Disclaimer:Don't own them, don't make any money of this
Warning:Male/Male sex,Graphic,Violence, Language
"Mr. Hulitt," Heero greeted, smiling as pleasantly as he could as he approached the old man pruning a bush in his yard.
The sun was almost set, but Mr. Hulitt was stubbornly trying to finish the work. Small and skinny, the man looked like a wrinkled raisin. He had clearly spent a life time out in the sun, his clear, blue eyes startling in his darkly tanned face. He was a man who looked every one of his eighty three years, yet he moved with a liveliness that contradicted that age. He turned to Heero with only a tinge of impatience at the interruption. He smiled and exclaimed, "Heero, right?" He wiped his hand on his pants and reached out to shake Heero's hand. "Good to finally meet you, boy. I was beginning to think that Duo was full of malarkey and that he was really living alone with all of them dogs."
"I have a job that keeps me very busy," Heero explained. "I'm sorry that I haven't introduced myself before now." Heero fiddled with the small containers in his hands. "I thought that I should return these and thank you. The meal was excellent." He searched the smiling, kindly face in front of him and then plunged on, "I also thought that it made a good excuse to speak with you without my partner over hearing."
"Partner?" The man repeated with a raised eyebrow. "It didn't seem to me that the boy worked."
Heero bit his lip and then explained, "We were in the war together, Mr. Hulitt, and you may not understand the implications of that where Duo is concerned. He was exposed to a great deal of violence. It can cause him to be very unstable at times. He says that you talk together and you seem very friendly with him. I do appreciate that, sir, but.... I fear for your safety. A word or two at the mailbox is safe enough, but if you were to come into our home, or Duo yours, and he suddenly felt... unsure... threatened in any way, he might harm you without meaning to."
The man went very serious. He cut to the quick of the matter. "You're saying that he might have a flash back and kill me?"
That was very honest and Heero had to take a moment before he could nod. "Yes, that is what I'm saying, sir."
Mr. Hulitt looked thoughtful and then he nodded curtly. "I understand. I appreciate your candor, boy. He did seem nervous at times if I moved to quickly or too close. That dog of his, always so quiet compared to those damnable puppies. He's something different too, isn't he?"
"Yes, he's trained to protect Duo. It helps Duo to feel safe," Heero explained.
Mr. Hulitt wiped sweat from his brow and then smiled at Heero. "Well, I'll be more careful when I see him and that dog next."
Heero thought that he had heard wrong. He had expected abject fear. "Sir?" was all that he could find to say in his astonishment.
Mr. Hulitt gave Heero a keen look. "Look, boy, every day I live is with death breathing over my shoulder. I'm a lonely, old man. I like talking to the boy. I think I'll like talking to you as well. Besides, no matter what the government says, or how big in the britches you think you two are, you're still just two kids playing house. Someone's got to keep an eye on you. I've got nothing better to do anyway." He made a shooing gesture after taking the containers from Heero. "Get along with you then. I've work to do, boy! Make sure you don't stay a stranger now that we've met."
Heero blinked and then let out a breath and said, "All right, Mr. Hulitt. Have a good evening."
"You too," the man grunted and went back to work. He lifted his sheers and began clipping his bush. In the dying sun light Heero saw a scar on the man's arm. It was clearly the long slice of a laser gun. A veteran of an older conflict? The man's bravery suddenly began to make more sense.
Heero returned to the house. He found Duo in the open doorway, Soda sitting at his feet. Duo was leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest and face pensive. "Doesn't scare easy, does he?"
Heero stopped, feeling a guilty chill. "Duo, I-"
Duo straightened. Taking Heero by the arm, he pulled the man into the house and closed the door. Confronting his lover, he said, "Stop trying to protect me from reality. I know that Mr. Hulitt needed to be warned about me. I should have done it myself, but... I liked talking to him. I didn't want him to be afraid of me."
Heero searched Duo's eyes, but didn't see any condemnation there. Duo DID understand. Heero let out a sigh of relief. "I'm sorry, Duo. I wish-"
Duo grinned, but it didn't look sincere. "If wishes were horses, Heero..."
Heero made a lame attempt to follow Duo's lead and lighten the mood as he followed Duo into the living room. "I'm not sure Mr. Hulitt is a good influence."
"Aw, Dad!" Duo chuckled. "You say that about all of my friends!"
As they sat on the couch and stretched out, Duo turned to Heero and said more seriously, "You go to work all day long and I don't have much to do. I didn't want to turn into a complete kook and spy on the neighbors through the curtains, so I actually walked around and met them."
Heero felt trepidation twist his gut. "You've talked to the others as well?"
"Only outside," Duo assured him, "and only casually, like when I'm walking the dogs. You picked a really nice neighborhood, Heero, with some very nice people in it. Having my dream home is nice, but not if I'm locked up inside of it." Duo went pensive, "I've lived my life on rusted space stations, ramshackle ships, and a Gundam, so living in a neighborhood with neat houses, manicured lawns, and a blue sky overhead, is so far from anything I've thought of as ' normal' that I can't help exploring it and wanting to enjoy every aspect of it. I keep thinking it's an actual dream and that I'll wake up in an Oz prison or back with-"
Heero placed a finger against Duo's lips. "Don't," he said. "Those things are in the past. Don't let them in the house, Duo, or in our new lives. There's nothing wrong with meeting the neighbors or enjoying the neighborhood, as long as you remember to keep the past where it belongs."
