by Dyna Dee
A sigh escapes my lips a moment after I slam the car door shut. I brush back my wet hair from out of my eyes and pull my dry braid out from my jacket, then reach up to unzip the front of the leather Preventer's jacket which is wet from running to the car from the office in the pouring rain. Reaching inside the damp garment I pull my revolver out from the shoulder strap that holds it in place in an effort get more comfortable. Sitting back against the driver's seat, I look out into the darkness surrounding me. I hate January. Almost every year I struggle emotionally during this month. It depresses me. I find it's always a let down after the glitz and excitement of the holidays and I hate almost everything about this month following it. I go to work in the morning and it's dark, and here I am at the end of the work day and, not only is it dark, but it's also raining, heavily. Tilting my weary head to the side and resting it against the cool glass window, my eyes stray to the large puddle in the vacant parking spot next to my car. The water looks black against the asphalt beneath it and the dark of night enveloping everything. The light of the high-set lamp post above my car reflects on the water's surface, glimmering even in the blackness because of all the raindrops that cause the puddle's surface to dance with the light's reflection. But regardless of the light's efforts, the puddle is still black, just like my current mood. That thought disgusts me the moment it pops into my head.
"Suck it in Maxwell, you wuss," I snarl to himself. But I know I have "sucked it in" far too many times to be able to do it effectively anymore. My joker's mask is shattered; it has been for a long time now. Ever since.... "No!" I tell myself firmly and force my mind away from the source of my pain. I've been hurting for how long now? I snort in disgust, I know exactly how long, from the moment I realized that I'd fallen in love with my best friend. The pain was small when it first started, caused from the guilt I felt when realizing my attraction to another guy, then it increased when it became apparent that Heero only viewed me as a sometimes useful comrade in arms.
I sigh deeply, damn but I was so stupid to have fallen in love with him. I hadn't told Heero of my attraction when I'd discovered it, doubting the Wing pilot would be interested in me in the same manner as I was with him. In fact, during the war, Heero didn't seem interested platonically or sexually in anyone of either gender. Maybe it was his training, I had consoled himself. Whatever it was, I had been content to bide my time and watch the object of my affections from an arm's length, enjoying the friendship we seemed to form during the first war.
After the war, I'd talked Heero into moving into an apartment with me, hoping to get a better idea of my friend's preference in gender. Heero remained stoically unreadable and most days he was as aloof-friendly as ever. But I stubbornly didn't give up hope. We were young, I reasoned, and Heero might be a late bloomer. I had also harbored the hope that I would eventually lose interest in my best friend and go on with my life looking for a nice girl to settle down with one day.
It wasn't until after the attempted military coup by Barton and his army that something changed in Heero. Maybe it was facing death one too many times, or realizing that his duty as a soldier for the colonies, now living in peace, was over. What ever it was, he changed dramatically. After recovering from his injuries, he moved back in with me and we both joined the Preventers along with Wufei. Things were going well for us; we both had a steady, challenging job and each other's company. And then suddenly, out of the blue, Heero accepted my invitation to go out to a club one Friday night after work. I've cursed myself a million times over for making that suggestion as it's brought me more grief than I care to think about.
Nothing happened the first night, other than Heero being asked to dance and, surprisingly, he accepted, with my encouragement. It only took a couple more invitations to the dance floor for the former Wing Zero pilot to get the mechanics of the social surroundings and then he began to ask others to dance. I watched him with undisguised amazement. Never in a million years would I have believed Heero would thaw so quickly. The only problem was that Heero seemed to ask everyone to dance but me, and I was jealous and hurt because of it. That should have been my first clue.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," I mutter, banging my head against the window with each word while my eyes remain focused on the black puddle with the dancing lights. Heero had wanted to go out every weekend from that night on. And though the clubs were always crowded and Heero quickly disappeared from my side, I always knew exactly where he was, what he was doing and who he was with. It was my duty to watch my friend's back, wasn't it? My best friend, a person who had always been so cold and distant from everyone, suddenly became a raging mass of hormones. He discovered sex in the bathroom of a dim lit nightclub. I didn't say anything, thinking Heero was just experimenting, a lot of people do that, or so I've been told. I was just sick at heart with disappointment that Heero had turned to strangers instead of to me. But the thing that shocked me the most was the fact that Heero frequented the back room several times an evening and with different people of both genders. If nothing else, that answered my question as to whether Heero could be attracted to a male.
