There is no Absolution
by Jennifer Beacham

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"Death is the first dance, eternal"
"Metropolis--Part 1", Dream Theater
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Blood. Everywhere blood.

"What did you give up to come to me?" he panted, pushing aside the pain to gaze into those clear, amethyst eyes, set in a face that had been ethereal even in life...and was only moreso now.

"Nothing that matters," was the quiet reply, given as the speaker knelt at the side of the fallen knight. He reached out a hand to touch that agonized face, gazing into those cobalt orbs with a look of peace.

If possible, the pain in those blue eyes increased. "No..."

"It was never mine to give away," the winged being said softly. "It was given for you long ago." A slight, impish smile curved his expressive lips. "If we are to be damned, better to be damned together, ne?"

The blue-eyed man shuddered, letting go of a moan that was not entirely inspired by physical pain as the angel cradled him in his arms. "Why?"

"Because I love you." Amethyst eyes lifted as a great shout could be heard beyond the walls. They were coming... Not much longer to wait. "Sleep now," he breathed, leaning forward so that his long, shining hair and snowy wings enveloped them both. "I'll protect you." His gaze flicked to where a steady stream of lifeblood pooled on the already muddy ground of the courtyard and tears welled in his eyes. Not long at all.

"Duo?" It was carried on a ragged breath, one of the last.

"Yes, Heero?"

"I've always...loved you."

"I know," the angel whispered softly, brushing his fingertips against one bloodstained cheek. "I know."

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"Duck!"

Heero flattened instantly, watching as Duo dove in next to him, both teenagers bracing against the concussive force of the explosion. Duo's head popped up first once the noise had died down, and Heero quickly reached out and pressed him flat again. Violet eyes glared at him and he glared right back, firm in the knowledge of who had whom in that contest. As expected, Duo made a little snort of exasperation, turning back towards the hallway and the reason that Heero had made him stay down.

A squad of Oz troopers came thundering down the hallway, finding a blasted out shell where the computer substation's control room used to be. Their lieutenant shouted orders and the squad scattered in several directions, trying to ascertain just what had happened. Heero tensed, sensing a similar reaction from his partner. The hall visibly cleared...1...2....3.

They burst out of the alcove as one, back to back. Hearing Duo's gun cock a moment after his own, the barest hint of a satisfied little smirk quirked his mouth. It quickly smoothed out into the look of intense focus that was his trademark. They were clear. "Go," Heero said softly. He relaxed his right arm slightly as he felt the warmth against his back diminish.

Falling into stride together, Heero let Duo take point, which left him to watch their backs. They didn't have much time, the troopers would regroup shortly to report their findings. Abruptly, his shoulder collided with Duo's back right before he heard the softly whispered "Kuso." Whirling, he snapped his gun up, leveling on the target that had given Duo pause. Three troopers faced them, all with their guns drawn, all looking alternately surprised and very pleased with themselves. Evidently they disregarded two seeming-boys as opponents, forgetting that those boys were Gundam pilots.

He could feel Duo's eyes on him, sensed that silent acquiescence to Heero's judgement. What do we do? he asked silently.

"Put your weapons down and surrender quietly," one of the troopers ordered. Not acceptable, Heero's eyes informed Duo. Get ready.

At some signal, not so much heard or seen so much as felt, they both fired. Two troopers down, one left. Heero lunged, but wasn't quite fast enough. The bullet had already left the gun by the time his forward momentum sent him crashing into the trooper, his hand clamping down on the weapon. Duo twisted, tried to dodge, succeeding in redirecting a shot aimed at his chest into his left arm. He staggered but didn't go down, his right arm steady as he prepared to fire if necessary.

Incapacitating the man with a sharp knife-hand blow, Heero gathered himself back into a crouch, wrenching around to rake his gaze over Duo. "Status?" he demanded, eyes lingering on the bright ribbons of crimson trailing down the other boy's forearm.

"I'll live," the reply held only a faint trace of Duo's usual wry humor. "Let's get out of here." Heero's eyes stayed on him for a moment longer, then he nodded sharply. If they didn't get out of this compound right now, they were both going to risk more than a relatively minor gunshot wound.

Lifting his head like a wolf scenting the wind, Heero listened intently, then gestured for Duo to join him. Keeping his free hand on his injured partner's back, he guided him unerringly through a maze of passageways. There were a few close calls, but they managed to make it outside with no further incident.

"Daijoubu ka?" They crouched in the relative safety of an outbuilding. Time to catch their breath, time for Heero to tug at the sleeve of Duo's shirt to expose the wound. Duo cursed creatively, but let him do it, turning his head to peer at it himself.

"It's not too bad," he said with a touch of relief. The bullet had made a clean exit and while it hurt like hell, the flow of blood had become sluggish. He watched intently as Heero produced a field kit from... somewhere... and applied a neat field dressing. "That'll do for now," he said with a sigh, then lifted his head only to find himself drowning in eyes like shadowed sapphires. "What?" he asked softly, a slight smile curving his lips.

Heero shook his head slightly, realizing that, among other things, he was becoming distracted from the mission. He also realized that he really didn't care. Leaning forward, he kissed his lover. It was gentle, soft, more comforting than urgent, lasting more than a moment, but less than the lifetime that it could have. "Mine," Heero whispered with a rare possessiveness, drawing back to capture Duo's gaze.

"Wrong." Chuckling softly, Duo nipped the Perfect Soldier's chin. "You were mine first." They stayed there, together, for another few heartbeats, foreheads touching as they shared their mingled breath.

"We need to go." Heero's firm, focused tone broke the mood, but it was a necessary evil. They had to get off the grounds or the chances of being captured would steadily increase.

"We do." He took Heero's hand without even a twinge of pride, accepting it for what it was. Concern. Once he was on his feet, violet eyes swept the area, looking for anything that might give away the fact that they'd paused here, but it seemed relatively clean. His partner was already at the door, taking stock of the situation outside. They were relatively near the perimeter now, the fence only a quick run from this building. Beyond that? The woods, and their hidden Gundams.

"Can you manage the fence?" Heero's eyes flicked to his wounded arm.

Duo nodded, moving to Heero's shoulder. "For you I would walk through hell," he murmured quietly. After a moment of silence, he added wryly, "against my better judgement, of course."

What he didn't see was the look Heero gave him. Haunted, hazy, a little fearful, not of him but for him. Then it was gone and Heero shook his head slightly, turning his thoughts back to getting them out of here.

(To be continued)

Part 2

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