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

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 91

When Heero ad Duo came outside, it was just getting dark. Mitchie and Johnny were outside already and Mitchie was in the process of announcing to others that if they wished for coffee, tea or hot chocolate with or after dinner they were welcome to find it in the kitchen. Candy passed by, into the house, carrying a tray, as she had apparently been restocking the buffet. Duo said he should check on the ribs, and Heero went with him.

As they were standing behind the counter the last two guests arrived, not necessarily together, but at the same time. Ethan was standing nearby and Candy came from the house again and so these two explained that the recent arrivals were also neighbors, Michael who lived the other side of Heero and Duo's house, and who frequently was away from home touring as a stage magician; and Haru who was Trisha's husband, looked vaguely like an Asian version of Howard and who was reportedly an experimental novelist.

Heero asked if this meant he was a novelist that was experimental in his life or a novelist of experimental fiction.

Candy said, "Both."

Trisha hurried over and kissed her husband. He appeared considerably older then she was and the kiss was surprising, because all during the day Heero had noticed no public displays of affection beyond some hugs, pats on the back and the way Gory stood with his arm possessively around Ester's shoulders, and it was not a kiss one would call brief or chaste.

"Dude, did you see? I think he even squeezed her ass. He's older too. Do you think she was still in school when he married her?"

Heero turned and gazed calmly at Duo. "Did you just call me `Dude'?"

"Uh, sorry, I didn't mean you exactly."

"All right then. There was definitely a squeeze, not that it is our business. How are the ribs?"

Duo turned and opened the grill to check the ribs. Smoke billowed from the grill thick enough to sting Heero's eyes, but it soon dissipated in the open air. When Heero blinked his eyes clear of tears formed in response to the smoke, he saw their next door neighbor, Michael, standing the other side of the counter.

"So, I hear you are the boys next door", he said and smiled wide. "Mickey Rose." Presumably, that was his name. "Or Michael. That's the name my mama gave me." He had a rather well-manicured appearance, like trendy male Colonials that were often assumed to be homosexual when visiting Earth. Tanned, brown-eyed, with dark hair cropped and styled straight, but which betrayed its tendency to curl at the back of his neck. The hair reminded Heero of Quatre, whose hair would likely curl or dread if left to grow out.

"Lost the name my mama gave me," Duo said with a shrug, and sounded careless, "but I'm Duo Maxwell now." He tossed the tongs he was holding to his left hand and extended his right to Michael in greeting.

Michael shook his hand and said, "That's a nice bracelet." He could only have meant the velvet bondage cuff on Duo's left wrist.

Duo withdrew both his hands across the counter. "Thanks. Was a gift from my boyfriend." His tone sounded strange to Heero, perhaps as if Michael had set off Duo's so-called Gaydar, while Heero had not even registered a blip. But if it had nothing to do with gender preference, perhaps Duo was put on the defensive again because Michael had not seemed to assume the accessory only alternative teen fashion statement.

Heero blinked, confused. There was a video game in which a character made such a comment on a boy's bracelet, but it hardly seemed relevant here.

Heero saw Michael draw up his hands in a kind of surrender and knew he had to say something to make the conversation friendly again.

"Well, now that the ice is broken", Heero said, fairly proud of his tension breaker, "I am Heero Yuy. It is nice to meet you, Michael. We have both been looking forward to making the acquaintance of our neighbors." He even extended his hand for Michael to shake.

Duo leaned into Heero and turned his head as if about to make some new protest, but Heero spoke again to prevent his comment.

"I think the ribs Duo has barbequed are almost done. Have you eaten yet?"

"No." Michael lowered his hands. "What kind of ribs did you say they were?"

"They're beef", Duo said, a hint of snippiness remaining in his voice. "I am just going to check that they are cooked through and then add the sauce."

"There's plenty of food on the tables there", Heero told the neighbor. "I made the rice balls. There is only rice, salt and pickled plum in them."

"Thanks. I'll be sure to stop back and get some ribs, when they are ready."

Heero whispered to Duo, when Michael had moved away, "He upset you, but I think we should try to be friendly with the neighbors right now. We do not know what that cuff means to him, only what it means to us, so we cannot assume to know his motivation."

