Disclaimer: Don't own anything.

Pairings: 1+2, 3+4
Warnings : yaoi, AU, slight angst, sappy...?

Authors notes: This is my first AU fic, and it will be quite long, chock full of romance, and probably a lemon. I got the idea for this in my college fiction workshop class for this semester. We are doing the "Exquisite Corpse" (don't let the title fool you- it has nothing to do with human corpses!) project just like I describe in the story, and as soon as my professor told us about it, my brain started racing with the thought of how cool the concept could be when applied to a 1x2x1 story. I hope you enjoy!

Love Before First Sight
by Mara
Part 2

~~~~~~~~~~Later that same Thursday afternoon...

"Heero, knock it off," Wufei said for the thousandth time. "I can't concentrate on this if you insist on tapping."

Heero glared half heartedly at his roommate. "I can't help it. I'm just a *little* frustrated right now."

Wufei sighed and put his homework aside. He sat back against his bed and looked down at Heero, who was sitting on the floor in the middle of their dorm room with his camera in his lap. He'd been in that same position for the past hour, idly tapping the camera strap on the floor to punctuate his frustration.

Heero and Chang Wufei had been friends since the beginning of their junior year in high school. While they certainly disagreed and drove each other up the wall sometimes with their own stubbornness, both boys shared similar interests, including photography. Their friendship had remained throughout high school, and when Heero found out Wufei was going to the same university as him, he was relieved that they could be roommates. He had not been looking forward to sharing a room with a complete stranger.

"I give up," Wufei said. "Tell me what's bothering you. Maybe I can help."

"You can't help," Heero replied glumly. "It's for a photo project. Normally I'd ask you to help, but I have to do this on my own."

Wufei frowned. "Since when does it matter? You rarely get stuck for ideas, but you always ask for my suggestions when you do. Who would know that it's my idea and not yours?"

"Yeah, but this time it's different. I have to think of something personal to put on film. How can it be personal if *you* think of the idea?" Heero knew he would feel like a fraud if he answered E-2's honest display of emotion by sending a photo that was not his own genuine feeling. It wouldn't be right.

The only problem was, Heero had shot a whole roll of film that afternoon, and nothing appealed to him enough to send. He was trying very hard- probably too hard- to express himself in the most raw and uninhibited way possible, but it didn't seem to come out exactly right with any picture he took.

The first time, Heero had snapped the two pictures of the crying girl almost without thinking. Something had instinctively told him to use them as a means to express his own feelings of loneliness. Without knowing why, he had wanted to communicate the fact that, like the girl, he was pretty much alone. Heero had his friends- Wufei and a few others who had been very loyal to him- but it wasn't the same. On a strange level, he was sad, and he couldn't seem to find right the words to tell anyone that. Heero knew he had never been good with words in any circumstance, so this hardly surprised him.

Heero supposed the reason he used the photos of the despairing girl for the Exquisite project was simply because it was a way to express his sadness to a faceless someone. It was a much easier way to vent than talking to someone, because he knew a person was reading it, but he didn't have to see them. Well, not until the end of the semester, and even then, not for very long.

That was Heero's original intent. Those were his exact feelings before receiving the reply of his partner. The last thing he'd expected was a response which, translated out of it's beautiful lines, said quite literally- "I understand how you feel. I'm alone too."

There were obviously many things in Heero's heart besides that feeling of loneliness which he kept guarded and buried, and now he wanted to express another facet of himself. The trouble was deciding on exactly one emotion to describe how he felt now, and to then find a way to describe it using photography.

Heero watched as Wufei stood and went to their shared closet to get his white robes for martial arts club. Wufei knew that Heero was incredibly strong and had Tae Kwon Do for many years. He tried repeatedly to get him involved in the club, but Heero always claimed he was too busy.

"Why don't you come with me to martial arts club today?" he suggested as he changed his shirt. "Just getting out of the room and interacting with people may give you the idea you need."

Heero considered that for a moment, but shook his head.

"This is about me. I need to focus on what I'm thinking, not pay attention to other people. Thanks, though."

After gathering his things, Wufei left Heero alone to his thoughts. The cobalt eyed boy laid back against his bed and stared at the ceiling, trying to clear his mind.

"How do I feel... how do I feel...?" he murmured to himself.

"What I feel is overwhelmed that someone could understand me so easily... Overwhelmed, but in a good way."

Heero sat straight up. He could transmit *that* feeling, couldn't he?. He didn't have to pick one specific emotion, because there were too many swimming around in his head at the moment.

Heero paused to think and then sat down at his desk. He used his computer, moving instantly to the folders where he always stored images taken with his digital camera. Heero browsed through the saved images, searching for a few that he remembered taking last winter when he and his parents first visited the university he was now attending. He had of course brought his digital camera on that occasion, and there were almost thirty shots of various places on campus, all covered in snow. There was one in particular that Heero was looking for, and he soon found it. A beautiful shot of a small grove of five trees which grew near his dorm building came up on the screen when Heero clicked on the thumbnail image. Because it was winter, the trees were leafless, and the elegant black arms and fingers of their branches were a stark contrast to the white snow both them and the ground. Heero mused over the photo, and decided he would use it to create a more abstract image than last time.

He grabbed his digital camera and ran outside to photograph the same five trees again. It was September, and they still had all of their leaves, though some were turning light shades of orange and red. Heero took shots from several angles and went back up to his dorm room. He used his digital imaging software to place the pictures of the trees in both winter and the end of summer together. In the center of the photo, he cut and pasted sections of leaves and winter branches and blurred and distorted them. Now, the center of the photo looked like a whirlwind in which the trees underwent a transformation from cold and barren to alive with vibrant leaves. Heero played with the effects on his software for awhile, trying to make the illusion as real looking as he possibly could.

He was finally satisfied, and printed out the full page image on his top of the line photo printer. He stared at it for a moment, wondering if it would get the correct emotions across to his partner. When Heero looked at the photo, the words "overwhelmed, but in a good way" jumped out at him immediately, but he wondered if it would just as obvious to E-2. He left his room to drop the photo off at Professor Solway's office and decided that if his unknown partner was as insightful as he hoped, his intentions would come across loud and clear.

