disclaimer: yes, they do own me

this is a sequel to 'a change in the weather'... and the last of an unintentional trilogy
pairing: 2X1 for the most part. the 1X2 already snuck in...
rating: NC-17
warnings: yaoi, au, homophobes, heero pov, angst, language, lemon and the end
spoilers: not a one

note: reading the two fics that came before this one might make the experience a better one...

thanks: massive amounts of gratitude are due granate for her love, support and beta. you rock!!

torrid zone
by jana
chapter 9

I had waited until virtually the last minute before revealing to Duo that I would be spending the first week and a half of the month of June out on the West Coast.

I hadn't kept him in the dark about my interest in several companies out there, but we had not spoken about it since I had finalized my plans to actually make the trip. I did want to talk to him regarding the possible move. It was looking more and more like it was going to happen, though it still didn't feel real to me. It was difficult to bring the topic up and once I had, I wasn't even clear in my own head what I wanted to say to him. It seemed strange for me to want his opinion, but I did want it. I wanted to know what he thought of the idea in general and more specifically, how he felt about the effects it would have on us; as a couple. I found it peculiar that he hadn't said anything.

He sat on my bed while I went over my travel itinerary, doing one last final check to assure that I hadn't missed anything. There were three companies I would be interviewing with, and while they were all in California, they were spread out over the state and it was a big one.

"Gonna rent a car?"

I nodded. I had never been to California and I wanted to do some sightseeing while I was there. I had allowed two days for the trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Technically the drive should take me less than half a day, but I figured I would make a few stops along the way, though I had nothing specific in mind.

"It should be a nice drive from LA to San Francisco."

"All work and no play, huh?"

"Something like that," I said turning around to look at him. "You ever been there? To California."

"Once when I was younger," he said. "Don't remember too much about it; mostly that it was hot. Hope you packed some shorts."

I had.

"So the prospects look good? I mean, you like these companies?"

Obviously, I thought, or else I wouldn't be making the trip. He was aware that I had done a cursory interview with each of them over the phone and that the one company in San Francisco held a lot of promise.


He got up off the bed and stood beside me. "You gotta do what you gotta do, Heero."

I nodded because he was right. The decision was ultimately mine, but that didn't mean I did want some input from him. He made it pretty clear that he had nothing more to say on the subject at the moment. I hoped he would later when I brought it up again. I had a feeling that the strange sensation that was beginning to develop in the pit of my stomach would remain until he did.

. . . . . . .

Duo and I spoke several times during my absence, even once venturing onto AIM to ‘alleviate a little of the stress' as Duo so aptly referred to it.

I was into it more than I had been the time before, feeling not the least bit embarrassed as I read and replied to Duo's messages. I wondered if I felt more comfortable because it was the second time we'd done it or if it was because I just felt more comfortable with Duo in general. That I was horny certainly played a role. I had come hard, almost violently, all the time imaging it was Duo's cock in my ass instead of my own fingers, as was his intention.

I slept better that night than I had since I'd left home and Duo laughed when I told him the next time we spoke, actually making me blush a little when he suggested I make it a nightly routine. I was quick to dismiss his idea, as tempting as it was. I never admitted to him that I masturbated again the following night when I failed to fall asleep after over an hour of lying in bed.

I thought about Duo a lot while I was away, though I didn't tell him so. There were things that reminded me of him; places that I visited that I knew he would have enjoyed seeing; things I might have enjoyed more if he were with me. It made me think of the walking tour I'd taken in Boston several months prior. We hadn't talked about that again and I made a mental note to bring the subject up when I got back home.

. . . . . . .

"Homesick yet?"

I wasn't sure what made him ask, but I guessed it was something in the tone of my voice. We usually spoke at around 11 PST, though it was a little later than that now. I was tired and hadn't the energy left to pretend otherwise.

"A little," I admitted quietly.

"Not sleeping?"

Duo knew I had issues with that; we had talked about it before. "Not really." There was more to it than that. Things I really didn't want to go into, not on the phone anyway.

"So how did the interview go today? The one in San Francisco."

I cringed. It looked like I would be getting into it after all; I'd at least have to broach the topic. "Really well," I told him. "They made me an offer."

"Congrats, Heero!" he said, and I could tell that he meant it. He knew my level of interest in this job was high.

I ran my fingers through my bangs, pushing them back from my forehead. "I told them I would need some time to think about it."