"It doesn't even matter if I am actually into bondage or going through some rebellious teen phase; it's a free nation. I can wear whatever the fuck I want."

Heero laughed. "Duo, your sense of style is not…mainstream. I have learned that there are others with similar style, but they are a minority and most people would find your appearance curious to say the least. You know this. Even if you do not dress to make people look at you, they will look, and some probably will assume you are doing it just to get their attention. So, Michael gave you attention. That's all he did."

Duo shrugged. "They look cooked, I think."

Heero glanced at the section of ribs Duo had sliced down to the bone. "Cooked", he said. Heero still believed that Duo had listened to everything he had said, but Heero also understood that Duo was possessed of a temper and inclined to be suspicious and was now probably very tired and in unfamiliar territory. He was going to be defensive, and it might take the form of short comments rather than fake smiles until he got some sleep. He also knew that Duo was not going to act the way he did when they were alone, when they were not alone.

Heero had learned that lesson some time ago. In certain company, Duo would be quite aggressive and even possessive toward him, even if he continued not to be when they were alone. Heero could deal with this, knowing what to expect now. If he really disliked the behavior, he might attempt to train it out of Duo, but Heero thought he could tolerate Duo's public displays of affection every once in a while.

They sat together at a table to eat dinner. Heero felt so full, he only put a few ribs and one rice ball on his plate. As it was getting dark, Mitchie lit candles on the tables and some outdoor lighting attached to the house was switched on.

Heero realized that he had learned the occupations of all the other adults, but not Candy or Mitchie, so he politely asked what they did, over dinner. Michie said that she was an Allocation Analyst and Candy was an IT Coordinator and both worked in separate departments of the same company. She did not say what company, and Heero decided not to ask.

He ribs were very tasty. Heero had known in general what to expect in barbeque taste but the barbequed beef ribs were better than he had thought they might be. He told Duo they were worth waiting for, and Duo licked sauce from his fingers.

Dessert and coffee were served immediately after dinner. Heero wanted some ice cream, but he felt so full, so he only had a cup of Caravan tea. Then Candy brought a bag of Marshmallows to Duo. He looked happy and took Heero's hand to lead him back to the grill.

Duo pulled open the bag of marshmallows and pushed one onto the end of a skewer from Candy's barbeque tools. He handed another skewer to Heero. "You ever toast marshmallows?" he asked.

"No. Only read about it and saw it done on TV."

"I did it once with Quatre", Duo whispered. He lowered the skewer toward his grill, which was still warm. "Hold on", he said then. He handed Heero his skewer and put on some suede gloves also from Candy's tools. "I'm going to remove the grills so we can get right over the coals. I like mine burnt."

Duo lifted the warm metal grill away from the drum the base was made from and set it down beneath the legs, so no one would walk on it. Duo put the gloves down and accepted his skewer when Heero offered it, and then they both held their marshmallows over the glowing wood coals.

It was warm standing near the grill. When Heero turned his skewer he could see that even held way above the coals the surface of the marshmallow browned. Duo held his very close to the coals, until it caught flame, and then he lifted it and blew out the flames with a quick breath. Duo grinned wide and then picked the charred marshmallow from the skewer and tossed it into his mouth. He made a yummy sound and then, when he had swallowed, said, "I want another."

Heero examined his marshmallow. It was a darker brown on one side than on the others and beginning to slide along the metal skewer. He plucked the marshmallow from the skewer carefully, as it seemed the gooey inside wanted to stay while the toasted shell pulled away. He put it in his mouth. It was very sweet and gooey, but there was a smoky toasted taste to the outside that crumbled pleasantly in his mouth. He swallowed it down and said to Duo, "They are good."

"You can burn the skewer clean before you do the next one", Duo explained.

The children were gathering around the grill.

"Can I have one to drop in my chocolate?" Ester asked.

"Can I try to roast one?" Gory asked.

"I want", said Bowie.

"How do you like them?" Heero asked as Duo was handing Gory a skewer.

"She would like it lightly toasted", Mitchie said.

"I think I can get it just right this time. I just have to keep turning the skewer."

They continued toasting marshmallows until the bag was empty and everyone who wanted one had eaten at least one, and somewhere in the middle of it Duo had whispered to Heero that he wanted to go home and make out with him.

