Disclaimer: I don't own nor profit from my GW stories

Warnings: Yaoi, some language, mild angst, possible NCS

Second Chances
Part 9
by Dyna Dee

"Good morning, Layton," Marcus's cheery voice declared to the servant who opened the double wide front door of the Peacecraft household the next morning at five minutes to nine.

"Good morning, Mr. Standish," returned the most proper of silver-haired butlers as he stiffly opened the way for the young gentleman to enter the Peacecraft residence.

"I'm here to collect Max." The confident, sandy haired neighbor stated his business in a pleasant tone of voice and an easy-going manner.

"Master Maximilian will be down shortly if you'd care to take a seat." The butler motioned with a wave of his hand to a sitting room adjacent to the grand foyer.

"No need." Duo's voice echoed slightly through the grand entry as he raced down the ornate stairway dressed in light grey, mid-thigh exercise shorts, a white tee-shirt and tennis shoes. "Sorry I'm late, Marcus." He smiled apologetically as his eyes took in the handsome man smiling at him. Duo appreciated that the sandy haired and dimple cheeked man looked good in his white tennis shorts and shirt. With a shrug he then went on to explain. "I had a hard time sleeping last night."

"I hope it was due to your eagerly anticipating this morning?" Marcus replied with a crafty smile on his handsome face.

Duo laughed. "You wish," he teased back. "It's just exciting being back, and it also takes a while for me to get comfortable in a new room."

"Well then, if you're ready, let me re-introduce you to the game of tennis and the old earth tradition of brunch."

"I'm ready." Duo smiled, Marcus could really be quite charming, he thought. "But I need to be back here by eleven thirty."

Marcus frowned, clearly disappointed. "I had hoped we could spend the day together."

"I'm sorry." Duo gave him a small, apologetic grin. "I've got another engagement at noon."

"With Lero?"

Now Duo frowned. "Not that it's any of your business, but yes, with H-E-E-R-O." He spelled the letters of Heero's name out pointedly, letting Marcus see he wasn't amused at the deliberate mispronunciation.

"Then we had better get going," Marcus said as he turned to walk out the front door.

Duo followed, almost reluctantly. After his talk with Marcus the night before, he was surprised to find him so antagonistic at the idea of him going out with his former lover. Picking up the pace, Duo caught up to the taller man as he reached the driveway. "Marcus, wait." He halted his friend in mid stride by taking a firm hold of his arm. "Look," he looked up into the other's frowning face, "I thought you were cool about things. I didn't lie about my feelings for Heero. Why are you acting this way?"

Taking a deep breath, the older of the two let it out slowly and looked skyward. "Just because I understand your wanting to see this guy, doesn't mean I have to like it."

Duo studied the handsome face that was filled with disappointment. Marcus had been kind to him, and had been honest when he stated his intentions of pursuing him. "If this is uncomfortable for you, maybe we shouldn't see each other, even as friends," he suggested.

"No." Marcus turned and grabbed the smaller young man by the shoulders, his grip uncomfortably firm. "I'm not giving up on you just because of a bit of competition."

"Heero's more than a bit of competition, Marcus," Duo said in all seriousness. "He's important to me, I just haven't figured how important yet."

"Yeah, important enough for you to run away from him for three years."

Not liking where the conversation was going, Duo moved to step back but found himself firmly held in place by the large hands still on his shoulders.

"Am I important to you, Max?" Marcus's voice was deep and sultry.

"Listen Marcus," Duo began. "You have been a good friend to me, especially when I needed one. You are important enough to me that I don't want to hurt you."

"I could be more to you, Max. "

Before Duo could react, his mouth was captured by the taller man's lips. It wasn't an unpleasant kiss, but Duo noted in the brief time that it lasted his own lack of a physical reaction to it. Putting pressure on the taller man's shoulder, he pushed him back, ending the kiss.

"You shouldn't have done that Marcus," Duo said, stepping back to put some distance between them. "There could be someone around with a camera and it might cause a scandal."

"Scandal?" Marcus laughed. "That's the spice of life, Max," he declared with a broad, almost nefarious smile that more than backed up his belief in the statement.

"Not if you carry the Peacecraft name," Duo told him, not seeing the humor that Marcus obviously did from the idea of scandalizing his name.

