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Midnight and Tattoos

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The water was dripping off my skin in cascades as I pulled myself out of the pool, my shoulder muscles aching as I did - the water resistance having aggravated an old injury. I stretched as I stood on the side, kneading the muscles to relieve the pain, and reached for my towel.

It was my favourite time of day to be in the Preventer gym - close to midnight, no other agents using the 24 hour facilities - especially normal agents who had partners and children and responsibilities. A Friday night was not the time for working out.

I dried myself off a little and untied my hair, ran my fingers through it to help it dry and left the warmth of the pool area to approach the lockers. I walked to the door, looked through the glass, fogged slightly by condensation, and saw the main floor of the gym. On looking through the window I saw I was not the only person taking advantage of the quiet and the fact no one else was around as there was Duo, kicking at a punch bag, using some kick boxing moves I had taught him myself.

The sight of him, Duo Maxwell – all around fun guy who had plenty of friends and a lover - at the Preventer gym at midnight on a Friday night confused me. It was unusual behaviour for many reasons. Duo, of course, had Heero and he was absent, which was a highly unusual circumstance as I knew they had worked out together in the entire duration of their relationship – their competitive spirits spurring them to work harder and achieve better results. I also knew that Duo didn't make a habit of midnight training sessions unlike myself who ended up here most nights – the quiet and putting my body under intense pressure providing me with the skills to de-stress after the excessively busy days as a Commander in the organisation.

So his presence confused me. I thought briefly about ignoring it, maybe he needed to blow off steam. Despite being no longer an active field agent or being able to spend much time with any of my former comrades, I was aware Duo had just returned from an assignment so perhaps needed the opportunity to let out any pent up aggression. I could sympathise. I found an intense work out got out all my withheld anger after meetings on budgets and training provisions or whatever bureaucratic nonsense I was meant to care about. Which I didn't care about. Sometimes I missed the feel of a gun, the slide of blade, the feeling of piloting. Yet, I had sacrificed it for a corner office and esteem.

I should have just walked by but instead I found myself approaching the glass door, my attention completely diverted from the locker rooms, forgetting that I was only dressed in swim shorts, tight over my legs and a towel around my neck. It didn't occur to me as I pushed on the glass and then found myself in the cold air-conditioned air of the gym, an immediate shock to the system from the humidity of the pool area.

For a moment, I thought about not approaching. I glanced around, saw all the other equipment unused, lifeless in the large room and then towards Duo, who was concentrating on raising his leg for each kick of the bag. I perhaps would've left if I'd not observed him, seen the way his posture was wrong and I found myself reflecting on my own martial arts training as a child.

"Everything begins with posture," I'd been told so many times and I had learnt how to hold myself correctly.

Duo had a natural slouch. Duo had a lack of discipline. Duo had not been raised like I had where failure was not an option.

I watched him feeling vaguely voyeuristic without him knowing as he was dressed only in low slung black sweat pants, his chest heaving and gleaming underneath the harsh strip-lighting, his feet bare and his hands raised in a fighting stance. I saw tattoos I never knew he had, black and grey images of skulls and scythes and roses spanning much of his torso. I'd known about those on his arms. Not the rest of them.

And of course my eyes drifted to his hair, trailing behind him as it always did. There had been discussions about it so many times – how it contravened policy on appearance, how it was a risk in the field, how it was unprofessional yet he still had it, longer now, stopping at mid-thigh, wisps of it sticking to his sweaty back. He made quite a sight. One that I could appreciate despite knowing he was clearly off limits - not that I would ever consider having sex with him - more that I could see he was an attractive man – much more attractive than the wide-eyed skinny boy he had been.

It seemed I'd decided to stay and I spoke as I approached.

"Your posture is lacking, Maxwell."

He spun then, his fist raised but on seeing it was me, his automatic aggressive stance relaxed, his fists moving to his sides, unclenched.

"Fuckin' hell, 'Fei, you coulda warned a guy."

I only raised an eyebrow at the swearing. At the use of my nickname that I had long since given up on correcting. It was an endearment I supposed. One we all suffered. I had few friends and though I had not seen Duo nor any of the others for some time due to the nature and pressure of my job, I still considered them all friends. I could take a nickname. A mauling of my actual name as it was said with affection. And it was sincere.

"Your posture," I said again, "you could hurt yourself."

He waved his hand dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Excuse me for not having perfect posture and all… some of us weren't born with a stick up our ass, you know."

With other people he would've expected a laugh but I stepped closer, ignored his insinuation. I maybe was not as fun as he was - but damn, few people were - but I was not the "stick up the ass" guy he assumed I always was. I think I shocked him when I went behind him, pulled at his shoulders roughly, laid a hand across the small of his back, forcing him to stand straighter rather than his natural slouch. It was in this contact of skin I felt the slick slide of sweat, the brush of his braid against my fingers and I was close enough to smell him – male, heady, the smell of exertion.

