They say there is one perfect love for each of us. One perfect love among six billion. Not very good odds, and that's the rub. There's only one. So how do you find that one?
It was all happening so very quickly. Life, that is. It moved without him even knowing it — changing, morphing, spinning the planet while he made plans, finished graduate school, secured a job with a prestigious law firm, and purchased a condominium in the right part of town. He was a young man at the top of his game, living in a fast, urban world.
His best friends had grown up right alongside him. He knew they were all grown up now, not because of their degrees and great jobs, but because they no longer referred to each other by nicknames, using fictional characters from favorite TV shows and comic books. Instead, they used their careers as monikers — attorney, professor, doctor. It was all part of the progression of life, the coming of age they had talked about since they were teens. And yet, Heero wasn't ready for this. Wasn't ready for his best friends to start settling down. Shouldn't that be years off yet?
First it was Trowa, the professor of ancient civilizations. Just months into his new position at the university he met and fell in love with a sweet, blond administrative assistant named Quatre, who had stumbled into one of his "sex in antiquity " lectures. Heero supposed that subject matter could kick-off any relationship.
But the shock wave had not hit until Wufei, the doctor, had called from his vacation in California to tell him he had met the most intoxicating young man on the planet. At first, Heero had humored him, listening patiently as Wufei expounded in great detail the many attributes of his new love. But Heero had never thought to take the relationship seriously. In all the years Heero had known him, Wufei had never been without a date... or two... or three.
It was only after Wufei returned from his holiday, moony-eyed and committed to continuing the exclusive relationship long-distance, that Heero began to suspect this was serious. Now, a month later, Wufei was flying-in his new lover for a long weekend to meet his friends, and presumably to become better acquainted. In Wufei style, his closest friends and colleagues were invited to his deluxe condominium on the upper north side for an intimate, catered affair.
Though he normally worked until ten at night or later, Heero ducked out around eight so as not to miss the "great unveiling," as Trowa was calling it. Heero slipped off his tie and unbuttoned his shirt several notches as he headed out of the downtown building and into his black Mercedes-Benz convertible. The Prussian blue suit and white shirt would be appropriate business casual attire for Wufei's "unveiling."
He arrived, fashionably late, at half past eight, stepping into Wufei's place and quickly scanning the faces of those gathered. Among the dozen plus guests, Heero spotted Trowa immediately. The young man stood half a head taller than anyone else, and was always, lovingly accompanied by his partner, Quatre.
"Didn't think you were going to make it," Trowa said, handing Heero a glass of white wine.
"And miss the show?" Heero leaned over to kiss Quatre on the cheek. "He still treating you right?"
Quatre chuckled. "Of course."
Heero's eyes looked over the room as he tasted his wine. It only took a moment to find their host, dressed in a black suit and white, mandarin-collared shirt, with a crowd gathered round him. He suspected the object of Wufei's affection was at the center.
"You met him yet?" Heero asked, looking to Trowa again.
"As soon as we arrived."
"He's darling," Quatre said, smiling.
Heero raised an eyebrow. "I don't remember the doctor describing him that way."
"And he wouldn't," Trowa said, smiling and shaking his head at Quatre. "I think Wufei would be more likely to say that he's 'right for him'."
The others laughed, knowing the statement was probably true in light of Wufei's somewhat sedate manner.
Trowa continued, "But I'd describe his new boyfriend as more... boisterous. Loud, in fact."
"In a fun way," Quatre amended. "And Wufei did not do the braid justice when he described it —"
Just then they heard laughter overtake the murmur of conversation in the room. One laugh resounding quite easily above the others. Their eyes turned to the center of the room where Wufei and so many of the others were gathered.
"Is that him?" Heero asked, once again trying to see through the circle of bodies.
"You guessed it."
"Trowa doesn't think he's Wufei's type," Quatre said, placing his hand on Heero's arm to draw his attention back to them.
"Why is that?"
"You'll see soon enough," Trowa said, and nodded to the grouping that was now dispersing.
Heero watched intently as Wufei broke free with one person in tow, holding hands with their fingers entwined. In seconds, Wufei and his new lover were standing before them.
"Here he is," Wufei said, smiling. "Isn't he gorgeous?"
Heero stared. Not only was he taken back by Wufei's uncharacteristic enthusiasm, but he was entranced by the stranger with the big eyes, smiling at him. The young man was dressed rather casually in a black silk shirt, blue jeans, and a black leather belt and shoes.
"Hi, I'm Duo Maxwell," he said, freeing his hand from Wufei's and holding it out in greeting.
Heero automatically accepted it, shaking it in his customarily firm way. "I'm Heero."
"Yeah, nice to meet you, Heero. Fei's told me a lot about you."
"Well, sure. We talk, you know. It's not just about the sex."
"It isn't?" Wufei asked, teasing, and then everyone broke out laughing... everyone except Heero.
The caterer interrupted just then, speaking to Wufei quietly.
"I'll need to attend to this," Wufei said. "Take care of Duo for me while I'm away." And then he slipped an arm around Duo's waist, pulling him in for a warm, sexy kiss.
"Don't be long," Duo said, his eyes gone lusty.
Wufei smiled smugly and then headed off to the kitchen with the caterer. Heero couldn't understand what would be so important he'd leave his lover behind, even for a second.
"So, you've all known Fei for years?"
"I haven't," Quatre said. "I only met him after I started seeing Trowa."
"Good, a relative newcomer I can bond with."
"Yes, we should get together to talk." Quatre smiled, seeming to have already taken to Duo.
"So... Heero. Your last name is Yuy, right? Is that Chinese?"
"Oh, right. I remember Fei telling me that. So where's your date?"
"I'm not seeing anyone right now."
"Really? A good looking Asian guy like you going home alone tonight? Seems like a crime, but there are plenty to choose from here... what's your preference?"
"Yeah, men or women?"
Heero's eyes narrowed. "I don't see how —"
"Quatre, how 'bout you and me finding our friend here a date for the night?"
"I'd love for Heero to hook-up with someone, but he's a bit of a loner."
"Is that right?" Duo asked with a smirk.
"No, that's not right," Heero said, defensively.
Duo took a half step back, seeming to realize he'd gone too far. "No, I can see you wouldn't have any trouble finding a date... if you wanted one." Duo then reached for Heero's glass of wine. "Mind if I have a sip?"
"What?" Heero pulled his glass back, confused by Duo's forwardness.
"I've misplaced mine."
"I'll get you another," Trowa said, flagging down one of the waiters.
Instantly there was a tray of filled wine glasses before him. Duo smiled at Trowa and then took one.
Wufei was back, whispering something in Duo's ear and then the two went off to mingle some more.
Heero, confused and a bit dazed, shook his head as they left.
"Is something wrong?" Trowa asked, staring at his friend. "You look like a deer caught in headlights."
"You were right," Heero said, setting down his glass. "He's not Wufei's type."
He nodded, excusing himself, and wandered over to the open patio doors, stepping out into the night. He looked at the traffic below, all white headlights and red taillights and the sound of an occasional horn. He loved this city for all its activity and vibrancy, and yet with all it offered him, even a stranger could see that he didn't have what he needed. He was alone. That fact didn't ordinarily bother him with his insanely busy schedule, but tonight he felt it cut him like a knife.
The "unveiling" had done more than reveal Wufei's new boyfriend, it had lifted the veil from Heero's eyes. He looked up at the sky, parceled by moving clouds and the threat of rain later that night. It was as if he was seeing for the first time, seeing his loneliness, his solitude in this great city, and seeing exactly what he wanted.
He's my type, Heero thought, sadly. Duo’s exactly my type.
* * * * * * * * * *
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, just stop by my place. I meant to give them to you last night, but with the party and all, I forgot."
"Will anyone be there?"
"The maid was there this morning, but she'd be gone by now. And Duo's with Quatre this afternoon. You've got a key. Just let yourself in."
Heero hesitated, but he did really need those art prints so that he could get them framed in time for his secretary's wedding.