"Okay." Seeing the smaller young man was serious, Marcus put both hands up in concession and laughed lightly. "I'll be good. Let's go to my place and play some tennis."

"Promise you'll behave?" Duo looked skeptical.

"Cross my heart." Marcus made a dramatic, exaggerated motion over his chest.

Duo couldn't help but smile, his friend's antics were similar to what he might have done. "Alright you ham, let's go."

The morning progressed as Marcus had outlined and he did manage to stay on his best behavior throughout the tennis lesson and then at brunch, only slipping when he kept his leg brushed up against Duo's and when he grabbed hold his hand that had some cream cheese on it from off of the side of his bagel. Despite the tug to free his hand and the frown of displeasure, he quickly brought the fingers it to his mouth and sucked the creamy soft cheese off in a very suggestive manner.

Around eleven fifteen, Duo rose from the patio table where they'd had their brunch served by the pool at the back of the large house and thanked his host for the morning. Marcus also stood and offered to see him home.

They left the large patio area and walked to the side of the house and down the garden path towards the front gate when suddenly, while talking easily to each other in casual conversation, a sudden movement found Duo suddenly pushed firmly up against the outside wall of the house. Marcus's forearm was pressed against his sternum, holding him in place while his mouth was thoroughly assaulted by his companion's lips over his own. The taller man's tongue found its way into his mouth and instead of fighting it, Duo decided to let Marcus have his moment, for this would definitely be his last. That thought, however, was fleeting as he felt the intrusion of a large hand being shoved past the elastic waistband of his shorts and shot downward, quickly grabbing hold of his ass. Wrenching his head aside, he broke the kiss and found his voice. "Stop!" he demanded.

Marcus pulled his face back only inches showing his smaller companion a smirking grin, his arm still holding Duo against the house, his other hand still in the back of his pants.

"Get your hand out!" Duo growled, his eyes flashing with ominous anger.

"I could make you forget Herod if you let me," Marcus whispered seductively while squeezing the luscious round globe under his hands.

"I don't want to forget Heero," Duo replied through his gritted teeth and pushed on the upper half of the offensive arm, forcing Marcus's hand out of his pants.

"Heero would seriously maim you if he'd witnessed what you just did," Duo said, his face flushed with anger.

"Then we won't tell him, will we?"

"If you're tying to impress me, Marcus, your miserable failing." Duo moved quickly to gain some distance from the side of the house that suddenly felt too enclosed and more like a trap than a garden walkway.

"Come on Max," the other chided as he followed after him. "You're no virgin. What's wrong with a little fun?"

"For the record," Duo began, his heart pounding in his ears as he reached the front gate and reached his hand up to unlatch it, "I've only been with two people, and I trusted and cared deeply for both of them; I still do. I don't look at sex as a form of recreation. And if that's what you're looking to me for, then we can say goodbye right now." He pulled the gate open and moved to leave only to have Marcus grab his arm, temporarily stopping him.

"I'm sorry, Max," Marcus said looking and sounding appropriately contrite. "I...I'm not used to competing for a relationship and my desire for you makes me do stupid things."

"You're right," Duo snapped, still upset. "What you just pulled was stupid. A few years ago I would have killed you for touching me like that."

Marcus gave his smaller friend a skeptical look. "So what's changed? Why didn't you kill me?" He gave a mocking smile, clearly not believing the smaller young man capable of delivering his threat.

"I got a second chance," Duo answered in a somber tone. "You know nothing about me Marcus. My past is as different from yours as expensive champagne is different from beer made in a basement. Milliardo and Lu gave me a second chance, and now Heero is asking for a second chance and I just might want to give it to him. I'm not going to go bed hopping or engage in any type of behavior that might throw those second chances away."

Marcus took in the smaller man's determined stance and the fierce look on his face. It was clear he was adamant and resolved to his moral stance and any amount of persuasion was not going to change it. "Alright," he said putting his hands up in resignation. "I'm sorry. I was way out of line. I guess I didn't understand. But I thought you were going to at least give me a chance."

"I did," Duo answered looking regretful, "as a friend. The two people I slept with were first proved themselves as my friends, then my lovers."

"And I blew it, right?"

"You could say that."

"And if I beg for another chance at proving I can be your friend? A second chance?" Marcus had a sincere look on his face and an almost pleading tone to his voice that was hard to deny. "You seem to believe in second chances, how about letting me have one?" he added.

