Ice Blocking and Clunky Shoes
"Do we have to?"
"Duo, it's only for a couple of hours. We owe this to Relena. Besides, there'll be food there."
"But eating isn't any fun when you're dressed up!"
"Fine! But I don't have to like it!" The braided boy turned on his heel and stormed angrily out of Quatre's room. The blonde sank onto his bed and sighed.
"Why is he so difficult about these things?" he wondered aloud, when he heard his bedroom door open. "Duo, for the last time, you have to go!" Quatre turned, ready to combat any new complaints his friend had concocted, but was faced with a pair of striking green eyes instead. "Oh, Trowa. I'm glad it's you," the Arabian said, his tensed shoulders relaxing a bit.
"Was it that bad?" Trowa asked, a slight smirk on his normally passive face.
"You have no idea!" Quatre exclaimed, exasperated. "You'd think we were marching him in front of a firing squad instead of to a banquet!" He stood and walked over to the large wardrobe. "It's going to be just as bad dressing him!" he sighed, sorting through his extensive collection of formal clothes.
Trowa allowed himself a full grin. "But you can do it, koi." Quatre turned and beamed at him, as he always did when Trowa used the pet name. "Speaking of your impeccable taste, I was wondering if you would like to come inspect what I'll be wearing tonight," the green-eyed pilot continued, a hint of mischief in his eyes.
"On, or off of you?" an innocent voice replied. Laughter could be heard as the door to Quatre's bedroom clicked shut.
Duo paced around the room he and Heero shared, trying to think of a way for Quatre to let him stay home from the banquet. "I don't care if there's food there or not," he grumbled to himself. He didn't want to dress up. He didn't want to act formal. He didn't want to see Relena. It wasn't like he hated her. She was actually very nice. But she was so wrapped up in Heero... Nothing would be worth having to watch everybody's favorite person glomping *his* favorite person.
"Damn, damn, DAMN!" He kicked at a pile of clothes lying on the floor. "Well, at least I have a couple of hours before Quatre will want to play dolls. I think I'm going to take a nap," he said, throwing himself on his bed. He was soon dozing to the peaceful visions of deep Prussian eyes...
Quatre took a deep breath before knocking on Duo's door. Anything to stall. He was not looking forward to getting Duo into formal clothes. He knew there'd be a fight.
"Mmpphth..." Quatre heard a grumbling from inside. ~Good, he's been sleeping. Maybe he won't put up as much of a struggle,~ he thought to himself. A muffled "come in" was heard, and Quatre stepped nervously inside. ~No wonder Heero never spends any time in here,~ Quatre thought, surveying the mess.
"Duo," he said aloud, "We need to start getting ready for tonight." He was awarded another mumble from the dark heap on the bed. "It doesn't matter if you're tired. You've slept for almost two hours. Now come on, I have some things for you to try on." He dragged the limp form from the bed until Duo nearly hit the floor and was forced to wake up. ~So much for him not putting up a struggle,~ thought Quatre.
"But Quatre, I really don't want to go. There isn't any point. I don't even have a date!" Duo protested, thinking bitterly to himself that the only date he wanted wouldn't have him anyway.
"Oh, posh. That doesn't matter at something like this. Now come on," Quatre said, dragging Duo to his feet with some effort. "Now, you are going to wear something formal, and you are going to try to be civil about it." He pulled a grumbling Duo down the hall to his room for what would prove to be one hell of a task.
Nearly an hour later, Trowa stood in the living room, dressed in black tails and looking at his watch. "Quatre? Are you ready yet?" He was beginning to get concerned. He hadn't seen his "Little One" since the Arabian had commandeered Duo. He sighed in relief when he heard Quatre's cheerful voice from upstairs.
"Coming Trowa!" A minute later the blonde emerged in a tuxedo nearly identical to Trowa's save for the color, which was white. It suited his lovely complexion quite well, and Trowa thought to himself that the smaller boy looked like a golden angel. "Are the others ready?" he asked, standing on his toes to give Trowa a chaste kiss on the cheek.
"I haven't seen them, but I know Wufei is getting ready now," the green eyed boy replied, blushing at his lover's sweet gesture. "I could hear him cursing the injustice of it all, or something." As if on cue, Wufei made his presence known by a clearing of his throat from the top of the stairs.
"Wufei," Quatre greeted warmly. "You look marvelous." The Chinese boy was dressed in white as well, although his coat had a high collar and gold embroidery. The dark-haired boy smirked.