"They're in a brown wrapper on my desk in the study. I'd bring them by myself, but I'm stuck at the hospital for the next few hours —"
"It's no problem. I appreciate you finding them for me... with your connections. They'll be perfect for Martine."
"Yes, I'm sure she'll enjoy them. Now... what did you think of Duo? You left early last night and I wasn't able to ask you."
"Thanks. I think he's amazing. He's changed my life. He's so... alive."
Heero nodded, but didn't respond. He couldn't.
"Maybe we can get together tomorrow? For a movie or something? I'd like you two to get to know each other better."
"Sure... I'll check my schedule."
"Talk to you then."
Heero hung up the phone and took a deep breath. The prospect of going over to Wufei's, even with Duo not around, made him excited and nervous all at once. It was all he could do not to think about the other young man. Think about how Wufei had been the one to meet him, and fall in love. Why couldn't Heero have been that lucky? No, instead he had to pretend that he was happy for his friend. Well, he had been happy for him until he actually met Duo. Now his life was shit.
It was nearly two o'clock before he left work to head to Wufei's. Even though it was Saturday, it didn't matter; Heero had a lot of hours he needed to bill for the firm or he would risk getting fired.
At Wufei's, he let himself in with the spare key. Trowa, Wufei and Heero had long ago given each other spares just in case one of them locked himself out, or needed his mail picked up. But more than that, the shared keys represented friendship and trust — things Heero valued very highly.
He was half way across the living room when he heard a noise. He stopped and looked toward the kitchen, his ears perking.
"Wuffy, is that you?" a voice called.
Heero sucked in a breath and held still. Shit, it was Duo! But there was no time to make an escape as the other young man came into the room, looking at him with a mix of surprise and disappointment.
"Oh.... Hi, Heero. How'd you get in?"
Heero let out a shaky breath, taking in the fact that Duo was dressed only in a red plaid shirt that hung down to about mid-thigh. His legs were bare, his feet were bare, and his braid undone.
"I have a key."
They stared at each other, each seeming nervous and unsure with how to proceed.
Finally, Duo looked down at his shirt and smiled. "Sorry about my state of undress. It's my lumberjack look. Like it?"
"I'm sure you'd be a big hit in the logging camps."
Duo laughed. "So you do have a sense of humor. I was beginning to wonder after last night —"
"I just stopped by for a second to pick up some art prints Wufei left for me on his desk."
Duo cocked his head, seeming to appraise Heero and his errand. "Okay. Help yourself."
Heero gave a slight nod and then proceeded to the study. There on the desk was the brown wrapped package Wufei had described. He was grateful for Wufei contacting his friend in Chinatown to get the art prints that would go with Martine's new interest in Asian art.
When he returned to the living room, Duo was sitting on the couch, his legs curled under him and the TV on.
"I can't figure out when anything's on. You're two hours earlier here —"
"Wufei said you would be with Quatre this afternoon."
Duo blinked. "Uh, yeah, I was, but we had to cut it short when Trowa called. Something about picking up the cat at the vet."
Heero clutched the package in his hand — his heart pounding, his mouth going dry. Why was this happening to him? Why did Duo have to be so damn attractive?
"You okay, man? You don't look so good."
Heero swallowed. "I'm fine." And he turned for the door.
"Hey, you gonna go with us to the movies tomorrow? Wufei said he was gonna ask you —"
"I can't," Heero said, rushing out the door, and nearly slamming it behind him.
In the corridor, Heero took a moment to center himself. What was going on? Couldn't he even be in the same room with Duo without losing it?
* * * * * * * * * *
That evening, Heero settled in for an easy, distracting dinner with Trowa and Quatre. Though he knew their relationship would only remind him of what Wufei had so recently found, he still thought it better than spending another evening on his own.
They were just about to sit down to enjoy a deep dish, cheese and sausage pizza when the phone rang. Quatre hurried to answer it and was back only a moment later to announce that Duo would be joining them.
"Wufei's got an emergency at the hospital and they've had to cancel their theater plans. He felt bad about leaving Duo on his own tonight."
Heero looked at the plate in his hands, considering if it was too late to bow out gracefully. He hadn't taken any pizza yet, but it would seem odd to leave now. So he grabbed a beer and waited with the others for Duo to arrive.
Ten minutes later, a rushing Wufei dropped off Duo at the curb. Though Duo had a look of disappointment about him, Heero noted that the young man joked and tried to make light of the situation. And so, Heero's evening of torture began.
Duo took off his suit jacket, and unbuttoned the collar of his blue silk shirt. "Damn, I'm overdressed for this."
"Oh, don't worry about that," Quatre said, taking the jacket. "We know you had better plans. I'm just glad Wufei brought you here. It wouldn't have been right you sitting alone tonight when you've come all this way."
Duo nodded as he was handed a plate. "Is he always this busy?"
"He's a doctor. What did you expect?" Heero asked. When Duo looked at him he felt his face warming. Those damn big, blue eyes were focused on him.
"Well, the reality of playing with a doctor is a hell of a lot different than the fantasy. I had no idea he'd be this busy with me visiting."
"You mustn't think he doesn't care," Quatre chimed in again. "It's just that he's the best neurosurgeon in the region."
Duo smiled. "Sorry. I must sound pathetic."
"It's okay." Quatre patted Duo's arm, and Heero could see the two had become fast friends. Maybe it was because they were both outsiders, both trying to find a place among three friends who had been very close for a long time. But it also probably had to do with the fact that they were both gregarious and easy going. Heero was glad that Quatre had taken Duo under his wing.
The four sat down at the small dining room table and tucked into their pizza. At first, Heero was relieved when Quatre sat next to Duo, but he soon realized that put Duo directly across from him. Every time he looked up, there he was, giving him a nod or a little grin, trying too hard to make a place for himself among Wufei's friends. At least he would only be here a couple more days. Then he'd go back to California, safely two thousand miles away where Heero would never see him again. Thank God, he would never have to worry about Duo showing up unexpected for one of these little dinners again, all bright-eyed and sensual, smelling better than hot, cheesy pizza, and looking better than a man had a right to.
With the meal eaten, Heero abruptly announced that he needed to get back to the office to look over some client testimony before a meeting Monday morning. As he got up to retrieve his coat, Duo followed him, cornering him by the door.
"You're Fei's best friend," Duo began, leaning next to the door.
"One of them."
"No, I'm sure he said that you know him better than anyone. That counts as a best friend in my book."
Heero swallowed. "What of it?"
"I want to make him a special dinner tomorrow night, since I'll be leaving on Monday. But he won't tell me what his favorite meal is. Oh, I know what he likes to order when we're out, but —"
"I can't help you."
Duo pushed off from the wall and looked Heero in the eyes. "Why not?"
"I'm not the one to ask. Talk to Trowa."
Duo cocked his head, his brow furrowing. "Trowa, huh?"
With a nod, Heero opened the door and ducked out into the hall and down the stairs to the street. By the time he reached his car his hands were trembling so hard he couldn't insert the damn key into the lock. Then the keys dropped to the ground and he had to fumble in the dark to find them. When he finally did, steadying himself long enough to open the car and drive off, he gripped the wheel hard and cursed.
"Wufei... you lucky son of a bitch."
* * * * * * * * * *
By the time Monday came around, Heero had thoroughly catalogued what it was about Duo that so transfixed him. He had started with the obvious — his good looks. Certainly his slender, fit build was enticing, and then there was that titillating braid which had quickly taken center stage in his fantasies. He had never seen hair like that — thick and lustrous and begging to be touched.
But it was Duo's eyes that had so captivated Heero. They were expressive and mischievous, kind and full of humor — all the emotions that Duo so abundantly exhibited. His eyes were more a window into self than Heero ever thought possible. He had never seen so much life and vitality in anyone's eyes. And yet, he had also seen glimpses of disappointment, frustration, and perhaps even sadness. All emotions he could not understand coming from a young man in the throes of new love.
