Moments of Rapture Contest-2003
Quatre's a great friend and I just love him to death, but the guy is a hopeless
damn optimist and sometimes… sometimes I let the things he says get
inside my head and I start seeing things that aren't there. Without really
meaning to, he makes me do things that I wouldn't normally imagine doing
outside of my daydreams. He's a dyed in the wool romantic, and I let his
notions fuel the spark of my own stupid ideas and the next thing you know,
I've made a fool of myself. Again. Something I don't usually need assistance
with, thank you very much.
It has crossed my mind a couple of times that the guy isn't
the sweet innocent that he pretends to be, and that he actually has a rather
twisted, sadistic sense of humor. I suppose I'll never really know.
It was Quatre's damn insinuations that had led me to hear
one thing when a different thing had obviously been said. Otherwise, why
was I standing on Heero's front porch wearing dress pants and a silk shirt,
staring at Heero in his grungy jeans and grease smeared t-shirt, a half
assembled carburetor in his hand and a puzzled look on his face?
Let's run things back a day or two and see if you can figure
it out, shall we?
Wednesday afternoons I have lunch with Quatre. We always eat
at the same restaurant and sometimes one of the other guys will find time
to stop by and join us. We were still at the drinks and appetizer stage
and so far it was just the two of us.
"I'm serious, Duo," Quatre said and I remember how
he had leaned forward, fork stabbing the air in my direction, as if to add
emphasize to his words. "He likes you… I can feel it."
I snorted and fought against the blush that wanted to take
over my face. I swear to God, I'd never told Quatre about the damn torch
I carried for Heero Yuy, but somehow the little sucker must have figured
it out, how else could he know right where to hit me like this? "Give
it up, Quatre," I growled. "We're friends… just friends.
He isn't interested in anything but his job and that damn car of his."
Quatre grinned at me and I realized that comment had come
out just a little… bitter. Ok, maybe I'd never actually come out and
told him that I was pining away after my ex-partner, but I suppose it didn't
take a rocket scientist to figure it out. "Maxwell," he informed
me between bites of his salad. "Who else does he let touch his 'damn
"That doesn't mean a thing," I told him flatly.
"I'm a mechanic. A highly paid specialist, in fact. Who else would
he let touch his precious car?"
He raised one of those pale eyebrows in a sardonic gesture
that has been known to make me storm out of rooms before, and grinned almost
maliciously. "Trowa, Wufei and I aren't exactly chopped liver, but
I don't see him inviting any of us over to spend the day working on engines."
I decided to turn the conversation in a new direction and
grinned back at him. "Maybe that's because you , Mr. Winner Industries
Executive Hot-shot, haven't had any grease under those manicured fingernails
of yours in a good number of years."
"You're in denial, Duo," he smirked at me, spearing
a carrot and waving it under my nose, refusing to follow me off his conversational
track. "He. Likes. You."
"In your dreams," I growled, resisting the urge
to reach out and snatch the damn carrot right off his fork with my teeth.
He almost snickered. "You mean, in yours."
I was almost to that part of the conversation where I was
ready to tell him to drop the topic or find somebody else to eat lunch with,
something I threatened him with at least once every meal we shared, when
his gaze told me someone had entered the restaurant.
I turned in my seat to see the subject matter of our heated
debate striding across the room. Striding. God damn, can that man not just
fucking walk anywhere? And in that cursed Preventers uniform. It's true
what they say about men in uniform. Oh dear God, it is so true.
"Tongue back in your mouth, Duo," Quatre whispered
through his teeth in that sweet little singsong way he has.
"Shut the fuck up, Quatre," I replied, just as sweet,
and almost as singsong, and definitely through gritted teeth mimicking a
He snickered softly and I wondered again if he wasn't some
kind of closet sadist.
"Hey, Heero," I greeted, as the man in question
reached the table and pulled out a chair to sit down.
"Duo," he replied, giving us both a nod. "Quatre."
"This is a surprise," Quatre said, smiling at our
guest. "What's the occasion? You don't often make it for lunch."
He made it often enough that the waitress brought Heero's
usual bottled water when she came to the table to get his order without
being told. He waited until she was gone before replying to Quatre's question.
"Well, I knew you guys would be here and I was kind of hoping to run
Quatre gave me a look that was meant to be meaningful. I refused
to acknowledge it, preferring to wrestle with a stubborn crouton instead.
It skittered around the salad bowl, attempting to hide under various vegetables,
but I had faith that I would be able to hunt that sucker down eventually.
"Why's that, Heero?" Quatre asked solicitously,
ever the gracious host.
Heero had taken the seat next to me, being on the side of
the table nearest the door, and suddenly leaned in to pluck the crouton
out from under my questing fork. "Eat the thing, Duo," he smirked,
popping it into his mouth. "Don't kill it."
Quatre's meaningful look heated up enough that I'm pretty
sure the guy was attempting to burn a hole through the side of my head with
"Hey, Yuy!" I blurted, ignoring Quatre and his theories
as best I could. "Wait until your own damn salad gets here!" He
just grinned at me unrepentantly and reached back into my bowl to steal
"Well, you're not eating it," he observed dryly,
his eyes sparkling with mischief, and he ate my cherry tomato.
That… sense of humor is what got me in the end. While
I'd spent a war and the in-between, and a second war thinking that Heero
Yuy had the hottest damn body known to man and a voice so sexy it should
have been outlawed, I'd managed not to fall head over heels. But then we'd
come out the other side. We'd made peace happen and we'd started to live
in that peace. We'd grown up a little bit. We'd taken those first steps
into the real world. We'd gotten jobs. We'd gotten lives. And Heero Yuy
had, somewhere along the lines, picked up a personality. And a damn nice
one at that.
And then I had done that whole stupid head over heels thing.
With my best friend in the whole damn Earth sphere. The best friend that
I was ninety-nine point nine percent sure was as straight as an arrow. Sometimes…
I wondered about God's sense of humor.