~~~~~~~~~~Friday Morning

Duo woke early on Friday morning to find that Quatre was already gone. Lately his blond roommate had been talking about a certain guy he was interested in, so Duo assumed he was out having breakfast with his crush before classes started. Duo sat up in bed and stretched, going over the day's activities in his mind. He froze when he remembered the obvious; his response from E-1 would be waiting for him in Fiction Workshop.

He got up and dressed, and was just starting to brush his long hair when the door opened. Quatre came in, followed by a tall boy with brown hair and bangs that partially obscured one side of his face.

"Hi, Duo," Quatre greeted him. Duo noticed at once that his roommate's cheeks were flushed, and he looked extremely happy. "This is Trowa Barton. We were just having breakfast together."

Duo smiled and shook Trowa's hand. He didn't think he had to ask if they were a couple or not; Quatre's giddy smile answered that question immediately.

"We were going to study for math," Trowa began. "Do you want to join us?"

"Sure," Duo agreed. "I'll be right back." He walked off to the small bathroom attached to their room, still brushing his hair. Just before Duo closed the door behind him, he heard Trowa say softly to Quatre:

"That's your roommate? He's hot."

Quatre chuckled. "I wouldn't say that in front of Duo. I think he already knows."

Duo grimaced and quietly closed the door. Yes, he certainly did know, but it wasn't doing him any good. No matter how many people liked him, he couldn't find a single person whom he could feel the same way about.

When it finally came time for Fiction Workshop that day, Duo was more than ready to see what E-1 had sent him. He found himself eagerly tapping his feet and drumming his pencil on his desk until Dr. Granger finally passed out their project envelopes.

And the moment his eyes fell on the whirlwind of leaves amidst the two very different trees, the message behind them began to sink deeply into his mind.

'It's a change from dead to alive,' Duo thought. 'But with a lot of conflict in the center... kind of a whirlwind transformation from bad to good.'

That meant exactly what he'd hoped; E-1 really liked his written response to the first photo. Duo sat at his desk, grinning to himself in unexpected happiness as he started to think of the best way to respond again.

It didn't take him long to realize that the drastic change in the photo's two images reminded him a great deal of a short story he'd written not too long ago. Duo had the notes and outline for that particular story in his Fiction Workshop folder, and he took them out immediately to recreate the tale as quickly as possible. It was, ironically, a short story about a physical change in nature that was a symbolic mirror for the changes occurring in the life of the story's two characters.

Duo wrote down the five page story and grew more excited as he mulled over the possible answers his partner could send to it. Duo was anxious to have someone who appeared to be interested in learning about him read some of his work. He loved to write almost more than anything, but always felt shy about showing his stories, especially those which he'd put a considerable amount of time and heart into. Duo felt that his unknown partner was the perfect audience for such things. They were both artists, and both suddenly wanted to express to each other what no one else could understand.