He glanced up at the clock. It was half past eleven. There was still time. He could race to the airport, confess his feelings, stop him from leaving.... No, he thought. It was pure idiocy. He would never do anything to jeopardize Wufei's trust in him or interfere with his friend's newfound happiness. And so, Heero turned back to work, submerging himself in case histories until the phone rang, jarring him back to the moment.
"How's the attorney doing this afternoon?"
Heero hesitated, hearing Wufei's voice and looking up at the clock. It was one. "Shouldn't you be at the airport?"
"I want to talk to you about that. Can you meet me at our usual haunt... say in half an hour? I've asked Trowa to join us, too."
"Is everything all right?"
"More than all right."
Heero shivered, hearing the purr in his friend's voice. This was about Duo.
"See you there?" Wufei asked again.
* * * * * * * * * *
Heero was the last to arrive at the kosher deli, taking a seat at the small, round table with his friends.
"Did you eat?" Wufei asked, nodding for the waitress to come over.
"I'm not hungry. So, what's this about?"
Wufei's brow tightened and Heero feared his restlessness was all too apparent. "Okay, I'll get to the point." He smiled, looking at his friends and waving off the waitress when she arrived. "I've asked Duo to stay."
"What?" Heero asked, feeling the blood drain from his face.
"Last night I asked him to move in with me, and this morning he said yes."
"That's great. You needed someone to shake up your life," Trowa said. "But I'm a little surprised you're taking the plunge."
"Yes, trust does not come easy for me, but I've determined that Duo is trustworthy and I can see the value in a steady relationship. I know I can count on Duo the way I've always counted on you guys being there for me. And you have to admit he would be very nice to come home to every night."
Heero nearly growled, wanting desperately to wipe that smile off Wufei's face.
"You're very quiet," Wufei said to Heero. "Don't tell me you're jealous?"
It took every ounce of Heero's control to stay planted in that seat. How could he tell his best friend that their friendship might well end over his choice of a lover?
"If you're happy... then I'm happy," Heero said a bit awkwardly.
Wufei looked closely at him, seeming to distrust his words. They had always been honest with each other, and Heero was sure that his lack of sincerity had been detected or at least suspected.
"Funny, because you don't sound happy."
"Well... it's bound to change things."
"He's right, Wufei," Trowa said. "Remember how long it took the two of you to adjust to having Quatre around?"
Wufei's eyes narrowed, almost squinted as he looked from Trowa to Heero, and then he gave a slight nod. "I should have remembered there needed to be an adjustment period."
"So, will Duo head home to get his things?" Trowa asked.
"No, I've arranged for professional movers to handle everything. Duo's given me a list of items he'd like shipped immediately and the remainder will go into storage for the time being." Wufei once again waved for the server. "Obviously, he only packed enough for the weekend and the boxes won't arrive for a few days, so I'll give him my credit card to shop for what he needs."
While Wufei expounded on the details, Heero's mind wandered. He could see the happy scene playing out before him. Wufei arriving home from a long day at the hospital, and Duo waiting for him, dressed only in that sexy, red plaid shirt. It was enough to make his hands curl into fists, but he remained outwardly calm as their meeting turned into a long lunch.
When at last Wufei finished his sandwich and headed back to the hospital to do rounds, Trowa nodded for Heero to stay a bit longer.
"What's bugging you?"
"You expect me to buy that? I think Wufei was right... you're not happy for him."
Heero kept his gaze steady on his friend, trying not to give him anymore reason to suspect.
"Just surprised, that's all."
"Well, I agree this is a first," Trowa said, scratching behind his ear. "Never thought he'd settle down... though there was that girl he dated in med school."
"Right, Sally Po. Whatever happened to her?"
"I think she caught him messing around one too many times."
"Well, I don't think Wufei knows what he's getting into. Maybe that's why he's so happy... ignorance is bliss."
Heero felt the urge to frown, but he nodded instead. He wanted to tell Trowa what was going on in his mind, in his heart, but he feared the consequences. He couldn't give his feelings for Duo any validity, and by sharing them with one of his friends, he would be doing exactly that.
"I should get back." Heero put a few dollars on the table for the tip and then stood. "Be sure to say hello to Quatre for me."
"I will. Thanks."
* * * * * * * * * *
Out of sight, out of mind or so the saying goes, but Heero knew there was little truth in it. He did his best to avoid seeing Wufei and Duo, but even then his mind wandered to images of Duo, his chestnut hair loose about him, and his lips curled in a saucy grin. Inevitably their paths crossed. There was no avoiding it. Heero and Wufei ran in some of the same social circles. Heero tried to minimize his exposure by leaving parties early or not going at all, and he had taken to ignoring Duo altogether, other than giving him a small nod of greeting. It was just too painful and he feared if he said or did anything more he would give himself away.
His life was misery, moving slowly, sluggishly, as the clock ticked each minute away as though it were two. Life as he knew it had stopped and had become a routine. He felt old and the city seemed to swirl around him, swallowing him whole. It had been little more than three weeks since Wufei's announcement, but to Heero an eternity had passed.
* * * * * * * * * *
Martine's wedding had been beautiful. The young woman had a fine sense of style and had made the occasion her own, selecting a simple, but elegant white dress, and a mix of wild flowers for bouquets and to decorate the church and reception hall.
The entire law office of Tatum, McMann, and Sealy had been invited, and Heero sat with his closest colleagues at the reception, enjoying the lively conversation that an open bar engendered. This was the most relaxed he had felt in a long time and his co-workers seemed to notice.
"You know, Heero, you've been working very hard lately," Ted McMann, one of the firm's partners, said. "Why don't you take a few days off? Head up north and do some fishing."
"I don't fish, but thanks."
"Still... you should take the time off. You look tired."
Heero considered Ted's words. He probably did look tired, but so did half the staff at the law firm. It came with the territory. Young attorneys worked their balls off to make their way up the rungs of the ladder. And what would he do with a few days off? Go into a melancholy stupor never to be seen again?
"I'll sleep in tomorrow and be a new man by Monday."
Ted smiled. "All right, but the offer stands."
Heero nodded and then excused himself from the table to get another drink. He made his way across the room, skirting the dance floor with its dozens of guests and bridal party members doing the boogey and anything else that would normally be embarrassing, but at a wedding was merely good fun.
At the bar, he ordered a mixed drink, anything the bartender felt like making him, and leaned back against the bar to watch the party. Martine was happy and in her element, never having a moment to sit down as she danced and talked and laughed her way through the night. Heero wondered if Trowa and Quatre might soon be planning a party such as this. They had been talking about making formal commitment vows to each other, but Trowa's busy schedule at the university had thus far prevented them.
And then he saw him. On the other side of the dance floor, coaxing an old woman out of her chair and into his arms for a dance. It was Duo. Heero couldn't believe his eyes. He shook his head to clear the false image from his mind, but it didn't go away.
What was Duo doing here? And why was he dancing with the groom's mother? It didn't matter. He looked fantastic. Heero smiled as he watched him carefully guide his dance partner around the dance floor — a regular Fred Astaire for the 21st century. He was amazing, so smooth, and so graceful as he glided along, smiling and making eye contact with the old woman the whole time.
When the song ended, the bride and groom, and many of the guests gathered to applaud. Duo was patted on the back and his hand shaken as the old woman was escorted back to her chair, more alive than she had been in decades.
And then Duo made a beeline for the bar. Heero turned around and grabbed his drink, keeping his head down. Maybe Duo wouldn't notice him. He certainly couldn't have known that Heero would be here.
"Heero? That you?"
Swallowing, Heero lifted his head and turned to see Duo standing there. There was a slight sheen of sweat on his brow, his bangs clinging just a bit to his face, and he looked beautiful in his finely tailored black suit and tie and polished shoes.
"It is you. What are you doing here?"
"I should be asking you that."
"Fair enough. It's my gig. I'm the party motivator."
