“It’s fine,” Will said, as convincingly as he could. “It’s not like we even work together.”
Kingsley raised her eyebrows. “Yeah, right,” she retorted. "Because Mr ‘I’m A Celebrity’ throws a hissy fit every time you even walk into the room. I don't know who he thinks he is, pulling shit like that, anyway."
"No-one's pulling anything. I don't get why everyone's making this such a thing."
Suddenly Duo was at his shoulder, emerging out of the crowd lingering in the lobby for last-minute chats. “Because,” he said, “they're immature idiots who forget who routinely pulls their asses out of the fire." He made a point of meeting every pair of eyes in the group. Michaels and Ohno, both of them just corporals, quickly made their excuses, and slipped toward the doors with the rest of the day shift. Kingsley, the only one besides Will who had been in OZ, glared right back at Duo, obstinately keeping her place.
Will faced him, too, trying to project a casualness he didn’t feel. “Hi, Duo,” he said lightly. “Can I help you?”
Duo barely glanced at him. "Talk to you," he said. "If your mom here doesn't mind."
“Sure.” Will took a step back from the doors. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Kings.”
Duo was not amused. He watched Will’s section mates gather again, this time on the steps outside, all of them rather obviously turning to watch them talk. "What kind of stories are you telling people about me?" he asked.
Will rubbed a hand through his hair as his neck heated. "I haven't said anything. It's just... It was a big scene. You got suspended. Remember? And I got pulled from a desirable mission. People talk. I didn't have to say a thing." He met Duo’s eyes, wistfully hoping Duo might believe him for once. "And I wouldn't."
Duo frowned. He chewed his lip, and then he said, "Whatever. Look, I just came to give you back your watch. I found it in my car." He took it from his pocket, and held it out.
Will flushed again. "Thanks." He hadn’t even noticed it was gone. He strapped it around his wrist, automatically reading the face for the time. “It’s seven,” he said, perhaps irrelevantly, and took a leap. "Maybe we could have dinner. Or something?"
Duo was thrown by the suggestion. Will saw it in the flicker of unease that crossed his eyes, the twinge at the corner of his mouth, before Duo controlled his expression. "Why?” Duo said. “I'm not even nice to you." He pre-empted Will’s answer with the warning, "I'm not going to start, either."
"I like you." It came out like the nervous confession it was. But it was a relief to say. It had been pressing, desperately, since he’d waked earlier that morning and found Duo gone from the couch.
They’d had sex. It should be assumed—he should have been able to assume—that if they’d had sex, they at least liked each other. At least a little. Will thought. So he offered Duo that little gift of risky honesty, and hoped it registered, at least in some microscopic way.
"Then you're stupid," Duo said. He looked around, and then abruptly turned and walked away. "People are staring,” he said over his shoulder. “Why am I always the bad guy when I talk to you?"
"You're not." Will supposed he was meant to follow, so he did. Duo walked with purpose, and he walked a few steps ahead of Will, which might have been plausible deniability and might have been a hint. "Maybe people wouldn't see you as such a bastard if you'd chill a little," Will added, as Duo chose a door. The faceplate claimed it as one of the old classrooms for Academy instruction, that had since moved to its own site. The room was empty. Will followed Duo in, and locked the door behind them.
"Maybe every time I see you, all I can think about is how you fucked me over, and I get a little urge to toss you down some stairs." Duo faced him. "Still want dinner?"
Will opened his mouth. Then the absurdity struck him, instead, and he found himself grinning. "Yeah."
That was the second time he’d unnerved Duo. Will took that as a win. "It's not a date," Duo said, scowling more than normal.
"Of course not. You're not my boyfriend."
"No, I'm not." Duo stepped closer to him. "I have no idea what your expectations are for this, but you can bear that in mind."
“I don't have any, Duo." He reached out, greatly daring, and slid his fingers over the smooth skin of Duo’s wrist. "We'll even go dutch."
He made Duo laugh, somehow. "You're an idiot."
"I’ve heard that recently. Let's go."
"I'm done for the day," Will pointed out. “You’re done for the day. Everyone’s done. And it’s dinner time.”
Duo’s eyes went to the door, then settled back on Will. He said, “We don't need dinner, to do what we're going to do after it anyway."
