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

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 87

Maybe every alien culture had a version of Swedish Meatballs, but most cultures within the Earth Sphere probably had some version of chicken and rice. Heero was not certain where the version he and Duo made had originated, but it tasted decent enough, and filled his stomach with no ill side-effects whatsoever. Even knowing they worked well together in some areas, Heero had been skeptical about cooking with Duo, but everything had worked out well. Their kitchen's size and layout was such that they did not get in each other's way, but could also easily hold conversation and pass things across the room without stepping away from a workspace. The cork flooring kept their feet from getting very tired as they stood cooking, and the smooth concrete countertops were easy to keep clean.

They ate sitting at the kotatsu, with the two dogs watching. Duo gave Nu a bit of chicken from his bowl, and Heero gave Duo some advice on how to care for dogs.

Duo took the dishes to the kitchen and Heero loaded the dishwasher, which functioned flawlessly. Heero and Duo both went to the temporary bedroom to dress, having worn their variously acquired hotel robes to eat.

Wearing clothing they could move comfortably in, they started sorting through the boxes, crates and furnishings piled in the living room. They talked as they worked. Duo had eccentric thought patterns, if his thoughts could be said to make patterns and he was more impulsive; he was like this with piloting, or building models, or cooking, and he was like this with decorating.

Some of Duo's vision was rather average. He enjoyed watching movies and television programs and voiced his wish to have a large monitor, with the latest technological advancements, to put in the living room. Very many people had such wants. Duo did not want to put the television over the fireplace, though it would have fit, because he felt the slight degree increase in smoke deposits made the area an undesirable location for a high tech device. Heero could understand that. Duo did not want the television to cover the window either, though Heero pointed out that some people installed roll-down screens for projection systems over windows. Duo said projection systems were lossy and covering the window with a black-out screen was a security risk. Heero had to agree with that. There were only the two walls in the room, unless one considered mounting the monitor within the entryway or the dining room. So, Duo suggested putting the monitor in the corner; they could tool its mounts to hang the monitor in the corner between the window and fireplace. That was not completely unheard of, so Heero agreed to the plan.

Of course, this plan meant that they would place the sofa they would obtain on a diagonal, facing the monitor, allowing viewing of the fireplace or window, in the center of the room, leaving space behind for a console table and traffic to flow between table and the built- in cabinets that partitioned the living room from dining room.

"The sofa in the apartment was mine, but I let Hilde keep it", Duo said. "There were a lot of things that seemed pointless to transport to Earth, so I told her that she could use them or sell them as she wanted, use the money for the baby if she sells them. I don't think we should get a sleeper, but we should look for one of those couches that has a square shape and removable back cushions, so it can be used as a bed if needed. I brought the slipcover with me. We should paint the walls red."

Heero looked at the walls. The portions not covered by wood were painted an off-white shade. Red was not Heero's favorite color, but he had watched many home improvement shows on educational channels and he knew that Ursula had used red as an accent color in his apartment. This room was at the south of the house and the walls flowed around the hearth as well as the kitchen. Red did not seem an entirely wrong choice. "Red is OK, but not in any other rooms, unless it is an accent only. I know some online sites that sell modern furniture and I think they will have couches with the sort of squared shape and clean lines that will work for this room. I could look for one."

"OK, I guess, but we could have looked for a vintage one."

"I do not think that a sofa in good condition in that style would be much less expensive used."

"It might be if the upholstery is ugly. The couch I left Hilde is butt ugly without the slipcover."

"A new couch would be better. I would not want to sleep on a used mattress. We can look for hard furnishings that are used."

They began listing some hard furnishings they would need, like occasional tables, or as Duo suggested, things that could function as tables, like old trunks and stacks of suitcases or salvaged hospital carts or similar industrial equipment.

They would probably end up with strange salvaged furnishings in every room, Heero thought. Sometime, when the rooms were all constructed, and walls were painted, Heero would have to carefully consider placement of art. He owned some paintings, a poster and a few small statues. Duo had many posters, various framed art and such things as gargoyles. Heero had never realized Duo collected gargoyles, demons and guardian beasts.

They stayed awake, sorting and talking about their plans for each room, until they were both quite tired. Duo went right to their bed and crashed, still in his clothing. Heero went to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, got undressed, and then went to bed.

Saturdays on Earth in areas populated by Americans were nice, because so many people kept it as a day of rest, not so many as took Sundays, but then, some took both days as their weekend. It was different in the Colonies, or other parts of Earth. In some areas, children had to be woken for classes on Saturday. It was nice to be able to sleep in and not be woken by the sounds of hammers and machinery. Nice to think there would be a few more days like this, during this weekend.

Heero was alone in bed when he woke. It would have been nicer to wake with Duo there, he thought. Duo was not in the same room, though Koi was lying on Heero's feet.