I deflected Quatre's beaming smile with my patented quantum
pain-in-the-ass shield, while defending the remains of my salad from Heero
with a brandished fork. "Back off or get skewered," I warned and
got to hear Heero laugh. I loved that laugh; it was a sound that hadn't
existed a couple of years ago.
"So, Heero," Quatre interjected, grinning somewhat
more than the by-play warranted. "You never said why you were looking
Heero leaned back and folded his arms across his chest, still
chewing his bite of my salad, and smiled. "I was actually looking for
Duo," he said and I glanced up at him.
"Oh?" Quatre prompted helpfully, his voice fairly
dripping innocent interest.
I wanted to say something myself, but Quatre had already used
the only line I could think of. I didn't want to sound like a damn parrot,
so I just sat and tried to look expectant.
Now keep that Goddamn conversation with Quatre in mind when
you hear this next part. Try to remember that I'd been poisoned by the little
shit's overwhelming powers of suggestion. It's not my fault… it was
"I was wondering if you were busy Friday night?"
Heero asked and I was pretty damn sure my heart stopped in my chest. I just
sat and stared at him, not trusting what I had just heard. It was a perfectly
innocent line, had my mind not been tainted by Quatre's damn incessant hints.
"Duo was just telling me that he didn't have a thing
planned all weekend," Quatre supplied for me, quite helpfully, the
little son of a bitch.
I tried to shoot Quatre a scathing glare, but had to keep
it toned down to a mere pathetic meaningful glance with Heero looking right
"Great," Heero was saying and then the waitress
came with his salad and I used that bit of distraction to discreetly flip
my blond pain in the butt off. "Ok?" Heero said, and I realized
I'd missed something.
"What?" I said brightly, returning my attention
"I said," he repeated as though speaking to someone
with a somewhat slow wit, "is seven o'clock all right?"
"Uhmm… fine," I found myself saying, suddenly
not sure just what was going on. Had Heero Yuy just…? Just asked me…?
"It's a date then! See you at my place at seven,"
Heero grinned and bent to eating his salad.
No fucking way. Absolutely no fucking way.
Quatre was trying so hard not to laugh at me, that he choked
on his water. I barely managed not to wish he'd just go ahead and choke
to death and save me the trouble.
I blame the entire damn mess on the little prick. If he hadn't
been sitting there, already laughing his ass off at me, I'd have probably
questioned Heero a little more and would not have left the restaurant with
such a huge misinterpretation of what we were talking about. But to avoid
providing Mr. Winner with any further entertainment, I kept my mouth shut
and let the conversation turn to other, more mundane topics.
More's the pity. If I'd engaged my brain instead of my damn
hormones, I would have asked for clarification and would not have ended
up standing on Heero's porch at seven o'clock sharp on Friday night, wearing
a brand new silk shirt that I had spent two hours in the store agonizing
over. A silk shirt chosen specifically to 'bring out my eyes', a thing that
I had never consciously done before in my life.
"Duo?" Heero queried, cocking his head and giving
me a funny look. "That's not exactly something that I'd suggest you
wear to rebuild an engine."
It's a bloody damn miracle that I didn't go up in the most
spectacular case of spontaneous human combustion ever recorded by man. It's
a wonder I didn't just die where I stood. But the bigger marvel is that
I managed to get brain and mouth working in tandem, and pulled my sorry
embarrassed butt out of the fire.
I flashed a cocky grin and launched into full duck and cover
mode. "I just stopped off to tell you I was going to be late. Got stuck
in a business meeting and I haven't managed to make it home yet."
His funny look grew a little rueful and his lips quirked up
in a grin. "Why didn't you just call; my place is kind of out of the
way, isn't it?"
"The meeting wasn't at my office," I lied, pretty
damn smoothly if I do say so myself. "It was downtown at the client
site and I had to come right by here anyway."
"Oh," he said, still looking a little puzzled and
I started backpedaling before he had too much chance to question me further.
"I just need to run home and change," I told him
as I stepped off the porch. "I can be back in under a half an hour,
if that's not too late?"
"That's fine," he said, giving me a really weird
up and down look. "If you're sure you still want to help me; you must
be tired if you're just getting off work."
"I'm fine," I blurted cheerily, fishing my car keys
out of my pocket and beating a hasty retreat. "I'll be right back."
"How about I order pizza?" he called after me. "It
should get delivered about the time you get here."
"Great!" I hollered, and threw myself into my driver's
seat completely convinced that my face had to be as red as the paint job
on my car. I was rather proud of the fact that I pulled away from the curb
without peeling rubber.
I waited until I was out of sight of Heero's house before
pulling out my cell phone and calling Quatre's number. I got his damn voice
mail, which wasn't going to be near as therapeutic, but I had to make do
with what I had to work with. "You are a sick, sad little man Winner,"
I snapped. "If you don't stop these psycho head-games and get yourself
into some therapy, I'm not ever eating lunch with you again. Ever."
That just didn't seem strong enough for how I was feeling, so I threw in
a scathing, "Eat shit and die," just for good measure, punched
the disconnect button and threw the phone onto the floor of the car, where
it bounced around enough to make me start feeling stupid. Yes, I have issues
with loss of temper.
I could not fucking believe what an ass I'd just made of myself.
Heero might not have realized, but damnit… I did. I had just wanted
to melt through the boards on his front porch and disappear.
Now, you tell me… wasn't it all Quatre's fault?
I think so too.
I barely remember the drive back to my apartment; I spent
most of it reliving the last few days, just to make sure I eked out every
last bit of humiliation from the experience. Didn't want to miss anything.
I had spent every waking hour after lunch on Wednesday going
over that damn conversation in my head. Looking back now, I could see that
Heero's flippant 'It's a date, then' had just been an expression. Everybody
says things like that. Hell; I'd probably said it myself before. I had let
Quatre's damn comments fuel the stupid longings in my heart and had allowed
myself to hear what I'd wanted to hear. What I'd been wanting to hear for
ages now. What I was never going to hear.
