Justin stood watch over the meeting between Duo and the man he could only refer to as gutter-slime.  Duo had asked that he be left alone to speak with the
stranger, but one look at the man’s filthy clothing and one whiff of the alcohol that reeked off him had Justin standing firm on his decision to keep an eye on
the creep.  He didn’t know what they were talking about, but the meeting was a short one.

As much upset as he’d had that day, Duo was exhausted by the time the man left – escorted out distastefully by Justin.  He didn’t wait for Wufei’s cousin to
return.  He went straight upstairs to his room to lie down and be miserable.

The man was every bit of the drunk Heero had warned him about, but Duo hadn’t been prepared for exactly how vague the sighting was.  The man had seen
someone in chains being led onto a ship headed for England some months ago.  The hair color – dark and overgrown from captivity, had fit Duo’s father. The
drunk hadn’t seen the man’s face or eyes well enough to identify him, and the prisoner hadn’t been wearing the ring Duo’s father always wore.

The only reason the drunk had decided it was Ramsey Maxwell was because the timing fit – the ship had arrived in Drammen a month after Maxwell’s
disappearance.  So seeing a strange prisoner being loaded onto that same ship, made it likely that he was being returned to the place he’d been taken from.  
Only Duo couldn’t imagine why the people who kidnapped his father would want to return him to England.  That made no sense.

He didn’t know if he wanted the man in the story to be his father or not, but Duo found himself caught on the ring.  His father had never taken that ring off.  He
remembered hearing his father talk about it once – that he couldn’t take it off without taking a chunk of his finger along with it.  And the man in the story hadn’t
worn a ring.

Duo knew the lack of a ring wasn’t enough to dismiss the idea.  Whoever had taken his father could easily have removed it, possibly even cutting his finger off
to get it.  The thought made Duo’s stomach lurch, but he couldn’t ignore the possibility.  And the man who was brought onto that ship had been thin and gaunt
– the ring could have slipped off after he lost weight from being held captive.  There were dozens of reasons and ways for a prisoner to lose a piece of jewelry.

He wondered which would be worse, knowing his father was now in England somewhere, held by people who kept him in chains and starved him, or imagining
a million other possibilities.  In the end, Duo decided England was best.  He’d be going back there eventually, so if his father really were being kept there now,
he’d have a better chance of finding him upon his return.

Only if his father was the man being loaded onto that ship, then he’d been in Drammen for months.  Duo had been a few days’ ride away from his father for
months without knowing it.  He couldn’t handle that possibility.

Sleep definitely wasn’t going to be pleasant, so Duo got up after a while.  He didn’t want to have nightmares to go with his miserable thoughts.  And even
pushing his father out of his mind didn’t settle him any.  He still had Wufei and Heero and the Hansa to think about, not to mention it was his wedding day!

Someone pounded on his door, loudly enough to make Duo jump and nearly fall over his bed.  He started towards it with Heero’s name on his lips, but that
hope was dashed when the knocker spoke.

“Duo, grab some stuff quick,” Justin said through the door.

Duo raised an eyebrow and opened the door to find Justin standing outside his room with a very harried and almost excited expression on his face.  “What?”

“I’m supposed to tell you to pack what you can carry and get downstairs right now,” Justin blurted, his excitement making him look his age.  “Something’s
wrong.  I don’t know what it is, but Wufei came by and said to get you ready to move as quickly as possible.  Then Heero came back with a revolver – a
revolver, mind you.  He’s downstairs watching the door like he expects a barrel of troops to come bursting in on him.  He said to get you downstairs right now!”

Duo remained frozen for a few tense seconds before he could snap himself out of it.  One possibility came to him as an explanation for this sudden flight.  
Heero’s meeting had gone wrong.

He hurried to pack as much of his clothing as he could into a single trunk.  Justin was hopping in the doorway, impatience and far too much teenage energy
making him unable to stand still.  He tried to take the trunk when Duo moved toward the door, but Duo held him off.

“He said to grab what I can carry,” said Duo.  “I can carry this, so move.”

Justin blinked in surprise, mostly because the trunk looked like it weighed more than Duo did.  But the boy had it balanced on one shoulder, and he did seem
to be able to handle it.  He stepped back and followed Duo downstairs.  Then he hurried past the boy so he could peak over Heero’s shoulder.

Heero dropped the curtain of the window he’d been looking out of and shot an exasperated look at Justin.  “Don’t touch those curtains till Wufei gets back.”