Heero pulled his feet from Koi and the sheets and got up to look for Duo. He could hear voices and thought Duo must be watching television somewhere.

He was standing in the dining room, at the so-called breakfast bar attached to the kitchen, eating cereal and milk and watching something animated on a mobile computer. When he saw Duo there, Heero understood that they really did need furniture. He had a place to sleep and he had his computer. So long as the kitchen functioned and the bathroom was left fairly clean, Heero could live in the house during construction. Duo's lifestyle was being disrupted.

Duo was used to working hard for long periods of time and then crashing. He had done it while working on his mobile suits, while going to school, while in the war, and probably, in some respects, before that. To survive, Duo needed a safe place to hole up when he was not able to stay awake any longer, but to be happy, he needed more than a warm nest behind walls. Duo needed to vege and flop and lounge, and they did not really have furnishings conducive to such things, and the furnishings they did have were not arranged with Duo in mind.

Heero's pet had specific needs. If Heero did not meet them, he was certain Duo would not last until Wednesday here, if he did that long, before he announced that he was going to stay with someone else.

They were on Earth now, Duo could not easily go to Relena's, or Adin's or Wufei's, or Hilde's. It was Duo's decision to move to Earth, so he could go to school and better himself and become a suitable father figure, but Heero knew it would not be easy for Duo to adjust. Heero had also grown up in the Colonies, but he had also spent more time living on Earth than Duo had, and had already adjusted to many things.

In a few weeks, Duo would have places to run off to. He might announce he was going to school and staying with a new friend there. He might stay on base with the Preventers, if he did not want to be at the house with Heero; but now, he had no where else to go, and even if Duo did love Heero and their house, Heero did not imagine Duo felt entirely comfortable.

Duo needed to believe he had somewhere to run, even if he had no reason to want to run.

"Morning", Heero said.

"Ohayo!" Heero excused that, because Duo was watching a program in Japanese, and Duo was the sort of person who would speak to a person in three languages regardless of their ethnic origins. Heero excused a lot of things Duo did, which he would not have excused for others.

"Be right back." Heero returned to the bedroom. He took his deodorant, from the trunk he used as a temporary closet, and swiped some under each arm. He pulled on a tee and then a pair of jeans and then sat to put on sock and boots. He went to the hall to retrieve his satchel and took his mobile from it. Heero then joined Duo at the counter and opened his computer, first to check and quickly answer messages, and then to access a local daily.

The classified pages had ads posted for various flea markets, estate sales and yard sales. As Heero expected, there were some scheduled for that day. "Do you need to watch those shows, or can you tape them?"

"I do not need to watch them, but sitting around on a Saturday watching cartoons is beneficial to my mental well being, can it wait, whatever you need?"

"I have you. Remember? I just thought you might like to actually sit around."

Duo looked away from the screen, toward Heero. "Huh?"

"If you get washed up and changed, there is a flea market we can go to and some yard sales. I would still like to order a new couch, but if we have luck, we can find at least one chair today, and maybe some other things we need. Maybe we can find some of the new things I would like available for in-store pick-up."

Duo frowned. "We are still without a vehicle."

"I thought we would borrow the flatbed without permission. They transport the machinery on it and it is still parked in the yard."

"Steal a flatbed from our contractor?"

"We would bring it back, it would really just be `driving a vehicle without being properly identified as a known driver on its insurance policy'."

"And who would drive?"

"I will leave that to you."

Duo smiled. He took up his bowl and started to walk around the counter to the kitchen, but he turned back and spoke to Heero. "Thanks", he said. Just `thanks' and then he was slurping the last dregs of milk and rinsing the bowl before loading the dishwasher; Duo had spoken so seriously that Heero wondered if the thanks was only for letting him drive.

Heero had not meant for Duo to know that the impulsive decision to buy furniture today was for his sake. Heero had faith in Duo, enough to know with certainty he would have stayed in the house with him these two weeks before school started however bored and stressed he got, but he still wished to spare Duo the week and a half of insanity that would come from the sudden change in lifestyle.

"If I drive, you can plot the best course through all the yard sales that will enable us to spend as much time at each, given their scheduled hours and limited selections. I could have decided on some course, but…"

"You wanted to drive," Heero said plainly.

Duo grinned at him over the counter. "Of course, and you wanted to plan things out."

"It is the most logical division of tasks."

"Yeah, but that time, you didn't do it because it was logical. That's why I said thanks. Mainly."

"I will be happy too if we get some furniture and make these few rooms as comfortable as possible." That was true, but Heero had made his decision out of consideration for Duo, and Duo knew it. He knew, and he was saying he appreciated it, without really saying it. Heero appreciated that.

"See if you can find some cash, while I get some clothes."

Heero answered only with a nod. They were ready soon, nondescript casual garments on, with hats and sunglasses, dogs harnessed and leashed, route in the process of being plotted, cash on hand, and truck hotwired.

