Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
by Dyna Dee
The twenty-three minute drive to the airport proved to be rather illuminating. Well rested after sleeping nearly two days straight, Heero was able to think more clearly than he had in prior weeks. At last the answers to many of the questions that had been spinning around in his head regarding the marauders, Relena's kidnaping and the involvement of his friends in both of those cases began coalescing into possible answers. Of course he had only his assumptions and no definitive proof, but he was almost certain he had figured out most of the mystery surrounding the marauders and how his friends and Duo fit into the picture. Now all that was left was to decide what to do with his conclusions.
The plane was on time and Duo, slightly rumpled but nonetheless strikingly handsome, was one of the first to step out from the gate. After a brief and restrained greeting, (they were, after all, in a public place) they walked side by side to the baggage terminal while Duo, surprisingly alert and bright-eyed in spite of the all-night flight, filled him in on the last couple of days. Standing back from the group of passengers huddling around the oval baggage conveyer, Heero surreptitiously admired the view of Duo bending over to retrieve his two bags when they finally presented themselves. The pale faded blue jeans the American wore certainly looked good on him. Though his long and trim legs were hidden beneath denim, his perfect posterior was nicely showcased by the snug fit. The urge to put his hands on those tempting globes had to be stifled, because even at this early hour in the morning there were enough people about that his actions would more likely land him in trouble rather than bring him any pleasure.
With a suitcase in each hand and a carry-on bag slung over his shoulder, the American model spun around and caught him staring. A wide grin grew on the long-haired man's face, accompanied by a playful wink as he closed the distance between them. Duo waited until drawing up next to him to ask in a soft, seductive voice, "Undressing me already?"
Heero chuckled. "Even in my sleep."
Duo laughed out loud, and the happy sound brought the two men unwanted attention from the other passengers. "Let's go," Heero said, grabbing the teasing man's arm and pulling him out of the double doors and towards the parking lot.
The sun was just about to rise over the eastern mountains as they set the luggage into the trunk of Heero's black sports car. "Nice," Duo said with a grin of appreciation aimed at the car. "I can see you don't deny yourself some luxuries."
"Denying oneself some things can be taken as a sign of discipline," Heero answered, unlocking the car with the push of a button on his key chain. Both he and Duo got into the small vehicle and looked at each other with no small amount of hunger in their gazes. "But to deny yourself of all pleasure is nothing short of masochism, in my opinion."
Duo leaned closer, over the gearshift. "I agree completely," he said in a breathy voice just before his lips attached themselves to Heero's. The kiss was a long and thorough, which eventually led to further desires. Sports cars, they both quickly learned, were definitely not designed for two grown men who were desperate to get into each other's pants.
Throwing himself back in his seat, his lips moist and pink following the long, passionate kiss, Duo let out a frustrated huff. "Get us to your apartment, Heero, before I pull you out of this car and have my way with you on the floor of this parking lot."
"Tempting as that may be, it would get us arrested, and spending the day in the local jail is not how I plan to spend our time together." Heero quickly scanned the area around the car while combing his fingers though his hair, willing his erection to settle down. He glanced at his watch and was surprised to see they'd been making out for at least twenty minutes.
Duo chuckled. "You've got a point there. Guess it's breakfast first, huh? Gotta feed to do the deed."
Heero snorted at the corny line as he started his car. "You use that line on every guy you make out with?" he teased.
"Yeah, it's one of my better come ons," Duo joked, obviously in a good mood.
A long and awkward moment passed between them. Heero wondered silently about the other men Duo had been with during the past five years, even though his lover had assured them they had been few and far in between. Duo's expression changed to a look of worry, but before he could speak Heero was interrupted by his approach of the parking attendant's booth. He fished out the credits for the parking fee and hand it to the uniformed man. Having completed the transaction, he pulled the car onto the thoroughfare and headed back towards the city.
"Heero?" There was a nervous edge to Duo's voice. "Is there something wrong?"
"We need to talk."
There was a long pause before the other man replied. "Yeah. I guess we do. Do you want to do that now or at your place?"
"Let me pick up something for us to eat and we can take back to the apartment. We can talk over breakfast." The playful mood they'd shared only moments ago was definitely gone, replaced by a tension that neither man wanted.
Duo remained in the car while Heero ran into a restaurant. During the ten minutes he was gone the American worried about what Heero wanted to talk about. His earlier comment, made in jest, had obviously sparked something. Could it be that Heero really believed he was promiscuous? There was no doubt that he could have been, if he'd wanted. Men and women flirted with him all the time, in private as well as in public. But he'd never had a good enough reason for jeopardizing his career by letting others know of his sexual preference... until now. He worried his lower lip between his teeth as he waited and watched for the one man who made his heart ache and fill with longing at the same time. He was fully aware that one wrong word could blow not only his chances with Heero, but risk his and his friends' freedom. Damn, he was walking a fine line, a virtual highwire. One slip and everything would fall apart. It hurt to keep things from Heero, but doing so was not only an act of self preservation, but an attempt to protect those who had helped him bring aid to L2.