“I won’t,” Justin promised, his eyes gleaming.  “I can get in on this, right?  I mean, I can help.  I’m as good with a rifle as Wufei is – and you’d need someone
who’s good with distance shots if you’re trying to keep from being cornered.  Not like him and his sword, you have to be far too close to your enemy to-“

Heero had already turned away, not paying the boy any attention.  Whether or not Wufei chose to bring his over-eager cousin was his choice.  Right now,
Heero was only concerned with getting Duo out of the house as quickly as possible.  He stopped next to his husband and raised an eyebrow at the boy’s trunk.

“You want to take that on the run?” asked Heero.

Duo gave him a dark glare, shifting the trunk into a more secure position on his shoulder.  “I didn’t spend my entire savings only to leave the clothes here.  I
can carry it.  You did say to pack what I can carry, didn’t you?  What?  Do I have to actually run with it?”

“No,” Heero admitted, a small smile pulling at his worried frown.  “The horse will do the running.  Come on, you can balance it between us.  But if it slows us
down, it’s getting tossed over the side.”

Duo looked like he wanted to argue with that, but Heero didn’t give him time to.  He grabbed the boy’s arm and propelled him toward the door only to push him
to the side before opening it.  A quick look proved that there weren’t any witnesses outside – none he could see.  Heero nodded once and, keeping his
revolver in plain sight, let Duo outside.

They reached the street seconds before a carriage came barreling around the corner to halt in front of them.  The horses kicked at the rough treatment, but
the driver ignored them.  Wufei hopped down and grabbed Duo’s trunk without a word, placing it on the back of the carriage.  Heero stared at him in surprise.

“Did you find somewhere, then?” asked Heero.

“Yes,” Wufei said sharply. “The last place they’d look.  On Zechs’ ship.”

Heero’s eyes widened in disbelief, and Duo sent confused looks between the two men.  Wufei merely waved to the carriage and hopped back onto the driver’s
seat.

“Get in,” said Wufei.  “I’ll drop you off there and come back as soon as things have cooled down.  I guarantee you no one has been on that ship in weeks.  
They’ll never think to look there as long as you stay inside and keep low.”

After a short consideration, Heero nodded.  He turned and urged Duo into the carriage before climbing in after him.  They’d no more than sat down before the
carriage rocked violently as the horses were spurred into a fast gallop.

Duo turned wide eyes on Heero and moved close to his husband’s side.  He doubted Wufei would hear them from outside, especially over the sound of the
horses, but he wasn’t taking any chances.

“What happened?” asked Duo.  “What went wrong?”

“I’m not sure,” Heero returned.  “I thought I had them fooled at the meeting.  Zechs, the current leader of the Hansa, confirmed that his men were behind the
assassination attempt.  He never would have done that if he’d known I didn’t really want to help them kill the Queen.  He must have learned afterward.  Wufei
caught me on my way back to the house and told me they were heading out to find me.”

“You don’t think Wufei had anything to do with it, do you?”

“No,” said Heero, “because it wasn’t just me the Hansa are after.  Someone saw me with you today, so they’re looking for both of us.  Wufei didn’t know why
that would tell them I’m not a real traitor, so I know he wasn’t a part of it.”

Duo looked confused, and Heero sighed.  “They must have learned of the wedding – they’d know no true traitor would get married while trying to kill the
Queen.  But Wufei didn’t know about the marriage, so he’s in the dark as to why the Hansa decided I was lying to them.”

“So he still doesn’t know,” said Duo.  “And now you’ve been found out so you can’t prove yourself to the Queen...”

“I can.”

Heero wrapped an arm over Duo’s shoulders, drawing him into a comforting embrace.  

“During the original meeting I did learn that Zechs and his men were aided by a spy in England, the lover of one of the Queen’s ladies.  He was the one who
told them when to stage the attempt.  If I can identify him, the Queen will know I’m telling her the truth.  It would be better to bring Zechs himself, but even
without him, I should be able to prove my innocence.”

“But now the Hansa is after you,” said Duo.

“Right,” Heero nodded, “but I was planning to leave the country anyway.  I doubt Zechs would follow me to England, especially given what I know.  The only
problem is that the seas are still frozen.  We’ll have to wait till spring to move.”

“What do we do until then?”

“Return to the castle and wait it out.”  Heero smirked, giving Duo a light squeeze.  “I guarantee you no army is going to cross that snow when they can just wait
a month for it to melt.  And right now the Hansa doesn’t know I own Faulder Castle.  So whether they find out or not, it’s the best place to go until spring.”

