Disclaimer: Once again, I don't own these GW characters and make not even a dime from spending hours writing about them.

Warnings: AU, sexual situations, yaoi 1x2, 3x4, and various past relationship

The Pretender
Chapter 10
by Dyna Dee

Without looking back to see if Heero was following, Duo high-tailed it out of the restaurant and returned posthaste to his workplace. His face felt flushed and he was overly warm by the time he finally reached his office. His mad rush back to the office had served to turn his anger at Heero's insensitivity to a feeling of disappointment. Flopping down into his chair, he reached over and turned on his computer, pausing as it booted up to collect his thoughts. Planting his elbows on the desktop, he buried his face in his hands, berating himself for being a fool. Dammit, he'd wanted Heero to be different, someone who would take time to get to know him before trying to land him in bed. What a damn fool he was.

Trying to look at things from the other man's point of view, he supposed it made sense that Heero, who by his own admission had a lot more experience with sex, would make advances so early in their acquaintance. And if the man read more into actions than words, hadn't he given him a completely different message at their first meeting in the hot tub at the whore house, which had been all about sex? Hadn't he acted like a whore and given the man whatever he wanted? Heero didn't know at the time, and was still ignorant of the fact, that what he gave him that day just happened to he'd something he'd never given to anyone else before. Was it any wonder Heero thought he might be able to persuade him into jumping into his bed after their short but pleasant lunch? After all, he'd be a liar to deny the obvious, that he and Heero were attracted to each other and the rapport between them seemed too incredible to believe.

Was it possible he hadn't clearly communicated to the lawyer that he didn't take relationships lightly? Or could it be that Heero had simply been teasing when he made the comment about him being dessert? He'd taken the offhand comment the wrong way?

So many questions and so few answers. Damn, he was a total screw-up when it came to dating.

It seemed Dorothy had been right. In spite of his new non-virgin status, nothing had really changed. He was still messed up. Why in the world did he think things would be different now, easier somehow simply because he'd had sex? Well, call him a dumb shit twice over, because that is exactly what he had believed. Even though he'd made it past that previously insurmountable hurdle of having sex, he knew his ultimate goals remained firm; to be in a committed, long-term if not life-long relationship. Maybe he was delusional, wanting to share his life exclusively with another man, give all that he had to offer to someone who was going to be as committed to him as he would be to them.

Without a doubt it had been his parents' example that had formed his desire for the same kind of committed relationship they'd enjoyed. From his earliest recollections he'd recognized the deep and abiding love his Mom and Dad had shared. Their home had been filled with love and laughter and a happiness he hadn't known since their deaths. Was it wrong to want that same kind of relationship and happiness for himself? Knowing how good being with someone could be, how could he possibly settle for anything less?

He hadn't needed a shrink to tell him the sudden loss of his parents, and thus the loss of his familiar and loving home, had left him with abandonment issues, though in the past couple of years he had worked very hard on over coming them. And regardless of the fact that his aunt and her family had welcomed him into their home and had loved and cared for him, they couldn't keep those fears of being abandoned from being reinforced when the accidental death of his cousin shocked them all, and then his uncle's made a sudden departure. It seemed that each time he'd begun to start trusting and hoping again, someone he cared about left him, causing his fears and insecurities to overrun his life once again.

Sometime during the past six month of sessions, he and Quatre had discussed the possibility that his inability to have sex might not stem entirely from his aunt's lecturing on the evils of homosexuality. Quatre believed there could be another underlying reason for his problems and suggested that he might be subconsciously protecting himself from the possibility of being abandoned by putting up a protective barrier. His fear of sex, his former shrink rationalized, would successfully keep all potential partners at arm's length, thus minimizing the potential for being hurt. Sex with a partner would mean a greater emotional connection, thus a greater chance of being devastated if the other man left him.

With all of his hang ups Duo had wondered often whether or not he was even capable of being in a relationship like the one his parents had. Yet in spite of his doubts he couldn't help craving the kind of happiness he knew, from their example, was possible.

