"I here sounds
I would like
to take you
down there just
to make you
mine in a
merry-go-round" - Cardigans, Carnival
Duo Maxwell is in love. Or so all his friends and relatives say. Itís the way he looks at the world, the smile that never leaves his face. The way he bounces when he walks down Main Street. But most of all, itís because theyíre right.
Every year the small town of Retrind has a fair. They do it for the reasons most small towns do, to celebrate life. Main Street closes down and the various shops build booths or set up tables up and down the street. A carnival comes to town with a Ferris wheel and games of chance and skill. And every year the whole clan of Peacecrafts and Khushrenadas go and wreak merry havoc.
This year, there are few more in the group, but they only seem to add to the fun.
Duo looked up from the little girlís face heíd been painting and grinned. A tiger, a phoenix, and Heero stood looking down at him.
"Cotton candy?" The tiger offered.
"Thanks Hilde. Give me a minute, I have to finish this dragon." He carefully painted a few more golden scales onto the tiny face, then blew on them, sending the little girl into a fit of giggles.
"Alright my dragon, youíre all done."
"Thanks Duo!" She jumped off the stool and ran to a woman standing a few feet away.
"So whereís everyone else?" Duo asked, cleaning his brushes and putting the lids back on the face paints.
"Milís over with Treize trying to win things." Quatre said, idly sipping his water and glancing about.
"Sasha and Stefan are over on the Ferris wheel." Hilde tore off a chunk of fluffy pink cotton candy and shoved it into Duoís mouth.
He let it melt on his tongue for a moment.
"Rel and Dorothy are following Treize and Mil around, last I noticed theyíd managed to win more." Heero took a piece of cotton candy from Hilde.
"So when can you stop face painting and come with us?" Hilde asked, bouncing and trying to swat Heeroís hand away from what was left of her treat.
"You can go now lad, Iíll mind the stall for a bit." All four teenagers jumped as Mr. Mac appeared seemingly out of thin air.
"Going to open the fortune telling booth now Mr. Mac?" Duo asked, starting to put the paints and brushes away.
"Of course, itís about time for it. And Iíve got a fortune for you already."
"Youíll be having a good time today, donít be afraid of heights."
"That sounded like one of the more real fortunes Iíve heard." Duo started to laugh. He turned to the other three, and gestured down the street. "Where to first?"
"More cotton candy." Hilde said firmly, glaring at Heero as he snagged the last bit.
"Deal. Then I want to go find the dunking booth." Duo said, glancing sidelong at the dark haired boy.
"Donít look at me. Besides, you havenít seen Mil lately have you?" Heero started to chuckle. "Letís just say, thatís another game Relena and Dorothy beat them at."
"I think Iíll name her Goldy." Mil grinned, and jiggled the plastic bag gently.
"Goldy?" Treize stared at him in astonishment. "Thatís the most absurd thing Iíve ever heard."
"My goldfish, I won it, I get to name it." The blond man smiled rather smugly.
"Ok, Goldy it is. Now," Treize leaned closer and peered into the bag at the little goldfish. "How do you know itís a she?"
Milliard raised an eyebrow. "Donít you know?"
"Well Iím not telling you if you donít know."
"Alright, in that caseÖ" Treize glanced up and down the isle of stalls they stood in. "Wait right here." He held up a hand in a stay gesture and walked quickly back the way theyíd come.
Mil looked after him with a puzzled expression, but obeyed the peremptory command and admired his goldfish in the sunlight.
A few minutes later, a large, red, gooey apple was shoved under his nose. Automatically he leaned over to take a bite, and the apple jerked just out of reach. He looked up and glared at his smiling lover. "Tease."
"Tell me how you know itís a she."
Mil looked at the candied apple, then looked at the grinning man. He did it again just in case things had changed, they hadnít. "Alright, give me a bite and Iíll tell you."
"Can I trust you?" Treize dangled the apple from its stick and waved it in front of the hungry, ice blue eyes.
Milliard smiled like the proverbial cat thatís just seen the steak on the counter, and the way to get to it. "Of course." He said, never taking his eyes off the ruby colored fruit. He took a large bite as soon as it came close enough and chewed happily for a moment.
"How do you know?"
"Oh, that." He shrugged and tried to look innocent. "It looks like a she, donít you think?"
Treize stared at him for a moment, and then he shook his head and started eating the rest of the apple, carefully ignoring all the pleading looks he received from Milliard.
