by Dyna Dee
As planned the night before, Heero stood from his chair a little after ten and nonchalantly walked over to Agent Maxwell's desk and casually perched himself on the right edge. It wasn't such an unusual occurrence that it attracted the attention of the others, busily working at their own desks, but the moment Heero spoke, using what c The ould only be described as a sultry voice, Duo was sure every ear in the room turned to their conversation.
"I was wondering if you had any plans for the weekend?" was Heero's opening line.
Without looking up from his computer, Duo replied, "I've been telling everyone trying to set me up that I do. Why, you wanna catch a movie or something?"
"I'd like to take you out to dinner and maybe we can see where it goes from there."
The tapping of keys on all the keyboards within the room immediately stopped and the six-man office became unusually quiet. Duo looked up to see Heero gazing down on him, his eyes literally twinkling with humor at the situation. "Ah... you mean like a date?"
"Yes, like a date. You said yourself that only the five of us really understand each other. Since everyone else is unavailable I thought we might see if we're compatible as something other than friends." The room remained as silent as a morgue.
"Can I think about it?"
"No. I want an answer now. Take my offer or leave it." Duo thought Heero was coming on a bit strong, but on the other hand he had to admit that a confident Heero was a damn sexy sight.
"Well hey, who am I to pass up a free meal? Sure. Friday night, after work?"
"I'll pick you up at your place at six thirty." Heero lingered a moment longer, looking incredibly handsome despite the smirk, Duo thought. "Dress up, not down."
What the hell? They hadn't gone over any of this in the pre-determined asking-out conversation. Perhaps Heero was improvising. Raising a questioning eyebrow, Duo nodded then grinned. "Gotcha. Get all spiffed up and be ready by six thirty." He winked at his friend. "It's a date."
The smile Heero gave him in return as he stood up from his somewhat precarious place on the desk's edge was warm and genuine, and it left Duo wondering if he had gooey hot fudge flowing through his veins instead of the usual substance. The room remained absolutely still as Heero calmly made his way back to his own desk, ignoring the five pairs of eyes following his every move. Duo barely managed to drag his gaze from Heero's retreating form to glance at his other two friends. Judging from their expressions, both Wufei and Trowa were astounded by Heero's behavior, and when their attention finally turned to him, he simply smiled at them, wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and chuckled as he returned his attention back to his computer, pleased with how their performance had gone. Stage one completed, he thought rather smugly to himself.
Quatre called fifteen minutes later to confirm the information he'd received from Trowa regarding Heero having asked him for a date and his accepting. Word was passing quickly indeed. All in all, Duo was very satisfied with his and Heero's pact.
With three and a half days to pass until Friday's date, Heero and Duo had discussed ahead of time the many opportunities during the day to fuel the gossip mill that always circulated in the break room. As planned, whenever Duo stood to announce he was taking a break, Heero rose from his desk to join him. When one of them had to be out of the office on a call, the other man was the first to greet him when he got back. They stood closer to each other than usual and often whispered into each other's ear. Even though they were merely congratulating each other on the apparent success of their ruse, it was pretty clear by the expression on the faces of their co-workers that they believed some flirting or lover's secret was being passed back and forth. Tongues were wagging, eyebrows were rising and the office rumor mill was getting a vigorous workout. To Duo's delight the matchmaking attempts ground to a halt as did the overt flirting, at least by those who worked in the same building.
Friday finally came, as did the end of another work day. Duo was in the process of clearing his desk for the weekend, aware that he was being observed on the sly by four others. Heero, he noted, was also in the process of preparing to leave for the day.
"So where are you going to dinner?" Wufei asked, directing his question to Duo.
"I don't know. Thought I'd leave it up to Heero, since he's the one who asked me out and the fact that he's paying."
All heads in the room turned to the dark-haired Preventer in question. Heero glanced up as he closed his laptop. "The Oasis," he answered in his usual straight-forward manner while standing and grabbing his jacket from the back of his chair.
The two agents, who were more or less tolerated in the room by the four former gundam pilots, exchanged a surprised look with each other. Trowa asked the question that was obviously on their minds. "How did you manage that?" He knew from his own personal experience that The Oasis was a very popular, 5-star restaurant, an hour's drive from the city. It was set in the country where the lush green gardens that surrounded the area gave the establishment its name. It was an oasis, from the world in general, and it's private dining catered to couples, especially for those in love. The well-known establishment was very exclusive and seriously expensive. He recalled his visit there with Quatre very well. The guests were given a very private, romantic room in which to eat their meal. Sweethearts, lovers and newlyweds enjoyed the ambiance and discrete service, though they had to make their reservations several months in advance.