"You have to eat." Presumably Duo did eat, though Will had never actually seen him do it. When Duo hesitated, Will reminded him, "It's not like it's a date or anything."
"You're the one who wants to fuck." His voice was sulky, resentful. He moved the hand that Will was gently holding, and tugged at Will’s crotch. "Saves you twenty bucks on fancy pasta."
“You know, I know I’m a sap, but I’m not completely pathetic.” Will freed himself and stepped back. "Maybe they're right, and you really are a bastard."
"Maybe that's what I want out of it,” Duo said after him. “I don't count unless I want a deep and abiding friendship with you? Yeah, makes me a real jerk."
"Are you coming?"
Will suspected no-one had ever turned down Duo’s offer before. Will tried to keep his sense of triumph from reaching his face, knowing Duo wouldn’t react well to seeing it; but he knew he’d tipped the scale, at last. Duo even looked a little lost.
But only for a few moments. Then Duo’s mouth firmed, and he went stalking past Will to the door. "Your car. Fair’s fair. But I’m driving."
Will bit down the smile that threatened. "Sure,” he said.
"Too much garlic?" Will asked.
Duo shrugged. He, unlike Will, kept spare clothes in his car, and so he sat in a pleasant brown sport jacket and red shirt, whilst Will kept a formal seat in his work uniform.
Their server refilled their waters for the third time in as many hours, and Will finally took the hint for the bill. "You mostly ate your thumbnail, not your food,” he told Duo.
"Same nutritional value." Duo shot a hand out, but Will moved faster, and got to the receipt first. Duo sighed and tossed his napkin to the table. "Is this part of the amends?"
"Maybe,” Will said, and counted cash out of his wallet. “Am I missing the mark?"
"I don't think the mark is buying me stuff."
"I thought maybe treating you decently was part of the package."
"So what's next? Couples counselling? A three-day retreat in the desert where we learn trust-building?"
"I'd do it," Will said.
"Jesus flipping Christ." Duo glared at him. He’d been sullen all through their meal, and was definitely in a mood now. "You know what, you make me so angry. You think you really can fix everything if you just, what, break past my evil little shell, get me to call it evens and move on with life. It's not that easy."
"I didn't expect it to be,” Will replied honestly. “I'm not going to run because it's a little bit hard."
"Maybe I don't want you dogging my steps for the rest of time, begging me to shine my shoes and feed me and hug me. Maybe you ought to respect that."
Will was moderately certain that wasn’t the dismissal it sounded like. If Duo needed to blow off some steam, Will could give him room to do it. He kept his tone absolutely reasonable as he agreed. "Okay. I can."
Duo rubbed his collar. He pulled his wallet from his pants, and dropped enough on the table to cover gratuity. "Come on,” he said. “I don't feel like hearing the dessert menu." He didn’t wait for Will before he abandoned his chair and made for the door.
There was a rhythm to it, Will thought. There had to be. He just needed to ride it out until he could figure it out, identify it, learn to see it coming. He made sure the server saw the money he was leaving, and hurried out of the restaurant. Duo was already across the lot, waiting impatiently. Will jogged to meet him, hoping Duo wasn’t feeling pushy enough to start something in the car again. Duo let him get in and belt up, then turned on the radio, a heavy bass beat drowning out even the possibility of conversation. He pulled onto the street and slammed on the gas, jumping to the speed limit in seconds.
Will let the music dominate until they reached the highway. Then he turned off the radio. He said, "You shouldn't let Kingsley and them bother you so much."
"She doesn't bother me, she bothers everyone. She's a fucking bitch."
"Well, yeah. Maybe that's why you shouldn't."
"I get along with plenty of people who were OZ and Alliance, you know."
That was bullshit. "I know," Will said.
"I knew it was part of the job when I signed up."
"We all did." Will glanced at Duo from the corner of his eyes. "No-one blames you, Duo."
“It still feels like it's my fault."
Three hours they’d sat in the restaurant, and now Duo wanted to talk. "Well it's not,” Will repeated. “And you should let it lie." Duo took Exit 119A without being told to. They were going to Will’s then. Will didn’t comment on that. He did say, "They’ll only push harder if they know they're getting to you."
