As Laura stuffed her nightgown into the large totebag - a lovely gift from Noin - her eyes drifted yet again to the small bookcase Duo had built into her wall. It held several stuffed animals and some figurines she had won at the fair the week before. It was also covered with books. They were young children's books, books that any kid over the age of five would be embarrassed to have in their room. But whenever the girl's light-brown eyes swept over the narrow volumes, they became shiny with pride. The growing collection represented every book that Laura had managed to read completely on her own.
She could hardly believe that only three months ago, the written word had seemed an unfathomable cipher, an unbreakable code that she would never be able to crack. But now, under her teacher's intensive, untiring tutelage and her fathers' unflinching support, she was well on her way to joining the ranks of the blessedly literate.
There had been times over the past few of months where she'd just wanted to quit. Times when she had stared at some page of words for hours without comprehension or hope. Wufei would prod her on, not letting her stop for the day until she had mastered at least five new words. On more than one occasion she had broken into helpless, angry tears, shouting words of disgust that would have made the street hustlers she grew up with flinch. But the Chinese man would shrug off her abuse and firmly direct her attention back to her lessons.
Then, one day about a month ago, she was plodding through some kid's book - a clever, ancient work by a man named Seuss - when she found herself suddenly staring at the back cover. Wufei had laughed aloud, the first time she'd ever heard such an unrestrained expression of joy come from her stolid teacher. Laura had just stared at him, wondering if he'd lost his mind, when he turned his stunning smile on her, causing a few unaccountable flutterings in her girlish heart.
"Laura, do you realize what you've just done?"
She shook her head, utterly confused. What had she done? Whatever it was she was sorry!
"You, my brilliant girl, just read this entire book without any help from me at all!"
Laura blinked, glancing down at the closed back cover of the book and then back up at the handsome teacher. She repeated the gesture several times before Wufei's words began to make some sense.
"Yes, you read it all by yourself. Congratulations, Laura."
Wufei watched her sit there, her large brown-eyes glazed with astonishment. Then, he suddenly found himself with an armful of happy child, his neck in eminent danger of being broken with the force of the arms wrapped around them. But he just held her quietly, accepting the lack of oxygen and rubbing her back gently as she cried.
Now, packing for Marimaia's slumber-party, her very first night away from home, she couldn't help running her fingers lovingly over the book bindings as she went to her closet to get clothes for tomorrow.
Duo stepped from the kitchen where he'd been helping Heero with the dishes when he heard Laura leave her room. He eyed her overnight bag and forced a cheerful grin.
She nodded. "Yep. Marimaia and her mom said they'd pick me up on their way home from the grocery store. They should be here any minute."
As if on cue, a car horn sounded. Heero walked into the living room and looked out of the window.
"That's them," he said, repressing a smirk. Duo's hands had clenched into fists, betraying his nervousness and belying his carefree smile.
"Okay," the braided man replied. He glanced at Laura as she went past him. "Um, do you have everything you need?"
She nodded, already reaching for the door knob.
"You have clothes for tomorrow? Your nightgown? A toothbrush? Oh, did you want to take Mr. Trumpy?"
Heero snickered as Laura turned an exasperated look the taller man.
"Yes, Duo. I have everything. But, I decided to leave my stuffed elephant here. Don't think I'll need him."
"Oh, okay. Don't forget," he rushed as the girl opened the door. "I'll pick you up tomorrow evening. Early 'cause you have school on Monday."
'I usually do,' Laura thought, narrowing her eyes at her father in confusion.
"Go now while you have the chance," Heero whispered. She looked up at him and he threw her a conspiratorial grin, circling his finger at his temple where Duo couldn't see. Laura laughed and with a "See ya!" bolted out the door.
"Okay, bye..." Duo's words stopped as the door slammed shut. Heero went back into the kitchen to finish drying the last few dishes and when he came back into the living room a few minutes later, his husband was still standing in the same spot, looking at the closed door.
Heero sighed. "Duo, at least have a seat."
The other man spun around, his braid swinging behind him as if an extension of his agitation. "Heero, maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I mean, what if something happens?"
"What could possibly happen? She's just going for a slumber party. Personally, I'm thrilled she's managed to make such good friends. And with the incredible progress she's made in her reading, she definitely deserves to have some fun."
