A Touch of Human Kindness
** The fireman looked up at the burning church and shook his head in disgust. "Damn gangs. You'd think they'd have a little more respect for a church. I mean this place was an orphanage, for Christ's sake!" The fireman was furious when he thought about the enormity of the tragedy. The church had been full at the time the fire was set, full of children. There were no survivors. In less that an hour, over 30 children had died as had the priest and nun who ran the orphanage.
"All that priest, Father Maxwell, was trying to do was to get the gangs to leave his kids alone. Who would've thought they would retaliate like this?" The fireman continued to watch the church burn there wasn't much else he could do when he noticed the young boy standing nearby. The boy had long chestnut hair done into a braid which hung more than midway down his back. The paleness of his skin made the wealth of hair look like a flame itself. The boy felt the fireman's eyes on him and returned his glance. The fireman shuddered at the dead look in the boy's unusual amethyst eyes. 'My God, I hope that kid didn't live here.'
The fireman's prayers went unanswered. As 12-year-old Duo stared at the flames he felt his life going up in smoke along with the old church. 'I should have been there. It should have been me.' Duo had been out pick pocketing when the gang torched the church. Although Father Maxwell and Sister Helen had begged and prayed for him not to steal, he had done it this one last time in order to get gifts for them. Now Duo looked down at the gold eyeglass chain he'd gotten for Father Maxwell and the pretty earrings for Sister Helen. He let them drop to the ground and covered them with dirt. "Goodbye, Father. Goodbye, Sister." Duo never once looked back as he turned and disappeared into the streets of L2.
Duo had been living on the streets or rather barely surviving for several weeks when Smoke found him. Duo was sitting huddled in an alley, trying to make himself eat the half-rotten sandwich he'd found in a dumpster. Smoke stood over Duo for a moment before the boy noticed him and looked up into a pair of small, mean gray eyes. Duo took in the cruel eyes, the unkempt dirty-blond hair, and the yellowed teeth bared in the parody of a smile. Duo looked down, hoping the man would ignore him and go away. His hopes were dashed when the man spoke.
"Well now, aren't you a pretty little thing. Where are your folks, boy?" Duo went a little pale as he thought of the priest and the nun who had been his only family. Smoke noticed this and smiled. "You're an orphan, ain't ya kid? Yeah, well, why don't you come home with old Smoke and I'll take good care of you."
'You've got to be kidding me,' Duo thought. He looked up at the man boldly and shook his head. "Stubborn, are ya? Well, let's just see how long you last out here. When you decide you want to eat something that doesn't have worms in it, come to the neighborhood south of the docks and ask for me." With that he walked away.
It turned out that Smoke was absolutely right. After another two weeks, Duo was so weak from not eating and from trying to outwit and avoid the prowling groups of gangs that he barely had enough energy to make it to Smoke's neighborhood. He went up to a scantily dressed woman standing on a street corner to ask directions.
"Why do you want to find Smoke, kid," the prostitute asked him not unkindly.
"He said he'd give me something to eat."
The woman shook her head. "Boy, he's going to give you more than just something to eat. You'd best steer clear of him." Duo looked at the woman blankly, clearly about to pass out from hunger. The woman looked down at him and sighed. "Well, I guess anything would be better than starving to death." She gave him directions to a building that was fortunately nearby. As she watched him go, she shook her head again, knowing what awaited the pretty young boy.
When Duo knocked on the door, he had a vague premonition of impending disaster and a tremendous urge to flee. However, his growling stomach overruled any contrary intentions. The door opened to reveal Smoke. Smoke looked down at the boy and smiled. "You held out longer than I thought you would, kid. Guess you're tougher than you look." He invited Duo in and got him something to eat.
Duo tried to ignore Smoke as he devoured the two sandwiches he'd been given. Smoke was watching him in a manner which seriously creeped him out, though he didn't know why. Finally, Smoke broke the silence. "You really are a pretty little thing, aren't you? I'll bet folks tell you that all the time. Yeah, I'll bet they love that long pretty hair and those big purple eyes, don't they?" Duo felt Smoke's voice go over him like a trail of slime. He shivered at the sound.
