Disclaimer: I do not own these characters from Gundam Wing, nor make any profit from torturing poor Duo.

Pairings: Heero/Duo, Quatre/Trowa
Warnings: m-m relationships.

The Back Porch
by Dyna Dee

The screen door opened silently as the flushed young man clad in jeans and a dark T-shirt stepped out of the dark kitchen onto the back porch of the rented two-storey house. He paused a moment, hand gripping tightly to the screen door, debating whether or not he should slam the damn thing behind him, perfectly punctuating the end of his and Heero's argument which, no doubt, had been overheard by the other three pilots. In the end reason won out over his anger. He figured that the echoing sound of a slamming door could only make things worse and would alert the not-so-distant, nosey neighbors that something was up on the other side of the fence. With a huff of annoyance, he shut the door quietly behind him, leaving the inside one open. Moving forward, he stepped off the short wooden porch and down the five stairs to sit down on the second step from the sidewalk.

Stretching his legs out in front of him, he pulled his long braid of hair over his shoulder before leaning back to rest his elbows on the step behind him. Taking a deep breath, he temporarily tucked his angry thoughts away in order to concentrate on the soothing sounds of crickets and frogs coming from the weeded area of the spring that bordered the back of the property. Their harmonious music seemed to blend perfectly with the warm night air. Tilting his head back, he gazed at the heavens above and took another deep breath, held it, then let it out slowly, just as Wufei had taught him. He found that it really did help to ebb out his frustration regarding the argument that ended only moments before. With his head more clear, he was more able to fully appreciate the sky above that was clear of clouds, graced by a blanket of stars and adorned with a rising slivered moon.

His eyes naturally sought out the area where L2 was. Though it was lit brightly in space, from earth it was barely a faint blink in the night sky.

Being out in the open and surrounded by nature always seemed to help to pacify his mental turmoil, but tonight it wasn't quite enough to deal with the adrenaline running through his system. After several moments of solitude he still felt edgy. Sitting up, he rose to his feet, stepped down to the sidewalk, and moved to right of the stairs and to a full-frond fern. Squatting down and reaching beneath it, he tilted back a hollowed-out rock he'd set under the shadowy shelter shortly after their arrival. From under it, he snatched up a sealed plastic bag he'd hidden there. A smile of satisfaction grew on his face as he straightened, and with his treasure clutched in his hand, he returned to the stairs and resumed his seat.

The sound of plastic rustling as his hands reached inside the bag for its contents was barely audible, as was the tapping of a soft package against his palm a moment later. Then came the sound of a match being struck against the wooden handrail and a small bright flicker of flame lit the darkness and cast a faint glow on the handsome face of the braided teen as he lit the cigarette pressed between his two lips. The tip of the cigarette grew bright and the match was withdrawn, blown out and tossed to the sidewalk below. With each draw the boy took from his guilty pleasure, the end of the cigarette became a bright spot in the dim-lit night.

A slight sound from behind him caused the boy to tense just before his head whipped around to see who was approaching from behind. In the light cast by the new moon he identified the tall, lanky figure of the Heavyarms pilot who had paused just outside the screen door, waiting for permission to join him.

"Come to console or scold me, Trowa? Or are you in the dog house, too?" Duo asked, his tone sarcastic. Yet now that he'd mentioned it, his taller friend seemed to be on the back porch steps almost as often as he did, which started him worrying about the state of his friends' relationship.

The brunet snorted and took the question as permission to sit down, which he did on the third step and to the right of the smoking teen. "Thought you gave that up?"

Duo took a prolonged drag from his cigarette then answered, "I did." Still looking at his friend, he thought he saw Trowa's left eyebrow rise in question. Letting the cigarette dangle between his lips, Duo shrugged and answered the unspoken question. "'Cause it calms me and will piss Heero off when he smells it on my breath."


Several moments passed comfortably without any exchange of words. Duo picked up the plastic bag sitting next to him on the step and offered it to his quiet friend.

"If you don't mind, I'll just take a drag off of yours."

The plastic bag was set down again and the cancer stick was passed back.

Trowa held the cigarette between the first and second fingers of his right hand and paused, thoughtfully contemplating it for a moment. Then slowly bringing it to his lips, he took a long pull off of it. Tilting his head back slightly, he let the smoke drift lazily out of the right corner of his mouth and into the night air, a satisfied smile forming on his face. Retaining that expression, he looked down at the braided teen again, passed back the cigarette and asked, "So what started it this time?"