Heero went to Mitchie and told he that they would be leaving shortly and thanked her again for inviting them, while Duo cleaned the last of the skewers and talked to Candy about leaving the grill to cool down and picking it up in the morning.

It seemed some of the other families were leaving and it seemed Mitchie and Candy needed their home back to themselves. Julien was getting cranky and whining; Candy asked him if he would like some cheese to go with the whine.

Even before he could get ready to leave, other guests were approaching Heero to say goodnight. It seemed they all offered some invitation to stay in touch. They would suggest that if he ever needed to borrow anything or if he wanted a recipe of theirs he had claimed to enjoy he could drop buy. Gary said he was welcome to spend time with his kids at their house, but that there would be no drinking there and he would have to follow the household rules while he was there. Babs suggested that if Duo was going to be away at school Heero could come over just to talk, if he got bored, because her husband Bill was also often away. Some of the neighbors made similar offers to Duo. Ester apologized, if she had made any comment to upset Duo, and said if she had his hair she would want to keep it all and then offered to watch the dogs any time she was home with her father, because she thought Koi and Nu were wonderful. Marcus informed them that Ester would be home often now, because a new school semester was staring, but Ethan would only be home on break, because he had been accepted to study Theater and Performance Art at Berkeley.

Whenever the neighbors made these offers Heero would inform them that once the construction was complete Duo and he would have a small housewarming party and be sure to invite them. Some he extended further invitations to, if he felt any connection to them at all, he would suggest they come borrow food, or a game, or some music or have Heero look at a computer that was not working.

The vents of the grill were all closed, the grilling replaced inside and the cover lowered and everything left on the patio to cool. Duo promised to collect it the next day.

The MacDonalds had not left and Johnny was still there, so Duo asked if he wanted to come to their house. He made sure that Johnny understood that he would sleep on the couch and that there would likely be construction workers making a lot of noise starting in the morning, but he was still welcome.

Johnny agreed, and so they walked around the house to the front yard. They met Michael there, he seemed only to have paused to light a cigarette, but he might have been waiting for them. "Oh, Heero, Duo," he said, "It was good to meet you. I'll be home for a while between gigs, if you want to come over and get away from all the noise. Pleasant as all the construction workers milling about must be, I'm sure you get sick of the noise."

Heero did not answer immediately, he was thinking that during the days he also took part in the construction effort by installing further components of the security system, and that Duo had work to complete in the garage.

"Really, you should come by, Gary did the first restoration, but I used Ken for the addition. Maybe you would just like to see their work. Anyway, carpentry was my first trade, I'll show you all the secret passages and hiding spaces I built into my house if you come."

"Maybe one day, if it gets too noisy," Duo told him.

They walked pas the MacDonald's house to Free Rocks and Duo asked Johnny if he still saw Claudia much.

"She is still in Paris," Johnny said, pronouncing the city like a French person, "but we have hooked up a few times. We both flew to New York once. Still, it is not as if either of us asked the other to stop seeing others."

"Maybe you should ask her about that. You must be pretty into her to fly across the states to meet her."

"She is a fantastic lover, but it would be cruel, I think, to be so far away and ask her not to have sex with anyone else."

"You think Quick does that?"

Johnny laughed. "I think if she goes out anywhere there is some guy hitting on her. She is very beautiful and confidant. Very sexy."

Duo laughed strangely, "Heh heh, I expect you to call me every night while I'm away."

"Would not want you to be tempted to cheat."

They came to the gate and Heero opened it. Duo opened the front door. Heero stooped to free the dogs from their harnesses. "I think I'll take a bath or something", Duo said, "if you want to watch that episode, you can start without me."

Heero knew that Duo did not often take baths. He preferred showers for washing and Heero had known him to bathe most often when Heero was going to be bathing with him. Heero stood and looked silently at Duo, wondering about his comment. He saw Duo smile at him and though they had not switched on all the light yet, he thought Duo might have blushed.