"Look, mister, thanks for the sandwich. I'm just going to leave and get out of your way. Thanks again." Duo headed quickly for the door, but Smoke was there before him.
"Oh no, you can't just take my food and run. I've done something nice for you and now you've got to do something nice for me. That's the way the world works, kid. It's time you learned that." Duo backed away as Smoke left the door and walked towards him. Duo, however, wasn't planning to let Smoke do whatever he was planning. Small and quick, he faked left and ran right, trying to dodge Smoke and reach the door. Although he did get to the door first, Smoke was right behind him and slammed his hand on the door, keeping Duo from opening it.
Smoke grabbed Duo's shoulder and turned him around. He took a fistful of Duo's raggedy shirt and lifted him up so their eyes were even. "Now, boy, you're going to find out how to repay me. And if you're good, I won't show you what I do to those who piss me off."
Smoke grasped Duo's chin with his free hand and smashed his lips against the frightened boy's. Duo was disgusted and terrified. He struggled, trying to break free of Smoke's grasp, but he just wasn't strong enough. Smoke pinned his head against the door with his mouth and used the hand that had been holding Duo's chin to reach down into the boy's pants. Duo froze briefly as the man began to molest him. Then with renewed energy brought on by a surge of pure panic, Duo managed to kick Smoke hard in the leg.
Smoke let out a shout and took his hand from Duo's prepubescent member. Duo's brief sense of victory was over all too quickly, however, as Smoke used his free hand to viciously slap the boy. Dazed from the force of the blow, Duo barely felt Smoke drop him to the ground and pull him towards the couch. He felt his bruised cheek and bloodied lip being pressed into the seat of the couch as Smoke knelt behind him. He felt Smoke pull his pants and underpants down and his mind went blank as he finally realized what was about to happen to him. All Duo would ever remember about the rest of that night was a deep sense of humiliation and constant and unending pain. **
Wide-awake at 4 a.m., Duo lay in his bed staring at the ceiling. He thought about his first night with Smoke and everything that had happened afterwards. Smoke had taken Duo to the hospital the next morning. He'd told the doctors that the boy had been injured in a fight. Though suspicious of the story, the doctors had no choice other than to believe Smoke when Duo refused to answer any of their questions about what happened. All he could do was stare into space and agree to whatever Smoke said.
After being treated and released, Smoke had taken him home. He'd told Duo that he'd have to be repaid for the cost of the medical bills. When Duo mumbled that he had no money, Smoke had offered him a proposition. Work for Smoke until the debt was paid off Smoke would let him know when it was and Smoke would make sure Duo had a job and a place to stay. Unable to see the offer for what it was, Duo agreed and found himself a child prostitute at age 12.
Now, eight years later, Smoke was still insisting that Duo's debt hadn't been paid off. Duo knew it was bullshit, but he also knew he had nowhere else to go. Although he knew he was a good mechanic, who would ever hire an ex-prostitute for any respectable work. So, all he could do was continue to work for Smoke and save for that nebulous day when he'd finally have enough to leave. Until then, he would continue to sell himself and to put up with Smoke's abuse, which had occurred at least once a week, every week, since that very first time. Though Duo had grown bigger and stronger over the years, his childhood fear of Smoke, and the deep-seated belief that he owed Smoke his life, kept him from fighting back.
Duo sighed and rolled over onto his side. As he tried to fall asleep, he put thoughts of his crappy life out of his head. Instead, he found himself thinking yet again about Heero as he finally drifted off. For the first time in years, Duo found himself praying. 'Please don't let him look for me but please, God, let him find me'
"So you're not going to tell me about last night?" Hilde sighed as Duo shook his head. She couldn't understand his reticence. Usually they spent their early evenings comparing customers from the night before. But for some reason, Duo was refusing to tell her about the man who'd picked him up last night. Duo understood Hilde's confusion, but he couldn't help her. He was trying as hard as he could to put Heero forever from his mind and telling her about him wouldn't help.
