Fishing in the Dark
The two, seated on either side of the desk, ignored the muted hum of voices and office equipment just beyond the closed door. Heero studied the brief laying on his desk, the other seemed to study his fingernails just as intently. Both looked up when Duo opened the door. Two steps in, he paused.
"We're still on for tonight, right?" he asked, an eyebrow cocked in challenge. By way of greeting, he flashed a grin in Trowa's direction.
Nodding, Heero confirmed, "Twenty, thirty at my place."
Duo appeared to relax slightly. "You got it. Sunset is scheduled for twenty-one, oh-nine, and that'll give us plenty of time to get there before then." He glanced the other man in the office. "Trowa, haven't seen you around here in awhile. What's been happening? Anything new?"
Without standing, Trowa reached out to shake the other's hand. "Good to see you too, Duo. Just playing messenger boy today." The twist to his lips belied the statement.
The long-haired man let out a snort. "You and me, buddy." He held up his own small stack of blue sealed folders. "Have to run these over to 'Ops cross town." Duo straightened, his hand on the doorknob. "'K, guess I'll head on out. See you later, Heero. And Trowa, if you're staying for awhile, give me a call. I'd like to catch up."
The door closed, and silence returned. Heero's attention focused on the report before him, and Trowa stretched his legs out, crossing the ankles.
"You two seeing one another?" Trowa's voice slipped in quietly.
Heero looked up, a slight frown on his face. "No, we're going fishing."
"Fishing? I didn't know you fished."
"I don't." Heero held his gaze steadily.
"And Duo does? I didn't think he'd have the patience."
"Apparently he does." An almost curious quality came over Heero's tone. "He's been talking about going fishing all winter, and now that spring's here, he's asked me to go with him." Heero shrugged, his attention falling back to the report. "Tonight's been the first chance either of us have had to meet up."
Trowa let his hands fall back to his lap, his expression near incredulous. A half smile formed and he gave the slightest of nods to the closed door.
The drive wasn't as long as Heero thought it'd be; Duo seemed to find the right combination of less trafficked main streets, and shortcut back roads to get them out into the country in less than a quarter hour. Duo's truck carried them farther away from the city lights as empty fields to either side of the two lane road flew past. Heero watched in an almost hypnotic fashion as the fence posts flashed by, Duo tossing out the occasional comment about work, or a movie he'd seen recently.
When Duo pulled off onto a dirt road, Heero looked over at him. The man only grinned and turned his attention back to the one track lane, dodging potholes and ruts like he was piloting a gundam, his speed never decreasing.
"Testing your shocks?" Heero shouted over the jostling noises.
A quick flash of teeth. "Nah, seat harnesses." The sound of his chuckle was lost as a large bump threw them against the safety straps.
Wishing he had backed out of the invitation, Heero felt grateful when the truck came to a stop, tilted as it was off the side of the road. He looked around after climbing out, no water in sight. "Are we there?"
Duo paused in rooting behind his seat, his eyes meeting Heero's from across the cab. "Almost. Just have to do a little walking." He slid an elongated case, a small box, and a couple of towels over to his side. "Take those, I'll get the rest."
Heero picked up his items slowly, examining each one. "What're the towels for?"
"Swimming," Duo said shortly, coming around the front of the truck, heading for the fence. "It's hot out here, and pretty muggy. Thought a quick swim would cool us off. Warm enough even after sundown to dry our clothes before we head back." He was busy holding the wire apart, moving his items through, and guiding himself to the other side.
"Duo, the sign says no trespassing," Heero paused, his hand on the wire.
"That doesn't mean us, buddy," Duo tossed over his shoulder. He continued to walk through the tall grass, his eyes seeking a break in the tree-line in front of him. When Heero still hesitated, he turned back. "Trust me. I wouldn't break the law without telling you we were first." In the half light of the setting sun, the gleam of his teeth and eyes stood out.
"Affirmative." Heero gave a nod, and vaulted himself over the fence. He was a step behind his friend and near the grove of trees before he spoke again. "Just where is this place we're going?"
"Through the trees here. There's an old cow path that leads right to a secluded spot - one of the best you could find."
His steps faltering, Heero asked abruptly, "Cow path? There are cows out here?"
Through his snort, Duo told him, "Not any more. About fifty years ago, maybe. This used to be a dairy farm, but with the discovery of Homogee, cows and dairy farms are a thing of the past."