Duo's shoulders slumped in the face of Heero's logic. "Yeah, I know, you're right. It's just..." He glanced up at his shujin, amethyst eyes filled with uncertainty. "It's just, this is the first night she'll be away from us since we brought her home. You know she still has nightmares, sometimes. Can you blame me for being worried?"
Heero smiled softly and stood in front of his lover, placing reassuring hands on the other man's shoulders. "No, I can't blame you. But we can't keep her locked up here. We wanted to make sure she has a normal life and this is part of it. She'll be fine. Besides, I had a long talk with Marimaia's mother and she knows to call us if anything happens."
Duo looked up, a ghost of his usual mischievous glee fleeting over his face. "Guess I'm not the only overprotective one in the bunch, huh?" They shared a laugh but Heero narrowed his eyes when his husband's gaze drifted back towards the door.
"Still worried?" he asked quietly. The taller man nodded sheepishly. "Well," Heero's voice dropped several octaves as he leaned forward, his lips brushing Duo's ear. "I guess I'll just have to keep you otherwise occupied."
The braided man's brow furrowed with uncertainty, but any confusion was instantly cleared when he felt his husband's warm lips sucking softly but insistently at his ear. "Heero," he began but was interrupted when those same lips covered his own. The kiss was soft yet hot, loving yet passionate and Duo was left standing with his mouth parted and his eyes closed when his lover released him.
"Shh," the Asian man whispered, "no more talking for you." He took in the sight of the beautiful man standing before him, reaching for the buttons on the annoying shirt that was depriving his worshipful gaze. He pulled at the fabric, scattering the offending fasteners, and pressed a kiss to the warm skin he had revealed. His hand reached around his lover's slender waist, closing reflexively on the magnificent braid dangling temptingly down his back.
Duo made a soft "ahh" of pleasure as his husband's lips spread fire over his skin. The open shirt fluttered against his back, adding to the sensation. He felt his braid being unraveled by a pair of clever hands and clenched his own fingers into the other man's broad shoulders. His legs threatened to give way as his nipples were laved attentively by a loving tongue and he tightened his grip, needing the support.
Heero heard his name whispered again in a breathy tone that caressed his ears. He sucked on the pebbled flesh in his mouth, fingers teasing the equally delightful twin, until he was rewarded by a gasp. He switched mouth and fingers, reveling in his lover's sweet taste.
"Heero," Duo moaned again, helpless under the tender assault. He felt as if the other man were sucking his heart from his chest and it went to him willingly. Duo loved Heero whether they were playing with Laura in the park, shopping at the mall, eating at a fancy restaurant, doing laundry, whenever. But he especially loved moments like these when they tried to crawl into each other's bodies like they were already in each other's souls. He wrapped his arms around his lover's neck, bending down to press his lips into the thick mat of wild brown hair that defied any attempts at taming.
The sound of his name, once again, threatened to break Heero's control. The husky word sounded like love and longing and he craved it. His hands worked quickly to undo the braid, running through the freed strands as he found success. He lowered himself to his knees, shifting his attention to the other man's firm stomach, never releasing the silken mass from his covetous hold. He teased along the waistband of the taller man's jeans, running his tongue back and forth along the pale flesh.
Duo moaned his frustration. His already engorged arousal hardened even further at the maddening caress. His nerveless hand alternated between digging through the kneeling man's thick hair and plucking desperately at the fabric covering the bronzed flesh he longed to touch. "Please, koi, I need you," he whispered.
Heero stood suddenly, taking his lover's mouth in a devouring kiss. He left no corner of the warm cavern unexplored. Duo was too sweet, too tempting for him to have any desire to ever stop. Strong arms wrapped around his neck and he picked up his long-haired lover, carrying him to the couch, holding firmly to the tight globes filling his hands.
Duo wrapped the length of his legs around the other man's hips, reveling in the show of strength and moaning into the greedy mouth consuming him. He gasped as he was lowered onto the couch, feeling the other man's hips grind deliciously into his own enflamed member.
The need for air finally broke them apart but Heero wasted no time, turning his head eagerly to revere the tempting column of his lover's throat. He sucked softly to mark what would, God willing, always be his. He reached for the fastening of the other man's jeans, undoing them hastily while frantic hands grasped at his shirt, reaching for the warm skin beneath.
