Chapter 7: Following Coyote Into His Lair
by Casey Valhalla
The interior of the service station was huge, housing at least a standard convenience store and gift shop, as well as a sub sandwich assembly line and a coffee bar. Trowa was examining the espresso offerings critically when he heard the front door chime somewhere beyond the crowded seating area. A moment later, just when he decided that a cappuccino on ice sounded like a sufficient caffeine infusion for the moment, several members of the general populous occupying the tables behind him exploded.
"Iho! Look what the cat's dragging in by the braid!"
"Here, that's Pine Ridge's very own localized stampede, that is!"
"Naw, it's Duo Can't Keep His Mouth Shut, what got carried away by a tornado! Iho! Duo!"
"Tornado, huh?" Trowa murmured to himself, not bothering to turn around and take in the scene. "Cappuccino on ice, please, and make it strong. Extra cinnamon."
The counter attendant had been somewhat distracted by the yelling and commotion, but jumped and looked embarrassed when Trowa spoke. He hoped she remembered enough of what he said to get his coffee made properly.
"Little Coyote, where's your Chinaman, hey?"
"I heard you got swept downriver in a flood."
"Living in Mexico like a king, hey. That's what they say about you in Oglala."
Indigenous bullshit, Trowa thought. That was one of Corina's favorite phrases, especially concerning Indian boys. "Ice," he repeated aloud to the flustered barista, who was trying to work and peek around him at the young men causing the commotion, both at the same time. Trowa gave her credit --- she didn't spill a drop.
"That," Duo's voice declared, demanding attention, "Is absolutely true. I was caught in a flash flood round about Winner---"
"There's no rivers in Winner."
"That's what I'm telling you, it was a freak flood," Duo asserted. Trowa, still facing the counter, could imagine the boy nodding decisively to himself. "Next thing I know, I'm floating down the Missouri River on an old storm door."
"Must not a been from the Rez, or the screen woulda given out." Laughter. "You get a white man's storm door?"
"That I did, the best damn storm door money could buy! I recommend it for all your rafting needs!"
"We're leaving, Duo." Wufei's voice. Trowa noted a strange tension in the tone. He frowned, pulling out the necessary bills to pay for his coffee.
"Hold up, kola, I'm telling a story."
"Come on, before Heero glares the clientele into a corner."
"Well, great to see you guys again, I'll be around! Back for good this time!" Duo's voice faded into the hustle of the service station, and the door chimed again.
"Okay, bets are up," one of the voices behind Trowa spoke up once the chime faded. "How many days till Social Services shows up to haul his sorry runaway ass back to Nebraska?"
"Poor little half-breed shit. I give him three days out of pity."
"He made it five days last time, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Put me down for six."
Trowa lifted the Styrofoam cup with a nod to the barista, touching the edge to his lips and licking tentatively at the foam. "So, that's how it is," he muttered to himself.
He never once looked at the table's occupants as he made his way out.
Heero kept his hands on the steering wheel, and stared at them with the kind of intensity saved for more intricate tasks. Damn crowds. He curled his lips against his teeth and shot a quick glance at the glass doors to the convenience store, relieved when he caught a glimpse of orange and a flash of chestnut.
From the very moment he'd set foot inside the store, Duo had become a completely different entity. Flashing his tanuki grin at every customer he passed, speaking loudly at length with whomever would listen, flitting from one place to the next as though he were physically unable to keep still. The attention --- that Duo was both giving and getting --- drove Heero crazy. The noise, the pervasive presence of strangers, the quizzical looks various store patrons shot him while he tried to pay for the gas and get out as quickly as possible…
Duo drank it in like nectar, social butterfly that he was.
Heero wanted to run as far away as possible.
He frowned at his whitening knuckles and wondered if there was a single soul in that place who had ever received Duo's complete and undivided attention, say, by moonlight, with heated kissing on the side.