My mouth felt dry, I felt myself unconsciously licking my lips but I managed to speak, my voice level, calm. "Start like that."

I backed off and he nodded, started his next kick from that position and his body appeared to move with more fluidity, the move packing more power, the bag swinging like a pendulum. He looked back at me then over his shoulder. "Better?"


He smirked and I watched the muscles of his back move as he collected a towel from the floor and quickly dabbed away some sweat from his face and torso. "Suppose it's kinda late… should head back to Quat's. Been trying to avoid this fancy ass soiree so I made myself scarce, you know. Couldn't really think of anywhere else to go."

I listened to his words, the way he said "soiree" in such a scathing manner and then I comprehended what he said.

"You're staying at Winner's?"

"Uh, yeah. I'm totally homeless without Quat."

I frowned. "Yuy?"

"You didn't hear?"

I was tempted to fire back something insulting but I was more self-aware than my teenage self who may have just said something without thought or care. I saw the way he rubbed self-consciously at his arm, how his shoulders hunched forward and I knew what I was about to be told. And I wondered how I could've been so out of my former comrade's lives to have missed it.

"Me and 'Ro broke up."

"You always break up," I said.

They did. I'd never known two people who were so compatible yet so utterly incompatible. It had been five years since the first war, five years since they first met and they'd spent all those years in some kind of yo-yoing relationship where they couldn't live with each other and couldn't live without each other. Yet it was never over. It was always threatened to be over but never actually was.

"Naw… this time it's it, you know? I've moved out. Collected my shit. The whole nine yards."

"When?" I asked, a prickling of guilt squirming its way into my conscience.

"Like seven weeks ago."

"Seven weeks?"

"Gee, yeah, 'Fei. Seven weeks. Some kinda echo in here?"

I frowned and looked down at the blue padded floor rather than at his face as I felt that this showed how severely lacking I was in the friend department if I had not known that he and Heero had broken up. Not only that – that they had been broken up for seven weeks.

"I didn't know," I said, then added, "sorry."

"Yeah, well, totally fine, 'Fei, you're the Commander. You get the fancy job title, you get all the shit right?"

"That would be correct."

"See, all good," he said, punching my shoulder in some show of friendship and giving me a smile that lit up his entire face. "Now after you, I guess?"

He gestured towards the glass panelled doors that led to the lockers and I turned, started to walk and heard a small gasp.

"Shit, 'Fei. I didn't know… damn. Nice ink."

It stopped my stride a little but I continued to walk suddenly awkward knowing that Duo's scrutiny was on my body more than it had ever been before and that thought made me more uncomfortable than I cared to admit. I swallowed, heard him follow and catch up, walking beside me but glancing at me.

"It's a big piece."

It was. The dragons, the fire, the blade incorporated that spanned my entire back, a piece that had taken many hours under the insistent buzz of the tattoo gun. It had been a therapeutic experience, each hour a moment to reflect on my life, a meditative state achieved as needles drove into skin, muscle and bumped bone. It was something that no one saw and I had forgotten that he'd see it, his own interest in tattooing obviously piqued and I felt more naked under his gaze. A little hot. He'd never looked at me like this.

Maybe he sensed that I was uncomfortable as I pushed the door and we walked down the corridor to the locker room, as he asked a few neutral questions about how many hours, how many sittings, how long I'd had the thing, and I answered them curtly, not elaborating, feeling like he was seeing me naked for the first time. In one sense, he was. All I was wearing was the tight swimming shorts that stopped mid-thigh, my hair was down unlike any of them had ever seen and my back was exposed, the tattoo to honour the dead and evaluate my own life visible.

It wasn't until we arrived at the locker room and I had my back to him, opening my locker, did I feel the touch of his finger against my back, the touch making me shiver. I blamed the changing of temperature for my body's reaction, the change from the heat of the pool to the cool of the gym and back to the warmth of the locker room.

"It's beautiful," he murmured and I spun to face him, grabbing the hand that had been touching my skin, wrapping my fingers tight around his wrist. He looked a little shocked at the hurried violence of my movements but his touch had unsettled me and his proximity was making me react in ways I hadn't for so long.

It had been a long time since I'd have sex with either a man or a woman. I blamed the way I had shuddered underneath Duo's touch on that. I felt his pulse quickening under my fingers, and I looked straight into his blue eyes, a look on his face that was confused by extremity of my reaction.

I knew I should let go – my grip was tight around his wrist but I couldn't, my own heart rate increasing, my eyes glancing down at the intricate black and grey tattoos over his torso and how his chest moved with each breath, the way his abs were firm, a part of me aching to touch. He'd always been forbidden. Always Yuy's. Now he wasn't and a desire, long since suppressed, surfaced.