Heero exited the front door of the restaurant holding a large brown bag in one hand and balancing a cardboard holder containing four cups in the other. His apartment was located only a couple of blocks away from the restaurant and the car covered that small amount of distance while Duo buried his head buried in the bag. He deduced from the smell emanating from the Styrofoam containers that they were about to feast on Denver omelets, toast and hash browns. His mouth was watering from the smell of his favorite breakfast, one he hadn't indulged in more than a couple of times since he'd taken up his current profession. His manager and the hired militaristic nutritionist frowned on him eating fried food of any kind. Perhaps it was time to take back his life and make decisions for himself once again. Maybe, to prove his independence, he'd be really bad and have some chocolate cake later. Better yet, some whipping cream, real whipping cream ala Heero. Oh yeah, that would definitely hit the spot. He turned to grin at the other man just as they pulled into the parking garage of an apartment complex.
"What?" Heero smiled back before turning into what looked like an assigned space.
"Just hungry, that's all." The look he gave Heero and the suggestive shifting of his eyebrows conveyed it wasn't merely food he hungered for.
"Come on, let's get inside before we do something the neighbors will raise hell about." Heero took the keys out of the ignition, grabbed the container of drinks and the two men exited the car.
As they made their way up to the fifth floor, Duo was pleased to note that Heero's building was fitted with some a impressive security system, and he wondered how much his lover had to do with its installation. Though Heero's apartment wasn't as modern or furnished as lavishly as his place in New York, Duo liked it. The simple furniture, neutral colors with a splash of more vibrant colors coming from artwork on the walls, the throw rug and pillows, were all masculine, all Heero. The American liked what he saw and immediately felt comfortable.
"This way." Heero led him to the kitchen at the back of the apartment. It was a standard kitchen, as far as apartments went, but it allowed just enough room to include a small, two-person glass table. Duo took one seat and, after Heero retrieved some silverware out of a drawer, he took the other. The darker haired man pulled the Styrofoam containers out of the bag and gave the first one to his guest, then set the other before himself. The drinking containers, Duo found, contained orange juice and coffee.
Perfect. Everything was perfect, Duo thought, except for the bit of worry he felt about the impending "talk". It was probably better to get it out of the way so they could, hopefully, enjoy the rest of their time together. Opening his container and allowing himself a brief moment to inhale the heavenly aroma, his stomach demanded he delay no longer. Picking up his fork, he dug into the Denver omelet. Closing his eyes while he chewed allowed him to fully enjoy the wonderful flavor of eggs, bell pepper, ham and cheese, all blending together in his mouth, and he couldn't help moaning with pleasure. He heard Heero chuckle and opened his eyes to see the handsome man sitting across the table was smiling at him. "It seems like forever since I ate something like this," he explained.
Heero looked surprised. "What do you normally eat for breakfast? "
"High fiber cereal, maybe some fruit and a little low fat milk."
Heero looked surprised. "You never used to be so health conscious. If I remember right, you liked pancakes or sweetened cereal for breakfast."
"Well, I was a kid back then. Now that my job is essentially displaying my body in front of a camera and signing contracts to keep my weight at a certain level, I'm pretty much forced into watching what I eat. After all, maintaining a long and lean body is what I get paid the big bucks for."
Heero frowned. "Duo, you do not have a weight problem. I think you have a high enough metabolism to eat healthy without denying yourself."
Duo appreciated Heero's concern, but his eating habits weren't worth talking about. "So was there something specific you want to talk about?" he asked just before putting a fork full of hash browns into his mouth.
Heero put his fork down and looked him in the eyes. "Yes. I want to talk about us, about how this relationship is going to work. We have some rather significant challenges before us, one of which is living on two different continents. But no matter the problem, I'm determined to make this work, no matter what."
Duo couldn't help but sound doubtful when he asked, "No matter what?"
Heero nodded. "I'm considering putting in for a transfer to the Eastern United States Division. It's based in Washington, D.C., and that's just a short distance by plane or train to New York City."
Duo almost choked on his second mouthful of potatoes. "You'd leave Sanq and your job here for me?"
Reaching across the surface of the glass tabletop, Heero took the startled man's hand and said with all sincerity, "I love you, Duo, and I've come to realize just how rare it is to find the one person you're meant to be with. I don't want to chance losing you again, and I think if we tried to have a long-distance relationship, especially with the type of work we both do, sooner or later we would give up on being together simply because of the difficulty of the situation."
