Disclaimers: Nope, don't own it. Don't own the movie either.

Pairing: 1X2, R+1, 3+4, 5+M, implied 13x2, 6+9, Howard+anything in a skirt (it just keeps growing...)
Warnings: Shounen-ai, Yaoi, eventual lemon -- please don't read if this doesn't appeal to you -- AU, OOCness, a tad angsty, Relena bashing, lots of references to dancing, and I've gone and bastardized Treize... sorry (really, I hate to do it but I needed a villain).
Spoilers: none


Shall We Dance
by Caroline

VIII : Cha-cha-cha


Heero clutched tightly at the hand strap dangling from the ceiling as the train shuddered along the tracks. He stared out the window, marveling at how beautiful the city looked at night. He smirked at the irony. A few months ago he would have found no joy in watching the glittering lights of the city rush by. But since meeting Duo and learning to dance, he began to find happiness in even the simplest things. Since the long-haired American had danced his way into Heero's life, he'd found joy in living again - something he hadn't felt in a very long time.

And the last few weeks... oh, the last few weeks had been almost like a dream. 'If it's a dream, I hope I never wake up,' Heero thought as he moved aside to let someone pass. Ever since the night they'd first kissed, Heero and Duo had spent every possible moment together, going on secret dates, grabbing stolen kisses on stairways and in alleyways... and in Duo's upstairs dance room. Heero smiled as he remembered their shared moments in the upstairs room, dancing, kissing... touching.

He swallowed hard as he thought about what had transpired in that room two nights ago. They'd been dancing and drinking... and then Duo had blushed at something Heero had said. Heero, feeling rather hazy from the alcohol, had been overcome by how beautiful the American looked when he blushed. He'd drawn the lithe dancer to him, thrusting his hands into the loosely braided hair, and attacked Duo's mouth with his own.

Perhaps it had been the brandy, or perhaps he had simply been tired of denying himself the pleasure of tasting Duo's skin - whatever it was, the kiss had escalated until Heero had pushed the young dancer down to the floor, unbuttoning the loose shirt Duo had been wearing. He'd slid the garment off one creamy shoulder and kissed his way down Duo's swan-like neck. The violet-eyed boy had tasted so sweet, his groin ached just thinking about it. Hurriedly, he moved his briefcase in front of himself so he wouldn't embarrass himself in front of everyone on the train.

They'd come so close to making love that night. Heero knew he wouldn't have stopped himself if Une hadn't come home a few minutes later. He chuckled silently to himself as he remembered their panicked scramble to get off the floor and straighten Duo's clothing before she came up the stairs. Of course, it hadn't seemed quite so funny at the time...

Heero sighed. In a way, he was glad Une had interrupted them. It wasn't that he didn't want to make love to Duo - on the contrary, he wanted to, very much - but he was still feeling guilty for not telling the boy he was married. He wasn't exactly lying to Duo, but he still felt like a total heel for hiding the truth. But every time he gathered up his courage to tell him, one look from those wide, expressive violet eyes and he was lost. He remembered all the pain Duo had experienced in his short life, and he could not bring himself to add to it. He would not allow himself to bring sadness to those eyes he loved so much.

Those eyes - Heero had never seen so much life in them. Hilde too, who had known Duo for a long time, had remarked on the difference. The boy didn't seem so sullen anymore. He smiled a lot more often, and he no longer spent time gazing sadly out the dance studio window. He had changed, definitely for the better. He seemed stronger and more confident in himself and in the people around him. And Heero was glad for whatever part he had played in helping Duo believe in himself.

The train ground to a halt, and Heero threaded his way through the crush of bodies to get off. He walked down the stairs of the platform to the street, suddenly feeling nervous. He hadn't seen Duo since the night in the upstairs room, and he was suddenly afraid of how the boy would react to him after their aborted attempt at making love.