"Yeah. Not being a child, I've figured that out." Duo turned the radio up again.
Will turned it down. "Have you?"
"What am I supposed to do?” Duo demanded, looking away from the road to Will. “Ignore it? Walk away? That doesn't work either. And it's not who I am."
Duo turned left at the end of the exit ramp. It put them at the back entrance to Will’s community, the one without a gate guard. Duo went zipping down the little lanes between the apartments, apparently sure of his path.
"You could do what I do," Will said.
"What? Follow around a Gundam Pilot until he caves in?"
"Keep it somewhere safe and private."
Duo glanced at him again. Will carefully did not return the look. Instead he pointed to his building, though Duo didn’t seem to need the guidance. Duo took Will’s parking space, same as he had last night.
“Coming in?” Will asked.
Will turned on his kitchen light to illuminate his dark apartment. He loosened his tie and left it on the dining table with his keys. "Duo? Want a beer?"
"Sure." Duo lingered uneasily in his den. There wasn’t much in it; Will spent little enough time in his own home, and when he was there, he was usually sleeping. The television didn’t work and the bookshelf was largely empty. He’d had fish, for a while, but the tank was empty now, a few dusty plastic plants poking out of the gravel at the bottom. Duo trailed a finger along the edge of it, then stepped to the wall to read the plaque that hung there.
“Medal of Valour, Olivia Stanley, First Lieutenant,” Duo read aloud. "Who was she? Sister?"
"My mom." Will remembered his task, and opened his fridge. He took two bottles from the door, and hunted for the bottle opener he was sure he had in a drawer somewhere. “They gave it to her posthumously. Well, to me. For her."
"Oh." Duo didn’t quite touch the plaque; then he put his hand in his pocket. "Where was she stationed?"
"Colonies." He found it, and popped the caps off both bottles. "Guess I was never the soldier she was."
"It made my job easier."
He chuckled nervously and inappropriately. "Yeah."
"Look, I really don't want to talk." Duo turned. He looked nervous, too, in the yellow glow of Will’s kitchen light, nervous and lined and tired. And angry. Will could almost imagine the anger like a cloak that Duo always wore, a cloak that didn’t quite fit but still kept him warm when nothing else did.
"I'll blow you, if you like," Duo said.
Will slammed the drawer shut after the bottle opener. "So you can hate me some more?” he countered. “Because I made you suck my dick like some kind of-- skanky whore?” L2 whore. It had leapt to his lips, the first time in a decade he’d ever even been tempted to say something like that. He knew all the epithets—his mother had served in D Area, and she’d been killed in action there—but any racism he’d had had been beaten out of him in Storeroom 14 on Moon Base. The slip was near enough to make him feel ill.
"Why don't you let me blow you?" he said, and left the kitchen.
"Because that's not the offer I made."
"No. But thank you." He handed Duo his beer. "Here."
Duo shook his head, then drank. "You're an idiot. Who passes up sex without strings?"
"You're not offering me sex." He watched the way the light caught ginger glints in the longer hairs around Duo’s face. He didn’t know if the braid was a style in the colonies, or if it was just something Duo did for personal reasons, but it was such an unusual length on a man. Only Colonel Merquise had hair as long, but somehow that was different. He wondered if Duo ever wore his loose. "You're using-- that-- to justify hating me still."
"You think I need to justify anything to myself?" Duo met his eyes almost rudely. He tilted the bottle back again and drank deeply. "I'm not in your position, Stanley."
"Aren't you?" Will asked him soberly.
Another swallow, and Duo finished his beer. He put the bottle on the table with the fish tank, and came to Will. “No,” he said. He took hold of Will’s shirt, and pulled him across the last step between them, and kissed him hard.
It was their first kiss standing, and it made an amazing amount of difference. He felt the press of Duo’s entire body, this way. He took Duo’s hips between his hands, while Duo’s went rubbing down his shoulders and back, fingers digging into his muscles, then down to his ass. He squeezed and pulled Will closer, close enough to rub their groins together. Will was embarrassed at the sound that escaped him, but if Duo noticed, he didn’t evince it.