“What about Wufei?” asked Duo, wincing when Heero sent him a sharp look.  “I mean, do they know he helped you?  That he’s helping us now?”

“They don’t know, and they won’t find out.”

Heero’s eyes narrowed as he said that, his gaze shifting the window.  “If they knew, his entire life would be worthless.  They won’t find out.  Anyone who does
learn will die before he can breathe a word of our connection to Zechs.”

Duo shivered a bit at that deadly threat, but it was still comforting in a way.  “And this ship we’re going to?  Is it really a good idea to hide on a ship that
belongs to the person we’re trying to hide from?  That sounds crazy.”

“It is crazy,” said Heero, “and that’s why it’s the last place they’d look.  Leave it to Wufei to think of something like that.”

- - -

It was cold on the abandoned ship, Wufei having been correct in his guarantee that no one was tending it daily.  There was a single lantern in the main cabin,
and no real source of heat unless they wanted to risk a fire that might easily give them away.  Heero might have protested the hiding spot if not for the fact that
the Hansa was by now searching the entire city for him.

So he and Duo settled in the cabin to wait, Duo huddled close to the lantern to catch whatever heat it could give.  Wufei promised to come back as soon as
the search let up enough for them to move without being seen.  In the meantime, he had to join the Hansa in searching the blocks surrounding his mother’s
home, that being the area most familiar to him.  Duo wondered at that – why he and Heero couldn’t have stayed in Wufei’s home since he was going to be
searching that area and could easily claim not to have found them.

After Wufei took a hurried leave, Duo brought up the question that had been bothering him.  “If Wufei’s going to be searching his own home, why did we have
to move here?”

“He won’t be looking alone,” Heero explained.  “They’ll be splitting into groups of three or more to section off the city.  That’s why we had to move as quickly as
possible.  Once the Hansa spreads over a town, you’d do best not to be hiding in that town – unless you can find a spot they aren’t likely to look.”

“And if they find us, they’ll kill us.”

Heero turned sharply at the cold way Duo had spoken.  He frowned and moved over to sit next to him, pulling his husband close to his side.  “They won’t find
us.  But even if they did, I can kill a single search party.  I’d just rather avoid it if possible.”

“I don’t understand why Wufei would be a part of a group like that,” Duo admitted softly.  “He told me it was to get his ship, but he doesn’t seem like the type to
help murderers.  Petty smuggling maybe, but not assassins.”

“There’s more to the Hansa than that,” said Heero.  “By joining, Wufei guaranteed that no danger will ever come to his family.  His father was a member before
him, so he was expected to join the day he was born.  It’s not just a ring of murderers.  It’s...”

He paused, frowning at Duo’s attentive expression.  “How much do you know about politics?”

“Just what my father mentioned in passing,” Duo admitted.

“Then I won’t go into the beginnings of the Hansa,” said Heero.  “But the leaders change periodically.  The last leader was Emilio Peacecraft – cousin of Bryton
Catalonia.  Zechs Merquis is his son.”

Duo’s eyes widened and he pulled back in disbelief.  “But that side-“

“Is dead,” Heero nodded, “officially.  But the family remains quite active despite what the Queen would have England believe.  If anything happens to her,
Zechs Merquise is the next in line for the throne.  That’s why his hold in the Hansa is so strong at the moment.  It’s also why handing Zechs over to the Queen
will clear my name in one move.”

“She’d kill him even if you didn’t have proof he was behind the assassination,” Duo murmured.  “Just to keep him from arguing about the bloodlines.”

“I don’t think she’d kill him outright,” said Heero, “but she would be very grateful to have him in her control.  Barring that, there’s still the spy inside her court.  
He’s the one who spurred the assassination attempt.”

“But you don’t know who he is – just that he’s a lover of one of her ladies.  Even if she believed you about there being a spy, you’d have to find out who it is
and prove that he was behind it.  How can you get proof when you don’t even know who it is?”

“Zechs,” said Heero.  “Once I’m back in England, he’ll send warning to his spy that I know about him.  All I’d have to do is watch and see which lover disappears
– that would be enough proof of guilt to suit the Queen.”

Heero gave a wry smirk and brushed a finger over Duo’s neck so the boy shivered and frowned at him.  “She was rather fond of me, you know.  Like you said,
she has a penchant for her handsome lords.”

Duo smirked at the conceit, shaking his head a little.  “Now you agree with me.  But that brings us back to how she’ll react when she knows you married without
her permission."

“No,” Heero murmured, leaning closer to Duo, “it brings us back to how we should spend our wedding night while we wait for a chance to escape.  We have
hours to wait, and that lantern won’t keep us warm for long.”

