The amount of time I spent on the message board had dwindled significantly once the issues with Duo's computer had been resolved, but I had not stopped posting completely; enjoying the involvement and occasionally being able to assist someone else with a particular problem they were having.
The regulars seemed intrigued by my presence and I imagined it wasn't very often that people stayed once the issues that had brought them there in the first place had been dealt with.
Discussions outside the board with several members had lead to me sharing a little about myself to them and revealing that I had just graduated with a CSci degree. This hadn't seemed to surprise anyone and when I was asked to participate in ongoing project they were collaborating on, I accepted without hesitation. It was an intriguing job and the fact that I was actually getting paid to use my programming skills was a plus.
I had Duo to thank for the connection and not just for putting me in the right place at what was apparently the right time. I doubt I would have continued to keep in contact with the people I had met had it not been for my involvement with Duo. I was considerably more comfortable with who I was now and far less concerned with the impression I made.
. . . . . . .
The second half of July passed quickly and while the contact I had with Duo was not as much as either of us would have liked, we had come to accept it. We spoke on the phone twice a week, though rarely for more than half an hour at a time. I stayed connected to AIM nearly all day, making myself available to Duo as much as possible since it seemed to be his preferred method of contact. He probably had his reasons for that, but I never asked.
There was no need for him to wait until his parents were out of the house to access AIM, although there were certain activities he clearly could not engage in when anyone else was home.
Duo had attempted on more than one occasion to explain why he wasn't on the computer much, and I understood that he didn't want to rouse suspicion. It wasn't until he repeated it while we were on the phone that I took it for the apology he apparently meant it to be. I found myself at a loss for what to say in response, eventually admitting to Duo that I wished there was more contact between us as well.
It was obvious what Duo was doing in his spare time based on the number of drawings that he was sending me. I was grateful for his efforts, though I knew he would not have devoted nearly as much time to doing it had circumstances not been what they were.
I did not like thinking about it.
I didn't like the fact that he was on, what amount to, house arrest and I liked it still less that I had somehow contributed to it. I was certain that Duo did not blame me for it and equally as certain that he regretted doing it. He had said as much shortly after it happened, but there were times I could hear the disappointment in his tone at how things had turned out.
I still questioned whether or not my coming right out and telling Duo that I did not want him to tell his parents would have changed his mind. I liked to think it would have, but I had my doubts. I definitely regretted not at least making an earnest attempt to stop him, remembering then, that I, too, wanted what was happening between us to be out in the open.
Aside from being separated from Duo and the small strain the event had put on my relationship with my parents, nothing had changed for me. Duo's life had been completely turned upside down. Not only was he being forced to live in a semi-hostile environment, but in a little over two weeks he was starting school and would have to commute over three hours a day to get in and out of the city. I didn't envy him any of it. He did complain to me about it on occasion, but seemed to take it mostly in stride.
. . . . . . .
pool boy: never thought i'd actually look forward to going back to school
french toast: less than three weeks
pool boy: yeah
Duo's reminder made me think of several things, least of which was that we were going to be seeing one another in two weeks. I took a moment to reflect on the fact that I would not be returning to school in the fall and all of the changes that were about to take place. They were exciting changes; ones I felt ready for and was very much looking forward to, though I had reservations as well. They were not all centered on Duo.
french toast: two weeks until registration
I knew Duo hadn't forgotten, though he had not brought it up since he had initially mentioned it. I had circled the date on my calendar in red.
pool boy: looking forward to that too
I was as well.
pool boy: a lot
french toast: ditto
pool boy: registration is from 10 to 4. if we leave here at 9, we should be in the city by 10
french toast: gina chaperoning?
pool boy: yeah.
pool boy: dammit, heero. what the fuck was i thinking?
Duo responded before I could think of something to say.
pool boy: anyway. it's not like she's gonna be hanging out with us or anything
french toast: it's fine either way
We were going to be out in public the entire time. It wasn't as if I thought that Duo and I would be doing more than holding hands; barring, perhaps, an occasional kiss.
I reiterated my thoughts.
french toast: she's still okay with it, right?
pool boy: yeah. she's cool
french toast: 10 is good. should miss most of the traffic by then
pool boy: you want me to bring the drawings i haven't scanned in yet. there's a bunch of em
french toast: that would be good. thank you
pool boy: no problem. want the racy ones too?