Heero told Duo the location of their first stop, and as the city was new to Duo as well, told him what streets to take to get there. "Remember", Heero said, "We are shopping for furniture. No clothes or toys or old movies."

"Sure, sure."

The first stop was within their same neighborhood, a few streets and intersections away. The house looked as if it had been remodeled and added to often over at least a hundred years. The yard was neat, with a small lawn, nearly covered now by tables, boxes and furniture, beds of shrubs and two spruce trees disturbing the sidewalk with their roots. Two cars and an SUV were in the drive, priced for sale with soap. Signs posted on the mailbox post and on pickets near the sidewalk advertised a moving sale.

The truck, or the way they looked, or something must have made them marks, because the pair of homeowners were soon grinning at them and asking if they planned to buy enough to load their truck, or if they had no other vehicle.

"I looked at this house when it was on the market", Duo admitted. "Where are you moving?"

Heero smiled, Duo had avoided answering their questions rather skillfully, he thought.

"What a charming accent! Are you from the Colonies?" the woman asked. Heero thought she looked like a grandmother, or like a woman that would be cast as someone's American grandmother in a movie, because she had graying hair and a rather rounded figure. Granny had just used Duo's tactic against him.

Duo lifted an arm to touch his braid and laughed. "I am an American Colonial, how can you tell? Watch a lot of the satellite educational channels?"

"The Colonies have the best game shows, and we are going to be moving there. Which side is it, Hon?"

"That'd be Side Three. They call it, don't they?" the old man asked. "I think. I know it's the only one we can never view from Earth, because it's the other side of the Moon." He continued, seeming to speak to Heero, though Heero did not understand why, "Property values and rent are fairly inexpensive there now, but we have a feeling that area is going to show economic regrowth soon, because the rent and COL there will draw businesses to move there, which will create jobs."

"It's safe", the old woman said, "Did you know it is the cluster with the lowest incidence of collisions to the exterior with natural or man-made objects?"

"All the problems there are internal", Duo warbled.

"Yes, only so many problems as a regular city."

Heero felt his face twinge, as if he had developed a tic. He wanted to explain how Side Three was not really safer than any other cluster of Colonies, only fortunate to not have had as many collisions as others, yet, but he felt this would not be the best way to encourage Earthlings to sell him furniture at a fair price.

Duo laughed again. "It is a big truck, isn't it? We're looking for furniture actually. We just moved from the Colonies, and I'm sure you know, moving furniture by shuttle is not really cost effective, unless it's priceless furniture to begin with, like antiques made of exotic wood you plan to sell there."

The couple welcomed them to look around at the furniture and then went to talk to some others who were also shopping in their yard.

Duo whispered to Heero then, "With sales of this type, you can't really afford to comparison shop or gamble that you'll find something better later. If something seems relatively functional and pleasing and the price is fair, you just buy it and move on to the next sale, because speed matters when every minute you spend haggling, others are already picking over the best stuff at the next yard sale."

Heero said that he supposed Duo must be correct. They looked over the furniture quickly and negotiated a price for a stainless steel accented maple console table, which they agreed would look well behind the sort of couch Heero meant to purchase.

They secured the table to the flatbed, got the dogs back into the cab, and navigated their way to the next sale.

At the third sale, in a part of the city populated by apartment homes and condominiums only 40 years old, which had likely been built in a cycle of urban renewal after older buildings on the site, unworthy of historical preservation, had been demolished, they noticed cameras.

Heero looked to Duo and found him looking back, and then they both looked again, through the windshield, to the street. "They are not reporters", Heero said. "A crew from one of those home improvement shows."

"Didn't they mention anything about it in the ad?"

"They must have, only I did not recognize the catch phrase was also the name of a program. Do you want to leave?"

Duo shrugged. "It's like one of those shows where they organize and decorate rooms in your house, provided you part with your favorite collectibles and junk ratted away just incase you'll use it one day?"


"Won't hurt to take a quick look, just remember we're looking for furniture."

"I know that", Heero said, and he meant it, for he had been the one to suggest they shop for furniture today, and he had done it for Duo, but then he saw the Heavy Sixer gleaming dully upon a neatly arranged table display of old video game systems.

"We have enough", Duo told him, reading his mind. "They have a drafting table over there we might actually use in the office."

Koi tugged on leash and harness, wanting to investigate the pile of plush toys.

Heero did not move from the spot, though he knew Duo could use a drafting table, after leaving his with Hilde. "Duo."

"You have any game systems?" asked a friendly, but also hesitant man. Heero knew with certainty that this man's wife had demanded he reduce the size of his collection to those pieces that were most valuable and fit within a designated and tidy display area.

Heero glanced sidewise toward Duo. If he outright lied, he would not be able to negotiate a price based on expert knowledge later, but if he revealed the extent of his knowledge, the seller would certainly know how much Heero desired some of these pieces and stay at his higher prices. Heero shifted his gaze back to the middle-aged man beside him, not that the seller could notice the movement behind Heero's slightly mirrored sunglasses.