Duo was not likely lying. His activity probably would include filling the tub and bathing, but the more Heero thought about it, the more he suspected `take a bath' was really code for something else. And, thinking about what Duo might do in the bathroom, Heero realized there were a number of things Duo must do regularly but which he did not usually do in Heero's presence. Hair removal for example. Duo rarely shaved in front of Heero or used any process for removing body hair, but Heero knew Duo sometimes did this, because he had seen the results. There were probably other things, trimming his toenails maybe, or doing particular hair treatments.

Heero nodded then. "Maybe I'll get a quick shower later." Heero supposed that there were a lot of those little normal grooming tasks that one might not wish a lover to see. It seemed a little strange, because Duo had even used a toilet in front of Heero before. But, they were living together now, Heero was not going to argue or refuse, even if Duo was going into the bathroom to do nothing but be alone for a little while. They certainly adored each other, but Duo could still sometimes get on his nerves, and he probably made Duo crazy sometimes, though Heero was not sure which things he did might bother Duo.

"I'll start this load of laundry and then go in and run my bath."

"Would you mind watching the premiere you brought?" Heero asked Johnny, and then, "Can I get you a drink or anything?"

Johnny asked what they had to drink and a few minutes later, he and Heero were sitting on the couch drinking something that was mostly vodka and Chambourd and watching the series premiere of Best of the Best. They half-heard Duo say something about not drinking too much before he went into the bathroom.

Johnny played Officer Tom Hanson, one of the pilots in training at the `Federation' top mobile suit pilot training facility. Moira played the Chief Medical officer there Colonel Lena Sakhalina. Heero wanted to have a chance to see his friend and neighbor in their new series, but they were only in a few short scenes and the majority of the hour long episode featured aces `Zero' Mitchell, `Blitz' Kazanski, and Instructor Blackwood, all played by people Heero had never met.

The show was almost over when Duo came from the bathroom. He said that he had wanted to see the show, but that he was tired now, not having slept the night before, and he was going to go to bed.

"I will leave you the disc, but it will be aired tomorrow", Johnny said.

"Thanks, Man, it was good seeing you. I hope we can meet up in New York, or, actually, I'll probably be able to see you in a few weeks when I start working at the base."

"We've seen some take-offs and landings there. We were told it's the place they re-route space traffic for Alcatraz or even LA in emergencies and the Government and Preventers use it for secure travel between Earth and the Colonies."

"Yeah," Duo agreed, "That is common knowledge. It's light aerospace there. Mostly government shuttle launches with some rocket self- deploying satellite launches. It's also used for Preventer and Government air traffic to and from cities and bases on Earth."

"What will you do there?"

"If I knew, I probably couldn't tell ya, but I haven't received that information yet. I know who my CO is and when to report to him and that I'll work with a partner, but that's about it."

"The way Preventers is set up currently, only a small portion of agents do specialized work, like IT, Legal or Medical, for example, the majority do `regular duty' which basically means being on call to handle any sort of disturbance or issue that comes up. It could be guarding a government Representative, or setting up surveillance of suspected arms dealers, or supporting local security forces in subduing a student protest that turned violent."

"God! And how many politically active students are there in the San Francisco area? I'll be real popular at school, I'm sure!"

Heero laughed.

Duo bowed over the back of the couch and kissed Heero's face. "Don't drink too much. Wake me up when you come to bed. I'll be mad if you don't."

"Sure", Heero agreed.

The show ended shortly after Duo went to bed, but Heero stayed in the living room with Johnny. The American actor was entertaining and had a quirky sense of humor that reminded Heero of Trowa. Having escaped Parisian thugs and hitmen along with Johnny made Heero feel Johnny was a friend and trustworthy. That Heero had been the one that brought Quick into the circumstances where Johnny met her and Heero was privilege to the information that they had become sexually involved made him feel a sort of manly bond with Johnny, as if the expatriate owed Heero gratitude for all he had enjoyed with Quick.

It was a new feeling to Heero, very unlike the way he felt about Adin and Relena being together. Heero imagined that Duo might sometimes feel this way with Adin, as if his being friends with both had enabled them to enjoy sex, he knew it, and it was just a nice little piece of information to have. With that couple, Heero felt brotherly and protective of Relena. And though he had a sort of friendly working relationship with Quick, he did not feel the same sort of protectiveness toward her and could not help but feel this strange pride in having helped another man get some.