After a month or so of watching my best friend from a distance, I spoke to him, questioning him about the many people he was engaging in some sort of sexual activity with. Heero merely shrugged, "I use protection, Duo. And really, it's none of your business." That ended the discussion.
Still, I bided my time but I stopped going to the clubs each weekend with Heero. I chose instead to stay home and worry until the he returned, sometimes around two a.m. and other times not until well after the sun had risen. With each weekend my heartache increased.
It all came to a head when Wufei had his breakdown. I shudder to think what would have happened if Quatre and Trowa hadn't come in for lunch that day. The two lovers visited with the three of us Preventer/former pilots on a regular basis. But that day in my office Quatre suddenly clutched at his chest and his face crumbled, looking as if he was in agony. "Wufei," he gasped. With eyes filling with unshed tears, the boy with the telling heart looked to Trowa. "He's going to kill himself, Trowa. Hurry, I think he's on the roof." The three of us rushed up there in time for Trowa to knock the gun away from Wufei's temple. Quatre and Trowa held our Chinese friend, always so aloof and solitary, tightly between them. They whispered into his ears some reassurance or promise that no one else could hear, and when they finally let him go from their secure embrace, Wufei turned to those few gathered on the roof, and with pain-filled eyes he quietly said, "I quit."
I had never been really close to Wufei as the scholarly former pilot seemed to only be able to tolerate my sense of humor for short periods of time; but I hated to see him go. With Wufei there, at the Preventers every day, I knew I always had someone I could feel comfortable around. Heero, Wufei and myself were the only ones in the city that understood what we had gone through as young teenagers, fighting an impossible war under the most extraordinary of circumstances. But even I could see that my Chinese friend was having trouble coping. We were given massive responsibilities at too young of an age, the stress was unbearable at times as we struggled to achieve what was expected of us. Being in the Preventer's organization was no less different than fighting for the colonies with our gundams. We had reputations of being the three gundam pilots. It was assumed by most that anyone kid capable of doing what we had as teenagers was certainly capable of handling extreme tasks that others would falter at.
Having had a couple of cases turn sour in succession and one particular case had gone so badly that it had led to the unnecessary death of an informant and some innocent bystanders, Wufei's seemingly impenetrable wall that he'd built inside himself began to crumble. Coupled with the stress of difficult assignments were the plaguing nightmares and survivor's guilt from the war that succeeded in taking our Chinese comrade over the edge, leading him to that day where he was determined to end his life and put himself out of his misery. Wufei left Earth that very evening and traveled to L-4 with Trowa and Quatre, and my loneliness increased.
It was two years from the time I realized that I loved Heero and a year after the last war when I felt desperate enough to break down and tell my friend how I felt about him. A violent shudder shakes my thin frame as I recall the conversation. With my heart in my hand, I confessed my feelings for him and humbly offered my love to Heero, asking if he could feel the same way toward me and possibly try building a future together. Heero took a moment to look at me, his face was expressionless, giving me no clue as to how he received my announcement. I was beginning to feel sick to my stomach with nervousness when he finally reached out to me and my hope again sparked within me. Then my every wish was shattered as he reached out his hands and took hold of my shoulders then looked deeply into my eyes and said, "Duo, you're my friend, my former comrade. I care for you, but I could never be attracted to you in a sexual way." Heero must have seen the heartbreak in the eyes he studied, because his next sentence caused even more despair. "I think in light of your feelings that I should move out and find a place of my own." With that said, Heero left to go out for the evening, dressed in leather and silk and leaving behind him the smell of his musky cologne and a shattered heart. A week later he packed his things and moved out of our apartment and into one of his own.
We still saw each other at work and, at my frequent invitations, we manage to still play one-on-one basketball after work and have lunch occasionally. I've seen Heero several times with different companions, eating dinner or going to a movie, but Heero's relationships never last for more than a couple of weeks before he goes back to the clubs and finds someone new.
I finger the gun still in my hand and let my fingertips absently linger over the cool metal, caressing it like a lover. I've thought several times of doing what Wufei failed to do, but my brief time at the Catholic orphanage and my promise to Sister Helen as she died that I would do all I could to live, has stopped me from doing it, but that doesn't mean I don't want to do it. I know I'm walking a thin line. I'm sure the good Father and Sister would be repulsed and disgusted with me if they knew what I've been contemplating since my return from the dreadful Christmas at Quatre, Trowa, and Wufei's home. I sigh deeply, feeling sick to my soul thinking what a disaster that had been. I'm sure that's was the last straw that had taken me to this emotional edge and on the point of teetering over.