I swear to God, every time I managed to get my heart convinced
to give up on these ridiculous notions, Quatre would start the hell in on
me, and get it all stirred up again. This was the last straw though. The
next time I saw him, we were going to come to an understanding or he really
could kiss our friendship goodbye. He could laugh his lily-white ass off
if he wanted to, I didn't find this funny at all. I found this… this
whole thing was just… It was just damned…
Ok? Yuck it up all you want. Laugh at poor little ol' embarrassed
Duo Maxwell all you want. I wasn't laughing. I was hurting.
I knew Heero didn't think of me that way. I was very well
aware of that fact. I had come to grips with it more times than I could
count. Quatre was going to come to grips with it too and stop feeding my
delusions. If I wasn't careful, I was going to screw up what I did have
with Heero and I wasn't about to let that happen just to appease Quatre
Winner's strange malicious new hobby.
So I went home to change, carefully hanging up the silk shirt
that I had spent hours picking out. Equally carefully hanging up the tailored
black slacks, also brand new, also deliberated over for a long time at the
most expensive clothing store the city had to offer. I did ok until I got
myself stripped down to the just as new, black silk underwear. The utter
and complete humiliation welled up in my chest then, and I'm afraid those
got balled up and thrown into the corner of the bedroom. God, I was such
I had to take a couple of minutes then, to sit on the side
of my bed with my head in my hands and practice my new catechism.
"Heero is my friend. Heero is not interested in me romantically.
Heero is not even interested in me sexually. Quatre is a bastard."
Ok, how the hell had that gotten in there? "Heero is my friend. Heero
After about ten minutes I was able to get up, dry-eyed, and
get dressed. Old, stained jeans and a t-shirt. My oldest pair of sneakers,
and plain damn normal cotton underwear.
I was about fifteen minutes late getting back to Heero's place,
but by the time I got there, I felt almost normal again. Maybe… maybe
Heero really hadn't noticed anything too odd. Maybe nobody would ever know
what a fool I'd made of myself. Except Quatre, but then I suppose given
enough time I could think up an excuse for why I had told him to eat shit
and die on his voice mail. I'd burn the damn silk boxers and I still had
the receipts for the shirt and pants. I could pretty much erase this whole
fiasco like it had never happened.
The pizza had beaten me to the house, and I found Heero in
the kitchen putting out napkins and paper plates, setting out a bottle of
beer for each of us.
"There you are," he greeted me with a warm smile.
"Traffic," I mumbled and took my seat at the table.
Heero sat down across from me, opening the pizza box and we
each took a slice. I reached for my beer and caught him looking at me with
an odd expression.
"What?" I asked. "I can't have pizza sauce
on my face already, I haven't taken the first bite."
He snorted, picking his own slice up. "I was just wondering
if you felt up to this. You seem… distracted."
"Sorry," I muttered, embarrassed that he had noticed.
"It was just… a long day."
"You want to talk about it?" he prompted, cocking
his head off to the side in that way he has.
I almost laughed. No, I most decidedly did not want to talk
about it. "Nah," I told him, dredging up a bright grin. "Rather
just forget about it. So… tell me what's on the agenda?"
So he did. Told me what he'd gotten done on the car since
the last time I'd been over, outlining what he had left to do. I started
to relax a little; Heero can get so… animated when he starts in talking
about engines, that it's hard not to get caught up in his enthusiasm. Looked
like he was hoping to have the thing done before the weekend was out.
We finished our dinner, took our beer and made our way out
to the garage. I only had to work at it for a little while before the awkwardness
began to bleed away and I lost myself in the familiar banter, before the
task consumed all my attention and I forgot how the day had started out.
This was what had made the two of us good partners during
the war, the way we could work together. Sometimes, in my more poetic moments,
I thought of it as a dance. I don't have to tell him which tool I need him
to hand me… he just knows. He doesn't have to ask me to hold something
steady… I just know when he needs an extra hand. Not that I'm saying
we work in stony silence, we talk, but we don't need to talk about the job.
Our hands just go on about their business, and our minds go off on tangents.
We talk about the old days sometimes, but we can talk about the future too.
We talk about some of the nightmares that we all seem to have, but we can
talk about our dreams as well. We bitch to each other. Sometimes we even
gossip a little bit. The thing is… it doesn't really matter. On nights
like this, we can damn near finish each other's sentences. It's just so…
You understand why I won't risk screwing this up? No matter
what the hell Quatre imagines? No matter… what I might wish?
It was damn near midnight when Heero finally called it quits,
tugging on my sleeve like a little kid, laughing at my reluctance to give
"Duo," he chuckled, squatting down beside where
I was lying on the floor. "Sometimes I think you're more obsessed with
my car than I am."
I pushed the rest of the way out from under the frame and
quirked an eyebrow, grinning up at him. "How do you ever expect to
get the thing finished if you keep quitting?"
He laughed and reached a hand out to rub a smear of grease
off the bridge of my nose. "It's not going anywhere. Come on…
it's almost midnight."
"Midnight?" I asked, a little incredulous, and let
him pull me to my feet. "I didn't realize."
He shook his head, moving off to find us a couple of rags
to wipe the worst of the grime off our hands with. "You do seem to
lose track of time when you're hip deep in axle grease."
"It's not my fault I happen to like mechanical…
things," I informed him in a haughty tone.
"Things?" he chuckled, leading us back into the
house. "Would that be the technical term?"
I started to dredge up a witty retort, but found myself yawning
hugely instead. "Damn," I muttered. "Sorry about that."
He gave me a rueful little smile, moving to the kitchen sink
and turning on the hot water so we could do a proper job of washing up.
"My fault for keeping you so late; you told me you'd had a hard day."
I watched him lather his hands, waiting for my turn with the
bar of soap. "It wasn't so awful," I appeased with a shrug. "And
this evening kind of made up for it."
He handed the soap over and rinsed while I lathered. "You
did have a crappy day if busting your knuckles all evening was an improvement."