They were only a handful of stumbles from the couch. Duo manoeuvered him back to it, his tongue an insistent presence in Will’s mouth the entire way, right until his calves met the cushion and Duo knocked him backward onto it. Duo shed his jacket and shirt, imperiously pushed Will flat, and climbed on top of him.
Will didn’t know when they’d entered a race for the finish, but Duo seemed to feel there was a deadline. He let Duo undress him between bruising kisses, trying to sneak in the caresses he was sure he wouldn’t be allowed once they were done. Duo’s bare skin was smooth, his chest almost hairless but for a line between his pectorals. Will let muscle and bone direct his hands, only avoiding the raw patch of shiny red skin on the right arm where Duo had been burned. He tentatively traced the scars Duo had shown him the morning of the storm. The one on his back was thick and sunken, the flesh still ridged after all the time that had passed. The pads of his fingers found others, their stories unknown to him, as he passed a caress down the length of Duo’s spine, then up to his neck, beneath the base of the braid.
Duo put a hand inside his boxers and curled around him. His lips found Will’s nipple, and he sucked softly for a moment, before his teeth closed over it. Will hissed and gripped the back of Duo’s head. “Duo,” he whispered.
Duo bit just a little harder, then sat up enough to strip Will of his boxers. He pumped Will at the base a few times, examining him with sharp eyes. He slipped a knee off the couch, and went down on him.
"No," Will protested, pushing Duo’s head away. “I already said I didn’t want you to do that.”
"Fucking shut up!"
He winced. "Then let me... do it too." This wasn’t what he wanted, again. He didn’t want sex that felt like a weapon.
Duo let him go. He planted himself on the floor with his back to the couch. Will slid off, too, and knelt in front of him. "Let me do it to you first," he cajoled. He laid his hand on Duo’s thigh. "I want to be kind to you. Treat you like you deserve."
"What makes you think I deserve any kindness now, any more than I did when I was fifteen?"
"You deserved it then."
Duo was expressionless, except for his eyes. Storming eyes. He said again, quieter, "Shut up, Stanley."
Will leant in. He kissed Duo, this time, not as roughly, but with heat, all the same. The only place they were touching was their lips, and the hand Will rested on Duo’s thigh. He was warm, there.
Duo cupped the back of his head. Will deepened the kiss, sliding his tongue through Duo’s lips as they parted for him, painting long sweeps over the roof of Duo’s mouth. Duo slowly fell back to the carpet, and Will stretched over him, this time, helping Duo with the fastenings of his jeans. Together they worked them down his hips until there was room enough for Will to fondle him. When he was sure Duo was hard, he gripped a fist and stroked instead, long strokes that made Duo gasp into Will’s mouth. Duo squirmed, trapped under Will’s legs, then grabbed him by the wrist and pulled his unoccupied arm over his head and held it there with both of his own.
Will gazed down at Duo’s face, wondering what he was thinking. He watched for clues as he beat Duo off—too fast? Not hard enough? Duo’s fingers clenched around his wrist when he began to tease the foreskin back. He wrapped his leg over Will’s and held it there tensely.
"Do it to me this time, okay?" Will whispered. He licked the underside of Duo’s jaw to catch a shimmer of perspiration. "I want you."
"I've tried it. I don't like doing it that way." Will wondered if he was lying. He couldn’t read Duo, suddenly, and his confidence faltered. Duo made a noise of impatience, and said, "If this is all you can do, would you just do it?"
"Sorry." Will flicked his wrist, and Duo grunted, arching up into him. "Tell me what you want and we'll do it."
"I already told you." Duo shook his head, and closed his eyes. "Hold my hands down."
I hate this, Will thought, clearly and a sense of weird foreordination. But if Duo wanted to be degraded, there was only so long Will could stop him from demanding it. He obeyed. Duo’s legs went tight around him. Will pressed his hands down into the carpet and ground down on him.
Everything was hot and damp where their groins mashed together when Will slowed, long minutes later. Duo was open-mouthed and sweating, his fringe clinging to his forehead. "I have condoms in my wallet," Will told him breathlessly.
"Go get them."
He reached for his trousers and clawed his wallet out while Duo watched him. Will got one out and on quickly. It was pre-lubricated, but he spat in his palm anyway, several times, enough to make a second coat of slickness.
