by Dyna Dee
They wove their way through the busy streets of Sanq at rush hour. Stop lights and pedestrians were making their way to their homes and people out for an early meal interrupted any smoothness to their exit from the city. Heero had stopped briefly at a grocery store on the outskirts of the city to pick up a few produce items for dinner, then the fast moving sports car hit the open road leading to the mountains that stood proudly behind the port city like ancient sentinels. The sleek sports car began the steep climb up the hill, accomplishing the deed with ease.
Along the way, Duo proved to be his old, quizzical self in regards to Heero's home and where it was located. Heero proved that he was still very good at being evasive when he didn't want to give anything away. He merely told Duo he wanted it to be a surprise. He did give in to a small degree, and told his companion that he was only able to stay in his home one week out of the month. He lived the other three weeks in the palace, on call twenty-four hours of the day, giving him a full week off once a month.
He went on to tell Duo that when he first started that schedule, he had nowhere else to go, so he stayed in his room and concentrated on his search for his missing friend. But as time wore on, he increasing felt the need to get away and do something for himself. He tried traveling, but soon grew bored of seeing places with no one to share the experience with. Relena had suggested he get a place of his own, take time to build a place of refuge.
"So I started to look around at houses within the city boundaries, but nothing seemed right. I decided that I had enough funds that I could build a custom home anywhere I wanted. So I started looking around at lots. I remembered back, during the war," he glanced at his violet eyed companion, "that you had said you thought you'd like a place where you could go out at night and gaze at the moon and stars and hear nature as it reacted to the dark, so I began to look out of the city limits." Turning his eyes back to look at the road, he allowed himself a satisfied grin at the dumbfounded look he saw on Duo's face.
"So you... you bought a place in the country because of something I said way back then?" Duo guessed, clearly disbelieving Heero's words.
Heero waited a moment before he nodded. "I found this place on the mountain that had a great view by day, so I came back that night and camped out to see if it was dark enough to see everything in the night sky. It was, and I bought the parcel of scenic property the next day. I did it with the belief that one day you would come back and would give me another chance. And in hoping that you would, I wanted to have a place I could bring you to." He paused to give Duo a reassuring smile. "I figured that the next time I saw you I wouldn't need anyone's permission, except yours, for you to live with me," he added in a soft voice, keeping his hands on the steering wheel and having turned back his eyes to the curvy road as he negotiated another sharp turn, thus missing Duo's reaction.
The braided young man looked in wonder and shock at Heero and drew in his lower lip in an effort to stop the emotions welling up inside of him. He blinked in wonderment; Heero had truly missed him. What his former lover had just said stood as proof of his words the night before and proved that Heero did indeed love him and had made plans for a future together. Despite his best intentions and promises to himself and his family to go slow and guard his heart, planning his future logically, Duo found he couldn't help but give into the swelling emotions within him as he let the love he'd always felt for Heero overflow his senses and good intentions. Leaning over to shorten the distance between them, Duo wrapped his hands around Heero's firm bicept and rested his head on his strong shoulder. Not wanting to move too quickly on his re-emerging emotions and blurting out to Heero how much he loved him, he just quietly rested against his best friend and lover while the music on the car stereo continued to play unnoticed in the background.
The narrow road switch backed all the way up the side of mountain, and when they were nearly to the top, Heero slowed and turned the car into a paved driveway that was marked with simply with red reflector strips on the two posts standing just off the road and on either side of the entrance. The driveway was steep and wove through the trees and natural growth that covered the mountainside. Then, as the last vibrant coral colored rays of light streaked over the western horizon, the house came within Duo's sight. The young man's eyes widened as he took in the large cabin-style home. On the outside it appeared to be a well-designed and modern log cabin with large wood logs stacked up on one another to form the walls of the house, making the home a structure in perfect harmony with its environment. A wide, wooden deck surrounded the exterior of the house with beautifully crafted wood furniture sitting in front of the large front-room window. Off to the side, Duo noticed a hammock tied between two trees that looked as inviting as the home itself.
The driveway widened and circled around to the base of the rock-fashioned stairs that led up to the porch steps. Heero stopped in front of it and turned the car off. Without waiting, Duo leapt out immediately and stood next to the car as he looked up at the home, stunned by what he was seeing.
Heero got out of the car, taking the bag of groceries from the space behind his seat, and moved to his love's side, enjoying the look on Duo's face. "So, I take it you approve."
Wide violet eyes turned to him, a smile blooming on the handsome face. "It's perfect, Heero. Just like you," he purred
Heero smiled and let his eyes wander up to look at his, no, hopefully their home. "I designed it for you," he said in a matter-of-fact tone, with only a little trace of pride in his voice.