I pulled. Hard. He fell into me, my back hitting the locker and I didn't loosen my grip as instinctively our lips connected. We kissed hard, noses bumped, a lack of co-ordination but plenty of fire, plenty of tongue and lips and teeth. I'd never had a kiss similar to what I was having with Duo now, never felt someone so equally strong pressed up against me, never felt anyone touch my hair, loose, fist it in his hand and never had anyone grind their body instinctively to mine with this level of aggression.

My fingers finally loosened around his wrist as the desire was to touch, to reach out, sliding my fingers over his back, his abs, feeling the hair that led down to where his sweat-pants hung low and where my hand desired to trail to. I was hard. I could feel he was. It was inevitable I was going to touch his cock but I felt a sudden reticence as much as my body was screaming at my brain. I'd always been accused as a child of thinking too much and not reacting enough. It was strange how my encounter with Duo brought back so many memories.

I grabbed for his braid, feeling it softer than I anticipated, and pulled a little so that his face moved away from me and he looked at me, his eyebrow quirked, his eyes confused yet clearly showing lust. Lust for me. Not Heero.

"I'm not a rebound," I said, breathless.

He chuckled and slid to his knees in front of me, his nose nuzzling the skin around my naval, his fingers removing the tight material of my swimming shorts, the rush of cold air accompanied by the feel of his hot breath near my cock, hard, hard for him.

"Don't worry… so already did the rebound guy…" he said, voice low, husky and I wanted to say that I was vaguely disappointed that he'd already started screwing other men but then I wasn't going to judge him as his lips opened, his tongue peeked out and he took me into his mouth, letting me thrust my hips a little, letting me grab for his hair and demand him to take me deeper.

My breath was coming out in moans, I was unable to control it, as he then released my cock, grinding himself up against my body so that I could feel him hard against the soft jersey of the sweatpants.

He kissed me and I reached for him, palming his groin, feeling his dick react to my touch and I wanted more, sliding them down, the boxer briefs as well, until we were both entirely naked except tattoos. The kiss, the slide of our skin, the need to create friction was intense, and I wanted him in a way that I couldn't express. I didn't want to be his rebound after Yuy. Wanted more than that yet I couldn't say that. Couldn't articulate that. Sex would be enough. Right now, it would be enough.

His hands were all over me, caressing the tattoo, touching my cock, and I reacted to his touches, pushing him back towards the low bench, forcing him to sit, straddling his thighs. He attacked my chest from this new vantage point, licking and nipping at my nipples, little bites and kisses littering my skin, as I ground down instinctively on him. I reached for his cock, stroked and he moaned, throwing his head back as I fisted him roughly, imagining he enjoyed my preferred technique of masturbation and he spoke through gritted teeth.

"We need something…now."

"I couldn't… agree more," I panted as he regained enough composure to lower his fingers to the small of my back, descending further, teasingly, making me aware of his intentions.

Duo was dominant person. As was I. Yet I didn't feel the need to fight this when he touched ever so lightly there.

"I have lube in my locker," he said and his hand stopped moving and I suddenly realised this whole situation was not entirely without the spectre of his relationship with Heero Yuy despite the bravado.

I nodded, stood to let him get it, the stalling of our actions making it all seem suddenly less fierce, less aggressively sexual. There was a part of me that said I should not be doing this yet here I was, naked, hard, and wanting him while he was clearly still damaged about the end of a five year relationship. I maybe wasn't his first rebound guy yet I was still one.

Clearly he had lube in his locker from his relationship with Heero. Clearly that fact reminded him of that. Clearly it was not the best idea for us to be having sex as he retrieved it.

"Uh," he said, awkwardly, "I'm clean but I'll… you know."

He held up the condom packet and I shook my head. "I'm clean," I confirmed.

He shrugged, putting the packet away and carrying the lube, and I suddenly felt more naked under his gaze than any point up until now. I could admit it had been a long time since I'd had sex with anyone and that made my life appear even more remote than it already was. I'd cut myself off from so many things for my career and the obligations of my duty as a Commander that I had stopped myself from feeling and only a chance meeting, a glance through some glass covered with condensation led to this. I didn't need to say that and instead he was in front of me and I realised that perhaps something showed.

"Uhh, we totally don't have to do this, 'Fei."

"No," I said, grabbing for him, sliding my hands down his inked chest, "I want this."

I emphasised my words by touching him, making him fully hard again under my fingers, the awkward interlude having dampened down some of the previous passion.

He moaned at the touch of my hand and he slid his fingers to the previous position, now slickened, sliding them into me, making my knees weak. It had been a long time and I had forgotten the intense pain/pleasure. I needed some stability, something to hold onto and I moved away, only to lean forward against the bench that ran across the middle of the locker room, my torso against it, my hands gripping the wood and I heard his breath hitch, his fingers slide over the tattoos until one was inside me again, forcing me to grit my teeth until he skilfully hit my prostate, the sensation making me push back into him, wanting more - wanting whatever he could give me.