He crossed the street and was about to turn to go up the flight of stairs that led up to the studio, when a large body bumped into him. Heero moved aside, ready to apologize, when he recognized the man. It was the 'groping hands guy' as Duo had called him once. Tanaka. As the man shoved by him, limping, Heero noticed his face was red in anger. From the way the man was grinding his teeth in suppressed rage, Heero could surmise that something had happened. And he'd been coming from the direction of the dance studio.

Imagining all sorts of horrors that could have befallen the American at the hands of the enraged man, Heero took the steps up to the studio two at a time. He burst through the door and quickly took in the surroundings. Wufei and Trowa were standing nearby with unreadable expressions on their faces. Quatre and Hilde were on their knees in front of Duo, who was sitting on one of the benches with his face buried in his hands. The young dancer's shoulders were shaking violently. The urge to run over to the American and take him in his arms overrode his urge to go after Tanaka and pound his face into the pavement for daring to hurt his Duo.

He hurried over to where Duo was sitting, unceremoniously shoving Quatre out of the way. He reached out slowly so as not to alarm Duo and brushed chestnut bangs away from the boy's face.

"Duo? Are you alright?" he asked, fear pooling in his gut.

The braided boy looked up... and laughed. Heero sat back on his heels, stunned and somewhat embarrassed. Duo hadn't been crying... he'd been laughing. Looking around, he could also see the amusement in Quatre's and Hilde's eyes.

"Anyone care to tell me what happened," he asked flatly, "or am I not allowed in on the joke?"

"Oh, Heero! You should have seen it," Hilde said, standing up. "The look on Tanaka-san's face was too priceless!"

"I wish I'd had a camera," Quatre joked, holding his sides from laughing so much.

"Me too!" Duo exclaimed as he gasped for air. "I would have had it framed and put on the wall."

"Will someone please tell me what's going on?" Heero asked feeling very confused.

"Ah, Heero, well, Duo was giving Tanaka-san his lesson as usual," Hilde began. "And as usual, the guy's hands were all over the place."

Heero looked at Duo.

"I couldn't take it anymore," Duo told him, grinning. "I told him that he either had to keep his hands where I out them or he could leave."

"That's when the pig really started to get fresh, telling Duo to stop being coy, that he knew what Duo really wanted."

Heero once again felt a surge of anger wash through him. "Didn't any of you guys stop him?" he asked them accusingly.

"We'd just walked in the door when it happened," Trowa explained. "I was going to say something, but all of a sudden, Duo pushed Tanaka away and told him to leave."

Hilde snorted. "That's the polite way of saying it."

Heero looked back at Duo. "What happened?"

"He touched me somewhere I didn't want to be touched, so I kneed him in a place he didn't want to be kneed."

"In other words, he grabbed Duo's ass, and Duo kicked him in the balls," Hilde said, still giggling.

"Hilde!" Duo exclaimed, flushing at the girl's straightforward mannerisms.

"It's true, Duo! And about time too," she said seriously, looking into his eyes. "Une-sensei and I had been worried about you. You've never stuck up for yourself. Do you know how it hurt us to sit back and watch that man paw you every time he came around?"

"Why did you never say anything?" Duo asked.

"Because, Duo-chan, you would have told us to stay out of your business, that you could handle it even though we knew you wouldn't," Une said gently as she walked up to them. Heero hadn't even been aware that the tall dancer was even there. "You had to stand up for yourself."

"Our Duo's a changed man, Une-sensei," Hilde teased, winking at the braided dancer. "All grown up and fighting off dirty old men."

"Hilde!" Duo protested again, flushing. Heero fought off the urge to jump the American right there. Duo really was too adorable when he blushed.

"Well, now that we have gotten the unpleasantness out of the way, shall we get started?" Une asked, looking at him.

Heero nodded, then looked at Quatre and Trowa. His brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you two doing here? It's not Wednesday."

Quatre grinned. "We're here to pick up a few pointers. Trowa's entering the competition too."

"Sugoi!" Hilde exclaimed, clapping her hands. "But... you can't be his partner..."

