Heero's first impression was an ass; rounded, and tight in a pair of jeans, as the man bent over his work. There was just the hint of something between those legs, something that rounded the material nicely, before the man was straightening and a long braid was snaking around to bump on that ass, thick and the color of cinnamon.
Duo. Duo Maxwell. The man turned and Heero saw large eyes that sparkled blue... purple... indigo... he wasn't sure, and a wide mouthed smile that emphasized a cheeky face. His expressive brows rose at the sight of Heero and that smile was all pleasure as Duo exclaimed, "Hey, Heero!"
This was the man that Heero had been given to work with, a man who had refused all offers to join every organization, military or otherwise, after the war, but who hadn't stopped lending his expertise when it was most needed. This was the man that Heero had been refusing to work with... until now.
Wu Fei had called him, 'impossible'. Trowa had disliked his impulsive style. Une had stamped him a wild card. Milliardo Peacecraft had criticized his lack of regard for his own personal safety. No one questioned his ability, though, and that kept him 'on call', when no one else could do the job.
"Well?" Heero asked.
Duo shrugged and turned back to his machine, "Good to see you too." He thumped the machine with a fist, almost fondly, making Heero flinch, and replied, "Take out a city block, easy, and armed by seismic tremor. This was a secondary weapon."
Heero felt the hairs on his neck rise. "There's another bomb?"
"Oh, yeah," Duo affirmed as he picked up a probe and tapped the control panel for emphasis. "Not as big as this, of course, but probably a distraction."
"Distraction?" Heero echoed.
"Everyone runs away from the first bomb, right towards the second bomb." Duo made a herding gesture and then flung his arms wide. "Boom! Get's you the most casualties. These guys are definitely bastards."
Heero felt sick. "They found it in a shopping mall."
"So I heard," Duo replied as he bent over the machine again and used his probe. "That's why I volunteered. I told them to keep the mall clear until they find the first bomb." Duo gave the bomb a push and it rolled over onto it's side with a loud, metallic, clang. He laughed as Heero started and turned pale. "Don't worry! It's not armed anymore. Jeez! I'm not a moron."
Duo made Heero doubt that as he crawled almost underneath it it pry at a panel. It was balanced precariously. If it rolled back... Heero found himself taking hold of it and steadying it.
"Thanks," Duo muttered. "Hm," he said after getting the panel off and checking wiring, "Guess it wasn't disarmed after all. Tricky a-holes."
Heero trembled. "Duo?" he demanded. "What-"
"We're good," Duo said, cutting him off. "Just a bypass. Nothing complicated." He rolled out from under it and Heero was glad to let go and back up, wiping sweating palms on his uniform pants.
Duo's cell phone beeped. he answered it, listened, and then said, "Really? Son of a bitch! Well, get in here and dust these inner panels for prints, so we can nail these bastards."
Duo pocketed his cell and began tossing his tools into a tool chest. He leaned against it then and took a shaky breath. He looked at Heero with haunted eyes.
"They found the bomb," Duo told him. "It was in a baby clothing store. They were going to blow up babies, Heero, expectant moms... These guys gotta go down hard."
"We'll make sure that happens," Heero replied and found himself reaching out to grip Duo's arm to steady the upset man.
Duo nodded in thanks. He managed a shaky smile, as he broke away and wiped his hands with a rag. "I'm glad that you changed your mind about not working with me."
Heero thought of all the reasons that he had chosen not to and felt how wrong he had been. This wasn't the loud mouthed, undisciplined, 'kid', that he remembered from the war. This was a confident, handsome, dedicated man, that Heero was suddenly feeling very attracted to. "So am I," he replied.
Wu Fei dropped report chips into Heero's inbox.
Heero picked one up and saw that it was the paperwork from their last mission together.
"Two weeks late?" Heero grumbled.
"I hate paperwork," Wu Fei reminded him, irritably, and then with conviction,"It should only be for those who don't fight."
Heero tossed the chip back into his in box, ignoring the too familiar complaint. "I don't have time to go over this. I have my case with Maxwell."
"I'm glad that at last you've been made to share our burden," Wu Fei replied. "You've escaped working with him long enough."
"It's an important case," Heero pointed out defensively, "And he is a bomb expert."
Wu Fei raised a dark eyebrow. "He had pizza delivered to our vehicle, while on a stakeout, Yuy. He hung, upside down, from steel rafters, in a warehouse, and had a shootout with our suspects, when he had been ordered to monitor only. He 'borrowed' a dog and pretended that it was a trained Preventer dog on a 'hair trigger' to get a detained suspect to talk. Une wasn't pleased by the owner's lawsuit after. His mechanical genius doesn't excuse this sort of behavior."
Heero recalled Duo's sure knowledge of the bomb and his anguish over the thought of children and mother's harmed. "He is unconventional," Heero replied, "But he does get results."
"Not always good ones, Yuy," Wu Fei reminded him, "Or Barton wouldn't still be in a leg cast from his last mission with Duo."
Heero frowned, thinking about it, but then shrugged. "Barton was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He admitted that himself."