The racy ones?
pool boy: i did a few that weren't on your list
pool boy: quite a few, actually
I smiled and shook my head.
french toast: sure. i'd love to see them
pool boy: you're bottoming in all of them
I laughed out loud.
french toast: of course
I could easily picture the huge grin on Duo's face.
pool boy: i was going for reality
I thought for a moment about the game and of how I had given the characters certain of our personality traits. I had added hints, but I didn't think I'd gone as far as Duo was suggesting.
french toast: don't think 02 would bottom for 01?
pool boy: he might
pool boy: on occasion
french toast: i'm pretty sure he would
pool boy: oh yeah? all the time?
french toast: no. but they have a fairly equal relationship
pool boy: unlike ours?
Duo had drawn the parallel. I wasn't going to lie.
french toast: yes
pool boy: i'm working on it, heero
I knew he was. I hadn't meant to imply that I was unhappy with the way things were progressing between us. I had never thought that things were going to change overnight.
french toast: i wasn't complaining
pool boy: i didn't take it that way
french toast: good
The last thing I wanted to do was make Duo feel bad about our relationship along with everything else he was dealing with at the moment.
french toast: have you already decided what classes you're going to take?
pool boy: i can't help it if i love fucking your ass
I should have known my effort to change the topic was pointless.
french toast: you do seem to enjoy it
pool boy: you think?
I was absolutely certain.
french toast: i do. you're not very good at subtle
pool boy: you picked up on that, huh
french toast: yes. it was difficult to miss
pool boy: at least one of us had the balls to get things moving
That was true. I didn't know if I could have eventually worked up the courage to tell Duo I was interested in him. He never gave me the opportunity to find out.
french toast: you seem to have more experience in that area
pool boy: yeah, but probably not as much as you think
french toast: but more than me
pool boy: i'm no alter boy
That was for sure.
pool boy: actually...
He couldn't possibly mean what I thought he meant.
french toast: were you?
pool boy: three years
pool boy: and you can stop laughing now
I hadn't been laughing, but the temptation was definitely there and getting stronger the more I thought about it.
french toast: seriously?
pool boy: pretty funny, huh?
french toast: i didn't realize you were religious
pool boy: my grandfather was a pastor
Certain things started to make sense to me.
french toast: is that why you have 02 wearing clerical garb?
I had never asked him about it, though I had been curious from the beginning. It seemed so out of place.
pool boy: yup. he was a pretty cool guy, beliefs aside
french toast: and your father?
pool boy: thinks i'm demon spawn!
Based on the parts of the conversation I had heard between Duo and his father that night, I did not think Duo's assessment was that far off. It didn't make me feel any better knowing that the hatred his father had of homosexuality was borne of religious beliefs. Hate was hate.
french toast: you're not
I didn't know what compelled me to say what I just had and I wished I hadn't. I had no way of knowing if Duo still held onto any of that way of thinking or if he had ever thought that way. Not having been raised as Christian put me at a slight disadvantage should Duo decide to take this conversation any further.
pool boy: mmm. you sure?
french toast: pretty sure. yes.
pool boy: maybe i need to step up my plan for corrupting you
french toast: you mean you're not done?
I was glad we were back on track with a lighter conversation. It wasn't that I minded having a philosophical discussion with Duo; I just didn't feel this was the optimal format to do it in.
pool boy: hardly
french toast: so what's next?
pool boy: wouldn't you like to know
french toast: that's why i asked
I imagined he was laughing at me.
pool boy: telling you would take all the fun out of it
french toast: not all of it
pool boy: no. but enough
pool boy: gimme a sec
I wondered what he was doing, but didn't ask.
Ten minutes had passed and when AIM informed me that Duo had gone idle, I questioned him; figuring he would see the AIM window flashing if he had somehow forgotten he had been talking to me. I assumed he would have disconnected AIM if someone had come into the room.
french toast: duo?
It was another minute or two before he replied.
pool boy: sorry, heero!
pool boy: back now
french toast: i can see that
pool boy: i sent you something
french toast: email?
pool boy: no. should be there in 2-3 business days
I was certain that his absence had something to do with the package that would be arriving and wondered if said package had anything to do with our conversation just moments ago. I strongly suspected that it did.
french toast: do i need to be worried?
pool boy: worried? nah, but i'd be checking the mail for the next few days if i were you
french toast: duo...
pool boy: what? you said you wanted a hint. i gave you one
I hadn't exactly said that, but I could certainly see how Duo might infer it.
pool boy: email me when you get it
french toast: you'll be the first to know
pool boy: i'd better be
Despite Duo's assurance earlier that I shouldn't worry, I knew I would be.
