As Heaven Is Wide
In the beginning, there was nothing.
Nothing existed except an all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal Creator--God. But God was not content with the nothingness that surrounded Him, for what is the purpose in being omnipotent if no one is there to acknowledge your power? Thus, He created the Heavens and Earth and everything in between, and He created angels to worship Him and to praise His name. His angels were marvelous, glorious creatures, sparkling like diamonds in the sun; their beauty was beyond all measure, and He loved them for it.
Above all things, He cherished his angels.
"Come on, Heero. We haven't got all day. Class starts in five minutes."
A sharp wheeze followed by a furious fit of coughing sounded as a reply.
Duo Maxwell released a long-suffering sigh, but his demeanor was one of amusement rather than of irritation.
"Fine, fine. Have it your way. It's not like I was actually *going* to school; I was just going to keep you company on the way."
Pushing himself from the graffitied brick wall he had been leaning against, Duo sauntered over to the spot where his friend lay sprawled in the dirt, fruitlessly trying to regain his breath. He looked down at the boy for a moment, disdain concealing the compassion in his violet eyes, before offering a hand.
Dark blue eyes looked up at him through the dust, guarded and hurt. "Why didn't you help me before? Those guys could have killed me."
"Killed you?" Duo chuckled. "They barely did any damage. Besides, you were fighting back well enough; I didn't want to interfere."
Silently, Heero Yuy took the proffered hand before it was retracted. He pulled himself upright but kept a hand on his classmate's shoulder to keep steady. He had just finished dusting off his shirt and vest and was in the process of re- tucking the shirt into his slacks when a strong hand grasped his chin.
Forcing the younger boy to look him in the eye, Duo asked, "You know that I would never let them really hurt you." It was a statement rather than a question, but Heero still felt compelled to answer.
"Yeah, I know." Breaking eye contact, he fought to keep the blush from rising to his cheeks. "I just..."
"You just like to bitch about it to try and make me feel bad, I know," finished Duo, releasing his grip and mussing Heero's hair, smiling at the scowl that formed on the shorter boy's face. "But I'm on to your little plan, Yuy. I know how your mind works. Now let's go. You've got two minutes 'til the bell rings." Without another word, Duo broke into a sprint, heading toward the school.
His lips curling into a smile, Heero shook his head and then ran to catch up.
After school, Heero found Duo waiting for him by the gate, leaning nonchalantly against the ironwork, his eyes covered by dark sunglasses and a cigarette dangling precariously from his lips.
"So how was class?" asked the truant as Heero walked up to meet him. "Learn anything of value?"
The Japanese boy's brow furrowed slightly in annoyance. "If you ever bothered to show up, you'd know." He paused, waiting for Duo to rise to the bait. When he did not, Heero answered his question. "Calc test over Chapter 5 tomorrow, Philosophy essay due next week, Physics lab report due the week after."
Duo merely nodded, and the two began walking. They went along in silence for a few blocks before stopping at a small park and plopping down onto a worn wooden bench.
"Solo's throwing a party downtown tonight, you want to join me? I'd hate to go alone."
Heero rolled his eyes. "Solo's parties are not my thing. You know that." //And you know I hate that guy. So why do you bother to ask?//
The longhaired boy pouted playfully and pretended to be hurt. "Aw, come on. It'll be fun. There'll be lots of people there; maybe you'll find somebody you like."
"Yeah, right," Heero snorted. "All of Solo's friends are strung out whores..."
Slowly removing his sunglasses, Duo cocked his head toward the boy sitting next to him. "Really now. I'm Solo's friend, and a very close friend at that. Is that how you see me?"
The deadly serious look in Duo's eyes told Heero that he had aroused his friend's anger with his rather careless comment, so he proceeded with caution. "Of course not. You're nothing like that." Taking a deep, steadying breath, he added, "I'll go with you if you really want me to."
Duo's demeanor instantly changed from angry and intimidating to pleasant and cheerful, as if a switch had been flicked on. "Great! It starts at eleven o'clock, but we won't go until 11:30. I'll come by your place and we can take the train."
Heero allowed himself to be led from the bench as Duo grabbed his wrist and pulled him along. "Come on, this park is boring. Let's go to my place and get something to eat."
"But you don't have any food! That's why you're always at my house."
