Author: Caroline

Rating: R (for language, adult themes)

Warnings: Here was a death fic. And Trowa's a bit of a psychotic bastard. No animals were harmed in the writing of this fic.


Notes: Follow-up to Sunhawk's "Sleep Deprivation." My thanks for letting us butcher her work. :)

To see the commission pic, click here.

The Best Laid Plans...

Duo's breathing hitches as he leans into me. I place my hands on his arms, leaning in to smell his hair. Christ, but the smell of him can make me harder than the Hope Diamond.

I hear him gasp as he murmurs my name, "Trowa..." His voice is soft, almost breathless. I close my eyes and try not to groan, imagining him spread out beneath me, hair a tangled mess as he moves against me.

"I think he wants to eat me."

I snap out of my fantasy to eye the cat sitting on his haunches under a tree just a few meters away, watching us and licking his chops.

"Nonsense. Kali's harmless."

"Harmless? Trowa, you have a fucking lion prowling your backyard." Duo shivers and I bite my lip to keep from moaning out loud. "How is that even legal?"

"The property is walled. The animals can't get out."

"Animals? Plural?" Duo looks around nervously. "What else do you have in here?"

I laugh, allowing myself, just briefly, to lean into Duo again. "Two lions, a Bengal tiger, some other odds and ends."

Duo's jaw drops. "Are you serious? How do they keep from eating each other?"

"The estate grounds are divided into sections. The lions are kept together; the tiger has his own private enclosure towards the rear of the grounds."

Duo shakes his head. "Your own private menagerie. I can't believe I never knew these animals were here before."

I shrug. "How often did you come out here?"

Duo's face grows sad. I try not to smile. Yes, Duo. Guilt is a wonderful thing. "You're right. We should have made time to come out here more often. It's peaceful out here. Maybe if we'd noticed how overworked Quatre had become, maybe he wouldn't have..."

A sob catches in his throat, and I turn him around, wrapping my arms around him. "Of everyone, I should have been the one to notice," I say, making sure to let my voice shake, just a little. I rub one hand up and down his back, feeling the hard planes of his wiry muscles beneath his shirt. Just a little while longer...

"No, Trowa. We were his friends, too. We should have noticed, said something... God! I can't believe it's been almost a year!"

I could. Ten months, two weeks and five days. I didn't keep count because I cared. I kept count because I was expected to. Tell people the exact number of days the "love of your life" had been gone and you get instant sympathy. And no questions asked.

Almost a year since dear Quatre had become the dearly departed. A death I had orchestrated, planned out, waiting patiently for everything to fall into place, as I knew it would. Sleep depravation. The perfect crime. Nothing to link me to his death. I was but the grieving lover. No one suspected otherwise. It had been murder by degrees, hatched out in a plan to get everything I had ever wanted.

And I almost had it.

The cat growls. Duo jumps. I let myself laugh, just enough to be appropriate. "What's the matter, Duo? You've gone shark diving in the Caribbean. Surely you're not afraid of one big kitty cat?"

"There was a fucking cage between me and the sharks, Tro," he replies, glaring up at me. "There's nothing here to prevent Mr. Kitty over there from leaping over here to swallow me whole. I'm adventurous, not suicidal."

"Fine, fine. Let's go back to the house and have a beer, all right?" I slip one arm around his shoulders and draw him toward the house, away from Kali who stretches in the sun.

"Sounds good, though I hope it's not that expensive shit Qua... you used to have. Every time I drank it I felt like I had to have my pinkie in the air. A beer should taste like beer... watery and cheap."

"I know what you like, Duo," I say, keeping my arm around him.

A few minutes later and I was settled into a plush, comfortable chair in one of the many useless rooms on the first floor of the house. I think it was some kind of study. Or maybe a den. I really couldn't be bothered to remember and at that moment, I didn't really care.

Duo is slumped on the couch across from me, beer in one hand, feet propped up on the coffee table. Had Quatre been alive or Heero around, Duo would have been scolded like a child, made to sit up properly, feet on the floor. I don't give a damn, and prove it by propping my own feet up on the table as well.

Duo chuckles. I raise an eyebrow. "Sorry, Tro," he says, taking a swig of his beer. "I just never pictured you for the feet-on-the-coffee-table type."

I snort. "Lots of things you don't know about me." But there was time for that. Starting now.

He sighs, looking around the room. "Don't know how you can stand it, really. Being here. Being reminded of him every minute of every day."