Heero made a non-committal noise. Having known nothing else but the Homogee liquid or as most often the case, in its pill form, he had no desire to drink a substance that came from an animal's teat. "How did you find this place?" They'd entered the trees, and dusk descended fully.
"What? Oh, yeah, Chad from work. His family owns it. He brought a group of us out here last year for a barbeque up at the house, and to swim in the pond, ride horses... stuff like that." Duo stopped as they broke through the trees, his face lit with a reddish glow of the sun. "Just in time, too. Here, set the tackle down near the water. I've got the blanket."
By the time the camp was arranged to Duo's liking, the sun had set. Heero stood at the shore, two parts of a fishing pole in hand, watching his friend demonstrate how it fit together. Even in the dark, with only a single flashlight between them, he was able to follow along, stringing the rod, tying the leader line, clipping on the alert bell and attaching the bb shots handed to him.
"Now for the nightcrawlers." Duo turned to root through the small ice chest he'd brought.
"Night crawlers?" Heero wasn't sure he wanted to know, but watched as his long-haired companion flipped off the lid to the white container and pulled a long ...wiggling thing from the dirt mixture. "Worms? What are we going to do with worms, Duo?" He couldn't help the slight curl of a lip.
"Bait the hooks, buddy." Duo flashed him a look, before making an odd contortionist move holding his pole in the crook of one arm, the hook in that hand, and the worm in the other. "You have to thread the worm on the hook, just so. Try not to hook it so much it dies, but not too little so it gets away. Like this." He held up the hook by its leader, large, squirming worm attached. As if noticing his friend's expression for the first time, Duo's lips twitched before he bent for another worm. "Don't worry. I'll hook your worm for you this time."
Watching the deft fingers weave the terrestris on the sharp steel, Heero swallowed the bile back. "Do you always use worms?"
"Huh?" Duo looked up from underneath his bangs. At Heero's gesture to the hook, he shook his head. "Nah, it all depends on what you're after. Worms work best for catfish though." He dropped the line and wiped his fingers on his shorts. "All set."
Heero tore his eyes away from the wiggling hook. "Now what?"
"Cast your line out." Duo flexed his wrist, elbow bent, and flicked the cocked pole forward. The weighted line flew forward, landing with a plop beyond their vision range. After anchoring the rod in a holder, he came to stand behind Heero. "Now you. Just lightly hold your line there with a finger," his voice lowered, his hands showing Heero's where to grip, what to hold. He guided Heero's first cast, and made him recast when the line went wild. Standing back, he watched as the line near perfectly imitated his in arc and distance. "Now put the pole in the anchor next to mine and wait."
Duo settled back on the grass, legs splayed out before him. "Have a seat, Heero. It's going to be awhile." He dragged the ice chest closer. "Want a soda or a beer?" His own choice foamed at opening.
After a brief inner debate, Heero sat gingerly. "I'll take a beer." The can handed to him was cold to the point of being too cold. He wondered for a moment if Duo had kept them in the freezer prior to their trip. With the heat and humidity pressing down on him, the brew's temperature felt good, its taste refreshing in his mouth. He felt himself relax a little more.
"So, what are you working on these days?"
"I can't tell you, Heero. You know that." Duo's admonishment held volumes of amusement.
Heero grunted slightly. "It's not like I couldn't find out, you know."
Duo stared at him, a slight rise to his lips. "But it wouldn't be me telling you, then, would it." He turned away to stare up at the darkening night's sky. "It's pretty stupid, really. Most of the stuff they're coming up with we could have, and probably did, during the war. Using whatever they can get their hands on. But until the research is finished, until the proto type is done, these scientist guys are all cloak and dagger stuff."
"Yeah, I guess I can understand that. They do like to talk enough about it once it's passed the development stage though." Heero continued to watch his friend's profile.
A bark of laughter sounded. "You could say that again. Sheesh, if I have to listen to them congratulate each other on another stupid idea, I'll go nuts."
"You could always leave. Post out to another department."
Duo turned his head. "Like Analytics?" He smirked.
Heero nodded. "If you want. You would do good there. You'd be used as more than a messenger boy, or a crash test dummy." Heero smirked back.
"Nah, for all the bullshit, I like what I do and where I'm at." A hint of humor shone briefly. "Besides, you're the star of analytics, and I can't have you showing me up in everything."
"I don't," he protested, leaning forward. Duo snorted softly and winked. Heero watched him for a moment, his cheeks heated unexpectedly. He dropped his gaze and settled for another sip of beer.
