Story: GAME OVER
Author: FancyFigures (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about 'em for free etc
Pairings: 1+2, 3 + 4
Category: Trowa POV, romance
Warnings: Yaoi, hint of lemon
Notes: The bitterest of enemies – or the dearest of lovers; it’s not likely that the two will ever come together, is it? About as likely as reaching the seventh level, escaping the Maze of Doom, and winning the magic gems…
Feedback: If you liked it, PLEASE let me know!
Written for Link Worshiper’s ‘Enemies to Lovers’ contest, June 2004.
Thanks to Sons #1 and #2, for their incomprehensible input – incomprehensible to me, that is!
"For God's sake!" yelled Duo.
There was a god-awful crash, as he slammed his hand on to the desk, and a pile of books fell off the end. A half-empty soda can flew across the room, and I only managed to catch it in time by twisting sideways on the couch and stretching over Quatre’s head.
"He got the key! The damned key! Christ, I've been banking the credits for four levels, and
still the devious little git has found the hidden portal, and the key to the Magic Mines -!”
The three of us sat on the couch at the other side of the room, trying to concentrate on the movie.
“What did that guy say?” asked Quatre, peering at the TV screen. “Dead or bread? Duo made too much noise just then -”
“God knows,” replied Wufei. “The plot is asinine, so he’s just as likely to be a baker as an assassin.”
Quatre glared at him. I sighed.
This evening just wasn’t going to be a relaxing time, was it?
I turned and stared over the back of the couch at Duo. He’d arrived with the others, but he’d never even bothered to settle for the opening credits. He’d made straight for the laptop and logged on to the net, muttering something about being close to the fifth level and needing to check his Health status…
He’d been playing the game for an hour now. We’d turned the lights low for the movie, but we could still see the flickering of the laptop screen on the wall behind us.
“What’s he playing?” hissed Quatre, sat close up beside me. I couldn’t even enjoy that erotic pleasure tonight – Duo had been cursing and thumping the keyboard for all the time he’d been here, and it’s damned difficult to ignore him at his angriest.
“Who’s he playing?” asked Wufei, a little more perceptively.
“Heero,” I told them.
Each heart missed a couple of beats.
“What sorta game is it?” asked Quatre. “An RPG? How come they can both play remotely?”
“Some kind of extranet, I believe,” muttered Wufei.
“Yes,” I admitted, a little embarrassed. “It’s just something I’m working on. Heero offered to test it out for me –“
“Then Duo butted in after him,” said Wufei.
“He sees it as some kinda tournament…” I said, reluctantly.
“Some kinda challenge?” asked Quatre, interested now.
“Some kinda masochism,” growled Wufei.
I frowned at him. “Even though Heero got called on the mission, Duo challenged him to play on. Remotely.”
“Duo demanded it,” said Wufei, wryly.
“Duo called him a coward,” I remembered, miserably.
There was a moment’s silence.
“Oh God,” said Quatre. He spoke for all of us.
There was a curse behind us – something about the f* skeletons in the mouth of the mine and the f* embedded gems. Something about a certain f* person’s stun bombs being placed too near to the pit, so that the mine entrance caved in, and blocked access. All this accompanied by some rather excessive sound effects and whistling weapon noises. I’d been rather proud of those.
“You got some kinda death wish, Trowa?” said Quatre, softly now. “You know they've been arguing for years. When they’re together, I can hear the arguments two floors up…”
“Can't live together for more than half an hour,” growled Wufei.
“Let alone play together…” sighed Quatre.
Did they think I didn’t know that? Had they ever tried to say ‘no’ to either Duo or Heero? Let alone the two together?
I thought I’d got off lightly, abandoning them to geek-dom.
“It’s just a game,” I said, a little weakly.
“You’re being naïve,” said Quatre, affectionately.
“You’re being a moron,” scorned Wufei.
I came back into the lounge after the others had left and watched the braided head, bent low over the keyboard. He was muttering again. It was near midnight.
“Fuck! Fuck! I've lost half a life, just cos of the damn turkey attack, and I swear to God he sent that cretinous soldier and his misleading instructions up the mountain –“
“Duo,” I said, with a sigh.
