Disclaimer: This is fanfiction based on the characters and universe of Gundam Wing.

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 15

They were hanging out under the J Street bridge, just a couple blocks from Heero's apartment, sitting on a rail overlooking the skyglass below and eating ice cream. Koi was wandering in front of them, his leash tied off to the rail. There wasn't really much of a view, no stars. The angled mirrors outside the glass tracked sunlight when possible to reflect it into the colony or, at night were closed or angled away from the sun, if possible. Right now, with the mirror close against the glass and the interior lights dim their view approximated looking out over water.

Of course there were signs everywhere that warned residents not to loiter near the skyglass, mainly because at the wrong angle and during daylight a person could be blinded. There was a lot of math and geometry that went into designing a Colony and having residents that acted outside design parameters could cause worse than blindness in some cases.

Even so, Heero knew it was night. He even knew that many people did hang around beneath the bridges, sitting upon the railing that was there to keep them out.

"Can you do this?" Duo asked. He re-secured his feet behind bars beneath the rail and leaned forward to lower his face toward the dwindling column of strawberry ice cream he held upright in one hand. Duo's tongue came from between his lips and twirled about the rounded surface of the cold pink cream. "Mmmn." Duo straightened.

Heero looked around again to see if anyone was about. There were three figures on the sidewalk above and behind, but they were far enough that they wouldn't see what he did unless they quickly got much closer.

Heero rolled his shoulders back and balanced again on the rail. He licked once at the vanilla ice cream cone to keep it from dripping onto his hand and then bowed his head. He felt the ice cream on his lips, then parted his lips wide and made his tongue spiral around.

"Looks good," Duo said.

Heero lifted his head, licking cream from his lips. He looked over his shoulder again. The people were approaching. At a distance Heero recognized one. Duo licked around the rim of the cone where the ice cream filled it, to stop dripping. Heero watched him make a few long laps against the cream with his tongue.

Heero resisted the image forming in his mind, of which corresponding body parts Duo had just stimulated. They weren't alone.

"Look who it is," a deep voice called.

Heero saw Duo tense and twist his face. "It's OK," he whispered very softly. Then, a little louder, Heero said, "I know them."

The three kids came close. Well, he thought of them as between child and adult and kids seemed to fit that, but today Heero had learned that the girl was about a year older than he was. He realized he did not know the tallest boy yet, but the other two Heero remembered.

"Yo," Heero said. They seemed to us that word in the place of a great many English and Japanese words.

"Oi-oi-yo," the smaller boy said, slurring the words together, about as much as Duo could slur slang when he really got to talking.

Heero wasn't actually sure if they had American roots, but he suspected they had some from the particular way they spoke their English. They were all Japanese in culture or Japanized, but many of the kids had Asian and African features both, or they looked almost entirely African, like the lady who managed the building Heero lived in. Heero had not yet discovered why there was a predominance of this particular racial mix in this corner of the Quarter, but he suspected it might have to do with families preferring to move to a neighborhood with a church of a specific denomination nearby.

The people in the neighborhood who shared this particular culture all seemed to be Christians of some kind. Heero thought Duo might be able to make a more educated guess.

"This is my friend, Duo," Heero said. "This is Yanagi and Aishawn and...?"

"This is our friend, Hiro," Yanagi, the girl said.

"My name is Heero too."

"I was named after Yuy, the peacemaker."

"So was I."


The other's agreed, "kewl."

"Are you or your parents from the church, then?" Hiro asked.

"I am on my own. What church do you mean?"

"Sorry, I don't wanna sound like I am trying to convert you, if you don't know. That is not what we try to do. I just thought you might be, because of your name."

"You all go to Heiwa Church?" Duo asked.

"Oi, yo a boy?" Aishawn squealed, he was younger then the others, so his voice had not grown deep.

"Yeah," Duo said. He lapped ice cream.

"Yaro, I thought you was CG!" Aishawn exclaimed. Yanagi smacked his head. "Not that I meant to offend you, it's the hair. Total yosei!" Aishawn raised a brow.

"Nani?" Duo demanded.

All their language sounded very slangy to Heero, so he was used to being confused and not letting on that he did not understand entirely, even when he sometimes knew what the words meant on their own. He supposed Duo was thrown by one of the words Aishawn had called him, or more than one. "Duo is not from here, perhaps you should translate to more formal English," Heero suggested.

"Aishawn mistook you for a colonial geisha, because they also have microbraids put in," Yanagi explained, "He was surprised when he saw you were not even female. And he said that you are very beautiful, in an androgynous way."