Duo squeezed the hand in his own. He could see by Heero's expression that he was completely serious and maybe even a bit anxious about his reaction to his declaration.
"That's funny," he began with a reassuring grin. "I've been thinking about looking into doing some modeling here in Europe, maybe checking out some of the universities. I feel it's time to make a career change, maybe get a degree in... well, I haven't thought it all out yet, but what I do know is that I don't want to be far away from you either."
Both men smiled, comforted by the fact that they were in agreement about not being separated by an ocean. When Heero's expression sobered again, Duo knew the man had something else on his mind. "In light of the fact that we're trying to make this work, I'd like for our relationship to be exclusive."
Duo blinked, shocked by Heero's request. "Do you think I'm seeing someone else? That I'd even consider it now that we're together?"
The accusing tone in Duo's voice naturally put Heero on the defensive. "I don't know, Duo. You've been rather tightlipped about how you feel about me, and you're always being photographed with some good looking man or woman in your company. I've tried not to pry and to respect the fact that you have a life of your own and that you don't have to answer to me. But I've discovered I'm a monogamous person by nature. I know that I want you and only you. I guess what I'm saying is that I need for you to feel the same way about me. Think about this, Duo. If you find yourself hesitating, if you're not sure I'm the one person you can pledge your life to, then I think we should take a step back and re-evaluate just what we're doing."
For several long moments Duo simply stared at the man sitting across from him, not giving away his inner thoughts as he asked, "What exactly do you mean by â€˜pledge my life'?"
Heero's face became flushed from embarrassment. He hadn't meant to speak his mind quite so soon, but he couldn't retract what he'd said either. "Same-sex marriage is legal here in Sanq. I don't want to rush you, Duo, and I know we haven't been seeing each other very long, but I know without a doubt what I want, and that's you by my side. When you're ready to hear the words, I'll ask you to marry me."
After the expression of surprise faded from Duo's face, he appeared thoughtful for about five seconds before he reached forward and closed the Styrofoam lid on his unfinished breakfast. Heero watched as the man picked the container up, along with his cup of juice and fork, and rose from his chair. Alarmed and thinking that he'd spoken prematurely, Heero stood as well. "Duo," he began and then stopped short, not knowing what he could possibly say to placate his lover. He'd put his heart on the line and it appeared as though Duo wasn't ready to deal with the depth of his feelings for him. He could only watch as Duo put his meal in the refrigerator, his fork and cup in the sink. When he turned, Heero was still in the process of preparing himself for rejection. Duo's eyes met his own before shifting to the table. "I'd put your food away for later, if I were you."
Confused, Heero stood from his chair, wondering why Duo cared about something so insignificant at a time like this. "Are you leaving?" He somehow managed to voice his worst fear, even with the lump in his throat and his heart on the verge of breaking.
The blue-violet eyes widened. "Shit, Heero. What's going on in that head of yours? Where the hell do you think I'm going?" Duo walked up to him looking exasperated and yet determined. And when they were standing toe to toe, the braided man bent his head slightly to capture his lover's lips, his arms wrapping securely around Heero's waist and jerking him close against his chest. He then proceeded to kiss the Asian man senseless. Any confusion or worry Heero felt moments before evaporated like a bank of fog under the brilliant sunshine. His heart was racing and his knees felt weak while his lower regions were definitely coming to attention by the time Duo pulled back to let them both catch a breath.
"Idiot," Duo whispered against his hair, his arms still holding him tight. "Don't you know that I've always been yours for the asking? From the first time we kissed I gave you my heart."
"But I almost killed you." Heero shook his head as it rested on Duo's shoulder. "I still don't understand why you decided to forgive and trust me. I really don't deserve either."
"That's all in the past," Duo said firmly, his hand combing through Heero's thick hair. "And I don't want to talk about that anymore. I'm yours and you're mine. In fact, there's only one thing on my mind at the moment and it has nothing to do with words or apologies. Show me your bedroom, Heero, or this kitchen is going to get rather messy."
Heero embraced the other man just as tightly, grateful once again for Duo's forgiveness and having him back in his life. He breathed in the masculine and pleasant scent of his lover, and without forethought he blurted out, "Do you think you might consider marrying me, Duo?"
With a smile in his voice the other man answered, "You name the time and place and I'm there with bells on."
Heero confirmed that his lover was smiling when he kissed those generous, upturned lips, and he put every bit of passion he had into that action, wordlessly telling the other man how happy Duo's agreeing to legally cement their relationship had made him. Together the two men, unwilling to separate for even a moment, stumbled their way into the bedroom, discarding their clothes along the way. They fell onto the bed together with bare limbs entangled and briefly wrestled for the top position, groping, stroking and caressing each other until they could hold back no longer. Their love making was passionate and breathtakingly wonderful as each man strove to prove to the other how much he was loved and desired.