"There's a camera right on us", Duo whispered.

"I have a few different game systems." Heero forced a laugh. "That is always the way, no? You need to buy another to get that one game that is not multi-platform. I do not have these old ones, though. Are they even compatible with current monitors?" He made himself laugh again. "Is that one there from the 40s? I do not recognize it, but it looks like devices I have seen from that era."

"The Atari? No…"

"Oh, is it one of those 2800s? Is that what they were called?"

The man twitched slightly and stared fixedly at Heero. Heero smiled weakly. He feared his act had been a little too clever. Similar devices actually had been marketed briefly in Japan as the Twenty- Eight-Hundred, and so his supposed stab seemed suspiciously just off target enough to be very knowledgeable. Perhaps he should have said 7200.

"It's the Atari Video Computer System model CX-2600, Sunnydale version, made in the States, for one year only, before production moved overseas, known to collectors as the `Heavy Sixer' because it is significantly greater in weight than those 2600s that were produced overseas, or the four-switch 2600a, due to it's thick plastic casing and level of internal RF shielding."

That was much of what Heero had memorized about the device, except the description of the casing and associated text labels which gave points of comparison with similar devices with which to identify the original 2600. It had the particular faux woodgrain and yellow paint against black plastic color scheme, appropriate logos, rounded trim on the front, six chrome-like switches labeled in yellow or red that made it a `sixer' and thick plastic casing. Heero shrugged, casually picked up the device and glanced at the dry, fading text label. It had the appropriate phrases, and Heero knew someone who had maintained a freely available online registry of such devices with serial codes and known history of ownership and maintenance, so if he purchased it, he would soon know if it had been worth it, as the serial number was legible. It felt about the correct weight. "But, does it work?" he asked, setting the device back on the table amid various controllers.

The camera crew and host of the program were now looking on with interest, interested in the drama that may or may not ensue when the man attempted to sell off the devices he had likely fought placing in the `sell' pile.

"It works so far as I know. It was part of my grandfather's collection; I only kept it on display. It was old when he had it. It dates from One-Nine-Seven Seven Old Calendar," the seller said, using the current manner of naming years, "So, it's antique by at least a hundred years."

"Come on, I want to go look at that drafting table," Duo said loudly, "We have enough game machines and computers at the house."

"It might be interesting to have, if it works", Heero said, realizing that Duo was not really protesting, but communicating his agreement to drop the `only looking for furnishings' rule by helping Heero in negotiations.

"Yeah, if the old piece of junk works. What did they use inside those things back then? Transistors or vacuum tubes or something?" he laughed. "You probably couldn't find the tools to fix it if you needed to, and for all any of us know, the machine could have been refurbished three times over before it came into their family. Kinda ruins the collectible value, if the paints been touched up and the circuitry swapped out. It's only good for playing then, and that's if you have al the controllers, games and power cords you'll need."

"I have the original controllers and power supply, and if you like, I'll throw in some converters to make it play-ready! I even have the original box!"

"Really?" Duo asked.


Heero tried not to look ecstatic.

"I guess the box does make it a bit more collectible", Duo admitted, "But some of these other systems look newer, like they might actually have games available."

"I have lots of game discs and carts," the seller said, pointing out the plastic crates just beneath the table.

The crew's director was pointing out that the seller's wife was about to make a sale on some used bedroom furniture.

"I'll give you a fair price on anything you want from this table," the seller said. "If I get more sales than my wife, she lets me keep the second Heavy-Sixer."

"Five-hundred Esdees for all of this, the systems on the table, all the controllers and cables you have for sale, and the carts and discs as well."


"Five fuckin' hundred SD?" Duo demanded.

Heero remained calm and waited, only moving to draw Koi away from a child carrying a bag of M&Ms.

"Five-hundred. OK," the seller said. It was a steal. Heero knew it and so did his seller. But assuring that he would keep his own Heavy Sixer, unless his wife somehow collected over 500 Sphere Dollars for decade-old bedroom furniture and clothing, more than made up for the loss.

"And twenty-five for the drafting table, unless your wife has found a buyer for it", Duo offered.


"Thirty, unless you have a chair for it. I could go to forty-five with a chair."

"There is a chair. It is on the ground, in two parts, rises and lowers pneumatically."

"Forty-five then," Duo said calmly. Heero supposed he had started with a rather low bid. Heero could tell at a glance the table was not only functional but professional quality.

Heero counted out the bills and soon after they had loaded, table, chair and boxes of game systems on the truck.

They stopped at several more yard sales, a downtown flea market as it was winding down for the day, a salvage yard and one contemporary furniture store, before taking the truck home. As Duo had allowed Heero the games, Heero did not object when Duo included in their purchases a few personal accessories, such as an antique gentleman's walking stick and a silver cigarette case, even knowing that Duo did not smoke, and that few Americans on Earth or in the Colonies did.

