“Mr. Yuy, if you would, please explain to the court why a man who would hire a prostitute should be granted custody of a child.”
Heero blinked, taken aback by the matter-of-fact request. Not that it was entirely unexpected, but he hadn’t thought that Treize would attack him quite so suddenly. He needed a moment to collect his thoughts.
“Excuse me?” he replied, feeling a bit stupid. It wasn’t that he hadn’t heard the attorney; the entire courtroom had heard him. Laura’s face had paled and an angry flush graced Duo’s cheeks.
“I’ll repeat myself, Mr. Yuy.” Treize’s smile remained in place, as though he were merely asking for a friendly comment on a passing thought. “If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Yuy, you and your...husband, met when you hired him for sex, isn’t that right?”
Heero didn’t miss the slight pause. Kushrenada was clearly playing up to the judge’s well-publicized homophobia. But, curse him, the question was a good one. In some ways, his actions were far more damning than Duo’s past. Duo had been forced into a life on the streets by the cruelty of fate but nothing so tragic was to blame for his own behavior. Yes, he’d gone to the slums of L2 that night intending to hire a prostitute to determine once and for all whether he was really gay.
But the reality of what had occurred was far more complex and in the end, far more innocent. Heero looked towards his husband, the man that he loved more than life itself. The other man’s amethyst eyes were wide with concern and emotion, the color in his cheeks only heightening his beauty. Sometimes, Heero still had trouble believing that Duo was really his. He wouldn’t trade Duo for all the world. That night, on a dark street reeking of hopelessness and decay, Heero had met the love of his life and he refused to let Kushrenada cheapen such a profound experience.
“No,” he answered, taking another deep breath. Heero forced himself to relax. He took pleasure in the sight of the surprise that flitted over the attorney’s handsome features.
“No?” Treize repeated. “No, you didn’t hire Duo Maxwell for sex?” He was obviously puzzled that Heero would tell what appeared to be an outright lie, but Heero felt himself grow even calmer as he waited for the questioning to continue.
“No,” Heero answered again.
“Is that right?” Treize quickly regained his composure. He’d had plenty of experience dealing with hostile witnesses. The blue-eyed Asian man would be no different, so matter how unflustered he appeared to be.
“Well, tell me this, then, Mr. Yuy. On the night you met Duo Maxwell, did you have sex with him?”
A choking sound drew Heero’s attention to his husband. Duo had gone from angry to livid. His quick glance towards Laura told Heero that his true concern was that the girl was hearing all of this rather than any sense of embarrassment. But, Heero didn’t allow the grating tone of the attorney’s voice to affect him. True, it galled him to have to disclose such personal details of his life in such a public manner, and in front of his daughter, but this wasn’t about him. Nor was it about Duo. This was about Laura and she was all that mattered. He and Duo had promised each other that they would get her back “whatever it took” and that’s what they would do.
“Yes,” he replied, though he would hardly use such a vulgar term to describe what had transpired between him and Duo that night. It had been more like a meeting of souls than something as tawdry as plain sex. But he knew he couldn’t expect the man questioning him to understand the difference.
“Yes,” Treize repeated. “And after you had sex with Duo Maxwell, Mr. Yuy, did you give him money?” Treize’s seemingly respectfully address was as patronizing as his continued use of Duo’s full name.
“Yes,” Heero answered, feeling comfortable with the characteristically monosyllabic responses.
“And, yet, you say that you did not hire Duo Maxwell to have sex with you, Mr. Yuy. Is that correct?”
“I did not hire him to have sex with me.” Treize shook his head in mock indignation.
“Mr. Yuy, you do know that perjury is a crime? Please speak up,” he urged at Heero’s nod.
“Yes,” the dark-haired man said in a clear voice.
“So,” Treize continued, “how can you sit here, in a court of law, and say that, even though you paid Duo Maxwell for sex, you did not hire him as a prostitute?”
“Because I didn’t. I didn’t pay Duo for sex,” he continued before Treize could speak. “I gave him money because I could see that he was practically starving and that he was only living that sort of life because he was desperate. I gave Duo money because I had already started to fall in love with him and I would have done anything within my power to help him.”