Duo seemed to study Aishawn, to judge his intention or reaction. Rather suddenly Duo laughed. "Ah, colonial geisha, yeah... no, but we just came from the tea house. I was tryna fit in." He laughed again then returned to licking ice cream.

By then Aishawn was wary of Duo and moved away from them.

"It's not a weave job either!" Duo called.

"You told us you just moved here, right?" Yanagi asked Heero.


"You probably wouldn't know the church then. It's just down the street from here, on J. I used to go a lot with my family, but now I don't. That's kewl with them. It's just there if people need it, it doesn't need the people, not those who don't need it anyway. I guess when we weren't free and when there was the war, and then right afterward, a whole lot of people did need a church."

"We used to have a place like that where I lived, but it got destroyed in the war," Duo said.

"Did you live on Earth?"

"No. S3."

"Aaaw! You don't mean Maxwell Church? It was over there and it got destroyed. There was a massacre!" Hiro said.

"You know Maxwell Church?"

"The Catholic Priest that was martyred there is one of the peacemakers we honor," Hiro said, more calmly. Then he was excited again, "You are that Duo?"

Duo nodded. He hopped from the rail and turned full around. "Yeah."

"Then, you are that Heero?" Hiro asked.

"Yes," Heero said calmly. He saw that Yanagi was rolling her eyes. She had known from the beginning and never gushed. That was why Heero had talked to her so long at the basketball court. He smiled for her then licked his ice cream cone to keep it from dripping.

"Do you know about Heiwa?" Hiro was asking Duo.

"I heard of it. It was founded by a few individuals in LA in the 70's and then in '76, right before they shut down contact between the Colonies, they sent a pilgrimage or a mission to the Capitol here. It's sorta, Christian Buddhism, or that's what I heard."

"We honor many prophets and peacemakers," Hiro said. "Muhammad also."

"That's kewl," Duo said softly, "I don't know if I wanna get involved with a church, but I think it's good someone knows what happened to Maxwell Church and doesn't believe that stuff about the church housing rebels. We just wanted to have peace and to help the people that lived there."

"Kewl. I didn't want to pressure you into joining. I am just glad to meet you," Hiro said. Duo shook his hand when he offered it.

"So, you live around here also, how do you know Heero?"

"I met Yanagi, Aishawn and some others at the court today," Heero said. He noted that Aishawn had hoped the rail and was petting Koi. "Yanagi is a professional cheerleader for the Colonial Shooting Stars."

"Yeah?" Duo asked, "Show me some moves."

Yanagi did a little dance for them.

"All right!" Duo cheered, "You like that team, or you just work for them? I think they're pretty good, but I follow Colonial baseball more than basketball. Gotham Reapers all the way, ya know?"

"They lost to the Comets on Monday," Hiro said.

"Can't win 'em all," Duo said with a shrug, "but they're good."

Heero felt suddenly odd for his lack of knowledge about sports teams. He was athletic, and when he had been on Earth he had viewed some baseball and football, but he hadn't really followed.

"Oi, you gonna be around the court again?" Yanagi asked. "I should probably try to get these boys home, but, maybe I'll see ya? Ja ne?"

It wasn't late enough that he could consider tomorrow the same day. "Tomorrow maybe." Heero shrugged.

Yanagi called to the boys and they in turn said goodbye.

Duo sighed heavily when they were gone. "That happen to you often?"


"Approached by church members. Those kids were OK and all, but I get it a lot, on trains sometimes. 'Have you heard the Good News?' It must be the way I look or something."

"No one has ever told me about their church before," Heero said honestly. "I have never had a church."

"Well, they're not all bad," Duo said. "I'm pretty sure Heiwa is Eastern in that they don't believe in single personal deity but a large abstract force and many spirits." Duo continued and his voice became increasingly distressed, "They don't have the same expectations. It's not like being told all these stories about this all powerful personal God that interfered in men's lives left and right, rescuing them from armies and fire and plagues and all... and then being disappointed when he doesn't do it for you!"

Heero felt pain. He gasped slightly, noting coldly that he should talk to Quatre. It was Duo's pain. Heero wanted it to stop, for both of them. He slipped from the rail and then stepped up to Duo and kissed his face where he saw a tear. He thought this was the appropriate gesture. Heero kissed Duo again, on the lips. He thought he should hold back his tongue and not be very forceful, because he was not trying to make Duo aroused, only less sad.

Heero heard a soft sound. Duo's breath was on his face. "Thank you. Heero. That helps."

Heero settled back on his heels. He had to stretch to reach Duo on his own. He looked at his ice cream. He thought he better finish it off quickly before it became a mess. He gave it a few laps.

"I think you are the only person who has seen me cry," Duo whispered, "But, you knew I was screwed in the head."