Duo looked at the taller man doubtfully. "I don't know. You're actions have spoken more about you than your words."

"Please, I'll be good." Marcus batted his eyes and gave his best version of a puppy-dog look.

"That's not a good look for you, you know that, right?" Duo couldn't help a slight smile.

"Please." Marcus begged.

"If I recall it right, you made me a promise before and failed to keep it," Duo said with his arms folded over his chest. "You even crossed your heart," he reminded him.

"A lapse in reason." Marcus pouted. "I was blinded by your unparalleled beauty."

"Alright, alright," Duo said in exaggerated exasperation. "Damn, but you know how to lay it on thick. But I'm warning you, if you grope me again, I'll not only break your arm, but you won't get another chance at friendship."

Marcus thought the threat by the small, beautiful man was hysterical and he began to laugh heartily. Duo rolled his eyes and led them back towards the path to his own home. "Just to let you know," he said as he looked over his shoulder at Marcus, only to see him staring at his butt. "I do have some other friends and I don't sleep with them, so don't get your hopes up."

"It's not my hopes I want to get up."

"Oh, shut up!"


Heero was waiting in the foyer when Duo came down the stairs at five after twelve dressed appropriately in blue knee length, loose-fitting trunks and a white tee-shirt with a picture of a surfer riding a ridiculously huge wave on the back and his hair braided back. Both young men smiled nervously at each other.

Duo's eyes raked over Heero. Without the suit he wore the evening before, covering any hint of his true physical form, he could better see the changes in Heero's body. He was taller than when he'd seen him three years ago, and the yellow tank top revealed broader shoulders and arms obviously toned and strengthened from many hours in a weight room. The warm yellow cotton contrasted beautifully with his bronze and unblemished skin. As his eyes moved southward, the braided young man took in the narrow waist and trim hips covered in black trunks decorated plainly with white stripes down the side seams. The trunks ended mid-thigh and showed off perfectly formed and firmly muscled legs.

"Ready?" Heero's voice brought Duo's eyes back up to the other's face, his cheeks pinking at having been caught openly ogling his former lover's body.

Duo held up his towel. "If this is all I need, then I guess I am," he answered brightly.

The butler, who had been standing next to Heero the entire time the two checked each other out, moved to re-open the door. "Will you be home in time for dinner, Mr. Peacecraft?" he asked in a stiff and formal manner with just a hint of a British accent in his voice, completing the picture of a proper, upper-crust butler.

Duo scratched his head at the question. "Um...I'm not sure. Heero?" He looked to his date to answer.

Heero gave a slightly crooked smile and answered simply, "No."

Duo smiled back then looked at the formally dressed man. "There's your answer, Layton. Could you tell the folks for me?"

The older man gave a slight bow of his head. "I will inform them," he answered, still harboring a stiff upper lip.

Duo's smile diminished slightly as the gentleman failed to meet his eyes or smile in return. He was the butler on the weekends when Spencer had the day off, and it was obvious he had taken an instant disliking to the newest member of the Peacecraft household. Heero noticed both Layton's and Duo's interaction and reacted by taking Duo's arm and moving him towards the open doorway. "Come on, Duo. The others are waiting."

"Oh, right. I'd forgotten. Sorry," he apologized as they exited the grand house and made their way down the stairs to the circular driveway.

All thoughts of the butler's disapproval disappeared as the braided young man looked at the care in the driveway. "Oh, sweet!" Duo exclaimed as he looked at the sleek, black convertible sports car with its top down and rushed down the stairs to stand next to it.

"I take it that you like my car." Heero smiled knowingly as Duo ran his hand over the high-glossy, black surface.

"It's a beauty," Duo said in awe.

Heero held up the keys. "Want to drive it?"

The braided young man looked like his eyes were about to pop out of his head with surprise and disbelief. "You mean it? You'd let me drive, knowing what kind of a driving record I have?"

There was only a moment of hesitation before Heero nodded.

Duo's face softened and a genuine smile graced his handsome face. "You really must love me to make that kind of offer," he told his former lover.

"Hai," Hero said as he stepped forward and bent his head to give Duo the kiss he'd been longing to deliver since he first saw him coming down the staircase. He was more than a little surprised to find Duo's hand on his chest holding him back, bringing a halt to his attempt. He frowned in disappointment.

