Wufei. Zechs kissed both of his lovers in turn, grasping their hands tightly. Une waited a moment, then hugged each of them tightly.
To the side, Howard shook his head and chuckled. "I'd better rescue my kid before blondie wears him out," he said, and moved in to gently pull the braided teen into a hug of his own.
"Hey, brat, as much as we missed you, there's someone who missed you even more. Don't you think you should do something about that?"
Duo looked around the older man and locked eyes with Heero.
"Yeah, old man, I plan to," he said, loud enough for his lover to hear him. "I was just saving the best for last..."
With one last squeeze, he released Howard and walked slowly towards the Japanese pilot.
Heero's eyes never left his lover as the long-haired teen walked toward him. He saw and filed away every visible bruise, the slight circles under his eyes, the tiny hitch to his gait - and suddenly, Duo was throwing himself into his arms.
"Oh, God, I missed you!" Duo murmured vehemently as Heero caught him tightly to his body. The rest of the world faded as he breathed in his lover's scent, felt the taut muscles under his hands, heard the murmured declaration of love...
No regard to the audience all watching with smiles on their faces Heero pulled back just enough to give Duo a small smile, then kissed him hungrily.
Duo positively trembled as their lips met, and he closed his eyes tightly as his lips parted. The taste of Heero was as incredible as ever, the feeling of those strong fingers tangled in his hair, a solid body pressed to his, those delicious sounds Heero made as they kissed. He felt his knees going weak, and he clung tighter to his lover.
With a possessive growl, Heero's hands slipped down Duo's back, savouring the feel of the long-haired boy. He cupped his rear and squeezed-
"As much as I hate to disturb such pretty scenery, gentlemen, don't you think you should find someplace less public to continue this joyous reunion?" Treize's voice remarked drolly.
Heero groaned and broke the kiss, burying his face in Duo's braid.
Duo shot the grinning, tall aristocrat a withering look. "I should have killed you back in Siberia when I had the chance, Kushy."
"Kushy?!" Wufei asked with a lifted eyebrow.
Heero choked on a small laugh and threaded his arm around Duo's waist. "You know where to find us, but don't disturb unless you have to, okay?"
"Where are you going?" Quatre asked, giggling.
Heero winked at the blond. "Taking a bit of well-meant advice."
As Zechs began easing his own two lovers away, Sally threaded her arm through his and gave him a dazzling look. "And just where did you think you're going?"
The blond at least tried to look innocent, in return. "Well, since it's not even five in the morning yet, I thought I'd take these two back for some much-needed rest of their own "
Une shook her head as she walked up to Treize and took his arm, wrapping her other arm around Wufei's shoulders. "Time aside, we've got business to attend to before we can let you go. We've already lost Duo. We need to do the debriefing now."
Wufei glared at the arm on his shoulders. "And he got to leave why?"
Sally lifted an eyebrow. "Don't be a twit, Chang. Twenty minutes, and then you are all off duty until at least 0600 tomorrow, barring any natural disasters, fires, alien attacks or anything else. Is that acceptable to you?"
Treize nodded. "Twenty minutes, then I'm leaving with these two and doing unspeakable things to them, and I don't want to see or hear any of you, unless it's in the mess hall when I let them take breaks."
Sally barely managed to keep a straight face as she nodded.
She caught a glimpse of the predatory smile on Zechs' face as they all turned for the office and lost it. She laughed the whole way in.
They ended up having to move the meeting to the large conference room, when Farley showed Rashid and Abdul in.
Sally folded her hands around a mug of coffee. "You gentlemen will be pleased to know Hermes has been in touch with news from Athena your attack has Dermail and his associates in quite an uproar."
Treize's grin was about as cold as the wind outside. "Good."
Une gave him a puzzled look. "What on Earth made you think of the ancient American Declaration of Independence on that tape? It was brilliant, and all that, but I never expected "
Treize gave a graceful shrug. "When others have already said what you need to say with sufficient style, there is no reason to butcher it with my own musings."
Quatre rolled his eyes in amusement. "My father couldn't have said it better."
"I'll take that as a compliment "
"Gentlemen!" Sally said, raising her voice just enough to be heard but not to wake any of the people around them, still asleep, "if we can get back to the mission?"