Relena was getting tired of carrying around the large pink teddy bear. She admitted to herself that she liked the color, and she always did have a thing for teddy bears. What bothered her was that she was stuck lugging the giant thing around for the rest of the afternoon. She sighed and hitched it onto her hip, trying to juggle a bag of popcorn and a soda in her other hand. Then she had an idea. "Dorothy?" She said in the sweetest voice that she could manage, years of private school and strict lessons coming to her rescue.
"Yes?" The blond girl turned from where sheíd been admiring a large mirror with a sword painted down one side of it.
"I was thinking."
"Always a dangerous habit."
"Yes, well, I was doing it anyway. And I wondered."
"Thatís another dangerous thing to do you know."
"I know that too. But do you think, that isÖ" Relena batted her eyelashes and snuggled her head against the large teddy. "Do you think you would like this teddy bear? Iíve got so many already, maybe you could have this one?" She smiled, putting as much innocence and tragic despair as she could into it.
"You donít want to lug it around anymore, do you?" Dorothy gave her a penetrating stare, then grinned. "Thatís ok, I have a plan."
"Oh good, I think if I have to carry this thing for another ten minutes Iíll be forced to drown it in the bay."
"I always knew you loved me."
"What? I do. I just want to pawn this thing off on some poor unsuspecting relative."
They paused in their slow saunter down the street and looked at each other.
"You knowÖ" Dorothy started to say.
"Quatre is partial to teddy bears isnít he?" Relena interrupted, grinning at the thought.
"Heís such a nice boy."
"And so very giving."
"He should get something in return, donít you think?"
They beamed at each other.
"One foot long please." Duo rubbed his growling stomach and smiled at Heero. "You can only get hotdogs like these at the fair. I swear they never taste the same from anywhere else." He grabbed up the hotdog the vendor set down on the counter, and began loading various condiments onto it from the bank of plastic containers that sat nearby.
Heero watched in utter fascination. Then his jaw dropped as the boy with the braid managed to shove nearly the whole length of the thing into his mouth. "Duo?" He choked, staring in sheer amazement.
Duo rolled his eyes in ecstasy, continuing to chew, then swallowed and smiled, licking a bit of mustard from one corner of his mouth. "Yeah?"
The dark haired boy shook his head and then a slow smile crept across his features. He glanced at the partially demolished hotdog, then at Duoís mouth. His smile widened slightly. "Tell me, do you thinkÖ"
Duo cocked his head to one side, absently continuing to munch on the end of the hotdog.
Heero swallowed and went on bravely. "Do you thinkÖ"
"Hey guys! There you are, bumper cars are next you know." Hilde ran up to them dragging a blushing Quatre behind her. The blond boy seemed to be carrying a large pink teddy bear.
"Bumper cars? Great, just let me finish this snack." Duo wolfed down the tail end of the hotdog and glanced at Quatre. "Hey Kat, didnít think you went for pink teddies."
Quatre flushed even redder and tried to hide the pink monstrosity behind his back. The problem was that it seemed to be almost as big as he was, and his arms were positively aching from lugging it around. Suddenly a little light seemed to go on in his brain and he smiled sweetly at the braided boy. "Itís not really, but it would go great in your room." He looked at Duo hopefully.
"Nice try Kat, pull the other one its got bells on." Duo grinned and swished his braid from side to side in a thoughtful manner. "You know, I bet Aunt Sasha could use a nice big, pink teddy bearÖ" He glanced meaningfully at the bear as Quatre tried unsuccessfully to hoist it up into a more comfortable position.
"You think so?"
"Oh yeah, she loves teddy bears, has a whole collection of them cluttering up Stefanís attic."
"You donít suppose she mightÖ?"
Duo beamed at him and gestured down the street. "Last I saw her she was throwing darts and scaring the hell out of the vendor of that stall." He leant close and whispered sotto voce, "She doesnít have very good aim."
"You see," Hilde said, turning and facing Quatre in line. "The thing you have to remember about bumper cars is that no one can actually get hurt."
The blond winced at a particularly loud crashing sound. "Really?"
"Mhm." She nodded and eyed the various cars in use. "Now I personally would go for that one over near the corner, see? With the kid in the blue shirt? Thatís a good car, that one."
Quatre shuddered at the loud shriek of two cars bumping and banging into the rest and setting off a cacophony of sound. "Whyís that exactly?"
"Oh well, anyone can see itís the best of them." She nodded to herself, then grinned at the rather pale boy. "And itís got the best paint job, which is like the most important thing of all."
Duo, who was standing behind Hilde, or in front of the line, depending on where you were standing, turned around and rolled his eyes at Quatre over the petite girlís shoulder. "I say the black one is the best."