. . . . . . .
There was a strong sense of curiosity regarding what Duo had sent me and thinking back over our conversation of yesterday and the events leading up to his telling me he had sent me something, I had no doubt that it was going to be something... questionable.
I came to the conclusion that checking the mail might arouse suspicion and decided against it. It wasn't as if I actually knew when the mailman was due to arrive and it was Cynthia who went out to collect it. If Duo had sent anything outwardly strange, I was sure that she would be discreet in making sure the package got to me.
My morning routine continued as it had since Duo left and I spent about an hour taking care of the pool before starting my a.m. swim. It had been hot the past several days, keeping the water temperature at a little over 85 degrees without having to turn the heater on. Duo had mentioned that he upped the amount of chlorine from the amount we normally used to keep the algae at bay on warmer days. I hadn't known the warmer water would burn the chlorine up faster, and the two extra tablets I added to the skimmers every morning had done the trick.
It was one of the things I'd learned by being out at the pool in the morning while Duo did maintenance on it. He had casually mentioned it one morning, perhaps as a way of explaining to me why we were going through so much chlorine. I hadn't noticed how much he had normally used, or how often we went out to replenish the supply. I guessed he figured I would notice, but my attention was usually focused elsewhere. I didn't think that knowing which pair of Duo's shorts rode lowest on his hips or which ones showed the tiniest hint of the crack of his ass went he bent over were likely to ever come in handy.
. . . . . . .
Duo did not come online Tuesday, or Wednesday and I spent most of those two days working on the collaborative project with a few people from the message board. We communicated using irc, but I did sign on to AIM thinking that Duo might come on. It wasn't unusual for him to go missing for a day or two at a time. I assumed that one of his parents had stayed home and that he did not want to risk being on.
I sent him an email on Wednesday night, letting him know that the package had not arrived yet. I kept it brief, but I did ask about his absence the past few days. If his father had somehow noticed that Duo had found a way around the controls he had set, I wanted to know so that I could take whatever steps were necessary to remedy the situation.
It had taken me well over an hour to sort through all of the drawings that Duo sent me. I wound up spending most of Thursday morning cropping, resizing and integrating them into the game, and another hour playing through the rpg as far as I could.
There was a great deal of satisfaction seeing what I had envisioned come to fruition. I had devoted more hours to the game than I had ever planned to, and it had surpassed what I had imagined a long time ago. It was no longer possible to think about the game without thinking about Duo. It was distracting at times, but his involvement had given me an alternate perspective on things. His idea for adding the five scientists was brilliant and the game had taken on another dimension because of it.
I had not mentioned it to Duo yet, but I had decided that I was going to credit him as a co-creator. His contribution of the artwork alone made him worthy of the recognition. I had no doubt that he would protest the idea and probably quite adamantly. The thought that I was able to predict his reaction made me smile. I could not be sure I had it precisely right, but I knew I wasn't that far off.
The revelation didn't exactly leave me feeling smug, but close. In the fifteen months I had known Duo, he had either become much less difficult to read or I had more or less come to learn what to expect. I wouldn't go so far as to say he had become predictable, but I definitely had better rate of success anticipating his reactions.
. . . . . . .
"You got it?"
I had emailed him this morning to tell him that I had. I guess he wanted verbal confirmation as well.
"It arrived this morning. Complete with a plain brown wrapper."
Duo laughed. "Did you open it?"
I had, though not immediately. I was not surprised by the contents. Considering it was technically a gift, I probably should have thanked him.
"No," I told him, continuing on to answer what would most likely be his next question, "Not yet."
"I'm expecting details when you do."
I had known that was coming. "Of course."
"It should feel familiar."
I reached under my pillow and extracted the rectangular box, opening the one end and shaking it slightly to dump the contents out onto my bed. The length and girth were similar to Duo's. That was where the similarity ended.
Duo laugh was hearty and I smiled. "Very purple."
"I didn't think the color mattered."
I picked the dildo up, examining it a little more closely than I had earlier. I hadn't spent much time looking at it, and even less time touching it.
"You miss getting fucked. Right?"
Did I? I did miss being with Duo. I missed the way he touched me and the way it made me feel. I missed touching him as well; missed seeing his body react to my touch... and hearing the sounds he made. There were times I thought about him fucking me, though those times were usually limited to when we were on the phone or in chat and directly making reference to having sex.