“Duo!” I shouted, when I’d got no reply for three minutes.
He turned slowly. His eyes looked large and wild in the dim light.
“I’d say go home, but you’ll just go on playing there, won’t you?”
His mouth opened, then closed – and he nodded. His grin looked a little manic. “I’m close, Trow – I’m nearly on level six now, and I’m ahead of him at the train station. I can build up those credits again, and then I can take the Wise Father with me to find the way through the Maze of Doom.”
“Yes, Duo,” I sighed. “So you’d better stay here tonight. I expect Heero will log off soon, he has a mission to attend to –“
Duo screwed his eyes up, peering at me. He looked at me like I was mad. “Of course he won’t! This is a great game, Trow! He’s gonna see it through, and I’ve gotta keep up with him. Dammit, I’ve gotta beat him! And that stupid army of giant flying bugs –“
“Spare me the details, Duo,” I said, quickly. “I programmed it, remember?”
“Got any cheats, Trow?” he said, his eyes sly. “Go on – I won’t tell him –“
For answer, I turned on my heel. I’d go fetch him a blanket and sheet, and he’d have to make the best of it on the couch.
“I hate him, Trow, you know that?” came the hissed words behind me. Duo’s hands were back on the keyboard, hammering on the ‘up’ direction key with a vengeance. “He thinks I’m trash – no match for him. I have to beat him – I have to!”
I knew he didn’t mean any evil character in my game. He and Heero had been rivals for years – it was amazing that they managed to swallow their antipathy long enough to be effective partners on missions. Though perhaps that’s what made them so effective in the first place; that edginess – that drive to outperform each other. We all lived in the same apartment block; Duo had an apartment on the floor below, Heero’s was across the corridor from me – yet the two of them never socialised with each other, except as part of our group. They shared so many opinions and likes in their lives, but would never admit any connection. They both had a fierce commitment to the cause and to their colleagues – but it never seemed enough to offer any respect to each other outside of work. They’d rather argue than converse; rather scorn than support. It was always very wearing.
“I’ll see you in the morning then, Duo. Food and drink’s in the fridge. Don’t fall asleep on the keyboard.”
“No way, friend! I’m gonna blast him outta the Maze and take those gems from him before he knows how low a flying beetle craps –!“
I groaned to myself. I’d sacrificed a relaxed snuggle on the couch with Quatre for this!
The guys called round in the morning. Wufei was on his way into town, and was offering to take the DVD back to the rental store – Quatre was looking like he wanted to hang around at mine, which was all rather exciting.
If I hadn’t had the manic gamester still in my lounge.
“He’s still playing?” whispered Quatre incredulously.
We all peered round the door of the lounge, to see Duo with a blanket round his shoulders, hunched over the flashing screen.
“Slept for a few hours, then started up again,” I said.
“Heero as well?” asked Quatre.
“Both insane,” offered Wufei.
We stared for a while, and listened to the grunts of frustration and the occasional curses. There were more complaints about the f* soldier, and now there seemed to be some problem along the route of the train and a tree spirit or two…
“He's hit! I got 'im!” came the whoop of delight. “Lost a whole life! Dropped three whole gems -!”
I bit my lip. I wondered if testing my prototype had been a good idea after all.
“I hope this doesn't affect the team co-operation for the next mission,” I said, slowly.
“I hope this doesn't end in gunfire,” muttered Quatre.
“I hope the blood washes out!” snapped Wufei.
They left. Quatre looked back at me a little reluctantly, but there wasn’t much time I could devote to him, was there?
I had somehow to wash and dress my fellow pilot without jeopardising his route through the Maze of Doom - didn’t I?
I came back from the store with lunch, to find a slightly calmer mood. Duo sat with his lip hitched up under his teeth, humming as he concentrated, and talking directly to the screen.
“Get the hell out of there, Heero, you damned idiot, and hold on to the bloody gems –“
“What’s happening, Duo?”