A pained look passed over Quatre's face for a brief moment. "I know. But we've recruited Trowa's sister Catherine for the competition. She's a gymnast, but she can dance really well. And Trowa wants a chance to test out his new skills." He flashed them a grin. "I keep telling him he doesn't have to prove anything, but he insists."

"I think it would be fun, mi amore," Trowa said softly, giving his small lover a squeeze. "And with you rooting for me in the audience, I know I'll do my best. I want to make you proud of me, love."

"You already have, Trowa," Quatre said softly, looking deep into the taller man's eyes.

Heero fought down a surge of jealousy. Not over Quatre, but over what he and Trowa had: an open and loving relationship. He would sell his soul to have that with Duo.

Hilde watched the two lovers and sighed dramatically. "Ahhh. Young love."

Duo looked at the girl. "You look pretty chipper today yourself, Hilde. What's going on with you."

To everyone's surprise, Hilde actually blushed and looked away coyly. "I've met someone."

"Oh wow Hilde! That's great," Duo said cheerfully.

Hilde laughed and spun around in a circle. "It is! His name is Alex and... oh, he's dreamy." She turned abruptly to look at Duo sternly. "But he's mine and don't get any ideas!"

Duo laughed. "Daijoubu. I don't think that'll be a problem, Hilde," he said, shooting a shy glance toward Heero.

Hilde looked at the two of them for a moment before a big, silly grin broke out on her face. "Ehhh... looks like I'm not the only one with a special someone in her life," she said, giving Heero a conspiratorial nudge and winking at him.

Heero felt a blind panic sweep through him as he glanced at the others. Quatre, Trowa and Wufei knew he was married. If they were to say anything to Duo before he could... Heero didn't want to think of what might happen. Fortunately the other three seemed to be listening intently to Une as she drew a chart on a nearby dry-erase board. Heero sighed in relief. That had been close. But it enforced his decision that needed to tell Duo and soon, before the violet-eyed boy heard it from the wrong person.

Une beckoned them over to the board, getting them back to business. "Listen carefully," she said, gesturing to her diagrams. "To win, you need to stand out and to dance well. With anywhere up to ten couples on the floor at once, you're lucky to get ten seconds from the judges. This is the basic quick-step format." She pointed to a spot on the oval shaped drawing. "You enter from here. Start with an initial sweep past the crowd... then alternating scissors, followed by a side-chassť. That should bring to about this point. Once there, change direction to a running finish and natural turn..."

They listened to Une map out their routine for several minutes before it was time to try in person. Trowa used Quatre to practice on while Heero worked with Hilde. They did the dance over and over until at last, with a sweeping finish, everyone in the room burst into applause. Duo ran up and took one of Heero's and Hilde's hands in his own.

"You did it!" he exclaimed, eyes bright with excitement.

"Don't get too excited," Une admonished them. "We'll need to work on that repeatedly until you feel like you could do it in your sleep. But take a break for now. Grab something to drink, and I'll work with Hilde and Wufei in a few minutes. Heero, we'll map out your waltz routine next time."

Heero nodded, grateful for the break. As good a shape as he was in and dancing still made him work up a sweat. Quatre and Trowa moved to the far end of the room to work on Trowa's routine while he sat down to watch Une instruct Hilde and Wufei. So engrossed was he at watching the two strong-willed dancers battle for control during their rumba, he didn't see Duo sit down next to him until he felt a pair of eyes staring holes in him.

Heero felt the familiar warmth creep through his body as he looked at Duo. "Nani?"

The American gave him a cheeky grin. "Since the other two are busy, why not work with me for a while."

Heero nodded mutely. He'd have to exercise all of his self-control with Duo in his arms. Just looking at the boy kept reminding him of their last night together.

They walked to an unused corner of the dance floor and took their positions. Duo counted under his breath, giving Heero his cue. He stepped forward, reaching for the braided boy's hand... only to find himself being pushed away.

"No, no, no!" the American said, shaking his head. "That first step is so important! You're still hesitating. The leader must commit his whole body to convey to his partner the tone of the entire dance. A weak first step transmits nothing."

