"There is fiction in the space between, the lines on a page, and memories. Write it down but it doesnít mean, youíre not just telling stories." - Tracy Chapman, Telling Stories
The morning sunlight crept across the bed, naked bodies, and disheveled covers. Slowly, it warmed the chilled room, bringing with it the smell of fresh grass and growing things. The rain had fled, and the sky was crystal clear outside the window, streams of blue and gold flooding the room with gradual warmth. Duo smiled to himself and rubbed against the warm backside nestled in front of him.
The low growl of his stomach knocked him out of his lethargic thoughts, bringing to his attention the fact that he hadnít had dinner the night before, and breakfast was somewhere downstairs with his name on it. He gave Heeroís neck a soft kiss and rolled off the bed. He loved the fact that he could do that with this bed; it was just the right height to fall off of and have a good time doing so. He grinned from his seat on the floor, glancing about for his discarded clothes. Pulling on the shorts heíd borrowed the day before, he stood and gave Heeroís sleeping form a last, long look before turning and heading downstairs.
Zero bumped against his legs as soon as he entered the kitchen, looking for a hand out of some sort, perhaps even a scratch behind his ears or a thump above his tail. Duo obliged the dog on all these things, finding the dog food, filling the water dish, and then proceeding to pet him into a coma.
He had just managed to figure out how to use the strange coffee maker, when Heero finally came downstairs sleepily rubbing his hair, a pair of loose cut-offs falling low on his hips. He smiled at the boy with the messy braid, who was bent over the counter, coffee mug in hand, head tilted to one side, eyeing the coffee maker suspiciously.
"I think it will work without watching it."
Duo glanced up and smiled. "Possibly, though a few minutes ago it seemed to be done." He looked at the machine once more, brow furrowed. "Then it started to perk again. I think."
"Itís done, see how the coffee is a little bit visible up here?" Heero ambled over to stand beside him and tapped the top of the pot where a small glass bubble showed some of the dark brew. Then grinning, he turned and snatched Duo up in a hug, sliding their bodies together, backing the other boy up against the counter. "Have I said good morning yet?" He asked in a soft growl, eyes bright with the sunlight streaming in through the windows.
"I donít remember you saying goodnight." Duo responded, nuzzling against him and wondering if perhaps breakfast could wait.
"Funny, I donít recall you saying goodnight either." Heero admired the bright blush that crept up Duoís neck, into his ears and then across his cheeks. Then his face grew serious, and he paused to run his hands down the bare back beneath his hands, sighing. "I have bad news."
"Do I want to know?" Duo snuggled against him further, nestling his head against one golden shoulder.
"I have an essay due tomorrow. Iíve got to finish writing it, so I wonít be able to spend time with you today until itís done. Iíve already put it off too long." Heeroís tone was apologetic, but his hands were decidedly not at all sorry, and started roaming downward, tugging Duo closer until their bodies seemed to melt together from chest to thigh. "But, I think we can manage to squeeze in a little breakfast before I start." He grinned wickedly and nibbled on an ear, swaying them closer to the refrigerator. "Letís see what might be good to eat."
He backed Duo up against the counter next to the fridge, opening the door with one hand, and peering over a bare shoulder. "Hmm, I think perhaps a little fruit." He took out a bunch of grapes and shut the door again, pulling away from Duo to dangle the glistening fruit enticingly between them.
Duo glanced down at the grapes that hung in front of his waist, then grinning, slithered to the floor, landing on his knees, mouth poised before them. He looked up, noting that the normally dusky blue eyes were almost a bright cobalt in the sunlight filtering though the kitchen. He also observed the lust behind them; the barely restrained heat, and he felt a shiver go down his spine as he continued to gaze upwards. Then his eyes slid halfway shut and he carefully took a grape in his mouth, white teeth delicately biting off the hanging fruit, nibbling and swallowing before taking another one. Heero didnít notice how busy Duoís hands were in the distraction of watching, until he realized that his shorts were down around his ankles.
Duo took the bunch of grapes and laid them on the counter, looking up through sooty lashes and amethyst jewels for eyes. "I think I found something I want for breakfast more than grapes." He said, licking his lips before leaning closer.
Heero could only nod, his knees threatening to buckle as the hot mouth enclosed him. "MmmÖDuoÖwhere did you..uunnhhÖget so goodÖgood at this?" He blindly put a hand out in search of something to hold onto.
