In the Silence...
The blast, during a botched raid on a drug trafficking hideout, had made him deaf. The doctors assured Heero that it was temporary, but that was hard to believe when he was enduring a complete, unnerving silence.
Heero lived a hair trigger lifestyle; always aware of everything, every movement, every body, and every sound within a ten foot radius. He hadn't known how much he had depended on sound until then, when he was robbed of that basic, early warning that something was going on outside of his range of vision.This lack, made Heero jumpy, irritable, and hard for his fellow Preventer agents to handle. When Heero nearly broke the arm of an agent, who had unwisely surprised him, Une ordered him to take a leave of absence.
Heero had shaken his head, no, written down lengthy reasons why, all of them having to do with pending cases where he was central,and the battle with Une was joined. It ended when Duo Maxwell volunteered to 'Watch Heero's back'.
Duo Maxwell had become a fine agent. He had shed a great deal of his youthful foolishness, and his war time recklessness, and grown into someone Heero had learned to depend on during missions. It wasn't difficult to trust him now, and Heero was grateful for his help. It was his attraction to Duo that was the problem. Duo Maxwell had also grown into a handsome man.
Heero lived alone, lived for his work, and tried not to think too hard about his lack of personal life. He had figured out that he was gay, simply through his responses to both men and women, but approaching anyone in anything other than a professional setting seemed as impossible as a jump to the moon. Heero knew how to handle any weapon, and hack into any computer system, but treading the complicated social steps that made friendships or formed a relationship, seemed beyond his understanding.No one seemed willing to dare and breach his personal space, either, so it made him that much more aware of Duo, when the man did dare, without reservation and without fear.
'Watching Heero's back' meant standing where Heero could see Duo and signaling him that things were going on that he couldn't see. It also meant warning off others when they tried to enter Heero's 'danger zone'. Duo executed his duties flawlessly, but his boredom with being Heero's guard was obvious. He was a man of action, as much as Heero. Since Heero wasn't allowed field duty, he was, basically, watching Heero go through files, and fill out paperwork. It seemed only natural to include Duo in that work, at least to keep him from making endless paperclip chains and stapling every object in Preventer headquarters into interesting configurations.
They worked together well. Duo was intuitive, knowing exactly what Heero wanted without the irritating process of making notes back and forth. Seated together at his desk, Heero was too aware of the play of muscle under Duo's uniform shirt, the slim neck stretching just so from the starched collar, the quick, deft hands that danced over the computer keyboard, and the slight scent of aftershave. The long braid was a soft rope between them, the end coiled in Duo's lap. Heero found himelf stifling several urges to touch it.
He shouldn't think unprofessionally about his partner, Heero told himself, as he brought his mind back to their work. He didn't know Duo's preferences, he had seen Duo with men and women, but he was sure that Duo wasn't interested in him. While he was friendly, and eager to get responses out of Heero, it never went beyond that. Duo wanted to be friends, had always wanted to be friends, even during the war, Heero remembered. Why, when Heero had offered him nothing but the 'soldier face' that he gave everyone, was beyond Heero's understanding.
Duo pointed to the computer screen and gave it a poke. Heero leaned forward and began reading the suspect notes there, as Duo stood, stretched, and moved off behind him. He had snagged his coffee mug and Heero assumed that he going to refill it.
There was a small sound. Heero froze, the suspect notes suddenly going into an inconsequential blur. The sound was whispery, hardly noticeable, but it didn't stop. Heero's ears felt odd, as if they were trying to pop open. There was a definite pressure in them.
The sound grew louder, incomprehensible at first, but then making sense as Heero's ears did indeed, 'pop', and suddenly let in sound.
"Jeez, Heero, if I could only talk to you for real. You'd probably break me in half and then burn the parts into ash, though, if you knew I swung that way and wanted you this bad. You're damned handsome, smart, strong... handsome... hot... damned hot...." Duo sighed. It was Duo's voice, Heero realized in shock. The sound of coffee pouring into a cup, mingled with Duo's words as he continued, "People just don't get you, but I do. I know there's a great guy under all that soldier shit. I see it in your eyes. If you'd just let me in... let me get to know you better..." He sighed again, sipped on his coffee, and then said dejectedly, "But I don't have a chance in hell. Why would you want someone like me?"
Heero swiveled in his chair. Duo stopped talking and gave him a smile, as he held up his mug to show Heero what he had been doing. Heero said softly,"I heard you."
Duo's eyes went wide and then frightened, his hand going white knuckled on his mug.
"Don't," Heero soothed. "It's... all right."
Heero could hear the sounds of Preventer Headquarters through his office door, reassuring in it's familiarity, but his own rapid heart beat seemed louder.
"Heero," Duo began, licked nervous lips, put his mug down next to the coffee maker, and then tried again."I know you're probably weirded out now. I promise you, .." Duo started again, but then seemed unable to continue, unable to say, 'I won't bother you again.'. It was clear that he didn't want that, that he was contemplating suicide instead, an admission of how he really felt.
Heero stood up and faced Duo, reaching out to take careful hold of Duo's braid. He ran it between his fingers, feeling the softness. Duo was tense, expecting pain, expecting retaliation for his attraction, but unwilling to defend himself. "I've wanted to do that, for a very long time," Heero admitted and smiled at Duo's wide eyes. "I just... didn't know how to say it."
"We did all right without words before," Duo told him cautiously and then smiled."We don't need them now."
Heero nodded, looked deep into Duo's eyes, and saw permission granted there. He gently pulled Duo in closer by his braid and then ghosted a kiss over Duo's lips. Duo leaned into it and made it something more, much more.