He turned them so that he was in the lead position. He raised his hands, allowing Heero to take them, then stepped forward. "See how that transmits nothing? It is important that your right side be flush against your partner." This time, he placed his hand at the small of Heero's back and pressed him forward so their bodies were touching. Heero fought down the reactions of his body at having Duo so close. Again, the young dancer stepped forward. This time, Heero could feel the difference. The step was more powerful. "Now you try."

They switched places again. This time Heero tried his best to mimic what Duo had done. He pulled the dancer to him so that their right sides were touching. He waited for Duo to count off his cue, then he stepped forward.

"Yes! That's it!" his beautiful partner cried out. "The first step dictates how the entire dance will go. Step forward with confidence and the rest of the dance will fall into place."

"Very good, Heero-san." Heero turned to see five pairs of eyes watching them. He flushed. He hadn't been aware they'd had an audience. Une smiled at him. "Now try it with Hilde."

Heero reluctantly dropped Duo's hands and moved to the short-haired girl. They took their positions across from each other, and Heero extended his arm. He and Hilde started to step toward one another, but Duo stopped them.

"No. Let her come to you, Heero. Then pull her into position."

Heero nodded. He listened as Duo counted off for them. He let Hilde step toward him as he extended his hand, drawing her into place. He held her close while waiting for the count, then stepped forward like Duo had shown him.

The step caused Hilde to arch her back, her legs almost straddling Heero's right one. As Heero stepped forward, Hilde threw her head back and let out a low, sensual moan. Heero was so startled he almost dropped the girl.

"Mou, Hilde." Une rolled her eyes as Hilde laughed.

"I'm sorry. But he's stiff as a board," she giggled, throwing a wink at Heero who was rapidly turning red. The Japanese man unconsciously clasped his hands in front of his crotch.

"Oh will you two be serious? The competition is in three weeks. We have to be ready!" Duo exclaimed, his voice slightly agitated.

Une laid her hand gently on the young man's shoulder. "We will be, Duo-chan. You need to lighten up and relax. Everything will be all right."

Duo sighed and nodded. "Sorry. Maybe I'm just tired."

"We all are. Why don't we call it a night?" his sister-in-law suggested.

Everyone agreed, and the group broke up for the night. As Heero was gathering his things, Duo came up to him and laid a gentle hand on his arm. "We don't have a lesson tomorrow, but I'd like us to keep practicing. Do you think you could spare the time?" the braided dancer asked shyly.

Heero's heart leapt at the opportunity at spending more time with Duo. He nodded. "Here?"

"No. Une's cousin teaches classes here on the weekend. Come to my house. Say about eight? We can have dinner first and then practice the waltz."

"Sounds good. Eight it is."

Duo offered him a brilliant smile before he turned and walked back to Une. Heero's heart melted as he watched the braided boy walk away. Then he realized what he had agreed to. Une worked at the dance hall on the weekends. He and Duo would be at his place alone. A wave of guilty pleasure swept through him. Sighing dejectedly, he knew he'd have to tell Duo about Relena tomorrow night. He couldn't bear to hurt the boy, but he deserved to know the truth. He only hoped Duo wouldn't hate him forever because of his little secret.



Saturday dawned cloudy and gray. Heero got up an hour early so he could sneak out of the house without having to deal with Relena. He knew she suspected something. He was hardly ever at home, and while she hadn't confronted him with her suspicions, she was watching him like a hawk when he was at home. It was unusual for her to remain silent about something she didn't like. It was almost as if she were biding her time, waiting for something.

He wearily climbed into the shower, yawning as he began to shampoo his hair. He hadn't gotten much sleep last night. Rather, he'd lain awake, tossing and turning over what to tell Duo. Sometime during the night he'd come to a decision. He realized how unhappy he'd been since his parents had died, how unhappy he'd been with Relena. It wasn't fair to either of them, being trapped in a loveless marriage. Although Relena was so deluded, she believed her obsession with him was love. Still, they both deserved a chance at real happiness. It was something he wanted... no, something he needed. It was something he'd found in a certain long-haired, violet-eyed dancer.