I shrug. "I have my good days and my bad ones. It helps that you're here." Try not to lay it on too thick.

He gives me a rueful smile. "Where else would I be?"

"No word from Heero?" There wouldn't be, I'd made sure of that.

"Not even a damn, 'Don't worry, I'm fine.'" He drains his bottle. I hand him another one. "Thanks. Fuck. He's been gone almost five weeks this time, Tro. And before that, he'd been gone a month."

It's amazing what having money can do. Like create a threat to an important international corporation such as WEI to keep certain Preventer agents busy and, more importantly, chasing ghosts that didn't exist. Works to my advantage. Duo is here, with me, and unhappy.


I pull a packet of cigarette out of my pocket and throw them at him. He catches it with ease and reflexes of a born fighter. His eyes grow big when he sees what I'd thrown him. His favorite brand.

I frown as he sighs and sets the pack aside. "Thanks, man. But I've given them up. Heero doesn't like them."

That makes me frown even more. "Heero? The guy you haven't seen in months? How's he going to know?"

"Aw, Tro. He's right. They're not good for me. I was starting to get winded during our morning jog when he suggested I give them up."

I shrug, not willing to let this go. Another wedge would be useful.

"Like I said, he's not here. You've not seen him in months, and I'm not going to tell him." I lean forward and hold out my hand. "Toss me one and I'll smoke with you."

"Since when do you smoke?" he asks, opening the pack and tossing one at me. I notice he doesn't take one out for himself.

I pull a lighter out of my pocket and light up, taking a long, deep drag off it, letting my eyes flutter shut as if that cigarette were the greatest thing in the world. I can feel Duo's eyes on me, or rather, the cigarette, staring hungrily.

It only takes two more drags before he gives a soft curse and takes one out for himself.

"You didn't answer my question," he says as I tossed him the lighter.

"Took it up after Quatre..." I let myself choke on my voice for added effect.

Duo nods, sucking at the end of his cigarette, sagging even further down on the couch. "Sweet Jesus, that's good."

We sit in silence for a while, smoking, drinking; I offer him another cigarette, which he takes this time without hesitation. He opens another beer for me.

"Trowa," he says, when his second cigarette was half gone, "how do you cope?"

"Cope?" I ask, leaning forward a bit, anticipating a chance to wedge Duo further away from Heero and closer to me.

"Waking up every morning, knowing Quatre isn't there with you. Knowing that he won't be again?" His voice is sad and wistful. My heart soars a little.

"The first months were hard," I reply, making my own voice sound a little wistful, too. "Honestly, it does get a little easier each day." Probably not the most politically correct answer, but I don't want to scare Duo into staying with Heero for fear of being alone. "It helped a lot that you... and Heero... were there for me. Especially you."

Duo blinks, and I can see tears forming in the corners of his eyes. Taking a chance, I get up from my seat and move to sit next to him on the sofa. I take his hand and, acting like the concerned friend I am supposed to be, ask what was wrong.

"Oh God, Tro... I'm thinking of leaving Heero."

Not since the night they told me Quatre had driven over a cliff had I heard sweeter words.

"Duo... are you sure?" It's hard, keeping my jubilation out of my voice.

He shakes his head. "The last time we were together, we fought. It was... bad. Lots of things were said, things I regret now, but can't take back. I think that's why he hasn't contacted me. He's too mad..." He blinks away his tears and turns his head away from me.

I squeeze his hand and move closer. "You have to do what is best for you, Duo." Take a breath. Hesitate. Reach out and cup his cheek. "I care about you too much to see you hurt."

"Trowa?" His eyes are glassy with unshed tears. I let the pad of my thumb stroke his cheekbone. He is so achingly beautiful, vulnerable in his pain, yet trying to show a brave front. I'm afraid I can't help myself.

I lean in and kiss him.

He freezes, and I press my advantage. He tries to pull away and I follow. He puts his hand on my chest and pushes. Reluctantly, I pull away.

"Trowa?" he asks again, unsure of himself, or, more likely, of me.

I turn away, in an effort to look embarrassed. "I... I'm sorry, Duo. It's just been... I've been so lonely and..." I turn back to look at him, letting what I feel for him show on my face, not hiding for the first time in months. "I meant what I said. I care for you a great deal. And it tears me up to see you this unhappy with Heero..."