The focus of their project changed with Duo's decision to send a piece of his own writing. The first few items they sent back and forth were like a tentative reaching out from both boys where they tested each other's responses. Now that the uncertainty was gone and a familiarity was growing between them, Heero and Duo grew bolder. In the strange situation of their meeting, they had gotten over introductions and were driving into an insatiable need to learn about one another.

The response that Duo received to his short piece of fiction was a photo of a girl and boy standing to face one another on the brink of entry into a forest. It was the very last moment of Duo described in his story, perfectly set up and captured lovingly by his partner's camera. And for the first time, the photo was not touched up or changed to distort the image. It was a simple and beautiful piece that was complete reality, and Duo took that to mean that his partner had enjoyed the bit of writing in a serious way.

Duo responded continually to E-1's photographs with more of his own stories and poems, some that he'd previously written and some that he thought of at the moment he opened the E envelope during class. Duo could tell exactly what his partner thought of the pieces by the kind of photos he sent in reply. The images often made him smile or even laugh, but whatever he was given, Duo felt undeniably happy.

They would switch dominance in the exchanges, and Heero was just as often sending his favorite photos that he'd ever taken, anxious to see how E-2 would respond. He was never disappointed, because no matter what kind of writing he got in return, Heero felt like he was being sucked into the never ending depths of someone who hungered to understand every part of him. Heero often found himself thinking how wonderful it was to be... *wanted* like that. He had no idea what his partner looked like, what the person's name might be, or even what their gender was. For the moment, it didn't matter; everything was clicking between them in a way that Heero had never experienced with another person.

Their exchanges went on with these sort of responses until it was already the fourth week of the Exquisite project. By now, Heero found himself looking forward to receiving and responding to his partner's work as one might anticipate a long talk with a good friend. He felt changed in a subtle way that he'd hardly been able to express in front of others before. He smiled more easily now. Still not as much as other kids seemed to, but that was part of Heero's nature; he felt that smiling at someone was a very important gesture that should not be done unless you really and truly meant it. And now, he was feeling that he wanted to smile at his classmates and friends more than ever before.

He also felt a twinge of disappointment, because the person he wanted to smile at more than anyone else was his unknown partner, but he was not able to.

On the Tuesday of the fourth week of their Exquisite project, when it was Heero's turn to come up with a response, he felt he would go mad if he couldn't give his partner some physical proof of just how much their silent relationship made him want to smile. There had to be a way...

Of course! He could show his *smile* without actually compromising the anonymous nature of the project. Heero decided he would send as many shots of his smile as would fit on a collage photograph, and his lips would be the only part of his face visible. That was really all that his partner would need to see to know his happiness, and Heero couldn't wait to start working on it.

Heero obviously couldn't take these pictures himself. He didn't want to just hold the camera up to his face and start snapping away. There would be no way to set the angle, and he would probably have to try a thousand times before he got enough good shots to make a collage for his Exquisite project image.

That left one choice; he would have to ask Wufei to take the pictures for him. Heero grimaced at the thought. He knew he'd never been able to give a convincing smile on camera. He felt uneasy about posing, and even his school pictures from elementary school showed this. Heero was unsure about asking Wufei to do it, but could see no other way. He really was happy now, and he wanted his unknown partner to see that on film. He resigned himself to try and relax in front of the camera when the time came. That was, if Wufei agreed to help him.

Heero walked back to their dorm room and found Wufei sitting at his desk, working on homework as usual. He stood there for a long time without Wufei noticing him, but finally cleared his throat to get the boy's attention.

Wufei looked up and gave a half smile. "Hello, Heero." He was about to go back to his work, but noticed the uncertainty on his friend's face. "Uh, did you need something?"

"Wufei, I..." Heero looked almost pained.

Wufei looked down and saw the camera in his hands. "I bet you need help with a photo project."

"Yeah," Heero admitted. "It's for the secret project I mentioned before. I came up with the idea for it and everything, but I need someone else to take the pictures."

"Why do you look so worried?" the Chinese boy asked, raising his eyebrows. "You've asked for my help before."

Heero fidgeted. "I need you to take pictures of me smiling and laughing."

Wufei sputtered. "What? That doesn't sound like your style. I don't get it."

He obviously knew that Heero tried to represent emotions and sometimes abstract ideas with his photography. He couldn't figure out the reason for this idea, which was not at all like any of Heero's work he'd ever seen.