I didn't know how often Duo thought about sex. He seemed to think about it a lot, at least when we were together.
"But not a lot."
I shrugged. "No. Not as much as when you're here."
"What about when we're on the phone?"
"Or in chat?"
I certainly had no problem getting interested in sex when Duo was involved, regardless of the scenario. He had to know that was the case.
"Does it seem like I'm not interested?"
Duo's pause seemed premature and I waited; certain he wanted to say more.
"Honestly? Sometimes, it's hard to tell."
I had always had difficulty trying to figure out what Duo was thinking. It never entered my mind that he was having a similar problem. This was, perhaps, the opportune time to mention it to him, but I didn't know how I would even begin to start that conversion nor was I sure that I wanted to. I decided I wasn't going to let his comment go without some sort of response and see where it lead.
"Ditto to what you said. I have a hard time reading you as well."
"All the time?"
I hesitated slightly before answering.
"Most of the time."
Duo's response came shortly after a thoughtful hmmm.
"I'm a pretty straight shooter, Heero."
I nodded in agreement. I was only rarely confused by what Duo did. My confusion came in attempting to figure out his motivations.
I wasn't sure I could explain it to Duo without being too wordy or sounding like I was reciting a script.
"We think differently."
I heard Duo laugh softly on the other end of the phone and I smiled not only at the sound but because he was probably amused by the simplicity of my statement and how obvious it was.
"Yeah. You over analyze everything and I tend to go with the flow."
I did not take Duo's comment as an insult, but I wasn't sure how I should respond. He wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know. I rarely did things without thinking them through. Duo might not have always done that, but he had clearly given a great deal of thought to telling his parents he was gay, yet things had not turned out the way he had predicted. I could not claim to be successful all of the time, yet I could not think of one circumstance where I had been so completely off in my assessment. I did not think that reminding Duo of the situation we were in was a good idea.
"You're over thinking right now!"
I laughed into the phone and leaned back against the wall. I assumed it was my lengthy pause that clued him in.
"I am," I admitted, adding a quiet "Sorry."
"You don't have apologize, Heero. It's who you are. I can live with that."
I had not meant to give Duo the impression that I saw the difference as a negative thing; at least not one that had any sort of real impact on our relationship. I hoped he wasn't taking it that way.
"You keep my on my toes."
I looked over and reached out to pick up Duo's gift that was lying on the bed next to me; balancing it in the center of my palm and getting feel for the weight of it. Our conversation had drifted so far from its original intent.
"I had little difficulty figuring out what you were thinking when you sent me the dildo, by the way."
Duo laughed. It was a deep raspy sound and I liked hearing it. "Keeping you on your toes isn't all I think about, you know."
I did know.
"I didn't think toes were on the list at all."
I couldn't help but imagine the smirk on Duo's face as he said that.
"Hands and knees?"
"Mm. That would be your favorite."
Indeed. I had told him as much not too long ago. I was suddenly curious to know if Duo had a preference. He didn't appear to.
"Do you have a favorite?"
"Position? Not really."
Duo might not have considered it a favorite, but he seemed to enjoy some things more than others; a lot more. I couldn't see any reason not to share my thoughts with him and see what his response was.
"What about when I ride you?"
"What about it?"
"You seem to enjoy it."
"I always enjoy fucking you, Heero, but watching you get off on it like that? Yeah... it does something for me."
So I had been right.
. . . . . . .
The dildo was a distraction.
I found myself thinking about it on and off the following day, mostly replaying the conversation I had with Duo about it and the things he had said. There was no need for him to explain what he expected me to do with the gift he had sent, but he seemed to be enjoying himself and I had to admit that I listening to him talk about it did get me aroused. It was partially because of what he was saying, but it was more his choice of words. His crude language didn't surprise me any longer, though I wasn't sure exactly when I started to find it such a turn on. In the beginning I could recall thinking he enjoyed doing it because he thought I found it scandalous or was somehow shocked by it, but I never was; making me wonder if Duo had merely drawn out my long buried inner pervert.
The following morning, I took the dildo into the bathroom with me while I took my shower so that it would be clean and ready for me to use. I tucked it into the pocket of my clean shorts and folded them carefully so it would not accidentally fall out as I carried everything into the bathroom. I set my pile of clothes on the counter and started running the water in the shower, removing the dildo and shaking my head in amusement as I turned the faucet on at the sink and reached for the bar of soap.