I started to tell him it was the company. I started to tell
him I'd bust every knuckle I owned as long as it bought me an evening with
him. I started to say a whole bunch of shit that was all pretty much in
the category of 'not appropriate', but caught myself in time, and didn't
say anything at all. Heero's elbow found it's way into my ribs.
"Hey," he said softly. "You are tired; you
going to be all right to drive home?"
I snorted, taking the hand towel from him. "I'm fine,"
I said and we headed for the front door.
"You want me to come back tomorrow?" I offered,
thinking about how close we were to being done. I reached for the doorknob
and apparently Heero did too. I jumped when his hand closed over mine. I
turned my head to look at him when he didn't immediately let go.
There was the strangest damn look on his face, something between
amused and nervous. Kind of a bastard mix of excited and anxious. I couldn't
seem to manage to say anything; just staring at him, trying to fathom what
was going through his head. "Don't I get… a goodnight kiss?"
he suddenly said, and my mouth went dry so damn fast I thought my tongue
permanently glued itself to the roof of my mouth.
"W… what?" I finally managed to stammer out,
and was only relieved that the adhesive in my mouth kept me from gaping
like a carp.
"Isn't that the traditional way to finish a date?"
he asked, and the amusement seemed to be winning over the nervousness.
"You call this a date?" I blurted before I had much
chance to think through what I should say to a remark like that.
His hand let go of mine and he crossed his arms over his chest,
cocking his head to the side and smiling at me gently. "Well, isn't
that what dates are all about? Two people doing something they enjoy together?"
My own hand just sort of fell off the doorknob, completely
nerveless. "I… I…" was about all I could manage. Later,
about the only coherent thought I could remember forming was, Quatre was
Heero seemed to draw encouragement from my state of speechlessness,
and uncrossed his arms to rest his hands on my hips, turning me around to
face him completely.
My God, I thought I'd been struck by lightening. There was
a spark that flared to life in my hips where his fingers were resting against
me, that shot like fire down my legs and up into my chest. It kicked my
heart into high gear so suddenly that my throat constricted and my knees
felt weak. All I could think was… that's through two layers of cloth!
Oh sweet Jesus, what would it feel like if he were actually touching my
Heero had shifted somehow, without my noticing it, and was
suddenly very close to me. Damn close. And leaning closer. With a somewhat
self-satisfied look on his face. The asshole.
My own hands were still dangling at my sides, completely undecided
on just what they should do. Wrap themselves around his shoulders? Settle
on his own hips? Thread through that damn unruly hair?
"Now about that goodnight kiss…" he fairly
whispered and leaned in to claim it.
My right hand, damn near trembling, rose almost of it's own
volition and… planted itself in the middle of his face. I pushed gently
and grinned at the wide-eyed look I received from between my splayed fingers.
"I don't kiss on the first date, Yuy," I informed
him and turned away with a flip of my braid to reach for that doorknob again.
I was actually out the door before his bright laughter burst
forth, following after me. I turned on the steps to look back and found
him leaning in the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest again, grinning
at me ruefully.
"Good night, Heero," I called, grinning back, and
finished the climb down to the sidewalk.
His laughter had faded to a soft chuckle and just before I
climbed in my car he called, "Hey."
I stopped with my door open and leaned with my folded arms
on the roof of the car. "Yeah?"
He moved on out of the house, taking the few steps to the
edge of the porch and gave me that cocked-head appraising look. "Do
you kiss on the second date?" he asked, voice a silken damn thing.
I looked at him for a minute, giving him my own once over,
before replying, "Sometimes."
His smile widened. "Then what are you doing tomorrow
It was my turn to laugh and he waited patiently. "What
time should I be here?" I finally asked, and it won me a brilliant
smile. He took another pace forward, coming down a couple of steps so that
he didn't have to raise his voice quite so much.
"I don't want to work on the car tomorrow night,"
he told me firmly. "How about I pick you up at six and we'll go out?"
It surprised the hell out of me and I could only nod, not
sure I trusted my voice. He inclined his head in answer and then turned
to start back into the house. I straightened, almost ready to climb into
the car, when he stopped and threw me a rather wicked grin over his shoulder.
"And how about you wear that outfit you had on this afternoon?"
He didn't wait for a response, but went on into the house.
I was just as glad, I wasn't sure whether to try to match my complexion
to the color of my car again, or laugh out loud. I settled on getting in
and driving away.
A block from Heero's place, I stopped at a stop sign and put
the car in park long enough to retrieve my cell phone from the floor of
the car. I punched in Quatre's number and sat expecting to get his voice
mail again. I was a little surprised when Trowa picked up.
"Should I be afraid to talk to you?" he greeted
drolly, obviously having checked the caller id.
I snorted. "Why should you be afraid to talk to me…
unless you're in on Quatre's little head-games?"
"Well, your last message was less than… genial,"
he replied and I could hear the asshole grinning at me. Maybe he was in
on Quatre's little… hobby.
"But it was directed to your sick partner," I informed
him. "Where is he, by the way? I want to talk to the little jerk."
Trowa chuckled, enjoying himself just a little too much and
told me, "In the shower… shall I take a message?"
I sighed, thwarted again, and thought about it for a moment.
"Tell him… tell him that being right doesn't make him any less
of a bastard."
There was a moment while he contained a snicker. "Ok…
"Tell him just that way, ok?" I persisted.
There was a disdainful little pause before he told me, just
a touch haughtily; "Duo, I understand yours and Quatre's… strange
communication system. You are the only human being on Earth that can leave
an 'eat shit and die' message on his answering machine… that makes
him grin like a loon. I'll tell him just what you said."
"Just checking," I groused. "There's a subtle
undertone that has to be just…"
He cut me off with an audible smirk, a damn tricky thing to
do well, and said, "I have it Duo… I'll tell him. Duo says that
'being right doesn't make him any less of a bastard' and Heero says that
'if he gloats about being right, he'll get beat senseless'. I've got it…
It was just as well he hung up; he didn't have to listen to
me squawk like an indignant parrot.
