Mission Accomplished

by Talya Firedancer

It was a warm day -- exactly like any other, in this bland temperature-regulated environment. The air he pulled into his lungs with each breath felt stale and recycled, although experts touted the fact that there was no laboratory difference from real air. The flare of the setting sun bled red against his eyelids and he held up a hand against the harsh cutting rays, its crimson streaks so thick he could taste a copper tang in his mouth. Cut-crystal eyes narrowed against the sunset and the man turned, furious at the reminder, trying to sever all thoughts of it, of that day, but everything about today had been a token throwback.

In his mind's eye he caught at those long fingers again.

Shattered eyes.

A crimson spatter over pale, colorless lips.

A promise extracted.

"...I'm telling you to be happy. No matter what, be happy."

That was what he'd said then. But had he meant it? The way things were now...had he really, truly meant it?



[A.C. 196]

"White trash get down on your knees, time for cake and sodomy..."

The lyrics tore through his brain as he pounded up the hall, fragments of a song that Duo had blasted frequently on the broken-down stereo in the middle of their sex. He couldn't call it lovemaking, exactly -- not being sure what Duo's intentions were, and not even able to pinpoint his own nascent emotions. If it could be called emotion. Lust he understood. Anything beyond that...

White trash get down on your knees...

The English words were just beyond comprehension, but Heero had the vague sense that it had something to do with degradation. That was fine with him, as he ran up the corridor dressed smartly in OZ uniform, his gun a solid comfortable weight in his hands, primed to blow away anything that crossed his path. This mission was take-no-prisoners.

Time for cake and sodomy.

Heero slid up the hall like a ghost. He had planted explosives in several strategic locations to assist him in penetrating the base. A bitter smile curled his lips. He was much better at rigging explosives, now. There would be no mistakes and the family quarters would be spared without a doubt. No innocents would die today.

Lips tightening, he shuttered away the inconsequential thoughts, meat of matters that had no bearing on his mission here. Heero whipped around the corner, sighted and shot the guard standing at attention before the heavy double doors, and pelted up the corridor. It was locked, of course, but he had anticipated that and had hacked into the general's own computer system to obtain the password.

He typed it in swiftly and pulled out a small tab of paper. Glued onto it was the pad of a finger -- a thumb, to be specific. Heero had been very careful. Just enough skin had been sliced away from the general's thumb to provide a usable fingerprint. He pressed it onto the identification grid and the door slid open, the light above it blinking a warm green permission to enter.

With a small, contained smirk of triumph Heero made his way across the room as the double doors slid shut behind him. This was to be a pivotal mission for Operation M -- finding the location of several important convoys that OZ was shipping out, as well as obtaining some information on key plans.

White trash get down on your knees...

Irritably he flicked away the thought of Duo underneath him, face flushed as he was rocked rhythmically. He did not have time for this, even if lust was something he understood. Everything he was had to be subsumed for the sake of the mission.

Even if... Even if...

A heart-shaped face offered itself up to the mind's eye, lavender eyes bright but strangely tender. "When will I see you again?" Inexplicable ache.

"This is war, Duo."

His cheerful voice faltered; violet eyes dropped as the warm length of him pushed away. "I...I know..."

"I wanted to tell you..." He remembered the arms that had wrapped around him, arms he had pushed off, shaken from him almost violently.

"What?" His own voice, flat and discouraging.

Loose waves of chestnut hair shifted as Duo turned his face away. "Forget it. Just that... No. I'll tell you if we meet again."

A stab of irrational pain struck at him even now, days later as he seated himself at the general's console and began his painstaking work. He couldn't afford to make mistakes now, not when he was so close to success. But something was still raw inside from that parting, when he knew he should have excised such feelings.

Moments later he could hear the alarms and he was locked out of the computer system. Heero raised an eyebrow, unsurprised as he ejected the disk and slid it into his pocket. He was on schedule and had gotten everything he needed, and expected. Even being locked out of the system was a part of his meticulous plan. Rising to his feet, he palmed the double doors open and stuck his head around to check out the corridor, cautious.

Time for cake and sodomy.

Why now!? He gritted his teeth and darted into the corridor, flattening himself against the wall to make less of a target. He knew he was going to end up shooting his way out of here. It couldn't be helped.

Duo had been a good lover, there was no question of it -- it had been the most physically fulfilling period of his short life. Why, then, did this leave a yearning gap? Merely because they'd left without saying goodbyes?