I close my eyes and realize that the last four months have been just about enough to send sent to straight to the nut house. My therapist has even suggested a brief stay at the mental health hospital as my medication doesn't seem to help my deepening depression, especially after the last punch Heero delivered me.
My hand raises to wipe at the slightly fogged window with the rain drops making their way down the cool, outside surface like tear drops. It began four months ago, and I remember that I hadn't seen Heero for several weeks, other than brief contacts at work. He'd turned down all my invitations to lunch, basketball, and even a drink after work. I just figured Heero had a new bed interest, and I was soon to learn how close to the mark I was.
I'd accepted an invitation to dinner with a couple of friends from work, giving into their teasing me about spending all my time working and not having any fun. They were right about that, I pretty much stayed in my apartment on the weekends and caught up on the sleep I rarely got during the week, and I knew that I really did need to get out of the rut I was in. We walked several blocks to a popular Italian restaurant not far from work. The six of us entered into the well-known establishment in good spirits and anticipating a wonderful meal. I scanned the interior of the bustling business and my eyes locked on to someone familiar. In that brief glance, my world was shaken yet again. There, in a booth next to the far wall, was Heero with another man, and it was more than apparent that he was Heero's current love interest by the way they were staring into each other's eyes with sparks of lust surrounding them like an invisible aura. But that wasn't the thing that disturbed me, it was the other guy's very appearance. Quickly giving the others some excuse that I'd forgotten to make a call, I quickly turned and shot out the door, hoping Heero hadn't seen me, and ran all the way back to the parking lot. I sat in my car for a long time trying to come to terms with what I'd seen and felt shaken to the core. Starting the car, I drove home, ignoring the ringing of my cell phone for the rest of the weekend.
Wufei showed up at my door two weeks later, having come to the city on a business trip for the Winner Corporation, and though he looked healthy and strong, he also looked harried and worried at the same time. He told me he'd dropped by Heero's to say hello and had met Heero's new roommate. He then went on to tell me that he'd given Heero a verbal tongue lashing for his insensitivity. Wufei and the other two pilots knew of my unrequited feelings for my former roommate and co-worker, and they had offered a sympathetic ear when I needed to vent. If there could have been one positive thing that came from my heartache, it was that I had never felt closer to Wufei than at that moment, when my friend had recognized the cause of my pain and realized the hurt I had to be going through. Then, in a true act of friendship, he had come directly to me. Words can't express the warmth I felt for my Chinese friend in that moment.
"Insensitive bastard," Wufei had said in regards to Heero. I agreed, but told Wufei that I was hopeful the relationship would only last a week or two as that seemed to be the usual duration for any of Heero's relationships. I was wrong. The two had been living at Heero's place for over four months now.
"What's the matter Duo?"
Jumping at Heero's voice, I'm embarrassed that I've been so lost in my dark thoughts that I didn't even hear Heero come in from the rain. I've been waiting for Heero, like I always do Monday through Thursday, to give him a ride home from work. It's something I offered during the winter months when it became dark earlier in the evening and the weather was usually inclement. After all, Heero didn't have a car and that's what friend's do, right?
"Nothing," I answer his question in a surly manner and start the car. I shift gears and in a jerky move, maneuver the car out of the parking lot and onto the main roadway. With the radio off, the sound of the windshield wipers is the only sound between the two of us.
"You always get depressed after Christmas. Is that what's going on?" Heero persists, and I can tell he's mildly concerned.
"No, because Christmas was an unmitigated disaster, so there's no holiday high to come down from," I answer bitterly.
"I didn't think it was so bad," Heero replies with a salacious grin, then leans forward to adjust the car's heater to a higher temperature.
"One of these days Heero reality and probably some kind of S.T.D. is going to bring you around to your stupidity." I knew why Heero hadn't thought it was bad. The other guys and myself had been embarrassed by Heero's lover's sleaziness and that his hands had been all over Heero, who didn't seem to mind in the least. Regardless that Quatre's involved with two men at the same time, he and his lovers are discrete and courteous. It was unfortunate that Quatre found it imperative to speak to Heero about their too often public displays of affection and indecent comments. Quatre did have three of his sisters and some of their children present for the holiday after all, and Heero and his companion's behavior had been anything but appropriate around them. It put everyone in the house in a very uncomfortable position of which Heero simply seemed uncaring or oblivious to. Things came to a head when Quatre became unusually angry after a maid reported to him that she had come upon Heero and Alex, his lover, naked and engaging in sexual activity in the billiard room Christmas morning. The blond had politely but sternly asked the two to leave his home. Neither he nor the other two former pilots who live with him have spoken to Heero since.