"It's what I do for a living. Didn't Fei tell you? I'm a party motivator. People hire me to make sure everyone has fun and no one gets left out. That's how I met him. He stumbled into the wrong room at his hotel, and I spotted this guy looking all confused and —"
"Yeah, he told me."
Heero turned back around, wrapping his hands around his drink and staring into the ice cubes.
"Bride or groom?" Duo asked, obviously not getting the hint that Heero wanted to be left alone.
"Are you a friend of the bride or groom?"
"Ah. She's the prettiest bride I've seen in a long time. And happy, too. Sometimes all they do is cry, you'd swear they were being sold into slavery —"
"What are you doing?" Heero asked, abruptly.
Heero flicked Duo a look over his shoulder. "Shouldn't you be circulating or something?"
"I thought I was."
Heero focused on his drink, lifting it to his lips and taking a slow drink of it. When he set it back down and looked to his side, Duo was still standing there. His arms crossed over his chest.
"You don't like me, do you?" Duo asked.
"You won't even look me in the eye when you talk... that is if you talk to me. Most of the time you just sneer or turn away. What did I ever do to you?"
Heero gripped the edge of the bar and bit his tongue. God, he didn't want to hurt Duo. He wanted to tell Duo the truth, take hold of him, reveal his very soul to him, and make love to him from now 'til eternity. But he couldn't, he wouldn't betray his friend or embarrass Duo with an improper proposition.
"Fine," Duo said with a sigh. "I thought maybe if I confronted you on it, you might actually have the balls to tell me what's going on. You know you're hurting Wufei. He can see it, too."
Heero was tempted to meet Duo in the eyes, but he held firm, believing mistakenly, that if he ignored the situation it would go away. And in a way it did, if only temporarily. With a swish of his braid, Duo turned tail and melted back into the party, and Heero left without a word to anyone else.
* * * * * * * * * *
Later that night, Duo returned home to find the condo dark and quiet. Wufei was working late again. Or at least Duo assumed he was working. Even for a doctor he seemed to put in a lot of hours, but who was he to argue? Duo had only finished one year of college, and he knew that didn't qualify him to tell a doctor how to schedule his rounds.
He turned on a single lamp, preferring the darkness after all the strobe lights and sparkling disco balls of the wedding reception. His suit smelled of smoke and sweat, and would need to be taken to the dry cleaners come Monday morning. He wriggled out of his jacket, laying it over the back of a chair and then padded into the kitchen for something to eat.
Damn, his feet hurt. It'd been weeks since he'd had a gig like that. On his feet all night, dancing half the time and mingling the rest. A party motivator's job was never done. And then to top it all off, Heero had been there. God, that had been painful. But he had to confront him. He had to know why Heero hated him. Hadn't Duo tried to include him? Hadn't he talked to him? Tried to get to know him? And yet, the more he tried, the more Heero seemed to pull away, shrink from his company.
He must know, Duo thought, putting his hand to his forehead. "Shit. That's gotta be it. He knows I'm attracted to him."
Duo opened the refrigerator and stuck his face inside, letting the cool air soothe his burning cheeks. How could he have let this happen? How could he have fallen for one of Fei's best friends? It was a nightmare, a fucking nightmare. And on top of it, he was feeling extremely insecure about his live-in relationship. Some days he wanted to ask Wufei why he had him move in if he didn't want to spend time together? Okay, maybe that was unfair, considering Wufei's line of work, but Duo couldn't stop feeling that way.
Everything had been great until he had agreed to move in, then it was as if Wufei had started taking things for granted. He expected Duo to be home when he got there, called less and less from work, and made love less often. And then there were the mysterious phone calls with no one on the other end of the line. Duo didn't even want to think about that.
Taking his leftover salmon out of the refrigerator, Duo grabbed a fork and headed back into the living room. He stopped by the end table where he had deposited the mail. Pushing through the stack of bills, catalogs, and junk mail, one envelope stood out. Its shape and size much like a greeting card and it was addressed to Wufei Chang, M.D., but with no return. Duo was certain the handwriting was that of a woman's and he felt his cheeks burning again. It was probably just a patient thanking Wufei for saving her life, but still Duo could not stop the jealousy. He would need to find a way to ask his lover about it. Their relationship had to be based on trust and love otherwise it wouldn't survive.
* * * * * * * * * *
It was after two a.m. when Wufei got home. Duo saw the light in the other room turn on, and heard Wufei moving about. He slipped out of bed and ran his hand through his unbound hair to make himself a little more presentable. He was wearing only a large tee shirt, but he didn't mind the cold ceramic tiles and marble under his feet.
He found Wufei in his study, with just the small desk lamp on.
"Hi," Duo said, leaning against the doorjamb. "You're home late."
Wufei looked up from his mail, squinting past the lamplight to the dark figure. "And you're up late. Can't sleep?"
"I wanted to talk."
"All right." Wufei sat back in his leather chair, watching Duo as he made his way to the desk, sitting on the edge. "How was the party?"
"It was a nice wedding. One of the nicest I've been to... I mean, worked at."
Duo was about to tell him that he'd seen Heero, confronted him about what a bastard he'd been, but he bit his tongue. It wouldn't do to get Wufei involved now. It might just come out that Heero knew he liked him.
"Oh.... I brought the mail in tonight. Nothing for me, as usual, but I saw you had some mail."
"Yes, I'm sorting through it now."
"Have you gotten to the card? I thought maybe someone was thanking you for being such a wonderful doctor." Duo smiled at Wufei, trying to keep this light, and to encourage him to share and not become defensive.
Wufei looked at the pile, shuffling it slightly until he came across the envelope in question. He picked it up, but hesitated to open it, making Duo swallow with anticipation.
"Thought you might like to see something pleasant at the end of your day. Instead of just bills."
Wufei nodded and grabbed his letter opener, slowly tearing one edge open. He set the opener down and then looked back at his lover. "You mind telling me the real reason you want me to open this now?"
"Like I said... it looks like a card."
"Duo," Wufei said, putting the envelope down, and getting up to come round to stand before him. "You said you wanted to talk. Is there something on your mind?"
"No, I just wanted to spend a little time together. Seems like I never see you anymore."
"So that's it." Wufei smiled, placing his hands on Duo's knees. "I've been thinking the same thing."
"Yes, and how unfair our timing has been. As soon as you moved in, it felt like all the sick people in the world have come knocking on my practice's door. I've been going non-stop and in the process, ignoring you."
"Hey, don't sweat it. I understand."
"And I appreciate your patience, but I promise to make it up to you." Wufei's hands slid up Duo's legs as he leaned forward and planted a sensual, meaningful kiss on his lips. "What do you say to starting right now?"
Duo smiled, relieved to have Wufei's full attention again.
* * * * * * * * * *
The next morning, when Duo got out of bed, he tiptoed into the study to find that the mysterious envelope was gone.
* * * * * * * * * *
Why did he have to be the one to return Heero's videos? Couldn't Wufei spare ten minutes from his day to swing by his friend's apartment? Duo did not want to face Heero again. One of these times, Heero was going to bop him in the nose and tell him what a louse he was for drooling over him behind Wufei's back... or right in front of him as was sometimes the case.
Well, it was true, wasn't it? Duo couldn't stop thinking about Heero. He was just his type — quiet, mysterious, strong, sexy, and those eyes, those fantastic, intense blue eyes. They made him want to leap off a tall building and land right in his arms.
Heero was no passing fancy — no way. Heero was what he'd always been looking for. That ideal you create when you're young, but never quite know what the reality looks like until you meet him. And then he's there, suddenly you see the guy of your dreams, but you're already spoken for, and you want to kick yourself from now until next year for all the rotten luck.
But hey, Wufei was a great guy, too, despite how serious he could be at times. They'd had some laughs, some nice times, and he was stable, sensible, kind, handsome and intelligent... all the things that made for a great boyfriend. It just didn’t pay to cross him. Wufei had strong ideas about things and sometimes that included how Duo should behave. Like when they were out at parties, Wufei wanted Duo to "keep it down," keep his comments and his laughter under control. But otherwise, Wufei was an upstanding, perfectly acceptable boyfriend whose best friend just happened to be the most drop dead, gorgeous guy on the planet.