Those God damn, conniving, sneaky, wonderful jerks.
After I got over the squawking, I started to chuckle and ended
up sitting there laughing like some sort of demented idiot until somebody
pulled up behind me and blew their horn. I hastily put the car in drive
and got the hell out of the way, still wiping tears of mirth from my eyes.
Those little scheming devils. I couldn't quite make up my
mind whether I wanted to kiss Quatre Winner or kick his ass, but it somehow
made me feel better to know that Heero hadn't been a player in Quatre's
little head game.
A very great deal better.
And I no longer had any doubts at all about whether I kissed
on the second date or not.
Warnings : Yaoi, fluff, sap, OOC, Heero POV, limey overtones.
Thanks to Christy for beta reading at the drop of a hat!
This little work of gooey fluff is the total responsibility
of Lev of Lev’s Lair. Challenge MY ass will you! HA, I say! I can
write short… you never said it had to be GOOD!
Feed-back…? I’m not sure I want to hear about
this little sucker. Fluff… I wrote fluff.
I thought I owned Gundam Wing. But I’ve looked everywhere
and can’t find the paper work. So I guess they aren’t mine after
I suppose you could say I noticed it before I actually thought
about it enough to realize something was odd.
I work with the Preventers, and my hours are sometimes long.
Duo works in construction and is usually home before me. We’ve lived
together since the end of the war. It took us a while to settle into the
life we have now, I resisted the lure of the Preventers at first, before
facing up to the fact that it truly was the place for me. Duo bounced from
job to job, trying a little bit of everything before settling on construction.
He found the hard physical labor helped him deal with the sudden changes
in – shall we call it… lifestyle?
It had rather surprised us both, I think, when the war had
ended and our previous… physical relationship had blossomed and taken
root. He had shocked the hell out of me one night by moaning his love for
me in the throes of passion. It had been an odd… relief to suddenly
understand that we were going to stay together. That the future was not
something either of us was going to have to face alone.
We got jobs. We bought a house. We shared the mundane chores
that I had expected to hate and instead found that I loved. We were building
a life, it made those things… wondrous instead of tedious. Who the
hell would have thought?
Duo did most of the cooking because he was usually home first.
I did most of the laundry because it balanced. We shared everything else,
because we loved this strange, new domesticity… but scrubbing toilets
We developed routines and I thrived on that. Order and regulation;
that’s what makes the world go round. Duo had chaffed a little at
first, during those early months, but his new job was so physically taxing
that I found he had calmed and was finally settling down. His massive amounts
of excess energy had found an outlet and he had mellowed into a wonderfully
As I was saying, I noticed something was… odd, before
I really noticed it.
Duo usually has supper on the table when I get home at night.
I call him when I leave the office so he knows what time to expect me, since
it’s seldom the same time two nights in a row. The first night that
I can look back and truly say I noticed a slight change in the routine,
I arrived home to find Duo on the computer and no supper on the table.
‘Shit!’ he blurted as I walked through the front
door and he shut down whatever he’d been working on, dashing for the
kitchen. ‘Man… I totally lost track of time! Sorry about that,
I’ll have something thrown together here in a few minutes. Why don’t
you go ahead and shower, I should have something ready by the time…’
I had been trailing along behind him and finally managed to
catch up when he stopped to open the refrigerator. ‘Would you stop
babbling long enough to kiss me hello?’ I teased.
He laughed and I kissed him. He drew away after a moment to
look at me critically, eyes roaming over me, taking inventory.
‘All in one piece?’ he smiled. This was part of
his routine. He had asked me the same question every night since I’d
taken the job with the Preventers. He hadn’t been altogether thrilled
when I had accepted the position. They had pursued him too, but he had flat
out refused, telling Sally Po and Commander Une in no uncertain terms that
he was done with fighting, done with all of it. I think he would have been
happier if I’d been done with it too. He asked this question every
night in the same light, bantering tone, but the concern was plain in his
‘You worry too much,’ I informed him, the same
response I made every night.
He kissed me lightly, just as he always did, and sent me off
to the shower.
So, I noticed… but I didn’t.
Supper was on time the next night, but Duo was on the computer
again when I got home. It was becoming part of the routine. But I still
didn’t think much of it until I finally realized that he never used
the system after I got home, and whatever he was doing was shut down the
minute I walked through the door.
Call it Preventer agent instincts, but as soon as I noticed…
I became curious.
So a week or so later, after supper, while he was in the shower,
I sat down at the computer and proceeded to look through the system logs
and found… nothing. Nothing to account for any on-line time. No new
files on the system. Nothing. How… odd.
I made a point the next night of coming home a bit early,
but he must have finished when he heard the car in the drive and, as usual,
was just getting up from the computer desk when I walked in. Again there
was nothing. At all. It wasn’t possible that there would be no trace
of any activity; it meant that he was editing the logs.
I felt… strange. We’d never had secrets from each
other before. But… I wasn’t sure this actually constituted a
secret. My curiosity was more than just peaked, it was on fire.
We made love that night and I found myself watching for signs
of some distance. For signs that there was something wrong between us. It
seemed a stupid concern as he was writhing beneath me, as he was shouting
my name and rising to meet my thrusts, but I couldn’t quite banish
the nagging feeling that he was deliberately hiding something.
I tried to forget about it, but the seed had been planted
and I had to know. I tried the direct approach.
‘You on the computer again?’ I teased as I came
through the door. ‘Not spending our life savings on Ebay?’
His smile seemed open enough, but I noticed his hands never
hesitated in closing down whatever was on the screen. ‘Hey!’
he laughed. ‘I only overbid that one time, and it wasn’t that
He came to greet me with a kiss before heading off for the
kitchen. ‘If you weren’t done,’ I ventured, ‘dinner
He seemed a little flustered, and I swear there was a faint
flush to his cheeks as he glanced over his shoulder at me, before disappearing
into the kitchen. ‘No… all done.’