His mind shifted back to his when his trouble began, his first attempt at being intimate with another guy. In all honestly, at this point in time he couldn't remember if the guy's name was Dan or Nathaniel, or maybe is was Daniel or Nat. Not that it mattered now, but seven years ago, when he had been a freshman in college, it had been a very big deal to have sex for the first time. Or it would have been if he hadn't wigged out and experienced the first of many panic attacks. From that first attempt a vicious cycle ensued of dating someone new, panicking when the guy went a little bit too far, and soon after, if not immediately, losing them when they realized he couldn't have sex with them and they lost interest in him. So here he was, seven years down the road from then, not to mention the thousands of dollars he'd spent in therapy, and he still couldn't seem to get past his irrational reaction to someone trying to seduce him.

After having sex with Tex, he had been certain his life would change for the better, that all his inhibitions about sex would be gone. What a kick in the ass it was to realize that even after this huge obstacle of not being able to have sex had been overcome, his life hadn't improved all that much. So the question to ask now, he decided, was, Am I really cured? Was he really over his problem or was his encounter with Tex a one-time thing, a fluke? God, he hoped not. But now that he was thinking about it, he hadn't reacted well to Wufei's attempt to seduce him- which was really understandable, seeing that the guy was a prick - and his reaction to Heero's suggestion at lunch had been immediate. Should he have handled those situations differently? The night at the Palomino with Wufei was completely justifiable, but was he wrong to be offended by Heero's attempt to woo him into his bed this early in their acquaintance?

He honestly didn't know the answers to those questions, and the number of people he might have spoken to about this problem had diminished greatly over the past few days. Quatre and Trowa were out of the question, as were Charise and his so co-workers. So he'd have to figure things out for himself from now on or find yet another shrink. That was an option he didn't even want to think about.

Reviewing his options, there was only one left to him. He'd have to talk to Dorothy, though he felt hesitant about going to her. Sure, she had helped him to physically and mentally prepare for having sex, but did he trust her enough to ask her advice about relationships or if he had reacted too strongly to Heero's not so subtle suggestion for the evening? No, he wasn't sure she'd understand his hesitation about jumping into Heero's bed. He knew he shouldn't judge, but it seemed to him that the blond sex therapist had the morals of an alley cat. Perhaps the nature of her job had helped form his opinion of her. Added to that, she knew, or had personal knowledge of, just about everyone in the city. Intimate knowledge. During their occasional out-of-session lunches or a rare get together to take in a movie, she'd spoken rather freely about herself and some of her past relationships, not naming names, of course, but giving him the impression that she'd happily bedded a good number of men. He could only guess that having sex with an expert on the subject might be a real turn on for some men. Having seen with his own eyes how popular Dorothy was with men when they were in public together, there was little doubt the woman practiced what she taught.

It was just his opinion, but he couldn't help but feel that anyone who slept around as much as Dorothy had couldn't possibly understand why a person like himself wouldn't want to do the same.

Realizing his mind had wandered too far off the subject of Heero Yuy, he took a deep breath and let it out slowly, conceding to himself that Heero could be, in spite of his saying otherwise, under the impression that he was easy, considering his behavior back at the House on the Hill. Good lord, he could hear his aunt's voice now, listing promiscuity as one of the evils of homosexuality. That was bullshit, he knew, having personally known men and women who were committed to their lovers, who believed in fidelity. That thought brought to mind Quatre and Trowa. It hurt knowing that they had what he craved: a monogamous, loving and committed relationship. Maybe that was the real reason he'd been unable to get over Trowa falling in love with his shrink. To be honest, he was jealous of them, and that was something he would only admit to himself.

The intercom speaker softly clicked on and startled him from his thoughts. "Duo. Have you finished that letter yet?" Charise's voice, coming from a tiny speaker, sounded harried. "The secretary at Perry's office called and stated that Mr. Yuy would like to look over the finished draft before you send it out. Could you bring me a copy, if you're done, so I can look it over before you deliver it to him."

Of course Charise's request could not have come at a worse time. He clicked on the speaker button and answered. "Almost done. I'll bring it in to you in a few minutes."

"Thank you, dear," she replied and the soft click signaled she'd turned her intercom off.

"Shit," he muttered under his breath, then bought up the unfinished letter and turned his thoughts away from his personal problems and back to the task at hand.