Zechs nodded. "You have a total of seventeen minutes, ma'am."
She rolled her eyes, trying not to smile. "Your latest note indicated you had pulled some information off the network before you blew the place."
Wufei nodded. "I would have transmitted while in flight, but I didn't know how good the Sweepers' encryption systems were, no offence meant, Howard "
"None taken," the old man said, sipping at his own coffee, eyes as always hidden behind his dark sunglasses.
Wufei continued, "To be honest, we hadn't thought of it at first, but there was a wealth of information on that network, free for the taking. Duo hacked in while we set the charges, during Treize's broadcast." He handed across a set of disks that both Trowa and Howard reached for at the same time.
The green eyes pilot met Howard's eyes squarely. "Want to share 'em, Pops?"
Howard glared, while it seemed everyone else in the room chuckled under their breath. "You think you're funny, I'm sure. Don't bait me, kid. I need a hell of a lot more coffee before you'll get away with it. And yes, I can use your help with it."
Trowa gave him a small smile.
Rashid chipped in, "The charges went off early someone must have hit an intrusion detection alarm. We went in as soon as we could, but the team had seen some hand-to-hand before we got to them. Master Duo, at least, will need a check-up when you can pry him away from Master Heero "
Treize quickly cut in, "A soldier ran into him and tried to throttle him when he figured out who he was up against By the time I could pull him off, Duo'd already killed the man. Damn if that boy doesn't know how to use a knife."
Trowa wore something of a proud look on his face. "He's a very fast learner, though most of it is natural talent."
"Runs in the family," Quatre commented, glancing up at Trowa with a smug smile.
"Ten minutes, people," Zechs reminded them.
Sally rolled her eyes. "Are you people always so dis-jointed in a debriefing?"
Trowa gave her a bland glance. "Only when the coffee hasn't kicked in yet. We'll behave. Go on."
She sighed. "You're all home safe and don't think I didn't see you limping, Chang. You've got an appointment with me, as well. Thank you, Manguanacs, for the backup you provided "
"Our pleasure, Ma'am," Abdul replied, yawning a little.
Sally gave him a small, worried smile. "You're obviously tired, so I'll try and make this quick."
"Thank you, Zechs," she said tiredly. "While you were out we got another piece of information in that needed to be addressed as soon as possible. Heero, Quatre, Une, Farley and a few others made a trip to Canada. Quatre?"
The blond squirmed a little as every gaze in the room settled on him. "The news was about Bravo. She was still alive, and she was under some sort of treatment Heero recognized the symptoms immediately as something from his own childhood, and we went in to get her out of there. There were no casualties on the trip, and she's now here under observation. Farley's been treating her "
The young man felt all eyes swivel to him, and was grateful for Walker's clap on the shoulder.
Quatre continued, "We didn't want to tell you this we definitely didn't want Duo to know, since Heero was involved. He's been he's a little rocky, but Trowa and I did our best to help him out. I don't doubt he'll be better with Duo at his side."
Treize nodded. "From what he's said of his past she must have been in quite a deal of pain. Is she doing better?"
Sally looked up at her assistant. "Jason?"
He smiled nervously. "While we were on the plane, it occurred to me if Heero'd been treated, he must still have the treatment active in his blood system, since the same toxins we found in his blood were recorded in hers. We gave her a transfusion of his blood and she calmed down right away. I've almost got the pollutant isolated, and from there it's a fairly easy measure to isolate the cure. Shouldn't take us too much longer."
Wufei gave him a warm look. "That's some good work, doctor."
Farley just smiled.
Trowa grinned. "When everyone's awake again, I'd be happy to show you what Marie was up to while you were gone."
Treize shot Trowa and Zechs concerned looks. "Was she okay while we were gone? Maybe I should check in on her "
Sally shook her head. "If you go in there now, she'll be wide awake, and you will never get to sleep, yourself. Little Marie's been counting down the minutes until you guys came back."
Treize was clearly exhausted, but he looked up at Sally. "What do you need me to do?"
"Right now, go get rested," she said, taking another sip of coffee. "We'll be able to hold Marie off for a little while, but then she will insist on seeing her Daddy. And we expect to hear from Noin again sometime this evening, if you want in on that."