"Wufei," he said - not 'Fei, as he was at my ear, his voice low and I appreciated the use of my name - it also banished the thoughts of Heero - that he was fully aware it was me and he ran his lips down my back, mouth warm over the ink, feeling as though he was tracing the curve of the dragon as his fingers made me pant, two, three, inside - the feeling intense, his kisses raining over my shoulders.

I looked back as I felt fingers leave me, him preparing himself, the slide of his hand over his cock an erotic sight, his braid sticking to his sweaty chest, his eyes closed at the strokes he was giving himself. He noticed my eyes on him, my eyes scanning the ink, a dove in flight, some Latin, and he gave me a small shy smile at my gaze.

"You ready?"

I nodded and turned my head, lowering it to the wooden panels, gripping tighter to the edge as I felt him start to enter me, my body tensing. His hand slid under me, angling my hips and stroking my cock, relaxing me as he pushed in, the feeling of someone inside me had been something I'd forgotten and he took it slow, allowed me to adjust, to feel every inch. I felt sweat collect on my forehead, my arms tremble from the exertion of holding myself up and one of his warm hands slid up my back to my shoulder, then to my hair.

Duo leaned over my back once I was aware he was fully inside and he kissed at my neck, his hand still teasing at my cock. I felt his braid against my back, the strength of his muscles, the feel of his hand in my hair, the touch of his lips. He was so hot - hotter than I anticipated and he was holding himself still - I couldn't help being impressed by his self-control as he slowly rolled his hips, experimentally, sensually.

"You okay?"

I was torn between some show of masculine pride - telling him I wanted to be fucked hard and fast yet the soft slide and touches were far more erotic. I believed he guessed it had been some time for me as he was only moving gently, his hand underneath teasingly stroking my cock with each move in and out, and I pushed backward to indicate I wanted more, his chest sliding off my back, standing behind me, both hands coming to my hips then as he increased his pace forcing me to grip harder.

There were things I did to forget about how disappointed I'd become in my life choice - in accepting the Commander position rather than continuing in the field that would've made me happy. I used the gym, I got a large tattoo but nothing was comparable to sex - not with a man who knew how to touch my body, whose thrusts were confident, hard, making me close my eyes and grip tighter to the wood underneath my fingers.

"Damn 'Fei," he panted and though he used my name I suddenly regretted the choice of position, unable to see his eyes, his reactions.

I wasn't a substitute for Heero - I hoped he knew that as the tattoo that so fascinated him glared up.

"Stop," I said, my voice steady. Turning my head to meet his eyes. "I want to see you."

At the word "stop" he had seemed utterly confused but then he pulled out and I stood, already quivering from the intensity and I grabbed at his braid to bring him to my lips backing him up on the bench, making him lie across it before I brought my body down into him, holding his cock as I let him slide back in.

There was a breathless moment between us and I traced his abdominal muscles, the cursive script, the black and grey roses. I leaned down, crushed our lips together and moved off him a little, the wood hard underneath my knees, before I lowered myself back down and released his lips. I leaned back then, my hands on his thighs for support, as I moved up and down on his cock.

"Fuck…you're incredible, Wufei."

I took the complement, always prided myself on being damn focused at any task and this was no different. He didn't say much else as I began to move at a faster pace, his cock beginning to make me lose any semblance of control, his hand wrapping around me, a loose fist created so that I didn't feel the pain of the wood against my knees or remember the isolation and responsibility of my job. There was only him.

Duo's hips thrust into me, his blue eyes dark and I hoped that I wasn't a rebound in any way, that he did want me, that he wasn't thinking of Heero. His hand sped up and I found my own movements were fast and jerky, and I came, hard and hot, his gaze on me. I coated his hand, his stomach and I felt him thrust up into me, breathing my name as he came, his head hitting the bench hard.

I didn't move, limp, unable to, and I felt him shake underneath me, a rumble in his chest and I wondered for a moment what was happening. He was laughing and a hand was on the small of my back.

"I was just thinking about your posture, Chang."

I quirked an eyebrow, shot back a retort without missing a beat. "How was it, Maxwell?"

"Pretty damn awesome."

I shook my head, feeling my hair down and damp, and left his body, his eyes on my back, the tattoo again as I went to my locker, offered him a towel for the mess on his stomach.

I heard him move and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to say - a long time since I'd had a relationship or even a fling. But I felt his strong arms around me, his body equal to my own and he whispered close to my ear.

"I need to shower. Care to join?"

I didn't refuse - didn't wonder anymore about whether it meant something more than one night of distraction to me and a rebound for Duo - as I followed him to the showers, briefly seeing the clock say it was now past midnight. Soon he was under the shower spray, his back against the tile as I plundered his lips and slid my fingers over his tattooed skin.