Thirty minutes later, Duo held the typed letter in a manilla envelope against his chest while riding the elevator up to the sixteenth floor of the prestigious Library Tower building, home to the offices of Harrison, Rhodes and Associates. He still couldn't understand why Charise hadn't simply let him email the letter to Heero's secretary. His boss was one of those rare individuals who preferred sending hand written letters and notes instead of using the more efficient electronic communication devices. Since Mr. Yuy's office was relatively close by and he had made the request, she'd insisted he deliver the letter personally to him, and then carry it back with any corrections that he might deem necessary. His plan was to leave the envelope with Heero's secretary and then hightail it out of there the moment she returned it back into his hands again. In light of how he and the other man had parted at the restaurant a little more than an hour ago, the last thing he wanted was to have a face to face encounter with the good looking lawyer. Crap, just thinking about seeing Heero Yuy had him feeling jittery, in an excited, anticipating kind of way. Damn, he had it so bad for the man. He tried to push those feelings down by concentrating on the box above the doors and the steadily increasing red digital numbers that appeared on it as the elevator moved slowly upwards.

He held his breath as the number sixteen appeared and the car slowed to a stop. The soft ding announced the car's arrival and the door slid open. He exited, hoping that he didn't look as nervous as he felt. He now regretted not having gone against Charise's wishes and hired a delivery service to bring the important letter to Heero. But his boss had insisted he deliver it himself, saying that she trusted him and no one else to place it in the hands of her lawyer.

Having been to these offices several times before, delivering something to Perry from Charise, Duo knew to turn right and enter the second door to his left. He entered the reception area, which was bright and cheery with impressive landscape paintings donning the walls. He wondered if the welcoming decor was designed to try and calm clients who knew full well how much speaking to a lawyer of this firm was going to cost them.

He strolled up to the desk and greeted the woman who had been a secretary at the firm for many years, from what Mr. Rhodes had said in passing one day. She smiled warmly at him and he held out the envelope. "This is from Charise DuFrame for Mr. Yuy," he stated in his most business-like manner.

"Oh yes," she grinned pleasantly. "He's expecting you." She ignored the held-out envelope as she stood from her chair and motioned for him to follow. Shit and double shit, Duo swore to himself. "I really have to get back to the office. Can't you give this to him?"

The older woman gave him a cursory glance. "I was under the impression that the papers were to be hand delivered to Mr. Yuy. Is that correct?" With a slump of his shoulders Duo nodded. "This way," she directed, then led him to a closed door with a plaque at eye level designating the office of Mr. Heero Yuy, Attorney at Law. After a gentle tap on the door, she put her hand on the knob, turned it and pushed it open, motioning for him to step inside. He grudgingly entered the room and found those deep blue eyes he'd admired during lunch staring at him once again.

Heero stood and held his hand out for the folder, then looked over Duo's shoulder to the woman at the door. "Thank you, Anne. You can shut the door. I'll have Mr. Maxwell wait in here while I read this over."

The older woman nodded before complying. As soon as the door shut behind her, Heero lowered his hand and moved from behind his desk, ignoring the proffered envelope being held out to him to grab its carrier by the shoulders. "What the hell went wrong back at the restaurant, Duo? What did I say that turned you off so completely? I thought we were connecting. You can't deny that we're attracted to each other, so I can only guess that my asking you to my place for dinner tonight upset you in some way that made you shut me out completely."

"It wasn't dinner," Duo replied, avoiding looking at the other man's face, focusing rather on the knot in his tie. "It was your comment about me being dessert. You obviously didn't listen to me this afternoon or understand from our conversation that I don't do casual sex."

There was a long pause, but the grip on his shoulders didn't lessen. "I'm confused," Heero admitted. "You say you're not into casual sex, but what the hell was that in the hot tub if not casual?"

Duo took that moment to look up and saw for himself a look of confusion on Heero's face. "I don't know," he reluctantly admitted. "I was relaxing after a massage and daydreaming about what it must be like to work in a place like that. After seeing you sitting on the fence, dressed like a cowboy, I conjured you up in my mind, and put you in a story set in the 1800's and a whore named Laredo, who had just come from San Francisco to work there. Your showing up when you did coincided with my fantasy of being Laredo, and you became an unknowing part of it when you introduced yourself as Tex. You were perfectly cast as a cowboy who had just off the range, ready and willing to spend his pay." He stopped himself from saying anything more, feeling embarrassed by his confession and not wanting to admit how badly he'd wanted to have sex that day, to finally give up his virgin state.

Heero released his hold on Duo's shoulders and let his hands drop to his side. "So you were fantasizing the whole time?"