"Where is all this hostility coming from Duo?" Heero asks me, his voice sounding tighter as if he's beginning to get angry. Then he snorts. "I know your problem, you need to get laid."
My hands grip tightly to the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white, I'm at the end of my proverbial rope and Heero is pushing me off. "I know that's your solution to everything Heero, but it's not mine," I snap back, then began to mimic the sound of two voices. In a high voice I say, "Heero has a headache." And in a deeper voice, mimicking Heero's I say, "Oh, I need to go get laid." Not heeding the glare directed on me, I continue. "I'm thirsty. Oh yeah, a blow job is just what I need. I've got a hang nail, I think I'll go clubbing and get a hand job in the back room. I'm having a bad hair day.."
"Enough," Heero shouts, his anger is now fully roused. "You're just jealous."
"Of your promiscuity, I don't think so fella." I snort derisively.
"Tell me Duo, are you still a virgin? You sure act like one." Heero snaps back.
"Like that's any of your business," I answer indignantly. "But I'll make a deal with you, Heero. I'll tell you the answer to that question if you can tell me the exact number, give or take a dozen, of the number of people you've shared a sexual experience with. And I'm not just talking only about traditional sex, I'm talking blow jobs, hand jobs, and any other weird thing you're into."
I'm somewhat pleased to see Heero's eyes narrow. "Can't do it, can you? You know what they call you down at the clubs, Heero?" I ask as I speed around slower cars on the roadway, eager to get to Heero's apartment and end this conversation.
"Shut up Duo." Heero gives a warning growl.
Of course, I ignore him and continue, "It's no longer the prestigious name of the Pilot of Wing Zero, or the pilot who saved the Earth from Libra, or the hero of the Barton Uprising. No Heero, you have the distinction of being known as a first-class man whore."
Heero makes a move to lunge at me, when suddenly he freezes in place as he feels the nozzle of my gun against his forehead.
"Back off," I snarl and jerk the steering wheel so that Heero is thrown back against his door. "Not that you charge any one for your pleasure," I continue, now more than thoroughly pissed off than I've been in a long time. "But that's your own reward, isn't it? Think about it, if you'd charged the amount a hooker does for each sexual favor you've given in a club, you'd be rich."
"Is this discussion because you're still in love with me?" Heero demands angrily, as we deliberately continue to try and hurt each other with our words and anger. "You need to get some help Duo. Your feelings for me have become an obsession that's detrimental to your mental health."
I laugh loudly, almost maniacally at the irony of that statement. "That's really funny coming from you Heero. You're obsessed with sex. Face it, you're an addict, and I'd call that detrimental to your physical as well as your mental health. It's not normal Heero. You're sick."
"Well then that makes two of us," he yells back, then backs himself into the corner, folds his arms over his chest and looks at me with hatred brimming in his eyes.
The next minute is spent in tense silence as I continue my erratic driving through the wet streets. The deep breathing of the both of us almost coincides with the sound of the windshield wipers as they glide across the wet surface of the windshield.
"I can't fall in love with you Duo," Heero says firmly. "But I am your friend. Can't that be enough?"
"My friend," I reply with sarcasm dripping from the words. "You have never been my friend, Heero."
"I've been your friend since the war," Heero adamantly insists. "How can you dismiss all the time we've spent together as anything other then friendship?"
I look away from the road to give Heero an incredulous look. "I don't know who ever defined friendship for you, Heero, but friendship is a two way street, the give and take go both ways. Our so-called friendship has always been based on me giving and you taking, never the other way around."
"You're delusional," Heero huffs as he backs further into his seat and turns his head to look out the passenger side window.
"Who is it that calls to set up the lunches, the movies, or a night out for bowling or pool," I say, the anger building in my voice again. "It's always been me, Heero. Always me. You never called me first, or even e-mailed me just to say hi. I was the person trying to have a friendship and you just took what you wanted and left me hanging the rest of the time. It was never you, Heero, who was my friend."
"Duo, I'm in a relationship." Heero answers with a sigh, as if he is bored with the conversation. "I can't hang out with you like I used to. Alex wouldn't like it."