"I would rather be meditating." Just then, Heero, who hadn't been around all day, came from the guest room. He looked stunning in customary black, his hair a bit less mussed than usual. Quatre shot him a knowing smile.
"So that's how you managed to get anything done today," he said teasingly.
"Hn." Heero ran a hand through his hair and looked a little uncomfortable. "I'm supposed to escort Relena." He looked down at his feet. Quatre sensed the subject made his friend uneasy, and decided to change it.
"Well, I got Duo to dress appropriately. I think you all will be very surprised." He grinned as he felt Trowa's hand on his shoulder. "It was hard, but I did it." Wufei grunted, and Heero seemed uninterested. Quatre refused to be discouraged, though. He had Trowa's congratulations and that was all that mattered to him. Plus, he considered getting Duo dressed a personal victory.
Just then, a grumble was heard from upstairs. "Shinigami will take you all to hell," Duo muttered. There was some clomping around, and a flash of black came down the banister before Quatre could do anything to stop it. Duo landed on his feet right in front of Heero. "I feel like an idiot."
He looked anything but. Dressed in all black, complete with a collarless black shirt and onyx cufflinks, Duo was like an ebony shadow. Shrugging into the three-quarter coat he'd slung over his shoulder, he said, "Are you SURE I have to come along?"
Quatre sighed. "Sorry, Duo." The braided boy kicked at the coffee table in defeat. That's when Quatre noticed the shoes. "Duo! You can't wear those!" He looked in horror at the enormous clunky boots that topped off the ensemble.
"Why not? No one will notice them anyway---they're all the way at the bottom! Of course, if you really want me to stay home..." Duo grinned devilishly.
"No! We're *all* going. And we're going NOW!" Trowa surprised everyone with his sudden outburst. He hated seeing his poor Quatre in distress, and had decided to put an end to it. "If Duo wants to wear the boots, let him. At least he looks presentable everywhere else." Quatre smiled gratefully at his lover.
The other two hitherto silent pilots grunted in noncommittal agreement. Duo's shoulders slumped in submission, and as they filed out the door Heero surprised himself by thinking as he watched the neat french braid in front of him swing, ~He looks *more* than presentable...~
By the time Quatre's limo had pulled up to Relena's estate, Duo had managed to step on Trowa's feet twice and trip over himself at least three times. He kept a smile on his face, though, and made it up to the doors without incident. Relena, looking lovely in a pale blue dress, greeted them warmly, and if she was bothered by Duo's shoes she didn't let on. Duo sighed when he saw Heero offer his arm to Relena. It was going to be a loooong night. He couldn't wait to busy himself with food so he wouldn't have to pay attention to his breaking heart.
He surveyed the large banquet hall. It was hung in rose colored silk, and two long tables faced each other. Large ice sculptures decorated small round tables scattered about the room, and there was a large square of oak flooring that Duo realized was for dancing. ~Great,~ he thought to himself, giving his shoes a second thought. He was broken from his reverie of self-pity when Relena, flanked to her right by Heero, took her place at the center of one of the tables and cleared her throat. The noisy chatter hushed immediately as Relena spread her arms with a smile and said, "I want to welcome you all to my coronation banquet. Thank you for coming to celebrate this wonderful step toward peace." Duo stared longingly at Heero, who stood stoically beside the new Queen of the World as everyone took their seats. Duo found himself at the table facing Relena's, next to Quatre and across from Wufei and Trowa. Not wanting to make conversation with those who had sentenced him to this fate, Duo busied himself with the salad in front of him.
"Oh, do try to have fun, Duo," Quatre said pleadingly. "I know you hate the clothes, but you look nice. Well, besides the shoes...oh, never mind. I'm sure some pretty girl will take notice of you when it's time for dancing," he winked. Duo pretended to ignore him, seething inside at the fact that the only one he wanted to look nice for didn't even notice him.
For the rest of dinner, he ate his way out of talking, and during Relena's speech he kept his hands busy with finger foods so he'd have an excuse not to clap. His eyes never left Heero, and when the Prussian eyed pilot stood to ask Relena for the first dance Duo's heart sank. A nice looking girl with red hair asked Duo to dance, and he accepted halfheartedly. On the dance floor, his lack of attention for anything but Heero combined with his clunky shoes caused him to destroy not only his partner's feet but those of several people around them. The girl politely declined a second dance, even though Duo hadn't even asked her. Sighing, he looked at Quatre, who was happily wrapped in Trowa's protective embrace, and at Wufei, who almost looked like he was having fun. A last glance at Heero and Relena and their graceful movements sent Duo to the kitchen to find something else to eat, and maybe even a drink, although he usually didn't. He was feeling pretty let down. That was nearly a special occasion, given his usual cheery manner.