Duo accepted his smoke back and took a puff before answering, his eyes returning to the dark sky above. "Hell if I know. Probably something I either said or didn't say, did or didn't do. Either way, it'll ultimately be my fault." The snort behind him said little about what Trowa thought. Duo knew it had to be pretty obvious to the other three that his relationship with Heero seemed to have deteriorated over the last few months. It now seemed to consist of too many arguments followed by making up and a very short-termed truce. He'd come to his own conclusion that they were both too stubborn and set in their ways to have an picture perfect relationship.

"So, why are you out here?" Duo asked. "You and Quatre have a spat?"

"The usual, brought on by your argument."

That caused the braided head to turn sharply around. "You mean he's blaming himself for mine and Heero's argument?"

Trowa nodded. "He could feel the tension building between the two of you during dinner but he let it slide, hoping you'd work things out yourselves."

"That doesn't tell me why you're out here."

"When you and Heero got into it, he felt he could have nipped it in the bud if he'd spoken earlier. I told him to get over himself, that he isn't responsible for everyone just because he can feel their emotions."

"Ah." There was a lot of understanding in that small response. "Sorry about that," Duo said contritely. "I don't mean to spread my trouble to you guys."

Several more moments passed as both teens listened together to the sounds of the night surrounding them and passed the cigarette back and forth until there was nothing left. Duo dropped the butt onto the sidewalk and stretched his left leg to stamp out the last burning embers. Picking up the plastic bag he took a moment to decide whether or not he should pull another one out and light it up. He decided against it. Rising, he sealed the top while moving to put his private stash back in its hiding place.

A low chuckle from the steps told him Trowa was amused by his hiding place. He ignored him to finish stashing his smokes, then returned to his seat on the second step, leaned back on his elbows and recommenced his stargazing, feeling a bit better.

"Do you ever regret it?"

"What?" Duo asked, not looking away from the distant moon. "Getting involved with Heero?" he guessed.

"Um hum."

Sighing, Duo paused to give serious consideration to the question and his reply. Looking at the distant star shining just above the small sliver of a moon he answered. "No. I can't regret being with him." Tilting his head back and then to the side, he looked at the other boy and added. "I love him, plain and simple. I do regret the fighting though," he added wearily. "I'm sick to death of it."

"Then stop."

"Jeez, like it's that easy," Duo replied tersely while straightening up and looking out into the darkness of the backyard.

"Do you want a third person's perspective?"

"Not really." Then after a moment, a more resigned sounding Duo added, "But I guess I should hear it anyway."

A deep, preparative intake of breath came from the boy behind him, and when Trowa began to speak, his voice quiet but serious. "I think that in some ways you and I are alike, Duo. We've both had childhoods that were anything but normal or pleasant, and I think that because of it we somehow believe we're not worthy of being loved by someone we consider better than we are, that their love for us is too good to be real. Believe me, even though he owns my heart, I've tested Quatre to the limit and beyond to see how far I can go before he turns me away. After watching you and Heero over the last couple of months, I can see something similar happening. Heero is outwardly subtle in displaying his feelings, but we can all sense that he cares deeply for you, Duo. Yet every time he expresses his concern for you or gets a little too close to reaching that soft spot within you, you snap back with a snide or sarcastic comment. You're probably not consciously aware of it, but I believe you're testing him and pushing him away, just like I've tried to do with Quatre."

"Are you saying our fighting is all my fault?" the braided teen asked defensively.

"No, of course not. Heero is learning about being in love and having a relationship as he goes through the process, just as you are, but he has his pride, Duo, which is why he argues back. The difference is that he's standing up for himself, not testing you to see if you'll leave him."

"I'm not doing that," Duo said belligerently.

"I could be wrong," Trowa calmly conceded, not wanting to set the other boy off again. "But it's worth thinking about, isn't it? Next time you're about to snap back with a smart-ass remark, think about it first, then judge for yourself whether or not it's justified or if it will lead to another unnecessary argument."

Duo frowned, not comfortable with his fellow comrade's observation, recognizing deep down that there was some truth to what Trowa was saying. He'd always felt Heero was so much better than himself. He was smart, strikingly handsome and had more heart than anyone he'd ever known, well, other than Sister Helen and Father Maxwell. Hell, his lover was being chased after by the former Queen of the World; but that had been last week's argument. Suddenly wanting to change the subject, he threw the other teen's question back. "Do you ever regret getting involved with Quatre?"

"No." The answer was immediate and confident.

Silence fell between them again, and the conversation left Duo feeling... unhinged, and his fingers began to itch for another cigarette. At the very moment he decided to get up and grab another one from the bag under the rock, a familiar voice called out his name from the kitchen door. He jumped slightly, startled, then turned around to see Heero standing in the open doorway, dressed only in a pair of low-fitting blue jeans the Duo recognized as one of his own. Following the line of his long, lean torso, it was obvious that Wing's pilot wore nothing underneath that one article of clothing.