Duo lifted his hips in mindless obedience, more concerned with parting Heero from his shirt than with the fact that his lower body was being efficiently stripped. "Uhh," he groaned as he sensitized nipples were again tormented with agonizing thoroughness. "Heero take off the fucking shirt. Now!"
The Asian man chuckled and complied, quickly ripping the offending garment over his head and hastily returning to his own pursuits. He nipped playfully at the taut flesh of his lover's abs, drawing a breathy moan of encouragement, before moving lower to his true goal. Kneeling on the floor, he rubbed his chin over the hot shaft rising from the taller man's hips, soothing the trembling flesh with soft kisses and calming licks. His poor baby was so hard, it looked painful, and he longed to relieve the other man's obvious discomfort. He repressed a silent laugh as a pair of legs were flung over his shoulders and ten long fingers dug almost painfully into his scalp.
Duo loved it when his husband's normally serious mood became more relaxed and playful. He adored the naughty boy grin that would sometimes flit across his lover's stoic features when he was full of mischief. But, damn it all, Heero was killing him! "Heero! Shit! Please, for the love of ... Do it! You're killing me!" He bristled for a brief moment as the other man had the gall to laugh, but all was forgiven in the next breath when his aching member was taken deep within a warm embrace.
The Asian man worshiped the velvety steel filling his mouth. He loved every inch of the other man and knew that, even if he lived forever, he would never get enough. He worked his lover with a long, slow sucking motion that had the taller man writhing and shouting with the unrestrained gusto he'd so missed. Since Laura had come to them, they'd been forced to be more circumspect in their intimate moments. And though they couldn't imagine life without their beloved daughter, Heero had yearned to hear his husband's more vociferous loss of control. He reached for his own zipper, pulling his pants to his knees as his own manhood throbbed in response to his lover's zeal.
The pressure was too soft, too slow, too steady. Duo was going insane. He knew he wouldn't come from the unhurried movements and he knew that the gorgeous bastard playing him so wonderfully knew it too. "Heero, ahh, Heero, please. I want... I wanna... Ahhh!!" Hips pumping in rhythm with the leisurely strokes, he wrapped his legs around his tormentor's neck trying to increase the other man's speed. But his shujin was stubborn and refused to be rushed. Duo whimpered, throwing his head back on the cushion behind him.
Heero looked up at his lover, his deep-blue gaze flashing at the vision the long-haired man presented. Duo's cheeks were flushed, lips parted, head flung back in abandon, his shirt parted, revealing skin in a way that was sexier than if he'd been completely naked. The Asian man continued his slow torture, reaching surreptitiously beneath the seat cushion for a small tube he'd secreted there. He carefully rubbed the cool gel over himself, trying to stifle the urge to give in to his husband's erotic shouts and come in his hand. Satisfied, he coated several fingers and moved to prepare his impatient lover.
Duo cried out incomprehensible pleas. He could feel his sanity being sucked away by the talented mouth surrounding him. His release mocked him with its distance. He knew that, if the other man had his way, he'd be forever standing on the edge of the chasm into which he longed to dive. But his desperation only got worse when his needy opening was invaded by a long digit. He shouted again, his hips thrusting frantically as another finger was added and then another. He was well aware of Heero's requirement that he always be thoroughly prepared for every encounter. He just hoped he would survive his lover's consideration.
The kneeling man probed and stretch, breath ragged as the tight muscle clenched invitingly around his fingers. He wanted to be careful, to make sure Duo wouldn't be hurt, that he would never mistake that, unlike the countless men who had so carelessly used him in the past, Heero loved him. But finally, he could take his lover's fervent begging no more. Removing his fingers and releasing the delicious flesh from his mouth, he quickly positioned himself and thrust into the place his soul and body named 'home'.
Dual cries of ecstasy filled the room as the turgid shaft met his place of longing. The two lovers strained together, heedful of nothing but each other and their shared joy. The couch shifted under the power of Heero's thrusts and Duo's fingers threatened bruises and he clung to the other man's shoulders. The maelstrom built around them, urging them on, showing them teasing glimpses of the bright place awaiting them. Lips fastened on gasping lips and they breathed together, needing nothing else but each other's love. At last, the edge crumbled and they fell willingly into each other.