"Made a few calls, pulled some strings."
"That's a bit over the top for a first date isn't it?" Wufei asked, frowning his concern as he looked from a confident Yuy to a surprised Maxwell.
"I just want to show Duo how serious I am about this date. A first date with someone you care about should be memorable. Don't you agree?"
"The Oasis is obscenely expensive," Trowa cut in, looking as equally concerned as Wufei. "Quatre took me there and wouldn't let me see the bill, so I know it was outrageous. Are you sure you can afford such a luxury?"
Heero slowly turned his attention from Trowa to gaze across the room at Duo, meeting his questioning eyes. He smiled at the braided man and said, "Duo's worth it." He walked towards the door, pausing briefly at the braided man's desk to say, "See you in an hour."
Duo blinked, astounded by Heero's words and flustered by the fluttering in his stomach. "Ah... yeah. In an hour, dress nice."
Heero chuckled as he walked to the door and left the room, leaving everyone in the room to wonder at the sudden and unexpected change in the usually more reserved man.
"I think he's serious about you, Duo," Trowa said thoughtfully. "Are you all right with that?"
Duo suddenly remembered that he was supposed to act cool and cautious so that he wouldn't inadvertently cause his friend to become suspicious. He and Heero were running a scam here, he firmly reminded himself, with the only stated outcome being their freedom from harassment. Well, that was what they had mutually agreed to anyway. Then why was his heart beating so fast and his stomach doing flip-flops? Was it because of the way Heero smiled at him and made him feel when he declared he was worth so much? Maybe he was just nervous with anticipation for the night to come? Shaking himself mentally, he recalled that Trowa had asked him a question. "Um... yeah. I guess I'm okay with it," he answered as vaguely as possible. "It's just a little weird to see Heero thinking of anyone like that, especially me."
"Well other than the fact that Heero seemed somewhat asexual, it really isn't so surprising," Wufei said, standing by his own desk and putting his Preventer jacket on. "You and Yuy have always had some odd sort of connection. He knows your moods better than anyone, and you can read him when no one else can."
Duo found himself staring at his Chinese friend with a stupefied expression. Wufei was absolutely right. He and Heero always did have an understanding of each other, and it went further than just physical attraction. Sure, he'd had a crush on Wing's pilot during the war, but so did Trowa and Quatre, who admitted to that infatuation long after the fact, on a night after they'd all had a little bit too much to spiked punch. Yet in all the time he'd known Heero, the other man had never shown any indication that he even knew what a crush was, despite how obvious the three of them must have been. When Relena basically stalked him all over the planet and into space, Heero reacted by threatening to kill her. He did rescue her though, Duo recalled. Back then, it seemed to him that Heero's actions were merely the perfect soldier's twisted way of showing affection. Yet now that he thought about it, Heero had shown that same kind of "affection" to him several times, pointing a gun at him, threatening his life, getting him captured as well as rescuing and protecting him. A small smile grew on his face, thinking that maybe Heero had liked him back then, at least as much as he had liked Relena.
Grabbing his own coat and jumping to his feet, Duo rushed to the door, calling over his shoulder, "See you guys on Monday."
"Don't do anything we wouldn't do," Wufei called out after him, then just as quickly amended, "Change that to what I wouldn't do."
It wasn't until after he'd had his shower, dressed and was pulling his belt through the loops that Duo stopped in his tracks, wondering if he was really supposed to be getting dressed. After all, he and Heero had staged the asking of the date and the not-so-subtle flirting for when they had an audience, knowing it would spread the word that something was going on between them. It appeared their ruse was a huge success because there had been no attempts by friends or co-workers to set him up on any dates since then. But did Heero really intend for them to go out tonight?
Looking down at the clothes he'd just put on, he contemplated the blue-gray, button-up dress shirt tucked into black pleated slacks, wondering if he'd misunderstood Heero's intention. Was he actually taking him out on a date, or had it just been merely talk? Just because Heero had asked him out in front of their co-workers, announcing that they were going out and that he'd be over at 6:30 to take him to the obscenely expensive establishment, didn't mean he'd actually meant it. They'd never discussed the specifics about where Heero would ask him to go on their "first" date, so he was as surprised as the others by Heero's outrageous suggestion. Of course, everyone within a two-hundred mile radius knew of The Oasis, but their knowledge of it had come by printed articles or word of mouth, for very few people actually got to go there, or could afford to.