There was definite fire in that statement.  Duo looked at the lantern so he wouldn’t have to see Heero’s intense eyes.  

“I take it we’re done talking about this,” he said slowly.

“Unless you want me to talk about Zechs Merquise while I’m seducing you,” Heero agreed.

Duo choked back a little laugh despite how flushed his face felt.  “I guess it would be better if we talked about each other.”

“Or we could try not talking at all,” whispered Heero.  

Duo shot him a sharp look and raised an eyebrow at Heero’s wide smirk.  “Don’t you dare tell me to shut up and strip.  That’s not seductive, it’s rude.”

“I wouldn’t want you to think me rude,” said Heero.  “So I’ll do the stripping, and you can talk to your heart’s content.”

And he did just that, shrugging off his coat and getting started on the buttons of his vest and shirt.  Duo blushed and shifted further on the edge of the bed,
putting more space between them with a slightly panicked expression.

“I’m not sure I want to do this here,” Duo said quickly.  “I mean, we’re supposed to be hiding, and this is the enemy’s ship.  And the bed – who knows what’s
been done on this bed?  I haven’t actually done this before and, well, I don’t really want my first time to be on a bed that-“

“Judging by how expensive the sheets are,” Heero said calmly as he shrugged off his shirt, “I’d say what’s been done on this bed is the same thing we’re about
to do.”

Heero stood and began undoing his belt and Duo turned bright red, fidgeting and looking at everything but his husband.

“But we’re supposed to be hiding,” Duo protested.  “We have to keep quiet and low so we don’t-“

“I’ll try not to make you scream too loudly,” Heero promised.

“Scream?!” Duo blurted.  “Are you kidding?”

He shot an appalled look at Heero and froze.  Heero had finished undressing and Duo felt his face flame as he had a distinct sensation of déjà vu.  He’d
definitely seen this before, only this time he was on the bed and he couldn’t turn and run for his room.  

“Heero...I don’t think-”

“You do think,” Heero smirked, leaning over his panicked husband.  “You think entirely too much.  I should have kissed you first.  You forget everything when
we kiss, especially your shyness.”

Duo swallowed and looked aside, feeling very uncomfortable but also a little disgruntled at the truth of that statement.  “You don’t have to sound so smug
about it...”

“Duo?”

He waited until the boy looked up at him.  Then he gave a dark smile and wrapped his arms over Duo’s shoulders.

“Duo, I’m going to ride you like a wild stallion and break you to my will.”

Five seconds followed that statement as Duo’s face contorted into a dozen different expressions.  Then he broke into laughter and forgot all about blushing.

“That,” Duo blurted, “is the most absurd thing you’ve ever said.”

Heero smiled at him and he grinned back, tilting his head back and inviting a warm kiss.  His arms eased around Heero’s bare back, his hands reaching up to
catch warm hold in that thick brown hair.  Their mouths met in a slow, almost affectionate kiss that gradually deepened to familiar passion.

Despite what Heero had said, Duo didn’t exactly forget his shyness when his husband eased him further onto the bed.  What he did was remind himself that
this time they wouldn’t be interrupted, this time he didn’t have to feel guilty, this time he could do what he’d wanted to since he’d first felt Heero’s lips on his.  
His tension drained away and he smiled against Heero’s mouth, shifting his body so he could feel the one leaning over him.

“You’ll get cold like that,” Duo whispered, turning his face so his lips brushed Heero’s ear.  “Maybe you should be the one lying on the bed...”

“I’d rather even things out,” Heero murmured back, “at least this time.”

Sharp playful teeth nipped at his ear, and Heero shivered as his body reacted to both that stimulus and the cold air at his back.  He pulled away just enough to
draw the sheet up over both of them.  Then he smirked down at Duo and started on the boy’s clothing.

“Would you even know what to do if I were the one lying there?” Heero teased.

Duo gave a disgruntled frown, but it didn’t last long.  He leaned forward so he could taste Heero’s neck, not caring if he hampered the man’s progress on his
clothing.  

“I wouldn’t know,” Duo breathed, his hands smoothing over Heero’s chest.  “But you’ll show me, won’t you.  You wouldn’t use me without offering yourself in
exchange.”

That heated mouth was sending tremors over him, and Heero let out a sharp breath, pulling on Duo’s braid till the boy was lying again.  “Duo-“

One of those hands in his hair shifted down, trailing over his back, and Heero choked for a second before sending his husband a harried look.