He clicked the safety off of his gun. From the shouts in the next corridor, he could tell there were OZ soldiers and he wouldn't be able to stand up to more than a cursory glance. If they looked closer they would see the bloodstains, and once they did an I.D. check as they were giving to everyone, his camouflage was blown.

He had planned this mission to every particular, and it accounted for no survivors.

Heero lunged around the corner, gun trained and ready. Two officers were already down, blood pooling in sticky clots but there was a third, gun in hand lowered to his side, a cap pulled over his eyes. Trained reflexes kicked in and he shot the man before he could lift his head and spot him.

He went down and Heero was already running past but it was shattered violet that snagged his attention, seized at him and screamed more than any other sensation. He turned on his heel and bent by the still-breathing body -- as always, his shot had been accurate and he had pierced close to the heart, undoubtedly rupturing the lung.

Shattered eyes.

A crimson spatter over pale, colorless lips.

A promise extracted.

"Get the hell out of here! I'm telling you to GET OUT!"

Behind him as he pushed up from the floor and ran, thick raspy breaths dissolved into bitter giggling laughter.



Forever -- someday, we'll have a chance to make this more than a word, naa? We'll do it together. Promise...naa...naa, Heero?

With a crisp flick the smoldering grey flakes were sent fluttering, slanting on air and wisps of smoke to land near one heavy-booted toe. Vivid-colored eyes watched its decent, their remarkable violet coloring denied life by the flat lifeless expression of the gamine face.

Flick. Burnt embers joined the collection pile gathering by the toe of the work boot, an offering to silent remembrance.

...naa, Heero...? ...naa...?


Another careless snap of long slender fingers sent the declining butt to the concrete, sparking an orange-molten trail. It died an abrupt death beneath the heavy heel of the dark boot, ground to less than ashes. A quick glance to the clock across the square set the young man to shifting with a restless air. One hand tapped a small pack against his thigh and he shifted again, eyes brooding.

A fitful gust of wind sent up a small explosion of new-fallen leaves, their riotous autumn colors swirling across the square in a storm of glowing yellow and burnt-orange and deep crimson. The young man tensed and his hand went up to the nape of his neck in a reflexive gesture, smoothing at the base of his cropped hair. He lifted his face again and his eyes were defiant.

"The only promises you make are the ones that speak of death." Cryptic words spoken, he turned away from the bleeding sunset and jerked another cigarette from the pack and lit it with fingers that pretended not to tremble. He sucked deep, nostrils flaring, and fixed his eyes on the tousle-haired figure that had appeared at the edge of the square. His gaze burned and he blamed it on the smoke as he exhaled a plume to drift up and half-obscure the lean body, blurring the face with fierce eyes.

Those eyes were fixed on him, shock-softened.

A thin thread of a voice trembled in his ears, a younger voice still falling into a husky baritone. Promise me you'll be happy. Promise me you'll live.

I -- Duo, you can't—

Deliberately the young man turned his back, taking another drag on the cigarette. It was a small measure of defiance, of scorn against the way things had been, and how they were now but he found himself unable not to. Because on just that morning two years ago, before his blood-washed dreams had soaked into reality, Heero had...he'd—

Promise... naa, Heero...?


He had turned his face away.



Motley-colored gusts of leaves swirled up to eclipse his vision and for the moment Heero had the option to believe the rangy figure was a ghost, wreathed in smoke as it was with vivid violet eyes burning a path of accusation between them, in a paper-white face. Then with a flick of graceful long fingers a bit of ash seethed through the air and the man turned, presenting the slender line of his back. One hand dug into the pocket of worn denim.

Heero knew he was staring.

He could still see the blood-flecked face, that same ghastly paper-white; in his mind he still clutched at the long fingers for a convulsive moment before pounding up the hall. He couldn't blame Duo for hating him. He could not refute the silent accusation that had dwelled in those beautiful but lifeless eyes. It was his fault; he was the reason the light had faded from exuberant blue-violet orbs.

He'd left Duo lying in a pool of his own blood.

But the mission had been a success.



[A.C. 196]

There was no way he could survive.

His whitened lips were already blood-flecked -- breathing it, he had to be filling his lung with blood at every breath.

"Why are you here!?" he half-shouted, gun clattering from numb fingers as he kneeled by his lover.