The thought made him pause, eyebrows drawing together. He tapped his fingers lightly against the leather wheel cover, and his mouth twitched slightly in a small smile.
The passenger door burst open to admit a pair of arguing miscreants, who clambered over each other into the back seat without losing a single breath. Heero ignored them and glanced back through his window to see Quatre and Trowa emerging through the glass doors, side by side. Trowa was tossing a cup into a trash bin, his bike helmet secure under his elbow while he pulled his riding gloves on. Quatre said something between sips from a bottle of Pepsi, and the biker chuckled lightly. Heero blinked at the two, and watched as Quatre walked backwards towards the car, listening to Trowa's reply and gesturing in agreement with his pop bottle before finally turning to hurry around the car and climb into the passenger seat, a smile on his face.
Heero shrugged and started the protesting Corolla. Damn, something wasn't working right again. "It's getting late. Does anyone know where we're staying tonight?"
"You can be such a fucking stick-in-the-mud, Fei," Duo said, which wasn't exactly the answer Heero was looking for.
"I wouldn't have to look after you if you didn't so obviously need looking after, dammit," the Chinese boy shot back, which didn't help either.
Quatre laughed softly to himself. No help anywhere.
In the rearview mirror Trowa appeared on his bike, and after a moment made a shrugging gesture. Where are we going?
Fuck if I know, Heero thought. Guess I'll have to figure it out on my own. He shifted into first and started pulling out of the service station.
"You're going the wrong way!" Duo shouted, right on cue.
"Take the north road out of town. Eleven potholes and a dip, remember?"
"Goddamn potholes," he muttered under his breath, and turned out of the driveway.
"This is the road, here."
"That's not a road, Duo, it's a ditch."
"It's the road to my house. You want a place to stay for a while, take it."
Heero eyed the muddy track that turned off the ill-repaired but nonetheless paved road he was on. He thought about his poor Corolla's undercarriage, in addition to all the abuse to its suspension, and grimaced.
Trowa brought his bike up to the drivers side window. "I wasn't aware we were attending a motorcross event, or I'd have brought my dirt bike."
Duo was visible in the rearview mirror, obstinate, arms crossed as he hunched down in the back seat. "Well, are we gonna go or not?"
The setting sun was angling a sliver of light across the windshield. Heero focused on that for the moment it took to shrug off the tension, and sighed. "Roll up the windows. This won't be pretty."
The Corolla jumped away from the pavement at a reasonable speed, which quickly picked up, throwing clumps and sprays of mud higher than the car itself.
"Slow down, you maniac," Wufei snapped from the back seat.
"If I slow down," Heero replied, slow and deliberate, "we'll get stuck in the mud. And then you will get to push the car out. How does that sound?"
Wufei shut up.
Despite earlier misgivings, the car bounced and slid its way along the narrow track fairly easily. Trowa kept a cautious speed behind him, the set of his shoulders indicating that he was not particularly pleased at the spatters of mud beginning to cake the enameled finish of his bike.
About a mile from the nearest stretch of pavement, a house appeared out of the landscape, the brown of natural, aged wood blending well with a copse of cottonwood trees. Heero squinted at the Fairlane in the driveway and the swingset on the front lawn, brightly colored toys strewn around it. He met Duo's eyes in the rearview mirror. "Here?"
"Nah, this is George's place. Keep going, we'll visit him tomorrow." Duo grinned and waved at the mirror, winking when Heero blinked at him quizzically.
Quatre craned his neck to watch the house recede behind them. "Who's George?"
"My uncle. Here we go!" Duo leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Heero's headrest. "Home sweet home! Come on, kola, aren't you glad to be back?"
A noise that sounded like a snort emitted from Wufei's general location.
The road – or ditch, depending – ended in gravel leading directly to a sagging wooden porch, which was attached to a large, dilapidated trailer. The thing was blue – or had been, at one point, judging by the paint peeling off the aluminum siding. Three large tires were situated along the roof, presumably to keep it from blowing away. Four of the plexiglass windows visible along the front were cracked, one was completely missing, and the screen door banging lightly against the side of the house was empty of both glass and screen.