Wu Fei stared and then he looked concerned, "Tell me that this isn't some greater interest that you've developed in Maxwell?"
Heero frowned at him. "That isn't any of your-"
"Ancestors help me!" Wu Fei snarled, "Yuy! He's toxic, through and through! We are professionals. That is something he will never be, on or off of the job. That is a quality that has always been important to both of us. Don't forget that because you've suddenly found an attraction for his ass!"
Heero felt a flare of white hot anger. "I know that you don't approve of my sexuality, Chang, or understand it, so I'll let that comment slide... this time. My 'interest' in Maxwell is professional. I was impressed by his knowledge and his obvious dedication. My judgment, based on your reports, had me biased against him in the worst way."
"My judgment was based on experience," Wu Fei retorted. "You shouldn't reject it before you've had the opportunity to truly work with Maxwell. Everyone can't be wrong, Yuy."
"He gets results," Heero insisted. "I've read the reports."
"Have you also read the injury reports?" Wu Fei wondered acidly."His results repeatedly cost agents their good health."
Heero thought about that seriously as Wu Fei glared at him, wanting a reply, wanting to know that he was getting through to his fellow agent. "Perhaps," Heero finally replied, "the agents with him weren't good matches? Maybe Une has been too concerned with pairing him with a level agent to counter his recklessness, instead of finding someone who is fluid enough to work with him?"
Wu Fei glared in silence for a very long moment and then he said seriously, looking uncomfortable, "If you don't control this sudden sexual attraction, Yuy, it may not be a slight injury that you will suffer. Maxwell may actually get you killed." He let that sink in before he turned and left Heero's office.
"It's not sexual," Heero growled as he began gathering things for his mission with Duo, but then felt that he should at least be honest with himself. During the war, Duo had been a strange, loud mouthed, awkward looking boy. Back then, Heero had only been interested in Duo's piloting skills. It definitely wasn't that way now. Heero was feeling something other than a desire to know Duo's fighting ability.
It wasn't all about ass, either, Heero knew, feeling that white hot anger again over Wu Fei's remark. He'd never been that shallow, or that impulsive, with his desires. There was definitely something about Duo that was hitting Heero on all levels.
"I have clearance, darling, or I wouldn't be up on this level!" Duo's voice chuckled from outside of Heero's office.
"That's Duo Maxwell, Darcy!" a woman said excitedly. "Don't you ever watch the news vids? He's one of the Gundam pilots. The braid alone should have-"
"He doesn't have a Preventer ID pass," a prim and proper woman's voice replied. "Without a pass, I'm required to call security."
"She's absolutely right," Duo said good naturedly. "You shouldn't criticize the lady for doing her job correctly. Maybe I do have the world's best known face, but that doesn't give me automatic clearance into sensitive areas."
"Well, thank you, Mr. Maxwell," Darcy replied and Heero could almost hear the pleased blush in her voice. "I'm sure Agent Yuy is expecting you. Checking with security is a formality. You may go in while I call."
"Thank you, Ms. Darcy," Duo said. "I'm sure Agent Yuy thoroughly appreciates your dedication to your job."
Duo breezed in and gave Heero a wink. "Nice staff."
Heero felt his own blush. "She's right. You should have a pass."
Duo shrugged with a smile. "No one's suggested it before now. Wouldn't hurt, I guess. Are you ready to go?"
Heero nodded as he tucked his zippered portfolio under one arm. Duo suddenly took it away from him and tisked as he opened it.
"Come on, Yuy, we need to travel light and more under the radar." Duo reached out and tucked Heero's palm computer into the front pocket of his pants. Heero took a sharp breath and flinched. Duo chuckled at him. "I'm not feeling you up, Yuy!" He looked at the rest of Heero's things, pocketed a few of the memory sticks himself, and then tossed the portfolio onto Heero's desk. "Let's go."
"I do get to keep my gun?" Heero asked sourly.
"As long as it's under your shirt," Duo agreed, and then gave Heero's uniform a once over. "Speaking of which..."
"No," Heero said immediately, eyeing Duo's long, black shirt, sporting stylized designs in silver, his tight blue jeans, and his steel toed boots. "You are not a Preventer agent, but I do have regs to follow when not undercover."
"You never know when you might have to go undercover suddenly," Duo pointed out.
Heero frowned. "There won't be a 'sudden undercover' on this trip out, Maxwell," he warned. "We are checking leads only."
"Yes, sir, Agent Yuy," Duo sighed, as he turned for the door, his heavy braid swinging, "but I warned you, okay?"
Impossible. Unconventional. Dangerous. Heero's own words came back to him, drowning out the negative labels. 'Maybe Une has been too concerned with pairing him with a level agent to counter his recklessness, instead of finding someone who is fluid enough to work with him?'
Heero fingered his spotless, pressed uniform, as Duo turned at the door, realizing that he wasn't following. "Maybe," Heero was amazed to hear himself say,"Maybe, I should change?"
Duo grinned. "I'll wait."