Heero turned away from Treize and caught his husband’s stunned gaze. Although he was sure that the other man understood his reasons for rescuing him from the streets all those years ago, Heero had never managed to put his feelings into words, feeling that his verbal skills, such as they were, were inadequate to the task. But now that he was being forced to articulate his motives, he wanted to be certain that his words were directed to the man for whom they were intended.
“I fell in love with Duo from the first moment I saw him. I could hardly believe that someone as perfect as he actually existed in this world, let alone that I was fortunate enough to have found him. My reasons for going to the south docks neighborhood that night may have been less than honorable. I can’t deny that. But when I took Duo home with me, I had no intention of disrespecting him by treating him as nothing more than an object. I only wanted to show him a little basic human kindness, something he’d never experienced before that moment. But I was weak and couldn’t resist him. I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth. My ‘having sex’ with Duo, as you put it, was something very special and completely unrelated to anything I may have given him. Duo is the best thing that could possible have happened to me, as is Laura, and I will never regret having the opportunity to love them with everything I have in me.
“So, Mr. Kushrenada, does that answer your question?”
A sudden feeling of lightheadedness was the only thing that reminded Duo to breath. He knew that Heero loved him, almost as much as he adored the blue-eyed man who was both lover and savior to him. But, he hadn’t really grasped the depths of Heero’s feelings. There were times when he still felt unworthy of Heero, when he wondered what the other man saw in him. Maybe he would never truly understand, but never again would he entertain any feelings of doubt. Even if the worst should happen and Laura was ripped away from them, they would never give up on her, and they would never give up on each other.
His heart thundering in his ears, Duo barely heard Treize end his cross-exam, his plan of attack utterly defeated by the forthright sincerity of Heero’s impromptu speech. He kept his eyes on Heero as the other man left the witness stand and made his way back to his seat. Heero turned towards him, feeling the weight of the eyes on his face. His smile was hardly more than a slight curving of the corner of his mouth but Duo felt the impact deep in his gut. His desire and need were immediate, shocking him with their intensity, but he could see the sentiment reflected in his lover’s gaze. Their eyes remained locked on each other as the judge announced a recess.
“Court will adjourn until 1 p.m.” The order was reinforced by the bang of the gavel. Before the sound even faded away, Duo and Heero had disappeared from the room with only a hastily given word to the others.
The two men flew down the corridor outside of the courtroom, heading straight for the restroom at the end of the hall. The room was blessedly empty, not that they even would have cared, at that point, if it were otherwise. After making a quick survey of their options, Heero pulled Duo into the stall furthest from the door. The hastily thrown lock sealed them away from the rest of the world as their lips met with hungry passion.
Under normal circumstances, Heero would have scoffed at the impropriety of making love in the stall of a public restroom and Duo wouldn’t have been overly anxious to break the bounds of decency in such a manner. But now, they were beyond such petty concerns.
Eager tongues met in a complex mating dance, seeking and caressing even as their hands relearned the well-known contours and nuances of each other’s bodies. Duo couldn’t help the soft moan that fell from his lips as his shaky fingers finally managed to unfasten Heero’s shirt, allowing his needy hands to feel the heat of the other man’s skin.
Heero shivered, as much from the feel of Duo’s hands as from the sexy sounds his husband was making in spite of the need to remain silent. He cupped his hands around the other man’s rear and brought their hips together, the desire to elicit another delicious moan overriding his sense of propriety. He was rewarded with a whimper, the helpless sound making his already aching arousal even harder and his need more urgent.
Duo’s head fell weakly against the metal wall of the bathroom stall and he bit his lips to stifle a groan as firm lips began to nibble and suck on the pale skin of his throat. Every time with Heero was always better than the last but, God, had he ever needed his lover this much? All thoughts left his mind except the desire to have Heero in him, now. Duo hands fumbled with the Heero’s belt, his impatience affecting his coordination and hampering his efforts. Finally, he succeeded and barely managed to keep from ripping the button from the other man’s pants as he reached inside to take hold of his lover’s ready flesh.
Heero shut his eyes, his chest heaving as he tried to remember to breath. A clever hand caressed him with long, relentless strokes, spreading the moisture that had begun to leak from the tip of his cock down his throbbing length. He’d always loved the feel of Duo’s hands, the way the braided man knew just how fast to move, just how tight to hold to keep him perched on the edge of release. This time was no different and Heero felt his body clench with need, his hands mirroring the sensation as they dug into Duo’s firm bottom.