They sat in the living room drinking and talking about their travels and what they knew of European or American cities and Heero liked it, because it was socialization with another man without even the remote possibility of becoming sexually involved. It was enjoyable, like playing basketball with Hiro, but different, because it felt more adult somehow, to drink and talk about museums, cathedrals and theatres instead of shooting hoops.

Johnny said he needed to use the toilet, and while his guest was gone, Heero realized it was quite late and they should be going to bed. He collected some sheets, a blanket and two bottles of water and when Johnny returned from the bathroom, Heero presented these to him and said that considering the time he should get a shower and go to bed.

It was a difficult thing to measure how drunk he was when he was the one who was drunk. Heero would have realized this if more sober. As it was, he did not believe he was very intoxicated. After all, he did manage to use the toilet and operate the water controls for the shower in the adjacent chamber. He did not try to wash his hair, but only let it get wet as he lathered soap over his body and then stood for a rinse. He even gargled and rinsed his mouth with mouthwash before heading for bed.

He stumbled a bit getting to bed, but rationalized that Duo was the one who could actually see in total darkness and that he was being considerate in not turning on too many bright lights.

The bed felt amazing!

Duo was warm and naked under the covers, and his hair smelled nice. Heero clearly remembered Duo saying that he should wake him, so he pressed up against Duo, groped for his dick, and called his name.

Duo woke and groaned. "Heero," he said sleepily.

Heero said something, invited Duo to have sex, but he did not remember later what words he used. Mostly, the question was posed by his cock nudging Duo's ass.

Duo turned around and put his hands on Heero's face. If Heero had been slightly more sober, he would have realized Duo was checking his breath and eyes, but he was pretty drunk, so he only thought Duo was into him. "I bet everything feels so good right now", Duo said breathily.

Heero agreed.

"I really wanted to get fucked", Duo said. "I got myself all fresh and clean and everything. Told you to wake me."

"I want you."

"I'm such a dumbass, I didn't realize how tired I'd be. But, I'm not a tease, right? How about you just lie back there and let me do something for you?"

Heero complied. He lay back and grinned at Duo in the dark and felt Duo's hands caressing his body. He was sure something really kewl was about to happen, and then somewhere during the something, he fell asleep.

Heero woke, hung over and generally disoriented. He felt like something was wrong, or missing. Daylight was coming through the doors and windows, and yet things looked sort of dim. Heero thought he must be really hung over, or still drunk, to have blurred vision. He tried to move, felt sick, and realized he could not hear.

He saw Duo then, cheerful and fully dressed and working at a mobile computer that sat across his folded legs. Duo laughed, and Heero heard nothing. His body tensed in panic, and that hurt.

Duo pushed the computer aside and put his hands on Heero's arms. "Relax," he said. Heero saw him say it, but he did not hear. Duo smirked and reached toward Heero's head. The sound of power tools hit his ears at full volume and Heero saw the muff ear protectors in Duo's hands.

"Put them back!" Heero groaned. Duo returned the earmuffs to Heero's head. He was beginning to wake more fully and recognized that he was wearing sunglasses as well.

Duo reached beside the bed and then sat straight, centered within Heero's field of vision. "You know the drill", he said. Duo was offering pills and water. Heero took them and then reclined again.

"Arigato", Heero whispered.

"You can see me?"

Heero used the thumbs up sign, knowing Duo would understand.

"Johnny said to tell you goodbye, wasn't feeling too great himself, but Moira said she would take care of him. Don't envy him having to fly today."

So far as Heero could recall he had never tried flying while hungover, but it was probably worse than riding a train or car, with the changes in pressure.

"The dogs have been out and I gave them food and water. One cup in each bowl, right?"

Heero made a slight nod.

"I'm going to the garage now. Just get some rest. I promise I'll do only a fair day's work and come in later to share dinner with you. Then, I'll be all your for the evening. No working until I crash or get snappy! OK?"


"I'll be in the garage, then. We can talk later if you want. I think it's OK if you just take it easy today."

Heero watched Duo leave through the house. Duo had been so nice and helpful to him this morning. Now that Heero was hungover rather than drunk, he suspected maybe there was something he needed to say to Duo or apologize for, but he was not really sure what it was.