Still slightly sweaty and thoroughly sated, the two recovered slowly from their lovemaking while resting in each other's arms, their hearts and bodies slowly calming to a more restive state. Heero's ear rested on Duo's shoulder, and he could hear the steady drone of his lover's heartbeat.
"Heero?" Duo's voice sounded uncertain.
"Yes," he replied, running his hand over the smooth expanse of skin beneath his fingers.
"Before we make this official and tell the world we're not only gay but that we're getting hitched, I think there is something I should tell you, something you should know about me. Up until recently I've been involved with some things that I've purposely withheld from you."
Before the long-haired man could blink, it came to Heero what Duo wanted to talk about, or rather what he was about to confess. He reacted immediately. Rising up on his elbow he firmly placed his fingers over the top of his lover's mouth. "Stop. Don't say anything." Suddenly, the room was filled with tension.
Duo wrenched his head to the side to free his lips. "No, really, Heero. I have something to tell you."
This time Heero's entire hand covered his lover's mouth entirely. "Don't say it," he strongly warned again. "I think I know what you're about to confess, but it really would be for the best if you didn't. Having had a couple of days to rest, I was able to put a few pieces of the puzzle together while driving to the airport this morning. I think I've figured out what's been going on and that you, Quatre and Trowa are involved, though there are a few more pieces missing that would spell out the whole picture of your operation. I know, Duo." Heero paused to let that statement sink in with his lover before he continued. "But if we talk about this, if you confess to me your involvement in something unlawful, then you will compromise my job as well as your safety. If at this very moment I was asked whether or not I know anything about your involvement with the marauders or the two kidnapings, I can honestly say I know nothing, and a lack of evidence would back me up. I refuse to have anything to do with putting you in prison, but I also took an oath to uphold the law when I became a Preventer. I'm asking, if you love me, do not to make me choose between you and my principles. If you feel the need to unburden yourself simply to clear your conscience, please don't. Live with a little guilt rather than risk your freedom and our being together."
Duo reached up and pulled the hand away from his mouth. The braided man's demeanor was now completely serious as he gazed into Heero's eyes. "It's not about my having a clear conscience, Heero. I'm just trying to be honest with you. I don't want to jeopardize our relationship by lying to you."
"And you won't," Heero quickly jumped in. "From this moment on we will make a point of being honest and up front with each other. If we have a problem, we'll discuss it. If we're angry, we'll talk it out, without resorting to any physical violence. I give you my word..."
"Stop!" Duo said sharply. "Don't go there. I've had your apology for past mistakes and your word that you won't hurt me. I don't want us to keep going over this and re-hashing who did what, all right? I want the past behind us and not haunting us for the rest of our lives."
Heero thought about it a moment, then nodded his head. "Agreed. I'll not keep apologizing for what I did just as long as you keep your part of the bargain by not talking about the past five years. We'll start right now, from this very moment."
"Sounds like a plan," said Duo with a widening grin.
Heero kissed him gently, then resettled his head back onto his lover's shoulder. After a long moment of silent contemplation he asked, "So, what's it to be? Do we live in New York or here in Sanq?"
There was no hesitation as Duo answered, "Here."
"Yes. Once it comes out that I'm gay, there's no doubt going to be some backlash. I'm pretty sure some of the companies I model for will be less than pleased with that fact, so starting our life together here and my going back to school in Sanq is probably for the best."
"I'll do everything in my power to see that you never regret being with me," Heero said solemnly, and made himself a promise to make good on his word.
Two months later
Cautiously pulling up to his designated parking space, Heero turned off the engine of his car and got out. While locking the door, he thoroughly scanned the parking garage once again. If he had to deal with one more photographer jumping out of nowhere, he couldn't promise not to injure him. One photographer in particular had been persistent and ridiculously aggressive in his attempts to get a picture of Duo or of himself and Duo together. He'd approached the insolent man with the enormous lens attached to his camera while in uniform and threatened to arrest and charge him with harassment of a Preventer if he didn't desist from stalking them. The guy had wisely backed off for a couple of days, but he hadn't given up. Pictures that had appeared in the tabloids and other magazines of the two of them had pretty much ended his chances of doing any undercover work. But that didn't bother him. He'd resigned from field work several weeks ago and was now working on local cases and had become a technical specialist for the organization. Being home each night with his lover was much more preferable to a long-term stakeout or infiltrating any day.