Heero looked up then shook his head slowly. "I know that it is normal for people to get very emotional about their faith. I never had that, so I don't know what it feels like to loose it. I have put faith in people, but it is not the same. To believe in God or Spirits, that are intangible, requires a greater...?"


"Yes. They call it that, don't they? 'Leap of Faith'?"

"Exactly. I try to tell myself that I can't be hurt, because I never believed, but, Heero, I think I did. I leapt, risked everything and I just fell... hard. There is no God! Not unless we worship death."

"Duo, I don't know what to say to you. I want you to feel better, but I don't know what to say. Maybe if I had time to think about it."

Duo shrugged. "You should just suck at that now."


"Wanna switch?" Duo offered his ice cream cone. They switched. "It's kinda melty and low, so just suck it out of the cone." Duo made a large 'O' shape with his lips. "Like that."

Heero tried it. The strawberry ice cream came into his mouth. He gulped. He looked up at Duo from the corner of his eyes. Against his own advice Duo was skillfully carving and shaping the vanilla ice cream, his tongue burrowing into the sugar cone and drawing ice cream up out of it into a more slender column.

Well, Heero had felt that tongue in his mouth, he knew what it could do.

Heero tried to do what Duo was doing, but he just felt... slobbery.

Duo's cheeks hollowed as he sucked ice cream into his mouth. He used his teeth on the cone itself. "Let's go, eh?"

Heero gave a nod. He untied Koi from the rail and put the loop of the leash about his wrist. Duo picked up his knapsack and slung it over a shoulder. They were finished with the ice cream by the time they got inside Heero's building. They walked the stairs to the forth floor and then Heero unlocked his door to let Duo inside.

"Wow, this is nice!"

Heero removed Koi's leash and hung it on the coat rack. He checked with a glance to the kitchen that Koi had water then walked into his bedroom. Heero took off his jacket and shoes and put them in his closet. He found Duo standing still and still wearing knapsack, shoes and jacket.

"Oh." There were things Heero was supposed to say. "I usually don't have guests except for the kind that just barge in and saw my furniture. You should... make yourself at home." Heero nodded.

"You don't do that shoe thing?"

"No. I just walk to the closet, unless I know my shoes were very dirty, then I would clean them before I put them in my closet. Do you want to put things in the closet?"


They walked to Heero's bedroom.

"Everything is so small," Duo said quietly.

Heero glanced over his shoulder but didn't say anything. He opened the closet again. Duo's kimono was in there.

"I mean, it's really nice, just compact. You really have all the things you need in this small space."


"Ursula did it?"

"Yes." Heero held out a hand and Duo handed him his jacket.

"Can I just put this down here somewhere?" Duo asked, putting the knapsack on the floor near the closet and dresser."

"Oh. Do you need a drawer?"

"A drawer?"

"To put things in. I could rearrange things to empty a drawer."

"Sure you're ready for that?" Duo laughed.

"For what?"

"How about if you don't kick me and all my stuff to the curb I just leave a toothbrush or something?" Duo suggested in a reasonable, if amused tone.

"That would be acceptable."

"You don't... get it."

Heero supposed he didn't. He shook his head.

"When your beautifully naïve and logical mind offers to re-categorize your clothing to allow me storage space in your apartment... well, what I hear, what most people would hear, is, 'I am trying to get you into a permanent and committed relationship and I am willing to rearrange my life to suit your needs.' That's pretty serious, ne? The more stuff you have at each other's places the more serious you are about each other. It doesn't have to be about sex, two friends could keep stuff at each other's houses, but more often that's movies they lent each other or games or tools. Toothbrush, clothing, they're a step away from living together."

"You could just use the drawer and pack everything in it when you leave."

Duo sighed deeply. "Maybe you are ready for it, but I don't think I am."

"Oh." This was complicated. "But you want to sleep here?"

"Yeah... we can try that. Let's just not... leap."

Risk everything all at once and then fear total failure. Heero didn't want Duo to have to feel that, if it could be helped. "I agree. Leaping was unwise. We tried leaping before. So, will you take the kimono with you when you go?"

Duo nodded. "Yeah. I wish all that never happened. I didn't want to hurt you really, and I loved the kimono."

"I didn't want to hurt you."

Duo pushed his shoes into the closet and then raised his arms to fold them behind his head. "So, what should we do now?"

"I can show you where everything is."

"OK, grand tour, that works."

"Closet. My Dresser. Bathroom."

Duo was looking in the mirror over the dresser and running fingers over his eyebrows. He walked backward until he was standing on Heero's bed and then he knelt. Heero thought Duo was trying to see if he could see himself in the mirror from the bed.