“Duo, as much as I like what you’re doing, I’m never going to get you undressed if you don’t cooperate a little.”

Duo sighed and ducked his head, letting go of Heero in favor of undoing his shirt.  Though he didn’t admit it, he’d preferred having Heero be the naked one.  
The idea of Heero looking at him was as embarrassing now as it had been when the man walked in on his bath.  He didn’t like being in such a vulnerable
position.  He’d be baring every flaw, every-

A hand slipped into his pants and Duo let out a little sound that was part fearful and part aroused, but mostly startled.

“Heero...!”

Heero had seen the unease growing over Duo’s face, but that was gone now, replaced by a disconcerted sort of shock.  If he hadn’t known better, he’d expect
Duo to tell him it wasn’t proper for him to be touching him there.  He gave a wry smile and withdrew his hand in favor of pushing down the boy’s pants.

“Undo your hair.”

The order was giving along with a hot numbing kiss that left Duo more than a little distracted.  He licked his lips and gave Heero a frown when his husband
pulled away.  What was he planning to do while he waited for Duo to undo his hair?  And didn’t he want to undo it himself?  It might have been conceited, but
as far as Duo was concerned his hair was his most redeeming feature.

He shifted on the bed, pulling his braid over his shoulder, and sending a disappointed look at Heero.  

“It’s your loss,” he muttered under his breath.

A smirk tugged at Heero’s lips, but he pretended not to have heard that comment.  While Duo’s attention was on his hair, he nabbed the boy’s discarded
clothing and dropped them off the bed.  Then he leaned down so his breath fell on Duo’s pale chest, warming him but not touching him.

Duo shivered and froze, not even partly done with his hair.  He reached an arm up to touch Heero, but stopped when his husband shook his head at him.  
Heero caught the edge of his braid and looked at it pointedly before ducking back to his chest.  How he was supposed to focus on his hair when Heero was
making his skin tingle, Duo had no idea.  His hands went back to clutching his braid, but he could barely concentrate enough to continue undoing it.

Heero dropped a hand to Duo’s waist, ghosting his fingers over him as he reached down.  Duo flinched beneath him, and he sent a sultry smile up at the boy
before kissing his chest, his tongue flicking out over sensitive skin.  His questing hand had caught beneath Duo’s knee and he lifted it, bending the boy’s leg.

Forget concentrating, it was hard to breathe with Heero’s mouth on his chest, even worse now that Heero was pressing flush against him.  Duo groaned and
left his hair.  His arms snaked over Heero’s shoulders, one hand threading in the man’s hair and tugging lightly.  Dark steamy blue eyes lifted to him and he
pulled Heero up so he could kiss him.  He bent his other leg, arching upward to increase the contact between them.

Heero shuddered from the friction of their bodies and tore his mouth away.  He ducked his head against Duo’s neck and bit him gently.  

“I’m not taking you until your hair is spread beneath us,” he whispered.  “You can take your time if you want to, Duo, but I think you’ll want to hurry after a
while.”

He pulled away, his tongue flicking over one pert nipple and toying with it until Duo writhed beneath him. Those arms tightened around him, fighting when he
pushed his body far enough away so he could slip a hand between them.

“Nn!” Tossing his head, Duo pushed into the touch.  He was torn between the feel of Heero’s teeth toying his nipple and those warm fingers circling him with
teasing pleasure.  All he could think was to get closer, to make it stronger.

Heero raised his head long enough to take in Duo’s expression.  Then he caught the arms around him and pulled them free, despite the boy’s protesting
groan.  He shifted back onto his knees and resumed his soft exploration, focused on Duo’s stomach now instead of his chest.  If anything, it made the boy
writhe even more as his tongue flicked into his navel, his hand dropping to stroke him again with an even lighter touch than before.

Duo’s body was burning, but it wasn’t enough.  He turned his face to stare hungrily down at Heero, his hips pushing upward for more.  “Heero...”

The pleading voice stirred Heero to the point where he almost took him into his mouth right then.  But he held himself from it, his eyes flicking up to stare into
wide violet ones.  

“Your hair,” he reminded him, his voice deep and soft.

Duo groaned and managed a feeble glare.  “Who cares about my hair?  I want-“

That hand tightened for a moment, squeezing him roughly enough to make him gasp and arch his back.  Then it was light again, tantalizing with only the
barest promise of mind-blowing pleasure to come.  Duo whimpered in a frustrated mix of impatience and resignation.  He lifted shaking arms and fumbled at his
braid.  He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had so much trouble undoing it.  It might as well have been tied in knots rather than twisting folds.