Duo slid his mouth slowly up, and with a soft popping sound released his newfound prize. "I have an addiction to popsicles."
"An addiction to Ahhh!" This time Heeroís knees did buckle and he collapsed to the floor, Duo following him all the way down.
"Pop-si-cles" Duo said, emphasizing each syllable with a lick. "Though," he paused, fingers playing along Heeroís length. "This isnít as cold as one, but it does seem to have a few similarities."
Heero groaned, eyes closing in bliss, spreading his legs further, arching against the floor. The thought of Duo having never done this to anyone but him, nearly made him lose it right then and there. His hands slid across the floor, clawing at the tile, as the tide coursing through his body grew more extreme with each contact of that mouth against his aching flesh. He almost felt like crying when Duo stopped suddenly, glancing up, grinning, one hand still stroking.
"Funny, the popsicles never moan like you."
The porch was finally done. Duo slowly walked down the back steps, then turned to admire the culmination of several weeks and months worth of work and planning. Stars littered the midnight walls; reflecting in a perfectly painted night drenched ocean, waves seemingly washing at the back door. He grinned, flicking the paintbrush, sending spatters of glowing white onto the lawn.
It was done. He wondered what Heero would think of it. Did it still look like his dream? Well, in a few hours he would find out. Duo went to get the paint remover and hose, humming softly to himself. The sun had nearly set by the time he was done cleaning up. Milliard already preparing dinner, and Treize supposedly helping. Though, the ginger haired manís help usually consisted of planting himself on a stool and watching Mil cook.
Duo went around to the front of the house, wiping his hands on his jeans and smearing paint across them. He made a face and took a corner of his t-shirt to open the door with. Kicking off his shoes, he made his way to the bright kitchen, inhaling the aroma of food cooking.
"All done?" Treize asked, glancing up from a small mountain of potatoes, peeler in hand.
"Yup, itís finally done. Whatís for dinner? Iím starving." Duo walked over and bent down to peer into the oven, his jaw dropped slightly and he turned to Milliard with wide eyes and a large beatific smile. "You must love me. I see roast."
"This has nothing to do with love for you bro, and everything to do with promises extracted from certain split browed devils I could name." He idly slapped Duoís hand as the boy tried to sneak a greenbean away from the pile sitting beside the sink.
"Ouch!" Duo gave him a hurt looking, clutching at his hand.
"Do you have any idea how hard it is to French cut these babies?"
Treize exchanged a glance with Duo. "You know itís serious when he starts referring to the food as babies. Want some raw potato instead?" He held up one of the white tubers, waving it enticingly.
"Yeah right. I think Iíll go shower instead."
"Heero coming for dinner?" Milliard asked, turning back to his beans and checking the timer on the oven.
"No, I donít think so. He had to write an essay thatís due tomorrow, though he did say he would try to come over when he was done." Duo shrugged, frowning down at his socks. "How long till dinnerís ready?" He asked, heading for the door.
"Forty-five minutes or so. Treize! Stop trying to peel that potato into a toothpick or Iíll be forced toÖ"
Duo grinned, Milís threat lost as he pounded up the stairs.
"Mil, if we werenít related, Iíd marry you."
Milliard rolled his eyes, "Treize, weíre not related, and why would I want to marry some lowly inventor like you? Besides, you just want me for my cooking abilities."
"No really, itís not just the food I swear! Oh Duo, could you pass those potatoes? Itís your, mmm, the beans too please? Itís your lovely personality Mil, honest. Is there more gravy? Wonderful. Itís your uhÖThere is more roast? Oh good, pass some over?" Treize glanced up from his plate, laughter brimming in his eyes. "Really Mil, you know itís not just your cooking I love about you." He tried to look sincere, lifting a forkful of mashed potatoes dripping with gravy to his mouth.
"Oh?" Mil raised an eyebrow, leaning forward in his chair.
"Yes, I also love those sexy little noises you make when IÖ"
"Treize! Duo! Stop snickering!" The blond man started to blush, eyeing his lover across the table. "You are in so much trouble tonight, you have no idea."
Treize grinned. "Who says I wasnít looking for trouble?"
Duo had just opened his mouth with the full intention of earning himself at least a week worth of dish duty and hauling the garbage to the corner at 6am twice a week for a month, when there was a knock on the front door.
