Down the Road
"So, what do you think of Quatre?"
Heero stared at his friend, intently. "He's nice."
"That's it? What about how he looks?"
"It doesn't matter what I think."
"But I want to know. What do you think?"
"He's a nice looking guy. Kind of feminine."
"Yeah, that pink shirt---"
"But don't you love his blond hair? And those eyes! I just love his huge aquamarine eyes!"
Heero grinned. "He definitely only has eyes for you. He barely noticed me."
Trowa smiled brightly. "My phone bill was $90 this month. We talk every night for three or four hours. We just can't get enough of each other."
"And tonight you'll get more."
Trowa swallowed. "I'll have to take it slow---"
"Slow?" Heero snorted. "The way he looked at you it's obvious he's just waiting for you to make a move."
"You think so?"
"I know so."
"And what about Duo? He's an attractive guy."
"That's it? A nod?"
"Too soon to tell."
Trowa laughed. "Since when does it take more than a few seconds to figure out if you want to fuck someone or not?"
Heero did not have an answer. Yeah, sure, Duo was his type---saucy, confident and good looking. Not to mention that braid, the braid was wild. He had never seen anything like it. But despite what Trowa believed, Heero was not interested in just a fuck. He had had enough of one-night stands, and the way things were going, he was being set up for another one tonight.
The return of their dates ended the discussion. Quatre slid in next to Trowa on one side of the booth, and Duo next to Heero on the other side. The pairing off became immediately awkward as Trowa and Quatre turned to one another and started talking and holding hands. Duo had never seen anything like it. They were enrapt with one another—smitten, in love. He might as well not have been there. But then there was Heero, his yummy blind date.
"So..." Duo began, looking over the menu. "Got any suggestions for dinner?"
Heero's brow scrunched. "I haven't eaten here before."
"But you're a cook. You must have a feel for these things."
"What do you like?"
"Meat, definitely meat."
Heero buried his nose in the menu, and Duo just shrugged.
+ + +
Club 294 pulsed with a heavy, urban beat, the air thick and sweet with smoke, sweat and cheap cologne. Though crowded and a bit too loud, it was the place to be if you were gay and wanted to have a good time. After the awkward dinner, with too little conversation, it felt good to be amid the living, breathing city again.
Trowa pushed his way through the bodies, hanging onto Quatre's hand with Duo and Heero in tow. They lucked out finding a couple of empty chairs in a corner just off the dance floor. There was absolutely no possibility of conversation here. The DJ was spinning tunes fast and furious, and combined with the strobe lights you could not hear let alone read lips. But then conversation was not the goal.
Trowa and Quatre rushed onto the dance floor, practically giddy to dance together for the first time. Duo edged toward the floor, nodding for Heero to join him, but the other boy shook his head. Duo frowned, but decided not to let that stop him. He went out bumping Quatre in the hip playfully, but soon found that Trowa had no intention of sharing. Frustrated, but still undeterred, Duo grooved on his own, occasionally looking back into the darkness to Heero who seemed to be looking anywhere but at him.
He could not figure this guy. Obviously he had agreed to the blind date, but he certainly was not acting like he wanted to be here. Could it be that he did not find Duo attractive? Ridiculous, Duo thought. Not that he had a big ego, but Duo was aware of his appeal.
After a couple of hours of dancing and drinking, it was time to go. Duo had been unsuccessful in luring his date onto the dance floor, and Trowa and Quatre looked about ready to devour each other. They had gone about as far as they could in public with their tonsil tingling kisses and groping hands.
As they left the club, Duo could not help but feel a little angry and a little left out. They stood outside the club, breathing in the cool night air, and realizing doubly so how smoky and loud the club had been. Duo was sure his ears would be ringing for days.
They chatted for the first time since dinner, and Duo took the opportunity to sidle up to Heero one more time. He wanted to give it another try, make it perfectly clear, as if he had not all night, that he was available and willing. But all he got was a quick look and a half smile before Heero announced, "I better get going. I've got work in the morning."
"You do?" Trowa asked, sounding surprised as he looked at his watch. "It's only 1:30. We could go to one of those all night diners and split a cheesy fry or something."
"Yeah, that sounds good," Duo said, hopeful.
"No, I really need the sleep," Heero said. "It was nice meeting you, Quatre. I'm sure we'll see each other again." Then he turned to Duo, meeting his eyes, though somewhat shyly. "Thanks, Duo." He held out his hand. "Maybe we can do this again some time."
That was the kiss of death. Duo knew damn well that statement meant he would never see Heero again. The date had been an abysmal failure, but he took the proffered hand and gave it a good, firm shake.
"Yeah, maybe I'll see ya' around."
Heero held Duo's hand a moment longer than the shake, as their eyes met once again, and then released it. The date was over, and with a 'goodnight,' Heero walked off down the street to his car.