The patches of grass surrounding the trailer were occupied by any of various things – an old, heavy picnic table, a barrel of rusting lawn tools, a rocking horse, a moldy couch, a stone-ringed fire pit flanked by a tripod, a squat grill, and a small wood pile. To one side of the drive was a Corvette on blocks, and a pickup truck in an advanced state of disrepair. Railroad ties, more tires, one of them tied to a large cottonwood as a swing. A basketball hoop stood sentinel beside the gravel driveway, the net sporting a few broken loops but otherwise in working condition. Beyond the trailer, a line of trees stretched away, indicating water, probably a creek.
Heero stopped the car and cut the engine, staring dubiously out the windshield. He wrinkled his nose at the trailer, innocently staring back at him with as much careless presence as an inanimate object could muster. What a… dump.
It was perfect.
Quatre was the first to open his door and get out, mostly because Duo was trying to crawl over him. The blond strode slowly across the drive, gravel crunching under his Doc Martens, pushing his sunglasses up his nose as he looked around. Duo shot away from the car like a bullet as soon as he was free of it. The porch creaked, in protest of his passing, and the thick wooden door banged against the interior walls, shaking a few more chips of paint free.
It's like he's expecting someone to be here to greet him, Heero thought, and frowned. From the looks of things, no one had occupied the place in months.
"Are you coming?" Wufei was standing outside his window, tapping at a clump of mud clinging to the glass. Heero shrugged and stepped out, closing the door to survey the damage. The Corolla was covered in mud, already drying in the evening heat.
"Do you have water?" Trowa called out behind him. Duo had reappeared on the porch, clutching something white in one hand. Wufei pushed past him to go inside, and the windows began sliding open one after another.
"If we're lucky!" the Indian replied with a grin, hopping down the porch steps to land in the gravel next to Quatre. "Yeah, I know it doesn't look like much, but it won't up and collapse on us, promise!"
The blond gave him an expressionless look from behind his sunglasses and nodded thoughtfully, accepting Duo's pat on the shoulder. He turned to examine the fire pit.
"I don't think these are the kind of accommodations he's used to," Duo commented conspiratorially when Heero approached him. "He's just too damn polite to say anything."
Heero glanced over at Quatre, crouched on the ground by the fire pit, taking stock of the equipment available. "I don't think he minds, really."
"Yeah, well," Duo's voice trailed off, and he suddenly became expressly interested in his toes. He gestured vaguely with his hands, and Heero saw that the item he was holding was a tin can with a white government label encircling it. "What..." he started, then finished in a rush. "Whacha think, Hopa?"
Heero glanced around the lot again before settling his gaze on the top of Duo's bowed head. "I think I like it."
Duo looked up and grinned nervously. "Yeah?"
"Don't have much to offer in the way of dinner, I'm afraid." He held up the can to display the statement. "Chicken noodle. I'll see what I can get from George tomorrow." He stepped closer and leaned in until Heero could smell the incense scent of his hair, and kissed Heero lightly on the lips. "And after dinner," he whispered, purple eyes sparkling, "I'll show you my room, han?"
Then both Duo and his scent vanished with a scrape of gravel and a creak of the porch, leaving Heero in the driveway, slightly dazed, and smiling the tiniest bit.
"How wonderful, I had forgotten how delightfully bland commodity soup is," Wufei commented, dropping his bowl in the sink.
"You complain," Duo shot back, snapping a dishrag at Wufei's retreating behind, "yet you know you love it."
"I'm going to bed," the Chinese boy announced, and promptly collapsed on the sagging floral print couch in the living room, pulling a dusty afghan over himself and curling into a cocoon. "Goodnight."