Hilde finally gave up and they spent the next hour or so chatting about various inconsequential things. Every once and a while, Duo would look across the street to the alley directly across from him. Sure enough, there was Bob. He was waiting there, on Smoke's instructions, to see if Heero showed up. If he didn't, and Duo was praying he didn't, Smoke would find out and probably beat the shit out of Duo at the end of the night.
Duo didn't care. Even if it meant a beating, he didn't want to see Heero again. In a few hours, Heero had somehow managed to weaken years' worth of walls that Duo kept around his emotions. Seeing him again would be too dangerous. 'As if he would even want to come back. As nervous as he was last time, I doubt he'd have any desire to try to hire me again.'
Duo stopped talking in mid-sentence when Hilde suddenly looked past him with a look of surprise. "I don't believe it! It's that guy, Duo, the one from last night. Don't tell me you've actually got a repeat customer. How often does that happen? You must have made quite an impression."
Hilde rambled on but Duo had stopped listening after her initial statement. Conflicting feelings of bitter dismay and blinding hope raced through him. 'It's not him. It couldn't be. She just made a mistake. There are a lot of cars like his. It's NOT him.' Duo took a deep breath and turned around slowly to prove his theory to himself. '*Shimatta*, it is him.' Duo stared at the approaching car that bore the license plates that he had somehow memorized without realizing it. As the car pulled up and stopped in front of him, Duo continued to stare at the car like it were some sort of UFO.
Hilde had noticed his strange reaction and decided to speak up. "Duo, I told you it was that guy again. You'd better go over to him. You know what will happen if Bob sees you refusing a john."
Duo was only half listening until he heard her say the word 'john'. Breaking from his frozen stance, he glared at her. "He is not a john," Duo said harshly. Hilde flinched at his vehemence. Surprised at himself, and at his extremely negative reaction to hearing Heero being called a 'john', Duo sighed and closed his eyes. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "It's just that I really didn't want to see this guy again."
"Why not," Hilde asked gently. Duo didn't respond. He had looked back at the car and found his gaze locked with Heero's. He found himself embroiled in a battle of wills. 'Come with me,' Heero's eyes commanded. 'Go away,' Duo's pleaded. After a long moment, Duo closed his eyes and sighed in defeat. He acknowledged Heero's victory. Of course he would go with him. It was what he wanted to do more than anything in the world. Barely remembering to say goodbye to Hilde, Duo walked to Heero's car and got in.
Once again finding himself in Heero's immaculate living room, Duo just stood there waiting for Heero to speak. Heero had said nothing to Duo when he'd gotten in the car. He'd just given him an unreadable look and pulled off. In fact, he hadn't said anything on the entire ride over. Duo began to fidget as Heero continued to subject him to his intense cobalt stare. 'Come on, gorgeous, say something already,' Duo said to himself.
Heero stared at Duo, not to make him uncomfortable, but because he couldn't help himself. 'He's even more beautiful than I'd remembered.' Heero took in the sight of Duo from his thick, soft, shining hair down to those incongruous old black combat boots. Duo was again wearing a pair of short black cutoffs, completely exposing his long legs. The short-sleeved shirt this time, while still black, was made of Lycra and clung to Duo's torso like a second skin. Heero could only stare at the vision he made.
Heero remained silent, again not to disconcert Duo, but because he didn't know what to say. He'd found the guts to pick Duo up, but now what? 'What do I say? 'I picked you up in order to prove to you that I really am a nice guy.' Or, even worse, 'I picked you up to show you that kindness does exist in the world and you deserve to feel some of it.' Finally, Heero settled on, "Would you like something to eat?"
Duo started at the sudden words. He took a second to comprehend their meaning. Remembering how little he'd eaten in the past two days, he decided he might as well take the guy up on his offer. "Sure," he replied. Without further comment, Heero walked in to his kitchen. Expecting sandwiches or something else quick, Duo sat down on the couch to wait. He'd been sitting on the couch for a while - lost in thought, remembering what had happened there the previous night when he realized that Heero was taking an awfully long time just to be making sandwiches. Also, there were delicious smells coming from the kitchen. Just as Duo was about to look for him, Heero came out of the kitchen carrying a tray.