"But I wasn't unhappy with Heero, at least, not until you uncovered that threat to WEI." I must have made a face because he shakes his head and grabs my hand. "No, I didn't mean to imply... it's just... he won't let it go. He's obsessed. And I know it's important to him, saving Quatre's... your... company. And I feel so guilty for being so selfish..."

"What's wrong with being a little selfish?" I ask, honestly. After all, being selfish got me where I am today.

Duo shrugs. "But he's trying to help you... preserve what Quat worked so hard to build."

"Quatre didn't build it, his father did. It was handed to Quatre gift wrapped with a pretty little bow when he turned eighteen." I can't keep the bitterness out of my voice, unfortunately.


I sigh. "I'm sorry. I know you want to keep Quatre's memory unsullied, but life with him wasn't a bed of roses."

"What do you mean?"

I reach up to pinch the bridge of my nose. Time to go for gold. "I didn't want to say anything... but in those last couple of months before he died, I was thinking of leaving him, too."

Duo gasps softly. "Really? Why?"

"Always at work, even when he was home. He'd ignore me to do work he could have easily assigned a subordinate to do. When I tried to spend time with him, he'd concede, but always made me feel guilty about taking him away from his work. I tried to get him to rest, to take a vacation, or even a damn weekend, away from the office. Tried to get him out here. But he wouldn't." I add a sniff, for dramatic effect. "His damn sense of altruism got in the way... of everything. Me. Our relationship. His health. And in the end... it's what killed him."

I'd like to thank the Academy...

"Oh Trowa, I'm so sorry! I had no idea..." Duo moves closer to me, and I graciously let him put his arms around me.

"I didn't want you to know. And I hadn't given up on him yet. I was going to give him one more chance... but then, the accident happened and..." I turn my head to bury my face against Duo's shoulder and it's his turn to rub soothing circles over my back. I breathe in deep, reveling in the scent of him.

"If there's anything I can do..."

He trails off and I look up into his eyes. Dare I? Now? I've been more than patient, and he's here, with me, and his smell is driving my libido crazy. I decide to take the chance, maybe giving him the last little push he needed to leave Heero and be with me...

I lean my head in toward his. I hear his breath catch, see his cheeks flush as I let my lips ghost over his. "Stay with me tonight," I whisper, before pressing against his lips again, catching his mouth open and he gasps softly as I slide my tongue into his mouth.

And for a long, long moment, it's perfect. He begins to respond, letting me tilt his head back as I press in deeper. He whimpers a little when my hand slides up his thigh. I cup him in my palm and I can feel him begin to respond. But then he pushes me away and scrambles up, putting distance between us.

I frown.

"I'm... god, Trowa. I'm sorry... I can't... I'm sorry," he stammers, inching toward the door.

I swallow a sigh of frustration as I smile up at him. "I'm sorry, too. I shouldn't have presumed..."

"No, I... look. I'm just confused. And probably a little tipsy." I doubt that. He'd only had a beer and a half. "I think I just need to get some sleep..."

I stand, nodding. "I understand. And I'm sorry, too. But Duo... I meant every word."

He looks at me with a deer in headlights expression on his face, mumbles his goodnights and flees the room. I settle back into the couch, another cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other.

Now he knows my intentions. All I have to do is keep him and Heero apart for a little longer, make Duo continue to doubt Heero, and he would be mine.

And I never doubt, not even for a moment, that I would get what I wanted...

Sleep doesn't come easy that night. Just the idea of Duo, asleep in the next room, keeps me up half the night, lurid fantasies of how he tasted, how he felt, making sleep next to impossible.

I meet him in the breakfast room in the morning. He blushes when he sees me, a trait I found insipid in Quatre yet endearing with Duo. We say our good mornings and lie about how we slept the night before.

Then, in the middle of his omelet, I reach over to cover his hand with mine.

"Duo, about last night..."

I am interrupted by the jovial ring of his cell phone. He pulls it out of his pocket with an apologetic glance at me as he answers it.


A long pause.

"Oh god... Heero?"

My fork full of egg stops, halfway to my mouth.

"When?" His voice chokes up. I set the fork down. Dare I hope?

The doorbell rings. Duo bolts out of his chair. I wipe my mouth and follow at a more sedate pace, wondering if this is where it all falls into place. Heero, killed in the line of duty. And I would be there to comfort his partner. In every way.

Duo reaches the front door and flings it open.