And now Duo was standing outside Heero's door. Staring at its whiteness and the brass number just above the peephole. God, he hoped Heero didn't look through that peephole and decide to pretend he wasn't home. Duo had gotten this far unannounced, having slipped through the building’s security door while one of the tenants had it propped open to bring in boxes. Maybe he could just knock and leave the DVDs on the floor. But no, Wufei had told Duo to bring home a different movie.
He shook his head. It was now or never he supposed. So with a last look to see that his shirt was tucked in and his fly zipped, he rapped his knuckle on the door.
A bit impatiently he looked either way down the long corridor. This was a nice complex, nicely landscaped, and nicely couture with people dressed in expensive leather jackets and furs and what he guessed were custom-made shoes.
Suddenly the door was opening, and Duo sucked in his breath as his eyes met Heero's — those intense, incredible eyes that he was sure hated him.
"Hi." That was all Duo could manage, that and a little smile to try to ease the way.
Heero was dressed casually in faded blue jeans and an untucked, green button-down shirt. He looked good enough to eat, but Duo doubted he'd ever get a bite.
"Fei asked me to drop these by." Duo held out the small stack of DVDs like an offering.
Heero took them and nodded.
When the door began to swing closed, Duo stepped forward, holding his hand out to stop its progress. "Okay, I get it. You don't want me around, but look, Fei sent me on this errand and I'm damn well gonna see it through. He wants to know if we can borrow 'North by Northwest'?"
Heero's eyes narrowed and the look of concentration made Duo wince.
"Whatever... I give up." Duo threw his hands up and turned to leave.
Duo stopped, holding his breath as that one word skittered through him. Tentatively, he turned to see the door opening further.
"I'm not sure where it is," Heero explained, stepping back to let him in. "But you can wait inside while I look."
With the door opened wide, Duo stepped in, smiling as he took in Heero's world for the first time. His eyes were wide as he looked around the large, open room like he was on an architectural tour.
"This reminds me of an old factory," Duo remarked as he took in the twenty-foot high ceilings and large, expansive windows.
"It was a factory in the 1920s... they printed stationery and ink blotters here. The printing presses were on this floor. That's why the ceilings are so high."
Duo gaped, but no longer at his surroundings, he was gaping at Heero. That was the most Heero had said to him in weeks.
"Well," Heero finally added, pointing to the far wall. "If it's anywhere, it's going to be there."
Duo looked at the wall lined with shelves and on those shelves hundreds of movies. "I hope you've got a system."
"They're alphabetized, but occasionally they get re-arranged when Quatre insists they be organized by genre."
"Genre?" Duo laughed.
"Quatre's about feelings. How does something feel... adventurous, funny, romantic?"
Duo was enrapt. Heero was actually talking to him... like a human being, like a friend. He watched as Heero went over to the collection and look for the title in question. He was amazing, in the simplest ways. The way he moved, the way he brushed the hair from his eyes with the back of his hand, the way he bent over... Oh, God. Why was it suddenly so hot in here?
"I could use your help." Heero tossed a look over his shoulder. "It's not where it's supposed to be."
Duo gulped hard. "O-kay." He walked over, standing several feet from Heero. "Where should I start?"
"Anywhere… over there." Heero pointed and flicked him another quick glance.
Duo still felt as if he wasn’t breaking through that hard exterior Heero had thrown up between them, but at least Heero was tolerating his presence.
Slyly, through his bangs, Duo watched Heero as they both searched the rows of movies. Now Duo saw the proof of what Quatre had told him about Heero being a loner. Why else would he need all these? They were his companions on those many nights when he sat here alone without someone to hold. It made Duo ache to think of Heero alone, especially now that his closest friends were pre-occupied with lovers.
Duo hunted for the movie with his finger running along the spines of the DVD cases. His eyes alternated between his task and the man at his side. It was delightful, dizzying to be so near Heero. So what if they didn't find the movie? Let them go on and on in their pursuit, never to find the title they sought, but to be this close, and to occasionally inhale a whiff of the other's cologne.
But this proximity was bound to end, and sooner than expected when Duo spotted the movie. He reached for it, reluctantly, and then to his surprise Heero reached for it as well. They had found it in the same moment, their hands meeting, Heero's covering Duo's, and not pulling away.
Duo's eyes lifted to Heero's. There was softness in those deep blue eyes, softness he had never seen before. Confused, Duo withdrew his hand only to have Heero take hold of it more firmly, boldly. And then Heero was leaning in, his eyes locked on Duo's as he moved closer....
Still Heero came closer, until at last their lips met. Duo's eyes wide and disbelieving. But Heero's eyes closed and his lips moved softly over Duo's. The sweetness and slight pressure lulled Duo into dropping his defenses and closing his eyes as well.
* * * * * * * * * *
It lasted but a moment, the briefest flicker in time, and then Heero pulled back. Duo's eyes were still closed, still brilliantly closed, and his cheeks flushed from the kiss. Heero grinned, a bit breathless and flushed himself for his boldness. But there had been no stopping him. When their hands had come together it was as if the stars had aligned, they had been thrown together and he could no longer resist. He needed Duo. He wanted Duo.
When Duo's eyes blinked open Heero feared he would see anger and shortly thereafter feel the impact of a fist, but instead he saw the most remarkable expression on Duo's face. There was a smile starting to curl at the corner of Duo's lips, and a look of bewilderment and perhaps even pleasure shimmering in his eyes.
"But you don't like me," Duo said, shaking his head.
Heero exhaled. "I never said that."
A crease formed between Duo's eyes, a tightness that signaled his confusion, and Heero could see the next question forming. But this was no time for talk. This was the time for action. And so he gripped Duo's upper arms and drew him in, holding him there to look in his eyes, giving Duo one last chance to stop him.
Then their lips met once again as Duo completed the journey Heero had begun, taking Heero's mouth in a more passionate kiss. Covering Heero's lips with his own, running his tongue over them, being invited in, and delving inside with abandon.
Heero heard Duo whimper as their tongues met, and Heero drew the other young man closer, wrapping his arms around him and holding him tightly. He knew this must be a dream, but he would take all the dream would give him.
The kiss went on, deepening and becoming hungrier. Neither seemed willing to come up for air or push the other away, and so they held each other in a fierce possessiveness. Their mouths moved together, feeding, devouring, supping at the table of desire.
Heero felt emboldened by Duo's reciprocation. He needed to take things further, much further, and let his hands drop to Duo's bottom, cupping the round, firm ass in the palms of his hands and squeezing it, using it to pull Duo closer to him. Again, Duo made a whimpering, moaning sound, enflaming Heero's need.
Heero brought one of his hands around to the front of Duo's jeans, immediately finding the hardness there and cupping his hand over it, rubbing it.
"Oh..." Duo moaned, one hand going to Heero's hair and the other to Heero's ass. "Yes..."
That was it. Heero could no longer deny his need, or the fact that Duo wanted this too. He kissed a path down Duo's throat and gently pushed him back... back towards the bedroom. He carefully guided them as their hands and mouths kept busy, kept up their exploration.
At last they reached the bedroom and for a brief moment the kisses stopped. Duo drew back, looking at Heero invitingly if not a little fearfully with those large, incredible eyes. Heero could see this was the turning point. Either Duo would stay, climb onto that bed and make love with him, or he would leave and never to speak to him again. But he quickly realized that Duo wasn't about to leave. The young man crawled onto the bed, looking back at Heero the entire time. He knelt in the middle and held out his hand.
Heero brushed his bangs aside as if he wasn't seeing clearly and to give himself a moment to put this into perspective. But he didn't hesitate long, afraid his dream would evaporate before him. He stepped forward, reaching out until his fingers touched Duo's and then Duo took his hand, pulling him into a kiss and onto the bed.