"Well, maybe not the whole time." Duo blushed. "I think I forget about the fantasy when you, ah... you know."

Heero sighed and brought a hand up to scratch beneath his dark hair, messing it up even more. Looking confused he said, "I can't say that I understand you, Duo."

"Join the club," he muttered under his breath.

Heero shook his head and a small grin twitched at the corners of his lips. "But I do know that I want to understand. I like you, Duo. I'm strongly attracted to you and, yes, I'd like to take you to bed."

"But don't you see?" Duo implored. "That's the problem. I liked how it felt when we were together in that hot tub, but I don't want sex to be the only reason you want to be with me. I want and need more than that kind of transitory relationship. I've had my share of failed relationships. What I really want is to fall in love with someone who wants only me, and to trust them not to leave me. That's maybe even more important to me than the physical act of intimacy. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm looking for a real relationship, not just a good time in bed."

Thinking he'd said too much, Duo stepped back. "Listen, I'm sorry. Maybe I'm just a romantic fool. And hell, you're right, I gave the impression that I just wanted sex in that hot tub. I was kind of desperate at the time. But the fact is, we barely know each other and I'm probably scaring you away by being honest with you. I'm not going to jump into your bed, at least not yet. I like you, Heero, but if all you want from me is sex then it's better for us to just shake hands and say goodbye." He shifted the envelope from his right hand to his left in order to extend it out for the farewell handshake, a lump forming in his throat.

Heero glanced down at his hand, but for a long moment he made no move to take it, looking as if he were considering some great decision. Finally, he reached out and slid his palm over Duo's and clasped their hands together. But instead of shaking hands, Heero tugged Duo forward. Before he could question the man, he found himself being kissed. Heero's lips were indescribably talented and persuasive as well, for without too much effort they coaxed his mouth open and he accepted the questing tongue into his mouth. For his part, he tried to keep from reacting to Heero's sudden move, not knowing what the lawyer's intentions were, but when a gentle hand cradled the back of his head and tilted it just so, gaining better access to his mouth, his knees almost buckled and all of his reservations went flying out the window. Without any inhibition whatsoever he kissed the man back with all the fervor he possessed.

Heero retreated slightly, allowing Duo to take over the kiss. It was a toe curling, cock-hardening and breathtaking kiss that seemed to have no end. It was Heero who finally pulled back, leaving Duo gasping, hanging onto his neck and wanting more. As the lawyer's forehead came to rest on his own, he whispered, "Did the earth just stop turning?"

"It did for me," Duo answered softly, licking his lips and enjoying the last remnants of the kiss.

"We would be fools to say goodbye to that, don't you think?"

Unable to nod with Heero's forehead pressed against his own, Duo answered with a breathy, "Yes. But is this all there is?"

"I can only tell you that from the moment I met you I've wanted to know everything about you. I want to be near you. I'm completely mesmerized by you, Duo. Isn't that enough for a beginning?"

Duo thought about it. Wasn't this how dating was suppose to work? The attraction and curiosity about someone, the desire and thrill of something new along with the uncertainty of the outcome? In that light, he guessed it was enough. He and Heero had all of that going and maybe even more. "Yes, it's enough for a beginning."

Heero smiled and pushed a long stray hair back behind Duo's ear. "Maybe we can talk about this more tonight? I'll make dinner if you'll bring the wine. We'll take things one step at a time and see where this is going, all right?"

Duo couldn't stop his heart from feeling hopeful. Was this gorgeous man actually willing to give him a chance, after he'd more or less laid it on the line what he wanted? Maybe deep down, Heero wanted a committed relationship too and just hadn't found the right person. He could only hope that was the truth. "Red or white wine?" he asked.

"What do you prefer?"

Duo grinned. "I'm not much of a drinker, preferring caffeinated colas to wine. But if you tell me what to bring, I'll do my best to find it."

"A red Bordeaux is always nice, and bring along whatever else you prefer," Heero answered. "Dinner will be ready at seven. Let me write down the directions to my place." But before turning back to his desk he gave Duo another short kiss and a smile that showed he was pleased with how things had turned out.

The braided man eventually left the offices of Harrington, Rhodes and Associates with the approved letter in his hand and a grin on his face that would last the rest of the afternoon.

on to chapter 11

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