Imagine my disgust when I see it is not someone come to give Duo Maxwell the bad news of his lover's demise, but Heero Yuy himself, standing in the doorway, cell phone in hand, smiling as Duo flings himself at him.

"Heero! God, I'm so sorry..."

"No, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said..."

"But you had every reason..."

"Never should have left like that..."

Their platitudes are disgusting, and I have an urge to leave the room before I lose my breakfast. But I don't. I have to be politic. Greet my "friend." Inquire about the mission. Act interested and glad to see him.

"Hello, Heero," I say, inviting him inside.

"Trowa." He gives me an odd look and I notice he keeps his arm around Duo.

"You've been... well?" I hope I can hide the disappointment in my voice.

"I have. And I'm pleased to tell you that the threat against WEI has been neutralized."

I go cold. Neutralized? I hadn't heard. Did he know? No, he couldn't. I'd been very careful. And yet, he stares at me, watching my face. Perhaps to see if I would give something away?

"That is wonderful news!" I exclaim. "And a relief. You will have to tell me all about it."

He nods. "Later, if you don't mind. I've made my report to headquarters. You can call them if you don't want to wait but..." He picks up Duo's hand and holds it in both of his. "Duo, I also put in a request to transfer. I'm done with field work." He raises Duo's hand to his lips. "I'm tired of being away from you."

I fight down the urge to rip Duo away from him.

Duo's eyes grow wide with surprise. "Really?"

"Yes. I..." He looks up at me. "I'm sorry, Trowa. Would you excuse us? I'm tired and I need to talk to Duo alone for a while."

"Of course." Ever the gracious host. "Make yourself at home. Will I see the two of you for lunch?"

"Better make it dinner," Duo says, tugging on Heero's hands, pulling him toward the staircase. "I have a feeling we might be... busy..."

I watch them disappear up the stairs. I wait long enough for them to make it to the "privacy" of Duo's room before I head for my study. I pour myself a stiff drink, then walk over to click the secret switch on the bookcase, entering the hidden safe room a moment later.

I'd had the surveillance system installed a couple of months after Quatre died. No, the system had already been installed. I had simply... added a few things, here and there.

I find the camera hidden in the air vent of Duo's bedroom and switch it on, swallowing the rest of my drink quickly as I watch them kiss. But fortunately for me, they don't take it further. I raise the volume on the microphone, waiting, listening, ready to act, if Heero showed any sign of suspicion about me.

"I'm sorry I didn't contact you," Heero says, bring Duo to lie against him on the bed. "At first, I was too upset, after our fight. And then, I was too deep undercover. I was so close... I couldn't risk it. I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry, too. I know this was important to you."

"It shouldn't have been more important than you."

"It doesn't matter now. It's really over?"

"It's really over."

More kissing. I frown, remembering the kiss I had shared with Duo the night before. That should be me on the bed with him, not Heero. Heero should have long been gone from Duo's life. I feel myself becoming... impatient. It had been close to two years since I had begun my pursuit of Duo Maxwell. And frankly, I was growing tired of the wait.

"Heero," Duo says, pulling away after a long moment. "Are you sure you're not mad at me?"

"I am not."

"Not even because I'm... here?" I lean forward a bit, curious.

"He's your friend, Duo."

"Yours, too."

"Once, perhaps..." I raise an eyebrow at the screen. It was true, Heero and I hadn't seen each other much since the wars, and then only with Quatre and Duo in tow. He had always been somewhat cold and aloof toward me, even more so during the last year of Quatre's life.

Perhaps he knows me better than I thought. A chill rushes down my spine.

"I don't understand why you don't want me to hang out with him," Duo says. "You just issued me an ultimatum when we fought and didn't explain why!"

I blink, staring at the monitor. So the cause of their fight... had been me? I feel a slow smile spread across my face. I could use this...

"I'm sorry!" Heero says, pulling Duo back to lie next to him. "It was irrational of me, and I never meant to tell you to not see your friend. I'm just... I don't like the way he looks at you, sometimes."

"Is that what this is about? You're jealous? Of Trowa?" The surprise in Duo's voice is evident. "God, Heero, you have nothing to be jealous about!"

"Do I not? This past year, you've spent more time with him than me!"

"You were gone! Fuck, he'd just lost Quatre! What was I supposed to do? I was lonely and hurting too, and you weren't there!" Duo moves as if to roll off the bed, but Heero grabs him and pulls him back down.