Duo stopped abruptly, causing Heero to run into his back. "It's not just the food I come for," he drawled, casting a glance over his shoulder. The look in his eyes made Heero blush. "But it's a plus." Pausing, he lifted his eyes to the sky, squinting into the sun. It seemed to Heero that he was listening for something, but the moment soon passed. "I guess we'll go to your place then."
As they walked off in the direction of Heero's apartment, neither boy appeared to notice the long shadow cast by a solitary figure watching from high above. The wind swirled around his rooftop perch, blowing long black strands of hair into his face. He swatted them away with a graceful hand.
"It's been a long time. I've missed you, Duo."
Solo's party turned out to be a rave in an abandoned downtown warehouse. When Duo and Heero made their entrance, the party was in full swing with at least a hundred teenagers packed onto the makeshift dance floor. Almost as many bodies hung back in the shadows, making deals and pressing money into sweaty palms in exchange for one poison or another. Above all this was the music, near-deafening, blaring over the din. The heavy bass beat throbbed through the humid air, almost a tangible presence, rattling the walls and vibrating inside ribcages.
Duo pushed past the sweaty dancers, Heero close at his heels. Looking through the crowd, he spotted Solo across the room and made his way over, occasionally stopping so Heero would not be swallowed up by the masses.
Solo sat sprawled on a beaten sofa just off the dance floor, a drink in one hand and a half-naked girl giggling and squirming on his lap. When he became aware of Duo's presence, he shoved the girl into the waiting arms of a lecherous-looking man on the other end of the couch and stood to greet his friend.
"Fashionably late as always, I see."
Raking a hand through the bangs that hung in his face, Duo grinned. "You know me... So, how's the party?"
The blonde boy cast a glance around and shrugged. "Not too bad. Making some decent money at the door, got a good DJ, getting my products around, you know how it works. Looks to be a profitable night." When his eyes fell on Heero, Solo narrowed his hazel eyes. "I see you brought your puppy along. Great."
Heero, likewise, spared Solo a glare. "Fuck you, asshole."
Duo's drug dealing friend laughed. "Yeah, yeah. Shut up before I swat you with a rolled-up newspaper." Turning his attention to the longhaired boy, he continued, "Really, Duo, you should get a leash or a muzzle or something."
"Don't be a jerk, Solo," replied Duo angrily, putting a comforting hand on Heero's shoulder. The motion calmed the Japanese boy, but caused his pulse to quicken slightly. Duo's touch always produced that reaction.
Solo rolled his eyes. "Always so protective. Fine. I'll leave him alone." Then, grabbing Duo's hand, "Let's go dancing."
Heero watched helplessly as his friend disappeared into the writhing mob, leaving him to fend for himself. //Shit. He brings me here, and then he goes off. Now what am I supposed to do?// He sighed and looked around the crowded warehouse, searching for a familiar face, but finding none. After batting away a few groping hands, Heero decided to change locations, and he began wading through the dancers. Bodies continuously rubbed against him, some accidentally, others not. He noticed a short redheaded girl staring intently at him from a distance, her pale blue eyes eerily wise despite her very young appearance. The sight unnerved him, and he turned from her, moving in the opposite direction. Heero finally came to a place of respite; a narrow metal staircase that ran up the wall was currently and blessedly unoccupied, and he climbed up a short ways until he could see the entire dance floor.
The dim lighting in the building did not allow for high visibility, but Heero managed to find Duo right in the middle of the throng. The American's hands were raised over his head as he danced, his hips moving with a life of their own. He had two dance partners: a girl with knee-length white blonde hair moving provocatively in front of him, one arm twined around his neck, and Solo pressing himself close to Duo's back, mouth latched onto the longhaired boy's neck and hands snaking under the front of his t-shirt. Heero growled at the sight. He had no claim on Duo, that much he realized, but he could not control his jealousy when anyone else touched the older boy. That went double for Solo. The blonde drug dealing punk never failed to infuriate Heero, either by his smart mouth or by the hands that rarely strayed from Duo's body.
So caught up was Heero in watching the scene below that he did not detect two pairs of eyes watching him, one pale blue from below, the other jet black from high above.
Surreptitiously moving closer, the blue-eyed girl allowed herself a small smile. //Those eyes, that face, it has to be him! Zero-one is on Earth. That means that Duo has to be close. The Master will be very pleased...//
Heero finally left his post around 2:00, no longer content to watch from on high as Solo molested Duo on the dance floor. He descended the stairs and made his way through the crowd to where his friend was dancing.