Duo hadn't had and easy time of it either. After making the decision to move to Sanq so they could be together, he informed his agent and those companies he had contracts with about the changes in his life, namely, that he would be relocating and the reason for the change of address. He subsequently lost two very lucrative modeling contracts. Then it became word of mouth that fueled the rumors that Duo, famous model and former gundam pilot, was gay and engaged to a Preventer who lived and worked in Sanq. It hadn't taken long for the people Duo had associated with to start calling, some expressing their shock and outrage for his duplicity, and others who voiced their support and well wishes. The press began tracking them down for a comment or request for an interview. Without granting either, Duo boxed up his belongings and, with Quatre's help, shipped his personal belongings to Heero's apartment.
Of course the harassment hadn't ended with the move. Duo's agent called at least three times a week with requests for interviews and the die-hard paparazzi showed up almost daily. His lover's nerves and patience were being tested, but he never varied from his plans nor his decision to move in with Heero. They refused all interviews, comments or public appearances together, determined to keep their lives private, having taken Quatre and Trowa's advice on how to deal with the press and public.
Happy to see that there didn't appear to be anyone about, Heero began the short trek into the building and up the stairs. Anticipation at seeing his lover and spending the evening with him had him taking the stairs three at a time.
He entered the apartment and shut the door with just enough force to alert his lover that he had returned. "In here!" Duo's voice came from the direction of the kitchen. Heero removed his shoes and his Preventer jacket at the same time and hung the latter on the coat stand. He the proceeded to the kitchen while loosening his tie. Duo looked up from the familiar looking containers spread out over the small kitchen table as he approached. Stopping just short of the table, Heero gazed at the ten white boxes. "Again?" he asked the braided man with a questioning lift of one eyebrow.
"We haven't had Chinese food for at least a week," Duo replied defensively.
"I thought we were going to try and use the cookbooks we bought."
A sheepish look crept over the other man's face. "I did try. It turned out terrible so I threw it out. This is the backup plan."
Heero sighed as he glanced over to the sink to see it was filled with dishes and several pots looking worse for wear and the smell of something burnt in the air. His lover had many fine qualities and attributes, but unfortunately cooking was not one of them. Duo was impatient even when it came to boiling water, often walking away to do something else and forgetting about it altogether until the pan was dry and red hot. Heero had watched him turn up the gas flame in order to hurry up the cooking process when he should have lowered it in order to prevent scorching or burning. Duo's attempts at cooking dinner were beginning to cost a fortune in wasted food, take out as well as the purchase of new pans and bakeware to replace the ones he'd destroyed. But given the apologetic look on his lover's handsome face - a very appealing look indeed - Heero could easily forgive him for just about anything, especially yet another failed attempt at making dinner. "Perhaps we can look a couple of recipes over later tonight, select an easier dish to prepare and I can explain exactly what is required."
Duo shrugged and answered, "Well, okay, if you think that will help." From the tone in his voice Heero could tell that the other man was dubious of any future success in the kitchen. Perhaps it was time to concede in the inevitable and just cook dinner himself. Shortly after moving in with him a little over six weeks ago, Duo had offered to attempt cooking their evening meal, since he was almost always arrived home before he did. He would never have agreed if he'd known Duo really had no talent when it came to preparing anything other than a cup of coffee or tea, soup from a can or a package of ramen.
"Why don't you take the plates out and I'll get us something to drink," he suggested. Duo nodded and went straight to the cupboard, giving Heero a good look at what his lover was wearing, or rather, what he wasn't wearing.
Having lost several jobs already, and at loose ends about what to do in his spare time until the next school term started, Duo signed a short-term contract with an Italian designer in order to keep busy and work closer to his new home. He was now the lead model for Luigi Delchiaro, a designer of men's clothing. So for the next year his presence was going to be required whenever the designer showcased his newest line in fashion shows or for photo shoots for ads in top fashion magazines. When Duo got home at the end of the day, he typically shed his regular clothing for a large, loose T-shirt that covered him to his thighs. More often than not he wore boxers beneath the shirt, but not always... and not today. When he reached up for the plates, the hem of the T-shirt rose, giving Heero a good look at a nicely rounded bottom at the top of those long and slender legs. Not one to waste an opportunity, he moved silently behind his lover and lowered his hands to cup those marvelous globes before sliding them up the bare heated skin and encircling the trim waist. Duo hummed with pleasure and leaned back into his chest, a plate held loosely in each hand.
"Glad you're home," the braided man sighed.
Heero kissed his neck and smiled as Duo tilted his head to give him better access. "You're nice to come home to." Catching a glimpse of the sink full of dirty and ruined dishes, he thought it might just be worth the cost of the meal and cooking implements just to have Duo welcome him home in such a pleasant way. Yet just as his hands began to wander, Duo turned, kissed him briefly on the nose and said, "Dinner's getting cold."