"I know. I'm sorry." They kiss. I look away. "I don't want to fight. And you're right. I wasn't there. But I will be from now on." More kissing. "I never want to leave you again. I want to wake up every morning with you at my side. Is that... is that acceptable?"

I want Duo to say no, to push Heero away, call him out as a jealous bastard and come running to me. But he doesn't. He lays his head on Heero's shoulder and slides an arm around his waist.

"More than acceptable. It's all I want, too. And you don't have to worry about Trowa. I love you."

They stop talking after that. I watch, unable to take my eyes off them, as Heero makes love to Duo. I lean back in the chair, rubbing the bulge in my pants, trying to imagine that it is me on that bed with Duo. My hands smoothing down his body, settling his hips over mine, thrusting into that tight heat. Duo's cries spur my own climax, a smile on my face as I lean back, breathless, in my chair and switch off the monitor.

Duo may have professed his love to Heero. But he hadn't told him about the kiss we shared the night before...

Neither Heero nor Duo appear for dinner. I spend the night awake and alone in my bed, mulling over what I had heard and listening to the muffled voices coming from the room across the hall. My plan to separate the two of them seemed to be working better than I had hoped if they were fighting about me. But I am unsure where to go from here. And how much Heero knows of my involvement with the threat to WEI. But if he had known anything, I doubt I would be lying undisturbed in my bed right now.

And then there is the problem of Heero retiring from field work. Perhaps I can talk him out of it. Or get Duo to talk him out of it. But no... Duo wanted Heero at home. And I doubt Heero would want to listen to what I'd have to say.

I had hoped to separate the two of them without resorting to bloodshed. Two deaths might raise some suspicions. But if that's what it takes to have Duo...

I would have to wait and see.

I don't see them until the next morning, at breakfast, when Duo wanders in, braid disheveled and pajamas decidedly rumpled, looking positively... radiant.

"I guess I don't have to ask whether or not you slept well," I say, spreading butter on my bagel.

Duo drops heavily into the chair next to me, smiling like I hadn't seen him smile before. "Heero asked me to marry him last night."

The knife drops from my hand, clattering loudly onto my plate. "Butterfingers," I mumble, as I pick it up. "That's... congratulations?"

He laughs. "Don't sound so happy for me."

"I... but what about everything you said the other night?"

He squirms in his chair. "I... didn't really mean it. I was just lonely and depressed and worried about Heero." He looks up at me through veiled eyes. "Look, Trowa. I'm sorry. I know you said you... cared for me. I care for you, too. But... I love Heero. I want to spend the rest of my life with him."

I bite the inside of my cheek until I taste blood.

"I... understand," I manage to say as I clench the knife handle in my hand.

"We're still friends, right?" He lays his hand on mine.

"Yes. Friends." My vision narrows until all I can see is the blade of the knife.

He pats my hand. "Great. I'm going to go hit the shower, then drive into town to the store so I can fix Heero's favorite meal for dinner tonight. I hate to cut our week short, Trowa, but he wants to leave tomorrow and go to City Hall and register as partners as soon as possible." He bounces out of his seat. "God, I can't believe it. Tomorrow's my wedding day!"

And then he's gone and I'm alone.

This... complicates things. A great deal. I am about to lose him. And I do not want that to happen.

Trying to break them up no longer seems a feasible option. There is only one recourse left to me. I have to get rid of Heero. Soon. Today.

I don't have a lot of time to get things ready. I have to make it look accidental. I can't afford to take the time I took with Quatre. Besides, I'd tried that, sending him out on one dangerous infiltration job after another. Bastard had more lives than a cat.

A cat... Hmm. The beginnings of an idea begin to form and I hurry through breakfast in order to gather what I'd need.

I wait until Duo leaves for town, then leave a note to Heero, asking him to join me after lunch in the gardens.

He finds me an hour later, throwing my old practice knives at a tree trunk.

"I see you haven't lost your talent with knives," he says, coming up to stand behind me.

I heft my last knife in my hand, take a moment to get the balance of it before letting it fly to land with a jarring *thunk* next to the one I'd just thrown. "All these years and Catherine is still better than me," I reply, walking over to the tree to pry my knives loose. "Don't suppose you'd let me practice on you?"

He laughs a little. "No, thanks. I promised Duo I'd stay away from dangerous situations."

"I heard that the two of you are going to register as partners," I say, letting the first knife fly toward the spot I'd mentally marked as the bull's eye.