He was so ill at ease, in fact, that he forgot to ask me if
I was in one piece. I was, oddly… hurt.
I poured over the logs while he finished dinner and again,
frustratingly, found nothing.
It began to nag at me. Nothing really seemed amiss…
but I couldn’t help conjecturing about just what he was doing that
he felt compelled to hide from me. There weren’t a lot of things I
could think of that would keep him occupied day after day that he would
need to conceal from me. If he were shopping for a gift for me, it certainly
wouldn’t take him weeks to do it, and there was no occasion that we
observed coming up for months yet anyway.
The next night I parked the car on the street instead of pulling
into the driveway and managed to surprise him. There was a rather shocked
look on his face as he stuttered, ‘Heero! I didn’t hear you
pull up!’ He quickly deleted and closed as I came across the room.
I thought he was going to knock the chair over standing up.
‘The neighbor’s cat was laying in the driveway,’
I lied, wondering at the possibilities of moving the computer desk closer
to the front door. Though he tried to seem nonchalant, it was fairly obvious
that he was disconcerted and off-balance. I set the dinner table while he
finished cooking and then I slipped back to the computer.
He had managed to wipe his tracks even in the bare time he’d
had, but he’d been a little sloppy in his haste and I found an indication
that he’d been using a web cam. A small enough clue… but all
A web cam. What in the hell? My curiosity turned to trepidation.
For the first time, I was… a little afraid of what was going on here.
Things seemed fine at dinner; we ate and told each other about
our separate days, continuing telling our tales while we cleaned up together.
Things seemed very… normal. We watched a little television and went
to bed. Nothing out of the ordinary from most of our evenings.
Later, while he was still regaining his breath, while I was
still lying between his thighs, I whispered, ‘Are you… happy?’
He blinked up at me, the question catching him completely
by surprise. ‘Of course…’ Then something dark flickered
behind his eyes. ‘As… as long as we’re together. Are…
are you happy, Heero?’
I saw what my words had implied and smiled for him. ‘Very
happy,’ I assured him and was rewarded with a beautiful smile.
We cleaned ourselves up and lay down to sleep, me on my side
of the bed and he on his. I heard a small sigh as he settled there, a sigh
that I realized I heard every night and I found myself wondering about it.
I need my space at night. I’ve never been able to sleep
with someone too close. I think sometimes that this bothers Duo, but he’s
never said anything and I know he understands.
I watched him sleep that night and wondered. I thought about
those tiny sighs. I thought about the look of doubt that clouded his eyes
sometimes. I thought about the feel of his body, wrapped around mine and
the way his striving sometimes seemed almost… frantic.
I ordered the monitoring software the very next day. I had
found in the small hours of the night that there was a large part of me
that would be crippled beyond healing if Duo wasn’t there with me.
And I suddenly was having doubts… fears about just what was going
on in the afternoons on our computer.
I paid for the expedited shipping but it would still take
two days. I took half a vacation day the afternoon I placed the order, surprising
Duo when he came home from work. He seemed genuinely delighted, even more
so when I told him we were ordering pizza, that he wasn’t cooking.
He grinned at me like a little kid on Christmas morning. ‘What’s
the occasion, Heero?’
‘I just realized how much I’ve been neglecting
you,’ I told him warmly and went to take him in my arms.
The statement brought a flush of warmth to his cheeks, but
he raised his hands to fend me off. ‘I just spent nine hours on the
roof of a house, lover,’ he chuckled lightly. ‘You don’t
want within a yard of me.’
‘I don’t care,’ I told him and swept him
into my arms anyway, muffling his surprised gasp with my kisses.
I took him to the shower and washed his hair for him, combing
it afterward. I made him stretch out on the bed while I ordered the pizza,
coming back from using the kitchen phone to massage his sore back while
we waited for it to arrive.
‘You’ve been carrying double loads up the damn
ladder again, haven’t you?’ I accused, feeling the tightness
under my hands.
All I got was a whimpering little sound that might have been
an affirmative or might have been something in Mongolian. I couldn’t
When the pizza came, I brought it to the bedroom and we ate
in bed. He was positively speechless, watching me with eyes as wide as saucers.
When we were done, I cleared the mess away and slipped into
bed with him, propping up against the headboard and pulling him into my
arms to rest with his head pillowed on my chest. There was a strange little
silence and he suddenly blurted, ‘Ok… who the hell are you and
what have you done with Heero Yuy?’
I snorted, though the remark made me feel… faintly guilty.
‘I just feel like you haven’t been getting much of my attention
lately. I’ve been working late so much.’
He raised his head a little to look up at me and there was
something in his eyes that tugged at my heart. ‘You’re spoiling
me… I could get very used to this,’ he murmured softly.
‘Maybe you deserve to get used to this,’ I told
Something washed over his face then, some unnamable emotion
that spoke to me of need and fear, hope and wonder. ‘God… I
love you,’ he whispered and I bent to claim his lips with my own.
I made love to him that night with gentle patience, not letting him do much
but lie back and enjoy. When I finally brought him to completion, he came
with such intensity that I thought for a moment he had passed out. He was
so spent, he couldn’t even make his way to the bathroom to clean himself
up. I fetched a washcloth and did it for him, wiping up the mess while he
whimpered under my hands.
When I climbed back into bed, he managed a shaky, ‘Damn,
I chuckled at him and kissed the end of his nose. ‘Go
to sleep.’ Then I rolled over to do just that.
I was… somewhat disappointed to find him on the computer
again the next night. I didn’t bother to check the logs; my software
was due the next day anyway.
Things seemed so… normal. I watched him, looking for
signs of what I suspected was going on, but everything followed our routine.
Nothing seemed amiss. We ate, we cleaned up, I did a couple loads of laundry
while Duo vacuumed, we watched some television and went to bed.
I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. I couldn’t
figure out what had changed. I lay awake for quite awhile that night, staring
at his back and wishing I understood what was going on. Wondering about
what I was going to find when I loaded that software… and not sure
I wanted to know.