Duo's jaw dropped open and he could do nothing but stare at the spread Heero placed before him. In anticipation of Duo's arrival, Heero had made julienne carrots mixed with broccoli, a ham and cheese quiche with a flaky, buttery crust, and piping hot biscuits. There was also a glass of water and a glass of fruit juice. Finally, there was a slice of apparently homemade apple pie. Heero had not been stingy with the portions, either. Duo had never seen this much food at one time in his entire life. He looked up at Heero is utter shock, unable to say a single word.
Heero smiled to himself at the expression on Duo's face. "Eat up. You said you were hungry." He began to actually smile and added, "Go ahead," when Duo just continued to stare. Duo blinked slowly and shifted his gaze down to the feast. Without comment, he picked up the fork provided on the tray and went to work.
Heero watched Duo eat. He felt grateful for his ability to cook as he noticed that Duo was obviously enjoying the meal. Duo was trying to satisfy his severe hunger while still eating slowly enough to savor the food. He also made an occasional 'yummy' noise which made Heero smile. Finally, Duo finished and sat back with his hands on his stomach, clearly stuffed.
"Thanks," Duo mumbled. He had managed to ignore Heero while eating the delicious meal. But now Duo was looking warily at Heero, trying to figure the guy out. 'What in the world is he going to ask me to do that would justify all of this?' Heero guessed the train of Duo's thoughts as Duo stared at him. He cleared his throat and got to the point of his actions.
"I know you're thinking I must want something to have done all of this." At Duo's huff of agreement, he continued quickly, "Well you'd be wrong." He ignored Duo's incredulous stare. "The reason that I did all of this was because I wanted to. You seem like a nice person who needs some help. I don't want anything from you, I just want to help you."
After a moment of silence, Duo said softly, "What in the hell makes you think I need help from you? And what in the hell makes you think I'm a nice person?"
Heero had anticipated Duo's reluctance to accept his motivation and was ready with a response. "I think you need help because you can't honestly tell me you want to remain on the streets." He paused, but Duo just stared at him and said nothing. Taking this for agreement, Heero continued, "And I think you're a nice person because, although you had the chance to rob me blind last night, you didn't. You didn't try to hurt me. You just took what you said you would, covered me with a blanket, and left."
Duo struggled not to squirm under that steady gaze. Heero had hit too close to the mark with his comments. Yes, Duo did hate his life. Yes, he had felt an uncommon bit of compassion towards Heero. But Duo didn't want Heero to be right. He didn't want Heero to be nice. He didn't want to like Heero. Instead he wanted - NO, needed - to believe that Heero was just a jerk like every other guy Duo had known in his post-adolescent life. Determined to prove to himself that Heero was a liar and a hypocrite, he steeled himself and stood.
Heero looked up as Duo stood over him with a rather determined demeanor. He could sense that Duo was up to something, but he didn't know what. He quickly realized what when Duo suddenly knelt in front of him and kissed him hard.
Duo vaguely realized that he was breaking his second rule of no kissing, but he didn't care. He was going to prove to himself that Heero was just an ordinary asshole if it was the last thing he did. Duo felt a sense of impending victory as Heero began to respond to the kiss. He also felt a jolt of electricity flash through him as he attacked Heero's warm firm lips.
'No, this is wrong. This isn't supposed to happen. This isn't the plan.' Heero put his hands on Duo's shoulder, intending to push Duo away. The intent fled along with his restraint when he felt Duo's tongue seek entrance. Heero groaned and gave into Duo's silent request. Tongues battled for supremacy as the kiss went on and on, with only the young men's ragged breathing breaking the silence.