"Not out in the open, Heero," Duo said, shocking the Japanese young man further. The Duo of old would never have blinked at a kiss in public, in fact he would just have said something along the lines of "Who cares what anyone thinks but us?"

"Why not? It's never bothered you before?" Heero looked confused.

"Yeah, but you used to hate it." Duo chuckled as he reached out to grip Heero's upper arm. "But Milliardo warned me of the paparazzi, that they're everywhere and I should be circumspect."

The frown on Heero's face lessened as he realized Duo was right. He'd fended off the aggressive reporters and camera men for years from intruding too much into Relena's private life. "It will be hard to prove I'm not ashamed of you or a relationship with you if I'm not allowed to touch you in public," he told the beautiful young man before him.

"I know," the smiling vision replied. "But if there's a will, there's a way."

Heero opened the car door to the driver's seat and held it open, waiting patiently. Duo gave him a warm grin in return. "You drive," he said. "I don't know much about the city streets and after three years, I'm sure to be a menace on the roadway."

"Another time then," Heero suggested.

"Absolutely!" Duo gave an even brighter grin and moved to the passenger side and jumped over the door to land in the passenger seat.

Heero sat down behind the wheel and put the keys in the ignition. The car purred to life with the briefest touch. He turned to his companion to see the blue-violet eyes sparkle with approval.

Twenty minutes later the black sports car entered the parking lot of the water park. Duo's mouth dropped open at the sight of the enormous slides, easily three stories high. The large tubes carried thousands of gallons of water and squealing, screaming water-sliding maniacs.

"I've always wanted to go to a place like this," Duo said in a tone of awe. "Are we meeting Relena and her date here?" he asked his cheeks flushed from excitement and the warmth of the sun.

"They should be here by now," Heero answered as he pushed the button that triggered the car top to automatically unfold from behind them and rise up to close in the car. Once the top was secured, he turned off the car, reached for the snap-open window protector that was tucked in the area behind the passenger's seat and placed it on his lap. His eyes came up to meet Duo's, who was watching his every move. Popping it open, he placed it over the dash board and brought down the visors to hold it in place. Then taking advantage of the now closed up and secured car he quickly moved to capture Duo's lips.

This kiss was short but satisfying, and left the both of them with a warm, promising smile of better things to come.

"Let's go have some fun," Heero said as he removed the keys from the ignition and opened his door.

Together they walked shoulder to shoulder through the large, half-filled parking lot while Duo carried on the majority of their conversation and Heero took in every word and motion of his companion's hands and face like a starving man being give a plate filled with sumptuous food.

Nearing the entrance, Duo stopped short. "No way!" he exclaimed with a look of delighted disbelief.

Heero knew what he was looking at and smiled along with him. "It made perfect sense to me," he commented on the unspoken question.

Duo's eyes turned to him with amusement dancing within them. "You set Wufei up for a blind date with Relena?"

"I think they're well suited," he replied in a matter-of-fact tone, then put his hand on the middle of Duo's back at his waist and gently directed him forward towards the two waiting at the entrance for them.

Both Relena and Wufei looked slightly relieved at their arrival. Wufei stood looking somewhat confident as well as trim and well toned in plain black swim trunks and green tank top that showed off his caramel-colored skin and sleek muscles to perfection. His hair was pulled back in its usual pony tail and he stood with his arms crossed over his chest with one eyebrow raised. "You're late," he said a tad scornful.

Standing next to him, the slender, golden haired young woman was clothed in a modest, one piece, sky blue colored swimsuit and a matching gossamer floral skirt that tied around her waist. Of course the sandals, large straw purse, hair ribbon and sun glasses were appropriately coordinated. A white visor covered her forehead and her high-placed pony tail fell over the back of it to her shoulders. She appeared to be a regular visitor to the water park; and from her never-seen-in-public hairstyle, glasses and visor, no one would recognize her as the famous Vice Foreign Minister.

"Only by a few minutes," Heero answered Wufei's charge of lateness.

"Hi nephew," Relena smirked mischievously as she teased Duo. "That is just so strange, isn't it?"

"Try calling a former enemy your father, or someone old enough to be your brother and sister your mom and dad," Duo replied with good humor.