“Heero,” Duo whispered, all of his love and his desperation embodied in the solitary word. Sighing as he was suddenly spun around, Duo closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the cool wall. “Heero,” he said, again, gasping as his own pants were quickly undone and pushed from his hips.
Heero reached down and grasped his lover’s hands, bringing them to rest against the side of the stall and holding them in place. He positioned his aching length at the threshold of his lover’s body, anticipating the pulsing heat that would soon surround him.
“I love you, Duo,” he whispered, clasping the other man’s hands in an unbreakable promise as he pressed forward. No matter how many times they made love, the sheer, perfect tightness of Duo always caught him of guard. Heero felt his control slip away the instant he began to move, pulling away for a moment only to bury himself once more in Duo’s welcoming depths.
The braided man’s response was lost in a wordless cry. Heero’s hard length filled every inch of him, seeking out any hints of loneliness and doubt and banishing them to oblivion with deep, steady strokes. He felt a slight sting of pain as their eagerness for each other had hardly left them time to prepare. But it was nothing to the emotion burning in his heart. It was almost too much, his love for Heero frightening him with its intensity. At this moment, he was content, his fears failing before the soft brush of his lover’s lips against the back of his neck. The words of love echoed in his ears, words he would never tire of hearing. Those three words were so insignificant on their own, but when spoken together, had the strength and power to shake the earth.
Together they moved, betraying themselves only with the slightest of sighs. The acrid odor of the restroom was unimportant; the ugly yellow of the beaten metal walls was easily ignored. There was nothing but the feel of skin-on-skin, a warm grip of flesh, a gently stroking hand. Together they reached their limits, Duo’s lips parting on a muted cry as he released his passion into Heero’s hand even as his own body absorbed his lover’s reciprocated offering.
With great difficultly, they resisted the urge to sink to the filthy floor, leaning, instead, against the stall wall as they caught their breaths. Heero sighed as he heard a rush of water from some higher floor swooshing through the pipes. Footsteps approached the bathroom door and he tensed but, fortunately, the steps continued on. But, the near intrusion served as a reminder that their self-indulgent interlude had to end. Heero felt a flash of guilt for leaving Laura alone so abruptly but he and Duo had needed this moment of togetherness and he couldn’t regret it. Duo turned around when he moved away and Heero could see a similar mixture of relief and remorse in his husband’s eyes.
“Come on,” he said, “let’s get back to her.” Duo nodded, and they quickly adjusted their clothes. Heero reached for the latch but paused when Duo’s hand covered his, stopping him. He looked towards the braided man, falling instantly into the shining pools of amethyst gazing back at him.
“I love you too, Heero,” Duo said, not wanting to let the other man’s declaration go unanswered. Heero smiled, leaning forward to take Duo’s lips in a final kiss. They parted with great reluctance but they needed to return to their daughter’s side. The bathroom was still empty, prompting Duo to chuckle at their amazing luck. Hand-in-hand, they went once more into the fray.
Laura watched as Duo and Heero practically ran from the courtroom. It hardly took a genius to guess what they were up to and she wasn’t stupid. As usual, their affection for each other, a concept that she still found fascinating, warmed her. Whenever Duo and Heero hugged each other in front of her, it was as if she could feel the embrace herself. Their love for each other made her feel secure, almost as much so as the affection they’d always showered upon her.
But as touching as Heero’s testimony had been, Laura was disheartened by the stony look of disgust that had taken up residence on the judge’s face as Heero spoke. The old man was clearly repulsed by the thought of two men loving each other, no matter how beautiful it seemed to her. She glared at the door through which the judge had retired, her feelings towards the judge bordering on hatred. How dare he look down on them! They had never hurt anyone, especially not her! All they had done was love. Why was that so wrong?