"That's the bed."

"Right," Duo laughed, stepping off the bed, toward the dresser.

"These shelves have some of my books and small belongings, mainly the more personal ones that I don't refer to when I am working."

"Whose brush?"

Heero turned very slowly, a chill running through his body. He hadn't put the hairbrush away. Its usual spot was on the top of the dresser and Heero hadn't thought he should run about hiding anything from Duo.

"What? You really do have a secret girlfriend or something? I know you've never brushed your hair..." Duo examined the brush, "There's not even hair in it."

"It's a pet brush," Heero said quickly, "But Koi doesn't like that kind. He likes his slicker brush. So, I never used it and unless I get another pet that brush is just going to decorate the dresser."

"Oh Kay," Duo said, strangely slow. He set the brush carefully back on the dresser then hopped over the corner of the bed and landed smiling at one of Heero's Buddhas.

"Yes, I know, I have Buddhas but I am not a Buddhist." The sex book was on the shelf, but so were many other items and books, now that Heero was fully moved in. he had various copies of Science-Fiction novels and his small statuary and some plaques and medals that he had been awarded after the war. "I read this book that you recommended. It was interesting, though, I had never read a book before that described three people having sex together."

Duo chuckled. "So, why aren't these books on a coffee table?"

"Because I read them when I am in this room," Heero said truthfully. "These two were gifts from Ursula. I tried one of the bath recipes earlier today. It was very soothing, as they claimed. I have scanned the book on massage, but it is hard to practice without a willing subject."

"And this one?" Duo took the book off the shelf. "Oh, looky here, sticky note!"

Heero smiled.

"You would write your comments in Cyrillic!"

"Let's go in the other room."

"I don't get to go through your medicine cabinet?"

Heero knew Duo was joking, but if Duo went in there, he would see that Heero had bought a whole bunch of products at Tang's that Nicky had said Duo used, and they did seem to match the ones he recalled in Duo's apartment. Heero wasn't sure what Duo would think. That Heero was fixated on him or that he had this fantasy about giving Duo a bath, or both. "Actually, I need to go in there. So, please excuse me."

Duo shrugged and walked from the bedroom.

Heero quickly went into his bathroom and shut the door. He gathered up all the faintly clove and warm vanilla scented products that he did not himself use and searched for a place to hide them. There was a cabinet, but Heero had towels in it. Heero removed the towels and pushed all the bottles and tins and tubes into the cabinet hung over the toilet. What could he do with the towels? He began unfolding them and then rolling each towel into a bundle. Heero placed the rolls around the room, some on the side of the tub, others above the cabinets, some on the sink.

That looked overly domesticated.

Heero unrolled the ones on the sink and doubled up on towels hanging from the bar.

He hurried from the bathroom. Duo looked up from one of his chairs. "I just wanted to make sure you would have towels if you needed them."

"You were hiding all your naughty stuff."

"As you wish," Heero sighed.

Duo smiled. He arched a brow.

"So, this is the other room. You are in the sitting area. That's the dining area."

"It's a coffee table."

"Where I sit and eat." Except that he usually ate at his desk while working. "Ursula left me those books too, part of the décor. There's nothing naughty about them, unless you include the section of the travel book that indicates what district of Tokyo prostitutes can be found in."

"I guess that's the office?" Duo asked. He stood up.

"Yes, my office. The desk was a normal height when I bought it."

"Ursula?" Duo shook his head. "I was going to ask, where did you get that painting in the bedroom?"

"Ursula again... but she made that one herself. Vero helped to draw the mecha."

"And this one is a reproduction, a poster, right?"

"Yes. That's La Belle Sans Merci. I bought that one myself."

Duo looked at the picture of the knight in armor and the lady. "I thought there was a horse."

"No. Unless, you are are thinking of La Belle Sans Merci by another painter. Waterhouse did this one. I think there were other paintings of he same title by various painters for some reason."

"They were all inspired by the same poetry," Duo said softly, "All contemporaries of each other. I don't remember the poems word for word, but I know the Beauty there is supposed to be a sort of fairy temptress. La Belle Sans Merci represents an elusive otherworldly perfection, and pursuit of it leads to tragedy. In some of the poems she was more like a vampire. This knight, he's tragic, because even if he does not aim to seek fanciful unattainable things and tries to focus on his duty, what he sees is a woman in the woods alone, without horse or escort, it is his duty to give her aid. It's kinda, damned if you do and damned if you don't, ya know?"

"I suppose it could mean that."