Duo slumped back against the brick exterior of the building. "Fuck."
Quatre extracted himself from Trowa to put his arm around Duo's waist. "I'm sorry."
"Hey, nothing to be sorry for. It was a blind date and well, I guess we didn't hit it off."
"Heero's not the easiest guy to get to know," Trowa said, trying to ease the situation.
"It's okay. His loss."
Quatre nodded. "Well, we don't have to call it a night just yet. How 'bout the three of us go for a late night snack?"
"The diner is just around the corner," Trowa said, smiling.
"Cheesy fries sound damn good about now."
"Great," Quatre said with a bright smile, giving Duo a quick hug.
The three walked off, holding hands, with Quatre happily in the middle.
+ + +
After a chili cheese fry, several cokes, and a lot of conversation, the three friends left the diner to head to Trowa's. It was agreed that it was far too late for Duo and Quatre to head home. They could spend the night and get a fresh start later in the morning.
They piled into Duo's truck for the short drive to Trowa's apartment just eight blocks from where they had been hanging out all evening. As luck would have it, there was a parking space in front of the building. Duo was immensely pleased, not only with the location, but also with the fact that it was free.
Trowa lived on the third floor of a 1920s red brick apartment building. The street was lined with similar buildings and rows of mature elms. His small apartment was decorated to reflect his interests in art, music, and entertainment, including several framed circus posters prominently displayed in the living room. Duo stared at one, noting that the juggler looked uncannily like their host.
Duo glanced up at Trowa and nodded. "Thought so. When were you with Ringling Brothers?"
"A few years back. That job paid for my college tuition. It was a lot of fun, but not something I wanted to do the rest of my life."
"Trowa did acrobatics and performed with the knife thrower," Quatre added, seeming proud of the fact.
"Knife thrower? I hope that means you sharpened the knives."
"I was the target."
"Gee, fun job." Duo gulped. He had done some stupid stuff in his youth, but he had never deliberately put himself in the face of danger.
"Pastry chef is much more my speed," Trowa said as he removed the cushions from the couch. "I'll get this bed made up for the two of you."
Duo noticed Trowa looking a bit longingly at Quatre. He was sure that they had hoped for privacy tonight, but once Heero had bailed they were stuck with a third wheel.
I should've been getting thoroughly fucked by now, Duo thought as he grabbed a cushion and tossed it aside. He could not understand why it bothered him so much to be rejected by a guy he hardly knew. Rejection in itself was not cool, but maybe it had something to do with what was happening between Trowa and Quatre. They were falling in love. It was as simple as that. And Duo was damn jealous.
After making up the bed, Trowa showed them the bathroom and then said goodnight as he looked with yearning once more on Quatre and then disappeared into his bedroom. Quatre sighed and sat on the edge of the bed, fussing with the cuff of his sleeve.
"Maybe I should say goodnight-- and thank him."
"You've already done both, but it wouldn't hurt to give him a goodnight kiss."
Quatre smiled. "Yes, a goodnight kiss."
Duo watched as Quatre headed to the bedroom, heard the soft tap on the door, the door quietly opening, the muffled conversation, and then the sound of the door clicking shut. But Quatre did not return. Duo doubted he would be seeing him again any time soon. So he wriggled out of his sinfully tight jeans, turned out the light and crashed. Thirty minutes later he was pulled from his sleep by moans and a bumping sound.
"Oh, no," he said, staring at the ceiling. "I must be cursed."
The sounds continued, enthusiastically, making it all too easy to imagine what was happening on the other side of the wall. Duo grabbed for the remote and turned on the TV. It was either drown it out or go insane. He was way too horny for this, and way too disappointed about not having clicked with his date. Why had that guy not warmed up to him? Why was he not turned on by Duo's gyrating on the dance floor? What had Duo done to deserve such a drop dead, stone cold date? And now this?
+ + +
The sex had gone on for nearly two hours. Duo was mightily impressed, and pissed. It was now eight o'clock and Duo did not care what condition Quatre was in, they were leaving. He wanted to get home where he could take a long shower and nap the day away. He eased out of bed and picked up his jeans, sighing as he remembered how much effort it had taken to get into them. After much yanking and vigorous tugging, Duo was dressed and knocking on the bedroom door.
About a minute later the door opened, just barely. Quatre wore an oversized shirt, obviously not his own, and blinked heavy-lidded, sated eyes at him. "Morning, already?" he asked with a big yawn.
Duo gave a snort. "Thanks for finally letting me sleep. Sounded like Trowa was performing his circus act for you."
Quatre laughed and then blushed deeply. "Were we that loud?"
"You have to ask?"
"Yeah, well, it's time to go. Say goodbye to lover boy and let's get outta here."