A handful of heartbeats later, "Want some chips?" Duo offered, his voice muffled with a mouthful already, one hand holding the opened bag out to him and in the other, a half dozen or so of the sliced snack.
"No thanks," Heero turned his eyes away from the hand that'd held the worms minutes before.
"You sure, buddy? There's plenty here." Duo crunched down on the second handful.
No longer fighting his face from scrunching up, Heero demanded, "How can you do that, Duo? That's the hand you baited the hooks with."
Duo laughed. "It's part of the fishing experience. A little worm guts won't hurt ya." He offered the bag again.
Heero waved them away. "No thanks, really." Duo put the bag away, still chuckling. Another sip of beer washed away the phantom taste of dirt and imaginary worm intestines. He looked out over the water, noticing how dark it'd gotten. A faint shine of stars reflected on its surface, and he tilted his head back to look at the sky.
"Look at the fireflies out here, would ya." Duo's voice was low, his head turned away from him.
Returning his gaze earthward, Heero spotted what had awed his friend. What at first had been an occasional flash was now a full fledged orchestra of flickering lights. Seemingly thousands of the small bugs hovered, floated, or rested on the grasses between the trees and the pond. "I never expected such ... noise." In keeping with Duo's tone, Heero's voice was also low.
"Yeah," Duo breathed, leaning back on his elbows. He looked over at Heero. "The cicadas in the trees, the crickets in the grass, and hear that? There's a bullfrog down in the tules."
Heero looked off where Duo was pointing. "Tules?" He'd isolated the strong, bass-sounding croak, but hadn't identified its cause.
Duo's shrug was more sound than sight. "Bullrushes, reeds, cat-o-nine tails, you know the stuff that grows at the edge of a watery place. Fish like to hide in there during the day. It shades them from the sun, and it makes them harder to catch."
The sudden jangle of a bell caught Heero's attention. "Your pole."
"Ah, nah, it's not a fish. I kicked off a shoe and it hit the anchor." He held up a bare foot and wiggled his toes. "I'm going to go for a swim here in a minute. Wanna come?" Duo stood, pulling his shirt off over his head.
Heero dragged his eyes from the shirt on the grass, up over Duo's bare legs and torso. He nodded and got to his feet, feeling more sluggish than a single beer should make him feel. "A swim would be nice." He toed off his own shoes, his socks dropped on top with his shirt to follow. Duo was already heading for the water's edge on the other side of the fishing line. "Won't we scare the fish or something?" Heero asked, right behind him.
"Maybe, but we've got most of the night." Duo glanced over his shoulder before wading out into the water. Without another word, Heero followed.
The water was warm, but cool enough to sooth heated skin. Too shallow to swim properly, they splashed, and dunked one another, wrestling in the waist-high pond like the teenagers they should be would. Duo kicked away, swimming to the deeper end, closer to the fishing lines. Laying on his back, he floated. "You ever think of what it would have been like, growing up on Earth instead of space?"
Brushing his hair out of his face, Heero glided closer, treading water with light easy strokes. "No, not really." By starlight alone, he could see Duo's eyes close. "Why?"
His head turned enough to watch as Heero paddled. "Things are different here. Sometimes I just wonder what it would have been like... if anything would have been different if I had lived here instead."
"We might have been enemies then." Heero watched him steadily.
Duo turned back to stare at the sky before closing his eyes again. "Yeah, there is that."
He waited for more, but after a few minutes of silence, Heero headed for the shore. Padding to the blanket, he picked up a towel and wiped water from his skin. His shorts would have to stay wet, but as Duo had said, it was warm enough to dry them out before they'd leave. Heero laid down on the blanket, using the balled up towel as a pillow. He tracked the moon's progress as it rose, and wondered for the moment what the time was. Hearing Duo coming out of the water, he turned to watch his friend approach, dripping water from his hair, down his chest and off the cuffs of his shorts. He wanted to smile at the sight, but Duo's own look caught his stare.
His lips curved into a short smile even as he bent over to pick up the other towel. "Falling asleep?"
Heero shook his head. "No, just thinking." Duo flicked water from his hair over his bare chest. "Hey!" he exclaimed, sitting up, wiping at the drops.
"You're not out here to think. You're here to have fun, Yuy." Duo mock glared at him even as he ran the towel over his exposed flesh.
"What makes you think I can't do both?" Heero grumbled, laying back down.