They knelt together on the bed, kissing, and poignantly not speaking. Perhaps they were fearful of breaking the spell, but most certainly fearful of the consequences that lay in their future. Heero knew that logically this was wrong, but in his heart he felt its rightness. He knew that Duo should have been his all along, but that the only way they could have met was through this strange twist of fate.
His hands were at Duo's waist, pulling the tee shirt from his pants. He kissed Duo as he lifted the shirt up and over his head, watching as the braid fell with a soft thump on Duo's back. And then he worked Duo's pants open, unzipping them and sliding his hand inside to curl around the slender hardness, all the while devouring Duo's lips.
Duo was no less busy. He moaned with nearly every touch Heero gave him, and made fast work of unbuttoning and pushing off Heero's shirt.
Heero pushed Duo back onto the bed, covering him with his body, and kissing his chest. Duo was lean and sinewy, and sensual with his long hair and large eyes. He was everything Heero had hoped for and nothing he had ever seen. Heero could not have described his ideal mate in a thousand years, but the moment he had first seen Duo, he knew he had found him.
They wriggled out of their jeans and fell back into each other's arms, gloriously naked and grinding on each other. The intensity grew as their bodies rubbed and moved, the beginnings of sweat glistening on brows and chests and thighs. Heero lay nestled between Duo's legs, humping and rubbing their erections together, he, too, moaning as he kissed Duo and brought the temperature up another few degrees.
Sliding his arms under Duo's back, Heero pulled them both up into sitting position. He was once again on his knees, and now Duo was wrapped around him completely, his legs around Heero's waist and his arms around Heero's neck.
From this position Heero could prepare Duo and still hold him in his arms and love him with passionate kisses. Heero sucked his middle finger into his mouth, covering it with saliva and then slipping it down between the crack of Duo's ass, sliding it there, rubbing it over Duo's opening and then slipping it halfway inside.
Duo arched and moaned, and Heero pressed further, burying his finger completely and watching as Duo's head fell back... his mouth open and his cheeks blushing with pleasure. He was beautiful like this — cheeks flushed and lips swollen with kisses, and his body accepting and responding to Heero's touch.
Another finger slicked and now two inserted and Duo was moaning even more loudly. Heero felt his hot flesh press against Duo's balls and his heart pound in his chest. He had never wanted anyone so much in his life. He had never been so aroused and so attracted to anyone before.
With a few more strokes of his fingers, he pulled them out, and Duo's hand was immediately there — on his sex, grabbing Heero and guiding him to his opening. Duo kissed Heero hard and then looked deep into his eyes, giving a little smile as Heero pressed for entrance. And then Duo's eyes closed and his head fell back as he took all of Heero inside him. He moaned and held Heero tight, squeezing himself around Heero's shaft, moving on him, lifting himself off Heero's lap and then sinking back down, taking every hard inch.
Heero's world spun as his hot, sweat-slicked body riveted from the amazing sensation of Duo moving on him. He watched in awe as Duo made love to him, riding him, kissing him, teasing him with his tongue, smiling with lust-filled eyes. Could it be this was what Wufei had? This was how Duo made love to Wufei?
No, Heero thought, forcefully, shaking off the image. No, this was not business as usual for either of them.
Possessively, Heero lowered Duo back onto the bed, taking control of their lovemaking, needing to make Duo his own. He hooked Duo's legs in the crook of his arms, raising the stakes, taking this to the edge of frenzied coupling as he pounded into him. God, it was amazing seeing Duo beneath him, taking it all, moaning, moving with him. He had wanted this for weeks, had secretly fantasized about taking Duo this way and a dozen others, and now at last his fantasy was here, lying in his bed in the middle of the day, letting Heero fuck him for all he was worth.
Heero couldn't last much longer. He was so hard, so aroused his entire body thrummed with the energy of their bodies coming together.
"Duo," he said, leaning down, still pounding Duo's ass.
Duo leaned up, meeting Heero's lips and nipping at them hungrily. "Yes... oh, God..."
Their eyes met, and Heero could see that Duo was close, too. With a growl he leveraged Duo's ass up a bit more and drove in hard and fast, giving Duo all he had, giving him every ounce of his desire and every inch of his shaft.
Duo began to cry out, moaning loudly, gripping Heero's arms hard as his body arched. He was coming and Heero, seeing the ecstasy, began to come, too. The pressure that had built was finally released as he pumped his last, calling out, "Duo, Duo!"
At last Heero dropped on his lover, spent and completely exhausted. They lay entwined and connected, Heero breathing hot against Duo's neck and his heart beating hard in his chest. It was amazing and beautiful and perfect and....
Heero's head jerked toward the loud noise. "What the...? "
He couldn't believe his eyes. Quatre was standing in the doorway to the bedroom with one hand over his mouth and the other over his heart; and a plate of cookies shattered on the floor.
"Quatre!" Heero pulled out of Duo, separating them from their post-coital embrace, and grabbing for his shirt on the floor. "What are you doing here?"
Duo grabbed a blanket to cover himself as Heero tried to find the strength in his legs again. That had been one amazing round of sex and his body had not yet recovered.
Quatre shook his head, seeming disoriented and obviously upset as revealed by the tears forming in his eyes. As Heero approached him, slipping on his shirt, he barely noticed the plate shards on the wooden floor.
Quatre stepped back, shaking his head vigorously. "How could you, Heero?" And then his eyes were on Duo, the look of betrayal evident. "What about Wufei?"
"You don't understand...," Duo began to say, but then seemed incapable of finishing.
Heero reached his hand out to Quatre, but the boy pulled away, turning and running for the door.
"No, Quatre! Let me explain —"
But it was too late. The door slammed hard behind him. Heero stood, unmoving in the middle of his living room, defeated and frozen. Only moments ago he had felt fearless in Duo's arms, expressing his desire, and now, caught in that passion he felt small and cowardly. How would he ever face his friends again?
A hand on his shoulder startled Heero out of his misery. He turned to see Duo standing there, a blanket wrapped about him.
"He'll run straight to Trowa," Heero said, his voice full of dread.
"How did he get in?"
"Trowa must have given him the key. We all have each other's keys..."
"I'm sorry, Heero." Duo slipped his arms around Heero, pulling him inside the blanket.
Heero reluctantly accepted the kindness, letting Duo hold him within the blanket and next to his nakedness. Duo was still intoxicatingly warm and fragrant of sex.
"Wufei will tear me apart," Heero said, burying his face in the crook of Duo's neck.
Duo caressed Heero's hair, soothing him. "No... He'll be upset, but he'll get over it."
"Not Wufei." Heero pulled back, looking at Duo and shaking his head. "He's the one who should've been the lawyer. Wufei is all about what's just and right. He'll never forgive me."
"Then we'll face him together."
"I can't," Heero said, pulling completely out of the warmth, stepping back and staring at Duo. "I can't do that to my friend."
"Do what? Tell him the truth?"
Heero shook his head. "Our friendship is about trust. He won't care about the truth, he'll only see that I betrayed him."
"Well, you should've thought of that before you jumped me." Duo swung around, turning his back on Heero, his body now closed off to him.
Heero stared at the long braid silhouetted by the blue blanket. Its tight weave, mussed by their vigorous lovemaking, reminded him of his missed opportunity. In his rush to bed Duo, he hadn't unbound his hair. Damn, he hadn't gotten the chance to run his hands through Duo's hair... or to tell him how very beautiful he was.
"It was a mistake."
"What?" Duo turned to him, his eyes ablaze and sad.
"I knew this would happen... that's why I kept my distance."
"You felt this way... all along?"
"It doesn't matter," Heero said. "What I did was wrong. I jeopardized your relationship and my friendship."
"What are you saying? That your friendship with Wufei is more important than what we just shared?"
Heero stared, afraid of the answer, knowing he couldn't win, but finally, nodding.
Duo sucked in a shaky breath. His brow knit in pain. "Like hell it is! That was not just a fuck!" He pointed to the bedroom, his features tight and adamant. "You can't tell me that was only about sating your lust!"