"That's probably a smart idea. It's a big move, Heero. But you were hoping they'd offer you something, though and they did. That's great!"

He sounded so much more enthusiastic about it than I was. "I probably will. The position doesn't open until the first of the year, so they don't need an answer right away."

"You like it out there and all?"

I liked it well enough. Visiting was very different from actually living here. "It's okay." I told him. "Going to take some getting used to."

"Well you expected that, right?"

"I hadn't given it that much thought." I admitted, because I honestly hadn't and now that I was being forced to... "My head will be clearer in the morning," I told him, "It's been a long day."

"K," he said, "I'll let you go." He paused slightly and then added, "Night, Heero."

"Goodnight, Duo," I said, easing my cell phone closed.

. . . . . . .

I arrived back home on a Friday afternoon, relieved that my parents were out and that it was Cynthia's day off. It would have been a little overwhelming to have them all there.

Duo and I talked a bit about my trip over a late lunch, only briefly mentioning the job I had been offered. He didn't ask me whether I had made my decision or not and I guessed that he figured I would tell him when the time came. I was too exhausted to even think about speaking with Duo about the move though it was probably the perfect opportunity.

He filled me in on how the party preparations were going, still a little surprised at how rattled my mother could get. I reminded him again that the worst was yet to come.

I excused myself shortly after lunch, and ended up sleeping through the rest of Friday and well into Saturday morning. The long rest had succeeded in ridding me of jetlag as well as helping me catch up on some of the sleep I had lost while I was away and by Saturday afternoon, I was feeling almost back to normal.

As expected, my trip to California was the main topic of conversation over dinner on Saturday evening. I talked a little about each of the three interviews I'd gone on, spending considerably more time on the one company I had been most interested in before announcing that they had offered me a job.

Cynthia seemed taken aback when I admitted that I was leaning toward accepting the offer. She glanced at me and then over to Duo before congratulating me.

The conversation shifted to the party preparations shortly after my announcement and my parents seemed to get sidetracked about the placement of the tents. Duo used the opportunity to casually invite me back to the guesthouse after dinner and I was eager to accept, though I was careful to keep my enthusiasm in check.

. . . . . . .

"Right on time," he said, closing the front door behind me.

He had said eight o'clock. I was always punctual.

"You want something to drink? I think I have some beer."

I didn't drink very often, but a cold beer sounded good at the moment. "I could go for a beer."

"I've totally corrupted you, haven't I?" he asked, handing the brown bottle to me and watching me open it before sitting down on the couch beside me.

"Not totally," I said, setting the cap on the table in front of me and taking a deep swig.

"Something I missed?" he asked in an amused tone, "Cause it's not too late you know."

I watched as he brought the bottle to his lips and took a long sip, thinking about what he had just said. "You've never gotten me drunk." I said, though we both knew it wasn't as if he hadn't tried.

"We can work on that tonight if you want."

I shook my head no. There was nothing about the idea that appealed to me. "I think I'll pass," I told him, "Thanks for the offer though."

"Not planning to pass on the sex too, are you?" he asked, "Cause I've been thinking about fucking you since I saw you pull into the driveway yesterday."

I had as well, though I didn't see any point in admitting it. "Have I ever?"

"No," he said quietly, leaning over to kiss me, "Not that I can recall."

There wasn't a lot of foreplay.

We kissed for a few minutes and Duo ended up on top of me on the couch. I got up to close the living room blinds, watching from across the room as Duo took off his pants and underwear. I removed mine as well, leaving them in a heap on the floor to kneel between his legs. His cock was hard, already dripping with precome and he moaned when I took him into my mouth.

"Take it slow, Heero," he said and I didn't need to ask why. I only planned to suck his dick long enough to wet it.

He seemed a little surprised when I suddenly stood, but quickly realized what was happening when I climbed up onto his lap and more than eager to assist the process by holding his cock upright while I lowered myself down onto it.

I came fast; before Duo did, though not by very long. He jerked me off with his hand while I rode him, thrusting deep up into me. It was difficult to keep any kind of momentum going while my body shook with climax, but it didn't seem to affect Duo in a negative way, quite the opposite, in fact.

He came with a growl, hips raised high up off the couch as he gripped at my ass with both of his hands and with my name on his lips.

"I think I'd like another go at that later," he said a minute or so after he'd finished coming. His eyes were closed and his softening cock was still inside me.

