by Dyna Dee
Relena entered the brightly lit and artfully decorated ballroom. Her annual Valentine's Day ball was in full swing and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
She surveyed the large, multi-candelabra room to see that all was as it should be. The flower decorations at each table were beautifully displayed with red and white roses in Venetian crystal on white damask table cloths. The chair backs were a white brocade with a red bow on the back. At the front of the large room was a band that was playing a variety of songs to entertain the different age groups that had been invited to dance away the evening. The party goers seemed to be enjoying themselves as most of her guests were out on the dance floor.
On the edge of the dancing crowd, she spied some of her friends. Quatre and Trowa were dancing the fast dance, and from the angle she stood at, she could see the blond teen's eyes sparkling with affection for his partner and a loving smile on his happy face. Those two were so in love it was almost sickening. But she didn't begrudge them the love they'd found with each other, they had lost so much during their young lives that they deserved all the happiness they could find, even if it was with another rebel soldier.
Her eyes moved on to see Wufei, dressed in his white, more formal Chinese outfit. He looked very handsome, and tonight he wore his hair down. It looked shiny and silky, and she was sure that she along with some other lucky females, who wouldn't be able to resist it, just might be sneaky enough to get to run their fingers through that silky mane before the night was through.
She studied the boy's face, and for the first time since she'd met him he looked relaxed and pleased to be in a social setting. His defection during the Barton attempted coup left him feeling embarrassed and he shunned the public and his friends for a while. But Sally had been wise as she invited him to join the newly formed Preventers and it had done the Chinese boy a world of good in building up his fading confidence. Speak of the devil, there was Sally now, she had been blocked from view by Wufei's shoulder, but now Relena could clearly see the good doctor and that Wufei only had eyes for her.
With a wistful sigh Relena's eyes wandered again, this time stopping on Duo. He was dancing with a bright smile on his face and with several young women at once, always the flirt and charmer. Sylvia, Dorothy, and another girl she couldn't remember the name of but recognized her as a diplomat's daughter, danced with the former Deathscythe pilot, all wearing big grins on their faces. She chuckled as she saw more talking going on then dancing, and every once in a while, the small group erupted into laughter. She had no doubt that Dorothy had instigated the group dance with the handsome former pilot as she knew her friend had an eye for drop-dead gorgeous guys, available or not. It was then that she noticed that Duo turned his head to look to his right, towards the near empty tables. His eyes and smile grew warm and lingered for a moment before he returned his attention once again to his partners.
She watched as this happened again several minutes later, and she knew without a doubt that if she followed his line of sight who she would find. In doing just that, her eyes came to rest on Heero, sitting at a table all by himself, his chair tilted back enough to rest lightly on the wall, his arms crossed over his chest as he kept his eyes trained on the braided boy twenty-five feet away from him.
Relena's heart flip-flopped at the sight the handsome Japanese boy that she had longed for during the war. She pushed her feelings for him back down inside herself, knowing now that she never had a chance with Heero. Still, it was hard to tell her heart that when she had felt so deeply for him for so long, even if everyone considered it to have been a school girl crush.
She still blushed with embarrassment when she remembered how she had relentlessly chased Heero after he'd given her a teddy bear as an act of friendship. She's misconstrued the message and viewed the gesture as a sign of his deep affection for her.
Just before the Mariemaia incident, Heero made an appointment to meet with her at her office. As he sat next to her, she held her breath in expectation as he reached for her hand and took it in his own. And just like she had always dreamed, he looked deeply into her eyes. Anticipating words of love and devotion to declared, she was shocked to learn from his own lips that he only considered her to be a friend, that her pursuit of him was futile as he was already involved and in love, with Duo Maxwell. Shocked was the least of the feelings she'd felt that day. But over time she'd come to accept it and tried very hard to transfer her deep-felt feelings for the former Wing Zero pilot into a warm, caring friendship that included his lover as well.
Picking up the front of her deep-red satin ball gown, the Minister of Foreign Affairs walked demurely towards the lone young man. Heero's eyes shifted from watching Duo to greet her as she approached, a small, pleasurable smile of greeting on his lips.
"Enjoying yourself, Heero?" she asked warmly.
He stood and pulled out a chair for her, which she accepted with a proper expression of gratitude.