"It's something for my partner. It's for the project, but-"

"I get it. You like this person, don't you? It's gotta be a guy then. Who is it?"

Heero scowled. "I have no idea who it is. I told you; we aren't allowed to know who are partners are." He intentionally avoided Wufei's comment about 'liking' his partner and thrust the camera at him. "Are you going to take the pictures for me or not? I can find someone in my photo class to do it."

Wufei laughed. "You wouldn't do that. We've been friends for a few years, and you're having trouble asking *me* to take pictures of you smiling. I can't even imagine how much harder it would be for you to ask someone you hardly know."

He took the camera from Heero's hands and smirked at the murderous look on Heero's face.

"Yuy, you have to think *happy* if you want these photos to make it look like you're not ready to kill someone." He wished he hadn't said that a moment later, because Heero was obviously so uncomfortable about smiling for a camera that he was simply covering up that uneasiness by glaring. He quickly changed the subject, hoping Heero would loosen up on his own.

"Where do you want to do this?"

"I thought outside would be better. It's too dark in here,and I don't want these photos to look gloomy."

Wufei agreed and suggested the north end of the quad, which was usually not very crowded. He made sure there were not already photos saved on the digital camera's memory before they made their way outside. Wufei was sure he would need to take so many pictures of Heero attempting to laugh out loud and look genuine before they got it right that he would need every ounce of memory the camera had to give.

Unfortunately, he turned out to be right. Heero knew how to create meaningful and effective photographs, but he was certainly no model. Every move he made looked stiff and unrealistic because of the simple fact that he knew he was being watched and his face was being recorded on digital film. Wufei tried to direct Heero to sit in certain positions. He tried to say funny things to make Heero laugh out loud, but even he knew his sense of humor was not much better than Heero's. Wufei became frustrated with the Japanese boy very quickly. After taking almost two dozen pictures, he scanned through them on the camera's memory and then deleted them all before Heero could walk over and take a look. They were all bad; Heero couldn't loosen up in the slightest way, and his expression looked like it had been drilled on his face.

"Heero, this is not working."

Heero scowled. "You just aren't doing it right."

"No," Wufei insisted. "You want to look happy in this picture, don't you? Maybe you really are happy right now, but you're unsure about showing it in front of me or something. Just let go." He held up the camera to his eyes again. "Smile like you mean it, baka."

Heero knew he couldn't pull a genuine smile up out of nowhere; he needed some kind of motivation. He tried to think of general things that made him happy. It wouldn't work, he could tell by Wufei's continuing grimace that it wasn't.

"This project is the reason why you feel happy, right?" Wufei demanded. "Think about the project- anything! Just smile you mean it!"

That did it. Heero thought about how he'd first felt to realize that his unknown partner wanted to understand him. He thought about how it would feel to talk with someone like that... maybe, to kiss someone like that...

Heero felt his cheeks turn pink, and a smile edged up the corners of his mouth. He was lost in imagining how undoubtedly perfect that kind of kiss would be, and could almost forget that Wufei was walking around him, snapping pictures from different angles of his expression.

"That's good. Now move," Wufei commanded. "Do something, and keep smiling."

"But I don't know what-" Heero started, and knew he was grinning. Once he started thinking about his partner, the feeling of smiling became too contagious to stop.

Wufei shoved him with one arm. "Move around. Walk, look up at the sky. I need more interesting shots of you." When Heero kept that silly smile on his face, but did not move, Wufei stepped forward and faked a menacing expression. He reached out and shoved Heero gently, causing the cobalt eyed boy to take a jarring step backward.

Heero laughed and held up his arms to his face to pretend he was blocking an all out attack from Wufei. He was about to say something, but heard the camera clicking again while his arms were still held over his eyes.

"That's good," Wufei noted. "You look really happy. Now," he lowered his eyes, still trying to look threatening. "*Do* something, walk around. Pose for the camera, or I will beat to you within an inch of life, Heero."

Heero laughed again at the teasing threat and sat on the ground. He laid back and spread his arms and legs out on the grass. He put his forearms over his eyes to shield the sun and took a deep breath, never letting the corners of his mouth fall out of the smile. Wufei continued to take pictures, and Heero turned over on his side to smile directly at the camera. Wufei was surprised, but continued shooting.