"I saw another one where she did have a horse and it was more obvious she was leading the knight astray. That sorta gives a different message. She clearly is using him and he is a fool. In this one, it's more ambiguous. He is doing his duty and at the same time he is not. He is not aiming for the unattainable but he is trapped in pursuit of it. And maybe..." Duo gestured to the painting, "If you look at it, maybe it seems like she really does love this particular knight, and so she's just as tragic, because she's going to kill him. Even if she doesn't do it herself, she'll be his death."

"She has a heart on her sleeve," Heero said. She did, literally. There was a small pink heart on the shoulder of her red gown.

"Right. She loves him. So, they'll be together, even if it's for a short time or even a night. They don't care, they just want that moment together, even if kill each other tomorrow." Duo laughed. "But you have to wonder if the artist meant any of that or he just felt like painting lovers in the woods that day."

"She reminds me of you," Heero confessed. "I thought she looked like you, but now I know the story I think she is very much like you, at least, she is probably how you think you are."

"People die because of me."

"People just die," Heero said. "Look." He closed one eye and lifted his hand to block off the portion of the picture that showed the top of the lady's head. "If you look like this, and ignore the difference in the eyes and forehead her mouth and chin does resemble you. And the long hair..." She had very long hair. Her hair was slipping around the knight's neck, as if she would later strangle him with its length. "And the pale skin and red clothing. I have seen you wear red."

"We can't really see the knight, he's inside all that armor."

"Yes. He has armor."

"That's deep, really, you know."

"Which part?"

"All of it. That we can stand here and look at this poster and see inside ourselves."

"Yes. Deep."

"What should we do now?" Duo asked.

"Let's go to the office." Heero walked across the room. His desktop, mobile, pad and game machine were all on the desk neatly arranged. The shelves behind stored his other equipment and belongings. He had some discs with movies and music that he had purchased or burned over the last half year.

"This is a Vette?"

Heero smiled. "Yes, that one is a 1984 Chevrolet Corvette. I finished just today actually."

"It's green."

"I like green."

"Yeah, for a roadster or something, but not for a Vette, even from this year."

Heero bent and retrieved another model kit. This was an even more antiquated Corvette, and it had beautiful curvaceous lines. "If you help me build this one I might let you choose what color to paint it."

Duo took the box from Heero. "She's a beauty all right." He grinned, "You have Candy Apple Red paint?"

"That would be a bright glossy red? I think so."

"Sometimes Hilde and I build mobile suit models. They have those."

"I know. So, you want to build it now?"

Duo nodded, already opening the box. Heero cleared one side of the desk and got out all the tools they would need and laid them out neatly. Duo was already popping pieces of plastic and piling them up all together.

"What are you doing?" Heero asked, "How are you going to follow the directions?"

"That's no fun! You have to try to figure it out without directions."

"I suppose you could, so long as you don't glue things before you are sure you are correct. You know, this means we can't paint a primer coat before assembling... unless we just spray everything the same color. These paints all stick to plastic and I think it matters what color is used as underbody."

"We'll figure that out later, It's more fun this way."

Heero sighed, softly. It had been challenging and fun when he had figured out how to make his model car, but it had been frustrating when he had made mistakes. "You sure you can do it this way? You know it is not really unmanly to seek directions, it's just logical and responsible."

Duo raised his eyes and glared, but it wasn't really malevolent, just, a friendly warning. "And which of us actually took mechanical design courses?"

"You." Heero got up and wandered to the kitchen. He had some things to think about. He got two sodas from the fridge and picked up some candy sticks from the counter. Duo was the one that wore skirts and such, but he could be so blatantly macho sometimes. Heero supposed he was like an ancient warrior sometimes. And though he was brash and tall and absolutely not femme Heero was sure that Duo also did get excited by bondage and did enjoy being on the receiving end of anal sex.

So, were they even a good match? What kind of person could put up with such an obnoxious bottom?

Someone who was secure enough to be their own kind of man. Heero could do that. So what if he didn't know sports teams and he had sense to ask for directions when he needed them? Being more refined did not make one feminine. It just made one more refined.

Someone who liked the way Duo was. Yes, Heero had that. He unwrapped a candy stick and put it in his mouth. He was greatly attracted to Duo's exotic extravagant exuberance.

Someone who didn't mind all the noise.

Heero looked slyly at Duo as he walked back to the desk. Yes. Heero the Duo Tamer. One day he drag that adorable beast of a man to his bed and then... Heero imagined a few choice poses in his mind... without a God to call on he'd just call Heero's name and then that would fade and Heero would have his pet purring contently under him.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting you a soda," Heero said. He shocked himself with the way his words sounded. It sounded as if he wasn't talking about soda at all. Heero lowered the cold metal can to touch Duo's bare shoulder.