The hammering on the keyboard increased. His words were stammered out between keystrokes. “Some – kinda – enemy - trading with the skeletons – “
“Nah – something else, the Bug General he’s called – no, lower, Heero! Get outta the wood! – guy’s coming at both Heero ‘n me, we gotta get the gems outta the maze and on to level seven as fast as possible –“
“You’re working together on this? I thought you hated him – I thought he was the enemy –“
Duo snorted, and slammed a final stun bomb over the entry to the forest. “Well I do, of course! I’m still gonna beat the shit out of him and take the treasure – he’s a smug, self-satisfied little toad, ain’t he? Deserves everything he gets –“
“But?” I said, softly. I was unpacking the bags, pulling out the bread and soft pate. I put an apple into Duo’s non-typing hand, and watched him bite into it, absent-mindedly.
“But you gotta fight off a common enemy, Trow – that’s the game, isn’t it? He needs my credits to buy the energising potion. Then we can blast the monster General out of the wood and take his ship through the Maze…”
“Yeah,” I said, though I knew he wasn’t listening. “That’s how it goes.”
The guys were round again for supper and a few games of cards. We spent most weekends and downtime together, and at the moment it was only Heero out on a mission. My place was usually the most convenient for us all to gather.
“Duo moved in?” said Wufei, wryly. He stared at the man in question, still bent over the laptop.
Quatre turned large blue eyes to me, and I panicked that he might think the same.
“I sent him home, but his desktop crashed, so he came back –“
“You’re being a true friend,” said Quatre, softly.
“You’re being a mug,” snapped Wufei.
“How’s the game going? Not finished yet?” Quatre walked over and gave me a friendly hug round my waist. I suppressed the shiver of delight.
“No – a coupla levels to go.”
“Heero still involved?”
“Uh-huh. They’re in it together.”
“To the victory?” smiled Quatre.
“To the death,” came Wufei’s contribution. But he offered to make the salad, so I guess that was a concession.
“Duo?” Quatre wandered over to talk to his friend. “How’s it going?”
“Damned bugs!” groaned Duo, and for a minute Quatre looked startled, as if they were crawling over my lounge floor. “They stirred up a lava flow just by the entrance to the Maze, but Heero’s silver blade held that back, while I got the Wise Father off the cliff edge and brought him to the ship. We’re gonna break through the maze now –“
“We’re?” asked Quatre, puzzled.
“You and the Wise Father?” asked Wufei, standing with a salad bowl in his hands.
“You and Heero?” I asked, gently.
The other two turned to stare at me.
“We gotta work together, haven’t we?” muttered Duo. “Seems to be how this level is structured. He’s got a damned fine arsenal with ‘im, picked ‘em up on the first three levels – drove me nuts how he always seemed to be a coupla keystrokes ahead of me each time. But I got the help and instructions from the simple villagers, and the Wise Father himself. Dammit if Heero wasn’t sick as hell when I made that friendship -!”
“Trowa…?” asked Quatre of me. “Aren’t they screaming at each other any more?”
“Maybe not,” I shrugged. “Not at the moment.”
“He’s nearly in the maze!” Duo almost shouted with glee. “Damn that man’s strategic skills! He slides past ‘em like a snake – he’s even fooled the Bug General himself! Really cool… Now for my part - I gotta find the Eleventh Elf and get the map!”
We chewed at chops and salad and made occasional conversation. Not that we needed to be constantly chatty, but it was difficult to concentrate with Duo’s tapping and chuckles in the background. I didn’t know if the sniggers were better than his angry swearing – it was just as distracting.
“What’s that sound?” asked Quatre, halfway through pouring a glass of juice.
“Your cell phone?” suggested Wufei.
“The game,” I sighed. “That’s the Eleventh Elf’s song –“
“There’s always a song,” agreed Quatre, for which I was eternally grateful to him.
“Drives you mad,” grumbled Wufei. “Toot toot tooty toot, toot toot tooty toot –“
“Better than the wheee-owww of those stun bombs –“ retorted Quatre.
“Better than the chittercluck of those damned turkeys -!”
“And the bubbleubbleubblehissssss of the lava….”
I forgot I’d been excessively proud of my sound effects, and laughed.
“But better than the noise of their arguments, eh?”
“Duo OK back in there?” asked Quatre, as we stood together over the washing up. Wufei had already gone home. We’d fed Duo a couple of mouthfuls of food during the evening, but he’d hardly noticed.
