by Dyna Dee
The long drive from the inner city into the countryside passed pleasantly enough for the two men. Heero asked Duo to select the music on the radio and a magnetic backgammon board, set on the console between the two bucket seats, provided the means for a bit of friendly competition while Heero split his attention between the road and winning one of the two games they completed during the hour-long drive.
As the car pulled up to the front entrance of The Oasis, both young men commented on the building's facade and surrounding landscaping, a believable replica of a small Middle Eastern palace. "See anyone following?" Duo asked, turning in his white leather seat to look out the back window of Heero's silver and wonderfully sleek sports car.
"It's hard to tell," the other man answered, his eyes glancing up to the rear view mirror. "If Trowa's behind the wheel there's not even a remote chance that we'll spot them. He tends to drive with his lights off when he's tailing someone."
Duo turned back around and smiled. "Well, whether they're watching us or not, I'm gonna make the most of this. I probably won't ever get the chance to come here again." His smile slowly faded as another thought came to him. "Are you sure you can afford this? I mean, I've got some money in my savings account so I can help pay for tonight if you want."
Heero kept his eye on the approaching valet. "It's not a problem, Duo. I've got some money stashed away." He turned his head and gave his companion a knowing look as he added, "From the war."
"Ah." Duo understood. They'd all pilfered large sums of money from the Alliance and then OZ during the war, well, all except Quatre. Any cash he'd had left in the banks in Geneva he'd given to the War Victim's Fund.
The valet opened the driver's door in order to speak with Heero about parking his car. Duo climbed out on the passenger side and a shiver of excitement rippled through him as his gazed followed the white marble stairs that led to a torch-lit entry. If this place lived up to even half its reputation, he thought with a growing smile, then tonight was gonna be a blast.
A gentle touch to his elbow alerted him to the fact that Heero was by his side, and together they moved forward, climbing the white stone stairs to the entry. Duo couldn't help but notice the warm and pleasant sensation that began to radiate from the point where Heero's hand lingered on his arm. He chanced a glance at the other man only to be met by Heero's gaze. He smiled, a bit nervously, but that nervousness was eased when the other man smiled back.
The two men were greeted cordially at the restaurant's entrance by a young and attractive woman wearing a knee-length, white evening dress with her dark hair twisted into a fancy roll at the back of her head. She identified herself as Leah, their hostess. She verified Heero's reservation then led them through the grand entry, out the back doors and down a torch-lit path that meandered through a lush garden to one of several private garden houses.
The French doors facing the center of the garden were open, revealing a room in which the walls were painted a soft yellow and was bare of traditional furniture. It was easy to see that the room's interior had been designed to mimic a desert nomad's dwelling, with long and sheer blue curtains flowing down from a frame on the ceiling, creating a open tent-like enclosure around an area of the floor that was liberally dotted with pillows. Stepping through the open doors, Duo's eyes went to his left, to the welcoming fire that blazed gently in a fireplace fashioned from stone. No further than five feet from the fireplace was a large woven rug with intricate designs woven from threads of blue, green, yellow and tan. The pillows, large and small and in colors complimenting the rug and walls, encircled the center of the rug, creating an intimate sitting space.
As she directed them between the nearest curtain opening, their polite hostess invited them to sit down and make themselves comfortable. Duo smiled at his companion and eased himself down as smoothly as possible onto a large blue pillow, then watched as Heero sat facing him. The hostess then produced a menu and withdrew from the room with a promise to return within five minutes with their server and coffee.
Duo's first thought after gazing over the menu was that this place had to be as expensive as Trowa said it was. He came to that conclusion by the fact that there weren't any prices listed next to the evening's selection of food. His consternation grew as he scanned through the offered dishes, finding himself at a loss and not sure what to choose. He'd always been a plain eater, preferring simple food. From the list of unfamiliar and foreign names of the dishes offered, he knew that he was way out of his league, dining wise.
"Have you decided?" Heero asked, a small smile gracing his lips.