Duo flinched slightly. "Thanks." He took the can and opened it. Heero saw he already had several sections of the car together. "Aren't you going to help?"

Heero sat down across the desk from Duo. "Your way is different than mine, so I don't know how to help."

"Just take some pieces and see if they fit together."

Heero looked over the thinning pile. "you know some parts have to be assembled in the correct order to work."

"It's not like I used glue."

Heero looked down through the magnifying lens. He could see Duo's hands. "It slips my mind that you still pilot."


"Your hands. I used to have calluses placed exactly like those. It's from the control sticks."

"Yeah, my hands are always kinda beat up."

Clean, but with cuticles that had been pushed back without trimming and some hangnails and small cuts, apart from the calluses. "Why do you wear the polish?"

"Maybe we'll find out later."

Heero shook his head. He reached under the lens and put his right hand over Duo's left hand. "So, how long?"

"Have I worn nail polish?"

"Were you attracted to me and said nothing."



"Do you mean, physically or that I liked you?"


"Do you mean casually or when I thought I might want to have sex with you?"

"Can't you just tell me?"

"I don't want to lie, so you'll have to ask as specific question," Duo said. His voice grated but he didn't shout. He even smiled afterward in apology.

"When did you first think you wanted sex? With me?"

Duo closed his eyes. "We were aboard Peacemillion. Quatre was briefing you and Wufei on our version of everything that was going on after Sally and Lu had given us that talk. And Quatre showed you were the lockers were in the room near the bay. He gave you that flightsuit."

"I didn't have to undress to put that suit on."

"I know. It was when you were in the suit. I loved you in that suit."

"It was just a flightsuit."

"And you were just fifteen. I feel kinda disturbed thinking about it now, except, we were the same age." Duo opened his eyes and looked right at Heero. "I had these dreams of you in that suit, your gloves all over my naked skin."

His gloves on Duo's naked skin!

Duo shrugged and laughed. "But, I told you before, I used to have some pretty twisted ideas of how it would be between us."

"Aa... so... that was just sex?"

"Yeah, well, I'd decided to be your friend around the time of New Edwards. I'd been thinking about you, but I didn't actually like you. I was trying to figure you out. But then you did all that stuff... um... Trowa and Wufei both went after Treize. Sally gave you the warning. Quatre helped you out on strategy. What did I do but sit around saying, 'So, his name is Heero,' and being really confused?"

Heero shrugged. "I was confused. I think I was mentally on auto pilot. I just told myself to push everything down inside until the mission was over. And when it was over... I hurt."

"Yeah. And you went right back to missions and to school. That's when I liked you. I knew you had flaws. But I liked you better knowing you weren't perfect. I knew you were going to keep fighting just like me, and man, you needed help. I thought I had emotional problems until I met you!"

Heero laughed out loud. A second later Duo was laughing with him. "I don't know which of us is more screwed up!" Heero laughed.

"I don't either," Duo giggled.

"You liked me and then you desired me... for over two years now? And you just said nothing?"

Duo sucked in a breath. "Yeah. Don't laugh at me. It wasn't one of those gender issues or low self-esteem. I mean, maybe I had those, but that wasn't why I told myself not to go for it. I seriously thought you wanted to be with Relena. I mean, I was clueless for a while. You ran off to save her and Trowa and Quatre knew, but not me. And then I saw it too. Heero, you really liked her. I know you did. Why should I spoil a chance at happiness for any of us? I knew she liked you."

"But I didn't desire her... I don't think I did."

Duo sighed. "Yeah, well, you two looked like you wanted each other and it got more intense through that year. Anyway, then you just ran off and we were all confused. And we blamed you. And then we got over you I guess. And we became friends. And then you came back." Duo laughed. "You came back and suddenly you were petting hair and giving full body hugs and buying me things! Heero! What's up wit' that?"

Heero laughed warmly. He was impressed with the sexy, relaxed sound of it, because he knew his own laughter usually sounded colder than that. "I don't know. I didn't even know until it happened. I just wanted to be with you. This is who I am now. I don't know why. Maybe you said some things in the past when you thought I wasn't listening and they had some effect on me. Maybe I just grew up."

"Right, I bet I get all involved in you and I heal your soul and then you leave me for someone else."

"Duo... I mean it, I won't just leave and I will try very hard not to die."

"God, we're sappy." Duo said, "let's just build the car."

"You are so macho."

"I am not macho." Duo assured him.

Heero affected a tougher voice and used slang, "Just because I want big cocks fuckin' my ass doesn't mean I'm gay. I work with machines. I get in fights. I know sports scores."