Not wasting any time, Duo took the opportunity to unbutton Heero's shirt. He broke the kiss only to trail his tongue over Heero's torso from throat to the top of Heero's jeans. He then worked his way back up, stopping at Heero's nipples. Heero moaned at the feel of Duo's lips and tongue. Continuing to tease Heero, Duo started to undo Heero's jeans. The sound of his zipper brought Heero back to the present. He took hold of Duo's hands, causing Duo to look up.
"This is not why I brought you here," Heero rasped. "I didn't plan on doing this." Heero started to gently but firmly push Duo away. Duo resisted. 'No, he's not going to get rid of me that easily. I'll just have to raise the stakes.' Determined to successfully prove his point, Duo renewed his attack on Heero's lips. Using Heero's grasp on his hands, Duo pulled Heero off the couch, never breaking the kiss.
Unable to help himself, Heero let Duo continue to kiss him. He was barely aware of the fact that Duo was leading him to the bedroom. Duo stopped at the bed. He broke the kiss long enough to quickly strip Heero of his shirt and jeans. He then pushed the now naked young man onto the bed. Before Heero could react, Duo knelt down and took Heero into his mouth.
Heero flopped back bonelessly onto the bed. As Duo worked him expertly with his mouth, Heero felt a moment of blinding self-hatred. '*Chikushou!* I am such a hypocrite. I told him I didn't ask him here for this and now look at me. I should stop him but I can't. God help me, there's no way I could stop him now.' Groaning in equal parts of pleasure and despair, Heero closed his eyes.
Duo looked up at Heero's groan and decided to bring this little experiment to its natural conclusion. He stood up and picked up Heero's legs. After swinging them onto the bed, Duo took a brief moment to undress himself. Heero could only watch as Duo climbed onto the bed and knelt on either side of him. He closed his eyes again as Duo reached back and took his aching cock in his hand. Heero moaned again as Duo began stroking him slowly.
Duo reveled in his victory. 'I knew I could get him to show his true colors. And now for the coup de grāce.' Duo bent over and put his mouth to Heero's ear. "You like this, ne? You want to fuck me, ne?" Heero let out a gasp. Duo smiled evilly as he went for the kill. "I want you to fuck me," he whispered over and over into Heero's ear and he worked Heero's rock hard erection. But as Duo continued to whisper the words, he realized that he wasn't saying them solely in his attempt to discredit Heero's so-called good intentions. Instead, he realized that deep down he was speaking the truth.
Soon, Heero could take no more. Holding onto Duo, he rolled so that he was lying on top of the other man. Still angry with himself, although he had no intentions of stopping now, he looked down at the beauty lying beneath him. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I didn't mean for this to happen. But, I can't help myself. You make me feel so helpless." Heero leaned down to whisper in Duo's ear, "Please forgive me."
Duo's eyes widened in shock. 'Did he actually just apologize? I can't believe this.' With those few words, Heero had completely ruined Duo's objective. How could he think of Heero as a self-centered jerk after that? He couldn't. The apology had made Duo feel special. By professing his helplessness, Heero had made Duo feel powerful and in control, two feelings Duo had never experienced before.
Closing his eyes, Duo sighed in defeat and wrapped his legs around Heero's hips. As he tried to guide Heero to him, Heero suddenly pushed back. "Wait," he said. Duo opened his eyes to see what he was up to. Heero reached over and pulled open the drawer to his nightstand. He reached in and withdrew a tube of lubricant. Duo watched him warily. Although he knew what the tube was, he didn't know what Heero planned to do with it. None of his other clients had ever bothered with any lubricant. Caring nothing for his comfort, they usually just went for it.
Duo saw Heero put some of the lube on the fingers of his right hand. He closed his eyes at the feel of one of those fingers at his tight entrance. '*Shimatta*,' Duo thought. He realized that Heero was attempting to stretch him in order to make him more comfortable. Duo almost begged him to stop. The display of consideration was too much. Duo felt a slight ache in his chest as the iron band loosened a little more. As a second and then a third finger joined the first, Duo found himself clinging to Heero's shoulders.