It was early. We had the rest of the night ahead of us. I didn't bother to respond; I was pretty sure he knew I would have no complaints. I waited another minute or two before I shifted off of Duo's lap and lay back against the corner of the sofa.

"Anything you want to do in the meantime?"

I couldn't help but smile at how he'd phrased the question. I could only guess it was intentional. I wouldn't have minded watching a movie or playing a video game, for that matter, but I was currently too comfortable to even think about moving.

"A movie?" I ventured, looking over at Duo.

"Mmm. Maybe in a little while," Duo said. His eyes were still closed and he didn't seem to be in any rush to move either.

There was something else that we needed to do tonight. Something *I* needed to do. This probably wasn't the optimal time to bring the subject up, but I had thought about it several times while Duo was fucking me. Not to the point of distraction, but...

"You haven't said much about the job offer," I said, immediately regretting how accusatory my words came out. I hadn't said much about it either, but it struck me as odd that Duo hadn't brought it up.

He looked up at me, "I figured you'd talk about it when you were ready."

"I'm ready," I said, shifting slightly to change positions.

"Maybe we should clean up first," I suggested. We were both a little sticky and I had the feeling the conversation was going to last for more than a few minutes.

"Good idea," Duo said and got up, presumably headed for the bathroom. I waited until he was through and took my turn cleaning up.

He was waiting in the living room for me when I returned, fully dressed and seated in the armchair, casually watching me as I put my clothes back on.

I sat on the couch when I was done, relaxing back and putting my feet up on the coffee table before looking over at him.

"It's a good opportunity, Heero. You seem pretty sure that it's what you want."

"It is a good opportunity," I concurred, "I was as impressed with them in person as I was on paper."

It didn't take much effort to recall the conversation we had the night I told him about this particular company. The time they had requested for my phone interview coincided with our movie night and we talked a little about the job after I explained why I would be late. I had been enthusiastic about it even then.

"I thought we should talk about it before I make any kind of decision," I studied him closely, trying to see if I could get an idea of what he was thinking before continuing, but neither his expression nor his body posture gave anything away.

"California isn't Boston," I said, figuring he would recall our conversation weeks prior and make the connection.

"You're asking me if I want you to go, Heero. I don't."

I swallowed hard, nodding slightly, feeling unreasonable for wanting to hear him say it.

"But," he said, regarding me more seriously than I was used to, "I'm not going to try and stop you either. Not if it's something you really want."

"I do want it," I said, carefully watching Duo's reaction, "but I also don't want this to be the end of anything."

"You mean us?"


"It won't be," he said with a smile.

I was pleased that he was so readily able to answer my question; and that it was the answer I had been looking for. It made me wonder if he had been having doubts of his own about the effect my moving would have on our relationship. He probably knew how I felt about it, even if I had not come right out and said it before now. I supposed the reverse was true as well. Still, it felt good to have it all out in the open.

"You seem surprised."

"I'm not," I told him, "Not really."

"Good. You shouldn't be."

I nodded, moving closer to Duo as he reached out and took hold of my wrist. There was an urgency to his kiss and after several minutes, I could feel the pressure of his reawakening arousal against my thigh. I moaned into the kiss and pressed myself against him.

There were some things that could go without saying.

. . . . . . .

It didn't surprise me that Duo ended up getting involved in the July 4th Party commotion. The party was two weeks off and he had all but volunteered himself over breakfast one morning. My mother seemed to have an endless list of things that she wanted done, some of which had my father and me rolling our eyes at one another behind her back. She was delighted at the prospect of Duo's assistance, readily welcoming another pair of able hands. Had he not already been in my parents good graces, I would have thought he was trying to accomplish just that.

After giving the matter some more thought, I thought I understood why Duo offered his help. His daily duties at the pool occupied no more than two hours, leaving him on his own for a better part of the day. I suspected that he was suffering from mild bouts of boredom. We spent as much time in each others company as we could when I was home, though we were careful not to arouse suspicion.

We had adopted Mondays as movie night and ventured into town on Monday afternoon together, alternating who chose what we rented. Our taste in movies was similar for the most part, though Duo seemed to enjoy horror films a little more than I did; particularly the classics. He was nearly as entertaining as the movies themselves some nights, repeating lines word for word in an overly melodramatic fashion and was fairly good at imitating the actors' voices.

"I think you might have missed your calling."

He laughed. "You think I should have been an actor?"