The next day, when my package arrived, I found I couldn’t
wait. I took a long lunch, went home and loaded it up. It ran in complete
stealth mode, didn’t even show up in the task list. Duo would never
know it was there. I went back to work feeling both anticipation and trepidation.
Feeling… guilty. Feeling justified. Feeling damn strange.
I called home after I knew he’d be there, to tell him
I would be a little late. Wanting to give him ample time to… do whatever
the hell it was he did on the computer.
I was both elated and disappointed to see him get up from
the computer chair when I walked through the door that night. I forced myself
to stay away from the PC through supper and through showers. I didn’t
want to risk getting caught spying on him, though there was some small part
of me that felt warranted in what I had done, I would be mortified if he
I made myself wait until I knew that he was well and truly
asleep before I slipped out of bed and crept downstairs. When I finally
sat down in front of the system and opened the monitoring software, I found
myself hesitating to enter the password. Found myself realizing how much
what I found out might change things. What if he really were carrying on
some sort of on-line affair? What if he was e-mailing or chatting with another
lover? Could I ignore it? Could I live with it? I didn’t think so.
But a confrontation might lead to… something else I couldn’t
It was age-old habit that made me begin typing. A soldier,
or an agent, should always have all the pertinent information. Anything
less was to be unprepared. I pulled up the afternoon’s screen capture
logs and hit play.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or whether to cry. At
first I was amused. Then I was hurt. Then I was… consumed with remorse.
I think it’s called an epiphany, what I experienced in front of that
stark monitor. I closed the program, uninstalled the software and went back
to bed. I had another night of watching Duo sleep. I thought a lot about…
us. About our relationship. About the things he did for me that I’d
never bothered to notice before. I thought about all the things he’d
given up for me. I thought about that ache I saw in his eyes sometimes.
I fell asleep remembering his breathy, hopeful voice sighing, ‘I love
you.’ And trying to remember how many times I’d said it in return.
It’s probably a good thing that the Preventers had all
but fallen over themselves to get me to join, if I’d had a regular
job, I’m sure the hours I kept that week would have gotten me fired.
I took off for the afternoon again, but I didn’t go home. I spent
the hours running around making my preparations, with one eye on the clock
waiting for the time that I knew that Duo would be home. Knew that Duo would
be logging onto the computer… logging onto the Internet.
When five o’clock arrived, my errands were all run and
I was in position, my cell phone in hand waiting for it to ring. I suppose
I was wearing something of a smug little smile, but it was only for a mission
I stood squarely behind the puppy pen at the dog pound, ignoring
the sidelong glances I was getting from the workers, ignoring the yapping,
writhing bundle of puppies clamoring to get my attention, staring straight
into the lens of the ‘puppy cam’. My cell phone rang at exactly
‘Hey,’ I breathed into the thing, imagining that
I was looking into Duo’s eyes through that impersonal lens. Tried
hard not to imagine who else I might be staring at.
‘Heero?’ he asked, his voice hesitant… almost
shaky. ‘What… what are you doing?’
‘Did you honestly think that I could ignore something
that took so much of my lover’s attention?’ I teased him lightly,
almost able to see the drop-jawed expression of shock on his face at finding
‘I… I’m sorry, Heero,’ he murmured
and I could tell how off balance he was even over the cell phone.
I cut him off. ‘Baka,’ I smiled, ‘stop apologizing
and pick one.’
‘What?’ he blurted and I listened to several seconds
of incoherent noise before he managed, ‘I can’t ask…’
‘You’re not asking, now are you?’ I told
him. ‘I’m telling. Now are you going to pick one…or am
I going to have to do it for you?’
There was a moment of just listening to him breathe and I
understood from the sounds that there was a small struggle going on for
control back at home in front of our computer. ‘Heero… you don’t
want a dog… I can’t…’
‘Hush,’ I commanded. ‘It isn’t always
about what I want. What you want is just as important. Now tell me which
I heard a gulping little noise and when his voice came again,
it was thick and unwieldy, ‘The… the brown one in the corner…
with the gangly legs and the ragged ear.’
I looked down into the pen to meet the soulful eyes of the
puppy Duo had described. He was easily the ugliest damn dog in the pen.
‘Are you… sure?’ I had to ask, looking at
the feet on the thing and understanding that he was going to end up being
a very large dog.
‘His… his time’s almost up…’
I heard over the phone, surprised by the depth of pain I heard there.
‘Then we’ll grant him a reprieve,’ I soothed
and felt compelled to turn my eyes back to the camera. Things were very
quiet for a minute and I knew that the phone had been set aside.
I glanced back down and found the ugly puppy looking up at
me rather expectantly, as though he had understood my words somehow, understood
it was him we were talking about. He sat patiently in his corner, while
his pen-mates yapped and scrambled around him. Experimentally I reached
to scratch his head and watched him flinch for a moment before allowing
the touch. I scratched behind the ragged ear and saw a hint of movement
in the feathered tail. Big brown, mournful eyes looked up at me and I knew
I was lost. I scooped the creature up and tucked him under one arm. With
a shake of my head and a sigh, I looked back at the camera and waved the
cell phone at it, before placing the phone back to my ear. It took another
moment before Duo’s voice came back.
‘Yeah?’ he whispered, his voice wobbly and unbelievably
‘We’ll be home in about a half an hour,’
I told him warmly. ‘Why don’t you just call out for supper,
‘O… ok,’ he agreed and we hung up.
There was a lot more paperwork than I had anticipated and
a stop at the pet store with a list that the animal shelter clerk had given
me. I ended up having to use the credit card by the time I had accumulated
the food, food dish, carrier, collar, leash, chew toy, water dispenser and
dog bed that the girl had recommended. It ended up being closer to an hour.
I was a little surprised when I finally got home, to walk
into the house and not immediately see Duo. I went into the kitchen and
found him standing in the middle of the room with his hands full of Chinese
take-out cartons, looking as though he’d never seen the like before.
As though he needed someone to tell him what to do with them.