"Hey, Heero, where've you been? Didn't you feel like dancing?" Duo asked between heaving breaths. After dancing for over two hours, he was beginning to feel the strain, sweat dripping from his brow and soaking through his t-shirt. "Hm?"
"I want to leave." He gave the breathless American his most serious glare. "Let's go home."
Exasperated, Duo detached himself from Solo and threw up his hands. "Heero! It's, what, two o'clock? We can't just leave before the party's even started! God... You always do this! Why can't you let yourself have a good time for once?"
"A good time?! Sorry, but shooting up in the corner or fucking on the dance floor isn't what I consider a good time." He glared at the other boy, dark blue eyes flashing in anger. "You know what?" he asked, poking a finger into Duo's chest, "You stay. Have a good time, do whatever you fucking want. I don't care. But _I_ am going home." Turning on his heel, Heero stormed through the dancing bodies toward the exit.
"Damn it, Heero! Wait!" He made a move to follow the impetuous Japanese boy, but Solo stepped in his path.
"Duo! Let the little punk go! He knows his way home. You don't have to be his babysitter all the time." Wrapping an arm around Duo's waist, Solo drew him closer, nuzzling his neck. "How about we find a quiet spot upstairs? You'll forget about your little dog soon enough." He leaned in for a kiss, but Duo pushed him away, irritated.
"Stop!" he yelled furiously. "He's not a fucking dog! He's my friend, and it pisses me off when you treat him like shit all the time." Giving the other boy a frustrated but apologetic look, he said softly, "You don't understand, but I have to go after him. Sorry."
As Duo ran off, Solo locked eyes with a short redhead across the room and smiled. //Oh, I understand much more than you realize, Duo. So much more.//
Duo caught up with Heero at the deserted subway station where the younger boy was waiting for the next train. He stood next to the silently fuming boy, who pretended not to notice his presence.
"I know you're pissed," he began, his tone contrite. "I know you hate raves, and you hate Solo even more, and I shouldn't have made you go. And I shouldn't have left you by yourself for so long. I'm sorry." He finished and waited patiently for Heero's acceptance of his apology.
Casting Duo a sidelong glance, Heero sighed. "Okay, I guess that's good enough. But I'm going to hold it against you for a while."
Duo nodded in agreement. "And I'd hold it against you if you didn't." Shoving his hands in his pockets, Duo asked, "So, what are we doing now? Dinner? Movie? Another rave?"
"Hell no. We're going home, that's where we're going. Well..." he trailed off, looking up at the flickering fluorescent lights overhead, "that's where _I'm_ going. I don't know where you're going."
Feigning shock, Duo clutched at his heart. "Oh! You wound me!" He stumbled around the platform comically, all the while groaning in contrived agony, while Heero attempted to repress his amusement. Duo fell to his knees before Heero, clinging to the younger boy's legs. "You're killing me! Please take back your cru-el words!"
For his part, Heero playfully kicked Duo to the floor, where he flopped around for a while, then stilled. Heero briefly thought that his friend was "dead," but then Duo's eyes snapped open and his back arched like a bow as he breathed in a lengthy gasp.
"Alas! I die." And he fell back to the floor.
Heero sighed at Duo's theatrics. "You're pathetic, you know?"
One violet eye blinked open. "Pathetic? I thought that was pretty good." Sitting up, he dusted off his shirt and his hair and yawned. "Think I'll head to your place. I'm tired, and your bed is nicer than mine."
"Oh, no," protested Heero, shaking his head, "You're not taking my bed again. There are two other perfectly good beds in the house that you can use, but you can't sleep in mine."
Duo stood up and slung an arm over Heero's shoulders. "You're no fun, Heero." Then, whispering into the boy's ear, "We could always share..."
Heero's eyes widened as Duo pressed a kiss against his rapidly coloring cheek, but he had no chance to respond as the train roared into the station and Duo ran off to embark. He resisted the urge to touch his cheek, but his heart pounded in his chest, unchecked.
The train ride was quick and uneventful, and the two rode in companionable silence, neither bringing up Duo's previous comment or the kiss.
When the train stopped at the station nearest Heero's apartment, the boys disembarked. A dark-haired man that had been on the car behind them also exited the train, unseen, as the two boys had already rounded the corner by the time he got off.