Duo thought the other man's blue eyes looked an even deeper shade of their normal arresting color that night. How easy it would be to get lost in those eyes, he thought dreamily. He abruptly shook himself out of his woolgathering, hoping the other man hadn't noticed his momentarily lapse. Quickly glancing back at the menu, he felt embarrassed by his lack of knowledge about fancy places like this and social graces in general. He shifted his eyes from the menu to his handsome friend and answered in a hushed voice, "I'm not sure what to order. What are you going to have?"
"Is it good?"
"Is it some kind of disgusting fish?" His nose wrinkled with distaste at the idea of seafood, definitely not his kind of grub.
"No, it's lamb."
"Then I'll have the same." That was easy enough, Duo thought. He'd been kind of afraid it meant fried squid or camel tongue. He'd seen his Japanese and Chinese friends eat some pretty weird things during the time he'd spent with them. The dried octopus, oysters and even caviar were just a bit more than he could handle. He'd eat tough beef jerky anytime over the fishy things Heero bought in cellophane packets at the Asian grocery store. To each his own, he thought, even though a feeling of revulsion made his stomach clench at the very thought of his date's idea of a snack.
Their hostess returned as promised with small cups of Arabic coffee which she called quhwah â€˜Arabryah. Duo's nose wrinkled at the strong, unsweetened brew, so unlike the coffee he doctored for himself each morning. There was a different taste to it that lingered on his tongue, a spice that had been added. "It's cardamon," Heero answered when Duo asked what it was. He was glad when a cup of tea was brought to them to wash the taste out of his mouth. The waitress, having arrived with the hostess with the tea, stepped forward to take their selections and Heero promptly ordered for the both of them.
During the twenty minutes they spent between the order being given and the arrival of their food, the two friends relaxed enough to rearrange the pillows so that they were reclining perpendicular to the fireplace, side by side and talking about inconsequential things. As their conversation ebbed, Duo realized there was music coming from hidden speakers, and playing so softly that he hadn't heard it before. He also noticed the moment Heero's eyes suddenly shifted towards the open French doors that faced out into the dimly lit garden. With a tone of warning in his voice, the other man warned, "Don't look, but I think I just saw a flash of blond hair. I think Quatre might be out in the bushes spying on us."
Duo had to fight the urge to turn around and see that spectacle for himself. The idea of Quatre Winner, one of the richest men on the planet, was out in the bushes spying on them was ridiculous. But knowing the blond as well as he did, Duo wouldn't put it past his sneaky friend to do the unexpected. "That little weasel," he whispered back. "You'd think he and Trowa could find something better to do on a Friday night."
With a glimmer of something wicked in his eyes, Heero said, "So now that we have their attention, do you want to make sure they'll believe us when we tell them Monday morning that we had a great time tonight?"
Duo couldn't believe that Heero's suggestion had gone quick as a flash from his ears straight down to his crotch. "Are you sure they're out there?" he asked, keeping his voice down lest they be heard. He then nervously licked his lips.
Heero shifted away from his pillows, bringing himself closer to Duo's face and body. The braided man could feel the heat radiating off his friend as their faces came within mere inches from each other. That fact that Heero didn't answer his question completely had escaped him when the other man said in a husky voice, "Let's give them a show they'll never forget," and then captured the braided man's mouth with a heated kiss.
Duo fell quickly under Heero's spell. The other man's lips were nothing short of magic, he decided. Where the hell Heero, his friend, top Preventer agent and former teenage terrorist, learn to kiss in such a sensually gentle and thorough manner? He never would have guessed the reserved and stoic man to be a world-class kisser. Those lips, moving so expertly over his own, ignited a passion within him that he didn't know he was capable of feeling. Allowing himself be carried away by the moment, he enthusiastically returned Heero's kiss. The only other contact besides their lips was Heero's right hand, his fingers wending their way into his hair, just above his braid. For himself, he was initially leery about touching Heero, fearing that once he put his hands on that strong and perfect body he might not be able to stop before he went too far. Perhaps sliding his upper leg over to rest on top of Heero's thigh wouldn't hurt. No, it didn't hurt at all, in fact, it felt utterly fantastic. Duo heard himself moan and realized his body was experiencing a number of very pleasant sensations. It felt as if Heero was making love to all of him by this single, spectacular act of kissing. Wow!, he mentally exclaimed as his tongue entwined with Heero's, engaging in a sensually delightful dance. He'd never experience such a powerful kiss before, and it definitely wasn't for a lack of trying. Was this kiss so powerful because it was Heero kissing him? Or was it some physical chemistry signaling that this was the person he had been searching for? Maybe it was the room, the romantic ambiance and idea that someone was watching them kiss that was the turn on? He dismissed the last idea as soon as it had come to mind, but to be honest, he was wary of the other reasons being true. Something inside of him knew that the reason this kiss meant so much more than any others he had before was because of this particular man. Was Heero the one? He supposed what it really came down to was knowing whether or not Heero felt that way about him. Was he the "one" for Heero? He then reluctantly recalled that this kiss, as toe-curling wonderful as it was, was all about the deal and putting on a show for their nosey friends. Shit, if he wasn't careful, he was going to end up at the end of this charade with his own heart irreparably broken.