So, as he lay restlessly in his solitary bed, he made his decision. He was going to ask for a divorce. Strangely, once he'd made up his mind, it was as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Relena wouldn't like it, but frankly, he didn't care anymore. He wanted to start living his own life, and he couldn't do that if he was still shackled to Relena. He'd wait until the competition was over, then contact a divorce lawyer. Then he could get on with his life.

It was a life he hoped would include Duo. He'd never been happier since he'd met the young dancer. As he'd lain awake, agonizing over his decision to leave Relena, there was one constant, one thought that he hung onto like a lifeline. He was completely, utterly, and hopelessly in love with Duo Maxwell. He'd been afraid to admit it; after all, he never expected to find happiness with another man. But it had happened. And just thinking of the long-haired dancer sent his heart flip-flopping in his chest. He loved him more than he ever thought he'd love anyone. And he hoped and prayed that Duo felt the same about him.

Heero quickly finished his shower and dressed, mindful that he wanted to look good for his dance lesson with Duo tonight. He carefully dressed in a pair of tailored black slacks and a loose white shirt. He looked at his watch as he hurried out the door. Only eleven hours until he got to see Duo. He sighed. It was too long.

His day passed surprisingly quickly. He got his work done, and, when no one was looking, he spent the time drawing a diagram of their quick-step routine. He turned bright red when a coworker almost caught him practicing a turn in the restroom. He immediately chided himself. If he was too easily embarrassed over one person watching him dance, how could he stand a whole dance hall of people not only watching but judging his dancing? A surge of panic swept through him, but he quickly squashed it. It was too late to back out now, and even if he wanted to, he would not disappoint Duo and Hilde like that. He could do it. He hoped.

Butterflies settled in his stomach as the workday came to an end. Even after weeks of going to Duo's house to work on the dancing, he still felt nervous. Especially tonight. Even though he'd decided to divorce Relena, he still owed it to Duo to tell him the truth. The train ride to Duo's stop passed by in a haze. He wasn't even aware of walking the streets until he found himself in front of the Maxwell residence. Swallowing nervously, he ran his hand through his dark brown hair before ringing the doorbell.

The door opened, and Heero was struck dumb by the sight before him. Duo stood there, dressed in low, hip-hugging black jeans and a loose violet silk shirt that laced up in the front and matched his eyes perfectly. His hair was in its usual braid, but interwoven between the strands were large indigo and yellow violets. The shorter boy smiled as he grabbed Heero's hand and pulled the Japanese man inside.

Their hands lingered together as Duo took Heero's briefcase and placed it on the floor. "I'm glad you came," he said softly as he pulled Heero further into the house.

Heero ran his thumb over the back of Duo's hand. "Thank you for inviting me."

The American blushed and gestured toward the stairs. "I thought we could eat upstairs. It's going to storm soon and the view from the windows is... spectacular."

The young dancer pulled Heero by his hand up the stairs, pushing him into the dance room. Heero stopped dead in his tracks as he saw Duo had in store for him. A large futon cushion lay in the middle of room. The lights were out, but several candles were placed around the room, their reflected light providing enough to see by. Placed around the cushion were several dished of food along with two fluted glasses and a bottle of wine.

"Duo," Heero said, his voice choking with emotion. "What's all this?"

Duo giggled shyly as he pulled Heero over to the cushion. "I wanted to surprise you. Please sit."

They both sat down, the cushion large enough to seat both of them comfortably. The American poured them each a glass of wine, kissing Heero as he handed him his glass.

"Duo, I... I don't know what to say." He could feel his breath catching in his throat. No one had ever done anything like this for him before. Suddenly he was afraid. Duo had gone to all this trouble for him, and he still had to tell him he was married. "Duo, I..."

The braided boy silenced him by popping a piece of fruit into his mouth. "Don't. Just let me pamper you for a while. This is my way of saying thank you... and of saying I'm sorry."

"You're sorry? For what?" Heero asked as he picked up a rice ball.