"Definitely," Zechs said, standing and pulling Wufei and Treize up with him. "Your time has officially expired. If no one minds, I'm absconding with these two, and "
"Absconding? Do they really teach you to talk like that at Rich People school?" Howard joked.
Quatre nodded. "That, and then some. Go to bed, guys. Sleep well." He stood, pulling Trowa up with him. "We're going to make sure the Manguanacs are all settled in, then we'll be around." He stopped to give Wufei a hug and give reserved hugs to both Treize and Zechs before he led Rashid and Abdul out.
Sally and Une gave each other looks as the tired men filed out. "Do you ever get the feeling that God is laughing at us? We're on a base of good-looking men, and they're all attracted to each other."
Une groaned and smiled.
Stopping at the door, Walker gave Farley an offended look. "I think we've just been insulted, Jason."
Sally laughed as her assistant's face blushed a deep red. "The present company, excepted, of course! We're quite happy you aren't gay, right Une?"
"Of course, we are!"
Farley rolled his eyes. "Coffee must have kicked in. I think we'd be safer in another room, Kevin."
They walked out and, as the door closed, both Une and Sally burst out laughing.
Heero wasted no time when he got Duo into their room he practically tore the other teen's clothing off in his haste to see what other damage his lover has incurred on the mission. "What else happened to you? Are your ribs okay "
Duo caught his hands and gently pulled them steady, placing a kiss in both palms. "I won't say I didn't strain them, but I'm just fine, Heero. The guy trying to strangle me was more problematic "
Heero nodded, frowning at the bruises around Duo's slender throat. "I saw that, too "
Duo reached out a tipped Heero's chin up so their eyes met. "So kiss it and make it better." He slid his hand around Heero's neck and pulled his lips down for another deep kiss.
Heero cupped the other boy's face lightly in his hands, and gradually allowed himself to touch Duo's hair, fingers sliding up into the warm, fragrant mass. Duo's arms tightened around him in turn, gradually pulling until Heero was practically seated in his shirtless boyfriend's lap. Duo's fingers were still a little cold as they slipped under Heero's sweater, and the Japanese teen shivered slightly. "Your hands are cold."
"Not for long." Duo ran his hands up Heero's back, pushing up his sweater as he went. In no time, Heero, too, was shirtless, moaning deliciously as skin met skin. "God, Duo, I missed you "
Duo's low laugh was sultry and promising. "Really? Did you do anything fun while we were away?"
Duo's caresses stopped immediately, though he didn't release his lover from the circle of his arms. "Heero?"
The Japanese boy didn't meet his eyes, and Duo felt his stomach flip. "Tell me what happened."
It seemed an awkward position to be making a confession half-naked, sitting in Duo's lap with both arms and legs around the American. Heero held on tighter, though he felt more secure than he had in quite a while. "Duo we had to go to Canada Bravo survived and they gave her the special vitamins they didn't do anything to help, and she was in pain "
Duo's grip tightened. "Whoa, backup a minute. How did you know she was there?"
"Athena," Heero replied. "She found out and called in backup Johann went in, and called us in, shortly after. Quatre, Jason, Une and your bodyguards went with me. When we found her she'd been under the treatment for almost two weeks. She was so weak she couldn't move, and she'd screamed her throat bloody over and over, as soon as it healed enough for her to scream again. We couldn't just let them keep her there "
Duo tightened his grip. "God, Heero So you went in after her?"
Heero nodded against Duo's shoulder. "It was all I could think of, when I heard. You can't understand and I don't ever want you to have to. But I know the same poison in her was also in me."
Heero could feel Duo tensing in his arms, but also felt skilled, gentle fingers moving up into his hair and rubbing at his scalp soothingly. "Seeing her I was so scared "
Admitting it seemed to open the flood gates for Heero. Clinging to the American, his breath hitched as he was racked with dry sobs.
Duo felt his heart ache as Heero cried. It was so unlike Heero to give in to how he was feeling. And for it to be this bad Blue eyes hardened in anger as he held his lover tighter.
Heero shifted back and let his now red-rimmed eyes meet Duo's. "You're an-angry with me."
Duo shook his head, absently reaching out to wipe a last few tears from Heero's cheeks with gentle fingers. "Angry, yes, but not at you. Never at you."