Finally, Heero removed his fingers and positioned himself at Duo's now ready opening. Duo buried his face in Heero's neck as Heero slowly entered him. When he was completely seated, Heero paused. "Are you okay," he asked. When Duo nodded, Heero braced himself, withdrew nearly all the way and then thrust in almost to the hilt.
Duo's eyes flew open as Heero hit some unknown spot deep inside of him. Each thrust continued to hit that spot and Duo found himself moaning softly in rhythm with each thrust. This time even Duo couldn't fail to recognize his increasing arousal. He found himself breathing faster and sweating. Shudders began to run through him and he realized that he was even semi-hard. Duo shut his eyes and tightened his hold on Heero, unable to do anything but hold on for dear life.
Finally, after what seemed an all too brief eternity, Heero came, shouting Duo's name and collapsing on top of him. After another moment, Heero kissed the side of Duo's neck and pushed himself off. Duo was incapable of thought as he stared at the ceiling. 'What the hell just happened?' He'd started this hoping to prove that Heero was just another jerk and instead he'd ended up feeling things he never thought he possibly could. To top it off, far from looking like a jerk, Heero had managed to further up his estimation in Duo's eyes.
Duo turned his head to look at Heero who had again fallen asleep. 'This is becoming quite a habit,' Duo thought with a humorless smile. 'He's so beautiful like this, almost as beautiful as when he's awake.' Duo cursed and looked away. 'This has got to stop. I cannot see this man again. Who knows what the hell might happen the next time.' Firming his resolve, Duo got of the bed slowly so as not to wake Heero. As he got dressed, he thought about how to make sure Heero wouldn't be tempted to seek him out again.
'He liked the fact that I didn't steal from him the last time? Well, it's time I rectified that.' Duo looked around and noticed a gold watch laying on the nightstand. 'Perfect,' he thought. He quickly picked up the watch and pocketed it. 'And now for the money.' He picked up Heero's discarded jeans and took out his wallet. He removed all of the cash in the wallet. But as he looked over at Heero again, he found himself hesitating. After a moment, he replaced all of the money except for $300 dollars, calling himself all kinds of idiot. 'Hell, this is less than what I usually charge for what we just did. But, I just can't make myself clean him out.' Still berating himself, he replaced the wallet and went into the living room to find the phone.
In the living room, Duo saw a small statuette on a table near the front door. It was an ugly piece, the kind that came with furnished apartments. 'Still, someone might buy it. Besides, this is just an attempt to piss him off.' He picked up the statuette and found the phone. After calling Bob to pick him up at the same intersection as before, Duo went back into the bedroom.
As he took a last look at Heero, he found his sense of regret from the night before magnified a hundred times. 'I'm never going to see him again.' The thought brought relief although that feeling was outweighed by a crushing sense of despair. He took the gold watch from his pocket and held it in his hand as he continued to watch the sleeping young man. After a moment, he made a decision. 'Screw Smoke. I'll give him the statuette, but I'm keeping the watch. Maybe I'm just a masochist but I want something to remember him by.' Resisting the urge to kiss the sleeping man, Duo took one last look and walked away.
"You did what!?" Duo watched impassively as Smoke ranted. "You stupid little whore! Now that guy will never come back."
'That's the idea, asshole,' Duo thought as he watched Smoke pace in front of him.
"Not only did you loose a good customer, but to top it all off, all you bring me is a measly $300 and a shitty little statue?" Duo could feel the watch in his pocket but said nothing. Suddenly Smoke stopped in front of Duo and gave him a hard open-handed slap. 'He must be really pissed off if he's hitting me in the face,' Duo mused as he shook his head to clear the ringing.
Smoke sneered as he looked down at Duo. "Duo, my boy, you've got to start trying harder than this if you ever plan on paying off your debt to me. Looks like I'm going to have to give you some incentive." Duo didn't bother trying to dodge the fist that was aimed at his stomach. He knew from experience that the less he resisted a beating from Smoke, the quicker it would end. Bracing for another blow, Duo smiled to himself as he felt the watch in his pocket pressing against his leg.