The evening was spent dining on delivered pizza, which was not exactly New York, California, Chicago, or Asian style, but tasty for something that was made in carefully controlled steps by a corporate franchise, and arranging furnishings and boxes.

That night, they decided, without discussion, that they were not going to have sex. Without a word, Heero understood and was in agreement with Duo's apparent decision. They merely undressed, went to bed, in the same bed, in their shared house, and lay awake for a while watching an old horror movie since termed a classic. When the movie was ended, they slept.

Sunday morning was another matter. It felt good to be waking up in their house, in a bed with Duo, again. They had a previously established understanding that each had permission to wake the other by initiating certain levels of sexual contact even as their lover slept.

Heero woke, vaguely aware that he had just been dreaming, but unable to recall the images or sensations of the dream, though he suspected Duo had been involved and likely in sexual context. Rolling and finding Duo's dick hard, Heero initiated contact, specifically, he put his tongue to Duo's dick. Duo moaned slightly but did not seem to wake, and after a few more experimental laps, while he kept his eyes raised to Duo's face for any reaction, Heero brought his lips to Duo's dick. Only when he began to suck in earnest did it seem Duo woke fully. Duo's right hand rose from the bed surface of the mattress and pressed against the back of Heero's head. A moment later Duo stretched his body, his back arched and then his pelvis followed in shifting its angle, his knees rose and then fell, his toes pointed, and then his entire body went limp and relaxed as Duo spoke. "Mornin' noon or night, Baby."

Heero saw Duo's eyes open slowly and look down over his body; their eyes met. Heero tried something clever with his tongue. Duo hissed and smiled and tilted his head back.

Heero continued. Tasting, licking, sucking, blowing, tongue twirling. Duo encouraged, "Oh, God, Don't stop", "Yeah, Heero!" and such things. Heero felt high to hear him. He had grown beyond inability to feel pleasure without being assured he was able to please a partner, but knowing he pleased Duo still made him soar. It was like flying, like defeating all enemies, except without the knowledge that there would be death involved. It felt as good as being a child and beating a video game. A single pleasure-filled moan and `access granted' glowed in Heero's mind.

He loved Duo so much. He was beautiful, even looking at him strangely foreshortened in this reclining position, Heero found himself thinking that he had never truly realized before how attractively shaped Duo's jaw was. It was so good to feel Duo's warm skin against his arms and fingers, and to be trusted to take Duo's dick in his mouth, to hear Duo's half-controlled breaths, and even to smell him.

And the thing that really got to Heero, was the knowledge that he needed only, command, request, hint, or look in precise manner and Duo would do the same to him.

Sometimes turn-based was a really good thing. Not that Heero wouldn't love a session of real-time, sweaty, fully interactive love making, especially with multiple camera angles.

He shifted his eyes sideways to the mirror they had left propped near the bed and thought that to anyone watching, he must look gorgeous and relaxed lying between Duo's legs. Heero shifted his gaze back to Duo quickly. He knew Duo loved to see Heero's eyes look up at him from this position, and Heero would have to admit, he really got hot seeing Duo in a similar position.

Heero swallowed the cum when it came. He did not really enjoy the swallowing or taste itself, but as they had forgone barriers and he was able to do it, he did, because he just dislike the alternative of spitting based on principle. Besides, he thought Duo's face shifted to an impressed expression when he Heero do it, if his face was not too twisted with pleasure to register the shift.

Heero sat up and watched Duo prop himself up on elbows. He was grinning. "I wanna go to the bathroom", he said.

Heero went as well. They took turns using the toilet and brushing their teeth at the sink. When Duo finished brushing his teeth, being second at the sink, Heero put his hands to Duo's neck. He considered Duo's complete relaxation, in a hold that could easily threaten vertebrae and blood supply to the brain, and then drew him very gently into a kiss. He tasted mostly of toothpaste, which was the same brand Heero used, though Heero did not think this had been the case in previous months. He had not borrowed Heero's toothpaste, but begun buying the same brand for himself. Maybe, Heero thought, Duo had wanted to remember how Heero tasted. The thought made Heero want to kiss Duo even more.

"Daisuki", Heero said.

Duo laughed softly and swatted at a fine thread of saliva strung between their lips. Otherwise, Heero could tell he was pleased. Heero found it irksome when people peppered their speech with foreign phrases despite the existence of perfectly appropriate phrases in their own language or a previously established common language of fluency, but he tended to forgive this fault in Duo. Duo was simply a different person and he was, not only to Heero, very disarming and full of charms, and he could get away with wearing kilts or kimonos and he could get away with the speech-peppering, and he could even make Heero want to share useful phrases with him, because he looked so entertained when Heero used them.

Duo smiled.

"We have only done two rooms so far", Heero said, with exaggerated seriousness.