“Would you just do it?” Duo said. He turned his face away when Will tried to kiss him.
There was no way to make it less ugly when ugly was what Duo wanted from him. It just felt so—unhappy.
He shucked Duo’s jeans the rest of the way, and Duo spread his legs wide. He tried to move quickly and slowly at once, moving his wet fingers between Duo’s cheeks and inside of him. He kissed the soft inside of Duo’s thigh, and kissed him again where his fingers disappeared inside him, making Duo twitch. He made sure the condom was secure, and pulled Duo’s legs around his hips. Duo was lying still now, his eyes closed so that he looked almost serene. His hands lay palm-up beside his head, his fingers curled loosely. It was a vulnerable position, and Will tried not to fool himself with it.
“Breathe, Duo,” he whispered, and pressed slowly inside.
Sudden hideously loud buzzing from the floor.
Duo jumped a mile in his arms and Will almost reached for a weapon he didn’t have with him. They both lay frozen, trying to identify the noise.
“My mobile,” Duo said.
"Do you have to get it?" His mind re-engaged, and he scooped up Duo’s jeans, fumbling at the pockets until he found the vibrating slip of plastic. Duo was clumsy opening it, cramming it to his ear and twisting his face away from Will.
“What?” he snapped. There was a short pause. "Fuck, Heero, I don't know. I'm doing something."
Will could just hear another male voice, and what might have been his own name. Duo’s eyes flicked to him for just a second.
Will wet his throat. He gathered his arms under him, and carefully pulled out of Duo, making sure the condom came with him. His pants were crumpled half over his ankles already and he sat to put them on.
Duo caught his arm. He covered the mouthpiece on his phone, and said, “Why did you stop?”
"So you could take your call," Will whispered, surprised by the implication.
Duo glared. To his phone, he said, "Yeah. I know what you mean. What'd she say to that?" and then covered the mouthpiece again and hit Will with a kiss that nicked his lip and made him shudder. Duo lay back, and waited for him.
It was an opportunity, whether Duo had meant it to be or not. Will brushed a kiss over the knuckles of Duo’s hand and lay over him. He rested his head on Duo’s flat stomach, gripped his cock, and swallowed it.
"Shit," Duo mumbled. But didn’t push him off.
This was better. He sucked at the crown in pulses, laving it chaotically with his tongue. He swept over Duo’s loose balls with his thumb, then tickled lightly with his fingertips, and lowered his head until he could feel the head in the back of his throat and his mouth was full with Duo. Some part of him not so singly concentrated felt Duo’s hand come to rest tentatively in his hair, the first—almost—tender gesture. He pressed his tongue up Duo’s length and let Duo down his throat, swallowing around it until he thought he would gag. Duo’s stomach heaved under his cheek.
Duo spoiled the moment by grumbling into the phone, "I have never in my life given a flying shit for what Relena Peacecraft has to say." And then almost without a beat, "Fingers. Fuck me with your fingers."
He let Duo fall from his mouth just long enough to wet two. Duo was loose enough to take them easily, while Will used his other hand to bring Duo back into his mouth. An accidental brush of his teeth made Duo suck in a shaky breath, so he repeated it, and closed his lowers too with a firm curve of his fingers in Duo’s hole. He risked a glance up—Duo still had the mobile cradled to his ear, his thumb going white with pressure where he covered the mouthpiece. His eyes were squeezed tightly shut.
He found a fleshly little lump inside Duo and rubbed it. Duo jerked, entirely involuntarily, and reached down to Will’s hand to press it in harder. Will did, and added a third, almost the same width as his dick would have been. Duo arched.
"Shit!” he said. “Heero, I don't fucking care!"
Poor Heero Yuy, Will thought. He wondered if the man had any idea. Probably not. Probably he was wondering if someone was abusing his friend.
Duo strained against him. His sudden shouting startled Will. "Because you kill people for a living and she's never going to get that and if you can't say it to her, it's still not my problem and I'm tired of talking about it!” he yelled. “This is what we do! And fuck her, fuck her for dragging this fucking conversation on for ten fucking years past the expiration date, and fuck you, Heero, I'm trying to come, so fuck-- fuck." He threw his mobile across the room, and crammed Will’s hand against himself.