Duo dropped down next to him, wrapping the towel around his braid, squeezing the excess water from it. "Not saying you can't. Hell, you probably think of algorithms while you masturbate."
Heero choked and stared wide-eyed at his friend. "What the heck are you talking about?"
Flopping back by Heero's side, Duo craned his head to look at him. "You don't stop thinking, is all. You can't seem to take the equation out of everything you do, say or see. It's all in here" He leaned over to tap his forehead. "Instead of allowing it from here too." His fingers glossed over the center of his chest, scarcely touching it. Their eyes locked and Heero felt his breath catch. "For someone who follows his emotions, you think too much," Duo whispered. His arm dropped away from Heero's chest and back to his side.
"But I don't always. I don't have to," his protest sounded more than flat to his own ears.
Duo sighed and looked up at the sky. "Look at the stars. Out here, away from the city lights, you can really see them. There's so many. When you're up in space, they're still there, but they lose their significance, you know?"
Looking at the stars, Heero tried to see them through his friend's eyes. "What do you mean? Explain it to me."
"Because they are there, you don't see them in the same way. You tend to take them for granted. Down here, especially in the country, they seem so far away. So celestial, you know." Heero turned to stare at him. "How many stars do you think are out there?" Duo gestured widely with his hand.
Heero turned back to look at the sky. "You mean in the universe or within my field of vision?"
Duo chuckled. "Your field of vision, buddy. Sheesh! Not even you could count the number of stars in the universe."
"Is that a challenge?" Heero grinned and looked back at the sky. "One hundred thirty-five," he announced.
"Wha..?" Duo flipped over on his side to stare at him. "How'd you come up with that number?"
"Simple." Heero rolled on his side, head propped on a hand. "I overlaid my field of vision with a nine square grid. Estimated that there were fifteen visible stars in each square. Nine times fifteen..."
"Okay, I get it!" Duo flopped back down, hands behind his head. "See you make everything a logical equation."
A slight frown puckered his brow. "But you'd asked for the number, and gave me the parameters to work in. It seemed to be a logical request."
"Yeah, I guess it was." Duo fell silent. Suddenly he scooted closer. "Look! There's L1! See, just to the right of the moon there." His arm fully extended, his finger pointed out a faint blinking light.
"How do you know it's L1? Couldn't it be L2 or a satellite?" Heero asked, not really interested, but curious none-the-less.
"'Cause a satellite would be on this side of the moon, and it's light a bit more green hued. And L2's on the other side of the moon. Can't see it from Earth."
Turning his face to watch his friend, Heero asked softly, "Do you miss it? Space, I mean."
Duo's eyes dropped to look at his. "Sometimes." He shrugged. "Mostly not, though. I'm usually too busy." A long heartbeat passed before Duo turned back to the sky. "So tell me, Heero, what do you see when you look at the moon?"
"You tell me first. You've been there several times; have seen it from both sides. What does the moon say to you?" Heero hadn't looked away.
He let out a short snort. "Yeah, I've been there. Locked up in a cell, nearly dying, watched my Gundam get blown up, spent time in a hospital there..." Heero's fingers on his lips stopped him.
"Look who's thinking and not feeling now," he chided softly.
Duo shot him a startled glance. At Heero's hint of a smile, he turned back to the sky once more. "You know, way back when, people used to think the moon was made of cheese, the way the sun reflects off its surface and cast the craters into shadow. I sometimes think my heart is like that." He blinked a couple of times, his lips giving a small quirk. "Full of craters and shadows, with the sun only glancing off the surface."
His eyes clouded for a moment, his hand already moving. Placing his palm flat above Duo's sternum, Heero shook his head slowly. "My turn." He took a breath, his eyes never leaving Duo's.
"As for a moment he stands, in hardy masculine beauty,
Poised on a fircrested rock, over the pool which below him
Gleams in the wavering moonlight, waiting the shock of his plunging.
So for a moment I stand, my feet planted firm in the present,
Eagerly scanning the future which is so soon to possess me."
"Poetry, Heero?" Duo's voice a whisper.
Heero shrugged. "I don't always think of algorithms." His hand brushed a stray strand of hair back from Duo's face.
"Hey, I thought I was supposed to be the one coming onto you." Duo leaned into his hand.
His fingers tweaked an ear. "You're not supposed to be thinking. You're supposed to have fun." His eyes were closing even as they drew nearer still, and their lips met in the middle.