Heero then stood up and tried moving in several different ways. He laughed without prompting, and he smiled like he really meant it, because he did. The simple thought of how surprised his partner would be to see the photos was enough to make Heero happier than he'd felt in quite awhile. He couldn't even begin to think how E- 2 would respond, and the thought excited him beyond belief.

~~~~~~~~~~The next day...

Duo walked into martial arts club feeling more energetic than ever. Right after the club meeting he had Fiction Workshop class, and he was waiting for another of E-1's photographs to respond to. His partner had taken dominance in the project over the last two exchanges, and Duo truly enjoyed seeing into a part of E-1's mind with every photo he sent.

The club practice and meeting began when Chang Wufei, the assistant to the professor who ran the club, entered the room. There were about twenty five kids in the club, and everyone took their seats on the floor and waited to hear his announcements for the day.

"We're on our own today," he told everyone immediately. Professor Kellen was called away for a meeting, so he told me to oversee the club activities and see that everyone practices. Everybody, find a partner. There are a few exercises I would like to work on."

People started to stand and move to find their friends. As Duo stood, he felt a rough hand shove him back down and tug hard on his long braid. He snatched his hair back protectively and looked up.

"Why don't you just sit this one out, pretty boy," one of the taller boys in the club commented, smirking. "You may learn something from the rest of us."

Duo frowned. He was pretty sure this guy's name was Dan. He was one of the few boys who was not satisfied with simply ignoring Duo, and felt it was his personal duty to make sure the braided boy knew that he was angered by all the girls' attention on him.

"I think I'll participate," Duo said roughly, and tried to get to his feet again. Dan moved to push him down harder this time, but Wufei was suddenly standing at Duo's side.

"Leave him alone," he said quietly, though he was secretlyvery angry. Wufei wasn't blind; he could clearly see that Duo did nothing to make all the girls pay attention to him, and that their affections were actually unwanted by the longhaired boy. It was totally unreasonable that the other boys would ostracize Duo because of something totally out of his control. Wufei's sense of honor demanded that he defend Duo.

He continued to glare at the boy who was hovering over Duo in a threatening manner. "This is exactly the kind of hostility we try to phase out with martial arts. Stop now; I don't think you want to make me angry."

Dan snickered again. "Don't make me laugh, Chang. I could take you anytime."

The Chinese boy's eyes glittered. "Really. Want to try?"

He spread his arms out in challenge. "I'm ready. Come on, then."

The other students moved out of the way as the two boys assumed a fighting stance. Wufei waited as Dan charged him, and in the blink of an eye, it was suddenly over. Hardly anyone had seen Wufei move at all, but Dan was soon sprawled out on the floor. He was unhurt, but had been bested and thrown to the floor by Wufei's skill faster than seemed possible.

Duo smiled gratefully at Wufei, but apparently Dan was not finished with either of them.

"Why doesn't pretty boy defend himself?" Dan snarled, getting to his feet. "He needs Chang here to fight his battles for him."

"No, I don't," Duo blurted out. He stood to confront the angry boy, taking on a fighting stance and waiting for the other boy to attack. "Go ahead, if you think you can beat me."

Dan growled and attacked Duo, who moved out of the way and quickly grabbed his opponent's arm. It took no time for him to flip Dan over and slam the boy against the floor, ending the match almost as quickly as Wufei had. This time, Dan did not bother to get up so quickly.

Duo grinned triumphantly and walked over to Wufei.

"Thanks, Wufei," he said gratefully and shook the Chinese boy's hand. Wufei nodded approvingly. He was glad to see he had been right about Duo. The longhaired boy was exactly the opposite of the boys who tormented him. If he were going to fight, he would clearly only do it in a fair match.

Duo felt his confidence bubble at the triumph. He was also pleased to see that when Wufei soon resumed the activities of the club, Dan left the room without saying anything. All the girls in the club always volunteered to be Duo's partner the moment they started any exercise, but he was surprised that one of the guys asked to be his partner this time. He suddenly felt even more elated than seemed possible; in a few minutes, he would find out E-1's response, and now it appeared that he might shake off the scorn of his male classmates after all.

~~~~~~~~~~That same day, Fiction Workshop class

With every passing day, Duo was having more and more trouble making himself wait until the end of class, when it was time to work on the Exquisite Corpse projects. It was all too easy to let his mind wander into idle thoughts of his unknown partner and completely miss the class activities.

When Dr. Granger finally passed out their envelopes, Duo looked down at his hands and was surprised to see that he was shaking. All at once, it seemed that the thoughts and emotions of E-1 had become the focus of his own heart.