The wait was as difficult for Heero as it was for Duo, but he knew it was better this way.  He wanted to make sure that Duo was more than ready for him, and
stoking the boy to such frustrated passion ensured that.  He also wanted their first time to be perfect, and that meant having Duo’s gorgeous hair spread out
over the sheets.

He moved down so he could flick a tongue out over Duo’s erection, holding the boy’s hips down when he jerked in response to this new stimulus.  His mind
caught the choked cry Duo gave, promising he’d hear it again and again before the night was through.  Then he focused on the hard flesh before him,
caressing it enough to replace the pleasure his hand had given without actually fulfilling Duo’s need.

He reached beneath Duo, massaging the boy and rubbing one finger over his entrance.  The touch must have startled him, because Duo let out a little gasp
and jerked his legs as if he meant to push Heero away from the spot.  It told him that while Duo had touched himself before – a thought that nearly proved fatal
to Heero’s restraint – he hadn’t felt that sort of touch.  Heero kept this in mind as he pushed his finger in the boy slowly enough to let Duo get accustomed to
the feel of it.

Strange, intrusive, uncomfortable, and horridly arousing all at once.  Duo whimpered and twisted his neck so he could hide his face in the sheets bunched
beneath him.  He’d known this was coming, or at least he’d assumed – how else could they join? – but he wasn’t about to look at Heero while the man touched
him there. He wanted to stop him, to push him away.  It was so personal even the pleasure of it made him too ashamed to have Heero see his face.

He choked in a deep breath and whispered into the sheets.  “Heero...”

If anything could have stopped him now, it was the sound of tears in that soft voice.  Heero’s eyes darkened and he reached up to brush a hand over Duo’s
face.

“Touch me...?” Duo whispered.  “I don’t want to think this.  Love shouldn’t be demeaning, but I can’t help feeling like...like I don’t want you to look at me.  Like I
should turn on my stomach so you can’t see-”

“I love you.”

Duo trembled violently at that admission, and Heero reached up to finish undoing the boy’s hair.  He didn’t try to make Duo look at him, merely running his
hands over that soft silken mane.  

“Is that demeaning?” Heero asked quietly, shifting so he could press a light kiss on Duo’s curved neck.  “I can distract you so you can’t think things like that,
but do you really need me to?”

“No...”

It was hard to look at Heero, especially now that he had guilt to go with his shame.  Duo swallowed roughly and forced himself to look up, his face pained and
unhappy, but also hungry for comfort.  “I’m sorry.  It just seems so...”

“Strange?” Heero offered, giving a small smile.  “Private?  To me it’s perfect to be inside of you.  Like I’m here,” he said, pressing a hand over Duo’s chest,
“because you love me.”

Duo gave a weak nod and did his best to smile.  “At least I’m not afraid...I’m just a prude.”

“No prude kisses like you,” said Heero.

It was faint, but a real smile claimed Duo’s face as he leaned forward for a deep, hungry kiss.  He wanted to wipe his reservations away and just feel Heero, the
essence of the person he wanted more than anything.  Maybe he would use the sensation to distract him from stupid thoughts, but he really did believe that
making love was a beautiful thing.  He just had trouble remembering that in the face of the physical act.  Heero helped him remember.

They were both on edge when Heero ended the kiss to nuzzle at Duo’s neck.  He pressed a fleeting kiss over the boy’s pulse, feeling the tension that spread
over the body beneath his.  And he reached down to touch him again, firmly this time, with intent to leave Duo panting in pure need.

Deep blue eyes held his gaze, and Duo couldn’t have looked away even if he’d wanted to.  Heero’s breath fell on his mouth as he kissed him again, his hips
pushing feverishly into the man’s hand.  He lifted his legs higher, willing himself to accept Heero into him.  The pressure came, much stronger this time, and he
drowned his cry by pulling Heero’s mouth down over his own.  

It wasn’t just strange and intrusive, as he’d felt before.  It was actually painful in a burning, throbbing sort of way.  Duo winced, turning his face away so he
could clench his teeth against the unexpected discomfort.  Heero ducked down against his neck and that strong grip on his erection increased.  The two
conflicting sensations didn’t help him relax, but they did make it easier to focus on one in favor of the other.

Duo’s arms tightened around Heero, and he took a shaky breath as he tilted his head so he could feel that velvety hair brush his chin.  

“What can I do?” he asked, his voice hoarse.  “Is it supposed to hurt?”