"No. A comedian," I corrected, though he probably would have been good at either.

"I'm not into the whole starving artist thing."

"So you'll just be a starving architect," I teased, aware that his salary on getting out of school would be good, but that he would need his license at the very least to make the big money. I wondered idly if he was thinking about continuing on for his masters.

He laughed again. "Probably."

I didn't believe for a minute that Duo would be unsuccessful - at anything. "You could always fall back on being a pool boy."

"I think I'll stick with starving architect for now. See how it works out."

"Good choice," I said, leaning toward him and kissing him.

He pulled back several minutes later, a little breathless. "The pool boy job does have its advantages," he said as he reached over and undid the top button on my jeans.

"And what might those be?" I asked, lifting up off the couch and watching him yank my pants down over my hips.

"Last summer, for example," he started, "I met this really hot guy."

He tugged at my shirt and I lifted both arms in the air and closed my eyes as he pulled it over my head.


"And he gave really great head."

I laughed, reaching for the hem of Duo's t-shirt and ridding him of it in haste.

"Funny," I said, just touching my lips briefly to his. "Same exact thing happened to me."

. . . . . . .

I felt relieved at having gotten most of the interviews I had lined up out of the way. There were one or two other companies that had caught my attention, but they were what I considered local and wouldn't require any extensive planning if I decided to pursue them. I didn't see the need at this point, given that several of my first choices had shown an interest in me.

I was pleased with the results, though I had to admit that I had never foreseen a problem in finding a job. The IT field was still growing at a phenomenal rate and my academic record was flawless. I had some initial concerns about my ability to appear personable when meeting with my perspective employers, but they had proven to be baseless.

There was a certain degree of reservation I still held regarding how I would fit in an office environment, but I found myself worrying less about it now than I had initially. It was a fact that I worked better on my own, though I was capable of functioning as part of a group. I had made sure that the positions I applied for were geared toward software development, rather than implementation, though I realized I would probably be required to do both.

That line of thought led me to my RPG and the two problems I was currently having with it. One was strictly a programming issue that I needed to take a closer look at and the other was related to the plotline. I wondered if I could classify it as gamers block because that was essentially what it was.

I hadn't spent much time looking into the coding issue or working on the game at all for that matter. Duo had mentioned it several times, asking whether I had made any progress on it. He looked a little disappointed when I admitted that I was stalled, but the drive was gone and forcing myself to work on it took all of the pleasure out it. I had lost any kind of momentum I had going when school had taken over my life a few months ago.

I booted my laptop and set a copy the game CD into the drive, putting on a pair of sweat pants while I waited for the game to load. I let it run through the first few scenes, pausing it after the 5 pilots had their initial meeting.

There were definitely some inconsistencies. I reminded myself that the story had taken some unexpected turns later on and that I needed to go back and change some of the text. It had been fun collaborating what little I had with Duo, though I wasn't sure the developing relationship between Pilots 01 and Pilots 02 would be of any interest to anyone other than the two of us. It was nothing more than subtext, really, but the fact that he had drawn the pilots to resemble us made the idea far too tempting.

I minimized the game window and opened notepad, making notes of the things I needed to change. There were several obvious discrepancies that would carry throughout the game and I cringed thinking about how long it would take me to go back and fix them all; once I decided *how* I was going to fix them all.

I let the game continue to run, stopping it every now and then to update my notes. It had been Duo's idea to add the five scientists and I had to admit that I liked them, though I doubted the pilots would have agreed with me.

They were the masterminds behind ‘Operation Meteor' and I enjoyed being able to flesh out the story even further by using their characters. Their roles became more important as the game progressed, and once it was clear that the pilots themselves were not calling the shots, it was easier to manipulate them. I didn't need to explain each and every one of the pilots' actions, citing that their instructions had been passed down and their only objective was to complete their assignments

But that had made things complicated.

Pilot 01 was rather stoic and seemed overly focused on his missions. He was the main protagonist and a better portion of the story revolved around him. He interacted foremost with the other four pilots, as well as having some game time with all of the major characters. There were a lot of those, I mused, probably too many and I wondered if the complexity of the plot would be too much to carry off in this format.

. . . . . . .

"We're getting... flowers?"

"Yeah," he said, opening the door to his car and sliding in behind the wheel.

I got in the passenger side, closed the door and buckled my seat belt.

He started the car and immediately opened all of the windows. "Another one of your Moms projects," Duo said with a smile, turning around to back out the driveway.