"We are." He moves to lean against the tall brick wall to my left, a wall designed to keep things in. I take note of his position and fling another knife towards the tree.

"You don't deserve him, you know," I say.

He shifts uneasily. "Why do you say that?"

"You don't understand him. Not like..." Another knife whirls through the air. Two left.

"Like you?" I glance at him. "He told me what you said to him the other night."

"Did he also mention the kiss we shared?" I heft the fourth knife.

Heero hesitates. "He did not."

I snort. "He's better off with me." The knife flies straight and true toward its target.

"Why do you say that?"

I whirl around to face him. "You try to change him, Yuy. Stop him from living his life how he wants to live while you go gallivanting out on one mission after another, tell him to stop smoking, how to dress... You want a doll, not a partner."

His eyes narrow and he takes a step toward me. "I asked him to take a desk job to keep him safe. And I do not go 'gallivanting' around. I wish to hell I could stay in one place! The smoking was for our health, both his and mine, and I only had to ask him once. Not that it's any of your business, Barton!"

"But it is my business, if it involves Duo," I say, letting the handle of my last knife bite into my grip. "I love him."

"For how long?"

"Since you two moved back to the city."

He stares at me. "But... you were with Quatre."

I snort. "Only because he served a purpose. But I didn't love him. Not like Duo. And I won't let you take him from me."

"Is that why you hired those people to take down WEI?"

I pause. "How did..."

"I wasn't sure. Until now. That man, Gray. He knew too much. Things that could only have come from the inside. From someone high up."

I shrug. "It was never a real threat. Just enough to make a stir. To keep you busy."

"So you could work on Duo." His hands clench into fists. "You bastard..."

"Most likely."

"And what do you plan to do now, Barton? Kill me?"

"Why not? I already killed Quatre." The admission startles him, long enough for me to lift the knife and fling it at him. His reflexes are excellent, but his hesitation costs him and the knife buries itself into his shoulder. But then, I hadn't planned on the knife taking him out. Just... slow him down. Make him bleed.

Let the wind pick up the scent of blood.

He sinks to his knees, breathing heavily, and yanks the knife out of his shoulder. He does it for better mobility, but it's a foolish move. Blood begins to seep down his arm.

"What do you mean," he says, his voice pained, "you killed Quatre? There was no evidence..."

"There wouldn't be. I didn't drug him or mess with his car or anything banal like that. I only messed with his mind," I reply, moving closer. He lunges at me with the knife. I sidestep and kick out, knocking the knife from his hand. Really, I hadn't expected it to be this easy.

He rolls, his left hand clutching at the wound in his shoulder. "What did you do to Quatre, you son of a bitch!"

"Kept him busy. Kept him occupied. Kept him worried. Poor thing. It's a wonder he didn't fall asleep at the wheel long before he did. But he was a Gundam pilot. I guess he had stamina." I edge away from Heero, toward the wall. "But not enough, obviously, in the end."

He growls and lunges at me. I'm ready for him and twist out of the way. He lands heavily and rushes me again. This time he manages to get a hand around my ankle when I try to avoid him and we both hit the ground with a thud. Then he's on me, hands around my throat. I choke and try to buck him off, but my own hands are slippery with his blood. In desperation I stick my thumb in the wound. He screams and jerks back. I manage to shove him off me and scramble to my feet.

And behind me, I hear a soft growl.

"I really do hate to do this," I tell Heero, who is struggling to get to his feet, face clenched in pain, clutching his shoulder. "But I've waited this long for Duo. I tried to be patient, but I'm tired." I walk backwards toward the door in the garden wall that leads to the house. "If it's any consolation, I promise to take good care of him."

"You'll never touch him!" Heero cries and leaps at me. I try to dodge, but my foot trips on the forgotten knife. He hits me hard and we tumble to the ground. I hear a snap and an almost-unbearable pain shoots up my leg.

I lay on my back, panting, my leg twisted, a red haze filling my vision. Heero gets up and stands over me, looking at my leg. His eyes are filled with rage, hatred. He picks up the knife, and for a moment I think he is going to end it. I struggle to sit, but only manage to raise myself up on my elbows.

"He would have been... better off... with me... Heero," I pant, feeling everything I'd worked for, everything I had ever wanted, slipping through my grasp.

"He doesn't love you," Heero replies, fingers opening and closing on the hilt of the knife. "He loves me. And I love him."