The puppy was safely tucked against my side again, dangling
over my arm with all the patience of a saint, bright eyes taking in everything.
I went to Duo, and using my free hand, deftly plucked the cartons from him,
setting them on the table. Then I plopped the puppy into his arms, leaving
him no choice but to hold the beast.
When my hands were free, I cupped Duo’s face and forced
him to meet my eyes. I couldn’t half name what I saw going on there.
He blinked red-rimmed eyes at me and whispered brokenly, ‘You…
you really do love me?’
Our new puppy sat quietly in Duo’s arms and looked up
at us, first at me and then at Duo, just as though he were following the
I smiled softly and leaned in to kiss him. ‘Yes,’
I told him firmly. ‘I do… I love you very much.’
It was… painful to see the relief wash over him. Painful
to understand how long he’d been living with his doubts and fears
because I had problems expressing my affections. Because I had trouble saying
those three little words that he gifted me with every day.
His eyes were shimmering brightly and he seemed unable to
speak, just staring at me unblinking and I understood that there was a small
struggle going on against tears.
I slipped my arms around his waist and pulled him as near
as I could without crushing the gangly animal in his arms. ‘You’ve
given me my world,’ I whispered softly. ‘And I took. Took without
giving in return.’ I stroked gentle fingers over his face and watched
him catch his lower lip in his teeth. ‘That’s going to end.
We’re partners… equal partners. What you want is just as important
as what I want.’
He settled his head on my shoulder and said, his voice thick,
‘I love you so much…’
‘I know you do,’ I told him. ‘You’ve
never let me doubt that. I intend to see that you never have reason to doubt
Our bodies, twined close as we could manage, made a warm cocoon
around our ugly little puppy and all of a sudden he seemed to come to life.
He’d been very quiet and subdued on the drive home and I’d wondered
more than once what the little guy had endured in his short life. I like
to imagine that Duo’s and my love had granted him a little of the
security he’d obviously never had. He was suddenly a bundle of squirming,
wagging… puppy, licking enthusiastically at Duo’s face and making
odd little snuffling sounds. I watched them together for a moment before
leaving them to get acquainted while I unloaded the rest of the stuff from
I came back to the kitchen to find Duo on his hands and knees,
following the little dog around as he explored the kitchen floor. They didn’t
seem to notice me as I moved about, filling the water dispenser and setting
it out, placing the dog bed in the corner of the kitchen, setting out the
food dish. I got the puppy’s attention with the rattle of the food
sack though, and he abandoned Duo to galumph across the floor to see what
was being offered. I took the opportunity to pull Duo to his feet and nudge
him toward our own dinner. He went, and he sat, but eating didn’t
seem to be on his agenda. His eyes couldn’t quite decide whether to
look at me or the dog. Finally, he seemed to steel himself and blurted,
‘Heero, are you sure about this? It’s kind of a big change…’
‘Positive,’ I told him firmly and tapped his plate
with my chopsticks. ‘Now eat.’
He flushed, seeming to notice the food in front of him for
the first time, and took a bite. ‘He’s going to be a big dog,’
he ventured. ‘You know that… right?’
‘No,’ I said blandly. ‘He’s going
to be a stinking monster. The lady at the pound says she thinks he’s
got a little mastiff blood along with about a half a dozen other things.’
I was pleased to see him suitably taken aback, but he didn’t
say anything right away and we ate in a comfortable silence, the puppy finishing
with his dinner and wandering around the kitchen sniffing everything.
‘I just… always wanted a dog,’ Duo suddenly
said, voice soft, staring down and seeming to talk to his plate. ‘It’s
what nice, normal people do. I just want to be normal, Heero. I want walks
in the park… and… and… popcorn on Sunday nights…
and the movies sometimes…’
I put down my chopsticks and pushed my chair back, going around
the table to him. He looked up at me, his eyes showing a bit of surprise
and I nudged him until he pushed his own chair away from the table, giving
me the room to straddle his legs and sit on his lap, facing him. He blinked
up at me, his eyes full of a dozen questions, but he didn’t speak,
waiting for me. I brought my hands to the back of his neck, kissing him
gently. When I drew away, I held his cross in my hand. I saw a touch of
shock and a hint of trepidation cross his face, I don’t know that
the thing has left his neck in all the time I’ve known him. Wordless,
I slipped my fingers into my pocket and pulled out the gold ring that had
been tucked there all afternoon. I dropped it onto the chain with his cross
and fastened it back around his neck, giving the two pieces of metal a gentle
touch before dropping my hands to his waist.
He just sat and looked at me for a moment, before his fingers
lifted the ring to look at it. I watched his eyes widen and then squeeze
tight shut, but he was unable to stop the spill of bright tears.
I love you – forever and always.
It had taken a bit of work to find a jeweler who both had
rings I liked, and would do the engraving on the spot.
Duo wrapped his arms tight around me and buried his face in
my shirt. I held him close until he’d calmed himself enough to look
up at me again. He wiped roughly at his eyes, his cheeks turning pink, and
murmured, ‘I’m sorry…’
I slipped my fingers into my other pocket, pulling out the
matching ring on its gold chain. ‘Does it… go both ways, love?’
I asked gently, holding it out to him.
‘Yes,’ he breathed, eyes glimmering dangerously
again. ‘Oh God, yes. Forever and ever and always.’ I bent my
head and let him clasp the chain around my neck and then I sealed the vow
with a kiss.
Drawing away, while his was face still tilted up to meet mine,
his eyes just beginning to reopen… I thought he was the most beautiful
thing I had ever seen. Joy was a palpable thing that hung in the air around
him. I bent to brush the end of his nose with my own. ‘Duo?’
I whispered softly.
‘What, love?’ he replied, his voice that slightly
husky one he gets when he’s feeling… amorous.
‘Your dog just peed on the floor.’
His laugh was bright and unfettered, and I reflected that
this new addition to our household might not be such a bad thing…
if it brought with it these kinds of happy outbursts.
Fiction : GW :