Duo nodded and then composed himself as he asked, "So, you told me to wait until after dinner to hear what you had to say. I've waited patiently. What's this job of Sally's that you think a messed up guy like me can do?"
"Research." Heero replied with a tone that revealed that he knew that Duo wouldn't be pleased.
"You mean background checks, house plans, building specs, things like that?" Duo replied with a frown. "Isn't that something I can do here?"
"Yes," Heero affirmed. "You can accomplish the task on our home computers."
"Then, it's not really a job, is it?" Duo pointed out irritably. "If I don't actually leave the house, then how is this any different from my position right now?"
"It is a 'real' job," Heero insisted. "You will be assisting Preventer agents in the field with vital information. Some of the information you will be gathering is code protected or difficult to find. You will be able to employ your formidable skill in hacking."
Duo grabbed a fistful of Heero's hair and made the man look him in the eye. "Heero! You can't lock me away from the world forever! I can't get better if I don't interact with people. Wasn't that my whole problem in the war? I never had the chance to mingle with 'normal' people. "
Heero flinched away and Duo let go. Heero looked nervous, almost fearful. "Don't do that again, Duo!"
Duo lowered his hand, going a little pale, but he didn't relent in his determination. "Sorry, baby, I just wanted your full attention. Sometimes you like to look right through me and be completely single minded. "
"Duo...," Heero trailed off. He had never admitted to Duo the full extent of his attack by Oz soldiers, but Duo knew enough to give him space when he asked for it. Heero hated those few moments of not being in control, when fear made him remember hard hands, ropes, and cruel men. He throttled the memory back down deep and took a slow breath to calm himself. "You need time," Heero said at last, coming back to the argument. "We need to go slowly."
Duo scowled, "We've been going no where for a year, Heero. Sometimes, I think you'd like to put me in the kennel with the puppies when you leave for work."
Heero flushed guiltily. It had actually crossed his mind when Duo had acted more unstable than usual. "Don't be-"
But Duo had seen Heero's moment of discomfort. His purple eyes widened in shock. "You did actually think about it, didn't you?" When Heero didn't bother to lie, Duo exploded, "Why don't you just have me committed again then?" He stood up and stalked towards the stairs. "What's the difference? Locked up there or locked up here, it's all one step closer to a padded cell!"
Heero watched Duo take the stairs two at a time and then take the turn into their bedroom with Soda at his heels. Heero continued to sit, examining the problem from all angles, being both critical of Duo and himself. His conclusion, in the end, left a bad taste in his mouth, but he knew that he had to relent. Standing up, he began climbing the stairs. He needed to start by apologizing.
Duo was lying on his back, staring up at the gauzy canopy of the bed, Soda resting comfortably on a cushion in a corner of the room. Heero slowly kicked off his shoes and climbed onto the high bed. He kneeled at the end, waiting for Duo's permission. Looking down his long, wiry body, hands behind his head and face pinched as if he had been close to tears, Duo said, "Get over here.... only if you've come to tell me that I'm right."
Heero looked at Duo from under his wild thatch of chocolate hair, his dark blue eyes soft as he replied, "You're right. I'm being overprotective, over cautious, over zealous... is that enough?"
Duo glared, but he couldn't keep it up. His glare turned into a relieved smile and he motioned Heero to approach. Heero slowly laid by Duo's side. Duo turned on his side and draped an arm lightly over Heero's chest. "I'll work here for now," Duo conceded, "but I expect to be eventually integrated into Preventer head quarters. These puppies aren't our kids and I'm not a damned housewife. I'm a trained professional and I want to freakin' work like one."
Heero nodded. "I think that can be arranged; maybe an office away from the others and a light schedule."
Duo frowned. "You're doing it again!" Duo warned. "I want a desk just like everyone else, Heero. I will start off with a few hours, but I want that increased after I get comfortable with my coworkers." Heero looked unhappy. "Heero!" Duo admonished, "Who better for me to work with than armed men and women trained in battle tactics?"
Heero nodded, "You're right. They are the most logical choice if you're going to attempt to learn how to deal with civilians."
Duo grinned. "See, I can be logical once in awhile!"
"All right, my logical Shinigami," Heero replied. "What are you going to do about the dogs? You can't leave five puppies alone all day. That's cruel."
Duo's smiled faltered, but he didn't waver as he said, "Two, I always intended to give away, but the others I want to keep."
"So," Heero prompted, "what will you do?"
"Well, Mr. Huitt isn't going to have much to do if he doesn't have me to talk to all day. Maybe he'll be interested in raising dogs?" Duo suggested. When Heero looked skeptical, Duo begged, "Please, Heero, I need the dogs, okay? Don't ask me to give them up. I'll make sure they have lots to entertain them."