"Are you... going to... kill me now?" I ask, struggling to maintain my grip on consciousness.

"I should. Quatre..." His voice breaks. "Quatre was my friend. He loved you. You didn't deserve him. And you don't deserve Duo." He throws the knife away, into the bushes. "I'm going to call an ambulance. Then I'm going to call Preventers. And then I'm going to take Duo away and marry him." His eyes narrow. "And if I ever see you again, I won't stop myself from finishing what you tried to do to me."

He walks away. I watch as he disappears through the door in the wall before letting myself drop back to the ground, trying to control the pain from the broken leg. Damn it. Stay calm. Regulate my breathing. Don't lose consciousness. All is not yet lost.

Granted, I hadn't counted on breaking my leg, but I would heal. Then I would just have to take more drastic measures. There was a small satellite owned by a dummy corporation under WEI that would suit my purposes. If Duo wouldn't come to me willingly, I would just take him. Make him see I was a better choice. Give me time to take care of Heero once and for all...

A low growl penetrates the black fog threatening to engulf my mind. I look over to see Kali coming out of the bushes. I sigh. "Took your sweet time, getting here, boy, " I say, grimacing in pain. "Could have used you earlier. Had a nice tasty snack for you."

The lion yowls in reply, his eyes never leaving mine. He licks his chops, and I freeze. He crouches low, seeing me for what I am. A wounded animal. Covered in blood. Heero's blood.

I let it all go then, with a bitter resignation. All of my hopes, dreams, wants and desires. In that instant before the lion pounces, I have to laugh at the irony, getting caught in my own trap. Kali's a man-eater, one I rescued from being put down. How tragic it would have been. Heero, accidentally mauled by his friend's pet lion. Duo would have been devastated, but I would have seen him through it, helped him move on with his life... with me at his side.

But now... all that is gone. Everything is gone. I close my eyes as Kali leaps for me, and my broken leg becomes the least of my pains...


I drift, for a moment, an eternity... The next thing I become aware of is a white ceiling and the startled gasp of a woman bending over me. My vision is fuzzy, and I try to move but something seems to be holding me down. I try to speak, only to choke on a tube in my throat. I struggle, and the woman says something I can't quite hear through the hazy fog. She grabs something above my head, a clear plastic bag, and a moment later, I'm adrift again...


The next time I surface, Heero is there. I try to flinch away, but again I can't move. There's a repetitive buzz-hiss in my ear and I realize the tube is still in my throat. I can't speak, can't move...

Heero leans over me. And smiles. It's not a pleasant sight.

"Duo and I were married two weeks ago," he says, raising his hand and showing me his ring.

Again I try to speak, and fail.

"I wanted to be here when you woke up. I know you haven't talked to your doctors yet," he says, sitting on the edge of what I assume is a hospital bed. "Your lion mauled you pretty good. Would have killed you if Duo hadn't returned and went looking for us. He saved your life. I would have let the beast finish the job."

I blink angrily at him.

"You're paralyzed from the neck down."

What? No...

"You'll need to be on a respirator probably for the rest of your life. You can't move, breathe, eat, piss or shit on your own. You're helpless. And you'll never be able to bother us again."

I struggle to process the information. Helpless. I can't be helpless. I swore never again to be helpless. It can't be true...

"Une knows what you've done. Your assets have been seized and control of WEI has been placed in the competent hands of Quatre's sisters. You've been left with enough to keep you comfortable in whatever state rehabilitation home they send you to." He shrugs the shoulder where I'd caught him with the knife. "I told Duo my wound was just an accident. Didn't tell him that one of his best friends was responsible for the death of one of his other best friends. He's lost too many people." He leans in close, his eyes narrow. "But if you ever try to disrupt our lives again, I'll tell him. And then being paralyzed will be the least of your worries. You'll have to face Shinigami. And trust me when I say, you'd wish the cat had eaten you alive ten times over."

He stands, hovering just out of my vision. "I want to leave you something to remember us by." He pulls a picture frame out of his jacket and places it on a table at the foot of the bed. Quatre's blue eyes stare at me with an incriminating gaze from behind the glass. I choke on the breathing tube again.

"I'll send the doctors in now. You won't be seeing either me or Duo again. We're moving spaceside." He walks away, pausing at the door. "Have a nice life. What's left of it."

The door clicks ominously behind him, and I am left only with the sound of silent screaming and Quatre's accusatory eyes.



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