Entering the dark apartment, Heero flicked on the lights and threw his keys onto the table by the door. "Odin?" he called, and waited for an answer. As he expected, there was none. "Figures he'd be gone again." Noticing the flashing red light on the answering machine, he pressed the button to play the messages. There was only one, introduced by an automated voice.
"You have one new message: 'Heero, it's Odin. Another client called this afternoon from Amsterdam, so I'm heading there. I probably won't be home for a week or more, so you'll have to fend for yourself. You're good at that. I'm staying at the Ritz; the number is in my Rolodex. Stay out of trouble, and don't hang around that Duo fellow too much; you know I don't like him. I'll try to call later in the week, but don't hold your breath.' All messages have been played."
Duo raised an eyebrow. "What a nice guardian you have. Too bad he doesn't like me."
Heero scoffed. "Fuck him. Asshole's gone for weeks at a time 'on business' and leaves *me* to take care of the house. I'm _so_ glad my parents chose him to take care of me. The bastard."
"Hey, at least you get the place to yourself most of the time. And it gives me a place to crash when I don't feel like going to my place across town." Duo plopped down on the sofa and stretched the length of it, his long legs hanging off the end. He gave a great yawn and closed his eyes. Soon, his breathing evened out, indicating that he had given in to his fatigue and fallen asleep.
The Japanese boy shook his head at the sleeping figure on his couch. "Freeloader..."
Moving closer, Heero took the opportunity to study his older classmate. Duo's long braid, his most distinguishing feature, tumbled off the couch and lay in a loose coil on the floor. Some of his hair had come loose from its plait during the evening and billowed about his face, occasionally stirred by his exhalations. His features looked peaceful and childlike, angelic in repose, so different from how they appeared in his waking hours. Long, dark lashes lay still against lightly tanned cheeks, hiding the violet eyes that always fascinated Heero. Rose-colored lips parted to allow for the breaths that made his broad chest rise and fall. Duo's t-shirt rode up slightly, revealing a few inches of his firm stomach, and his jeans fit snugly to his narrow hips and well-toned legs. He was perfect, as if God had personally sculpted him.
The younger boy sighed, half frustrated and half in love. Duo had been Heero's best friend for years, a protective and caring force in his life. He was easy to become enamored with; good looking, reckless, charming, dangerous. The very image of a rebel without a cause. Heero's initial admiration had turned into an unstoppable attraction, and that attraction inevitably turned into love. Unrequited love. //Never to be requited, I'm sure.//
Duo was like a lofty ideal to Heero, an unattainable dream. The longhaired boy could be looked at, but never touched, at least not in the way that Heero wanted. //He sees me as a child, a little brother tagging along at his heels. He might tease me about being more, but I know they're just words. I'll never be as important to him as he is to me.//
Heero gave up his contemplations and was headed for his bedroom when Duo's groggy voice called to him from the couch.
"Heero, do you have any clothes I can sleep in? I think I'm gonna stay here tonight."
His heart leapt for joy at the thought of Duo spending the night (though he knew nothing would come of it), but Heero did not let it show in his voice. "Yeah, I've got some t-shirts and a few pairs of your old boxers lying around here somewhere. You can wear that."
Lifting himself off the couch, Duo raised an eyebrow. "And why is it that _you_ have *my* boxers? Keeping them in a little shrine or something?"
Dark blue eyes narrowed. "No, idiot. You left them here about three years ago and you never bothered to take them back. It's not like I've been worshipping or killing chickens over them. You really have a high opinion of yourself, don't you?"
"Aren't _you_ feeling cross tonight?" he asked as he walked into Heero's small bedroom. "Oh well, I probably deserve it." He grinned, bouncing up and down on the boy's mattress. "Must've done something terrible in a previous life."
Heero laughed. "Yeah, like being in league with the devil or something."
Being too engaged in the search for Duo's nightclothes, he didn't notice the flash of some dark, unreadable emotion that passed over the other boy's face.
"You really shouldn't joke about such things, Heero."
The dark haired boy just waved a hand at him. "All right, didn't mean to offend you." Finally locating the objects of his search, Heero turned around and tossed them to Duo. "Here. Hopefully everything will fit. If it doesn't, you're on your own."