"Heero," Duo whispered, wondering if he could be anymore surprised by Heero than he already was. "How? It's so perfect. It blends beautifully with the environment."
"I studied," he shrugged. "I liked a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs; simple, beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to its environment. His idea of designing a structure was to have it become part of the natural environment, not distracting from it but enhancing it."
"You have a great talent, Heero," Duo whispered in obvious awe. "Have you ever thought about doing this full time?"
"Just a little." Heero confessed what he'd never told another person. "I worked with an architect and structural engineer and they were both impressed by my drawings and ideas enough to suggest I go to school. Both offered to help sponsor my education if I'd consider joining their firms after I graduated."
Duo's eyes were wide with wonder. "And?"
"I'm thinking about it," he replied putting his arm around Duo's shoulders and led him up the stairs. "I've come to the conclusion I don't want to be a bodyguard forever."
"You should go for your dreams, Heero," Duo said encouragingly as he placed his arm around Heero's waist as they climbed. The movement and touch felt so natural that he didn't consciously realize he'd done it.
As they reached the top landing of the porch, the arm around Duo's waist tightened. "I am going for my dream right now," Heero replied, and turned to face Duo, putting the grocery bag down on the small table on the wooden porch, he was then free to place both hands on the slightly smaller man's shoulders.
With a warm, inviting smile, Duo stepped forward and put his head on Heero's shoulder and wrapped both of his arms around the man he'd lost his heart to all over again. Heero's hands stroked his back and he felt a kiss on the side of his head as Heero murmured, "I love you."
Touched by Heero's words and actions, Duo pulled back to let the other see the unshed tears welling in his eyes. "This is going completely against my plan, you know," he said with a watery smile.
"Plan?" Heero asked softly as his hand came up to brush the fair cheek with his thumb.
"Yeah, my plan to go slow. I promised myself to hold back from loving you until you could prove yourself to me."
"I am trying to show you, to prove it to you," Heero began, his face sober and his eyes intense, "that I have loved you and that I believe we can have a future together. I've waited three years for you to come back so I could beg for another chance, to right all my wrongs. I don't want to go slow, Duo. I've always wanted and needed you, and I don't think that is ever going to change."
If he had anything further to say, it was halted by Duo's lips fervently pursed against his own. The kiss was long, deep and passionate. And when at last they pulled apart, Duo pressed his body fully against the strong chest, his head nestled into the crook of Heero's neck and his arms wrapped tightly around him.
"Why couldn't you have said such wonderful things to me three years ago?" he asked, mourning for all the time wasted.
"I think..." Heero began thoughtfully, "that things happen for a reason. If we'd gotten together back then, maybe I would never have been able to open up and express myself. I had to lose the most precious thing to me in order to realize what I'd lost. I had to re-evaluate myself, my mistakes and my shortcomings in order to be able to change," he stated softly. "Now I know what I want and what I need, and it's you, Duo. I worked at opening up, expressing my feelings, and I built this home as an anchor to the hope that, when you returned, you'd find it and me acceptable."
Duo pulled back from the comforting embrace to look into the deep blue eyes with a hopeful look in them. "I love you, Heero. I always have and always will," he confessed, his heart felt instant relief from speaking the words. "But I still want to go slow," he added. "I want what I feel right now to last forever; and we both know that we've changed over the last three years. I think we owe it to ourselves to learn about each other before we set up house together."
Heero took in a deep breath of air and let it out in the form of a sigh. He lifted a hand to run it through his own hair, a sign of frustration. "You're right," he reluctantly conceded. "I, too, want this to last." He looked through the evening's dim light into Duo's face. "So what do we do now?" he asked, looking for some direction.
"Well," a devilish glint came into the devastatingly beautiful eyes, "you did promise me dinner."
Heero nodded and bent to pick up the almost forgotten bag of groceries. Finding the right key on his key chain, he unlocked the front door, opened it, and quickly keyed off the interior security alarm. Duo followed him in, taking in the large great room with an enormous rock fireplace and a modern kitchen to the back of the room. He shut the front door behind him and leaned against it as Heero turned on the lights, further illuminating the beautiful but thoroughly masculine room.
When Heero turned towards him, Duo gave in a smile full of wicked intentions. "And, after dinner," he continued on with his suggestions for the evening, "I want you to show me the master bedroom," he said in a sultry voice.
Heero's eyes snapped open at the suggestion and Duo smiled impishly. "Well, slow doesn't have to mean celibate," he drawled, then threw his head back and laughed as his hand was quickly grabbed and he was promptly pulled into the kitchen area where Heero prepared the quickest dinner known in the history of man.