"You never cease to amaze me, Maxwell." Wufei said with a look of appreciation on his face.

Duo put both hands on his hips as he address his friend. "Do you think you could finally manage to call me Max or Duo?" he asked. "I don't go by the name Maxwell any more, though Maximilian was Milliardo's way of helping me keep hold of my past." Some of the braided young man's humor abated as he spoke, displaying the importance of his request.

"I'm sorry." Wufei inclined his head slightly. "Old habits die hard."

"It's alright." Duo perceptively brightened. "But it's getting warm and fun is calling." He nodded towards the park where the sound of rushing water and voices squealing with delight enticed the warm outsider to enter.

"I can't wait." Relena grabbed hold of Wufei's arm as she spoke with a child-like expression of excitement that Heero had never seen before. With the mantle of responsibility and propriety lifted, if even for a few hours, Relena looked like the teenage girl that, because of the circumstance of her birth and war, she never had the chance to be. It looked good on her, he decided and the smile on the faces of his friend and lover showed their agreement.

"Then let's go in." Wufei gave a rare smile to the girl and fished four tickets out of his pocket. "I already purchased our tickets, so we don't have to wait in line." All four heads turned to see the long line of bathing suit clad people waiting to purchase their way into the water park.

They walked by all those less fortunate people and went to the place of entry, passed through, and made their way half way around the park before they found a suitable piece of lawn to claim as their own. Heero collected their wallets and Relena's smaller purse and rented a locker in which to stash them. He quickly returned at looked at the expectant three. "Ready?"

"Where do we start?" Relena asked, staring wide-eyed at the many tubes carrying water and riders alike.

"That one." Duo pointed to the biggest and tallest set of tubes.

"Since Relena has never been to one of these before," Wufei spoke up, "why don't we work up to that one."

Relena gave him a grateful smile. "We don't have to stay together," she addressed Duo and Heero. "If you want to go on different slides, I don't want to slow you down."

"I think it will be more fun if we stick together, don't you?" Duo asked Heero.

"I agree," Heero smiled back.

"Let's get wet first in the wave pool and see how cold the water is," Relena suggested, her eyes lingering on the large pool that had one foot waves rolling over the surface of the water.

After slathering sun screen on, and happily helping each other with the hard to reach places, the four began their water adventure.

Two hours later they returned to their towels, happiness evident on all their faces.

"The Devil's Dive is the best!" Duo declared, flopping down onto his towel.

The other three picked up their towels and began to dry themselves off. Duo reached back and unfastened his very wet braid and un-wound it. With a shake of his head, the thick mane of wet hair fell loose and free, allowing it to dry faster.

"Let down you hair, Wu." Duo smiled at it friend. "It'll dry faster."

The Chinese Preventer frowned. He didn't usually wear his hair down in public and you didn't get anymore public than this.

Relena reached back and unfastened her pony tail and combed her fingers through to gain some semblance of order. "He's right, you know." She smiled at the Chinese man.

With a sigh of resignation, Wufei gave into their suggestion. He pulled out his hair band and shook his head, letting his silky, shoulder-blade length of ebony hair free.

Laying down on their damp towels on the grass, the three joined a still very wet Duo, who had reclined on his back with his eyes closed, soaking up the sun with a smile of contentment on his face.

"Hungry?" Heero's warm voice spoke in close proximity to his left side.

"I could eat." Duo's smile widened.

"I'm told they have great hot dogs and nachos here." Relena looked hopeful at the suggested cuisine that she rarely had an opportunity to enjoy.

"I'll go get us something." Heero said and as Wufei began to stand and join him, the Japanese man waved him off. "Stay here. I'm sure the lines are long and it will take a while."

"I'll come in ten minutes then to see if you need a hand. I remember Duo's appetite."

The other long haired young man laughed. "I'm not that voracious an eater anymore guys. Seems that since I quit growing, the need to eat constantly has diminished."

"I'll be back as soon as I can." Heero said, and no one missed the lingering look he gave his date.

The three watched him disappear into the crowd going in the direction of the lockers to get his wallet for the snack bar.

A soft sigh was heard from the girl in between the two young men as she put her white visor back on her head to protect her face from the bright sun. "This is wonderful," she said wistfully. She reclined to lay back on her towel but raised herself up onto her elbows so she could continue to survey the fun and play going on all around them.