Duo's head fell bonelessly back onto the couch as Heero collapsed against him, face buried in the hollow of his neck. His chest heaved as he slowly regained his breath and he stroked the glistening skin of Heero's back as his mind returned from its incredible journey. His lashes fluttered as his amethyst gaze traveled lazily around the living room.
He blinked and glanced around with more attention. Indeed, that's where they were, in the living room. In his excitement, he'd forgotten that little detail. Here they were, laying satiated on the couch, a place they hadn't made love since...
Heero looked up, eyes adorably dazed, when Duo suddenly laughed. "Hn?" he questioned brilliantly.
"Something about all this seem strangely familiar," the long-haired man chuckled. "The couch, the blowjob, me in my shirt, you in your pants..." Duo glanced at his husband askance. "This is just like our first night together, when you picked me up for our 'date'. Remember?"
The other man looked at him blankly for a moment before his expression gave away his secret. Heero smiled knowingly and Duo squinted his eyes in disbelief.
"You mean you planned this?!"
Heero retrieved the tube and held it up, dangling from his fingers. "Well, it is our anniversary, after all."
Duo blinked in surprise. He'd forgotten that it was four years ago to the day when Heero had swooped in and rescued him like some sexy knight in a late model sedan. He smiled, blinking again, this time against the sting of impending tears.
"You know, somehow, I don't remember that night ending quite like this." He clenched his lower body against the welcome invader still buried within him. His smile became a leer when the other man groaned helplessly before smiling back sheepishly. "Well, I couldn't manage to stick to the script."
Duo chortled, "That's quite alright. I like this much better. But we should really move into the bedroom."
"Why?" Heero asked. His knees were getting a bit sore from rug burn so he disengaged, drawing a delightful shudder from his husband, and stood. He reached down and helped the other man to his feet.
"Well, with the place all to ourselves for the entire night, I suddenly have this urge to reenact our wedding night."
Heero's arousal instantly returned at the suggestion. With one smooth move, he bent down and lifted the taller man into his arms. "In that case, let's do this right." His face filled with love, sincerity, and impishness. "May I carry you over the threshold, Mr. Yuy?"
Duo beamed and could only nod, his heart full. Heero tossed him slightly, as he would a sack, and Duo's laughter could be heard long after they'd vanished into the other room.
Relena walked down the dank hall to Peeve's office, her impractical heels clicking on the floor, the impatient sound matching her mood. It was late and she'd been preparing to relax in a hot bath when the PI had called. At first, she'd harangued him for interrupting her and for his apparent lack of progress on the case. It had been over three months since he'd reported his success in finding someone who knew the missing Delia and it seemed that the tenuous lead wasn't going to pan out. But, once she'd allowed him to speak, Jack assured her that there'd been a 'promising development' in the case.
"Jack, this had better be good," the blond spat as she opened the door to his office, repeating the warning she'd given him on the phone. Relena paused, wrinkling her nose as it was assailed by a disgusting odor. "Whew, what is that smell?"
Instead of answering, the man seated at the scarred desk pointed towards a dark corner of the room. She frowned at his self-satisfied smirk before glancing in the indicated direction. Peering through the gloom, wishing that the PI wasn't so cheap that he shunned any light but the glaring lamp on his desk. She stepped towards the couch sitting inconspicuously in the shadows. Something on the ugly piece of furniture moved suddenly and Relena paused.
Jack left his desk and came to stand behind her. "Go on," he urged, placing a hand low on her back. She threw him an evil glare over her shoulder before moving closer to the couch. The unpleasant odor increased and she finally identified the figure on the couch as the source. Her eyes adjusted to the gloom and she was able to make out the figure of a woman.
Her age was impossible to guess. Her dusky skin was stretch over her bones and she was painfully thin. The woman's face was lined and her surprisingly attractive brown eyes were ruined by the red veins shooting through them and the dark smudges beneath them. Perhaps she had been pretty at some time in her life, but her hard existence had stripped her of whatever beauty she'd once been able to claim.
Relena stared at the wasted figure, not needing any explanation from Peeve as to her identity. The woman stared back at her with a hazy glare but she was unable to hold the blonde's gaze as shivers wracked her skeletal frame.