"Wanna do it in here?"

Heero looked about the room, considering. He could feel Duo's hands against his back. The bath was clean right now, and it would not be like having sex in a public toilet or bath facility, still, much as he was liking the idea of sex, he was not convinced he wanted to include this room. They were young, and sometimes one orgasm became foreplay for the next; he was certain Duo was interested, and he knew absolutely he was. "Not really sure about the location. Thinking that sex in bathrooms seems hot and kinky when you see it in a movie or read about it, but realistically…"

"Some bathrooms are better for sex than others", Duo agreed. He pressed his hands to Heero's back even as he stepped in toward him.

Heero turned his head back toward Duo and took a moment to press his lips to Duo's chest, over the sternum and then the clavicle. Then, he looked up. "Still not certain about `it', but I will make out with you in the bath if you are interested."

Duo grinned madly in reply.

Heero even made the water cooler than he liked, just for Duo. It was still warm enough to make Heero feel relaxed. Bathing did that for him, though he did not associate it with any childhood experience.

It was not the very first time Heero had been in the same bath as Duo, but now, he recalled those times he had thought himself plagued by anxiety and flashback and had found hot water and a hotel bathtub had eased his mind, and he recalled also the strange dreams and unfulfilled sexual desires that had been cause of anxiety, and he knew he had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Even without completing installation of security devices, Heero felt very safe in this house; the location eased him as much as the bath. He was in a safe place with someone that he trusted completely.

Heero felt sure of himself and he was perhaps aware that he expressed this with his actions. His hold on Duo was firm, and his touch, of hands and lips, full of assurance. If he had not been certain before, he would have known then it was love, but of course, he had realized he loved Duo long before. It was now reassurance.

It was apparent that Duo realized Heero's feelings, or felt something similar, because he halted his kisses and put his arms about Heero's shoulders in a gentle embrace. Heero put his head to Duo's shoulder and closed his eyes. He was never going to regret this new living arrangement. If they fought, if they had trouble, it would only take an embrace in this house and they would have peace again. Even if there was something they had disagreed violently about, one moment like this would at the least bring about a true while they worked out their difference.

It seemed a long time they held each other in the water without speaking, but the water had not yet grown cold by the time relaxation gave way to arousal. Heero was aware of Duo's erection against his abdomen only a split-second before he felt his cock rise to touch Duo's balls.

Duo called his name and Heero tightened his hold on Duo slightly. "Right here, or in another room?" Duo asked.

"We have never had sex submerged in water", Heero said quietly. "Have…do you think it causes any more or less soreness?"

"I want to go down on you", Duo whispered as he drew his body a small distance from Heero.

Heero wanted to say something, but suddenly, he saw bathing servants posed around his bath and all he could do was shiver and moan.

"Let me do it for you, Master."

Master. Heero made his eyes focus on Duo. He was already on his hands and knees in their large tile bath. The water lapped at his neck.

"You…you cannot forget to breathe!" Heero commanded.

"I am not the one who has trouble breathing."


"You know you'd already been dragged from the water when the Alliance soldiers found you and took you to that medical facility." For a second, Duo seemed hesitant, as if he was not sure himself why he had said that.

Heero had not thought about that before, but he realized that he did believe it was very likely there had been only just enough time for Duo to dive, drag him from the water and breathe life into him before the soldiers responded to the torpedo launch and gunfire. "I know", Heero told him; he meant `thank you'.

Duo smiled and then ducked beneath the water.

There was a moment, just a moment, in which Heero felt unsafe. He did not know what to do with his hands, and he wondered when Duo would come up for air, but then he felt Duo's lips on his cock, and it was such a familiar sensation then that it was as comforting as it was pleasurable or arousing. Heero put his hands to the sides of the basin, rather than put any pressure on Duo, that would inhibit his ability to rise for a breath.

The act was fascinating. There was not only the movement of lips or tongue, but a drawing of water over his cock. Heero had thought, somehow, that Duo's lips would simply seal out water and preserve air, but Duo flirted with watery death. Heero could not make himself lift Duo or ask him to stop.

When Duo came up for air, Heero felt certain he looked as short of breath, the way he panted in anticipation of continued pleasure. Duo looked at Heero's face and then went under again. Duo-chan was going to deserve some long slow reward up against a wall for this, Heero thought. He did not only suck on Heero's cock, but massaged his balls.

Heero felt the approach of climax. Soon he would experience a body- twitching, mind-numbing orgasm; he was certain of it. It was coming…

Heero saw Duo rise as if for a breath, choking. He forgot everything else and reacted quickly and near-completely on instinct. He rose onto his knees, grabbed Duo, lifted him from the water and then, with an arm beneath Duo's arms and braced across his chest, struck Duo in the beck with the palm of his hand to encourage the expulsion of water from his lungs. Duo coughed and struggled for breath, then expelled water from his mouth, and finally took a shallow breath.