"Shut the fuck up," Duo laughed, "You know those stereotypes are all bullshit, right?"

"Bullshit," Heero repeated.

Duo bowed his head and put his hands to his face. For a second Heero thought he was crying, but it was just laughter. Duo looked up suddenly. "I don't believe you said 'cock'!"

"I have been practicing."

"I can see it," Duo said as he returned to the model. "You probably wrote up a script or practice phrases and read them in front of the mirror."

He had. "I didn't sleep last night. I finished my mission report and edited and I just couldn't sleep so I got a lot done. Laundry, cleaning, spent some time at the basketball court, picked up the company uniforms, finished a model, took a bath, debated what to wear, got a lot of hard training in."

"Hard training, huh?"

"Double the usual physical workout plus a lot of masturbation."

"I see why you are giddy now. Sleep deprivation and masturbation. And what's in this thing?" Duo snatched the candy stick from Heero's mouth and put it in his own. "Mmmn, lemon, but..." Duo took the stick from his mouth and licked his lips. "You got this from Tang's so, you're probably hopped up on ginseng or something." Duo used the candy stick to point out Heero's soda. "And caffeine."

Heero crawled his fingers across the floor to the keyboard of his mobile. "I feel pretty good. I want to hack something." What he really wanted was Duo. Maybe Duo wet in a shower. Heero bit at his lower lip.


Heero looked up. Duo was smiling at him.

"Just help me put this together and add a coat of paint, then we can go to bed."

Heero nodded. He supposed he did feel a little less than 100 percent. He thought it was mainly being around Duo. He didn't think all the other chemicals could be effecting him very badly.

He scanned the directions for the model and understood how the pieces Duo had completed fit together, so it didn't take long to build the car. Heero set up the airbrush and gave all the outer surfaces of the model car a coat of red paint.

Duo helped him clean up the area around the desk. Heero checked on Koi and checked that his door was in fact locked. He went into his bedroom then.

Heero took a pair of leggings from the dresser and went into the bathroom to change. He stripped down to his skin, put the clothes he had worn in the hamper, then pulled on his leggings. They should be comfortable enough to sleep in. They were designed to wick away sweat and to breathe and to move with his body. Besides, they felt soft inside and out and the solid black color made his legs look longer.

Heero brushed his teeth. He remembered that he had read one of the pamphlets from the clinic and it suggested that people who really were determined to have safe sex shouldn't brush their teeth before kissing or oral sex because if their gums bled it increased risks of exchange of blood born diseases.

Well, they had decided they would have no sex tonight.

Heero still hadn't talked to Duo about just how safe they could be. It was all based on the particular amount of risk one thought acceptable. A couple with one partner who knew they were sick might take every precaution there was, while a couple who did not think they were sick, but were not sure or had multiple partners might take only some precautions, risking that nothing bad would come of the contact they allowed.

Heero didn't even suspect Duo was sick at all, but he was pretty suspicious and curious about who his other sex partners had been. What if Gibson, for example was also seeing someone else and he got something from them and then there was some accident that allowed Duo to get sick...

Heero didn't want to think about it, but he did. It was logical to think about this somewhat.

Heero spit toothpaste into his sink and filled his hand with water to rinse his mouth.

When Heero left his bathroom Duo was stooped near his bag taking things from it. "It's OK if I use the bathroom?" Duo asked.

"Yes," Heero said simply. Heero moved out of the way and stood between the bed and shelves as Duo moved into the bathroom. The apartment was small. It took effort for two people to navigate it at the same time, at least, it required some moving aside to let the other past.

Heero went quickly to his desk and picked up his mobile. He dragged its cord after him as he returned to the bedroom. Plugging it in again Heero set the computer on the floor to play from a list of music files at low volume.

He took incense, a burner and a lighter from the shelves. Rachael had recommended Jasmine so that was the type of scented stick Heero set burning atop the dresser. Heero turned out the lights then. He closed the door to the other room almost all the way, allowing a small space for Koi to move in or out.

By the time Duo came from the bathroom Heero was already snuggled between silk sheets and a fleece blanket and in the cool glow of the mobile's monitor. Duo didn't complain, but then he could practically see in the dark. He went to his bag and put some things away.

Heero had folded an extra blanket at the foot of the bed earlier that day. Duo crawled right over it. Heero turned to his back and watched Duo lift the edge of the blanket Heero was under. He slipped across the sheets and lay down close beside Heero, propped up on his right side.

Heero was grateful that Duo wore both a skirt and a t-shirt. It was less tempting that way, with the clothing between their bodies. Duo's eyes looked absolutely violet in the eerie glow. "Were you gonna put on make-out music and not give me a kiss goodnight?" Duo asked.