He almost ripped the envelope open as soon as it dropped into his hands. Duo reached inside and placed the large photo on the center of his desk. He didn't even realize that he was holding his breath in anticipation.

When he did breathe out again, it was in a soft sigh of delight and surprise. The photo before him was again a collage of shots that was brilliantly rendered. All were of the same person, a person smiling and laughing out loud. Duo felt his heart race in the next moment, because he realized exactly what he was looking at... this was a photo of his unknown partner. He knew this because in every shot within the large photograph, almost all the facial features had been blocked out or cut away to keep him from seeing enough to make the face even remotely recognizable. The person's mouth and part of their chin were the only visible features in every image, though Duo could tell that his partner was a boy. He had barely enough to confirm this, but the beautiful and very masculine curve of the cherry lips was undeniable. Duo felt himself turning red, and his heartbeat increased rapidly as he stared at the many shots of the same enticing mouth, all smiling and laughing... for him.

In a flash Duo realized the meaning of this photo... his partner was simply trying to tell him how happy he was. Duo was absolutely stunned, because the message was all too clear: whoever E-1 was, Duo had made him happy. More than that, the photo was making Duo happy, as well as... as... His heart beat faster, and he unconsciously licked his lips as he continued to stare at the images.

He traced a finger around the edge of one of the smiling lips.

It was both frightening and enticing to feel so much for a person he couldn't see, and Duo didn't think he could stop himself from falling harder into... wait! He stopped himself as that thought entered his mind.

'Exactly *what* am I feeling for this guy?'

Duo couldn't put a name to the sensation of joy and nervousness that plagued him. He could only wonder whether he'd ever be able to tear his eyes away from the various images of those beautiful, smiling lips.

As the minutes slipped by, Duo realized he had to reply to the photograph. He picked up a pen and got out a blank piece of notebook paper, keeping the photo of his partner's smile just next to it. He did not even have to think what he wanted to say this time, as it was very clear to him. Duo willed himself not to think at all, but to put on paper the very first words which flowed into his mind:

"A thousand smiles, and I will gladly look forever. The source could not make me happier... could I believe for a moment that this one person will listen to all the thoughts I wish to express?

The physical perfection of those lips... the raw beauty is not something I can explain in words."

Duo bit his lip after he finished that sentence. He knew what he wanted to write next, but was hesitant. What if his partner didn't want him writing things like that? And yet Duo could not help himself. He wanted to be honest, to leave none of the emotions he was feeling out of his response. He put the pen back to the paper.

"I could talk forever about perfection, but I could also kiss those lips and speak by own mouth pressed to the one which smiles for me.

I know that many have looked at my face and said- 'he is mine.'

Then I speak something- I write something- and I see disinterest. It is not really *me* that excites people.

But now, this perfect smile was caused by those very words which others are bored to hear. I can't help feeling selfish; I will write and I will speak forever if you will smile at me again. I will write and I will speak forever in *praise* of your smile.

To be clear, it has made me speechless, and I can scarcely think.

There is part of you which wants to express some of the darkness and sadness in our world. I would never wish you to stop.

But still, when you smile, I wish I could always be the cause of it."

Duo read his own words and felt the color rise in his face. It was so... mushy. And romantic. Duo also realized that he'd written the word 'him' in the piece in reference to himself, so if he turned it in, his partner would know he was a boy. Was it a bad idea to include the sentence about wanting a kiss, since his partner had probably sent the photos with the partial intention of telling Duo his gender? Would he be scared away by it?

Duo grappled with the thought of tearing up the piece of writing and starting again, but something stopped him. Trembling once again, he dropped the paper into the E envelope. He purposely did not put the picture of the boy's smile back inside. He stowed this away in his folder when no one seemed to be looking. They were supposed to keep all pieces of the Exquisite project in their collective envelope at all times, but Duo couldn't bring himself to part with it.

He knew E-1's next photograph response would change everything. If he was disgusted by the fact that his partner- a guy- wanted to kiss him, then Duo was sure there would be no mistaking that emotion in the next photo. But if he was not disgusted, that would also show clearly in the photo.

Duo felt totally embarrassed when he realized what was happening. He was having his first crush, and weirdly enough, he had never even met the person. He didn't know what the boy looked like either, aside from that gorgeous mouth.

It was Wednesday, so he would get the response on Friday... two whole days away. Duo knew with a sickening wrench of his heart that even if his partner was disgusted by his sentiment, Duo would still have a crush on him. He knew too much about the boy photographer to turn back from feeling for him.

on to part 3

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