"Yes, I guess more than two weeks of having sex three times a day with the same person would constitute a relationship to you," I say snidely. "What the hell do you have in common with that guy anyway? He's a limp wristed, disease carrying lounge lizard with the intelligence of a soap opera addict, and can you get any more flaming? For God sakes Heero, he sashays when he walks and he hasn't got a locking joint in any part of his body. It's obvious to everyone why you're with this guy, and it just adds insult to injury. Do you really hate me so much?" I was angry, but it was feeling pretty damn good to finally get it off my chest.
"Shut up Duo, the green-eyed monster is rearing his ugly head."
"At least I know what you mean when you say that, but I'll bet Mr. Sleeze Ball thinks it's a sexual come on."
Heero glares at me. "Your jealousy knows no bounds, Duo. You either get some help or our friendship is over."
There's another moment of stilted silence before I speak again, as angry as I've ever been in my life. "You know what?" I ask as I pass another car rather sharply, causing Heero to grip the armrest.
"What?" Heero snaps back in exasperation.
"I've had it. I'm done. I've finally reached the breaking point and I quit," I reply with through gritted teeth while sitting tense behind the wheel. With that statement made, I follow my gut reaction and immediately pull the car over to the curb and slam on the brakes, causing the both of us to lurch forward and then slam back roughly into our seats with the abruptness of it. Without taking my eyes away from the road in front of the car I grind out, "Get out. I'm not taking your shit any more."
Heero looks out the window to the shops outside and realizes he is still a half a mile from his apartment building. "You've got to be kidding. " he says disgustedly. "It's pouring outside."
I did manage to turn my head to look at him this time. "If self-destructing in Wing didn't kill you, I doubt a little rain could hurt you other than washing away some of the taint." I reach over him and pull on the door knob, then push, allowing the door to swing open. "Get out now!"
Heero gives me his best glare but does as he's told. He stands in the pouring rain and turns to look back at me, his eyes immediately resting on the gun sitting on my lap and a momentary fear seems to overcome his anger. "Don't do anything stupid, Duo," he warns me.
"Get your own ride from now on," I snarl, then hit the gas peddle with a heavy foot. The car's wheels spin for a moment, failing to gain traction on the wet, slippery surface and sends a spray of gutter water up, soaking Heero completely. Then the car shoots off, the door slamming shut with the sudden forward momentum.
I drive tensely for several minutes, completely on automatic. I don't know what I feel exactly, but I know it's over. I'm done being the patsy. I feel wetness on my cheeks and realize that I'm crying. I don't know if it's from relief or sorrow that I've just ended my so called friendship with the man who has been the most important person in my life for several years. I wipe the tears away and decide they are the last ones I will ever spill for Heero Yuy. I know that for my own sanity and health that I can't stay here any longer. At the first opportunity, I make a U-turn and head back to the office. I just hope I can catch Director Une before she takes off for the evening.
Dripping wet and standing alone in the rain on a deserted sidewalk, I watch in disbelief and anger at the fading red taillights. Shoving my fists into my soaked jacket pockets, I begin the long, miserable walk home.
During the half mile walk in the irritating deluge of rain, I go over my fight in the car with Duo, thinking of rebuttals I should have used in answer to Duo's diatribe. We engaged in this kind of fighting once or twice a year as Duo's highly emotional and needs to blow off steam. I'm not too worried, Duo always contacts me a week or two after any altercation we've had with a tentative invite to play basketball or some other activity and then things are right between us once again.
I know Duo loves me, I've always known. But I can't give in and love him the way he wants me to, I just can't. That he's beautiful, there's no doubt. He's also kind, generous, thoughtful, forgiving and amusing. He is everything anyone would want in a lover. And even though Duo has been a warrior, has taken lives and suffered hardships, there is a purity about him. Those incredible eyes of his are the windows to his soul and display his deep emotions. Even though Duo thinks he's hiding behind the mask of a joker, I have always seen his pain, his sorrow and his love for me emanating from those beautiful orbs. Somehow, I've always known that Duo that was above me, too good for me, especially now that I've gone taken on a lifestyle that he despises.
The argument we've just had and the bitter feelings it left us both with makes me feel unsettled. Duo hit a lot of sensitive areas as he spewed his anger and resentment at me. I can't fathom what he said about our friendship being one sided. But then, recalling his words, I can't recall the last time I voluntarily called Duo to do something. I guess I never realized that before. I suppose I have just always counted on Duo's regularity of keeping in contact and suggesting we do something together that I waited for him to suggest something. I really didn't need to do anything because I could always rely on Duo setting things up, like he always did. Alright, I have to concede that he's correct on that point, that part of our friendship was one-sided.