Duo slipped out of his hold easily and dodged his attempt to recapture him. "No way," he laughed. "I'm hungry. Eat first, then play." Heero resigned himself to following the tantalizing man to the table and watch as Duo filled up one plate with a little bit of food from each container and handed it to him before he repeated the same process for himself. "Let's eat in the living room."
His eyes couldn't help but follow the tip of the long braid as it swayed from side to side over the tempting derriere as Duo led the way into the living room. The room was pretty much the same as it had been before the American had moved in. The one addition was the spectacular black and white portrait that had hung on the wall of Duo's penthouse in New York City. Duo had presented it to him as a gift upon his arrival. It was his most prized possession, excluding the man whose backside had become something of an obsession for him.
Duo sat down on the carpet and promptly crossed his legs, leaving Heero with a dilemma. Should he sit next to Duo so that they could watch the evening news together while eating, or should he sit directly in front of him, where he might catch a glimpse of what lay hidden beneath the rising hemline of his long T-shirt? There really was no need to ponder that particular question. He moved to sit directly across from Duo and hoped they could just leave the news off for one night.
Settling on the floor, crossing his legs as Duo had, he looked up to see his lover's amused expression. "Knew you couldn't resist."
Heero grinned back. "You know me well."
"Damn right, and I'll get to know you even better once we finish this meal." Heero thought there had never been a better incentive to eat his meal as quickly as possible.
After watching Duo sample several of the dishes on his plate, his braided lover looked up and asked, "How was work?"
Heero shrugged as he chewed on a piece of shrimp. "It was good, actually. There are no new leads on Relena's abductors. The case is essentially dead until something else shows up. And because the marauders seemed to have disappeared since the embargo was lifted from L2, that case has also been put on the back burner until such a time as new information comes in. However, with all the speculation about what the marauders did with the goods stolen..."
"Traded goods, you mean," Duo interrupted with one raised eyebrow.
"Forcibly taken yet paid for," Heero amended. "All but one of the companies boarded by the marauders have withdrawn their complaints, probably out of guilt for not doing something themselves about the situation on L2. The marauders have gotten the reputation of being modern-day Robin Hoods, and no one really wants to see the men legends are made of brought to court, tried and imprisoned for their heroic actions."
"Let me guess who the one jackass is that won't drop his complaint," Duo said after swallowing a piece of broccoli. "The ship that fought back."
Both men let the topic go, not wanting to breach their agreement to not discuss Duo's past nor Heero's suspicions regarding the identity of the marauders.
The braided man deftly shifted from the subject. "So how's Wufei? I haven't seen him since our vacation."
"He's fine. He finally asked Relena out on a date. If all goes well tomorrow night, Wufei intends to escort her the wedding."
Duo laughed and leaned back against the sofa, almost giving Heero a peek through the glass table at the assets barely hidden beneath his T-shirt. "It's about time. Rumor has it he's been eyeballing her ever since they returned from Mexico. He's obviously seeing her in a different light than he did during the war."
Heero nodded. "We've all grown up since then." Then looking more thoughtful he added, "I think he admires how she'd handled herself after the kidnaping. Instead of acting hysterical, demanding justice or revenge, she sought to help the helpless. His admiration for her grew as she stood up for L2 and demanded they be treated with dignity and respect."
Duo leaned forward again and picked up his chopsticks. "I think they're good for each other. Wufei had always seemed lost after his colony blew itself up. Maybe he can rebuild it again... one baby at a time."
This time it was Heero who laughed out loud. "Isn't that a bit premature? They have only started dating."
"We'll see," said Duo, wagging his eyebrows in a knowing manner.
"What did you do today?" Heero asked as he worked his chopsticks around the slippery chow mein.
"After jogging this morning, then working out at the gym, I was fitted for my tux, checked with the caterers to see that everything was set for next week and confirmed the wine and flowers. The bakery called and said the cake would be ready at ten a.m and delivered and set up by eleven."
Duo paused and lowered the hand holding his chopsticks to the table as he thought a moment about the question. "No. I'm not nervous, just a bit anxious about all the details coming together. I've never planned a wedding before, so I'm hoping I haven't forgotten anything."
"With Quatre as your guide, I doubt any detail will be overlooked. He thinks of everything."
A warm smile filled with affection clearly displayed Duo's feeling about the blond businessman. "It's pretty great of Quat and Trow to pay for the wedding."
"They want you to be happy, Duo, and so do I, " Heero said, admiring his lover's smile and wanting more than anything to kiss those tempting lips.
"I'm happier than I've ever been in my life," his braided lover confessed, and the love showing in his eyes told Heero that he was speaking truthfully.
"Can you believe this is happening?" Duo asked. "During the past five years I never would have thought this was possible; me and you together and getting married."
"After all we've been though, we deserve a happy ending."