"Yes, we're having a nice time," he answered as he returned to his seat, and she had to smile that he always seemed to talk in we's instead of I's anymore. It was rather endearing to see him so besotted.
"I see Duo is very popular with the girls tonight, I take it he likes to dance?" she inquired with a teasing grin.
"Yes, he likes dancing much more than I do," he replied as his eyes turned once more to the boy with the long braid on the dance floor. She followed his gaze only to see that Duo instinctively turned his head to exchange another loving glance with Heero for a long moment before he turned back to his partners, his long braid swinging behind him.
"You're lucky, you know?" She told him, fully meaning it. "Finding the other half of your soul is a rare thing these days."
"I know," he smiled shyly at her. "I got lucky."
She sighed again and looked at her friend curiously. "I've always been curious by nature," she began again. "And I've been wondering something."
"What's that?" Heero asked, his eyes straying towards Duo again.
"I did everything I could to gain your attention during and after the wars, Heero. What exactly did Duo do to attract and win you?"
Heero thought about it a moment and a slight, amused smile came to his handsome face. "I would have to say it was his lingerlonger," he replied.
"Lingerlonger?" she repeated with a confused look on her face.
"That's what I call it," Heero shrugged, the grin still playing on his face as he looked up at his partner again and nodded in his direction. "It's something Duo isn't even conscious of. He just has this way about him that lets you know he's experiencing pleasure of one kind or another."
His eyes shifted to the front entrance of the ballroom and his eyes lit up. "Here's a prime example," he nodded towards the girl entering the room. Relena recognized her as Hilde, Duo's friend from the first war.
"Do you see what Hilde is wearing?" he asked. Relena nodded, Hilde was wearing a beautiful midnight blue, velvet floor-length gown. It had a demure sweetheart neckline and long, tight sleeves.
"Duo loves the feel of velvet, he's very tactile when it come to textures. Satin, silk and velvet are his favorite materials."
Relena raised an eyebrow, not having previously known this little bit of information about the boy from L-2. Those were most likely materials he'd never come into contact with as a child on such an impoverished colony.
"Watch," Heero directed her as they both followed Hilde with their eyes as she spied her friend on the dance floor and made her way towards him, regardless that he was already dancing with three girls.
Duo's eyes lit up when he spotted her, but he didn't stop dancing, he just motioned for her to join in, which she did. His eyes raked her up and down, admiring the dress, and from the distance between them, they could see he was complimenting her on her gown.
"He won't be able to resist touching the fabric," Heero predicted. "But watch his hands once he does."
Relena concentrated on Duo's hands as Heero suggested. Sure enough, he reached out and brought both hands up to the top of Hilde's arms and slowly let them slide down to her wrists where they paused a moment, his thumbs caressed the material one last time before he dropped them to his side.
Heero chuckled. "That's one example of his lingerlonger. Did you see how his hands lingered just a little bit longer before releasing?"
Relena shared an amused smile with her former crush. "So what did he do, let his hand linger on your Gundam and that won you over?" she teased.
Heero snorted. "He could only wish it was that easy." Then his face softened and his voice took on a soft tone. "I was a hard shell to crack," he began, and her mood sobered along with her friend's. "He began by just a simple touch, and even that took me a long time to get used to. I came to accept that he was just one of those hands-on people. It was always a casual arm slung over my shoulder, a hand ruffling my hair, or touching my arm when he was talking to me. Then I noticed that his hand on my shoulder lingered a moment longer than necessary. When he offered me a hand up, his hand would stay in mine for just a little longer than normal. I didn't pick up on it at first and didn't pay much attention to it, but then I became aware that his eyes were doing the same thing when he looked at me."
Heero looked away from Duo and back to Relena. "Watch the next time he looks my way, how even when his head turns away, his eyes stay on me as long as possible."
Relena's eyes turned back to the dance floor and sought out the boy she was learning so much about. As she did, Heero went on.
"He was afraid to tell me what he was feeling for me, afraid of my rejection and maybe even a possible painful reaction from me. So he unconsciously told me with his body that he cared for me more than anyone else. After a while, I found that I came to crave that touch, knowing it lingered only for me and no one else. I began to need that touch of his hand and his incredible eyes more than I needed air to breathe."