They glanced at each other for a moment, as if asking whom it could be. Duo finally stood up, and with a curious expression went to answer it. As he approached the front of the house, he could just make out a familiar voice speaking in low tones on the porch. A grin spread across his face, and flinging open the door, he pounced on the woman standing on the other side.
"Aunt Sasha!" Arms that he felt around him whenever he was low, arms heíd always go to for comfort, and finally they were around him again. He clung to his aunt, barely noticing the pounding of feet as Mil and Treize ran to the front porch.
Within in minutes all three boys had their arms firmly wrapped around Sasha and Stefan, laughter bubbling up from the group. Sasha at last managed to extricate herself from the tangle of men and beamed at them all. "I brought back a few surprises from my travels. One of them I think you will all enjoy immensely. We canít keep him, but we get to take care of him for a while." She turned and gestured to a figure standing at the foot of the stairs.
Light glinted off hair as blond as Milliardís, and a pale complexion turned rosy as all eyes fixed on the newcomer. Large aquamarine eyes blinked in the light of the porch as the boy came forward and stood beside Sasha. She reached out and snagged his arm, dragging him closer and standing him in front of herself. "This is Quatre Raberba Winner. I promised his parents I would show him a taste of America. Heís never been here before, and they thought it would be good for him to gain new experiences abroad. Though," She paused and tapped her chin thoughtfully. "I did try to explain to them that Retrind is not an abroad kind of place. But they just wouldnít listen. So, heíll be staying with us for a while, I was thinking the attic room would be good." She nodded to herself and glanced around at the three boys, who still hadnít said a word. Quatre stared at his shoes, fingers twisting in his shirt.
Duo moved until he stood directly in front of the boy, then stuck out his hand with a nervous little laugh. "Iím Duo. Pleased to meet you errÖyour highness?"
Quatre blushed even brighter and looked up. "Quatre, just Quatre. Though your aunt has taken to calling meÖ" He glanced at her questioningly.
"Kat, itís much easier than that mouthful you call a name." She beamed at him, and then motioned to Milliard and Treize who stood to one side. "This is Treize and Mil. But Iím sure you recognize everyone from their pictures?"
Quatre nodded and then smiled and took Duoís hand, shaking it firmly. "Yes, I remember who they are." He looked Duo in the eyes. "And itís nice to meet you too Duo."
"But Aunt Sasha I donít understand." Duo stood in the center of the living room holding out a large voluminous robe and a strange hat.
"Well, when we went to Turkey with Quatre on our way home, we discovered you can buy the costume of the whirling dervish. Quatre explained all about it and I thought it might interest you. He also said that he would explain it to you and show you how to go into the trance." She smiled and patted Stefanís hand as they sat together on the love seat. On the couch to the right of them sat the other three, watching Duo examine the embroidered cloth.
"I can show you how to put that on as well, and I brought a cd of the music that can usually be heard at the festival." The blond boy stood up and tentatively took a step towards Duo, gesturing towards the costume and smiling shyly.
"Ok." Duo grabbed his hand and started tugging him up the stairs. "Show me now, Iíve heard about the dervishes, but I donít know much about them. What exactly is the trance?"
Quatre followed him, trying not to trip as Duo skipped steps. "Well, itís very fascinating. "In the thirteenth century Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, a great philosopher, founded the ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the sema. The Dervish is a serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priests in a prayer trance to Allah." He paused as they entered Duoís room, glancing at the various drawings pinned to the wall, and admiring the large painting on the ceiling. "Is that an Escher?"
"Yeah, I like his style. So tell me more about these Dervishes...Mevlevi?"
Quatre nodded and began spreading out the robe on the bed. "Well, in the Middle East it is believed that when the Mevlevi is in prayer that his body becomes open to receive the energy of God. Dervish literally means "doorway" and is thought to be an entrance from this material world to the spiritual, heavenly world." He turned his back as Duo started stripping off his t-shirt. "Rumi and his followers integrated music into their rituals as an article of faith. In his verses, Rumi emphasized that music uplifts our spirit to realms above, and we hear the tunes of the Gates of Paradise."
"So itís religious then?" Duo pulled the robe over his head, then realized he would have to unbutton it first, and tried to tug it back off. "Uh, I think Iím stuck. Could you give me a hand?"