"I don't do something like this very often," Wufei commented in a reflective tone. "Duo use to drag us out to fun places like this during the war. He said we needed to remember we were kids." He turned his head to look his newly returned friend in the eye. "You were right, Duo. It helped to have some good memories when things got bad."

"Then we should make a pact to do this more often," Duo piped up. "Have fun together, I mean."

"I'd like that." Relena gave them both a dazzling smile. "That is, if I'm included in the 'we'."

They assured her she was, and it was then that her eyes rested on Wufei a moment longer. His hair was laying straight, glossy and well past his shoulders. "Your hair is beautiful, Wufei. You should wear it down more often," Relena said in a tone that indicated she was impressed.

In a nervous gesture, the young Chinese man self-consciously pushed his hair behind his ear and over the back of his shoulder. "It gets in the way," he replied almost bashfully.

"Still..." Relena's voice softened. "You look really good with it down."

At a chuckling sound behind them, they both turned to glare at Duo, who naturally ignored them. Then suddenly his eyes fixed on something behind his two companions and his smile faltered.

Following his line of sight, the two turned to see Marcus Standish walking towards them with red headed May beside him, both wearing the appropriate swim wear needed for the park.

As they approached, the girl's face broke out into a brilliant smile as she ran ahead to her brother and flopped down beside him on Heero's towel. Marcus followed at a more leisurely pace, as if he had all the time in the world, his eyes focused entirely on Duo.

"What are you doing here?" Duo asked his sister with surprise written on his face.

"Marcus came over to ask father a question and we started talking. I mentioned I was jealous that you were going to this cool water park and he offered to bring me. Wasn't that wonderful of him?" she gushed looking back at the sandy haired man now stepping up beside her with a broad, smug smile on his face.

Duo raised a questioning eyebrow to Marcus. "Very altruistic," he replied in a slight sarcastic tone of voice.

"I had a change of plans for my afternoon and decided to show May a pleasant day," Marcus said with a casual shrug of his shoulders indicating it was no big deal.

"I've been looking for you for the past hour." May pouted prettily. "Where have you been?"

"On the slide, empty head," Duo softly knocked on the younger girl's head, teasing her as he always did. "Why don't you have Marcus take you on a couple. They're really fun."

"Where is Sneero?" Marcus asked looking around for the missing person.

"Heero," Duo over emphasized the name, "is getting lunch for us." His answer came out more like a growl. He was clearly very unhappy about Marcus crashing in on his first date with Heero.

"I'm going to try the wave pool," May said with youthful exuberance. She jumped to her feet and with a wave of her hand, she darted off towards the body of water.

Duo's eyes watched her leave, then looked up at Marcus to find him blatantly staring down at him with a devouring look on his face. Feeling self conscious, he grabbed up Heero's towel and began to dry himself, letting the majority of the towel cover his body.

"You look like a wet dream Max," the taller man said in a low voice.

Duo blushed with embarrassment at his frank talk and obviously lustful stare.

"I'd suggest you try the cold water." Wufei frowned at the man he'd met for the first time the night before and was forming an instant dislike for him.

The standing man turned to glare at the person intruding into his thoughts and conversation. "I don't think I've had the pleasure."

Relena lifted her visor. "Yes, I'm quite sure introductions were made last night," she said looking at the surprised man. He'd obviously not recognized her dressed down. "Chang Wufei," she said with a hand motion towards her Chinese escort. "Remember he's one of Duo's friends? He's one of the Preventer's top agents, Marcus," she added a bit smugly.

The man's eyes widened. "But you're obviously younger than I am," he observed out loud. "How did you gain such an impressive title at your age?"

"Skills and experience," Wufei answered shortly, not wanting to waste his breath conversing with someone he decided to thoroughly dislike.

Marcus turned to Relena. "You sure have surrounded yourself with an unusual and eclectic group of people," he told her.

"Only the best," she answered smiling as she took up both Duo's and Wufei's hands into her own to demonstrate her affection for them.

"Standish." A familiar low voice caused the four to look up to see Heero balancing two trays filled with food and drinks and glaring unhappily at the surprise visitor. His eyes then lowered to meet Duo's. The chestnut haired man rolled his eyes and shrugged, letting Heero know he had nothing to do with the other man being there.