"Hmph." Hilde turned around to face him. "So you think youíre good huh?"
"No one can beat me at bumper cars." He said firmly, crossing his arms and sticking out a hip.
Hilde mimicked him. "Oh yeah?"
"Weíll just see about that."
"One large vanilla soft serve please." Hilde grinned up at the vendor, sending the boy around the edge of the window blushing furiously.
She laughed softly to herself and turned around to beam at Duo. The vending boy came back around the corner holding a dripping cone piled so high with icecream it nearly fell off. "Pay the man Duo." She took the cone and licked delicately at the dripping bits of it.
The vendor seemed to jerk himself out of a daze and managed to make change for Duo. Then the boy went back to staring at Hilde as she licked her way around the cone.
Duo glanced from the boy to Hilde. He leaned across the counter and said under his breath. "She may be cute, but sheís brutal at bumper cars."
The boy seemed to perk up a bit. "Iím good at those too."
Duo grinned. "Hilde? I think we found youíre next challenger."
The shorthaired girl grinned up at the boy behind the counter. "So, you think youíre good huh?"
Duo stood stock-still and stared up at the glowing Ferris wheel. "IÖ I canít."
Heero raised an eyebrow. "You mean, you really are afraid of heights?"
Duo nodded miserably.
"Hmm." Heero glanced around. "Stay here, Iíll be right back."
Duo bit his lip and watched as Heero went over and spoke to the man running the Ferris wheel. Then the dark haired boy slipped into the crowd and disappeared from sight. The lights surrounding the giant wheel kept drawing Duoís eyes, he smiled when he spotted Sasha and Stefan up in one of the gondolaís waving at him.
A hand slipped around his eyes from behind and Heero whispered into his ear. "Do you trust me?"
"Good." Heero pulled out a black square of cloth and folded it into a blindfold, then carefully tied it around Duoís eyes.
"I feel silly."
"Donít. You look beautiful." Heero leant close and whispered into his ear. "As always." He smiled when he felt the boy shiver slightly. "Now come on." He wrapped his hand around Duoís arm and gently guided him over to the line. Occasionally heíd murmur something into the boyís ear that would make him smile and blush, effectively helping him forget what they were about to do.
When an open gondola finally came down in front of them, Heero felt Duo tense and try to edge backwards. "Trust me."
He nodded and inched forward, Heero guiding him onto the seat. A few seconds later the Ferris wheel moved a little, and more people got on. Duo cringed as the gondola swayed slightly.
Heero scooted closer to the shivering boy and put an arm around him, drawing his head down against his chest. "In ancient times the sky was worshiped." He said softly.
Duo lifted his head slightly. "Oh?"
"Mhm. The stars were giant gods that roamed the heavens, and the sun revolved around the earth."
Duo relaxed a little, sliding his arms around the slim waist and nuzzling closer.
"And in all this time, the sky is still the same. We see the same stars, the same sun, and the same moon." Heero went on, toying with the tip of the long braid and smiling when Duo didnít seem to notice they were moving.
"Yeah, but weíre not superstitious. Besides weíve got science now." Duo rested his head against one warm shoulder.
"Science canít take the mystery out of life. No matter how many years they go on looking, theyíll never learn certain things."
Heero looked down at the blindfolded eyes, the soft lips that smiled at him. "Hmm." He leant down and gently kissed that seeming invitation. "Love?"
"They might get around to explaining that." Duo said, reaching up and pulling the smirking boy down for another kiss.
The Ferris wheel stopped at the top of the rise. And Heero carefully untied the blindfold, slipping it off while he continued kissing. He eased back and watched as the amethyst eyes opened slowly, then widened.
"Look, you can see the bay." Heero pointed out at the glittering expanse of water, wrapping his arms firmly around the braided boy and pulling him tight against himself. Duo looked up at him and the world seemed to hold still for a long moment. Heero was drowning in the deep star shrouded pools, his mind going blank as his dream came back to haunt him. He looked back over the bay, in the dark it looked like a desert of water, with the moon for a sun. Like the world had turned inside out. "Maybe some superstitions are ok." He said softly.
"Are there any that say itís bad luck to kiss on a Ferris wheel?"
"Good." Duo glanced again over the water before pulling Heero down for more.
The sky above painted with glossy stars and a fat moon smiled back at them, the wheel turning high into the night air, the lights and noise below a soft undercurrent of life.
"I wonder," came a whisper in the darkness. "In all those stars, all those places, do you think we exist more than once?"
"I hope weíre together."
"Always." Came the faint response. And the stars watched on.