"Come to bed, Duo. You need your rest."

Without thinking, the braided teen obediently stood and turned to climb up the stairs to the porch, passing Trowa on the way. He paused next to the Heavyarms pilot and without taking his eyes off of Heero's face he said, "Don't stay up too long, Tro. Don't want blondie to worry."

"Goodnight, Duo."

Heero stepped back and held the screen door open for his lover and waited until he passed through before letting the door close and following him inside. Duo took several steps into the dark kitchen before he stopped and turned. "Look, I'm sorry," he began, then stopped as Heero stepped forward, close enough to set his two hands on Duo's shoulders. He slowly let them both slide down his arms until their palms met, then gently entwined their fingers, clasping their hands together. One step more brought the two teens even closer, a mere inch apart, and Duo closed his eyes, anticipating the feel the press of something other than Heero's breath on his lips. But the expected kiss never came.

"You've been smoking." Though spoken softly, there was disappointment in his lover's voice.

"Yeah, well... " Duo stopped, an acerbic reply lingering on his tongue along with the taste of tobacco and nicotine. Recalling Trowa's words only moments before, he thought about what he was going to say and squelched it. He didn't want to fight anymore that night. "Sorry. I just needed something to me calm down," he said somewhat contrite.

The hands holding his own gently squeezed reassurance. "Just brush your teeth and we're good."

Duo blinked, surprised by the lack of a lecture and wondered how much his boyfriend had overheard of his and Trowa's conversation. "How long were you standing at the door?"

"Long enough."

Unable to see Heero's facial expression in the dark room, Duo huffed and withdrew his hands from Heero's, but his lover wasn't ready to let him go. His upper arms were captured again with hands that could easily break bones. "Look, Heero, you know how I feel about you, right? But I'm tired of the fighting. Trowa's right. I guess I am sort of testing you, thinking anyone else would probably be a better boyfriend for you than me."

"Do you think I'm incapable of knowing what I want or what I need?"

Duo frowned at the unexpected, straightforward question. "Of course not."

"That I'm indecisive?"

"Well, no." Duo paused to scratch his head. "But we're both still kinda young."

"Do you think I'm a liar?"

"If you were, I wouldn't be here."

"Then believe me now, and tomorrow, and every day after that when I tell you..." Heero leaned forward, pressing his cheek against Duo's and putting his lips against his ear so that they brushed its surface when he whispered, "that I need you, Duo, but I love you even more."

The braided teen's reaction was immediate. His arms shot up to embrace the other boy, his hands encountering silky warm flesh that belied the incredible strength beneath. He held Heero tightly against his chest, hoping he could feel the wild beating of his heart in response to his lover's declaration. "I'll do better, Heero, I swear. I do believe you and I'll stop trying to push you away."

They stood wrapped around each other in the dark kitchen for several long and precious moments. Slowly, Heero stepped back, took his hand and led the braided boy up the stairs and towards the bathroom where he could brush his teeth.

Trowa heard bits and pieces of the private conversation within the kitchen without any overt attempt to eavesdrop. He smiled, pleased to know that a small step of improvement had been made between his two friends. The light in the bathroom located above him came on suddenly, spilling its brightness out of the open window and into the back yard. Several moments later it went off again, and the slight sound of the screen door opening behind him was heard once more. He didn't turn around or move when someone settled behind him and two strong, pale arms wrapped around his chest.

"Thank you," Quatre whispered in his ear, then kissed his temple before continuing. "I knew you were the one to speak with him."

Placing his hands over his lovers, Trowa held the blond in place, soaking up his warmth. "He thinks I'm out here because we're fighting."

A soft chuckle came from Quatre. "Guess he doesn't need to know you're Cupid's intermediary."

Trowa let go of Quatre's hands and rose to his feet, feeling the other teen's hands slide sensuously down the sides of his hips and outer thighs before they dropped. Turning, the taller teen reached out for the blond's hand, tugged him to his feet, then gave him a smile that promised wonderful things to come. "Come on, Cupid, let's make a little noise of our own so that Duo will know we're good."

Standing one step above him brought the blond's face level with Trowa's own, giving him easy access to the tempting mouth. Leaning forward, the auburn haired teen teased those tantalizing lips with his own then deepened the kiss for a moment, enjoying the taste of peppermint toothpaste on the other boy's tongue. Realizing that his own mouth tasted of cigarettes, he reluctantly pulled back, gave Quatre a loving smile and took the blond's hand to lead him back inside, intending to make a quick stop in bathroom to freshen his breath. The snick of a lock, securing the back door announced the departure of the two teens as they left behind them the sound of crickets chirping, frogs croaking, the moon rising in a star-filled sky and the newly abandoned back porch.


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