"Sure." Quatre unbuttoned the top few buttons and helped slide the garment down. "And yes, itís religious. The music I brought with me is some of the music they play at the festival in December. My parents let me go every year with my older brothers. Iíve even learned the dance, though I canít say Iíve ever gone into a trance. Iíve only gotten extremely dizzy. There, that should do it; I think you can get the hat on yourself. Thereís a strap to hold it in place." He straightened a few folds in the robe and stood back. "I brought my own robes with me, Iíll run upstairs and get them on."
Duo grinned at him, swaying from side to side, sending the wide skirt of the robe billowing out. "Sure thing, meet me downstairs, Iíll bring my cd player."
"Ok, show me that hand thing again." Duo wiggled his fingers.
"Hold your elbows up, like this." Quatre demonstrated, waiting until Duo was in the right stance. "Ok, start with your right foot and spin." He watched as the wide skirt began to revolve out in a large circle. It never ceased to mesmerize him no matter how many times heíd seen it before. "Iíll get the music. Keep practicing."
The CD player sat on the bottom step of the back porch. Moonlight lit the yard, the sky blue velvet and filled with stars. Duo kept twirling in place, concentrating on keeping his feet moving without tripping within the voluminous robe. The music filtered through the night air, dominated by the haunting sound of reed pipes and drums. Quatre smiled, eyes on the stars, and then went to stand beside Duo, barefoot on the lawn.
"Thereís a chant that goes with this." He said quietly, starting to slowly spin in place. Duo kept up his rotations and they both stared above at the sky stretching into infinity. "It goes something like. ĎA secret turning in us makes the universe turn. Head unaware of feet, and feet head. Neither cares. They keep turning.í You sort of chant it along with the beat of the drums while spinning in tune with it all and turning your arms and hands like I showed you." They whirled for a moment, two pale faces amidst robes of darkness, the night sky embracing them.
"Itís like weíre spinning in space." Duo whispered.
"Whoís to say we arenít?"
The world seemed to leave the bottom of Duoís feet as he whirled in ever increasing speed, and for a brief moment, he felt as if he were flying. Then his knee caught in a fold of his robes and he went rolling down the lawn spilling into Quatre and sending them both tumbling down the steep little hill.
Duo landed in a heap and half on top of Quatre. They lay there groaning for a minute, the music still playing up the hill.
"Those stars," Duo pointed a shaky finger upwards. "Those are supposed to be there, right?"
Quatre groaned and tried to sit up. "I think so, but what about those ones?" He pointed towards the bay, and then collapsed back onto the grass.
"I think Iím going to be sick." Duo said morosely, rolling onto his stomach and moaning.
"Next time, letís not do this on a hill?" Quatre started to laugh.
"Gotcha." Duo rolled onto his back in the grass and stared up into the night sky, laughing at the watching moon.
Heero turned from the window; in his mind, he could still see the two figures at the bottom of the hill. Heíd watched as theyíd come out of the house, chuckled as Duo practiced the dance.
Heero knew of the dance and itís purpose, and briefly, heíd wondered if there was a place he hadnít visited before. Then the music had begun and his attention had been glued to the figure with the long braid spinning in the moonlight, an angel in the dark.
When theyíd fallen down the hill, heíd barely constrained the urge to rush over and make sure Duo was all right. But the laughter that had drifted up the hill towards him, that pure laughter, had frozen his feet to the floor. He realized then what it was that bothered him, why he still felt so confused. He glanced out the window again, watching as the two boys tottered to their feet and started back up the hill.
He could never give Duo what that boy just had. Heíd never have that innocence again, if heíd ever had it to begin with. Heero leaned his head against the wall, insight hammering into his mind like an iron fist. "Hell Duo," he whispered to the dark kitchen. "I canít give you want you need, all I can do is love you." He sank down to the floor, closing his eyes.
It would never be enough. How could his love possibly be enough for someone like Duo? "Iím so dead inside." He clutched his head, folding his arms over his knees. "I canít ask you to try and make me alive again. You need someone like that guy. Someone like you." Iím not enough. He shook his head, trying not to feel the sudden pain in his chest. Depression settled over him like a mantle, shielding him. Duo needed someone cheerful, someone outgoing, someone who he could have fun with, play with, laugh with. Heero knew that someone couldnít be him; he just didnít have it in him to be that way.
He stood up, feeling the coldness descend upon his mind as if it had never left. He shoved his emotions back into the blackness again, closing his heart and locking it once more. "Itís better this way." For you and me.