Heero slept or rested in bed a significant portion of the day. At some point Koi stepped up onto the bed and insinuated himself into the hollow behind Heero's bent knees. After that, Nu came onto the bed and lay down on Duo's side. That meant Duo was alone, but then, Heero thought, maybe Duo was not really alone, but only without a person or animal to talk to.

After he rested a while, Heero managed several trips to the bathroom or toilet and later to the kitchen to fix some soup. He even removed the ear protection, though he kept the sunglasses on. By late afternoon Hero felt up to attempting work and sat on the couch trying to write a report for Zodiac Tech.

He was distracted, trying to remember exactly what had happened the night before, and afraid he really had been so drunk and killed off so many brain cells that he was not going to be able to remember.

Heero was glad when his phone rang, just to have a real excuse not to be doing the work he was not getting done anyway. He routed the call through his mobile with a few keystrokes, noting that it was Midii, so that he did not have to attempt to scry at the small monitor on his headset vidphone.


She seemed to smile at her lens, perhaps amused or pleased at Heero's appearance on her monitor. "So, how is it?"

"Is what?" Heero asked and then, "Where are you, with Hilde?"

"No. I still see her," Midii answered casually, "but I am at the apartment with Ursula now." Then, it was nine hours later there and in the middle of the night, but it was possible Midii was just getting in from a shift at the Lonely Heart. "How are things there? With Duo?"

"OK", Heero said automatically. He was not really sure this was true. He did not fear things were anywhere near `breaking up' level, but neither were they `unstressed'.

"I sent you some mail earlier, about some potential clients. I thought you would have answered by now."

"I will definitely have things sorted out by morning your time." Heero was silent for a few moments, thinking. "I gave myself the weekend off. They had one of those local holidays. I am getting caught up on things now." Silence again, and Midii just looked at him via lenses and monitors. "Did you ever have someone get in bed with you drunk, and you had not been drinking?"

"Don't you hate that? You may even have liked the guy earlier, but then he comes up to you all horny and sloppy and wants to fuck but can't even get it up and you just want to kick him out of bed, and he doesn't get why you're upset!" Midii sounded as if she had actually had a very bad experience with such things in the past, and even though Heero was sure the time he had been drunk and in a bed with her had had only slept, he felt very embarrassed, wondering what Duo had thought of him. "Was Duo out drinking beers and eating grilled shrimp?"

Heero laughed weakly. It seemed like Midii had heard about barbeques or Labor Day but somehow got the details wrong. Heero knew shrimp could be grilled, but he was uncertain whether one could be said to barbeque shrimp. He was not certain the same sauce would work for seafood. "Duo was not the one who was drunk."


"Do you feel bad for teaching me about alcohol?"

Midii laughed. Heero had been joking, deadpan though it was. "What? Do you have some terribly addictive personality that I could give you a vice just by forcing you to drink a bottle of vodka on a train ride with me?"

"You know I cannot do anything casually."

"A serious drinker."

"I cannot remember what happened. The ability to objectively tell whether one is intoxicated decreases exponentially with the degree of intoxication…"

"You didn't hurt him, or get sent to the couch?"

Heero shook his head, slowly. "Someone else was on the couch. Oh, you should watch that new show Best of the Best. There are two airings tonight, so I think you should get it there via satellite this morning."

"I read about that show. It's based on that movie. Colonial based stations broadcast the first episode during prime time next week." That was fairly usual. There were so many time zones, that even on Earth, television shows were still broadcast to one region at a time. It was usually possible to get that broadcast via series of satellites and receiving dishes, if one did not want to wait for the local broadcast in their area. Living in the colonies, Heero had been able to watch nightly news from Japan in the morning. Alaska was so far west that it almost reached the dateline and when the nightly news aired in Japan, it was around 4am of the same day in Heero and Duo's house. If Duo got up very early in the morning he could watch the anime they aired late to keep children from watching, and he could watch tomorrow's afternoon shows before going to bed. If he missed an episode, it would be rebroadcast for American time zones within a day or a week, depending on the program, and with excellent subtitles or dubbing created by the original producers. Or, they could pay for on-demand service and select from banked programs at any time of day after their original broadcast, but it was cheaper to have connection to a dish, some recording medium and do the math than pay for access to a particular bank of programs.