The gentle clearing of a throat from the vicinity of the doorway abruptly ended the moment of bliss and self questioning, and both young men jumped apart, untangling their limbs from each other as they quickly moved to sit up and face the server. Duo could feel his face flushing with embarrassment at having been caught by a stranger kissing his best friend and thoroughly enjoying the experience. He did his best to mask his embarrassment by concentrating on the several platters of food being placed before them. Their waitress, dressed in an elegant pantsuit of black, began explaining the dishes that were set on a woven mat between them, appearing unaffected by witnessing two men kissing rather intimately. The plate of fresh sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, cooked pumpkin, apricots and sliced melon didn't need to be explained, but the serving dish with the main course did. "Kharuf mashi is lamb stuffed with rice, nuts and raisins," she explained. The outside skin was rubbed with a paste of onion, crushed cinnamon, cloves and cardamon and browned on all sides in bubbling sawn, or rather, goat butter, before roasting. "Aria," she pointed to the flat bread on another plate and next to a small bowl filled with something golden, "is the traditional Arabic bread and is delicious dipped in honey. Is there anything else you require? Perhaps some wine with your dinner," the young woman asked politely and with a smile.
"Can I have a cola?" Duo asked.
The waitress's smile grew. "Of course."
"Make that two," Heero added, and the young woman promptly disappeared.
Heero took up his knife and fork and began to cut into his meat. Duo decided to eat some of the prepared fruit first, then sampled some bread and honey. So far so good, he thought as he eyed the plate of meat and rice.
The carbonated drinks were delivered and the two men were left alone again to enjoy their meal. Duo took his time tasting each of the foods included in the feast before them. While eating, he and Heero discussed the flavor, texture and enjoyment of each dish while surreptitiously casting glances at each other. Duo had a hard time dragging his eyes away from Heero's moist and perfectly shaped lips. He had really, really enjoyed their kissing. He was just glad that Heero hadn't pressed their bodies closer together or he'd have discovered just how much pleasure he had gotten from exploring the Japanese man's mouth. With the way his body responded to Heero's kiss, he didn't even want to think about how it would react to even more intimate touches from the other man. Damn, I'm pathetic, he thought to himself. His old war-time crush on Heero was back again and in full force after sharing a couple of kisses. Well, not just any old kiss, he admitted to himself, but wonderful, spectacular kisses. Now that he knew Heero better than he had back when they were gundam pilots, there was little doubt in his mind that he was setting himself up for a hard fall once their deal was over and Heero went on his merry way.
"Something wrong with your food?" Heero asked, noticing his companion had paused in his eating, his eyes fixed on his food and appearing to be deep in thought.
Duo's head jerked up. "Ah..., no. Just thinking."
"Don't strain yourself. The night's still early."
Duo couldn't help grinning at Heero's teasing, earning him a brighter smile in return. Good lord... he was actually wishing for the impossible to happen, that Heero would fall madly and deeply in love with him. If only wishes came true, he thought with an accompanying, dejected sigh.
After the meal had been cleared away, more coffee was served, along with a plate of plump delicious dates and a bowl of warm butter. Heero picked up the first date, dipped it into the golden butter, then presented it to Duo's lips. "In case they're still watching," he explained with a wink.