Will was almost laughing around the fullness in his mouth. That was gorgeous, he thought with delight, that was gorgeous and he applied himself with renewed energy, pulling Duo deep into his throat and pumping his hand. Duo groaned something garbled, his fingers locked painfully around Will’s wrist, and then Will tasted something bitter in spurts.
They rested together in the dark on Will’s carpet. Will made a map of Duo’s sharp hipbone, and Duo’s fingers rested, probably by accident, just touching his lips. He didn’t want to move, but finally he made himself, using his tongue to soothe while he slipped his fingers away from Duo’s body.
He felt Duo swallow, they were that-- harmonised. Will kissed Duo’s soft cock where it lay back on his belly.
Duo tugged on his hair, then. Will followed the gesture, rising enough to come lie beside Duo.
“No. Come on," Duo said in a guttural whisper. "You didn't finish." He tried to guide Will between his legs.
Will resisted. "I don't have to. I got what I wanted."
Duo’s hand fit to his groin, as if to test him for a lie. He was still hard, a bit, but wasn’t lying, either. He gently disengaged Duo’s grip.
"I was pretty rough,” he explained. “It's going to hurt if we do it now. I don't like hurting you, Duo."
Duo flopped back to the carpet with a disgusted eye-roll. "Of all the hurting of me that you've been a part of, that was not the worst."
That was a sharp and unexpected pain. Will rubbed his throat, and grabbed his trousers again. "I've got to go," he said, fumbling a foot into them.
“It’s your apartment.”
He didn’t answer. He got himself dressed enough to walk, and left Duo there on the floor. His little bath was closest, and he went in there, thinking only that he might close the door, have a moment to breathe in privacy. He turned on the sink and let it run, but then he was sitting on the edge of the tub, staring blindly.
There was movement in the den. Will stood, and watched through the crack as Duo dressed, then hunted for his mobile phone. When he picked it up, he put it to his ear, and then his eyes dipped wearily closed.
"Why don't you ever hang the fuck up?" he asked it softly. "You need to come get me. No, I don't have my car."
Will licked his lips, and opened the door so Duo could see him. "I'll take you home."
Duo looked at him for a long time in silence. Then he said, "Nevermind," to Yuy, and closed the phone.
Will left the bath, and leaned against the wall instead. "I'm sorry."
"Why?" Duo put the mobile back in his pocket. "You've been clear from the beginning. You want to fuck without fucking me."
"I don't know what that means." He rubbed his jaw again, realising he was sore. "I like you. It bothers me to treat you like I don't. It bothers me that you want me to."
"You must be over not wanting to piss me off." Duo might have said more, but the frenetic buzz of his phone started again. Duo looked annoyed as he retrieved it. "Heero, I said-- sir."
Duo listened, his spine gone straight as if he were actually facing a superior officer. He said, "Yes, sir. Thank you."
“Who was it?” Will asked.
Duo fidgeted with the antenna on the phone, and looked up at Will. "You must have left your pager at the base. Merquise is looking for you."
"He thought you'd know where to find me?" Will guessed, shocked.
His face felt hot. He covered it by ducking back into the bath, to shut off the sink. "Sorry," he said through the door. "I didn't tell him anything." He flipped on the light and brushed his hair quickly. There was nothing to do about the reddness of his lips but hope it faded before he got back to base. Duo was holding his shirt for him when he emerged, and he slipped it on quickly. "I'll drive you home," he said. “Merquise can wait half an hour."
"There's such a thing as cabs,” Duo said. “Or Heero. Go back to base."
"Do you have to argue every stupid thing?"
"Yes," Duo snapped. "Because every stupid thing that you think I'm putting crap up about is important, to me, so you can fuck off."
He found his tie on the table and threw it around his neck. "Look, just stay here. We can talk when I get back. Okay?"
Duo stared at him for a long time. Then he sighed, and sat on the couch. He dropped his head to the cushions and gazed up at the ceiling soundlessly.
“Thank you,” Will told him. “I’ll be fast. I promise.”
When he had the time to call, four hours later, Duo didn’t answer.