"Are you stalking Duo?" Heero asked as he knelt down and handed the tray of drinks to his date for him to distribute.

"I'm actually here with May," Marcus replied casually and looking out to the wave pool where the young teen was frolicking in the rolling waves.

After placing the tray of food on the ground, Heero sat next to Duo, very close in fact, and put his arm directly behind the long haired man's back, giving the impression of possessiveness, a warning to the other to back off. "I hope you two have a fun time," Heero said looking up at the man still standing in front of them. "But if you'll excuse us, we're about to eat."

Having been publicly dismissed, the tall man was forced to leave, and he did so with a brief goodbye, his eyes lingering on Duo before he turned to leave.

"I need to explain some things to May when I get home," Duo said thoughtfully as he put a straw through the lid of his soda.

"Is that how he knew we were here?" Heero asked as he passed the hot dogs and nachos over to the others.

"I'm sure he tricked the information out of her," Duo replied frowning, clearly unhappy but not willing to blame his innocent sister. "I'm sorry," he added as he focused on unwrapping his hot dog. He stopped suddenly when Heero's hand touched his chin and turned his face so their eyes could meet.

"It's not your fault," Heero said softly. "But I don't like how he looks at you. Be careful around him."

Duo nodded, his eyes softening as he felt his feelings for Heero grow even deeper as his former lover displayed his concern for his welfare without trying to solve the problem for him. That showed trust, and the realization of it filled him with an encompassing warmth.

Heero must have divined his emotions as he gave him a dazzling smile in return.

Duo then sought to reassure Heero, relieve him of any worry. "He's really not that bad," he managed to say. "But you're right, I'll be careful around him." Then remembering the incidents that morning, his smile lessened realizing he needed to do as he promised.

"Then let's forget him," Heero suggested, then took a large bite of his relish and mustard dressed hot dog.

They shared a pleasant lunch with each other then returned to the slides until five o'clock, when they determined they'd had enough sun and fun for one day. Gathering their things, the four walked towards the exit only to meet Marcus and May on their way out.

"I'm taking May home," Marcus said in greeting them as they met up again. "I'd be happy to take Max home to save you the trip, Nero," he offered glibly with an odd grin on his face.

The Japanese man ignored the deliberate mispronunciation of his name and taking hold of Duo's arm answered in strained politeness. "Thank you, but Duo and I have something else planned, so we'll decline your generous offer."

"Oh well, my loss." The sandy haired man shrugged giving the appearance of being unaffected by the refusal of his offer.

"See you at home Max." May stepped up to her brother and kissed him on the cheek.

"See ya kiddo." Duo returned the affectionate kiss and waved the two off. He then turned with a sparkle in his eye to Heero. "So, if the date isn't over, what are we doing next?"

"I was thinking I could show you my place and make you dinner," Heero said with a slight, hopeful smile.

Duo decided he liked that facial expression on Heero...a lot. "I've seen your room before, Heero," he replied with a mischievous grin, remembering the room, specifically the bathroom, from three years ago.

"I meant my house."

Looking surprised, Duo's mouth hung open, but anything he meant to say was cut off by Relena. "Sounds like we're on our own," she told Wufei. The Preventer nodded and offered her his arm, which she readily took.

"I'll see you tomorrow around noon, Heero," Relena told her bodyguard, currently guarding Duo quite well.

"See you soon nephew." She gave a teasing smile to Duo.

"Absolutely. Thank you for suggesting such a great place to visit," he replied, his new manners showing through again.

With the best of feelings, the two couples parted. Heero led Duo back to the car and once inside, he leaned over and kissed the long haired man again, ignoring the stifling heat that had been trapped inside the small space all afternoon.

"I've been wanting to do that all afternoon," Heero whispered against the soft lips touching his.

"Me too," Duo replied and pulled back to give Heero a warm smile. They gazed into each other's eyes to gage their next move. With a Cheshire Cat grin, Duo sat back in his seat, his eyes never leaving Heero's. "So, you've got a house," he stated. "I never quite pictured you as the domestic type."

"Everyone needs some place to call home, Duo," Heero said as he turned the key and the sports car purred to life.

Duo pulled down the reflective shades from the dash board and answered quietly, "Yeah, I know."

on to part 10

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