Glancing at the clock on his dresser, he realized he had only five minutes to decide whether or not Heero was expecting him to be dressed for a date or if he should put on his more casual clothing and be prepared to spend the evening just hanging out with him, that is if he showed up on his doorstep simply expecting to plan out how they were going to proceed with their plan come Monday morning. Maybe Heero wasn't coming at all, Duo thought, frowning. He really should have tried to work out more of these details with him beforehand. Setting up a date as a ruse was different than actually going out together. Saying they were going to The Oasis did not mean they were actually going. He found himself in a quandary and not quite sure how to handle it.
He sat on the edge of his bed and for the next few moments, considered what he should do. If Heero came to the door wearing casual clothes, it would be pretty damn embarrassing to greet him all dressed up, looking like he really was expecting to go on the romantic date . On the other hand, if he dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and Heero showed up in his finest, that would be equally awkward. His deliberations came to a sudden end when the doorbell rang. At least the question as to whether or not Heero was going to show up had been answered. Jumping to his feet, Duo ignored the buttons of his shirt as he peeled the garment over his head and threw it on the bed. He then whipped off his pants, giving them the same careless treatment. This was his solution to the what-to-wear dilemma. He rushed to the door and threw it open, clad only in his T-shirt, boxers and one sock. Shockingly, the person on the other side of the door was not the one he'd been expecting.
Flushed with embarrassment, the braided man quickly jumped to hide himself behind the open door. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Fielding. Can I help you with something?"
The silver-haired, plump and older woman who was his neighbor from several doors down, stood in front of his door with a plate of cookies in her hands and wearing an amused smile on her face. "Evening, Duo," she began with a slight snicker. "I baked these cookies this afternoon for my book club and had so many to spare that I wondered if you could take them off my hands. My cholesterol level isn't good enough that I can indulge myself any longer, so you will truly be doing me a favor if you would accept these and enjoy them."
Duo looked down at the chocolate chip cookies. They looked picture perfect and his mouth began to water, despite his embarrassment. "Sure." He reached for the plate, his face still flushed. "Thank you. They're my favorite."
"You're welcome," the woman replied, her aging eyes quickly taking in his scant attire and comely legs as the young man moved forward from his protection to take the plate. "Going out tonight?"
"Yes he is," a deep, amused voice answered from behind the elderly woman. Both she and Duo turned to see Heero coming to a stop just to their left. The blue-eyed man smiled and gave a nod of his head to the both of them, his eyes shining humorously for Duo's current predicament.
Duo quickly made the introductions. "Ah, Heero, this is Mrs. Fielding, my neighbor in..."
"Apartment 402," the woman supplied.
"It's nice to meet you," Heero said with formal yet friendly politeness, holding his hand out to the elderly woman.
"It's my pleasure," the woman said, shaking hands with him briefly, then stepping back with a flush on her otherwise pale face. She dragged her eyes away from the newcomer and turned her attention back to her braided neighbor, a look of understanding shining in her eyes. She leaned towards Duo and whispered, "I better go so you can finish dressing. Have a good time and enjoy the cookies."
Duo assured her that he would, thanked her again and bid the older woman a good night. As she retreated back to her apartment, he reached out and pulled Heero through the doorway, taking note that the other man was handsomely dressed in clothing that definitely didn't look like he wanted to hang around the apartment talking.
"So it seems we both have female admirers tempting us with food." Heero said with a grin.
Balancing the plate of cookies, Duo snorted. "Yeah right. She's nothing like your dinner leaches. She's just a nice old lady."
"Sure she is. That's why she was checking you out."
Blue-violet eyes widened. "She was not!"
Heero took the plate of goodies and set them on the nearest table in the living room. "She was, and it was easy to see that she liked what she saw."
"Eww!" Duo's nose wrinkled up with distaste and a repugnant look crossed his face. "That's just... eww."
This time Heero laughed. "Should I have kissed you in front of her, staked my claim so that she wouldn't offer you cookies any longer?"
Duo slipped his hand under the plastic wrap and snagged a cookie. After one bite he shook his head and answered with chocolate melting on his teeth, "No way. I can take a little ogling by someone older than dirt if she'll keep supplying me with goodies like this."
Heero abruptly grabbed the other man's hand and took a bite of the partially eaten cookie. Chewing the moist goodness he said, "Hum... these are good, but just remember, Duo," he continued, trying his best to look serious. "Women believe the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
Duo looked at Heero, trying to discern if he was being serious. "You are so full of shit, Yuy." They both laughed.