"You changed the subject", Midii said.

He had, but not intentionally, at least not to avoid speaking of the night before. "I did not hurt him and I do not think I was sent to the sofa. I woke up in the bed, and Duo was being very nice to me. He was so nice that I felt bad."

"They say Catholics do guilt very well."

"'They' say that about whatever group `they' are not."

"Yeah, but I was actually raised Russian Orthodox."

"The concept is not restricted to western Judeo-Christian-Islamic culture. I am certain there are Buddhist monks who feel very guilty for not denying their self enough."

"Yeah, but do they surreptitiously make other monks feel guilty for not denying their selves, or do they only concern themselves with self-guilt? It's an art, making other's feel guilty without really making accusations."

"Hai, hai," Heero said impatiently, "but I did not mean to say Duo did that. Only…I do not really remember if I did anything he should be mad about or not, but this morning, he was so nice about taking care of me when I felt hungover, that I felt indebted to him, and maybe, afraid that I had done something I needed to apologize over, but as I do not remember…I might even have done something very good for him last night."

"I probably would find it offensive and annoying if someone got really drunk and then got in bed with me and I had not been drinking." She laughed then, as if it would never happen that she had not been drinking a little, as if that were funny. "But, I'm not really in love with someone. And, I'm not a guy. Maybe Duo is kewl with whatever happened and he was just being nice, because he is just a nice guy. That's what Hilde says. `Duo's the nicest guy who just happens to look like a bad boy.' If Duo was hungover, would you be nice and not yell or turn on bright lights?"

"Of course."

"If it bothers you, just ask him about it. You guys seem to have a pretty close relationship, right?"

"Yes, but, I think it is a little more challenging to live together than we expected. We have been on vacations that lasted longer, but I think knowing that we live together now makes things feel different."

"Well, I'm sure that's to be expected. Even moving to a new place without a roommate or lover can have challenges. I know that as much as Ursula needed me near her, she did not always feel comfortable sharing the common areas of the apartment with me. She had roommates at school on Earth and we were friends, but it was different trying to be roommates."

"It is not as if I think we cannot live together, it just seems some things are stressed. I am sure we will work it out. Things will be different when Duo starts school, and then I might miss him and take time to get used to that arrangement."

"Right. Heero, check your mail later and get back to me. I need to get some sleep, but I'll be sure to check my mail when I wake up."

"All right", Heero agreed. "Goodnight."

After Midii disconnected, Heero did not even try to work on his report. He went to the kitchen and looked at the food they had stocked and thought of things he could fix for dinner. The stove had an electric grill built in and Heero thought they had some shrimp in the freezer. He could make sushi too. Heero thought he had everything he needed; he lacked a proper hangiri to mix the rice in, but if he cooked the rice just right there would not be too moisture and he could stir it in some other container.

Heero started preparations for dinner, defrosting things which were frozen, starting water for the rice, and so on. When the construction noise had stopped and Heero could hear the sound of trucks leaving the yard, He had dinner nearly finished, and Duo came in through the front door. "Tadaima!" he said.

"Go wash up. I almost have dinner ready."

Duo came into the kitchen and kissed Heero's face as his hands were busy pressing rice. "You're good to have around the house."

"My body does need food, and it is not so much trouble to cook for two instead of one. But, if you ever say `wife'…"

Duo laughed. "I said nothing!" He lifted his hands in gesture of surrender. He grinned madly. "You'll just be `Domestic God'. But, uh, you did notice the laundry got done."

Heero had not really noticed, but then, he had neglected a lot that day. "Hn."

"I'll just go wash up, Wasabi."

Duo seemed very happy, cheerful, Heero thought. Of course it was not Duo's normal state to be depressed, and he often came across as cheerful, but Heero thought that Duo's true normal state was something between the depression and false cheerfulness. Maybe Duo was simply happy, but he had seemed irritable the day before. Heero wondered if a night's sleep really had helped so much. Maybe, he thought, it was his own irritated state that made him suspect Duo.

Heero sighed and finished making dinner. Duo returned from the bathroom in time to help carry food and dishes to the table.

Heero asked Duo to sit and went about preparing the dogs' dinner, emptying cans of moist food into their dishes and refilling the water bowls. He washed his hands and then joined Duo at the table.