Heero's head dropped, his hand going to his forehead. "It doesn't matter what it was," he repeated, rubbing his throbbing head. "I shouldn't have let it happen."
"You fuckin' liar!" Duo whooshed past Heero back into the bedroom, maneuvering around the broken plate and cookies.
Heero watched from the living room as the blanket was thrown to the floor, and Duo jerked his clothes back on. He was back in less than a minute, staring a hole through him.
"I don't know what to say," Heero admitted, feeling at a complete loss. He had never so royally fucked up anything in his life.
"Tell me to stay." Duo's voice was shaky, painfully shaky, as though his nerve endings were exposed.
Heero searched Duo's eyes, wanting that, knowing in his heart that Duo belonged here, but they were the unlucky ones. They should have met first, but they didn't and there was nothing they could do about it now.
"You know I can't ask you to do that," he finally said.
Duo's lips trembled, and Heero could see it was an effort for the other young man to hold himself together. He wanted to take Duo in his arms, hold him and promise him it would be all right, but it wasn't going to be all right...
"He's not you, ya' know?" Duo said, fiercely.
Heero shook his head, not understanding.
"He's not you," Duo repeated more emphatically, and a tear slid down his cheek. He turned then, walking to the door, placing his hand on the doorknob and hesitating.
Heero supposed Duo was giving him one last chance, but he felt incapable of acting on it. And so, Heero watched as Duo walked out the door. He tensed, readying himself for the sound of the door slamming, but it didn't. Duo closed it with a soft, almost respectful click. Heero had been prepared for a slap or a slam, but no, Duo didn't make a scene.
Alone, Heero stared at the door, at the spot where Duo had last stood. The flat was quiet now, not that the neighbors would have heard much of anything. It was painfully quiet with Duo gone, but not the kind of quiet it had been before Duo had come into his life, before Heero had met him at the "great unveiling." Before Duo, the quiet had been Heero's fortress and he had reveled in it, wrapping himself in it to escape his day and the sensory overload that comes with city life. After Duo, it was the kind of quiet that came from having your life pumped with air, infused with color and light, and then have the plug pulled out and everything goes black. This was the kind of quiet that drove a man inward and made his heart shrivel. This was the kind of quiet that made you have regrets.
Heero slammed a fist into his thigh. What an ass he had been. He had carefully maneuvered around Duo for weeks, but today when their hands had touched it had ignited something inside him. No, not just lust. Duo was right about that. This feeling he had for Duo went deeper. Watching Duo was like watching a part of himself, and seeing Duo with Wufei was like losing a limb, having an arm amputated and held out in front of him like a carrot on a string. It left him feeling less than whole. It left him aching.
That was not the kind of want he had ever felt before. And when he finally made his move, emboldened by a chance touch, it all came together. He could feel it in Duo's fingertips and see it in his eyes. This wasn't a one-way street of emotions. Duo felt it, too. Duo wanted it, too.
But when it came time to pay for how they truly felt what did Heero do? He backed down. But Duo hadn't. Duo had stood there in the middle of his living room and had told Heero simply, but strongly, "we'll face him together." He was willing to look Wufei in the eye and tell him the truth. And Heero had let Duo think that his friendship with Wufei meant more to him than the lovemaking they had just shared. He had let Duo think it was nothing more than sex, lust gone out of control.
What kind of a friend doesn't forgive? What kind of a friend doesn't want the truth? Duo wasn't afraid of the truth. He was willing to stand by Heero's side and suffer the consequences for truth... together.
Heero smiled, realizing that Duo was the kind of friend he needed in his life.
* * * * * * * * * *
With the door closed behind him, Duo let out a sob then, shamed, covered his mouth with his hand. This wouldn't do. He couldn't let himself fall apart over a guy. That was completely pathetic. But Heero wasn't just any guy. Heero was the guy. Yep, he was the one, and Duo had known that long before he found himself in Heero's bed.
So, what to do? Put one foot in front of the other, Duo thought. It wasn't a great plan, but at least it got him out of the building. Duo had to get away from here. Heero had made it perfectly clear that he was not about to let a fuck get in the way of a long standing, solid friendship. Duo had his doubts that Heero's friendship would be of any value to Wufei once he had found out Heero had spent the afternoon fucking his boyfriend, but Heero would just have to learn that for himself. Wufei definitely had a penchant for justice.
"Should've listened to Mrs. McGee," Duo said as he stepped onto the sidewalk, heading for his borrowed car.
His elderly neighbor back in California was known for handing out advice whether you wanted it or not. She was particularly fond of one saying: Why buy the cow when the milk's free? Duo gave a derisive snort, amused by how closely it resembled his predicament. He had certainly given it away, but had it been foolish? It was what he had desired, and Heero had made love to him in the most beautiful and strongly sensual way. Too bad they hadn't been able to bask in the afterglow of sex before Quatre had stumbled in.
Now Duo was left with returning to Wufei's, packing his things and waiting for Wufei to come home. No matter what bullshit was going on in their relationship, he couldn't leave without facing him, without trying to explain what had happened.
Despite his conviction, Duo felt a heaviness pressing on his shoulders and in his heart. Couldn't he just stop? Couldn't he just fall to his knees and be swallowed up by the city? Wouldn't that be preferable to living out a life with the taste of Heero in his mouth? Living with a lingering memory of beautiful lovemaking that would only become more faint and distant as the days went on?
He reached in his pocket for the car keys, a tear falling down his cheek.
"Huh?" Duo looked over his shoulder back down the sidewalk. His mind was playing tricks on him. That sounded like Heero, but it couldn't be... He turned back to the car, inserting the key.
"No, Duo! Please wait!"
He looked up again. This time he wiped the tears from his eyes and searched the faces of the pedestrians. And then, coming from out of the crowd with his arm waving, he saw him. It was Heero.
Duo gasped. It couldn't be. Did he dare hope?
Heero ran up to him... breathless. "Thank God, I caught you."
Duo didn't speak, afraid that Heero was merely going to tell him he had forgotten the DVD for Wufei. But instead, Duo noticed that there was something different about Heero. He was back to wearing his faded blue jeans and green shirt, but he looked different somehow. Then Duo realized what it was. Heero's eyes were shining.
"You were right. Everything you said was right."
"Well, that's a first." Duo snorted.
Heero's brow knit. "I'm sorry," he said, nodding back to the building as if indicating what had happened between them.
"You came running out here to tell me you're sorry. What, so you'd feel better? Well, fuck off —"
"No, there's more." Heero held out his hand. "I want you to stay."
Duo looked at the outstretched hand and then back into Heero's eyes. "You better not be messing with me."
"I mean it. You're what's important to me. The consequences of losing you are far worse than anything Wufei can dish out."
"Damn." Duo let out a breath, his hand going to his forehead. "You mean it? You really want me to stay?"
Heero nodded. "Yes. Will you?"
Duo swallowed hard and then shakily reached for Heero's hand, taking it in his. "Yeah, Heero. I'll stay."
Heero pulled Duo to him, wrapping his arms tightly around him and then kissing him on the forehead. "Thank you," he whispered into Duo's hair. "God, thank you."
* * * * * * * * * *
They fell into each other's arms as soon as the door to Heero's condo closed behind them. Their lips met in a passionate kiss and quickly progressed to French kissing and then to groping.
"Want you," Heero said, his hands going to Duo's ass and squeezing.
"Oh, yeah." Duo's hand moved to the front of Heero's jeans where he rubbed the hardness there. "Man, you're hard already..."
Heero moaned as he kissed Duo again and pushed him back toward the sofa.
When Duo's legs bumped against the sofa he sat down, looking up at Heero and smiling seductively. He then leaned forward and took a bite out of Heero's bulge.
Heero put a hand on Duo's shoulder, and the other he used to caress Duo's hair. This time round he was going to undo that braid. This time he was going to tell Duo how beautiful he was.