As the night deepened, the fireflies winked out though the crickets and cicadas continued their symphony and the bullfrog bellowed his challenge. Intermixed with the spring noises, sighs, occasional light moans, and a rough snort of laughter or two were made. Sounds no less natural, but not common to the man-made pond.
"Duo," Heero pulled out of the other's embrace. "We should go. It's getting late."
His lips paused in their work. "Oh crap. I forgot you have to work tomorrow." He pushed himself away, sitting up on the blanket.
Heero followed him up, touching his shoulder to get his attention. "I don't have to be there until noon so that's alright. But I think we should head back." He smiled, his lips red and swollen. "As much as I'd like to continue, I would rather continue some other time." He looked around quickly. "And somewhere a bit more comfortable."
Duo nodded, twisting his lips into a grin. He rose in a fluid motion, holding his hand out to Heero. Though he'd accepted it, Heero gained his feet without using Duo's hand for leverage. Duo smirked, leaned in for a kiss, and spun away. "I'll reel in the lines, you gather the blanket and towels and stuff."
It wasn't until they were half way to the truck that the thought struck Heero. "We didn't catch any fish."
Hands full of rods, cases and tackle boxes, Duo only shrugged. "Sometimes you don't. Fish are fickle that way." He bumped his shoulder into Heero's. "Maybe next time, okay?"
"Sure, next time."
The drive back was quiet but for a tune Duo hummed softly. Heero let his mind drift, thinking of the moon, the stars and the way his hand felt in Duo's grip, laying on the man's leg as he drove. His gaze alternated between watching the black fields pass, and Duo's profile in the dashboard lights. When the truck stopped before his apartment building, he felt a reluctance never felt before; he didn't want to leave.
Heero turned to look at Duo. "Work should last but four or five hours. Are you busy later tonight?"
He unbuckled his harness, and slid across the seat. "I've a feeling I'm going to be very busy." Duo planted a kiss to the side of Heero's mouth.
Sliding his hands up the back of Duo's tee shirt, Heero murmured, "I think you will be too." A kiss later, he sighed and reached for the door handle. "I really have to go now or you have to come up with me." He opened the door, and brushed another kiss over Duo's lips. "I'll call you tomorrow. Let's go out to dinner or something."
His eyes lit up, amusement rolling off him in waves. "You mean, like a date?"
"Yeah, like a date." Heero squeezed his hand, and stepped out. "Thanks for inviting me. One of these days, I might like fishing." He closed the door and turned away, making his body move when it didn't want to follow directions.
"Anytime, buddy." Duo watched him enter the building, and, putting the truck into gear, he drove away, humming a three note melody.
Early Saturday afternoons were usually quiet in the mostly empty Data Analytics wing. Every now and then, one of the few in on the Saturday would pause in what they were doing, head cocked to the side, trying to catch an elusive tune echoing through the cube warren. Most shook it off to being a shade of song; someone having left a radio on before leaving the previous day.
Trowa watched his friend through half lidded eyes. He'd dropped by Heero's office in the hope the report would be done early, and though he could see the man worked on it, this new habit he'd picked up was disconcerting. "What are you humming, Heero?" he asked, unable to help himself.
His fingers paused on the keyboard, Heero looked across the desk and blinked. "Something Duo was humming last night. I don't know the name of it."
The look of surprise was hidden. "Oh," he hesitated, looking his friend over before asking, "How did your fishing adventure go? Catch anything?"
Heero went back to typing. "It went very well. Though we didn't get a bite. Duo said fish are like that."
"So where'd you wind up going?"
"A guy who works in R and D with Duo, his family has a place off Route 96K."
Trowa sat forward, eyeing Heero from under his bangs. "Off Old Stone Road?"
Pausing once again, Heero glared up at the man. "Yes, I think that's the name of the dirt track we were on."
Fingers drumming lightly on the desk, Trowa grinned. "Hanscom's Dairy, right?" At Heero's nod, Trowa laughed. "Heero, that pond's never had any fish. You wouldn't have caught anything in there but maybe an old tire." He laughed again.
Heero grunted and turned back to his report. Even as he hummed, he smiled. Sometimes a man didn't go fishing for fish.
After Note: The poem Heero quotes is from "To-morrow to Fresh Woods and Pastures New" by Amy Lowell from A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass... At one part, Heero substituted 'sunlight' from the poem, to 'moonlight' in this version. Moonlight fit better, I think.