"When will I see you again..." Duo smiled up at him, the expression bright but the corners of his lips trembled. "It's a lot sooner than I thought it would be, Heero." His breath came in fits.

"Don't talk," Heero ordered, pressing the heel of his hand over the wound. He could feel the throb of Duo's heart against his skin and still the crimson seeped out around the pressure, each beat draining the braided boy's life away. "I -- I shot you..."

He wasn't supposed to be here. No -- he had no way of knowing if Duo would be here or not. Wild-eyed, Heero stared down at him. His face was growing pale as his eyelids flickered.

"Don't -- Duo..."

"Don't?" he coughed, the sound like a shot in his ears. A gunshot, the one that echoed, still lingering, in his head. He could only exchange one mistake for another. First that little girl and her dog -- and now this, and now Duo, his only... His hands shook and more bright blood sprang up around them, dyeing Duo's clothes and his own skin.

How many times must I kill -- !?

"Don't what?" Duo continued, staring up at him fixedly. "Promise me something."

"What?" he replied, eyes wild, hands helpless as he tried to staunch the blood.

Duo coughed and another thick line of burgundy seeped from the corner of his mouth. "Promise," he repeated more forcefully, and Heero nodded, jesus, anything to stop him from forcing more blood up. "...I want you to be happy. No matter what, be happy."

"Be... what...?" Heero's voice sounded queer even to himself. "I -- Duo, you can't—"

Duo shook his head. "You already promised. Now, remember? I've got one more thing ...remember -- I've got to say what I said I would, when we met again?"

"Not like this," he muttered, freeing one hand to tear at the shirt of his uniform. One-handed, he could only manage ragged strips. "Later, when we're out of here -- you'll see that—"

"You're all I can see." There was a strange smile on those wide, sensual lips. Heero looked down at them, helpless, and even now as it had always been he could only think of kissing them. "I'm glad. Heero... I love..."

A small tear was trickling down. Heero wiped it away from shock-white skin and regarded it with curiosity. Duo's eyes had slid closed; they had dulled and his head sagged to the left.

The pulse that beat so fiercely against his hand was abruptly absent in a wrench so keen it drove through his skull, swift and painful. "Duo?" He scrubbed his hands against the black uniform pants. It would never come off, no matter what he did.

Darkened twilight eyes snapped open and the look made Heero start. "Now get the hell out of here! I'm telling you to GET OUT!"

Heero pushed up off his knees and began to scramble up the corridor.

Duo let his head fall to the side again. The look in those eyes had been pure and focused, driven as Heero had always been -- and that look had never been for him.

He coughed and it turned into a wracking spasm of laughter, dissolving into raspy giggles as he vented mirthlessly... Heero, himself, the world, the blood that gurgled in his body... He closed his eyes. Heero had gotten what he wanted.

Duo completed the formula for him. The words were uttered so softly, softer than the catch of blood filling, the sound of his ruptured flesh.

"...Ninmu kanryou..."



"Since when do you smoke?"

He tossed it out instead of a 'hello' and watched almost mesmerized as the slender back stiffened instantly in a ripple of muscle and Duo turned at last, grinding out his cigarette with one foot, his eyes glacial.

"Since you left me for Relena," he replied in pleasant tones, but expression was taut, face as pale as it had been that day.

Heero hesitated. There was nothing he could say to that, aside from calling up Duo's own words. His eyes wandered from the startling sight of Duo's face framed in brief chin-length locks of hair, all that was left of the former glorious braid, and trapped an idle leaf in his hands as it blew past.

"You said..." He hesitated again. "You told me to live." I thought you were dead, he wanted to plead with his eyes, ...I didn't know...

And he hadn't. Duo had disappeared without a trace. The braided pilot of Shinigami might has well have died there on the cold floor of that base, which had blown up with timed precision after Wing Zero had gotten clear. Until the mysterious invitation that had been sent to the hotel room, arriving anonymously, bearing a cryptically-worded message that had made the blood drain from Heero's face. He could not lift his eyes now because they would beg the way his words could not -- and Heero Yuy did not plead with anyone.

"And be happy," Duo agreed evenly, but his eyes were mocking.



[A.C. 196]

Duo watched the shadow-painted stretch of supple muscles flow as Heero slipped on his shirt, half-twisted and turned away in the white sheets strewn haphazardly over the bed. His throat felt tight with the words he wanted to say, but refused to try and force out around the ache. He had already tried for so long.