Realizing that Heero was fully dressed and he wasn't, Duo scratched a spot on top of his head and asked while eyeing Heero's chest, "Do I have to wear a tie?"
"No," Heero said with an easy grin. "But I'm afraid pants, shirt and shoes are not optional. His eyes moved up and down Duo's scantily-clad body with a look of appreciation in them.
"It'll only take me a minute, promise." Duo said as he handed Heero the rest of the partially eaten cookie and left his guest to run back to his room. As expected, Heero's mode of dress told him how their night was going to progress. They were indeed going out on a date, and it really didn't matter to him if they were going to The Oasis or not. His heart was doing something similar to flamenco dancing in his chest at the moment, so it was with unsteady hands that he hastily threw his clothes back on and made sure he was neatly tucked, zipped and buttoned properly before heading back out to the living room where he found Heero studying the items on the shelves of his entertainment unit. The other man's eyes were focused on a picture of all the pilots taken just after the first war. It was a happy moment that had been captured, with five young faces sporting a variety of smiles after they'd all come to the realization that they'd actually survived the war.
"I think this is my favorite picture of the five of us," Heero said without turning at Duo's approach.
Duo studied the photo along with his friend. Starting on the right of the photo, was Quatre, standing and leaning slightly against Trowa, his usual bright smile was slightly diminished by the lingering pain in his side from the wound he'd gotten aboard Libra. Trowa looked... content, with his hand resting possessively on the blond boy's shoulder. Next to them stood Wufei, whose smile was more reserved back then, but it was enough of one to show a small glimpse of his white, straight teeth. Duo's own smile in the picture was goofy, or so he thought. It seemed overly large in comparison to the others, looking like it was about to split his face in half. He had his right arm draped over Heero's shoulder and appeared as if he hadn't a care in the world, which happened to be in opposition to how he'd really felt inside. He remembered quite he'd felt a lot of anxiety about his uncertain future and fearing that he was about to lose the fellowship he'd shared with the other four pilots.
His focus returned to the image of Heero, and he knew that it was the other man's expression that made this picture his favorite also. Sure, he'd seen his close friend smile and laugh plenty of times after the war, but seeing any kind of levity during the war had been a very rare occurrence. The serious and dedicated boy from L-1 had arrived on Earth in Wing and considered himself a weapon, disposable once his goal or purpose was achieved. Thankfully, that mind set changed after the first war and after Heero had offered his life for the purpose of saving the planet. Systematically, the former gundam pilot began to retrain himself towards living a more normal life. That slight, enigmatic smile that graced Heero's handsome and youthful face in the picture was a hint of the changes that would come over the next few years.
"Ready to go?" Heero asked, and it surprised Duo just how close the two of them were standing. This close he could see the deep blue of Heero's eyes. He had the most beautiful eyes he'd ever seen on a man or woman.
"Sure. Are we really going to The Oasis?"
Heero nodded. "I made reservations in case the guys checked the place to verify the information we'd given them."
"They'd do that, wouldn't they?"
"I wouldn't put it past them to shadow us tonight, just to make sure we weren't trying to put one over on them. Now that I think about it, I believe I spotted Wufei's car outside my apartment building."
Duo snorted. "He never was the most adept at surveillance. But if he's out there watching, I'll bet my last dollar that the others are too. If Trowa's in on it, we won't be aware of it. I guess we'll just have to put on a good performance, just in case," he said, then quickly added; "And look like we're actually having a great first date."
Heero raised an eyebrow. "Would it be so difficult to actually enjoy yourself while spending time with me?"
"Of course not!" Duo quickly shot back, seeing he had inadvertently offended his friend. He threw his arm over Heero's shoulder. "I've always enjoyed your company, Heero. I was just thinking that we'll have to act like we're attracted to each other, not just acting like good friends out for a night on the town together."
"Think you can manage that?" There was definitely a challenge issued in Heero's tone of voice and glint in his eyes.
"Can you?" Duo's grin was just as challenging
A knowing smiled graced Heero's finely shaped lips. "Just watch me."
A shiver rippled up and down Duo's spine and he found it hard to swallow. He couldn't help but wonder just what he'd gotten himself into.
Heero seemed to sense his reaction and chuckled before putting his arm around Duo's waist and leading him towards the door. "We better get going. We've got an eight o'clock reservation and it's a long drive out to the restaurant."