Still, it hurts to think that Duo doesn't believe I've been his friend. I've always enjoyed our time together. But for the last two years that I've been what I call "socially active", I finally discovered a way in which I don't need Duo as much as I had in the year after the first war, nor do I dwell on him or indulge any longer in my fantasy about what it would be like to hold him, to kiss him, and make slow and passionate love to him. My new way of life is a definite distraction from how I really feel about him and how to keep my self from acting on those emotions.
Water drips down from my completely saturated hair and into my eyes. I attempt to brush it aside and quicken my stride. Socially active. I turn the phrase over in my mind and around my tongue and release a disgusted snort at those words. The proper term that I avoid is aggressively sexually active. Duo's right on that count too. When he'd asked me for the number of people I've "played" with, I couldn't have give him a number, there have been too many. Just another reason I can never be with Duo. Duo has openly disagreed with my lifestyle, he said so from the very beginning. I still feel the sting of his declaration that I'm sick, addicted to sex. It hurts because he 's probably right. From the first night I experienced a sexual act in the bathroom stall of a night club, I wanted more. I felt a freedom I'd never experienced before and craved it over and over again. I discovered that it doesn't really matter who it is I'm doing it with, as long as they are reasonably attractive and willing to use protection.
I thought I'd hidden my actions from Duo that first month, but I should have known better. It was wrong to assume Duo wouldn't know, the guy is a natural at stealth and information gathering. But that night, when he talked to me about my backroom liaisons, the disappointment on his face when he first spoke about my frequent sexual activities have haunted me these past two years. I had hurt and disgusted him at the same time. I never wanted that to happen, but in that moment I saw a new way to distance Duo from myself. His disgust with me would no doubt turn his affection elsewhere, thereby keeping him safe from me.
Because of this new plan and regardless of the hurt I knew I was causing Duo, I realized I wouldn't stop seeking out willing partners in the nightclubs. The feeling of liberation and choice were addicting to my senses. Even knowing I was hurting the only person who truly, though erroneously, loved me, I did the only thing he could think of when Duo came to me shortly after Wufei's attempted suicide and declared his love; I left him.
Moving out gave me my own space and freedom. I could now bring people home and carry out our sexual acts in the privacy and comfort of my home. I managed during the two years to only to have a few people as steady partners, our time together lasting maybe two weeks at the most. But that didn't hold me back, I soon found someone else who piqued my interest and quickly moved on to the next conquest. Then I came upon Alex. I was attracted to him from the moment my eyes rested on his face in one of the night clubs I rarely frequented. He was extremely handsome, and I really didn't come to know, until Wufei pointed it out, why I became obsessed with having him.
Wufei. There's a heaviness in my chest when I think about the Chinese man. He had stopped by to say hello while on a brief business trip in the city, and I was happy to see him and had politely invited him in. When Wufei entered the living room and laid his eyes on Alex lying on the floor in front of the fireplace with his bright floral shirt open, exposing his chest, and the top button of his pants undone, his mouth literally dropped. But it wasn't until I walked him down to the street to hail a cab, twenty uncomfortable minutes after he arrived, that I learned why he was being so stiff and somewhat hostile towards myself and Alex.
"Damn you, Heero," Wufei ground out between gritted teeth. "You are the most insensitive, selfish prick I have ever known. Has Duo seen that guy?"
I told him that I had seen Duo run out of a restaurant Alex and I were having dinner in, but he never said anything about it. Then I recalled that Duo hadn't talked to me for two weeks after that incident.
"So what if Duo saw me with Alex. He needs to get over this obsession with me and realize I have my own life," I replied calmly to Wufei's question, not seeing the murderous glare until after I'd finished speaking.
Wufei was so angry that his voice came out as a quiet hiss. "Do you even understand how choosing that...that person in your apartment as your lover gives a double message to Duo?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," I snapped back, not truly understanding Wufei's rage.
"You say you don't feel anything for Duo other than friendship, and prove it by sleeping with every Tom, Dick and Sherry, but then you take up with a guy who resembles Duo enough to be his twin brother. By the colonies, Heero, he's got the same face as Duo."