In the kitchen, he grabbed a handful of black olives from a tray and began looking around for some booze. That is, until he came to the leftover blocks of ice that hadn't been used in the sculptures for the banquet hall. A smile spread across his face as he remembered a night from his childhood when he and Solo had found such leftover blocks in the alley behind a fancy restaurant. They'd dragged them to a hill in the park and slid down over and over until they were filthy and covered in mud. Duo knew Relena had to have some "rolling hills" at her country estate, and they were sure to have considerably more grass than the one so many years ago. Grinning from ear to ear, Duo began loading up one of the serving carts. He'd have some fun tonight after all.
Heero watched over Relena's shoulder as Duo departed the hall in the direction of the kitchen and wondered what the baka was up to. He couldn't possibly want more food, not after everything Heero had seen him wolf down at dinner. Heero had become quite proficient at watching Duo without being noticed since he decided the braided boy would probably never return his affections. Being the Perfect Soldier, he'd contented himself with merely watching the object of his dreams.
Heero's thoughts were interrupted when he realized Relena had been talking to him and he hadn't heard a single word. She looked at him quizzically. "Are you all right, Heero?"
"Yes, but I just became aware of some business I need to attend to. Will you excuse me, Relena?" He bowed slightly and headed off in the direction of the kitchen. As he entered the room he caught a glimpse of a braid disappearing through the back door leading to the estate grounds. He decided to follow.
Pushing the serving cart full of ice in front of him, Duo finally found a hill that looked suitable for what he wanted to do. "Aha!" he chuckled. "Dumb old party. Sorry about ruining your tux, Quatre," he said to the air. He pulled a block of ice off of the cart and sat it at the top of the hill, then shrugged out of his jacket and laid it on the square chunk. "Now for the fun part." Duo rolled up his sleeves and sat on the block, taking a deep breath of summer air before he pushed off with a loud whoop, sliding down the hill with his feet in the air in front of him and braid sailing behind him. He tumbled at the bottom with a laugh.
Heero followed Duo until the braided boy stopped at the top of a large hill. Wanting to talk to him but not wanting to interrupt whatever it was that Duo was doing, Heero stayed behind a nearby tree so he could watch. It was dark, and the moonlight made Duo look so ethereal that it took Heero's breath away. He heard Duo muttering to himself but couldn't make out what he was saying, and was utterly confused when he saw Duo sit down on the ice. "What is he doing?" Heero wondered aloud. When he saw Duo's head disappear down the hill, Heero leapt out from behind the tree, ready and willing to blow his cover as long as it meant Duo wasn't hurt. But then he heard giggling, and sighed with relief as he resumed his hiding place.
Duo dragged the block of ice back up the hill and set it up for yet another trip down. Even though he was having fun, it was hard to forget how much he hurt when his best friend and love was still inside, dancing the night away with the Queen of the World. Duo knew that Heero wasn't even thinking about him---he probably didn't even notice he was gone. He laughed ruefully. "This is what I wanted, though...to be close to a block of ice," he said, sitting down again. "Heero doesn't think much of me as a soldier. Why would he love me as a person?" he asked no one, and pushed off angrily.
Heero thought he heard Duo say his name, but he couldn't be sure. Then he saw Duo shove himself down the hill again, only the braided boy was more violent about it this time. When he heard Duo tumble at the bottom, he didn't hear laughter, only an exhausted sigh. He decided he couldn't hold out any longer. He wanted to know what was up. He'd just cover his concern by acting businesslike as usual.
When Duo came back up the hill, Heero stepped out from behind the tree and stared at him. Duo gasped, then glared, but covered his surprise quickly with a ready-made smile. "Oi, Heero! Is the party over already?"
Duo rolled his eyes at the usual single-word reply. "Then is something wrong?"
"Why aren't you in there then?"
Heero's reply puzzled Duo. Was he stating that he had as much a right to leave as Duo, or was he saying that he'd come in search of him? Duo shook off the second thought almost as soon as he got it, knowing it could never be concern on Heero's part. He laughed. "Well, I suppose I did." He sat down on the grass.
"What are you doing?"