Heero's hands tightened at Duo's waist. "Don't blame Quatre or Trowa! They did everything they could to help, and Farley has almost single-handedly treated Bravo, he's barely slept "
Duo shook his head again, a hint of a smile showing at his lips. "Not at them, either. I know they'd look after you for me, just as I'd look after Trowa if Quatre wasn't there, or vice-versa. Those Alliance sons-of-bitches, now they're another story."
Heero's eyes blazed in turn. "Her doctors were there Johann and I killed them all "
"Not them. Dermail and whichever of his sick-ass cronies are behind this scheme. Dekim Barton, anyone who hurt you Yeah, that's about it," Duo said, rubbing gentle circles on Heero's back. "I wish I could have gone with you "
"No!" Heero grabbed Duo's arms tightly, a deeply distressed look in his eyes. "I don't want you to see you don't need to know "
"Heero, I already do know," Duo said softly. "How many times have you had nightmares about it? How many times has it come back to haunt you? I know, and it's okay."
Heero groaned and leaned their foreheads together. "I don't know why I even bother trying to argue with you."
"Neither do I," Duo said softly, a full smile on his lips as he pulled Heero flush against him again. "I've got a confession, too."
Duo pressed a kiss against Heero's cheek. "Yeah, I woke up in Treize and Wufei's bed last night."
Heero choked on a laugh. "That's okay I slept with Quatre and Trowa."
"We're even, then."
"This is a very disturbing conversation, love," Heero said, finally pulling back to look Duo in the eyes. "Hearing you slept with Kushrenada, of all people "
Duo quirked an eyebrow. "Even you have to admit he's not the same fire-breathing demon from hell we all took him for, not so long ago. He's pretty nice, when you give him a chance."
Duo's grin became devilish. "But he's not a sexy, hunky 17 year-old pilot with gorgeous blue eyes and a body I want to do all sorts of sinful things to."
Heero took hold of Duo's braid and stroked it gently. "Quatre's not seventeen yet, and Zechs is older. I don't know any others "
"Oh, shut up." Without warning, Duo flipped them over, pinning his lover beneath him. "Now that's better." He pounced.
Heero shrieked with laughter as knowing fingers found his few ticklish spots and exploited them mercilessly. "Duo, you you creep "
"You love it, tough guy," Duo laughed, still tickling as he managed to slither down along the other teen's body. "Admit it." His fingers dug in under Heero's ribs.
Heero stuffed one fist in his mouth he could only imagine what everyone would think was going on in there. And Marie was only a few rooms over-
His free hand finally closed over the edge of his pillow, and he lifted it and smacked his lover. "Oof!"
He quickly flipped them over again, still holding the pillow, and smacked Duo a couple more times before he tossed it aside and began tickling in turn.
The long-haired teen laughed until he was red in the face, giggling uncontrollably. And yet
If Heero was going to avoid his ribs because he thought he was too fragile, it was his fault! Duo caught Heero by his belt straps and yanked hard.
Heero rolled off his lover, eyes wide with surprise, and the two tumbled back and forth in a jumble of limbs and hair, both laughing until their faces hurt from it.
Laying on his side facing Duo, Heero reached out and pulled the tie off of the other teen's braid, releasing what hair hadn't already come free on its own. "I love you."
Duo caught Heero's hand and held it in his own. "I love you, too."
Heero pulled their joined hands closer and gently kissed Duo's palm before pulling the boy himself into his arms and kissing him gently, deeply. He finally pulled back, eyes sparkling as he stared down into Duo's face.
As much as he wanted to continue it Duo was red-faced, his breathing ragged for more reasons than just arousal. Heero leaned closer and kissed Duo's forehead. "Come with me." He pulled back and gently pulled Duo up off the bed and towards the attached bathroom.
"Where are we going?" Duo asked, tucking his hair behind his ears.
Heero smiled. "Hot shower, then I'm brushing your hair and you're giving me a massage, and "
"And then you get to screw me senseless?" Duo asked hopefully.
Heero stopped and turned around. "If you want?"
Duo stepped closer and embraced his lover, rubbing against him suggestively. "What do you think?"
Heero groaned and pulled free, grabbing Duo's hand again and dragging him into the bathroom. "I think we'll make it a short shower, how's that?"
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