"That's ridiculous," I replied, but even as I said it, my mind registered the fact that Wufei was right. Except for the light brown, blond-streaked hair that was cut in a style more similar to my own messy hair and the brown eyes, Alex's facial structure did closely resemble Duo's.
Wufei must have seen the light of understanding in my eyes and snorted. "You didn't realize it, did you?" he asked. "You subconsciously chose a person who looks just like Duo, yet you reject him. He can only come to the conclusion that you dislike who he is and not his appearance."
"He's not like Duo at all," I grouched and shoved my hands in my pockets.
"Thank goodness for that ," Wufei said, still frowning. "Duo is a man of good character. I can count on him to guard my back. Can you say the same thing of that person in your apartment?"
"This is none of your business, Wufei." I remember being angry and wanting the conversation to end. It had been a long time since I'd had to justify my actions and choices to anyone.
"You're right." They had reached the front door of the building and stepped outside where Wufei went directly to the curb to hail a taxi. " I sure as hell can't see what attracts you to such a person, but it is your choice and, as you say, it's none of my business." And that was how we had parted.
I didn't seen Wufei again until we all met up at Quatre's annual Christmas gathering. I tried to talk Alex out of wearing the tight, pristine white jeans with the matching sweater, topped by the glistening white feather boa that wrapped around his neck. My current lover had replied that if my friends didn't like it, they could stuff it where the sun didn't shine. I had to be content that at least Alex hadn't put on the makeup he usually wore to the clubs.
Duo had traveled separately that year and I missed his company even though Alex was talkative enough to make up for it. It just seemed that my current lover always critiquing everyone and everything around him with a haughty, negative air. I overlooked it though; Alex had many other talents that were worth keeping him around.
Yet etched in my memory are those few days on L-4 and the look on my friends' faces when I walked into the Winner mansion with Alex draping an arm around my shoulders. Quatre and Trowa stood together with Wufei and Duo just to their left. The two who had never seen Alex before reacted by having their eyes widen with shock and their mouths fairly dropped open as we were ushered into the grand foyer, their astonishment was aimed directly at my clinging companion. Alex was not put off in the least by the uneasy greeting they offered him, he merely walked up and extended his limp-wristed hand to each of them in greeting, then turned to Wufei, who refused the hand but gave the slightest bow his head instead, and Duo quickly followed Wufei's example.
An awkward greeting of welcome came from Quatre, and after he cast a sympathetic glance to Duo, he invited us to follow a maid to our room and then to join them in the recreation room. The four then excused themselves, leaving us to follow the middle aged woman who was to lead us up the grand staircase.
I remember seeing Alex shoot me a look of disgust after the four were out of sight. "Isn't this place just tacky?" he said just under his breath with his critical eye scanning the grand entry. "I don't know who the Winner architect is, but the man should be sued." He knew his lover was just venting, reacting from the less then warm greeting, as Quatre's mansion was done in the best of taste and was elegant simplicity at its finest.
On the way up the long staircase, Alex had leaned over and grabbed a hold of my ass and rubbed it suggestively. "How many rooms do you think are in a place this big?" he whispered in his bedroom voice.
"I think there are fifteen bedrooms and at least half that many bathrooms, plus a formal living and dining room, entertainment room, billiard room, library, kitchen, laundry, offi.." Alex had stopped me from continuing.
"Thirty five or up, would you say?" he asked, and I nodded.
With a look that always boded serious fun, my lover leaned over to lick my ear and whisper. "Let's see how many rooms we can have sex in." The mere suggestion coupled with the tongue stroking my ear made me hard and needy, and it was a good forty minutes from the moment we rudely shut the door on the maid's startled face that the two of us emerged from the bedroom and counted it as number one on our list.
Things went downhill from there. I felt more uncomfortable around my former pilot friends than I'd ever been before. There was a great emotional distance that separated them from myself, especially with Alex in the room. It didn't help that my sexual partner couldn't keep his hands to himself, a habit that had never bothered me before, but in front of the other four it was extremely uncomfortable. Alex also had the habit of turning even the simplest phrase into a sexual innuendo, something that made t Quatre's three visiting sisters glare at him and then removed their children from the dining table. The others left the room with only Quatre staying behind for his talk about what was appropriate in his home. That ended the first dreadful day of our visit.