Duo contemplated this for a moment before replying, "I don't know about deserving to be this happy, but I'm grateful for it all the same."
Heero reached across the table to take his lover's hand in his. "I'm grateful too."
Despite the secrets that remained between them, their love had grown. Heero wouldn't have thought that lies between lovers, or friends for that matter, would ever be justifiable. He'd come to believe, however, that sometimes it was better to be ignorant in order to have a bit of bliss. Though he was curious as to how Duo was involved with the marauders, or even if he was involved in Relena's kidnaping, seeing as how she was safely returned at the same time the group of do-gooders had disappeared, they had practiced the don't ask don't tell agreement. Some people would no doubt have a problem with not knowing everything about their fiancÃ©, but Heero had no trouble at all. Duo was his, now and forever, and that was worth sacrificing a bit of truth, about the past at least. Gazing at the man across from him, his love for him burning in his chest, he asked, "Are you almost finished with your meal?"
Duo's eyes seemed to sparkle as he answered. "We can always reheat this for a mid-night snack." Given that as permission to proceed without caution, Heero rose with Duo's hand still in his own and helped his lover to his feet even as he rounded the coffee table. The kiss they shared was passionate and tasted of the shared meal. Easing the braided man down on the sofa and in a reclining position, Heero's gaze was heated as he straightened and began to shed his uniform.
"I love a man in uniform," Duo sighed while giving his lover an appreciative once over. "Especially when he's taking it off."
Once he was completely stripped of his clothing, Heero sat on the sofa's edge and began to slowly inch up the large T-shirt, admiring the view of the flesh being exposed. "I still have trouble believing that you're here, and that you're mine," he said, feeling incredibly lucky and very grateful.
"Let me prove to you that I'm all yours," Duo said with a grin as he reached up his hands and pulled Heero down to rest on top of him, his legs spreading to accommodate him. Both men moaned as their erections met. "Damn but that feels good," Duo moaned as he thrust his hips up to increase the pleasurable sensation.
"Are you sure you don't want to remain celibate until after the ceremony?" Heero asked, teasing the other man about the suggestion he'd made after Duo arrived in Sanq with all his belongings. Abstaining from sex was something neither of them could seriously contemplate. In fact, they'd made love every night since Duo's arrival, and sometimes in the morning, just to start the day out right. Neither of them had complained so far.
"I don't think that's possible, even though the wedding's only a week away, " Duo chuckled. "I'll just have to think of something creative for our wedding night."
"You do that," Heero replied with a grin as his lips began to nip and kiss a trail from the base of his lover's neck to his ear. Taking the earlobe into his mouth he sucked on it gently before releasing it to trace the rest of his ear with his tongue, causing Duo to moan as he dipped his tongue into his ear canal. With his lover moaning his name, he moved back to capture the lips he would never tire of. Oh yes, life was good, Heero thought as his tongue invaded Duo's mouth once more, and with this beautiful, wonderful man by his side, it could only get better.
Despite being pleasantly occupied, a stray thought slipped into Heero's mind, something that he'd been meaning to ask his lover for several months now. Releasing Duo's lips, he looked down at the man sprawled beneath him. "By the way, what's Howard's last name?"
"What?" Duo laughed out loud, his eyes sparkling with disbelief. "You wait until now to ask me this?"
"Actually, Wufei mentioned it when we were trying to track Howard down. He said you knew what Howard's last name was and Trowa had weaseled it out of you. Why have I never heard Howard's last name before?"
Duo's smile threatened to split his face it was so wide. "Well, it's not so much that Howie is ashamed or embarrassed by his name, it's just that people mispronounce it, or simply misconstrue the what they hear. I know I teased the hell out him when I found out."
Heero was becoming more curious by the moment. "What is it?"
"I don't know," Duo hedged, a teasing glint in his eyes. "Howie made me promise not to tell anyone unless it was absolutely necessary, and then I should think again about giving it out. He doesn't offer his last name to just anyone."
"You said he wasn't embarrassed by it?" Heero questioned, running a finger tip over the top of his lover's bare shoulder.
"Well, part of his not telling anyone is security. People can't get into your business unless they have a last name, as you found out. If no one knows it, he's hard to trace and his bank accounts and business dealings are safer."
"Duo, what's his last name?"
The American began to squirm as Heero's fingertips jumped from his shoulder to his side and tickled the bare flesh he found there. "That's not fair, Heero. Ah!" He laughed and squirmed, trying to escape from the tormenting fingers as the skirted lightly over his sensitive flesh.
No matter how he twisted or turned, Duo couldn't escape nor stop from laughing. "Stop. Heero. I... I give already."
Heero smiled triumphantly. "Too bad Oz didn't know how ticklish you are. That bit of information might have saved you a beating each time you were captured."