"Heero, I..." He fell silent and took to staring at his hands, fingers knotted and interlaced on the rumpled sheets. No, this wasn't a familiar scenario at all, a little voice mocked him savagely. Duo, you try too hard.

Not nearly hard enough.

"So when will I see you again?" He made his voice bright, instead of the fretful, too-insistent tones he would have used if he'd finished his earlier sentence.

An incredulous cobalt orb burned into him. "This is war, Duo." Then the half-glance flicked away and Heero was pulling on his pants.

That tone always made him falter, seared him every time with the conviction that Heero was everything he believed himself to be, a textbook soldier and Duo was marked on a meticulous list somewhere, fulfilling the requirement of chapter eight : stress relief. Paragraph five, "it is important to find a regular outlet for sexual tension."

"I -- I know..." he replied quietly, feeling squelched. He worried at the edge of one ragged fingernail. Heero was leaving again; he would go with no idea, again, how much it meant that Duo needed to know not when but if there would be a next time. Because....the words welled up again and he choked them back.

"I wanted to tell you..." Impulsively he surged up from the sheets and threw his arms around Heero's shoulders, hair sliding loose and heavy around them both in a rippling chestnut-gold curtain of whispering silk. Before he leaves again, he has to know.

His wrists were seized and Duo fell back in a heap, stunned, as Heero threw his arms off, careless strength shoving him away. The Japanese boy did not even turn his head as the flat cold word fell into the space between them. "What?"

Duo closed his eyes. He pressed his fingers to his mouth, imagining he could still taste Heero's mouth on his. Only moments before, he had tried to tease a promise out of him. ...naa, Heero... his own voice whispered back in his ears. And Heero's face had turned away, refusing to look at him as he would not look now.

"Forget it," he whispered, throat aching. "Just that... No. I'll tell you if we meet again." He tried to force a smile but Heero was already rising from the bed, springs creaking a little with the movement.

"Fine. Good luck with your mission."

The door clicked shut and he stared at it, hardly half-believing. Not even a 'later, Duo?' Less than a good bye.

"You, too," he said to the empty room, clinging to his knees.



Shattered eyes.

A crimson spatter over pale, colorless lips.

A promise extracted.

"...I'm telling you to be happy. No matter what, be happy."



"Then why...now?" Heero whispered, his voice harsh around the dull ache in his throat. Duo's eyes were so cold and impersonal and his expression so rigid it was like he actually had given himself over to Shinigami, swathed as he was in black, poised on the edge of the park with another burning cigarette...waiting for his moment to strike. "Are you going to kill me?"

He wasn't going to insult Duo with the word 'try.' If Duo wanted to kill him, now, it was something he couldn't refuse. He supposed he owed Duo -- and deserved it.

The short bark of laughter was abrupt as the tumult of leaves that lit up, wind-stirred from their scattered piles. "Kill you? No, Heero," Duo was still chuckling, but it was devoid of mirth. "You always think in such clear-cut terms. Black and white. Good or bad. Life or death, love or hate..."

"What, then?" he said warily, eyes watchful.

There was no warmth in the lavendar eyes that met his. "Do you remember what you promised?"

His voice was steady as he repeated the words, and he was proud of that. "Promise me you'll be happy. Promise me you'll live."

"That's right," Duo agreed, his voice pleasant and amiable. His eyes so utterly glacial. "So how about it, Heero? Are you happy?"

He watched the long fingers lift, pressed close near the familiar wide-lipped mouth as the American took a drag, exhaling into the wind, eyes intent. What answer was he looking for? Would it make him happy to know? Or would he only be more cold and remote?


The corners of that so-expressive mouth lifted up at last, the first smile since he'd laid eyes on Duo in the bloody fading afternoon. Duo gave him a pleased smile, a genuine expression and his own lips tugged a response. The husky voice had been darkened by lungfuls of smoke and the scar of old injury but it was still seductive as Duo began to sway towards him.

"Good," Duo breathed, violet eyes flashing.

Then he was moving past him. Cigarette spinning to the ground, put out under one abrasive heel. Faint scent of aftershave reaching his senses as Duo left him -- this time, he knew, it would be forever.



[A.C. 196]

...shattered violet...

Duo was dead. He'd killed Duo.

He didn't understand.

Ninmu kanryou.

It ached inside.