Heero drew Duo close and hugged him tightly, listened for every next breath.

"Finish. I'll finish."

Heero did not loose Duo. "Can you think seeing you nearly drowned is sexy?" Heero asked fiercely.

"I just. Heero. I'll start again."

"No," Heero said softly, "we are even now. Let's go get dry. I will brush your hair."

Duo looked away and shrugged. It was obvious he was unhappy, but they were done with the bath; Heero was done with it. They would leave.

Duo threw his comb and brush to the new sofa and then sat with an audible huff to allow Heero to comb his hair. Heero sighed and began combing. He understood that Duo was upset, but he did not fully understand why.

Heero tried not to think on it too much and sat combing tangles from Duo's hair. The ends were combed smooth easily, but there were the tangles above to work down and out of the hair, and the locks always seemed most thoroughly tangled at Duo's neck, even when he had attempted to keep it neatly braided. There was probably good scientific cause for this, being it was the part of the hair where it transitioned from being kept close to the head to having free movement. That section of the hair rubbed against Duo's clothing and furniture more than others. Sometimes, Heero really wondered why Duo had kept his hair long. He could have just gotten a tattoo if he wanted a mark of distinction.

Heero thought about that. Duo seemed interested in body modification so far as piercings were concerned, but his reasons for the piercings could be related to their continued sensual nature and function. A tattoo only hurt once, and afterward offered only visual stimulation.

Heero had instructed that tattoos were foolishly gotten things for someone with a life like his, but he had been a child assassin then. For a moment Heero stopped the otherwise automatic movement of his hands and comb. He was aware just then how strange it might sound to other people, or disturbing, to say `child assassin'.

He could get a tattoo if he wanted. It need not have anything to do with a gang affiliation or curious and painful rites of manhood. He could do it just because there was no reason not to. He no longer had anonymity to protect. He had no missions that were of life or death importance. He did not have to fear someone would track him down or identify him based on a sighting of ink on his skin.

Heero had no idea where the tattoo would be or what form it might take, but he thought maybe he wanted to have one. Not a whole suit, or even a sleeve, just a little one, where most people would not see, so he could know it was there, just because there was no one to say he could not have it.

Heero's hands stopped again, because Duo stopped them. He had allowed dUo to take him by surprise; he was surprised to see Duo looking at him, when his back had been turned a moment ago. Duo released Heero's hands, but only so that he could rest weight on Heero's thigh. His thumb slipped beneath the towel Heero wore. He stared, and then inclined forward.

"No, Duo", Heero said.

"What?" Duo hissed.

"I mean…you do not have to."

"Are you saying I can't?"

Heero shook his head, only slightly. It was not that he was against such contact, but he did feel uncomfortable, because he believed Duo was still fixated on this `finishing' and Heero had really meant for Duo to not feel obligated. "No. Not that you can't ever, just that I really meant you do not have to do this."

"Do what?" He was angry. No special abilities involved. He sounded angry. His eyes looked angry. It hurt. It made Heero want to hurt someone back. If he were completely calm and thought about it, he would not wish to hurt anyone, but sometimes, Duo could just get on his nerves.

"Finish. It's over. It was good enough, and then it was interrupted and now I do not really feel interested, so we can do it some other time!"

For several moments, Duo just looked at him. Heero tried to know what he was thinking, but he could not get the information in any usable fashion. Duo's eyes seemed to get softer, and then cold again. The lids lowered so that his eyes were slit, but it was not a sexy look, not remotely. "You really think I'm some sad, submissive little thing that only want to get you off out of some fucking mental need? Some dependence or like guilt or obligation?"

Better say no, Heero thought. The answer really was no, he thought, but Duo's voice was that `I'm your lover and I'm yelling at you to ask a question and you better tell me what I want to hear or I'll make you suffer, buddy' voice. "No."

"'No'? Really? You sure? `Cause you're kinda acting like I'm some sad case with no mind or desire of my own!"

Was he? Shit. Was he? Sure, there was the `pet' thing, but he did not really believe Duo existed only to serve him or be cared for. Duo was a very capable person. He was his own man and…shit. Heero knew he had totally screwed up somewhere, but he knew he had not really meant it. "I…" Heero started.

"Fucking Jesus Christ, Heero! You were really only thinking about yourself!" Duo got up from the couch and paced over the floor a little, looked at Heero, paced, and then yelled some more. "Fuck! There were two of us in there! Just because it all crawled back up on you and you resigned yourself to things being `over' doesn't mean I couldn't still be interested. Did you even think that maybe I wanted to do it? Maybe I just thought you were hot."

He was right. "I am sorry", Heero said quietly, but he was not certain Duo heard him at first, because he was still yelling.

"You do know? You know, don't you?" But, Heero did not so much feel he was being yelled at then.

"I know."