Lurking under her anger, however, was a bundle of nerves that had her stomach in knots. Heero had finished testifying and that meant that, now, it was her turn. Dorothy had told her yesterday that she would be the last one to speak. The blonde attorney had asked her again if she still wanted to testify, that she didn’t have to if she was too afraid. Whether she knew it or not, Dorothy had said precisely the right thing to ensure that Laura would take the stand. She wasn’t afraid of anything, not of speaking in public, not of some old judge, not even of her mother!
Well, maybe that last one wasn’t quite true. Laura didn’t know if she’d ever be able to be around Delia without feeling at least a little scared, but that was no reason to chicken-out now. If she did, and the judge gave her back to her mother, she’d have no one to blame but herself. Laura had always considered herself to be mature, not wanting to be treated like a baby. Here was her chance to prove that she was as adult as she liked to think she was. But, she still couldn’t completely squash the butterflies flitting tirelessly in her stomach.
“Are you okay, sweetie?” Laura looked up at the sound of Une’s voice. She had watched the doctor on the stand, how calm she’d seemed, and was determined to emulate her. She nodded at the tall woman.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little nervous, I guess.” She admitted to her trepidation without hesitation, knowing after months of seeing the doctor on a weekly basis that she could tell Une anything and that the brown-haired woman would never make her feel bad about it.
“It’s okay to feel nervous. It’s hard to speak in front of people. Believe me, I get nervous whenever I have to testify in court.” From anyone else, the remark would have sounded like a meaningless platitude, but from Une, Laura took it as nothing but the truth. “But I have confidence in you, Laura,” Une continued. You’ll do fine.” Laura appreciated the reassuring weight of the doctor’s hand against her shoulder.
“Yes, you will,” Dorothy concurred. Laura glanced towards Quatre and Trowa as they stepped closer, the four adults forming a protective circle around her. She appreciated the gesture for what it was, even if she did feel a bit smothered by all of the attention. Laura kept half of her attention on the courtroom door, waiting anxiously for Duo and Heero to return as she listened to Dorothy and Trowa tell her stories of some of their other cases to give her a sense of what she should do when she took the stand.
Finally, the door opened, revealing the shamefaced and slightly disheveled figures of her fathers. They came straight towards her with mumbled words of apology, hugging her tightly as she smirked at their matching blushes. But she resisted the urge to tease them. She was enjoying being held by them far too much to cause trouble. The other adults watched them silently; each determined to do whatever they could to preserve the precious family tableau before them.
After a moment of consideration, Trowa motioned to others, drawing them away from the huddled trio, who were talking quietly in hushed voices, touching whenever they could.
“I wasn’t sure whether I should mention this since it doesn’t really help,” the tall judge began, “but I might as well.” Quatre, Dorothy, and Une gave him their undivided attention, curiosity stamped on their faces. “Last night,” he continued, “my assistant received a call from someone claiming to have some information that would help Laura’s case.” Quatre gasped sharply as the two women blinked in surprise.
“What?! Who was it?” the small, blonde man asked impatiently. He was a bit miffed that Trowa hadn’t mentioned it to him the night before, even though he realized that his irritation was useless. Trowa’s caginess was nothing new.
“That’s why I wasn’t going to say anything,” the young judge sighed. “Unfortunately, my assistant didn’t take the message so I have no idea who it was or what he was going to say. There really isn’t any point to my telling you, but I didn’t want to keep any secrets, no matter how useless.” Dorothy pursed her lips as Une shook her head and Quatre groaned in disgust.
“Well,” she said, “thanks for telling me even if it doesn’t help. We can only hope that whoever it was will call back.” Trowa nodded, sharing her hope.
“I wonder what his information was,” Une mused. Her speculation was cut short as the bailiff entered the courtroom and announced the judge.
Duo and Heero parted with Laura with even more reluctance than they’d parted with each other earlier. Who knew how many more chances they would have to be with her? Everyone took their seats, judiciously refraining from looking at the girl who was so obviously determined to hide her trepidation. With another bang of his gavel, Hervé called the court back into session.
“Ms. Catelonia, do you have any more witnesses?” Dorothy stood, wondering at the undisguised hostility in the judge’s glare. Maybe he knew who her next witness was and that he’d have to be an absolute fool to ignore what she had to say.
“Yes, your honor.” The blonde attorney glanced kindly down at the girl seated next to her before looking back towards the judge.
“I call Laura Maxwell to the stand.”