"Hey! I wasn't captured that often."
"Duo." There was a definite hint of warning in Heero's voice.
"Okay, okay." Taking a breath, Duo wrapped his arms around his lover, enjoying the way Heero's body felt on top of his own. "Did you know Howard was an orphan, like me?"
"No, I didn't know that."
"His parents died when he was young, around four or five years old. It was some kind of sailing accident. They lived in the South Pacific, and since he didn't have any other living relatives, he was left in the care of his parents' good friends and those people adopted Howard into their family of eight. He went from being an only child to having a lot of siblings They were Samoan, and they changed Howard's last name to theirs, hoping it would help him feel more like a part of their family when he eventually came to realize how different in appearance he was from them."
"So he's got a Samoan last name?"
"Is it hard to pronounce, is that why he never uses it?"
"Just tell me." Heero was beginning to get exasperated. Duo was really playing this out.
"Okay. But you gotta promise you won't tell anyone, or tease Howie about it when you see him at the wedding."
"He's coming?" This bit of news surprised Heero.
Duo's eyes narrowed. "There will be no interrogating of the man at our wedding or reception. I won't have our day messed up by you or Wufei trying to corner Howard in an attempt to interrogate him."
"He's officially back from where ever he's been?"
Duo nodded. "He's on L3, having recently returned from a run to Mars."
"And there are people who can verify that's where he's been? Crew members on his ship and contacts on Mars?"
Duo shrugged one shoulder. "Sure. I guess so. He mentioned staying with a group of Sweepers while on Mars."
"How convenient," Heero muttered. He had little doubt that the tightknit group would vouch for Howard no matter what the circumstances. Though truthfully, he hoped the man had covered his tracks well, because he was fairly certain Howard something to do with the marauders. His long absence during the past couple of years and a stealth system used by the marauders was more than a little suspicious.
"So do you promise?"
The narrowing of Duo's eyes told the Preventer he was going to be in trouble if he didn't answer the question to his lover's satisfaction. "I promise not to confront Howard in any way about anything at the wedding, including his last name. Will he agree to meet with Wufei after the reception, or the next morning?"
"Well, I'll send him an email stating your request." Duo's smile lengthened with each passing moment. "And now that I have your promise, Howard's last name is..." The long-haired man paused for dramatic effect before he leaned in and whispered into Heero's ear.
Heero's eyebrows lowered with confusion as the name was uttered. "That's it?"
"I don't get it. It's just a name."
Duo looked at him as if he were crazy. "Heero! I can't believe you. I'd never live it down if that was my last name."
"I really don't see what's so humorous."
"Fak-a-lata," Duo said, unable to keep from grinning as he carefully annunciated each syllable. When Heero didn't offer any further comment he repeated the name, this time ever slower. "Fak-a-lata. You know, our favorite past time."
Though Heero shook his had and rolled his eyes, the left corner of his mouth twitched upwards. "That's stretching it, don't you think? Besides, that is not so unusual for a Samoan name."
"Well to my American ears it's a crazy name to have," Duo replied, unable to believe Heero didn't think Howard's last name was hilarious.
"Let's forget about Howard's name for the moment. I've got something else in mind," Heero dipped back down to capture those grinning lips, though not a moment passed before Howard's last name was running through his mind, and kissing became very hard to do with a big grin on his face, and laughter following.
"Maxwell-Yuy doesn't sound so bad now, does it?" Duo asked with a matching smile, knowing exactly what was going through his head. The teasing wiggle of his hips made Heero's breath catch.
"Yuy-Maxwell sounds better." It had been a point of teasing for both men, whose name would come first when they combined them. Although it was discussed that it wasn't necessary for either of them to change their names, they both wanted to. For himself, Heero didn't really care what his last name was, but Duo loved to tease him about his name being first, so he teased right back. "What would you be willing to do to change my mind?"
"Is that a challenge?" Duo couldn't resist a challenge, and the broadening of his smile showed his excitement. With the rise of one eyebrow, Heero more or less told his lover to bring it on, to do his worst, which, of course, would be Duo's very, very best. Once again it was proved to Heero that life with Duo Maxwell was going to be one hell of a ride.
Author's note: Well, that wraps up another story. Whether you liked, loved or barely tolerated Lies, I thank you for reading along. And a double thanks to those of you who took the time to comment. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. And the greatest debt of gratitude goes out to Louise for being my beta. She's been editing my stories for years now, and in doing so she has been teaching me, reminding me of grammar lessons long forgotten. She's the best!. Thanks, my friend. There might be another story or two coming up in the next few weeks, but I'm definitely slowing down, writing wise, and my files are almost empty. So I'll be spending some time this summer trying to see if I've got one more story in me.