If the last thing Heero had said puzzled Duo, this question downright disoriented him. Why did Heero care what he was doing?
Heero saw the look on Duo's face and was alarmed. ~Great, he already thinks something's up. I can't have him knowing that I care.~ He cleared his throat. "You shouldn't be spending your energies so foolishly. If you hurt yourself, it will jeopardize any missions that might come up." ~Good save, Heero,~ he thought to himself.
Duo felt as if he'd been slapped. It was bad enough that Heero didn't pay much attention to him, but when he did it was all about the missions. "Yes, mother," he all but snarled at Heero. He stood up, picking up his jacket and brushing himself off. "I'll be waiting in the limo. I'm in no condition to go back in anyway," he mumbled, turning his back to Heero.
Satisfied that he had successfully discovered Duo's actions without giving himself away, Heero turned and headed back to the mansion. He stopped short when he heard a sniffle from behind him. Turning around he saw Duo, shoulders slumped and head hung.
Duo, not aware that Heero hadn't yet left, started talking softly to himself. "Stupid baka," he chided. "Why get upset? You know he doesn't care." He sank back onto the grass and drew his knees to his chest, wrapping his arms around his legs. "But it wouldn't hurt for him to be a friend." He picked at the toe of one of his boots. "Knew I had no reason to get dressed up. Wasn't like he'd notice," he added, so softly that only the breeze could hear.
Heero couldn't believe his ears. Duo was upset? Duo wanted to be his friend? He kicked himself mentally. Why *had* he been so rude? Not wanting to upset him more, Heero turned again to leave, but thinking about what Duo had said made him pause. Duo had said that it wouldn't hurt for Heero to be a friend. What would a friend do in this situation, Heero wondered. He'd comfort Duo. So the Perfect Soldier turned back.
"Duo?" The boy gasped, startled. Had Heero heard him? Discreetly wiping his eyes, he turned to look up at Heero.
"Do you want to talk?" Heero could hardly believe he was asking. It could mean letting his guard down, ruining everything. He couldn't stand the thought of losing Duo altogether, which would probably happen if Duo knew what kind of friend Heero wanted to be. But what he couldn't stand more was seeing Duo hurt. "You seem upset."
"I'll be fine." Duo said testily, wanting to get around Heero's question without lying. Why was Heero acting so interested, anyway? "I should be asking you what's wrong. You never talk to me like this."
Heero was taken aback. What could he say to that? "You're my friend."
Now it was Duo's turn to be surprised. "Nani?"
Heero allowed himself a slight grin, one that he knew Duo wouldn't see in the shadows. "I said you're my friend."
Duo wasn't sure, but he could almost swear he saw Heero smile. "Th-thank you, Heero."
"So what's wrong?" Heero was determined to know.
"Oh, just remembering days back on L2," Duo said. He wasn't lying, after all. Heero may have called him a friend, but there was no way he'd think of him as any more than that.
Heero looked at him. "What did they have to do with ice?" Duo smiled at the question.
"Do you want me to show you?" Heero nodded. Duo stood up and pulled another block of ice off of the cart and placed it on the ground. Heero followed suit. "You're going to have to ruin your jacket," Duo said, almost apologetically, thinking of how nice the other boy had looked in it.
"No problem. Looks like yours is already there." He tossed his jacket onto the ice.
"Now you sit on it, like this," Duo said. "And then you push off, and the ice slides down the hill. We call it ice blocking. It's fun." And with that, he slid down. He'd just recovered from the ending tumble when Heero glided down next to him, coming to an immaculate stop. Duo groaned. "Always perfect." He gulped inwardly. Had he let it slip?
Heero started. Duo thought he was perfect? No, he couldn't mean the way Heero thought Duo was perfect. He was only talking about him in battle, Heero was sure. "Well." Heero wasn't sure of what else to say.
He needn't have worried. Duo filled in the empty spots in any conversation. "The more weight you have, the faster you can go," he explained. "Solo and I used to double up and we'd go flying!" His eyes sparkled with the memory of his friend. Heero thought those eyes were the most beautiful thing in the world.
"Would you like to try that?"
Duo looked at him, shocked. Heero was actually proposing that they sit together? ~He must not realize how close we'd need to be,~ Duo thought. ~He's just trying to make me feel better because he knows something's wrong.~ But before he could protest Heero had his hand and was dragging him back up the hill.