"What is make-out music?" Heero asked seriously.

Duo laughed, probably thinking that one of Heero's jokes. Duo closed the space between them. It felt good, Heero thought, being allowed to be so close to Duo again. Last week, before they had ruined things, they had just held each other and he had felt better and at peace.

Soft, light kisses, like the one Heero had given to Duo when he did not want him to be sad.

Jasmine. Vanilla-like Duo scent. Fusion of traditional koto music and synths.

Duo's left hand grasped Heero's arm and his thumb moved over and over the scar from the wound his bullet had left three years before. Heero rolled onto his side, pushing a knee into Duo's skirt to part his legs, sliding his right hand to Duo's buttocks. Not subtle at all.

In a single undulation of his body Heero pressed the current maximum possible surface area of his shape against the shape that was Duo; he added tongue to their kisses to achieve this.

The whine that came from Duo's throat said, Heero thought, that he greatly approved but was just as tormented by their promise not to have sex.

This was getting closer to sex every second. Duo's skirt was made of very flimsy material. Heero could feel everything. And there was something comforting and exciting about Duo's callused hands sliding to his back.

Just a little more, Heero told himself. I will stop for him even if he started this.

He threw his weight again, pushing Duo flat against the bed and then landing so that he rode Duo's right leg, as it were, and his arms supported Duo's neck and shoulders so that Heero could lift him up off the surface of the futon to meet his kisses. So he did. Heero drew Duo's shoulders up even as he pinned his legs. Duo's head lolled back and Heero bowed to lap at his mouth.

Duo returned the same sort of breathy open-mouthed kisses. Heero had seen it done in pictures. Mouths held open and close, but not touching, as tongues kissed or traced the lines of a lover's lips. The breath penetrated. The softly audible exhale sent warm air into the other's mouth and then it was retracted with a sucking breath. It was as if the mouths longed to be penetrated by something large and more substantial than a breath.

It was not the most intense way of kissing, but it was fun for a while.

Heero sealed his mouth against Duo's again as he lowered him gently to the bed. He closed his lips, leaving Duo with a soft press of lips before he sat up.

Heero knelt, straddling Duo's leg, hands in his hair, eyes closed and trying to control his respiration. No more. He couldn't stand any more just now.

"Good! Night! Was that a kiss!" Duo said, the inflection strange to Heero's ears, as if Duo might be speaking British.

He opened his eyes and looked down at Duo. His head was tipped back and flat on the bed rather than on any of the little buckwheat pillows. The thought occurred that Duo was lying on his hair in such a way that he was stuck like that until Heero removed himself and allowed Duo to roll.

Heero slipped away, to the side of the bed he had claimed, closer to the shelves and his computer. Heero supposed they should sleep now. It had been a good kiss, or kisses. He wasn't sure when it became plural, when the couple parted or when the manner changed. In any case, if he had much more contact with Duo he was sure he'd accidentally do the wrong thing again and they would fight or have bad sex.

Heero straightened the blanket, making sure to leave half for Duo. He settled back against his pillow then and closed his eyes. He could hear Duo's breath and it sounded agitated.

Maybe Heero was supposed to say something. Mainly he had been learning about sex. Neither had lots of practice at expressing their emotions. Heero was well aware that around most people he repressed outward expression of his emotions. Even now, the most expressive version of himself only chose to show expressions here and there and only to people he liked.

Duo showed a lot of expression, but mostly it was false, which amounted to the same thing, not allowing his true emotions to show.

But, Heero did want Duo to know how he felt. Duo wasn't an opponent, so there should be nothing to fear from showing his feelings as well as acting on them. Actually, where Duo in particular was concerned Heero thought he might feel happy sharing. He would certainly feel less alone being able to share everything about himself. He might even make Duo happy. There might be some bad feelings to share, but they would be together.

That was the point of all this, to not just find a partner to have sex with, but to have a lover. Heero had thought they might be two separate things. He had thought he was willing to take just the sex from someone. That might be fine for other people, but Heero wanted a lover. He wanted Duo to be his lover.

"Don't you even have anything to say?" Duo demanded in a hissed whisper.

Heero turned slowly, finding Duo was propped up on his side again and staring at him. Heero did have something to say, but he did not understand why Duo should be so agitated. All Duo had done was exclaim about whether it had been a kiss or not. That didn't really communicate any feeling but wonder or perhaps shock.

Heero tipped his head so he looked levelly at Duo's eyes. "I love you, Duo, and not just because of that kiss, which I enjoyed very much."

on to chapter 16

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