Duo shook his head and came back toward the couch and then stooped in front of Heero. "You said you were sorry? Just like that?"

"You were right. I did not realize I was wrong, but now I do. You were right."

"Forget it. It's OK."

"But, you were right. I was thinking of how I felt. I was…scared."

Duo shook his head again. "Yeah, yeah, I got that, but I mean, I just got why you were thinking that way. I think…" He did seem hesitant, but Heero was not entirely sure yet what Duo was getting at now, he seemed very unimpressed that Heero had apologized. "I didn't mean to choke, Heero, but me wanting to continue had nothing to do with obligation. I just wanted you. You understand? You…"

"What is it?"

"Heero, it doesn't even sound right if I say `beautiful'. You know I do love ya, but I could love you and just be your friend, right?"


"It's not that wanting you has nothing to do with love, but…you're just…"

"Tell me."

"You're so fuckin' hot!"

"Oh." He forgot that sometimes. Heero put his fingers to Duo's cheek and leaned forward for a kiss.

"You are so hot."


They kissed. That was hot. "Is it OK now? It was great how you woke me up, but I want more. You want it too. I know. You don't have to stop of hold back. I'm OK."

Heero kissed Duo once more, softly.

"Just because I say `master' it doesn't mean…"

"I know. You were right. I did get scared when you were the one who stopped breathing, and I forget sometimes that I can be desirable."

"Fuckin' let me remind you already." Duo climbed up into Heero's lap. "I could remind you all day."

"That is my concern, Duo-chan," Heero said, ducking out of a kiss. "You told me yourself to remind you, yesterday, that you had a lot of work to do today. We got that drum at the salvage yard just so you could build a real barbeque. You said…"

"Yeah, but it was my work, so I can change my mind and decide I'd rather roll around with you all day."

Heero laughed, mainly to relieve tension, because Duo was getting to him. "But that is no different from me deciding I am no longer interested and forgetting that you can be interested too. What if I really was looking forward to our holiday traditions, even if they are only traditions you told me about?"

Duo hesitated and frowned.

"What if I'm really interested in fucking?"

"You still have work to do."

"You're pissing me off, Yuy. Don't make me switch on you!"

Heero laughed. It was amusement that time. He had every confidence that Duo could be a domineering sex partner, but he was certain Duo would not find him very submissive.

"Fuck it then!" Duo got up from the couch, disengaging himself from Heero at the same time. "Are you trying to test whether I can live with you?"

"Are you?"

Duo flashed his eyes toward Heero. He was not happy.

"Come back down here", Heero said, nicely.

"Fuck you."

"Duo-chan, Come back. I need you to tell me something."

Duo did not move, but when Heero took his hand, he did not make any attempt to draw it away.

"What's that word?"


"I cannot remember. What's that word?"

"What word?"

"For the couch."


Heero pulled Duo down toward him. "The word for what we'll do to the couch that has never been done to it before."

"Better be `fuck on it'!"

Heero laughed. "Come on. I bet you know. What they do to new shuttles, with the bottle."

Duo cackled madly. "We're going to christen the couch are we?"

Heero nodded emphatically.

"Not with a bottle?"

"Make-up sex."

Duo grinned. "I really do love you."

"We do not need to roll around together all day, but it is only right we kiss and make up."

"So what I need right now!"

"Aa, just another moment. I want to go get some things. A moment. They are things you will like."

Heero left the room to get the things, and when he returned, he sat and presented his pillow book to Duo. "Some of the positions include use of chairs or couches."

Duo grinned again and began to flip through the book. "I get to pick?"

"Yes. You pick the position."

"Just one?"

"Or several, but I will not guarantee I will get to each of them."

Duo smiled as he continued looking at the pictures. Every page showed boys drawn by Shizen. "I think you hold the record for the shortest and longest time it took someone to come for me."

"I would have hated to see someone else's initials beside the high score," Heero said flatly.

Duo turned his head and grinned. "No worry, I think you wiped out everyone else's scores on this machine."

Heero felt happy. He knew that he usually did not like being reminded that Duo had any past lovers, though he knew they existed, but somehow, the fact that Duo understood about the initials was such a good thing, if silly, that Heero did not care if `everyone else' was mentioned.

Duo showed Heero the page. "That is good to start, but maybe something else to finish." The drawing showed the partners facing each other, the one receiving seated in the other's lap.

Duo insinuated himself into Heero's lap. "Did we ever…? After that time, did we ever do it on the couch?"

Heero knew the time he meant, he could not forget such a bad memory. He did not think they had ever tried the couch again, except for sleeping or maybe making out. "I think we always moved to a bed after that."

"Let's make this couch different. Do it that way, the way I wanted it then." Heero remembered. Facing each other, the receiving partner on his back with his legs drawn up. He gave a nod and then offered Duo the lube.

Heero wanted as few bad memories in this house as possible. If they fought, they had to also make up.

on to chapter 88

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