Quatre smiled slightly. “Guess he’ll be staying over again, then.”
I felt depressed. “I think he needs to work it through, Quatre.”
“Then he’s lucky,” replied Quatre. “To get what he needs from you.”
When I stared at him in puzzlement, he grinned.
“I can wait for the same myself, Trow,” he said quietly.
I picked up the cloth and busied myself drying the dishes. I thought it might hide my blushes.
I stirred, early in the morning, and realised it was because of the laughing. A low, throaty sound coming from the lounge. Dammit – was Duo still up? I pulled my legs over the side of the bed and set off to find out.
“Yeah, guy, I can only agree!” came the chuckle from up the corridor. “She looks a little more like a toasted marshmallow than a princess! Got your muscles, I think –” There was a moment of tapping, then a further snickered comment, “ – and my hair? Yeah, you got it, man! Never thought you had a sense o’ humour like mine!”
More tapping. I poked my sleepy head around the door and gazed at the flickering reflections on the plain wall. Duo was murmuring again, out loud.
“Well – I gotta say thanks, Heero, for that! I’d never have figured you for giving compliments. Even if they are for my devious nature and ability to talk my way in and out of many a Maze! No, wait….” tap, tap, “ – but I think the way you got hold of that bazooka was so damned smart! And your flexibility in getting round that Bug General…”
I coughed again, more loudly. Duo spun round on the chair and grinned at me.
“Trow? Is that you? Hey – sorry if I woke you! But we’re coasting on into the last valley now, and that Maze is just history! You wanna see my score for Health and Wealth? See the number of beetles I’ve squitted on my way to the top -?”
I was glad to see his humour restored – I was glad to see he looked a little more refreshed. There was a sparkle in his eye this morning, though it was still too damned early for me to look at squitted bugs, even if I’d programmed them in myself in the first place.
Duo gabbled on. “This is great, though Trow – I love the way you can input comments to the game, y’know? Heero and I can exchange plans and talk through the levels; it’s like an Instant Messenger and gaming combination! Y’see, I never knew why he went for that remaining gem in the graveyard until he told me about the skeleton’s curse – and he never realised I always intended to change the mood of the Elves from sad to happy to prompt the opening of the Book of Spells…”
“But Trow, I gotta say the graphics on the female characters are crap – the elves all look like cute little blond Quatres, even the girls! And the Gundam Princess – whoa, man, she looks more like a mutation of me and Heero than a hot chick, so who d’you think’s gonna follow her through the Grinding Gate? You oughtta put her in spandex and boots, rather than that frilly frock… anyway, Heero ‘n I got our own route to take, and we’ll be relying on our own skills. No offence, y’know?”
“None taken,” I replied. “But there’s always a love interest in these games, isn’t there?”
“Uh-huh,” he nodded, absent-mindedly. His attention was back on the game, and some new words scrolling up in the conversation box. A smile twitched at the edges of his mouth.
“You’re not interested in princesses then, Duo?” I asked, softly.
“Nah!” he laughed. “Not me! I like a more masculine type. I mean, I have better fun with you guys, and –“
And? I thought. But Duo was distracted again by the screen.
“Look at that!” he grinned. “Would ya believe it? Heero thinks the same! Never been keen on sugar and spice, he says. Guess that’s the first time I’ve known him admit something personal like that… but seems we definitely think the same about all that stuff. Both like guys ‘n all. Cool…“
“Easier to say things on screen than face to face,” I murmured, thinking aloud.
“Never mind,” I said. “Gonna make breakfast.”
Duo was reading, and laughing, and tapping again. I went in search of the toaster.
The guys and I stood at the door, dressed and breakfasted, and ready to go boarding for the day. Duo usually loved it – but there was no movement from the lounge. He wasn’t coming to join us just yet.
“I thought you said the game was near the end?” said Wufei. “They’ve been playing non-stop all weekend!”
“It’s the last level,” I explained. “There’s a final twist – a final battle with the arch-enemy where they have to co-operate to succeed. It’s taken a while to set up their defences.”
“Sounds more like –“ started Wufei.
“ – it’s taken a while to break them down!” finished Quatre.
The two guys looked thoughtfully at each other.