Nodding, Duo stood up and peeled off his sweat-dampened shirt, making Heero's eyes nearly pop out of his skull in stunned surprise. "What are you doing?!"
"I'm changing, what does it look like I'm doing?" The American looked at his friend as though he had lost his mind.
"I know that, but..." Heero gestured around the room. "In here?"
Duo pulled the clean t-shirt over his head. "It's as good a place as any. Now," he continued, making a little twirling motion with his index finger, "turn around."
It was Heero's turn to look confused. "Huh?"
Duo rolled his eyes and sighed. "I need to take my pants off and I haven't got on any underwear, so please turn around so I can put on these boxers without traumatizing you."
Heero blushed but did as he was told. "You know, it's not like I haven't seen one before." He tried to tune out the sound of the zipper behind him, knowing that Duo was half naked just a few feet behind him. "I have one of my own!" He took a deep breath as he heard Duo's jeans being tossed to the floor. "Besides, it's no different from changing in front of the guys in gym class."
"I haven't been to gym since I was a freshman. Couldn't stand those little shorts they made us wear. But," he added, pulling up the boxers, "they looked great on you."
Fortunately Duo was fully clothed, because Heero whipped around to stare at the longhaired boy as soon as his last comment registered. "What did you say?"
"I said," repeated Duo, taking a few steps toward his friend, "that those short little gym shorts they made us wear for PE looked great on you. You've got nice legs, you know? And an even nicer ass."
Pressing his hand against the taller boy's forehead, Heero asked, "Do you have a fever? Or have you been drinking again?"
Duo laughed, pulling Heero's hand away, but keeping a grip on his wrist, forcing him to stay close. "Oh, don't try to act like you don't know how cute you are. I was just giving you a compliment." Then he heaved a heavy sigh, a strange, almost wistful expression passing over his face, and in a sudden change of character, he tenderly brushed a stray lock of hair from Heero's face and cupped one flushed cheek in his palm, stroking a high cheekbone with his thumb. "You're really a great kid. I don't think I tell you that enough." He pulled the younger boy to his chest in a warm embrace, resting his cheek against the top of Heero's head. "I don't want you to be like me, Heero. I'm stupid, and I do stupid things. You're so much better than that, so much better than me. I don't even know why you bother with me sometimes. But don't follow my example, or you'll just end up doing something you'll regret." He tightened his grip on the boy in his arms. "I could never forgive myself if something happened to you, and I'll do everything I can to keep you safe, you know that, right?"
Heero nodded his head against Duo's chest. The American just held him for a long moment, making Heero wish that he could stop time and live in that moment forever. His ears could hear only the sound of Duo's heartbeat and his own, his thumping at nearly twice the rate of Duo's; and he could feel only Duo's arms wrapped around him, warm hands pressed flat against his skin. Heero closed his eyes and buried his face in Duo's t-shirt, merely wanting to be consumed.
All too soon, Duo released his hold on his friend. "You're my best friend in the world, Heero, and I would do anything for you. Remember that." Surprising Heero once again, he leaned down and pressed a chaste kiss to the corner of Heero's mouth. He lifted his head and smiled at the Japanese boy, then walked out the door. "Goodnight, Heero," he called over his shoulder.
Stunned, the younger boy turned and called out to his friend. "Duo?" His expression conveyed a mixture of frustration, longing, and confusion. "Duo?"
"Goodnight, Heero," was the only answer he received, and he heard the guest bedroom door shut with a /click/.
Heero stared at his empty doorway before closing the door and turning off the light. He jerked his shirt off over his head, tossing it into the corner, and pulled off his jeans, throwing them in the same direction. As he made his way toward his bed, his foot stepped on something damp on the floor. Picking it up, Heero realized that it was Duo's discarded t-shirt. With the soiled garment still in his hand, he got into his bed and pulled the sheets over himself. He pressed Duo's damp shirt to his face and inhaled deeply. It was an oddly pleasant odor, the scent a strange mixture sweat and musk. The knowledge that it was *Duo's* scent created a familiar swelling between his legs.
At first, Heero tried to fight it, but he quickly realized the futility of it. Duo's scent lingered in the air around him, intensifying his arousal. He tossed the shirt to the side and slipped his hands under the sheets, down, down, lower and lower, until they found his rapidly hardening member. He reached inside his briefs, grasping his length. The sensation the motion produced caused his breath to come out in a whispered sigh.