Heero sighed. "Why do I have the feeling that the dogs are going to be sleeping in the house at night? If you don't see them all day, you'll be missing them. I refuse to sleep in a bed full of dogs, Duo."
"That's where training comes into play," Duo told him with a chuckle. "If you train a pet carefully, you'll have very few misunderstandings."
Heero heard the double entendre. He smirked at Duo. "Well, I know you're a good trainer," he replied, going along with it, "but it takes time."
Duo became suddenly very serious. "We have time, Heero. Lots of time."
Heero took hold of Duo's braid and stroked the very end. He kissed it. "We have forever," he whispered.
"Forever," Duo agreed. "It seems like we've always been together, doesn't it? It makes me believe that there's something before all of this and, hopefully, something after."
As Duo raised a hand and lightly caressed Heero's face, Heero breathed, "I only care about now."
Their lovemaking was slow and tentative. They watched each others faces as their hands roamed, undressing each other and finding joy in simply touching and affirming their bond. It was a slow rise to the pinnacle for each of them; stops and starts, moments when they had to wait until one or the other was confident enough to go on, but both of them willingly patient.
They came together on their sides, facing each other, Heero helping Duo to keep his legs in position while he gently entered. Sheathing himself deep into Duo's hot, tightness, Heero breathed, "I Love you," in Duo's ear, holding still and remaining as non threatening as possible as Duo began to move his body rhythmically on Heero's swollen member.
Their love making stayed slow and patient, despite their rising passions. It was almost as if they were both asleep and dreaming, each of them aware of the other's fears, each trying their best to be gentle and to show their love in every caress, yet both of them in their own worlds as they tried to stay in the moment and not fall into old, painful memories.
When climax came, they cried out and then sighed happily, resting in each other's embrace and trying to make that moment of contented peace last as long as possible.
Duo fell asleep. Heero watched his face, his lover cradled in his arms as if he were a child. It was a sign of their new trust that Heero remained where he was instead of retreating and leaving Duo to sleep alone. In a year of therapy and a year of being close to Heero, Duo had learned to recognize Heero even subconsciously and to have some control over his panic attacks. Heero was cautious still, but he didn't fear a knife in the gut in the middle of the night any longer.
Duo murmured in his sleep and tensed. Heero made certain that he was holding Duo loosely. He spoke to him softly, reminding Duo of his presence. He could see Duo's eyes moving under his lids rapidly. A nightmare? Heero frowned, not liking that their beautiful time together was being ruined by a dream. He tried to wake Duo enough to help him escape the nightmare.
Duo's eyes suddenly flew open, huge, purple orbs in the lamplight. He clutched at Heero with both hands and pulled him tight, shivering. Sensing his anxiety, Soda rose from his cushion, alert for Duo's command. Duo automatically said, "Down, Soda. Good boy," and the dog relaxed, though he sat and watched them still, maybe not entirely convinced that Duo was all right.
"Bad dream?" Heero whispered.
Duo nodded and then rested his head on Heero's breast. He didn't tell Heero what the dream had been about and Heero didn't ask. He had learned that talking about Duo's dreams somehow made them more real for Duo and harder to forget.
Duo kissed Heero's chest after a minute of silence had passed and then he rolled onto his back, blinking up at the gauzy canopy of the bed. He stretched and joints popped. Heero admired his lover's wiry body. Not an ounce of fat, all tight muscle over long bones, Duo's body bore numerous scars from the war and from a hard life on the streets of L2. His body was a map of the past, but Heero knew that it didn't reflect the Duo inside of it. His Duo could be stubborn, obnoxious, prickly proud, and almost insufferably independent, but there was a softer side to him; the tender lover and the devoted, caring friend.
"Do you love me?" Duo asked suddenly.
Heero smiled, knowing the ritual of reassurance all too well. "Forever," he replied.
"I love you too," Duo said seriously and then looked at Heero, the fear fading and his eyes glowing with passion. "Tell me, Lover, tell me that you won't ever leave me."
"Never," Heero replied. "Nothing could make me leave you."
"Nothing?" Duo persisted.
"I would never leave you," Duo replied with all of his heart.
"You will be my love until I breathe my last breath... and beyond that if I can manage it," Heero said with intensity.
Duo smiled, losing the last of his fear as he touched Heero's face and drew it to his for a kiss with a strong, masculine motion. "You're such a poet," he breathed against Heero's lips.
"You inspire me," Heero replied.
"I can feel," Duo chuckled as he felt Heero's hardness against his belly and then said, sounding needy in more ways than one. "Again?"
As Heero moved in closer to his lover and began to make gentle love to him again he replied, "Again. It's a beautiful word coming from your lips."
Duo laughed, but Heero kissed away any reply. As he made gentle love to Duo once more, he hoped that this calm, beautiful, caring, and loving Duo would be the one the Preventers would be graced with when Duo joined their ranks. Doubts gnawed at that hope severely, but Heero, wrapped up in passion and love for Duo, refused to allow that doubt full reign. Duo had always had the ability to surprise him with his strength of will and determination. He would do it again, Heero thought, and kept that hope in his heart as Duo climaxed with a happy moan.