"She couldn't get the gardener to do it?"

"I told her I didn't mind," he said, putting the car in drive and heading up the street. "You don't have to help if you don't want to."

I didn't mind either. "I don't know much about gardening," I told him honestly.

"Not to worry," he said with a grin, "I've got it covered."

I didn't doubt that he did and he set about proving it to me. He procured a huge flat cart when we entered the store and talked briefly to the salesgirl before we headed outside to wander around the Garden Shop.

"What colors do you think would look good around the pool?"

He was asking me? "I don't know," I said at first, looking around the huge yard. "What about those?" I said, pointing to a group of brightly colored flowers to his left. They came in a wide range of colors and I thought they would probably look nice around the perimeter of the pool area.

"Pansies?" he asked, breaking out into robust laughter. "Don't think so, Heero. Two of us are enough, dontcha think?" He said with a chuckle. "Besides, they're not good out in the sun."

I hadn't known that... about the flowers, I meant.

We wandered a little further, stopping to take a look around us. "These might look nice." I said, pointing to my right. They weren't nearly as colorful, but they were low and the sign on them said they could be planted in full sun.

"I think those will work." He said, heading toward them to take a closer look.

Duo practically filled the huge cart with the zinnias, added to it several flats of ground cover, a couple of large bags of some type of soil and pronounced us done. I paid for everything with my father's credit card and we loaded it all into the trunk of his car together. We were home within 10 minutes and proceeded to unload the car, using the wheel barrow to transport everything to the rear of the yard.

"Why don't you go get changed," he said, "and I'll meet you back out here in like 20 minutes. I'm gonna grab some tools from the garage and get changed myself."

I hadn't thought about changing, but it did make sense. We were going to be digging, after all. I went back to the house and returned a few minutes later wearing a pair of my old biking shorts and a t-shirt, with a couple of bottles of water in hand. Duo was already waiting for me on the patio, dressed in a pair of long denim shorts and nothing else - not even shoes.

"Ready to get to work?" he asked, standing as I approached.

"Ready as I'll ever be," I said, setting the bottles of water down on the table.

"It's gonna be a snap, Heero," he said. "I'll dig the holes where I want everything and you just add some of the mix we bought and put the plants in, then pack the dirt back around them. Just alternate the colors."

Sounded simple enough.

We spent the first hour and a half working in the sun. It was no where near the heat of the day, but it was still fairly hot and the humidity was probably around 90%. We were making decent progress, managing to finish what I estimated to be about a fifth of the area we planned on covering.

Duo was sweating even without a shirt on, as he worked the shovel into the ground and I couldn't help but admire how his chest and back looked covered in the light sheen.

We had each finished our bottle of water and Duo had taken the empties and gone into the guest house to replenish them. He handed me a fresh bottle when he came out and suggested we take a break. I finished the area I was working on and got up from my crouched position on the pavement to join him at the table.

"Effin' hot," he said, pushing his bangs out of his eyes with the back of his hand.

It left a muddy streak across his forehead and I grinned at him as I sat, figuring I probably had a few smudges on my own face as well. "It is," I agreed. "Messy too," I added, taking a long gulp of chilled water.

"The clay soil doesn't help."

I wondered if he had known what he was getting himself into before volunteering for this chore. "Want me to dig for a while?"

"I'm fine," he said, "Maybe later."

I agreed with a nod, watching him as he stood. "Your shoulders are pink."

He turned his head to look at his right shoulder and reached back to lay his palm on it. "Not too bad," he said, standing and stretching. "Ready?"

I was and so I nodded, following him back to the area we'd left off at. It was just about noon now, and the sun was directly overhead, making it feel even hotter than it had before. I took off my shirt and tossed it on the ground next to where I was working.

"Those shorts don't leave much to the imagination," Duo said.

I turned to find him staring at me, foot poised on the shovel, but not seeming to be in any rush to break the ground with it.

"Nothing you haven't seen before," I said, crouching down and looking back up at him. He was still watching me, his gaze focused on my ass as he hummed appreciatively.

"You going to work or stare at my ass?" I asked.

"A little bit of both," he said with a grin, pressing down on the shovel and tossing the dirt he had lifted aside. "Nothing wrong with multi-tasking."

There wasn't and I spent the next half hour wondering if it would be at all possible for us to sneak off and take a shower together when we were finished.

on to chapter 10

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