Duo leaned forward and opened his mouth to accept the sweet date, never losing contact with the blue, fathomless depths of Heero's eyes as he bit off the tip and chewed the moist delicacy. "Umm. Good." He then reciprocated in kind by selecting a large date from off the plate and followed the other man's example bu dipping it into butter. Bringing the fruit up to Heero's mouth, he put the tip of it against Asian man's smiling mouth and became mesmerized by those two perfect and tantalizing lips as they opened and then wrapped themselves around the offered end of the buttered date. To his surprise Heero didn't bite down on the treat. Instead, he loosely held the tip of the date in his mouth while gently sucking the butter off. All the while his eyes remained fixed on the man feeding him.
Holy shit. Duo shifted, suddenly very warm and very much affected by Heero's playing with his food. Finally, the other man took a bite and Duo's hand dropped to his side, silently congratulating himself for not moving to adjust the front of his trousers. The half eaten date, still held between Heero's fingers, was dipped once again into the melted butter before it was brought once more towards Duo's mouth, dripping butter along the way. Without a thought to what he was doing, Duo leaned forward and opened his mouth to accept the offered treat, taking it all in and Heero's fingers as well. He didn't bite down, but let his tongue move teasingly over those two fingertips. If Heero wanted to play, he would show him he was no wallflower. When he finally eased back, taking the rest of the fruit into his mouth, Heero slowly removed his fingers. He was pleased to see the other man's Adam's apple bob, and Heero was experience the same discomfort he was.
Moving even closer, Heero appeared as if he was about to kiss him again, but he surprised Duo once more, trumping his last move when he began licking at the corners of his mouth. "Butter," the other man explained simply with a hum of pleasure. Duo couldn't help the slight moan that escaped him and his ability to think or talk was diminished considerably. He slowly chewed the piece of date in his mouth as Heero finished licking the butter from around his mouth with his tongue. After swallowing the last bit of fruit, the other man reclaimed his lips in a kiss that promised to send him over the edge of reason.
To Duo's regret, Heero pulled away a few moments later, an apologetic look on his handsome face. He didn't say anything, but his warm hand gently cupped his cheek and stroked the tender flesh under his fingertips. Duo resisted the urge to turn his head and kiss Heero's palm, sharply reminding himself that this was all for show. This wasn't real, he firmly reminded himself, even though it felt very much like the real thing. He mentally knocked his head against something called common sense. With a sinking heart he realized he was a goner, hook, line and sinker, having fallen for his dark-haired, blue-eyed, hot and sensual friend, despite the fact that Heero was kissing him only because their friends were probably spying on them at that very moment. Not only was Heero a great kisser, but he was an accomplished actor as well, portraying the image of a man following his heart while in reality he was merely putting on a show.
The hand on his face dropped away and Heero sat back, putting some distance between them. "Are you ready to go home? It's getting rather late."
"Yeah," Duo replied, looking at his watch to see that two hours had passed from the time of their arrival and trying not to show that his heart was already beginning to ache. He moved to stand up, hoping the diminishing woody, slightly tenting the front of his pleated black trousers, wasn't too noticeable.
As if on cue, the waitress made an appearance and quickly took Heero's credit card. After she received his signature for payment and tip, the two men left the room that would always remain a part of the fond memory locked in Duo's mind forever. As they passed through the dark garden, Duo gave several searching glances at the foliage, looking for a tattle-tale blond, brunet or ebony-haired head. Their spying friends must have taken off when the dessert was presented, reducing the chances of being caught, he thought. With Heero's hand at the small of his back, he didn't doubt that they gave the appearance of being a happy couple as they left the beautiful torch-lit gardens and returned to the main entrance, where they waited for only a few moments before the silver sports car was brought to them.
The ride home was quiet and thoughtful on the part of both young men, and remained so until the moment Heero left Duo at his front door with a fleeting kiss on his cheek. As he closed the door behind him, Duo had to wonder if anything would ever be the same between himself and Heero again. His wondering eventually turned to worry when he didn't hear from his friend for the remainder of the long weekend.