As Duo's mouth closed around the jean covered bulge, his hands began to work open Heero's pants. Heero thought he might burst right out of his jeans, but Duo would have him out soon enough.
"You need to answer that?" Duo asked, pausing in his task.
"The machine will get it."
Back at it, Duo reached in, grinning like mad as he took hold of Heero.
"This is Heero," the machine voice said. "Leave a message."
Duo paused again.
They both looked at the machine.
"It's Trowa. You'd better give me a call. Quatre had some very interesting things to say."
Duo looked up at Heero and Heero knew this lovemaking would have to wait. Reality had struck once again. He cupped Duo's cheek with his hand and gave a small smile.
"It's time for the truth."
Duo nodded. "What do you want to do?"
With a little effort, Heero righted himself, zipped up his jeans and then sat down next to Duo. "We should freshen up and then go over to Trowa and Quatre's."
"Trowa didn't sound mad..."
Heero smiled. "Oh, he'll be mad. Go ahead and shower while I clean up Quatre's mess and make us some coffee. I'll lay out one of my shirts for you to wear."
"Sounds good." Duo gave Heero a quick kiss and winked. "Don't wanna risk anything more."
Heero laughed. "Good plan."
* * * * * * * * * *
After showering, Heero towel dried his hair and dressed in a fresh tee shirt and jeans. He had tried to work out possible scenarios while he showered, but they all ended up the same. His love for Duo would cause a split among his friends. Even if Trowa and Quatre eventually accepted this new relationship, Wufei never would. And if that was the price of truth and love then so be it.
It was now early evening, and a light rain had begun to fall. He and Duo had put off the inevitable long enough, and so, Heero headed back into the living room to get his shoes and gather up Duo to head into the lion's den. He only got a few feet into the room when he paused at the sight before him. Duo was seated on one of the large windowsills, window thrown open wide, letting in a wet breeze. He was propped against the wall with a mug of coffee in his hands, his silhouette stunning and glistening against the rainy, city night.
"You'll catch cold," Heero said, safely avoiding the romantic prose that was threatening to overtake him.
"Nah," Duo said with a little laugh. He turned to Heero and grinned. "Thanks for the shirt."
Heero nodded. It did look good on him. He had given Duo one of the more snug fitting shirts, knowing that Duo was less muscular.
He stepped forward, coming to stand in front of the window. "You ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," Duo said, smiling up at him. "Hey, you all right? You look a bit... dazed."
Heero grinned and reached out to touch Duo's braid. "I was looking forward to unraveling this."
Heero nodded. "I've spent a lot of time watching you and this braid... and thinking about it."
Duo smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
"You have to know how beautiful you are."
"Beautiful?" Duo chuckled. "Well, I don't recall anyone calling me beautiful before —"
"You are beautiful, Duo." Heero's hand lifted to Duo's face, brushing a strand of hair away and looking into Duo's eyes. "Trowa got it right that first night I met you. He said I looked like a deer caught in headlights."
Duo laughed. "Was that the look? I thought you were just annoyed."
"No." Heero shook his head. "Never annoyed. I knew then I wanted you."
"Oh, God, Heero." Duo looked at him with something akin to sadness in his eyes, perhaps sorrow for the weeks they had danced around each other. "Maybe it's crazy to say this now, but I loved you from the moment I saw you."
A smile curled on Heero's lips as he leaned forward, cupping Duo's cheek. "I loved you from the start, too...." He kissed Duo then, deeply, imprinting himself on those lips. And though he didn't want this moment to end, Heero drew back, smiling as he looked into Duo's eyes once again. "We can do this."
"You bet," Duo said with a nod.
* * * * * * * * * *
After calling Trowa back and getting no answer, Duo and Heero decided to drive by his apartment anyway. Trowa's car was not in the lot, and with a deep breath they headed to Wufei's.
The condominium complex had a doorman who recognized them both and smiled warmly as he opened the door for them.
"Nice night," Duo said, smiling at the man.
"You enjoy the rain, sir?"
"Sure. Why not?"
The man nodded and then Heero and Duo hopped in the elevator. They reached for each other’s hand, to ground them and unite them in their purpose as they were whisked up flight after flight toward the unknown.
At the door to Wufei's condo, Duo hesitated to use his key. It didn't seem right, and Wufei had probably changed the lock by now. But Heero encouraged him to go ahead, and with a deep breath Duo inserted the key and turned. It still worked.
Surprised, they stepped inside, their eyes wide and anxious. At first it seemed no one was home — the foyer and the living room dark. Then they noticed a light coming from Wufei's study, and with another squeeze of hand they proceeded across the marble floor.
In the doorway to the study they saw the small gathering. Trowa and Quatre were nestled close on the leather sofa, and Wufei was seated at his desk in the large, leather chair, and on the arm of the chair was someone Heero hadn’t seen in years—Sally Po.
"Well, if it isn't the secret lovers," Wufei said, his voice surprisingly calm. "Your courage is commendable."
Heero lifted his chin and put an arm around Duo's waist.
"The circle is complete," Wufei said, standing. He looked as if he had just come from an elegant dinner downtown, dressed in a sharply tailored navy pin-stripe suit and yellow tie and his hair slicked back into its classic ponytail.
"Fei, don't blame Heero —"
"No, no," Wufei said, coming round to the side of the desk to pour champagne into two crystal goblets. He then held out a glass to Heero and Duo saying, "I don't blame you, Heero. Duo is charming."
"What's this about?" Heero asked, not accepting the glass, and noting that the others had champagne as well.
"Yeah, Wufei. Don't lead them on like this," the woman said.
"Oh, all right," Wufei said with a smirk, putting down the glasses and taking the woman's hand. "Duo, this is Doctor Sally Po. We dated briefly in med school and met again a few weeks ago... about the time you moved in."
Duo looked to the woman, taking in her gentle eyes and genuine smile.
"Hi, Duo," she said, her voice self-assured and pleasant. "Wufei's told me a lot about you. I want you to know this wasn't something we planned."
Duo blinked. "You mean... you've been seeing each other?"
Wufei nodded. "I owe you an apology."
"The card?" Duo asked.
"And the phone calls with no one there?"
"That was me," Sally said, shrugging. "Sorry."
"And the late nights out?"
"Yes, Duo. I am sorry, but after hearing about you and Heero, I knew it was time to tell you the truth. It seems we both had designs elsewhere."
"Man," Duo said, scratching his head. "I don't believe it."
"I know we were having a rough time, but I want you to know that you were good for me. You made me see that I needed to live my life. Not take things for granted. And that's why when I saw Sally again, I couldn't let her walk out of my life a second time. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner —"
Duo didn't let Wufei finish. He rushed him with arms wide to take him in a big hug. They embraced warmly, smiling. Finally, they kissed — a kiss of friendship, forgiveness and closure.
"Thank you," Duo said as he looked into Wufei's eyes.
"You could’ve made our lives hell… we were so worried."
Heero came forward, placing a hand on Duo’s shoulder. "I nearly gave him up…"
"Then I would have helped you get him back," Wufei said, adamantly.
Heero smiled, though still a bit confused. "Then we’re good?"
Wufei nodded. "It was a little awkward hearing about you and Duo, but considering that Sally and I —"
Sally pressed a finger to Wufei's lips. "I think everyone gets the picture. Now how about a toast?"
"Yes, a toast!" Quatre cheered as he and Trowa got up from the sofa, glasses in hand.
"To friendship," Trowa said, lifting his glass.
Raising their glasses they all cheered, "To friendship!" And then clinked the crystal and sipped the sweet champagne.
"And to love," Wufei added, nodding to Duo and then smiling at Sally.
"To love!" They proclaimed, clinking and taking another enthusiastic sip.
Then Heero turned to Duo, raising his glass to him alone. "To one love."
"To one perfect love," Duo said, smiling.
Their glasses clinked, and searching each other's eyes, Heero and Duo leaned in until their lips met in a satiny, warm kiss. They had beaten the odds. They had found the one, the only possible one among six billion.