Relena's eyes moved back to Duo and sure enough, he turned his head and looked once again at Heero, his eyes smiling as he found Relena studying him, but then they shifted to focus again on his lover. They exchanged their usual loving smiles, then Duo's head turned, his eyes staying on Heero until the last second.
"You're very observant, Heero." Relena declared with a grin.
"He's easy on the eyes though, isn't he?" the Japanese ex-soldier replied.
Laughing out loud, the blonde girl nodded her head. "Yes, yes he is very easy on the eyes," she agreed.
The song came to an end and the small group that had been clumped together began to break up as Duo turned to return to Heero's side. He looked incredibly handsome in his black suit, and a modern tie that perfectly matched his bright blue shirt.
Heero lifted one eyebrow in a signal to Relena, silently telling her to observe Duo's movements.
"Hey guys, what are ya doing sitting here by yourselves when there's a party going on?" Duo asked with a broad smile as he approached. He walked up to Relena and extended his hand. "How are you Queenie?" he asked, forever teasing her about once being the Queen of the Earth's Sphere. She placed her hand in his and allowed him to shake their joined hands.
"I'm fine Duo. Heero tells me you're enjoying the party." She took notice that his hand was promptly removed, no lingering at all.
"Good food, good music and friends, what's not to enjoy?" he said in obvious good humor as he moved from around her over to Heero, who put his chair down to allow Duo to move behind him. The former Wing Zero pilot exchanged a knowing grin with the girl as Duo's hand stole slowly across his shoulders, his hand lingering on Heero's left shoulder as he sat in the chair next to him.
Seeing their amused grins, the braided teen gave his own curious, questioning smiles. "What gives?" he asked.
Deciding to give Relena a more intimate glimpse of Duo's lingering ability, Heero turned to the puzzled American and in all seriousness said. "Kiss me Duo," That unexpected request caused both Relena and Duo's eyes to widen. Relena was fully aware that the two were a couple, but they never before displayed any signs of affection in public.
"Here?" Duo's voice cracked as he spoke his surprise at the request.
"Right here." Heero smiled mischievously and pointed to his lips.
With a quick look of apology to Relena, Duo shrugged his shoulders and leaned forward to bring his face and lips closer to Heero. Their lips first met in a brief contact before deepening slightly into a full-fledged kiss. She watched as Duo's left arm came up and around Heero's neck and his pale, right hand came up and held Heero's head, his long, tapered fingers sliding up into the dark mass of hair.
Relena was mesmerized, with wide eyes unable to pull them away as the two boys kissed in obvious passion for several moments. Then, as the kiss drew to a close, she saw what Heero had wanted her to see. Duo's mouth slowly eased back from his lover's, seeming almost reluctant to leave the lips beneath his own. Before pulling completely away, his lips ghosted lightly over the surface of Heero's mouth. When at last they finally parted, the blue-violet, luminous eyes opened to stare with wonder and love into the deep blue orbs before him. Duo's hand slowly moved out from the dark hair down Heero's neck and both hands came to rest for a long moment on the strong shoulders.
"Happy Valentine's Day, love," Heero said softly as he stared into the face of the only person in the world that he truly loved, forgetting all about Relena's presence next to him.
Duo's face broke out into a broad grin. "Be my Valentine?" he asked, teasingly.
"Always," Heero replied with a smile, but with emotion filling his voice.
Relena felt a sensation of warmth spread through her, and she was amazed that such a display between the two didn't bring out any feelings of jealousy, envy or hurt. She knew that she had just been made witness to the fact that these two handsome young men shared a true, meaningful love that was no passing crush. And somehow, it seemed perfect.
The two ignored her for several moments longer, seeing only each other in the crowded and noisy room. That, she decided, is what she wanted to have one day, just what these two have together, a deep, enduring love. She grinned, suddenly feeling liberated and realizing that she was now truly free to try again, her past hurt over Heero was finally gone. Added to that, she now had a new technique, so simple really, that she could practice and use when she did find the right man for her. She didn't quite know who to be grateful to, Duo for his natural lingering touch, or to Heero who pointed it out and named it. The Lingerlonger; it was a technique she was determined to adopt and, when the time and person was right, she would employ it to its fullest, just as Duo had and won both he and Heero the greatest prize of them all.