Heero stood by the front window, peering out into the night. Trowa had lit a fire in the pit, and was rubbing down his bike with a rag in the flickering light. The Corolla was a shadow beyond the yard, still filthy from its earlier trek.
Inside the trailer, Duo was washing dishes by the light of a hurricane lamp. The Indian had explained earlier that he only remembered having electricity in the trailer twice over the course of his young life, and that in fact they were fortunate to have running water at all.
The interior of the place was much like the exterior – a depository of stuff, in some semblance of organized disorder. The living room boasted a large wood-burning stove capable of heating the entire trailer, and cooking, when necessary. The floral couch and two mismatched chairs furnished the room, decorated with framed pictures of wildlife and various feathered items Heero couldn't identify but assumed had some cultural relevance, and he promised himself to ask Duo about all of them.
The kitchen was tiny, a sink, a few cupboards occupied mostly by cobwebs, and a refrigerator that kept things lukewarm on cool days. A rickety table and chairs passed for a dining room, and beyond that, on either side of the large living area, were hallway entrances covered by hanging blankets to admit passage further into the trailer.
He was staring at one of these portals when Duo blew out the lamp and grabbed him by the hand, drawing him through the sudden darkness into an even darker hallway.
"Bathroom," Duo indicated, guiding Heero's hand to a doorway on the left. "Just so you know." He opened a door at the end of the hall and pushed Heero through it, into a small room lit by moonlight pouring in the windows.
Heero didn't have much time to look around, only registering a number of shelves along the walls and the shape of a twin bed before he heard the door snick closed. He had stepped towards a window, running his fingers over a length of cloth tacked over it that looked like it had once been a sheet. He loosened the cloth from where it was being held aside and let it fall over the window, shutting out some of the light, and then he was being pulled backwards, until he stumbled and fell full-length on the bed.
"You told me you were gonna show me your room."
"Yeah," Duo drawled lazily, sliding up against Heero's side to hover over him, settling his arms on either side of Heero's head.
"I can't see anything."
Duo paused, shifting until he was straddling Heero's waist and peering down with a puzzled expression. "Did you just make a joke?"
"You should do that more often."
"Are you gonna kiss me or not?" Heero reached up and tugged at a lock of Duo's bangs, wrapping it carefully around his finger.
"That was my intention, yeah." He smiled and rubbed his nose against Heero's. "Actually, I was---"
Heero didn't let him finish, already tired of waiting. Damn tanuki, never shuts up and gets to the point, he thought, wrapping his arms tight around the boy and drawing him down flush with his body. He caught Duo's mouth forcefully, pushing his tongue inside to taste, pushing his hips up into Duo's warmth, feeling his body shudder with the contact, Duo's moan vibrating against his lips.
He was going to be very hard, very soon, but was pretty damn sure that was exactly what Duo wanted.
Heero broke the kiss reluctantly, but kept Duo's mouth close to his. "Something like that?"
"Something..." Duo gasped, trailing off, his eyes sliding open, glazed and dark in the faint moonlight. "Yeah. Do it again."
He rolled his hips again, forcing himself to watch Duo's face, watch the Indian's eyes widen then slip closed, watch his lips part to let out a low, trembling moan. The sound brought that threatening erection out full force, tight against his jeans, rubbing against another obvious bulge in Duo's pants. Heero gave up on watching and pulled Duo back into a kiss, immediately drowning in it.
"Dammit, hopa, do not space out on me now, or I'll damn well leave you like this!"
The world was spinning, even as he opened his eyes, but Duo was the only thing remaining still, warm and comfortable in his arms. Duo was panting lightly against his lips, breath hot. Heero realized, slowly, that he himself was trembling, clutching, needing...
"Jeez, snap out of it already."
"Oh, well, that's good. Keep that thought in mind."