"Sorry for... getting carried away with this dance competition," Duo explained as they ate. "It's just... every day I feel so alive. It's been a long time since I've felt this enthusiastic. It's a good feeling. I've even begun thinking about trying for Blackpool again. Up until just recently, I hadn't wanted to. But you came along and changed all that. Your spirit, your dedication... even after I was rude to you, you stuck with dancing."

Heero placed a finger on Duo's lips to silence him. He had a feeling he knew where this speech was going, and he couldn't let Duo confess his feelings until he had told him the truth.

"Duo I... I have a confession to make," he said hesitantly.

"What is it?"

Heero took a deep breath and looked into those large, expressive eyes. Those eyes seemed to pull him in until he wanted to drown in pools of violet. And suddenly... he couldn't do it. Duo's eyes were brimming with happiness. He couldn't break Duo's heart... not without breaking his own.

"Heero?" Duo asked him again, looking at him questioningly.

"I... I really felt like giving up after you told me not to dance for your sake," he covered quickly, cursing himself for being a coward. "But if I had, I would have been everything you accused me of. Of course it's true, that affection for you was what brought me to the class. But to be confronted with it was a shock. I felt like giving up. But I wanted to prove to you that it wasn't because of you. I'd said I was there to dance. Demo..."

"Demo?"

"No sooner did I decide to continue then I really began to like it. It gave me a sense of freedom I hadn't felt in... well, in a very long time."

Duo smiled. "I have a confession as well. I was watching you, too. From the window of the dance studio you can see the trains. I saw you practicing on the platform. It warmed my heart. After Blackpool I'd thought I'd never dance with my heart again. But then you arrived at the school and that all changed. And for that, I want to thank you."

Heero didn't know what to say. Instead, he smiled shyly at the American as the two continued to eat in silence, feeding each other the small finger foods Duo had lovingly prepared. When they were done, he helped Duo take the dishes downstairs. Refilling their wine glasses, Duo dragged Heero back upstairs. By then the storm that had been brewing all day was underway. The two stood at the window for a long moment, watching the rain lash at the glass and the lightning dance across the sky. Finally, Duo took both his and Heero's glasses and placed them on a small nearby table.

"Dance with me?" he asked softly.

Heero nodded and took Duo's hand. With his free hand, the dancer picked up a remote control and aimed it at the stereo. A sweet, lilting tune filled the air as Duo led the taller man onto the floor.

Heero held the smaller boy close as they moved across the floor. For a long while they simply held each other as they swayed to the music. Then Duo looked up at him as lightning lit up the room. As he stared into those eyes, Heero knew he was lost. He raised on hand to run his fingers down the smooth skin of Duo's face. When he reached Duo's chin, he tilted the boy's head upward. Slowly he lowered his mouth, brushing lightly against Duo's lips. The American gasped softly, parting his lips as he clutched tightly to Heero's shirt. The Japanese man, not wanting to waste the opportunity, swooped in again, sliding his tongue inside Duo's mouth. The young dancer tasted as sweet as the wine they'd had earlier. Lazily their tongues moved together in their own private rhythm. Neither one noticed when they'd stopped dancing. Their focus was purely on tasting and teasing one another with tongue and lips.

Heero ran his hands over the smooth silk at Duo's back. Lower they traveled until he grasped the firm, round globes of Duo's bottom and pulled him in tight. Both young men hissed as their groins came into contact, each suddenly very much aware of the other's arousal. Duo looked up into Heero's deep cobalt eyes that were glowing with passion.

"Heero," he whispered huskily, "make love to me?"

He wanted to say no. He didn't want to take that final step without telling Duo the truth. But looking down at Duo's flushed face, his violet eyes heavy with desire, Heero wanted nothing more than to make this beautiful creature his.

Wordlessly he nodded, taking Duo's mouth once again with his own. His heart pounded in his ears... or was it the thunder outside? He didn't know, nor did he care. All he knew was that the boy he loved was in his arms, warm and willing. And for now, that was enough.

That was enough.

on to part 9

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