“At first,” Heero admitted, his own voice nearly as strained.  He reached down to spread Duo’s legs wider, lessening some of the pressure.  “The tenser you
are, the harder it is at first.  I can’t expect you to relax, but-“

“Got it,” Duo blurted, a pained grin pulling at his face.  “Stop driving me on and just kiss me.  I’ll try to relax.”

Heero obeyed, releasing the boy’s erection and kissing him with just a hint of the tension he was feeling.  It was difficult to keep his penetration slow, but he
could feel the trembling lessen beneath him.  He curved his hand beneath Duo’s back, pulling the boy into a more ready angle and supporting him.

The pain didn’t stop so much as fade out into a dull ache.  Duo kept his muscles loose and did his best not to tense up at the strange filling sensation.  His first
thought was that Heero was far too big, or he was too small.  And he couldn’t understand why that feeling – uncomfortable as it was – didn’t stop him from
being aroused.  He had a wild urge to feel Heero driving within him, deeper and deeper until he died from it.

Duo shuddered beneath him and Heero choked at the sudden tightening around him.  He opened his mouth to tell the boy to lie still, but he was kissed into
silence.  A hot tongue thrust itself into his mouth, inciting him to respond even as Duo’s hips pushed against him.  He growled and returned the treatment,
swallowing Duo’s sharp cry.

It burned.  Duo tore his mouth away from Heero, a keening cry not making it past his throat as he pushed against the man, forcing them closer still.  It burned,
but he liked it.  He felt as if he’d been lit on fire, and he lifted his legs again, increasing the pressure to what it had been before.  He didn’t know what had
changed, but the sensation seemed right to him now.  He needed more.  Heero was thrusting into him and he pushed back to meet it, tossing his head when
the friction touched a sharper sort of pleasure.

“Heero...!”

The breathless cry was answered with a low moan from Heero, who was quick to hold Duo’s hips to keep the angle.  He thrust into him again, eyes gleaming at
the way Duo writhed, the tormented pleasure etched over that beautiful face.  He could see the need, a mirror of his own passion.  Duo would take whatever
he could give him, and he knew he’d never be able to hold back with him.  His husband, now his lover, was as wildly passionate as he was.

Their lovemaking was chaotic from there, in the kind of frenzied abandon that would leave bruises and aches long after.  Neither of them cared.  The only
thing that existed was the fire between them.

- - -

They’d slept for a while after that violent consummation, both being far too exhausted to move.  Once they woke, cleaning themselves was the first line of
business.  Heero reluctantly went to see about that, reluctant because cold water was the best they could get.

Duo was oddly quiet when Heero returned with a bucket and rag.  Heero had washed already and was fully dressed, which made Duo in turn feel very much
the slut considering he was dressed only in a sheet.  He blushed and turned away when Heero set the bucket near the bed.

“You’re not going to watch me, are you?” asked Duo.

Coming from the boy who’d ordered him to ‘do it harder, Heero’ an hour earlier, the modesty seemed rather belated.  Heero decided to keep that to himself.  
He flashed an amused smirk and turned his back to the bed.

“I’d think it’s a little late to be shy,” Heero commented.

“I don’t care,” Duo muttered.

He hurried to wash himself up, wincing when he found blood on his thighs as well as the more expected mess.  There was no way he wanted Heero to see him
like that.  Once he was clean, he pulled the sheet back around him and let out a relieved sigh.  Heero hadn’t so much as peaked at him.

“I think I tore a little,” Duo said quietly.  “Is that normal?”

Heero winced and turned back to pull Duo into a warm embrace.  “No, it’s not normal.  We were far too rough for your first time.  I promise, next time I’ll prepare
you better.”

“But it won’t hurt anything,” Duo pressed, “nothing permanent?”

He was afraid they wouldn’t be able to do it again.  Heero smirked when he realized that, pressing a wry kiss to the boy’s temple.  Duo was far too cute when
showed his innocence.

“No,” Heero promised, “nothing permanent.  It’ll ache for a while, but you’ll be fine.”

“Good,” Duo sighed.  He pulled Heero down onto the bed, not caring that Heero still had his shoes on.  Once they were close and warm, he gave a happy
smile and shifted to lie on his husband.

“Before you doze off again, I have something to give you.”

Duo blinked, lifting his head with a curious expression.  “What is it?  And why didn’t you give it to me earlier?”

“I didn’t give it to you earlier,” Heero smirked, “because I just found it.  As to your other question, it’s a ring.”

Duo’s breath caught in his throat and he swallowed roughly when he saw the emblem on the thick ring Heero handed to him.  The crest was so old he couldn’t
make it out, but that was just how he remembered it being.  He took it with shaking hands.