Duo made a noise that sounded like "eep" and was possibly supposed to be a word, but Heero wasn't sure, as he was too busy reversing their positions and latching on to Duo's neck, suckling gently at the skin there and humming appreciatively at the salty taste of Duo's skin. Heero's hands were wandering of their own accord, tugging aside the thin black fabric barricading more of Duo's skin from his touch, sliding his hand over Duo's stomach as the boy wriggled beneath him.
At the same moment he finally pulled the tank top over Duo's head he felt a blanket settle over them, and batted randomly at it until it fell aside, leaving the flat, sun-darkened planes of Duo's chest exposed to him.
The boy immediately grabbed the blanket and pulled it back over them.
"What's with this?"
Duo shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. "Windows."
"There's no one outside but prairie dogs." Heero yanked the blanket away a second time and licked at Duo's collarbone. "I want to see you." His fingers discovered the waistband of Duo's jeans and began working the buttons free.
"Heero..." Duo's fingers were tense on his shoulders. "How far have you gone---" He gasped when Heero found a nipple, tonguing it gently. "I mean... I mean with another guy."
"Not very." Heero kissed his way back up to Duo's neck, tracing the curves of one ear with his lips. "But I'd love to be inside you."
Duo's body went completely rigid beneath him. "I --- ah --- not this time, okay?"
Heero paused for a moment, tugging loose the last button and nibbling lightly at Duo's earlobe. "Okay."
Duo relaxed with a sigh, sliding his hands over Heero's back, tugging off the white tank tentatively, almost shyly, running his fingers over Heero's chest. It was addictive, that touch, just like his kisses, just like everything...
"Heero! Wake up!"
"Where was I? Taking off your pants?"
"Damn you --- ah!"
That look. Heero decided he adored that look, Duo, his head thrown back, mouth open, eyes closed, moaning, his body writhing, hips thrusting up to where Heero's hand was wrapped around his erection. Yes. That look was priceless.
"Ah --- please---"
And the noises Duo made, oh yes.
"Patience," Heero hissed against his stomach, tugging at more damned material that didn't want to come off without a fight. It didn't help that Duo was wriggling like mad, begging, driving him even more crazy...
Damn tanuki was still wearing shoes. No wonder.
Heero slid to the foot of the bed, kissing a line down the inside of Duo's thigh, and took the opportunity to stand up and divest himself of the rest of his own clothing as well. Easier that way. It also provided him with a scintillating view of Duo, completely naked, writhing in protest of his absence.
That was a good look, too.
"Come back here, you."
"God, you're beautiful."
"That's a flattering sentiment, hopa, but if you don't get your ass back here I'm taking care of this myself."
Not a chance, Heero thought, crawling slowly back over Duo, sliding his body slowly back into place, listening as Duo gasped at the skin-to-skin contact. Watching his eyes go dark as Heero ground their hips together, harder, faster. Feeling. Kissing.
Duo shouted something unintelligible --- perhaps something in his own language, but after some disassociated thought Heero realized it might have been his name. He was never very sure, because his own release occurred seconds later, and he was in no state for thinking for quite a while afterwards.
"Sticky," came the comment after a few long moments of catching breath in the darkness. Duo shifted, half beneath Heero still, unable to escape.
"You can clean me up, if you want." Heero tightened his grip, just to reassure himself that the boy in his arms couldn't slip away. "I'll return the favor."
It was too dark to know for sure, but he was fairly certain he saw Duo blush.
Not much language in this chapter, and what is present, I certainly hope by now I don't need to translate for you. Now class, repeat after me... we all know what hopa means, right?
On another note, the service station the boys take a break at during the chapter's opening does actually exist -- or did, at one point, anyhow. I believe it's called Big Bat's Texaco, if I remember correctly. Pretty sure it's Texaco. With that in mind, I certainly hope I'm doing some amount of justice to the Pine Ridge Reservation. *crosses fingers*
Next chapter: There might have been some prairie dogs outside, yes, but there were also some people out there, if you remember. Poor Q and Tro, what an awkward way to start a conversation...