When they looked back at me, my eyes were innocent.
Then Duo appeared at the doorway, startling us all. He looked a little mussed – his attention had been somewhere other than his appearance for a coupla days, of course.
“Trow… can I ask a favour? I know you’ve been really good ‘n all, and been really generous about the use of your laptop –“
“And food… and bedding…” murmured Quatre under his breath so that only I would hear. “And a certain cramping of your style…”
I saw a sudden smirk on his face, and flushed hotly all over.
“- but it’s gonna be worth it y’know,” Duo rushed on. “’Cos I’m at the last level, and the secret of the Spiritual Stone is just about out –“
“So is it OK if Heero comes over today as well?”
Duo looked a little uncomfortable. His words started to tumble out of his mouth. “Like – y’see - it’s the final battle, and the Bug General seems to be some kinda Power Ranger monster, ‘cos he just keeps getting bigger and meaner! Heero and I got this plan now – with his Spinning Self-loading SMG and my Scroll of Power from the Gundam Princess, we can blast everything outta the way, and take the whole pile o’ gems together. But we need to cntrl-shift at exactly the same time – “ He saw us staring, and I think he blushed a little. “OK, so we’re not gonna be arguing like usual, I swear! But it’s easier with us both in the same room, y’know?”
“I know,” I agreed, and Quatre may have jabbed me in the ribs – else I imagined it.
“He’s back from the mission already?” asked Quatre.
Duo nodded. “Didn’t go too well – he was kinda distracted. They put someone else on it in the end.”
“Heero – distracted?” Wufei stared.
“Heero – displaced?” whistled Quatre.
“Not so keen to ‘beat the shit outta him’ now, Duo?” I reminded him, rather unfairly.
But he grinned back at me. I could see in his eyes that he was eager to get back to the game. “Not priority now, y’know? Thanks, Trow -!”
I watched him bound back into the lounge, already dialling his cell phone. My words hit the brick wall of his back.
“We’re off now, OK? Join us up at the skate park – else we’ll see you tonight.”
“Is he ever going home?” sighed Wufei.
“I hope so,” I replied.
I glanced at Quatre again, and from the look on his face, I think he was hoping the same.
We got back later than we thought – Wufei had met some friends at the park, and there’d been a good-natured vert contest of our own in the half-pipe. Winner had paid for pizza, loser the sodas, so we’d all stayed on together into the evening.
The minute we stepped into my darkened apartment, we knew there was something wrong.
“Where’s the tapping?” hissed Wufei, his board still under his arm.
“Where’s the flickering lights?” murmured Quatre.
“Where’s Duo?” I wondered.
The laptop still sat on my desk, and was still whirring quietly in the background. A spinning screensaver announced that it was still on. But there was no Duo, glued to the chair; there was no Duo, hammering his way through the Maze of Doom and up to the Golden Gateway.
No Heero, either.
We stood half in and half out of the lobby, a bit bemused. Then there was a noise from across the hall, and we wheeled round in surprise. The door to Heero’s apartment swung slowly open, and there stood Duo.
We all stared for a second. Duo was bare-chested and bare-footed; his only clothing was a pair of loose shorts. His hair was loosed, and thrown back carelessly over his shoulder. I saw his Adam’s apple wobble as he swallowed heavily.
“Ahh - hi guys! Sorry Trow, I forgot to turn off the laptop – I was just gonna nip back in and close down properly. You left me the key…”
I nodded. Beside me, I saw Wufei’s mouth open, then shut again.
“Is the game completed?” asked Quatre, interested despite himself.
“Uh-huh – “ replied Duo. He looked both excited and uncomfortable, all at the same time.
“Did you win?” asked Quatre.
“Did you beat Yuy?” asked Wufei.
“Where is Heero?” I asked, quietly.
Then there was a rustling noise behind Duo, and Heero appeared as well. He stood at Duo’s shoulder, and his visible hand hung loosely in front of him, as if it brushed against Duo’s hip. He was also barely dressed – a similar pair of shorts, no shirt or shoes. His hair looked an unusual mess – his face seemed a little flushed. Neither of them seemed upset at being crowded by the other, though their bodies were very close in the doorway.