Alex and I kept up our private game, though at my insistence we were much more discrete. It was three days later, on Christmas morning, when things blew up. Alex and I left the living room where the guys, Quatre's sisters, their spouses and children were busy unwrapping an obscene amount of presents. Feeling it was safe, we began to work on eliminating the billiard room as one we'd not had sex in. My cheeks flush with embarrassment even now as I recall hearing the startled. feminine shriek from the doorway as a middle-aged maid discovered me naked and on top of Alex's nude body, thrusting deeply into him when she had unexpectedly opened the door. Two of the three people at that moment were shocked speechless. Then Alex, true to form, moaned for me to shut the damn door and hurry up. Shortly after, before Christmas dinner was served, we were asked to leave by a very livid Quatre, his two lovers backing him with fierce frowns of disapproval towards us social miscreants. I recall not having seen Duo since the night before that incident when we exchanged gifts, and didn't meet up with him again until the next week when he dutifully picked me up for work, more withdrawn than usual after the holidays.
In reaching my apartment building, I stand under the awning and try to wring out my soaked jacket and pants of the excess water they carried. Shaking my head violently, I send a spray of raindrops to land on the sidewalk. With a deep sigh and socks squishing in my soaked shoes, I drip my way up to the apartment.
I'm not the least bit surprised to see Alex lounging on the couch. The man never works, claiming a job related injury that has him on permanent disability. It seems Alex was only cut out for two things, sex and night clubs. Duo was right; he is the worst kind of lounge lizard. At the moment, he's wearing low cut jeans and a white shirt, four of the top buttons undone so that the pale chest is exposed. One slender leg is bent up, resting against the back of the couch, while the other lazily hung over the side of the couch. With a wine glass hanging loosely in his hand, he is a blatant invitation for sex. He looks up from the television and immediately laughs at my appearance.
"What in the hell happened to you, lover boy?" Alex is definitely amused as he looks me over, and I inwardly cringed at the lazily spoken drawl that I usually manage to overlook as irritating.
"Duo kicked me out of the car about a half a mile from here," I answer sourly.
"I don't know why you put up with him," Alex says in his lazy manner of speaking and then takes a slow sip of his red wine. "Sure he's pretty, but that attitude of his is less than desirable. What's his trouble this time? Is he still brooding over that little upset at Christmas or does he think he's still got a chance with you?"
"Probably both," I answer, and I'm sorry for ever discussing Duo with Alex at all.
"Well, he can't have you, can he?" The pout Alex produces looks exactly like the one Duo had pulled when he was a young teenager. He'd outgrown pouting, but Alex, being older than Duo, hadn't.
"No," I reply shortly, causing Alex to look closer.
Putting his goblet down, the tall man comes to his feet and approaches me, standing wet and dripping on the tiled entry of the apartment. "You really are upset, aren't you?" He asks, then begins to pull the wet jacket from my hand and dumps it on the tiled floor. His long, painted fingernails begin to unbutton the front of my Preventer shirt that's sticking to my skin. "Well, Alex knows how to fix everything, doesn't he?"
I find himself stuck between two emotions, being aroused by Alex's seductive tempting along with my growing need, and thoroughly disliking yet another thing my lover does; it irritates the crap out of me they way the man always uses his own name when referring to himself.
I feel the belt on my pants being loosened, and within moments they are dropped to the floor.
"Humm, yummy," the taller man moans slightly with a grin on his face. "Alex likes a wet and dripping Heero."
I focus on the face, ignoring as much as possible all the things that irritate me about the man who is touching my body so intimately. I had denied it at first, even subconsciously hiding the real reason from myself as to why I had been so attracted to Alex in the first place. Duo was right yet again; Alex and I have nothing in common other than sex. I would never have believed I would be coupled with someone so effeminate and irritating. But since Chang's visit four months ago, I truly hadn't realized that the real reason I was with Alex was because he did resemble Duo. But unlike my braided friend, Alex was not pure in any way, shape or form, and that was the real reason he was here in my apartment and my bed and not Duo. I can't allow myself to give into my true desire and ruin that last bit of purity within Duo by becoming his tainted lover. I'm not fit to be with someone like Duo, I never have been, but I'm at a loss to understand why my friend doesn't recognize that fact himself?
Reaching my hands up to take hold of the face in front of me, so similar in appearance to the real person I crave, and I study Alex's features. If I close my eyes just so, my vision blurs enough so that it becomes Duo's face that I am about to worship with my lips.
Author's note: *Ducks tomatoes* I had thought originally to end the story here, but Swordy convinced me to go on, so you can blame the next six chapters on her. ^_^