Duo had waited for him, and Heero assured him, as he sat, that Duo could start eating.

"It looks great, Heero. I didn't mean to tease, you know? You really are a good cook."

"I only know how to make sushi."

"That's not really true; you're just extra good with that."

Heero shrugged. He probably was a better cook than Duo, but he really did not want to boast. He had experience because there had been times in his life when he was responsible for preparing meals for himself and some father figure. It seemed that when Duo lacked someone to make homemade meals for him, he ate convenience foods. All that fast food and pre-prepared meals could make any homemade meal seem wonderful in comparison.

"This is good", Duo said, eating some grilled shrimp, "this is good too", he said, eating some nigiri. Then, Duo stopped and Heero saw Duo was looking at him rather seriously. "You OK? I know you wouldn't poison me, so why aren't you eating? Still hungover now?"

"Duo, I feel like I was an ass."

"Oh, so you know."

Heero blinked slowly. That had entirely not been the response he expected, though he had expected agreement.

Duo grinned. "And wasn't I the perfect boyfriend?" The words seemed like a boast, but the tone was very playful, and Heero took it as teasing. "Didn't kick you out of bed or nag you about doing exactly what I asked you not to. I handled it all quite diplomatically, even offered oral pleasures. I think I would even have enjoyed just doing that, if you hadn't fallen asleep."

Heero felt a hot wave of embarrassment rise through his body. "I fell asleep?"

"Yep, before I could even get to suck your cock. You were so drunk, Heero, you couldn't even get it up. I mean, it was like your body was trying, but it just stayed soft.

Heero had only thought he felt embarrassment before. This was embarrassment. That had been something so much less. "You really are trying to use guilt against me", he said quietly. "Is it true about Catholics?"

Duo laughed. "No, Baby, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty, I'm just trying to explain. When you just zonked on me, I was mad, for about a second, and then I lay there with an arm around you seeing how you looked in a deep drunken slumber and I remembered that once, I'd done just the same thing to someone: stayed out drinking and crawled into their bed horny and then let them down as soon as they felt pity enough for my drunk ass self to attempt to have sex with me. And, I realized that I'd done other dumb shit to you. I knew I'd done stuff that hurt you, without really intending to hurt you, and you'd done the same to me. I just realized, that you drinking and nudging and falling asleep was just more dumb shit to bug me and probably I'd do more dumb shit, and so would you, and we would just have to accept it. So, I did."

"Accept that we will do dumb shit?"

"Uh huh. And I felt better. Also, having been in your position before, I thought I knew how it was from your side, that you didn't mean it. I've sat up late with friends drinking before. I know what it feels like to get drunk and not be able to tell how drunk you are. And I know what a hangover feels like…"

Heero smirked.

"So, I snuggled up to you and went back to sleep and when I woke up, I was still lying close to you. I knew you'd be hungover, so I did what I could to ease things for you. I knew, if it were me, and you were the sober one, you would have done it. You might have been upset and pissy for a while, Heero, but I know ultimately, you would have forgiven the dumb shit like you always forgive the dumb shit I do to you and you would take care of me, if I needed it. That's what I did for you, because I wanted to. And, it made me happy. Heero, staying up working on the grill and then crashing and leaving you to have to buy the food and call the neighbors and wake me up was dumb shit and you tolerated me being so tired and cranky. I know I wasn't really that helpful yesterday. I felt bad about that, but, when I realized about the dumb shit acceptance between us, I felt good."

"So, you are so happy today because you realized we are going to do things that upset each other and then have to forgive each other for the things we did wrong?"

"Exactly! Don't you think it's great to have a person you can be like that with? You know? Like you can just be yourself and not be afraid that one mistake will destroy the really good sort of bond you have. There's so much good stuff about you, like you being able to make dinner, or being such an excellent lover the days you are sober, that I don't care about the bad stuff."

Heero smiled. Now he understood why Duo was happy today. "I will take your bad along with your good, too", he said. He lifted a shrimp by the tail and sucked the meaty part from the tail, into his mouth.

Duo said, "I really am completely in love with you, you understand that, right?"

"I do", Heero said.

on to chapter 92

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