"Delia?" Relena asked, though the work wasn't really a question.
"Yeah, it's her," Jack said. "That prostitute I told you about finally called me, saying that she'd seen Delia. I tracker her down to this disgusting dump. I'm telling you, the place was full of garbage and there were rats everywhere." He hesitated, not wanting to ask but forced by some sense of common human decency. "You think we should really try to get the girl back with this woman? Doesn't seem right to me..."
Relena had the moral wherewithal to experience a moment of doubt. Perhaps her own petty grudge against Heero wasn't worth ruining a child's life. Surely he could take better care of the girl than this drug-ridden whore could ever do. But, unfortunately, her attack of conscious didn't last long and she turned to the PI with a pleased smirk.
"Well done, Jack," she purred. "Why don't you fetch that picture of Maxwell while I talk to this poor woman."
He looked at the blonde, shaking his head at the triumph he could see in her blue eyes. He thought about just telling her to take the other woman and go. He was tired of this case, tired of how awful it made him feel about himself. But then the desk lamp flickered, reminding him that his electric bill was due and that Relena's checks always cleared. Burying his self-disgust, he grabbed the picture of the handsome young man from his desk and handed it to treacherous beauty.
"Hello, Delia, my name is Relena, Relena Dorlian. I have some very important news for you about your daughter."
The speech didn't seem to register through the woman's drug-induced haze until the last word was spoken. "Daughter? Laura?"
"Yes, Laura. Don't you want to know where she is?"
Delia tried to consider the question, but it was difficult with the constant buzzing in her head. She just needed a fix, something to help her concentrate. "Laura?" she repeated.
Relena took that as a 'yes'. "Laura is with some very bad men, Delia, and we have to get her away from them. Can you help me do that?"
Relena sighed in frustration. Clearly the woman was doped up beyond any possibility of comprehension. But she was determined. She decided to try a different tack.
Relena held the glossy photo in front of the seated woman's unfocused gaze. "Delia," she asked in a comforting tone, "this is one of the men who has your poor daughter."
Dazed brown eyes blinked drearily, trying to focus on the picture. Her head swayed back and forth as she regarded the image. All she could see were vague colors and the pain in her head was getting worse.
"Need..." she whispered.
Relena jumped back in disgust as Delia voided the meager contents of her stomach.
"Ugghh! Damn it, look what she's done to my suit!" She shot a glare at the PI. "Peeve clean that up. Obviously she's not going to be any help in her condition. We'll just have to get her to a hospital. Maybe if they can clean her out enough, she'll be able to concentrate on the girl."
Jack retrieved a towel, holding his breath while he wiped up the mess. He looked at the woman lying on the couch and felt a touch of sympathy. Relena was clearly determined to get this woman back with her daughter and, though it was for entirely selfish reasons, maybe some good could come out of it.
"Um, Relena, what if you got her completely detoxed. If she were sober, she go to the court and petition for custody of the girl herself. Maybe she'll be able to convince the judge that she'd not unfit. You'd get what you want and, if the girl's going to be returned to her mother, at least she'll be taken care of."
The blond peered at him and he was gratified that she didn't reject his suggestion out of hand. In fact, she seemed to actually consider it. After a few moments, she smiled but Jack didn't feel at all relieved.
"Jack, darling, that's a wonderful idea! After all, I'd be doing everyone a service if I could get this poor woman some help. She would be reunited with her beloved child and the girl wouldn't have to be subjected to the guardianship of a couple of fags. I'm sure the girl must be utterly traumatized having to live in such a depraved household." She turned and walked towards the door, pausing with her hand on the doorknob to look at him.
"Come on, Jack, bring her along. We have to get her to a hospital right away."
He sighed and lifted Delia from the couch, careful to avoid the puke staining her shirt. "Relena, you do realize that it will probably take some time for her to get sober enough to satisfy a judge that she can take care of her daughter."
The blond nodded imperiously. "Of course I do. Do you think I would try to rush her recover just for my own selfish ends? What kind of person do you take me for?"
The PI didn't bother to answer as he followed her out into the hall.
"Delia will receive the best possible care. No matter how long it takes, Heero and Duo's little family will be destroyed."