I had not been expecting the simple process of washing the dildo to arouse me but as I ran my soapy hand up and down the length of it, I could feel my cock getting hard. It might have been because I had not masturbated in days, though I couldn't discount the fact that it almost felt as if I were stroking Duo's cock. I speculated about the process Duo used to choose the dildo and wondered whether or not he had actually measured his own cock before choosing one. It certainly felt close.
The soap was making the silicone slippery and I held onto the base with my left hand while I continued cleaning it. I could feel the slightly raised portions on the shaft that had been added and noticed that they felt much more realistic than they looked.
Once I had rinsed all of the soap off of it, I set it on the counter beside the sink before taking my clothes off and getting into the shower. I ignored the strong temptation of bringing the dildo into the shower with me, knowing that my parents were at home and bearing in mind what an acoustical nightmare the bathroom was.
Duo had asked me if I had ever thought about owning one, and I had told him that the thought had occurred to me once or twice, going on to explain that those times were always when we were fooling around online or on the phone. I had been slightly embarrassed to admit it to him, but I gathered that he had suspected as much, or he wouldn't have asked.
Knowing how anxious Duo was for me to try it out, pretty much guaranteed I would be using it before long.
. . . . . . .
"You driving in?"
Public transportation was an option, but I preferred driving in for several reasons. I was certain that Duo already knew what my answer would be before he asked.
"Don't be late."
There was a playful tone in his voice as he issued the warning and I imagined he was amused by the absurdity of his statement.
"Going to meet at school?"
It seemed like a likely place.
"Yeah. By the statue. You know where it is?"
I nodded. "Yes. Ten o'clock."
I thought about asking him how long he thought registration would take, but didn't. I was anxious to see him; it really didn't matter what we spent our time together doing. I hadn't even asked how long he would actually be in the city. I was sure his father had put some kind of restriction on it, even with having Gina there. I supposed he wasn't going to volunteer that information.
"Think we'll have enough time to get lunch?"
"Yeah. We should have plenty of time."
His answer, while one that pleased me, wasn't quite as informative as I would have liked.
. . . . . . .
The short conversation I had with Duo the night before we were going to meet in the city had me focused on it the rest of the evening. I had been anticipating it for weeks and I probably would have spent most of the night thinking about even without Duo's call.
I turned on my computer and checked the weather; noting the predicted temperature and lack of rain in the forecast and picked out my clothes accordingly. I dug my backpack out the closet and set it on my bed, adding to it a copy of the rpg I'd burned for Duo. The computer he had access to at home was capable of running it and I thought he might enjoy seeing the progress I had made.
I was feeling a little apprehensive, although the excitement was definitely overshadowing it. It had been nearly six weeks since I'd seen Duo. There had been gaps like this before; but not since he had shown up at my door last December. Two or three weeks had been the maximum amount of time that had passed between seeing one another and since then, it was rare that we didn't see one another weekly.
The separation was obviously different this time, since it was being forced on us against both our wills. The situation wasn't likely to change anytime soon and the excitement I was feeling moments earlier dissipated slightly at that thought.
It was unclear just when we would be able to see one another on the terms we'd become accustomed to. I was prepared to make weekly trips into Manhattan to see Duo once he started school, but had not discussed it with him. He did not know what his schedule was going to be like yet or if he was even going to have time in between classes to see me. Since he would be finalizing his classes tomorrow, I decided that it would probably be one of the first things I would bring up.
I knew his father was going to be monitoring his activities since Duo had told me as much. It was possible that we wouldn't be able to work out time to see each other weekly; though I was willing to venture into the city even if I only got to meet him for a short lunch break. I did not like the idea of him skipping class to see me, but I smiled at the idea; relatively sure that he would bring it up before I got the chance to.
Devoting my attention back to preparing for tomorrow's trip and reached over for my alarm clock and set it to 5am before placing it back on my night table. It was only 10pm, but I planned on going to bed early to allow myself a decent night's sleep. I still needed to take a shower and wanted to send out an email or two letting everyone who I was working on the project know that I wouldn't be available tomorrow. We had exchanged cell numbers a while back, so if something important came up, they could always call.
After my shower, I returned to my room and immediately got into bed, reaching over to recheck the volume on my alarm before turning out the light on my night table. I rolled over onto my left side, tucking my both hands beneath my pillow and let out a sigh. I hoped the anticipation I was feeling would fade, or I wouldn't be getting nearly as much sleep as I planned.