"This would probably be the best one to use," Heero said, rooting through what was left of the ice. He produced something smaller than what they'd used when they were alone. "It's smaller and will therefore create less wind resistance. We can go faster then." He'd come up with the scientific excuse when he'd seen Duo's shocked face, although the smaller block was just the choice of his subconscious mind, trying to get closer to Duo.
Duo nodded wordlessly. He couldn't believe his luck, even if it was only due to Heero's brains and wasn't related to feelings. Duo was happy at the prospect of being near Heero, if only for a moment.
"You sit in front, Duo. You're smaller." Heero grew dizzy at the thought of wrapping his arms around the braided boy. He didn't want the feeling of Duo wiggling in his arms to end, but soon they were situated on the ice and were ready to go. Heero inhaled deeply, basking in the scent of Duo's hair.
Duo took as long as he could finding a suitable position, so that Heero would hold him longer, but he didn't take as long as he would have liked so as not to give himself away. Heero would be disgusted if he knew, Duo was sure. When he'd finally settled down, he heard Heero sigh deeply, and figured that the Wing pilot wanted to get the slide over as soon as possible. Duo leaned into Heero, knowing it would probably be his only chance to do so. He closed his eyes, relishing the sensation of being held as Heero pushed off.
They sailed down the hill, summer breezes mixing in with their laughter, and when they got to the bottom Heero let them tumble. Because of the increased speed, they rolled for a few extra seconds before they found themselves tangled in each other's arms. Lying on the grass, eyes met. Prussian danced with cobalt for a moment before Duo blushed and pulled away. Heero was going to sock him for sure for not getting up sooner. "G-gomen, Heero..." he stammered as he tried to pull himself to his feet. Something was holding him, though, and as he fell back down he realized it was Heero's arm. "Nani?"
Heero stared at him, his eyes unreadable. Duo's heart started pounding, partly from being held by Heero and partly from fear of being hit at such close range with no way to defend himself. "Heero? Is everything all ri--ithth---" His words were muffled suddenly by the force of another mouth on his.
Heero stared into deep violet pools and found himself losing control. His end came for sure when he saw Duo's creamy cheeks color in a blush as he tried to pull away. There was no way he was going to be able to stop himself. At least he would have gotten to feel those soft lips on his, just once...
Duo choked back a gasp. Heero was...KISSING him? Was this some kind of joke? Duo found it harder and harder to concentrate on control as he felt Heero's warm lips, his soft breath...slipping his arm around Heero's neck, Duo returned the kiss, although a bit hesitantly. It didn't matter, though. Heero took that as his cue to deepen it, his tongue sliding between Duo's lips and exploring his mouth, inviting Duo to do the same. The pair stayed locked in their embrace for several minutes, neither wanting to find out what horrible things might happen when their lips parted. But finally Heero reluctantly withdrew, if for nothing more to look at Duo's eyes again.
"Gomen, Duo. I couldn't help myself." He stared at the other boy, whose eyes were wide with disbelief. "I'll understand if you don't want to speak to me anymore." Heero couldn't believe how calm he was being. He was practically giving his love the opportunity to---he didn't want to think about it.
Duo stared back at Heero. He was apologizing? For doing what Duo had only dreamed of him doing? "Heero, I---" he stammered, not trusting himself to go on. Heero's eyes wavered for the shortest of moments, and then he sat up.
"I understand, Duo." He stood, ready to leave.
Duo bolted up after him. "NO!" Heero looked surprised. "No, Heero. Don't leave." He looked down at his hands, which he then stuffed into his pockets. He shifted from one foot to the other uncomfortably, while Heero looked at him expectantly. Both hearts were thinking the same thing. Could he?
I...I-I care about you, Heero." He finally got the courage to look into Heero's eyes, which had a strange shine to them. "When we--well, I--I've wanted that for a long time," he finally finished. He hung his head.
Heero reached out and lifted his chin, not taking his eyes from Duo's until he was mere centimeters from his face. "Me, too." And he kissed him again, soft as a whisper. Seconds later, Duo found himself on the ground, tackled by Heero. ~I'm going to die now.~
He sighed in relief as Heero pulled him up against his chest. "My baka," he murmured. "My beautiful baka. How could we have been so blind?" Duo snuggled in and closed his eyes. If this was a dream, he wasn't in any rush to wake up. "Duo?" Heero asked.
"Thank you for showing me how to ice-block."
"Thank you for doing it with me."
"Will you be my koi?" Duo hugged him tightly in response.
"I like your shoes."