“Why are you at Heero’s?” asked Wufei, bluntly.
“Why aren’t you arguing?” murmured Quatre, but his eyes were over-wide.
“Tell me what happened, Duo,” I insisted.
I thought I heard a snicker from Heero, but I was obviously mistaken. He didn’t do that sort of thing.
Duo cleared his throat. “Well - we used the gems, together with the Power Scroll, y’see. The Silver Sword sliced the Bug General down to size, then we trapped him in the Mine with the Skeletons, and got away in his ship.”
“The Spiritual Stone –“ Heero’s prompt was only a murmur. His voice was low and almost caressing.
“Oh – yeah!” Duo turned slightly and smiled at him, sharing the memory. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Wufei’s jaw drop at the sight of such a tender gesture. “We took that from the cliff face, and with the increased Wealth ratings we defeated the bugs, and the soldiers all retreated. Great result, eh?”
“Yes… a great result indeed,” smiled Heero. He didn’t sound like he was referring to the game, though.
“Tell me what happened, Duo,” I repeated. I didn’t need to know what happened on the seventh level of my own game, did I?
“Umm…” Duo flushed, but there was a grin on his face as well. “I guess Heero got a bit distracted –“
“Again?” snapped Wufei.
“By the game?” puzzled Quatre.
“By you?” I offered.
Now Duo smiled openly, and we watched entranced as Heero’s hand slid around Duo’s waist, trying to tug him back into the apartment.
“You and Heero -?” gasped Quatre. “But you hate each other!”
“You fight all the time –“ growled Wufei.
“You understand each other well,” I said. I was rewarded with a big beam from Duo.
“Yeah, I guess I never saw it before! We spark off each other because we’re very alike – because we always want the best. We always have to achieve…”
“We always have to win,” said Heero. His other hand touched gently at Duo’s neck. Stroked it. “And I reckon we both have. He’s a fine soldier, I can see that so clearly now –“
Duo was blushing. “And you’re a fine tactician, man; all that controlled aggression –“
“You show great anticipation – great undercover skills –“ Heero’s eyes were fixed on Duo’s mouth; his own lips opened slightly, as if he gasped silently.
“You’ve got great single-mindedness – and, of course, great muscles…” snickered Duo. He was arching softly against Heero’s fingers.
Quatre coughed, loudly.
“Get a room, you two!” groaned Wufei.
“We have,” smiled Heero. “So if you’ll excuse us…”
The two of them started to dip back into the room. Duo paused, and looked over at me.
“Sorry I held up your love life, Trow – I’m not completely selfish, y’know! But now I’m outta your hair for a while, OK?”
“I want you in mine,” Heero growled at him. “Now…”
But Heero also stared over at me for a second. He nodded, briefly. “Thanks, Trowa.”
I could feel Quatre and Wufei’s amazed eyes on me.
“Sure, Heero. It was nothing. Glad to be of help.”
Heero drew the door shut behind him, Duo going on ahead, his chuckles echoing out across the hallway. Guess he’s always going to be noisy, whatever mood he’s in.
“Thanks, Trowa,” came the trail of Heero’s amused voice. “Thank the General as well, OK?”
Wufei went away to his apartment upstairs; he said he needed ‘to replace the grip tape on his board’. He seemed pretty stunned. Quatre and I wandered back into my lounge.
I stepped over to the laptop and pressed the final key.
“Game over,” flashed on the screen, and it gave a soft little whine of complaint as it closed down.
It wasn’t really a shock when Quatre’s hands came round my waist, but my nerves responded with all the thrill I’d expected.
“Guess he really did get what he needed from you, Trowa. They both did!”
I smiled – I leant back against his chest, savouring the feel of his warmth close to me.
His voice wheedled. “Who was the Bug General then, Trow?”
“The guy that united the two enemies - that got them working together. Appreciating each other at last.”
“It was just a game, Quatre…”
“Some kinda Power Ranger monster,” quoted Quatre, his mouth murmuring against my neck. “Gets bigger and meaner…”
I grinned, and turned in his arms, to face him and settle my own lips just where they wanted to be.
“Keep rubbing up against me like that, Quatre, and I guess you might find out -!”