Quatre's eyes saddened as he looked back over his shoulder. "Trowa's still sleeping."
"Bus leaves in five minutes," Duo said, uncharacteristically impatient.
With a nod, Quatre closed the door and Duo padded down the hall to the bathroom. Minutes later he was back in the living room, making up the bed, when Trowa and Quatre joined him.
"Duo," Quatre began, timidly. "I hope you don't mind, but Trowa's asked me to spend the day with him."
Duo raised his eyebrows more than aware of how their day would be spent. Again, he felt a pang of jealousy and a little of the hurt from the night before. Usually when Duo felt an attraction to someone they shared it back, but Heero had not responded.
"Yeah, no problem." He smiled and scratched his head. "I can see you two have something special going on."
"Thanks," Quatre said, smiling.
"How will you get home?"
"I'll take him," Trowa said, putting his arm around the smaller man's waist.
With a quick check for his wallet and keys, Duo gave a wink and left the big city for the solitude of the country.
+ + +
It was madness, plain and simple. No one right in the head calmly shakes the hand of the most attractive man he has ever met and walks away—no one except Heero Yuy. And Trowa would soon be grating him on that point. They had not seen each other since the big date night several weeks ago, and Heero had only been in contact via Trowa's answering machine—something about Quatre being the one. Heero envied Trowa for his openness, for his willingness to let people in. He supposed he had been like that once, or he liked to pretend that he had, but that was not the case. He had never been patient or understanding. He was too busy making a name for himself and growing his restaurant business. Yes, he had lied to Duo, though only a small lie, saying that he was a cook. He did cook, but as the proprietor and master chef of a fast growing restaurant chain. That lie had come all too easily for him. He was accustomed to downplaying his success around new acquaintances. Otherwise, he never knew if they liked him or his money.
And what was it about that night that kept his mind going over it again and again? Was it merely disappointment that he was unable to respond to Duo's overtures? That he had fought the urge to take the handyman in his arms and kiss him senseless? That it all came down to an animalistic attraction? No, Heero thought. He had sliced this problem too many ways to have that be the answer. This was no ordinary attraction. He had been around the block enough times to see and feel and sense the truth. And that frightened him.
It was late Thursday morning, almost the noon hour, and Heero and Trowa were meeting in their favorite coffee shop. With the weekend creeping up on them again, Heero half feared that Trowa would propose another double date. Maybe Quatre could scare up another one of his country friends, but Heero had already decided he would not give in this time.
When Trowa arrived at the crowded shop he looked more alive than Heero remembered seeing him. "Love looks good on you."
"It feels good on me, too," Trowa said and smiled brightly as he sat down. "It's only been three days since I saw him last, and I'm stir crazy. I can't wait to see Quatre this weekend."
Heero nodded. "Big plans?"
"He's offered to drive in to see me. He said he could meet me at my place Saturday evening."
"I thought he didn't own a car."
"Duo's letting him use his truck....."
Heero looked down into his coffee cup, foolishly awkward at hearing Duo's name.
"Hey, sorry that didn't work out. Actually, I'm surprised it didn't."
"What do you mean?" Heero met his friend's eyes.
"Come on. You can't tell me he wasn't your type."
"No, he was exactly my type."
"Then why'd you act like that? You didn't give the guy an inch."
"He was trying too hard."
"Since when is that a crime? He liked you... though I don't know why. You're such a bastard."
"Success has gone to your head. No one's good enough for you anymore."
"Should I lower my standards?"
"I think you should follow your feelings. How many guys will you meet that you can say are exactly your type? You should take that stick out of your ass and go see him. Ask Duo out on another date."
"Not everyone can be as happy as you, Tro."
"Now you're accusing me of trying to make you happy? Geez, you're a piece of work, Yuy. I've found happiness, probably more than I deserve, and maybe that does make me want the people in my life to be happy, too. So what's so bad about that? I've lived in this city nearly my whole life, but I never met anyone like Quatre. I had to stumble into that music store in Union Grove, looking for flute music. And when I saw Quatre come from behind that counter I thought my heart would leap out of my chest. I've never felt that way before. Now, if you can honestly say that meeting Duo didn't do a thing for you-- no fireworks, no heart palpitations, no stirring desires then okay, so be it."
Heero's lips pursed. "Done with the speech?"
"You're so clever, go on being lonely and pining for that special someone. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to lasso Quatre and keep him for as long as he'll have me."
"I'm not lonely or pining---"
"Right, you can have anyone you want, but I had the feeling you were tired of that life."
Trowa was right. Heero was tired of the one night stands. But would it be any different if he pursued Duo? There was only one way to find out. "Can you get me his number?"
Trowa's eyes widened. "Y—yeah. I'll tell Quatre I need it just in case."
"Keep it quiet, okay? I don't want Duo thinking I'm going to call, because I don't know."