“How did you know?” asked Duo.  “I didn’t tell you my father had a ring like this.”

“There’s a name on the inside band,” Heero explained.  He tilted Duo’s grip and showed him the old etching.  “Did he never show you that?”

“He couldn’t take it off...”  Duo gulped again, fear and eagerness conflicting in him.  “Where did you find it?”

“In a storage room on this ship.  Meaning this was the ship your father was taken to England on.  Someone in the Hansa, possibly Zechs himself, must have
had a hand in his abduction.”

Duo turned hurt eyes to Heero, his hand curling around the ring.  “But if the Hansa was part of it, then...Wufei would have known all along.  Why didn’t he-“

“He didn’t know,” said Heero.  “I’m sure he didn’t.  Wufei might be a member of the order, but he doesn’t have a hand in even half of their dealings.  If he’d had
any idea, he would have told you as soon as he knew who you were.”

Duo sighed in relief, curling on Heero’s chest and slipping the ring onto his thumb, where it just managed to catch well enough to stay on.  He hadn’t wanted to
believe that Wufei would be part of such a thing, but so far this Hansa was sounding like the evilest organization he’d ever heard of.  He didn’t care if they had
their reasons for doing the things they did.  They were the ones who’d taken his father away from him.

Heero remained awake after Duo dozed off.  He knew they might have to move quickly, so he had to be ready when the order came.  Falling asleep earlier,
even if it were only for an hour or so, had been bad enough.  He wasn’t about to risk doing it again.  So he spent his time watching Duo sleep and memorizing
the boy’s features.  It was an occupation he didn’t think he’d get bored of for years to come.

He was still awake when someone rapped on the door.  Duo blinked sleepy eyes at him, and Heero shook his head as he got off the bed and retrieved his
revolver.  

The sight of the weapon woke Duo very quickly.  He pulled the sheets close to his chest and sat tight against the wall to put himself out of the line of fire, just in
case.

“Who is it?” asked Heero.

“Wufei.”

Duo’s eyes widened in horror and he jerked the sheet up even higher.  He opened his mouth to tell Heero to wait, but was far too late.  Heero didn’t hesitate to
open the door and let his best friend in.

“We need to-“

Wufei ground to a halt when he caught sight of Duo, taking in the boy’s terrified eyes, pale face, and lack of dress.  Then he turned to Heero and decked him.

“Heero!”

Duo jumped off the bed, flinching when his husband struck the wall and slumped to the floor from the force of that sudden punch to the face.  He took the
sheet with him, but modesty was the last thing on Duo’s mind.  Wufei stepped toward Heero and Duo snapped around, glaring daggers at the black-haired
captain.

Heero lifted his head just in time to see Duo hit Wufei.  Wufei choked from the blow to his stomach and stumbled away.  Heero gave a slight nod, remembering
how he’d felt when Duo had hit him that way.  The boy might have been slender, but he packed a punch when he was angry.

“You stay away from him,” Duo growled, glaring at Wufei.  “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, and I know I should have, but I didn’t and I’m sorry, but that doesn’t
give you any right to hit my husband, so you just stay away from him or you’ll hear from me!  Heero didn’t defile me or dishonor me or anything like that, we’re
married so you don’t have any excuse to hit him, if you want to get angry at someone, direct it at me and leave Heero out of it.”

Wufei raised an eyebrow at the ranting boy and shot a droll look over at Heero, who was climbing back to his feet.  He sniffed at his friend and frowned at
Duo.  

“I assumed you were married,” said Wufei.  “That’s why I didn’t castrate him with my sword.”

Duo paled, and Heero smirked, brushing a hand over his bloodied lip.

“You nearly broke my jaw,” said Heero.

Wufei stared at him for a long minute before giving his old friend a smirk.  “I meant to.”

He turned to the pile of clothing on the floor, which obviously belonged to the sheet-covered Duo.  He picked it up and handed it to the boy, a pained look
flashing past his face before he forced a smile onto his lips.  

“Get dressed,” said Wufei.  “Then I’ll help you two escape.  We’re going to set fire to this ship, so don’t leave anything behind.”

Duo turned and watched Wufei leave the cabin, his expression filled with guilt and a hint of confusion.  Then he frowned over at Heero.

“Would he really have killed you if he thought you’d dishonored me?” he asked.

Heero smirked and shook his head.  “No, a quick death would be too light a punishment.  He’d have castrated me and then made me marry you.  Wufei takes
honor very seriously.”

- - -
TBC



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